NEW YORK – Take the escalators upstairs to a waiting room with flat-screen TVs, a fireplace, a kids' mini-dance floor and plush white couches. And then, by all means, try out the throne in this royal blue paradise: It is, after all, the main attraction of this pristine public restroom complex built for the holidays in Times Square.
"We wanted to get our product into the hands of consumers, and we figured this was an innovative way of doing it," said Adam Lisook, assistant brand manager for Charmin. The toilet paper company built the ritzy john joint at a former bar in the middle of one the world's busiest intersections.
The free facilities open to the public Monday afternoon.
Even amid the flashing lights and dizzying colors of Times Square, the bathrooms are hard to miss — there's a huge glowing blue sign with the word "Restrooms" and an arrow pointing down.
There's a photo station with the teddy bear from the company's commercials. Parents can take pictures as they wait to use one of the 20 stalls.
The bathrooms are complete with white porcelain sinks and toilets, and a light overhead that tells visitors when a stall is open.
There are even theme rooms: Times Square, Wall Street, and one devoted to "Everybody Loves Raymond" star Doris Roberts, the celebrity spokeswoman for the event.
There will be about 30 workers hired to clean the stalls after each use, officials said.
"It's going to be so clean, as clean as your home," Lisook said. "It's Charmin's holiday gift to families who are visiting, and who are from New York."
The space is scheduled to open at 1 p.m. Monday. Regular hours are 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. seven days a week, with the exception of Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, when the restrooms will close at 6 p.m. They will be open all day on Thanksgiving, but closed on Christmas Day.
Charmin has leased the space — near the Virgin Megastore — until 6 p.m. on Dec. 31. It hasn't been decided what will be done with it space after that.
Charmin officials are anticipating more than 300,000 flushes, and about 10,800 rolls of Charmin megarolls will be used (there are 400 sheets on a megaroll compared with 100 sheets on a regular roll).
Costs were considerable, but officials wouldn't say exactly how much — only that the project was second only to television advertising in terms of promotional expenses.
The space was built as a set in Orlando by Gigunda Group, a New Hampshire-based outfit that specializes in marketing campaigns. The idea has been in the works about six months, but builders have been working around the clock for the past six weeks to ready the space for Monday's opening.
Lisook said the idea was modeled on traveling bathrooms the company built and stationed at sporting events and concert halls around the country.
Charmin is owned by Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble.