Home » Mandarin Oriental, New York | Concierge — Kenneth Abisror

Mandarin Oriental, New York | Concierge — Kenneth Abisror

by Arthur Wooten
Chef Concierge, Kenneth Abisror (Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, New York)

His philosophy for any concierge is to wrap their arms around every guest in order to place them at ease, understand their real expectations, and exceed them.

Chef Concierge, Kenneth Abisror (Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, New York)

Just mentioning the Mandarin Oriental, New York conjures up thoughts of opulence and first class service.

The minute you enter the lobby of the hotel on the 35th floor, you will be enthralled by the stunning views of Central Park and beyond in one direction, and the Hudson River in the other. There are no less than 244 sumptuous guestrooms and suites, plus the hotel offers a 5-star spa and a 75-foot lap pool. The Oriental is located in Columbus Circle in what was originally called the Time-Warner building, but is now referred to as the Deutsche Bank Center. Overseeing every possible request you could have is the Mandarin Oriental’s chef concierge, Kenneth Abisror.

Abisror is an active member of the esteemed Les Clefs d’Or, as well as the New York City Association of Hotel Concierges. A native New Yorker, his career began 29 years ago at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. When the Mandarin Oriental, New York opened in 2003, he joined the opening team. His philosophy for any concierge is to wrap their arms around every guest in order to place them at ease, understand their real expectations, and exceed them.

MO Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental, New York

MO Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental, New York

Kenneth, with so many options in New York City, where are the coolest places to go for cocktails?
The key response to any such question is, “What suits the particular guest I am currently serving?” Very often, the recommendation I have for one individual is not the same as the next. This is where our talent as concierges shines, as we never rely upon the same metrics that a Yelp or Google search will provide. Personal taste, vibe, and attitude will influence which of the best spots I recommend, including: MO Lounge at Mandarin Oriental, New York (the view!), Bemelmans’s Bar (35 East 76th St. Tel: 212- 744-1600. bemelmans-bar), Death and Co. (433 East 6th St. Tel: 212-388-0882. deathandcompany.com), Attaboy (134 Eldridge St. attaboy.us/nyc), and Gallow Green (530 West 27th St. Tel: 212-904-1880. mckittrickhotel.com).

What are the best restaurants for a romantic dinner in the city?
Romance can be highly subjective. For some, it may just be a night out for two. Others, want all the bells and whistles of a dark and quiet room. In most cases, it’s a place where you can focus on each other, without distractions, and in the comfort of luxury. Frevo (48 West 8th St. Tel: 646-455-0804. frevonyc.com) is still an under discovered favorite that would be romantic and exhilarating at the same time. Other hard-to-beat favorites would be Le Bernardin (155 West 51st St. Tel: 212-554-1515. lebernardin.com), Gabriel Kreuther (41 West 42nd St. 212-257-5826. gknyc.com), and 15 East @ Tocqueville (1 East 15th St. Tel: 212-647-1515. 15easttocquevillenyc.com).

Presidential Suite Living Room at the Mandarin Oriental, New York

Presidential Suite Living Room at the Mandarin Oriental, New York

Who serves the greatest weekend brunch in town?
Only one? I absolutely love Cookshop (156 10th Ave. Tel: 212-924.4440. cookshopny.com) for their combination of wonderful cuisine and casual ease (a tough mix). Quality Bistro (120 West 55th St. Tel: 212-433-3330. qualitybistro.com) is amazing in the midtown area, and Sadelle’s (463 West Broadway. Tel: 212-254-3000. sadelles.com) can be that quintessential spot you’re looking for in NYC. One of my favorites, though, is the local vibe and amazing menu at Claudette (24 5th Ave. Tel: 212-868-2424. claudettenyc.com), especially appealing to my French Moroccan heritage.

Are there “hidden gems” of museums that you recommend for visitors?
The New York Historical Society (170 Central Park West. Tel: 212-873-3400. nyhistory.org) houses some of the best artifacts from New York City’s great history. By combining art and artifacts under one roof, the museum is a place where the United States’ past can be better understood and appreciated by visitors and locals alike. I often share with my guests that it’s a great way to begin their visit, referencing the past and present of New York.

Which guided tours do you recommend most often to your guests?
Guided tours are curated by our concierge team on a case-by-case basis to better understand the guests’ interests. Tours that include New York City highlights and well-known entities are easily arranged with a bespoke private tour guide. Among the best surprise tours I’ve discovered are the Graffiti Tours of Brooklyn, Walking Tours of Central Park, and Chartered Helicopter Tours of the New York City area. (mandarinoriental.com/new-york/luxury-hotel/experiences).

Oriental Suite Bathroom at the Mandarin Oriental, New York

Oriental Suite Bathroom at the Mandarin Oriental, New York

What annual events should we add to?
There’s nothing like the excitement of huge New York City events that set us apart. The Fourth of July fireworks spectacular (newyorkcity.ca/4th-of-julyin-new-york), the Village Halloween Parade (halloween-nyc.com) and the Thanksgiving Day Parade (lovingnewyork.com/macys-thanksgiving-dayparade) are among some of the most attended. Others include our Baseball teams’ opening day at Yankee Stadium (1 E 161 St. The Bronx. Tel: 718-293-4300. mlb.com/yankees/ballpark) or Citi Field (41 Seaver Way, Queens. Tel: 718-507-8499. mlb.com/mets/ballpark), and the Winter Show at the Park Avenue Armory (660 Madison Ave. Tel: 917-420-0669. thewintershow.org). There are also amazing events that come in a more subdued package, but no less important, such as the Orchid Show and Holiday Train Show, both at the New York Botanical Gardens (2900 Southern Blvd. The Bronx. Tel: 718- 817-8700. nybg.org), and the incredible opportunity to watch a performance of Shakespeare in the Park (publictheater.org) under the nighttime skies of Central Park.

Where can you go to get the best views of the city?
The usual suspects are the Empire State Building (20 West 34th St. Tel: 212-736-3100. esbnyc.com), Top of the Rock (30 Rockefeller Plaza. Tel: 212-698-2000. topoftherocknyc.com), the Edge (30 Hudson Yards. Tel: 332-204-8500. edgenyc.com), and One World Observatory (117 West St. Tel: 844-696-1776. oneworldobservatory. com). The more unique views include the postcard shots of the NYC skyline from the Staten Island Ferry (siferry.com), or the vantage point of a Helicopter Tour (flycharmny.com) along the Hudson River. Also, don’t forget the High Line as well (Tel: 212-500-6035. thehighline.org), which is often overlooked but offers one-of-a-kind views of the city.

Where are the best places to get in a great workout?
Running for a train during the morning rush hour! Seriously, New York City now has an incredible system of walkways and bikeways along the edges of the Hudson River and East River that are well populated and accessible. Governor’s Island is also a great destination for biking, walking, and running. If going to the gym is important to you, the national chains of workout centers offer reciprocity in New York City in many cases. By the way, the pool at Mandarin Oriental, New York, affords a lap-pool workout along with a view from the 36th floor (just sayin’).

Wellness Pool Mandarin Oriental New York

Wellness Pool Mandarin Oriental New York

If someone is looking for a full-service spa, where do you send them?
Mandarin Oriental, New York possesses one of the few five star spas in New York (and the United States). From our incredible massages, heat experiences, facials, and body treatments, you can relax alone or make use of our couple’s experiences to feel pampered and revived.

We’re all familiar with the big-name department stores and shops, but for smart shopper looking for designer labels for less what do you suggest?
This can be just as tricky as recommending a restaurant in New York, since so much depends upon personal style and taste. If I were limiting the lists to more discerning shoppers, I would include the many thrift shops that make any visiting shopper drool. Examples are Vintage Thrift (286 Third Ave. Tel: 212-871-0777. vintagethriftshop.org) and Michael’s Luxury Consignment (1125 Madison Ave. Tel: 212-737-7273. michaelsconsignment.com). Alternatively, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets (498 Red Apple Ct., Central Valley. Tel: 845- 928-4000. premiumoutlets.com/outlet/woodbury-common) are an accessible drive from NYC and they have shuttle service available from the city as well.

What is the iconic tourist souvenir, and where will we find it?
As much as it pains me as a fan of the New York Mets, the most requested item is a New York Yankees Baseball cap. Often, I’ll deliver a Mets cap to the guest room, with my compliments!

Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave the city without…
A slice from Joe’s Pizza (7 CarmineSt. Tel: 212-366-1182. joespizzanyc.com), walking between destinations (use side streets), and visiting Williamsburg, Brooklyn on the weekend.

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