Brooklyn’s Hotel Le Bleu

Brooklyn has been called a lot of things in its 400-year history: “the garden spot of the universe” (a tongue-in-cheek nickname still cited by some old-timers), “city of homes and churches” (to distinguish it from its corrupted neighbor, Manhattan, at the turn of the century) and, more recently, “the locus of the world’s hipster activity,” as The New York Times put it in a 2006 real-estate article.

Hotel Le bleu

Hotel Le Bleu's simple elegance extends outdoors.


But “luxury hotel destination” is a new identity for the New York City borough. Both InterContinental and Sheraton have announced plans to introduce their boutique lines—Indigo and aloft, respectively—in Brooklyn, and other small deluxe hotels are planned there as well. But Hotel Le Bleu got there first. The eight-story hotel, featuring a sleek design and high-tech accoutrements in its 48 guest rooms, opened last November on Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue, about 2½ miles from the Brooklyn Bridge. Trendy

Fifth Avenue
in the Park Slope neighborhood, with an assortment of restaurants and boutiques, is just a block away.

Designed by Andres Escobar, Hotel Le Bleu features 30 rooms with king-size beds and 18 with two doubles. “What you find in these rooms is actually a little bit ahead of the curve,” says General Manager Robert Gaeta, a hotel industry veteran previously associated with such Manhattan properties as The New Yorker, the Wellington and the Sheraton New York. “You find a lot of features in these rooms that people haven’t even incorporated into their homes yet. Usually it’s the other way around: Your house has nicer stuff than the hotel does.”

Luxury and Harmony
Every room at Le Bleu contains a 42-inch plasma TV with DVD player and Bose surround-sound, Internet ports at the desk and bedside, iPod dock in the clock radio and a cordless telephone. The ergonomic beds have custom-made mattresses, goose-down duvets and 300-thread-count Egyptian linens. Bathrobes provided for guests feel like a chenille/cashmere blend and are from a brand promoted by Oprah Winfrey as one of her “Favorite Things.” Guest rooms have a chair at the desk, but no easy chair.

Le Bleu’s rooms feature the “open bathroom” that’s been popularized by boutique hotels: The toilet is behind a sliding frosted-glass door, but there’s no door between the bedroom and the sink area. The oversized shower stall has a rain showerhead and is separated from the bedroom only by its glass walls, though guests can close a curtain around the stall. Bathroom fixtures are by Grohe, and the toiletries— flaxseed soap, quinoa shampoo, amaranth conditioner, etc.— are from the Davies Gate botanical line. Also typical of boutique hotels, Le Bleu rooms have a very white color scheme (with blue accents, of course).

All but nine guest rooms have their own balcony. Even-numbered rooms face Manhattan, with the Statue of Liberty and Financial District skyscrapers visible across a semi-industrial part of Brooklyn that includes the harbor and the GowanusCanal. Odd-numbered rooms look south and east over Brooklyn. The borough’s church spires are visible from almost all rooms, and from the balconies there is a good view of Brooklyn’s tallest building: the 512-foot Williamsburgh Savings Bank clocktower (built in 1929). The hotel’s best room, according to Gaeta, is #708—the highest unit with a balcony and Manhattan view.

While the hotel currently has no public space other than a small lobby, a restaurant named Vue will be opening on the top floor sometime this spring, with a rooftop bar due to open shortly afterward. Both are expected to draw local customers as well as hotel guests. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and have a Continental menu. Gaeta says an undulating “Frank Gehry-type ceiling” is part of its design plan, as is an outdoor seating section on the balcony. The rooftop lounge will feature a canopy and illumination and views of two states and four boroughs.

[PAGE-BREAK]

In the Details...
Because the hotel couldn’t offer an onsite restaurant upon its opening, it has been providing a complimentary breakfast buffet (including yogurt, cereal, fresh fruit, bagels and other baked goods) for guests, which may continue even after the restaurant debuts. “It’s kind of hard to get rid of something that repeat guests might be expecting,” Gaeta says. For now, breakfast is served in a small room off the lobby with no seating (if breakfast is still offered after the restaurant opens, it will be moved to the roof).

Additional amenities found in every guest room at Le Bleu include a mini refrigerator with complimentary bottled water, slippers, iron and ironing board, canvas laundry bag, a safe and current local magazines. The TV offers digital channels and pay-per-view movies, and a daily newspaper is delivered to every guest room in a cloth satchel. Numi organic tea and Wolfgang Puck coffee are provided free for the in-room coffee maker, and room service is available from 6 a.m. to midnight from a local diner. Guests have free WiFi and Ethernet connections in their rooms. Business services, such as faxing and photocopying, are available round the clock. The hotel is smoke-free, and pets are not allowed.

Le Bleu has an onsite lot with free parking—always a valuable bonus in New York City—and a couple of picnic tables and chairs right outside the lobby. Hotel guests can use two different health clubs within walking distance (for $15 a day), and they receive a discount on treatments at the Body by Brooklyn spa, which is in another neighborhood a few miles from Le Bleu. The hotel’s concierge will make restaurant and spa reservations, book theater tickets, arrange for car service and fulfill other requests; according to hotel literature, “Ask, and consider it done” is the hotel’s motto.

Hotel Le bleu room

Blue at Le Bleu: Accents create a soothing ambiance.

Style and Value
Owned by Globiwest Hospitality Group, Le Bleu is the first property in what may become a brand. Gaeta told Travel Agent that the name and concept have been trademarked and that two other hotels are “on the drawing board.” He says, “The image is modern, high-tech...plus the service, the boutique style, the limited number of rooms, which allows for a greater guest-to-employee ratio.” About 30 people work at Le Bleu, which means there’s approximately one employee for every three guests at peak capacity.

Rack rates upward of $300 a night were being quoted for Hotel Le Bleu when it opened, though agents have been able to book rooms for half that through its website in its first season. Averaging some 320 square feet, the Le Bleu accommodations are larger than many Manhattan hotel rooms. “You’re going to pay $500 for this room in Manhattan, easily,” says Gaeta, who quoted $280 as the lead rack rate. The property can be booked through all GDS.

Now, just how conveniently located is Le Bleu? This is important to know, since clients may be unfamiliar with Brooklyn, and the hotel’s promotional material can be misleading. The website, for example, says it’s “minutes away from Manhattan’s exciting sights, shopping, theaters and nightlife.” The hotel is five blocks from a subway station, and from there it would take 30-45 minutes to reach Times Square. Places in Lower Manhattan, like Wall Street and Greenwich Village, are a shorter trip.

Another consideration is the hotel’s neighborhood, which is something of a mixed bag.

Fourth Avenue
is the border between yuppiePark Slope and just-starting-to-gentrify Gowanus. Fifth and Seventh Avenues in Park Slope have many restaurants, bars and shops. On the Gowanus side, surroundings are more industrial (and more neglected), though across the street from the hotel is one of Brooklyn’s many new upscale condominium developments. Le Bleu is just a couple of blocks from the historic Old Stone House (a battle site in the Revolutionary War, with a small museum inside) and the alterna-performance space known as the Brooklyn Lyceum. ProspectPark, a beautiful 500-plus-acre expanse, is in walking distance, and the BrooklynMuseum and BrooklynBotanic Garden are a subway ride away. Other prime Brooklyn destinations, like the Brooklyn Academy of Music and BrooklynHeights, are easily accessible from the hotel. Information on many Brooklyn and Manhattan attractions is in the in-room guest directory, which also includes a guide to more than 50 local restaurants.

Agents can contact the general manager directly at [email protected], or call the hotel at 866-427-6073 or 718-625-1500.

[PAGE-BREAK]

Le Bleu’s Sister Hotel in Brooklyn

Hotel Le Bleu is owned by Globiwest Hospitality Group, a Southern California-based company that owns/operates more than 20 chain hotels in about a half dozen states. Globiwest also opened the upscale Hotel Le Jolie in Brooklyn last winter in the popular neighborhood of Williamsburg, which is packed with restaurants, coffeehouses, bars, art galleries and performance spaces—but set slightly off the heart of the action.

Perhaps the most unusual thing about Hotel Le Jolie’s location is that it practically abuts the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE): Coming from the subway station three blocks away, you actually walk under the highway before you reach the hotel. But that subway is just two stops from Manhattan and can get clients to midtown or the Financial District in less than half an hour. It’s about a third of a mile walk from the hotel to

Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
’s happening main street.

Even-numbered guest rooms of Hotel Le Jolie look down on the BQE, though the rest of their Brooklyn view is nicer. The odd-numbered rooms on the top four floors, meanwhile, have million-dollar views (hardly an exaggeration, given New York City real estate prices): Guests can see the EmpireStateBuilding and ChryslerBuilding from their beds! Along with the Manhattan skyline, the QueensboroBridge and the onion domes of a nearby Russian Orthodox church add to the the view.

There’s a total of 16 Elite King or Queen With View rooms on the fourth through seventh floors. The other 16 rooms on those floors, plus 14 more on the first through third stories, are Superior Queen or Two Twin. The remaining eight rooms—which include two below street level, with small windows—are classified as Elite King With Jacuzzi or Superior King or Queen. All rooms are similar in size; the label Elite is applied to rooms with a view or Jacuzzi (Deluxe sometimes replaces Superior). Rooms are decorated in earth tones, with all-black furniture.

All of Le Jolie’s rooms contain the same amenities, which include 42-inch plasma TVs with digital channels, DVD players and pay-per-view movies; iPod docks; mini fridges with free bottled water; ergonomic bedding, goose-down comforters and 250-count linens; Bath Bloomers Tangerine Yin Yang toiletries; and coffeemakers with complimentary coffee and tea. There is free parking in the hotel’s lot and a municipal lot across the street, and guests can fax, photocopy and use the computer in the onsite business center at no charge.

Rates run from around $169 to $245 per night. The hotel will provide an air mattress in Superior Two Twin rooms for triple occupancy at no additional cost. All rates include a cold breakfast buffet, served in a small dining room. Le Jolie does not have a restaurant, but room service from several local restaurants is available at most hours. One of New York City’s legendary Italian restaurants, Bamonte’s, is right next door.

While the Le Jolie neighborhood is not unsafe, the front desk is behind glass, and a security guard is stationed in the lobby from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. On

Meeker Avenue
, the hotel sits between a vacant gas station and an industrial building, but surrounding streets are largely residential. While its location may not appeal to top-line or city-phobic clients, Hotel Le Jolie is neither too far removed nor too risky for people doing business in Manhattan or vacationers who’d like to curb their spending on accommodations. Within the three blocks between the hotel and subway, there are about half a dozen eateries, a 24-hour diner, a couple of groceries, a beauty salon and a bakery/café. Contact the hotel at 718-625-2100 or 866-526-4097.

­