Big Apple Anniversaries

Marty Wentzel blogs from NYC

By: Marty Wentzel blogs from NYC

Read more about Manhattan's Hotel Beacon

In honor of our 20th year of marriage, my husband and I recently spent a nonstop weekend in New York City. Oddly enough, we kept running into other anniversary celebrants in the city that never sleeps.

The kitchen at the Hotel Beacon // (c) 2009

Kitchennette at Hotel Beacon // (c) 2009 Hotel Beacon

Right off the bat we discovered that our accommodation -- the Hotel Beacon -- is commemorating its 80th year. The upper West Side gem originally opened as an apartment hotel, and these days its newly renovated rooms are generous in size and well appointed. It’s also the only hotel in the neighborhood with fully-equipped kitchenettes, which was perfect because we didn’t want to blow our vacation budget by dining out every meal.

One reason we chose the Beacon is its proximity to Lincoln Center, just a ten-minute walk from our hotel. Fifty years old this year, the famed performing arts center is in the midst of a huge renovation which will eventually reinvent the entire 16-acre urban campus. When finished it will include such innovations as a Street of the Arts, lined with visitor information systems, dramatic lighting and new indoor and outdoor dining facilities. Its trademark promenade and fountain are being updated as well, and a new 3,500-square-foot green space will enliven the corner of 62nd St. and Columbus Ave.

South Pacific with Marty // (c) 2009

On the set of South Pacific // (c) 2009 Marty Wentzel

Inside Lincoln Center we caught the revival of the musical South Pacific, observing its own anniversary. It was 60 years ago that the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic first opened on Broadway. Our friend Loretta Ables Sayre -- a pal from Hawaii -- is starring as the character of Bloody Mary, and I’m here to say that she was born to play the role. Clients shouldn’t miss this Tony Award-winning revival. After the show we met Loretta and her husband David backstage. David snapped this photo of us on the South Pacific set, where we felt like we had been transported to Bali Hai.

Marty in Central Park // (c) 2009

Central Park // (c) 2009 Marty Wentzel

Since it was just a few blocks from our hotel, we made sure to stroll around Central Park, which is 150 years old this year. In the midst of a concrete landscape, this urban wonder still plays its role as a green oasis and a model for city parks around the world. While there, we took awhile to relax in Strawberry Fields, a peaceful 2.5-acre landscaped area dedicated to the memory of John Lennon. Its circular mosaic of inlaid stones reminded us to “Imagine.”

Continuing the anniversary theme, we shared a few hours in the Museum of Modern Art, which first opened its doors 80 years ago. From room to room, the paintings and sculptures I’ve loved for years appeared before my eyes, like the greatest hits from all my college art history classes. From Fauve and Futurist to Surrealist and Pop, it’s a brilliant collection that never grows old. Afterward, we rested our weary legs while sipping coffee in the museum’s sculpture garden, one of many peaceful havens in the midst of the Big Apple.

Another landmark museum with a big birthday is the Guggenheim, celebrating its 50th this year. The one-of-a-kind Frank Lloyd Wright attraction is running a series of major anniversary exhibitions and programs throughout 2009. Among its many new offerings is an innovative line of retail products and a reservation-only restaurant offering fine American cuisine, opening this fall. Clients might want to visit the museum on Oct. 21 -- the date on which the museum opened exactly five decades ago -- when admission will be free.

Fairway Market NYC // (c) 2009

Fairway Market // (c) 2009 Marty Wentzel

On the last evening of our metropolitan holiday, we picked up groceries at Fairway Market, a New York City retail landmark and an anniversary celebrant in its own right. Open for the past 75 years, the family business truly lives up to its motto, “Like No Other Market” with its colorful produce displays, vast cheese selection, gourmet olive bar, baked goods, fresh meat and seafood, coffees, organics and dairy products, all at reasonable prices. Returning to our Hotel Beacon room for a home-cooked New York City meal, we wished each other a happy anniversary and vowed to return before another 20 years has passed.