By Terry Trucco
We’ve followed the Grand Hyatt’s three-year march into the 21st century since it began, and after what we saw on a recent visit it’s official – the glass and metal behemoth nudging Grand Central Station is edging closer to the finish line, shedding the last vestiges of shoulder pads, Dynasty and other creaky 80s trappings.
The lobby is the latest work in progress and at present it’s not pretty. The brute polished granite waterfall is gone – or at least gone from view – either demolished or hidden by beige floor-to-ceiling partitions that engulf more than half of the lobby. Fortunately, the lobby is immense, and what’s left, including a large seating area near the check-in desk, looks like a time-warp “Before” photo.
When the Grand Hyatt opened in 1980 on the site of the old Commodore
Hotel, an old-style train station hotel that opened three years after Grand Central Station in 1918, it was the hottest hotel in town. The first link in Hyatt’s Grand chain in a partnership between Hyatt and Donald Trump, it was a classic Trump property – big, modern, flashy and chilly. By 2000, it was showing its age, and though a redo in 2005 helped, major surgery was needed.
On a recent afternoon we didn’t hear any construction noise. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any, but for the sake of the guests – the place was crawling with conventioneers — we hope that’s the case.
The completed areas look good. The palette has shifted from chilly brown marble and brushed bronze to a sleek blend of silvers, navies, polished chromes and whites. Market, the large grab-and-go, which made its debut last year, an orphaned island of 21st-century style, is a terrific room service alternative usually found in more down-scale hotels but ideal for a hotel next to a train station (we like the espresso-esque American coffee with a crema top spewed from a machine). And when you’re at a table at Grand Central restaurant or its stylish, light-filled bar, you can’t see the lobby.
If all goes according to plan, the partitions come down in July and renovation begins on the lobby’s other half. They’re not there yet – and there’s still a long ride ahead. But the scenery is definitely improving.