It's been an exciting year for New York City, with The Plaza celebrating its 100th birthday and reopening after three years of refurbishment, and Radio City Music Hall celebrating 75 years of entertainment. In 2007, New York City welcomed an estimated 44 million visitors, with hotel occupancy rates averaging 85 percent. To accommodate visitors, new hotels keep springing up all over the city's five boroughs. And the current inventory of 72,500 hotel rooms is expected to rise to 90,000 by the end of 2010.
The Plaza reopened in time for the holiday season with 282 guest rooms (before closing for renovations, the property had 805 guest rooms) and some of the priciest condos in Manhattan. Private residences at The Plaza achieved a record price of $6,500 per square foot, with condos starting at $2.5 million. Its iconic venues, including the Palm Court, Grand Ballroom, Oak Room, and the Oak Bar, have all been restored to their former glory. The property will accept group bookings for 40 to 50 rooms, with group room rates starting at $695. When the property opened in 1907, the room rate was $2.50 for a room or $4 for a room with a bath. The Plaza, with 15,000 square feet of meeting space and seven meeting rooms, can accommodate from 10 to 150 attendees. A Fairmont property, The Plaza follows all the green policies set by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.
To the south in Atlantic City, the building never stops. Three major meeting hotels, Borgata, Harrah's, and Trump Taj Mahal, are building new towers and adding 2,500 guest rooms to the city's inventory.
New York & New Jersey/Facilities Update
The Empire Hotel near Lincoln Center reopened last summer after being closed for three years. The hotel has 413 rooms and meeting space for 250.
The Roosevelt Hotel recently added new beds and bedding to its 1,015 guest rooms and renovated its fitness center.
Renaissance New York Times Square is finishing a top-to-bottom renovation project. The hotel's public areas are being redesigned and a new street entrance is being built on Seventh Avenue.
The New York Marriott East Side just renovated all of its 646 guest rooms and added a new 1,300-square-foot fitness center on the hotel's 35th floor. Event space at the hotel includes 19 meeting rooms, with the largest seating 400.
Phase II of the Borgata Hotel expansion will add a 43-story tower, to be named The Water Club at Borgata. The tower will feature 800 guest rooms and suites; 18,000 square feet of meeting space; retail shops; and a two-story, 36,000-square-foot spa with 15 treatment rooms, four swimming pools, and a fitness center. The project will cost $400 million.
Harrah's Atlantic City is adding a 47-story, 964-room hotel tower that will make Harrah's the tallest hotel in Atlantic City and boost hotel capacity by 60 percent. The new tower will include 964 guest rooms, including 183 suites and 13 “super-suites”; a nightclub; retail stores; a 650-seat buffet; a 500-seat coffee shop; and a Red Door spa with 24 treatment rooms and indoor pool.
Trump Taj Mahal is building a new 39-story hotel tower that will include 716 standard guest rooms and 70 suites with ocean views. The cost will be $250 million and completion is expected in the summer of 2008.
Tropicana is refurbishing its hotel rooms in the North and South towers and is also refurbishing the North casino floor. It is adding 800 new slot machines and new décor on the South casino floor to match the Cuban-themed Quarter.
View of Manhattan
NYC & Company, the City's official marketing and tourism organization, is launching a tourist appreciation campaign called Just Ask the Locals. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has enlisted some of New York's most recognizable residents to serve as friendly faces in welcoming visitors and offering them essential tips to navigate the city. The celebrity locals — Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore, Chuck Close, Tiki Barber, and Jimmy Fallon — are showing up in advertisements citywide (some examples, at left). The celebrities were photographed in their favorite city spaces, and were asked to offer insights based on personal experience. The campaign artwork will line the corridors of the new American Airlines terminal at JFK and will also be displayed prominently on bus shelters and streetlight-pole banners. Additionally, tip cards will be distributed at various locations. A Web site and information line support the campaign.
Anthony Napoli, president of Briggs Inc. www.briggsnyc.com), advises planners how to take the sting out of the Big Apple for programs:(
With properties running at 90 percent occupancy, look at the off-season months of January, February, July, and August. Having total flexibility with your dates is the best way to get a better hotel rate.
All meetings don't have to be in hotels. A DMC can arrange a breakfast meeting within walking distance of your hotel for half the cost of an on-property breakfast.
Ask the CVB
Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority
Total Hotel Tax: 13% plus a state occupancy fee of 1%, plus a tourism promotion fee of $2 per day for casino rooms or $1 per day for noncasino rooms.
NYC & Company
Total Hotel Tax: 13.375% plus $3.50 per room occupancy
Ever think of Chinatown for some unique venues and extra value? New York City's Chinatown (www.explorechinatown.com), located on the east side of lower Manhattan, is the largest in the U.S. Jing Fong Restaurant at 20 Elizabeth Street is a local favorite with New Yorkers for dim sum during the day and Cantonese feasts in the evenings. The venue just completed a major renovation and can accommodate up to 794 guests for an event.
Grand Prix New York Racing, (www.gpny.com), is a new indoor event, , and recreational racing facility that opened in December in Mount Kisco, N.Y., just outside of Manhattan in Westchester County. The 120,000-square-foot venue includes two race tracks, nine flexible-space event rooms accommodating from 25 to 196 attendees, a VIP event room for 40, a banquet room accommodating 225, and two exhibition halls. It offers a variety of programs for teambuilding using championship-caliber Sodi karts that go up to 40 mph. All participants are outfitted with racing suits and helmets.
The Time Warner Center (www.theshopsatcolumbuscircle.com) at Columbus Circle is an event haven. The complex includes the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Jazz at Lincoln Center, designer shops, and some of the city's best restaurants. All of the venues have private rooms. In addition, broadcast camera location boxes called “plug and play” are located throughout the complex, giving clients the ability to host live webcasts, live TV shots, satellite media tours, video news releases, and more.