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It’s time for the annual, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Show, where the Iranian leader comes to NYC and addresses the U.N. at the General Assembly Meeting where he makes a traditionally anti-American, Anti-Semitic speech that leaves people fired up for days. His political rants need no further comment. Instead, we continue to be fascinated by hotels that still put him and his band of brothers up. Also, we’re amused by what happened this year.
That would be the New York Post attempting to deliver a gift basket of assortedfoods and sundries to Ahmadinejad’s room at the Warwick Hotel! Those kind of antics have us in stitches. Since the hotel has had him visit before, he probably didn't want to hedge his bets anywhere else, so he returned again. Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak at the U.N. on Wednesday, but arrived in New York on Saturday, so the Post took it upon themselves to offer:
The anti-Semite’s special welcome basket — from New Yorkers with love — [it]included such locally procured goodies as Gold’s Borscht, Manischewitz Gefilte Fish and smoked whitefish from the world-famous Murray’s Sturgeon House on the Upper West Side. If Ahmadinejad (pronounced: I’m a dinner jacket) needed midnight munchies during his visit to this infidel city, there were also plenty of H&H bagels, onion bialys and Zabar’s cream cheese.
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Time to out ourselves: we love tea, in a big way. And it's not everyday that a treat like this shows up in our hotel.
We were conducting an interview inside a room at Millennium UN Plaza the other day when a refreshment tray was wheeled in by one of the room service attendants. What caught our eye immediately, before the steel coffee canisters or those little Fiji water bottles, was a plain white box placed on the table, which, when opened, contained a whole range of Kusmi tea. Red, orange, green, purple, white packets. Our only problem: having to choose just one!
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Manhattan's east side isn't exactly teeming with trendy, modern hotels, so it's good to hear that one of the area's more prominent places, the Millennium UN Plaza, is embarking on an elaborate three-phase renovation project, with the first phase set to be completed this fall.
Built in 1976, the hotel is comprised of two glass towers, which up until now have basically been separate but equal parts of the same building. Now, in addition to the property-wide renovation, Millennium is setting out to re-define one of those towers as a more luxury-oriented section of the hotel, with slightly higher rates, better views, better amenities, and a 30th floor Skyline Club.
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President Ernest Bai Koroma, center
When we learned the particular hotel used by the President of Sierra Leone during the United Nations General Assembly in NYC, of course, we figured it was worth sharing. And even more so when we found out that the four-year official had supposedly taken up three floors of the hotel.
But in fact, as we learned from a rather petulant email we received at the beginning of the weekend (from the Sierra Leone embassy, no less), the President and his entourage only took up two floors of Hyatt 48Lex—the penthouse floor and the one below. Phew. Well, that really clears things up. Between $16 muffins and this, we were seriously considering a saucy little email of our own denouncing extravagant spending by governments in hotels. But for now, we'll just downgrade that to a warning.
To read a portion of the email, which doesn't exactly present the hotel in the most favorable light, click below.
Remember when we showed you a snapshot of a Hyatt 48Lex conference room that had been converted into a makeshift clothing boutique? Well, the real reason we were there that day was to tour one of the Hyatt's 23rd-floor penthouse suites. And boy, are they looking good.
Space is not one of the hotel's assets (consistently a problem in New York)—at 116 rooms, the lean glass tower is more efficient than luxuriant in that sense. But the feel, in both the standard rooms, the suites, and the Lexicon Lounge, is very distinctly New York: compact, sleek, and sturdy.
The best way for NYC hotels to pull themselves out of the summer slow period is a major event or convention. The UNGA makes them very happy. The UNGA does not, however, make cab drivers happy.
The WSJ ran a piece on Tuesday which gave a voice to the frustrated cab drivers who lose valuable customers each year when the UNGA comes and clogs up all the city streets. Of course, that same problem is a boon to local hotels, who receive the jet-setting delegates (and their entourages) with open arms. We learned, for instance, that for his week-long stay, the president of Sierra Leone booked three entire floors (including the penthouse!) at none other than Hyatt 48Lex, one of the newest hotels around. Someone on the Sierra Leone team must have been doing their research!
Only in one part of the city was a hotel experiencing both the joys and the woes of hosting certain disliked presidents. We don't know if Ahmadinejad would have preferred Hyatt's sleek glass tower (whose lobby is graced with a $15,000 coffeemaker) to the stuffier Warwick, but it didn't seem like he had much of a choice.
Despite their best efforts, United Against Nuclear Iran was not able to convince every hotel that it would be a bad idea to host Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And now, after several days of being surrounded by vehement protests and demonstrations, The Warwick is probably regretting its decision to temporarily house the Iranian president and his entourage.
A CBS news reporter managed to sneak a camera into the hotel, and was welcomed by anti-Ahmadinejad activists, who had installed themselves on the eleventh floor. So what was the Warwick's excuse? Did they miss the memo? Were they making a ton of money? Did they just feel like going against the trend?
Looking to vent a little anger? Here's one cause you might want to know about. Since 2009, a group of NYC residents, and other like-minded individuals, have been rallying to protest any hotel that would deign to accommodate Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he stops by for the annual UN General Assembly meeting in September. Well, it's that time of year again!
The meeting, which takes place from Tuesday 13 to Thursday 22, draws all 193 members of the United Nations, and provides a chance for countries to cover as many global issues as possible. But just like any other business meeting, public event, or nerd convention, the participants need some place to stay! To whom will the unwelcome burden fall in 2011?