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The Ritz-Carlton (RC) brand is part of the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio, which I enjoyed the most as an elite member until I got “Bonvoyed” by Ritz-Carlton Central Park. This Ritz has unbelievably low standards and does not reflect those of other RC’s worldwide. I would have stayed at the nearby Essex JW if it weren’t for the high RC brand reputation.
About Ritz-Carlton Central Park
Here’s a little bit of history: while many of us know some of the oldest Ritz hotels are in London, Paris, and Montréal, there was a Ritz that opened its doors at Madison and 46th in New York City (NYC), in 1911 and was owned by Harvard University from 1941 to 1951.
In 1982, NYC welcomed the return of the Ritz brand at 110 Central Park South, which then switched to Westin, Intercontinental, eventually becoming a luxury residential building in 2006.
The current Ritz Carlton Central Park opened in 1930 and was named Hotel St. Moritz. The property changed hands a few times until it was purchased by the infamous Donald Trump in 1985, who sold it within three years. He attempted to convert the building into a condominium but failed. In 1999, Ritz Carlton management purchased the building and remodelled it into a combination of hotel and condominium.
Stay at Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
It was a weekend getaway for me and an opportunity to try two new hotels in Manhattan: the Conrad Midtown and the Ritz-Carlton. Last year, I had a great stay at the St. Regis New York and an okay stay at the Park Hyatt New York.
Many elite members prefer not to stay at Ritz or Edition because breakfast is not part of the perks for an elite member. I don’t mind the lack of complimentary breakfast as I usually fast in the morning. I make a few exceptions at hotels like the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto.
I used 90k Marriott points and paid an additional $450 to stay at the Ritz Central Park. The check-in staff was upfront about my choices, and I appreciated that. As an elite member, I could get the Avenue View Suite or Deluxe room free of charge. Or, I would have to pay the additional $450 for the Grand Park view room or $2050 for a grand park view suite. I opted for a grand park view room to enjoy a Central Park sunrise!
The room was spacious, but the decor was dated. The most recent renovation seemed rushed and budgeted – a TV against a painting in a five-star hotel?
Based on the pictures from the official website, my room seemed to have skipped the renovation. A single sofa in the room appeared sad and lonely.
I was displeased that this Ritz-Carlton did not have the iconic Asprey lineup. Instead, they use a brand typically provided in mid-tier hotels, Acca Kappa. The worst part was that they still had the Asprey-branded sewing kits and combs. Penny-pinching at a Ritz-Carlton? The hotel website still displays Asprey amenities. I wanted to sympathize with the un-Ritz-like behaviour post-pandemic, but it was just a sign of the worst Ritz experience.
The room was on the hotel’s top floor and had no tea or coffee amenities by default. The bar had overpriced alcohol, soft drinks, and three free water bottles. What is missing? A coffee machine or a tea kettle. So I called the hotel, and Denise from in-room dining informed me that it was an on-demand service now, and she was not too happy that I requested both a tea kettle and a coffee machine. She told me that they were out of stock for coffee machines. I politely asked, “Ritz-Carlton NYC should be one of the prime and flagship properties under Ritz-Carlton’s portfolio, and you do not have a coffee machine for me?” She said sorry and no simultaneously and affirmatively.
I then sent a message to the Marriott app and reported the situation. Some minutes later, a lovely gentleman brought a cart with a tea kettle and a filtered coffee machine, along with a big bag of wholesome coffee powder, lemon wedges, honey, and tea bags. When I saw the coffee machine, I quickly realized the last time I used a machine like this was when I had just started university while staying at a homestay. Moreover, this machine features a reusable filter – God knows how often it has been used and how often it gets sanitized. As someone who had just recovered from a ten-day penicillin bacteria-related illness treatment, I had to buy coffee elsewhere. I missed my Jura ENA 8 at home profoundly.
Whenever I visit New York, I tend to walk a lot. I walked 18km the day before and 3km the second day. I was hoping to take a bath overlooking Central Park. To my surprise, the plug in the bathtub was not working, and the water kept flowing to the drain. I regret wasting a significant amount of water due to a faulty bathtub. I also reported this issue, and the hotel resolved it a few hours before I checked out of my room.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I paid extra for a view for this stay. I am happy the hotel fulfilled my request to assign me a top-floor room. And then the disappointment came: the windows had a transparent version of Yayoi Kusama’s art. Taking a photo or video was impossible without the infinite dots overlaying it. It reminded me of the DSLR era when I had to clean my image sensor periodically to remove those artificial and unpleasant circles of confusion.
Again, even though not contractually binding, my expectation for paying extra for a room with a view would include a clean or openable window so I could take photos or make time-lapse videos. Unfortunately, this was not the case. My remedy to this issue was to tell myself that I was probably unlucky as always and that the hotel would probably clean their windows soon, and I just happened to stay here at the wrong time. But, this is a Ritz-Carlton in New York City.
Over the years, Ritz-Carlton has been one of the most stable chains I have stayed at and probably the one chain where I had the most amazing experiences collectively. Admittedly, I have only stayed in prime locations or at more recent and most celebrated ones. Unfortunately, the streak has ended with Ritz-Carlton New York City; the hotel itself does not fit with the brand. In the future, I will stick with other chains if I ever want to stay around Central Park.