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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | September 22, 2010

When the 607-room InterContinental Times Square opened its doors on July 12, it caused quite a media buzz. It is, after all, a hotel of significant firsts. Not only is it the largest hotel in New York City to achieve green certification from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, it is the Big Apple’s first new-build hotel since 2002.

   However, the Hotel Insider was interested in other firsts, such as: Who was the first meeting planner through the doors, who was first to test the meeting prowess of this new luxury product, and what did they think of the property? Well, we tracked her down in Phoenix, and she was excited to dish on her experience at Gotham’s newest hotel style icon.

   “I was definitely flying blind,” says Nicole Shoots, event coordinator for software marketing company Infusionsoft, of her event held less than two weeks after the InterContinental Times Square’s official opening. A stop on the company’s year-long, multicity road show billed as the Revolution Tour, the one-day regional training event drew 115 clients to the hotel’s spanking new 4,000-square-foot ballroom for classes followed by a networking cocktail hour.

    No stranger to Times Square, Shoots says she went with the newcomer over the area’s longtime anchor, the Marriott Marquis, because she had been wowed months earlier at Infusionsoft’s two-day annual convention, which was held at InterContinental’s Montelucia Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley, Ariz. “They did an amazing job on our convention,” she says. “And even though I never got to do a site inspection of the New York property, they had a website up that showed renderings of the hotel and presented data, and I just thought it was the place for us to be.”

   Upon arriving for her precon, Shoots was met by a welcome line of employees, whom she says seemed so relaxed and professional upon greeting her, “you would have thought they had been working there for years.” A walk-through the ballroom  was another eye-opener. “It definitely did not look or feel like a standard ballroom. There is so much built-in, high-end detail, you would never have to add any additional décor for an event.”

   Next came a meeting with the executive chef to shore up luncheon details, which had been hammered out beforehand. “He was very funny,” recalls Shoots. “The first thing he said was, ‘Please don’t ask me to do a box lunch. It’s just not something this hotel wants to ever do.’ So instead he came up with ‘le sandweech,’ a bunch of really amazing specialty sandwiches, which he served with this gorgeous mushroom-artichoke salad. Do you like artichokes? It was to die for.”

   Infusionsoft's Revolution Tour wraps up in Phoenix in early December, and its New York City stop, says Shoots, was a huge success all around, despite several cacophonous fire-alarm drills, as the new InterContinental’s system was still being tested by the city’s fire department. She already is looking forward to a return visit. “It’s totally different from anything you expect to find in Times Square,” she says, not to mention another highlight for this “first-in” client: “They gave me a great deal on meeting space and food and beverage.”

Click here to view a slideshow of the hotel.