Wednesday, November 30, 2016

When the weather outside gets frightful head to Palm Beach, Lauderdale or Arizona

Three hotels offering sanctuaries for snowbirds 

by Patti Pietschmann

If you live where it snows you're probably considering getting out of Dodge when the white flurries fall from the sky. It pays to plan ahead and think savings such as:

A trip to the  Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain--perched above the Sonoran Desert, the award-winning boutique resort is offering a Spa Harmony package that includes luxury casita accommodations for three nights, with the third night free; two 60-minute spa treatments per person (up to $165 per treatment plus 20 percent gratuity); and daily breakfast in the signature restaurant elements or via in-room dining (up to $25 per person, including tax and gratuity, excluding alcohol). The package rate is 1,745 for three nights, double accommodations.
a  A visit to chic and often balmy Palm Beach where the oceanfront Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa is offering an Escape to Palm Beach vacation package that includes overnight accommodations for two in a newly renovated suite, unlimited use of spa facilities, reserved beach seating including two beach chairs and one umbrella daily, high-speed internet access, and valet parking – all for a great nightly rate starting at $339.
     A Florida  fling at the  Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa  which has an interesting package called  Experience the Sea, Discover the Charm  that includes accommodations for four plus four all-day tickets to ride the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi (two adult, two child). Rates start at $292 per night, and require a two-night minimum stay.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

LA restaurants that shoot for the stars and get them

Where to go star spotting and enjoy fine dining at the same time  in Los Angeles
By Patti Pietschnann

The author at Cavatina photo by Richard Pietschmann
Just about everybody who visits Los Angeles for the first time asks to be directed to places where they can see celebrities. Although conventional wisdom may sound otherwise, it's not in Hollywood. The only time stars venture to that eastern section of the city is for the Oscar presentations at the Dolby Theatre or a film premier. However like most mortals famous folk like to eat and well.  Restaurants like to feed them and lure them in as it's good for business. So what ones are most successful at attracting the rich and famous? Here you go:

Lisa VanderpumpPump on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood although a newcomer to restaurant scene has a huge celebrity and LGBT following probably due to the fact that the owner is Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump who wanted to create a ‘sexy’ spot to dine. The place took off in a flash about the minute she opened the doors to the chic but casual dining venue. It’s become the ‘it’ restaurant for the ‘in’ crowd and it’s perennially packed loud especially at the bars and on the terrace. The food’s great and the star gazing good anytime if you recognize TV personalities with a sprinkling or movie stars. There's a great happy hour from 5 to 7 when food and drink prices are greatly reduced and from where you can still spot stars.
Wolfgang Puck at Spago by Patti Pietschmann
Spago Beverly Hills--one of the most famous of Los Angeles’s celebrity-centric dining venues this brainchild of uber-star chef  restaurant entrepreneur Wolfgang Puck is a magnet for power players, film, TV and music industry notables.  The stylish restaurant has hosted an eclectic elite crowd from Justin Bieber to Bill Clinton, Bradley Cooper, Larry King, Nancy Reagan, and the late, great Tony Curtis (who had  special seats at the bar every evening for he and his wife).  Wolfie actually gained his stars when he opened the original Spago on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood many years ago selling a new concept of designer pizzas which caught on like wild fire.  After he closed the lucrative doors there he opened at his current location on Canon  Drive in Beverly Hills with a stream of celebrities following right behind. The food is always superb and the stargazing celestial. Young and old Hollywood flock there for lunch on the patio. Call for a reservation well in advance at 310-385-0880.

Cecconi's in West Hollywood--located on trendy Melrose Avenue, this hot spot, which serves up tasty Italian/California/Mediterranean fare, caters to a highly visible clientele, who prefer to sit on the covered patio,  such as Ellen DeGeneres and Gwen Stefani, models, moguls and movie stars. Cecconi’s is located at 8764 Melrose Avenue, WeHo for reservations call 1-310-432-2000

The author and her husband Richard dine at Il Piccolino
Il Piccolino this uber popular neighborhood restaurant sits just off Robertson Blvd. across the street from another celebrity favorite, The Ivy.  The Italian/Mediterranean food is fantastic and the clientele a mix of old and new Hollywood. (Bruce Willis often goes in with his mom). The rest of the crowd are power players such as film directors and screen writers and other well-heeled diners. The menu at this intimate, charming upscale restaurant offers recipes made with only the finest and freshest ingredients (I know because we not only dine there often we know the owners).  Everything you eat from fish to fowl, pasta, soups, and desserts is simply divine. During a recent evening the room was filled with behind the camera notables happily dining on the fall fare  some of which includes  broccoli and truffles, Burrata with black caviar, vitello tonnato, foie gras, whitefish cannellini and much more. Order the chocolate mousse for a sensory experience.

Château Marmont on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood has the unfortunate distinction as the place where Saturday Night Live and acting great John Belushi lost his life.  It does attract a huge cast of superstars who bed down there and/or go to dine. The food’s pretty good. Most luminaries choose to dine al fresco on the patio where depending on the day you might spy Katy Perry, Christopher Walken or even Lady Gaga. Do not under circumstances try to take a photo because it is strictly forbidden.

The Palm in Beverly Hills is part of a famous steakhouse chain. When the branch in West Hollywood closed the company opened  another opened in  Beverly Hills (in 2014) where its super star followed it and other celebrities flocked.  Today the joint  overflows with stars at lunch and dinner  many who  like I said work the room.  The Palm is so popular with stars that one of the members of the family that owns the chain,  Bruce Bozzi, Jr. presents a special celebrity corner at lunch where he sits down with a high profile guest for a Channel 102 Sirius radio segment called ‘Lunch with Bruce’ that airs on Fridays at 2 p.m. Eastern and 11 a.m. Pacific time. Not long ago we spotted Reese Witherspoon and her entourage but there are a lot more.  Other A-listers seen  dining there include  Gwyneth Paltrow, Ron Howard and Scarlett Johansson  Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Neil Patrick Harris.

Patti with Chef Turano
Cavatina at the Sunset Marquis has a surprisingly fantastic restaurant (for a hotel) that’s run by innovative celebrity chef Michael Schlow and up and comer chef Chris Turano,  who really knows how to please palates of their elite clientele. On any given night you’ll see famous faces, many in the music business because of its long association with Rock ‘n Roll greats dating back to 1963. They are proud of their guests who have included Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis and more. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is located at 1100 Alta Loma Road, off Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.  For reservations call 310-358-3759.

Dan Tana’s is where anybody who is anybody in Los Angeles has been or is a regular. There’s a whole lot of notables mixing and mingling at tables in this dark, New York-style room or the popular bar. The Italian food  is consistently excellent  and many dishes are named after stars such as veal cutlet Milanese a la George Clooney, Steak & Peppers Sinatra (Ole Blue Eyes and his Rat Pack were regulars back in the day).  We’ve spotted Mr. Hunk Jon Hamm, the gorgeous Olivia Wilde and brat pack leader Lindsay Lohan there. The restaurant is located in the heart of West Hollywood at 9071 Santa Monica Boulevard.

Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air attracts its share of tinsel town types even though many of them picketed the place a year or so ago because of anti LGBT sentiments by the hotel’s owner the Sultan of Brunei.  But they came back because well celebrity chef Wolfie (as he’s called by friends) and it’s a good spot to be seen. Nancy Reagan, who lived down the road a bit from the hotel, was a regular there but so are many music industry greats, young Hollywood and old timers such as Robert Wagner (who once lived at the legendary hotel). Hotel Bel-Air is located at 701 Stone Canyon Road  off Sunset Boulevard. For reservations call 310-909-1644

The Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel has always been a mecca for celebrities. It lost its luster temporarily a few years back when the hotel closed for renovations and the fickle finger of fate sent its elite clientele in search of other watering holes and dining spots (many settled in at the Peninsula Hotel Bar in Beverly Hills). There will always be a famous face or two to spot at the Polo Lounge from models (Heidi Klum) to moguls(Lorne Michaels),  Kim Kardashian, Harry Styles, Tia Mowry, Tamera Mowry, Michael Douglas, Nicole Kidman, and Warren Beatty.  Back in the day, before cell phones, there was a page at the Polo Lounge who would bring a phone to your table when someone called. It was a status symbol to be called during lunch and pretend (or for real) that it was your agent or a producer offering you a role.  Affectionately known as the ‘Pink Palace’ (because of its colorful façade) the Beverly Hills Hotel is located at 9641 Sunset Blvd.
Of course there are many other celebrity-centric dining spots such as Nobu Malibu, Doma in Beverly Hills, The Four Seasons hotels on Wilshire and on Doheny Drive but we only have so much space and the ones I selected are also some of my favorites. You don’t have to be well-known to get a table, but advanced reservations are mandatory and can be made at

Monday, November 21, 2016

Live from New York it's Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump

In case you missed Baldwin's amazing performance here it is your moment of Zen compliments of YouTube and posted by Patti Pietschmann

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The best holiday gift ever is a special stay at one of America's top spots

Forget the tie, golf simulator, skip the cashmere sweater, don't even think perfume, give the gifts that broaden the mind, expand horizons and make people happy with these gift-wrapped packages at some good old spots in the US of A:  


 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel which has gift-wrapped a couples’ package includes overnight accommodations overlooking the St. Lawrence River (with a view straight to Canada’s shore), a bottle of local wine, and a $100 dinner voucher for the hotel’s own Seaway Grille. Endless diversions  to keep you busy such as strolling around the quaint, shop-lined streets of Clayton, sampling wines at local vineyards, and exploring the great natural beauty of the 1000 Islands region by river cruise, kayaking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and more, depending on the season. Wine & Dine rates start at $279.
L  Whiteface Lodge is offering an Ultimate Luxury Package that includes suite accommodations for two nights, a bottle of wine and cheese plate on arrival, two 50-minute Traditional Lodge Massages per stay, and a three-course dinner for two at KANU. The lodge’s cozy suites feature handcrafted furnishings in the Adirondack style, cast iron gas fireplaces (in most), and private balconies with mountain views. Guests enjoy full breakfast daily and nightly s’mores, among other resort amenities. Rates start at $547. 

· Thrill Seekers Package at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (Paradise Valley, Ariz.): From its mountain perch above the Sonoran Desert, the luxurious Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain has concocted a getaway for two guaranteed to set adventurous hearts soaring. The three-night Thrill Seekers Package includes breakfast daily at elements, the resort’s critically acclaimed restaurant; a hot air balloon ride; guided bike and hike on Camelback Mountain; and one cocktail at jade bar per guest. Rates start at $2,413. 

· Little Loggerheads at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa (Riviera Beach, Fla.): This animal lovers’ package includes a gift that keeps giving – a donation to a beloved community nonprofit. The Little Loggerhead Package features accommodations for four at the all-suite Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa; one-day access to Loggerhead Marine Life Center with a private tour for four; and participation in the center’s Adopt a Sea Turtle program, including a certificate presented to the guest with the name of their sea turtle (one per stay). A portion of the package is donated to Loggerhead Marine Life Center. Rates start at $270 per night and require a two-night minimum stay.
E  Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa is strategically situated for exploring the best of southern Florida. Experience the Sea, Discover the Charm includes accommodations for four plus four all-day tickets to ride the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi (two adult, two child). Rates start at $292 per night, and require a two-night minimum stay. 
C  Cape Cod Beach Stone Massage at Sea Crest Beach Hotel delivers a classic Cape Cod beach experience plus the luxury of a hot stone massage at Bellezza, a full-service salon and medspa in historic Falmouth Village. The one-night Beach Stone package also includes a spa-themed welcome bag. Rates start at $230.
      Nantucket Looms package combines distinctive cottage accommodations at Harborview Nantucket with a generous take-home gift from Nantucket Looms, a cherished island weaver and gift shop. The package includes a handwoven cotton throw, signature wildflower candle, soap gift box, hand lotion, hand soap, and signature spa amenities presented in a logo travel case. Rates start at $550 per night and require a two-night minimum stay.
 Aloft Boston Seaport, part of Starwood’s tech-forward Aloft brand, this plan comes with overnight accommodations, two tickets to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, a Tea Time voucher for two (for guests ages 21+) at WXYZ Bar featuring Aboslut® Wild Tea Vodka, and a $25 credit at Re:fuel, the hotel’s 24/7 grab-and-go shop stocked with gourmet options, including light meals, mix-and-match munchies, healthy bites, make-your-own cappuccinos and more. Rates start at $299 per night. 

  Element Boston Seaport, part of Starwood’s eco-wise Element brand, holiday guests will receive overnight accommodations, two tickets to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Musuem, a tea amenity featuring Tea Forté, and a $25 credit to Restore, a gourmet pantry, open around the clock and stocked with ready-to-cook meals, treats and sundries for purchase. Rates start at $299.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Jet Blue now gets you to St. Lucia in Mint conditon

Fly in style to the tropical island of St. Lucia
By Patti Covello Pietschmann

Enjoying a catamaran ride off the Seabourn Odyssey in St. Lucia
As a self-professed diva I never fly coach and never pass up a bargain to fly in comfort. Well this month JetBlue began flights to heavenly St. Lucia that have Mint Class seating.  And we're talking comfort with seats that lie flat and come with a massage feature and cushions that adjust to just the right firmness.  The flights from New York's JFK to Hewanorra International Airport will operate every Saturday through spring of 2017.

St.Lucia is both a popular cruise ship destination (see photo)and vacation area for landlubbers with miles of soft sand beach and plenty of  water sports and activities. There's also some mighty fine shopping to do. The island will soon boasts some amazing accommodations such as the the Residences at Sugar Beach--which  are now are available to buy. The residences will have outdoor and indoor living with terraces with open views of the Caribbean Sea; bright and spacious living areas perfect for entertaining; a fresh water infinity-edged swimming pool; landscaping of lush native flowers and trees; and direct access to a portion of the private Glenconner Beach, a pristine white sand beach. Owners will also have access to the nearby facilities and luxuries of the five-star Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Holiday Ice Rink at LA's Pershing Square kicks off 19th season

Grab your  skates and hit the ice
by Patti Pietschmann

Ice skaters get ready to break the ice.  Holiday Ice Rink® Pershing Square presented by Bai is kicking off ts 19th season with an official “Ice Breaking” Ceremony on November 10, 2016 at 11 a.m. The event will be marked by the smashing of an ice sculpture and the  launching of  Olympic Champion Ekaterina Gordeeva skating to “Snow in California” by Ariana Grande as well as a presentation by California Gold Synchronized Skating Team. It will also boast Bai’s exclusive VIP Igloo, which allows visitors to enjoy views of the rink while relaxing in style.

Hhot on the heels of the opening, Learn to Curl pop-up sessions kick off on Nov 13 for those who were inspired by the Winter Olympics. Hosted by The Hollywood Curling Club, this season offers three dates on Nov 13, Dec 11 and Jan 8, from 8:30-9:30 am. Admission is $5 per person and tickets can be purchased in advance at the rink or online.

The city's largest outdoor  rink (7,200 square-feet of ice), which runs through Jan. 16, 2017, is presented by Bai, and, with Eventbrite (the official ticketing partner) you can check it out at:  General admission is $9. This season’s unique roster of community and special events also includes the popular DJ Spotlight Series, Polar Bear Skate, Learn to Curl and its first-ever Silent Night Skate Party. The rink is located at 532 S. Olive St., Los Angeles.