Chicago Sun-Times
With Lori Rackl

Real Housewives of NYC: Simon and Hotel Chandler

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Ever since I started watching the "Real Housewives of New York City," an extremely guilty pleasure, I've been intrigued by the fact that Simon van Kempen (husband of Housewife Alex McCord) runs a hotel in Manhattan.

Since I was going to New York last week for a Canadian Tourism conference, I figured I'd shoot Hotel Chandler an email and see if Simon would be game for showing me around the 124-room property.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got an email back from Simon himself, happy to take me up on my offer.

As much fun as it is to moan and groan about the ridiculousness of these RH characters, I have to admit that Simon was pretty darn normal in person. He's spent 25 years in the hotel industry, he knows it well, and he's happy to chat about it.

I thought he'd balk at my request to snap a few photos of him in front of the hotel (these pseudo-celebs can get very control-freakish about their image), but he gladly complied.

Hotel Chandler is in the Midtown/Murray Hill area of Manhattan, just three blocks from the Empire State building at 12 E. 31st St. It seems like a perfectly nice place to stay, especially now that rates have been reduced to as low as $189, at times, for a standard room. Even if you don't stay here, swing by for a cheap drink in the lobby bar during the Monday-Friday happy hour from 5 pm - 10 pm.

After spending my morning last week with the 7th housewife, I think I'm on Team Simon....

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I like this cople very, very much. I think they are the only ones who have a very happy marriage and love and respect each other.

Yes, It's a relieved to hear that Simon is a good guy....

I too was not too fond of Simon on previous season. No one likes seeing anyone kicked when they are down, and he has certainly taken his fair share of abuse and insults..I agree that his is actually displaying more class than some of the other people on the show who claim to be better than Simon. It actually does take a real man to endure being forced to defend himself as a straight man or a gay man. He seems to be a decent husband and father.

I also have warmed up a lot more to Alex and Simon VK in this season. They come across very authentic, down to earth, confident, and straightforward as compared to some of the other characters floating around- ahem Brad and Kelly and hunkababe Max. The VKs seem really sweet and I like the fact that she/he doesn't seem to make unnecessary snap judgments, hold grudges, or need to put others down to lift herself up. Some of the other housewives could take a lesson.

However, their fashion sense is pretty horrible. Not that getting your fabrics from Zarin's seems like any kind of good idea as no one over there seems to have any fashion sense either ahem Jill's apartment. To be quite frank, the one thing I'm learning from watching this show is that money really cannot buy you style. Or class.

I was a Simon/Alex fan until I saw their house makeover. Is Simon turning into a pimp? That is the ugliest place. Red and Black!!! Also I saw a picture of the NY housewives in a magazine recently and could not believe how beautiful Jill and the Countess are. The TV does not show how pretty these two ladies are and they also look a lot younger than I thought they were.

Simon always gets portrayed as a nut-job and gay, just because he likes fashion and is a bit over-the-top. I am really glad that you gave a fair and what seems to me to be much more honest description of him. He and Alex have a wonderful and loving relationship and I think people are jealous of that because their husbands (or lack thereof) are subpar. Ramona's husband Mario is an amped up sleazebag who communicates only in sarcastic incredulous exclamations! Can this guy dial his enthusiasm for bullying down a couple (hundred) notches? Simon and Alex may be guilty of a little too much social aspiration, but they are not mean people and in the end being a nice person is a lot more important than having a house in the Hamptons.

That was really a good idea to check Simon out at his hotel. It is good to know that he is a down to earth person. And to be honest, I didn't really care much for him last season, but this season my feelings towards Simon and Alex have changed and I like them alot. He has handled himself so well with all the attacks from Ramona. He's a good sport, a lovely husband to his wife (and vise versa) - they are a great couple. The kids could use a little more discipline though.......

The night he got angry in the limo because his surprise was ruined really scared me. His wive's face kind of told a story.

It's splendid that Simon is as pleasing in person as he is on the program. I'm delighted to learn his diplomacy & charm is authentic and one hopes that the Van Kempen family enjoys a happy, healthy life together after this moment in the spotlight is looong gone!
It's "Team Simon" here in sunny So. Cal. too!

Glad to hear that Simon was so nice. I've started to like him this season and I never thought I'd say that. No one can blame him for being a social climber, after all is said and done, we all want to better our lot in life.Also, I have a new respect for him ever since he played that tennis match with Jill.Maybe when I get to NYC I'll get a chance to meet him.

I have always liked Simon and his wife, too! Glad you got to meet him in person and that he was as nice as he seems....

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This page contains a single entry by Lori Rackl published on April 29, 2009 4:18 AM.

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