If you want to know what’s in New York City for teenagers, ask the Teen Concierge at Omni Bershire Place in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. I had a chance to interview Larissa Horn, the the Teen Concierge behind Omni Berkshire’s Teen Connect Program when she was gearing up for the busy summer months.
Larissa is from Poughkeepsie, and before moving to attend New York University she visited the city for all the usual reasons that many teens visit Manhattan: shopping, pizza, and a Broadway show. Now living in New York City, she gets “to see the different coffee shops, stores, and all the different areas that she didn’t even know existed.” As a teen concierge, she shares that insight so that guests can get more out of the Big Apple.
Interview with a Teen Concierge
Question: What is your favorite way to get to know New York City?
Larissa: I like to take long walks, to get lost walking the city. Now I know much more about getting acquainted with local culture and I try to relate that to the guests. I try to share what I like to do and the places I like to go.
Question: What’s it like to be a Teen Concierge?
Larissa: It’s a new thing, but it’s things that I did already – sharing information with my friends at school. Now I’m working hard to let people know that this program exists, but it’s coming along really well. That’s our biggest challenge. We’re always brainstorming new ways to get the word out that this exists, that I’m here to help.
Question: How do teens respond to the Teen Connect program?
Larissa: It’s a mixed response. Teens really appreciate getting the insider information. I think it makes your trip unique, and that’s what you want from a vacation– doing something different in a different place. Many are planning to return in the summer.
Guests are always surprised that the service is offered if they haven’t heard of it before, it’s unique. I’m set up at a desk in the lobby on Friday and Saturday afternoons. When I see teen guests in the lobby, I invite them over or I might walk over to them with information. I might meet with three to five teens on a normal day, more with higher occupancy. Sometimes parents or teens contact me before the trip because they see the landing page and they reach out via email or Twitter. When they contact me I try to find out what they’re doing, how long they’re staying, so I can gather the right information for them.
Question: Where do you suggest shopping? Can you recommend vintage shops?
Larissa: Just recently got a request for a school dance dress, and they wanted vintage style. There’s one called Screaming Mimis, very funky. I try to give different levels. Beacon’s Closet is a nice one. Casual vintage clothes. And I also recommend Bloomingdale’s because the private teen shopping experience–with their own personal shopper–is such fun. If they’re looking for something specific, that’s perfect. (For more teen shopping recommendations, see Larissa’s New York City Guide on the Omni Berkshire website.) If they’re going downtown, I recommend the Soho Flagship location of C.Wonder, a lot of girls like it because they have clothing, jewelry, and housewares.
Question: Any unusual requests?
Larissa: Not so many. Usually they come with a general request of what to do. So, on the weekend I put together a Weekly Picks. I like to feature things that only happen once in a year or lifetime in NYC. For instance, Pillow Fight Day in Washington Square Park.
Question: What do you recommend for young teens or tweens?
Larissa: Shopping in a department store is good because they can be free from their parents a little bit. I like to recommend Bloomingdale’s because Dylan’s Candy Bar is next door which is so much fun.
Question: Where do you go from here? Career plans in hospitality?
Larissa: Certainly. I’m in the hospitality school at NYU so this is the perfect experience.
Question: Any advice for students interested in being a Teen Concierge?
Larissa: Always be on the lookout and keeping your ears open for something new, and take note of it. Guest vary so much, and you need a large book of things for them to do.
Question: Any great tips on what to do this summer in the city?
Larissa: In the summer, Rockefeller Center lines up great performers. And we can arrange for guest to eat at one of the restaurants, watch the music, and maybe get a little closer than they could on their own.
I picked up a lot of great ideas from Larissa; so many in fact, that it’s too much for one post. Stay tuned for tips on the best treats and active adventures in New York City.
Plan a Stay at an Omni Resort
Omni’s Teen Connect program is now in its second summer, and can be found at the Omni Berkshire Place, Omni Parker House in Boston, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, and the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate.
Save big: Omni Summer Passport package discounts stays between June 3 and Aug. 25. Guests who book their stay through Omni’s website, receive a 15 percent discount while members of Omni’s Select Guest customer loyalty program receive a 25 percent discount. Upon check-in, guests also receive a summer experiences booklet (a “Passport to Omni”) highlighting Omni destinations across the U.S. Guests who book a stay through the promotion will be entered automatically into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a round-trip flight for two and a three-night stay at their choice of participating Omni Hotel or Global Hotel Alliance partner properties in London, Rome, Sao Paulo, Los Angeles or Amelia Island, Fla. Additional entries available through social sharing via http://www.omnihotels.com/blog/passport/.
New York City Travel Tips
Planning a visit to New York City with kids? Check out our New York City Guide which includes New York City with Kids: Fun and Educational Things To Do, Family-friendly Hotels and Restaurants, and More!, a collection of posts by family travel experts.
Thanks to our friends at Omni Hotels and Resorts for setting up this interview and hosting our stay.