BY MICAELA MACAGNONE | Guests arriving at Walker Hotel Greenwich Village are greeted by a facade featuring copper-clad bay windows, cast-stone trim and restoration antique-glass illuminated by gas lanterns reminiscent of the early days of Greenwich Village. The exterior of the hotel, on W. 13th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves., was inspired by the Georgian-revival towers found on New York’s famed Fifth Ave. of the 1920s.
Inside sits a parlor with a fireplace, Art Deco-inspired wall coverings, a display of original works by emerging local artists, plush couches and a library featuring New York-themed books mostly by authors who called Greenwich Village home.
The luxury boutique hotel’s 113 rooms boast private landscaped patios, balconies with views of the Empire State Building and deep-soaking marble bathtubs.
But don’t just judge Walker Hotel Greenwich Village by its cover. Its mission goes far beyond that. MarcAnthony Crimi, the hotel’s general manager, explained that every decision the hotel makes must serve local or global communities in some way.
For starters, on a local level, Walker Hotel Greenwich Village supports many nearby small businesses through partnerships. Just a few examples include the hotel’s work with University Floral Design to decorate public spaces in the hotel, The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music to provide live jazz entertainment to guests every week, and C.O. Bigelow for in-room bath amenities. The hotel also includes Society Cafe, a market-to-table American restaurant led by Executive Chef Manuel Gonzalez-Charles, who personally shops at the Union Square Greenmarket four days per week to create an ever-evolving American menu. In doing so, Society Cafe supports farmers from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Walker Hotel Greenwich Village will also be an active participant in Pride this month. To celebrate World Pride, Society Cafe is partnering with Simple Vodka, which donates proceeds from the cost of a bottle to hunger-relief organizations, and also God’s Love We Deliver, the Greenwich Village-based organization that cooks and delivers medically tailored meals to people in the metro area living with serious illnesses, including H.I.V./AIDS.
Society Cafe has created three Pride-themed Simple Vodka cocktails, half of the proceeds of which is being donated to God’s Love We Deliver. Crimi touted this dual partnership as working on both the production side and the consumer side: Simple Vodka works to end hunger across America, while the proceeds from the cocktails’ sales go to God’s Love We Deliver, which attempts to alleviate hunger for the seriously ill in New York City.
This year, the hotel also created a local partnership with Christopher Street Tours, a recently opened small business that provides tours of Greenwich Village focused on the L.G.B.T.Q. civil-rights movement in New York City. Among the tour’s stops are the Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park, the New York City AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle, and the L.G.B.T. Community Center.
Walker Hotel Greenwich Village also houses Tour & Talk, a walking tour “talk back” that features prominent activist educators, including Emmy-nominated filmmaker Cheryl Furjanic and Ken Kidd, an original member of Queer Nation and an active participant in the push to introduce the Equality Act in Congress.
Crimi emphasized that he wanted the hotel to do more than just host a party, which is what many New York City businesses do to support Pride. He sees these talk backs as an opportunity to educate. Crimi explained that, surrounding Pride, the hotel’s is striving to sincerely support the L.G.T.B.Q. community, rather than merely reap financial benefits from Pride.
In addition to supporting small businesses and organizations in the city, Walker also has a global reach. Coffee at the hotel is sourced from Coffee of Grace, an organization that trains Rwandan farmers — mostly women — how to cultivate the coffee bean, then buys the beans at above-market prices, and ships them privately back to New York City, to ensure the majority of the profits remain in the farmers’ village. Finally, the beans are roasted in Tribeca.
Walker Hotel Greenwich Village is also a member of the Clean the World Foundation, which addresses global health issues by using recycled and repurposed supplies from the hospitality industry. The housekeeping team at the Walker collects unused bath products left behind in guest rooms. The foundation separates the product from the plastic, and then recycles the product into new bar soap that is then distributed to emergency relief efforts around the globe.
Crimi wishes all hoteliers would use their ability to effect positive change in their communities and beyond.
“You do not need to be a big-box store with a huge budget in order to make a difference,” he stated.
Crimi acknowledges that hotels might not be the ultimate catalyst for “changing the world,” as he put it. But he firmly believes that if every hotel took small actions similar to those of Walker Hotel Greenwich Village, a measure of change could certainly be created.