As a five-star inspector for Mobil Travel Guide, the country’s oldest and most respected star rating system, I am often asked my opinion on my favorite places to stay or dine. It’s always a tough decision, but one city that I just love to visit is New York. This city is incredibly large and can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you are a first time visitor, but the energy will envelop you.
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL:
How does a Mobil Five-Star inspector spend his days? Here is an inside peek at the wining, dining, and hard work that goes into inspecting a luxury hotel.
As a five-star inspector for Mobil Travel Guide, the country’s oldest and most respected star rating system, I am often asked my opinion on my favorite places to stay or dine. It’s always a tough decision, but one city that I just love to visit is New York. This city is incredibly large and can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you are a first time visitor, but the energy will envelop you. You just can’t help but fall in love!
My most recent inspection schedule had me visiting the Mandarin Oriental New York, located in the heart of Manhattan within the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. This hotel is the only property in North America to achieve the Mobil Five-Star award for both the hotel and the spa. If you really want to get away and spend a five-star weekend somewhere, this is the place to devote your hard-earned savings. There are more Mobil Five-Star establishments in this neighborhood than in any other city in North America. Just steps from the doors of the Mandarin Oriental New York, you can experience some of the best dining the city-and for that matter, the country-has to offer.
Because this hotel is located on floors 35 through 54 of the Time Warner Center, you will definitely want to ask about the different views offered when making your reservation. Each guest room offers stunning, floor-to-ceiling views of Central Park, the Hudson River or many of the city’s landmark skyscrapers. Although it will be difficult to take your eyes off the view, it’s worth it to look around-the guest rooms are just as stunning as the cityscape. These luxurious surrounds provide modern elegance with hints of an Asian influence. One wonderful and thoughtful touch I have not seen offered before in a guest room are the two hard-cover books left in the room for guests to enjoy during their stay and take home when they leave. If the books don’t quite fit in your suitcase (perhaps because of a hard-to-resist New York shopping spree) when it’s time to depart, the concierge will ship them to your home.
Speaking of shopping, though the city’s famous Fifth Avenue is only a few blocks from the Mandarin Oriental and a short stroll down Central Park South, I was looking for an insider tip on when to launch my own shopping spree. The hotel’s concierge staff guided me to SoHo for some fun boutique shopping-including the flagship store of my favorite gourmet food shop Dean and Deluca. After suggesting to refuel and recharge for lunch at Balthazar, I was also directed to the popular Lower Manhattan designer emporium, Century 21-always a must when looking for that designer bargain.
After a long day of shopping, meetings or sight seeing, make sure to save some time before dinner to enjoy a cocktail in the Mandarin Oriental New York’s lobby lounge. Call earlier in the day and reserve a window table, as they are always the first to go. If you’d rather be seen yourself than take in the city views, stop into the adjoining MObar for a drink. The stylish atmosphere draws in an equally stylish crowd.
As the dinner hour approached, I made my way to the nearby Mobil Five-Star restaurant Jean Georges, located inside the Mobil Four-Star rated Trump International Hotel and Tower. The dining room is visually stunning and sophisticated, but still relaxing and comfortable.
Chef/owner Jean-Georges Vongerichten has conceived and impeccably executed a French-influenced menu that makes the most of seasonal ingredients found from around the world. On other inspection trips to New York, when I’ve planned well in advance, I’ve dined at Chef Thomas Keller’s per se and Chef Masa Takayama’s namesake restaurant Masa. Both Mobil Five-Star restaurants are conveniently located an elevator ride away from the guest rooms at the Mandarin Oriental New York. I wish I could pass along my inspector’s insider advice on how to secure dinner reservations for these very hard to book restaurants, but calling the hotel concierge when planning your trip is a great strategy, as they tend to have excellent connections. You might not get your preferred time, but dining at these establishments at any time is certainly a pleasure.
I usually save the inspection of the hotel’s spa until the last full day of my visit, but the Mobil Five-Star Spa at the Mandarin Oriental New York should be experienced on each and any day of a visit! Located just off the hotel’s lobby, this luxurious and serene spa offers treatments that use healing techniques inspired by Chinese, Thai, Balinese and European cultures. I knew I was in for a pampering experience when the first request the staff made was that I exchange my shoes for a pair of their cozy slippers before entering the spa. I put them on and explored the spa’s vitality pool, amethyst crystal steam room, and the “experience showers.” For the ultimate in pampering, indulge yourself and book your treatments in the VIP Spa Suite which includes your own deep soaking tub and fireplace.
After a whirlwind of amazing culinary delicacies, a pampering spa experience and an incredibly luxurious stay, it was time for this inspector to say goodbye to Mandarin Oriental New York and the Big Apple. To read more inspector reviews or to help plan your own trip to New York, visit www.mobiltravelguide.com for more information.
Did you ever think you could have a five-star experience and see Yosemite National Park? Look for next month’s Mobil Five-Star inspector’s insider’s guide to all that is luxurious in Northern California!! sdp