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……I live in Texas for a reason. I spent three nights this week on the great island of Manhattan. I went to grad school at New York University, and very fondly remember my days living in Manhattan and Brooklyn. So, I was more than happy when I found out that a conference I would be attending was to be held in New York City! I was hoping that the conference hotel rates would be affordable, but that was not the case. That meant that it was time to find some good hotel deals on my own. Since I was going to be going to the conference without my husband or little one, I didn’t mind switching hotels every night. In fact, I kind of was excited about the chance to try out three different NYC hotels. Of course, making that decision was a bit easier when I searched and found the hotel availability to be very spotty – not sure I could have found three straight days of availability at any of the places I was considering!
I am going to review each of the three hotels in separate posts:
The Crowne Plaza Times Square
The Grand Hyatt
Hyatt 48 Lex
I selected the Crowne Plaza Times Square for my first night just before the number of points required per night at that hotel rose from 25,000 Priority Club points to 35,000 Priority Club points. It was also just before the unofficial way of obtaining Priority Club points rose from .6 cents to .7 cents each. So, my night at that hotel cost me the equivalent of $150 – which is a steal for Times Square. At 35,000 points and .7 cents per point, that night would now cost the equivalent of $245, which is still not bad given the price of hotels in Manhattan.
For the second night, I moved to the Grand Hyatt near Grand Central Station. I actually booked this as a paid stay at a decent rate as I need to continue earning stays toward re-qualifying for my Hyatt Diamond status (more on why that is so essential for me when I review the two Hyatt hotels), and I didn’t really want to spend 22,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for one night at this hotel. Also, I was interested in staying here in part as they just finished a pretty major renovation, so I wanted to see it for myself.
For the final night I moved to a relatively new Hyatt property called 48 Lex. It is, not surprisingly, located at 48th and Lexington. This is a much smaller property than the very large Grand Hyatt. This property is also a steal if you are redeeming Hyatt points. Just like the previously mentioned Crowne Plaza redemption that went up from 25K points to 35K points, I have little doubt that a year from now I will no longer be able to secure a night at 48 Lex for just 15,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points, but for now it is a fantastic redemption. Rates for this hotel were in the $500 range and up for the week I was there, so locking in a night for just 15,000 points gave me a over a 3 cents per point return for my Hyatt points. If you got the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with the current 40,000 points sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 on the card, all you would need to do is earn just 2,000 more Ultimate Reward points and you would have enough for three nights at this awesome hotel in Manhattan! Those three nights would save you $1,200 – $1,500 off the going rate, so that seems like a fantastic redemption to me. Since the hotel is still just a Category 4 hotel, you can even use the free annual night certificate that comes from the Hyatt Credit Card as well – though I would likely use the two free nights that come with the card at a different hotel, such as the Andaz Fifth Avenue.
I promise full reviews of these hotels over the next several days – as well as more tips on how to secure these hotels with points or other discounts! I very much enjoyed my time in New York (even though I was once again sick). In fact, I enjoyed it so much I am plotting on how to bring Little C to NYC for a few days. I think she would love riding the Subway, Central Park, the huge buildings, and going into stores to buy little cupcakes. 😉
That said, my last few hours in New York City I encountered several folks that totally fit the stereotype of “rude” and/or “eclectic” New Yorkers. The first was my car service driver from the hotel to LaGuardia. For that route, I have found that a car service can be a pretty good value. In fact, you can usually find some sort of discount or coupon to bring the one-way cost with Dial7 to about $27 – $29. Of course, you can use public transportation for much less than that, but for this trip a car service was just easier. Anyway, the driver was not a native English speaker and he wanted me to help him with his English on the way to the airport. I did not feel well, and was not in an overly talkative mood, but I didn’t want to be rude and I was impressed that he was trying so hard. Somehow we got on the topic of what a “lame duck President” was. He had heard the term and didn’t know the meaning. However, he thought it was a “plane truck President”, so I was trying to help him with each word, and ended up quacking to try to get the meaning of the word “duck” across. It worked, and I felt very ridiculous.
After that, it just got stranger when he started whispering and giggling and talking about me and him getting a convertible and going to Mexico. At least that is what I think he was saying. At this point, I took a picture of his info in the car and sent it to my friend, Deals We Like, in case I turned up dead in Mexico. It really was a bit creepy. I was more than relieved when we arrived in one piece to LaGuardia. I might also add that it seems to be a very large coincidence that almost every cab or car I rode in while in NYC was “having problems with their air conditioner”. I think not.
When I tried to board my United flight from LGA to Houston, I came face to face with a woman who can only be described as “The Bag Nazi”. I’m certainly not trying to make light of the Nazis, WWII, etc, but she was the absolute equivalent to the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi”. This woman was the meanest, grumpiest, b!tc%iest airline employee I have ever encountered. I have flown many, many United flights with my carry-on bag without incident. However, as she is scanning my ticket this woman apparently decides that my bag is the largest bag she has ever seen anyone try to “sneak on” a flight, and proceeds to make a real scene about it. We measure the bag, and frankly it appears fine to me. It may have been a centimeter or so over the little red marks on the measuring sticks, but it certainly was not a ridiculously sized carry-on. She insists the only way it would fit on-board is if I am turning it sideways in the overhead bin. I explain I would never do that, and the bag has no problem fitting “wheels out” in the overhead bins. She then storms across the gate area and brings back this metal contraption and tosses it down in front of me saying, “fine, then make it fit in there”. I explain that it isn’t going to fit in there (virtually no carry-on I have ever seen would fit in that tiny cage), but that it fits just fine in the overhead bins.
I’m getting nowhere with the “Bag Nazi”, so I tell her that we can just do whatever we need to do to keep things moving. She then checks my bag and points out that I have already checked another bag, so what is the big deal. I explain that I did check a bag, and that I would have checked this one as well if it didn’t fit (I actually checked an empty bag I bought for my daughter, but hate risking checking even my clothes with an airline). I was pretty ticked after this encounter, as she truly was very rude and degrading. However, as the flight went on, I doubted myself and wondered if I had just been more sensitive or grumpy than normal since I was still feeling sick. Those doubts were erased when my flight landed in Houston and more than one passenger came up to me at the terminal and said that the “Bag Nazi” is always that way, and that most of her flights go out with virtually no carry-ons. In fact, some of them said that after what she did today, they were going to complain to United, as they are tired of seeing her treat people in that manner.
I’m not here to argue the United carry-on policy. However, the “Bag Nazi” is not doing United any favors by treating people that way. Though, judging by what some of the passengers told me in Houston, she may unintentionally become as infamous as the beloved “Soup Nazi”. However, if she works as often as some of them says she does, I may be visiting EWR on my next visit to the NYC area. One trip through her line was more that enough for me, and at that point it was high time for me to get back to Texas and the land of big hair, Southern accents, friendly smiles, and no Bag Nazis. No carry-ons for you!!!
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