In a move that absolutely nobody saw coming, Altamarea Group head honchos Michael White and Ahmass Fakahany are distancing themselves from Relais & Chateaux, an international affiliation of luxury hotels and fine dining restaurants. Seven New York restaurants are currently part of this organization: Daniel, Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Del Posto, Jean-Georges, Marea, and Ai Fiori. But now, those last two are leaving the club. In a statement, Fakahany explains:
Regrettably, we will no longer participate as members across our restaurants until Relais & Chateaux finds clarity and consensus in its future direction, achieves a balanced global identity, and aligns more fully and strategically with current day client dining preferences...We thank Relais & Chateaux for our time together and all the support we have received over the past few years. We will be privileged to host any Relais & Chateaux affiliated clients, as we always have, prior to our association.
It's unclear just what, exactly, precipitated this decision to split with the group. To most New York diners, the Relais & Chateaux distinction holds less gravitas than say, the Michelin designations or placement on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list. But it's a distinction none the less, and it aligns the restaurants that have those fancy plaques with some of the most celebrated establishments around the world.