Built by Henry J. Hardenbergh− the same architect who designed the Plaza Hotel and the Dakota Apartments− the Hotel Martinique opened its doors in 1898, with its French Renaissance style welcoming visitors from around the globe.
Now recognized as the City’s oldest operating hotel, and recently added to the prestigious National Historical Hotel Registry, the masterfully-restored landmark has been witness to many stories behind its walls− some depicting the wonder and amazement of well-traveled guests, and others more sadly portraying the struggles of families who stayed there during its stint as a welfare hotel through the 1980s.
Returning full-circle to its luxurious roots− today, the Radisson Martinique embodies the spirit of old New York charm and elegance, while also paying homage to the less prosperous aspects of its past. On Saturday, December 29, the hotel− for the second year− welcomed families from seven City shelters to experience a day of holiday entertainment and cuisine at its annual “Dream, Believe, Achieve” event.
Since partnering with the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) on a toy drive in 2010, the Martinique has aimed to expand its charitable efforts and hosted 150 families for the first time in 2011.
Continuing to build on this undertaking, this year, a total of 200 children and parents were treated to an elaborate lunch and other activities, such as dancing, music, and a visit from Santa Claus on a snow-dusted afternoon. Thanks to the generosity of hotel staff, each family also received age-and-gender-specific gifts− a surprise that made the children's faces light up with excitement. The event was planned and organized by Radisson Martinique Rooms Division Manager, Fatena Williams, with guidance and support from Vice President and General Manager, Susan Anselona.
The attendance of the shelter groups was coordinated by DHS’ Office of Communications & External Affairs.
This year’s celebration also featured a craft room, a lounge area complete with pillows and Christmas movies, and activity stations that encompassed the entire second floor of the hotel. With a balloon artist also on-hand, the youngsters giggled enthusiastically as they watched the performer skillfully swivel and shape each colorful balloon, magically bringing the creations to life.
“This really has become one of the agency’s greatest holiday events, and a partnership that has grown tremendously since 2010,” said DHS’ Director of Special Events, Antonio Rodriguez. “We can’t thank the Radisson Martinique enough for its incredible generosity and hospitality. Every year, this special celebration truly sends the message to so many families that, no matter what their situations, they are loved and cared for.”
Nestled in midtown− just steps away from the Empire State Building and several of New York's signature attractions− the Martinique has long brought the splendor of the City to its guests. Yet, over the last several holiday seasons, the hotel has turned its sights toward a different kind of tradition: giving back to New Yorkers in need, and never failing to acknowledge the building’s past.