Saturday, December 12, 2015

Rocco Report: Making Ourselves at Home at the NY Marriott Marquis

Standing tall and bright in the epicenter of the city- Times Square.




























There's nothing like the holidays in New York. And there's nothing like experiencing New York from its palpitating center of Times Square! A few weeks ago, we took our first trip back to the city since the birth of our son, Rocco Sebastian. Believe it or not, we got to experience Manhattan in a whole new light just by hunkering down in a different neighborhood and one of New York's most visually iconic hotels.

When I think family-friendly travel and hotels, the first name that pops into my head is Marriott. Marriott hotels have always epitomized an inclusive 'family first' travel experience wherever you go in the world. With over 4.500 hotels in 79 countries, Marriott Hotels is at the forefront of first-class lodging without the extra hefty price tag. It's where we stayed when we first traveled to Aruba when our first child, Maya, was born (http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/auaar-aruba-marriott-resort-and-stellaris-casino/). And when you are a growing family, you don't want to sacrifice quality in order to make the most of a trip! 

Teaming up with Marriott for our trip back to the city, was an anticipated collaboration. The NY Marriott Marquis in Times Square (http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/nycmq-new-york-marriott-marquis/)is a landmark in the Big Apple, and one that I had history with; however, I had never actually stayed on the property. Living in New York for over 12 years and being an entertainment producer, I covered many big red carpet events at the hotel. I never needed an address- because when anyone says 'the Marriott Marquis in Times square,' I knew exactly where I was going. Working a few avenues away, my commute often brought me to Times Square and like so many NYC residents, I rarely stopped to admire the view. It's a view you often take for granted because you're too busy trying to dodge the tourist traffic. 

I'll be honest. I was slightly hesitant when the idea of staying in Times Square was brought up as an option. I reverted back to that resident mentality of, 'It's Times Square. It's going to be so crowded and so many tourists during the holidays, so I don't know.' But I stopped myself and thought, 'How awesome would it be to experience this city, to stay in Times Square as a visitor, and see it through the eyes of a kid?'

And that's exactly what we did! 


How many monkeys jumping on the bed?! Maya and Rocco enjoying the most comfortable beds at the Marriott Marqius Times Square. 

One of the perks of staying at the Marriott Marquis Times Square? Large rooms that can accommodate families.

I knew this was going to be a good stay the moment we checked in. The front desk clerk was not only efficient and had us checked in in less than 10 minutes, but she was contagiously friendly and helpful. She gave us a rundown on the property- from restaurants we should definitely check out to the fitness center and coffee spots we could indulge in during our stay. We requested a crib and by the time we got to our room, that crib was already there waiting. The maid service employees were also helpful- never blinking an eye or questioning when we needed extra towels or soap. Requests were always made with a smile and when you're a family of four, you're always making requests!

When I spoke to the hotel's marketing director of Public Relations, Kathleen Duffy, and asked her how Marriott hotel sets the bar for family-friendly travel, she said to me, "our associates are ambassadors of service – for a first-time visiting family, New York City can appear exciting and overwhelming, with so many choices. Our staff is ready to provide suggestions on where to go, what to see, in a friendly way. Mr. Marriott has always said that “You can’t teach people to be friendly.” So we hire friendly people." And I was able to experience this philosophy first hand during our stay. 

It's easy to get overwhelmed in a big hotel, especially when you're traveling with little ones and an obscene amount of luggage, but staying at the NY Marriott Marquis, was an adventure! Believe it or not, it was easy to navigate. There were so many things to see and do on the property alone, and for a kid, there's nothing more exciting than glass elevators that look like tiny rocket ships and plush beds that were obviously made for jumping! For mom and dad, a large room with not one but two double beds is basically sleep heaven. The rooms were remarkably spacious and that's a big plus when you have kids because we all know that families need space and Marriott delivers in that department. When you have kids, sleeping by yourself in your very own bed is the definition of luxury! Coco and I took turns sleeping solo without having to worry about getting kicked in the face by bed-hogging children. We call that a successful vacation! 



Take a little time and enjoy the view at Marriott Marquis' The View Restaurant and Lounge, the only spot in the city that has rotating views of the NY skyline. 

Get up close and personal with all the Broadway lights at the hotel's Broadway Room.

The first item on our agenda was a visit to the hotel's View Restaurant and Lounge (http://www.theviewnyc.com). It is the city's only revolving rooftop restaurant and boasts impressive 360 degree views of the city skyline (the restaurant does a full rotation every 58 minutes). Whether you're a born and bred New Yorker or a tourist, dinner or drinks at this hotspot should be a must on your list! It was such a unique experience and Maya got a kick out of being so high up and seeing all the buildings. Despite the light rain, we were still able to experience all the breathtaking views! Our waitress, who has been working at the lounge for over 20 years, went the extra mile to make Maya a toddler-friendly cocktail she could enjoy with us. This is a very big deal for a three year old and she was very pumped to be clinking glasses with her parents! 

We met friends for drinks at the lounge and even they were wowed by the rotating views. It was pretty spectacular! Another great perk about the hotel is its proximity to other landmarks and popular locations. You are steps from countless Broadway productions, Rockefeller Center, shopping on Fifth Avenue, Bryant Park, Columbus Circle, and Herald Square. The hotel is also situated right by every major subway line you'll need to explore Manhattan and beyond, including the shuttle to Grand Central Station. In my case, I was a block away from a screening I needed to attend for work so it made my commute quick and easy! 

Another spot that lets you get up close and personal with the views and lights of Broadway? The hotel's Broadway room, which is perfect for drinks and snacks before catching a show. You can't beat a view like this! 

Starting our day the right way- with a proper jump!

These glass enclosed elevators provide hours of entertainment for little ones. 

Maya can't wait to get on the Toys R Us ferris wheel.
We couldn't start off our NYC adventures without a proper bed jump! I told Maya that as long as we stay at the Marriott, we can jump on as many beds as we like! I might as well have told her we won the lottery. After we rode the hotel's rocket ship elevators a few times (seriously, this was a thing), the first order of business on our to-do list was a visit to Toys R' Us. One of the things I loved about staying at the NY Marriott Marquis was getting to explore everything that Times Square had to offer- the sights, the sounds, the culture, the colorful personalities and shows- that surround you as you walk through the crowded streets (I could do without the invasive cartoon characters). And Toys R' Us is part of that cultural landscape, at least until it closes at the end of the month. Again, here's another fun and popular institution I would walk by many times without giving it a second look. I shot several segments at the store, including a Harry Potter meet and greet; yet, I had never taken the time to actually walk through all three floors of it. Now as a mom, I couldn't think of a better place to spend an afternoon with my kids and it wouldn't have been possible if I wasn't staying at the Marriott Marquis. Maya had a field day at the store! She was so overwhelmed with excitement, she didn't know where to begin. We started at the Ferris wheel and we had so much fun taking in all the oversized toy exhibits each time we went full circle. We made stops at Jurassic World, Barbie's Dream House, and the Lego Department. Everything was met with 'oohs and ahhs' of genuine joy. 

Navigating through Times square with a double stroller was a bit of a challenge and the only downside to our travel experience, but Coco and I took turns pushing the stroller and carrying Rocco in the baby carrier in order to better navigate the crowds. Maya and even baby Rocco, were mesmerized by all the lights and billboards in the area. Maya kept pointing and screaming, 'Mom, look!' at every turn until we disappeared down the subway stairs to head to our next adventure in the city. 


Now playing at the Marquis Theater- On Your Feet the Musical. 


Catching an evening show of Aladdin the Musical. 

No trip to New York City is complete without catching a Broadway show! It so happens that  the NY Marriott Marquis in Times Square is also home to the Marquis Theatre (http://marquistheatre.com), which is currently playing, On Your Feet!, the story of Gloria Estefan and Emilio Estefan. As a Miami native and a Cuban American, this musical is a dream come true and I cannot wait for my next trip to the city so I can watch the show and dance my way through the spectacular! This time around, though, we kept it kid-friendly by watching Aladdin the Musical, which was absolutely amazing! It's a show for the whole family and Maya was at the edge of her seat singing all the songs. Watching her enjoy herself so much on this trip was heartwarming. Two weeks after our stay, she's still talking about the elevators at the hotel, the Broadway lights, seeing Princess Jasmine, and ice skating at Wollman Rink. Marriott Marquis made all these unforgettable experiences possible for me and my family and I'm forever thankful! 

Taking in all the pretty lights from down below. 


Mimosa brunch at the View Restaurant and Lounge. Perfect way to end our stay.

Dessert spread at the hotel's famous mimosa brunch was on point.
On the last day of our stay, we treated ourselves to a Sunday Mimosa Brunch at The View Restaurant. What a way to wrap things up! For $59 (killer views included), you get two champagne mimosas and your pick of a very vast and very delicious buffet spread that included everything from lobster shooters to Belgian Waffles. And let's not forget dessert! 

Before brunch, I was able to squeeze in a photo shoot for my blog with photographer extraordinaire, Kim Mancuso (www.kimmancusophotography.com), in Times Square. There was something quite magical about shooting in Times Square early in the morning. To shoot in the heart of the city without the hustle and bustle of the crowds or congested streets, was pretty surreal. It was the first time in a long time, that I was able to take in the awe-inspiring energy, and electrifying sights and sounds, of one of the most iconic landmarks of the world. And here I was, right smack in the middle of all its glory. It was something special and something I'll never forget. After staying at the Marriott Marquis, I have a newfound love and respect for Times Square. 

As the holidays descend upon us and we find ourselves in the midst of travel plans and preparations, make sure to make the NY Marriott Marquis part of your family's holiday story. All I saw at this hotel during our visit, were families from all walks of life enjoying the best city in the world- from starry eyed toddlers to those hard to impress teenagers that couldn't resist taking selfies outside the hotel. The wow factor exists for everyone! If what you want is to stay in the heart and pulse of all that is happening in the city, to be immersed in Frank Sinatra's New York, in Kevin McCallister's New York, even Taylor Swift's New York- then the Marriott Marquis in Times Square is your home away from home! Go on and make some memories- NY is waiting. 


Even squeezed in a photo session with Kim Mancuso photography in Times Square. 

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