Upcoming Festivities in the Upper West Side

Over the Christmas season, NYC & Company will be making amendments to its Upper West Side Neighborhood x Neighborhood campaign. The reason being, that it’s a major happening place for seasonal festivities. Both visitors and residents alike will be able to enjoy activities between West 97th Street to 62nd and Broadway. Indeed, the city wants people to come and take part. As NYC and Company’s VP of Borough Promotion and Engagement pointed out:

“The Upper West Side is one of the most festive neighborhoods during the holidays, and we encourage everyone to explore this family-friendly and culturally rich destination throughout the winter.”

Some of the enticing attractions include: The Nutcracker by the New York City Ballet, Holiday Cheer for RUV concert at the Beacon Theater and origami holiday tree that can be found at the American Museum of Natural History.

There sure is something very special about Christmas on the Upper West Side.

Welcome to Spa Castle!

candle-335965_1280Spa Castle is about to open in Manhattan for the first time. Measuring in at 39,000 square feet, Spa Castle Premier has quite a Manhattan vibe about it. Spa Castle Original – located in Queens on a quiet street – doesn’t have the same flair, but that could be due to location. What happens in Manhattan has to have an extra level of culture and pizzazz.

Manhattan’s Spa Castle Premier has that polished feel, typical to many Manhattan buildings. Grab a cocktail from the pool bar and enjoy the glittering lights. Then luxuriate in the saunas.

Manhattan could definitely do with additional relaxation outlets. The most densely-populated of the five boroughs in New York, it is not the most stress-free place to live. Too much time is focused on being in the rat race. This is a great way to unwind and enjoy the ride!

Synchronized Swimming

Manhattan has synchronized swimming classes. Not only that, they are actually affordable. One does not have to be a wannabe athlete to make it happen. At the Manhattan Plaza Health Club, lessons are just over $15!

So not only does one not have to be rich to join, they also do not have to be overly-talented. The classes house everyone – from beginner to advanced – and then split up into skill level.

Those who take the classes generally report them to be a lot of fun, and something that can be built up over time. There are many basic attributes to it, and one needs to have a lot of them under their belt as it were, to be able to really participate in the sport.

In addition, synchronized swimming is great for the body, being both an aerobic and anaerobic activity.

Jackman Returns to Broadway


Hugh Jackman just made a return to Broadway. Starring in Jez Butterworth’s ‘The River,’ Broadway’s Circle in the Square has been putting this show on since November 16. It is going to run for 13 weeks and is being put on by Sonia Friedman Productions. The last show will be January 25, 2015.

Young Talent Comes to TriBeCa

jazzEleven-year old Joey Alexander is about to bring his talent to New York City. The super top child pianist – who lives in Indonesia – taught himself to play piano at the tender age of six. Now, he is all set to make his debut at the Apollo Theater and the Lincoln Center.

A couple of weeks ago, Joey was playing in Tribeca (close to Shimmie Horn’s Cosmopolitan Hotel – Tribeca), with Julliard students double his age with twice his experience! He was playing in order to raise money for a visa so that he could stay in New York City. He said that he likes music, but in particular he pointed out that “the music of jazz is here in New York.”

Well, he’s right there since New York certainly has a name for its jazz.

Rainbow Room

rainbow-roomRainbow Room has just re-opened a third restaurant in less than three decades. Offering 9,431 brunch buffet items with live jazz performances, the remodel of the 80-year-old Gershwin-era building has come into the 21st century through Tishman Speyer, the landlord. Using Gabellini Sheppard Associates as the designers who polished up some of the most notable elements including the crystal chandelier under a 23-foot-high dome and a revolving dance floor, practically everything else is new.

Mirrors help create an optical illusion of the panes being wider than they are. Walls have been redone in a silver-grey fabric, brightening the room, flexible lighting generates a romantic ambience, etc.

And then of course there is the food with a twist. The apple cider doughnut, honey-baked ham, miniature chicken and truffle pot pies, crab claws and shrimps are getting the joint a good name.

Perhaps most significantly about the restaurant is that there has not been such a sky-high dining experience in Manhattan since 9/11. With the Rainbow Room, sky-high dining may have just returned.

New York: Recent College Expansions

gatesThanks to a hefty donation from Thomas and Mary Alice O’Malley, Manhattan College was able to dedicate a $45m Raymond W. Kelly ’63 Student Commons building on its Bronx campus. O’Malley was a classmate of Ray Kelly and following graduation, both became army officers.

The successful O’Malley – who made his fortune in the oil-refining industry – donated $10m to the building. In addition, he was a major player in the rest of the building’s fundraising. Thanks to the new 70,000 sq. ft. building, Manhattan College’s north and south campuses are now connected.

The ceremony of the dedication was attended by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and president of the college, Brennan O’Donnell.

Meanwhile in Ithaca, another building dedication was taking place thanks to the generosity of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Cornell University is to be getting a new building for Computing and Information Science that will be named for him. Gates’ foundation gave $25m to the project that cost $60m.

Attending the ceremony were Bill Gates, David Skorton, University President and Haym Hirsh, Dean of Computing and Information Science.

Church Renovations and Expansion

church-revovationsThe Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church is getting a residential addition built on. It has been what the Upper West Side congregation has wanted for a while and just last week it was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The original church was constructed back in 1893 by Newark’s architect, John F. Capen in a Romanesque Revival style. Now, with these updates, residents will be able to purchase units in a seven floor building. There will be between 7 and 10 units with duplex levels on the top two floors. The church will have a separate entrance.

As well as the new building, there will be repairs to the current one, such as repairs of stained glass windows, refurbishment of poor water drainage, etc. The poor building structure had been having such a negative impact on the atmosphere in the church that many regular churchgoers started leaving. Involved in the process is a three-decade-working church pastor. This was a real shame since the church used to be a true place of church activity.

The hope now is that the structure located on 81st Street between Amsterdam and Columbus will return to its original grandeur, but for the 21st century.

New York Hotels – Great Package Deals

new-york-cityThe US offers so many hot-spots and vacation destinations. New York City will always be one of the most popular destinations for domestic and international tourists alike. When vacationing in New York, finding just the right hotel deal can make-or-break one’s visit. These days, many top hotels in the central areas – right by the tourist attractions – offer great deals for each person’s needs.

From romance to divorce packages, executive deals to theme hotels, New York has it all. While the Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa has been traditionally known for its top-class weddings, it is moving with the times and now offering a $5,000 package to divorcing couples. With the “Divorce Hotel” program, the couple is given separate rooms, and can use all the amenities. And, if desired, the couple can be filmed for a reality show as they embark on to the next stage of their lives.

This is quite a leap from Shimmie Horn’s Triumph Hotels’ romance package that focuses on “seclusion in upscale setting.” As well, one of its recent packages was the Key to New York City where visitors who booked 3+ nights at any of these six hotels received – free – a one-way car service between the hotel and NYC’s three airports, or a complimentary experience in one of the six neighborhoods.

There are always new and exciting packages being offered in New York’s top hotels. Check them out before booking for the best and most useful deal for your needs.

Post Office Named for Hero

uspsnycThe House of Representatives recently passed a bill that has made one little girl in Manhattan very happy. The post office – located in Inwood at 90 Vermilyea Avenue – will soon become known as the Corp. Juan Mariel Alcantara Post Office Building, in memory of Yelayni’s father, Juan Mariel Alcantara. He was killed in Iraq in 2007, at the tender age of 22. He never got to meet his daughter, who is now 7 years old.

His family feels that this tribute will ensure he “will live forever. He gave his life for his country. People will know who he was, what he did for the country.”

Alcantara was the 12th noncitizen soldier from Manhattan to die in Iraq.