A Trip to The Peninsula Hotel and the US Open

By Elaine Ubiña

There is a certain excitement in the air in New York City during the time of the US Open in late August and early September. We were delighted to enjoy it during a recent overnight stay at The Peninsula Hotel. ChiChi and I thought it would be fun to take our boys to the city for a change of scenery and decided to stay in the Peninsula because it is smack dab in the center of the universe. Beyond that, the service is impeccable and the rooms are very comfortable. Unbeknownst to us, we plunked ourselves in the hub of US Open action – elevator action, that is. Every time we got on the elevator – we ran into another HUGE tennis star. Yes – we all had to squeeze, because they carry their ginormous tennis bags like turtle shells on their backs. They were mostly friendly, though one woman superstar stepped on and one could tell she was “in her zone.” It was very exciting! We were all star-struck to say the least.

We were so happy to enjoy Manhattan again! We drove in on a 95 degree day and went directly to the Immersive Van Gogh Show at Pier 36. The good news – there was a parking lot right there! The building was air conditioned and we were whisked right in to one of the four giant warehouse rooms with the show. It was mesmerizing! As an Art History buff, it was fun to see this tribute to one of my favorite artists and to share his story with the boys. The lights and colors and cool music were all encompassing and kept them interested. The show is quite short – 35 minutes and you can walk in at any time and then stay on for the reel to begin again.

Following Van Gogh, we took a half mile walk toward the South Street Seaport via the East River Greenway under the FDR Drive. It was shady and cooler than walking in the blazing sun. The Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges were shining on this glorious day. It was fun to see how New Yorkers from the Lower East Side enjoy this park in their neighborhood. There are exercise machines, basketball hoops and comfortable seating to enjoy the view of the East River. We had lunch outdoors at a cute taqueria stand called Luchadores. The menu is strictly tacos and burritos with lots of options and they were delicious.

Yes – there are lots of “cloth napkin” restaurants in the Seaport area – Industry Kitchen, Watermark Bar, The Fulton by Jean Georges, Malibu Farm and R17 to name a few. All are definitely worth a visit – especially on a glorious day sunny day. The views are spectacular and there aren’t many tourists these days.

We headed uptown and checked into the hotel. The Peninsula continues to carry forth their excellence in service. They are discreet and safe during these crazy times. We reserved adjoining rooms. The two bedrooms were their own mini-suite connected by an entry hall. Each room had a bathroom with a beautiful bathtub and TV, a dressing area and lots of room to move around. The hotel’s even larger offerings include beautifully decorated apartment-like accommodations with several bedrooms and baths, living rooms, dining rooms that seat 10 people, offices and full kitchens. Families enjoy visiting during the holidays and school breaks and the suites are fantastic for executives who are in town and wish to host guests during their stay. The hotel offers every amenity – from personal chefs to office machinery to custom cooked baby food! It’s your own pied a terre in the Big Apple!

It didn’t take long for our pre-teen and teen to devour the delectable chocolate confections in our rooms and they were off for a swim! The light-filled pool is situated at the top of the hotel along with a well-outfitted gym, including Pelotons, tons of treadmills and equipment, plus lots of stretching areas surrounded on all sides by sights of mid-town. The views are breathtaking. It was very easy to stay on my treadmill for extra time, as I couldn’t stop looking at the world of Manhattan around me. The team of trainers double as lifeguards for the pool. They are a friendly group and happy to show off these world-class facilities.

The Peninsula is also known for its 35,000 square foot spa, which is being renovated from top to bottom and will reopen in September. ChiChi and I can’t wait to return to experience the treatments, relaxation lounges and Asian tea lounge.

In order to qualify to be the greatest parents on Earth (LOL!), sometimes we have to give in and agree to side trips to places like Crispy Kreme in Times Square. “Sure, we can have donuts for an early dinner!” They certainly were yummy and it was fun to walk across Rockefeller Center and through Times Square without huge crowds. The boys loved it! It was busy enough with tourists, though not overwhelming, the way a “normal” August might have been.

When the sugar wore off and we all realized that we hadn’t had proper nourishment. We trotted up to Salon De Ning, the rooftop at the Peninsula for some evening snacks. The menu was wonderful – from lobster rolls to shrimp cocktail and a charcuterie board, plus a skinny margarita for mom. Everyone’s tastes were satisfied. Manhattan was awash with lights and the rooftop was buzzing with conversation by the chic crowd.

We finished the night with a walk around Fifth and Madison Avenues and took some fun photos of store windows including Bergdorf Goodman, who was celebrating style icon, Iris Apfel’s 100th birthday.

The next morning, we had a delectable breakfast in bed with fluffy buttermilk pancakes, eggs and pastries. The Peninsula certainly hit all the notes for a wonderful stay. We suggest a fall weekend with your family. Broadway is opening up again and The Peninsula’s Clement Restaurant and Gotham Lounge, following their gorgeous renovations, will be opening, as well.

A visit to the US Open

With the excitement of seeing all the tennis players at The Peninsula, we booked Round 1 at the US Open for Day 2. It did not disappoint. The weather was sparkling with a light breeze and action was taking place on all the courts. We enjoyed “court hopping” and seeing the faces of the tennis scene, all with sharp skills and great, crowd-pleasing attitudes. It is so much fun to see the players close up. Their athleticism and demeanor is engaging.

If you are planning a trip – For the early rounds day and evening, it’s fine to buy tickets in the nosebleed section of Arthur Ashe. You will be spending lots of time roaming the outer courts rather than sitting in the stadium. Be sure to have a scan/photo of your vaccine card on your phone, try not to bring a bag, as that may slow down your entry. Allow an extra half hour to park and enter the grounds. Mercedes owners – there’s no charge for parking! Food and drink options are plentiful – from “cloth napkin” restaurants to two very large food courts. There are ice cream, acai bowl, lemonade and hot dog stands, as well as wine stops and the famous Grey Goose signature drink – everywhere!

It’s also fun to run into Fairfield County LOOK friends! There’s a wonderful bond with tennis fans.