Parker Meridien Promotes Some Afternoon Delight
We were just sitting around one Friday with idle thoughts of adultery flitting through our heads when the fax machine spat out a press release from Le Parker Meridien, a fancy hotel on West 57th Street.
Le Parker Meridien, declared the sheet of paper, “realizes that relationships are like the seasons–periods of spring fever and hot, steamy weather with a long cold snap in between.”
Just so, we thought, and read on.
The hotel was promoting a package called Afternoon Delight: $250 for deluxe “accommodation,” with champagne, boxed lunch and the latest issue of Cosmo (for “direction” in “guest relations”), between the hours of 11 A.M. and 4 P.M.
“Stay as little as 30 minutes or as long as five hours,” the missive offered. “It’s all the same price.”
But there was more.
Le Parker Meridien–which, we later learned, has earned four out of five A.A.A. “diamonds” for its Art-Deco rooms with Biedermeier-style furniture and oatmeal- café au lait color scheme accented in black–is also offering a special “I’m in the Mood for Love” deal for when “love strikes just because someone”–like a spiffy-looking co-worker, perhaps–”is near.” For $470, you and whoever get dinner, a copy of the Kama Sutra , a bed for the night and continental breakfast from room service “to replenish the depleted couple.”
“It’s nothing cheesy or anything,” said Carla Caccavale, a publicist for the hotel. “I mean, it’s not like we’re an Econo-Lodge.” Indeed, the crummiest single rooms at Le Parker Meridien (“Uptown. Not uptight”) start at $325.
The genius who dreamed up the special packages was general manager Steven Pipes.
“I was basically just thinking about trends and what people are doing and how they’re living their lives, especially in New York,” said Mr. Pipes, 45, just before leaving on a long business trip to Paris and Marrakech. “I mean, look at us now! We’re talking on the phone, and it’s quarter of 7 on a Friday. Couples have a hard time finding time just to be together, and a hotel in most people’s mind has an allure, a sex appeal, that just kind of gets people in the mood.”
Isn’t he promoting adultery?
“Nah, not really,” said Mr. Pipes, who has been married 22 years. “Of course, we’re not monitoring what our guests are doing.”
The New Guys in Town
The Sad Bookies
When Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson was tackled a yard short of the St. Louis Rams’ end zone in the final seconds of Super Bowl XXXIV, Titans fans everywhere let out a great heaving groan, their hopes for victory dashed. But that was nothing compared to the groan that arose from booking houses around the country. For the first time in Super Bowl history, the official spread of the game–seven points in the Rams’ favor–matched up with the 23-16 Rams victory.
For bookies this was bad news.
Bookies make their money on the “vig,” short for vigorish, the 10 percent commission they take on every bet. Since the official point spread and the outcome were the same, no money exchanged hands. It was a push. People that bet got their money back and bookies did not collect their vig.
One owner of a high-end Los Angeles booking house, who declined to be identified, said that 17,000 of the 18,000 bets his house took in, pushed.
Normally, bookies try to even out the bets they receive so that no matter what the result of the game, they will collect the 10 percent vig. “We didn’t get the juice,” the booking house owner said ruefully. “What you want is 10 million bet on the Rams and 10 million on Tennessee, then we get the 1 million payoff no matter what the outcome. The goal is to get everything as close to even as you can get.”
Obviously, the action on the game doesn’t fall evenly between the two teams, so in order to adjust the incoming bets, booking houses will switch the line that they are giving for the game. They moved the line down to six and a half, to increase the action on the Titans, and moved it up to seven and a half, to increase action on the Rams. “The Super Bowl’s like Christmas,” said a bookmaker. “It was like looking under the tree and not seeing any presents.”
If the game had been decided by only one point in either direction, the Los Angeles booking house would have made $1,285,000. As it stands, they made $285,000.
The possibility of the Rams’ winning by seven points became real when the Titans, down 16-0, scored a touchdown, then went for and missed a two-point conversion. The Los Angeles bookie said that after the missed two-point conversion, the mood in the booking house became morbid.
“That’s when we knew that something was going on. We knew something was happening weird,” he said.
The missed conversion left the score 16-6 and ultimately paved the way for the drama of the final few seconds of the game.
Tales From the Banquette (A Mad. Ave. Lib)
Hollywood honchos, B-list bombshells and Prada-toting banquettes converged at Nicole’s on Jan. 10 to canoodle the premiere of Manolo Blahnik’s new movie, Motorola Star-Tac . In the dining room, a line of Nokias waited to interview the film’s star, Cohiba, who looked like a California glamour gal with her spaghetti-strap hair and ankle-length SoHo loft. Her co-star, Ian Schrager, maintained his outsider status by skipping the schmoozing to mingle with character-actor pal Peggy Siegel on the sidelines. Perched at a long China chow, lesser-known banquettes took up the slack, boasting about their own careers on the pink pashima. Between picking at a plate of Range Rover and fretting over the slow wait staff, a chatty bistro spoke of his moment in retro-chic. “I had a part in Aggravated Canoodling , the one where Puffy Combs plays an it-girl!” Cameo queen Donovan Leitch got a better reception with a surprising revelation: “I got an Oscar nomination for my role in the new monogamy!” Next, everyone turned to personal trainer Downtown Cool, but the part-time Hilfiger opted to discuss concert gigs over little black dresses.
An auburn-haired Jack Russell from Los Angeles was more than willing to throw in her own bid for recognition: “I was in the Ur-movie. I played the banquette!”