armchair traveler diaries Armchair Traveler Diaries: Susanne Hatje’s Dispatch from New York City

Armchair Traveler Diaries: Susanne Hatje’s Dispatch from New York City

The general manager of the Mandarin Oriental, New York, the hotel group’s flagship property in the Americas, is grateful for Central Park walks and her city’s resilience.

What is life like for you right now?
Mandarin Oriental, New York has taken the difficult decision to temporarily close, with an expected reopening on June 1, 2020. Even though this may seem overwhelming, the city still has a resilient spirit and a sense of camaraderie that inspires me daily. 
 
Where are you working these days?
I’m still working from the hotel every day. Though things look different operationally, there are still key components that need daily care on property. I’m grateful for my team, and their commitment not only to keeping the status-quo but how they are rallying and planning for what’s next. 
 
What’s your typical day like now?
I’m very fortunate to start my day with a walk to work across Central Park. It’s a wonderful moment of Zen to bookend the day. As in pre-Covid-19 times, we still start each workday with a team morning meeting – virtual or in person. The main difference is that there are now a lot of Zoom calls with social-distanced colleagues and partners!
 
What do you do to stay sane?
For me there is sanity in routine: the daily walk across the park, keeping up scheduled meetings, and focusing on getting things done. But most important for my peace of mind is staying connected with family and friends. Speaking daily with loved ones is a true lifeline.
 
What are you watching, reading, listening to?
Pre-Covid-19, one of my greatest pleasures was going to the theater: movies, Broadway, concerts, dance recitals … everything!  Now, every Sunday I have a “movie date” with a friend who lives in San Francisco. We pick a film that neither of us have seen and watch “together” virtually. The one perk of home viewing is that we don’t get in trouble for talking too much!
 
What travel plans have you put on hold for the pandemic?
I was to travel to Hamburg to visit family and friends for a gathering in May. Unfortunately, that had to be postponed. But rather than being discouraged, I am comforted by a German phrase that is rather fitting: Aufgeschoben ist nicht aufgehoben! It translates to, “All is not lost that is delayed.”
 
Where do you want to go when travel is possible again?
To Hamburg to visit with family and friends. Even if we are to travel differently than before, it’s important to reconnect to people and places in person. 

The Mandarin Oriental, New York’s sky-high Lobby Lounge. 
The Mandarin Oriental, New York’s sky-high Lobby Lounge. 
The part of your hotel you most like to show travelers.
Why the view, of course! Our sweeping view of Columbus Circle and Central Park off our lobby is one of the most memorable aspects of a visit to Mandarin Oriental, New York. Guests are perched high above the city bustle, able to take in the juxtaposition of the tall city buildings against the park’s natural beauty.
 
A favorite travel memory that’s top of mind right now?
My home away from home is Hawaii. Thinking about being on the water, waiting for a wave seems quite ideal. And nothing beats watching a Hawaiian sunset over a cocktail with friends.
 
Your best feel-good moment since all this started?
I spoke before about the impressive resilience throughout the city. The commitment to unite and help however one can is admirable and encourages like-minded actions. I’ve been especially humbled and appreciative of the efforts made by my colleagues to connect and check in with me. Many have had to travel great distances to care for loved ones, yet they still reach out regularly to ask how I’m doing, and if they can help. I consider myself very lucky.

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