Christina Claveria of IMI Travels to NYC for Hyatt Lifestyle Winners Educational Experience
By Christina Claveria | October 27, 2023
This spring, Hyatt Lifestyle properties competed in the Perfect Your Serve promotion for a three-day, two-night trip to New York City with Beam Suntory and Fever-Tree. The program allowed consumers and bartenders to get creative – consumers chose from a list of Sipsmith products and Fever-Tree brands to mix, and bartenders created their own cocktails to sell. After three months of selling, Andaz Savannah, Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, and Alila Ventana reigned as winners and were told they were heading to New York City for an educational trip.
Dream Downtown, a newer edition to the Lifestyle family, was home for the couple days we were there. With a goal to visit as many unique restaurant and bars as possible, we planned progressive dinners for both evenings.
Our first stop of the evening was Analogue in Greenwich Village. We arrived before the happy hour crowd, so we had the bar to ourselves for a little bit. A small, intimate bar where the lights were dim and candlelight was abundant, Analogue offered an extensive cocktail list, as well as an impressive 300+ whiskey list. The espresso martini from there was by far the best one I’ve ever had.
Second stop: Hawksmoor, located in the Flatiron District, was a true New York experience. We ran into the happy hour crowd and the vibe was nothing short of lively. The restaurant’s first location opened in the UK, and they brought those touches from across the pond into the design and menu for its’ U.S. location. This was our first dining experience in the city, so we ordered snacks for the table – the Reuben Nuggets and Green Chili Cheeseburger being the highlights. The cocktail list offered a variety of options fit for whatever you are looking for. Luckily for us, they had just changed their menu which is known by locals to contain the best cocktails in the city.
The last stop of the evening was Martiny’s – an experience. Located in a historical carriage house (built in 1800), Martiny’s serves classic cocktails, with a unique twist. A dark, yet inviting atmosphere, where the space was mostly lit by candlelight and dim lamps. Co-founder and Beverage Director, Takuma Watanabe, works modern Japanese elements into both the food and beverage menu, as well as the design of the restaurant. The favorite cocktail of the night was the Shikikitsu Sour. However, the most unique presentation of the entire evening at Martiny’s, was the Urbani kaluga caviar (served atop a mannequin hand) paired with a mini martini.
Day two began with Beam Suntory at their headquarters, located across from Madison Square Park. Immediately upon walking off the elevator, the look and smell of the office captures your senses. I was told that they diffuse essential oil scents throughout the office during the year to mimic the seasons in Japan – Autumn being the scent of Sansho Pepper. We began with a tour of the office and then headed straight into a House of Suntory Tasting with Andy Suzuki, Senior Highball Manager, and Dice Matsumoto, Highball Specialist for New York. During the tasting we were giving the history and production behind Toki Whisky, Roku Gin, and Haku Vodka. We concluded the incredible tasting, with an educational introduction to their Drink Solution Technology for the Highball and Espresso Martini. If you’ve never tried a highball from their highball machine, you are missing out. I can still hear the bubbles crackling due to the high percentage of carbonation. We spent the remainder of our time with Global HQ Bar and Mixology Lead, Kellie Thorn, and Global HQ Bar Associate, Ugo, during which they walked us through a carefully curated menu of some of the best cocktails we’ve ever tasted.
Once we finished at Beam Suntory, we headed over to the Fever-Tree office. A vibrant group of Fever-Tree’s finest greeted us upon arrival and the bar was set up with beautiful, bright garnishes, and every spirit bottle you could ever imagine lined up on their back bar. They shared the origin of the ingredients used in each product as we tasted through their portfolio. After the tasting, our team had the opportunity to get creative and make our own cocktails, finishing them on the rooftop during a NYC sunset. Towards the end of our time with Fever-Tree, we had the honor of meeting the CEO for North America, Charles Gibb, who shared his favorite mixed Fever-Tree drink dubbed “The Gibby” – crafted with your tequila of choice with half Sparkling Pink Grapefruit and half Ginger Beer.
After a quick refresh and reset, our group headed over to Crosby Street Hotel, a boutique hotel with modern finishes and floral décor. We dined in The Crosby Bar, which was the perfect place to drink and eat with a group of friends. While we didn’t have much time to stay, we did manage to try the lobster club sandwich along with other small bites and enjoyed a bottle of white and bubbles amongst the table.
Our last stop of the trip took us to the Lower East Side to Bar Goto – “A New York bar with Japanese soul”. Each of the cocktails contained distinct flavors native to Japan, like sake, matcha, and shochu. The food was simple, but the ingredients elevated its flavors to another level.
It was an amazing trip for everyone! Thank you to our friends at Beam Suntory and Fever-Tree for your hospitality. Thank you to New York City for introducing us to some of the most amazing food and drinks we’ve ever had. And a special thank you to our winners for all your hard work and dedication to the Lifestyle Brand!
Christina Claveria, Project Manager, IMI Agency
Christina started her career in hospitality with Marriott in 2006, opening the Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois. Christina started off working as a hostess at the in-house Steakhouse, while also attending cosmetology school. Christina continued to grow with Marriott gaining experience in Sales at the Renaissance and Group Sales at The Spa at JW Marriott. Her knowledge and experience in both Food & Beverage and Spa Operations were crucial in the hotel’s success. Her love for hospitality has grown through her experiences and relationships she’s made along the way.
Christina lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her fiancé and two children Payton and Luca. In the little free time she has, you can find her still doing hair now and again, finding ways to keep her toddler out of trouble, or perusing the shelves at Sephora for things she doesn’t need.