Barclay Intercontinental Stirs Up Unparalleled Rooftop Buzz
One afternoon this past April, I met up with Craig Markham, the only slightly flustered PR guru for Firmdale Hotels, who was dealing with a seemingly unimaginable problem: one of the chickens that the Crosby Street Hotel keeps on the roof (how else will guests always be availed of the freshest eggs for breakfast?) had escaped and leapt onto a neighbors balcony. It turned out just fine—but the incident did fit into the new narrative of hotel and restaurant rooftop farming.
Just this week I found myself privy to the “unveiling” of a whole other sort of hotel rooftop menagerie, at New York’s legendary Barclay Intercontinental. Due for a glamorous makeover next year but, like The Carlyle, still carrying its Jazz Age style quite handsomely, the Barclay is actually one of the city’s most ecologically forward hotels. Now, most are unaware, but cultivating and regenerating the precipitously declining bee population is one of the most crucial factors in maintaining our overall Earthly ecological balance; nowhere is this more exigent than in this city of concrete and exhaust fog. And so it was that I watched as a bevy of rather stylishly clad bee professionals (prediction: beekeeper chic will soon find its way to the runways) literally unloaded 100,000 bees and carefully marched them through the Barclay’s freight entrance, and on up to the roof–where the hotel has also undertaken a full scale gardening project.
The hotel’s PR Director, Barbara Bahny, explained, “We’ll raise the bees and the intention will be for them to fly around New York and procreate.”
The infectiously enthusiastic Liane of NYC Beekeeping (last name intentionally withheld to protect the quiet dignity of the profession) revealed of her chosen vocation that, “It’s a highly deductive and analytical activity. We’re trying to work with their nature.” This decisively explains Sherlock Holmes enthusiastic dalliance with beekeeping.
And no slackers they, the bees, like most new arrivals to NYC, are eager to generate some serious buzz. “We know how they behave in relation to certain pheromones,” Liane continued. “They really want to get out there, because they’re foragers.”
Ultimately, the goal of the Barclay is to act as a sort of galvanizing force, inspiring other hotels to undertake such progressively minded yet simple, uncomplicated eco projects. Though, in all honesty, we’re guessing it will be awhile before the Apis Mellifera usurp the Socialitus Intoxicatus as the dominant hotel rooftop species. And for the record, should you be in search of a whole different sort of buzz, the Barclay Bar’s Decades series, which focuses on a different decade’s music and cocktails each night of the week (Mondays it’s the 20’s and 30’s with Sidecars and French 75s, Fridays are 80’s and 90’s with Tequila Sunrises and Cosmos), has already been a big hit.