No longer wanting to be known as just a leisure property for international travelers, the Park Central Hotel in Midtown Manhattan recently underwent a $70 million top-to-toe renovation, with a main priority going toward upgrading the meeting space area. “With this repositioning, we’re really focusing on corporate America,” explains Ryan O’Byrne, director of sales and marketing for the 761-room property.
O’Byrne made sure to poll the top meeting planners in the area to get a feel for what they wanted before embarking on the project. “We can sell the space all day long, but it must work for the meeting planner in terms of flow, layout, and lighting,” he says. “That’s a crucial point for anybody trying to establish meeting spaces. Get the opinions of the experts out there.”
The revamped meeting area—a combined 15,000 square feet of diversified space—consists of 11 meeting rooms, one boardroom, and one exhibition area. The mezzanine level provides a private, conference center-like space, and all meeting areas come equipped with high-speed wireless, multiple power sources, and flexible lighting. Pre-function areas are outfitted with furniture and displays for cocktail receptions.
The neutral palettes and many distinct meeting room shapes and sizes allow the hotel to cater to a wide market and thus attract a diverse customer base, including smaller board meetings, larger corporate conventions, and a variety of business events, he says. “At the bigger boxes, you might be going against multiple groups for service. The most we would like to have is two groups at once, so they’re not running over each other.”
With the renovations completed in fall 2013 by Jeffrey Beers International, O’Byrne expects the meeting business to pick up throughout the year. (They put virtually all meetings on hold during the construction process.) The location of Park Central, near such New York landmarks as Central Park, Carnegie Hall, Times Square, the Theater District, Rockefeller Center, and Columbus Circle, is a natural draw for business clients—be it a Fortune 500 company or the backyard account, he says.
“We’re confident in the product we have,” O’Byrne says. “It’s a new Park Central.”