Marriott Vacation Club Pulse (formerly The Strand)
Updated: Jun 14, 2016
id: stylish high-rise time-share boutique hotel
cool detail: rooftop bar overlooks the empire state building
By Terry Trucco
At a glance: With purple velvet armchairs, mahogany columns crowned by soft yellow lights and vintage, glamour-drenched black-and-white fashion photos dressing the lobby, the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse is a stylish place.
I wouldn’t call it trendy. But this Garment District boutique, opened in 2009 as The Strand, billeted in a skinny new high rise and rebranded in 2016 as the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, typifies an agreeable trend: instead of looking like every other new sliver hotel wedged between two older Midtown buildings – and every big chain from Candlewood Suites to Holiday Inn Express has at least one – the MVC Pulse exhibits some flair.
Or to put it another way, the hotel makes the most of what it’s got. The lobby’s smart looks distract you from its odd shape and skimpy dimensions (it’s a lot less spacious than it appears on the web site, especially when littered with milling guests and bulging luggage racks). And the rooftop bar, though a lot smaller than I’d like, affords a pulse-pumping, in-your-face view of the Empire State Building looming just three blocks away (as a bonus, the bar has a retractable roof for rainy day viewings).
The Strand is not without spacious attributes. The lower level, albeit windowless, is reached by a glamorous curving staircase backed by a waterfall and sprawls with plenty of velvet sofas and club chairs ideal for curling up with a newspaper (they’re stacked atop the console tables near the meeting rooms). More iconic fashion photographs, courtesy of the Conde Nast archives, are on view as well.
I like the noir-ish, 1940s vibe emitted by the curvaceous furnishings and snappy details, like the big, retro dials above the elevators. I almost expected to see a young Robert Mitchum in a checked sport jacket saunter out of the elevator, but no, a thicket of Spanish tourists poured out instead.
The Strand is most agreeable if you book it at the right price. The staff I dealt with was friendly and helpful. A buffet breakfast and WiFi come free of charge with the room. And as expected at a newish property, the hotel looks fresh and clean. Still, when prices for the smallest rooms sprint past $400, the deal isn’t so sweet.
Note: With its 2016 sale to Marriott, the hotel morphed into a time share property, though rooms are still available to hotel guests.
Rooms: The stylish retro look that works so well in the lobby sputtered a bit in the Deluxe room I saw, one of the hotel's smallest. With simple white walls, a floor-to-ceiling window dressed in classic hotel curtains and sheers and a classic mahogany headboard, it was comfortable but not especially distinctive, save for the framed fashion photograph on a wall. Furnished with a long mahogany bureau/dresser combo opposite the bed, a merrily upholstered luggage bench and a 40s-inflected club chair and foot stool, it was also jam packed. But the bed, which ate up most of the space, looked inviting, with a white-sheet duvet. And the snug bathroom featured a handsome granite-topped, wood wash stand and a small stall shower fronted partially with clear glass.
Food and drink: The Strand Bistro, an airy courtyard with a retractable glass ceiling, opened in September 2010 and serves lunch and dinner (a complimentary continental breakfast is included in the price of the room). Offering items like grilled chicken with parsnips and kale, North Atlantic salmon, small plates and a tasting menu, the Strand features three distinct rooms.
Original contemporary paintings hang on white walls in the light-filled restaurant. The book-lined lounge is dark and moody, lighted by cool crystal chandeliers and a glass-fronted fireplace in the center of the room (the books hail from the Strand Bookstore – no relation, but apt all the same). And I particularly like the wooden swing, big enough for two, near the entry to the bar.
The Top of the Strand is a small but stylish roofbar that packs 'em in during warm months (it faces directly onto the Empire State Building).
Amenities: Free WiFi. The basement fitness room is small but mirrored and well equipped. The business center is equipped with several house computers. There’s no spa, but spa treatments are available in a small room next to the fitness center.
Surroundings: About the best thing I can say about the Strand’s boring lower midtown block is it’s close to Fifth Avenue. The hotel’s immediate neighbors are a motley mish-mash of small businesses, offices, delis and garment retailers and wholesalers. This is a superb locale if you’re looking for buttons, hats or trimmings, but it lacks obvious attractions for most out-of-towners. Good stuff is nearby, however, including the Empire State Building, Morgan Library & Museum and Lord & Taylor department store. Macy’s, Madison Square Garden, Penn Station and Grand Central Station are walkable if you like walking. Times Square and the Theater District are only slightly farther afield. You’ll hike if you want a subway station. But bus stops are steps away on Fifth and Sixth avenues. And taxis on Fifth and Sixth are plentiful.
Back story: Built from the ground up and officially opened in December 2009, the hotel joins the Park South as the second New York project for Newport developer Don Glassie, whose company Atlantic Star Hotels & Cruises operates hotels in Florida and Rhode Island. New York architect Gene Kaufman, known for designing contemporary, window-lined high-rise hotels from scratch, created the building, while credit for the retro-glam look of the lobby and roof bar goes to Lydia Marks, a film designer whose credits include Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada. In January 2016 the hotel was purchased by Marriott, and in March it was rebranded Marriott Vacation Club Pulse and recast as a time share property.
Keep in mind: The smallest rooms are quite small. Despite the stylish interiors, the hotel, typical of new high rises, can seem visually chilly.
What We Saw: