Monthly Archives: January 2011

Jeannette: So much more than NYC

Hello, I am Jeannette and I am the Director of International Sales for New York Guest. I have been with New York Guest for over 7 years! Did you know that New York Guest assists clients with travel outside of New York City? We frequently book individuals, groups and corporate travelers all over the US and abroad. For example, right now I am helping a group leader find the perfect hotel in Milan for his cycling group tour later this year.

As you can imagine part of my job entails a bit of travel and one the places I love to escape to the most is Puerto Rico.  After so many years of going there, I have become a bit of expert on all things Puerto Rico! I recently returned from a 6-day jaunt to Vieques– January is the perfect time for a warm-weather getaway from NYC!  As my colleagues struggled with the blizzard that is New York, I made important decisions like, “Which secluded beach should I visit today?”

Sun Bay - Vieques, Puerto Rico

Vieques is beautiful island located a short 25 minutes by plane from San Juan,  with secluded beaches, no chain restaurants and no internet cafes, it is place you really go to get away.   The island lies about 8 miles off the mainland of Puerto Rico and is only about 21 miles long and 4 miles wide.  Small enough that it’s easy to quickly orient yourself on the island. Since the US Navy closed their operations on the island in 2003, tourism has slowly been building here, but I still consider it one of the secret jewels of the Caribbean. The recent opening of the W Hotel has brought a bit of jazz to the island luring Hollywood headliners like Dennis Quaid and Angie Harmon, but outside the walls of W,  the biggest sighting is the natural beauty of the wild horses that run free.

Why build snowmen when you can build sandmen?

The island also hosts a ton of smaller bed and breakfasts and I am lucky to know them all!  So for all of our readers looking for someplace to escape other than New York City, here at New York Guest we can still get you the same great deals in warmer climates as we do in New York.

The New W Hotel in Vieques

Let me be your guide to La Isla Nena or anywhere South of the Border for some fun in the sun. Contact me via e-mail or call me at (212) 302-4019!

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Filed under Further Afield, Staff Intro

Alison: American Idiot

Well hello!

I’m Alison, and I manage our staff of wonderful concierges at various hotel desks throughout New York City.  I’ve been with New York Guest for over 3 years now.  The most rewarding part of my job is speaking to you, the guests of New York City!  I have helped people from all over the world with all kinds of requests, from simple directions to elaborate event planning assistance. I’m originally from Birmingham, Alabama so I know how overwhelming New York City can feel when you first arrive.  My job is to help you love it as much as I do– and thankfully New York City makes that a very easy task.  I love sharing my personal experiences, especially when it comes to theatre and food!

As a child of the 80s and teenager of the 90s, I LOVE the rock band Green Day.  I also happen to be a lover of all things Broadway, which means American Idiot is exactly my kind of musical.  The show currently stars Green Day’s lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, for select performances through January and February. While I thoroughly enjoyed the show the first time I saw it last fall, I just had to see it again with Armstrong at the helm. And I am happy to report that I was not in the least bit disappointed,  in fact, I was blown away by all that Armstrong brings to the show with his performance.

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American Idiot is 90 straight minutes of punk-rock, chaotic bliss.  Every second is filled with multiple scenes, sights and sounds to take in.  I cannot get over the talent level of every cast member and the passion each one brings to their roles.  But it’s more than just the music of my generation.  It’s the story of what it’s like to grow up in an age where everyone is addicted to technology and believes the lies they’re told via the media.  Three men (and their peers) navigate through their lives and find out what it’s like to leave the comforts of home and venture out on their own.  It’s a powerful web of stories, supported by an incredible score and script.  I’ll see it again and again.  In fact, I already have my ticket for a show next week!

Want to come with me?  Since performances with Bille Joe Armstrong are limited, don’t wait to get your tickets! Though this show is always amazing, performances featuring Armstrong are truly special. Contact a New York Guest travel planner for tickets or purchase American Idiot tickets on our website!

All photos ©Valerie Schooling

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Filed under Broadway Review, Staff Intro

Lora: Hello Harlem!

The first new hotel to be built in Harlem in 40 years, The Aloft Harlem, recently opened its doors to their cool clientele and to an even cooler community. Last week I had the pleasure of exploring both the hotel and the neighborhood to see what it is all about.

Just off the A train to 125th street (A to the Aloft!), the new hotel literally lights up the block.  Across the street you can find a little bookstore where celebrities have book signings. Around the corner you will find the iconic Silvia’s Restaurant and when you stay at the Aloft Harlem you are just down the road from the Apollo Theatre.   And I spotted some good shopping that I will certainly go back to check out in greater detail.

Aloft Harlem Lobby

The lobby is anything but hotel-typical.  A bar with plasma TV’s to the right, a mini food court to the left and a pool table in the rear. Tons of books, of course all “Harlem-esque”, and fun, funky furniture fills the space.  Supposedly it’s a “who’s who” of Harlem after 9 PM when the space fills with locals and visitors alike.

Rooms at the Aloft Harlem

The rooms are large; the décor is fun. The creative use of space reminded me of a college dorm room… in a good way!

If you are looking for something different and you are on a budget, I would highly recommend staying at the Aloft Harlem.  Or if you have never taken the time to explore this neighborhood that is so rich in culture and history, now you have the perfect home base to stay in while doing so.

The Aloft Harlem is a great example of one of the hotels that we provide for our clients, but is not available for booking online. Though we have many wonderful New York City hotel options ready for you to book on our New York City travel planning website, this hotel can only be reserved by calling to speak with one of our expert NYC Travel Planners.

Call us today at (212) 302-4019 to book your stay at the Aloft Harlem!

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Elliot: Broadway’s Longest Running Musical

Hi! My name is Elliot and I am Hotel Concierge for New York Guest and have been doing this for over 2 years now.  I majored in Musical Theatre in college and have always had a passion for the theatre scene.  I have probably seen 100 or more Broadway shows;  I usually see at least one every month and my first Broadway show was Cats almost 20 years ago! One of the things I like best about being a New York Guest Concierge is helping people from all over the world choose which Broadway show to go to. With over 30 shows playing on Broadway there’s a show for everyone!

I finally went to see The Phantom of the Opera a few nights ago and I was completely blown away.  Between the beautiful music, breathtaking costumes, incredible scenery and the amazing special effects, I was transformed in a different world.  It is pretty remarkable that after nearly 25 years, this show still has what it takes to be one of the best on Broadway. The Phantom of the Opera is perfect for any guest looking to have that once in a lifetime theatre experience.  People from around the world can appreciate this show, and that’s what makes it Broadway’s longest running musical!

If you are bringing a group to New York City, Phantom is an excellent choice for your group itinerary. Because of the wide-ranging appeal, you can be sure that everyone will love it! Contact New York group travel department for pricing and details.

Did you know there is a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera currently playing in London called Love Never Dies? It actually takes place in Brooklyn’s popular beach town, Coney Island. The story is set about 10 years after The Phantom of the Opera.  The music is again by Andrew Lloyd Webber who started writing it in 1990. Sadly the production has been plagued with problems so it’s still not clear if it will ever be deemed worthy of the Great White Way (that’s Broadway’s nickname in case you didn’t know). We can only hope!

This show often sells out in advance, so it is advisable to book your tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera in advance in order to avoid any chance of disappointment.

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Filed under Broadway Review, Staff Intro

Beth: Being a Tourist in My Own Hometown

Hi Blogland! My name is Beth and I am one of the New York City Travel Planners here at New York Guest. As a born-and-bred New Yorker I still feel like there are things I haven’t had a chance to do. With a city so wealthy in sites, attractions and activities one could easily spend a lifetime and not check everything off of their to-do list.  Taking time to explore New York City isn’t just fun, it also helps me better advise my guests on what they should see and do while visiting my favorite city in the world.

Recently my boyfriend and I decided to spend a weekend just being tourists in our hometown. Have you ever done that where you live? I highly recommend it! In the chilly January air, New York City is a spectacular city to walk around. We even decided to check out one of New York Guest’s most popular hotels, the Holiday Inn Madison Square Garden.  Staying there, I could immediately understand why this particular hotel is so popular with our guests. It has a great central location close to the Empire State Building, Times Square, Macy’s Herald Square, Madison Square Garden and so much more! Our room was very comfortable, fit with a king-sized bed. Rooms aren’t huge, but we didn’t feel cramped at all.  Best of all, I loved the free breakfast!

Standard King at Holiday Inn Express Madison Square Garden

Our first stop was at the Empire State Building, located very close to the Holiday Inn Express Madison Square Garden.  We rode up to the first observation deck on the 86th floor and took in some great views of the Financial District and Central Park.  Did you know on a clear day you can see as many as 5 states from the Observation deck? From each side of the building you can see all of Manhattan and its wonderful buildings, busy streets and surrounding districts. In my opinion, no stay in New York City is complete without a visit to the Empire State Building!

Even if a little blurry... What a view!

We also took time just to walk around and window shop around Herald Square and Times Square. The new pedestrian plazas in both areas make it so much nicer to walk around!

We also had plenty of time to see a good ol’ fashioned rivalry hockey game at Madison Square Garden between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers. We had great seats and saw a rough match-up between the #1 and #3 teams in their division.  New York Rangers fans are very passionate about their team which made for a really fun atmosphere! Although the Rangers ended up losing, we still had a blast with all the fans in our section. We even got to take a group photo next to a life-sized picture of Ranger’s famed goalie, Henrik Lunquist.

Taking a picture with Ranger's famed goalie, Henrik Lunquist.

Interested in catching a game while you’re in town? Knicks basketball and Rangers hockey seasons are in full swing and baseball season is right around the corner– Yankees tickets are now available for purchase online!

Contact me or any of the New York travel planners (212) 302-4019 or info@newyorkguest.com to learn more about how you can get great tickets to New York sporting events. I would also love to help you with a reservation at the Holiday Inn Express Madison Square Garden or any of our other excellent New York hotel deals!

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Filed under Hotel Review, NYC Icons, NYC Sports, Staff Intro

Karissa: It’s Elemental

Hello, My name is Karissa.  I have  a long history with New York Guest having first started several years ago as a New York Guest Concierge assisting guests staying in our partner hotels. These days,  I put my skills to use working on the Hotel Reservations team. Part of my job is to visit the hotels we offer to make sure they are up to our standards.  With so many new hotels being built in New York City (nearly 50 in 2010!), it’s important that we have a deep understanding of the differences between various properties so we can best advise our clients on where to stay. This is one of the biggest reasons people book their New York travel with New York Guest. We take the time to really understand our clients and the many options available to them.

Just the other night I went to visit the Element Hotel by Westin located in the Times Square area on 39th Street. The hotel has an excellent location– close to all the action in Times Square.  Once I walked into the lobby of the Element Hotel, I immediately felt very at home. The décor is very welcoming and the colors are relaxing shades of browns and tans. There is ample seating in the lobby with chairs and couches. Towards the back of the lobby there is a small business center which has both Mac and PC computers which is very convenient for all computer savvy guests! Also in the rear lobby there are more couches and chairs for relaxing at night with your friends or enjoying the complimentary continental breakfast in the morning.

I had the chance to see two of their room types. First, the first was the Standard King Room which I found to be very spacious in comparison to many other NYC hotel rooms I have seen.  All rooms include a small kitchen with a full refrigerator, two-burner stove, a dishwasher and a desk.  Next I checked out a Studio King Room which has the same basic set up but was much larger. Here are a few photos I took in the rooms:

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The lower floor of the Element Hotel features two small meeting rooms, one which can accommodate up to 10 and the other about 15 to 20 people. Also on the same floor there is a nice size gym which had plenty of machines, both cardio and weight machines. Then there was something truly unexpected:  a laundry room including two machines for only $1.50 a load – a steal in New York if you ask me!

I would recommend this hotel to anyone looking to stay in the Times Square Area! It’s a great location, brand new hotel and eco friendly. When reviewing new hotels I always ask myself: would I want to stay here? With the Element hotel by Times Square the answer is very clear…absolutely!

You can book your next New York stay at the Element Hotel by simply following this link: http://travel.newyorkguest.com/Hotels/Element-New-York-Hotel

Last night I went to visit the Element Hotel by Westin located on the outskirts of Times Square, which is just a short 5 minute walk from the Times Square Subway Station. Once I walked into the lobby I immediately felt very at home, the décor is very welcoming and the colors are relaxing shades of browns and tans. There is ample seating in the lobby with chairs and couches. Towards the back of the lobby there is a small business center which has both Mac and PC computers which is very convenient for all computer savy guests! Also in the rear lobby there are more couches and chairs for relaxing at night with your friends or enjoying the complimentary continental breakfast in the morning.

After taking the elevator to the 40th floor I saw two of their rooms, the first was there Standard King Room. This room was very spacious and had a small kitchen with a full refrigerator, two burner stove, a dishwasher and a full desk! To top it off it had an amazing view of the city which included the Empire State Building! Next we went to a Studio King room which followed the same set up but was much larger also with a city view but facing Times Square. Either way the views from the higher floors of this hotel were amazing!

In the basement of the hotel they feature 2 small meeting rooms one which can accommodate up to 10 and the other about 15 or more people. Also on the same floor there is a nice size gym which had plenty of machines both cardio and weight machines. Lastly in the basement was a small laundry room including 2 small machines for only $1.50 a load – a steal in New York if you ask me!

Although this hotel only features King size beds I would recommend it to anyone looking to stay in Times Square, or looking for a weekend away from the kids! It’s a great location, brand new hotel and eco friendly.

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Filed under Hotel Review, Staff Intro

Terra: Room with a View

One of the great things about living in New York City is that friends and family from far away love to come visit and see the sights. And who can blame them?  I have so much fun playing tour guide and taking them to amazing places that they would never have found on their own, such as, where to go to get a great view of the city.

It’s no secret that I LOVE the Empire State Building. If you follow New York Guest on Facebook, you have seen the numerous photos I have posted on FB from the vantage point in my office. What an amazing view!  When I take my friends and family out on the town, I tend to pick restaurants and bars that showcase my favorite New York City landmark.

Just the other night I took an old friend out for a drink after work to the bar at the top of the Fashion 26 Hotel. The name of the bar is Rare View…and what a Rare View it is! Take a look:

View from Rare View at Fashion 26 (photo by Terra)

We enjoyed a glass of wine and some surprisingly spicy guacamole and chips while feasting on this view above. Early in the evening the bar is pretty quiet, especially in the winter, but later in the evening and during summer months it gets very busy.

Then last night I took another friend passing through Manhattan out for Korean BBQ in K-Town (Korean Town).  So much fun to try new dishes! After dinner we went up to the bar at the top of the Strand Hotel, creatively called Top of the Strand, which has an even more fabulous view from its 32nd Street location:

View from Top of the Strand (photo by Terra)

Both bars are enclosed in glass that is open during the warmer summer months, proving an excellent open-air experience.  But even in the winter time both spaces are made cozy with little couches, seating areas and interesting light fixtures.

I can also think of a few other great spots in the city that provide a generous view of the Big Apple. Want to learn more? Just send me an e-mail!

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Filed under NYC Icons, Out on the Town