New Slices in The Big Apple

american-museum-natural-historyAmerican Museum of Natural History

New York City neighborhoods boast exciting, fresh venues

Even by the standards of the city that never sleeps, the recent progress in tourism infrastructure that’s taken place in New York is impressive. The city has the most active hotel-development pipeline in the country. Some 9,000 new guest rooms opened in the past few years to bring the total to 113,000, and that number will climb to nearly 124,000 over the next four years.

javits-convention-centerJavits Convention Center

Meetings and events in particular will benefit from the $2.4 billion Hudson Yards subway station that opened in September, directly in front of the entrance to Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on the far-west side. Attendees can now take a 10-minute subway ride from parts of midtown to Javits, which just finished a five-year, $460 million renovation that added the 110,000-square-foot North Exhibit Hall, with views across the Hudson River to the New Jersey cliffs, and the second-largest green roof in the country. New shops and other amenities are also coming quickly to this revitalized area of Manhattan.

Hudson Yards is just one of several recently gentrified neighborhoods around the city. From the Lower East Side to the Meatpacking District to Hell’s Kitchen to parts of the “outer boroughs” of Brooklyn and Queens, planners have an ever-increasing number of new choices on where to conduct group tours and hold memorable after-hours meals and social events.

“This city offers an incredible value of experience —you can do more in New York in a few days than in any other destination,” says Jerry Cito, senior vice president of convention development for NYC & Company. “And there’s a plethora of free and affordable activities including museums, walking tours, TV-show tapings and outdoor activities. So hosting a meeting here doesn’t have to break the bank.”

He cites scavenger hunts around Manhattan as a team-building activity that’s become popular, because attendees can see so much of the city.

Cito offers one last tip: “For maximum value, hold your meeting here in the first quarter, which is a relatively slow time of year for us. It offers more accessibility and more value.”

Financial District

one-world-observatoryOne World Observatory

On May 29, One World Observatory opened atop the new One World Trade Center (1 WTC). The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, 1 WTC is set across the street from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The observatory’s public viewing areas, plus its dining and reception spaces on the 100th floor, provide indescribable views of the entire metropolitan area. While tickets to the memorial must be secured about two months in advance—and there’s no guarantee that they’ll be available—a group could probably more easily visit the observatory as individuals or for a reception.

The neighborhood now includes a French food marketplace called Le District, plus Brookfield Place, a new retail and dining destination set next to a huge glass-domed public space called Winter Garden and the yacht-filled North Cove Marina. P.J. Clarke’s is a traditional saloon with reception space overlooking the marina that can be cordoned off.

Alternatively, a group could charter a small or large yacht to navigate New York Harbor for a floating lunch or cocktail reception. If group members want an amazing skyline and Statue of Liberty view from the harbor at no charge, they can jump on the Staten Island Ferry in nearby Battery Park.

Meatpacking & Chelsea

mario-batali-food-themed-walking-tourMario Batali Food-Themed Walking Tour

A five-minute walk north from the quaint Colonial row houses of Greenwich Village—where a Mario Batali food-themed walking tour is popular these days—sits one of New York’s biggest reclamation projects: the Meatpacking District. The area, which just 15 years ago consisted mostly of run-down warehouses and desolate streets, is now an international hot spot full of galleries, restaurants and night clubs.

Also here is High Line, a former freight rail track that sits 30 feet above street level. It is now full of flora and artwork, and there’s street access to this peaceful walkway every few blocks.

Whitney-Musieum-American-ArtWhitney Museum of America Art

At the south end of the rail track is The Standard, High Line, with a scenic outdoor deck and reception space overlooking the river and neighborhood. Whitney Museum of American Art opened in May to much fanfare, just steps from the hotel. A few blocks east is Gansevoort Hotel, with its fashionable indoor-outdoor rooftop bar.

chelsea-piersChelsea Piers

The High Line track moves north along 10th Avenue through the Chelsea neighborhood and ends just three blocks south of Javits Center. Also nearby is the riverfront Chelsea Piers entertainment complex, with several group-dining options, as well as activities ranging from bowling to basketball, ice skating and a golf driving range. And Chelsea features a large number of art galleries, focusing on a wide variety of genres and styles.

Lower East Side

The inspiration for the movie Gangs of New York, this neighborhood was an overcrowded outpost for new immigrants from the Civil War era until World War II. Its present vibrancy comes from the many small bars/music venues lining the narrow streets, as well as restaurants and art galleries. But the area’s history is not forgotten. Lower East Side Tenement Museum showcases the conditions faced by long-gone residents, and a food-themed walking tour highlights Jewish staples and delicacies (Katz’s Deli, Russ & Daughters food shop), as well as neighboring Chinatown’s offerings.

Midtown East

greand-central-stationGrand Central Station

The home of the art-deco Empire State and Chrysler buildings, this area also boasts 102-year-old Grand Central Station. It’s a perfectly preserved architectural masterpiece with various reception areas, including the marble Vanderbilt Room, as well as two bar/restaurants overlooking the enormous, bustling main hall and its magnificent vaulted ceiling.

At the east end of Grand Central sits the 1,306-room Grand Hyatt New York. At the west end is the 1,015-room Roosevelt Hotel, with a newly refurbished indoor-outdoor rooftop bar. Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral are a 10-minute walk from the station. The neighborhood also is home to Museum of Modern Art.

Midtown West

intrepid-sea-air-space-museumIntrepid Sea, AIr, and Space Museum

Called Hell’s Kitchen by New Yorkers, this neighborhood has a wide variety of restaurants along Eighth and Ninth avenues, as well as many loft spaces that can be rented out for receptions. Docked on the riverfront, there’s also a former U.S. aircraft carrier, now home to Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The space holds enormous aviation and marine artifacts that surround the unique reception and dining areas. Because this neighborhood borders the Broadway theater district, groups should make restaurant reservations around the area for 8 p.m. or later to miss the crowds.

Upper East Side

Home to Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, this neighborhood borders Central Park along Fifth Avenue. During receptions at museums, guests can’t walk through galleries with food and drink, but they can alternate between reception areas and galleries. The 282-room Plaza Hotel marks the southern border of this neighborhood.

Upper West Side

The two 55-story glass towers of Time Warner Center, set in Columbus Circle at the southern border of this neighborhood, houses not only reception spaces facing Central Park, but also CNN Studios and the 244-room Mandarin Oriental New York. A few blocks north is Lincoln Center, with more than a dozen theaters and lobbies available for product launches, presentations, receptions and private performances.

A half-mile north is American Museum of Natural History and the adjacent Hayden Planetarium on Central Park West. The museum is known for its life-size displays of a T. rex and a blue whale, the largest animal on earth. While private events here require a corporate patron fee, planners can simply purchase individual admissions for attendees and then give them a few hours to roam these fascinating places. And smack-dab in the middle of this upscale neighborhood is Beacon Theater, a 2,894-seat Broadway venue—refurbished to its early-20th-century grandeur—that’s available for receptions and private performances.

Summing Up

New York City is always on the move. This makes it an ever-popular attraction for attendees, even including those who visit the city frequently.


Meet Outside City Limits

Scarpetta-BeachEven if groups are meeting in the city, there’s no reason that attendees need to stay put in Manhattan during their entire visit. A short train or boat ride away, Westchester County, Long Island and the Hamptons provide many options for pre- and post-meeting extensions and even offsites. Skip the high-rise towers for historic landmarks and oceanside resorts in Greater New York City to experience a different pace and a more relaxed setting sure to refresh meeting goers.

Westchester County Only an hour away from Manhattan, Westchester County is the backyard of the city, with picturesque farming villages, as well as 18th-century homesteads and outdoor beauty that just can’t be found downtown. Take groups on a historic tour with a visit to the house of Thomas Paine, father of the American Revolution. It’s one of more than 200 registered historic places in the area.

Long Island Visitors can have a hybrid city-suburb experience on this peninsula that juts out from the rest of the state. Just over the Brooklyn Bridge, Long Island is home to two counties and two city boroughs. Visit storybook manors along the Gold Coast, immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Corporate events can be held at turn-of-the-century properties such as Bourne Mansion, an estate built in 1900 that can host dinners for up to 300 and receptions for up to 400.

The Hamptons Known as a summer destination for New York’s socialites, the Hamptons boast exclusive beaches, fine restaurants and upscale boutiques. In Montauk, Gurney’s Resort and Seawater Spa (pictured) encapsulates luxurious amenities within a seaside escape. Experience ultimate relaxation at Seawater Spa, which has Roman baths, a Finish rock sauna and an indoor sand-filtered seawater pool. The oceanfront property offers 109 guest rooms, suites and beachfront cottages. There are seven conference rooms and nearly 7,000 sq. ft. of elegant, flexible meeting space. Gurney’s 90 years of history as a getaway for the rich and famous is understandable considering its 1,000 feet of private beach on the Atlantic Ocean. And Gurney’s isn’t just a summer destination. The resort offers cross country skiing in the winter and ice skating October through April. Besides onsite team building, guests enjoy nearby horseback riding, golf and wine tasting.

Major Meeting Venues

Greater New York City

Andaz Wall Street andaz-wall-streetNamed city’s top boutique business hotel by Booking.com for Business; 253 guest rooms; lobby lounge with collaborative work spaces and free Wi-Fi; residential-style conference rooms across 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. q

Barclays Center Home to pro basketball and hockey, plus concerts; can host audiences of 3,000 to 18,000; located less than one-half mile from New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge.

Conrad Hotel Financial district hotel set one block from North Cove Marina; 463 guest rooms; huge atrium lobby and public space with large art collection; seasonal rooftop lounge; 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Crown Plaza Times Square Steps to Broadway theaters and Marriott Marquis; 770 guest rooms; third-floor Brasserie 1605 restaurant has panoramic views of Times Square; 23,500 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Garden City Hotel 140-year-old luxury property on Long Island; 30 minutes to midtown via commuter rail; all 272 guest rooms renovated in 2014; 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; spa; golf.

Grand Hyatt New York Adjacent to Grand Central Terminal and facing Chrysler Building; 1,306 guest rooms; 60,000 sq. ft. of event space; new farm-to-table restaurant called New York Central.

Hudson Hotel Next to Columbus Circle and Time Warner Center, and five-minute walk to Lincoln Center; 866 guest rooms; 28,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; Hudson Common (burgers and beer) and Sky Terrace (with panoramic views) draw hip crowds.

Hyatt Regency Jersey City Next to ferry terminal and PATH subway stop to Manhattan; 351 guest rooms; indoor pool; 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center New subway stop near front entrance connects center to midtown hotels; free Wi-Fi throughout; 840,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space plus 28,000 sq. ft. of dedicated meeting space.

Le Parker Meridien New York andaz-wall-streetStarwood property; 731 guest rooms; swimming pool has floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Central Park; 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. q

Lotte New York Palace 130-year-old classical building plus modern tower on Madison Avenue; 909 guest rooms, all with marble baths; 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, which includes two floors of opulent Villard Mansion.

Mandarin Oriental New York Midtown Manhattan upscale property; overlooks Hudson River and Central Park; 198 guest rooms and 46 suites; 9,610 sq. ft. of meeting space; 14,500-square-foot spa.

Millennium Broadway Hotel New York Steps to Times Square and Broadway theaters; the only IACC-approved conference center in New York City; 625 guest rooms; 110,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

New York Hilton Midtown On Sixth Avenue, walking distance to Central Park, Times Square, Museum of Modern Art, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral; 1,932 guest rooms; 151,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

New York LaGuardia Airport Marriott 20-minute drive from midtown Manhattan and five minutes to Citi Field and National Tennis Center; 438 guest rooms; staff is well-versed in various Asian cultures; 15,245 sq. ft. of meeting space.

New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge $43 million renovation features redesigned lobby, bar and M Club Lounge, plus refurbished ballroom and meeting rooms; all 665 guest rooms to be redone by July 2016; 44,542 sq. ft. of meeting space.

New York Marriott Marquis In Times Square; $39 million renovation refurbished all 1,957 guest rooms and turned lobby into social/collaborative workspace; The View, a revolving rooftop restaurant; 101,450 sq. ft. of meeting space includes 29,000-square-foot ballroom.

Roosevelt Hotel roosevelt-hotelOpened in 1924 next to Grand Central Terminal; 1,015 guest rooms; indoor-outdoor rooftop bar; 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space refurbished in 2012. q

Sheraton New York Times Square Short walk to Central Park and Rockefeller Center; 1,781 guest rooms; 60,000 sq. ft. of meeting space includes 11,000-square-foot conference center dedicated to small groups.

The New Yorker A Wyndham Hotel On Eighth Avenue, facing Madison Square Garden and the largest U.S. Post Office; near Chelsea art galleries and Fashion Institute of Technology; 1,025 guest rooms; 23,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

The Westin New York Times Square Short walk to Broadway theaters and restaurant row; 873 guest rooms; 13 Regal cinema adjacent to property for private screenings and presentations; 34,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

TKP New York Conference Center 32,000-square-foot center that opened in 2013; near Bryant Park and New York Public Library; meeting spaces include 4,872-square-foot Empire Ballroom.

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Famous 1893 property on Park Avenue; short walk to Fifth Avenue shops and St. Patrick’s Cathedral; 1,416 guest rooms; 60,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; well-versed in private, secure meetings.