I stayed at the Garden Suites by Affinia in January. The hotel is primarily made up of suites and has undergone a massive renovation. I had the pleasure of staying at one of their Penthouse Suites which was absolutely stunning with views of the UES and the Manhattan skyline – I was waking up every morning to a dream. The hotel is a hidden gem of the Upper East Side, peaceful with extremely spacious rooms and walking distance to some of my favourite places. A new Sant Ambreous has opened up nearby along with Birch Coffee being a 7 minute walk and then you are nearly there with all the major shopping attractions and Madison Avenue.
Julie Torres is the General Manager of the hotel but also has her own blog and involved in many initiatives especially supporting women in business.
How do you take your coffee every morning?
I love Birch coffee here on the UES, and I love to drink drip coffee black.
What made you choose a career in hospitality and how did you end up at Gardens NYC?
I loved the idea of working in hotels because I thought it was glamorous, although not what I originally wanted to do. I started in resorts and enjoyed that I was challenged, used business sense, and took care of people. Working in hotels combines everything I enjoy.
I worked for much of my career for Hilton Hotels and after spending time in the structured corporate environment the idea of working for an independent and having the hotel be mine in every way was very appealing. I joined Denihan Hospitality at another hotel and once the position opened as GM of Gardens, I could not wait to have this hotel, it is a very special place.
How would you describe the hotel in 5 words?
What are your favourite spots in the neighborhood?
I love the restaurants in the neighborhood, we do not have large chain restaurants that can be found anywhere, in any city. The neighborhood still embraces small business and intimate settings, the Upper East Side is still a “neighborhood”.
What would you recommend to a first time visitor to Manhattan?
Don’t overschedule yourself, leave time to just go with the flow. A true must see in NYC are the smaller parks and outdoor spaces- Carl Schurz park is my favorite.
What is your advice to those who want to work in luxury hospitality? You also write your own blog – how do you juggle so many responsibilities and is there any secret to pursuing various passions?
My advice would be to set realistic goals, you are not going to start at the top. Be patient, work to gain knowledge every day. Be sure you deal with every situation individually with guests, be confident in your hotel to drive results, and maintain an awareness of industry trends so you can implement the best systems for your teams to service guests the best way possible.
I am a highly organized person, a planner, and I work in advance, I believe this is how I juggle all of it.
I think passions change over time as you grow as a person and your surroundings change. I say if something feels right, go for it, jump in, while you should question things, just do it.