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The Waldorf Astoria Hotel - Our Second Home

A Waldorf Story by Raymond Pitek

Yes, I know that it sounds ridiculous to refer to the Waldorf Astoria in this way and even perhaps a bit exaggerated. Let me explain.

My wife Linda and I live on Long Island where we have raised our daughters in a wonderful home. It is filled with many beautiful things, unforgettable memories, and a whirlwind of activity. Nevertheless, we frequent Manhattan often and have stayed at the Waldorf Astoria hundreds of nights over the years.

And why not? It was a spectacular hotel filled with many beautiful things, unforgettable memories, and warm, caring people. We were always treated like royalty from the first moment to the last. We felt so comfortable in the hotel that we considered it our second home. So many special people - Marsela, Mouctar and Marco at the front desk; Jolanda, Ingrid, Mary, and Yolande at the Concierge/Astoria Lounge; and Damian, Caroline, Jeffrey and Austin at Peacock Alley and The Bull & Bear, just to name a few.

Regarding our story, our visits were so consistently memorable that it is hard to pick one so I will pick the final one.

Linda and I stayed at the hotel the last week prior to its temporary closure and attended the Stevie Wonder performance in the Grand Ballroom on the final night. At the conclusion of the show, during the excited crowd, I went in one direction and Linda went in another. Before I knew it, I found myself in a line going into a private elevator. When the doors opened, somehow, I was in Stevie Wonder’s suite. Instead of feeling uncomfortable, I was warmly welcomed by the hosts, including one of Stevie’s daughters with whom I had a nice chat. In fact, my compliments to her regarding her dad’s humanitarian/philanthropic efforts led her to an invitation to meet Stevie.

He was extremely gracious and quite engaging. We had small talk and he thanked me for attending the performance. I expressed my admiration for his lifetime accomplishments and told him that I knew he was going to be a great success when I first saw him play “Fingertips” on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand when he was only 12 years old. Stevie let out a huge laugh and said, "I was actually an old man of 13 at that time.”

With that, he called for his photographer to take some pictures of us. What a night and it was not over yet! Shortly thereafter, I left the suite to find Linda in a packed, raucous Peacock Alley. We met some new friends and said goodbye to some old ones until the party finally ended in the wee hours of the morning. The culmination of so many terrific moments at the Waldorf Astoria summed up in one perfect evening on February 28, 2017.

Linda and I were two of the last guests to leave the next day and it was very bittersweet. As we exited the “old” Waldorf for the last time, we paused at Cole Porter’s piano and walked across the intricate mosaic lobby. We reflected on the numerous wonderful memories that we created with our family (including our annual Christmas Eve tradition) at our “second home” and remarked at how lucky we were to be a small part of the Waldorf Astoria “story”.

We look forward to making new memories when the Waldorf Astoria New York reopens its historic doors and welcomes us back to our home away from home.