James In Scottsdale

Want sun and warmth in winter but don't want to leave the country? Try the new James Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. Voted "America's Sexiest Resort" by Travel & Leisure magazine, the James blends style and technology in an urban resort. Rooms ammenities include a 42-inch plasma tv, wi-fi and balconies or patios. The hotel "campus" features include a branch of Steve Hanson's (owner of B.R. Guest Restaurants and also this hotel) NY favorite Fiamma Osteria, the J-Bar, a 3,000 sq ft. gym designed by the founders of NY's Equinox and a 130 X 25 ft "play pool" with pool bar.

Also, opening in early 2006 is James - Chicago in the prime location of Rush & Ontario!



I have to recommend the Nicole Kidman movie Birth. We all know scandal about Nicole and the little boy in the bathtub. NOT the main reason to see this movie (but yes, in context, it is quite disturbing). Birth is a visual and audio treat (the soundtrack that runs through the movie just adds to the feeling) - dark, beautiful and strange. The basic premise is that Nicole's husband dies and is reincarnated into the 10-year-old boy who comes finds her (10 years after her husbands death). One huge bonus of this film is that you get to see Anne Heche basically recreating her Celestia persona at one point. This is one of those movies I stumbled on and REALLY liked. It's my favorite since Garden State.

Unique Hotels For Global Nomads

The Tablet Hotels web site is one of my favorites for booking hotels. The hotels listed are all thoroughly reviewed by their travel experts. They are all unique or design hotels within all price ranges. No chain hotels are allowed and no hotels can "buy" their way into the site. They have a great search engine that allows you to search for hotels by words like "seduction", "pampering", "coastal" and "jungle".


Intimate Dinner For A Small Group

Looking for a place to have an intimate dinner with your friends during the holiday season? Make a reservation for the cylinder booth at Landmarc in TriBeCa. The booth, which comfortably seats 6, is a round table literally inside a giant metal cylinder at one end of the second floor dining room. The privacy here is key - you can carry on all you want AND feel expensive as nearby diners wonder who you are to get that table. Even though it has an industrial feel, the space is warm with exposed brick and open beams. The menu is bistro comfort.

Holiday Windows

The Not Without My Guest Packet award for best holiday window at a department store goes to Barney's for their Fran Drescher window. (photo courtesy of DEC). Hey, while at Barney's, why not have a little nosh at Fred's?


Seasons Of Love

RENT the movie opened in theaters this week just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. After running out to see it, would I recommend it? Well, not necessarily. It would depend on who you are. If you are a fan of the Broadway production and weren't lucky enough to see the original cast (well most of the original cast anyway), then I would say yes. Just don't take it seriously and enjoy it for what it is (some of the parts that they now "speak" instead of singing are quite jarring – almost comical the first time they break out into song). There were a few good scenes, but overall, it wasn't able to make the transition from stage to film. These actors are just way too old to be playing characters in their early 20's now. The top performance for me was by Idina Menzel (who plays Maureen). Her big number – “Over the Moon” stole the show for me (and it was one I didn’t really even like in the Broadway production!). Simply sexy! Idina is definitely one to keep an eye on. Surprisingly, Rosario Dawson fell into the role of Mimi better than some of the returning stars did in the roles they made famous. So hit it in the theater if you’re a “big screen” person or are feeling nostalgic, otherwise you may want to wait until opening-HBO.


Dining Out In NYC On Thanksgiving

Click here to see the list of restaurants that are offering Thanksgiving
dinners in NYC (courtesy of Citysearch). Whether eating home or out,
Happy Thanksgiving everybody!


Last Minute Getaway Airfares

Looking to getaway for the weekend and want a cheap airfare? Look on SmarterLiving.com. This site compiles all the weekend getaway fares for all the major airlines into one area. Sign up to receive the weekly email and then you can cancel your subscriptions to all of the individual airlines.


A Rogues' Gallery

If you find yourself wandering the outer limits of West Chelsea, stop by DCKT Contemporary to see Maria E. Piñeres' show A Rogues' Gallery, on view from November 19 - December 17. A favorite of the DCKT regulars, Ms. Piñeres current exhibit focuses on celebrity mug shots recreated in needlepoint.

Murano Urban Resort

The Murano Urban Resort lies on the edge of the upper Marais on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris. This urban resort is a hotel, restaurant and bar located in an area touting the latest trendy shops and galleries (Christian LaCroix opened his new Hotel du Petit Moulin nearby) . Much of the hotel is done in minimalistic white and chrome, however the bar is filled with brightly colored upholstered panels that match the colors of the long list of martini's being served. Although a bit pricey (even by NY standards), it's worth a stop in le bar for the atmosphere alone. In this hidden oasis, the music builds throughout the night as the hipper-than-Paris crowd rolls into this high-tech, high-style, playful yet warm space.


Anguilla & St. Maarten

Brought back into the spotlight when Jen & Brad had their final vacation there just before the breakup (go team Aniston!), Anguilla is a small Caribbean island with white sandy beaches just east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. My friend Trish who has travelled extensively in the Caribbean names it as her favorite island destination sighting the most serene beautiful beaches and friendliest natives. Trish always stays at Rendezvous Bay and recommends it as the best of the mid-priced accomodations. Now, however, I'm even more anxious to travel there to stay at the newly renovated Ku Hotel which is owned by the same people who own the famous Cap Juluca. Ku is located on the Shoals Bay beach and has 27 air-conditioned minimalist-designed suites. Because the hotel is under new ownership and trying to build up clientele, rates are decent until mid-December and then again after April 1.

If you don't want to take a puddle jumper flight from another island to get to Anguilla, see if you can get a direct flight to St. Maarten and take the quick ferry ride over from there. While in St. Maarten, stay at the small Inn At Cupecoy. Although I haven't been YET myself, I sent a well-traveled co-worker there who really liked it.


Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive!

It's the 3rd Thursday of November and that marks the arrival of the 2005 Beaujolais Nouveau. For many, it's a day of celebration. The Beaujolais Nouveau phenomena started about a century ago with winemakers transporting barrels of new wine, which had barely finished fermenting, to Lyon. Despite its youth, this wine made from Gamay grapes was fruity, juicy and delicious, thanks to a process called carbonic maceration (still used to this day). It was not until after World War II that the popularity of Beaujolais Nouveau began to spread beyond its regional borders and into the Paris bistros and then finally reaching America. Typical retail price for a bottle is $9.99, but saavy shoppers should hit Wharehouse Wine & Spirits (735 Broadway btw Waverly & 8th St.) where all wines are discounted and the Beaujolais Nouveau typically runs about $6.99 for the first few weeks and then usually drops down to about $4.99. Many restaurants will be serving it as well, so go out and have yourself a glass! For a home party, pair it with some French cheeses (I recommend Camponzola) and pates (for vegitarians, a spinach & roquefort tourine is always a safe bet) from the newly expanded Murray's Cheese Shop in the heart of the Village!


Holiday Gift Idea

Kate & Jack Spade Sample Sale

Where: Metropolitan Pavillion (125 W. 18th btw 6th & 7th)
When: 9a-7p Fri Nov 18th
9a-5p Sat Nov 19th

*I recommend going about an hour before they close either day - the crowds here can be a nightmare!

Attend The Tale Of Sweeney Todd

The holiday season is always a good time to take in a Broadway show or to give tickets as a present. The hottest ticket on Broadway right now is Sweeney Todd, a revival of the 1979 Stephen Sondheim hit about a barber hell-bent on revenge who takes up with his enterprising neighbor and her meat pie shop. The original production featured lavish sets, a 27 member cast and a full orchestra. This revival, featuring Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris, has been scaled down to one set and a mere 10 performers who also double as the orchestra (for fans of Lupone, the humor in seeing her play the tuba is well worth the admission price alone!) . Dark, claustrophobic and minimal - this production is a "bloody good time". Even Mark, a Sondheim aficionado who was blown away by the original production and was a bit trepidacious about this one, gives it a big thumbs up.

Tip: For discounted tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, check Theater Mania for discount codes.

Currency Conversion

Going to a foreign country and trying to back-calculate? Make it easy on your self and print out a Currency Conversion Cheatsheet. You can print a cheat sheet going from $US to the foreign destinations currency and one in the reverse direction. When in London though, remember, you can't convert!


Intensive Care

I have to throw in a recommendation today for everyone to download the new Robbie Williams CD "Intensive Care" from iTunes (it's only available in stores as an import with no U.S. release date as of this time). As hot as he is, it's got lots of different sounds, from ballads to 80's synth to some good indie riffs. I've been listing to it for about a week now and everyday love a different track. It's too early for me to say - but it MAY be his best yet. Track 2 - "Tripping" - is the first single. Even though he's being very selfish by refusing to tour the U.S., I still have to support. I guess I'll have to head off to Europe to catch the tour!

Theme Restaurants

Today I was asked for a restaurant that is campy and not Lucky Cheng's. Well, also owned by the same management is Waikiki Wally's a hawaiian tiki bar and restaurant in the East Village. Monday nights are supposed to be especially good with live music from The Tiny Bubble Band. For a more pricey alternatinve, Ninja is a new addition to TriBeCa. Reviews on the food say it isn't worth the price, but it certainly sounds like an experience - travelling through a forest and eating in private dojo's, while being served by fully-attired ninjas. To get super cheesy, just head uptown to the tried & true Mars 2112. Fortunately, I can't say I've been to any of these places, however I am definitely not opposed to Wally's. The lounge there is supposed to be really fun. Wait, should I have recommeneded something in MePa? That's a total theme park on it's own . . .


Happy Birthday Craig!

One more for today. How come everyone I know is a Scorpio? Craig likes to hang with Coldplay sometimes.


Happy Birthday Suz!

Today is Suzanne's birthday. She had her birthday dinner on Saturday at Bar Vetro. If you're up shopping near Bloomindale's and want a quick bite, I would definitely recommend this place. Decent Italian food at reasonable prices, they easily accomodated a party of 12 in their small minimalist space. Good house wines as well!


Hotel Deals

Looking for hotel bargains? Check out: Quikbook. Many times they have deals you won’t find anywhere else! It's only for major U.S. cities but I've found some great rates on there.

Authentic Eats In NYC

Danielle asked today for a few authentic ethnic restaurants to take out of towners to. Here's what I got:

Italian: From my research, one of the best places in Little Italy appears to be Angelo Of Mulberry (146 Mulberry). The only place I've been to there is Umberto's Clam House (178 Mulberry) which was good too. For desert, Ferrara's is an M-U-S-T! Their cannoli's ROCK!

Chinese: If you want to go to Chinatown, try Joe's Shanghai (9 Pell St.). Joe's is best known for it's soup dumplings.

Korean: Do Hwa (55 Carmine) The atmosphere is more hip NY, but the food here is authentic down to the Ban Chan (6-8 small side dishes) served with meal. Request a table with a grill if you want to grill your own food. The kimchi pancakes are to die for!

Jewish Deli: 2nd Avenue Deli (156 Second Ave) or Katz's Deli (205 E. Houston) of When Harry Met Sally fame.


Boston . . . You're My Hometown!

Cubicle neighbor Sue influenced today’s entry again - she wanted to know where to stay in Boston. If you’ve really got money to burn and want someplace really special – the top choices are Nine Zero in the South End and XV Beacon overlooking the Common.

For something more reasonably priced, try the recently opened Hotel Commonwealth. It’s located in the heart of Kenmore Square where The Rat, Nemo’s and Planet Records used to be (my how things change, although from what I hear, Mr. Butch is still around!).

Kemore is in easy walking distance for shopping on Newbury and and the bars/clubs on Landsdowne. A few other choices: the newly renovated Jurys in the South End, the Kimpton Group’s Onyx Hotel near the North End and Fleet Center, or the small The Charlesmark near Copley Square.

Traveling to Boston but don’t want to drive? JetBlue now flies full-size planes from JFK to Logan for about ½ the price of the LGA shuttles. If you have time to spare and have a fear of flying try the Limoliner, a cheaper, yet luxury alternative to Acela.

Outsmart the airlines!

If you're always looking for a cheap flight either last minute or in advance, keep an eye on AIRFAREWATCHDOG.COM. This is a blog that tracks fare wars, sales and even all of the mistakes that the airlines make when posting fares (like a $180 roundtrip fare to Shanghai!), even if they only last for a few hours.

Happy Birthday DEC!

Today is the day that my friend Dennis was born. He's decided to hold court tonight at Dublin 6 (or FP as us veterans call it). D6 is not your average West Village local. Always a party, Jason watches over things while Sandy pours the best pints in the city, as well as the house specialty - the mind-numbing Jaeger Bomb. Table seating is limited - you'll feel honored if you score "business" or "first class" (coach is just a drag). In warm weather, the windows open out onto the street taking the party with it - allowing the smokers to mingle with the reformed, and to watch the Gandolfini's , DiCaprio's and Julianne Moore's of the world pass by. Once the bitter chill sets in, a fireplace in the front of the house burns bright. The photo's lining the wall are courtesy of resident "celeb", noted fashion photographer and ANTM judge Nigel Barker . Hungry? Have some curry fries or fish & chips brought over from Cafe Topsy. Weekends are always packed with a live DJ playing a mix of british indie and early 80's. Happy hour during the week is the true gem - when regulars drop by for cheap drinks and lots of Coldplay from the iPod mix. Drop in and say hi to Jason and Sandy - with the holidays quickly approaching, they should have the scary singing Santa Claus performing on top of the bar any day now!


You're Beautiful

I have to give a shout out to James Blunt . I saw his show last week at the Bowery Ballroom and he was AMAZING! He even did a cover of the Pixies "Where Is My Mind???". I hope he releases it as a single! His CD, "Back To Bedlam" is definitely worth a listen!

Menu Pages

For those of you not familiar with this site, Menu Pages is an M-U-S-T! It lists the menu for tons of restaurants in Manhattan. Check it out!

The East 40's WAY EAST

To many, it's no-mans land. Sometimes you just gotta make the trek over there for a client though. Today's entry is inspired by Sue my cubicle neighbor. She wants to know where to take a client to lunch near 48th & 3rd. My suggestions (even though I haven't been to most of them since I avoid that neighborhood at ALL costs, I've heard good things):

Vong- My top recommendation - not my favorite Jean George, but how can you go wrong! (54th & 3rd)

Zarela - Zagat says "the Mexican fare is about as good as it gets in NYC" (50th & 2nd)

Mr. K's - Posh Chinese - get the coffee with desert - they brew it at the table! (51st & Lex)

Riingo - “unique” New American–Japanese (45th btw 2nd & 3rd)

Smith & Wollensky - men's club steakhouse - (49th & 3rd)

Django- French/Mediterranean (46th & Lex)


In a house, on a rock, on a reef, on an island, in Jamaica . . .

With my annual trip to Negril quickly approaching, I thought it only fit to feature one of my favorite hotels, The Rockhouse as the first recommendation. Rockhouse is a small serene boutique hotel on the cliffs in Negril. Reasonably priced accomondations (especially in low season Apr 15-Dec 15), consist of premium villas and small motel like studio and standards. They have a horizon pool that juts out into the Carribean for those not wanting to cliff dive or snorkel in the cove.

The restaurant "rocks", with the best jerk chicken fajitas and lobster fusilli this side of Montego Bay.

If you need a break from the rocks and want a day with some sand, you can spend the day on the beach at Idle Awhile. A more detailed posting of Negril will follow after the trip in mid-December with new recommendations. Irie, mon!


Day 1 - Let The Trip Begin

Even though I hate most blogs, I decided to use this space to start spreading the word of all the cool places the world has to offer. This is my version of a travel guide. Topics covered will include, but are not limited to - hotels, restaurants, bars, cities, neighborhoods or any other AMAZING thing I come across. I'm digging through the files and pulling out the best - some I've been to and some I aspire to go to. Not everyone has already been lucky enough to get a guest packet, but now you will. Questions and tips are always welcome.

Have fun and play safe - wherever you go!