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New Yorkers don't get to experience their city as a tourist very often. Life goes by very fast here and you're constantly rushing somewhere, hopping in and out of subways, cabs, Ubers, Lyfts, Vias and whatever else is next as far as our ever growing transportation options.
It sounds crazy, but the energy and pulse of New York City can make you take the city itself for granted. They say you can always tell the difference between a real New Yorker and a tourist because the locals never look up. We're too fixated on where we have to be next that we don't appreciate our skyscrapers and landmarks.
Well...this New Yorker (me!) decided it was time to change that. I planned an Uptown Manhattan stay-cation and checked into a room with a view at the JW Marriot Essex House right across the street from Central Park. My stay-cation that you're reading about can be your next vacation simply be entering the sweepstakes contest at the end of this blog post. So keep reading!
My room at the Essex House had a view overlooking the expansive Central Park. It couldn't have been more gorgeous. It's almost magical seeing all the treetops like this...
Taking in this spectacular view, which the hotel calls their #EssexView, I started to really appreciate my city. As much as I love Central Park, I don't spend enough time there. So I was really excited to have the entire weekend to walk around and really explore like a visitor. It's hard to pull yourself out of the hotel room, though, because the view will captivate you and as the sun sets, it just gets better and better.
The JW Marriott Essex House was an easy choice for me because of it's focus on wellness. From the welcoming tray in your room to the daily breakfast buffet in the Executive Dining Room, the food is healthy, fresh and far from "packaged". These were the goodies waiting for me in my room!
The Essex House was perfectly located from everything I wanted to check out in the park and further uptown. If you're traveling for work, it's an ideal place to stay because it's central to everything and caters to any business need. But once your work is done and you've sent out your last email for the day, you've got Central Park run paths, lots of great restaurants and fun rooftop bars to seek out.
My room was epic. From the fluffy ultra-soft queen bed to the gorgeous window facing desk (great for a blogger...and the wifi was fast!) to the impeccably clean, white marble bathroom with a bathtub to soak in, I was pretty much set for my NYC staycation. You don't find many rooms like this in New York City. Most of them are tiny boxes with a brick wall view. I wish I was kidding...but I'm not.
The Essex House has its own Central Park tour for you to follow with 12 recommended stops that navigates you through the park in an easy loop. You'll walk through passage tunnels, alongside a lake with ducks and turtles, past huge climbing rocks (make sure to climb them) and a large grassy field called Sheep's Meadow. It's the greatest way to get lost in nature without really getting lost :)
It's funny because one of the biggest cities in the world is all around you but when you're in Central Park, all you see is green. Unless of course you're walking around during winter! Make sure to visit NYC in the summer and fall---the park is stunning during these seasons.
For dinner, I went to SOUTHGATE Restaurant & Bar within the hotel. I was quite surprised by the presentation and creativity behind every dish I ordered.
This is what my appetizers looked like! A beautiful octupus salad with edible flowers. A foie gras ganache with black truffle brioche toasts. Seriously, to die for!
Please keep in mind I wasn't dining alone. Because this is a lot of food for just one person! But I will say that we cleaned our plates. It was BEYOND delicious! We split an entré of pan-seared scallops on cauliflower mash and indulged in the maple-glazed heirloom carrots and smoked gouda mac & cheese sides.
SOUTHGATE is an upscale restaurant so expect higher prices than usual. It's one of those restaurants where you go all out and order a bunch of things because everything on the menu peeks your curiosity and is easy to share. Keep your eyes peeled, too, because a lot celebrities pop in late at night to hang at the bar or on the couches in the middle of the restaurant. I narrowly missed Bon Jovi!
After dinner I went to Columbus Circle because I was SO FULL and needed to walk off my tummy! It's literally less than a 5-minute walk from the hotel and the fountain looks even better at night. Great people watching here too.
The rest of my weekend at the Essex House was spent working out in the park, going to the Guggenheim Museum, sipping on prosecco at the SOUTHGATE Bar to escape the summer heat, and then heading out to a dinner reservation at Shun Lee Cafe for dim sum! It all went by too fast but everything was so perfect, and for once, I felt like a tourist in my beloved city. It's always good to get out of your routine and discover new, unexpected things in the city you live in. Check out this link for special deals on Marriott's Best New York City hotels.
Here's a sweepstakes to get you psyched about taking your own wellnes getaway! Win a 2 night stay for yourself + a guest at one of Marriott’s best NYC properties simply by uploading a photo to your public Instagram or Twitter account of your favorite unique NYC place/activity using the hashtags #UnexpectedNYC and #sweepstakes. You'll be entered to win a wellness stay similar to mine in New York City. How amazing is that?!
Here's all the info you need to enter and WIN!
This contest will run until September 16th, 2016. One winner will be chosen (which includes a guest) for one of Marriott’s seven participating NYC properties: The JW Marriott Essex House New York, The New York Renaissance Hotel Times Square, The Algonquin Hotel Times Square, The New York Marriott Downtown, The New York Marriott East Side, The New York Marriott Marquis, and The New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.
Disclaimer: The sweepstakes contest offered in this blog post is part of a sponsored ad for Marriott. All writing, opinions, recommendations and photographs shared are uniquely my own and were not influenced by the sweepstakes promotion.