Monthly Archives: August 2011

What’s on your New York City Bucket List?

For everywhere we live and everywhere we visit, we all have our list of things we must do before we run out of time. Last week I asked the staff of New York Guest for some of the top items on their “Bucket lists” for our great city of New Yor. Check out their answers here and then let us know – what is YOUR New York City Bucket List?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Maria, Accountant

  • Spend a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Walk down 5th Avenue from St. Patrick’s Cathedral to Rockefeller Center
  • See the Frick Collection
  • Get a drink at Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle
  • Explore the Meatpacking District: walk the Highline and Chelsea market, have drinks at STK or Gaansevoor, dinner at Buddakan or Spice Market

Kayaking on the Hudson

Lora, Group Travel Manager

  • Go Kayaking on the Hudson River
  • Visit Ellis Island
  • Visit the Lower East Side Tenement Museum
  • Spend the night at the Plaza Hotel
  • See a movie at the Paris Theater

New Year's in Times Square

Richard, CEO

  • Watch the Grand Central morning commute from the top of the steps
  • Spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square
  • Watch the sunrise from Battery Park
  • Ride the Staten Island Ferry
  • Have a Manhattan at the Oak Bar in the Plaza

A path in Central Park

Karissa, Reservations Manager

  • Go to the top of the Empire State Building
  • Visit the Statue of Liberty
  • Take a walking tour of Central Park
  • Go on the CitySights All Around Town tour
  • See a Broadway show from house seats

Jeanette, Director of International Sales

Law & Order: SVU films in NYC

  • Stay at the Presidential Suite in the Four Seasons
  • Eat dinner at Rao’s
  • Be on an episode of Law & Order
  • Take a helicopter to the Hamptons
  • Private shopping at Bloomingdale’s

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Megan, Concierge

  • Have dinner at Per Se
  • See an opera at the Met
  • Spend the night at the Plaza
  • Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park
  • See the Thanksgiving Day Parade in person

Night at the Museum

Louise, Community Manager

  • Have a meal at Blue Hill Stone Barns
  • Stay at the Marriott Marquis on December 31st (you wouldn’t catch me standing outside!)
  • Sleepover at the Natural History Museum
  • Sail to Bear Mountain and spend the day hiking
  • Go to the Vendy Awards on Governor’s Island

USQ Greenmarket

Michael, Director of Hotel Sales

  • Have a leisurely lunch at Da Silvano’s
  • Walk through Central Park in the autumn
  • Sip a Bloody Mary at the Central Park Boat House
  • Go shopping at the Saturday Union Square Greenmarket
  • Spend a day exploring all the neighborhoods of Manhattan – North, South, East & West

What are your New York Dreams? With all of our local NYC resources, we can make any wish come true! Contact us at info@newyorkguest.com and let’s start planning.

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Filed under New York InSight, New York Sightseeing, Out on the Town, Staff Intro

Buyer Beware: Tips from New York Guest’s CEO

For some people, the most important thing about a trip is to ‘get a deal’; to find something that is so good you have to tell all your friends. While there are a lot of great deals out there, and New York Guest is able to offer many using our local resources, there is something important to keep in mind when you’re searching for travel deals on the internet: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Here is a very recent  story- a west coast business acquaintance of mine wanted to book a week-long stay in NY and thought she found a ‘great deal’ at $99 per night for a two bedroom, well furnished apartment in a very popular part of the City. We told her that the ‘rentals at this price didn’t make sense; it was too good to be true. After a few days and some diligence, she found out that the apartment didn’t exist and never was available. She also told me at her payment was to be sent to a woman in Ohio. When the Ohio woman was contacted, she said that the money was to be sent to Nigeria.

Had she gone forward a few things would have happened:

  • They would have arrived in NY and found no accommodations
  • They would have scrambled and paid a great deal for last minute rooms; and possibly had to stay in New Jersey or upstate
  • They would have lost their deposit
  • They would have had their bank account emptied and ended up with years of identity theft problems

When booking your vacation – reputation DOES matter. New York Guest helps thousands of NYC visitors every year to get a great deal that is backed by a trustworthy guarantee. It’s your money and your vacation – make sure that it is well spent!

Planning a trip to NYC? Contact us at 212-302-4019 or info@newyorkguest.com to get a great (but not too good to be true!) deal on your New York City Vacation – absolutely 100% guaranteed!

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Follies is a Broadway Triumph

Last night I was incredibly fortunate to go see a preview performance of the new production of  Follies at the Marquis Theater and it was a night I won’t soon forget! To put it succinctly: this show blew my mind. And it wasn’t just the music or the singing or the dancing – every aspect of Follies is so well thought-out and so beautifully executed that I can’t wait to see it again so that I can take in all the things I missed!

The second we walked into the Marquis Theater my friend and I marveled at the beautiful set design. Follies takes place backstage at an old, abandoned theater in NYC and the stage is set as such, with rusty-looking banisters and steps, torn curtains, and rough wooden flooring. The entire set is sepia-toned with no bright colors, so when Bernadette Peters first walks on stage in her bright pink dress she shines like a beacon. (Side note: can we talk about how amazing Bernadette Peters is? She has been performing on Broadway for decades and still belts like almost nobody else. I would go to see her in anything)

Follies tells the story of the 30 year reunion of the Weissman Follies, a group of showgirls whose vaudeville style performances lit up the stage for many years before the show was shut down in 1941. You meet the cast of characters as they enter for the reunion and each actor enters so thoroughly in character so that you immediately know who they are.  Jayne Houdyshell as Hattie (who later sings the well-known Broadway Baby) particularly stood out for me and made me laugh the moment she walked on stage.

Ben & Sally sing Too Many Mornings with Young Ben & Young Sally

The four main characters – Sally, Phyllis, Buddy and Ben are introduced and you immediately sense that they have a tense back story, but there’s little need for conjecture because one of the amazing things about Follies is that each character has a younger counterpart, that character thirty years before when the Weissman Follies were still going, who is often on stage at the same time as the older character, telling you the back story and interacting as the older characters engage in their own banter or look on at their younger selves wistfully, as though caught up in the memory. One of the most remarkable things about the production for me was how the young counterparts were portrayed – their dialogue sounded different, for one thing, with a kind of a tinny quality, but the most amazing feature was the lighting. When a young counterpart appeared on stage they never had the spotlight on them and always seemed sepia-toned; they almost blended in with the scenery in an amazing way. Even when they stood directly next to the older actors, somehow the light never hit them in quite the same way and it was always clear that they existed only in the characters’ memories. It is one of the most subtle and remarkable effects I have ever seen on a Broadway stage.

Throughout the show, beautiful and sad-looking showgirls stand on stage, making the story so much more poignant just through their silent presence. When one of the showgirls, played by Leah Horowitz, comes out in her elaborate white costume, a single black tear painted on her cheek, to join her elder counterpart, played by Rosalind Elias, to sing One More Kiss, it is one of the most haunting and gorgeous parts of the show.

The former follies do their best rendition of Who's That Woman

While a sad story, Follies will also make you laugh. The first act number Who’s That Woman had the entire audience in stitches as the former Weissman Follies attempted to remember their choreography and made many mistakes while their younger counterparts danced flawlessly around them. It is truly a talented dancer who can make you believe that she hasn’t done a dance in 30 years and can’t quite remember how it goes.

The second act also features a long sequence where the set is replaced with an arch of brightly-colored flowers and you experience the lead actors performing in the style that would have been featured by the Weissman Follies in the 1930’s.  Every one of these numbers was incredibly entertaining, but of course Bernadette Peters brought down the house with her rendition of Losing My Mind.

I can’t say it enough: GO SEE THIS SHOW. As if the fact that it has been rightly called “One of the greatest musicals ever written,” the production is flawless. You will be blown away by the singing and dancing, the lighting and the set design, and everything else. You don’t want to miss it. I know I’ll be going again ASAP!

Follies is currently in previews and opens officially in September. You can book tickets directly with New York Guest and they are also included in our Fall for Follies package. For more information, please feel free to e-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com or call us at 212-302-4019.

The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues, from Act 2

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Filed under Broadway News, Broadway Review, Out on the Town

Being a Guest in our own city

On a recent Sunday, the office crew from New York Guest spent the day being tourists in New York City! We loved getting the chance to reacquaint ourselves with the city we all call home and to see it through the eyes of a tourist.

Citysights buses are a common sight on the streets of NYC

We met in the New York Guest office for a classic NYC Sunday brunch – bagels and mimosas! From there, we headed a few short blocks uptown to catch the Citysights bus tour, where we had tickets for the Downtown Loop.
As we headed downtown, our tour guide pointed out the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building (once the most popular tourist attraction in New York), the Puck Building (where Grace’s office was on Will and Grace) and the spot in Greenwich Village where the Gay Rights movement was said to have been born.

We hopped off the bus at a SoHo and while some people took advantage of all the shopping in the area, a few of us went to a nearby brunch spot called Lizzaran (a famous chain in Spain with just a few locations in the US and only one in New York) and enjoyed Sangria and a tapas snack. There was amazing 80’s music playing in the restaurant and we all sang along to some Journey songs before we headed back to the bus to continue our own journey.

The Woolworth Building, photo by Eileen

Once we got back to the corner, it was only a few minutes before another Citysights bus came to pick us up. One of the great things about  Citysights is how often the bus comes, so if a bus gets too crowded, or has some loud people on it, you can get off, wait five minutes, and another bus comes along. Amazing! It’s tempting to forget the subway and always travel this way, if only the Citysights bus went by my apartment in Brooklyn.

We headed down to the financial district where we saw the World Trade Center site, Trinity Church, City Hall, and the Woolworth Building, which in 1913 was the tallest building in the world. We got off the bus again at South Street Seaport to get some refreshments and enjoy the view of Brooklyn rom the boardwalk. We even saw some people out on jetskis in the river! Next time, maybe?

Yum!

We gathered for dinner at Casa Nonna, a new Italian restaurant from the BLT restaurant group. We had one of the private rooms reserved and we spent the evening enjoying saffron risotto arancini, fried mozzarella, thin crust pizzas, eggplant caponata, meatballs, smoked speck, and more. Casa Nonna is a huge space, perfect for families and groups of all sizes, and the food was absolutely delicious and unflinchingly Italian. The location is convenient to Times Square but slightly removed from the hubbub, which scores extra points with me! At the front of the restaurant there is a casual spot to get burgers if you’re in a hurry.

After a couple of hours of wining (but not whining!) and dining, we all split up to check into our hotels for the evening. It may seem silly to stay in a hotel in your own city but trust me, it’s awesome – and we have to check out the hotels we sell to you to make sure they’re as great as we think they are! Here are some hotel recaps from some of the New York Guest crew.

Louise – Four points by Sheraton Long Island City
Formerly a pretty industrial part of Manhattan that has become more developed in recent years due to its easy proximity to Manhattan, LIC is now home to several great hotels, and the Four Points is a stand-out. The lobby is beautifully furnished with bookshelves, couches, easy chairs, two computers, and a wide-screen TV, and on the other side of the lobby is a bar and restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and providing room service as well. The second floor offers a fitness center that is free for guests to use. My very comfortable room boasted a gorgeous view of Manhattan over the 59th Street Bridge (as Simon & Garfunkel would say: “doo doo doo doo, feelin’ groovy”). The bed was incredibly comfortable and the plasma screen TV in the room provided some entertainment as I wound down for my evening before I got a great night of sleep. The next morning it only took about 25 minutes for me to get from the hotel to our office in midtown Manhattan using the conveniently located N train. I will definitely recommend this hotel to friends of mine who come to visit NYC!

Eileen – Comfort Inn Manhattan Bridge
After a fabulous dinner at Casa Nonna in Midtown West we all retired to our respective hotels for the night.  I stayed at the Comfort Inn Manhattan Bridge.  The hotel is located between Chinatown and Little Italy.  My favorite thing about New York is that you can get off the subway and enter an entirely different world.  This experience was no different.  As I emerged from the Grand Street subway station, Chinese vendors were
selling everything from fresh seafood to nuts to wonderful Chinese candy.

The hotel itself is a cozy little building surrounded by the lively neighborhood.  It has a parking garage inside the building itself, and offers a 20% discount for guests.  I was on the second floor in a King room.  A plush bed and air conditioning was exactly what I needed after a long day with the team.  But of course, I ran into the bathroom first!  I love bathrooms, more specifically bath tubs.  A hotel scores extremely high if they have a fabulous bath tub.  The Comfort Inn Manhattan Bridge delivered!  The bath tub was nice and deep enough for me to be completely submerged in deep relaxation.  The perfect ending to a wonderful day!

Lora – The Element
For our company Sunday Funday, my boyfriend and I stayed at the Element Hotel. This Starwood property is a part of their new, eco friendly brand. The hotel is super cute. It’s a great location just west of Times Square and conveniently located near the ACE subway line. They have free food and cocktails at night and free breakfast in the morning! The bed was severely comfortable and the room was the perfect size for two people. I also loved the rain shower and the large flat screen TV…not to mention the super convenient commute to work in the morning. This hotel is definitely the right fit for couples looking for a nice hotel in the Times Square area or the traveling business savvy man or woman looking for an easy commute to their morning meeting. Did I mention the kitchens in every room are fully stocked with all of your cooking needs? This property has all of the elements to make up the perfect hotel!

Karissa – Wyndam Garden Chelsea
I had the opportunity to stay at the Wyndham Garden Chelsea for part of New York Guest Sunday Funday! The best thing about the hotel is the location. It’s a short walk from Herald Square, Madison Square Park, and across the street is EATLY! The room was standard size for New York City – large enough for a small work desk and closet. We were lucky enough to be on the street side so we did have a view outside and hardly heard any noise. It was a very enjoyable time.

Shawn – Hotel 373

An unexpected gem seated smack in the middle of all the action you want to be part of; Hotel 373 is the boutique hotel that 5th Avenue has been yearning for.
Hotel 373 is a no nonsense kind of hotel. With little bells and whistles, this hotel is the perfect retreat if you’re looking to get back to the basics of comfort and simplicity while you shop your way through the concrete jungle. Wake up and start your day with a Starbucks and a complimentary bagel from the café next door and you’ll have everything you need to take on the city!

Beth – Four Points Times Square

I had the chance to stay that the wonderful Four Points by Sheraton in Times Square after a fun Sunday with the NYG Staff. This hotel has A LOT to offer! Times Square, the best Broadway shows, Herald Square, and the Empire State Building are all just a few blocks away from the hotel! Everything is at your fingertips once you walk out of the lobby.
The room was great! The King bed was one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. the hotel also houses a flat-screen with plenty of channels to choose from and (my favorite) an iHome where you can plug your iPhone in and play your favorite tunes.
The Four Points also has a great rooftop lounge to top it all off (no pun intended). The Sky Room is a great place to sip a delicious cocktail and take in the views of the City. There are two different sitting areas, one that’s very futuristic and one that is similar to a Miami day-club. We were lucky enough to have a nice summer night to enjoy at the top. I recommend this hotel to all my incoming guests!

Looking to plan your own NYC getaway? We’re the experts! Contact us at info@newyorkguest.com and one of our travel planners will be in touch to help you plan your ideal trip to New York City.

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Filed under Hotel Review, New York Restaurants, New York Sightseeing, New York Stories, Out on the Town

Visitor Information for the 9/11 Memorial

Good morning! Louise, New York Guest’s Executive Manager of Community Sales & Marketing here with an important reminder about planning ahead for your upcoming trip to NYC. As I’m sure everyone knows, this fall marks the 10 year anniversary of a very dark day in our beautiful city’s history, and this September we will officially open the Memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

What is the 9/11 Memorial?

The 9/11 Memorial is a tribute to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror  attacks of September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in  Pennsylvania, near the town of Shanksville, and in the attack on the World Trade  Center on February 26, 1993. The Memorial will be open for the first time and dedicated in a private ceremony for the victims’ families. The first day the memorial is open to the public will be September 12th. The accompanying museum will open on September 11th, 2012.

The Memorial consists of two reflecting pools set in the footprints of where the Twin Towers stood. The names of the victims are engraved along the perimeter of the pools in memorium. The pools are surrounded by a stunning plaza which will eventually contain over 400 oak trees. I know it will be a peaceful place to reflect on a sad time in our history but also be hopeful for the future.

Visiting the Memorial

The memorial is free to visit but you must make an advanced timed reservation. The area is still heavily under construction and there is a need to avoid over-crowding. Passes must be reserved under the name of the person visiting and passes are non-transferrable, meaning that last minute passes will not be available. If you wish to visit the memorial you must make a reservation.

If you are interested in visiting the Memorial on your trip to New York City it is important that you make your reservation well in advance of your trip or there is a good chance you will not be able to see the Memorial. Especially for the first few months, every New Yorker and visitor alike will be anxious to pay their respects.

For reservations for individual passes or group visits, please e-mail me lgeller@newyorkguest.com with the dates of your visit and the times you have available to visit the Memorial and I’ll advise on availability.

Since your visit is timed, I highly suggest that you make a day of it and enjoy all the rich culture and history that is available in Downtown Manhattan. It is an incredible and underappreciated part of the city. I’ll be happy to assist with other recommendations of things to do while you’re downtown. Downtown Manhattan has come so far since that terrible day and while we owe the site the respect owed to all hallowed ground, we should also celebrate the bright future of our wonderful city, a city that can face so much and still be (I’m not biased at all) the greatest city on Earth. Now more than ever – We Love New York!

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The Wizarding World Comes to NYC

New York Guest Travel Planner Beth just went to see the Harry Potter Exhibit in Times Square! Check out her recap.

As a Harry Potter fan, I walked out of the final movie with my head down thinking, “No more books or movies… now what?” But alas, my faithful city has brought us all the wonderful world of Harry Potter at the Discovery Center in Times Square!

The DiscoveryCenteris located in the heart of Times Squareand has seasonal themed exhibitions on display. Past exhibitions have been King Tut, the Titanic, and Leonardo di Vinci’s Workshop. It’s a great place to learn and see some great pieces of art!

Two friends and I went over to the Harry Potter Exhibition recently and we loved it! It was a all a Harry Potter fan could ever want and more. Upon entering you are greeted with group a picture in front a green screen (the suspense of what it actually was was killing us!). You then proceed to a smaller room where you can get sorted by the Sorting Hat. (Which house do you think you’d be? Slytherin? Gryffindor?) After you are sorted, you enter a room with clips from all 8 Harry Potter  movies. It’s great to see all clips from the past and reminisce about the scenes.

After the movie montage is when the real magic sets in. Walk passed the Hogwarts Express into a hallway where you can see costumes and props from all the movies. We marveled at how small all of the costumes were from the first movie. As you walk through the exhibition you enter the dorm rooms at Hogwarts, Dolores Umbridge’s Headmaster’s office, Hagrid’s Hut and other great images from the movies right in front of you. Our favorites were pulling mandrakes out of the ground in Herbology Class and throwing a quaffle through the Quidditch Goals.

At the end of the tour you enter the gift shop for tons of great options! I purchased some “Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans” while my friends purchased wands and Muggle t-shirts. Better yet, right outside the gift shop was our pictures and we got to see ourselves standing in the middle of the Great Hall! It was a fantastic Harry Potter experience.

 Who is this for? Any one who has ever read a Harry Potter book or seen a movie! This is fun for all ages. Our group consisted of young teens, parents, people from New York, the Midwest and Scotland.

Are you a real Harry Potter fanatic? Check out our “Totally Radcliffe Package” highlighting this Exhibition, as well as “How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” staring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe!

Contact me at blenowicz@newyorkguest.com or at 212-302-4019 for all things Potter!

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Filed under New York Sightseeing, New York Stories, NYC with Kids, Out on the Town

Millesime: A Midtown Treasure

New York Guest’s CEO Richard Williams had a meal this week at Millesime, the seafood bistro inside the Carlton Hotel at Madison Avenue & 28th street. Check out his review!

Millesime is the kind of restaurant where it is so good that you want to try everything on the menu and make it your go to place several times each month. Great for couples, wonderful with friends and also a nice place for a business dinner. Everyone will enjoy it.

Everything was first rate at our recent dinner. Décor, ambience, service and, of course, the food were all exceptional.  We elected to enter through the lobby of the Carlton Hotel, but the restaurant is also easily accessible directly from Madison Avenue.

We were greeted by a charming talented Maître D’ Samy, who helps you  feel like you have just arrived in Paris and are in for a delightful evening. The wonderful main room is warm, inviting, sophisticated and cool at the same time; never felt stuffy or stiff- just perfect, and truly a bistro. We sat in a little alcove with 2 tables for 2 and one table for 4 on the lobby side- it was perfect.

The wait staff was warm and friendly and there when you wanted them but never in the way. Our server, Lahoudine, from what was once French Morocco, was delightful. He was knowledgeable and quick to smile and suggest.  The menu is very inviting and the prix fixe meal at $35 is an absolute bargain inNew York.

As for dinner, it was among the most enjoyable I have had in years. I would venture to say it rivaled and even surpassed the meals at Le Bernadin in midtown.  We started with perfectly chilled oysters fromNatickand Wellfleet inMassachusetts– with wonderful sauce accompaniments.  Next, an interesting twist on tuna tartar – the ingredients for the tartar were individually arranged on the plate and then combined by our waiter tableside. A Caesar salad appetizer was unique: it consisted of a Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves, grilled and then topped with thin slices of opaque smoked black cod. It was wonderful; a larger portion of the cod would make a perfect lunch entrée.

Our entrees were divine – a perfectly sautéed fresh brook trout was devoured to the point where nothing remained. A simply grilled red snapper was among the finest fish I have ever tasted. It was perfectly cooked with a flavor that can only be described as silky and smooth.  Accompanied by a grilled tomato with almonds, it made for the best part of the dining experience.

Other items of note were very good dark bread accompanied by a spread of shallots and red wine. The wine list was excellent offering a diverse selection and good values.  The dessert selection looked wonderful but we were just too full to partake – we chose instead to linger over another glass of wine and coffee.

Millesime is the place you want to go regardless of the reason – to celebrate, to reward, to relax and most of all to dine on great food in a wonderful atmosphere.

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Filed under New York Restaurants, New York Stories, Out on the Town