|LUXURY HOTELS: New York - The Big Sleep|
After a harrowing recession ride New York hoteliers are serving up new slices of chic sleeps from the towering to boutique.
For a city that never sleeps, New York has been stockpiling suites at a surprising rate. Late 2009 saw the first rash of new luxe openings with Crosby Street in Soho, The Surrey on the Upper East Side as well as Renaissance group's Hotel 57, a warm chocolatey boutique offering on East 57th. The refurbished, restructured Mark Hotel was first to unleash its 1930s Paris-inspired mix of suites and condos in 2010. Just a block away from The Surrey on the corner of East 77th and Madison it too channels a Chanel-style chic and a French restaurant - this one by Jean-Georges. But a whole slew of new hotels are now slated for Spring/Summer openings.
We say this tentatively as the majority of this line-up are recession casualties who have had numerous false starts at exiting the emergency ward before being ordered back to bed where they've laid stricken, sometimes for more than a year.
Worst hit has been the double-your-money-hotel-slash-condominium combo, but Trump Soho has finally arrived. We were amongst the doubters that this considerably large production would make its April 9 opening (but it did). Earlier this year it was just as confidently listed as February 1. And let's not even talk about last year. Well, maybe we will, just a little, because entering SoHo's cobbled street zone of cool has been a rather hair-ruffling ride for the Combed-Over One and his elder offspring. Last August there were hysterical reports of the whole deal being foreclosed (visit http://www.curbed.com/ for the rundown), and if it's not been banks, then it's been the residents of SoHo railing against the sheer scale of this glass Fujiyama.
The Luxury Travel Bible tends to side with the residents on this one believing SoHo should have remained a sacred cow of low rise. Located at 246 Spring Street, Trump Soho may be west of serious SoHo cool, but does that pave the way for a 46 storey tower with 391 rooms. Rather than rooftop, guests will pad around a seventh floor pool deck with private cabanas and bar. And, frankly, we always knew The Donald would to come up with more than the promised Plush Pillowtop Sleep System by Stearns and Foster to woo us. That said, its opening does reveal that the the Trumpettes - Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric - have a sleeker take on glam than big D's fondness for bling. And there is that rather luscious spa - over 11,000 square feet (1022 square metres) of scent-filled heaven spread across two levels and incorporating three private spa suites. Then there are the Penthouse Suites also located on the top three floors with ten duplex and two bedroom suites (all Fendi Casa furnished) - and, yes, there are the views. Are we beginning to feel the pull? May-be...
While the Trumpometer has managed to push this building through to opening, The Mondrian by Morgans - another SoHo sleeper over at 150 Lafayette stretching 25 storeys with 347 rooms - is still sitting on the bench, despite having bowed to SoHo residents and withdrawn its request for outdoor eating and drinking ("too noisy!"). While Mondrian reschedules its launch date (this time it's November), The James, by the original Chicago group, over on the corner of Grand and Thompson Streets has managed to slip its 16 storey, 114 room design through just shy of its promised opening this summer with a promised September 2010 opening.
Having successfully bypassed the coordinated attack by frisky SoHo residents on their plans for an outdoor plaza, The James will have an eight foot (2.4 metres) wall hiding what is described as a "lushly designed urban garden" at second floor height. A 'sky lobby' at level three will serve as the main meeting point while rooms will feature this year's 'it' palette of dark wood panelling and white marble bathrooms.
Despite being a relatively tiny nine storeys with 55 rooms, The Nolitan hotel on the corner of Kenmare and Elizabeth in Nolita has reportedly been stirring up its own share of wrath from the locals. Designed by Hotel on Rivington architects Grzywinski + Pons, The Nolitan has allegedly gone over the neighbourhood's eight storey 85 feet (26 metres) height restriction trying to pass an extra level off as a 'mezzanine'. Regardless, The Nolitan web site spruiked a May opening for the longest time with a veritable small army of cool and creative locals on board lending moral support, including Café Gitane owner Luc Levy and La Esquina chef, Nicholas Cox. Take that, cranky neighbours! Now, its web site is offering bookings from November 1, 2010.
Pumping good ol' downtown cool in the form of stripped-back rooms with platform beds, exposed concrete and wood floors, the Nolitan will also have a rooftop lounge - look out to Empire State and Williamsburg Bridge; as well as a sidewalk restaurant by Jimmy Bradley of The Harrison and Red Cat fame.
Pumping good ol' downtown COOL in the form of stripped back rooms with PLATFORM beds...
Way further downtown, just a snip from Ground Zero, the W group has finally managed to squeeze one 56 floors long leg in amongst the raft of steel and concrete peaks crammed into the financial district. Another hotel/condo project, W New York - Downtown at 123 Washington Street will feature hotel rooms from levels six to 22, furnished residences from 22 - 30 and residences from 33 - 56. Oozing bachelor pad chic, the rooms are sculpted with the single swooping curve of an integrated desk and an angled cut-out feature that is backlit above the bed. Sculptural waves formed by lights and fabrication reappear in public spaces such as the entrance and the sexily lit sky bar. Reports abound that Laurent Tourondel has jumped ship from Trump Soho and is bringing his BLT Bar & Grill (the nameplate is already up) to the W. While it's been a painfully slow growth spurt, its promised May 4 opening has passed, but its now August 16 opening will most likely see it grandstanding as the new playpen for freshly-re-cashed Wall Street guys and gals.
Still smarting in the hotel/condo stakes is the Gansevoort hotel group whose new Miami project was reportedly taken into possession by lenders recently. Still ploughing on with their Gansevoort Park Avenue hotel, they are now giving it a Summer opening of August 16. Positioned on the corner of Park Avenue South and 29th, can it groove up this relative no-mans-land between Gramercy and Murray Hill like the first Gansevoort did in the Meatpacking district? Not straying too far in style from its Meatpacking brother, Gansevoort Park Avenue will apparently top its 20 glass storeys with a tri-level bar, pool and lounge that's built to party. Think mutating coloured lights, chocolate wood panelling, fireplaces and photo-printed lightboxes. The 249 rooms swing into neutral with four poster steel beds. Preliminary images reveal prints in purple that echo the large coloured chandeliers in the foyer. A duplex penthouse suite will feature indoor/outdoor fireplaces and a private terrace.
The Kimpton group is seeking to shake up the north Chelsea neighbourhood with its new Eventi Hotel. Now open, the glass tower of Eventi soars 54 storeys above Sixth Avenue between 29th and 30th and features 292 rooms including 53 suites. Tippytoeing into the luxe zone, Kimpton has selected, yes, dark wood with textured neutrals and white marble bathrooms giving a look that is more classic comfort than uber-licious. The China Grill team will be heating up the restaurant, but The Luxury Travel Bible remains mute on the proposed 'Food Parc' market court.
Further up midtown on the corner of East 41st, Andaz Fifth Avenue (oh, miracle) has opened ahead of its scheduled August 1 inside the historic 1916 Rogers Peet building. Meanwhile, just when you thought Broadway couldn't get busier two new luxe hotels have now just opened. Technically just slipping into the hood at the junction of 44th and 8th Avenue, and being a block away from the actual Times Square hasn't deterred the InterContinental crew from naming their next baby InterContinental New York Times Square. They're claiming walking distance to 40 theatres, so what's a few yards and metres from its namesake between friends. This 34 storey glass tower with a crowd-pulling 607 guest rooms says sayonara to the seamy side of Times Square, having squashed one of the district's bastions of gay porn - The Playpen Theatre - which formerly sat on this site. Opening this Summer, pre-post descriptions regale the white-glass six storey podium on 8th Avenue as reflecting the "movement and shimmer" of the street, while a warm tone granite will present a different face on 44th. The Luxury Travel Bible applauds the InterCon's ambition to become LEED certified green, especially with the energy generating elevator system that will also hopefully offset some guzzling of air con.
Closer to Times Square at 130 44th Street, hotelier Vikram Chatwal is having a Gershwin moment with The Chatwal in a 1930s Stanford White building. Forsaking the upfront sexiness of his other mid-town babes (Dream, The Time and Night), it's a tamer Chatwal whose bringing back a more grown-up Deco glam with lusty rich reds and gilt-lined golden lighting. With 41 rooms and 47 suites packed into the former site of The Lambs Theatre, the hotel gives a nostalgic nod to its namesake in the form of The Lambs Club restaurant with seating for 90 and the kind of plush red booths that are ripe for dusting off the black tie and a Harlow satin slip. Sip on prohibition-era cocktails and spy the scene down below in the lobby and out on 44th through the 20 feet high (6 metres) windows. This is showbiz, New York style.
Prue Rushton 2/4/10