There’s something so refreshingly lovely about the champagne region of France. Is it the air? The people? The stunning champagne houses and the lifestyles inspired by champagne over the centuries? And there’s something particularly magical about the chalky caves below the area that millions of bottles of champagne are hiding in awaiting their time… While some say, once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all… Perrier Jouët’s is particularly visually enticing… those signature belle epoque flowered bottles (and with their pastel green bottle caps during the process) just pop so beautifully, breathing life into the otherwise damp colorless chalky caves. SO take a peek into the cellars with me on the next page!
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From surreal bent wood cocoons, to augmented reality projections on the screens outside the pod windows showing you real time views of the Eiffel Tower… even though you are UNDERGROUND… to a stunning living wall… the Six Senses Spa Paris is transformative on so many levels. Oh! And it even has its own secret elevator from the Westin, Place Vendome, for tose who wish to drop down to their subterranean oasis without stepping foot outside. The interior is designed by French architect Pierre David, integrating the elements of light, wood, stone and earth. The vertical garden that greets you as you enter from street level is created by landscape artist Patrick Blanc. The combination of greenery, gorgeous eco-centric design, and technology had me visually inspired as it was… combine one of the most diving massages, and it was hard to leave the cocooned underground haven… if only there were bird’s eye view looks at the Eiffel Tower projected BELOW your head when face down looking through the massage table hole… i kept being tempted to peek to stare at the projected views outside my pod window! See pictures of this Six Senses oasis on the next page!
So that plane i hopped on instead of checking out the skull engraved in a cube of uncut currency has landed me in Paris! At the Westin Paris… to celebrate Perrier-Jouët’s 200th Anniversary… greeted in the room by a lovely bottle of their Cuvée Belle Epoque Champagne in the signature Flower Bottle, invitation to tomorrows festivities, and a schedule for the next 3 days, which will take me from Paris, back to Epernay, to learn more about where it all came from. So first, a look at the bottle that awaited me, and the gorgeous graphic design on the invitation! After all… it’s a philosophie de vie… take a peek on the next page!
The Grant Museum of Zoology has always been one of my favorites. Tucked away on Gower Street (near Euston Square tube), the Grant Museum is open to the public on weekday afternoons. The eclectic zoological museum is part of University College London’s teaching collections and one of only a handful of university zoology museums.
I’d visited the museum before and was amazed by the hidden gem, packed full of spirit collections and skeletons. When they closed 8 months ago for refurbishment, I have to admit I was worried about what changes it would bring. I have a soft spot for the quirky, cluttered, Wunderkammer style it had embodied. So when I re-entered the newly refurbished museum today, I wasn’t sure what to expect; but as you can see from the photos, they’ve done a fabulous job of creating a great space that plays to the strengths of their weird and wonderful collection. Take a little tour through the fascinating collection and space on the next page!
The idea of a staycation is bull. It has recently been brought to my attention that i spend so much time in hotels in every city except my own (LA!) that i should get to know some of the ones in my backyard better. Ugh, questioning whether this is a ‘staycation’ (i recoil similarly to “jeggings”) led to discourse on what a “vacation” really is… and you can’t knock it till you try it, so when the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills offered me a suite, it seemed like the perfect excuse to give it a try.
So what IS a vacation? A change in perspectives. A break from your everyday. A chance to explore, relax, indulge, be pampered, be left alone, enjoy room service,… whatever it is you need! The Online Etymology Dictionary says: vacation - late 14c., “freedom or release” (from some activity or occupation), from O.Fr. vacation, from L. vacationem (nom. vacatio) “leisure, a being free from duty,” from vacare “be empty, free, or at leisure”. Staycation implies that location matters. But to me (and from the etymology), vacations are merely a state of mind! As i wrote over at OpenForum, vacations can be minutes or hours even, it’s all about perspective!
Anyhow, that is the last you’ll hear of staycations here. Upon arriving at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, not at all far from home, i was on VACATION! Impeccable service from their kind and friendly staff, new toys to play with (Jambox!), the surprise of a stunning suite on the 15th floor facing east… giving me views over Beverly Hills to Sunset Strip, Hollywood sign, Downtown, and snow capped mountains glistening in the horizon, dining room resulted in a little impromptu dinner party with delectable room service from Culina downstairs (the burrata…mmmm), gorgeous weather meant poolside relaxing to catch up with old friends… Vacation! A definite much needed perspective shift both physically and mentally has left me even more inspired and energized this weekend! So take a peek at the gorgeous views and into suite 1518 on the next page!
Sketches! I love when fun sketches come through the inbox ~ these are from the much anticipated Mondrian Soho that just opened in NY. Fun to see the direction the designers headed with it and where it evolved to. Morgans selected Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, the visionary behind the re-imagined Mondrian Los Angeles, to create Mondrian Soho in collaboration with their in-house design team.
“Noriega-Ortiz’s design for the hotel draws inspiration from Jean Coucteau’s 1946 romantic French fantasy film “La Belle et la Bête.” A powdery French blue color palette unifies the hotel interior and a custom carpet adorned with a rose vine design provide entryway to the jewel-box guest rooms, whose interiors features large dramatic mirrors, 10-foot ceilings and floor-to ceiling windows. No decorative art is hung in the rooms as the views are intended to be adornment enough and set the tone and scene for the guest.”
Sounds like a dream ~ and now i keep help imagining Beauty and the Beast (yes, the old disney one) and some of this lovely designer furniture coming to life… can’t wait to see it in person, but for now, take a peek into their world on the next page!
It’s back! I felt so free again this morning when my passport came back. There’s something about not having a passport on hand that feels like being trapped… albeit trapped in a HUGE country. On fun firsts, i finally reached the point where i had to add passport pages. One of the silly things i have been curious about since i was a kid, it now looks a bit frankensteined with completely different pages sewn and taped into the center! So, of course i had to take some pics to share the details of how it turned out! Take a peek on the next page… they even had some fun with the quotes and graphics!
These ads will make you want to go on an adventure, learn a new language, explore new foods, make new friends, fall in love… with a city, a person, a whole new life… Absolutely stunning typographically happy advertisements set to fun music showing you how to LIVE THE LANGUAGE ~ EF Language School style. I haven’t been able to get them out of my head since i first found them on Wanken. These videos are Directed by Gustav Johansson, D.P: Niklas Johansson, fsf, Typography: Albin Holmqvist, Music: Magnus Lidehäll, and Produced at Camp David. Go get lost in Paris, Barcelona, London, and Beijing on the next page…
I was the girl sitting in the back of the old shiny black pick up staring up into the trees as we drove through Veracruz up into the coffee sanctuary… AMAZED. And constantly taking pictures of the spiky clusters covering ancient trees from trunks to tips… and upon closer inspection they are air plants! Bromeliads! Tillandsia! So this post is a special one for my mom… who somehow manages to keep my TINY air plants alive and flowering while i’m out of town, and somehow has hers flourishing and growing new bits all the time in her courtyard! And the species covering these trees are just like the ones that you will find hanging in little glass orbs, sold in lots of succulent centerpieces, and every where from trendy gift shops to nurserys… and here they are covering huge trees!
So all through the little hike in the coffee sanctuary, i was enamored by the sheer number of plants and how well they thrived, it was amazing the larger trees even stayed alive seeing how covered they were at times! And close up the tiny baby ones were SO cute. I kept imagining how they climbed their way up there… picturing those super slow time lapsed plant nature documentaries… seriously, it is mind blowing how many spiky clusters there were. And it was like EVERY tree. I guess the locals are used to it. In the little town of Coatapec where we were staying (bummed i forgot to take a pic! it was dangerous while in the middle of the street though!) i kept seeing growing tiny clusters of air plants around the middle of TELEPHONE LINES! Right in the center! Like where you’d see sneakers hanging… Anyhow! Check out some pics of them on the next page and see why i was so mesmerized ~ also take a peek at the adorable retro truck we rode around in!
p.s. if you want some, or just to estimate the amount of airplant value on one of those trees ~ Airplants4U.
Exploring La Roma, stumbled upon Guru ~ a gallery and shop filled with low brow/surrealist/playful art, it was filled with so many NOTCOT favorites (both artists and products!) So, as i hunted to learn more about similar mexican artists, i discovered them putting up some beautiful black vinyl sticker silhouettes for an opening tonight by a Mexican creative collective, Cría Cuervos, in the back room. Being only two blocks away, i couldn’t resist popping by tonight to check it out ~ and it was beautiful! And packed! There was even a cop on the corner across the way watching/waiting… as people overflowed into the street. But about the show… Amor des Amor is an exposition of tshirts ~ each of the 11 artists (Ángeles Barajas, Cristina Medrano, Alejandra Aguirre, Ernesto Alcántara, Luis Flores, Jonathan López, Allan G. Ramírez, Miguel A. Cárdenas, Alejandro Gómez, Erick Knobl and Abraham Solís) designed a tshirt, which is hung in a gilded frame over the black vinyl stickers on the white walls… with the love/valentine’s day theme, it was the perfect shopping opportunity and people were snapping up the shirts quickly! Take a peek at the scene and designs on the next page!
Adventures with Kahlua begin today, car came to fetch me for the airport when it was still dark… hopped on a plane to Mexico City, and the change in scenery happened so quickly… from Mexico City (awesomely mesmerizing circles at the airport) after a few delays… hopped a tiny plane to Veracruz (which had some crazy windiness, trouble landing, and ended up circling out in the Gulf of Mexico… check out the insane white caps in the pics!)… then hopped in a suburban for another 2 hours out to Coatapec near Xalapa… where we quickly joined the rest of the group who had been hanging out at the 150 year old Cantina for a good chunk of the afternoon. So before i pass out from quite the surreal travel day… take a peek at the latest Operation Window Seat! Still inspires and fascinates me to no end to see the world fly by far below, and all the patterns and textures and colors that emerge…
After embracing that 2010 was probably one of my most travel heavy years yet, i’m getting ready for 2011… and that included accepting a Mr & Mrs Smith GoldSmith membership to test out and help cut down on some of my travel chaos. From last minute changes, to assistance finding quality hotels for impromptu vacations, and more… i gushed earlier about their help regarding my recent stay at the XV Beacon and Bowery Hotel. Well, in addition to all the perks the membership allows, the welcome pack just arrived, and it should be no surprise that the packaging is beautiful. The same playfully elegant style that their site and branding convey… filled with surprises! While they’ve always hit my sweet spot of hand written scripts mixed with cleaner fonts… and gloss black on matte black… they just upped it a notch with their custom packaging from award winning packaging designers Burgopak… filled with some of their Hotel Collection books (which i adore reading, the way they present the stories of Mr & Mrs Smith vacationing their way through them is rather amusingly dreamy), membership card, In Bed With… CD, and Bill Amberg leather passport holder and luggage tag. Ready to see it all unboxed? Take a peek on the next page!
Ok, don’t laugh, but i totally spent way too long this morning staring at the droplets in the Morgans Hotel shower. THEY HAVE CHECKERBOARD PATTERNS! And logically, it’s not even remotely a mystery how they appear, and indeed, i have found an upside to the rather intense bathrooms i complained about in the Penthouse post. And beyond staring at them too long in the shower, and flicking water at the glass to make MORE… first thing when i was done rinsing and repeating, i ran out and grabbed my dlsr to take pics of them to share with you while i sit here at the airport waiting to head back to sunny socal. Ahhhh, random shower inspiration. See more on the next page…
p.s. do you think the designer thought about this magical effect when they chose to make such crazy over-tiled walls?
Ever have one of those magical weekends that you just don’t want to end? And even though it was only a brief 48 hours, you’re filled with nostalgia thinking about it already? Sitting in another room at the Morgans Hotel, before finally concluding this nearly 2 week east coast winter adventure tomorrow, i’m definitely feeling that! Dear Morgans Hotel ~ thanks for a magical, otherworldly inspiring weekend literally on top of the world in your perfectly cozy, minimalist penthouse with stunning NYC views. It turned out to be the ideal backdrop to some random adventures. The various shades of grey cubist carpets, furniture, walls, and more were just interesting yet subdued enough not to take over your consciousness, and really let the view and great company take center stage!
The Morgans Hotel Penthouse: the “spacious duplex Manhattan Penthouse at Morgans is a masterwork of timeless form and contemporary function, boasting its own greenhouse, kitchen, media room, dramatic spiral staircase, and two terraces with stunning city views. Updated by Andrée Putman in 2008, the new design retains the original spirit of the quintessential jetsetter’s private New York City apartment, but incorporates a sense of playfulness with touches like a modular and adaptable sofa and a Putman-designed lamp, Compas dans l’Oeil.” And the details are just beautiful… sitting on the couch and around the dinner table this weekend, we couldn’t help discussing which aspects we’d want to incorporate into our own homes, there was something cozily appealing about the set up, and the two decks with Empire views constantly take your breath away… ready to peek at the details? See lots of pics on the next page!
p.s. you’ve already seen the inspiring quote postcards i shot from the penthouse snowiness here! It just took me a bit longer to get to sharing the penthouse itself!
Ack. It’s supposed to be the coldest night in a while here in NYC tonight! I guess it’s a good thing i just hopped the train down from Boston and got settled into the Bowery Hotel in NYC… definitely sounds like it ought to be a room service kind of night… lows of 5 degrees do not sound fun! Be it through laziness or busyness or indecisiveness, i’ve recently begun trying out the GoldSmith services of the fabulous Mr & Mrs Smith… it’s quite magical really, they’ll introduce you to your personal consultant who will take care of you when it comes to booking at any of their destinations as well as automatic room upgrades, airport lounge passes, loyalty plan and more… the part that has been the most fun so far, is it’s been far too fun emailing with my GoldSmith concierge, Jasmine. She’s made my life and inbox easier AND more amusing. While i’ll be testing things out more throughout the year, it’s already been a pleasure having them help me extend my stay in Boston last night at the XV Beacon (i’ve even ended up with a XV Beacon CD upon check out because of the Mr & Mrs Smith connection), and now they’ve worked out a press rate for me at the Bowery Hotel.
But i digress, back to the Bowery Hotel, my new home for the next few days, it’s adorable, and you simply must see the design details… i love their logo! And that they have a big calendar i can scribble on as i try to plan out the upcoming week… It’s so cold out, i totally got in and hopped into the comfy bed to work on the macbook air right now… SO cozy! And love the dark hardwood floors as well… go check it all out on the next page!
Mmmmm. Another late late night (4:30 already?), but bubbling with inspiration and giddiness, i had to share these pictures with you before sleeping. Spent about 6 or so hours cruising around with the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG today… from Rancho Santa Fe wandering east into the mountains to Julian (mmm pie) and down and around through more rolling hills right up to the border of Mexico before looping into downtown San Diego for lunch at the Andaz, a quick jaunt through Coronado… and then i couldn’t resist and raced over to my absolute favorite car/beach spot from my college days (you used to find me there listening to music and curled up reading in my car), where you can pull right up to the sand and nearly touch the sea… the ideal sunset spot to make everything in your mind seem irrelevant in an instant.
So. PERFECT sunset. PERFECT beach spot. And PERFECT car. Driving the CLS 63 AMG is absolute bliss. The growling purr of the engine can’t help but make you grin… and it seems to have solved my dilemma where cars have been one of my hardest design objects to shoot passionately. Apparently i just hadn’t found the right one to inspire me. But after an incredibly fun day of driving and exploring rural east county goodness and reminiscing about my san diego past, pulling up to the sunset at my favorite car/beach zen spot… and catching sunset by mere moments… the glow was utterly magical to say the least. And the way the sunset lit and reflected off the cars curves was mind blowing. Naturally, i couldn’t help taking a bunch of pictures… take a peek on the next page!
Today has been kind of amazing in socal, 70 degrees and sunny in LA, and the perfect day to cruise down to San Diego to meet up with Mercedes-Benz AMG… came down a few hours early wanting to skip rush hour and get some work done… but it’s hard not to relax when you pull into the world of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe. So between conference calls and emails, how could i not share this HOUSE of a “room” i just checked into? So very california bungalow; comfy, cozy, and far too much space to have to myself! And truly, the perfect weather for what looks like it will shape up to be a glorious weekend to drive around with the new CLS 63 AMG. Take a peek inside my bungalow on the next page…
Gift Guide time! This time ideas for the Kids On The Go ~ unlike the Business Traveler on the Go list and the Jetsetter On The Go list… here’s one for traveling with KIDS! (Particularly the younger ones! So, some fun ideas for newer parents transitioning from jetsetter to jetsetter and a half?) Check out the product picks on the next page!
Our final 2010 roundup, comes from our newest site of all, and perhaps the most fun to help us look forward into possibilities for the new year… even though only 2 months old, NotVentures is my daily wanderlust, making it harder and harder to stay put when there are so many places and things to see in the world! I can’t wait to see what adventures await in 2011… and what wonders we’ll all find and share! Please feel free to share places that either spark your wanderlust or that you have visited and would recommend to inspire others!