On the Fly™ - Editorial Commentary by Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams

August 2007:   NYC is a Summer Festival, Low on Cost, High on Value, Full of Surprises and Celebrities!
--by Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams

The cost of hotel rooms in most of the world's cities has skyrocketed! I find it amusing to go to discount hotel websites and find room night rates hovering in the $400 to $900 range with some internet discount sites offerings over $2000 per night for a standard room!

If you're a business traveler stuck with specific inflexible travel dates, you'll need a solid-gold reason to justify the expense of a stay in NYC. But if you're a leisure travelers longing for a trip to the Big Apple, the summer s the time to go there! If there's such a thing as low-season in NYC, you'll find it in July and August. All the museums, shops theater and musical events you're longing for are all there plus the spectacular landmarks, harbor, monuments like the Statue of Liberty, and great restaurants all await you!

Hotels whose average daily rate runs between $350 and $600 per night for most of the year can be reserved for less than $200 per night. Take for example the Park Central Hotel, located in the heart of the theatre and musical center of NYC on 7th Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets. The king-bedded room that sells for $395 and up plus local taxes from Fall through Spring, can be had in July for as little as $149 plus tax from most internet hotel sales sites. If you're really interested in minimizing your spending, check the official website of the hotel directly Generally, you'll save another $10.00 by cutting out the middleman.

That being said, if your time has value to you, let a travel agent shop the best deal for you especially if you're making multiple stops, need a car rental and other services. Agents receive promotional rates on hotels daily from hoteliers and branded chains that don't want to disrupt their marketing strategies by high profile advertising of rates lower than their published rates. By giving these special rates to travel agents, rooms get sold quietly at the lower rates through below-the-line marketing. You'll also find that agents will shop internet fares and, using their time rather than yours, find you the best deals. That service is well worth the nominal service fee the agency may impose. If you believe your time is valuable, letting a travel professional do this job for you is a great investment. Ask the agent what the fee structure is for commissions on which they earn nothing. Where the agency is earning commissions on the sale of travel, you will incur no fees. Generally speaking, your cost will be the same or lower than the rates you can find for yourself whether an agent provides the labor and expertise or you inflict brain surgery on yourself. My money is on travel agents every time. The value of having a travel professional tending to details related to connections, documents, locations of hotels, and a myriad of other items makes for hassle-free travel.. And if you run into a snag, one call to your agent sets a professional team in motion to deal with your problems rather than your having to deal with a huge supplier who holds all the cards and treats you like one picket in a fence that's a million miles long.

First run films, great theatre productions, special exhibits and summer sales abound in New York City, along with great food and fabulous chocolate. If you want to mix that with rubbing shoulders with celebrities, try the Tribecca Grill, owned by the Nierporent brothers, Tracy and Drew, and their partner, Robert De Nero. Or consider one of their other restaurants, Nobu, Nobu East, or their new Vietnamese gem, Mai Place, just around the corner from the Tribecca Grill.

For the best hot fudge in New York City, go to Serendipity 3 on 60th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. My favorite treat there is their signature frappe, Frozen Hot Chocolate, a thick chocolate slush covered with shaved dark chocolate and fresh whipped cream. If you're hungry, the extensive menu offering that hasn't changed since their opening in 1952, which is part of the charm of this unique “eats-and-sweets” emporium. The marble top tables and gigantic authentic antique Tiffany lighting fixtures are part of the experience of this New York City landmark. For a glimpse into the place, see the film, “Serendipity, with John Cusak and Kate Beckinsale. In the film, you'll se a window display featuring an artistic papier mache Frozen Hot Chocolate that will give you some idea of what a delight it is! While purists will order a Frozen Hot Chocolate as a dessert, there are those among us who savor the experience of consuming a foot-long hot dog with a Frozen Hot Chocolate chaser!

And while you'll probably find celebrities sitting at a nearby table at Serendipity 3, clearly the choice of discerning fun-lovers and seekers of memorable experiences, you must never know whom you may find just walking down a NYC street. Lucky for me, when I walked back to the Park Central Hotel on July 3rd, the night before my most recent trip to Ireland, I found none other than Jackie Mason standing in front of the hotel's revolving doors chatting with a group of people encircling him and enjoying the celebrity moment! Gleefully, I introduced myself. He was friendly, warm and, as always, very funny. I told him I'd like scrambled eggs and rye toast and I want it on the side. . . I'd like my toast buttered, not buttered in the middle, buttered to the edge, and I want that on the side. If you're unfamiliar with Jackie Mason's routines about ordering food in a restaurant, you need to catch up! For those of you who know the routine, it's going to be hard for you to turn off the rest of the funny bit that is now playing in your head.

I asked Jackie Mason if he'd be a guest on Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams, my nationally syndicated radio show heard weekly on the Business TalkRadio Network coast-to-coast on Sundays broadcast simultaneously in the 7pm to 9pm Eastern Time slot. He graciously expressed interest and told me he'd give my card to his manager who would call me. We said goodnight, shook hands and walled in different directions. I yelled over my shoulder, “And I want it on the side!” As I heard him laugh, I knew that this kind of close encounter was one more reason to spend a summer evening in New York City.

So now you have a homework assignment to watch two videos. Firstly, you need to see the film, “Serendipity,” if only to catch glimpses of the outside and the upstairs of Serendipity 3, and secondly, you need to see the video of one man show that Jackie Mason performed on Broadway, “The World According to Jackie Mason.” You will laugh your sides off!

Entertainment, great food, fabulous shopping with summer sales galore, and the serendipitous chance encounter in the city that is the crossroads of the globe: New York City, a Summer Festival.

Related Links:

Travel With Stephanie Abrams - September 2005 Show notes

Travel With Stephanie Abrams - Feb. 2006 Show notes

Travel With Stephanie Abrams - September 2006 Show notes

Travel With Stephanie Abrams: Show Notes April 2006

Travel With Stephanie Abrams - September 2005 Show notes

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