When the hotel was announced in January 1989, it was to have a main tower of 46 stories and a smaller tower of some 20 stories, with a total of 400 rooms. Completion was planned for late 1991. Construction was financed by a loan from a consortium of six Japanese banks, led by the Long-Term Credit Bank. The others were the Ashikaga Bank, Mitsubishi Trust and Banking Corporation, Mitsui Trust and Banking Company, Nippon Credit Bank and Sumitomo Trust and Banking Company. The hotel was named Regent New York Hotel and managed by Regent International Hotels of Hong Kong, in which EIE International had a 30 percent interest.
When the Japanese real estate market imploded in 1990, the hotel was sold to the Four Seasons group to recover from bad loans. Today the hotel is owned by Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts, L.L.C. and operated by Four Seasons.
At 682 feet (208 m) tall and 52 stories, it is the tallest hotel in New York City, the third tallest in the U.S., and the twelfth tallest in the world. In 2007, the Four Seasons New York opened the Michelin star restaurant: L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon.