Get ready to party on Cinco de Mayo– Mexico’s Independence Day which is celebrated with a passion throughout Los Angeles and most of California. Every Mexican restaurant worth its margaritas with salt in Los Angeles puts on a party on the 5th of May. Downtown bursts with piñata parties and fiestas and people pretty much use the day as a good excuse to get well, blotto with tequila, beer and wine.
Speaking of the latter, if perhaps you’d like to get away from it all but still have fun, you might enjoy a drive up the coast from Los Angeles to Alameda (well you have to go to San Francisco and hop a ferry because this quaint, picturesque place just across the Bay.
One of the best little wineries of northern California, Rosenblum Cellars, known as the original “urban wine experience”, winery is tucked away in an old railroad building in the center of Alameda shipyards. It is there you will taste some zesty Zinfandels. If you go up there for Cinco de Mayo, you can also enjoy a wine soaked barbecue picnic from Noon to 4 p.m. (prices are $29 for club members and $39 for others when booked on-line).
The Zinfanatic winery staff exude an old town warmth and friendliness with any of the pomp and ceremony of Napa, but with wine just as good. It’s just a short ferry ride across San Francisco Bay. You can fly up to SFO from Los Angeles on Southwest (www.southwest.com) or Virgin America (www.virginamerica.com), or drive. If you pick the road route, go on-line for directions at www.rosenblumcellars.com.
So the Divaonthego went to the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood, California today to learn all about the namesake hotels.
dry martini at Ty’s at the Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore whets the appetite for dinner.
La Quinta sets off a magical charm when you enter the Spanish-style lobby to register, everybody’s so nice, the atmosphere so relaxed and you feel more like you out of the country than just a 2 hour drive away from Los Angeles.That’s a view from the Freeway.
I just posted the whole article, save for a review of Morgan’s–the resorts fine dining restaurant, which is worth the drive from LA just for dinner–on my examiner.com site, plesase check it out: http://www.examiner.com/x-23074-LA-Insider-Travel-Examiner
I’ll give you a few highlights:(The decades old resort has nearly 800 guest rooms of various sizes and shapes, all with flat screens, fireplaces, some balconies,some patios, some private pools and Jacuzzis, all charming and comfortable and priced from $199 in season to a $5,000 for the top suite).
What’s to Like:
Bedding down in our Starlight Casita (the maids made a special welcome swan out of towels) with a balcony providing magical mountain views and privacy for relaxing or enjoying room service breakfast. Great fritatas and perfect scrambled eggs.
Swimming in the clean, warm pool that’s just a few steps down stairs from our bedroom. Took a photo but it got deleted, bummer. But trust me, the pools are great.
Transcendental atmosphere framed by snow-capped mountains, fertile with grapefruit trees, stately palms, plants, flowers with musical accompaniment of chirping birds.
Lots of action with locals flocking for drinks and/or dinner. Lots of hotel guests, energy, yet plenty of privacy.
The nice people at the resort.
Dislikes: the $27 resort fee; the $25 entry fee for the Spa if you’re not getting a treatment; the chintzy towels provided in the room for use at the pool. Need big,fluffy ones.
Factoids: Once a maven for movie stars and moguls from Frank Capra to Greta Garbo, La Quinta Resort & Spa provides the perfect escape from LA, or out of town. You can fly into Palm Springs Regional Airport, to LAX or drive (go to www.google.com for map from your area).
Location: 49-499 Eisenhower Drive,La Quinta, CA. 800-59-3828, www.laqunitaresort.com
I’ll be reviewing Morgan’s at www.thediningdiva.wordpress.com and at my examiner.com site, because it’s too good to share space with.
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.
As happens each year at this time, the Montage Beverly Hills is spreding the proverbial red carpet for celebrity out-of-towners who stay there during the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.
Of course ordinary mortals who happen to be caught up in the cross hairs, and are lucky enough to score a room there during Hollywood’s biggest, most hyped, ginormous week, can also enjoy such luxuries as: Services of the “Bow Tie Butler” who does exactly what it sounds like, helps gentlemen tie their ties. Everyone gets personalized note cards; a monogrammed director’s chair in their room to use while preening; and to relieve stress, the spa’s open longer for facials, massages and body pampering (at additional fees). FYI: I’ve had, hands-on, some of the best facials and massages at this facility.
The spa is gorgeous and the treatment menu creative with salubrious selections such as:
“Essential Waters” — that starts with hydrotherapy bath infused with essential oils of neroli, bergamot and sandalwood coupled with underwater massage serves as the relaxing prelude to a soothing, long stroke, warm-oil massage, ending with exfoliation and a revitalizing Vichy rain shower. “Montage Anti-aging Facial” — that combines an antioxidant serum with a firming and contouring facial massage and a marine mask to firm and lift. “Body sculpting” –Mineral-enriched mud is combined with a contouring and lifting connective tissue massage, followed by a cool mud compress, to encourage the removal of cellular wastes and improve the skin’s appearance. ·
Seamstresses and laundresses trained in the care of fine fabrics are in-house to attend to any last-minute alterations or garment pressing requirements.
· Hair styling and coloring appointments are available at the onsite Kim Vo Salon and the in-house barber shop, Gornik & Drucker, who have been ministering to the famous and infamous since 1936.
· Complimentary shoe shines by butlers certified by world-famous bespoke shoemaker John Lobb. · The valet department staffs two distinct arrival areas to ensure additional privacy for guests.
· An ever-alert security department to keep the paparazzi at bay, with all entrances and exits kept private and secure. Just in case you were worried.
· A well choreographed transportation department making to ensure seamless limousine arrivals and departures so that Oscar® guests can expect on-the-dot service.
· The gift shop has fully stocked with creature comforts such as breath mints and additional supplies of socks and stockings.
Montage Beverly Hills, 225 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, (310) 860-7800, www.montagebeverlyhills.com
There’s a whole lot of happenings going on in and around Los Angeles, and your Diva on the Go is right on top them….
Not a town that rests on its laurels, Los Angeles is booming with new hotels and attractions like the J.W Marriott and Ritz Carlton that side-by-side at the $2.5 billion L.A. Live sports and entertainment complex,
The Marriot which opens in March, after a short delay, will have 878 rooms, 52 suites, a 4,000 square foot fitness center (yes!), an outdoor pool and a Gallery Collection with 77,000 square feet of meeting space. www.marriott.com.
The Ritz-Carlton (I adoree this chain), which opens soon, has 123 rooms, 14 suites and a full-service spa which the company claims is the only one of its kind in downtown Los Angeles. The hotels also sports a signature Club Floor Lounge—one of my favorite amenities offered by Ritz Carlton, which I have sampled from New York to Hawaii. For the initiated, Club Lounge privileges are available for an extra fee and include light breakfast, lunchtime snacks and afternoon cocktails and hors d’ouevres. www.ritzcarlton.com.
The Divaonthego will be checking out both properties when they are fully operative in March , and filing a full report right here.
Meanwhile to keep up with competition the Holiday Inn at LA City Center (adjacent to L.A. Live), is undergoing a $10 million facelift and a name change to Luxe City Center Hotel. The property will be fitted for all the right stuff from a fitness center to outdoor pool, business center and restaurant. Heading west to Santa Monica, the Loews Hotel has reopened the Ocean Spa & Fitness as an “eco-conscious facility with all sorts of environmentally friendly materials like Ecoresin panels made from 40% post-industrial recycled resin, reclaimed-wood furniture and more. www.loewshotels.com.
In Beverly Hills: The Spa at the Beverly Wilshire, (A Four Seasons Hotel) is launching Christopher Drummond beauty– t a “smarter” brand of makeup, as an Oscar tie-in complete with a pre-Academy Award party.
After years of research and industry experience, working with some of the biggest names in beauty, Christopher says he realized that titanium dioxide, bismuth oxycloride and zinc oxide were the culprits, so he created brand that doesn’t fit in a category: beyond mineral makeup, Christopher Drummond Beauty products are a healthy alternative to mineral makeup and traditional makeup – free of chemicals and preservatives, that are good for you, look great, will not cause acne, and are appropriate for even the most sensitive skin.
“I believe that knowledge is power and we have the option to educate and empower ourselves. Being a part of the Beverly Wilshire is completely in line with our message, because spa employees have the power to educate their customers about what they are putting on their skin,” said Christopher Drummond. “Every choice we make, from the food we eat, to the cosmetics we use sends a message about us, and people need to be sure that the messages they send are the ones that really reflect how they feel about themselves, their health and their world.” Check out the product line and great photos at: www.christopherdrummond.com
Fall/Winter Color Collection: Straight off the runways. Christopher Drummond pulled the best looks from recent runway shows, which included a sexy, smoky eye mixed with a rich gem-inspired story to create the Fall/Winter Color Collection for Christopher Drummond Beauty. Includes luxurious colors with beautiful textures in all-natural, chemical free products. Items include: Feline/Charcoal, Amethyst/Purple and Mystique/Blue Grey Eyeshadows; Matte Fraiche/Mauve and Matte Tres Chaud/Warm Red Blushes; Noir, Cafe, Plum and Peacock Eyeliners; and Cinnamon, Brazilian Berry and Luscious Lip Glosses. ($17.50-$28)
Gift Set for Women: The Gift Set offers three foundation colors, the Sade Pele Radiance Booster, Bronzer, the Silky Flat Top Brush, and a 1/8 ounce bottle of the new Revitalizing Facial Serum. The Gift Set is perfect for the woman who is afraid of the commitment of buying one full-sized product ($95)
Creme/Cream Veludo Velvet Foundation: For very fair skin, the Crme Foundation is a shade lighter than the Christopher Drummond Luz/Light, and contains shades of pink and less yellow for those with a cooler tone to their skin. ($65)
When I stepped into the new Miyako Hybrid Hotel it felt like I’d left LA and gone to Japan.
Hard to fathom such graciousness smack amid a bustling commercial area in Torrance, California, 25-minutes from downtown Los Angeles and a stone’s throw from LAX. We actually went to the hotel to sample the much touted Gonpachi Restaurant Sushi Bar & Lounge.
We decided to tie it in with an over-night to see exactly what a “Hybrid Hotel” was all about. The whole experience proved rather pleasant. Your basic business traveler facility, there’s no pool or recreational facilities, but a spa and fitness center are in the works, and there’s free Internet connection, two computers available to guests, and shuttle service to and from the airport.
Unless you’re doing business at one of many Japanese corporations (Toyota, Honda and the like) that line Western Avenue, or need a place to plop on a LAX layover, you might be better off just going to Miyako to sample the Japanese fusion cuisine offered at Gonpachi.
Comfortable and beautifully appointed , the bed actually engulfed us into a wonderful night’s sleep. Nice touches include coffee makers, ultra fine linens, 46 inch flatscreen TVs,, luxurious soaking tubs in which I indulged for a long bath, heated water bidets, and a special system that shuts off electricity when you leave the room (with the exception of a special plug for cell phones etc).
The management prides itself on being “green” and makes special other efforts such as labeling trash baskets for recycling and changing sheets every three days.
We sampled Gonpachi early in the game—it had opened only two weeks prior to our visit, December 2, 2009. We were told the menu and the wine list weren’t yet completed. Named after “Shirai Gonpachi”, the main character of a Kabuki, a form of traditional Japanese Theatre, the restaurant has an authentic edge. We ordered several items and enjoyed every attractively presented bite from the house, hand-made soba and udon noodles, to plates such as Sunomono –thinly sliced japanese cucumber in tosazu, Meiji Tofu, silken tofu with shibazuke sauce, crispy fried chicken with ponzu sauce, Gindara Saikyo Yaki–grilled miso-marinated black cod, kobe beef and mushroom cooked in hoba leaf (this was particularly fantastic), mixed seaweed : sweet sesame vinaigrette, Red Snapper Carpaccio with blueberry, garlic chips and yuzu kosho(also amazing), Kobujime–thin sliced halibut sashimi on kelp with daikon radish and red chili peppers (couldn’t get enough of this but had to save room), Flying Dragon–spicy tuna roll topped with unagi tempura and guess what? Cheese cake for dessert that was outstanding. It‘s definitely worth checking out when you get a yen for really good Japanese cuisine. And, if you’re really into all these Asian, check out the adjacent Mitsuwa Marketplace—where you can pick up anything from Japanese spices to fresh fish, takeout food, clothing and even Shiseido cosmetics. Miyako Hybrid Hotel, 21381 S. Western Avenue, Torrance, 310-212-5111, www.miyakohybridhotel.com.
Since I’m sure you’re curious, “Hybrid” according to the company suggests eco-friendliness which is carried through with solar-powered electrical system, environmentally responsible and recycled construction materials. Miyako refers to “a flourishing center of business and entertainment.” Miyako Hybrid is the newest member of the well-respected Japanese hospitality chain.