New York Business Travel: Suitable Surroundings

Business travelers ask a lot of their hotels: comfort, good working conditions and reasonable prices. Lately, judging from the response from New York City properties, their requests have been well received.

Following is a rundown of some of the ways New York City properties are improving their lineup of facilities and amenities for the business traveler and corporate meeting groups.

Apple Core Inc. recently added the 80-room Hotel Remington to its roster of four corporate boutique hotels and completed renovations at their properties.

Best Western Manhattan, an Apple Core property, recently added meeting rooms and an exercise room, as well as a business center with computers and meeting space for up to 70.

All 100 rooms at the Quality Hotel East Side have been remodeled and now offer an Early American design. In addition, the hotel staff is multilingual, a huge asset for international business travelers.

At the Quality Hotel & Suites Rockefeller Center, all 200 rooms are newly renovated and offer business amenities such as voice mail and dataports. New meeting rooms, a business center and exercise facilities are now available at this Apple Core site.

Manhattan East Suites has refurbished the 172 rooms at the Beekman Tower Hotel. The hotel has five meeting and banquet rooms ranging from 350 to 1,450 square feet. The Beekman's restaurant, the Top of the Tower, which recently got a facelift, is available for receptions.

The chain also completed renovations at the Lyden Gardens and Plaza Fifty, as well as at Lyden House.

Sheraton Hotels of New York opened its Executive Conference Center, a freestanding, 25,000-square-foot facility located at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers. Designed for board meetings and small conferences, the center features 12 meeting rooms for up to 75 people.

The 146-room Sheraton Russell (formerly the Sheraton Park Avenue) and the 650-room Sheraton Manhattan both have been renovated to all-corporate club room hotels. All rooms have oversized desks, ergonomic chairs, dataports, dual-line phones and printer, fax and copiers.

With its restoration, The Algonquin, A Camberley Hotel, has added numerous amenities for its business travelers. They include a full business center, special corporate rates, meeting facilities, dataports, concierge service and fitness center.

Best Western Woodward last year added a voice-mail system to all guest rooms, along with electronic card key locks. This year, the property is undergoing refurbishment of 93 of its 140 guest rooms and suites. A penthouse suite is being added.

Crowne Plaza Manhattan moved a full-service business center to the hotel lobby. It offers computer and cellular phone rentals, fax stations and secretarial support. The 46th floor Crowne Plaza Club offers amenities such as continental breakfast, personal concierge service and check-in and check-out. Priority Club, the property's frequent guest program, has waived its $10 enrollment fee.

The Hotel Pennsylvania was purchased last September and will be associated with the All Star Cafe. The hotel expects to change its name to the All Star Hotel sometime this year and take on a sports theme. A renovation, scheduled to begin midyear, will encompass the lobby and public areas, and guest rooms will be upgraded. Several floors will be devoted to corporate travelers, and all rooms will have a desk, fax and dual-line phones.

The Millennium Broadway plans in January 1999 to open a 124-room hotel tower adjacent to its Hudson Theatre. The addition, the Premier, will boost the property's room count to 751.

Le Parker Meridien recently upgraded its business center, and it now offers personal computer, printer, high-volume copier/fax machine, Internet/e-mail, secretarial, translation and messenger service and other features which complement the property's in-room business amenities. The hotel has introduced a Stretch Break for business travelers, during which an instructor from the hotel's Club La Raquette leads meeting attendees in a stretch routine as an alternative to traditional coffee breaks.

The New Yorker Hotel's Merit Account Program, which offers corporate clients a choice of guest rooms, two ballrooms and seven meeting rooms, has added a new fitness center to its menu.

New York Hilton and Towers, which last year spent $10 million on renovations and redecoration of guest rooms and meeting space, has upgraded its telephone system to provide two lines with a hold button in every room.

The New York Marriott Marquis is renovating two of its ballrooms, the Astor and the Marquis.

The Ramada Milford Plaza has upgraded its business, transportation and entertainment services center and gave it an expanded amount of space in the lobby. The desk offers secretarial help, fax and cellular phone rental. The property also has added a new phone system with voice mail.

The Salisbury Hotel is equipping its corporate rooms and suites with a business center including a large work area with a pull-out port for laptops. The three prototype rooms on the 17th floor served as a starting point for this project, and the hotel is now working to have such rooms placed throughout the hotel as needed. Such rooms include dual-line phones with speakerphone, as well as executive chairs that tilt and swivel. The hotel also added electronic locks on all guest rooms doors.

As part of a $25 million renovation, the Grand Hyatt New York has refurbished its meeting space, including the 19,000-square-foot ballroom. All guest rooms now have work stations with large desks, extra outlets for laptops and an easy chair. The property also expects to open a new executive health center on its penthouse level, which will be available to hotel guests only.

The Direct Dial meeting program at the Hotel Inter-Continental New York provides one-stop planning for small meetings being booked within 30 days or less. Planners should call (212) 906-3127, where an on-site manager will handle all arrangements.

Rooms at The Kitano feature large desks, dual-line speaker phones, fax, computer hookup and voice mail. Other amenities include international newspaper delivery and multi-lingual guest services. The property's two penthouse suites are available for business functions.

The new Drake Executive Conference Center and the Park Avenue Spa and Fitness Center are the big news items for business travelers to Swissotel New York, The Drake. The 8,000-square-foot conference center has two boardrooms for 12 and 20 people, as well as six meeting rooms, including a 2,000-square-foot suite for banquets of up to 100. There are also two dining areas that can also serve as meeting rooms. Guests receive a 15% discount on spa services.

All guest units at the Fitzpatrick Manhattan now have fax machines, dataports for laptops, and coffeemakers.

New York Palace opened its Villard Center in April, 1997, as a 15,000-square-foot meeting and function facility. It occupies two floors at the hotel and can accommodate 10 to 200 people. A new business center is open, which offers computers, fax, Internet services, secretarial help and private offices. All rooms have oversized desks, dataports, fax machines and safes.

Barbizon Hotel has added 11 terrace suites (including seven spa suites) with views of the city, and has completed renovations of all 310 rooms, the lobby and the breakfast room. All rooms have entertainment centers with CD/cassette player, two-line phones with dataports and computerized minibars. In-room faxes and laptops are available upon request.

In addition, the hotel has added an Equinox Fitness Club & Spa, with special access for guests.

Hotel Lexington & Towers, which recently became part of Golden Tulip Hotels, offers a business center with secretarial service, fax and audiovisual equipment, as well as one small meeting room. All 700 rooms have been renovated, and a new Italian restaurant has been added.

The Lowell, a boutique hotel, recently added a new phone system with voice mail and multiline phones, and installed fax units with private lines in each room. In addition, four of the property's eight deluxe one-bedroom suites have been redecorated.

The Mark has introduced cellular telephones upon arrival, with individual phone numbers, battery and charger free for each guest (but there is a usage charge).

The Lucerne introduced corporate rates for the first time last year, and added ironing boards, coffeemakers and hair dryers in all rooms. The property is also in the beginning stages of a project which will add a new business center and lounge. The hotel's banquet space accommodates 70, and has an adjacent deck.

The Mayflower has completed the refurbishment of the property's conference room, which holds from 10 to 30 and offers park views. In addition, the hotel's other meeting rooms here can hold up to 58 classroom-style, 100 theater-style and 160 for dinner. There are two penthouses with terraces that can hold up to 75 for a reception. All rooms offer voice mail, and cellular phones are available for rental. Free shuttle service is provided to the Javits Center for major trade shows.

About 85% of the leases at the Phillips Club, an extended-stay hotel adjacent to Lincoln Center, are held by corporate clients. The minimum stay is 30 days. Residents receive membership in a nearby sports club, and can use the 24-hour business center and a boardroom for up to 10. The property has introduced high-speed Internet access, which is available either in-room or at the business center.

Trump International Hotel & Tower provides cellular phones upon request for use throughout their stay (usage charges apply). Free business cards (with cell phone number) and personalized stationery is provided. Local phone calls, in-room fax machines and computers (upon request) also are free. Each guest gets his own personal Attache, a combination business assistant and concierge, who remains at their service during the stay.

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