Last updated: 10:30 PM ET, Sun March 01 2015

New Center of the Universe

The Park Hyatt New York has quickly become a luxury hub for the city

Vacation Agent | Hotel & Resort | James Shillinglaw

New Center of the Universe

PHOTO: Park Hyatt suites feature residential-style furnishings and striking modern art.

New York is one of the world’s great cities for luxury hotels. Most of these properties are major luxury brands housed in historic buildings, but last fall the city’s newest five-star hotel debuted in a brand-new skyscraper on West 57th Street in a neighborhood that is quickly becoming known for its new wave of very tall buildings.

The Park Hyatt New York, the brand’s first hotel in the city, is located at 153 West 57th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, diagonally across from Carnegie Hall and just two blocks south of Central Park. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc, the property features 210 guestrooms, including 92 suites designed by Yabu Pushelberg. Guestrooms are among the largest in the city, starting at 525 square feet, and decorated with a residential feel and innovative modern art.

The hotel itself is part of a 90-story mixed-use tower that features 94 Thomas Juul-Hansen designed luxury spaces with views of Central Park and the New York skyline, though the hotel is housed only in the first 25 floors and only a few rooms have partial park views. Even before it opened, however, the property was designated as “one to watch” by Virtuoso travel advisors at their annual conference in Las Vegas last August.

The Park Hyatt New York experience begins as you enter through the well-lit palatial portico. You are immediately greeted by a number of black-suited hotel staff members who ask if you are checking in. If you are, they have your name on their tablets and quickly take you up to the third floor.

That’s where the very compact reception desk is located (just two small desks and two receptionists) as well as the main lounge, bar and restaurant. But you don’t stop there, instead you are taken directly up to your room on an upper floor, where a member of the staff seamlessly checks you in with a tablet. You never really have to visit the reception desk at all.

Park Hyatt New York general manager Walter Brindell, who has worked for Hyatt for nearly three decades, and now serves as vice president-Park Hyatt North America, oversees a property that is the showcase for the Park Hyatt brand. “This is now a flagship hotel,” he says. “There’s so much emphasis on this hotel, from the design to the quality of service, to make it exact.”

Public Spaces: What is surprising about the Park Hyatt New York is how quickly it has become a social hub in midtown Manhattan. Its Living Room, a combination lobby and lounge on the third floor, is now a central meeting point for hotel guests as well as local New Yorkers.

The 30-seat Living Room flows smoothly into the 37-seat Bar, complete with a giant glass sculpture, overlooking Carnegie Hall and West 57th Street. Those spaces then lead to the hotel’s main restaurant, The Back Room at One57, a comfortable and tasty dining venue that transforms from a place to have breakfast and lunch into a more romantic restaurant at night. The small reception area, also on the third floor, is located across from another lounge and business center that seems less like a lounge and more like a real living room for guests.

There are 350 pieces of significant museum-quality artwork in the hotel, many of which were commissioned specifically for it. “As a guest you come into this space and truly realize this is a comfortable place, a home away from home,” says Brindell.

Accommodations: Park Hyatt New York features 210 guestrooms on 15 floors with 11 different room types, including 92 suites (three Park Junior suites, 24 Park Studio suites, six 57th Street suites, 15 Park suites, 28 West Side suites, seven Park Executive suites, five Park Terrace suites, two Ambassador suites and two Presidential suites. Rack rates start at $795 a night and go all the way up to $30,000 a night for the Presidential suite.

Rooms and suites feature a king or two full-size beds, designer furniture and tablet room controls. All accommodations offer a work desk with broadband Internet access; 46-inch flat-screen satellite television; direct-dial telephones with two lines and speakerphone capability; in-room safety deposit box; bathroom with separate soaking tub and rain shower, separate toilets, lighted makeup mirror, built-in TV in bathroom mirror, two-sink vanity and heated floors; two sizes of bathrobes and slippers; hair dryer; selection of bath amenities created by Le Labo; custom-designed minibar and free bottled water, free pressing (two garments per stay); and blackout drapes.

Dining: Park Hyatt features only one restaurant, located on the third floor, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, The Back Room at One57, an American Grill, but the ambience changes throughout the day, and so dinner can be a more romantic affair. An open kitchen and food displays create a unique dining experience for guests. The 96-seat restaurant, located on the third floor, features dark-wood accents, floor-to-ceiling windows and views of Carnegie Hall across the street.

Overseen by Executive Chef Sebastien Archambault, the Back Room is already garnering high ratings on Open Table, along with a high percentage of guests who say they would recommend the restaurant. Dinner can start with one of the restaurant’s signature lobster dishes (salad or bisque), market oysters, shrimp or King Crab. There’s also a wide selection of salads and other starters.

For main courses, the restaurant features a selection of fish, steak, chicken — everything from crispy skin wild salmon to a whole grilled lobster to a wide array of aged steak cuts—and some vegetarian options. Entrees are priced from roughly $25 to $50.

Spa & Fitness: The hotel’s full-service Spa Nalai provides a full slate of treatment options. Located on the 25th floor, the spa features six treatment suites, a spa terrace, steam room, a hot tub and private changing rooms. Treatments include holistic rituals and apothecary ingredients that deepen serenity and restore harmony through traditional healing practices from around the world. The spa also offers a limited inventory of seasonal treatments from across the globe. On the same floor as the spa is the indoor swimming pool, including a 65-foot-long lap pool, and 1,845-square-foot fitness center. The pool even features classical music broadcast underwater for swimmers to enjoy.

PHOTO: The hotel features a lap pool and spa on its 25th floor.

Meeting & Event Space: The hotel features 8,000 square feet of residential-style event space on the second floor, including a ballroom, a show kitchen, three breakout rooms and a state-of-the-art boardroom with a 1,050-square-foot outdoor terrace. All meeting space is equipped with the latest in technology. The Onyx Room, one of the most striking spaces in the hotel, has illuminated walls of white, Italian onyx, making it a great showcase for corporate meetings or weddings.

PHOTO: The Onyx Room is one of the signature meeting spaces in the new hotel.

Location: In the end, a luxury hotel in New York is all about location. With its West 57th Street midtown address, however, Park Hyatt New York is in the center of it all. The hotel is right across the street from Carnegie Hall, providing guests with access to classical music and other musical performances. Just a few blocks away is the Museum of Modern Art, while Central Park is just two blocks north and Lincoln Center is less than 10 blocks north. Great shopping is just a block or two away on Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue.

“This whole street is happening,” says Brindell. “We are right between 5th Avenue and Columbus Circle. There is a vibrant restaurant and hotel scene in this neighborhood. This corridor is almost on steroids right now.” And now the neighborhood has a hotel to match its dramatic growth.

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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the March 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.