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Alain Ducasse at the Essex House Restaurant Receives The New York Times Four-Star Review.

Business, Entertainment and Lifestyle Editors

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 17, 2002

World-class Restaurant an Example of Upgrade

Strategy for Hotel Owners

Alain Ducasse at the Essex House restaurant became a member of an elite group when it received a rare four-star review from New York Times restaurant reviewer William Grimes.

The rating is the newspaper's most prestigious culinary acknowledgement.

In his review, Mr. Grimes wrote, "...Mr. Ducasse now offers, with much less fanfare, the kind of food that brings diners to their knees. Mr. Ducasse, a chef in the classic French tradition, promised New York a great restaurant. Now he has delivered it." Additional highlights of the review include the restaurant's service ("highly polished but warm and obliging") and the wine list ("An inventive, adventurous list of 150 wines that change monthly.")

"This is an honor for Alain, the Essex House and the city of New York," said Laurence Geller, chief executive officer of Strategic Hotel Capital, (SHC) the Chicago-based owner of the 597-room Essex House Hotel that is home to the restaurant. "When we acquired the hotel in 1999, we created a new strategy to significantly enhance the quality of one of New York's most recognized hotels. We set out to significantly upgrade the hotel, and partnering with Alain Ducasse, who rightfully is recognized as one of the world's greatest chefs, was a good example of that strategy."

Alain Ducasse at the Essex House consists of a 65-seat dining room, a Petit Salon or lounge; the Salon de Soie, an exquisite private dining room; and the Chef's Table or Aquarium. The restaurant was part of a complete restoration of the art deco-style property, which included creating the St. Regis Club, a 104-room "hotel within a hotel," that offers the highest levels of luxury service and accommodations within the luxury setting of the 597-room hotel located on Central Park South at 155 West 58th Street. "We wanted to create the best, and we found a partner in Alain who has more than delivered on that promise," Geller noted. "The results are evidenced in significantly higher guest satisfaction, occupancy, average room rate and market share. This is clearly a well deserved recognition for Alain and his team."

"I cannot tell you how honored I am to be part of the chosen few to receive the New York Times four-star review from William Grimes," said Alain Ducasse. "It is a true privilege to receive this esteemed accolade and, on behalf of my staff, we are truly grateful for the acknowledgement."

Since opening more than a year ago, the restaurant also has received Mobil Guide's only new 2002 Five-Star Award; and the AAA 5 Diamond Award; James Beard Foundation's "Best New Restaurant of 2000" award; and was named one of Conde Nast Traveler's 2001 "100 Hot Tables." Additionally, Alain Ducasse was named Bon Appetit's Chef of the Year in September 2001.

The Essex House, a Westin Hotel, is a deluxe central business district hotel on Central Park South in New York City. In addition to 597 luxury rooms and suites, the property offers 11,211 square feet of meeting and banquet space, including two ballrooms, five function rooms and two executive boardrooms. Additional amenities include a health club and spa, as well as several retail outlets.

Headquartered in Chicago, Ill., Strategic Hotel Capital currently owns 27 luxury and upscale hotels and resorts in the U.S., North America and Europe. The company acquires and aggressively asset manages larger hotels in markets with unique, hard-to-duplicate locations with high barriers to additional competition.

In addition to the Essex House, a Westin Hotel, other selected hotels in SHC's portfolio include The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Dana Point, Calif; the Four Seasons Mexico City and Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, both in Mexico; the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero and the Park Hyatt, both in San Francisco; the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans and on Capital Hill, Washington D.C.; the Marriott Hamburg, Germany; the Hotel Inter-Continental Praha, Prague, Czech Republic; and the Marriott Champs Elysees in Paris.

SHC (www.shci.com) is a privately held, limited liability company whose major stakeholders include the Whitehall funds and Prudential Insurance Co. of America.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jan 17, 2002
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