Skip to comments.New York Palace Hotel boss Niklaus Leuenberger gets the door after Ash Wednesday slur
Posted on 03/25/2009 7:12:35 AM PDT by A.A. Cunningham
New York Palace Hotel boss Niklaus Leuenberger gets the door after Ash Wednesday slur
BY Kerry Burke And Oren Yaniv
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Wednesday, March 25th 2009, 4:00 AM
Niklaus Leuenberger no longer runs the New York Palace Hotel.
The manager of one of the city's most luxurious hotels was given the boot after ordering a Catholic employee to clean up his forehead on Ash Wednesday.
"Wipe that f-----g s--t off your face," managing director Niklaus Leuenberger told a bell captain at the New York Palace Hotel on Feb. 25, sources said.
The unholy ultimatum ended up costing Leuenberger his job at the Palace, a swanky 55-story tower on Madison Ave. across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral.
"As of Monday, March 23, Leuenberger is no longer employed by the New York Palace," hotel spokeswoman Teresa Delaney told the Daily News Tuesday.
The incident was deemed so severe, Christopher Cowdray, head of the London-based Dorchester Collection, which owns the Palace, flew here to hand Leuenberger the pink slip.
"We take the well-being of our employees extremely seriously and that is why our CEO, Mr. Cowdray, went to New York in person to deal with this matter," the company said.
The object of the manager's insult, bell captain Mike Murray, said the cross of dark ashes was liberally applied to his forehead at his Long Island church.
"My priest did a real number on me," he said with a chuckle.
Catholics receive the ashes as a reminder of their own mortality on Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period of penance that ends on Easter.
"The [general manager] wanted it off, and he knows he was wrong," added the observant Irish Catholic employee. "I've never been approached on a religious issue [before]."
The 893-room five-star hotel, where a posh suite with city views fetches well over $1,000 a night, combines Renaissance-style architecture with modern design and amenities.
The hotel leases its land from the Catholic Church.
It was the place where Leona Helmsley earned the title "Queen of Mean" in the 1980s when the hotel was called the Helmsley Palace.
Leuenberger was tapped as director in May 2007 after many years at the Peninsula Hotel.
When his appointment was announced, he was touted as "a 35-year veteran of the luxury hospitality industry" who was inducted into the "Hotelier's Hall of Achievement" by Leaders Magazine in 2005.
Reached at his Warren, N.J., home, Leuenberger declined to comment, saying, "I don't know what it's about."
Murray said he does not plan to sue.
"I've been working here for 25 years and I wouldn't want to endanger that," he said.
He sounds like a charmer. Almost as nice to work for as my boss.
Leona would be proud of him.
I guess he was trying to be the new queen of mean.
Typical New Yorker?
Not typical at all.
I know many NY’ers and they’re great people.
I go twice a year and have a GREAT time.
Have you been?
No, just a typical arrogant liberal pr!ck.
Could it be the corporation was more worried about the lease than what this jerk did to an employee?
Nah, can't be...
I have, and I'd say the percentage of jerks to fine folk runs no better than 50-50.
No intention of ever going back.
As you have said, good riddance.
One of my most mortifying moments.
I was in the bank the day after Ash Wednesday, the teller had a dark smudge on her forehead. I said “Wasn’t Ash Wednesday yesterday?”
She replied “It is a birthmark.”
Not yet, but I know some great NY'ers here on FreeRepublic.
No big deal. Hussein will no doubt have a place for him in the EEOC!
I used to think that way about NYC.
But, I realized that midwesterners like myself (Michigan/Indiana) don’t like crowds.
Once you get in a crowd, you start to get agitated and the people around you appear to not be so nice.
I think it’s called “projecting”, where you see others as you feel.
Anyway, after a few days of really humping it up and down Manhattan, I kind of great to like the crowds. Of course, I had the option of going home.
Never really ran into any assholes or jerks.
Anyway, that’s strictly my experience.
If you ever get here let me know. I give a great walking tour of Manhattan from South Ferry to Central Park. I hit everything from Ground Zero to Wall Street, Chinatown, Little Italy (what's left of it), SOHO, Tribeca, Chelsea, Gramercy, the Village...and the joint where my Grandfather drank during prohibition. I do it for friends, relatives and on occasion the visiting freeper.
Best time to visit...October through Christmas.
Our company has business in Mahattan from time to time...I may get the chance sometime in the near future.
I'll give you a ping if that happens. thanks
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