By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — Hundreds of workers at the Embassy Suites hotel in Battery Park City will lose their jobs just after Christmas.
Goldman Sachs, the hotel’s owner, is shuttering the hotel Jan. 5 for renovations and plans to reopen it under the luxury Conrad brand around the end of 2011. Until then, the hotel’s approximately 250 workers, including doormen, housekeepers and receptionists, will be left without jobs.
"It’s rough on us," said a 56-year-old housekeeper from the Bronx who declined to give her name.
The woman said she would likely go on unemployment. Asked how she would go about finding a new job, she said, "I have no idea."
Under an agreement negotiated by the New York Hotel Trades Council union, all the hotel's union employees will keep their health insurance until the hotel reopens, said John Turchiano, a union spokesman.
The employees will also be able to decide whether they would like a guaranteed job in the new hotel. Those who pick a guaranteed job will receive one week of severance pay for every year they have worked at Embassy Suites, while those who waive the guarantee will receive 19 days of pay for every year worked, Turchiano said. Those who waive the guarantee can still reapply to work in the hotel when it reopens.
"It’s an outstanding agreement, beyond what the contract calls for," Turchiano said.
A spokesman for Hilton, which owns the Embassy Suites and Conrad chains, confirmed the broad details of the agreement but not the specifics.
"We understand that these renovation efforts do displace employees at a sensitive time in the economy, and we are working in every way possible to ensure our staff is provided with quality severance and benefits packages," Mark Ricci, the spokesman, said in a statement.
The refurbished hotel, called Conrad New York, will have an upscale design and more luxury amenities, plus a new conference center with a 6,000-square-foot ballroom.
A doorman who has worked at Embassy Suites for 10 years pointed out that the Conrad would likely attract more affluent guests, which could mean bigger tips. He said the money is worth waiting for, even if it means a few months of collecting unemployment and job-hunting.
"I don’t have no complaints," said the doorman, a 39-year-old New Jersey resident.
One group of workers that could keep their jobs during the construction is the security guards.
Turchiano, from the hotel union, said Hilton had agreed to retain most of the security guards, as long as they were qualified.
One guard who spoke to DNAinfo, though, said he was still waiting to find out if he would keep his job.
"I haven’t heard anything about that," he said.
The security guard, who did not give his name, said all the guards are also licensed fire safety directors, so he thinks they should be qualified to care for the building during construction.
Ricci, the Hilton spokesman, did not immediately comment on the plans for security guards.
A Goldman spokeswoman declined to comment.
In addition to the hotel renovation, Goldman Sachs has other big plans for the 15-story building at 102 N. End Ave., adjacent to the bank's new West Street headquarters.
Goldman shuttered several existing restaurants in the building, along with a DSW shoe store and a New York Sports Club branch, and plans to open three Danny Meyer restaurants in their place, including lower Manhattan’s first Shake Shack.
The restaurants are scheduled to open next year.