The Big Apple remains a much-sought-after meeting and incentive destination, and new hotels and venues continue to spring up in some of the most unlikely areas of the city. Major properties are opening in neighborhoods where you would never have found a large hotel just a few years ago. The New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge is one example: The hotel is so popular that it recently expanded by adding a 24-story building with more guest rooms and meeting space. Northern New Jersey is also an attractive alternative to Midtown Manhattan. The state offers a list of 45 conference hotels within a 14-mile radius of NYC at www.state.nj.us/travel/meeting_45_hotels.html.
Manhattan's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center expansion, a project 10 years in the making, is finally a go, having received a unanimous vote by the Public Authority Control Board last July. Upon completion, the Javits Center will double in size and go from the 16th-largest convention center in North America to No. 8. Exhibition space will expand from 760,000 to 1.1 million square feet, a 45 percent increase. Meeting room space will increase from 30,000 to 210,000 square feet. The center will also house the city's largest ballroom, with capacity for 6,000 people. A new 1,500-room convention hotel is also planned. Project completion is expected in 2010.
Construction has begun on the Freedom Tower, a 1,776-foot sky-scraper that will be the centerpiece of the World Trade Center site. The building is expected to open in 2011. The World Trade Center Memorial and Museum is expected to open in 2009.
Other attractions and landmarks in the news include a restoration of the James A. Farley General Post Office, a beautiful Beaux Arts building opposite Madison Square Garden. It is being restored to its original glory as it becomes the new home of Penn Station, a major transportation hub for the city.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Empire State Building opened a second, even higher, observation deck on the 102nd floor. In late 2007, the national Cartoon Museum, formerly known as the International Museum of Cartoon Art, will move into a new 15,000-square-foot space in the Empire State Building. The museum offers the world's largest collection of cartoon art with more than 200,000 original cartoons, 10,000 books and 1,000 hours of animation.
The Staten Island Ferry celebrated its 100th anniversary, and with that came the refurbishment of the terminals on both sides of the harbor. The Whitehall Terminal on the Manhattan side of the river received a 75-foot-high entry hall with panoramic views of the downtown Manhattan skyline and the waterfront, rooftop viewing decks, and state-of-the-art public address systems. The St. George Terminal on the Staten Island side now has floor-to-ceiling glass walls for panoramic views of the harbor, as well as retail shops.
The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn opened and welcomes some of the world's most magnificent cruise ships, among them Cunard Lines' Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 and Princess Cruise Lines' Crown Princess and Star Princess.
Cirque du Soleil is looking to build a 1,800-seat permanent theater on 42nd Street for year-round performances.
Harlem's Apollo Theater completed the first phase of a multimillion-dollar renovation that restored its façade and added a new box office and a high-tech marquee. Phase Two renovation will include refurbishing the theater auditorium and lobby.
In New Jersey, Delta has introduced nonstop service from Atlanta to Atlantic City International Airport. The service connects with nearly 200 destinations around the world via Delta's Atlanta hub. Delta also added service from Orlando to Atlantic City. Spirit Airlines resumed Detroit/Atlantic City service, which also connects with flights to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
In Atlantic City, The Walk, a $76 million upscale outlet shopping, dining, and entertainment complex along Michigan Avenue between the Convention Center and Atlantic Avenue, is expanding. It's adding five blocks (350,000 square feet) of space along both sides of the Atlantic City Expressway corridor into the city at a cost of $155 million. The expansion will include more brand-name retailers, restaurants, entertainment, and office space and residential units.
Harrah's Atlantic City is adding a 47-story tower. When completed, the tower will make Harrah's the tallest casino in Atlantic City and boost hotel capacity by 60 percent. The new tower will have 964 guest rooms, including 183 suites and 13 “super-suites”; a nightclub; the Diamond Lounge; retail stores and restaurants; and a Red Door spa with 24 treatment rooms and an indoor pool.
The Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City is adding a tower, The Water Club at Borgata, scheduled to open late this year. The $325 million, 43-story tower will have 800 guest rooms and suites; 18,000 square feet of meeting space; retail shops; and a two-story, 36,000 square-foot spa that includes 15 treatment rooms, a 25-yard lap pool, and fitness center.
The Tropicana Casino And Resort opened a 25-room conference center in The Quarter, its new $225 million expansion. The Quarter includes the conference center; a 502-room hotel; a spa; and retail, dining, and entertainment venues. Restaurants include The Palm, P.F. Chang's, Red Square, Carmines, and Cuba Libra.
The Radisson Hotel Piscataway has completed a $3 million renovation featuring 206 renovated guest rooms.
Hamilton Park Hotel & Conference Center, in Morris County, features 219 guest rooms and suites and 27,000 square feet of renovated conference and function space.
The Radisson Hotel Piscataway has completed a $3 million renovation. Featuring 206 renovated guest rooms with the Sleep Number Bed by Select Comfort, the new E-Class level is loaded with upscale amenities and services. The hotel's 8,000 square feet of meeting space has also been renovated.
The Hilton Hasbrouck Heights and Executive Meeting Center in Hasbrouck Heights completed a $10.5 million renovation in May.
The London NYC (formerly Rhiga Royal Hotel), with 564 guest rooms and suites, opened recently after a complete redesign and repositioning. It has 2,200 square feet of meeting space in three rooms, scheduled to open May 1.
Starwood will open its 14th property in New York City next March, the 150-room Four Points by Sheraton Soho Village.
The Plaza on Manhattan's Central Park is slated to reopen in 2007 with 282 guest rooms and 152 condo hotel units. Fairmont Hotels and resorts will manage the property.
The Millennium UN Plaza recently refurbished its meeting space with new carpeting, wallpaper, draperies, refinishing on wood paneling, and color scheme changes.
Carlson Hotels Worldwide has expanded its portfolio in New York City with the reflagging of a 532-room historic hotel located in the heart of the west side of midtown Manhattan. The hotel, historically known as The Martinique, has undergone a $10 million renovation, touching virtually all public spaces and guest rooms in the property. It became the Radisson Hotel Martinique last July. It has 4,100 square feet of meeting space in five rooms, including a grand ballroom that accommodates 400 people theater-style. Its executive ballroom overlooks Greeley Square.
A Ritz-Carlton hotel will open in 2007 in White Plains, which is in Westchester County just outside New York City.
The Radisson Hotel New Rochelle completed a ballroom renovation that added a pre-function area and upgraded the existing banquet space.
Tarrytown House Estate & Conference Center completed an $11 million restoration of the historic Biddle Mansion and King House, guest room houses, meeting space, and sports center.
Hyatt Regency Wind Watch in Hauppauge on Long Island's North Shore, 50 miles from New York City, recently completed a $10 million renovation of the lobby and all 358 guest rooms. Wireless Internet access is now available throughout the hotel. Meeting facilities include 17,000 square feet of indoor function space and additional outdoor event areas. The on-property Hamlet Wind Watch Golf & Country Club is an 18-hole course that sits atop one of Long Island's highest points. Courtesy airport shuttle and free parking are provided.
Syracuse's Oncenter Complex, in upstate New York, includes the John H. Mulroy Civic Center, the War Memorial, and The Convention Center at Oncenter, which features 99,000 square feet of available space. Its 65,000-square-foot exhibition hall can accommodate 6,200 delegates theater-style and 4,300 classroom-style, and it can hold 350 10-foot-by-10-foot booths. The Center's 15,000-square-foot ballroom accommodates 1,660 delegates theater-style. A 350-room convention hotel is being added to the complex, with groundbreaking taking place this spring and completion scheduled for 2009. The John H. Mulroy Civic Center features three theaters; the War Memorial features a 43,500-square-foot arena that seats 8,000, plus a 44,000-square-foot exhibition hall, a 3,100-square-foot assembly hall, and flexible meeting rooms.
Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority
(888) 222-3683, (609) 449-7100
Total Hotel Tax: 13%
NYC & Company
Total Hotel Tax: 13.625% + $3.50 per room occupancy
Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau
(800) 234 4797
Total Hotel Tax: 13%
Add some salsa dance lessons to an incentive travel program in Neuva York at Dance Times Square. Latin dance champions and choreographers Tony Meredith and Melanie La Patin teach classes in an exquisite antique ballroom that is also available for parties. The space offers two function rooms accommodating 20 and 140 attendees. www.dancetimessquare.com
Learn and dine at the Institute of Culinary Education or create a www.iceculinary.com/eventsprogram with a fun, hands-on cooking class. The Institute offers private dining and cooking demonstrations in seven function rooms and accommodates 100 guests for a banquet.
Times Square Studios (www.timessquarestudios.com), the home of the “Good Morning America” TV show, is also a state-of-the-art production and event facility with breathtaking views of Times Square. The Studios offer 7,000 square feet of event space in two function rooms and accommodate 120 attendees for a banquet and up to 200 people for a reception.
The Sky Room at the French Institute Alliance Française is an eight-floor rooftop space over looking Fifth Avenue. With floor-to-ceiling windows and sky-blue walls created by a French set designer, it is perfect for small, upscale, private events. Alliance offers three function rooms with a total of 7,400 square feet for events. www.fiaf.org
Jazz at Lincoln Center is a world-class performing arts facility with multiple venues and flexible configurations. Three function rooms with capacities for up to 1,200 theater-style, 400 banquet-style, and 1,000 for a reception are available. It is possible to arrange a private concert or have group seating for a public concert along with a pre- or post-dinner at the venue. www.jazzatlincolncenter.org
The Three Waiters add an entertaining surprise to an event. Posing as waiters, three talented singers unleash musical performance to the delight and amazement of attendees. www.thethreewaiters.com