Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Unexpected Discovery In The Heart Of New Haven

Omni New Haven Hotel At YaleCompared to the surrounding architecture, the Omni New Haven Hotel At Yale, built in 1966, is easy enough to pass up at a glance. But as the tallest hotel in New Haven, Connecticut, the view from the inside will change your mind.

Depending upon the room, it offers some sweeping views of the city, including the New Haven Green, which is 16-acre privately owned park and recreation area located downtown. Other rooms provide a distant view of the Long Island Sound. Both can be seen from the John Davenport Restaurant and Bar19, which are located on the 19th floor.

The views aren't the only attraction. While some guests might consider the Omni New Haven Hotel one step removed from other Omni historic and luxurious hotels, the effort to maintain the tradition that started with the Dunfey family remains. Rooms are appointed with hunter accents, dark woods, and European influences. Omni acquired it in 1998.

An exclusive history and dubious distinction before 1998.

The Omni New Haven Hotel isn't old enough to be considered historic, but it immediately earned distinction as the most exclusive hotel in New Haven in 1966. Originally called the Park Plaza Hotel, it was the first new hotel to be built in New Haven for 50 years and represented $21 million of a $250 million downtown redevelopment effort.

New HavenAlthough the opening of the hotel did have some unforeseen consequences, including the closure of the historic Taft Hotel (once visited by President Woodrow Wilson), it lived up to its expectations. As the Sheraton Park Plaza Hotel, it frequently attracted celebrities, elected officials, astronauts, and was recognized as a hub of activity.

All that seemed to change beginning in 1980. One year after an electrical fire, the Sheraton Park Plaza became unexpectedly linked to an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. Although not mentioned in the latest book on the incident, Rawhide Down, the hotel was visited by both would-be assassins.

The link was established eight days after the Reagan assassination attempt when a second would-be assailant left three .32 caliber cartridges and two letters behind in one of the hotel rooms. He was arrested the same day. The connection eventually faded, and so did frequent news stories about the property until it closed sometime around 1993.

Location makes the Omni New Haven an outstanding choice.

The location is one of the greatest assets of the Omni New Haven Hotel. Not only is Yale University a short walk away, but the historic new Haven Green, originally a marketplace in 1638, is now home to many of the city's festivals and events. It is steeped in history and bordered by many historic buildings and a richly defined cultural center that helped transform the city since late 1990s.

Omni New Haven RoomsThe Omni New Haven Hotel was part of the original transformation. Omni purchased the landmark in 1998, after it had been closed for about five years. The initial renovation was $30 million, with the state contributing $10 million. It is only one of two hotels that can be considered at the very heart of the historic city.

Most area attractions are within easy walking distance, including the Shubert Performing Arts Center, Yale University Art Gallery, and the shops on Chapel Street. There are also several popular pubs and restaurants within a few blocks. Sometimes this creates a loud and lively atmosphere when returning from a full day of exploration. Expect and embrace it.

The Omni New Haven Hotel Books In At 6.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

The Omni New Haven Hotel is also home to the JoBella Salon and Spa. While in New Haven, you might like to set time aside to visit one of two popular pizza shops. I've visited both: The Original Frank Pepe (est. 1925) and Modern Apizza. The latter was recently named best pizza in America, which might even make it worthwhile for a future review.

Two more quick tips before booking a room at the Omni New Haven Hotel: Anticipate having to pay for parking (like most metro hotels), and know that the corner rooms are well worth the additional space for the additional price. Rates vary, with better prices in the summer and as much as $60 off per night when booking months ahead.

For additional savings, Omni New Haven was listed for less than $100 per night as a special offer, you can visit Fare Buzz for discounted vacation packages. Just search for New Haven, Connecticut, on either site.
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