NEW YORK -- A number of new hotels, attractions, Broadway shows and
visitor services will greet tourists in the Big Apple next year.
Among the new attractions is the Times Square Visitors Center, a
6,000-square-foot facility within the restored Embassy Theatre at
1560 Broadway between 46th and 47th streets.
Dubbed the city's first one-stop-shopping visitor center, it
features ATMs for quick cash, tickets to popular tourist
attractions and sightseeing tours, MetroCards for subway and bus
rides and a Broadway ticket center for full-price tickets. Other
features include free access to the Internet on six computers, a
shop selling official New York memorabilia, hometown newspapers
from around the world and a video history of Times Square.
Although the center's amenities are what drives business, the
restored building that surrounds it is an attraction in itself.
The Embassy Theatre was built in 1925 as an opulent movie house
and was the last vintage Times Square theater to present first-run
movies. When it opened, it made history as the first and only movie
theater in the U.S. managed and staffed solely by women.
The visitors center is just across from the TKTS booth, which
sells half-price tickets to Broadway shows.
Speaking of Broadway, 17 new productions, including seven
musicals, four plays and six special productions, were scheduled to
open during the first half of the 1998-99 season.
Opening Nov. 23 is the revival of "Peter Pan," the classic that
tells the story of the little boy determined to never grow up.
Starring two-time Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby, the musical will be
performed at the Marquis Theater at 211 W. 45th St.
Also new is "Parade," a musical based on the true story of Leo
Frank, a factory manager in Atlanta who was accused of the murder
of a 13-year-old girl in 1913. The play opens Dec. 17 at the Vivian
Beaumont Theater at 150 W. 65th St.
On the hotel front, Brooklyn enters 1999 with its first major
new build, the New York Marriott Brooklyn, in the Brooklyn
Renaissance Plaza. Offering 376 rooms, including 10 suites and a
concierge level with 36 luxury units, the hotel is adjacent to the
Metrotech Center and close to Brooklyn's courthouses and municipal
buildings. Aimed at business travelers, the hotel offers the latest
in-room, high-tech gadgets as well as 19 meeting rooms and a grand
ballroom with room for 2,900. For reservations, call (888)
For visitors who want to be Irish for a week, the new
Fitzpatrick Grand Central at 141 E. 44th St. offers European
ambience and an authentic Irish pub. Located in a remodeled office
building across from Grand Central Station, the hotel offers 155
rooms with canopied beds and modern conveniences for the business
traveler and a cozy lobby with two fireplaces. This hotel is a
sister property to the hotel company's other inn, the Fitzpatrick
Manhattan on Lexington Avenue at 57th Street. For reservations,
call (800) 367-7701.
The Bentley is new on the Upper East Side at 500 E. 62nd St.
Converted from the former headquarters of the National Urban
League, the hotel offers 229 contemporary rooms with great views of
the East River. For reservations, call (212) 459-1000.
Even with the added room inventory, however, finding a room in
Manhattan during the peak season can be as difficult as finding a
needle in a haystack. One way to find an empty bed is to use a
central reservation service like the one offered by the New York
Convention & Visitors Bureau. Called the Peak Season Hotel
Hotline, the toll-free number, (800) 846-7666, is designed to help
find a room in every category and price range through Jan. 2. The
service, which is also on the CVBs Web site at www.nycvisit.com,
pays agents a 5% commission. Among the tips the CVB offers for
securing a room during peak season are book early, be flexible and
try hotels in all of the city's five boroughs.
Other hotel reservations services include Hotel Con-x-ions at
(800) 522-9991 and Central Reservation Service at (800)
For sightseeing, clients should pick up a CityPass booklet that
offers savings on admission to the city's six most-visited cultural
and entertainment attractions. The ticket booklets are available in
advance at www.citypass.net or at any of the participating
attractions and visitor information centers. Tickets are good for
nine days from the first date of use.
CityPass is also available to local residents who wish to
reacquaint themselves with the city's attractions or treat visiting
friends and relatives to the sites. Participating attractions are
the Empire State Building Observatory, Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Museum of Modern Art, Observation Deck at the World Trade Center,
American Museum of Natural History and Intrepid Sea-Air-Space
Museum. Admission to all six is $26.75 for adults, $18 for seniors
and $21 for children age 13 to 18.
For information, call any CityPass attraction or (707)