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Downturn? Fuggedaboudit

Downturn? Fuggedaboudit

When the deals are sealed and it’s time to hit the town, business travelers to the Big Apple are finding some of the best bargains in years.

Originally published in the June 2009 issue of The Advocate.

If ever a city?s proven its resiliency, New York has. Sure, it?s had easier years than this, situated as it is at the epicenter of a global financial snit. But the city also has a business-minded mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who?s deeply committed to preserving both the might of the city?s powerful corporate engines and its indisputable status as a premier meeting and convention destination. The hordes of international leisure visitors may be slightly reduced following the uptick in the dollar?s conversion rate, but a new class of domestic travelers is finding that New York offers all the culture and excitement of many foreign lands at a fraction of the cost.

With hotels offering deals, restaurant reservations easier to come by, and shopping bargains rampant, there?s never been a better time to extend that business trip to the Big Apple. This June is perfect for a few free days loose in the city, especially with gay Gotham gearing up to commemorate 40 years since the Stonewall uprising -- a fitting reminder of New York?s ability to turn sticky situations into so much pink lemonade.

Extended stay
The new Ace Hotel (20 W. 29th St.; 212-679-2222) couldn?t be positioned more centrally for gay guests. Though its immediate neighborhood (now dubbed NoMa for the area north of Madison Square Park) is still in flux and fairly nondescript, the Ace is just a stone?s throw from the city?s most popular queer quarters. The latest in the Seattle-born, vintage-industrial, chic but friendly Ace family, the New York incarnation and its 247 rooms pay artsy homage to the nearby historic Tin Pan Alley and Garment District areas through room appointments like vinyl turntables and rolling garment racks.

Take things to a higher level -- 56 feet skyward, to be exact -- at the new Standard Hotel (848 Washington St.; 212-645-4646), perched with mid-century aplomb on steel and cement stilts above the southernmost portion of the new High Line park in Chelsea. The latestand largest of Andr? Balazs?s L.A.-originating Standard Hotel group, the New York City version has 18 stories and 337 rooms, each boasting floor-to-ceiling glass window-walls offering stunning views of the city and/or the nearby Hudson River. Manhattan-based designfirm Roman and Williams, which also plotted the Ace?s interiors, oversaw the Standard?s hip Saarinen-ian innards. Watch out, though, if you want to have friends up for an after-work drink and gander at the view. Stung by rowdy parties during its first months in service, the hotel has instituted a -- dare we say, silly -- policy of limiting guests to one per room.

If business demands a Midtown address, now there?s one with style -- and grace. The Grace Hotel (125 W. 45th St.; 212-354-2323), formerly Hotel QT, was snatched up last year by Spain?s fashionably fun and gay-owned Room Mate chain, which has brought a decidedly European chic vibe to the mostly mundane Midtown scene. Furnishings in the 139 rooms are modern, Wi-Fi and breakfast are free, and DJs spin five nights a week at the swimming pool immediately behind the main lobby -- including Mondays for the gay pool party Drip.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

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