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The Peninsula Concierge Foils Hurricane Irene’s Attempt to Destroy One Couple’s Wedding

Posted by on Aug 24, 2012 |

Imagine planning the perfect late August wedding in New York City. Imagine having sixty of your best friends and family members gathered from all over the country at one of the city’s most luxurious hotels.

Hurricanes in NYC? In late-August? Yes, indeed…

Imagine everything going perfectly well … until … well … a once-in-a-blue-moon hurricane puts this most delicious destination in its crosshairs.

If you were staying at New York’s Peninsula Hotel at Fifth Avenue and 55th Street and this happened to you, I guarantee you would still have a perfect wedding.
Peninsula Hotel New York


The Peninsula Concierge goes above and beyond … for real

The concierge at this hotel takes no prisoners when it comes to providing outstanding guest services. But what do you do when Mother Nature takes a whack at your year-long, excruciatingly detailed plans at another venue on the most important day of your life?

Panic? Hyperventilate?

Uh uh. Fear not. Frederic Bigler, Chef Concierge of the Peninsula, is standing by.

That’s right. This happened to a lovely young bride when Hurricane Irene blasted into town the weekend of August 26th, 2011. The bride had a magnificent wedding reception all planned out for the romantically rustic Boathouse, a gem of a location buried deep in Central Park.

The venue is perfect, even with a little rain, but the forecasted torrential downpours, gale force winds, falling trees and widespread flooding spurred Mayor Bloomberg to officially close Central Park at the same time the bride was dressing for her late afternoon ceremony.

No more Boathouse. No more reception. No more perfect day.

Ever aware of each guest’s raison d’être, Mr. Bigler said, “The hardest thing was having to tell the bride the bad news. But she took it in stride. We told her we’d have a great alternative all worked out.”

What he didn’t tell her was that every other hotel, restaurant, catering shop, boutique, etc. was short-staffed, closed or closing because of mandatory evacuations, closed bridges and tunnels, cancelled trains and halted subways. Transportation ground to a halt. If you couldn’t walk, you weren’t going anywhere.

The frantic search for a solution

In the span of two hours, Mr. Bigler frantically called every nearby restaurant to arrange an alternative wedding celebration for a party of 60. He brilliantly succeeded when Bice at 7 E 54th Street agreed to welcome the entire group for an extraordinary night of festivities. The frenetic organization didn’t end there, however. Mr. Bigler begged, borrowed and stole spare bodies from any location that answered a phone to transfer the bride’s event set-up to the restaurant. In fact, the catering manager from the Peninsula Hotel (100% unrelated to the Central Park Boathouse) ended up serving the wedding party.

Mr. Bigler and the concierges on duty helped escort the guests from the hotel where the ceremony was held to the restaurant, and managed to rustle up a fancy ride for the bride and groom. The newlyweds had a blast, their guests ended up with a great story to re-tell and re-live at every future reunion and the General Manager received a glowing letter from the bride and groom thanking him and his staff for stylishly salvaging the most important day of their lives.

Success after a very long day

Late that night, Mr. Bigler fought 60mph winds to walk home to his apartment at 55th Street and 1st Avenue under a useless, inside-out umbrella. Just another polished paragon of great and selfless service? Hmm. I wish you the good fortune of finding similar dedication on adventures when Mother Nature decides to kick up her heels.