The famous winged TWA terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport came out of its decades-long retirement Wednesday with a new life as a luxury hotel.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony opening the $268 (NZ$409) million project.

He said he remembers seeing the terminal as a Queens boy "and saying, 'Wow! Wow! It was ahead of its time and it was New York's vision and creativity and boldness, and outside of the box thinking that made New York, New York.'"

JFK's TWA terminal comes out of retirement to open as a hotel. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
JFK's TWA terminal comes out of retirement to open as a hotel. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP

The Finnish architect Eero Saarinen didn't have a hotel in mind when he designed the futuristic structure that opened in 1962.

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Those were the heady jet-age days of the first space flights and President John F. Kennedy's promise of a moon landing.

Finnish architect Eero Saarinen didn't have a hotel in mind when he designed the futuristic structure that opened in 1962. Photo/Mark Lennihan,AP
Finnish architect Eero Saarinen didn't have a hotel in mind when he designed the futuristic structure that opened in 1962. Photo/Mark Lennihan,AP

Developer Tyler Morse hopes the proximity to the tarmac will draw travelers who don't want to fight nightmarish city traffic to catch their flights.

Beyond today's practical concerns lies a half-century-old dream.

People meet in the TWA's Paris Cafe. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
People meet in the TWA's Paris Cafe. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP

"This TWA Flight Center was built as a cathedral to aviation," Morse said.

The history of TWA and its era will be on display in the 200,000-square-foot curving lobby that has no right angles, like the rest of the building, and is in TWA's red and white colors.

Hotel rooms are in an attached building.

A room at the TWA Hotel with view of the Eero Saarinen-designed terminal. Photo/Mark Lennihan,AP
A room at the TWA Hotel with view of the Eero Saarinen-designed terminal. Photo/Mark Lennihan,AP

Guests will pay about $250 (NZ$380) a night in 512 rooms with thick, noise-dampening windows near JFK's Terminal 5 in view of planes taking off.

The hotel has six restaurants, including one operated by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. One of its eight bars is housed inside a vintage TWA aircraft Morse said was once purchased and used by South American drug dealers.

The decor dails back to 1962, when the terminal was first opened. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
The decor dails back to 1962, when the terminal was first opened. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP

The hotel also features a 10,000 square-foot observation deck with a pool.

Kennedy is catching up with other international flight hubs that have hotels. Right now, most New York options are either a few budget accommodations in a neighborhood by the airport, or a very long train or cab ride into the city center.

Vintage handbag at the hotel opening. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Vintage handbag at the hotel opening. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP

New York's aging airport, which is itself undergoing a $13 (NZ$20) billion renovation, was home to TWA until the airline went out of business in 2001 and was absorbed by American Airlines.

A lone TWA sign still marks its winged, white former terminal that remains a bold, elegant example of mid-20th century design.

Susan Meekma Stevens at the hotel, holds a photo of herself when she was hired by TWA in 1970. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Susan Meekma Stevens at the hotel, holds a photo of herself when she was hired by TWA in 1970. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Susan Meekma Stevens, who was hired as a TWA stewardess in 1970, poses for photos in front of a Lockheed Constellation. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Susan Meekma Stevens, who was hired as a TWA stewardess in 1970, poses for photos in front of a Lockheed Constellation. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Mercia Clerge, wearing a vintage TWA uniform. Clerge was hire as a ticket agent by TWA in 1989. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Mercia Clerge, wearing a vintage TWA uniform. Clerge was hire as a ticket agent by TWA in 1989. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Pearls Daily wears a vintage TWA stewardess uniform while greeting visitors to the TWA Hotel at JFK. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Pearls Daily wears a vintage TWA stewardess uniform while greeting visitors to the TWA Hotel at JFK. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Pierre Theodore, wearing a vintage groundstaff TWA uniform, opens the door for visitors at the opening of the TWA Hotel. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Pierre Theodore, wearing a vintage groundstaff TWA uniform, opens the door for visitors at the opening of the TWA Hotel. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Gabriel Alvarez in an early TWA pilot's uniform at the opening of the TWA Hotel, New York. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP
Gabriel Alvarez in an early TWA pilot's uniform at the opening of the TWA Hotel, New York. Photo/Mark Lennihan, AP