Shocking pictures reveal TWA Hotel is far from ready on opening day

Glamorous ‘time-capsule’ TWA Hotel opens and turns abandoned JFK terminal into 512-room, Mad Men-era accommodation with cocktail bar inside an AIRPLANE – but shocking pictures reveal landmark venue is FAR from ready

  • The grand opening of the TWA Hotel, in the renovated landmark Trans World Airlines Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport, didn’t appear to go to plan
  • The Flight Center, which first opened in 1962, closed its doors in 2001 and was supposed to have been completely transformed by Wednesday to reopen
  • But the only on-site lodging at JFK in Queens, New York, wasn’t camera-ready
  • Travel industry analyst Jamie Larounis shared exclusive photos with DailyMail.com showing the disarray 
  • Rooms were not ready on time and loose wires were hanging in public areas amid construction 
  • TWA went out of business in 2001, which is when the Flight Center closed down
  • In 2014, developer Tyler Morse came up with the plan to reinvent the defunct terminal into a modern hotel
  • The hotel features the old flight board and red plush furniture in lounges and its more than 500 guest rooms

Visitors attending the grand opening of the TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday found rooms that weren’t ready, elevators that didn’t work, exposed wires and construction.

The landmark Trans World Airlines Flight Center, which first opened in 1962, has now been transformed into the only on-site lodging at JFK in Queens, New York, though it wasn’t exactly camera-ready for opening day.

Travel industry analyst Jamie Larounis who had a reservation for Wednesday night spoke exclusively with DailyMail.com about his experience at the property, which opened its doors for the first time in 20 years to reveal a sleek lobby and bar amid the greater disarray.   

‘They should never have opened the property today and that was their mistake,’ Larounis told DailyMail.com. ‘I’ve never really been to an opening night where it was in such shambles, this is a unique instance for me.’

DailyMail.com reached out to TWA Hotel via email and over social media, as no phone number is listed on its site, but did not receive a reply to our request for comment.

Instead, the company replied with an automatic email with frequently asked questions about booking and amenities at the hotel, which also did not include direct contact information beyond links to the website.

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The landmark Trans World Airlines Flight Center, which first opened in 1962, has now been transformed into the only on-site lodging at JFK in Queens, New York, though it wasn’t exactly camera-ready for opening day 

Travel industry analyst Jamie Larounis who had a reservation for Wednesday night spoke exclusively with DailyMail.com about his experience at the property, which opened its doors for the first time in 20 years to reveal a sleek lobby and bar amid the greater disarray 

Larounis was part of a group of about 20 friends and acquaintances who had reserved a stay for the first possible night at the iconic and historically decorated hotel. 

He said he was told the opening was supposed to be two weeks from now over Memorial Day weekend, but it was moved up due to an unnamed celebrity booking for Wednesday’s launch, which ultimately fell through. 

‘Then rooms were already booked, so the hotel was stuck opening this weekend,’ he said.

TWA went out of business in 2001, which is when the Flight Center closed its doors after first opening in 1962 (file image)

It has been completely transformed into the only on-site lodging at JFK in Queens, New York, though it wasn’t necessarily camera-ready for opening day

People walk through the sleek lobby of the famous winged TWA terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on Wednesday

Larounis had arrived on site at about 9.30am for a ribbon cutting, where models greeted guests  in aviation-inspired uniforms

But by 7pm Eastern on Wednesday, Larounis said about half of the rooms for the people in his group were still not ready, though he was able to check in right away.

‘Check in started at 3pm and rooms are still not ready,’ Larounis said, nothing that his door had boxes in front of it.

He added: ‘To make matters worse, no elevators are working. People are needing to walk up.’ 

In a reply to a social media post, one person told Larounis, ‘Sadly this opening day sure turned into a “soft opening” without telling any of us staying here until we found out ourselves.

‘What a mess. Def asking for a refund for tonight’s stay. Very disappointed. But on a positive note I enjoy the historic atmosphere, just feels like this was opened way too soon.’ 

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    Despite the mess around some of the hotel, many of its unique features were operational, like the cocktail bar inside an airplane

    Larounis said the Managing Director of the TWA Hotel told him during a tour that the hotel was approximately 75 percent open, and that everything open was booked. A woman is shown pouring cocktails inside the bar in the plane

    Despite the mess around some of the hotel, many of its unique features were operational, like the cocktail bar inside an airplane. 

    Larounis said the Managing Director of the TWA Hotel told him during a tour that the hotel was approximately 75 percent open, and that everything open was booked.

    He had arrived on site at about 9.30am for a ribbon cutting ceremony where models greeted guests in aviation-inspired uniforms, and was given free reign of the hotel with others from about 12.30pm to 2pm.

    During that that time, Larounis said he saw ‘wet paint, carts with tools on them, men in hard hats, drilling, loose wires hanging and other electrical issues.’

    He added: ‘There were doors to rooms missing because they still needed to be installed. It wasn’t until around 2pm that access became limited to the areas under construction.’

    The exterior of the TWA Hotel looks sleek and beautifully finished, but behind the facade lies some disarray for the launch

    One person wrote, ‘What a mess. Def asking for a refund for tonight’s stay. Very disappointed. But on a positive note I enjoy the historic atmosphere, just feels like this was opened way too soon’

    ‘They should never have opened the property today and that was their mistake,’ Travel industry analyst James Larounis told DailyMail.com

     Larounis said he saw ‘wet paint, carts with tools on them, men in hard hats, drilling, loose wires hanging and other electrical issues’

    Larounis said there were boxes in front of his door at the hotel, though he was able to check in on time. An unfinished room is pictured

    He saw carts with tools on them throughout the public spaces, amid active construction areas

    Those areas included the pool where Larounis saw ‘tons of construction equipment’ and witnessed a confrontation between a security guard and a reporter, who Larounis said was trying to capture the scene. 

    Larounis described the public spaces of the hotel as not exactly becoming of a place fetching a nightly rate of $269, as his room cost. 

    ‘The floors aren’t mopped and you can see tools under the bar,’ he said. ‘There is no way this place can command a $250 rate as it stands now with the construction.’ 

    Larounis described the public spaces as not exactly becoming of a place fetching a nightly rate of $269, as his room cost

    ‘The floors aren’t mopped and you can see tools under the bar,’ he said. A spill can be seen on the floor surrounding one bar area

    ‘There is no way this place can command a $250 rate as it stands now with the construction,’ Larounis said of its current state

    Later, Larounis shared photos of his own room, praising the aspects of the hotel that were actually finished.  

    ‘In fairness, the TWA Hotel really does have some gorgeous rooms,’ Larounis tweeted after speaking with DailyMail.com. 

    ‘The public spaces are not well at all — but the rooms are really quite terrific, and remind me very much like a swanky Kimpton hotel.’

    ‘In fairness, the TWA Hotel really does have some gorgeous rooms,’ Larounis tweeted after speaking with DailyMail.com

    Travel blogger Max Prosperi, 20, from St. Louis Missouri, told DailyMail.com he had booked a night at the hotel as a gift for his 58-year-old mother, who worked as a TWA flight attendant for 19 years. 

    ‘This hotel should not be open tonight for paying guests,’ he said. ‘They don’t have ice machines, and there are holes in the ceiling because light fixtures are missing.’

    Prosperi also had issues checking in, first being told to wait until 4pm and then suffering through a 40 minute ordeal with staff who he said seemed rude and unwilling to help.

    But that wasn’t the worst of his experience, as the travel blogger had been told a week ago that he’d be able to walk-in and get a table at The Paris Cafe by chef Jean-Georges, but that didn’t work out for him and his parents. 

    ‘This hotel should not be open tonight for paying guests,’ travel blogger Max Prosperi said. ‘They don’t have ice machines, and there are holes in the ceiling because light fixtures are missing’

    Prosperi, 20, from St. Louis Missouri, told DailyMail.com he had booked a night at the hotel as a gift for his 58-year-old mother, who worked as a TWA flight attendant for 19 years. Propseri had been told a week ago that he’d be able to walk-in and get a table at The Paris Cafe by chef Jean-Georges (shown), but that didn’t work out for him and his parents

    ‘I didn’t make reservations for any of the restaurants at first, which was my mistake, but I emailed the hotel a week ago and was told I’d be allowed to walk-in as a hotel guest at any restaurant on site,’ Prosperi said, who had to have a snack at the Sunken Lounge instead

    ‘I didn’t make reservations for any of the restaurants at first, which was my mistake, but I emailed the hotel a week ago and was told I’d be allowed to walk-in as a hotel guest at any restaurant on site,’ Prosperi said.  

    ‘My father came too, and when we all showed up to the French restaurant the hostess said they’re not accepting any walk-ins whatsoever.

    ‘When I told her I had an email that said otherwise, I asked her if the hotel had lied to me, and she said, “I guess they did, they told you incorrect information.”‘

    Prosperi said they ended up having meat and cheese plates with some mixed nuts for dinner. 

    Prosperi said they ended up having meat and cheese plates with some mixed nuts for dinner

    ‘It’s unfortunate because TWA means so much to my family, to me and my mom, but this is not a good representation of the cop many for us,’ Prosperi said

    In 2014, developer Tyler Morse came up with the plan to reinvent the defunct terminal into a modern hotel but still preserving period pieces from the building’s heyday (shown)

    ‘We may do Postmates for a burger or something,’ he said. ‘This was really unfortunate because I really wanted to bring my mom to this really great French restaurant.

    ‘It’s unfortunate because TWA means so much to my family, to me and my mom, but this is not a good representation of the company for us.’ 

    TWA went out of business in 2001, which is when the Flight Center closed its doors. 

    The hotel features the old flight board on display and red plush furniture in lounges and inside its more than 500 guest rooms

    The flight board is shown as it was during full operation of the TWA terminal at JFK

    Historic flight attendant uniforms on display at the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport in New York

    In another nod to the company’s 1960s beginnings, there are rotary phones throughout the property on all-white tables

    In 2014, developer Tyler Morse came up with the plan to reinvent the defunct terminal into a modern hotel while still preserving period pieces from its heyday, CBS reported.

    The hotel prominently features the old flight board, with red plush furniture in its lounges and inside its more than 500 guest rooms, along with historic flight attendant uniforms on display.

    In another nod to the company’s 1960s beginnings, there are rotary phones throughout the property. 

    Once its properly up and running, guests will have access to dozens of meetings rooms and a rooftop infinity pool.

    Until then, patrons should watch their step for dirt and dust, Larounis said.

    Once its properly up and running, guests will have access to dozens of meetings rooms and a rooftop infinity pool. Until then, patrons should watch their step for dirt and dust, Larounis said

    The infinity pool at the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport in Queens,New York is shown

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