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Eloise keeps her home

Deal saves suite of Plaza Hotel's most famous fictional resident
/ Source: The Associated Press

A deal struck earlier this month to keep the storied Plaza Hotel from converting entirely into condominiums seemed to have something for everyone — its new owners, hotel workers and fans of the historic Oak Room.

There was just one problem: No one knew what would become of Eloise, the fictional, impish 6-year-old who has scampered around the Fifth Avenue landmark since 1955.

The crisis mercifully ended Thursday as the owners of the Plaza announced that the renovated building — now planned as a mix of guest rooms and condos — would include a suite for the youngster.

“Our most famous resident is going to stay with us at the Plaza,” owner Miki Naftali of Elad Properties told reporters at a Plaza news conference. Naftali said Eloise would have her own suite at the revamped Plaza, in the section devoted to hotel rooms.

Hotel spokesman Steve Solomon said that while the management has “a particular room in mind” for Eloise, it will not disclose to guests which one is Eloise’s because too many guests might want it.

Naftali suggested that the towheaded tot might even be around for the ribbon-cutting ceremony when the Plaza reopens in fall 2006. It will close for its $350 million makeover Saturday afternoon, with about 300 guests checking out.

Five decades after she was invented in a book by the late Kay Thompson, Eloise, who has crashed Plaza weddings and receptions, has gained a new generation of young fans through reissues of the Eloise books and a 2003 TV movie, “Eloise at the Plaza.”

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Naftali was negotiating with Patrick Meehan, who owns the rights to Eloise, and that Simon & Schuster, which publishes the Eloise books, was miffed at being left out of the talks with Meehan.

On Thursday, Meehan and Naftali staged a champagne toast in front of a portrait of Eloise that hangs in the hotel lobby.

“This is Eloise’s home, and Eloise is going to continue to live here,” Meehan told reporters. He said she would be on an expedition to Paris until the hotel reopens next year. It was not disclosed whether the hotel would pay Meehan for using Eloise’s name — something it has never done. A Simon & Schuster spokeswoman did not immediately return a call for comment.

Eloise is far from the only Plaza celebrity. Donald Trump had his second wedding there, and movies from “North by Northwest” to “The Way We Were” to “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” have used the hotel as a backdrop.

Elad Properties bought the Beaux-Arts landmark last September for $675 million, and later announced plans to convert the financially struggling hotel into condominiums. Furious hotel workers unveiled TV ads to “Save the Plaza,” and four days of negotiations that included Mayor Michael Bloomberg produced a deal to make the refurbished Plaza a hotel-and-condo combo.

The hotel’s famed Oak Room, Palm Court and Grand Ballroom are to remain in their current states.