Summer in New York: Towering Developments

With New York hotel occupancies running in the record mid-80% range for the past several years -- a trend that's projected to continue for 1999 -- the city has been unveiling new hotels and renovating and expanding existing ones at a rapid clip. The following is a summary of the latest hotel developments:

Starwood Acquisitions

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., which encompasses both Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and Westin Hotels & Resorts, has emerged in recent years as a major player on the global hotel scene, nowhere more so than in New York City.

Sheraton recently announced it will manage a new 562-room Planet Hollywood Hotel scheduled to open in Times Square in time for the millennium celebrations. Meanwhile, Westin will operate a new $300 million, 860-room luxury property, The Westin New York at Times Square, slated to open in the spring of 2002. Westin also acquired two properties -- the former Ritz-Carlton, now the Westin Central Park South, and the Essex House, now officially known as the Essex House, A Westin Hotel.

In addition, Starwood's new W Hotels inaugurated its first New York property, the W Hotel New York, last fall. The hotel, the former Doral Inn, is one of three former Doral properties that will eventually fly the W Hotels banner.

Starwood has also expressed interest in building a hotel at Kennedy airport, though details were not available at press time.

For more information on Starwood's New York City hotels, call (877) STARWOOD, or access Starwood's Web site: www.starwoodhotels.com.

New Hotels

Last month Manhattan East Suite Hotels debuted The Benjamin, the group's first Executive Suite Hotel, a new brand designed for the traveling senior executive. Located in midtown on the East Side, on the site of the former Beverly Hotel, the 209-unit property features spacious accommodations, each with three two-line speakerphones and one cordless; voicemail and direct international dialing private-line service; fax/scanner/printer/copier equipment and kitchen galleys equipped with a microwave, refrigerator and coffeemaker.

Facilities include the upscale Woodstock Spa and Wellness Center and three function rooms accommodating from 10 to 110 people. This month, renowned chef Larry Forgione will relocate An American Place, one of New York's most acclaimed restaurants, to the Benjamin.

The 138-room, boutique-sized Holiday Inn Wall Street will open this month. With only eight rooms and one executive suite per floor, the hotel will cater to business travelers midweek. Each guest room is equipped with T-1 Internet connectivity and an eight-foot work desk, task lighting, a desktop dataport and electrical outlet and desk supplies. For reservations call(212) 232-7800 or (800) HOLIDAY.

Courtyard by Marriott has opened its first two Manhattan properties -- the 308-room Courtyard by Marriott Midtown East and the 244-room Courtyard by Marriott Times Square South. The new hotels appeal to mid-level business travelers with such features as functional rooms with work desks and two two-line phones; informal restaurants; fitness facilities; business services and function rooms.

The new 155-room Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel, the third New York hotel to carry the name of the Fitzpatrick Family Group of Hotels, combines such amenities as in-room two-line phones with voicemail and dataport and private fax machines, with such reminders of the company's roots as an Old World Irish pub and rooms with Irish linens and towels.

The 120-room Premier by Millennium Broadway opened near the theater district in February, just a couple of doors from its sister hotel, the Millennium Broadway & Conference Center. The two hotels are connected by the historic Hudson Theatre, which is used for upscale social events, fashion shows and other private functions and presentations. The new property has a lounge serving guests free continental breakfast and beverages.

The Amsterdam Hospitality Group's newest member, the 21-story, 197-room Bentley Hotel, which was converted from an office building on East 62nd Street, offers rooms with soundproof windows, a rooftop restaurant (which can also be used for private functions) with views of the East River, a wraparound terrace open in summer, and a wood-paneled library with a complimentary cappuccino bar.

The 532-room Holiday Inn Broadway (on the site of the former Hotel Martinique), offers state-of-the-art facilities in a historic, turn-of-the-century French Renaissance-style building at Broadway and 32nd Street. Facilities include rooms with individual climate control, dual-line speaker phones/dataport, minibar, in-room safe and coffeemaker, as well as a fitness center, restaurant, bar and lounge.

Regent International Hotels, a member of the Carlson family, will inaugurate a 140-room hotel on Wall Street before the end of summer. The Regent Wall Street will feature spacious rooms and suites and several meeting and banquet rooms, including a 34,000-square-foot ballroom.

New Extended-Stay Hotels

Located in a former luxury condominium building on Manhattan's Upper East Side, the new 100-suite Marmara-Manhattan provides such residential-style touches as a Japanese courtyard garden to appeal to its long-stay guests. Accommodations in studios and one- to three-bedroom suites are equipped with multifunction fax machines, Web-TV, cordless phones, VCR and stereo systems, a personal safe large enough to store laptops and fully equipped kitchens. The two- and three-bedroom units also have washer/dryers.

Convenient to famous museums and art galleries, the hotel has on-site laundry facilities, a fitness room, guest privileges at a nearby health club, daily breakfast buffet, valet service and daily housekeeping.

New York's first of three planned Envoy Clubs, the Envoy Club at Eastbridge Landing, offers 58 well-furnished alcove studios and one- and two-bedroom suites. Located at First Avenue and 33rd Street, the property occupies five floors of a new building called Eastbridge Landing, and offers 24-hour concierge service, business services, daily housekeeping, on-site parking and laundry and dry-cleaning services. The extended-stay hotel welcomes pets.

Homestead Village Lodging, a developer, owner and operator of mid-priced extended lodging facilities, plans to open three properties in midtown Manhattan. According to industry sources, the group has tentatively chosen sites on East 45th Street, West 40th Street and East 55th Street.

In Development

The SoHo Grand Hotel, in the heart of Lower Manhattan's trendy SoHo district, will soon have a sister hotel, the Tribeca Grand, to open next spring in nearby Tribeca. Like the SoHo Grand, the 210-room Tribeca property is being developed by Hartz Mountain Industries. The hotel has been designed to blend with the area's famous cast-iron architecture. Facilities will include a business center, fitness center, restaurant, bar/lounge, a 100-seat room that can be used as a screening room for movies or for private functions, two meeting rooms and 24-hour room service.

Also in Lower Manhattan, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. will manage a new property in Battery Park City. The property is set to begin construction by the end of this year, and will occupy part of a new tower being built by developers Millennium Partners. In addition to the 250- to 300-room hotel, the complex will house 150 condo units and the new Skyscraper Museum.

Renovations/Expansions/New Services

The New Yorker Hotel, on 34th Street, a few steps from Madison Square Garden, will complete a phased renovation, upgrading and expansion this fall. The hotel has already added a business center and fitness facility and has created three levels of Tower rooms.

Recent improvements at Swissotel New York -- The Drake are geared toward business travelers. The hotel, on Park Avenue at 56th Street, boasts an 8,000-square-foot business center with private conference rooms, computer workstations with laser printers and color copiers. Additional features include access to Bloomberg Business News on-line, cell phones and pagers for rental.

The Peninsula New York reopened late last year after completing a major renovation and restoration project that included the addition of 14 suites, bringing the total to 55, and the upgrading of guest rooms.

The Phillips Club, a 100-unit extended-stay property near Lincoln Center, will unveil 87 additional suites this July. The accommodations will be located in an adjacent building now under construction.

Apple Core Hotels recently completed a $1.5 million renovation of the Comfort Inn Midtown and refurbished the Best Western Hotel & Conference Center in Hempstead, Long Island. The Best Western project included improvements to the 16,000-square-foot conference center, and such additional facilities for business travelers as new business and fitness centers.

The Carlton Hotel at Madison Avenue and 29th Street recently completed a $10 million repositioning project that upgraded the hotel from a budget property to a first-class business hotel. Improvements included redecorated guest rooms, the creation of two executive levels and the addition of a business center.

The New York Hilton & Towers has installed state-of-the-art electronic SmartLocks in its guest room doors. The locking system operates in conjunction with the hotel's SmartKeys as well as guests' Smartcards -- i.e., credit cards, such as the American Express Corporate Card, the Hilton Optima Card and the Hilton HHonors Worldwide Diamond VIP Card.

The Park Central Hotel, in midtown on the West Side, underwent a $60 million restoration and renovation. The project included the creation of 250 executive guest rooms and an executive club lounge, as well as the addition of a fitness/wellness center. In recognition of the growing number of women business travelers, the hotel also created a new in-house position, director of businesswomen travelers.

Clients of The Mark, on Manhattan's Upper East Side, can now use cordless phones during their stay. Guests pay only for usage -- $1.75 per minute for each incoming and outgoing call anywhere in the world. The hotel also offers guests a 10% discount on one item purchased at Bloomingdale's.

Manhattan East Suite Hotels has renovated all 128 suites at the all-suite Southgate Tower, and launched a two-phase refurbishment of the Shelburne Murray Hill, set for completion in September. The project includes a renovation of all 263 suites and the addition of cardiovascular equipment and men's and women's saunas in the 24-hour fitness center.

In-Hotel Restaurants

A welcome development for jet-lagged travelers who want to dine well without leaving their hotel is the recent trend toward opening gourmet eateries in hotels.

Chef-restaurateur Larry Forgione, whose American Place is relocating to the Benjamin (see above), is negotiating to open three restaurants at the new Embassy Suites Hotel (800-EMBASSY), under construction in Battery Park City; celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is the culinary star of a new restaurant at The Mercer Hotel (212-966-6060); famed restaurateur Drew Nieporent will head a new eatery at Starwood's new W New York Hotel (212-755-1200); Troy Dupuy, former chef of the acclaimed l'Espinasse, will preside over a French restaurant opening this month in the Iroquois New York (800-525-4800), and Hawaii's renowned Roy Yamaguchi has opened New York's first Roy's Restaurant (212-266-6262) in the New York Marriott Financial Center Hotel (800-228-9290).

Agents can obtain additional information on New York hotels by visiting the New York Convention & Visitors Bureau's Web site (see below).

Summer in New York: New York CVB Information

New York Convention & Visitors Bureau, 810 Seventh Ave., New York 10019; (800) NYCVISIT to order material; (212) 484-1200 for information and assistance (agents should ask for the tourism department); fax (212) 246-6310; www.nycvisit.com, and www.newyork.citysearch.com.

The bureau also has offices in Chicago (312-372-2200) and Washington (202-530-0222).

Summer in New York: Lodging
  • Apple Core Hotels (Comfort Inn Midtown and Best Western Hotel & Conference Center): (800) 567-7720, www.applecorehotels.com.
  • The Benjamin: (888) 4BENJAMIN, www.thebenjamin.com.
  • Bentley Hotel (Amsterdam Hospitality Group): (888) 66-HOTEL, www.nycitysearch.com.
  • The Carlton: (212) 532-4100.
  • Courtyard by Marriott (two hotels): (800) 321-2211, www.courtyard.com.
  • Envoy Club at Eastbridge Landing: (212) 481-4600.
  • Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel: (800) 367-7701, www.fitzpatrickhotels.com.
  • Holiday Inn Broadway: (888) NYHOLIDAY.
  • Homestead Village Lodging: (770) 303-2200.
  • Manhattan East Suite Hotels (Southgate Tower and Shelburne Murray Hill): (800) ME-SUITE, www.mesuite.com.
  • The Mark: (800) THE MARK, www.themarkhotel.com.
  • Marmara-Manhattan: (212) 427-3100, ext. 80207, www.marmara-manhattan.com.
  • The New York Hilton & Towers: (800) HILTONS, www.newyorktowers.hilton.com.
  • New York Marriott Brooklyn: (888) 436-3759, www.marriott.com.
  • The New Yorker: (800) 764-4680.
  • Park Central Hotel: (800) 346-1359.
  • The Peninsula New York: (800) 262-9467, www.peninsula.com.
  • The Phillips Club: (212) 834-8800.
  • The Premier by Millennium Broadway and Millennium Broadway & Conference Center: (800) 456-6486, www.millenniumbroadway.com.
  • Regent International Hotels: (800) 545-4000.
  • Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.: (800) 241-3333.
  • Swissotel New York -- The Drake: (888) 73-SWISS, www.swissotel.com.
  • Tribeca Grand: (800) 965-3000, www.hartzmountain.com.
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