Guest Rooms 179
Kings/Suites/Doubles 155 / 56 / 23
Seasonal Rates: High Low Shoulder
Ideal Group Size 30
Max Group Size 150
Resort Fee N/A
Room Tax 14.875%
Sales Tax 8.875%
John F. Kennedy
60 min 15 miles (24 km)
8 miles (13 km)
The elegant Roman Room hosts groups of up to 150 for business meetings, corporate events, and receptions. For smaller gatherings, the sophisticated Florentine Room and Venetian Room offer the latest audiovisual technology. The Michelangelo's professional catering staff prepares gourmet cuisine for private dining events, and groups can enjoy traditional and modern Italian dishes at the stylish on-site restaurant
Secrets of the Concierge: James Jolis, The Michelangelo Hotel, New York
Posted March 27, 2012
By Jamie Stringfellow for Peter Greenberg.com. She is the co-founder and editor of WeekendWalk.com
We all know a good concierge can make the difference between a run-of-the-mill trip and an exceptional travel experience. With thousands of restaurants, shows, activities and tourist traps waiting to take your travel dollars, New York is one town where you need an honest concierge’s guidance. We sent Jamie Stringfellow to sit down with James Jolis, member of Les Clefs D’Or and the concierge at The Michelangelo in Times Square, for almost 13 years. Jolis is probably best known for his ability to get hotel guests tickets to the hottest Broadway shows, but there’s more to his job and his life story.
What career path led you to this place?
I was born and raised in Paris, and we spoke French, Spanish and English in the house, and later I studied Italian, German and Russian. Two things I wanted to do in life was music and languages. I did music for 20 years. I ended up as a background singer for Barry Manilow, Bette Midler and others for 10 years, and co-wrote Barry’s Top 10 UK hit “Stay.”There’s a lot of wear and tear on a band member on the road…I moved on to the hotel business and used my languages with the European crowd at the Mayfair Hotel, then came here in 1997. I still use my music skills: I’m in charge of the playlist here.
What inborn talents or cultivated qualities make you a good concierge?
Well, you have to like people––not every concierge does. You have to be realistic, and not promise to do too much, or something you can’t deliver on. I think it helps to be able to put yourself in the client’s position and think: What would I want to hear?
My languages definitely help!
Tell me about some unusual guest requests you couldn’t (or could) fulfill.
Well, the oddest was the Italian actor who went to rehab in Sedona, Arizona, and called me from there asking if I would ship him a case of Champagne! You cannot make this kind of stuff up! Well, I didn’t do it.
But my favorite was the American woman psychiatrist who came to see three Broadway shows, all of which I had seen. She wanted me to tell her the ending of each piece. She said, “I am a Freudian and I like to start with the final result and work my way backwards.” So I told her.
Are there any secrets or historical trivia about the Michelangelo that guests might not know about?
Yes- it used to be the Taft Hotel, and was originally built in 1926 as the Manger Hotel, which has nothing to do with mangers in Bethlehem, but everything to do with the Manger brothers, who were real estate developers. The Manger had over two thousand rooms when it opened.
When it was the Taft, a little old lady with white hair would sit in the middle of the lobby with a sign on her desk that said “Ask Miss Allen.” And you could ask her about theater tickets, or what to do in New York.
Are you ever star-struck by a celebrity guest?
I am in awe of songwriters – Steve Miller, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill. But, I do remember being a bit scared once. Anthony Hopkins, of Silence of the Lambs, and I were in the elevator. Just the two of us. I thought: if he makes that hissing sound, I will jump out of my skin.
What is your favorite day-off thing to do?
I do odd things like take the Staten Island Ferry, just me and 3,000 other people. I do lots of field research going to restaurants and I just like exploring New York city’s nooks and crannies!
If guests have only one day in New York, what would you tell them they absolutely shouldn’t miss?
I think a must is the High Line, an old train trestle that is now a walking trail. My wife and I like to just meander through neighborhoods, up on third story level. Of course, they should hit two traditional landmarks: the Statue of Liberty, then the Empire State Building. For dinner, head to the Lower East Side for Daniel Boulud’s DBGB, which is not expensive, but very good.
Any favorite tours in New York?
My wife gives historical tours of the Waldorf Astoria! She points out the rooms where Wally Simpson and the Duke stayed, where Cole Porter stayed, etc. A little-known secret is the New York Historical Society Museum gives great walking tours. Radio City Music Hall and the NBC Studio tours are also fun.
What’s the secret to getting last-minute tickets to a Broadway hit, or a table at a great restaurant?
Get to know people who run these restaurants, stay in touch…it’s all about relationships.
What’s your favorite room or view in the Michelangelo?
I love the country French rooms, with the sleigh beds. The best views? For the Macy’s Parade, get a room facing 51st street…you can’t beat the view!
If you weren’t a concierge at the Michelangelo, what would you be doing?
I’d go back to Paris and wander the streets.
Did James spotlight your favorite New York spots? How has a concierge changed your travel experience? Share your stories in the comments.
For more New York travel, check out:
■For a full run-down of New York travel, Manhattan Vacations: Complete New York City Guide
■Get up close with the, Ask the Local Travel Guide to Midtown Manhattan, New York
■Get more great ideas with our Off the Brochure Travel Guide to New York City.
■For culinary adventures, don’t miss Three Days, Nine Meals: New York City.
By Jamie Stringfellow for Peter Greenberg.com. Jamie Stringfellow writes from Hermosa Beach, California, and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. She is the co-founder and editor of WeekendWalk.com.