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A Little Girl’s Dream

A Waldorf Story by Stefanie Beck

I was an only child born to two New Yorkers who met at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio on Fifth Avenue. My mother was the manager/teacher and my father had just returned from serving in the army in the Philippines. It was love at first sight.

They courted by dancing in the great ballrooms in The Pierre and The Waldorf which, at the time, had big bands. A few years after I arrived, they moved 25 miles outside of the city but their date nights were at the Copa Cabana and often they would stay at The Waldorf.

Once, when I was perhaps five years old, they had my babysitter bring me into the city on Sunday morning to spend the day. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at the hotel, I had a raging fever, and they wrapped me in one of the hotel’s blankets—the softest blanket I’d ever felt with a satin border—and took me home. That blanket stayed on my bed until I went to college.

From that point forward, whenever we spent the day in the city, I would insist on going by The Waldorf. If the piano were playing, I’d get hot chocolate or a Shirley Temple, depending on the time of year. Otherwise, we’d just walk through the lobby from Lexington Avenue to Park Avenue and I would look with wonder at: the people checking in, the waiters serving colorful cocktails, the bellhops rushing about and the elegant men and women in their tuxedoes, gowns, and diamonds. Then it was out onto Park Avenue with the doormen whistling for taxis and a whiff of perfumes and furs all around me. I dreamed of being those people.

And so, when it came time for college, I went to The School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. While I worked at beautiful hotels, none had the elegance or excitement of The Waldorf Astoria. However, when I returned to New York City in my 30s and worked at 46th and Park, I often would sit above the Park Avenue entrance and watch the comings and goings and was sad to see it lose a little bit of its luster. I was excited to learn the legendary Waldorf would close for renovation to become, once again, an iconic hotel.

It’s with great anticipation I look forward to entering the new Waldorf Astoria, ordering a martini and being part of the scene… a little girl’s dream come true.