Edward’s New York FAM trip hosted by Funway Holidays

Funway Holidays New York FAM Trip
31st March- 4th April 2014


From the 31st March to April 4th a group of selected agents including myself were hosted by Anna Barnes of Funway Holidays to fly out to New York for a FAM Trip. Departing from Heathrow our journey began by meeting up with Anna and the rest of the group. Anna was a superb host and soon after meeting her and the rest of the group (consisting of nine other women and one male being me!) I was soon made very relaxed and involved.

We left for John F. Kennedy airport at 16:05 and arrived just in time for dinner at around 19:00. Despite a short delay in transfers from JFK to our first hotel, we didn’t let that deter us from trying to learn more about New York and have fun whilst doing so. After the delay we checked wearily into the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, followed by a slow walk around Times Square. Sadly we were all too tired to fully appreciate all the lights and activity.

Tuesday 1st April

Our first full day in New York can only be described as busy. We started with breakfast in the company of Kerry Kelly the associate director of the Sheraton who proceeded to give us a site inspection. Having spent the previous night in the hotel we already knew that the Sheraton had a central location; being in close proximity to Times Square, a classic style which catered to tourists and corporate business people a like.

Part two of our hectic day continued with a City tour on-board the “Grey Line – Hop on Hop off Downtown Loop Tour”. Despite the cold chill in the air the group began to fully sense and admire the scale of the city, as many pictures were taken! The tour came to a close not before taking in some of the major sights of the city such as the Empire State Building, the Freedom Tower and the various bridges that connect the city to its many boroughs.

Soon after the tour we made way to our next site inspection at the Warwick Hotel. The hotel is in close proximity to the Rockefeller Centre, which is an advantage for those ticking off their list of sites.  Out of the hotels we visited on this particular FAM trip this was my preferred hotel as I loved the boutique style of the interior, the history of the building itself and the simple but spacious room types.

After a delicious lunch and inspection of the hotel we moved quickly over to the Wellington Hotel. Whilst the previous hotels offered a comforting space inside the city in which you could relax and escape, the Wellington offered a different experience. Whilst not possessing the room and ambiance of the Warwick or Sheraton, the hotel offered those on a slimmer budget a chance to experience the city in a more central location. This would likely appeal to couples or small groups looking to maximise their time in the city rather than their hotel room.

Our penultimate inspection of the day saw us return to Times Square to view the New Yorker. Towering within the fringes of the square the New Yorker offers a similar experience to the Wellington however the rooms situated towards the top of the hotel; one could be treated to some superb views of the city. Sadly the hotel wasn’t able to hold off or request said rooms, which from a selling point of view is a real shame. The modern room fittings and central location make the New Yorker a suitable step out hotel which supplants you into the heart of the tourist section of New York.

The final hotel of the day was one we all know, the Holiday Inn. Whilst we all know what to expect from the Inn I was still keen to see what the American counterpart of the branch could offer. Despite achieving a lower star ranking then some of the previous hotels, the Inn has access to moderately priced family rooms with interconnecting options. And as agents know too well, interconnecting rooms; or the lack of, is a real issue in cities and a must for most families. So if a young family or group is considering a trip to the Big Apple, think of the Holiday Inn because of its reasonable pricing strategy and room categories.

With the last hotel of the day inspected we were ready to let our hair down on-board the Spirit Dinner Cruise Ship. Circling the city and passing the Statue of Liberty we were promised an evening of sights, food and more importantly a fully stocked bar! After a buffet dinner we were encouraged to stroll across the deck and take in the views of the city landscape and eventually the Statue of Liberty which made locals and tourists alike very emotional. With it being still quite cold we retreated inside and enjoyed some more moderate drinking and dancing.

Wednesday 2nd April

Early starts and late nights were a common feature of this FAM trip. Checking out of the Sheraton first thing we traversed across the city to check into the Westin New York Grand Central. After a quick bag drop we were on the move again as we had a bus to catch to the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. Still being tired form the night before I was in no real mood to shop so it could be argued that I didn’t appreciate the shopping trip, but the girls were in their element! Setting up a precise route through the outlet the girls literally shopped till they dropped. Amy won the coveted best shopper award with her efforts.

With the shopping done (for me anyway) I took the free time in the afternoon to rest and freshen up for the evening Opera experience.  The Opera experience was hosted at the Met where “La Boheme” was performed to an impeccable standard. Being my first Opera I was quite concerned about how things would turn out but I must say I enjoyed it and would recommend it to both Opera lovers and novices. With a relaxed working day but an intense shopping day completed we were ready for our last full day in New York.

Thursday 3rd April

Following our excursions on the previous day the group was up and ready for a morning of site inspections. Our first port of call was the Westin itself. Like the Sheraton the Westin boasted a modern look with holiday and corporate potential. As a guest of the hotel I was most pleased with the coffee making facilities in the room and the luscious beds. Location wise the hotel was situated a reasonable walk away from the tourist hub but a number of food outlets and shops were in close proximity.

Swiftly moving on to our next hotel; the Grand Hyatt, again we were introduced to a hotel which had recently completed redevelopments, bringing the establishment into a contemporary style.  The soft furnishings and club room facilities complimented each other nicely. During their renovations a number of rooms were taken out and in their place a number of suites had been given this newly created space. This created a spacious and artistically inspired look.

Next we made a brisk walk towards the NH Jolly Madison Towers, one of the more interesting hotels we inspected. Boasting family friendly rooms and social areas, we found ourselves in a hotel which had a European feel. The staff were exceptionally friendly and great hosts. The rooms weren’t too dissimilar from those we visited on Tuesday but their selling point in my view was the marble bathrooms with deep bath tubs. Madison Towers have taken a European style and applied it to a city space and it works very well.

The final hotel on our grand tour was the Millennium Broadway Hotel which sported a vintage style in its social areas such as the restaurant and bar but was lovingly brought up to speed in its décor in the guest rooms. A point of interest with the Broadway was the old theatre which was still attached to the hotel building. Still in amazing condition; despite being there since the early nineteen hundreds, it is now used for social and corporate events. 

And with that our site inspections were finished, but in terms of our FAM we still had much to do! Our tour of the city continued with a guided visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our guide showed us a scaled down version of the normal tour but it was enjoyable and interesting none the less. We viewed some exquisite pieces of art and history from various time periods. 

After a quick lunch, we were on the move again this time taking another tour of the city but with a view to seeing some of New York’s famous movie and television landmarks. Despite the best efforts of the New York traffic to slow us down we made it around the tour, with highlights for our group being the “Dash” store as seen on the Kardashian show and the “Friends” apartment building. Being one of the younger members of the group I was thrilled to have my picture taken outside the Ghostbusters Fire House, which brought much joy to me and my brother when I showed him the photo.

The tour came to a natural close and whilst it was fun to see some of these locations and sites, perhaps it should be saved for those who are true television show fans or movie buffs, I only took an interest in a small selection of the stops mainly those involving comic book films, but I’d recommend it to clients and agents alike.

For our final night in the city our group were treated an evening meal by Funway. After which we prepared ourselves to scale the Empire State Building. This was something I was really looking forward to personally and it didn’t disappoint. With everyone in good spirits we took the elevator to the observation deck and were greeted with stunning views of the city despite the rain. It seemed like a perfect way to end both an enjoyable, educational and tiring FAM trip.

Friday 4th April

Checking out of the Westin early in the morning, we made our way towards the Subway so that we could travel to Brooklyn for a food tour. After meeting our guide: Dave, from Urban Oyster we stopped off at a number of outlets where we were treated to an authentic New York dining experience consisting of a cheese and ham stop, café, bakery and finally a cookie shop. Like the Museum tour we were given a scaled down version of the full tour, but this is something I would highly recommend as something to do. It’s easy to spend your time in the city centre and see familiar stores, restaurants and bars but; if like me, you enjoy seeing authentic stores and restaurants as to compliment the tourist experience then Urban Oysters provide a perfect addition to any holiday. Suitably full and ready to go home we said goodbye to Brooklyn and after one final stop to pick up gifts for home we made our way to JFK and began our journey home. 

As we arrived home early Saturday morning, I was tired, keen to see my family and friends but I was also sad about having to say goodbye to everyone. I felt that I had met some lovely people on this FAM trip and made some friends in the process. I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself so much if it wasn’t for the pleasantness of the group. Despite being the only chap amongst a FAM dominated by women, I felt very welcomed, involved and not an outsider. So I would like to thank the girls for making my trip, and I hope I made it enjoyable for them with my “witty” puns. Finally I would like to thank Anna and Funway for giving me this opportunity and I can highly recommend them.