The Heldrich Hotel - New Brunswick, NJ
New Brunswick is not an ultra popular business travel destination. However, the city is the home of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. It also attracts visiting business and academic travelers destined for Rutgers (not University, but "The State University of New Jersey”) and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical facility (UMDMJ). It is also home to a state-of-the-art electronic courtroom in the local courthouse which hosts high profile trials (it was the scene of the first Fen-Phen trial in the country).
Recently I had the opportunity to host two back-to-back weeks of business-related meetings which allowed me to really test the metal of this hotel from a business traveler’s point of view. The service was consistently friendly and helpful, the prices were right, and the diverse options for food and drink were right on target.
The basic rooms at the Heldrich are average in size. On my last stay, I opted for a one-bedroom suite so as to have a private area to meet with colleagues. This room was one of the best suites I've stayed in, bar none. The space allowed for two separate entrances from the hallway, one to the suite, and one to my bedroom. I had the ability to seal off the suite-area from my bedroom for my complete privacy allowing others unfettered access to our work area.
Actually, the suite was more like a conference room in someone’s living room. And I mean that in a good way. It included a full eight-person conference table, couches, chairs, flat screen television, a full bathroom, and a kitchen area with a sink and fridge. The space was situated as a corner room so the wrap-around windows also allowed a spectacular view of the Rutgers campus with the cherry blossoms in full bloom. It was spectacular.
One of my colleagues stayed in a “Corner King” room and described it as similar to my suite, but containing bedroom furnishings instead of a conference table. Same wrap around window views with the same square footage. They were very satisfied with the space and the price was right (about $200 per night). My one-bedroom suite cost about $320, a terrific deal for separate sleeping accommodations and a very comfortable meeting space, all in one.
The gym at the Heldrich is small, but the equipment is modern and the space features water and towels. It is a bit hard to find, so don’t mind asking the ladies at the spa directly across from the elevator on the same floor. The gym and pool are in the same area, with the pool being a bit small, but still adequate for swimming laps. Other options for exercise include taking a run on the Rutgers campus. It is a beautiful campus and the concierge can give you good directions from the hotel.
The spa at the Heldrich is convenient for business travelers since often you might not have time for a manicure or pedicure before you jump on the airplane. I enjoyed a massage during my last stay. The spa is modest in size with just a few treatment rooms, only about eight lockers. There is a sauna though, and prices are appropriate for the services and space. There are treatments available as late as six and seven p.m.
On site is the hotel’s restaurant, “Christopher’s”. It has a very decent bar menu for snacks. It also has a nice selection of wines and Belgian beers on tap. Christopher’s is a restaurant that although attached to a hotel, many non-guests dine there. The advantage is that breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. In fact, Christopher’s offers a lovely lunch buffet with healthy selections that won’t make you feel too uncomfortable in the afternoon from overeating. For variety, right next door you will find Daryl Wine Bar and Restaurant with its Enomatic Wine Serving System and terrific small plates.
For your convenience, there is a Rite Aid close by for things you forgot on the trip. There is also a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street for those of you who prefer Dunkies coffee to Starbucks. The Heldrich also provides terrific amenities like a dental kit (toothbrush and toothpaste), a grooming kit (including cotton swabs), shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion, etc. You will never be short on cotton swabs and toothpaste in this hotel. That’s my female moment for this article. I’m done now.
Yet I can’t end this without saying that although not an overwhelmingly popular destination, New Brunswick sees its fair share of travelers and visitors with diverse needs and interests…and the city, and this hotel, have learned to serve them all well.
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