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Advice please New York in February School Trip

Advice please New York in February School Trip

Dec 14th, 2007, 10:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 5
Advice please New York in February School Trip

I have booked a 5 day New York City trip with EF tours for 36 seventeen year olds next February.I have just been told that our hotel is the Holiday Inn Hasbrouck Heights in New Jersey, which seems a bit far from the New York tourist sites. The itinerary said that we would go on a walking tour from the airport and not reach the hotel until the evening after visiting the Empire State Building. But as the trip is booked for February I have emailed my tour manager and told her we will have to go to the hotel to leave luggage there before the walking tour and hopefully have an hour to freshen up first. Would be grateful for any advice that anyone has. I have 36 enthusiastic sixth form students from England who have saved hard for this trip and four teachers in addition to myself so any advice would be welcomed.
zenotia is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 10:11 AM
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I would do whatever you can do change that hotel.

February is VERY cheap in NYC - and - esp given the pitiful state of the dollar versus the pound - they should be able to find lots of reasonable places to stay in Manhattan. Esp at that time of year you don;t want to be trekking back and forth to the city - since bad weather can make the commute (close to an hour at rush hour) even much longer. And Feb is our worst month for substantial snow/sleet/ice storms.

If you have prepaid you may be stuck - but really, this is NOT at all a reasonable place to stay for touring New York. Have they broken down your costs in any way so you know what you're paying for the hotel portion? I wold even go for a hostel versus a hotel in Hasbrouck Heights.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 10:25 AM
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Totally agree with nytraveler. We've gotten some really good rates on hotels in the city during Feb and Mar and you really have trek from your current location. And you want to minimize your travel time especially if the weather in inclement.
dfr4848 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 10:37 AM
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Booking through EF tours may limit your options, but this is not a good hotel location at all. Too much time would be wasted to go from airport, to hotel to 'freshen up', and then to city. They are trying to cram as much in as they can in the given time with the given arrangement.

The best you can hope for is that EF tours may have alternative accommodations, but odds are there would be an upgrade price. Even with lower prices that time of year in NYC, I'm sure the holiday Inn they booked in Hasbrouck Heights is still much cheaper than the cheapest NYC option.
MFNYC is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 10:59 AM
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Get that hotel changed ASAP!!

You 15 miles outside the city - with the need to cross a major commuting artery in the middle of winter. If we have one of those bad storms, you WILL be stuck in NJ.

I would go back to the tour manager and get this cleared up.

If NJ is your only option, at least aim for one of the hotels in the Newport section of Jersey City. Not a great option - relative to Manahattan - but at least it's a 10 minute trip into NYC. Do they really suggest you take 36 kids on NJ Transit buses at rush hour?

If you cannot change the hotel, make sure you understand EXACTLY how you will get into and out of the city everyday.
Ryan is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 11:07 AM
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Jeez, that sounds like a potential nightmare. Do whatever it takes to change the hotel, as everyone has suggested.
TwoFatFeet is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 11:10 AM
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I'm guessing EF TOurs will bus the group to and from the hotel. It's unlikely they would use public transportation. My D took a student EF Tour trip to Mexico, and the EF Tour bus and reps escorted them everywhere.
MFNYC is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 05:51 PM
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Yes - but having a tour bus won;t reduce the amount of traffic or clear the snow off blocked roads.

If you're in Manhattan you can still see/do a lot even if the weather is bad (subways are underground and it takes a LOT of snow to stop city buses). But from the suburbs - it can take hours into the city in bad weather.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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My guess is that you are not walking from the airport - LOL - I bet they're expecting that you will leave your stuff on the bus. They probably want to embark on the tour right from the airport to avoid traffic going to the hotel and back.

My advice (aside from change the hotel!) is to try to make sure the kids have WARM jackets, hats and mittens. NYC is nasty when it's cold. The wind whips down the buildings and it goes right through you. So really, I can't stress enough, make sure the kids are warm.
wliwl is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 09:14 PM
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It may be too late to change hotels if EF Tours had a prepaid rate for your group. Even though rates for February in NYC are low, they would still be $50 or more higher than the Holiday Inns in New Jersey.

HOWEVER, rates in February at the Holiday Inn Fort Lee/George Washington Bridge are about $50/night less than Hasbrouck Heights, and it's a bit closer to the city. We have stayed at the Holiday Inn GWB many times. It truly is a 20 minute drive to/from Midtown, even with traffic. And, it's a very nice hotel. Rooms are huge, have refrigerators and microwaves. And, the restaurant within has excellent food at low prices. The (very nice) breakfast buffet is a steal for $8.95. Most dinners are $10 (terrific offerings). Although, from either, the GW Bridge is likely the route, and the truck lanes are always much slower than the car lanes.

On arrival day, going to the hotel to drop the bags and freshen up would consume a lot of time. And, as someone else mentioned, you'll probably all be on a tour bus with storage for the bags. I doubt 17-year olds will care about freshening up.

Of course, it would be nicer and more convenient to stay in the city, but I'm guessing this is a budget trip, so I wouldn't obsess over the location of the hotel. It's not THAT far.

wliwl gives excellent advice. Windproof/waterproof outerwear is essential, along with hats, scarves, gloves and warm footwear.
djkbooks is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 09:26 PM
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The kids will do far better with this schedule than the accompanying adults.

While this hotel is a bit farther out than I would prefer to stay, my kids have both taken EF Tours and this isnot unusual for hotels - to save money they are usually not in city center.

Remind kids to put things for 1st 24 hours and flight in a carry-on/back pack.
gail is online now  
Dec 15th, 2007, 04:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I clicked on your name and see that you had posted about this trip back in 2006. You were given some "be cautious" answers to your questions about that tour company at that time.

That being said...You must be a "Saint" to tour with 36 seventeen year olds!! Those kids will have a great time!

Yes the hotel is not convenient to the CITY, and you will probably spend more time on the BUS than you would like....but you will have soooo much to see and do that it will still be a wonderful experience.

I would make SURE that the BUS is made AVAILABLE to be used as a REST AREA when in NYC! Having to truck 36 teenagers around NYC in February will be daunting! That is where having a Hotel in the NYC proper would have been the better option!
bmw732002 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2007, 04:50 AM
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Having worked in the student travel business for many years, I doubt that you will be able to make any hotel changes at this time. Your tour leader may be able to make small accommodations from day to day, but I would accept the hotel booking and make the best of it. These arrangements are pre-booked and blocked out many months in advance, and EF does not have the greatest influence in the business.

And, yes, it is possible that you will be taking public transportation over from New Jersey. (I can tell you many exciting stories about groups of 35-45 Japanese, Dutch, Mexican, and French students travelling with me all over New York on the subways late at night!)
Dec 15th, 2007, 10:21 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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There is no way the bus could be used as a "rest area" in NYC. There is practically no street parking available in tourist areas - certainly none for a bus.

(When there's a parade all of the buses bringing in groups have to drop them at the start site and then drive miles uptown to find places set aside for them to park by the police department - then return to pick up at the end of the route when the parade ends.)
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 15th, 2007, 10:23 AM
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Also - you need to clarify how you will be transported into the city. If they aren't providing a bus both ways every day, then you need to contact the hotel about public transit - where to find it, how you will get to it, how often/when it runs and what it will cost.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 15th, 2007, 07:22 PM
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I chaperoned a high school trip bus trip to NYC that stayed in a New Jersey hotel not far from yours. The kids did NOT have a NY experience, spending much time on the bus going to and from the city. I do not think any of the rides into the city was under an hour and a half, most spent in traffic going to the tunnels. The kids were not happy! The busses would drop us off in the city and go to wherever busses go and pick us up for the trip back at the appointed time. The hotel was out in "nowhere" and there was nothing for the kids to do when we would return. The touring agency said that they use NJ hotels because of the isolation so the kids can't "escape" into the city and get into trouble. That is a pretty poor reason for a well chaperoned group.

With the expense of the trip and distance you are travelling, you deserve better than that.
basingstoke2 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2007, 08:43 PM
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I'd suggest looking into booking your own hotel or ask the tour company to rebook for you.

I agree staying that far out of the city will be no fun for the kids and in February the weather will be cold and snowy/icey/windy, so yes you will probably get stuck in alot of traffic back and forth.

There are hotels that do cater to tour groups and your tour company should know that.
travelbuff2 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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Thanks everyone, your advice has been very helpful I will phone the ef tour manager tomorrow and try to get the hotel changed (they only booked it last week so it may be possible)failing that I will need guarantees from them that they can provide transport into the city as the nearest bus stop is 15 minutes away according to the hotel. They have not yet received all our money so there might be some leverage. Either way I need to be able to prepare students and staff for what is ahead. My students are so excited I don't want to let them down. Thanks again for all your advice. Regards Zenotia
zenotia is offline  
Dec 16th, 2007, 10:36 AM
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Is that 15 minutes by foot - or 15 minutes by car?

And they won;t want to be trekking 15 minutes in 6 inches of snow when the temps are in the 20s.

Also be sure kids have good waterproofed shoes or boots that will stand at least a couple of inches of snow/slush - as well as warm coat, scarf, hat, gloves etc.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 16th, 2007, 11:16 AM
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Thanks according to the hotel it's 15 minutes brisk walking. They run a free shuttlebus for 5 miles radius of the hotel but that is not available to groups. I found this out because I emailed them to ask if their bus was big enough to take our group. I really hope ef tours provide a coach into and out of the city if they won't change the hotel. It's my first time as an organiser up till now I've only done day trips to conventions and museums. Regards Zenotia
zenotia is offline  

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