Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Grand Escape to Sands

by Karissa, Reservations Manager

I recently had the opportunity to go and visit the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Although I’ve visited casions in Atlantic City, I’ve never been able to spend the night at one  so it was a new and fun experience for me. We went on a Saturday and arrived right around check in time, we didn’t have to wait to check in and had great service and headed up to our room to freshen up before checking out the casino floor and getting dinner.

Upon entering the room I was in shock – since we work with so many hotels in New York City I am use to seeing such small rooms, the rooms at the Sands are very large and spacious. The décor was modern but had a very nice homey feel to it. The rooms are also energy efficient; when you enter the room there is a slot for your key on the wall, when you insert your key the lights turn on and the air conditioning will also turn on. The bathrooms were also very spacious with the sink outside of the bathroom so it’s accessible when someone is showering which I always prefer when traveling. After we got ready we headed down to the casino level.

We got down to the casino right around 5pm and it was already pretty busy – but not to the point where you had to squeeze through crowds of people. At this point we were very hungry so we headed right to eat at Emeril’s Burgers and More! There were several restaurants to choose from but we decided before hand that’s where we would go. Emeril himself has 3 restaurants there to suit everyones’ taste buds: the Chop House, Italian Table and then Burgers & More. We were seated right away and approached by our waiter Matt who was very accommodating and helpful in making suggestions off the menu. We decided to go all out on our experience there and had an appetizer, entrée, and dessert! All of the food was great we left so full and satisfied with the food and the wonderful service we had. We enjoyed it so much we later returned with a friend who wanted to grab something to eat.

The casino itself got quite busy as the night continued and there was a live band performing at one of the bars in the center of the casino and everyone was enjoying themselves singing along and dancing. There were plenty of games to choose from and it wasn’t so crowded that you needed to wait for a seat at one of the tables. There were plenty of slots to choose from which is what I personally always go for – I’m a little too scared to roll with the big guys at the poker tables! Some of our friends played Roulette and seemed to have a great time! On the outer banks of the casino there are the Shoppes at the Sands which is 2 floors of nice higher end stores like Nine West, Coach, DKNY, Guess, Lenox and an interesting store that I just HAD to go into ….Peeps & Company! I personally am not a fan of peeps but a lot of my officemates are so I had to go in and check it out – you can buy any kind of peep here year round!

After all the exploring and enjoying the night we decided to wind down and head to bed even at that point at almost 1am the casino floor was still bumping and people were out having a great time! We headed up to the room and quickly fell asleep, the room was very quiet – no outside noise snuck in and disturbed us. The next morning we headed back down to the casino floor for continental breakfast. I was a little concerned that we went down 30 minutes before the breakfast ended but there was still plenty of food to choose from including fresh fruit and pastries and assorted juices. We then went to check out and were greeted by one of the managers as we had a short wait for an agent to check us out.

The whole stay, although just for one night, was very delightful, we had a great time and are already planning when we can go back! And even though sometimes Pennsylvania seems light years away to New Yorkers it’s actually pretty close. We have a car and were able drive but there is also public transportation that can go there from the city or you could rent a car and drive there it’s a very easy drive. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to get away to somewhere new and enjoys casinos.

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Filed under Further Afield, Out on the Town

Dans Le Noir – Dining in the Dark

by Alexandra, Concierge Manager

I am so excited to share with you the most memorable experiences I have ever had in my life. Recently I and one of my colleagues attended a concierge event at the New York City restaurant Le Dans Noir, where you dine in pitch black.

I am a person that eats with her eyes: I have to see what I’m eating and if it doesn’t look appetizing, then I don’t want to eat it. So at first when I heard this experience would take place in total darkness, I was nervous because i didn’t know what to anticipate. But then as the host and owner spoke about their success in London and Japan and how they employ blind or disabled waiters, hosts, Maitre d’, etc. the excitement began to build. Ten percent of the profit goes to charities. Beyond their do-good efforts, they strive to create an experience where your other senses are heightened.

So you’re probably asking, “how do you order?” It’s simple. They have four menu choices based on color:

  • White for chef’s choice
  • Green for vegetarians
  • Blue for seafood lovers
  • Red for meat lovers.

Based on your choice, you receive an appetizer, and entree and dessert. I chose the seafood menu.

After placing your order, you are given a locker where you must leave your cell phone, purse and any and all belongs that give off any sort of light. You are then escorted to the special dining room by your blind guide and seated next to complete strangers. This is great because you lose your inhibitions and do not judge people by their looks. You feel as if you have known your new friends all your life. Conversations swell, the noise level does go up a bit… more than normal. It’s like a roller coaster experience once the food comes out. The food was amazing. Of course, the ingredients have to be incredibly fresh because your sense of taste is heightened. You use your fingers and your sense of smell and you have to guess what your eating, nobody tells you. It’s just an overall amazing, unforgettable experience.

We were told that celebrities love places like this because they aren’t scrutinized and can enjoy their meal in peace. William and Kate often eat at the sister restaurant in Paris. Wow… who knows who you could be seated next to!

At the end of the meal, the lights were turned back on and the chef came out and showed us a set up plate of everything we eat!!! WOW. Most of our guesses were very far off!

If you’re an adventurous eater this is an experience you must have for yourself!

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Filed under New York Restaurants

The Top 10 Sporting Events & Venues Photos

Here they are! Voting will be open through 6/25, so scroll down to check them out and then vote for your favorite!

#1 by Audra Farmer

#2 by Charlotte Porter

#3 by Debbie Strabac Monaco

#4 by Donna McDougall

#5 by Kathie Patterson

#6 by Linda Brown

#7 by Perry Pietro

#8 by Stella de Cos

#9 by Stella de Cos

#10 by Stephanie Pilon

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Filed under Monthly Photography Contest

May The Best Man Win

by Louise, Community Manager

I don’t know if you all noticed, but there’s a presidential election going on. I suppose if you don’t live in the USA, or if you do but your home is under a rock, you might be less aware, but it seems like the 2012 Presidential Election has been being shoved in our faces every second of every day for at least a year, with still months to go before we know the outcome. It’s this reality that gave me somewhat mixed feelings about checking out The Best Man, a revival of Gore Vidal’s play set in 1960 that tells the story of two men battling for their party’s nomination. Ultimately, though, the all-star cast featuring James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, John Larroquette, Candice Bergen and Eric McCormack won me over. I’m glad they did.

Former Secretary of State William Russell and young Senator Joseph Cantwell, along with a third elusive candidate whom we never meet, are in the throes of a final battle to secure their party’s nomination for President. The action takes place in their two hotel suites in Philadelphia the first day of their party’s convention (I may be mistaken, but I don’t think it was ever mentioned with which party they are affiliated). As the story moves forward we learn that (as seems to be the case with all politicians) each candidate has something to hide that could potentially lose them the election. Everyone seems well aware that neither candidate has enough delegate votes to secure the nomination if something doesn’t change, and time is running out for something to change.

The Best Man is a behind-the-scenes look at everything you might imagine goes on during a primary election – back door deals, pleas for important endorsements, tense face-offs between the candidates, their campaign managers, their wives, and everyone around them. While democracy is one of our country’s proudest attributes, it often seems like it can bring out the worst in us, and The Best Man illustrates that point well. I couldn’t decide whether it was more comforting or disturbing that a play that was written in 1960 seemed almost like it could have been set in modern day with very few changes.

The play is replete with powerhouse performances. For me, the standouts were Angela Lansbury as Sue-Ellen Gamadge, the chatty and opinionated Chairman of the Woman’s Division, and Candice Bergen as the somewhat reserved but razor-witted Alice Russell, wife of one of the candidates. John Larroquette is also phenomenal, of course. At one point, he yells at his opponent “Joseph, SHUT UP” and several audience members burst into spontaneous applause from the sheer satisfaction of hearing his delivery. Unfortunately, I attended the show the day after Michael McKean was injured in a car accident, and I would have loved to have seen him, but there are plenty of terrific performances to enjoy. There is always the fear of disappointment when you see so many actors with amazing reputations performing together in one piece, but this group delivers everything their names promise.

Obviously I won’t tell you who the eventual candidate is, but I will tell you I walked out of the theater very satisfied, which is not a feeling one offer encounters after two and a half hours of politics. Or maybe that’s just me.

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Filed under Broadway Review

Woodbury Commons, Shopping Mecca

by Danielle, New York Guest Concierge

After living in NYC for 7 years I FINALLY went to Woodbury Commons and now I know why it’s one of New York’s most visited attractions. It was amazing. The best outlet store selection, anywhere.

First of all, it’s really well laid out. You’re never too far from your car or bus stop, yet you almost feel like you are in an amusement park. They have nice, clean restrooms scattered throughout the property along with lockers to store backpacks or any extra package that you don’t want to carry anymore. There are plenty of drink and ice cream vending machines around every other corner, should you have not opted for one of the many lemonade, ice cream, or kettle corn stands. There is also a regular food court that is inside and climate controlled.

Woodbury Commons is an outdoor facility but the stores are so well-designed that you can pop out of one and into another in just a few seconds.

And let’s talk about those stores. Such a wide range of choices!! From very high end–Gucci, Coach, Barney’s–to moderate–Levi, Gap, J. Crew. My husband and I didn’t know where to start, so we hit them all! Well, we walked to every area and passed at least all of the stores. We were more judicious about where we actually needed to shop.
Some store did have lines outside, letting people in a few at a time. While a bit frustrating, I totally understood when we entered the Tori Burch store. If you are shopping for the higher end items, you want more personal attention and less craziness when trying on $200 shoes.

The craziness. Not that bad. We went on a holiday weekend and while yes, there were plenty of people there, I didn’t feel completely crushed or frantic. If a store was crazy busy (Ralph Lauren), we just went to another store and came back later. The stores have plenty of inventory, so I wasn’t worried about missing out. My husband walked away with 2 nice polo shirts later on in the day, no problem. And people come here to shop. Many many people had suitcases in tow that at the beginning of the day were empty, but by the end of the day was full of fantastic purchases. Very smart if you plan on taking advantage of all this place has to offer.

The best way to get there is by bus if you aren’t doing a private charter for a group. The buses game at regular times and can hold all of your wares at the end of the day. Plus, you get to look at the beautiful view while someone else worries about traffic.  And lets not forget the setting! We were in the beautiful Catskill mountains just an hour outside of NYC! It really was gorgeous and overall a wonderful day. We will definitely be returning!

Click here to book your Woodbury Commons day trip online, or e-mail us at to plan a shopping-centric trip to NYC!

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Filed under New York Shopping