The Diva’s Picks for Holiday Dining, RH at Andaz is a good start

With its open, airy design and mid-century vibe, RH at Andaz West Hollywood provides a whimsical yet  sophisticated setting. So relaxed and yet urbane, it offers a fun place to sit back and enjoy some creative cuisine with friends or family.   Executive Chef Sebastien Archambault, master of  market-to-table menus has concocted some festive meals to enjoy during the yuletide season…

 Christmas Eve – Thursday, December 24, served 3 to 11 p.m.

RH will offer a festive four-course menu featuring Chef Archambault’s own family recipes using California’s ingredients. Price is $65 per person (tax and gratuity not included).

Aperitif:  Foie Gras Crostini, plum and fig chutney, pineau des charentes

1st Course:  Boothbay Harbor Lobster Parmentier, garlic, sea beans and salmon roe

2nd Course:  Seared Santa Barbara Halibut, artichoke hearts, gold chanterelles, baby spinach

3rd Course:  Foie Gras-Stuffed Petaluma Chicken Breast, butternut squash,

chestnut and chicken jus

Dessert:  Bûche de Noël

Christmas Day – Friday, December 25, served 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Christmas Brunch will be served along with a festive menu of “spirit-filled” cocktails. RH’s customary brunch items will be offered, including favorites like French-style Scrambled Eggs with smoked salmon and dill; Breakfast Salad; Homemade Crispy Duck Confit; and Gary’s Artisan Pork Sausage. (The restaurant will also be open for dinner with its customary menu.)

New Year’s Eve – Thursday, December 31

  • 1st Seating: 5 p.m.
  • 2nd Seating: 8 p.m.

Bid farewell to 2009 by indulging in Chef Archambault’s celebratory four-course New Year’s Eve menu. Reservations required. Price for the 1st Seating is $70 per person; 2nd Seating is $110 per person, which includes Champagne toast at midnight. Tax and gratuity not included.

Aperitif:  Poached Fanny Bay Oyster, smoked salmon, tiger lemon jelly

1st Course:  Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine, plum and fig chutney, warm homemade brioche 

2nd Course: Seared Diver Scallops, butternut squash, chestnut and celery,

chicken jus, black truffle

3rd Course:  Roasted Petaluma Duck Breast, porcini, gold chanterelles,

sautéed baby heirloom potatoes, garlic and parsley, pineau des charentes sauce

Dessert: Homemade Dillon Rum Baba, bourbon vanilla whipped cream

 Happy New Year…forgetabout football and head out to the RH at Andaz between 10 AM and 5 PM for some good eats…

Enjoy  brunch chased down by some  detox cocktails  such as a green smoothie, mint berry juice and fresh limonatta, or more adult beverages like RH BloodyMarys, Margaritas, Martinis or screwdrivers.

 RH Restaurant & Bar at the Andaz West Hollywood,  8401 W. Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA,    reservations: 323-785-6090, web:    www.andaz.com

The Diva Treats Her Main Man to a Birthday Desert Fling

Rich's birthday 2009 022

Rich's birthday 2009 016I treated Rich's birthday 2009 018Richard to a two night stay in a villa at Grand Champions in Indian Wells, California, for his birthday, complete with spa treatments and a World Series win by the New York Yankees. Well, it just happened that the last game was played on his birthday eve and we ordered room service so we didn’t miss an at bat. Glad we opened a bottle of fine champagne, too, because it was an apt celebration to our team’s victory and the beginning or myhusband’s birthday bash.

I booked him a “Gentlemen’s”  facial and deep tissue  massage at the hotel’s  Aqua Serena Spa (www.aquaserenaspa.com)  and while at it an Anti-aging ritual and deep tissue rub for myself, especially since anyone celebrating a birthday gets a free 50 minute treatment when accompanied by a companion who purchases one (so it’s half price essentially, and all were well worth it.

Took him to dinner at Sirocco Restaurant at the Renaissance Esmeralda, next door to Grand Champions) on his birthday and again we lucked out with a price fixed $35 tasting menu that was superb from appetizers to desserts with a glass of wine each thrown in plus yummy desserts. 

I had proscuitto and melon, we both had pastas, risotto,  Mahi Mahi) and an amazing creamy dessert with fresh fruit .We splurged on a big uttery bottle of Rombauer Chard which made a perfect accompaniment.  Also sat on the fireplace warmed patio prior to dinner where he enjoyed a perfect martini an me a so so glass of wine. The pre-dinner drinks and dinner set  me back  about $200 but he’s worth it.

And what’s more we stopped at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa on the way back to LA where I’m a slot machine member and I actually won. The casino gives you credit for play and I had enough for the lunch buffet, which is quite an amazing spread for $11 per person. We rode home happy.

For more info go to www.hyattgrandchampionscomwww.renaissanceesmeralda.com.

The Diva Does Spa Luce at the Hollywood Renaissance

mona illustrrationIllustration by Mona Safer Edwards

The Divaonthego is off to sample the year old Spa Luce at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa. I’ve booked 80 minute couple’s massages for my husband Richard and I. I will be reviewing the spa so come back on Tuesday for a full report.

It does sound devine, 6400 square feet of  luxury with  “celebrity-inspired”  treatments and top quality creams and elixirs from Sonya Dakar Skincare, Somme Institute and Red Flower. 

They also have a Red Carpet Spa Package designed for you know who..that includes an overnight in deluxe view room, wine and truffles on arrivl, 80 minute anit gravity facial, mani, pedi, two Martinis, breakfast for two and valet parking. 

A la carte pampering possibilities include a 5-part Japan Ritual massage which employs therapeutic flower oils, furit essences and minerals from earth and sea.  Apparently you’re purified with yuzu mimosa sea algae, deeply scrubbed with gingergrass, polished with nutrient rich rice bran and hydrated with rose, camellia and plum. My goodness it sounds exotic and yummy.  The grand finale is a shiats rub with kinmoxei wild lime silk oil that wakens you back up.

If you need cleansing the Hammam Ritual is another 5 part session which starts with a cleansing of Moroccan mint tea nd silt, then a vigorous scrubbing with coffee, oile stones and fresh lemons and a wrap in rich rhassoul clay. Hmmmm. Then you get a Turkish massage of cardamon, jasmine,bergamot, amber and cloves. What will they think of next.  Sound pretty herbacious to me.

Hey I’ve been spa trekking for years and pretty much have had everything done to me, tried on me and explained to me.  So I am really looking forward to a simple 80 minutes of salubrious massage side by side with my honey. I think they throw in a Martini and a whirlpool. Not sure. I’ll let you know.

The Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa at Hollywood and Highland Center, 1755 N. Highland Avenue, 323-856-1200, www.renaissancehollywood.com.

Check out my column at:  http://www.examiner.com/x-23074-LA-Insider-Travel-Examiner~y2009m10d2-Halloween-WeHo-Stylethink-stilettos-boas-men-in-drag

The Diva Checked out the Andaz in WeHo And Liked It

IMG_0552The new suites have great views and a little alcove by the window with TV.

Although I haven’t stayed there yet, I’ve been to the Andaz, West Hollywood, a few times for wonderful dinners at the RH.  I returned recently to see what all the hoopla over the new suites was about. I found out, they are really cool albeit pricey.  But if you got the bucks and want to bed down smack on Sunset Strip within walking distances of trendy, hip spots like the House of Blues, nifty restaurants (Mirabelle) and super shopping (Sunet Plaza), this place is for you.  It also seems to appeal to a young, attractive clientele who gather at the bustling bar before dinner at RH or night clubbing along the Strip.

 The hotel dishes out lots of fun amenities like welcome wine served throughout the day for new arrivals, mini bars stocked with free soft drinks and healthy snacks, free local calls, a great gym, hopping bar and chic, stylish appointments and one of the best restaurants in the city. There are 20 smartly-designed suites from one bedroom kings to King Suites that range from $245-$475 a night.  While there’s a flat screen TV in the bedroom there’s also a tube just by the window where you multi-task–look at  TV or checkk out at the view of Sunset Blvd.

Facts:   257 room, most with a view. Formerly the Hyatt on Sunset, the company recently re-branded the fa,ed 1970s hotel. The name means “personal style” in Hindi which Hyatt translates as meaning the latest in”style, service and high-touch innovation. Location, location, location — smack in the heart of urbane WeHo where you can actually walk to restaurants and hot spots like House of Blues and to the trendy and chic shops at Sunset Plaza. RH, super, hip, happening three meal a day restaurant with great food, atmosphere and pizzaz.. Super staff sans titles–like Michel Morauw, a gracious host who acts like the General Manager without a the moniker. Attractive packages prevail like “Love Goes Around” where couples get $100 hotel credit, welcome gift and daily breakfast. “Sit Back and Relax”, comes with a $200 hotel credit and more, check them out at http://www.westholywood.andaz.com. Andaz, 8401 West Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 323-785-6056.

Not your everyday meeting rooms, the ones here are posh, comfortable and outside the box, with photos of Ozzy Osborne lining the walls…Ossie

The Diva on the go highly  recommends Andaz.

The Diva Does Dodger Stadium

pattiandrichatballpkThe Diva and Richard in the Stadium Club enjoying a sumptuous buffet and mighty fine Chard.

Our friend Tom took us out to the ballpark last night for a Dodger-Astro  game. LA won.  I was a reluctant participant at first seeing that I’m a major NY Yankee/American League fan. But the Diva on the Go is up for anything and this proved much better than expected. Largely due to the company.  It was my first outing to this ballpark and I must say I was impressed. The facility underwent major renovations recently and it’s all good.   It was Tom’s annual Georgetown U get together and began with a dinner buffet  at the Stadium Club   followed by  the game. We had nifty right field seats in section 46. Didn’t get to catch any balls but one did fly close and was caught by a fan. I assume he was a fan as he was cheering a lot fo the home team.

fieldshotdodgerpic

Got to see Manny,who’s pictured here out in the field huddled with other players. He struck out but also got a double.

FYI: the team moved to LA in 1958 but the stadium wasn’t fully operative until 1962. It has seen many changes like a $20 million renovation in 2005 which  added 1600 seats and improved dining venues as well as Martini Barnear the Dugout Club–which we didn’t get to sample. www.dodgers.com.

More Sizzling Summer Specials in the Southland

Sizzling Summer Specials at THE GRAND DEL MAR 

If you live in the Southland, hop in your car or take the Amtrak Surliner and head over to The Grand Del Mar  for some fun in the sun. The Mediterranean-inspired resort offers attractive, high style accommodation,  a Tom Fazio-designed golf course,  proximity to San Diego family attractions, hiking/walking trails, biking, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling and surfing.

The hotel features fine dining at   Addison, a grand Spa  and to enjoy it all, appealing packages such as:

 The Grand Golf Getaway– unlimited golf (with cart) for two players at The Grand Golf Club from arrival until departure the following day, one night’s room accommodations, overnight valet parking, daily breakfast for two and 20-percent discount on retail purchases throughout the resort. Rates start at $670 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

 The Grand Spa- with its emphasis on renewal and rebirth, offering comprehensive programs and á la carte services. Includes one night’s room accommodations, overnight valet parking, $350 spa credit for use toward services or products at The Spa, daily breakfast for two and 20-percent discount on retail purchases throughout the resort. Rates start at $695 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

 Grand Bed & Breakfast– one night’s room accommodations and overnight valet parking, daily breakfast for two and 20-percent discount on retail purchases throughout the resort. Rates start at $395 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

 Family Fun– create family-time and fond memories, this package features one night’s room accommodations, overnight valet parking, complimentary Children’s Menu dining for up to two children ages 8 and under at Amaya or Poolside; and one four-hour program for up to two children (ages 4 to 12) at The Explorer’s Club. Additionally, one connecting guestroom is available at 50-percent off the Family Fun package rate. Rates start at $465 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities). Please contact reservations at 1-888-314-2030 to add a connecting room to your reservation.

 The Grand Life– I love the name of this packaged, designed for those who simply want to relax and enjoy a leisurely stay. Includes accommodations for a minimum of three nights; $100.00 resort credit for use in The Spa, The Grand Golf Club, at any of the six dining venues or resort shops, and overnight valet parking. Rates start at $999 for three nights (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

Call: 1-888-314-2030 or book online at www.TheGrandDelMar.com.

 

Los Peñasquitos Canyon and the Pacific Coast Invite Active Participation

 

Nearby to The Grand Del Mar, guests may select from:

 

Canyon to Waterfall Hike. Discover prehistoric pasts, an abundance of flora, wildlife communities, flowing creeks and waterfalls, and scenic vistas along this guided four-mile hike.

 

Adventures on Wheels. Cycling and mountain biking provide fast-paced outdoor adventures – participants can bike the scenic paved trails located conveniently next to the resort, or enjoy the more than 37 miles of mountain biking trails located in the adjacent Los Peñasquitos Canyon.

 

Horseback Riding – The Adobe Experience. Explore Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve’s scenic terrain and unique landmarks, including a restored Adobe Ranch House originally built in the early 1800s, on a guided 2.5-hour horseback adventure.

 

The Grand Beach Service. The resort’s complimentary beach service offers an easy way to soak up the San Diego sun, and includes roundtrip transportation to/from Del Mar’s 15th Street Beach; set-up of beach chairs and umbrellas; beach towels and bottled waters.

 

Cave Kayaking. Guided kayaking tours of the La Jolla Sea Caves and the fascinating marine paradise of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve.

 

Kayak and Snorkel La Jolla. Kayaking and snorkeling adventures allow guests to get up close and personal with the gentle leopard sharks, Garibaldi and other local fish.

 

Surf’s Up! Surfers of all aptitudes can head to the beach for private surf lessons with locally acclaimed Surf Diva. Adult, kids, family and group lessons are all available; surfboard and wet suit rentals included.

 

Mesa to Sea Hike. A guided two-hour hike from the famous cliff top groves of Torrey Pines State Reserve to the pristine beach below.

 

Cliffside Walk. Participants enjoy a two-hour guided coastal hike along La Jolla’s historic Cliffside Trail and learn about sea life, nesting birds, Native American lore and beach culture.

 

For more information or to register for hikes and other activities, please call the resort’s concierge at 858-314-1988.

 

Onsite Activities Abound

 

At The Grand Del Mar, there are tons of active enticements on the property. Two pro-style tennis courts beckon tennis buffs, while the resort’s four heated pools – with underwater speakers and a friendly outdoor pool bar – provide a relaxing retreat for the aquatically inclined. The resort’s spectacular 18-hole course offers championship caliber golf, while the 21,000-square-foot spa features an array of treatments, as well as an expansive fitness facility and movement studio. Here, guests can choose from an array of classes, such as Yoga, Pilates, Spin or Total Body Workout. Others may opt for tennis clinics, golf lessons or a quick fitness walk around the resort’s beautiful grounds.

 About The Grand Del Mar

Situated amid a private preserve in Coastal North San Diego County, The Grand Del Mar opened its doors in October 2007 and features: 249 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites; San Diego’s only Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course; two outdoor tennis courts; a 21,000-square-foot Renaissance-inspired spa; four swimming pools; regional dining, including Addison, the award-winning restaurant; an enclave of residential Villas; and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space. www.TheGrandDelMar.com.

The Diva Loves LA

I Love LA

Which is why I write and update ACCESS Los Angeles (Harper Collins Publishers) — the 13th edition is in bookstores and available online at sites like www.amazon.com.  It pretty much guides you through the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area from downtown (and yes there really a thriving area in that part of the city now) through mid-town, Beverly Hills, WLA, and down to Orange County and across the sea to Catalina Island.  So order a copy now. In the meantime my friends at the Los Angeles Visitor’s Bureau put together

The  “Top 100 Vacation Deals.” for summer available through August 31, 2009.  For a complete listing of hotel offers, visit www.discoverLosAngeles.com/vacationdeals.  This is the Bureau’s recommendations:

            Stay in the middle of the action and save up to 40 percent with a Hollywood Getaway at Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel or Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa.  Choose from online exclusive getaway packages including two nights of accommodations, a seven-day unlimited ticket to enjoy all the new entertainment at Universal Studios Hollywood, complimentary breakfast for two, complimentary parking and roundtrip transportation between your hotel and Universal Studios Hollywood.

            Wind down with a midweek or weekend stay at a choice of 16 Westside hotels.  Escape to The Sofitel Los Angeles, where visitors who book a guestroom by July 5, 2009 get their fourth night free, in addition to a picnic basket.  If performing arts or a studio tour is on your travel itinerary, visit Inter Continental Los Angeles Century City, where guests who stay a minimum of two nights receive breakfast for two, complimentary parking and a tour of Sony Studios or two tickets to Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Rates start at $269.  In Beverly Hills, The Residence Inn treats travelers to an American Express gift card valued at $50, complimentary AMC movie tickets for two, free WiFi and complimentary breakfast for two starting at $229.  At the Holiday Inn Century City, travelers who book two nights obtain the third night free.

For the ultimate ocean-side retreat, take advantage of beachside getaways at Hotel Casa Del Mar with rates starting at $395 per night based on space availability, Le Merigot, A JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa highlighting two Swedish massages with guestroom rates starting at $459 based on space availability, or Shutters On the Beach which offers a $50 hotel credit and guestroom rates starting at $525 per night based on space availability.

            Discover culture in the heart of downtown Los Angeles with Millennium Biltmore Hotel’s “I Love (Downtown LA)! Package for two which highlights a one night stay priced from $179 per night based on space availability, breakfast and tickets to the Museum of Contemporary Art, tickets to the Grammy Museum and vouchers to visit the ESPN Zone.  Other attractive downtown hotel deals include Wilshire Grand Los Angeles’ “Beat the Heat,” whereby the guestroom rate is based on the high temperature of the day of your stay with a $20 room upgrade and 20 percent off hotel dining.  At the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & 

Suites, guests relax in a deluxe guestroom, savor a three-course pre-fixe dinner for two at LA Prime Restaurant and obtain complimentary overnight parking.

In addition to these exclusive packages, travelers can obtain up to 50 percent off on LA’s top cultural, dining, entertainment and other top attractions.

            Head to Hollywood for a night at the theatre with 35%-50% off theatre tickets to Dirty Dancing at the Pantages Theater, Hollywood. While in the area, enjoy $5 off regular Adult/Child admission to Madame Tussaud’s Hollywood Wax Museum, or treat yourself to a complimentary dessert with the purchase of an entrée when dining at the renowned Geisha House on Hollywood Boulevard.

While in downtown, embark on a larger-than-life feature film adventure with $2 off Adult admission and $1 off Children’s admission to an IMAX movie at the California Science Center IMAX Theater, or enjoy $3 off admission to the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live. Stop for lunch at Zucca Ristorante, an upscale Italian establishment, currently offering a $19 lunch special and $5 parking for guests of the restaurant.

Chill out on the Westside with a complimentary appetizer while dining at Crustacean, one of Beverly Hill’s finest eateries, or experience 2-for-1 general admission to the Skirball Cultural Center.

Soak in the sun at the city’s top seaside eateries with offers including 15% off the total bill at I Cugini’s in Santa Monica, or a complimentary dessert with the purchase of an entrée at Geoffrey’s Malibu. Take in the sites and sounds of the Santa Monica Pier boardwalk with 15% off an unlimited-ride wristband at the popular weekend beachside destination, Pacific Park. 

The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit business association whose primary mission is to market and promote Los Angeles as the premier site for leisure travel, meetings and conventions. Though not part of city Government, LA INC. is recognized as the city’s official tourism marketing organization.  For more information about “Los Angeles Top 100 Vacation Deals,” visit the official visitors information website of Los Angeles at www.discoverLosAngeles.com