NEW YORK -- A stone's throw from the chaos of Penn Station in
midtown Manhattan, the unassuming Southgate Tower stands quiet and
reserved on the southeast corner of 31st Street and Seventh Avenue.
One of 10 all-suite properties in the Manhattan East Suites
group, Southgate is the only one west of Madison Avenue and the
nearest to the downtown financial center.
Maybe that's why hundreds of government officials on post-Sept.
11 assignments chose to stay at the property, or perhaps it was
because its big suites could accommodate working groups in casual
Either way, the Southgate became a home away from home for U.S.
attorneys, FBI and Federal Emergency Management Agency workers,
state troopers and others who remained in the city for some months
after the terrorist attacks.
According to Mark Hurewitz, general manager, Southgate was sold
out in the fourth quarter of last year thanks to the government
officials, although he certainly would have preferred hosting them
under different circumstances.
The Southgate must have done something right during that
difficult time: A large plaque carrying the seal of the Department
of Justice and signed by Attorney General John Ashcroft hangs in
Hurewitz's office, thanking the hotel staff for its part in helping
to make those months tenable for the government officials who
A year later, occupancy hovers around 70%, down from what
Hurewitz said would be a traditional level of 85%. In general,
though, he said, "We're holding our own."
The three-star Southgate has 527 suites, making it the largest
all-suite hotel in the city.
A one-bedroom suite with a balcony overlooking Seventh Avenue
had a large living room with a sitting area and a work area. It
also featured a fully equipped kitchen and two bathrooms.
The rooms were clean, bright and decorated in neutral colors and
with mahogany furnishings. The work area provided an oversized
desk, a data port for computer and fax hook-up, and dual-line
phones with voice mail.
The hotel restaurant, Niles, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner,
and both business and leisure guests could be seen dining there on
a recent visit. Breakfast is offered continental or full menu. At
night, Niles turns into a cozy Irish bar.
Hurewitz said Southgate's repeat business is high -- upwards of
75% -- but he has noticed that most people booking the hotel
through the Internet tend to be one-time visitors who happened upon
a special rate.
The property has seven meetings rooms and a ballroom that can
accommodate 400 for receptions, 250 for banquets.
Like other hoteliers in Manhattan, Hurewitz is taking it on
faith that visitor levels will return to more robust levels.
Until then, the property offers a warm reception to all comers
and counts on its regular guests to keep booking.
The regulars include the flight crews from Japan Air Lines and
road crews who work the big shows at Madison Square Garden.
"They're nice people," Hurewitz said, adding, "We're glad to
have them here."
Room key: Southgate Tower Suite Hotel
Address: 371 Seventh Ave., New York, N.Y.
Phone: (212) 563-1800
Fax: (212) 643-8028
Reservations: (800) ME-SUITE
Location: Midtown Manhattan
Number of Rooms: 527
Head Concierge: Joanne Norris
Sample rates: Studio, $189; one-bedroom suite,
Noteworthy: The evening crowd at the hotel bar,
Niles, can be counted on to entertain.
Not worthy: A problem with a magnetic door key
locked out a guest twice in one day.