Plenty of Va-Va-Voom at the Inns

The receptionist at the Gramercy Park Hotel recognized the signs after a few days on the job. “First, they won’t

The receptionist at the Gramercy Park Hotel recognized the signs after a few days on the job.

“First, they won’t give their address when you register them into the computer system, or sometimes they’ll ask for aliases,” said the receptionist, who quit the hotel in December. “Or they’ll check in and ask to have a key left downstairs for a visitor, but they’ll refuse to give you the visitor’s last name or let you type it into the computer.”

Yes, trysts remain bountiful at the Gramercy and other Manhattan hotels despite a jump in room rates—and despite the economic downturn afflicting Wall Street. The Observer visited in January several higher-end hotels, including the Gramercy, the Bowery, the Palace, the Mercer and the Regency (and lower-end ones like the reserve-by-the-hour Liberty Inn on 10th Avenue and 14th Street).

While it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get hotel employees to dish about the volume of affairs straining the beds upstairs, it seemed obvious after a few hotels that no amount of money will keep some New Yorkers from cheating—and cheating often.

The average Manhattan hotel room rate soared to a record $295 per night last year, according to city tourism officials, a $20 increase from 2006. At higher-end hotels, the rates can average three times that amount (at the Gramercy, according to the former receptionist, the average room rate was over $700 by December).

“Toward the end [of 2007], there were fewer male New Yorkers coming in,” the receptionist said. “You know, men of a certain age, between 30 and 50, who were definitely not here on business but would come in for one night and refuse to put their address in the computer. But most of the people who stay at the hotel were filthy rich anyway, so they don’t care about spending a little extra money.”

Private investigators, too, bolster the notion that neither investment-bank write-downs nor room-rate records shall keep philanderers from their appointed rounds. If anything, the current economic anxiety has driven more New Yorkers in between hotel sheets—and their partners and spouses to private dicks.

“I’ve seen more people coming lately, I guess because they are scared about their future, whether it be with real estate or finances,” said David Schassler, the head of New York Intelligence Agency, a private-detective firm. Since the average annual income of a client is “well over $100,000,” he said, and most of them come from Manhattan, “they’re not affected by the [room] rate increase.”

The owner of the Check-A-Mate agency, Jerry Palace, has been nabbing cheating spouses for two decades, since he quit the police force. He agreed that affairs have been on the upswing in the past several months.

“Usually, business goes up or down with the economy,” Mr. Palace said, “but now I think things are getting bad and it’s making people do things they wouldn’t normally do. … The majority go to hotels, since going to your own apartment would be indiscreet to say the least.

“They usually go to four-star hotels like the Four Seasons and the Palace,” he said, “the obvious ones, because they are trying to impress their girlfriends.”

The Plaza was also popular years ago, Mr. Palace said, but he has not been there since it was renovated. Some adulterers have had liaisons in the same hotel for decades because they become comfortable with a particular concierge.

About 65 percent of Check-A-Mate’s clients are 30-to-50-year-old women who are affluent and “looking for answers.” Normally, Mr. Palace will trail a suspected adulterer—more often than not to a hotel—and gather evidence to “confirm what [the client] already knows.”

Check-A-Mate charges $200 an hour, and depending on the method of investigation, the tab can easily run up to a few thousands dollars. The agency’s services do not come cheap, and neither do hotel rooms. Still, Mr. Palace says he’s confident of a sustained demand for both among wealthy New Yorkers.

“I don’t think money matters too much to them unless they have to split their assets 50-50,” he said. “These people have a lot to lose, so they are going to keep going to hotels regardless of rates, because they want to be careful.” Plenty of Va-Va-Voom at the Inns