Every city that’s home to an election-night political candidate, from mayor to POTUS, has at least one hotel you’ve seen a lot even if you’ve never been inside.
The Sheraton New York Times Square, to use its new if slightly off-base name, is one of those hotels – or to be specific, the second-floor Metropolitan Ballroom. In the hotel’s 51 years this 15,000-square-foot expanse, way larger than most Manhattan apartments and capable of packing in 1,500 people without creating a fire hazard, has hosted countless balloon-filled election nights replete with candidates triumphant or tearful (and their equally countless triumphant or tearful supporters). In short, the Metropolitan Ballroom is, in hotel terms, a media star.
In recent years the candidate backdrop was Ralph Lauren blue, midnight and intense. But last
month that changed. The new look, the final phase of the hotel’s $180 million redo, is lighter and greener (the new LED lit-chandeliers, shaped like big, sleek donuts, can change to any color the client, or candidate, wants).
The coppery backdrop is punctuated by circles — pressed aluminum wall tiles, wildly patterned carpeting and those LED chandeliers. Circles symbolize movement, according to Mitchell Brown of Wilson Associates, creators of the new design. That sounds like catnip for first time candidates though I’m not sure how that will go over with those seeking re-election.
Accompanying the renovation is the trendier, more sophisticated events food served increasingly at large hotels – sushi, locally sourced, small plates, splashy desserts. “We’re redefining our customer base,” says Kai Fischer, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. And the competition. “It’s high end now. It’s the Waldorf now. Most people never put Sheraton in that mix.”
Early adapters have included the New York Yankees Homecoming Dinner and an international convention of nuclear scientists. As for TV coverage, the primaries and election for New York City mayor are right around the corner.