Yesterday Patrick Wall of DNAinfo reported that the Opera House Hotel had no vacancies this weekend proving to one set of critics that folks will stay in the heart of the South Bronx in a luxury boutique hotel that may seemingly look out of place.
Unfortunately the article wasn’t full of good news as you would think considering such excellent news.
Several guests were interviewed for the article and it is completely understandable that they, along with potential future guests, would be a bit apprehensive about the neighborhood and the Bronx. Mainstream media has done an excellent job in the destruction of our image and still continues to do so.
One particular guest seemed to live in some alternate universe. Shawana Simms of Cincinnati was staying at the Opera House Hotel with her mother who, “…was terrified.” Later in the evening, she went to the local Checkers just 2 blocks away but only did so because she was escorted by a hotel guard.
New York City is the safest largest city in America. Crime in the Bronx has plummeted to historic lows making it safer than even Boston. The most recent statistics via neighborhoodscout.com which analyzes FBI criminal date indicates that Cincinnati is listed as one of the top 100 most dangerous cities in America – something which neither NYC as a whole or the Bronx is listed under. Such perceptions as the Bronx being this extremely dangerous place is simply based on decades old images and data of the Bronx and not one of the current state of affairs in our borough.
All things considered, still the reviews on Trip Advisor are flowing in and have been extremely positive. Nicholas L, Rudersberg of Baden-Württemberg, Germany said that, “The Opera House Hotel is a superb oasis amidst one of the few remaining culturally vibrant and lively neighborhoods of the NYC ”Aug 31, 2013
Now the big concern in the article was also whether or not guests staying at the Opera House Hotel would contribute to the local economy of the Bronx by spending time in the area.
“I appreciate them building this hotel here,” said Vincent Valentino, president of the Hub Third Avenue Business Improvement District. “But I really don’t see how it’s going to affect my shoppers or merchants.”
Is it not the responsibility of the Hub BID President, along with his organization to give tourists an incentive to spend time here? Perhaps if there was more focus on bringing in more diverse businesses to the district, it would eventually have an impact but let’s face it, The Hub BID has been pretty stagnant for as long as they’ve been in business (The BID was founded in 1990) and other than signs indicating that there’s a BID in the area, I haven’t seen much done to spruce up the area.
Then we have the Bronx Tourism Council of which Olga Luz Tirado is the executive director. Patrick Wall mentions that she came to the hotel last Friday to, “drop off some Bronx brochures” which until then they had none on our borough. I contacted Olga Luz Tirado and asked what they are doing to to try and encourage tourists to spend time in the Bronx but no replies have been received from her office as I write this.
We’ve known that the hotel was going to open for about a year now and during that time the Bronx Tourism Council could have been working hard along with the hotel to come up with concrete plans and solutions but instead, the BTC squandered all that time only to come up with a few brochures 3 weeks AFTER the hotel opened.
On a brighter side, Alexandra Maruri of MCNY Tours has added yet another Bronx based tour – every Friday from 4:00PM – 7:00PM she will provide a Distillery Tour of Port Morris which is home to the 2 first distilleries in the Bronx in 80 years since Prohibition. That, coupled with the other excellent tours in the Bronx that are offered by her company, guests of the Opera House Hotel have a perfect starting point to learning more about the Bronx!