The Century Plaza Hotel

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The Century Plaza Hotel
CenturyPlazaHotel.jpg
General information
Type Hotel
Location 2025 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles, California
Coordinates 34°03′27″N 118°24′57″W / 34.057449°N 118.415886°W / 34.057449; -118.415886
Completed 1966
Owner Next Century Associates
Technical details
Floor count 19
Design and construction
Architect Minoru Yamasaki

The Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles is a landmark 19-story luxury hotel forming a sweeping crescent design fronting the spectacular fountains on Avenue of the Stars, adjacent to the twin Century Plaza Towers and the new 2000 Avenue of the Stars complex which houses Fidelity Investments, Comerica Bank, UBS Wealth Management, and talent agency CAA. It was known as the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza from 2006 to 2016, when it closed for reconstruction.

History[edit]

The Century Plaza Hotel opened on June 1, 1966 in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles on the former backlot of 20th Century Fox Studios. Fox still has its lot in the neighborhood, as well as its headquarters, Fox Plaza. Century City, known as the City of the Century (20th), was dominated for much of its early history by the Century Plaza Hotel, as it was the highest building on the hill, where the Presidential Suite looked all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

In 1961, developer William Zeckendorf and Alcoa bought about 180 acres (0.73 km2) from 20th Century Fox after the studio had suffered a string of expensive flops, culminating in the box-office disaster Cleopatra. The new owners conceived Century City as "a city within a city" with the arc-shaped, 19-story, 726-room Minoru Yamasaki-designed Century Plaza as the centerpiece of the new city.[1]

When the Century Plaza began operating in 1966, its doormen wore red Beefeater costumes. The hotel was managed by Western International Hotels, which later changed its name to Westin Hotels. The hotel's ballrooms became the center for numerous high-profile events, including an opening charity gala in 1966 emceed by Bob Hope, who with singer Andy Williams entertained Ronald and Nancy Reagan and Walt and Lillian Disney. In 1967, 1,300 club-swinging police clashed with about 10,000 Vietnam War demonstrators as President Johnson spoke at a Democratic fundraiser at the hotel. On August 13, 1969, President Richard Nixon hosted a lavish state dinner in the Los Angeles Ballroom to celebrate the Apollo 11 moon landing astronauts.

In 1984, the hotel added a 297-room tower on the south portion of the property, adjacent to Olympic Boulevard. The Tower at Century Plaza was marketed as a luxury wing of the hotel and increased capacity to 1,046 rooms. Ronald Reagan by arrangement signed in as the first guest of the just completed Tower, while then Century Plaza Vice-President and Managing Director William Quinn greeted him on December 27, 1984. In 1999 the hotel rededicated its penthouse suite, the entire 32nd floor the Ronald Reagan Suite, attendees including Nancy Reagan. While Reagan was in office, he stayed in the Tower so frequently the media dubbed it his Western White House. President Reagan had recently celebrated his re-election to a second term as President on the stage of the Los Angeles Ballroom in the original Century Plaza Hotel on November 6, 1984. In 2000, soon after Westin was acquired by Starwood, the Tower was converted into a separate hotel under a more luxurious Starwood brand, The St. Regis Los Angeles. That hotel was then sold by the owners of the Century Plaza in 2005 to developers who closed it for conversion to residential use. With its 1980s ceilings too low to meet modern residential demands, the relatively new building was razed to make way for The Century, a high-rise condominium completed in fall 2009.[1]

In 2006, after being managed for its entire forty year history by Westin Hotels, the property was taken over by Hyatt Hotels and renamed Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. However, the sign above the main entrance reading The Century Plaza was left unchanged.

Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. bought the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in 2005 for $293 million and then spent $22 million upgrading the guest rooms and common areas. On June 1, 2008, Sunstone sold the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza to Next Century Associates for $366.5 million. The sale price of $505,000 per room was one of the highest-paid for a hotel in California. [1] On December 18, 2008, the new owners announced plans to demolish the hotel and build a pair of fifty-story towers in its place.[2] On April 28, 2009, The Century Plaza Hotel was added to The National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of the 11 most endangered historic places in America. In February 2010, the developer announced that it would renovate the historic hotel building and convert some of the floors to condominiums, rather than demolishing and replacing the building as previously proposed.[3]

The hotel closed on March 1, 2016 to begin the $2.5 billion overhaul. It ceased to be operated by Hyatt at this time.[4] The two towers that were originally to replace the hotel will instead be built behind it. Designed by Pei Cobb Freed, they will contain a total of 290 condominiums. The hotel will be rebuilt as a five star hotel with 394 much larger guest rooms, instead of the 726 current rooms. The hotel's lobby will be opened to create a public space.[5]

Famous guests[edit]

1990s postcard of the Century Plaza Hotel, showing the now demolished tower wing behind it.

The Century Plaza has played host to various celebrities, foreign dignitaries, and presidents; among them, Marshal Josip Broz Tito, Moshe Dayan, Prince Philip, and David Ben-Gurion. The hotel was the venue for the 1970 and 1971 Grammy Awards. It was also the venue for the 2009 and 2010 Visual Effects Society's prestigious annual awards ceremony.

In Popular Culture[edit]

The Century Plaza Hotel is featured in the 2008 video game, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, and is mimicked in the 2004 video game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

References[edit]

External links[edit]