NEW YORK -- Since its March 15 premiere, pictures of Vessel,
the massive, funnel-shaped hive that serves as the centerpiece of New York's new
Hudson Yards development, have gone viral. That spells good news for the city's
The Thomas Heatherwick-designed, climbable public artwork
has emerged as a social media sensation, quickly becoming the city's selfie
backdrop du jour. Even so, the installation's "Vessel" moniker is
just a placeholder; a permanent name will be selected via crowdsourcing in the
Standing 150 feet tall, Vessel cuts a striking image.
Consisting of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, the structure offers views
of the Hudson Yards complex, midtown Manhattan and the Hudson River.
Advance tickets to enter it are available online for free,
but Vessel has proven so popular that the two-week reservation window is often
booked solid. Long lines form for a limited number of free, same-day tickets,
released each morning at 9:30.
Mercado Little Spain is a bustling Spanish food hall in Hudson Yards helmed by Jose Andres. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski
"We're calling Vessel our version of the Eiffel Tower,"
said Christopher Heywood, executive vice president of global communications for
NYC & Company, the city's destination marketing organization. "It's
been blowing up on social media."
What's more, Vessel is just one of several elements at
Hudson Yards seemingly tailor-made to lure tourists. The 28-acre, mixed-use
project, which is estimated to have cost $25 billion, will be the largest
private real estate development in the city since Rockefeller Center, according
to co-developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group.
Highlights include a shopping center notable for housing New
York's first Neiman Marcus and a Jose Andres-led Spanish food court, among
other outlets, plus the Shed, an arts center that officially debuted in early
The site also offers prime access to transportation and
other popular New York destinations.
The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards opened earlier this spring. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski
"We've had immense visitor traffic from the outset,"
said Stacey Feder, chief marketing officer for Hudson Yards. Among the factors
she credited for the surge are the development's direct link to the High Line,
the elevated park that runs from 34th Street to Gansevoort Street, and its
proximity to the 34th Street-Hudson Yards No. 7 train subway stop.
Placer.ai, a location intelligence platform that collects
foot-traffic data from cellphones that have downloaded partner apps, estimates
that Hudson Yards attracted well over 120,000 visitors each weekend in its
first three weeks of being open. Notably, the site surpassed foot traffic to
established hot spots like Rockefeller Center and Central Park on the Saturday
of its debut weekend and continued to outpace or fall within striking distance
of both destinations on subsequent weekends through the end of March.
Meanwhile, the Edge, billed as the highest outdoor
observation deck in the Western Hemisphere, is expected to further cement
Hudson Yards' status as a tourist magnet. Scheduled to open in 2020, the Edge
will offer panoramic views from 1,100 feet above the street.
Soon, visitors will also be able to book a stay in the heart
of Hudson Yards, with fitness brand Equinox opening its inaugural hotel at the
complex this June.
The 212-room luxury property will feature a
60,000-square-foot Equinox Fitness Club as well as an outpost of the brand's
personalized training club, E by Equinox.
The Equinox Hotel is scheduled to open this summer. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski
Equinox is not the only hotel poised to benefit from the
neighborhood's building boom. Roughly seven blocks north, the Yotel New York
has already seen a spike in buzz surrounding the debut of Hudson Yards.
Elvis Gonzalez, director of mission and ground control at
Yotel New York, said, "Hudson Yards has generated a ton of excitement
about the entire area, particularly with guests from out of town. A lot has
changed, with a surge of new restaurants, attractions and cultural offerings
[enabling] Midtown West to shine as a sought-after neighborhood."
Nichole Mariette, director of sales and marketing for the
nearby Distrikt Hotel, which is part of Hilton's Tapestry Collection, agreed
that Hudson Yards has further enhanced the appeal of Midtown West.
"Before Hudson Yards, that part of the neighborhood was
a bit unsavory, and no one really went there," Mariette said. "But
now, instead of heading back to Times Square, guests are going to Hudson Yards."
The Shed arts center opened in early April. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski
Recognizing opportunity, several other hospitality players
have broken ground on nearby projects. The 399-room Marriott Courtyard New York
Midtown West will open across the street from Hudson Yards later this year,
complete with a food and beverage concept that Shannon Colbert, vice president
sales & marketing for management company Endeavor Hospitality Group, said
will "present an affordable, comfortable, lively and social option in the
Hudson Yards District."
Likewise, boutique brand Arlo is looking to build on the
success of its SoHo and NoMad locations with a third New York property a stone's
throw from Hudson Yards.
Set to open in 2020, the Arlo Midtown Hotel plans to attract
guests with its lifestyle-driven positioning.
Foiz Ahmed, president of hospitality for Arlo owner Quadrum
Global, said, "In Midtown West, it's mainly big-box, branded hotels, and
there's a lack of hip factor. We're going to create something focused on the
local experience. And I do believe that people who are in the know will want to
stay at Hudson Yards."
Not everyone is as confident about Hudson Yards' staying
power, however. For example, Barry Tenenbaum, president of tour operator New
York City Vacation Packages said he wonders if once Vessel is no longer the
city's shiniest new toy, Hudson Yards will remain a major draw.
A view from inside Vessel, which is made up of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski
"It's a magnificent development, but from a tourism
perspective, you have to think about the competition," Tenenbaum said. "Tourists
have so little time and lots to do. It's competing with the Statue of Liberty,
Rockefeller Center, Times Square, etc. Are people going to have time?"
Still, Tenenbaum appears to be hedging his bets. New York
City Vacation Packages will pass through Hudson Yards on its four-hour City
Highlights bus tour, and it will add stopover options as part of its six- and
eight-hour itineraries. The company also hopes to add the Edge to its
Observatory package, alongside One World Observatory, the Empire State Building
observation deck and Top of the Rock.
"Time will tell," Tenenbaum said. "Who knows?
Perhaps Hudson Yards and Vessel could end up being one of our greatest