Top Travel News from New York

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In our entirely unbiased opinion, New York is the greatest city in the world. Why? Because it is always keeping itself fresh. It's never tired. Here are the newest reasons why you should be headed to New York this season.

The Viceroy New York has been announced for the Columbus Circle area of Manhattan. We hear the hotel will blend downtown trends with uptown chic, with a huge double-height lobby as a centerpiece and 241 guest rooms, many of which will have top views of Central Park. When it opens its doors in September of this year, the Viceroy New York will be in one of the best locations in Manhattan: West 57th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. “The New York market has been waiting for the Viceroy name for some time, and we have wanted to be there” said Bill Walshe, CEO of Viceroy Hotel Group. “Our first Viceroy branded hotel in the city has to be exceptional, and this development is quite simply perfect. This is a hotel that will stand apart from its competitors,” he added. In discussing this decision, Ark's Chairman, Brad Reiss noted that "Our vision for this project was to deliver a luxury hospitality product in an iconic building, embodying the Golden Era of New York in an incomparable and irreplaceable location. We believe the Viceroy brand, which embodies innovative design and superior guest service, will bring a hotel experience highly desired in New York City."  The hotel will stretch up 29 stories, and will have a paramount rooftop food and beverage venue in addition to a signature restaurant located off the lobby and fronting 57th Street. We hear a major culinary partnership will be announced in the coming weeks "rivaling anything currently on offer in New York City." We can't wait to see it for ourselves!

Heads up, fashionistas! In celebration of February Fashion Week, The Pierre, A Taj Hotel on New York City's Central Park, is launching its new partnership with Parsons The New School For Design. Four of the school's alumni will transform the hotel's Two E Bar/Lounge into a designer showcase with their latest fall looks. Even better: A special Emerging Designers Cocktail Menu, inspired by the Parsons graduates' designs and created by Two E's resident mixologists under the direction of Sachin Hasan, will support Save the Garment Center: Made in NYC. The first Pierre/Parsons Emerging Designers Showcase will feature styles from Samantha Sleeper, Wen Shi, Angela Gao and Laura Siegel, who will help transform Two E Bar/Lounge into a mini-costume exhibit during the week of Fashion Week, opening at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 6, and culminating in a full fall collection preview and spring collection trunk show with each participating designer on Wednesday, February 13, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Pierre will work with these same emerging designers for September Fashion Week, expanding the partnership to include Fashion’s Night Out events, runway shows, meet & greet designer events, fashion presentations and afternoon fashion teas. The new collaboration with Parsons reflects The Pierre’s longtime love of contemporary fashion and the glamorous guests it has housed over its eighty year history like Coco Chanel, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Karl Lagerfeld. In 1974, fashion legend Yves Saint Laurent held his first US haute couture show at the hotel, which attracted boldfaced names like Lauren Bacall, Bianca Jagger and Diane von Furstenberg. 

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Great news from New York City's Staten Island…which, after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, could certainly use a bit of New Year's cheer: The borough is still on track to get the world's largest Ferris Wheel, according to city website Gothamist. When it is in place, the wheel is expected to tower 625 feet in the air. But, the story notes, the storm did inspire some changes to the design, including the elevation of the electrical and mechanical equipment in case of future flooding. The total project is expected to cost at least $500 million, and will compete for attention with similar wheels in London and Las Vegas. (For the record, Las Vegas is getting two competing wheels on the Strip, and the London Eye has become an icon of the city. Time will tell if the New York wheel will become equally symbolic for the Big Apple, but it's location away from the current tourism hotspots may present a challenge.) Still, the $500 million project is going forward with little changes to its plan—though some will be raised up in case of another giant storm. New York Wheel LLC is currently looking for a sponsorship (they expect to have one by April), mulling how to light the giant circle (without upsetting the locals), and are desperately trying to break ground (in case the next mayor doesn't support the project).

New York City is a foodie's paradise. Here are our top picks near some of the city's greatest attractions: Dine at Casa Nonna, an Italian restaurant at 310 West 38th St., and park in the garage next door for three hours for just $10 or for six hours for only $15. The restaurant menu includes pastas like the Cavatelli al Ragu di Maiale ($18), ricotta dumplings with pork ragu and ricotta salata – or a variety of wood-fired pizza. LuLu & Me, located at 235 Fifth Ave., serves plates that include roasted pear, Walnuts and Greens ($16.50) with gorgonzola dolce toast, Proscuitto Wrapped Chicken with Roasted Autumn Squash and Kale ($18.50) and Sunday meat platter ($24) that boasts pork bracciola, sausage and meatballs with grilled polenta. LuLu & Me also provides a wine and beer list, along with signature cocktails like a martini. China Latina, Hotel Indigo, 127 West 28th St., in Manhattan's Flower District combines Asian and Latin American flavors with dishes like Mole Poblano Lo Mein ($18), Peking Duck Wonton Tacos ($16) and a variety of Sushi Burritos. Standout dishes at Neely's Barbecue Parlor, 1125 First Ave., in the Upper East Side, include Cedar Planked Salmon ($19.95) with soft corn pudding, tiny green beans and parsley butter and the famous Fried Green Tomato Cobb Salad ($16.50). Hospoad, 321 East 73rd St., a modern Prague-style restaurant, is located next door to the Bohemian National Hall. The restaurant's food is farm-to-table and is the only place in the country whose unique bar system can pour the Pilsner Urquell in four different ways from the same keg, each providing a different flavor and style. Located in Manhattan’s Theater District, Carmine's, 200 West 44th St., is another Italian restaurant famous for its country style rigatoni ($27.50), and meat and fish dishes like shrimp fra diavolo ($32.50) and veal scallopine ($28.50). One of New York’s first authentic ‘cue joints, Virgil’s Real Barbecue, 152 West 44th St., also located in the heart of Manhattan’s Theater District, serve up platters of Texas beef brisket ($22.95), Carolina pulled pork ($21.25) Memphis style pork ribs ($24.95) and more. The Russian Tea Room, 150 West 57th St., is known for its history of catering to celebrities and one of the best vodka programs in the city. There are also dishes like Boeuf à la Stroganoff ($39) - red wine braised beef short ribs with house-made thick noodles tossed in creamy mushroom and black truffle cream sauce – along with a selection of caviar. One of the most exciting and comfortable places to dine near the Barclays Center is Piquant, 259 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, a Latin American-inspired French restaurant only three blocks away. It features a full, wood-paneled bar, an elevated dining area, a downstairs dining room and a 30-seat backyard. Chef Patrick Allouache, creates modern French dishes that incorporate the ingredients and flavors profiles of Latin America. Stand out dishes include ethereal duck confit enchiladas, foie gras quesadillas, Roasted Halibut with langoustine “con carne” and Catalan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass with zucchini blossom, huitlacoche, and tapenade. Also blocks away from the arena is Ganso, 25 Bond St., Brooklyn, a new izakaya-style restaurant that specializes in Ramen and modern versions of Japanese comfort and bar foods like braised short rib ramen, crispy pork and garlic gyoza pot-stickers, kari kari buns and a Japanese-style fried chicken.

Theater and film fans have some big names to watch for this fall: The New York Times is reporting that Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, who have starred together several times in the “X-Men” films, will return to Broadway together in the fall for a two-play repertory of Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” Directed by Tony-nominee Sean Mathias, the two plays—both bleakly funny existential classics by Nobel Prize-wining writers—will run in rotation, sometimes on adjacent nights and possibly on the same days as matinee and evening performances. Such repertory schedules are fairly common in British theater but rare on Broadway; the three-play cycle of “The Norman Conquests” played in repertory in 2009 and the three parts of “Coast of Utopia” ran during the 2006-07 season, but those productions mostly featured actors sticking to the same roles. Stewart, who earned a Tony nomination in 2008 for his performance in the title role of Macbeth, will play Vladimir in “Godot” and Hirst in “No Man’s Land.” McKellen, who won a Tony in 1981 for “Amadeus,” will play opposite him as Estragon in “Godot” and Spooner in “No Man’s Land.” Additional casting for the plays will be announced later, as will the performance dates and theater. Mathias directed Stewart and McKellen in their roles in “Godot” in a London production in 2009. The three men will prepare “No Man’s Land” this summer with a try-out production to be announced later. “Godot” was last on Broadway in 2009 starring Bill Irwin and Nathan Lane, while “No Man’s Land” last ran in 1994 with Jason Robards and Christopher Plummer.

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