NYC Hotels Prepare for Sandy by Offering Water and Games

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A New York City Police Department vehicle drives through a flooded area of the FDR Drive at 116th Street in New York. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

New York City hotels are preparing guests for Hurricane Sandy by handing out safety information, distributing supplies and planning entertainment as their rooms are filled with stranded visitors and workers.

The New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square asked guests to pull the blackout shades on windows, while the Four Seasons Hotel New York on East 57th Street handed out emergency bags with bottles of water and flashlights. The Four Seasons is sold out and the Marriott Marquis is almost full.

“At our big hotels, we’ve distributed a letter that is pretty specific and tells guests that when they’re in their guest room to pull closed the blackout drapes,” said Kathleen Duffy, spokeswoman for Marriott International Inc.’s hotels in New York City. “The newsletter also tells guests what to do in case of a power outage, how the generators work and, first and foremost, to remain calm.”

Hurricane Sandy, the largest tropical system recorded in the Atlantic, strengthened as it began making the transition to a superstorm that may push a wall of water ashore in the Northeast and lash the East with wind, rain and snow. Manhattan hotels are accommodating travelers along with employees of firms such as Morgan Stanley and UBS AG that are putting up some workers who are unable to commute.

Housekeepers Kept

Marriott is advising guests to stay off the streets, Duffy said. About 1,700 of the Marriott Marquis’s 1,957 rooms were occupied on Sunday night, and management asked some housekeeping staff to sleep at the hotel to ensure service, she said.

“Ironically, the View restaurant is very, very busy,” Duffy said of the revolving rooftop venue on the 47th and 48th floors of the hotel. “I think it’s because all the smaller ones in Times Square won’t be open.”

The company closed the New York Marriott Downtown and the Ritz-Carlton New York in Battery Park through at least today following the mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas of New York City. The hotels’ guests were relocated to nearby Marriott properties and The Ritz-Carlton, Central Park, Duffy said.

The staff of the Four Seasons Hotel New York held three meetings on Friday to discuss fulfilling supply requirements, keeping some workers overnight at the hotel to ensure service continuity and relocating guests who request rooms on lower floors, said Tiffani Cailor, the property’s spokeswoman. The 52-story luxury hotel, which is sold out today, gave each guest a bag with two bottles of water and a flashlight, and is trying to keep customers entertained.

Cocktail Class

“Because our guests are stranded inside, we bought board games and cards so people have something to do,” Cailor said. “We’re also going to offer a cocktail-making class for guests and will have story time later for the kids.”

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., owner of the Sheraton and St. Regis brands, closed the W New York Downtown as part of the evacuation, and the hotelier “made all necessary storm preparations to continue to accommodate guests” as Hurricane Sandy affects properties in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and other parts of the region, according to an e-mailed statement.

The company’s Sheraton New York Hotel in midtown Manhattan asked guests via telephone messages to keep their windows closed and curtains drawn and not to use candles, said Shona Pollock, 32. She and Jasper Daly, 24, were in Montreal last week for a business trip and stopped in New York for pleasure on Friday on the way back to their home in Dubai.

“We’re still going to have a good time,” Daly said. He and Pollock planned to spend the afternoon in a craft-beer pub, where they would wait out the storm.

Atlantic City

In Atlantic City, Starwood closed the Sheraton to guests as part of that city’s evacuation order. The property is being used as a staging area for emergency workers, the Stamford, Connecticut-based hotelier said.

Starwood’s storm preparations included stocking hotels with extra food and water and testing back-up power systems, said Nadeen Ayala, a company spokeswoman.

Blackstone Group LP’s Hilton Worldwide chain is waiving cancellation fees for hotels located in evacuation zones and other affected areas from yesterday through tomorrow, the hotelier said in an e-mailed statement. There also will be no charges “if guests check out before their scheduled departure date or time because their stay is negatively impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” Hilton said.

Loews Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jim Tisch said that his company’s hotels are able to meet travelers’ lowered expectations.

“At times like this, guests tend not to expect four-and-a-half star service,” Tisch said today on a conference call to discuss the New York-based company’s third-quarter earnings. “They’re happy to have a clean bed and a clean bedroom. And I’m pleased to say the hotels can provide that and more.”

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