Governor Andrew Cuomo has allowed regions of New York State to reopen in stages after they meet certain benchmarks. New York City, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak in the United States, was the last to reopen, which it did this week when it began Phase 1 of the process. On Monday, 400,000 people went back to work for the first time in three months in industries like construction, manufacturing, and retail (for curbside or in-store pickup only). Museums and other businesses, like gyms, won't open until Phases 3 or 4.
Next week, the Mark Hotel on the Upper East Side will reopen to guests, becoming the first luxury hotel in the city to resume business after the coronavirus forced its temporary closure in March.
According to the general manager, Manuel Martinez, the decision to reopen the Mark's reservations book was based on guidance from government agencies as well as other factors. One reason, he says, is that the the city feels palpably safer now than it did three months ago. (Governor Cuomo demonstrated as much by riding the subway on Monday, taking the 7 train to Grand Central. "If the subway isn't safe for me, then I wouldn't ask anyone else to go on the subway," he said.)
While there is still a long way to go before New York restores its pre-pandemic vibrancy, this week's partial return to normalcy, says Martinez, "is sending the message out there that New York is open for business."
Another reason the Mark is opening now: people want to get out of the house. "We've seen an increase in inquiries from locals who want to come to the hotel because they need some privacy after being with family members under the same roof for so long. They have cabin fever," Martinez says. He has also gotten a request from a couple who want to host a 15-person wedding in one of the suites, as well as several emails from an unnamed celebrity who needs to come to NYC but refuses to stay anywhere else but at the Mark. "He feels at home here, he feels safe."
When employees return to work on Monday (the Mark has 400 staff members and they will be on a staggered schedule), they will be closely following new protocols that the hotel has set in place, in accordance with the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the CDC.
The Mark—which famously hosted Meghan Markle's extravagant baby shower in 2019 and also serves as many a Met gala attendee's preferred place to prep and pose for paparazzi—already has ultra-high standards of cleanliness and hygiene. Post-pandemic, the hotel will go even farther.
Nonessential in-room amenities such as decorative pillows, pens, and paper, have been removed; staff will wear personal protective equipment at all times; anyone entering the hotel will get their temperature checked with an infrared thermometer; rooms won't be occupied for 48 hours between guest stays to allow for thorough disinfection; and all guests will be given a branded safety kit containing a mask, sanitizer, and anti-microbial wipes.
The spa, salon, and Jean-Georges restaurant will remain closed for now, but not to worry: the chef's famous truffle pizza—as well as other highlights—is available from room service.
"The hotel experience is going to be cleaner and safer than ever before," Martinez says. As for that aforementioned anonymous celebrity who would only come to New York if he could stay at the Mark? He already has a reservation on the books for next week.
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