For those of you who were not in New York City on 9/11, and now that enough time has passed since the terrorist attacks, the upcoming 16th anniversary for you may be nothing more than a historic calendar reminder punctuated by news clippings and coverage of the ceremonies at Ground Zero. As someone who was there on that fateful day and witnessed the second tower fall from some 50 blocks north on a high floor at a Midtown hotel, as well as for those of you who lost a loved one or a friend, the horrific events will forever be etched in your memory.
I was prompted to write once more about this dark chapter in my life after watching the tragedy unfold in Houston and the surrounding area, all of it flooded beyond what was thought possible and no one knowing when the great state of Texas will be fully healed. Although it would be unfair of me to draw parallels between these two disasters, I will say that I am continually amazed and heartened by a community’s ability to come together in times of crisis and help those in peril.
On my most recent trip back to New York City, my focus was less on memorializing what happened 16 years ago and more on looking forward. New York City, in particular the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, are booming. Construction is rampant, hotels are at near-record occupancies and the face of commerce is operating at classic New York minute speeds. Inventive new restaurants are operating with multiple turns and the retail sector appears to be showing some resilience even in the face of online shopping.
This good news story also reinforces the strength of the human spirit and the resilience of thy fellow human. New York City has more than bounced back, reasserting its place in the forefront of commerce. And looking beyond business, the street scene has changed. The city is teeming with kids. There is a baby boom with hardly a corner found without couples walking their children in strollers or in hand.
As a hotelier, this is what we want to see. More hotels mean more jobs and more young associates ready to answer the hospitality call, with the influx of capital ensuring that new projects will be underway and that the city will continue to be on the forefront of innovation in our industry.
The call to be a hotelier is more than any other job, though. It comes with the compulsion to help those around us, especially in times of need, as well as a drive to support the surrounding neighborhood. On that note, I encourage all of you to think about how your property and those working within it might assist the community at large during a crisis.
New York City has healed and is even redefining its identity to fit these changing times. Likewise, New Orleans is well on its way following Katrina. The American spirit transcends petty squabbles, factionalism or political parties and their bickering rhetoric, and we hoteliers can play a very active role in any renewal of this sort. Houston will also recover, but for now my deepest sympathies go out to all those afflicted by this tremendous storm.