Unlike with other major awards, VIP attendees of the Met Gala usually are congregated between one of two hotels on New York’s Upper East Side — The Mark and The Carlyle — to call home base the day of the big event. Both hotels, across Madison Avenue from each other at 77th Street, are in close proximity to the Metropolitan Museum and both have earned reputations over the years for their now pro handling of the craze that surrounds anything Met Gale related. Much like at the actual museum, fans stalk outside the hotels early in the morning on the first Monday in May, hoping to catch a glimpse of celebrities done up in their Costume Institute best. There are police, a never-ending stream of large vans to escort all those big outfits, and there are plenty of paparazzi.
For starters, the hotel begins preparing a full year in advance.
“Once one Met Gala finishes, we start preparing for the next Met Gala,” says Tony Mosca, the hotel’s manager. “What we can do differently, what things have worked, what things need to be improved upon. We start from blocking rooms to reviewing menus, what sold, what didn’t sell, arrival and departure experiences for those that are attending the Met, leaving the hotel. Really the team gets started immediately because we really don’t want to forget what we’ve just done and what we’ve just created, and we want to take that energy and that information to continue to evolve and really prepare for the next Met Gala.”
The hotel is filled entirely with Met Gala guests on the day (so there goes any hope of booking a room to bear witness to it all), and the hotel works with each fashion house that reserves blocks on the custom items stocked in their guests’ rooms. Finding the right room for each guest is the first step.
“Depending on what they’re looking to do because quite often they are bringing photographers and so forth in to capture the day and preparing and getting ready for that. So it starts with making sure we have the right room selected for the guest,” Mosca says. “Then it’s everything from the small touches of the pillowcases to the amenities that we place into the guest rooms, to the red carpet that goes out the morning of the Met Gala. We also coordinate all the escorts for each person that is attending the Met Gala, so we liaise with their teams to see what time they are departing the hotel, what time their car will be here, to ensure that they’re expedited out of the hotel easily and efficiently so they can really enjoy their experience and maximize their time at the Met.”
One month out, The Carlyle’s linen attendant of 25 years, Yveta Chancy, and her team begin working on the custom pillowcases for each guest.
“We begin this process early as there are several steps involved in getting The Carlyle’s signature monogrammed pillowcases just right — we must set the machine with the custom letters and our traditional golden thread, embroider the monogram, iron to perfection and finally organize as per room allocation,” Chancy says.
“It is very important as it makes our guests feel special. In the past, some guests loved the pillowcase so much that they started to cry when they walked in the room. I think they are impressed by the thoughtful nature behind the gesture,” she continues. “We believe that our VIPs on the day of Met Gala feel the same as they prepare for their special night ahead.”
As for room service, it’s also a big day for the hotel; in fact, last year’s Met Gala day holds the record for the hotel’s busiest room service day ever, with more than 800 orders. Iliana Nieto, the in-room dining manager, recalls the most popular items were the Carlyle burger and the Lola Rose salad — with fries being the number one side order, of course.
“It’s such an exciting day for all of our associates,” Mosca says of the Carlyle staff, many of whom have seen countless Mets come and go. “They really look forward to and want to participate in showcasing the gala as really a cultural entertainment destination that has the style, the elegance, the sophistication, and every guest that’s staying here and that they’re departing for the Met really embodies that.”
Despite the workload, Mosca looks forward to the excitement of it all.
“I think it’s really that excitement of when individuals are leaving the hotel and coming onto the red carpet and, really, that frenzy and that energy that’s created from the photography to the fans that are out there wanting to take a glimpse of their favorite celebrity to, really, every outfit is quite unique and every Met Gala is very unique. I really try to take it all in,” Mosca says. “It’s really that excitement on the red carpet when people are leaving because every celebrity that’s leaving every fashion house has put so much time, effort, and energy into creating such an incredible event. It’s basically the Oscars of New York.”