If you haven’t already heard through the grapevine, I went to New York to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square. This plan was cooked up pretty last minute and it ended-up benefiting me greatly. If you weren’t aware, airlines will often have last minute award seats open up for people with the flexibility to jump on them.
I found a one way non-stop from PDX to JFK for $160 and amazingly the Marriott Marquis RIGHT in the heart of Times Square had rooms available for points redemption. The return flight started out as a 25,000 mile “anytime” redemption for coach, but I kept checking after I booked it and I switched out the same 25,000 miles for a “saver” business/first class redemption – woo hoo!
I was traveling with Michelle and we knew it was going to be a great trip when we boarded our initial flight and we were in the exit row with no one in between us. When we arrived at the hotel I knew it was sold out and they were requiring 3-night minimums so my room expectations were low. At check-in the clerk abruptly left part way through and said she’d be back. She returned with an astonished look on her face to let us know that we had been given a complimentary upgrade to a Times Square view room that was going for thousands per night and she thought it was a mistake. Yay!
We were hungry after all that excitement and decided to grab some pastrami at Junior’s across the street. When we walked in we saw dozens of people waiting and were bummed. And then I remembered that it was first come, first served at the counter. The only small problem was trying to push through the crowd. A family was called to be seated and I quickly told Michelle to follow them … lo and behold: two seats at the counter – score! Since the seats were close to the waiting area a bunch of dirty looks ensued. You snooze, you lose!
The next day I got to enjoy brunch with my friend Eve and we did some heavy shopping that afternoon and had a great dinner near her house in the West Village.
We had a strategy set up for New Year’s Eve day, but also woke up seeing people line up as early as 8am – and there’s no bathrooms anywhere! We knew streets were being closed around 4pm and we had special keys that would allow us access to our hotel. Michelle wanted to visit Uniqlo for shopping and I had a hankering for dim sum for brunch, but we figured we could easily be done by 3pm.
Uniqlo was a huge success: $350 cashmere coats for $60 snapped up by the both of us so I had high hopes for dim sum in Chinatown. We picked a place and just outside the entrance in a small alleyway area was a watch battery replacement table. I had been keeping my eyes peeled for this and his quoted price of $5 was a steal! It was a bonus to see streaming video of porn/karaoke happening on his laptop while he worked. The predominance of Asians boded well and dim sum was in fact delicious.
We made it back to Times Square at 2:30pm only to be greeted with NYPD and barricades everywhere. They had shut down the streets early due to the early arriving crowds. We had to detour to another street, but our cards got us “inside the ropes” and back to our hotel. We had learned at check-in that departing the hotel for the street would not get us front row spots even though the stage was right out the front doors. The NYPD would redirect us and funnel us in from many blocks away. In addition, at midnight they estimate it takes 90 minutes to get back into the hotel and then ANOTHER hour to get an elevator to our floor. At this point we decided our amazing view was the way to celebrate.
Free heavy hors d’oeuvres in the Concierge Lounge (thanks Marriott Platinum status) because we figured room service would be slammed and then filet mignon for dinner delivered to our room around 9pm. Delicious!! All the while we watched the performers out our window from our warm room that unlike the outside – had a bathroom.
The next morning it was first class flights home and the satisfaction of a great trip with a check mark next to another bucket list item.