Affinia boutique hotels in New York, Washington and Chicago have just launched a new program for Affinia VIPs. Their new Tender Loving Comfort (TLC) program is based on offering deep customer service based on learning what guests need by reading their body language. Staff at Affinia recently underwent training with a body language expert to learn how to respond to certain body language cues.
Part of the new TLC program is offering a Comfort Hour when hotel managers mingle with guests while offering sample snacks, testing new products such as pillows and getting feedback from guests on what makes them comfortable at a particular hotel.
Affinia guests now get a truly customized experience with a six-choice pillow menu and a signature Affinia bed with down comforter and triple sheeting. Each room also has a welcome drink and an Experience Kit to help guests gain maximum benefit from their stay.
Special offers for Affinia TLC VIPs from now until December 31, 2011 include a VIP room upgrade when available, welcome cupcake, complimentary bottle of red wine and late checkout, subject to availability.
Luxury hotels in New York will be gearing up for their usual pre-holiday rush as shoppers descend from all over the world to shop for holiday gifts and the latest winter fashions.
One innovative company has recognized the inconvenience of trailing around the stores with a handful of unwieldy shopping bags so they have come up with the perfect solution – Cubby. This new service is a cross between a luggage store and a courier service and is centrally located on Park Avenue South and 23rd Street in Manhattan. More downtown locations are planned to open shortly.
The idea is that shoppers drop their purchases at Cubby, perhaps before taking a break for lunch. They can then continue on their quest, unencumbered by their earlier purchases. Shoppers can either pay to have their bags held for collection later or can arrange to have their bags delivered to their hotel by bicycle courier. The Cubby store is open from 8am to midnight.
Shoppers can download an app to make a reservation for storage at preferential rates. Prices are dependent upon size, and start from $5 for the first bag. Additional bags are charged at lower rates and the optional personal courier service is $10.
Most business travelers already have their favorite luxury hotels in New York, but the choice will be even wider when the Marriott opens its newest hotel in late 2013. Marriott International together with Granite Broadway Development are making news headlines with their newly unveiled plans for a 68-story hotel which will become the tallest stand-alone hotel building in New York City.
The stunning landmark building will be over 752 feet high and was designed by architect Nobutaka Ashihara. Construction is due to start shortly at 1717 Broadway (at 54th Street).
The luxury hotel will be divided between two distinctly different hotel types to suit the needs of all guests. The Courtyard by Marriott guest rooms will occupy floors 6 though 32 and are aimed at overnight and short-stay visitors to New York.
Floors 36 through 64 will be a Residence Inn, designed for long-stay guests with kitchenettes and larger living spaces as well as stunning city views. Services include complimentary breakfast, free high-speed Internet, grocery delivery, laundry facilities and social get-togethers to make guests feel totally at home.
The hotels will share a main entrance and lobby before being directed to their rooms via separate dedicated elevators. The new lobby will have exclusive Go-Board technology, a huge touch screen packed with maps and local information as well as international business news and sports headlines.
The second floor will offer leased restaurant space. The third floor will have public areas for the Residence Inn while the 4th floor will be dedicated to Courtyard guests. The fifth floor will have a lounge and outdoor terrace with great views of Broadway and both hotels will share state-of-the-art fitness facilities on the 34th floor.
Las Vegas has always been the place for fun weddings but New York State has now seen the potential. It became the sixth and largest state to legalize gay marriage in a tight vote, with the gay marriage bill approved by 33 votes to 29 votes against. Luxury hotels in New York were waiting with bated breath, ready to extend their finest luxury wedding packages and venues to same-sex marriages.
The in-house wedding planner at the Plaza can arrange everything for a splendid ceremony for couples in the Grand Ballroom Foyer with a personal butler to attend to the in-room pre-ceremony preparations. The St Regis New York is not to be outdone, offering wedding banquets for up to 200 guests with a 10 to 1 ratio of waiters to guests – and I didn’t get that figure the wrong way round! The cloud-painted ceiling in the event space certainly sets the perfect scene for romance.
The Mandarin Oriental offers stunning views of the New York skyline along with a horse-drawn carriage ride and fireworks while at The Pierre there is white-glove service and a choice of six lavish venues. Don’t be surprised if the next save-the-date wedding note doesn’t mention New York as the venue – for all couples.
Luxury Hotel group Hilton has been using the latest 21st century phenomena, flash mobs, to attract publicity as part of its Hilton HHonors Great Getaway. The hotel chain recently orchestrated an entertaining flash-mob beach party on the sizzling streets of New York City as it experiences a summer heat wave.
The 40-or-so members of the group discarded their business attire to reveal bikinis and swimwear, to the amusement of commuters making their way more slowly than usual through Penn Station.
The group moved on to Times Square, Grand Central Station, the Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park tossing beach balls, dancing and generally having a good time. Hilton also orchestrated a similar event in London recently which attracted city workers along with Ben Cohen, a former rugby international player. However, I doubt that the weather was quite warm enough in London for beachwear.
The message however was clear. If you want to be part of what’s happening at Hilton hotels, best sign up for Hilton Honors to be included in the next fun event.
Always seeking a new experience, two luxury hotels in New York have come up with a new summer attraction – sleeping outdoors. The AKA Central Park started the trend this month by offering guests staying in the penthouse the option to have the bed moved out onto the terrace. The 17th floor terrace with its built-in wood burning fireplace could recreate a sort of camp-fire sleep over.
The $3,000 per night suite does include a bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, flashlights, an e-reader and a telescope for checking out the night sky.
The obvious downside is the fact that the 17th floor in Manhattan is not the tallest building around and the al fresco guests can be looked down on from all sides. Sirens, rattling air conditioners, honking horns and the general drone of traffic do not abate after midnight in “the city that never sleeps” so getting any undisturbed sleep could be a problem, unlike “real” camping in the backwoods. Still there is a luxury bathroom handy and an excellent breakfast in bed.
The Affinia Gardens on the Upper East Side even includes tents for those wanting to sleep beneath the stars from one of the four ground floor suites. Tents are pitched in a fenced-in area on the rear patio and you have to bring your own sleeping bag. Suites cost from $309 per night, tents are an extra $35. Alternatively, park benches I believe are free!
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
The way New York cab drivers look and dress has been the subject of recent debate.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is proposing adjustments to language on the rules about a driver’s demeanour. The current wording requires drivers to look ‘clean and neat’. The proposed change would add that they should have ‘a professional appearance’.
The agency is pushing to eliminate language that prohibits specific clothing including tank tops, underwear as outerwear, swimwear or cut-off shorts. The TLC says these references are dated and unnecessary.
“Drivers are ambassadors of the city, for tourists, for New Yorkers, as well,” said TLC Chairman, David Yassky. “But particularly you think of tourists coming to the city, getting into a cab and wanting to be greeted in a professional way.”
One New Yorker commented: “As long as the cab’s clean and safe, I’m fine with how they dress. They’re sitting in their cars all day. They should be comfortable. [It’s fine] as long as they’re pleasant and courteous.” The TLC will vote on the matter in January.
A handful of New York City cab drivers are to add an extra item of clothing to their wardrobes – bullet-proof vests. In a pilot scheme, a dozen or so cabbies will wear the extra protection in tough areas of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique can help you book some classic luxury hotels in New York City – at the best possible rates.
The Hotel Association of New York has denied claims that the city is suffering an infestation of bedbugs.
The group issued a statement from the President and CEO, Joseph E. Spinnato, to counter recent media reports. “The perception is simply wrong, triggered by reports of isolated incidents which have been professionally and thoroughly treated according to the most rigorous industry standard,” said Mr Spinnato.
Several high profile NYC hotels made headlines earlier this year when it emerged that guests were taking legal action after being bitten.
But Mr Spinnato said there had been a general increase in bedbugs in the United States over the past few years, which had had ‘a minimal impact’ on the vast majority of hotels.
In recent months, New York has reportedly battled bedbugs in many businesses including a movie theatre in Times Square, a Victoria’s Secret store, the offices of Elle magazine and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
The latest to fall victim is the United Nations building, where dogs (searching for bugs of another kind, perhaps) detected bedbugs in conference room chairs.
by Andy Moreton
Finding a decent hotel can often be a bugbear, but Luxique has the finest selection of luxury hotels in New York City.
Not content with an airline, music and entertainment, mobile phones and a hundred and one other interests, the Virgin Group’s billionaire owner, Sir Richard Branson, is moving into the luxury hotel market.
He’s currently seeking properties in the United States in order to launch a contemporary four-star chain under the Virgin brand. He’s initially looking at New York City, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington DC, although there are plans to expand globally in the long-term.
The group aims to acquire the management contract or ownership of $500 million (£316 million) worth of 150-400 bedroom properties in ‘appealing neighbourhoods’ over the next three years. The luxury hotels will be aimed at what the company terms ‘high income, well educated, metropolitan, creative class customers’.
Sir Richard said (modestly): “I’ve had great fun turning quite a lot of different industries on their heads and making sure those industries would never be the same because Virgin took them on.”
The entrepreneur has already dipped his toe into the waters of the luxury travel business with Virgin Limited Edition, a collection of exclusive vacation retreats around the world. They include Necker, a small island in the British Virgin [!] Islands owned by Sir Richard and available to hire for up to 26 guests.
by Andy Moreton
New York City’s latest tourist attraction will be launched on Thursday (September 16th.)
‘The Ride’ will take visitors on a tour of the city in eight super-sized buses, offering a combination of sightseeing, technological wizardry and on-board performance. The engineers who worked on the buses say they’ve crammed an IMAX theatre’s worth of equipment inside them.
Guests board the vehicles at the New York Marriott Marquis luxury hotel in Times Square. That’s the starting point for a 4.2 mile journey in the tallest vehicles allowed under federal law, equipped with stadium-style seating and panoramic windows.
Along the route, the hosts entertain riders with comedic send-ups of common New York sites, created by a team of writers and producers whose credits include well-known American TV shows.
“The Ride is about experiencing the fabric of New York – honestly and unflinchingly – through the eyes of talented and truly funny people who love the city and its history and who have chosen to be life-long residents here,” said company founder Michael Counts.
Tickets for the attraction are priced from $59 (£37). www.experiencetheride.com
by Andy Moreton
If you’re going along for The Ride (and everything else the Big Apple has to offer), let Luxique help you book your luxury hotel in New York City.