Travel writer and mom-of-two Nubia DuVall Wilson chronicles her family's globetrotting adventures on Encounters with Nubia. She recently left the kids at home for a city staycation and learned a thing or two about sailing the Hudson River. Read on for her tips on where to stay (with or without the children) and how to pick up a maritime sport without leaving Manhattan.
Although I lived in Manhattan for ten years, it took leaving the city (I now live in South Orange, New Jersey) to treat myself to an authentic boating experience on the Hudson. Previously, I’ve tried Manhattan’s Circle Line tour cruises (cheesy, but fun when you’re a college kid) and taken ferries to Fire Island, but they lacked personalization and privacy. After choosing to book a stay at the New York Conrad for a quick weekend getaway this summer, it was a no-brainer to add on the opportunity to be on a private boat for two hours through their sailing program. Seeing the New York skyline and taking pictures without the crowds while sipping on wine was one of the most relaxing two hours I have ever had since becoming a mom. Although it was just the hubby with me, I knew that next time I wanted to bring our kids, so that they could experience sailing, and even learn how to navigate a boat.
When families think about where to learn how to sail, Manhattan may not be top of mind as a viable option, but it can be! Through a partnership with the Offshore Sailing School, Conrad guests have the opportunity to take the wheel of the Colgate 26 boat with Olympian and America’s Cup Competitor Steve Colgate. As you depart from the North Cove Marina, adjacent to Battery Park and just steps from the hotel, you immediately soak in a new perspective of Manhattan in your private vessel. Onlookers in crowded ferries will definitely have boat envy. From beginners to experts, Colgate engages each family member through the basics of steering the boat along the Hudson River. Here’s what to know before you go:
- You’ll be on the boat for a minimum of three hours, maximum of five (depending on which option you prefer), so bring your sunscreen!
- Students learn basic techniques like using a windlass when bringing up the anchor, steering the boat and adjusting the sails to use the wind.
- If you’re not all sailors at heart, that's okay. Some members can have all the fun playing Captain Jack while others relax and enjoy the scenery.
- Once you’ve got your sea legs, capture amazing close-up photos of popular sites like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Freedom Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Staying at the Conrad New York
It may be a surprise to some that the Conrad is actually a great option for families. The hotel was previously an Embassy Suites, which means all rooms are suite-level, starting at 430-square-feet. For parents who want to stay in the same room with their little ones, they can set them up in the separate living room with a sleeper sofa. Want extra privacy? No problem as there are sliding doors that create barriers between the living room, bathroom area and master bedroom. The double-sided closets and extra-wide dressers create more storage space for guests. Larger families can opt to stay in connecting suites, so that their kids have their own room, and cribs and high chairs are available for families with babies. The on-site restaurant and wine bar, ATRIO, is sophisticated yet approachable, with a children’s menu at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hotel’s proximity to the World Trade Center offers easy access to the memorial sites and museum, Mario Batali’s famous Eataly food hall, Hudson Eats and the new futuristic Westfield World Trade Center, Mall where you’ll find a wide range of retailers in over half a million square feet underground.
Editor's Note: My family rode out the post-Sandy blackout a few years ago when the hurricane flooded our neighborhood and knocked out our heat and electricity for a week. I'll always have a sweet spot for it given how wonderful the staff treated us as well as the other downtowners who moved in and planned playdates in the lobby. There's also a Shake Shack and a movie theater in the same building, so even if you're not stuck here, you might want to be. - Henley