NEW YORK—Staying in Times Square while also escaping tourist traps seems a bit ironic—and a bit impossible. But the Citadines Connect Fifth Avenue New York wants its guests to experience the true New York and connect with the city and its people.
Formerly Hotel Central Fifth Avenue New York, the hotel is Singapore-based The Ascott Limited’s first property in the U.S., with 125 updated rooms following an extensive renovation.
Centrally located, the property enables travelers to spend their time at well-traveled tourist destinations—from Rockefeller Center to the Empire State Building to Times Square itself—but the hotel’s front-desk attendants, or “Connectors,” are making it easy for guests to take in the classic attractions, and also make time for some less-frequented experiences.
“The Connectors are New York insiders who offer insider tips, share local hot spots, eatery favorites and off-the-beaten-track recommendations to guests,” said Lewiston Murray, general manager of Citadines Connect Fifth Avenue New York. “The hotel prides itself on hiring those who are able to share their knowledge and provide word-of-mouth recommendations, such as walking tours, restaurants, shows and late-night finds. The property also trains the Connectors on finding these destinations.”
Derived from the hotel’s name, Murray said that Connectors’ goal is to link guests with the area, giving them a local perspective and exposing them to real, word-of-mouth-delivered journeys. “The property connects guests to New York City surroundings endorsing the themes of locality, comfort and connection,” he said.
Murray compared Connectors to an enhanced concierge program, giving an insider’s look into the city.
“Citadines Connect Fifth Avenue Connectors program is special because the connectors are fully equipped to share insider information on how to conquer the concrete jungle. Connectors recommend tours based on firsthand experience and aim to give guests insight into both attractions and hidden gems throughout the city,” he said.
Recommendations include restaurants, bars and activities, and even unlikely tour options that many of the Connectors have previously experienced for themselves.
“New York is a bustling city with restaurants, shows, activities, bars, etc., and change is constant. With our Connectors being so tied into the scene, we are able to provide guests with the latest and greatest recommendations,” he said.
These include NY food tours and on-location tours immersing guests in city hot spots, and even those spots less frequented.
“We find that those who come to New York City look for a combination of visiting tourist spots and exploring local destinations. Our Connectors have resources, firsthand knowledge and experiences to provide recommendations for a combination of these activities depending on what the guests are looking for,” Murray said.
Aside from recommendations, Citadines will also have a few on-site experiences and amenities for guests to delve into through local partnerships.
There’s the Connect Cooler located in the hotel lobby, complete with a grab-and-go selection of local, seasonal food and beverages, such as matcha from MatchaBar and hot chocolate from Serendipity 3, which are now complimentary at check-in.
“The hotel partners with local food and beverage outposts to showcase their products, as well as engage guests and locals through a pop-up experience, bringing an aspect of New York City to guests’ fingertips,” Murray said.
Additional partners include New York Sports Clubs, offering Sweat Connect, where guests can book one-day or multi-day gym passes through the Connectors. Citadines has also joined forces with S’well, offering water bottles for guests to keep their drinks hot or cold while they explore the city.
While the partnerships offer a peek into local flavors, according to Murray, what guests are most enthusiastic about are the personal connections this fosters through the Connectors.
“The whole idea behind the Connectors is to connect guests to New York City and provide a local perspective through curated recommendations—the entire program is distinctly New York as all happenings are within Manhattan itself,” Murray said. “Guests are most excited about the Citadines Connect vibe: a cool hotel with a great location and a passionate staff that provides recommendations on personal knowledge. Our Connectors are vested in the guests’ stay experience from check-in to checkout.” HB