Your dad is not supposed to die when you’re just about to turn 16. But my daughter’s father did. He and I had been planning a fantastic friend filled birthday vacation to New York for her 16th birthday since summertime.
One month prior to the big trip, my daughter and I were en route to watch my nephew’s Pop Warner football game. Our phones kept alternately ringing from a blocked caller. We didn’t answer. Then “Daddy” popped up as the caller ID on my daughter’s screen and we both thought it had been him calling all along, perhaps from someone else’s phone. I told her to answer.
I could tell by her response it was not her father on the other end. “He’s my dad,” she said.
“Who is that? What are they asking you?” I asked my daughter. “It’s a detective. She wants to know how I know Daddy,” she answered me with a confused look on her face. Panic enveloped my senses. The long mom arm that used to reach miles into the back seat to find her dropped sippy cup or toy now reached further than ever before as I grabbed the phone from her ear.
What followed were the most heartbreaking moments of our lives processing the reality of the news as it kept setting in over and over again. Telling his best friends. Telling our family. Crying together. Picking out a burial plot. Choosing music to play at the service. Struggling to explain why and how this could have happened. Writing his obituary and eulogy. And finally, as is tradition in the Jewish religion, watching his pine box be lowered into the earth then one by one shoveling a symbolic warm blanket of dirt over his casket.
That phone call changed our lives forever but as a surviving parent I realized quickly that pushing forward was the only way to heal our child. I readily admit I wanted to scrap the New York trip, but my daughter looked at me with her big blue eyes and said, “It’s my last birthday gift from my daddy.” I couldn’t say no to that.
Flights had already been booked, but the hotel was yet to still be chosen. Over the years we have tried many hotels in Manhattan but the one that my daughter has always called “home” is The New York Palace. She has had an attachment to this hotel ever since she realized as a little girl that it was a stone’s throw from the American Girl store. She has since well grown up and discovered many other shops on 5th Avenue only furthering her affinity of the hotel’s midtown location. It seemed like a place that would offer her a familiar comfort and the obvious* choice for our weekend in the city.
I emailed Victor Caguindagan, Director Front of the House at The New York Palace. I explained the situation—that this was not a press** trip for me—and my need for assistance in making this a memorable and happy weekend. I was overwhelmed by not only his prompt response but the massive outpouring of personal attention. Multiple hotel representatives including concierge Bill Todt and Director of Guest Relations Ricky Arechiga both phoned and emailed to make sure every detail was handled from balloons waiting in the room to the delivery of chocolates and sparkling cider.
Upon arrival, all of these same amazing people came out personally to meet my daughter and her two best friends and ensure that our every need was met.
[SEE MORE TRAVEL PHOTOS BELOW]
Victor personally escorted us to the elevator to show us to our room. The doors opened and as if to kick off the vacation in perfect rock star style, Mary J. Blige emerged. (On a second elevator ride later in the trip, my daughter actually got to make small talk with her about the cute hat Mary J. Blige was wearing and both of them having to pop their ears in the private elevator because of its fast speed.) Mary J. Blige may not have known it but she made my young aspiring singer’s weekend with her kindness and sweet banter.
All the way up to the 47th floor of the beautiful Towers at The New York Palace and down to the end of the hall into a corner suite, Victor opened the door to reveal an over 1,000 sq ft room that is every vacationer’s dream. The suite featured an enormous living room with windows revealing a stunning view of the river. It had a full kitchen complete with Miele coffee maker, full-size refrigerator, cook top range, sink and dishwasher, two bathrooms and an oversized couch in the living room that had two pull out full-size beds in addition to the master bedroom.
An enormous “Happy Sweet 16” balloon bouquet was waiting inside and the girls ran to it. Their eyes were in shock at the size of the room and the beautiful view. My daughter’s jaw dropped so far open it was evident to all who were present that true joy was filling her heart. I couldn’t help but hug Victor. This was over and above what I booked and paid for and an amazing memorable gift from The New York Palace that truly did what I thought seemed impossible…it returned a smile to my daughter’s face.
*To give you an idea how much we love the Palace, we have been talking about planning her wedding there since she was 8 years old.
**I am writing this travel review out of sheer gratitude for the generosity and kindness that was shown to my family. While this is not an easy story to share, I believe that travelers should know that The New York Palace offers a personal “Welcome Home” feeling with accommodations unprecedented in the industry making it a first class and first choice standout hotel.
Travel review by Nicole Hanratty
Posted November 14, 2014