Yet even as the renovation crews continue their top-down improvements at the New Yorker, it’s clear the place hasn’t yet scrapped all of its raffish charms.
A large garish plush animal greets guests in the lobby, “Bear Wittus says: Join us as we turn the New Yorker into one of the premier hotels in NY City.”
You won’t find that at the St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton.
“We don’t want to be a four-star hotel,” noted Mr. McCaffrey, describing the place as more of a two-star hellbent on earning its third.
One thing clearly lacking from the many slated improvements, though, is any sort of bedbug prevention plan.
“Hotels have to have some type of inspection,” said attorney Alan Schnurman, who is representing Ms. Hopkins in her negligence suit against the New Yorker.
Mr. Schnurman predicted that the hard-to-rid critters’ recent resurgence among the city’s homes and hotels was “just starting” and that the epidemic may become so widespread that it could spin off into its own separate genre of litigation. He mentioned another recent case at a high-end hotel in midtown, where a television producer from Los Angeles, in town covering Fashion Week festivities, discovered “thousands of bugs” behind a shrouded headboard. That lawsuit is forthcoming, he said.
The New Yorker’s response to Mr. Schnurman perhaps best sums up the frustrations of bug-wary hotel operators citywide.
“You can’t really do anything in a preventative way,” Mr. McCaffrey said. “Mice, cockroaches—you can prevent those things from coming in.” Not so much the bedbugs. Guests unwittingly bring the itsy-bitsy insects with them, scores of future lawsuits crawling around inside their own suitcases.
Mr. McCaffrey asserted that housekeepers already check beds for signs of the bloodsuckers when changing linens in between guests. “You have to lift the mattresses, anyway,” he said, seeming rather well versed on the “insipid little beasts,” repeatedly adding to his remarks, “And another thing about bedbugs …”
Finding the flesh-feeding insects just isn’t that easy. “They can hide in the tiniest cracks and crevices.”
Mr. McCaffrey was quick to point out that Ms. Hopkins wasn’t technically a hotel guest during her “horrific” exposure to the bugs. She was staying on the 16th floor, which the hotel currently leases to a private student-housing operator for use as a makeshift dormitory.
That’s not to say the hotel proper is immune to the problem. When bedbugs have surfaced in the past, Mr. McCaffrey said, the extermination process is a multilevel operation, affecting rooms on either side of the infested suites, as well as the rooms directly below. “It happens,” he said. “It doesn’t happen often, but it happens.”
Redecorating now sounds a whole lot less daunting.