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Sleep concierges for city that sometimes rests.

Byline: Alison Gregor

Although you'd think "the city that never sleeps" would be full disclosure, New York City hotels are offering, as one of their newest amenities, sleep concierges.

At the Benjamin at 125 East 50th Street, the "sleep concierge" offers, among other things, 12 different types of pillows to guests including an upper body pillow, hypo-allergenic pillow, Snore-No-More pillow, water-filled pillow, magnetic therapy pillow and a Swedish memory pillow.

The building -- which has 209 rooms and charges between $400 and $600 a night depending on the season -- even has a menu that includes all the pillows with pictures and an explanation of the benefits each pillow offers. It also has other amenities to help guests get a better night's sleep, like a unique room service that has special dishes such as banana bread with peanut butter or warm milk and chocolate chip cookies. Meanwhile, at the AKA extended-stay chain, there are "sleep seminars" initiated by Larry Korman, the co-president of Philadelphia-based Korman Communities, which owns the AKA properties. He hatched the idea after his own battle with insomnia.

The theory is that a few nights of missed sleep at a conventional hotel may be negligible, but when you're staying for a month or two, good sleep patterns are critical. The firm currently has four Manhattan properties -- AKA Central Park, AKA Times Square, AKA Sutton Place and AKA United Nations -- with a combined 410 rooms.

These types of amenities may become the norm in a city where hoteliers are pulling out all the stops to capture customers. Over the previous year's quarter, the average daily room rate grew only 8.6 percent to $262.29 in the first quarter of 2008, a slowdown from the growth of 14.2 percent from 2005 to 2006.

AKA's sleep seminars are being conducted by doctors from NYU's School of Medicine Sleep Disorders Center and from the New York Sleep Institute. Those in attendance at last month's seminar, about 15 people, watched attentively, sipping green tea (coffee is a no-no).

The doctors on hand gave tips on sleeping, and they've walked through two of the chain's properties -- where rates range from $255 to $345 a night for a 30-day stay -- making suggestions about how to tailor rooms to prevent insomnia.

"Some people who have trouble going to sleep at night, you want them to be in a room that has no street light outside, that's not noisy, but very dark at night, with blackout draperies," Sharon Telesca Feurer, the vice president of marketing for AKA, said. "Other people have trouble getting up in the morning, so you want them to have an eastern exposure, supplemented by having a light box." She said the buildings have ear plugs, sleep masks, aromatherapy treatments and herbal teas avilable to help make sleep easier.

Besides the light boxes to help ease the pain of jet lag and other sleep disorders, AKA provides white-noise machines. The chain also stocks sleep CDs (one with classical music, the other with New Age tunes) and alarm clocks that simulate a natural sunrise with gradually increasing light instead of a jarring bell alarm.

The sleep concierge at the Benjamin, Anya Orlanska, said sometimes guests ask for medication. "But," she said, "we're not allowed to provide guests with any type of medication."
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Title Annotation:New York
Author:Gregor, Alison
Publication:The Real Deal
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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