Lotte New York Palace is considered one of New York City’s most romantic hotels, thanks to its rich history and timeless elegance. It’s no wonder that this landmark luxury hotel is the location of choice for the modern bride who wants her NYC wedding to be a beautifully lavish affair. Breathtaking spaces within the venue available for wedding ceremonies and receptions include the grand Villard Mansion, a stylish ballroom, along with a numerous selection of rooms and suites designed for intimate cocktail receptions and large-scale gatherings. From the first walkthrough to cutting the cake and seeing the newlyweds off as they depart for their honeymoon destination, the hotel’s specialized service teams take care of every detail to make sure a couple’s wedding experience is personal, flawless, and meets all expectations.
Rachel Wolff is the Senior Catering Sales Manager at Lotte New York Palace. Bride & Blossom has had the privilege of working with Lotte New York Palace Hotel. Watching Rachel and her team set the bar for luxury wedding planning is truly inspiring. Rachel took the time out of her busy schedule to speak with us about her start in the luxury hotel business, the Lotte New York Palace’s exceptional approach to weddings, catering and what she loves most about her job.
1. Can you tell us about your background? How did you get into wedding event catering? I am originally from South Florida. I went to the University of Central Florida to get my BA in Hospitality Management. As part of my coursework, I was required to have an internship, where I was lucky enough to intern at a luxury hotel. While interning I was able to experience every aspect of the hotel and found my love for wedding planning. Wedding planning allows me to see the beginning of an idea and watch it come to life.
2. I can only imagine how much responsibility you have as Senior Catering Sales Manager at Lotte New York Palace. Can you describe your job for us? We sell our event space for social events, corporate events, as well as non-profit events. After the selling process takes place, we plan and execute the events, offering a one-stop-shop for our clients. We are with them from Day One, from the initial inquiry, all the way to the end of their function. At Lotte New York Palace, we have a Catering team of six. It’s a great team, and I’m very proud of them. We also have fantastic Banquet, Culinary and Steward Teams that really “make it happen” and deliver on the day of the event.
3. Lotte New York Palace is a place where grand tradition meets modern sensibility. How do you see this as contributing to the Hotel’s evolution into one of the city’s premier wedding locations? What makes a couple’s wedding experience at Lotte New York Palace different from anywhere else? We are very lucky that we have iconic landmarked space (The Villard Mansion), within a modern and chic hotel venue. We recently went through a $150 million renovation. We make the wedding experience very personal. The catering managers are the ones on the initial contact, the walkthrough, signing the contract and tucking the bride and groom into bed the night of the wedding. We listen to what is truly important to each bride and groom and make their dreams come to reality.
4. Can you describe the event planning process and what goes into ensuring that your clients have the wedding of their dreams? We are happy to assist the couple with walkthroughs with vendors and share our expertise on what works best in the space.
5. The Hotel contains numerous beautifully designed spaces of different shapes and sizes for weddings. Can you tell us about the various event spaces available to couples? How do you help clients decide which space is best for them? We have three wedding venues at the hotel. All of our wedding packages are five hours long. The first wedding venue is the Apartment, which can accommodate 30 guests. The second is the historic Villard Mansion, which can accommodate up to 90 guests. The largest space we have is the Villard Ballroom, Reid Salon and Holmes Room, which can accommodate up to 220 guests.
6. Establishing the menu is a very important part of wedding catering, and esteemed executive Chef Jacque Sorci heads the team at Lotte New York Palace. How do his expertise and culinary vision translate into creating a menu that reflects the unique tastes and style of your clients? Our innovative and passionate culinary team is led by Executive Chef Jacques Sorci who is a member of Maitre Cuisiner de France – a designation bestowed only upon 19 chefs in New York and 65 chefs nationwide. The elite members of Maitre Cuisiner de France are selected through a strict review process that takes into account the chef’s restaurant experiences, technical expertise, business qualifications and cultural standing in the culinary community. Jacques’ team is extremely talented. If the couple has a favorite dish that is not listed on the menu, he can create it for the guests to enjoy on the night of the wedding. This adds a personal touch.
7. Have you noticed any luxury wedding trends in terms of décor, atmosphere, or cuisine recently? It’s nice to see a couple’s take on a traditional aspect of a wedding and transform it into a modern vision. With innovative technology, you can completely transform a room. With image mapping you can turn the ballroom into anything you dream. You can change the look from the ceremony to the reception to the dinner dance. Cuisine is a top priority for everyone getting married. We are lucky enough to have Jacques Sorci, a master chef, dedicated to our wedding menus that can tailor the menu to the couple’s favorite food. Whether it is adding a food truck in the courtyard or passing late night bites, food is one of the most important factors of the wedding.
8. Wedding catering requires meticulous planning from you and a lot of trust from the client. After all, you are the one making sure that every minute detail is perfectly in place once the big day arrives. Pressure aside, you must develop meaningful relationships with couples over time. What do you love most about your job? There is a trust that you gain after several site visits and appointments with the bride and her family. It’s a very sentimental decision that this family is making. They’re spending their own money and they really create that connection with you. The most rewarding part of my job is when you see the entire wedding through. These are once in a lifetime moments that you help make come to life.
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