New bathrooms at the Hotel Bel-Air
Okay I now you can’t see them, but there are two stone tiled chaises in the steam bath at the Spa at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Los Angeles at Nokia Live and it was heaven for me. I love to steam and these were the most comfortable steam chairs I ever reclined in.
If you want to thinking more about plunging necklines than plummeting stock markets, here’s 4 good reasons why you should high tail to Las Vegas now: http://www.examiner.com/travel-diva-in-los-angeles/luck-be-a-
DineLA Restaurant Week, the twice year culinary event, returns on October 3-8 and October 10-15, 2010) and again January 23-28 and January 30-February 4, 2011. ) with a fresh new twist pairing three-course prix-fixe meals at some of Los Angeles’ premier kitchens with overnight stays at some of the city’s most buzzed-about hotels.
“Locals look forward to dineLA Restaurant week as a chance to experience meals from world-renowned culinary talents including Tom Colicchio, José Andrés, and Gordon Ramsey at a fraction of the price,” says Mark Liberman, president and CEO of LA INC. “We are excited to extend this value to economical epicureans throughout California and nationwide. We want travelers to discover Los Angeles as a world-class dining destination where they can eat and sleep like stars without breaking the bank.”
The new dineLA hotel & restaurant packages offer a range of culinary and travel experiences as diverse as the city itself. From a dinner for two at L.A. Market and a stay at the JW Marriott in the heart of Downtown LA’s L.A. LIVE to an unforgettable gastronomic adventure at José Andrés’ The Bazaar paired with the sleek sophistication of the SLS Beverly Hills, packages will be available from dineLA partners such as
: JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE/L.A. Market; Le Merigot/Cezanne; Millennium Biltmore/Sai Sai; O Hotel/O Bar & Kitchen; SLS Beverly Hills/The Bazaar; The Hollywood Heights/The Hideout; The Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club/BALEENLosangeles; Westin Bonaventure/LA Prime; W Hollywood/Delphine; W Los Angeles-Westwood/NINETHIRTY; and more.
Reservations are are available online shortly at: www.dineLA.com/RestaurantWeek
DineLA Restaurant Week is served in three categories and three courses (Deluxe, Premier, and Fine Dining) with specially priced three-course meals for lunch and/or dinner at hundreds of restaurants throughout the city.
Lunch Dinner $ Deluxe Dining: $16 $26 $$ Premier Dining: $22 $34 $$$ Fine Dining: $28 $44
Highly recommended (we do it every time) is the $20 rebate from American Express® that cardmembers receive by registering with the credit card company prior to the event. You must go out to eat three times to be eligible.
Presented by LA INC. and American Express, dineLA Restaurant Week has been designed to stimulate business and introduce new customers to restaurants located in the many neighborhoods throughout LA County. A dineLA Restaurant Week hotel program is being added this year which will allow hotel properties with participating restaurants to offer special dineLA rates and culinary packages, with the goal to increase regional and national visitors to Los Angeles during Restaurant Week.
In a fitting tribute to Palm Spring’s favorite son, Frank Sinatra,
The Riviera Resort & Spa in Palm Springs is featuring favorite cocktails of Ol’ Blue Eye’s and his pack beginning on the 14th of March.
Little known fact: Frank Sinatra signaled the start of cocktail hour by raising a flag pole, situated between two palms on his Palm Springs Estate. Once the flag was up the rat pack knew it was time to party.
In honor the Ol’ Blue Eyes’ ritual, the Rivieria Resort & Spa, in Palm Springs, continues the tradition with daily happy hour specials at the Bikini Bar with innovative cocktails along with a class Jack Daniel’s cocktail. The hotel is also ringing in the tippling hour with Sunday specials at sidebar and live entertainment from the Art of Sax on Sundays, with mixologists concocting adult drinks like the Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Cherry Polka Dot Bikini (Grey Goose, Le Citron Vodka, Bacardi Cherry rum and lemonade. Also on the menu. The Candy Man, Sammy Davis Jr’s favorite Rum Daiquiri (Bacardi blended with mango, strawberry, peach or lime; and Sinatra’s favorite Jack Daniel’s Single
Barrel Whiskey cut with water over ice, poured in an old-fashioned glass.
Bikini Bar’s open for Happy Hour from 5 to 6 PM.
Live Entertainment from Art of Sax: Sundays, 5 to 9 p.m.
Sidebar Small Plate Special: Sundays, 5 to 7 p.m.
Riviera Resort & Spa, 1600 N. Indian Canyon Dr. Palm Springs, (760) 327-8311, www.psriviera.com
Your Diva On the Go just had to check out the Double the Fun special at the Four Seasons Westlake Village Hotel. I mean spa treatments, dinner and assorted services for two people for the price of one.
How could I resist. The spa offering was enough to get me packing my bags.
I mean this is one of the prestigious Four Seasons chains, a swank property with a world class spa and diva-delights galore. A hotel where even Internet discounted room rates start at $239 a day for “moderate” accommodations and rise to $429 for a Premier spread.
The ongoing “Double the Fun” promotion works like this: one person books spa treatments, the second person gets the same treatments FREE. The two of you go to dinner, one meal is complimentary (excluding alcohol or gratuities). Whatever service you pay for is free for the other guy or gal–quite the recession buster.
We opted for a superior king which is $250 a day on Friday and Saturday and $339 during the week, which, on this promotion amounted to $125 daily.
We also booked “Therapist Choice” massages that would normally cost $145 a person and amounted to half that. The 40,000 square foot spa at the hotel is a-one and so are the therapists. Mine was Lora who despite her diminutive size managed to pummel and pamper me to my taste for a deep massage–ditto for Richard’s masseuse, Mae.
“Organic Protection Facials”, normally $165 a pop, cost that for both of us, as did any salon or spa service we opted to book.
Spa facilities include steam, Jacuzzi, amenities, fluffy robes, lockers, showers, and gorgeous relaxation lounges stocked with assorted beverages and fruit. There’s also an indoor pool nearby and a top notch fitness center with all the latest equipment.
The 270-room Four Seasons provided a welcome addition to the burgeoning Westlake Village area when it opened four years. Nestled near the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains it rests roughly 35 miles northwest of LAX and about 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles.
Don’t let the rather drab exterior deceive you, once you get past the entrance you walk into all the opulence that is Four Seasons—marble, wood, signature Four Seasons floral arrangements, fine art and upscale furnishings and appointments.
Its claim to fame is the California Health & Longevity Institute, which sits adjacent to the Spa and offers medical, dietary and life style training and screenings. Many house guests are participants in the program, but you don’t have to stay at the hotel to enroll.
Guest rooms are well put together with the obligatory flat screen TVs, fine linens, coffee makers, mini-bars, marble bathrooms stocked with plush robes and towels, but not lots of toiletries. There was one bar of soap and one hand lotion on the sink, a bar of soap on the tub, and a bottle of shampoo, condition and body wash in the shower.
In addition to the Asian restaurant, the hotel hosts Hamptons, a fine dining experience offering healthy gourmet cuisine or regular menus. The setting is warm and elegant the food’s usually good and fairly pricy.
I loved the Lobby Restaurant where we had healthy breakfasts. I opted for the tofu scramble; Richard had the buckwheat pancakes, both tasty. We truly appreciated the waitress who obliged our request for strong coffee with just that. Business people on the go can also take out food from a little area at the entrance of the Lobby Restaurant that offers assorted whole fruit ($1.50), pastries ($2), granola with yogurt ($6.50), bagels for $2 (add $8 for salmon), fresh juice $6 and espressos or coffee ($3.50).
And if you’ve booked the Double the Fun Deal, you get one free of anything you order.
In addition to the Spa the hotel sports two pools (one indoor, one out). Gorgeous gardens, on the back grounds, add a transcendental ambiance enhanced by 25,000 varieties of flora, 50-foot high sequoia trees surrounding the waterfalls, boulders imported from the River Kwai and an original Chinese poet’s house pagoda for meditation or special events.
The hotel serves as a pleasant getaway for Angelenos craving a quick escape, especially during the Double the Fun promotion. Basically there’s no limit to how many spa treatments, meals, etc. you can enjoy for half the price when there are two people participating.
The Four Seasons Westlake Village, Two Dole Dr., Westlake Village, 818-575-3000, www.fourseasons.com/westlakevillage.com.
The Divaonthego packed her Titan bags for a cruise onboard the super luxurious Crystal Symphony from Miami to Costa Rica. One of two mid-sized luxury liners operated by Los Angeles-based Crystal Cruises (www.crystalcruises.com), the newly refurbished Symphony offers an upscale experience for 922 passengers–the perfect size for the Divaonthego who just can’t get her sea legs around those mega ships that carry thousands at a time. Not that she hasn’t sailed on the bodacious boats, but she prefers more compact vessels.
We’ve been on this ship before, but not since her most recent facelift (Dec. 09) so we’re looking forward to seeing how she’s changed, not that there was anything wrong with her before, but we all need nips and tucks as we age. So stay tuned for more on our Symphony experiences. You will also find my Symphony musings at www.savvyseafarer.wordpress.com and on my LA Travel Diva at Examiner.com: http://bit.ly/2P9nFf
I love this luggage. My newest acquisition is the feisty little 20″ 2-wheeled 9.3 lb. Business Trolley. Perfect for a 17″ laptop it’s available at www.titanluggageusa.com for $320
The Axxiss series is styled in classic black nylon with genuine leather trim and ncludes a business trolley, and business cases that accommodate 15.4″ and 17″ laptops. All products feature laptop compartments and are thoughtfully organized to cater to the needs of business travelers who demand both function and style. TITAN® Axxiss is covered by a Titan® 5 year warranty.
Because we live in Los Angeles we decided to fly to the ship a day earlier to avoid any delays, even though the Symphony sails at 9 PM. We just wanted to be sure. So we surfed the web and came up with what sounds like an ideal hotel for our overnighter, Kimpton’s EPIC–Hotel–a boutique waterfront hotel, is locate at the edge of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay. The 54-story, elliptical-shaped high-rise has 411 guestrooms and suites, including two luxury corner Presidential Style Suites, 24 one-bedroom corner suites and 24 junior suites. All suites feature custom furnishings and fine fabrics, as well as private balconies with glimmering views of Miami and the bay. Additional in-room amenities and services include: Fine Italian linens with luxurious triple sheeting and throw blankets, LCD flat screen televisions. Spa-inspired luxury bath amenities from Acqua di Parma, twice-daily housekeeping service, High-speed wireless Internet access.
The Diva, draped appropriately in silk and designer duds, felt right at home as she walked through the extravagant entrance of the Grand Del Mar, a $300 million, and 249- deliciously comfortable room resort situated in northern San Diego County.
Although its about as opulent as it gets, there is no sense of pretentiousness evident. Highlighted by a vibrant Mediterranean-Roman pan tiled roof and finely-tuned touches such as cast stone, copper, layered light, custom woodwork, glazed tiles, the resort conveys a surprising down-to-earth ambiance.
I usually pick up a sense of a place from the check-in experience—which moved seamlessly from arrival at the elegant entrance where the attentive valets whisked our bags and escorted us to our posh Palazzo suite–a magnificent two bedroom affair with a huge balcony overlooking the golf course and mountains.
We were welcomed with champagne and snacks set neatly on the wet bar which separated a little area with a microwave and mini-fridge. Upholstered ceilings—a décor touch new to us—hinted at the unadulterated opulence of suite. Marble counter tops, gold-colored fixtures, rich woods, Italian linens, a sumptuous sofa, comfy chairs, flat screen TV, king bed, two full bathrooms with tub, shower, big, fluffy robes, slippers and upscale spa amenities completed the leit motif.
After we unpacked we walked around the interior which was decorated like a Christmas wonderland with gorgeous Yule time trees, poinsettias and lavish decorations. Even the outside areas were decked out for the season with more Christmas trees and ornamentation. We checked out the spa, a comfortably lavish facility with men’s and women’s areas. The female side provides peace and serenity with a gorgeous fireplace warmed lounge area appointed with canopied lounges, steam, sauna, lockers, Jacuzzi and of course showers and toiletries (all complimentary for guests). The adjacent spa pool was so inviting we aborted our tour to go get our swim suits.
We took a soak in the oversized Jacuzzi, which is surrounded by cushy lounges, did laps and headed into our respective spa areas for steam baths. I picked up the extensive, uniquely-designed spa menu and must confess the prices were a bit shocking with facial therapies starting at $175 to $270 plus a 20 percent automatically-added tip. But then considering the source and the quality of the treatments you do get what you pay for. Our 90 minute massages (which we had the following day) proved among the 10 of the all time list of this spa snob-maven-diva whose indulged in pampering all over the world.
We had reservations for dinner at Amaya, the hotel’s three meal restaurant, and decided it was best to boost our appetites with workouts in the perfectly equipped fitness center. Trust me when I tell you this hotel takes attention to details seriously. This Diva isn’t easily impressed and can be known to be a tad edgy at times. Our first meal at the Grand Del Mar was dinner at Amaya—an atypical three meal a day restaurant with a sophisticated setting.
The experience proved flawless in every way, save for a slight problem with the air conditioning over our booth that left me chilly but was quickly remedied by the manager who brought me a shawl. Our meal was fabulous starting with Richard’s perfect martini and my glass of Lewis Chard. The food portion of the evening began for me with carpaccio of Balik salmon with candied onions and crème Fraiche and Richard’s Catalan-style shrimp with chile and lime broth, followed by braised short ribs cannelloni with beech mushroom ragout and a perfectly prepared veal chop and seared sea bass. We shared a cheesecake for dessert that was well worth the caloric splurge.
The next morning we participated in thehotel’s complimentary nature hike around the adjacent Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve. The 90-minute trek, led by a naturalist (Dylan) explores the natural wonders of one of the last remaining undeveloped coastal canyons in San Diego with its 500,000 year old soils of vernal pools to 140 million year old sedimentary rock deposits. We climbed and trekked through varying terrains lush with 500 plant species, sycamore trees, live oaks, scrub oaks, birds, brooks, and a boulder-studded waterfall with volcanic rock.
Dylan provided captivating narratives about the various Indians (La Jollan, Kumeyaay and San Digueno) that inhabited the area 7,000 years ago. There we are (Richard and the Diva poised on the hike)…
This tour is not to be missed. We spend much of the afternoon in the Spa where I happily succumbed to the magical movements of David who worked out my sore muscles with 90-minute Athletic enhanced with aromatherapy oils, hot towels and much TLC. It was amazing.
The evening was spent over a much anticipated, leisurely dinner at the award-winning Addison, a fitting showcase for noted chef William Bradley’s culinary skills dramatized by iron and glass doorways trimmed with 22 karat gold accent, 20 foot high pyramid ceilings, and a limestone fireplace imported from Italy.
The restaurant receives regular raves not only from the media and pleased clientele, but the hotel staff each who are treated to Bradley’s multi-course menu. “It’s awesome,” beamed the valet who drove us from the hotel to the Clubhouse where Addison is situated. “You are in for a treat.” And we were.
You can opt to let Chef design a 7-course personal feast or choose your own selections. We opted for the latter. It was all good from Richard’s Martini and my Lewis Chard (okay I love the stuff) to the amuse bouche—a fondue of Parmesan, champagne and cream with curried yogurt spiced with orange– and beyond. We tasted each other’s courses: butter baked salmon, rack of lamb, Japanese Hamache, Dover Sole, and pear confit ad black fig brulee with English bitter toffee. Each serving impeccable save for one episode where my salmon tasted like it fell in the salt shaker—apologies were proffered and a replacement made.
I should point out that seasoning is left to the chef. No condiments are on the tables. None needed as recipes are fairly fussy and well sauced. Prepare to dine well and shell out at least $100 per person for a decent sampling with wines (of which there are many with a savvy sommelier (Jesse Rodriguez) to make suggestions and do pairings.
The Grand Del Mar sits inland just jorth of San Diego. On site diversions include a Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course, tennis, the 21,000 square foot Renaissance-style spa, four swimming pools, and hiking, cycling and fine dining. Please check out the slide show as photos are definitely worth 1000 words. www.theGrandDelMar.com , 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, San Diego, CA. 858-314-2020.