The Next 90 Years: An Interview With
The Pierre Hotel’s General Manager

By Patricia Canole | Photography Neil Tandy

If you’ve been fortunate enough to be a guest at this iconic hotel, then you no doubt have had the pleasure of meeting the affable gentleman with a ready smile.

Of course, no one could mistake Francois-Olivier Luiggi, the General Manager of The Pierre NY, a Taj Hotel. In a heartbeat, he will make his way from the lobby to the iconic Rotunda before arriving at the Grand Ballroom to see the ongoing progress of a reimagined look that will take us into the next 90 years (slated to open Spring 2022).

Mr. Luiggi has been welcoming the well-heeled to luxury establishments worldwide for more than two decades. Before taking the role of GM at The Pierre in 2015, the native Corsican—who speaks fluent English, French, and Italian—held the post of Corporate Food and Beverage Training Specialist for the Four Seasons brand where he launched some nineteen hotels and resorts in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Back on U.S. soil, he’s been GM of the Langham Fifth Avenue and Hotel Manager of The Mark Hotel.

He also knows quite well what makes The Pierre special: the people who have worked 24/7 since 1930. The fantastic team of dedicated employees, most of them with long years of service, have seamlessly adapted to the changing trends over the years. As a result, everyone cares deeply about The Pierre. He rarely has seen such dedication, sense of belonging and purpose, in an established hotel like this. 

A typical day for him starts with a morning lineup with the senior management team. After that, the day revolves around the arrival list, the most vital document in a hotel. It is reviewed twice a day and includes all the relevant information about each guest, their room allocation, etc. After that, a good part of his day is spent answering guests’ requests and helping them with planning their visits when necessary. Finally, the remaining portion of Mr. Luiggi’s day is spent with his team and visiting every department at least once a day.

New York Lifestyles recently visited with Francois-Olivier Luiggi and found The Pierre still as enchanting as ever. It never grows old.

What is your biggest career highlight to date?
I grew up in a large family on Corsica. My grandmother was always cooking and entertaining for all of us. Her family dinners became an anchor in our lives, and we were all expected to pitch in. Early on I learned the finer points of hospitality from her and soon became interested in learning how to prepare the foods that were so special.

How has your role as General Manager evolved over the years?
The last two years with COVID restrictions have been the most challenging. As a general manager of The Pierre, we not only need to ensure our guests are safe, but we also have full-time residents who reside in the co-op. My role is both a business manager and a relationship manager. In addition to overseeing the business side of the hotel which means the basic functions and structures are in place, the general manager must also be the face of the hotel and be there to greet guests and get to know them individually. At a hotel like The Pierre, we place a huge emphasis on understanding what our guests need, what their likes and dislikes are and how we can make their stay exceed expectations from the minute they arrive at the hotel until after they depart.

With your many years of experience in hotel management, what makes The Pierre one of the world’s most special properties?
At The Pierre good enough is not enough. For more decades The Pierre has stood for unmatched hospitality and timeless elegance. This includes everything from our Les Clefs d’Or Concierge service to our extraordinary farm-to-table cuisine, 24-hour room service, the architecture, and to the guests who make The Pierre so special.

When Charles Pierre established the hotel in 1930 it was meant to serve as a home away from home for guests. For the past 90 years, exquisite entertaining has been synonymous with The Pierre. Its opulent Grand Ballroom, Cotillion Room, and Rotunda continue to host New York’s most unforgettable events, while chic, multi‐functional meeting rooms welcome private gatherings, from intimate closing dinners to annual shareholder meetings.

When Charles Pierre established the hotel in 1930 it was meant to serve as a home away from home for guests. For the past 90 years, exquisite entertaining has been synonymous with The Pierre. Its opulent Grand Ballroom, Cotillion Room, and Rotunda continue to host New York’s most unforgettable events, while chic, multi‐functional meeting rooms welcome private gatherings, from intimate closing dinners to annual shareholder meetings.

A 1930’s New York guidebook said, “The Pierre Hotel is beautiful, gorgeous, distinctive—catering only to those of refined tastes who can afford the best in the way of hotel luxury.” This is as true today as it was then.

Many hoteliers say true hospitality is defined by personalized service provided to guests. Tell us how The Pierre leads in this aspect?
My motto is quite simple: to make it work, you have to mean it. Or to say that another way, you cannot just go through the motions. Our teams go above and beyond just remembering the names of our guests. We had a couple in the restaurant with a young child who clearly had other ideas of where she wanted to be. The staff learned that a certain cartoon character was her favorite and presented her with cookies in the shape of the character. She was delighted, and the parents were able to enjoy their meal. There are countless stories like that.

People don’t want to be type cast. Now it is all about “me,” about being an individual, and so the challenge for those of us in a luxury hotel like The Pierre is to get you to tell us about yourself.

This is not always easy, because the other big trend for hotels is the disappearance of personal transactions as technology becomes a bigger and bigger part of our business. We can no longer rely on the traditional check-in to find out what we can do to make your stay more enjoyable. We can no longer wait for guests to approach the concierge to discover how we can personalize our service. By then, it is too late.

So, we must look for new ways to learn about you. From our elevator operators to our front desk and concierge teams, our staff is trained to learn about our guests. When an executive guest called our front desk, the Front Desk Manager could tell that he was stressed because he couldn’t make up his mind about a routine question. The Manager asked if there was anything he could do to help, and the guest confessed that he was nervous about a speech he had to deliver later in the day.

The Manager gave him some words of encouragement that seemed to help. But he didn’t stop there. When the guest stopped by the desk to pick up some documents, the Front Desk Manager had attached an inspirational quote to the envelope. Our guest was smiling from ear to ear when he left for his speech.

What are your key goals to ensure The Pierre remains a leader in the New York City hotel market?
Every hotel has a specific DNA. The Pierre has not changed its core DNA since 1930 when it was built to entertain on a grand scale. Charles Pierre chose renowned French Chef Auguste Escoffier as the opening chef to make a statement that The Pierre would do events at the highest level.

Schultze & Weaver, the architects of The Pierre, designed it as the first hotel with three lobbies to separate the guests from those coming to events. This was a major innovation at the time. You have a smaller residential lobby and larger lobbies for guests to pass through on their way to events.

Entertainment has always been at the core of The Pierre. There was always entertainment from galas, ballroom events, weddings, supper clubs, to cabaret, to music and dancing and great food. The entertainment spaces at The Pierre have been redone three times and now it is Taj’s turn.

During pandemic, we took advantage of the down time to completely renovate the Grand Ballroom. The goal was to design a ballroom space to make the client shine and to maintain the original DNA of The Pierre—but make it relevant to today. Of all the assets in a ballroom—we always think our guests are the most important asset.

Following a multi-million-dollar renovation, we are looking forward to the reopening of the Grand Ballroom this Spring and returning The Pierre to its destination as the most sought-after event space in New York.

Today hotels are faced with unprecedented times. The Pierre has always faced challenges with aplomb. The hotel opened in 1930 during the height of Prohibition and celebrated its 90th anniversary during the height of Pandemic. During this time, the hotel needed to reimagine the future to ensure the best possible guest experience while also keeping the hotel safe for its residents, guests and employees. For a luxury property, many of the personal touches that make a five-star hotel unique had to be rethought. Keeping the hotel profitable while maintaining the same level of service and hospitality that guests have come to expect is even more challenging as we emerge from recent events.

The elegant architecture of The Pierre naturally lends itself to post-pandemic protocols. Every room has lofty ceilings with abundant light and windows that open in addition to independent heating and cooling systems. The double lobbies and dual entrances on Fifth Avenue and 61st Street keep foot traffic in the lobby to a minimum.

The Pierre’s enhanced protocols have been developed in accordance with CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, as well as in cooperation with state and local government requirements.

What can luxury travelers expect from a stay at The Pierre?
The Pierre was built to be a home away from home for our guests. We want guests to feel like they are coming home when they come to New York City—comfortable with every service at their fingertips. What sets five-star hotels apart is the exceptional service. Our Les Clefs d’Or concierge team will customize concierge-crafted itineraries for all guests or help find the perfect evening out; Perrine, our farm-to-table restaurant offers seasonally inspired menus that skew toward what’s fresh and fun, as well as provides 24/7 room service from our award-winning culinary teams. Guests should expect to be indulged with white glove service that makes them want to return again and again. While our iconic hotel has continually evolved through the decades, all updates have been made to stay in alignment with our enduring core values of timeless opulence and exceptional hospitality.?

What is the best lesson you ever received?
A guest’s opinion of a hotel is formed in the first 30 seconds as they walk into the lobby. Everything from the personal greeting by doormen and front desk teams to things like the flower arrangements to the lobby fragrance and the overall ambiance can make or break the guest experience. For me that lesson has always stayed top of mind as I manage The Pierre.
For more information on The Pierre, 


There are landmarks like The Met and The Chrysler Building—and then there is The Pierre, a much-beloved hotel that has been part of the city’s history for nearly a century. The legendary building is entering its 91st year as one of the world’s most famous hotels and the most exclusive residential address on Fifth Avenue. 

In 2020, The Pierre celebrated its 90th anniversary of setting the standard for timeless elegance and unrivaled hospitality in New York City. Over the past years, it has been renowned for elegant celebrations, romantic escapes, intimate moments, glamorous weddings, star-studded galas, luxurious living and unforgettable parties of every kind. In many cases, celebrations at The Pierre were a family tradition for as many as three generations.

“As we anticipated The Pierre’s 90th Anniversary,” Mr. Luiggi told us, “we wanted to celebrate the hotel’s storied past. The Gallery is a curated collection that traces each decade of our history and gives both guests and visitors a chance to rediscover what has made The Pierre such a beloved icon.

“The Pierre is rich in stories and legends that are a testament to its 90 years of unsurpassed hospitality. It is the people—the world’s top socialites, jetsetters, celebrities, fashion A-listers and business magnates—who have made The Pierre so iconic and an enduring go-to destination since the hotel was opened in the height of Prohibition. No hotel is complete without the guests and the people who create the stories and the memories.” he continued.

The walls of the hotel and its rooms became a discrete stage for the celebrations, dramas, intrigues, trysts, romance and the moments that guests bring. From celebrity weddings to Hollywood parties, fashion industry romps, a commitment to the ne plus ultra in services and menus, The Pierre is and always has been a magnet for the ultra-wealthy and ultra-stylish.

Karl Lagerfeld used to measure distance in NYC by how far everything was from The Pierre. Yves St Laurent made The Pierre his home, as did Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher. Valentino made The Pierre the center of the fashion world.

The Gallery includes original menus that date back to legendary French Chef Auguste Escoffier, who led the opening culinary team in 1930; photos of celebrity events and weddings; dinnerware that evokes another time; vintage advertisements and hotel memorabilia. Some of the items were donated by second and third generation family members who had mementos from things like their grandparent’s wedding or honeymoon, or menus from a special gala.

What other hotel can boast a registry, including Coco Chanel, Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Yves St. Lauren? Or been home to Bulgari’s first U.S. store? The Pierre is not only part of the city’s fabric, but it’s forever seared into pop culture. Remember when Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar danced the tango in Scent of a Woman. It happened here. 

The hotel still exudes European charm with brassy New York influences. Its circular, two-level Rotunda is like a Renaissance painting come to life, with frescos featuring Jackie O, Elizabeth Taylor, and others. Notwithstanding, it’s the perfect setting for Afternoon Tea. And then there’s Perrine, where Executive Chef Ashfer Biju prepares culinary magic every time. The simplest classic is prepared with such dedicated flair, you’ll be talking about it for days.