New York City's Waldorf Astoria will shut its doors for two years to carry out renovation. It had changed hands in 2015 when it was bought by Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese company which had acquired it for nearly $US2 billion ($2.8 billion). The hotel will remain closed for at least a couple of years to incorporate changes in the interior design and convert many of its 1400 guest rooms into privately owned condominiums.

However, the exterior of the hotel will not be disturbed since it is considered to be a landmark of New York City and, hence, protected by law.

The glorious past of Waldorf Astoria

The hotel was built in 1893 and its original home was demolished to accommodate the Empire State Building, another landmark of New York. The second version of the more than 40-storied Waldorf Astoria saw the light of day in 1931 on Park Avenue. In those days, it was built at a cost of over $US40 million and was regarded as one of the world's largest and most expensive hotels.

Obviously, a hotel that boasts of such a glorious past would see a host of celebrities as its guests and the list has American presidents who stayed in the Presidential Suite that were fitted with bulletproof glass windows.

The hotel was also one preferred by foreign heads of state, royalty and corporate kings and, of course, glittering stars of the silver screen like Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Cole Porter.

What the future has in store

It is not an easy task to modify the interiors of a hotel like Waldorf Astoria and impart a new modern age look to it. A representative of Anbang has indicated that necessary plans have yet to be drawn up and it would be a stupendous task.

One thing he has admitted is that the design will take clues from Plaza Hotel, New York which had undergone renovation a decade ago. It got a new look by introducing a mix of private apartments and a smaller hotel.

As a result of the closure, 1500 employees of the hotel will be out of a job and, along with them, the axe would fall on innumerable associated services who would lose an important customer.

Once Waldorf Astoria reopens under the new ownership, many old faces would have made way for new ones.

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