By Meena Thiruvengadam and Cailey Rizzo
Jun 1, 2021
NEW YORK CITY HOTEL ROOMS just got discounted for the summer.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed an executive order suspending the city’s 5.875 percent hotel-occupancy tax starting in June through August. The move is an effort to entice tourists to return to a reopening New York City whose hospitality industry has been devastated by the pandemic.
Broadway’s famous theaters aren’t scheduled to reopen until September, but Radio City Music Hall is slated to welcome back visitors in June. Meanwhile, Shakespeare in the Park is set to return in July.
Museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and American Museum of Natural History are open, and New York’s iconic Circle Line sightseeing cruises have restarted. Outdoor dining curfews and restrictions on indoor bar seating have also been lifted. Indoor dining curfews are next.
And, excitingly, New York City‘s newest public park, a “Little Island” on the Hudson River, has just opened. Filled with more than 350 species of flowers, trees and shrubs, this breathtaking spot offers a whole new vantage point from which to look at Manhattan.
The floating, hectare-large structure, accessible via West 13th Street, was built unattached to land, making it rise or fall with the river’s water levels, and is made up of 280 concrete piles, resembling tulips. A timed entry ticket will be required to visit the park during peak hours from now until September 30. Entry is free but must be booked online in advance.
In making his announcement suspending the tax, De Blasio’s office suggested Big Apple hotels further lower their room prices to coax more visitors back during a summer when road trips and national parks seem to be at the top of travelers’ lists.
Room rates in New York City are already lower than they’ve been in years, creating some bargains for travelers to explore a destination whose prices can feel prohibitively astronomical normal times.
The Sofitel in the heart of midtown Manhattan can be had for just US$138 a night for a weekend in June, more than 20 percent less than its usual rate, according to Google Hotels data. Rooms at The Plaza, which sits at the edge of Central Park, can be had for about US$660 a night for a weekend in June, an 18 percent discount from the usual price.
The average New York hotel price this summer is US$212, according to data from Kayak. That’s down nearly 25 percent from 2019, but up 7 percent from last month. “With vaccinations becoming widely distributed and local restrictions lifting,” said Matt Clarke, Kayak’s VP for marketing in North America, “we’re seeing travel demand pick up, which is reflected in more recent price trends.”