Something about the Super Bowl

News - Something about the Super Bowl

February 5th 2013

Having landed in New York City on the eve of the Super Bowl XLVII, there was a tangible excitement in the air. Chatter about whether the 49ers had what it takes to win it – they didn’t. Although they put up a darn good comeback fight. I dumped my bags at the Nomad Hotel – a very good little hotel, actually with some rather excellent food at reasonable prices – and headed downtown to Mudsville bar. It was rammed with people swigging beer and chomping on chicken wings. I joined in.

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This was the craziest, most interesting and intense Super Bowl I have ever seen. You couldn’t write it. A strange rendition of the American anthem by Alicia Keyes, followed by what appeared to be a runaway victory by Baltimore, only to be scuppered by a 35 minute blackout after the return-to-form performance by Beyonce which saw the 49ers rediscover their inner heroes and come back fighting in the second half. As I watched the titans of Baltimore and San Francisco battle it out on the HD walls of wonderment, amidst gasps of disbelief, relief, frustration and anticipation, I felt decidedly patriotic about a country that isn’t even my home. I think that is the beauty of NYC – it moves you, stirs you. In the words of Frank Sinatra, it makes you want “to be a part of it”.

Surrounded by televisions blaring out commentary in cheery American accents while sipping on undrinkable Bud Light made me feel decidedly happy inside. It reminded me of a time, very long ago, when I blissfully spent two years living in the Big Apple. A veritable right of passage during the heady dotcom days of paper millionaires and Y2K bugs. What a magical city!

New York City is an iconic ideal as much as an actual place. It represents hard work, success, tenacity, courage, the best, brightest, the finest.  It is probably the only city in the world where you truly can be anything you want to be. And everyone should spend time here, even for a while. It’s a place to grow up, to come of age, to find yourself, to lose yourself.

I’m in town with our Hotels CEO, Marco Nijhof, to do some creative work with one of our Mad Men agencies on Madison Avenue. We are talking about the future of hotels, discussing the detail of guest experience, mulling over the enhancement of the built environment that is your home from home. In a City founded on service, there are many precedents of “how to do it right.” Although I do find it shocking that so many still get it so wrong.  A bit like the 49ers racing to catch up to the leaders, how is it that so many hotels fail to truly deliver those final few points to get over the line?

There are some simple and wonderful touches at the Nomad Hotel that I like. A proper tub in front of the large windows. The bare floors and vintage rugs. The gorgeous art collection in each room hand picked from antique markets in Paris. The complimentary bicycles. The car transfer service. The laid back California style of the doorman. Free wifi. A decent gym. The good sound dock in the room. It feels homely and comfortable. And as the snow flurries on Madison continue to trickle in from the sky, I long for the refuge of the large corner leather sofa, slightly worn with experience propping up the corner of the room. I want to flick through my complimentary copy of Monocle with a glass of Pinot, listening to the distinct sounds of NYC life on Broadway below.

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Soon it will be Spring and New York will be at its best yet again. If you haven’t done it yet, book a flight and come visit the city. Take in a show on Broadway. Have a whirlwind romance with an actor / barman. Eat at Mercer Street Kitchen or Sushi Samba. Have a salad at the Waldorf Astoria. Grab a performance at Madison Square Garden. Laugh out loud at a comedy show. Go to a gig in any jazz bar downtown. See the 9/11 Memorial and the incredible reinvention of the entire district. Meander through Central Park. Check out the Edvard Munch exhibitions at MOMA and Scream. Stare at the Tracy Emin installations on Time Square – a marvellous visual feast. Marinate in the friendly conversation of old friends in new places. Reminisce about Beyonce’s incredible half time show. Ask a local how New York City plans to host theSuper bowl next year. Giggle at their fervour on the subject. Feel happy.

Watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, I did get that rather familiar feeling in my stomach of “how on earth will they pull this off?” I felt it when London when the Olympic bid. And I wonder it again, when I see the scale of the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl will again be hosted in February. There will snow, ice, sleet, rain, freezing temperatures. Everyone is watching. Everyone is wondering. How on earth will they do it? But like London’s extraordinary Olympic victory, I think that New York City will make the 2014 Super Bowl the best one yet. I don’t know how they will do it, but I know it’s going to be marvellous. So why not start planning your trip to the Big Apple for the big Sunday night in February 2014. And if you need a place to lay your head for the night, here are my Top 10 New York City hotels (in alphabetical order).

Ace Hotel
Crosby Street Hotel
SoHo House
The Bowery Hotel
The Mercer Hotel
The Muse Hotel
The NoMad Hotel
The Standard
The Surrey
Tribeca Grand Hotel

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