New York tourism marketing execs are eager for Canadians – well, almost anyone for that matter – to discover, or in many cases, rediscover what they’re calling “the new New York.”
And while marketing slogans often prove to be more wishful – or at least ‘suggestful’ – thinking than reality, these guys really aren’t kidding. “I can hardly keep all the [opening] dates straight,” NYC & Company SVP Chris Heywood confessed to me recently during a sales mission stop in Toronto (before heading on to Montreal and Quebec City).
Indeed, the city is undergoing such an extraordinary transformation that, while I dare not say that visitors won’t recognize it, it will truly be a fresh, shiny Big Apple for anyone who thinks they know the city.
New York has already undergone a stunning transformation since the 1970s when counter culture rocker Tonio K echoed TV and film depictions of the city, snarling, “New York may be the new world/ But she's still a filthy concrete bitch without a soul.”
Those days are long gone, but residents and visitors ain’t see nothin’ yet.
Consider this short list of major developments – with the emphasis on the word “major,” as there are too many minor ones to mention -- that are on the way, some as soon as later this year:
Airports: Both LaGuardia and JFK airports are being virtually re-invented, the latter to the tune of $10 billion. Such is the scope of the projects that JFK will get its own dedicated pet terminal, the ARK, while LGA will be transformed into a single, structurally integrated terminal due to open in phases starting in 2018.
Hudson Yards: Dubbed a city within the city, Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States and the largest in New York since the Rockefeller Centre. Taking shape on Manhattan’s west side it will include more than 18 million sq. ft. of commercial and residential space with more than 100 shops and restaurants, hotel, the highest observation deck in the city, 14 acres of open area, and much more.
The Vessel: The 600-ton permanent public art centrepiece of a five-acre plaza in Hudson Yards, the 15-storey high structure will feature 154 interconnecting flights of stairs with 2,500 individual steps. Visitors will be able to climb it for great views of the city. To be completed in 2018.
The Shed: Also part of Hudson Yards, New York’s newest centre for artistic invention will be five storeys high and include galleries, theatre, artists’ lab, performance space and a 17,000 sq.-ft. plaza for outdoor events. Opening early 2019.
New York Wheel: Set to be the tallest observation wheel in the world at 630 feet and featuring a 38-minute ride, The Wheel, located near the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island, is expected to welcome four million visitors a year to its 10,000-sq.-ft. “playground” – part of a $1.6-billion redevelopment of the St. George neighbourhood. Open mid 2018.
Gulliver’s Gate: An immersive and interactive miniature world in the heart of Times Square with more than 300 tiny buildings and 3-D replicas of some of the world’s biggest cities. Open.
Opry City Stage: A 27,000-sq.-ft touch of country (music) in midtown Manhattan courtesy of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. Features a restaurant, bars, listening room and live music performances. Opening, July.
NFL Times Square Experience: The world of pro football comes to life via a 4-D film and interactive displays in a first of its kind experience. Opening, November.
National Geographic ENCOUNTER Ocean: A walk-through experience where visitors will be “transported” below the depths of the Pacific Ocean to virtually interact with wildlife. Opening Fall, 2017.
This - That
- High-speed, satellite internet service is now available on board Air Canada Rouge Airbus A319 aircraft. The rest of the fleet will be outfitted by the end of 2018.
- Bookings for Universal Orlando Resort’s new Aventura Hotel are now available for stays from Aug. 1. The 600-room glass tower is UOR’s sixth onsite hotel an brings the theme park’s room roster to 6,200.
- Emerald Waterways, part of the Scenic Tours Family of Brands, has taken delivery of three new Star-Ships – Destiny, Liberté, and Radiance – bringing its total fleet to seven. The ships are set to sail itineraries on Europe’s most iconic rivers. Canadian travel agent reservations can be made at 855-444-0161.
- G Adventures’ Big Chill early booking sale offers travellers savings of up to 20 per cent on cruises to Norway, plus Arctic and Antarctic expeditions in 2018/19 when booked by July 3.
- Sunwing is offering savings of 20% on its newly-launched Sunwing Experiences in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. Hand-selected by local experts, excursions range from ziplining in Mexico to diving in the Dominican Republic. Bookings must be made by May 31.
- Air Canada Vacations (ACV) has extended free StormGuard protection to May 31. Applicable to select destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, StormGuard allows clients to rebook their vacation package if the US National Hurricane Center declares a tropical storm warning within three days (72 hours) of scheduled departure. Protection typically costs $49 p.p.
Fred Dixon, president and CEO of New York & Company, on the city’s plan to open 7,500 LinkNYC kiosks throughout the city’s five boroughs offering free high-speed Internet, phone calls and device charging for residents and visitors. Six hundred are already in place.
“WiFi is the new air and the new water, and we’re providing it for free in New York City. It’s a game changer. No longer do you have to huddle in a Starbucks; you can roam free!”