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"This book preview contains selected pages from Great, Grand & Famous Hotels. If you wish to purchase the book or find out more, please go to
Hotels : Sample NY
NEW YORK: POWER & PROMINENCE GREAT, GRAND & FAMOUS HOTELS 145 JAMES LAVENSON James Lavenson was the President and CEO of the Plaza Hotel from 1972 to 1975. Unprofitable in the year before his assumption of the hotel's direction, the Plaza was profitable each year of Lavenson's tenure. Lavenson delivered a famous speech (the 'Strawberry Speech') which is still used by many hotel groups for their management training. In the speech he told of one day early in his career he got an inkling into the world of professional hotel staff. He walked through the lobby and heard the phone ring on the bell captain's desk. Seeing nobody at the desk, Lavenson picked up the phone, thinking to show his staff that no job was too demeaning for him, and said 'Bell captain's desk. May I help you ?' The voice came on the other end. 'Pass it on, Lavenson's in the Lobby.' THE PLAZA TRUMPETS DONALD TRUMP Donald Trump has stated that ever since he got out of college he has had a list of the ten New York properties that he wanted to acquire... and that the Plaza Hotel was always number one on that list. In 1988 he bought the hotel for US$407.5 million. In a full-page open letter he had published in the New York Times, Trump stated: "I haven't purchased a building, I have purchased a masterpiece -- the Mona Lisa. For the first time in my life, I have knowingly made a deal that was not economic -- for I can never justify the price I paid, no matter how successful The Plaza becomes." From the moment Trump took over the hotel, it was literally a hands-on job for Ivana, his first wife. She showed the staff how the rooms should be cleaned and she is remembered for her 'floorwalk', which would take anywhere from two to four hours. At the helm of banqueting, Ivana relished such lavishness on her guests that at the wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones in 2000, she organised a hundred violinists on the stairs leading to the Grand Ballroom to greet the guests. At the entrance to the reception was a carved ice mountain cascading with beluga caviar. Trump's wedding to his second wife Marla Maples in 1993, which some called the 'wedding of the decade' also took place at The Plaza. There were 1,700 invited guests who enjoyed 10,000 shrimp, 2,000 racks of lamb and 10,000 squab breasts. In 1995, however, the Plaza made bigger headlines than Marla when Trump sold the hotel for a loss of US$82.5 million. Above: A foyer inside the Plaza Hotel, 2005. Right: American businessman Donald Trump kisses his new bride Marla Maples following their wedding ceremony at Trump Plaza hotel, New York City, 1993.