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Managing Partner of Viana gives Vote Yes Testimonial

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Viana’s Hotel & Spa is Long Island’s only green-built feng shui hotel and it’s located right around the corner from Nassau Coliseum in nearby Westbury. The hotel is plush, aesthetically pleasing with vibrant colors, smooth lines and fun accents. Just walking through the front door is enough to make delight your senses. There are many different styles of rooms and suites for every person and every situation, with fine dining, gym amenities and a full-service spa. It’s everything you could want for a first-class business experience or a fun weekend getaway with friends or significant other.

“We think guests want to have a better emotional relationship with their hotel experience and so we’ve created a hotel with a smaller carbon footprint with greater emotional attachment, using feng shui,” said Alan Mindel, the managing partner of Viana.

The lobby of Viana Hotel and Spa in Westbury, NY.
Recently, Viana became a sponsor of the Islanders and in doing so they have a vested interest in the Vote Yes 2011 campaign. On Tuesday afternoon, Mindel gave a testimonial to about why he feels a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex in Nassau County is essential to the vitality of Long Island’s future.

Alan Mindel:
The Islanders are a quintessential business at home organization that is identifiable to the area when there are so few things that do. If I dropped you in the middle of Ohio or in the middle of Kansas City, you would find a TGI Fridays, a Best Buy, a mall with the same stores in it, but you wouldn’t necessarily find the Islanders or a Viana (Hotel and Spa). You wouldn’t necessarily find certain unique factors that are unique to our area. We lose this (arena), we become another strip center.

I met the Islanders through an organization called Keep it on Long Island, which is a very simple concept. It identifies quintessential businesses that are Long Island based, Long Island employed that produce a well-established, well-liked product.

We own a few hotels on Long Island, three in Nassau County. The idea is: Are employers, such as ourselves, going to be able to survive here? There are hotel companies from out-of-state that have a much larger footprint than ours and can maybe do their jobs less personal but more cost efficient by taking the accounting work off premises, part of HR off the premises, part of the marketing off premises and maybe that’s a more successful formula to the future, but what we’re trying to do, what the Islanders are trying to do, is stay where we’re from and protect the interests of it. So that’s why we’re a natural fit, because we’re both Island-based companies trying to make the steak where we grew up.

We see clients returning because of good service. That’s the key in this business. If we don’t service the business, we’re not going to keep it. We don’t deserve to keep it if we’re not going to service it.

Alan Mindel, third from left, with employees of Viana Hotel and Spa.
Our sponsorship deal (with the Islanders), we have a bank of tickets. Those tickets aren’t for me to go to Islanders games. They’re for our clients to go to Islanders games. We have a right to purchase advanced purchases of concerts. That’s not for me to go to concerts. It’s for my clients to have those rights. The ability to have that and promote that within the business community is a huge asset. We’re trying to make the most of all of these relationships.

(If the Islanders were to leave) there would be less entertainment business which would lead to less acts staying here, which would lead to less employment, less viability and it would prevent us from being able to operate, as it would be to so many businesses. It would also cause many of our clients to look negatively on the area.

We are in a position everyday to fight for the business we receive, but it’s also about the companies we’re soliciting. They have to decide if they want to stay here or should they go. If the Islanders go, more of them are going to go. It’s just that simple. They’re not going to stay with the writing on the wall. Do we really have to open the floodgates to losing another few dozen giant employers here? What do we all think it’s going to be? A couple of houses and a couple of malls and politicians will be able to figure it out and tax that to the point where it makes sense? It just won’t work. There is just no viability.

(In order to promote the Vote Yes campaign) We friended the Islanders on our website, we’ve explained the referendum on Facebook and things like that. That’s what we can do. You read Newsday and it’s as if they’re attempting to create the story wherever they go. It’s just amazing to me.

The lobby lounge of Viana Hotel and Spa in Westbury, NY.
Then you read the NIFA thing. It’s obviously written by people who have no business experience whatsoever, absolutely have nothing to do with accounting procedures. They’re not looking out for the best interests of us and that’s shameful. The truth is, we are in financial trouble here (in Nassau County) and we need that organization to do their job, but don’t do it to play politics.

It’s incredible to me, that the Town of Hempstead killed the last deal to rebuild the Coliseum. There was a Republican group having absolutely no basis in fact, destroying a transportation Hub, killing the Island, at a time when it could have easily been funded, easily been done, and we would have been sitting here (with it completed) already. It would have helped us in hard times.

Now we’re in much harder times, but if we don’t do it, we lose it. We have a much less expensive proposal out there that won’t quite do everything the first proposal would have done, but it will still save the situation. Now, because the politics have changed, it’s a Republican idea, and maybe not well negotiated or thought out completely, but now Democrats are fighting it. There is absolutely no unity and all this fighting and political bickering is going to do is cost everyone their livelihood. I can’t believe that we are going to let that happen.

Marco Polo restaurant inside the Viana Hotel and Spa.
I’m showing up August 1st and everyone I’m talking to, I’m telling them to show up August 1st. When I talked to my Democratic Legislator, which I have, whatever points she brought up about the deal, and they could have been completely legitimate, but I said, ‘Listen. If we don’t get this, this team is gone.’ She said, ‘You don’t know they’re going to leave.’

Well let me tell you, if I were the owner of the Islanders and I didn’t get that vote passed, I would leave because how could you go to the well so many times and come up empty. There’s simply no economic reason to stay. We are competing every day against so many other cities and communities. Having a professional sports team is an advantage. Having an arena is an advantage. Losing both kills us. If we don’t provide incentive for that team to come, we’ll never attract another one and the one we have will go. To me, it is a no brainer. We either do it, or we have no one to blame but ourselves for losing the vitality of it. That’s it.

Everyone that doesn’t just commute to Manhattan and lives on Long Island, if they don’t vote for this proposal on August 1st, we will lose our viability of employment substantially. We will become like the Scranton, PA’s and so many other beyond notice towns, cities and villages. We can’t let that happen to this county. It just can’t be.
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