The Park Lane New York, once an iconic and progressive hotel in the 1970s, has a new motto – ‘This will be Our Place’. The forward-thinking origins of the property have in part inspired the reimagining of the hotel situated in Central Park South, New York.
The journey towards the renewal of The Park Lane Hotel began in December 2019 led by Managing Director, Prince A. Sanders. Today, it’s a symbol of a new way to think about luxury hospitality, one where inclusivity is at the heart. Sanders’ experience in the world of hospitality is extensive, having been the only African American General Manager of a Forbes 5 star/AAA five-diamond hotel with a Forbes 5 star/AAA five-diamond, 2 Michelin starred restaurant.
Acclaimed design firm, Yabu Pushelberg, and branding firm, Mother Design worked in collaboration with Sanders to tell the new story of Park Lane New York through their design work. Intrinsic to the brief was a focus on creating an environment that would bring ‘people of all sorts together’ – all parties were inspired to overcome the exclusivity associated with the traditional hotel offerings on Billionaires’ Row in NYC.
Sanders’ passion for hospitality and his love of people was instilled in him from a young age. Inspired by his grandmothers’ love of hosting in her home, Sanders understands the value of creating welcoming environments that facilitate bringing people together. ‘She loved nothing more than welcoming people into her home,’ Sanders comments, telling the story of how he pivoted into the hospitality industry after his time as a professional ballet dancer with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.
Sanders’ history and culture are deeply important to him. He identifies as a ‘proud African-American gay male’ and his commitment to inclusivity is a driving force behind the projects he chooses to invest his time and energy. With the Park Lane Hotel refurbishment, Sanders wanted to ‘create a place where I felt like I belonged, a place where my friends and I choose to hang out; that definitely didn’t exist around the park previously.’ As a seasoned professional in the hospitality industry, Sanders acknowledges that ‘guests’ feelings are fact’ and this motivated him to focus on the feelings he wanted to foster in guests visiting the latest iteration of the Park Lane New York. Sanders views the refurbished hotel as an important cultural addition to the Central Park South neighborhood, adding something fresh and valuable to the iconic location.
More recently, Food Network’s Chopped winner Chef, Shehu Fitzgerald worked with Sanders to bring to life his culinary vision in celebration of Black History Month. The carefully curated menu at Park Lane’s ‘Harry’s New York’ offered culinary delights inspired by Black culture; imagine dishes such as ‘Buttermilk Fried Chicken’ and ‘Red Wine Braised Oxtail.’ To accompany the soul additions, Sanders also filled the hotel with the sounds of iconic black artist across a gamut of genres and time periods. Sanders recognizes that opportunities to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion are everywhere. His reworked menu at Harry’s is another fine example of his dedication to celebrating people and the richness of their cultures.
Beyond his work in hospitality, Sanders shares his passion for celebrating people and their individuality through his work as a published author. Sanders has written two children’s books, inspired by his own life experiences. His most recent book, ‘The Extraordinarily Ordinary Life of Prince: Everybody’s Good at Something’, introduces children to life lessons about overcoming challenges. Sanders shares an important message with our younger generation, showing them ‘how pursuing one’s passions despite the odds… can lead to a happier, more fulfilled life.’
Sanders’ achievements in the hospitality industry are undoubtedly impressive, but it’s the motivation behind his passion to pioneer in the hospitality space that is most inspiring. His involvement with the Park Lane Hotel project will likely have a lasting impact on the future of luxury hospitality. Adding to this, the fact he is also sharing his valuable learnings with young people is a testament to his character and care for others. We can all look forward to the achievements of future generations that have been inspired by his stories.
The renewal of Park Lane New York sets the tone for a positive shift in the luxury hospitality space. It is exciting to witness the culmination of a project with an important mission at its core. Sanders has created something special in the inspired and thoughtful redesign of The Park Lane Hotel; a place people can enjoy the spoils NYC has to offer, with a sense of comfort and acceptance.