By Terry Trucco
At the moment Kate Middleton and Prince William say “I Do” next Friday, early bird guests at a cluster of Manhattan hotels will raise their champagne glasses. How did London’s royal wedding turn into a hotel event in New York? Here’s our play-by-play of the race to see which hotel will catch the bouquet.
Round 1 – The Trump International Hotel & Tower is first off the mark on January 13, and the race is on. Besides a suite for the night ($1,075 for a city-view, $1,425 for a park view), the package includes breakfast at dawn (scrambled eggs with caviar, mini French toast, pains au chocolat, Mimosas) at restaurant Jean Georges with the wedding broadcast on big-screen TVs. Each guest pockets a piece of official Royal Wedding china. “We always treat our guests like royalty,” says hotel General Manager Suzie Mills, a Brit, who dreamed up the package.
Round 2 – On February 23, the New York Palace enters the fray with a 5:30 am $150 English breakfast package (scones with marmalade, breakfast bangers, scrambled eggs with Devonshire cream, champagne) in the Drawing Room, bedecked with wide-screen TVs and flowers. Each guest takes home a scented candle. Rooms start at $299. Why get into the act? “This is the palace,” says Leslie Lefkowitz, Director of Communications.
Round 3 – Loews Regency jumps in. Will there be cabaret singers serenading guests at Feinstein’s Piano Bar at 5 am? Or a wedding Power Breakfast in the dining room? Nope – you get wedding favors at check-in, a traditional English breakfast in the room, champagne and an early-morning wake-up call for $545.39 a night.
Round 4 – In a move reminiscent of the Algonquin’s $10,000 martini (with a Tiffany engagement ring in the glass), the Chatwal sprints in on March 28 with the $150,000 Royal Wedding Asprey Jewels package — three nights in a penthouse suite, breakfast delivered to the room (champagne on wedding day), cake and roses, cars to and from the airport, spa treatments for two and a diamond necklace from the Queen’s jeweler. Don’t need a new necklace? The package is yours, in a junior suite, for $1,650.
Round 5 – On March 29, the Trump expands its package, offering the breakfast alone for $149 “for locals who wish to watch the royal wedding in a regal atmosphere,” Mills says.
Round 6 – Two weeks later, Ivanka Trump trumpets her hotel’s event in a blog entitled “The importance of being first: a royal lesson” for a hotel industry publication. “What is especially significant . . . is that we were the first with it on either side of the Atlantic, so initial media coverage was exclusively about our offering,” she writes. But does the rabbit always win the race?
Round 7 — We thought the players were set, but on April 25, just hours before the event, The New York Times‘ Times Limited teams with the Jumeirah Essex House and dashes into the race with a $95 three-course English luncheon for two (English pea flan, Scottish salmon and rhubarb wedding cake). Available from noon to 2 pm, lunch will unfold in the hotel’s South Gate restaurant, where the wedding will be rebroadcast on big TV screens.
Whew! With less than a week to go, here’s the tally – A few spaces are still available at the Trump, where the Today Show’s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb are expected to stop by. It’s also not too late to book at Loews or the Chatwal, both with and without the bling. And the Times offer just went out to Times Limited subscribers.
But the Palace is sold out with 50 people on the waiting list. With 100 guests confirmed, the event was moved to the hotel’s Grand Ballroom. Camera crews are expected from Inside Edition, NBC Early Show, NBC and LX New York.
Of course, it’s not over until the Day of the Dress. But why the Palace thus far? Who knows? Maybe it was the price point, steep but not stupendous. Or the solo breakfast sans room. But maybe it’s just the name.