Home » Passport Concierge — Harald Mootz the St. Regis New York

Passport Concierge — Harald Mootz the St. Regis New York

by Arthur Wooten
Harald Mootz (Photo by Tim Carter)

I have lived here since 1994 and have watched the city through some amazing and awful times, and can attest to the resilience that we New Yorkers have!

Harald Mootz (Photo by Tim Carter)

Our insider guide for this issue of PASSPORT is the talented and knowledgeable Harald Mootz, who provides an endless source of unique suggestions for the best things to do, see, taste, and experience in New York City.

Harald Mootz has the prestigious honor of being the Chef Concierge at The St. Regis New York (Two E 55th St. Tel: 212-753-4500. marriott.com). Located on 5th Avenue, John Jacob Astor IV opened the doors to his groundbreaking Beaux Arts landmark building in 1904. Novel concepts for the time included central heat and an air-cooling system that predated air conditioning, a fire alarm system and mail chutes on every floor. Each room had its own telephone, and throughout the building there was central vacuuming with sockets located all over the building. This jewel box of a hotel remains a preferred refuge for celebrities, fashion designers, royalty, dignitaries, and anyone else desiring a New York City home base with beauty, splendor, and discretion.

The St. Regis New York Exterior (Photo by The St Regis New York)

The St. Regis New York Exterior (Photo by The St Regis New York)

The St. Regis New York has also been featured in films and TV ranging from The Godfather Part 1 to The Devil Wears Prada to Sex and the City. I’ve dined in the famous Astor Court restaurant several times to celebrate Thanksgiving, and their King Cole Bar features Maxfield Parrish’s enormous painting of Old King Cole (of the nursery rhyme). This is truly one of the most beautiful bars in New York City to enjoy libations. The hotel also happens to be located in the heart of Manhattan: steps away from The Museum of Modern Art, Central Park, 5th Avenue shopping, the theatre district and scores of restaurants.

Our insider guide for this issue of PASSPORT is the talented and knowledgeable Harald Mootz, who provides an endless source of unique suggestions for the best things to do, see, taste, and experience in New York City.

Harald, please tell us a little about your professional background and your current position?
I began my hospitality career in the summer of 2008 at the Capital Hilton in Washington DC, and unleashed my ‘service’ passion to work in hotels. My Concierge career began in 1994 when I started at the Hotel Plaza Athenée where I began as ‘last man’ and left as Chef Concierge 12 years later. I then joined the New York Palace team in 2006 and was invited to join the iconic and bespoke The St. Regis New York team in 2008. Having been President of our local NYC Association of Hotel Concierges, and serving on the Board of Directors of Les Clefs d’Or USA, I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing colleagues, meet incredible guests, and be able travel extensively.

Speaking of your travel, which destinations stand out as extraordinary, and are there still locations on your bucket list?
While there are only 7 continents, I’ve been to 6 of them, and Antarctica is on the list of must-do’s. Notwithstanding the current political situation, I still need to visit Russia; I’d love to see Warsaw; and India is high on the list. Highlights of my previous travels have been Cape Town, South Africa, The Great Wall in Beijing, the Bridge Climb in Sydney, Valparaiso’s (Chile) artfully colored/decorated neighborhoods, zip-lining in the tree-tops of Costa Rica, and the doors-off helicopter ride in Hilo, Hawaii over the active volcano.

The Red Snapper aka Bloddy Mary (Photo by The St Regis New York)

The Red Snapper aka Bloddy Mary (Photo by The St Regis New York)

With so many options in New York City, where are the coolest places to go for cocktails?
New York City certainly does not lack for places to eat and drink, but some of the coolest bars to consider would be the following. Certainly, here at The St. Regis’ King Cole Bar, birthplace of the Bloody Mary! Or The Thyme Bar (20 West 23rd St. Tel: 646-600-9257. thymebarnyc.com) in Chelsea (great mixologist!), The Backroom (102 Norfolk St. Tel: 212-228-5098. backroomnyc.com) a real Speakeasy in the Lower East Side, the new Temple Bar (332 Lafayette St. Tel: 212-925-4242. templebar.co) in the Bowery (famous doorman); Overystory at Saga (60 Pine St. Tel: 212-339-3963. overstory-nyc.com)—amazing views!); and Saint Tuesday (24 Cortlandt Alley, sainttuesday.com) at the Walker Hotel just below Chinatown (really cool cement bunker feel with highly crafted cocktails).

Harald, you clearly know the ins and outs of New York. Are you a native of the city?
Though born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey, apart from time spent in Vienna (four years) and Paris (two years), I have always been within an hour from NYC. I have lived here since 1994 and have watched the city through some amazing and awful times, and can attest to the resilience that we New Yorkers have!

Astor Court (Photo by The St Regis New York)

Astor Court (Photo by The St Regis New York)

What are the best restaurants for a romantic dinner in the city?
Some of the top restaurants certainly apply, like Daniel (60 East 65th St. Tel: 212-288-0033. danielnyc.com), the SkyBox is amazing!; Le Pavillon that just opened in the new 1 Vanderbilt at Grand Central (Tel: 212-662-1000. lepavillonnyc.com); Marea (240 Central Park South. Tel: 212-582-5100. marearestaurant.com/new-york) for Italian seafood; Le Grenouille (3 East 52nd St. Tel: 212-752-1495. la-grenouille.com) for its phenomenal flowers and classic French cuisine; Gramercy Tavern (42 East 20th St. Tel: 212-477-0777. gramercytavern.com) for amazing American Continental cuisine; and Saga (70 Pine St. Tel: 212-339-3963. saga-nyc.com) for the elegance and views! Some others to consider; Il Buco (47 Bond St. Tel: 212-533-1932. ilbuco.com) Italian in the Bowery; Le Coucou (138 Lafayette St. Tel: 212-271-4252. lecoucou.com) in lower SoHo, for something unique; Blume Huette (1652 2nd Ave. Tel: 646-981-0764. blumenyc.com) on the Upper East Side (tucked behind the building and through a deli).

Who serves the greatest weekend brunch in town?
Brunch is a great time to catch up with friends in the city. Among my favorites is Cookshop (156 10th Ave. Tel: 212-924-4440. cookshopny.com) in Chelsea (near the Highline); Jack’s Wife Freda (several locations including 50 Carmine St. Tel: 646-669-9888. jackswifefreda.com); Chez Ma Tante (90 Calyer St. Brooklyn. Tel: 718-389-3606. chezmatantebk.com) in Greenpoint Brooklyn; The Smile (26 Bond St. Tel: 646-329-5836. thesmilenyc.com) in NoHo (subterranean Mediterranean food); and 12 Chairs in Soho (56 MacDougal St. Tel: 212-254-8640. 12chairscafe.com).

Are there “hidden gem” museums that you recommend for visitors?
With so many amazing museums in New York, it’s easy to spend most of your time seeing the art and culture that lives here. Some of my favorites are the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum (103 Orchard St. Tel: 877-975-3786. tenement.org) (to better understand how New York City started up); the Rubin Museum of Art (150 West 17th St. Tel: 212-620-5000. rubinmuseum.org) focusing on the unique Himalayan cultures; New York City Transit Museum (99 Schermerhorn St. Brooklyn Tel:718-694-1600. www.nytransitmuseum.org) in Brooklyn; and a visit to the The Museum ofIce Cream (558 Broadway. Tel: (866) 665-1018. museumoficecream.com) in SoHo can’t be missed!!! The Museum of Interesting Things (60 East 8th St. Tel: (212) 274-8757. museumthings.org) also in SoHo will take you on an interesting journey of obscura!

Belvedere Castle in Central Park (Photo by Sean Pavone)

Belvedere Castle in Central Park (Photo by Sean Pavone)

Which guided tours do you recommend most often to your guests?
We work with a few very good tour companies that share the love of our great city with its visitors. They are independent companies like Our Town New York (Tel: 212-754-4500. ourtownnewyork.com); Private Museum Tours (Tel: 212-528-9976. privatemuseumtours.com); ArtSmart (217 W 18th St. Tel: 212-595-4444. artsmart.com), which is great for kids and very educational!; and Big Apple Greeter (1 Centre St . Tel: 212-602-6216. bigapplegreeter.org), which has local New Yorkers as guides who share their love of their neighborhoods with you! To get a broad view tour of New York, Big Bus (bigbustours.com) is a great option to get around the city while being shown what you’re seeing on a classic double-decker bus.

What annual events should we add to our “must see” list that we might not know about?
One of my favorites is the Orchid Show and the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx (nybg.org); The Governors Ball at Citifield (governorsballmusicfestival.com); The Village Halloween Parade (halloween-nyc.com); Pride Week (nycpride.org) all over the city; the Mermaid Parade (coneyisland.com/programs/mermaidparade) out in Coney Island in June, followed by a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous, Coney Island Boardwalk (nathansfamous.com); their annual hot dog eating contest is epic.

Rainbow Over New York (Photo: TTstudio)

Rainbow Over New York (Photo: TTstudio)

Where can you go to get the best views of the city?
We are not lacking in elevated views of New York. The newest one being the Summit Observatory (45 E 42nd St. Tel: 877-682-1401. summitov.com) atop the 1 Vanderbilt at Grand Central, with a glass elevator and lots of reflective surfaces! Top of the Rock (30 Rockefeller Plaza. Tel: 212-698-2000. topoftherocknyc.com) offers 3 levels of uncompromising views of all of the tri-state area, while The Edge (30 Hudson Yards. Tel: 332-204-8500. edgenyc.com) has a triangular deck that soars over 100 stories high, and has a glass floor! One World Observatory (117 West St. Tel: (844) 696-1776. oneworldobservatory.com) at the World Trade Center is another great option.

If someone is looking for designer labels for less, what are your suggestions?
I’m a HUGE fan of Sample Sales, and we have quite a few in New York throughout the year! Soiffer Haskin (317 W 33rd St. Tel: 917-562-2140. soifferhaskin.com) near Penn Station; 260 Sample Sale (2151 Broadway. Tel: 212-725-5400. 260samplesale.com) down on Fifth Avenue always has a great rotation of sales; Chicmi.com (chicmi.com/new-york) also lists many sales ongoing throughout the city; and NYC Insider Guide (www.nycinsiderguide.com/nyc-sample-sale#) offers lots of luxury designer sales.

Where can someone go at 3 A.M. for a fantastic meal?
For some of the best Jewish-style sandwiches, Sarge’s Deli (548 3rd Ave. Tel: 212-679-0442. sargesdeli.com) on 3rd Avenue can’t be beat (it’s open 24 hrs; delivery too!); if you’re a dumpling fan, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop (131 1st Ave. Tel: 917-409-1691. brooklyndumplingshop.com) in the East Village will soothe those cravings; or for a true 24-hour diner experience, Remedy Diner (245 E Houston St. Tel: 212-677-5110. remedydinerny.com) on East Houston Street will serve you in those wee hours.

What is the iconic tourist souvenir, and where will we find it?
The most iconic souvenir is the legendary ‘I Heart NY’ logo’d t-shirt/sweatshirt found at most shops near Times Square and scattered throughout the city. Many iterations have been made through the years, but its simplicity has remained strong.

Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave the city without…
Trying a reuben or blintzes at any of the famous spots like Katz’s Deli or Sarge’s Deli; walking across the Brooklyn Bridge; seeing a Broadway show; or catching a Knicks/Yankees/Rangers/Mets/Liberty/NYC or Gotham FC/Giants/Jets game at one of our famous sports venues!

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