News for the Hospitality Executive
Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 85
By Stanley Turkel, CMHS, ISHC
February 6, 2012
1. Praise For President Obama’s Travel & Tourism StrategyHotel industry leaders are praising the Obama administration’s new “National Travel and Tourism Strategy.” The major points announced in mid-January include the following:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to build the country’s largest convention center in Ozone Park, Queens near the Aqueduct racetrack- casino is a poor idea. This new 3.8 million-square foot exhibition hall and hotel would presumably free up the 18 acres owned by the state and occupied since the 1980s by the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Governor Cuomo said the Javits Center which is in the middle of a $500 million renovation is too small to compete for the large trade shows now going to Chicago, Orlando and Las Vegas.
I believe that Gov. Cuomo’s proposal is a poor idea for the following reasons:1. Attendance at the Javits Center has always been good because conventioneers want to come to Manhattan. They would not equally be motivated to attend a convention in Ozone Park, Queens.
2. Over the past 20 years, many cities across the U.S. have built or expanded existing convention centers in the hope of attracting professional associations. But without success because of overbuilding, the recession and inadequate ancillary amenities such as cultural and historic sites, museums, theaters, restaurants, shopping choices, etc.
The country’s leading expert on convention center economics, Heywood, Sanders, professor of public administration at the University of Texas, said he doubted that the Queens plan would succeed. “The convention business is a disaster everywhere”, Professor Sanders said. “Simply building more space gets you nothing more than a big empty building. And to put it in a place where there aren’t any hotels, restaurant or amenities next door is to doom it to serving only a local metropolitan market.” Sanders says that “city after city builds and expands their convention center. Yet they end up doing less business than they did 20 or 30 years ago.” Sanders points to Chicago’s McCormick Place, the nation’s largest convention center, which lost a million visitors from 2001 to 2010.
The Javits Center is an enormous boon to hotels in Manhattan and has helped to boost hotel occupancy and average rates to the highest level in the country.
Don’t be swayed by the siren song of a new Convention Center in Queens just because the Genting Group would finance it. The loss of the Javits Center in Manhattan would be an unmitigated disaster.
3. Hotel Rooms And Floors Created Just For Women
The New York Times of January 29, 2012 reported that the following hotels have created several initiatives catering to women:
Hotel McAlpin (1912) set aside an entire floor for women and children with its own check-in desk. That floor had an outdoor playground and a library in addition to a large lounge and a hair dressing parlor.
Martha Washington Hotel (1903) was the first New York hotel reserved exclusively for women. All the employees were women with a hostess and chaperones in attendance at all times.
The New York Tribune in 1885 send out an Inquiring Reporter to find out how many women guests were registered at the city’s four largest hotels. Out of the first one hundred guests at each hotel he found an average of only eleven women. The Tribune added that no women traveling alone could find accommodations in any hotel unless she had an introduction or credentials and other evidence of her responsibility.
As the number of women guests increased at the beginning of the 20th century, astute hotel-keepers spruced up their hotels to attract more of them. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported in 1884:
It is amusing to note the different dodges employed by the managers of the great city caravansaries to please their women guests. At the most exclusive hotels in Boston it takes the shape of beautiful flowers in vases and jars scattered about the rooms, and the largest numbers of the latest magazines ready to the hand. At a New York hotel, facing Madison Square, at lunch, when the dossier is brought on, a plate of choice confections is placed before you, and while making use of a finger bowl, the deft-handed waiter whips out a sheet of fresh white paper, twists it with a turn of his hand into a cornucopia, empties the bon-bons into it, and presents it with Oriental obeisance for upstairs consumption.
There is really cleverness in this, for it has put a stop without vulgar remonstrance to the practice of women carting off to their rooms plates loaded with fruit, cakes and candy to nibble between meals. In another hotel on Madison Square, when a lady is seated in the dining room, the waiter has ready for her feet a dainty tapestry-covered hassock. No one but a short women, who has spent a portion of her life sitting on the edges of chairs dangling her feet in the air, can fully appreciate this comfort.
In the 1920s, the Aberdeen became
the first of a growing number of transient hotels to admit women
by men without subjecting them to strict rules. Most
hotels at the time refused to register women arriving
the nighttime hours, and did not permit registered female guests to
the hotel after dark. Some hotels restricted women to particular floors
According to Rider’s New York, only the Aberdeen, the Great Northern at
57th Street and the Willard Hotel at 252 W. 76th
treated women as equals to men.
At least three other large women-only hotels were built in New York City:
“They were, by definition built to last, and many of them did. In “Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York” (AuthorHouse), Stanley Turkel, who (works) in the hotel industry, brings them to life again as they were originally envisioned.
In this passionate and informative book, dotted with (antique postcards), he begins by recalling six classics that figured in his early career, then quotes an 1872 guidebook that proclaims New York “the paradise of hotels.” From the Aberdeen to the Wolcott, the hotels he features- some built as apartment hotels, some converted to apartments- were mostly constructed in the ensuring decades. Some, fortunately are now officially landmarks.”
To order a copy, visit www.centuryoldhotelsinnewyork.com.
5. Quote of the Month“One of life’s greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn’t good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.”
Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
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