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NY hotel sets new Mark for pricey suites

US$75,000 a night gets you a 10,000-sq-ft, two-storey penthouse with five bedrooms, six bathrooms

New York

WITH a price tag of US$75,000 a night, the Mark Hotel is now offering the most expensive hotel suite in America.

Built in 1927, this iconic Upper East Side hotel underwent a major renovation from 2006 to 2009. While the historic exterior was untouched, the entire inner workings of the building were replaced and interiors re-thought by famed designer Jacques Grange.

Popular with locals because of its Jean-Georges restaurant and Frédéric Fekkai salon and with celebrities as the go-to gathering spot before the Met Ball, the penthouse brings a new allure to the building.

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Located on the 16th and 17th floors of the building, the 10,000-square-foot interior space, also designed by Grange, offers five bedrooms, four fireplaces, six bathrooms, and two wet bars.

The living room, with 8-metre ceilings, is located in the corner tower of the building and is large enough to be converted into a full-sized grand ballroom. Outside, there's a 2,500 square foot rooftop terrace that overlooks Central Park and beyond.

While the penthouse is not new, this is the first time it is available to rent.

"Before the paint was dry on the renovation we had someone interested in renting it as an apartment so it has never been publicised or even on the website," Olivier Lordonnois, general manager for the Mark Hotel, tells Boomberg. "We then had a family rent it for 16 months and now it is finally ready for guests."

He says that the family did get a reduced rate due to the desired length of stay.  As a comparison, a nearby 10,000-square-foot townhouse is selling for US$24.75 million, while a 16-month stay at the current published rates work out to US$36.5 million.

When asked about the price, Mr Lordonnois says he was the one to come up with that figure.

"If you look at our competitor, the Ty Warner penthouse at the Four Seasons is only 4,500 square feet with just one bedroom and no balconies and goes for around US$64,000 a night. There is no way we would price our penthouse at the same level, as it is so much bigger. Plus, guests are getting all the amazing services of The Mark."

In the same luxury stratosphere, the Plaza offers the 4,500-square-foot, three-bedroom Royal Suite for approximately US$40,000 a night. It has 24-carat gold fixtures in the bathroom and offers a fully equipped fitness room and chef's kitchen.

The Mandarin Oriental lists their two-bedroom 3,300-square-foot Suite 5000, with a contemporary art collection curated by Whitewall magazine, at US$36,000 a night. 

While general hotel amenities at the Mark include round-the-clock room service by Jean-Georges, John Lobb shoeshines, a 70-foot sailboat available to charter as well as complimentary bicycles and pedicabs for hire, Mr Lordonnois offers something a little more personal for penthouse guests.

"We have heads of state, very wealthy business people and celebrities renting this space and they couldn't care less about a Bentley at their disposal 24/7 as they often have their security in tow or their own motorcade," he says.

Instead, he and his team work with the guest (or their assistants) to really understand what will really wow them.

It may be a rare bottle of wine or sake that they source that will impress the guest. If they happen to be interested in astronomy, a telescope will be set up on the terrace.

"It is a lot more work on our side to find these special amenities but they are certainly a little more genuine," he says of the suite-specific wow factor. 

"Obviously the accommodation is unbelievable, but after that, the little details have to be in line with the rest. That is our job to find those little things." 

But why build a suite this size in the first place?

Buzz and bragging rights, of course, says Mr Lordonnois, "but also from a sales perspective, it decreases our inventory and improves overall occupancy rates", instead of chopping it up into separate rooms.

 Occupancy rates currently hover around 50 per cent, he says. BLOOMBERG