What can tourists from across America and abroad expect from a New York City hotel at WorldPride/Stonewall 50? Guests and visitors contract to have the best experience, but what does that really entail?
For answers, we went to Chris Hill, Area Director of Sales and Marketing for Millennium Hilton New York Downtown and Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza.
Metrosource: With between four and six million people expected to visit the city over the next weeks, what has Hilton been telling their employees about preparing for WorldPride? Nearly every infrastructure in the city is going to collectively groan under the weight we’ll be bearing — and yet, it’ll be fun.
Chris Hill: As I am sure you are aware, New York as a whole is very busy and I believe the city ran about 87 percent occupancy this time last year. So our team members are used to the fast pace during Pride and are excited to host such an amazing event. Hilton is also joining in on the celebration ,as all of our local and Jersey hotels have been invited to march again. This is the fourth year in a row that Hilton has been a part of the march and our group continues to grow every year. In fact, I was given the honor of proposing to my now-husband on our float in front of the Stonewall Inn in 2015. I share the story constantly with our team, as it speaks volumes to our diversity and inclusion. I feel the teams are prepared and we have our Pride flags flying and smiles waiting to welcome everyone.
Metrosource: Specifically, how are you and your staff looking to make the experience of Stonewall 50 and WorldPride memorable for your guests? How will you help smooth the way for your clientele to have the best experience of the city and the events possible?
Chris Hill: We’re well aware that tourists always have alternatives in where they decide to stay. How is Hilton distinguishing itself to be the most attractive alternative possible?
Well, if location is your priority, the Millennium Hilton New York Downtown is a great option for travelers to NYC for WorldPride. We offer convenient access to anywhere in Brooklyn and Manhattan with 12 subway lines located within a single block and we have some of the largest hotel rooms and suites downtown — all with exceptional views. We’re also only a 1.5 mile walk away from the places you’d want to be for a momentous occasion like WorldPride, places like the Stonewall Inn and the parade route. In addition to all of Hilton’s Pride activations for WorldPride — which I can talk more about — Hilton is a great option for LGBTQ travelers in general, because of our company’s principles and values.
Metrosource: How is that important? Some people will just be looking for a room to change and sleep, but there will also be a lot of people trying to spend their gay dollars where they’re most welcome.
Chris Hill: For more than a hundred years, our company has trended toward diversity and inclusivity. This year, Hilton landed at the top of the Fortune list of best places to work and the number one workplace for diversity. As a company, Hilton is dedicated to ensuring the LGBTQ community feels valued and appreciated. So we’re proud to welcome guests and team members from all over, as well as support LGBTQ-owned businesses through our supply chain. Incidentally, this past April, the gay travel organization chose to host its global convention — IGLTA — at New York Hilton Midtown.
Metrosource: So, if you’re a hotel guest — at a Hilton or anywhere, really — what are the things you should look for and hope to get during your stay? I’m sure there are things other than price, size of room and locale — perhaps small things — that can make all the differenceWe. What are they?
Chris Hill: Well, I could speak in generalities. Different hotels offer different perks and amenities. But if you’re looking for specifics, our Hilton Honors App is a great resource for guests booking a stay at one of our properties, whether it’s in New York City or around the world. Knowing there may be long lines to check-in and check-out during WorldPride, if you are staying with us, we always recommend our digital check-in feature so you can skip the front desk. The app enables you to choose your room in advance of your stay, and request specific items. Your can ask for anything from extra pillows to a snack prior to walking through the door. And of course there are just little things that make life easier when you’re traveling like being able to unlock your door with the app’s digital key feature. Once you’re ready to check out, you can bypass the front desk again with a tap on your phone. That’s in addition to complimentary WiFi and honors points we offer and depending on which level member you are, you can enjoy additional benefits.
Metrosource: No doubt you will have a number of visitors from not only outside New York and the states, but from all over the world for WorldPride. What are some of the most common questions that you get asked by international travelers?
Chris Hill: The most common request we receive through social media are guests asking about a room with a view. I get it. I visited New York prior to moving here seven years ago and stayed at the Millennium Hilton downtown. I knew to ask in advance for a room with a view. Fortunately, neither property has a challenge in meeting that request, since each room has spectacular views. We’re also very used to fielding questions about directions to various sites nearby and recommendations for shopping and things to do. And guests often want our opinions pertaining to places they have already found and are thinking about visiting, or where we would go, since we’re locals. Our teams have guides created by NYC & Company that assist them in finding their way.
Metrosource: Obviously safety is a concern. People come, they’re living their best lives, and their hotels are their homes away from home. Are there any tidbits of safety advice you can give?
Chris Hill: Well, the company I just mentioned, NYC & Company, is the city’s tourism organization — and you can find them online at nycgo.com — is a great resource for Pride guests, visitors and locals as they plan for the day of the march or other Pride-themed events. I recommend mapping out a parade route in advance, then using public transit like the subway to keep your time on your feet manageable. Otherwise, I feel NYPD is prepared and they have done an amazing job in years past. I don’t really see this year being any different, and I’d suggest you use the same judgment you would at home.
Metrosource: Finally, what are you folks doing around town to bring the spirit of Stonewall 50 and WorldPride to Hilton? Are their special events, activities, rates, dining and drinking or spa specials that say, “We’re glad you chose us?”
Chris Hill: That’s a question I love answering. Before guests even enter the Millennium Hilton downtown or our property at One UN Plaza, it’s clear that we’re here to help our guests celebrate Pride and make the most of their trip to our city for WorldPride. Both hotels have Pride flags hanging on the exterior of the hotel. Then once in our lobby, we’re handing out Pride flags to our guests.
Additionally, at Church & Dey and Liquid Assets, our food and beverage outlets at the Millennium downtown, we’re commemorating Pride with a Pride-inspired cocktail called “Simple Pride,” which features St. Germain, Italian Prosecco and a fresh fruit rainbow skewer. It’s a refreshing and great way to conclude a day of seeing some of NYC’s most important LGBTQ sites or exploring Manhattan.
On the day of the march, we’ll also be celebrating at Millennium downtown with what we’re calling complimentary “glamour stations” from 9 am to 12 pm on June 30, where locals and guests can have glitter make-up applied to adda festive touch to their WorldPride look.
For Hilton guests who aren’t staying at Millennium downtown or One UN Plaza, but at another Hilton location, they’re also welcome to join in on Pride celebrations with a selection of Pride cocktails as part of a Hilton Pride cocktail guide and glamour stations citywide. All of our participating hotels, can be found here.
And finally, for any visitors planning a trip to NYC in June, for Pride weekend or between now and the end of the year over a weekend, Hilton’s Weekend Like a Local package offers up to 50 percent off on Sunday nights, with a variety of local discounts to enjoy. We have a reputation for keeping our welcome mat out all year long, and that’s unlikely to change anytime in the future.
For more on what Hilton has to offer, visit their website.
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Last modified: June 27, 2019