Classic to contemporary cool, Central Park to Battery Park
Frank Sinatra certainly got it right when he crooned, “I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.” The island of Manhattan is an enticing destination for both planners and attendees, and an event held in the Big Apple is sure to be memorable. After all, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
According to NYC & Co., the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, booking a convention, meeting or trade show in New York City will result in higher-than-usual attendance numbers and better business end results. New York also offers a greater number of airline and flight choices, more fun and entertainment for delegates at the end of their workday and a diversely exciting destination that impresses everyone. “The city offers unparalleled access to the world’s best commercial and cultural districts,” says Michael Lindenbaum, general manager of the hip new Dream Downtown hotel. “There is no need, professional or otherwise, that can’t be met.” A presumptuous statement in some cities, but not New York.
Options abound when it comes to places to do business, particularly convention space. The largest in Manhattan—and actually one of the largest in the country—is the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center of New York, which hosts approximately 80 major trade shows and 70 special events each year amid its 840,000 sq. ft. of space. The Special Events Hall can seat up to 3,200 for theater-style meetings and receptions and up to 1,700 for banquets, and many of the 75 meeting rooms have flexible walls that allow for expansion or reduction to accommodate a client’s particular needs. The Javits Center also recently expanded, thanks to the 2010 acquisition of an 110,000-square-foot pre-engineered structure known as Javits Center North, which features an additional 80,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space. It is also currently undergoing a renovation that includes a new roof; installation of high-energy rooftop mechanical units; replacement of the curtain wall glazing units; repair, replacement and upgrades of the main building’s mechanical, electrical, plumbing, lighting and life-safety systems; and re-configuration of the entrance to accommodate double-sliding doors. Construction is expected to be complete in 2013, after which a green roof will be installed that will be the largest in New York City. This eco-update may increase the facility’s energy efficiency by as much as 25%.
Just north of the Javits is Piers 92/94, site of design-centric events such as The Armory Show, the Architectural Digest Home Design Show, The Pier Antiques Show and leading fashion shows during New York Fashion Week. It features 208,000 sq. ft. of exhibit area.
Battery Park City courtesy of the New York CVB and Marley White.
As many large events take place at the Javits Center and the Piers, properties that provide easy access to these sites are ideal. Plus, many of them offer meeting spaces, as well. Kimpton features two hotels that provide such access. Eventi Hotel, which celebrated its first birthday in June, is located in the bustling neighborhood of Chelsea. Like the rest of this artsy ’hood, the hotel provides planners with an escape from the meeting norm, according to General Manager Thomas Mathes. “Unlike traditional hotel conference rooms, Eventi’s 20,000 sq. ft. of multifaceted meeting and event space allows guests to enjoy an abundance of natural light in meeting rooms and utilize the hotel’s indoor/outdoor spaces,” he says. Ink48, meanwhile, offers 5,000 sq. ft. of meeting facilities in three flexible meeting rooms. Additionally, the hotel is just 10 blocks north of the Javits Center, making it a truly convenient and walkable convention hotel.
Beyond the convention centers, one of the largest meeting spaces in the city can be found at the Hilton New York, located on 6th Avenue and 53rd Street. It features 151,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting and exhibit space and boasts the biggest grand ballroom in town, with 24,726 sq. ft. of space. The hotel completed a major, multimillion dollar soft goods refurbishment of its principal ballrooms, fourth-floor function space and concourse-level meeting rooms in late 2008. “What sets this hotel apart from the hotels in this area is the flexibility of our meeting space,” says Kellie Cahill, CMP, director of sales and marketing. “If you are a small meeting, you can be secluded and if you are a large meeting, you can be the big fish.”
Still, Times Square is home to a host of convention hotels, along with countless Broadway shows for your attendees to enjoy post-event (encourage them to visit the TKTS booth in the heart of Times Square for discounted same-day tickets).
“Times Square has an energy and edge that cultivates creativity,” says Jim Mooney, director of sales and marketing for The Westin New York at Times Square. “The area is centrally located, so attendees can easily access all parts of the city. In addition, many major companies have offices in the Times Square area.”
The Westin, which completed the final phase of a $24 million renovation last year, offers more than 34,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, including 32 meeting and breakout rooms, a dramatic, seven-story interior atrium and three ballrooms. There is also a 13-screen movie theater, which can accommodate up to 526 people, connected to the hotel. Plus, the entire ninth floor of meeting space is undergoing a renovation that will be complete this month. Another top Times Square pick is the new InterContinental New York Times Square, an eco-focused hotel that features more than 10,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, including the 4,000-square-foot Gotham Park Ballroom and 10 separate meeting rooms each named after a Manhattan park.
Many planners flock to the New York Marriott Marquis, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary in Times Square and runs at 90%-and-above occupancy almost year-round, proving it to be a consistent planner favorite. This month, it will also debut the renovation of its 29,000-square-foot Broadway Ballroom, which features a full Broadway-style stage.
CENTRAL PARK PROPER
Not every Manhattan meeting takes place inside convention centers, and where better to gather than at one of the iconic properties located near acclaimed Central Park? Along with providing a superb place for guests to relax, run or walk before and after events, hotels near the park also offer easy access to all that makes Manhattan great.
The stretch of upper Fifth Avenue adjacent to the east side of the park is known as Museum Mile. It’s anchored by such cultural institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. It’s also home to renowned shopping, making hotels in this prestigious area an enticing option for planners. For intimate meetings, the Hotel Plaza Athénée, located on 64th Street, is a classic choice. The hotel completed a refurbishment project in 2010 that included updates to a majority of the guest rooms and suites, a redesign of bathrooms, new luxury suites, a new lobby look, updated business and fitness centers and a new spa. “The Plaza Athénée offers a quiet location, attractive meeting space with large windows and dedicated event staff to manage every need,” says Cheryl Plonski, associate director of sales and marketing. “The hotel will allow for only one group or meeting at a time, therefore providing clients with the privacy they so deserve.”
Further south along Fifth Avenue at 61st Street is 80-year-old The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, which recently completed at $100 million renovation and features nearly 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The update also included the addition of three new boardrooms on the fourth floor.
The Plaza, located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, is “a convenient hub that is easy to get to no matter where you are in Manhattan,” says Christine Presti, director of corporate and incentive sales. The hotel features more than 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and is a great option for tech-savvy guests—it recently launched an initiative to provide an iPad in every guest room. Guests can order in-room dining, request wake-up calls, check airline schedules and print boarding passes using these iPads. Two other ideal Fifth Avenue properties include The Peninsula New York and The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park. Each of the third-floor banquet rooms at The Peninsula features large windows with natural daylight. The Ritz, meanwhile, has 2,053 sq. ft. of meeting and event space and a conference concierge and technology butler to provide 24-hour service.
On the west side of Central Park, planners can take advantage of the Mandarin Oriental, New York. Along with its award-winning spa and restaurants, the luxury hotel is home to three meeting spaces, including the Mandarin Ballroom. “The view is just one of the many features that sets the hotel apart from the city’s other top venues,” says James Munz, associate director of catering. “Each event space has floor-to-ceiling views, and our rooms are easily adaptable for both an executive retreat and major conference for up to 600 delegates.”
The Veranda South at Eventi Hotel
Just ask Billy Joel: For every uptown girl (or boy), there are those who prefer to live in a downtown world, and there are plenty of places to do so when it comes to meetings. “The Wall Street/Financial District neighborhood is one of the fastest-growing areas, and people might be surprised to see how vibrant and bustling it is down here,” says Toni Hinterstoisser, general manager of Andaz Wall Street, a recent addition to the downtown scene that features five meeting studios, varying from 395–1,800 sq. ft. “It’s also extremely convenient to almost every subway line. In addition, with all of the plazas and courtyards opening up, it’s a lovely neighborhood in which to walk around, people-watch, dine, drink and enjoy the water views.”
Another top downtown meeting hotel is The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, which offers unparalleled views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The hotel recently underwent a remodel of all of its meeting spaces. Noted interior designer Frank Nicholson, who provided the design for the hotel, custom-designed all carpets, walls and curtains and completely refurbished the lobby.
The fourth quarter of this year will mark the opening of the Conrad New York, which will house 463 luxury rooms and more than 22,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, including a 5,800-square-foot grand ballroom. “The Conrad New York will provide an impeccable luxury experience to the most discerning business and leisure travelers,” says John T. A. Vanderslice, global head of luxury and lifestyle brands for Hilton Worldwide.
NEW & NOTABLE
New York is the city that never sleeps. It’s also the city that never stops changing. While several tried-and-true properties have maintained their status for years, a recent flood of hip new hotels are ideal for planners whose attendees have a penchant for meetings and events at the hottest spot in town.
Times Square is the site of one of the most buzz-worthy new hotel openings—The Chatwal New York, an Art Deco-style landmark hotel designed by Stanford White at the turn of the century that has been meticulously restored. The Stanford White Studio is a historical suite that is ideal for small meetings and events. The wood-paneled, 600-square-foot suite comes complete with the original working fireplace and private outdoor terrace, as well as memorabilia from the estate of Evelyn Nesbit, White’s infamous lover and one of the most beautiful actresses of her day.
Another recently opened mid-town Manhattan hot spot just a few blocks east of The Chatwal is the Setai Fifth Avenue. “We’re two blocks away from the Empire State Building and within walking distance of Madison Square Garden, Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. Our meeting space overlooks Fifth Avenue, making it feel like you are in the heart of the city,” says Sales Manager Erica Simmons. Summer 2010 marked the opening of the Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC, providing planners with yet another option for meetings. “At Gansevoort Park Avenue, we can have meetings on a rooftop or a traditional ballroom or in a lounge setting—it’s not just a stale boardroom,” says Tonya Sanchez, director of events for the hotel. “We like to incorporate the city as much as possible and personalize every experience. Gansevoort Park is an urban resort, and guests never have to leave the property. There are luxury, spacious accommodations developed with business travelers in mind, complimentary Wi-Fi, an Exhale Spa and Cutler Salon, a complimentary 24-hour fitness center and Asellina, an Italian restaurant led by [Chef Marco Porceddu].” For planners who may need more space than the 3,000-square-foot ballroom provides, the hotel has developed a relationship with Apella, a new state-of-the-art event and meeting space in the Alexandria Center at 450 East 29th Street. The facility is a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
Further downtown, one of the most stylish hotels to open in 2011 is Dream Downtown (another outpost is in Times Square), which debuted in June between the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. Beyond creating buzz for one of the few pools in Manhattan, the hotel caters to meeting groups with a dedicated ballroom and meeting rooms, as well as 4,500 sq. ft. of exhibition space.
Luna Park Coney Island
Though New York City has a bevy of hotel meeting-facility choices, the non-hotel and non-convention center meeting options are also boundless. Consider an event at a loft space such as Tribeca Rooftop in the popular downtown neighborhood of Tribeca. The 15,000-square-foot space, which is ideal for seminars, business meetings, private screenings, press launches and corporate presentations, features a 25-foot-high skylight ceiling and has an 18,000-square-foot landscaped roof deck. “The large windowed walls and rooftop access provide a magnificent view of uptown and downtown Manhattan as well as the Hudson River,” says Anissa Burnett, marketing director for the venue. The same owners also recently debuted Three Sixty°, a newly built 30,000-square-foot space on the 11th floor of the building with 360-degree views of Manhattan. “Three Sixty° has been thoughtfully and creatively designed to meet a planner’s every need. Incorporating state-of-the-art A/V technology, we can fully seat up to 500 guests using the entire space,” adds Burnett. “Our innovative use of lighting can be easily adapted to create a personalized atmosphere. The addition of this new space allows us to offer 50,000 sq. ft. of flexible event space to larger groups coming into NYC.”
Athletic-minded attendees will love events hosted at Chelsea Piers, a massive entertainment complex located along the Hudson River on the city’s west side. Chelsea Piers offers flexible event spaces for groups of 10–2,000. “Hotels have been done. Convention centers have been done. Try something different—think outside the box and really capture the attention of your guests,” suggests Sherwin Johnson, co-director of special events at the complex. “Additionally, planning an exciting meeting in a fun location makes it easy to encourage employees to attend. Chelsea Piers has it all—meeting spaces, catering and beverage services, a close proximity to great hotels, waterfront views, sports and activities. There is absolutely something for every company at the Piers.”
Looking for yet another fun option? Consider a private event with Classic Harbor Line. Take to the water on an 80-foot sailboat or cruise aboard a luxurious 1920s-style yacht. The events can include food and drink while your attendees enjoy the majesty of New York’s harbor. World Yacht also offers brunch and dinner cruises in the harbor, as well as private yacht charters. And for a fun twist on team building, there’s trendy Bowlmor Lanes in Times Square, where bowling and the boardroom meet.
When it comes to New York City meetings and events, the options are indeed endless. After all, the Big Apple hasn’t garnered its reputation as the city that never sleeps for nothing, so start spreading the news.
Hotel Gansevoort Park Avenue ballroom
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA) offers the quickest trip to Midtown hotels, accessed by metered taxis and the NYC Airporter.
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) hosts the largest number of flights, has fixed taxi fares to and from Manhattan and offers easy access via bus/van service to major hotels and subway lines.
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) is just across the river, but often can be an easier transfer via metered taxi or the AirTrain, depending on the location of your hotel.
Top Brookyln Bridge photo courtesy of New York CVB/Julienne Schaer, Battery Park image courtesy of New York CVB/Marley White.