Business trip: New York City
When it comes to business travel, New York City is on a roll. In 2012, the city hosted a record 52 million visitors, whose spending produced a whopping $55.3 billion in economic impact.
While most business travellers have likely bedded down at hotels in the popular, central Midtown area, demand has prompted a hotel building boom across all five boroughs, providing a slew of new, upscale options in areas like the Upper West Side (NYLO hotel), Greenwich Village (The Jade Hotel), Brooklyn (Wythe Hotel) and Queens (Z Hotel). Meanwhile, the Herald Square area has seen an influx of mid-priced, brand name hotels such as Best Western Premier, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Marriott Courtyard, among others. Later this month, Marriott will open two new hotels inside the same building: a 378-room Courtyard and a 261-room Residence Inn. The soaring steel and glass tower near the southwest corner of Central Park will be the tallest hotel building in the western hemisphere. More than 5,000 rooms have been built in the last two years, and by the end of 2014 the city will have more than 100,000, reports NYC & Company, the city’s tourism organization.
While New York City is the US’ most frequented point of entry for international travellers, the airport customs and immigration process can be slow and frustrating, in part because the city’s largest airports, John F Kennedy International (JFK), Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia, are a mix of old and new. However, the arrival experience at New York City is improving. In May 2013, Delta Air Lines moved into a brand new $1.4 billion international terminal at JFK’s Terminal 4. In October, the airline rolled out new automated passport control kiosks in its customs and immigration hall, which helped cut the 35-minute average wait time in half.
Taxi fares into Manhattan (not including tip and tolls) are about $50 from JFK, $30 to $40 from La Guardia and $50 to $70 from Newark. During cold winter months, outdoor queues for taxis can be lengthy, which might make a car service a better option. Even though black sedan fares can run 20% to 50% higher than cab fares, they might be worth it if you are on a tight schedule. Train service to Manhattan is available from JFK and Newark, and bus service is available from LaGuardia, but both involve multiple transfers, making a car the preferred mode of transport for most business travellers.
The opulent 909-room New York Palace in Midtown – part Italian Renaissance mansion, part 56-storey skyscraper – has just finished an 18-month, $140-million re-do of all rooms and public spaces. The most sought after rooms in the house are high-floor corner suites in the exclusive 176-room Towers section of the hotel, which are 25% larger than other rooms and offer sparkling Manhattan skyline views. CEOs who are meeting and entertaining clients should consider the hotel’s two spectacular 5,000sqft triplex penthouse suites, both of which include fireplaces, kitchens and unusually large outdoor terraces with hot tubs. Book a power breakfast at Villard Michel Richard (opened in September and already one of the city’s top tables) or meet up with clients and colleagues for a snifter of cognac at the clubby Rarities in the Palace’s busy lobby.
If your business is downtown on Wall Street in the city’s Financial District, check into one of the 463 spacious suites at the cavernous-yet-cosy Conrad New York in Battery Park City. It is located one block west of the new 104-storey One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower). The 15-storey hotel was originally built as part of the Embassy Suites brand, but its owners (Goldman Sachs, with its global headquarters next door) shut it down for a tip-to-toe re-do and re-brand, which was completed in March 2012. Modern, minimalist-chic rooms are actually two-room suites, with a small living room/office area, oversized bathroom (with big bright walk-in showers), two flat-screen TVs, espresso machines and quiet bedrooms; ask for one that overlooks the Hudson River. After a long day at work, blow off some steam walking, biking or running along the Hudson River Greenway, the largest car-free bicycle and pedestrian path in the city, which starts one block west of the Conrad’s front door.