The Stage is Set
The year was 1988 and Joe Rosenberg, somewhat of a renaissance man, found himself in New York City teaching medical biochemistry while also chairing the Landmark Preservation Committee of Brooklyn Heights (the first neighborhood in New York to be designated as an Historic District).
As part of his neighborhood association duties, Joe often gave tours around town. As luck would have it, the president of American Express attended one of Joe’s tours and was so satisfied that he asked Joe to show New York to his very important visitors.
This brought about a business contract with American Express and, just like that, V.I.P. Tours of New York was born.
As time went on, Joe left teaching, took up the tour business full time, and became deeply involved in architecture and landmark preservation. After becoming a member of the League of Historic American Theatres, Joe started to get requests from nonprofit theaters to bring groups of their financial supporters to New York for behind-the-scenes theater tours.
And he discovered that these programs were highly effective in helping theaters bond with their board members and financial supporters. Which, in turn, lead to increased donations and enhanced engagement.
"I decided I had to do something about so many historic buildings being torn down, so I became part of a movement to save NY from losing its history"
The Plot Thickens
Fast forward to 2017: along comes Alejandro Almaguer. A small-business owner and native of Havana, Cuba, Alejandro moved to New York with plans to expand his entrepreneurial career. He started working for Joe (whom he had met during one of Joe’s People to People trips to Cuba) and within six months became a licensed NYC tour guide.
It didn’t take Alejandro long to realize that he wasn’t working for any typical tour company; V.I.P. Tours of New York was a mission-driven organization dedicated to furthering nonprofit theaters and their communities.
Since joining the company, Alejandro has traveled around the country visiting regional theaters and getting to know the people who run them. Seeing the passion and commitment of theater leaders has inspired him to continue the work that Joe started decades ago. And he is determined to help even more organizations grow their fundraising and development programs through donor cultivation and relationship building.
"When I moved to New York, Joe became a great friend and mentor. He showed me a New York that you don’t find in any tourist guide."
Hitting All the Right Notes
Together, Alejandro and Joe have delivered the very best of Broadway to groups from nonprofit theaters across the United States. Their personalized programs and tours are celebrated for their ability to help theaters build stronger relationships with their supporters and friends.
They’ve used this model to grow and expand their portfolio into other cities including London, Edinburgh, San Francisco, Chicago, and Havana. Over the years they have developed a process that makes group travel seamless for theaters – dramatically reducing the staff time required to plan such trips. Joe and Alejandro’s Broadway Adventures provide a fully custom experience for the theaters and for the theater’s supporters.
More importantly, Joe and Alejandro treat the staff of every theater – and every traveler – like close, personal friends and that’s what keeps people coming back to V.I.P. Tours of New York year after year.
Joe received a PhD in Medical Biochemistry from the Fels Cancer Research Institute (bet you didn’t see that coming!) and he came to New York for a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. But New York seemed to have other plans for Joe; before long, he would change his entire life focus to theater and historical preservation.
While developing his passion for motion picture palaces, historic theaters, and other architecturally significant buildings and neighborhoods, Joe witnessed many historic buildings being torn down. Determined to do something about it, Joe re-activated the languishing New York Historic Districts Council, became its president, and began working closely with New York City’s Landmark Preservation Commission. Together, the commission pushed for the NYC landmark designation of more than 10 NYC Historic Districts including SoHo, DUMBO, Park Slope, Fort Greene, the Upper East Side, and the Upper West Side. (New York now has 110+ historic districts).
Joe worked alongside Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the fierce battle to save Grand Central Station – a fight that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court – helping to shape the architectural preservation movement throughout the U.S. He was chief advisor to the founders of “The Showpeople’s Committee to Save Radio City Music Hall”, in response to plans to demolish what was long-called the “Showplace of the Nation.” Joe also co-founded, with Actor’s Equity, “Save The Theatres, Inc.” which fought to save five theaters from demolition for the construction of a hotel. When the project failed and the theaters were demolished, they successfully campaigned for the landmark designations of 35 remaining Broadway theatres.
Alejandro is a true people person and he gets his energy from being around people and seeing them have a good time. With a keen eye for detail and a great memory, Alejandro will remember every interaction he has had with group members for years. And he says that his work doesn’t feel like work because he gets to do what he likes the most: enjoying theater and connecting with people.
Alejandro used the downtime during the pandemic to pursue a Masters in Tourism and Travel Management at the NYU School of Professional Studies. He had the honor of being selected as a Dean Scholar and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Alejandro has had the privilege of learning from leading practitioners in the tourism and hospitality industry and he brings this knowledge and skill to V.I.P. Tours of New York to ensure that their clients receive the top-notch service that they deserve.
A self-proclaimed social entrepreneur, Alejandro is passionate about being part of a business that brings people together through the spirit of travel and the magic of the arts. Because he loves the educational side as much as he loves growing the business, Alejandro ultimately wants to help raise awareness about cultural and architectural preservation and highlight the significance of the arts to communities.