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Vivian's Corner



What's current and what's coming

January 2014

Reactions to the Edith Wharton works, Bunner Sisters and Roman Fever, staged as part of Metropolitan Playhouse Gilded Age Festival, I am happy to report, have been wonderful. Among the reviews:

Bunner Sisters (A tale of surreal vulnerability for women on their own at the end of the nineteenth century: a staged reading with light and sound by Linda Selman)

"Kudos! Applause! Bravo! Ovations! Commendations! Tributes! Acclamations! Great Work! The actors didn’t even need their scripts! Thank you for a wonderful afternoon! We can’t stop talking about the themes in the story!" Vivian & Ed Fancher, Publishers of CEO Traveler

"Bunner Sisters was written at the turn of the century and published in 1916. It is a period piece, reflected in literary style and story line. Nostalgically sentimental. With all the hardships the sisters meet, there is still hope. The adaptation to the stage is faithful to the story of Edith Wharton. The staged reading is clear; the story engaging. I enjoyed it as part of cultural history. Brought back Edith Wharton and 19th century American novella. The actors brought it out well. Seeing plays of old illuminates to me theater of our own time." Y. Schlesinger Writer/Sociologist/Assistant Professor, Hunter College.

Roman Fever (Close-knit and closely held secrets unravel when privileged matrons revisit the scene of their Gilded Age girlhood: a dramatic reading performed by Michele LaRue)

"A wonderful story wonderfully rendered." "Riveting!" "Luminous!" "Perfect!"

You can still catch Bunner Sisters on January 23rd and January 25th at 7 pm; Roman Fever on January 26 at 1 pm. Remember, Mount members will receive a special $3 discount on tickets.

November 2012

Barclays Center, the new sports and entertainment complex headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, hosted its first VIP cocktail party to initiate a series of on-going events throughout the coming year. In attendance were VIP patrons of Barclays—those who purchased season suite box tickets and court side seats for the arena’s happenings. Barclays partnered with Maserati of Manhattan and Gotham Magazine, as well as several other up-scale brands, to celebrate the launch. The scene of the party was Maserati’s glittering mostly white showroom in Tribecca, a perfect space for a party. Music by Brooklyn’s own DJ Sal Morale entertained those present during the evening. Guests were able to sit in the luxurious handcrafted automobiles. Some attendees planned to return for a test drive and perhaps a purchase, too. Complimentary shoe shines were offered by Manhattan Shoe Care. Peroni served beer and Chivas Regal scotch and Perrier Jouet champagne were just two of the premium brands that were poured. Blake Green showcased his exquisite “finely handmade cufflinks". Alexander West had a rack that featured custom-made men’s shirts. Wempe exhibited some of their luxury watches. The merchandise that Maserati sells, such as caps, tees and jackets featuring the company’s logo, occupied a booth, too. To benefit Hurricane Sandy victims a silent auction was held. Some of the items up for bids were: Cabo St Lucas, Napa Valley and Ritz Carlton vacations; a Dave Matthews hand-signed electric guitar and a collection of framed photos (some with signatures) of entertainers and sports figures including the Beatles, Jay-Z and Willie Mosconi. The hors d’ouevres were quite imaginative and very tasty like cheeseburger sliders, grilled cheese with tiny cups of tomato soup, salmon tartar in mini-cones, mushroom straws, and sliced franks in pastry rings.
A variety of dining and shopping options are available Barclays. The roster of shows includes The Rolling Stones Live, Justin Bieber, and Disney on Ice.


October 2012


Geoffrey Kent, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Abercrombie & Kent and Phil Otterson, President of A&K USA, hosted a media reception in the private dining room of the Plaza Food Hall to announce and celebrate the launch of Connections by Abercrombie & Kent. The event took place fifty years after the company had established itself as one of the world’s foremost agencies for luxury travel. A&K is known for its small group and private itineraries that take travelers all over the globe. With 50 offices and a cadre of capable and knowledgeable guides, the organization offers the discerning tourist unique one-of-a-kind experiences in more than one hundred countries on seven continents. The new division introduces 17 specially designed itineraries that expose vacationers to authentic and intimate connections in intriguing locales and cultures.

A&K will deliver the same level of service on which it has built its reputation, but at approximately 30 percent less than the cost of their “Small Group Journeys.” Personal encounters for 24 to 28 guests will shape these tours. A few examples might be meeting a fisherman in Croatia, who demonstrates how to harvest oysters, or learning how to make dumplings at a family’s Beijing hutong. http://www.ak-connections.com

Brigs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry On Bag

Briggs & Riley Travelware, the estimable luggage company, has partnered with Connections in suggesting which of their bags would be the most ideal ones to purchase for several of the itineraries. Of the 64 products in the line two each have been selected for five locales. The company offers a lifetime warranty that covers all damage. If you are going to Croatia the Excursion Backpack and the Explore 25 Upright from the BRX line might be ideal. For India you might use Transend Carry All Tote and a 27” Dual Compartment Duffle. Because it expands 25%, you might favor Baseline Domestic Carry-On to visit the Canyons of the Southwest. The company’s brochure announcing the tie-in also describes the luggage they like best for travel to Spain and East Africa. For a full description of these attractive and utilitarian bags log on to http://www.briggs-riley.com.

August 2012

Honey Drop Cocktail

One afternoon in late August a group of select food and wine writers gathered at the InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel for a unique and unusual honey-themed culinary event. The meeting was organized by three diverse groups who collaborated on the details of the experience. Several departments—administrative, food and beverage, and public relations—representing the hotel’s management worked with NYC Beekeeping.org and Christie’s Wine Department. At 3 we gathered in the Barclay Bar for the starting segment. Jose Torrella, a talented mixologist stirred up his own recipe, Honey Drop Cocktail, for all to sip. The ingredients Included fresh lemon juice, rosemary simple sugar, Limoncello, honey, vodka and fresh honey comb served in a martini glass rimmed with vanilla sugar and topped with a wooden honey stick. It was a perfect summer drink, but you can drop by and order it year-long. The bar will soon be introducing more organic cocktails such as a pumpkin-flavored one and a day and night mud slide. Boris Burtin, restaurant and bar manager, spoke about the 70 varieties of Calvados that are available. The apple-flavored brandy is a natural as a signature drink because of the tie-in with the Big Apple. We then proceeded to a kitchen where we witnessed volunteers under the able direction of James Fischer working at honey extraction. Some of the journalists donned hats and gloves and using a knife scraped the combs to release the honey into containers. We also learned about the many bee keepers in New York and the vast variety of honeys they produce. Four colonies (hives) had been placed on the InterContinental Barclay’s roof one month earlier. The bees pollinate the flowers and herbs growing in this space. Under the stewardship of General Manager Herve Houdre, the hotel has a commitment to sustainability. Next it was time for the restaurant staff overseen by Orlando Marques, Director, Food and Beverage, and Chef Serge Devas to present four honey-flavored dishes. We reconvened in the Bar and Grill for a fantastic food and wine sampling. Richard Young, a Wine Department specialist at Christie’s, was responsible for the pairings. Every wine was superb as were all of the dishes. Organic salad with candied walnuts and shaved Parmesan was matched with Taittinger, Brut, La Francaise, Reims. Pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras on toasted foccacia was served with Chateau Filhot—Vintage 1990 Sauternes, Deuxieme Cru Classe. Soy honey glazed spiced roasted crispy duck breast on a bed of cabbage, carrot, and seaweed salad was partnered with Corton Grand Cru, Cuvee Charlotte Dumay—Vintage 2003, Cote de Beaune, Hospice de Beaune. Dessert was a honey, cinnamon apple tartlet bathed in honey chocolate sauce and offered with Chateau Tirecul La Graviere, Cuvee Madame—Vintage 1995. Monbazillac. All the dishes are available in the hotel’s restaurant.

InterContinental New York Barclay, 111 E. 48th Street, http://www.intercontinentalbarclay.com

August 2012


August, 2012. The International Spa Association held its annual and 18th Media Event this month at Gotham Hall in Manhattan. The invitees were journalists who specialize in travel, fitness and beauty and whose outlets include print, TV, radio, and the internet. Eleven of the Association’s members set up booths where they offered beauty services and also talked about the latest treatments at their facilities and the products that are currently in use. Aestheticians and masseuses were present to administer the services and showcase the products. Also, in attendance were public relations representatives who provided information and answered questions. During a three-hour time frame I was able to try out nine of eleven services on the menu. When the procedures were over I felt as though I had spent a day at a spa. Located in Queensland, Australia, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat won the honors for traveling the farthest to be present at the event. I felt transported to another place as I underwent The Australian Spirit of Sound. Draped with a light blanket I lay on a table with warm stones between my toes and one on my third eye Chakra. I took away a beautifully illustrated booklet, Inspirations, that explains their program, http://www.gwinganna.com. Deborah Lippmann, celebrity manicurist and owner of a nail polish company, set up shop to dispense mini-manicures. Sold at high-end stores like Barney’s and Neiman Marcus, her polish colors are dazzling. And her quick-drying coat made it possible to get to your next appointment without smudging your nails. http://www.DebrorahLippman.com. The Spa at Regent Palms, Turks & Caicos, offers a range of holistic treatments. Their representative demonstrated the Oriental Essence Foot Ceremony—exfoliation with a ginger-infused salt scrub followed by a massage with an aromatic pebble-filled spice sachet. http://www.RegentHotels.com. Massage Envy, a very large chain of day spas all over the US treated us to a sugar foot scrub and even included a jar of the product in the gift bag. http://www.massageenvy.com. Kohler Waters Spa, an organization with three locations, offered lavender parfait hand treatments. http://www.americanclubresort.com. Aspira (infused with spirit), a destination spa, demonstrated a shortened version of their signature treatment, The Indigo Journey. HydrofacialMD brought with them the equipment they use to cleanse, exfoliate and do extractions. http://www.hydrafacial.com. Miraval Resort and Spa offered Naga, a form of Thai massage in which the therapist uses silk strands suspended from above and his feet for deep muscle work. http://www.miravalresorts.com. Miraval distributed its just published cookbook, “Mindful Eating,” along with many beauty products in the gift bag, Miraval has outstanding food. (I’ve been there.) In addition to the tempting recipe collection, the photographs are most attractive. My closet is filled with a handsome collection of tote bags, which I cherish, and which I received courtesy of ISPA, year after year. Every August there is a new design and new colors. In 2012 Henry Brown ™ bluegrass USA was the supplier of its “Kelly Carry All.”


October 2011

The annual Islands +Spa Media Event took place on October 14 in Manhattan's Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Themed "Travel Well," beauty, wellness and travel were highlighted by 18 sponsors who offered treatments and information about the latest innovations at their companies and properties. Pevonia Botanica, whose skin-care products are used both at home and by professionals, brought their worldwide global educators to the Big Apple to provide hand care and "Lift Glow and Go" facials in a private suite with four separate stations. Hilton Hotels introduced ever-expanding eforea: the spas at Hilton and Hilton Resorts. In addition to demonstrating two of their signature beauty rituals, three of the chains' delicious mocktails were poured. Revitalash, a brand that focuses on the enhancement of lashes, brows and hair, presented their new advanced eponymous formula created to both beautify and nourish eyelashes. Babor, an international concern, showcased natural skincare products, as well as their exquisite face design collection of high-quality cosmetics. Mohonk Mountain House demonstrated "Breath Deep and Be Well" the newest addition to its curative services. The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental delighted attendees at their booth by dispensing anti-aging "Caci" treatments. The machine used in this procedure addresses discoloration and helps erase fine lines. The Bliss Spa at W For Lauderdale & W South Beach demonstrated a three-step facial specifically formulated for the lips, "Fabulips," by cleansing, scrubbing and plumping. Mii amo, an Arizona destination spa, brought the chef to NYC to cook for the guests. He prepared one of his specialties, "Carrot Ginger Posole" and distributed take-home bags of the spices needed to prepare the dish. A masseuse for The Lodge at Woodloch, a Pennsylvania destination spa, gave sample "Hot Poultice Massages" to the assembled editors and journalists. Qua Baths & Sp, located at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas unveiled the cutting-edge "AURA-SOMA" aromatherapy Color Care System. Also in attendance were Live Aqua, Cancun; Omni Hotels and Resorts; OH! The Spa at Ocean House, Watch Hill, RI; the newly-opened Buccament Bay Resort, St. Vincent & The Grenadines; and the body holiday, LeSport, Saint Lucia. In addition to the combination spa-island retreats the tourist boards of Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and the Queensland, where the Great Barrier Reef is situated, promoted their island destinations.

September 2011

49th Annual New York Film Festival

The 49th Annual New York Film Festival is sponsoring a Gala Opening Night, featuring the screening of Carnage.

Based on the theatrical production, God of Carnage, which enjoyed a successful Broadway run, and won a Tony award for best play in 2009, the film was directed by Roman Polanski and produced by Said Ben Said. Yasmina Reza wrote the play and also scripted the movie. The world premier took place at the Venice Film Festival. The plot involves two pre-teen youngsters who had an altercation in a playground. The boys' two sets of parents decide to meet to see whether they can resolve the issues in a civil manner. What was meant to be a sociable evening turns into chaos. The biting comedy brings out the prejudices and mean-spiritness of both couples. The leading roles are played by Jodie Foster, Kate Winslett, Christopher Waltz and John C. Reilly. Rose Kuo, Executive Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, spoke about the opening night selection. "We are delighted to kick off the festival with a quintessential New York story featuring superb performances from a quintet of the finest actors working today. The film will certainly provoke the kind of discussions about contemporary issues that guarantee a memorable night." Many luminaries from the stage and screen will attend the opening gala at Alice Tully Hall. The 17-day festival continues until October 16. Carnage will open in U. S. theaters on December 16, 2011.


Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures

New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art is known foremost for its vast and varied galleries of art, sculpture, artifacts, furnishings, costumes and many other collectibles. Located on Upper Fifth Avenue and surrounded by Central Park, it is a magnet for visitors from around the world and at top of every sightseer's list. To introduce some of the special exhibitions the museum hosts festive galas, which take place on Monday nights. Because the Met is closed on the first day of the week, florists, designers and caterers have carte blanche to create the magical settings for the evening's guests. Party-goers are also able to view the exhibit, whose opening is being heralded, in a less crowded setting. The theme for the celebration of the newly-opened "Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures" was "An Evening of Many Cultures." Beginning at 6:30 guests entered the candlelit Great Hall to enjoy cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres while being entertained by the music of a trio, "Tango Conspiracy." Large photographs illustrating multicultural diversity flashed on a giant screen. During the dinner, which was served in the Temple of Dendur, tributes were given to six honorees, actors Samuel L. Jackson and Robert de Niro, artists Olga de Amarul and Cai Guo Qiang and LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Grace Hightower De Niro. The festivities continued with more guests arriving at 8:30 for dancing in the Great Hall. To enhance viewing of "Heroic Africans" the museum recorded an audio tape for visitors to listen to as they tour the exhibit, which will continue through January 29, 2012.


The Art of Farming

The Art of Farming, 2010

At the end of September in 2010 Sotheby's Auction House New York hosted Gotham's first-ever edible auction. The world-famous auctioneers are known for selling jewelry, fine art, furnishings, antiques, watches, wine and other luxury items. But crates of vegetables? It was a novel concept, indeed, but it was such a success that the event, The Art of Farming, is being repeated again one year later on the 27th of the same month. Sotheby's doesn't see the idea as such a stretch. Said Amy Todd Middleton, the company's SVP Director of Worldwide Marketing, "Sustainable farming and the preservation of heirloom varietals are a true art form." Scheduled to coincide with the fall harvest, the evening provides an opportunity for local farmers, celebrity chefs, purveyors and philanthropists to unite in supporting local agriculture and sustainable food practices in the area. In addition to 10 crates of vegetables, one of Sotheby's auctioneers will take bids for other items related to food and drink. These include summer farm internships for students, field trips for school children, celebrity chef and farm-to-table dinners, wine country trips and farm photography and artwork. Proceeds will benefit GrowNYC and The Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm. At 7p.m. a cocktail reception featuring wines from New York State wineries and hors d'oeuvres from the Manhattan restaurant, Rouge Tomate, will kick off the festivities. Dinner and the auction follow at 8. Guests will be seated at long family-style farm tables. The meal will feature special dishes created by a group of prominent chefs and restaurants that are known for farm-to-table cuisine. The heirloom vegetables grown especially for the evening by more than 25 local farmers will be highlighted in the Art of Farming dinner. Participating chefs will be paired with farmers to create a sustainable feast reflecting the bounty of the season.

For information and to purchase tickets log on to http://www.artoffarming.org

June 2011

On the occasion of what would have been Cole Porter's 120th birthday his talent was celebrated at The Town Hall, New York. Porter, who worked during the golden era of song writing left a legacy of almost one thousand tunes, many of which remain familiar to audiences today. Called "Easy to Love" the concert featured two of the most prominent entertainers known for their outstanding interpretations of the composer's music and lyrics. Andrea Marcovicci and Jeff Harnar were ably accompanied by their musical directors, who tinkled on the piano keys, and other musicians on the drums, percussion, bass, guitar and violin. Not only did Marovicci and Harnar sing solos and duets, they enriched the program by pausing to share anecdotes from Porter's life and about his melodies.

The songs and stories ranged from the tunester's life in Paris with his wealthy and social wife to his time as a New York socialite and his Hollywood years. We learned about the origins of the compostion "Delovely." Ms Marcovicci spoke about the decades when people went out every night rather than staying at home with their computers. For those who did not venture out that evening and were home pasted to their electronic devices, Porter's work is available in "The Great American Songbook."

Ms Marcovicci, whose voice never sounded better, lit up the stage. Always elegant and fabulously dressed, "the Queen of Cabaret" will mark a quarter of a century of performances at the Oak Room at the Algonquin this year. Appearing in such venues as Feinstein's at the Regency Mr. Harnar's credentials are equally impressive. As a team singing such standouts as "Night and Day" and "Easy to Love" they displayed an easy harmony between them. Jeff shined in "Beguine the Beguine" and Andrea stood out in "I Get a Kick Out of You."

May 2011

If you're visiting New York and looking for a "wild" ride you need not head out to one of the outlying areas to find an amusement park. No, ferris wheels and roller coasters have not been added to Manhattan's many attractions, but another form of entertainment has. Called "THE RIDE" and gaining in popularity every day, it may soon be thought of as a city icon as more and more natives and out-of-towners want to experience this one-of-a-kind tour.

THE RIDE is a bus uniquely outfitted like no other, one side opaque, the other transparent. Three levels of stadium seats face sideways so that the 49-member audience can look through floor-to-rooftop windows upon the shifting city scenes as the vehicle travels 4.5-miles through the center of the town. Two on-board hosts keep up a patter about the city. Cutting edge technology-- IMAX-like audio equipment, 40 video screens and more than 3,000 LED lights, as well as a sound system emulating the buzz of The Big Apple in the form of a passing subway or the beat of a nightclub—is also part of the theatrics.

The show not only goes on inside the bus, with ever-changing screens and music, but takes place on the streets, too. The patrons are in on the fun as they watch a group of actors play their New York character roles out on the sidewalks. Of the 12 actors strategically placed along the route there was one who pretended to celebrate New Year's Eve. It was hard to know whether people walking the streets "got it."

But those of us who were rolling along figured it out. The guy who was tapping on the sidewalk, the delivery man who stopped to break-dance, the street kid picking pockets and rhyming at the same time, the actress who was on her way to an audition and who belted out "How Can I Get to Broadway," the opera singer practicing her craft in front Carnegie Hall, and the ballerina who danced "en pointe" in front the Columbus Circle fountain were there for the amusement of the riders.

The trip starts and ends in Times Square at the New York Marriott Marquis.


January 2011

Rebeca Tomás.
Credit: Lee Wexler

For the second time in less than a year Rebeca Tomas and her troupe of Flamenco dancers, singers and musicians enlivened the stage of Theatre 80, a 200-seat performance space, located in Manhattan's Lower East Side. The city was still cold and icy, due to a series of repetitive snow storms. But that didn't keep the wildly enthusiastic patrons from filling up the hall. The buzz in the audience registered that there were many fans among them and there is a familiarity with the artists. The presentation named , "A Palo Seco: Rasgos Flamencos," offers a description of the program. "A Palo Seco" means emotional rawness combinedwith rhythmic playfulness . Rasgos translates as defining characteristics.

Flamenco, a highly emotive dance style, developed in the 18th-century in the province of Andalusia, Spain. Two other elements of this art form are guitar playing and vocal music. The forms were heavily influenced by the local populace, Gypsies (Gitanos), Sephardic Jewish music, and Moorish culture. The dancers express their emotions by sharp and abrupt body movements, facial expressions and rapidly kicking and stomping feet.

From the moment Tomas began to click her heels, wave her hands and arms and move her body, one could see that she is a woman of exquisite talent. Petite, at 5' 1", she lithely used every muscle as she moved across and around the stage. Whether performing alone or in harmony with two other superb dancers, Laura Castellano and Sol "La Argentinita," she offered nothing but joy to those whose eyes were fixed upon her. From time to time "ole" was heard from the audience.

The performance opened with "A Palo Seco," which was described as "a festive and improvisatory style within Flamenco in which people sing and dance spontaneously." "Rasgo Flamenco" followed. Choreographed and performed by Tomas, she described it as, "an original solo composition implementing some of Flamenco's most typical elements, yet departing from this art form's structural norm."

Two singers, a violist, and a guitar player, as well as a percussionist, filled up the stage. Using the skills of these talented artists in many varied forms made for a diversified and very entertaining performance.

Be sure to check Tomas's website as she is very generous with her information offering links to restaurants where you may see Flamenco, to the members of her troupe, to lessons and more.


August 2010

The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) located in mid-town Manhattan has for two years running kept its doors open on Thursday evenings in July and August to showcase not only its vast and acclaimed art collection, but to treat visitors to live music in the courtyard, The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Despite a few unbearably hot evenings the series was a huge success and drew crowds of enthusiastic listeners eager to be entertained by the international musicians. July featured Hear Brazil and in August the presentations were given by French instrumentalists and singers. Two sets of performances took place each week, one at 5:30 p.m. and the other at 7:00. For guests who chose to spend an evening out in this venue, it was a triple-header. There was an opportunity to view the galleries. Some of the exhibitions were co-ordinated with the concerts. Matisse: A Radical Invention was meant to collaborate with the chanson heritage. Premiere Brazil 2010, a film exhibit, offered a counterpart to Brazil's rhythms—jazz, bossa nova-- so popular with Americans and so beloved in this country. There was also a chance to dine in one of the museums' several restaurants. Chairs and a few tables were placed throughout the plaza transforming it into a comfortable space for the outdoor concerts. The beautiful design of the Garden—handsome marble flooring, commanding trees including several weeping willows, patches of ivy and flower beds create the perfect ambiance for a summer evening's concert. In one corner of the space, a wishing tree stands waiting for visitors to write down their hopes on cards and hang them on the branches. You can even eat and drink while listening to the music. Several food and drink stations provide wine, cocktails, tapas and ice cream. For those who would like a more serious dinner they can find it in the Bar Modern or the Modern Restaurant run by restaurateur Danny Meyer, but be forewarned: reservations are required. And if it's something in between you crave The Terrace on the fifth floor offers a seasonal menu of light fare. On the last night of the series, Marianne Dissard, a French-born chanteuse, accompanied by her back-up band, sang in her native language. If you missed these wonderful evenings, think about 2011. The series is bound to return by popular acclaim.

MOMA, 11 W. 53rd St., New York, NY 10019, 212-708-9400

August 2010

"What is a hammam," might have been a question on the old and popular TV game show "Jeopardy." A contestant who quickly pushed the buzzer and answered, "the name of a Turkish-style steam room?" would have been considered to have answered correctly. Now I'm going to have to amend that to partially correct. Despite all of my travels in Turkey and the Middle East, I just learned that not only does the term mean steam room, but it is also a beauty treatment administered at a hammam. And what a treatment, indeed! It has just arrived in New York—the only other US outpost is in Las Vegas. The Trump Soho opened its exquisite spa this past week and has devoted a large part of its facility to two hammam rooms offering Turkish and Moroccan-style treatments.

One of the two rooms is large enough to accommodate couples. Its design and construction were carried out by a Turkish architect who traveled to New York to oversee the work. The circular-shaped room has a large marble bed upon which guests lie. The remainder of the enclosure, the ceiling, floor, and curved walls, was built with very colorful mosaic tiles. Large plush towels are spread out on the marble to cushion the guests.

Ed and I chose the Moroccan-style offering and we both felt that this was an extraordinary communal activity. We each had our own esthetician, Jennie and Ivette. We did not know what to expect before we started, but we soon determined that this was to be a kind of water massage without the benefit of a bath or shower. The water that was repeatedly poured over us came from metal bowls, imported from Turkey, of course, and were filled at a sink. Two floor drains absorbed the cascading water. While lying on our backs we were scrubbed with Turkish black soap that is made from olive oil and crushed olives. Then we were flipped over so that the procedure could take place on both sides of our bodies. Next we were given a complete exfoliation with a kesa mitt. Throughout the one-hour and 15-minutes in the hamman the water temperature was gradually adjusted—starting with cool, building to warm, then hot and then reversed so that when we were finished we were doused with cool water. The air was sprayed with beautiful scents and we inhaled bindi oil, an aromatic essential oil. We finished our Middle-Eastern sojourn in the relaxation room where comfortable lounges, warm peppermint tea and other blends awaited us. And, oh yes, delicious Turkish snacks—halvah, olives and dates. All that I have described took place on a rainy Sunday—can't think of a better way to brighten up a dreary day.

Trump Soho, 246 Spring St., New York, NY 10012, (212) 965-0008

October 2009

October, 2009 Love, Loss and What I Wore by Nora and Delia Ephron is a staged reading loosely based on Ilene Beckermans’s book of same name . Like the Ephrons, it resonated with my friend, Harlene, the fashionista, and became her chain letter to her pals. Beckerman’s best-seller is slight with illustrations in the genre of toddler lit. Had I come across it while browsing in Barnes and Noble, I might have passed on it thinking that because of the illustrations it was meant for kids. The unifying theme is the memories that various items of clothing evoke from childhood onward. Five narrators poised on chairs read from scripts and more often than not whimper about their appearance. Poor souls, everyone should have a pal like Harlene, who is so certain of her taste that when she decrees,” that doesn’t make it,” off comes the outfit to be banished forever to the racks of the Salvation Army or some other second-hand emporium. Perhaps she is working with my chum, Paulette, who just published a book about thrift, consignment, and vintage stores. If Paulette is to sell books, Harlene needs to keep the shops’ shelves stocked.

Tyne Daly, Rosie O’Donnell, Samantha Bee, Katie Finneran and Natasha Lyonne in Love, Loss, and What I Wore
Credit: Carol Rosegg

Such is the power of clothing. It has me thinking about some of the people in my life. Mothers, sisters, boyfriends, husbands, and fathers co-exist in many of the 27 monologues read by Tyne Daly, Rosie O’Donnell, Samantha Bee, Natasha Lyonne, and Katie Finneran, the first of three rotating casts throughout a 12-week run.

The tales evolved from a questionnaire that Nora and Delia sent to about 100 of their acquaintances. The funniest and most touching stories made it to the finals and the contributors are credited in the program. Although I do recognize Mary Rodgers and Alex Witchel, most of the names are unfamiliar to me. Between vignettes Tyne Daly as Gingy, the narrator, shows the audience colorful blow-ups of Beckerman’s illustrations – a respite from the black in which the actresses are clad.

Nowhere in the performance did I hear anyone say, “I looked like a million bucks.” But then, would we have laughed so hard if that’s what Rosie reported rather than telling us about bathrobes, the discovery of the Eileen Fisher line, her visits to an incarcerated husband, and a humiliating experience while being fitted for a bra.

From the reaction of the few men in the audience, the production is not just a women’s show. My husband enjoyed it as much as I did. If Nora and Delia ever do a sequel I hope they will sound me out. I’d like to tell them about happy experiences with clothes. They already know about lousy ones. When I was 21 I wore a red brocade cheongsam and matching jacket, which my mother designed and sewed for me, to a theater district restaurant. Another patron mistook me for the female lead in "Kismet" and complimented me on my matinee performance. I never let on that I wasn't an actress and would have autographed her "Playbill" had she asked. Now there’s a memory to make me smile. And, oh, by the way, please query Harlene and Paulette, too.

Westside Theater, 407 West 43rd Street, New York, NY, (212) 239-6200, http://www.lovelossonstage.com

May 2009

6/2009 Some might say that Benjamin Steakhouse is cloning Peters Luger. Others, myself included, want to put out a welcome mat for this relatively new mid-town Manhattan restaurant where you can feast on meat from carnivore heaven without traveling to an outer borough. Indeed, Chef Arturo McLead ‘s resume includes a 20-year stint at Peter Luger’s, a connection, which he proudly boasts about. That experience must have been like post-graduate training in how to buy, age, and cook top-quality beef as well as veal and lamb chops.

We entered a cavernous space, which for some uncertain reason reminded me of London’s Simpson’s-in-the-Strand. Perhaps it could have been that both eateries are commandingly handsome. From the main dining room patrons can view the spindle-post staircase and the balcony tables to which it leads. Nothing modern or contemporary here—the design blends Art Deco and California Arts and Crafts periods. The motif incorporates a massive fireplace, wood-planked flooring, dark brown leather chairs, mullioned windows, oak paneling, curved burgundy walls, a vaulted ceiling, and brass and amber fixtures. Tables are well-spaced. Unless you read lips, you would never hear other guests’ conversations. But then because of the distance, you would need to have excellent eyesight to accomplish that feat.

We asked our host, Victor, whether the bar mixed a specialty cocktail. Super-sized Benjamin martinis arrived in icy glasses. Despite the addition of cognac the drink was not sweet and delivered a kick.

Our shared appetizers won raves. Jumbo lump crabmeat was pristine and picked over so carefully that there was nary a shred of cartilage to be found. Both the crab cake and baked clams were toothsome and seasoned just-so. The biggest surprise was the delicious thickly-sliced slab of smoky Canadian bacon. Caesar salad was lightly tossed with parmesan, crispy croutons, and lemony vinaigrette.

We had, of course, come for the steak. The entire meal was nicely paced and the meat arrived at exactly the right moment. Porterhouse and filet mignon had already been sliced in the kitchen and were presented on the same plate. Using a familiar steakhouse ritual our waiter placed some filet and some porterhouse on each plate and spooned the meat juices over them. Think of all the words you would apply when beef is served as it should be—tender, succulent, rich and nicely charred—and all of them describe the steaks. We even got to take home leftovers, the bone, too. One of our party ordered lamb chops and they also tasted great.

A few days before our visit, "Good Morning America," filmed a segment that showed the chef preparing creamless creamed spinach, one of the most popular sides. Along with cottage fries flecked with snappy onion bits, these veggy and potato preparations hit the spot.

Victor suggested that we drink Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2005 wine from the Napa Valley. A luscious cherry flavor burst in the mouth.

Who really had room for dessert? But aren’t you supposed to finish a great dinner with a sweet? So we nibbled on strudel and cheesecake.

Benjamin Steakhouse has garnered a group loyal locals who live or work in the vicinity. On a holiday weekend the dining room was filled with visitors. If you are a townie or a tourist and meat is your passion, try Benjamin, you’ll like it.


March 2009

Vintage Irving

3/09 When Vintage Irving, a contemporary American restaurant, opened in August, 2008, it was not an auspicious time to embark on a new venture. Despite the drastic downturn, the menu’s unique design could boost the bottom line of this recent entry into the Gramercy/Union Square neighborhood’s restaurant scene. One of the more popular and well-received trends in dining, serving small, as well as tasting plates, along with spare-sized entrees, found its way to this kitchen. I like to think that my talented friend, Nancy Weber, a prolific author and owner of a catering firm, “Between Books She Cooks,” contributed to the thinking that a variety of tapas makes a great evening meal. Using this formula, she caters many parties. When I perused the list of the dishes prepared at Vintage Irving, I knew that this was a place to take Nancy, a woman with a sophisticated and discerning palate, who approved almost everything we sampled. We reserved on a night when the streets of Manhattan were all but deserted, and even the chef was absent--Academy Awards Sunday. The bar was full, three TV screens were focused on Hollywood and the dining room in which we sat became our own private space. Whoever pitched in for Chef Jason Bunin, whose savory cooking we were familiar with during a former stint of his, did a yeoman’s job. The appetizer plates are cleverly priced, ranging from 3 choices for $12, 6 for $24 and so forth. Consisting of a selection of cheeses, cured meats, and imaginatively composed salads, they are accompanied by fanciful foods, like marinated dried fruit compote and truffle honey ricotta. After warning our server that one of our party of four could not tolerate garlic, we chose six chef’s plates, larger than appetizers, but slightly paired down in size in comparison to the usual restaurant main courses and with prices adjusted accordingly, $6 to $18 with most falling between $12 and $14. The Greenmarket Selection, which changes depending on what’s being sold at the nearby outdoor Union Square Farmer’s Market included peas, spinach and pancetta and was a perfect proxy for salad. The chef dropped the garlic from asparagus and chewy, delicious grilled octopus and substituted extra lemon oil and juice for a tangy taste. Two dishes that owe their origins to Italian and Chinese cuisine could not have been better had they been presented in ethnic restaurants, risotto-like mushroom rice and Oriental crispy calamari. Although the quality of the shell steak was very good, the meat came to the table medium rather than the requested medium rare. We almost forgave the mistake because a mashed potato bed on which the beef sat was heavenly. For dessert we tried the jelly donuts, which were really beignets with soft bananas and crème Anglaise. We appreciate the rare menu that explains wine pairings and describes the taste. This wine list provides that much coveted information. A Penfold Shiraz from Australia was not only acclaimed by all of us as a very good choice, but cost a reasonable $34. The service was attentive, especially since there was only one waiter for the lounge and dining room. He was more than helpful without being intrusive. Our recommendation: try Vintage Irving, you’ll like it.

September 2007

The Oceanaire Restaurant

9/28 When three general managers of a well-regarded hotel brand who should be promoting their properties' restaurants say that The Oceanaire is the best place to eat in Atlanta and that is where they head when their bosses are in town, you have to take notice. After dining at The Oceanaire we understand the enthusiasm. With 14 U.S. locations and three on the drawing board, one might expect a uniform formula in the design and menu. The answer is, no and yes. The menu is based on the market. Seafood arrives by air daily from around the world to insure freshness. The top of the menu states “Fresh Tonight” and lists all the choices the chef unwrapped and handled with care that day. The evening we dined at the Peachtree Street outpost 19 items were starred as having been inside the frig for 24 hours or less. On 9/28 in Philadelphia you could order pompano, monkfish or corvina while in Atlanta you might have requested skatefish wing, butterfish or perella. Adam Newton, Executive Chef/Operating Partner, spent a good deal of time with us discussing the operation. We learned that the standards for the food that appear on the table are so high that sometimes the choices change by the hour. The menu is gargantuan. There were 12 kinds of oysters and 12 special entrees in addition to the exotic varieties of grilled or broiled fish. Southern specialties of collard greens and fried green tomatoes were among the sides. Lagniappes of pickled vegetables and herring along with crispy salmon cakes with fresh sourdough rye cancelled the desire for a first course. Newton said the house's signature fish Yukon River king salmon has only been available since 2002. This rich delicacy is so toothsome that it melts in your mouth like a piece of fine chocolate. A watermelon and lime relish made a fragrant foil for salt and pepper ahi tuna. There is much about Oceanaire that pulls in and pleases the eye. Designed like a classic ‘30s cruise ship dining room, the bold colors, black, white and red, symbolize the era. http//:www.theoceanaire.com

August 2007

David-Dorian Ross, Wellness Manager, Montage, Laguna Beach, Calif., demonstrates T'ai Chi

8/9 The 13th annual International Spa Association Media Event took place at the Cipriani on 42nd Street in New York. Newly elected Chairman Jim Root, General Manager of Spa Operations at Sea Islands Resort, addressed the assembled journalists. He spoke about trends in the ever burgeoning industry and the launch of the first ISPA Global Report, which announced the existence of 150 world-wide spa-goers. Following the press conference guests attended the Marketplace, a showcase of 25 spas. New to the roster in 2007 were Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, N. C.; Ginn Hammock Beach Resort, Palm Coast, Fla.; Skana, the Spa at Turning Stone, Mohawk Valley, N.Y ; The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg, Va.; and the Starwood Spa Collection. Public relations personnel and general managers were on hand to discuss developments at their properties. Spa service personnel duplicated beauty and relaxation treatments from the menus available at their home bases. A Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts masseuse offered golfer's specialty hand treatments. The interactive service featured by Aspira (infused with spirit) Spa was a cedar massage inspired by its location, Elkhart Lake, Wis. LXR Luxury Resorts & Golden Door Spas conducted one-on-one postural remodeling sessions. The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental New York provided vitamin infusion facials. Every booth was decorated to project its own unique ambiance. Known for its rock walls, arches, and tunnels, Grove Park Inn Spa had a huge photographic backdrop showing those elements. The space occupied by Red Mountain Spa, Utah was decorated in red, including pictures with red backgrounds, to convey the color of the mountains where the spa is located. Guests received 25 gifts, 26 counting the beautiful tote bag presented by ISPA. LXR Luxury Resorts gave away large pool towels with pouches that held terry cloth cover-ups. Pair them with the scuffs from Canyon Ranch and you're on your way to a specialty water treatment at Kohler Waters Spa. http://www.experienceispa.com

July, 2007

Jet Airways Premiére Cabin

7/13 To announce its launch of daily service on August 5 from Mumbai to Newark's Liberty International Airport via Brussels, Jet Airways hosted a media lunch and press conference at the Waldorf Astoria. Flights to and from Delhi to the US will commence September 5. As deliveries of new planes are made through October, 2008 more routes will be established from Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Chennai to Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco. To expand to 25 routes from the Brussels hub, Jet Airways will be code-sharing with Brussels Airlines. Naresh Goyal, founder and chairman of Jet Airways, addressed the group along with principals from the companies involved in the design of the new Boeing 777-3000ER wide-bodied jets. Jet Airways brought parts of the planes to the briefing. The ballroom stage held seats from all three classes—premier, first, economy—and guests were given the opportunity to try them out. A special on-board system of entertainment, eX2, was installed by Panasonic and includes games, 200 programming hours, movies filmed in Bollywood and all over the globe, and a very extensive library of music from which to configure your own personal concert. Attendees were also treated to a fashion show. Stewards and stewardesses modeled their new uniforms, which were created by Italian Couturier, Roberto Capucci. Capucci described the outfits as “sophisticated and western, but with an elegance and flair that highlights classic Indian chic.” 877-UFLYJET. http://www.jetairways.com

June, 2007

Qatar Airways Premium Terminal

6/26 Qatar Airways launched its new service from Doha to the US with great style. Flight QR083 arrived at Newark's Liberty Airport after a stop in Geneva, its latest European destination. Led by the Middle East carrier's CEO Akbar Al Baker who hosted government, business and media representatives on board, the disembarking group arrived to a “fireman's salute” water arch ceremony and a fanfare of music and entertainment. Two more celebrations followed. The next day Al Baker spoke at a press lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York, saying, “Yesterday was an historic moment. . . Our global reach now extends to America adding to the many cities we serve in Europe, Africa, Indian subcontinent and the Far East.” Three weeks later Qatar commenced daily non-stop service between Doha and Washington, D.C. To also mark this inaugural event the airline staged a red carpet gala at Frederick Rose Hall in New York 's Jazz at Lincoln Center. Dinner was preceded by a caviar and Dom Perignon reception. During the cocktail party guests were entertained by a conductor performing a visual symphony. His "orchestra" was composed of continuous projections onto several gigantic screens while a film-style sound track played. Exquisitely-gowned Diana Ross, who hardly ever sings at private parties, gave a one-hour concert and belted out some of her hit songs such as "Baby Love”, “Ain't No Mountain High Enough,” “I'm Coming Out,” and “Stop in the Name of Love” to icons of NY business, Steve Schwartzman and Donald Trump, and actresses, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Chloe Sevigny. Many people in the audience danced as they listened to Ms Ross. Andie McDowell and Richard Quest co-hosted. Qatar is one of only five airlines in the world with a five-star ranking for service and excellence. A slide show of large photographs of the planes, services, and terminals illustrated just how luxurious Qatar is. And generous, too. Invitees took home I-Pods. http://qatarairways.com

May, 2007

The Deal, a publication whose name says it all, has added another medium for distributing information to dealmakers, the venture capitalistsand professionals involved in M&A and the management of private equity. Up-to-date intelligence had been disseminated by a website, as well as a magazine. In 2007 a series of all-day symposiums in major cities is scheduled. The opening conference, The BRIC Symposium, on April 12 focused on investment opportunities in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Five panels, moderated by strategists and company directors, and including speakers with extensive experience overseas, addressed topics, such as possibilities for growth, finding appropriate investments, managing risk, and trends in the hottest industries. The group of expert participants representing major organizations leads one to expect that for the meetings that follow those involved in the planning will again seek the best specialists in their fields. A two-day Private Capital Symposium was also held in April. On June 7 a meeting on Corporate Governance takes place in Washington , DC. Convergence 2.0 is scheduled for September 17 in New York. The Innovative Deal Financing Conference meets in New York on September 25 followed by Corporate Dealmaker Exchange on October 2. An Energy Symposium in October in Houston, the Silicon Valley Summit in Redwood City, CA on October 30 and 31 and 2008, and M&A Outlook on November 13 & 14 finish the year. For tickets and information contact Jim Killea at The Deal Events Hotline, 212-313-9253 or email Jkillea@TheDeal.com

Gazillion Bubble Show

5/1 “I'm always chasing rainbows, watching clouds drifting by,” are lyrics that describe Fan Yang's passion. As a young emigrant from Vietnam, who climbed hills in Yugoslavia and looked upward, he focused on the sky. Out of his dreams and daydreams a new art and science emerged, the use of bubbles to entertain audiences. His 80-minute (no intermission) one-man Gazillion Bubble Show has traveled the world and fascinated “ages three to 103.” Costumed in black against a dark stage with dimly-lit swaying trees, Fan's magical act, which has been running for 22 years, includes videos, music, audience interaction, and his own narration. The rainbow colors inside the soapy forms look best against the dark background. The showman's props are pipes, wands, and his own formula of soapy solution. Bubbles “dance” as the band plays. A few of the shapes that he creates are chains, bubbles within bubbles, a spinning table, rings, towers, snow falling, ice cream, spheres propped on glasses, and tents that enclose groups of children. For an older couple he blew a bubble with a banner inside saying “I love you.” When the bubbles float over the theater, children joyfully jump up to catch them. The show will continue to play 10 times a week in New York through September 2. After the performance many ticket holders bought “The Ultimate Bubble Toy For their kids? Or for themselves? http://www.gazillionbubbleshow.com

April, 2007

4/13 As we approached the portal of the relatively new Azza restaurant our thoughts were flooded with memories of Morocco. Years ago we had written about Marrakesh 's premier dining establishment, Le Yacout, “like other medina restaurants housed in renovated private palaces, the anonymous door offers no hint of the elaborate and many-roomed interior." Azza's architect got it right. His ability to recreate authenticity continues into the long, narrow interior corridor, one that is amazingly similar to another famed establishment, La Maison Blue, in Fez. Floor lanterns line the hallways on each side in both eateries. What New York has always lacked is an upscale Moroccan restaurant. The country's cuisine is one of the most exquisite in the world. But it is relatively unfamiliar. To date there have been no sophisticated Moroccan restaurants on our island. Sound the darbuka. Azza is open and the buzz surrounding it informs how much it is welcome. Once seated you know by the decor you're in an Imperial city riad -type restaurant. Silk drapes, banquettes along the walls strewn with luscious pillows, leather-covered menus with hammered brass medallions in the centers, and background music imported from the Middle East. Djamal Zoughbi, one of three owners, is Algerian born, but “who knows from Algerian food?” He borrowed recipes from a neighboring land. The menu is billed as French/ Moroccan. But our recommendation is to order Moroccan and save the French for elsewhere. The mezze (appetizers) look delicious, but turn the page and go for the fantastically nuanced pastilla. Tart-sized, wrapped with warka, a paper-thin crisp dough, sprinkled with sugar and filled with luscious chicken or seafood, eggs, cinnamon, and other spices, it's practically a meal in itself. Royal couscous was royal, indeed, with lamb that was fork tender, chicken, merguez sausage, sweet white raisins, chickpeas, and crunchy vegetables like carrots, turnips, and zucchini in broth to ladle onto the couscous. Our party pronounced tangines of chicken and lamb, served in earthenware casseroles with conical tops, bona fide. Desserts are occidental, but who can fault warm chocolate cake and a medley of fresh, roasted, and dried fruits. The club downstairs seats 295 and is the only bar in New York serving organic food. Music plays every night. A singer entertains on Mondays and there is space for dancing. Azza is a happy addition to the Manhattan 's restaurant and club scene. Azza Restaurant and Lounge, 137 E. 55 th Street , New York , NY.10022. Tel. 212-755-7055

Alicia, Baby Jaguar, Diego, and Dora

4/6 Favorite cartoon character, Diego, stepped out of the TV screen and onto the stage as the headliner in a live show, “Go, Diego, Go, The Great Jaguar Rescue.” Joined by his sidekicks, cousin Dora the Explorer, and sister, Alicia, the hero embarks on an adventure to reclaim the Baby Jaguar's special sound, a growl. The mischevious BoBo monkey brothers had captured the growl and stored it in a magic bottle. Each year one animal is chosen to be chief of the Animal Carnivale and this time around it's Baby Jaguar's turn, but without his growl he can't be crowned. Fearless Diego travels through the rain forest, past a waterfall, and down the river on a daring rescue. With the help of the other animals, he finds the pyramid where the monkeys are hiding. Now playing in New York at Radio City, the dazzling sets compare favorably to the ones seen on nearby Broadway. Animal puppets were designed with great imagination. As the children enter the theater they are given jaguar masks to use during the show. This interactive musical fully engages the audience in the action on the stage and is packed with music, singing, and dancing. Kids copy the cast and shake in the aisles to cha-cha, meringue, mambo, gunga and reggae tunes. They also join in the shouts and cues to the characters. Great fun for pre-schoolers. When the show leaves New York, it will travel to other cities. To find a location near you click on http://www.Godiegogo.com

March, 2007

Child tries on costume during pre-show

Bello Nock, the clown with the orange Bart Simpson-like hairdo that makes him look like he's permanently scared, is in town. Town means The Big Apple and specifically Madison Square Garden where Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus plays every spring. Now in its 137 th year, this season's show, along with the 2006 version, has adapted a new look. Three rings have shrunk to one, the better to focus on the action. Before Bello, the star, ever appeared on stage the tot who was with me wanted to know, “Where is the clown with the straight hair?” First, we saw Bello on a large TV that records all the center stage action. Then he seemed to get shot straight through the screen into our midst where for almost two hours he danced, sang, clowned around, performed acrobatics, and didn't look the least bit frightened. In fact, he had so much fun, “children of all ages” pasted permanent smiles on their faces. There were the usual animal acts and dare-devil stunts. But there were novelty acts, too, like the dance contest between six couples, some of whom were marionettes. There was also a noise-making challenge when a barker asked the blue and red sides of the arena to compete to determine which one was the loudest. Just about the best act was “Bellobration.” While confetti rained down on the seats, all the performers, animals, and some members of the audience rode around the ring in cars wearing hats fashioned like Bello hair. Some of the New York performances have pre-shows when ticket holders can interact with the cast, try on costumes, and get up close to some of the animals. Three extra shows on April 14 have just been added to the Madison Square Garden schedule.Consult the website to find out when the circus will visit your city.



February, 2007

Scottish Regiment

2/6 “Timeless Celebration…It's one for the history books” read the invitation beckoning us to a “fun, informative, interactive media marketplace and reception” on behalf of St. Augustine, Ponte Verde and the Beaches, Florida. It wasn't until we entered the Bar Americain in Manhattan's Theater District that we became aware that not only was the invitation's lead full of double entendres, but the body of the communiqué with the words “colorful characters, 500 years of history, ancient culture, and sailing into. . .” were clues about what to expect at this unique and colorful event. Ponce de Leon, himself, stood at the door to welcome us. Wearing the same bright military dress as that of the 16 th-century Spanish conquistadors, including a molded metal helmet on his head and carrying a sword, he and his wife, who was clothed like a fashionable senora of the early 1500s, pointed guests to the “Fountain of Youth.” Cups of water that myth decrees keeps one young were dispensed. Sangria, the most popular drink in the nation's oldest city, was also served. All “colorful characters” were appropriately dressed for their parts and discussed the development of St. Augustine as they spoke one-on-one to attendees. It was oral history at its best from those best equipped to tell it. A descendant of the Solano family, who arrived on the first galleon, said that 10 percent of the present populace descended from the original settlers. Two craftswomen spun wool and one carpenter wielded his tools as though he were in his own workshop. An Indian maiden from the Timucuan tribe, which inhabited the area before the Spaniards arrived, braided her hair with beads and shells. The English, brief occupiers of St. Augustine, were represented by a soldier from the Scottish regiment explaining how he fired his Brown Betsy muskets. Henry Flagler, builder the Ponce de Leon Hotel, looked every bit the successful entrepreneur and acted as a proper host by presiding over a raffle of gifts from local sources. Karen Harvey, an author with seven published books on regional history, performed as Mrs. Flagler. We later learned that the tycoon had three wives. We have no idea where Harvey places in the line-up, but we do know that she, along with the other actors, traveled from St. Augustine to play their roles. http://www.Getaway4Florida.com

January, 2007


Pamela Lassers, Director of Media Relations, Abercrombie & Kent, tour operators of worldwide luxury and adventure vacations, spent the week of January 8, 2007 at A&K's Climate Change Challenge Pavilion in the British Airways Terraces Lounge, JFK Airport, New York. She was there to introduce the "Challenge,” a partnership between A&K and BA. Travelers who were waiting for flights were invited into the exhibition room where they could enter a sweepstakes to win a trip.The lounge is staffed from 6 to 10 p.m. and remains open until the end of March. The two companies, along with Friends of Conservation, have pinpointed seven regions on earth that are being adversely affected by global warming. All projects have very specific goals to try to reverse the negative effects. On display are large photographs--they are so creative that they appear to be oil paintings--showing the regions being given attention: Antarctica, where the ice caps are melting; Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa, where the ice is thinning; and the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, whose coral reefs need protection. Other targeted areas are: Balkan Green Belt, Europe; India Wild Lands Elephant Corridor, Asia; Masai Mara, Africa; Amazon rain forests, South America; and the forests of Northwestern N. America. The "Challenge" has been publicized on TV shows, which can be viewed in the lounge. In the U.K. the “Conservationists” are working closely with the travel industry. For example, safari drivers are being trained to be environmentally sensitive. British Airways is contributing to the efforts by initiating a carbon offset plan. A & K will donate a tree for each of the 20,000 tourists it expects to host in 2007.





Santa's Breakfast

12/2 The 11-member De Gregorio Family of Marlboro, NJ occupied the largest table at the 7:30 a.m. seating of Breakfast with Santa at the Rock Center Café in world-famous Rockefeller Center. The clan's matriarch, Agnes, said that they had awakened at 5:30 a.m. as they done for the last 13 years to the drive to Manhattan. Although adults outnumbered children, eight to three, this family tradition is one of “togetherness,” she said, and is a good way to start the holiday season. Santa and his elves, have been entertaining kids, and their parents, and grandparents in this location for almost three decades. Adjacent to the Ice Rink, the venue, windowed on one side, gives diners a front seat view of the skaters. Just like the kids and the wait staff, the room was dressed up for Christmas with red flowers and branches. Breakfast, served family-style, was absolutely yummy. The scrambled eggs were delicious (I sent my compliments to the chef) as were the french toast, made from brioche bread with raisins; and the raspberry yogurt smoothies. The table was laden with orange juice, sausages, bacon, pancakes; and a basket of bagels, mini-croissants, and blueberry and corn muffins. Waiters with attentive eyes repeatedly refilled coffee and hot chocolate cups. Santa paid a personal visit to every table. And a sensitive Santa he is for the way he approached apprehensive youngsters. The elves stopped by to distribute toys--a yo-yo and a maze game. Families also took home candy canes and gingerbread men. After breakfast guests moved outdoors for a free session at the rink. Instructors were on hand to guide those who are new to the sport. Santa was skating, too, and a fine skater he is. The view of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which had been lit a few days earlier, is spectacular. Said one three-year old, “That tree is humongous.” http://breakfastwithsantanyc.com


Barry (Grandms) Lubin, Credit: Bertand Guay/ Big Apple Circus

Where have I been? The Big Apple Circus has been around for 29 years and I never made it further uptown to see a circus than Madison Square Garden where Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey take up residence. Excuse? My children are grown and I needed a three-year old to escort me to 63rd and Broadway. The youngster who took me along with her even made it into the show when she was invited by a clown to dance on the stage. This one-ringer really appeals to all ages. Two friends in their 80s and many more oldsters without grandchildren in tow were present the day we went, an admission that age has little to do with enjoyment. Housed under a green tent in Damrosch Park, part of the Lincoln Center complex, the entertainment starts when you turn onto a path that leads to the doorway of the small--all seats have good visibility--Big Top. Lining the walkway, meant to simulate a boardwalk arcade, are games of chance, a fortune teller, clowns, and a popcorn cart. “Step Right Up” is the name and theme of this season's production. Taken from the expression that barkers use to attract patrons to the “midway,” the circus has a beach resort theme, suggestive of Atlantic City in the Gay 90s. You'll find references to that era in songs and skits like “On the Boardwalk,” “Beach Games,” and “A Magical Carousel.” And also in props and costumes--straw hats, newsboy caps, modest bathing dresses, knickers and knee socks. The two-part show, performed by international artists, is a non-stop whirlwind of acts by acrobats, jugglers, jesters, horses, dogs, and more. My favorites were an Australian bicyclist pretending to be a Frenchman riding an ever-shrinking bike and pedaling it through a blazing hoop in his finale; and indomitable Grandma, played by Barry Lubin, director of clowning, wearing a white curly wig, red dress, and bloomers. When I later asked the child whom I accompanied to the circus to name her favorite performers, she answered, “the acrobats.” I don't think she ever suspected that Grandma was played by a male clown.

http://www.bigapplecircus.org Check for dates in other cities.

More years ago than I care to remember, I saw a production “The Fantasticks” at a small theater on Sullivan Street. It had to have been in the early 60s, the original production opened in May, 1960, when off-Broadway was coming into its own helped by the 1956 establishment of the Obie awards by the Village Voice. In June of that year Shelley Winters, a presenter at the first ceremony said, that she considered it a privilege to participate in this year of renaissance for the off-Broadway theater movement. “That's where it all began,” Ms. Winters said, “off the main stem. And today more than ever, the two halves of our theater need and feed each other.” Indeed “The Fantasticks,” which won an Obie, did nourish off-Broadway as it went on to entertain with more than 17,000 plus performances. At the beginning of 2002 when I learned that the show was closing I tried to get tickets as did everyone else. I had to wait four years until this season for a reopening in New York's theater district. Not for nothing did the signature song “Try to Remember” become an icon of popular culture, nor did Tom Jones, director, lyricist, and librettist, along with Harvey Jones, composer, become famous. And who can forget Jerry Orbach's smooth performance as “El Gallo,” the narrator and the cunning stranger? “The Fantasticks” is a simple, enchanting tale with minimal staging—a hand-held curtain and a box of props—and the smallest possible orchestra, a pianist and harpist. The program says, “This musical is suggested by a play called ‘Les Romanesques' by Edmond Rostand.” So why did I think Shakespeare? Because the playwright based his script loosely on “Romeo and Juliet” and wrote in a few comics. I thought that it was supposed to be a secret that Tom Jones is in the cast, but my companion clued me in about his part. Happily, by waiting until the final curtain, she didn't spoil the surprise. The revival of this classic is not to be missed, so try to remember, it may not run for 42 years.


October, 2006

10/4 Singer Samantha Cole invited members of the media along with the general public to shop at KMR communications Inc.'s “Girls' Night Out” Cocktail Party at Bruno Jamais Restaurant Club on Manhattan's Upper Eastside. Over 200 media and consumers previewed and purchased beauty, fashion, fragrance and fitness products from more than 18 companies. Guests  included  Lynne White, Court TV Hollywood Heat Reporter, and  Dr. Max Gomez, WNBC Health Reporter. Bruno Jamais hosted the evening and members of the KMR Staff  wore tank tops that read, “I spent the night with Bruno Jamais at KMR Girl's Night Out.”  The event was a reunion for Samantha Cole and Fred Rothbell Mista who regularly MC'd a Monday night cabaret at the Tatou nightclub where the songstress entertained the in the early 90s. Partygoers heard Samantha's new CD featuring the remake of the song “Obsession.”  A featured product was the TUMMY TUCK Jean, made in a variety of finishes and sizes and designed for real women with real curves. The jean flattens the tummy, contours the hips, and slims the body. On display were two fitness products: a box of "Sanefit" cards with full body workouts, and a game, The Fitness Challenge. Two companies sold items for men: Moore Unique's exclusive shaving line and Equitable Labs' TBP4Men. You could even purchase a gift for your child: Batty Bubbles from TBP4KIDS. http://www.tummytuckjeans.com

September, 2006

9/19 John Cassel who plays dinner music on the piano at the Trapp Family Lodge traveled from Vermont to entertain continuously throughout a four-hour presentation by 26 members of the New England Inns & Resorts Association. The event took place at Harry's Loft in Manhattan. The Association represents more than 250 inns, B & Bs, resorts, and hotels in New England. Castle Hill Inn & Resort, Newport, RI has scheduled themed weekends, including several that center on wine, through the end of the year. Cranwell in the Berkshires promoted its expanded spa. Catie Copley, the friendly Canine Ambassador from the Fairmont Copley Plaza accompanied the concierge and public relations manager to New York to let the attendees know that the dog will run or walk with them when they stay at the Boston-based hotel. Porches and The Red Lion, sister properties in Massachusetts, focus on love and romance during guest stays. Bob Smith who owns Maine 's Sebasco Harbor Resort handed out business cards with the title “Lighthouse Keeper” because one of the structures in which he houses visitors is a unique six-sided, four-story former lighthouse that looks much like a layer cake. In late spring the resort will open a full-service spa, which will function like a destination spa. Since many treatments at Maine 's Cliff House Resort & Spa are blueberry-based, aestheticians used the essence in foot massages that were offered during the afternoon. Kathleen Ansen, Director of Sales, Saybrook Point Inn noted how easy it is to reach the Inn from Manhattan as Amtrak stops in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. The association also sponsors a hands-on “Innkeeper for a Day” for those who aspire to enter the hospitality business.


August, 2006

American Girl Place Cafe

Calista Isabel Martin Singer celebrated her third birthday at New York 's American Girl Place. She was a guest of her great aunt who took her to see one of the shows currently playing at the Fifth Avenue store. Although the little girl had previously seen children's theater and her daddy had prepared her for the event by showing her the play's characters on his computer, she was apprehensive about entering the hall. An usherette summoned Ildi Kiss, the lead in Bitty Bear's Matinee: The Family Tree, who came out from behind the stage to greet Calista and urged her to take her seat. From the moment all the characters, including Bitty Kitty and Bitty Puppy appeared on the platform until the end of the 40-minute show, Calista's face registered pure joy. She joined with the other audience members to participate in the interactive parts—making noises like animals, pretending to be wildflowers growing, and taking a ballet class. Great aunt and niece went on to the cheerful red, white, and black Café where they had reserved for lunch and were shown to a front table overlooking the avenue. The hostess hooked two tiny chairs onto the sides of the table so that Calista could seat the dolls that she had brought from home. The black and white pony tail holders on the table became headbands for the dolls. Their thimble-sized cups were filled with milk and the spears from the crudities and fruit, which were served along with pretzel bread and hot cinnamon buns, became pretend straws. The entrees at the Café are divided equally between those that might appeal to children, like pizza and mini-hamburgers, and to adults, such as poached salmon and Cobb salad. A trio of desserts came with each meal. Calista was given a goodie bag with an ink pad, stamps, and a paper pad shaped like a T-shirt. American Girl Place is a one-of-a-kind emporium with a wide variety of dolls and accessories, clothes for girls and matching outfits for their dolls, and a hospital and hair salon for the playthings, also. http://www.americangirlplace.com

July, 2006

Radiance Eye Treatment at LXR Luxury Resorts & Golden Door Spas Station

7/27 ISPA (International SPA Association) gathered 25 of its members and a cadre of writers for the 12th Annual Media Marketplace in New York City. Public relations spokespeople talked one-on-one to the scribes about new developments, and masseurs and aestheticians were on hand to offer a sampling of the signature treatments available at the properties they represent. American destination spas, like Canyon Ranch, Aspira, and Kohler Waters Spa; resort/hotel spas such as Sundara Inn & Spa, Montage, and Sea Island Resorts; and city day spas including Exhale and Mandarin Oriental, New York set up attractive booths with tables and equipment where they offered the mini-treatments and distributed beauty and body products, as well as other generous gifts. The stations were decorated with specialty products and representative artifacts that might be found in their home settings. LXR Luxury Resorts & Golden Door Spas is a recently reorganized group of 29 independent hotels, resorts, and spas. The Golden Door brand includes one destination spa, three that are attached to resorts and another scheduled to open in '07. Their technician provided Luxe Hand Rescue and Radiance Eye Treatments. Sea Island Resorts announced the opening of the The Spa at Sea Island. Using a special device, a golf pro helped golfers improve their swings. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa introduced the Artist's Cottage & Apothecary, a space where local artists teach guests to work in a variety of artistic mediums. Canyon Ranch, which now operates in six locations, promoted its Executive Health Program. Maxime Cormier, director of Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont 's newest spa destination, Mayakoba, Riviera Maya explained the Mayan-inspired treatments that use indigenous products and distributed crystals to make your dreams come true. The Interactive treatment featured by Montage Resort & Spa was “Experience Surrender.” Guests were invited to glimpse Surrender, Spa Montage's holistic approach to wellness by consulting with a therapist and a wellness coach. Also present at the booth was Spa Technologies, whose products, some of which are ocean-based, are used at Montage. Kohler announced an expansion to St. Andrew's, Scotland where the focus continues to be on water-based therapies. Guests left with large tote bags filled with packages of shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, masques, gels, scrubs, polishes, lotions, towels, toilet kits, and bath salts to be used at home. There were enough items to keep everyone beautiful until next year. http://www.experienceispa.com

June, 2006

6/15 Lindblad Expeditions coordinated the introduction of Seafood-for-Thought on the roof garden above its downtown headquarters. The golden sun hugged the sky and the over-the-top-views stretched across the nearby Hudson River, spilling onto the New Jersey shores. It was a perfect night for a party. Founded by Sven-Olof Lindblad, a ground-breaker in adventure travel, Lindblad Expeditions, introduced voyagers to relatively new types of journeys in undeveloped or faraway regions of the world—Bhutan; Papua, New Guinea; and Antarctica. Dedicated to the responsible treatment of the environment during travel, he fostered the germination of eco-tourism. The project, which was announced tonight, Seafood- for-Thought, Sustainability for Our World's Oceans, in partnership with Chefs Collaborative and Blue Ocean Institute, is a natural for a company with major concerns about preserving natural resources. Lindblad and Gary Jenanyan, Consulting Executive Chef for the Expeditions, addressed the guests. Chef Jenanyan explained how some of the fish he cooked for the guests' enjoyment, such as halibut, crab, tilapia, and shrimp, were caught by methods that do not damage the ecosystem. The program will be implemented on all ships. Carl Safina, President of Blue Ocean Institute spoke about a “sea ethic.” Peter Hoffman, chef/owner of Savoy restaurant, described Chefs Collaborative, whose more than 1,000 members promote sustainable cuisine.


May, 2006

Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire

5/11 There's so much happening at Four Seasons Resorts and Hotels that the company brought personnel representing 30 of its properties to New York for a Media Marketplace. In attendance were General Managers from several company divisions, the U.S. and the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe and the Middle East. To inform travel journalists about recent openings and innovations, the GMs met one-on-one with the press. Resorts, Residence Clubs, and Private Residences, as well as urban hotels, were in attendance. The company will soon have three properties in the Maldives. The main one, Kuda Hura, a beautiful rustic 12-acre private island has a sister property occupying all 18 acres of Landaa Giraavaru. Both resorts are scheduled to open in the fall. Meanwhile, the world's smallest Four Seasons, a light boat, the Explorer, accommodating 22 passengers, is currently cruising the atolls. Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, a Georgian-style manor and a country estate dating from the 11th century has been open one year and is about 35 minutes from Heathrow and one hour from central London. The old and new are accentuated with contemporary conveniences and heritage-listed gardens. The hotel has its own private canal barge accommodationg 20. Michael Newcombe, manager, reported that many of last summer's American. guests said that they planned to return this year. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Four Seasons Hotel New York is slated for a fall opening. Lava Lounge, serving specialty martinis, has just opened at Haulalai at Historic Ka'upulchehu, Hawaii . To give guests an opportunity to taste a variety of drinks, a trio of tiny teenies can be ordered. The Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, which was completed in '05, uses Chinese herbal remedies in some of its treatments. The two-year old Four Seasons Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica, which is near two national park, just added a sushi bar, a second center for teenagers, and a zip line. The Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach offers golfing privileges at three nearby championship courses. At the Spa at the Fours Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence you can make like Cleopatra and enjoy a therapeutic bath, which incorporates milk and honey. http://www.fourseasons.com

Cirque du Soleil's Corteo

5/6 Hurry, if you plan to visit New York City in late spring or early summer and want to see Cirque du Soleil's touring performance of Corteo, you don't have much time. The show runs until July 2. Staged under The Grand Chapiteau, the Big Top, located on Randall's Island in Manhattan 's East River, the tent is accessible by ferry from the 34 th Street dock of NY Waterways. It's a lovely ride, particularly the return trip when the lights of Manhattan create a show of their own. Much like a Roman amphitheater, the audience, seated on opposite sides of a revolving stage, surround the performers. Corteo, meaning “cortege” in Italian, is a dying clown's fantasy of his own funeral procession. No weeping dark-clothed mourners here. This is a jolly send-off party. The marching band could have been parading down Bourbon Street en route to a New Orleans burial. Some passages are spoken in the clown's native language and the entire production has the feel of a comedic Italian operetta. In contrast to Europe's touring circus groups, such as Germany 's Roncalli, which feature standard routines, this troupe cuts a wider original swathe. Aerialists dressed in 20s style lingerie swing from chandeliers. Acrobats tumble on bouncing beds. Angels hover above. Jugglers throw multicolored pins with such rapidity that they create a kaleidoscope flowing across the stage. Two sets of two performers in costume become two prancing horses. Held aloft by balloons Valentyna Pahlevanyan, the female partner in a dwarf couple, floats over the spectators whose helping hands repeatedly thrust her into the air. Audiences hold their breath, exclaim in awe, and break into applause at the daring feats. VIP Tapis Rouge tickets include preferred seating, access to a private suite and refreshments before the show and during intermission. The North American tour of Corteo continues in Chicago . Whether or not you get to see this show, don't forget Cirque du Soleil's incomparable resident productions: “O”, Mystere, Ka, and Zumanity in Las Vegas and La Nouba at Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando. http://www.cirquedusoleil.com

April, 2006


4/5 The Pennsylvania Tourism Office invited the press to a Marketplace to experience a celebration of the state's food, festivals, music, and lore. Eight regions from the State of Independence gathered at Harry's Loft for the marketplace. Each had a table covered with products and displays from their areas. Representatives publicized “What's Hot” for '06: amusement and waterparks, basball, and new Civil War trails roadtrips. All of the regions distributed information titled “A Roadtrip thru. . .," such as the Alleghenies, Route 6, the Wilds, etc. followed by “So whatcha' wanna do is…”. Suggested experiences ranged from visiting farms and forges to factories. In Philadelphia and The Countryside you might celebrate Ben Franklin's birthday, tour Valley Forge National Park, order a cheese steak at Pat's, and let the kids loose at The Crayola Factory where they can make crayons. In Pittsburgh and its Countryside you could explore the Andy Warhol Museum and visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water. In the Wilds you can bike along the new portion of Pine Creek Rail Trail and drink from the “Eternal Tap” at Straub Brewery. During the evening an accordianist played polkas, music that is popular among some of the area's ethnic groups. Ethnic and local foods were served. Recipes from Amish Country were used to make desserts such as shoo-fly and apple pies, and Ye Olde College Diner in State College proffered their famous sticky buns. Meat and potato pierogies, a favorite of Pittsburgh 's residents, and Italian wedding soup with meatballs were on the buffet. Several kinds of chocolate candy, courtesy of Hershey, were placed in bowls all over the space. Wines from Sand Castle Winery in Bucks County were poured. http://visitPa.com

March, 2006

Hampton Court Palace

3/9 Danny Holman, Director of Communication and Development, and Jacqueline Gazzard, Head of Press and PR, for the five Historic Royal Palaces, London flew across the pond to the U.S. to publicize the recent happenings at the former residences of kings and queens. All are unoccupied and are managed by a Royal Charter Body organized as a charity. The representatives met one-on-one and with small groups of writers at lunch and teatime. Recently announced is the spring reopening of Kew Palace, which had been closed in order to redo the rooms to their appearance in 1804/05 when George III made his home here. Included in the display is the Baby House the princesses played with. The Medieval Palace at the Tower of London has been restored to its lavishness during the period, circa. 1216-130, when Henry III and Edward I lived here. A new exhibition of 15 photographs of Diana, Princess of Wales and nine of her dresses has been mounted in the State Apartments, Kensington Palace and will be shown until spring, 2007. Cooking demonstrations will take place periodically until the end of year in the new, but authentic Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace. The meals that are prepared will be those that Henry VIII would have eaten during the years he inhabited the Palace. The Banqueting House at Whitehall was a separate building from the palace itself. Whitehall Palace burned down, but the House survived the fire and is open to visitors. Interactive events will take place throughout the year at the Tower and at Hampton Court. The Tower, Hampton Court and Kensington Palaces house on-site restaurants. Visitors can dine at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Lunchtime concerts are scheduled monthly at the Banqueting House. Snacks and drinks are available. http://www.hrp.org.uk

February, 2006

2/21 California's Travel and Tourism Commission crossed the fly-over zone and came to New York to participate in a yearly media reception where updates about developments in the Golden State were circulated. It was almost, but not quite, a repeat of 2005. The location, time of year, attractions, and state representatives were nearly the same. Approximately 40 tables were set up at the Jumeirah Essex House. Domaine Charbay winemaker and distiller, St. Helena, served Meyer lemon, blood orange, ruby red grapefruit, and key lime vodka on the rocks and in mixed drinks and included a bottle of the spirits in all 11 gift packages, which were raffled off during the evening. Loew's Coronado Bay Resort, San Diego, announced a new line of summer treatments, The Golden Goddess, at its Sea Spa. There's lots of news from Disneyland Resort. A new luxury spa facility, Mandara Spa, will be opening at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. Disney Paradise Pier is getting a face lift. The Disneyland Hotel will also be renovated and will introduce a new concierge lounge, which will provide a more sophisticated guest experience. City Passes, booklets containing six half-price admissions to museums, river cruises, tours, theme parks, and observation towers added another destination, Southern California, to the state's existing portfolio of San Francisco and Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Anaheim/Orange County V&CB distributed a driving guide with maps and descriptions of Southern California 's star attractions.

Lobby Bar, Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg, Russia

2/15 Orient Express Hotels, Trains, Cruises, Safaris & Private Jets brought its 2005 Roadshow to New York’s Jumeirah Essex House Hotel. Representatives from all over the world traveled to the city to meet with writers, travel agents, and meeting planners to apprise them of the latest developments in the company, which now includes 50 properties in 22 countries. The year 2005 and early 2006 was an innovative one for the group with new investments in leisure properties. Majority interests were acquired in Grand Hotel Europe, the finest hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia and Casa Sierra Nevada, San Miquel de Allende, Mexico. Ubud Hanging Gardens, a member of the Pansea Orient-Express portfolio, began receiving guests. New destinations have been added to the itineraries of Northern Belle, one of two railroad trains operating along with the Royal Scotsman in the United Kingdom. With the unveiling of Campanelle in Tuscany, Italy, the country where the first hotel purchase was made in 1976, there are now Orient-Express hotels in five Italian towns. The managers of Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia, site of Jefferson’s Monticello home, and The Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michael’s, Maryland were at adjacent tables. Both hostelries are near enough to each other to be visited during the same vacation. Representatives from three hotels in Peru described how travelers to their country combine stays at Miraflores Park in Lima; Hotel Monasterio, Cuzco; and Sanctuary Lodge, Manchu Picchu; with a trip on the Hiram Bingham Luxury Train. On The Road to Mandalay Cruises en route to Bhamo, the boat passes three steep forested gorges. Two premier journeys on the legendary Venice-Simplon Orient Express train will take place in September 2006 and travel from Paris to Budapest, Bucharest, and Istanbul. The reverse trip will end up in Venice. No doubt Orient Express will be back in the Big Apple at the beginning of 2007 to discuss the successes of '06 and the ongoing plans. I can't wait!

January, 2006

Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach

1/20 Visit Florida , the state's tourism promotion agency, chose the theme "The Fantasy and Fun in Florida " for the 2006 Media Reception, which took place at the Millennium Hotel near Times Squar . During a buffet lunch representatives of properties and communities set up attractively decorated tables to showcase Florida 's newest and continuing attractions that make the state a prime vacation spot. A diver representing Tarpon Springs, a fishing village with a Grecian feel, displayed a variety of shapes and sizes of sponges that he recovers from the beds at the bottom of the sea. The town of Naples promoted its Botanical Garden. One of its ornithologists fed nectar to a lively lorikeet perched on his shoulder. Phil Kiser, an artist from the Beaches of South Walton, displayed his dimensional glass mosaics. Palm Beach generously notified guests to bring their tennis rackets to the event for restringing. The Norton Museum of Art, located in Palm Beac , publicized its partnership of packages with some of the city's fine hotels during the run of "French Impressionism and Boston," which can be seen through March 5, 2006 . The ladies manning the St. Augustine table dressed in costume and served spicy food as a reminder of the town's settlement by the Spaniards. To advertise the King Tut exhibition on display until April 23, 2006 at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, replicas of some of the artifacts were shown and attendants were dressed as ancient Egyptians. To mark the opening of the new Island House spa at the Longboat Key Club, Sarasota, visitors were offered soothing hand massages. Because Tampa Bay is the location for spring training, their CV & B distributed baseballs and crackerjack. The World's Fair for Kids will take place in Orlando during family spring break, April 15 – 23, 2006 . Kay Snipes and Terri Eager, the tea maven sisters of the Magnolia and Ivy Tea Room in Sandestin, dressed in the proper finery of yesteryear when ladies wore hats and gloves to take tea. http://www.visitflorida.com/

Tilley Hats

1/1 “G’day Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee.” And "'Hello’ to you Indiana Jones." We know that you both wore great chapeaux and that your unique and individual personas depended on your snappily stylish headgear. When you Paul Hogan transformed yourself into an Aussie bushman for your role as a crocodile hunter in the Australian outback in 1986 and donned an outback-style hat, adventurous men all over the world copied you. Hadn’t you heard of Tilley Endurables, the company that was established in 1980? You and Sue Charleston, your co-star with whom you generated so much chemistry that she became Mrs. Hogan, could have been garbed in matching apparel. Poor Sue went hatless in the elements.

As for you, Indiana Jones, as you made your way through jungles in the Temple of Doom, battled for the Holy Grail in the Last Crusade, and searched for the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark; a signature, crushable, packable outdoor travel hat might have made a better covering for your head than a fedora. No one’s saying you didn’t look great in your fedora, but a Tilley Endurable might have suited your precarious life better.

Because the hats are strong and durable, water repellent and mildew resistant, lightweight and have a secret compartment, hand-washable and fast-drying, have mesh in the crown for coolness and the highest possible protection against the sun; they are as practical for the wilds of the Amazon as they are in the ruins of Jordan. Our models are wearing the LTM6 Airflow Hat. In the background you can see the red rocks of Sedona. A recently designed winter style fashioned in wool has flaps that may be tucked in or worn out to cover the ears.

All hats are guaranteed for life against wearing out and are backed by a two-year policy against loss.

http://www.tilley.com. Tel. 800-ENDURES

December, 2005

12/2 Nena Komarica, General Manager, North America, The Croatian National Tourist Office, North America, welcomed several hundred guests to the annual Croatian Christmas Evening. A press conference to discuss Croatia in 2006 preceded the dinner. The venue this year was the Harvard Club and guests were treated to an outstanding multicourse dinner. Red and white wines imported from the vineyards of Croatia, a former Yugoslav Republic on the Adriatic Sea, accompanied the meat and fish dishes. Entertainment was provided by Klapa (a group of musicians performing music that is a kind of capella singing) Maestral. The seven members of the troupe sang of love, wine, homeland, and sea. Guests took home CDs of Christmas songs and carols of Dalmatia recorded by Lado, a Zagreb-based folk song and dance ensemble. http://www.croatia.hr

November, 2005

11/30 The invitation from Canadian Tourist Commission to celebrate "Our Winter Wonderland" at the Bryant Park Grill was decorated with snowflakes. It read, "The weather outside is frightful! But Canada is so delightful! For those daring enough to make it a date, The Bryant Park pond will be open to skate." The restaurant is located behind the New York Public Library at 42nd Street and the pond was visible from the private room where the party was held. Crepes filled with hot creamed chicken, a signature food of French restaurants in our neighbor to the North, were served. A jazz trio played lively tunes at the spirited holiday event. Representatives from some of the provinces--Newfoundland, British Columbia, Quebec--were on hand to talk about cold weather vacations and activities in their areas. Four lucky travel writers and agents won trips in the raffle. All guests went home with a fluffy lap blanket decorated with the seal of Canada, a red maple. http://www.visitcanada.com

October, 2005

Greater Phoenix Press Event

10/5 Greater Phoenix, Arizona has so many first-class spas and top-notch resorts that its representatives visited New York and hosted two press events in four weeks. The venue for the second one was the luxurious Cornelia Day Spa located in a duplex penthouse with open roof space and a café on the 8th floor of 663 Fifth Avenue. Mesa, Scottsdale, and Glendale are part of Greater Phoenix and their CVBs, along with the Arizona Office of Tourism, and four resorts were present. Announcements were made about the latest developments in the area. The Mesa CVB publicized the augural season of it Arts Center, the largest in the state, which will showcase performing arts, visual arts, and arts education. Glendale reported on the opening of a professional hockey arena and football stadium. The buzz in Scottsdale centers on the renovation of Hotel Valley Ho. The latest news at The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix is the introduction of pool valets and music suites with preloaded iPods. The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, a resort with Native American ownership, employs the world's only cultural concierge, Ginger Sun Martin, who interprets the customs of the local tribes to guests. The Agave Spa at the Westin Kierland has patented an exclusive treatment, rollersage, which uses semi-precious stones found nearby. Each stone represents a healing property. The Wigwam Resort & Golf Club will be the site a new Red Door Spa. The Jim McLean Golf School will start a program at the Wigwam Golf University . http://www.visitphoenix.com

September, 2005

Ribbon Cutting, Maison des Relais & Chateaux

9/19 Relais & Chateaux unveiled its new corporate office for North America this evening at an elegant cocktail party. Regis Bulot, International President, and Jacques-Oliver Chauvin, Chief Executive Officer, hosted the celebration, the ribbon cutting ceremony, and the inauguration of a new kitchen. The refurbished headquarters, Maison des Relais & Chateaux, located in a townhouse at 148 East 63rd Street on Manhattan's Upper East Side, is furnished with 17th-century antiques. The ground floor opens onto a rear patio. Wood stairs lead to the second floor where the new ultra modern open kitchen, which includes a Molteni stove, is located. Delectable hors d’oeuvres for the assembled guests were prepared by several world famous Relais Gourmands chefs: Jean-Georges
Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud of New York's Jean-Georges and Daniel and Patrick O’Connell, President of Relais Gourmands of North America, and co-owner/chef at The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, VA. The event marked a cooperative venture between R. & C. and Electrolux, a European appliance company, and agent for the Molteni stove, and European Country Kitchens, which specializes in custom-designs. All were party sponsors.The public is invited to visit the Maison to book stays at the properties, pick up brochures and a directory or purchase gift certificates. Relais & Chateaux is an association of 440 global boutique hotels.

Gainey Ranch Golf Club and the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort.
Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau

9/8 Joined by eleven premier properties, the Scottsdale Arizona Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted a late summer Media Marketplace and cocktail reception in Lower Manhattan . The party was held at Sky Studios, a multi-storied penthouse with 360 degree views of the city and its environs. As the red-orange sun, which had been reflecting off the surrounding buildings, started to set, the lights of Gotham slowly began illuminating the sky. It was a perfect evening. The party whose theme was, “Soak up the last days of summer with Scottsdale,” showcased pampering spas, championship golf courses, and southwestern flavors in food and drink. The festivities took place on four levels, the second of which was called the Garden Terrace. But it was more like a park with bushes, plants, flowers, and tall trees reaching beyond the height of the building. Camelback Inn, a Marriott Resort, treated guests to neck and back massages in the open air. At the back of the mezzanine where most of the properties had tables was a serving station at which fajitas were prepared. Resort representatives discussed activities, programs and special beauty treatments available at their spas. Some distributed products, such as chocolate rock candies and aloe-based body lotions from the Phoenician, and Chipolte BBQ meat rub from the Westin Kierland. Bartenders mixed Elderflower Cocktails, using a James Hotel recipe, and Prickly Pear Margaritas. The Westin display featured an air-conditioned GT-Segway Golf Transporter. And on the upper levels were a golf-putting green and a swimming pool. Since no life guard was on duty, only balloons were permitted to float in the pool. http://www.scottsdalecvb.com .

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