The Four Seasons Hotel in New York – which has been closed for more than three years because of an epic row between the property’s billionaire owner and the company that owns the luxury brand – faces one final hurdle before it can reopen its opulent doors , as The Post has learned.
According to the union, the famed hotel on E. 57th St. has yet to enter into contract negotiations with the powerful New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council over the fate of the laid-off employees after it said it would reopen next year.
“There have been no formal negotiations between the hotel and the union, but we have no reason to believe that issues related to reopening cannot or will not be resolved,” Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Trades Council, told The Post.
Ty Warner, who owns the iconic IM Pei-designed Manhattan location, turned off the lights — and at another building housing a Four Seasons in Santa Barbara, California — in March 2020 in a dispute with the Toronto resident Businesses about Fees and Margins Hotel Businesses.
But the warring factions apparently buried the hatchet last month, announcing they have been “working together to prepare for the much-anticipated reopening” of both sites next fall.
“At this point, all that’s needed is an agreement with the union to open Four Seasons New York, and I’m optimistic that will happen soon,” Warner, the reclusive founder of Beanie Babies, said in a recent exclusive interview with The Post.
That might not be as easy as turning the lights back on at the once swanky 52-story hotel after the Four Seasons fired some 350 unionized workers over its dispute with Warner.
About 100 of the departed employees received a whopping $10 million in lump sum severance pay under a deal negotiated in 2021 as the COVID lockdowns ravaged the hotel industry, The Post previously reported.
However, the remaining former employees, some of whom have found work at other hotels, may wish to regain their position at their previous salary and will be given initial opportunities for the position, according to Shafran.
“The current hotel staff who are being laid off are absolutely and unequivocally entitled to their previous positions once the hotel reopens. It is a right guaranteed by our contract,” the representative said.
Any “issues” that the union says need to be “resolved” before the hotel reopens “will remain private,” he added.
According to its LinkedIn page, Four Seasons has also been actively recruiting staff for the New York property, including a search for a finance director.
Labor costs were among the contentious issues that Four Seasons and Warner fought over for several years, with Warner claiming that the property was not profitable enough due in part to labor costs, industry experts told The Post.
The 383-room hotel, which opened 28 years ago and then charged a astronomical $400 a night, also faces new competition in the luxury hotel market when it reopens next fall.
The most exclusive addition is Aman New York, located down the street on E. 57th St., where room rates for its 83 suites start at a staggering $3,000 per night.
“Aman is by far the most expensive hotel in the city and is setting a new benchmark,” Sean Hennessey, a professor at New York University’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, told The Post. “Four Seasons needs to catch up with Aman.”
The Four Seasons has undergone renovations in recent years, but it’s not clear what upgrades guests can expect when the hotel reopens.
“There will be renovated rooms, restaurants and public areas,” Warner said, without giving further details.
“People aren’t building 383-room luxury hotels anymore,” added an industry source. “The luxury market has evolved over the past three decades.”