Thursday, 20 March 2014 17:08
A friend of mine told me about his eight-year-old son’s surprisingly discerning taste in hotels, and offered an anecdote to illustrate the point.
When he traveled on business, and brought the family along, they usually stayed at Westins, my friend explained. Then, they traveled for pleasure, and their destination dictated a night at a Best Western. Moments after walking into the latter, his disapproving eight-year-old son said, “Dad, I thought you said we were staying at the Best Westin!”
The Garden City Hotel has no such branding problems. One of the most luxurious hotels on the East Coast, it has been hosting discerning travelers since its initial opening in 1874. Manhattan-based Fortuna Realty Group, LLC, purchased the property in 2012.
“No hotel in the area can match our history or legacy,” said Grady Colin, general manager of The Garden City Hotel. “Long Islanders speak of our hotel as they do the Plaza or Pierre Hotel.”
John Kordes, Garden City’s village historian, curated an exhibit chronicling the hotel’s history as well as some of the notable people who’ve stayed on the premises.
It is situated in the hotel’s main lobby.
Founded by one-time Great Neck resident Morris Moinian, Fortuna also owns Manhattan’s Hotel Indigo NYC Chelsea and the soon-to-open Hotel Hugo in SoHo. It is Fortuna’s extensive refurbishment of The Garden City Hotel, however, that is generating national media attention. The Wall Street Journal estimated last month that Fortuna’s exterior and interior overhaul will cost more than $40 million. “A Rebirth for Garden City” was the article’s headline.
“The guest rooms had, in their time, an elegant feel,” Colin continued. “But we wanted a more modern classic look, with a neutral color palette, upgraded technology and the absolute best bed.”
To achieve those goals, Fortuna retained Marcello Pozzi, an Italian designer whose previous projects included Las Vegas’ Wynn and Beverly Hills’ Mr. C Hotel. All of The Garden City Hotel guest rooms will, by the end of May 2014, feature custom millwork, custom furniture and Luxe Dreams mattresses. Moreover, every bathroom is being re-tiled and, in many instances, larger showers have been installed where bathtubs once stood.
“Two-thirds of our rooms now have king beds, and the other third include double beds,” Colin added, noting the hotel’s previous room allotment was nearly the exact opposite, with 60-plus percent of the guest rooms having double beds, and the balance including a single king bed. Sixteen of the hotel’s 272 rooms are suites, including three penthouse suites.
In another nod to 21st century sensibilities, the hotel has been equipped with fiber optic cabling, allowing for enhanced computer connectivity. The lobby, conference rooms, and other public spaces were upgraded in the initial phase of the hotel’s capital project. During the week, The Garden City Hotel caters largely to business travelers and, with 25,000 square feet of meeting and celebration space, hosted more than 150 events in 2013. Colin indicated they also want to market the venue as the place for a high-end staycation on weekends.
“We have a shuttle to take guests to Roosevelt Field and Jones Beach, and they can return to great dining,” Colin said, noting visitors who’d prefer to visit the nearby shops on Garden City’s Seventh Street can do so on one of the new bicycles the hotel has purchased for this purpose.
The on-site dining options include the Polo Lounge, formerly known as Rein, just off the main lobby, where breakfast and a small-plates menu is offered throughout the day. A classic steakhouse experience is available at the 120-seat Polo Steakhouse, which serves weekday lunches and daily dinners featuring 28-day dry aged Prime USDA grade steaks, as well as a renowned Sunday Brunch and Saturday Afternoon Tea. At night, the Polo Lounge offers cocktails. When the weather warms up, the nightlife will move to the outdoor Patio Bar & Lounge. It opened last year.
Few of these amenities are available at either Westins or Best Westerns, and you don’t need to have an eight-year-old at home to tell you that.
Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net