Kauai brings The Descendants to Los Angeles

Mayor Bernard Carvahlo of Kauai presents plague to Kaui Hart Hemmings, author the short story on which The Descendants was based (she’s adorable and the Mayor is a real delight).




Read the whole story here:  http://www.examiner.com/travel-diva-in-los-angeles/kauai-takes-the-descendants-to-l-a-s-sls-hotel-for-pre-oscar-show

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 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 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

The Diva’s No Brainer Guide to Flying First Class

The Diva’s No Brainer Guide to Flying First Class

 Or Flying Coach is for dummies….

For this Diva, flying First Class—or at least Business—is the only way to go especially on flights lasting 5 hours or more. I stop at nothing to get that upgrade, using miles, paying for upgrades, smiling, crying, stomping my feet and most of the time it works. I hate coach.


Why? Let me count the ways.

First of all checking in.  Most carriers allocate special check in not only inside the terminal but outside where you can be dropped off and go right in. Once in it’s usually a breeze going through the first class check in line. After which you are often escorted to a faster, dedicated first class security line. Then you get to board before coach passengers and can settle into your cushy seat, often with a beverage while you await take-off.

And speaking of seats, depending on the flight designation: i.e.: Premium Class, Deluxe First, or simply First, seats can recline anywhere from 60 degrees to flat. 


When flying solo on Delta I often go online to check out the aircraft because certain ones have one seat in the middle which means you are all by yourself for peace and quiet. I like to take domestic flights that are heading abroad because the airline usually uses planes that have more luxurious first class sections. This means better seating arrangements, food and more premium wines (I enjoy the grape when I fly).

 American, which I also fly often, has seats that go way back to almost bed configuration on domestic flights, usually those flights that are heading for Europe.


Disembarking is also more pleasant when you’re a First Class pax. You get off the plane before everybody and your luggage usually arrives first, but not always.


Refunds or itinerary changes are also easier when you purchase or use miles for an upgrade. Most carriers allow no fee changes or at least give you back the value of the fare.  You also get to check at least one bag free of charge (two if in First).


Of course there are times First Class fails. One such instance was a recent flight on USAir to Philadelphia. It was a morning trip and I ordered an omelet. When the flight attendant brought me my tray it had cereal and fruit. “I didn’t order this,” I explained. To wit she nastily replied, “We had to serve our “premium passengers” first, and you don’t have enough miles so you get second choice.” Obviously this did not go over well with me having forfeited 30,000 miles for my upgrade. I had a similar incident on the same carrier  only this time it was for a fully fare First Class ticket and man was this Diva ticked off. So much so I wrote to the airline and they sent me a First Class upgrade certificate on any flight. Still left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak.


There have been a few instances when due to mechanical problems I have had to land in a airport that wasn’t my destination and overnight.  In those cases, when I had a First Class ticket I was always put up in a hotel and given food vouchers. Some coach passengers weren’t as fortunate.  A few times when this happened on American the company actually refunded me miles for the inconvenience.


But most of the time you are treated better in the front of the plane.  Hawaiian Airlines, which has a fine reputation of Aloha-like service throughout its Ocean-crossing flights, goes out of its way to please First Class passengers. I have flown them many times and was never let down. The food is created by top Island chefs and almost always excellent for airline food. They pour decent wines and are very generous and attentive. The seats recline comfortably.


First Class is a non brainer when flying to Europe, Asia or the South Pacific. It’s just too many hours to be cramped in coach.  I love the International carriers that provide night clothes and beds covered in down comforters.


I’m flying Virgin American for the first time soon and have booked their Main Cabin Select (Business Class in most airline jargon), I’ll let you know how it goes. I joined the airline’s Elevate frequent flyer club and can upgrade the day of departure to First Class for $150 if seats are available, I’m going to try it.

Pamper Yourself with a Week at The Golden Door

Anyone who reads my musings know I’m a huge fan and supporter of the Golden Door Health Resort in Escondido, California. It’s simply the best spa in the world as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been fortunate to have spent many weeks enscounced in the Japanese-style splendor of this pamper, fitness, health and spiritual sanctuary.  I used to go twice a year–back in the anti-recessionary days.

 Sure it’s expensive but it pays off big time to lose yourself — along with any excess weight, stress or negative thoughts–at this brainchild of spa doyenne Deborah Szekely who opened its gilded doors decades ago and immediately attracted a rich and famous clientele who also became loyal supporters/return guests and friends of the Golden Door like myself. 

 What Makes the Door Special
(Let me count the ways)

1.  A handpicked staff who pampers and coddles

2.  The best exercise regimen on the planet including awesome mountain hikes combined with state of the art equipment and a top notch fitness staff.
3. Gourmet, calorie, fat and salt -controlled food.
4.  All-inclusive amenities: daily massage, facials, manicure, pedicure, body treatments, herbal wraps, makeup, hair, skin care.

5. Pretty Japanese-style rooms that are kept spotless by able-bodied attendants who seem to come and go seamlessly when you’re not looking to fill your water pitcher, plump your pillows, straighen out your bed and more.

6. And the warm and wonderful staff to bring it all together.

Reserve a week
May 31 to June 14 or September 6 to December 27, 2009
and receive our 2008 rate of

Other special-rate weeks include
Memorial Day Week May 24 – 31 $7495
Summer Focus Weeks June 14 to September 6 $7495
3-Day Spa Interlude July 5 – 8, August 16 – 19 $3625
4-Day Spa Interlude July 8 – 12, August 19 – 23 $4725
Thanksgiving Coed Week November 22 – 29 $7495
New Year’s Week December 27, 2009 – January 3, 2010 $7495

**Bring-a-Friend reservations must be made after January 1, 2009 for visits between January 4 and May 24, 2009 and friend’s name must be referenced at the time of booking. Not valid February 15 to 22, 2009.

Call Debby- at 800-424-0777
or e-mail reservations@goldendoor.com
 visit www.goldendoor.com

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Frederick Holley, RIP

vaginalFrederick Holley, whimsical, wonderful, kind-hearted artist created his “Vaginal Art” in the 70s, of which I am a proud owner.  His passing represents a loss for the world of another good man, of which there seems to be too few these days.

Here’s more of his work….including  a portrait of Patti, your divaonthego and one of Frederick’s muses….poster