A Weekend in New York
It’s not very often one books a visit to the City That Never Sleeps to actually get some rest. When a trip to New York is as long over due as a trip to get some R&R, what’s one to do? I say, both!
Off we were to the Big Apple: I booked two round trip direct flights from Austin to JFK on jetBlue, a private sedan through GroundLink on the jetBlue site (this is a hidden gem, just $71 with tax and tip including any tolls and you get additional airline points) and a plush stay at the Ritz-Carlton Central Park equipped with one of only four La Prairie Spas. Okay, I splurged, but you can’t put a price on a luxury hotel stay overlooking the lush, green serenity of Central Park.
We got ourselves acquainted with our accommodations for the next two and half days and were pleasantly surprised by the Club level access. If you are not familiar with a Club level experience, let me tell you, it’s worth the extra dough.
The Ritz-Carlton describes this experience as having the “comfort, convenience and privacy of a hotel within a hotel.” For an extra $100 bucks or so added to the room rate, you get access to five abundant food and drink presentations a day, all day access to coffee, tea, water and a full-service bar within the comforts of a lounge stocked with magazines, newspapers and your own private concierge in a cellphone-free environment. Knowing this was ahead of us we vowed to do as we pleased and bop around the city our first day and stay inside the confines of the hotel the next.
We broke our vow. We did, however, appreciate our accommodations upon arrival and took full advantage of the lounge where we enjoyed a beautiful lunch and a place to rest before our room was ready, which was, in less than 45 minutes of our early, noontime arrival.
Saturday greeted us with a view of energetic dog walkers, joggers and runners across the street in Central Park. Too lazy to properly dress, we dialed up a simple, but satiating room service breakfast of fruit, yogurt and coffee. We couldn’t resist the energy and excitement of the city streets and, in keeping with our promise of getting some R&R, booked early evening facials at the spa.
Some afternoon retail therapy led us to 888 Madison Ave., the new home to Ralph Lauren’s flagship store. From there we found our way to Chanel on Madison Avenue. On our way out, I was stopped by a mesmerizing tan bag elegantly displayed on the counter where director Doug Turner stood. We got to talking and I learned their latest outpost was under construction for a summer grand opening (please pray I get on that list, and I promise to report back here).
For more affordable finds we made an efficient stop into Cole Haan for a pair of simple wedges from their new spring collection and for him a stop into Hugo Boss’ Soho store for some handsome button downs. We were treated to excellent customer service at both.
We were in need of a recharge, and I couldn’t resist a stop at The Dutch. I had read about it in the Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition just a few weeks before the trip. The Dutch had been given mixed (but mostly rave) reviews, and I needed to find out for myself. However, a miscommunication about food service times did not allow for a stay and, instead, we discovered another place that was just a few blocks away, Buvette.
We made ourselves at home in this cozy spot that is described as a gastroteque — “a place where people meet for casual food and drink.” Run by chef and owner Jody Williams, Buvette is one of the few delicious, yet simply divine dining spots in the West Village that serves between lunch and dinner hours. Here, easy on the eyes servers deliver Williams’ simple and satiating French fare. We stared with a Lillet Blanc and snacked on a succulently prepared salsify, a vegetable in the sunflower family,and a satiating bowl of perfectly steamed mussels whose broth we sopped up with crusty bread. After returning to midtown and let out from a horrendous cab ride, we scurried our way back to our digs just in time to unwind for our facials.
This was my first time at a La Prairie Spa and my significant other’s first time to have a facial treatment. I knew he’d be smitten by it and, not too mention, it would enhance his near-perfect complexion. La Prairie is a Swiss company that has been in inception since 1982. They are world renown for the science behind their products that effectively combat the aging process. There are only four La Prairie Spas throughout the U.S., the one inside the hotel being among them.
The entire experience was exceptional and one I would highly recommend. Trust me, I have had my fair share of spa time and this one stood out. The greatness started with the ease of making our appointments and the warm and genuine reception. The women’s locker room was not large, but was perfectly equipped with amenities such as La Prairie skin and body care products, robe, slippers and steam room.
The treatment itself was fantastic and thorough, and I was offered a complimentary glycolic peel which gently removes the top layer of dead skin cells to allow an emerging glow from fresh skin. Glasses of Champagne were brought to us post-treatment to celebrate the season of Valentine’s Day and bask in the glow of each other’s radiating faces.
After a quick nap we felt ambitious and headed out again, this time to Todd English’s Food Hall in the basement of The Plaza Hotel. We were greeted by a friendly and accommodating hostess that later brought us our sushi roll. Other than that, we were highly disappointed with the apathetic service.
We decided to go back to our hotel’s lounge for proper pampering and good food. Eric, the bartender, took great care of us. With bellies full, we were contented and prepared for a good night’s sleep.
We awoke to a lazy Sunday morning with newspaper scattered around while we enjoyed our coffee. Given our evening departure time we called down to request a late checkout and opted to enjoy our relaxing accommodations rather than venture out into the bustling city. A light but energizing jog through the park allowed us just the amount of exertion we needed to enjoy midday, in-room massages.
With muscles relaxed, and a few hours to spare before having to catch our flight, we took advantage of the lounge one last time to have a late-day snack while awaiting our car service back to JFK.
We proved that spending a weekend in the city that never sleeps can provide some restfulness even with bright lights, horns honking, sirens screaming and all.