Wednesday, February 29, 2012

JustLuxe: Scotch Tastings at Next Door Lounge

I like speakeasy-style drinking dens and I like scotch. Marrying the two is a new whiskey-tasting series at Next Door Lounge in Hollywood.

The tasting series on Wednesday nights will include a a flight that spans the globe, another that focuses on Scottish single malts, plus bourbons, blended scotches, and all kinds of other high-proof brown liquors.

You'll find me there on March 14 sampling the single malts including Laguvulin 16 year, Talisker 10 year, Oban 14 year, and Craggenmore 12 year...and as the Scots would say, Slainte!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jetsetter: Grand Hotel de Bordeaux

I've been keeping an eye out on Jetsetter for my next hotel write up, this one on another European property I experienced during my trip to France last January: The Grand Hotel de Bordeaux.

I wrote about it for HotelChatter last year, but here's a bit more of a comprehensive review, with a lot of helpful tips about specifics of the hotel, its restaurant and spa, things to do in Bordeaux and more.

Definitely a grand, stately property to stay in if you happen to be in France's premier wine city.


Monday, February 27, 2012

HotelChatter: The Spire Hotel Queenstown

Time for another New Zealand story, this time on HotelChatter. It's about one of my favorite hotels I stayed in not only in New Zealand, but since I started travel writing.

It's called The Spire, it's in Queenstown, and it's just utterly fabulous from the fireplaces to the Eames chairs to the hand-crafted seasonal cocktails. Click the link below to read about the five reasons I never wanted to leave!


Friday, February 24, 2012

The Points Guy: Destination of the Week Series, Hawaii Island

After Brian's fantastic experiences staying at the Grand Hyatt, the St. Regis Princeville and surfing and helicoptering around Kauai last weekend, we decided to take another trip to the Hawaiian islands for this week's Destination of the Week on The Points Guy and talk about the island from which all the others take their name: Hawaii, the Big Island.

Though not as developed as some of the other islands like Kauai, Maui and Oahu, Hawaii has plenty of hotels where you can use your points, plus some other fantastic options like the Four Seasons Hualalai, where I got to stay last summer. Plus, Hawaii has spectacular natural sights like Volcanoes National Park to visit. Plenty to see and do here!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

HotelChatter: Peninsula Chicago's Chocolate Bar

While I was in Chicago last October for the Frequent Flyer Seminars, I spent a night downtown at the Peninsula Chicago, where I got to check out one of the more unique hotel amenities I've come across, the Peninsula Chicago's weekend Chocolate Bar.

This isn't just hot chocolate and truffles, though. It's a full-on luxury dessert bar with various stations and a panoply of pastries, plus live jazz music and a cadre of waitstaff attending to your every need--kind of like High Tea at night. You can come casually, but most of the people I saw while I was there were pretty dressed up, so it seems like more of a special occasion kind of thing.

Read more about it and find some of the pictures I took in my HotelChatter story at the link below.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

JustLuxe: New Zealand's Cool City Hotels

Most people think of New Zealand as a nature-lover's wonderland full of stunning vistas, dramatic coastline, rugged mountain ranges, and all the adventure sports you could want to keep your adrenaline pumping your whole life through.

However, there's a lot to see and do in its charming cities, and a slew of sophisticated boutique hotels to stay while you're there. Here is a list of four such properties, one in each of the country's major tourism destination cities to keep in mind for your next visit. It includes Mollies in Auckland, the Museum Hotel in Wellington, The George in Christchurch and The Spire in Queenstown. Check it out at the JustLuxe link below.


Friday, February 17, 2012

The Points Guy: Destination of the Week Series, Maui

For this week's Destination of the Week on The Points Guy, we headed back to Hawaii to tackle a HUGE vacation spot where you can use points and miles to score great deals for a fantastic vacation--romantic, weekend getaway, family trip--basically anything you want. Maui pretty much has it all. Sure it's a little package-y, but if you're looking for a gorgeous setting, convenience and a place where you can get the most out of your points, it is definitely a destination to consider with some gorgeous hotels and top-rated beaches.

We also got a lot of good feedback and advice from readers, so be sure to check out the comments at the end!


Friday, February 10, 2012

The Points Guy: Destination of the Week Series, Paris

For a special Valentine's installment of the Destination of the Week series on The Points Guy, we decided to cover the City of Love, Paris!

Pretty much my favorite city on the planet--great for singles looking for a fling, as well as couples looking to rekindle romance.

Plus, it's easy to get there and stay using points...even at fabulous properties like the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, the Intercontinental Avenue Marceau, and the newly opened W Paris.

There were so many options, in fact, that I didn't even have time to write about all the things to see, do and eat in the city, so feel free to email me at if you're looking for recommendations for your next visit.

In the meantime, enjoy this piece!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

JustLuxe: Valentine's Day Roundup

Just in time for those of you who like to keep your lover guessing...or drive them crazy by making last-minute plans all the time, here is another Valentine's Day roundup I compiled for JustLuxe of some great meals couples can enjoy around Los Angeles on the special night this year.

Included in this edition are new restaurants like Caulfield's at the Thompson Beverly Hills Hotel, and the buzzy bistronomy boite, Papilles, that I'm dying to try myself, as well as trusty favorites like AOC, Cecconi's, Wilshire (under chef Nyesha Arrington's new direction) and even a Peruvian Valentine's at Picca!

Lots to love and eat here, so bon appetit. And make your reservations before it's too late!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Frontiers: Love Bites

It's Valentine's Day again! And that means lots and lots of Valentine's roundups of the finest feasts and delicious dinners for lovers around Los get gouged on. Starting with this Frontiers roundup.

I jest--I don't want to sound too bitter, especially because I'm holding out hope that someone will treat me to a prix fixe this year, possibly at one of these fine establishments.

The list is compact but good this year with a mix of old favorites like Jar, Fig and Valentino, as well as newer restaurants (or chef leadership) at Raphael and Cube.

Everyone should find plenty to love here, and a meal at any of these restaurants I've hand-selected should make your sweetheart feels special this Valentine's Day. Enjoy!


Monday, February 6, 2012

LA Confidential Magazine: Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel-Air

I did a quick write-up on Wolfgang Puck's new restaurant at the Hotel Bel-Air for JustLuxe back in November, but the reason I went in to speak to the chef maestro himself, as well as architect David Rockwell, was for this feature in LA Confidential on the restaurant at the newly renovated iconic hotel.

As you'll see, the space is gorgeous, and though Puck has become the standard-bearer of California cuisine, the menu is still fresh, surprising and delicious, so next time you want a fabulous dinner at a secluded getaway in the heart of Los Angeles, consider a reservation here...especially if you can snag one of the cabanas overlooking the swan pond.


Friday, February 3, 2012

The Points Guy: Destination of the Week Series, Mauritius

When he first transitioned into being a full-time blogger over the summer, my friend Brian The Points Guy took a big trip to Europe and Mauritius to celebrate, so for our next Destination of the Week, we decided to take a look back on his trip, and the surprising panoply of hotel properties there where you can use points to stay, such as Intercontinental, Le Meridien, and even a forthcoming St. Regis.

Though most people come here for a beach vacation, there's also plenty to see and do including wild game parks, catamaran cruises, natural wonders to visit, and friendly people to show you around. Plus, you can take your pick of airlines flying there, making it easier to get to than you think.

So who knows, maybe your next vacation will be to this beguiling Indian Ocean island nation if you play your points right.