Positioned in one of the most prime locations in Midtown Manhattan, across the street from the magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and a brisk walk to Rockefeller Center, the New York Palace provides for all that the affluent traveler desires. Already well known for their personalized service, the staff was surely put to the test during the wild weekend that Beyond Black visited this iconic hotel.
We arrived on the eve of Hurricane Irene’s landfall into the New York area, and the forecast was looking quite severe. As we walked under the arched colonnade and through the stately courtyard of the Villard Mansion entrance, we gazed upwards beyond the wall of dark bronze reflective glass of the hotel tower to see an ominous sky. A hurricane was fast approaching, and the city seemed to have come to an unprecedented halt.
The historic landmark which we passed didn’t seem to falter under the weight of the bombastic high winds, as it stood timeless since its cornerstone was laid in 1884. A product of railroad financier Henry Villard’s vision to bring the Palazzo della Cancellaria in Rome to the island of Manhattan, the former private brownstone townhouses just off Madison Avenue provided the most grand of entrances.
After entering the lobby and walking past the sweeping prominent staircase, we were directed to the private entrance for The Towers Rooms and Suites, a place where we would come to find welcome refuge from what the next few days would bring. The Towers, billed as a “hotel within a hotel”, contains a collection of rooms starting at 600 square feet, and includes entrance to The Tower Club on the 39th floor. It was within the elegant confines of this club that we were able to partake in the complimentary food presentations available throughout the day, while the outside world was taking the brunt of Hurricane Irene.
This was a very unique time to visit New York City, as the vast majority of restaurants and attractions had shut down in eager anticipation of what forecasters warned could be violent winds with the force to drive a wall of water between the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan. Ruggero Massetti and his staff were able to provide a continuous stream of delectable bites and beverages, including a full American breakfast complete with smoked salmon, and a lunch buffet of Mirin Glazed Shrimp, pastrami sandwiches, and an assortment of sushi. Wine and champagne were at the ready for those nervous storm watchers, as they had a front row seat to the stormy panorama afforded to them by the large windows facing St. Pats Cathedral.
Formerly known as The Helmsley Palace Hotel, and subsequently part of the Dorchester Collection, the Palace is now a newly-minted independent hotel thanks to its recent acquisition by Northwood Investors. With new ownership comes new money, and the New York Palace is set to receive upwards of $100 million in renovations this Summer 2012, with the early part of the work focusing on the marquee Towers Rooms and Suites. The redesign will incorporate a timeless look, with the hotel’s history as a proper guide and source of inspiration.
If one can rate a luxury hotel on hurricane preparedness, The New York Palace surely tops the short list. We here at Beyond Black were beyond satisfied with our stay during this precarious event. We can only imagine what awaits the prospective guest once the new renovations are complete. One thing is certain, The New York Palace will continue to focus on its impeccable quality of service, something we can attest to despite the most difficult of predicaments.