Accent on Living

NEW YORK’S newest hotel was opened recently, and its publicity output made much of its “international" character. The hotel has, for example, instead of a porter a concierge, although, as any listener to TV commercials about “de lucks” models knows, few Americans among the expected polyglot clientele will be able to pronounce the word. There is also a young female employed in the Casa del Café, where twenty-three kinds of coffee are offered, who speaks Swahili.

The new hotel is described as “the target project in the growth program” of a theater chain; naturally, the publicity about the opening was rather on the theatrical side. Six pages of name credits were needed lor the list of contractors and suppliers, which included such items as the flagpoles, carpet linings, and Do Not Disturb signs (from the NameO-Plate Co. of Springfield, N. J. fhe borings were by Sprague & Henwood, the watchmen’s stations by the Detex Watchlock Corp., and the dumb-waiter came from the Sedgwick Machine Works).

The hotel staff was listed in comparable detail: the first bell captain, housekeeper, chief telephone operator, and so forth. At the opening ceremonies, there were invocations by “clergymen of three faiths,” which seems a little skimpy, ecclesiastically, for a truly international target project in a growth program, bidding for the United Nations trade, but, all in all, the name credits made up the biggest list since Around the World in 80 Days.

The principal dining room seems to be what is called the Gaucho Room, “Argentinian” in décor, with an “abstraction of Aztec motif” occupying 500 square feet of “appliqued sculpture on transite.” (Those Aztecs were great travelers!) Six of the light fixtures are steer heads in puddled bronze with plastic horns; Latin American cattle brands, leather, copper, and calfskin are among the decorating materials. It does sound as if the room will have a strong appeal for any gauchos who come to town, unless, of course, it becomes too much the busman’s holiday and the gauchos prove to prefer good old Edwardian red plush and brocades.

Externally, the hotel is of the Miami Beach wavy-front school of architecture, blue and green on the cross-street fagade and a “soaring white marble slab” on the windowless Lexington Avenue side. There are no palm trees around — none that can be seen in the photograph, at any rate — yet the Florida feeling seems to come through, especially in the official description of what the lobby looks like:

“Visible through the huge plate glass doors and transoms is a honeycomb soffit of gold which carries into a ceiling of shimmering Byzantine gold mosaic. East Indian Rosewood inset with gold anodized strips and white marble pillars flank the main lobby, contrasting with panel insets of vinyl fabric in colorful abstract designs. ‘Floating’ is the best word to describe much of the lobby decor. Sofas, chairs and wall panels appear to float in air as does the grand staircase above its reflecting pool. The stairway is backed by a multi-colored, abstract mural composed of glass Mosaic tile.”

The question that all this leaves is whether a new hotel’s opening is best attended by so boisterous a publicity output. If one assumes a shortage of good hotel accommodations such as to warrant further target projects in a growth program, might not the public hasten to investigate the virtues of the new establishment without all the shouting? The risk for the proprietors in this case is that the customer may not want to tag himself as the kind of man who has sought out a hotel where the furniture appears to be floating around the lobby. But there is, of course, one saving feature about this kind of publicity: It hardly ever gets published.

CHARLES W. MORTON