Q&A with Ink48′s Linda Chin

written by | Posted on September 19th, 2012

 

Even for those who’ve never visited Ink48, it’s easy to assume—based on its name and its status as a Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants property—that the hotel is one with a distinct personality.

The property, which is nestled in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen, only a 15-minute walk from Times Square, just celebrated its third birthday, while general manager Linda Chin celebrated her first anniversary at the property (not counting her nearly 15 years with Kimpton). With all of the merriment going on, we here at Recommend thought now would be the perfect time to get to know both Chin and Ink48 a little better.

 

Ink48

 

Taylor Harker: First of all, congratulations on your 1-year anniversary at Ink48.

Linda Chin: Oh, thank you. It’s been wonderful being here.

TH: So for those of us who have yet to visit the property, tell us a little about Ink48.

LC: Sure. Ink48 hotel is a part of Kimpton Hotels. We are one of four properties in Manhattan. We opened our doors in September of 2009, and we’re a 222-room property in Hell’s Kitchen.

TH: And I understand it used to be a printing house?

LC: It was, yes. The building was originally built around 1930 as a printing house, and I’m sure it went through various businesses since then and now, but was converted. The structure is original, but we came in and converted it into a hotel, and we also extended a rooftop area where Press Lounge now resides, as well as our Penthouse Suite.

TH: It’s called Press Lounge? That’s neat. Are there any other elements at the property that are reminiscent of the building’s past?

LC: We had a lot of fun, actually, with the printing press idea. First, the name, Ink48 Hotel, plays on the whole printing press idea; the restaurant in the lobby is called the Print Restaurant, and of course the rooftop lounge is the Press Lounge. We’ve also been playing around with the name of our meeting rooms: we’ve got three meeting rooms and we’ve called them Garamond, Courier and Helvetica.

TH: Oh, I like that. What does the ‘48’ refer to in Ink48?

LC: That’s our location. We are on the corner of 48th Street and 11th Avenue.

TH: Alright. So the property has fun with its history—that’s a Kimpton quality. What other Kimpton standards does Ink48 adhere to?

LC: Well, at every one of our Kimpton Hotels, between 5 and 6 o’clock, we serve complimentary red and white wine to all of our guests. That’s something Bill Kimpton offered at his very first boutique hotel back in 1981—it was just a really nice way to give that warm, welcoming feeling to our guests, kind of like welcoming someone back home to have a glass of wine with you after a long busy day, and it’s something that Ink48 definitely embraces.

Of course, over the years we’ve been able to add some more fun, local experiences to our wine hour. For example, being in Hell’s Kitchen, we have invited in a local author and restaurant cookbook writer, and she comes in twice a week to attend the wine hour and socialize with our guests and tell them a little history on Hell’s Kitchen and the neighborhood and the local restaurants, so we’ve been able to embrace our wine hour program and make it our own.

Another one, too, is wellness. You know, Kimpton really embraces wellness—we all have our fitness centers and healthy options on our menu. At Ink48 Hotel we also have bicycles that guests are allowed to borrow on a complimentary basis and ride around the city. Our location is really close to the Hudson River Park and Riverside Park, which is ideal for cycling, so we’ve got that available for our guests, and we have also taken fitness to another level by putting yoga mats in all the rooms with exercise videos on TV and extra blocks and straps that you can borrow for a more intense workout, plus hula hoops in the fitness centers, so we really embrace different types of ideas of wellness and fitness.

TH: And the Runner’s Amenity Kit, too, that kind of follows suit with Kimpton’s emphasis on fitness.

LC: Exactly. Our Runner’s Amenity Kit was something that we put together to tie into our wellness program, our location, which is very close to the Hudson River and the beautiful waterfront path that runs along the west side of Manhattan, and it also ties into our Forgot It–We Got It program which is at all Kimpton hotels—if you forgot a toothbrush, we got it; if you forgot hairspray, we got it. So we put together a really fun program: the runner’s edition.

So if you’re an avid runner and you travel, and you happen to forget your sports bottle, or your running pack, or your pedometer, or even your iPod with your tunes, we have all of these items that you can borrow at no charge at the hotel. Then to make it a little bit more fun, as a welcome amenity we’ll put Gatorade and power bars in your room as well so you can refuel after your workout.

TH: So would a guest let you know when they’re making their booking that they’re a runner and they request those items to be there?

LC: You can definitely do that, or when you’re on the property and you realize ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I forgot my iPod,’ just let the front desk know, and they will loan [one to] you. We’ve got a selection of various playlists on iPod Shuffles, which snaps right to your gear, and then off you go for your run.

TH: So since you’ve been there over the past year, have you seen the property change at all?

LC: We have, actually. Ink48 is just three years old now, and as you can imagine when you open a hotel, it’s all about getting the hotel up and running; getting all the basics. Over the last year, we’ve been able to go from a hotel that is ‘up and running’ to a hotel that’s been able to evolve along with the neighborhood. Again, we’ve been able to bring in a lot of the local aspects of Hell’s Kitchen, working with many of the local businesses in Hell’s Kitchen to provide for our welcome amenities, our treats at wine hour, and really embracing and connecting more with our local community. I think that’s one thing that has gotten me really inspired over the past year.

TH: What’s the culture like there, in Hell’s Kitchen?

LC: Hell’s Kitchen is a real, local neighborhood in Manhattan, compared to Times Square or maybe SoHo. Ninth Avenue is just wall-to-wall restaurants—you won’t find big chain restaurants there. They’re all individually owned, Ma and Pa restaurants; small shops, small boutiques, and that’s what our guests love. They can really see Manhattan while feeling like they’re in a real Manhattan neighborhood.

TH: So out of all of these places in the area, what would you suggest guests do when they’re staying at Ink48?

LC: Well I personally love walking. I just love wandering around on my spare time, and we’re really close to the High Line Park. I’d really recommend our guests to hit the High Line Park, it’s maybe a 15-minute walk from the hotel. It’s an elevated park that used to be a railroad track, and it is now filled with gardens and plants and sculptures and artwork; architecturally it’s beautiful, and you are literally walking one story up above the street level, so you get a really unique view of the buildings, the Hudson River, and quite frankly just the Manhattan landscape. So I’d definitely say hit the High Line when you’re in this area.

TH: And that would go well with all of those fitness amenities, too.

LC: Exactly. We’re also close to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum, where the Space Shuttle Enterprise is now homed, which is very exciting. We’re close to Chelsea Piers [Sports & Entertainment Complex] for anyone who’s interested in using the driving range or going to the market, that’s a fun place to go. And we’re also a 10- or 15-minute walk from Lincoln Center and Columbus Circle, which is a really iconic part of Manhattan.

TH: So in your opinion, what makes Ink48 an excellent place to stay when traveling in the area?

LC: Well, I would say one of our biggest features is, for the price point, you get a lot more square footage. Because we’re not in the middle of Times Square or the Financial District, our rooms, generally speaking, are quite large for New York standard. They start at 300 sq. ft. and they go up from there.

Second, we have phenomenal views—views that you’re not going to get in other parts of the city. Because of our location, and because the fact that it’s Hell’s Kitchen, most of the buildings are only five or six stories high, almost all of our rooms will have panoramic views of the city on one side, and on the other side we have views of the Hudson River. So between the views and the square footage, it’s definitely worth your money to stay at Ink48.

TH: Do you find travel agents to provide a big part of your sales?

LC: Yes, absolutely. We work with a lot of different travel agents domestically and internationally. We’re only three years old so people are still learning about us, and we definitely rely on our partners to spread the word about the property.

TH: And what is this I’ve heard about special fall and winter plans that you’ve got coming up at Ink48?

LC: Well, we are working on some fun packages coming up for the shopping season, leading up into Thanksgiving and Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We’re putting together a package to encourage people to come spend your money in Manhattan. In order to help your shopping spree, we’re looking at subsidizing your taxi ride back to the hotel so you don’t have to carry all your bags with you back to the property.

Then there’s a fun technology that we’re going to be bringing in—we’ll be installing iPads in our lobby. Obviously we have a full-service front desk and concierge services, but the iPads are going to allow our guests to be able to pull up local places to eat and drink and shop, get directions to wherever it is they need to go; they can print their boarding passes; they can hop on OpenTable and make their dinner reservations; and then a fun aspect they have as well is they have a PhotoBooth app, so you and your family and friends can take really sort of fun pictures and have them uploaded to your Facebook or Twitter accounts. So we’re bringing in another interactive and fun aspect to the lobby; and again, that really ties in to everything that Kimpton is about, which is having fun, not taking yourself too seriously. You can enjoy a full service four-star hotel but it doesn’t have to be stuffy.

Room rates at Ink48 Hotel, A Kimpton Hotel start at $200 per night. As a special bonus just for Recommend readers, Ink48 will welcome your clients with a small complimentary amenity upon arrival. To take advantage of this offer, book directly at (877) 843-8869 and mention Recommend.

For more information, visit ink48.com.