Postcard from Grenada: Sandals LaSource Grand Opening

I spent the last week in Grenada as a guest of the new Sandals LaSource Grenada Hotel and Spa in order to attend their Grand Opening. Lots more on that to come, but first here are a few pictures from Monday’s opening event. Continue reading “Postcard from Grenada: Sandals LaSource Grand Opening”

Hotels I Love: Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel

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Apologies for the blurry photographs. Iceland is dark in the winter and my camera (skills) are lacking in low light.

The Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel is a member of the always gorgeous Design Hotels collection. It is located in Selfoss, around 45 minutes from Reykjavík, on the slopes of the still-active volcano Mount Hengill on the edge of Thingvellir National Park. Continue reading “Hotels I Love: Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel”

A Culinary Visit to the Riviera Maya

I’ve never stayed at an all-inclusive resort before — it’s not really what I imagined to be my scene — so I had no preconceived notions of the quality, or lack thereof, of the culinary offerings at one. When I visited IBEROSTAR Grand Paraíso*, on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, last month, I was told that achieving a heightened reputation in gastronomy was the the brand’s mission. The Spanish hotel and resort company has released a cookbook that features recipes from their worldwide resorts — from Cuba to Mexico to Morocco — and have launched a new initiative of special events, training courses for guests.

I ate braised red snapper in pig’s trotter sauce at L’atelier gourmet restaurant, and shrimp agnoloti at the Italian Venezia. At the cooking demonstration in the resort’s Surf & Turf steakhouse, I learned how to slice a black Iberian pig’s leg and watched chefs trained in some of the best schools in Europe (and with a background in Michelin-starred restaurants, including Spain’s three-star Akelarre) prepare pumpkin flowers stuffed with lobster; paella; and a whiskey flavored crème brûlée with chocolate soufflé, coffee ice cream, and Halls menthol baked between silpat sheets garnish. Each course accompanied by pairings selected by IBEROSTAR‘s Cuban sommelier, Yamir Pelegrino Rodriguez, who holds both a law degree from the University of Havana and the 2006 title from the Gourmand Cookbooks & Wines Awards.  

Here’s a few photos from the trip:

Cooking demonstration
Cooking demonstration
Preparing paella
Preparing paella
The resort
The resort

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The beach
The beach
Bee-keeping at a Mayan wellness retreat
Bee-keeping at a Mayan wellness retreat
Lunch at a Mayan village
Lunch at a Mayan village
Nohoch Mul pyramid
Nohoch Mul pyramid

*Disclosure: I visited the Riviera Maya as a guest of IBEROSTAR and the Riviera Maya Tourism Board

 

 

 

 

Misandry at Marlton House

Room 214
Room 214

Here is Room 214 of the newly opened (but still in a soft opening phase) The Marlton. This was Valerie Solanas’ room when she shot Andy Warhol in 1968.

But that’s not all the history contained within the walls of 5 West 8th Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. Jack Kerouac holed up here while writing Desolation Angels and Lenny Bruce stayed here while on trial for obscenity,  I asked front desk for their room numbers, but she wasn’t sure. Some of the rooms have been adapted, she said, and so are not the exact same as they were back in the day. Speaking of the rooms: the fifth-floor one I stayed in was tiny; like,  the foot of the bed almost hits the cabinet against the wall tiny. I loved the Parisian decor, though, the crown moldings and creamy colours made me want cake.

Marlton Bed
Marlton Bed

The hotel is a former SRO (some of the long-standing tenants have been there since the 1960s) and was developed by Sean MacPherson of the Bowery Hotel, The Jane, and Maritime Hotel, who has made an effort to retain the artsy vibe by stocking a library with beat-ear books and vintage furniture, and adding surrealist touches in the guest rooms, such as these brass sconces.

Marlton sconce
Marlton sconce

My full review is up at HotelChatter 

hotel, Mexico City

Hotel Spy: Downtown Mexico

The entrance, on Isabela la Católica, to Downtown Mexico. The hotel, a Grupo Habita property, is housed in a 17th-century palace and offers a budget hostel option as well as the boutique hotel.

hotel, Mexico City
Photo by author.

When I stayed there: September 2012

Location: Historic Center of Mexico City

Number of Rooms: 17

Eating and Drinking: Two courtyard restaurants (including Azul Histórico) and a rooftop bar.

WiFi: Free

Keywords: Design, Trendy, Young

A Brief Trip to the Electric Room

Remember when MTV used to play music? I do. Maybe I am a lot older than you.

I never had MTV, growing up, we couldn’t afford it, so I used to get my penpal in Berkshire to mail me videotapes of my favourite music promos and shows. The newest clips from the Breeders; recordings of Hole guest-hosting a show I’ve long forgotten the name of … I’ll never forget PJ Harvey’s video for Down by the Water. I’d watch it, rewind the tape, watch it again, sick on lipgloss and fake eyelashes, and sinking deeper into the dark thoughts that bloomed around the ages of 15, 16 … but I digress.

The internet and music video channel, VEVO has recently entered into a partnership with Dream Downtown to bring its 24-hour music channel to the hotel’s guestrooms. They had a launch party earlier this week and I was lucky enough to be invited: very lucky because it’s usually a serious mission to get into Dream Downtown’s velvet-roped-off Electric Room basement club. Sceney, obviously, but it was fun; here’s some pictures.

Dream Downtown exterior
Dream Downtown exterior
Passage leading to Electric Room
Passage leading to Electric Room
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Electric Room art
Electric Room art
Electric Room art
They had a DJ while playing music videos ...
They had a DJ while playing music videos …
The scene.
The scene.

Tokyo Movie Locations

The city itself is cinematic and is familiar even to those who have never been there; we can all picture walls of neon lights, screeching advertisements blaring from giant video screens and a great sea of humanity moving in sync with one another. It is no wonder that Tokyo is a source of inspiration for many writers, artists and movie directors.

Park Hyatt Shinjuku

In Sophia Coppola’s 2003 movie Lost in Translation, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play Bob and Charlotte; two Americans adrift in Tokyo. Their first meeting occurs in the hotel bar of the five-star Part Hyatt located in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo.
A night’s accommodation in the Park Hyatt is likely out of the budget of most travelers but you can still visit the bar for (like in the movie) a jazz accompanied cocktail, or the restaurant for lunch, dinner, or one of the most popular Sunday Brunches in Tokyo. Both bar and restaurant feature huge windows with views over the Tokyo skyline – perhaps best appreciated at nighttime when the hypnotic neon lights of Shinjuku and its red light district Kabuki-cho are twinkling in the dark sky.

Womb, Shibuya

One of not only Japan’s best clubs, but also one of the top-rated clubs in the world, Womb appears in the 2006 movie Babel. In the movie we see a group of young deaf girls taking their first hits of Ecstasy and going to the Shibuya club.
Despite Womb’s powerful Phazon sound system, the movie shows moments from the point of view of the deaf girl Chieko, drawing attention to the impressive laser system which, along with one of the world’s biggest mirror balls, is another reason for Womb’s fame.

Gonpachi, Nishi-Azabu

The House of the Blue Leaves, setting for The Bride’s (played by Uma Thurman) final Tokyo showdown with the Crazy 88 was inspired by the Edo-themed restaurant Gonpachi. Whilst no movie scenes were actually filmed in the restaurant, Kill Bill’s set was built to resemble Gonpachi. The restaurant will look familiar to anyone who has seen the film.
At the crossing of Tokyo’s up market Nishi-Azabu district, Gonpachi is just a few minutes’ walk from the nightlife center of Roppongi. The restaurant serves simple Izakaya style foods – yakitori and soba are their specialties. Gonpachi is open for lunch and dinner, and stays open until five in the morning. Reservations are recommended as this is one of the most popular restaurants, particularly among foreigners, in Tokyo.
Besides the Quentin Tarantino movie connection, Gonpachi was in the news when then-Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi decided to take then-US President George W Bush here on his state visit to Japan.