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Tess Ghilaga Headshot

The Plaza's Finer Points

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It's always a thrill to be part of the great New York story. Every year brings a new skyline, the old buildings of the 30s and 40s making room for the modern. However, I can't help but be nostalgic for the New York of yesteryear, and viewing The Plaza's majestic French Renaissance Chateau style from the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art seduced me back for a visit.

The Plaza was designated a New York City landmark in 1969 and is one of the only hotels in the city that can claim National Landmark status. From the glamour of Truman Capote's Black and White Ball to Charlie Sheen's call-girl fiasco, the hotel and residence continues to draw the who's who and serves as a backdrop for countless films and TV shows. Tourists and natives have come to experience the fruits of a massive, three-year lobby for roof renovation and restoration in one of the city's most prime locations.

During my recent visit I discovered that The Plaza had united its storied past -- the halcyon days of Kay Thompson's Eloise, the hotel's mischievous, fictional resident -- with a modern, luxe style designed to appeal to a global set of travelers, day-trippers and NYC natives. And so many old-time Plaza flavors have found their way into the present-day stew.

Take the Tricycle Garage. Unveiled by screen siren Jayne Mansfield in 1956, the hotel-operated tricycle garage offers guests the opportunity to explore Central Park in style. Visitors of all ages can rent a bicycle, scooter or tricycle (helmet, lock, map and bottled water included). After a ride in Central Park find a shaded patch of grass for a special family feast. A picnic basket from the Plaza's Boutique, packed with lunch from The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English, is the gourmet chic way to go.

Back at the Plaza, the naturally pretty-in-pink Eloise shop couldn't be more adorable -- and Eloise devotees can also learn a lesson or two in savoir-faire. This summer, etiquette Instructor Lisa Richey offers children ages seven and up one-on-one coaching on the fine points of making conversation and afternoon tea.

First, Richey teaches young sophisticates the 'history of tea' and how to enjoy 'afternoon tea', then the children are escorted to the Palm Court for further coaching on table manners and tea etiquette. It's never too early for our future leaders to learn how to get along, and I'm sure their parents will learn a thing or two themselves.