Expert Tips From a Concierge Expert
Nobody knows a city like the local concierge team. With the inside track on all the best places to dine, shows to see, and things to do, they’re a wealth of knowledge for all travelers. We talk with a top local hotel concierge in New York City to get the inside scoop on all their expert tips.
Renee' Mafaro, Concierge at The Sherry-Netherland
Q- Why do you refer your guests to WHERE Traveler®, and what makes WHERE Traveler® an important resource for you?
Mafaro- New York can be overwhelming with all the options of where to go and what to do, WHERE Traveler® has a breakdown of the neighborhoods and suggestions in each neighborhood (restaurants, shows, museums, attractions etc.).
It’s an important resource for us Concierges because we don’t have to google each museum and Broadway show to find information. WHERE Traveler® has which shows are opening and closing, addresses of theaters, and a synopsis of each show; it also has a synopsis for the museums, WHERE Traveler® is the Bible for Concierges.
Q- What should be on every visitor’s “bucket list” when visiting?
Mafaro- Ground Zero-The 9/11 Memorial Pools and One World Observatory. One of the worst historical events happened there. The 9/11 Memorial Pools are the footprints of the World Trade Center with all the names of those who were lost that day. One World Observation built years after 9/11, has spectacular panoramic views of NYC. We can never forget what happened and how far we’ve come.
Q- What are your best tips for exploring NYC like a local?
Mafaro- Have a plan and Map it out—research before you arrive. Call the places you want to go to make sure they didn’t move to another location, close or change the hours of operation. Take the local buses. It’s a great way to see Manhattan, and when you see something that interests you get off the bus. Walk as much as you can; it’s the best way to explore NYC.
Q- What’s an excellent spot to capture a great selfie?
Mafaro- On the Staten Island Ferry. You have spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. After departing Manhattan stay at the back of the boat to get that selfie of yourself with the water in between you and the Manhattan skyline. Then go to the side of the boat to get a selfie with Lady Liberty.
Q- What is the best suggestion you can give a first-time visitor?
Mafaro- Be prepared as much as possible. Map out where you want to go. Give yourself enough time to stop and explore. You never know what you will come across that will interest you to change your plans. Wear comfortable shoes! You will be walking a lot. Ask your concierge what’s their favorite local spot. Concierges have been to more places in NYC than most people so take advantage of their knowledge.
Q- If someone only had 24 hours in NYC, where would you send them?
Mafaro- Grab a bagel and Start on the free Staten Island Ferry and see the Statue of Liberty. Ride the carousel in Battery Park. Walk up Broadway to the charging bull, Wall Street, Oculus and 9/11 memorial, fountains, and go up to One World Observatory. Eat lunch at Katz’s Deli. Walk to SoHo and shop. Go back to the hotel room to freshen up. Dinner at Don't Tell Mama, see a Broadway show eat a piece of cheesecake at Junior’s and at 11:57 p.m. in Times Square, see the Midnight Moment light show. A three-minute choreographed billboard synchronized light show.
Q- Where’s the best place to take kids of all ages?
Mafaro- The Museum of Illusions. The Museum is dedicated to playing tricks on you. Clear your storage in your cameras to take a hundred pictures or more. Also, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Tartan Day parade and Easter parade are so much fun!
Q- For a guest looking for a night on the town, what would you recommend?
Mafaro- It depends on what the guests consider a night on the town. For some guests, I would recommend going to Lincoln Center for the Opera, Philharmonic, Jazz or Ballet. For other guests, I recommend RH rooftop for dinner and drinks, then Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge or Mr. Purple.
Q- What is your expert tip?
Mafaro- Ask your concierge what’s happening weeks before you arrive. Concierges are on top of what’s happening in NYC. Concerts, sporting events, Parades, street fairs, marathons, UN in session etc., can change your course drastically if you’re not aware. And, of course, before you arrive in NYC, check out wheretraveler.com to be in the know about what’s happening in NYC!
Q- Any suggestions for the best under-the-radar sites or uncommon things to do?
Mafaro- It’s very uncommon for anyone to leave the ferry terminal and enter Staten Island, but a five-minute Uber ride from the Ferry is one of the most beautiful places in NYC, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden. It’s my favorite place on Staten Island. Also steps away from the Ferry are the Empire Outlets. The only Outlets in NYC. Nordstrom Rack, H&M, Levi’s, Gap, Nike etc.