A very busy week working and enjoying San Francisco

Carlos Melia in San FranciscoA very busy week working and enjoying San Francisco  |  San Francisco, United States  |  I am lucky enough to spend quite some time in San Francisco throughout the year, and every time I come I am blown away by the restaurant scene, which is my absolutely favorite thing to do when I visit. My last two visits were mostly for work, and to attend The Modern Ball 2016 – the social event of San Francisco – this year paired with the opening gala dinner of the SFMOMA ( aka. MOMA of San Francisco ) San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art ), where my husband RUBINSINGER, was dressing over a dozen of the most influential women of the social scene of San Francisco. Hope you enjoy my report on this experience. You can also check and follow me on Instagram to see all my past-current-future posts and experiences while in San Francisco #GPSCarlosMeliaSanFrancisco

So first of all and most importantly, How did I fly ? from New York to San Francisco. Well of course I did, with American Airlines, enjoying the new Business Class Service. The flight is approx. 5 hours and 30 minutes. Flat bed, great entertainment system and WIFI.

Second, Where did I stayed ?. When I travel, I like to change hotels to try different options. This time I chose three of my favorite properties in San Francisco, all located conveniently close to Union Square, since we came to do a Personal Appearance for my husband RUBINSINGER at Neiman Marcus and for the opening Gala Diner of the SOFA. First (above) the Ritz Carlton San Francisco. There we had a lovely and spacious Concierge Level King Room. When you book the Concierge Level, you enjoy all the 24 hours Food & Beverage services at the private lounge. This was my first time staying with them, and I loved it. I was not crazy about the menu at the Lobby Restaurant, but other than that, all was lovely. Our second stay (below) was at a classic of my visits to San Francisco, the Palace Hotel – A Luxury Collection Hotel. I love this hotel, and the breakfast room is just GORGEOUS. Here we had a stunning Corner Suite. I wish we could have had more time to stay at this property.

And finally, on the day/night of The Modern Ball Gala at the SOFA San Francisco, we took the Presidential Suite at the St Regis San Francisco, given it is only one block away from the museum, and we hosted a cocktail with all the women wearing RUBINSINGER to the gala dinner. This is my second stay at the St Regis, and here you can see my previous post and visit.

St Regis San Francisco

Where did we eat ? Well I must say we did PLENTY of that, and of all types. I mean San Francisco it might as well be consider the food capital of the United States. On this trip, we tried some classics – you can see on my previous posts, but also new options you need to know about.


First gourmet stop, might as well be in Chinatown. Right ? Here we tried two options. The bran new Mister Jiu’s by Brandon Jew – trendy and hip Chinese Restaurant,  and then R & G Lounge – my favorite BTW, with local and rustic Cantonese experience. Well not so rustic, since we chose to stay at the elegant upstairs banquet room. Here you can have the specialties like Princess Chicken, Pekin Duck and the Crab. 

Four of the best findings, we found thanks to our local friends, where Wayfare Tavern ( serving American fare in a British pub-style setting), Liho Liho Yacht Club ( the hot table in San Francisco right now mixing Hawaiian-Indian-Chinese food  ), Zuni Cafe ( bustling Market Street bistro serving famous roast chicken & other wood-fired eats ) and The Slanted Door ( for Vietnamese food over the bay ) .   You must try all of them.

These two restaurants – next – I found them while walking around town and killing time. I did not stay to enjoy a full meal with them, but I both I did enjoy a lovely chilled glass of white wine and some tapas, and in both cases I loved the ambiance, crowd and location. First Cala Restaurant ( high-end Mexican cuisine, seafood & cocktails ) steps away from the San Francisco Opera.  And Rose’s Cafe ( All-day cafe with outdoor seating & Italian fare, including a signature breakfast pizza ) – in Pacific Heights.

Now, without a doubt, the Grand Dame gourmet experience of our trip, was our elegant 2 Michelin – 14-Courses dinning experience at Relais & Chateaux Restaurant Quince. Californian contemporary cuisine that celebrates the seasonal bounty of Northern California by Chef Michael Tusk. Quite a lovely evening.
QUINCE Restaurant


For after dinner drinks, we joined our local friends, at The Battersy Private Members Club. Quite a beautiful and fund destination.

What did i do and see ? Well I walked around by the beach, and I always end up getting myself – intended – back to the Golden Gate Park. I mean, you can never get enough of this views.

Then for some strange reason, when I am in San Francisco, I get the craving for shopping. It is fun, it is easy and it is chic. So I did some shopping around Union Square. And this time I discover a new favorite at Wingtip. I ended up buying a gorgeous new Dunhill raincoat.

I took a walk by the Golden Gate Park, visiting the Japanese Gardens, and they on to the Young Museum to see the Oscar de la Renta ” Retrospection ” exhibit, which quite frankly was rather unimpressive.Spent a GORGEOUS day in Palo Alto ( approx. 1 hour away from San Francisco ) visiting friends and clients.
Palo Alto

Now it was highly time to do some work right. Early morning interview at Wingtip Cigar Lounge, followed by RUBINSINGER Personal Appearance and Trunk show at Neiman Marcus San Francisco.

And finally, my favorite part of the entire trip. The Modern Ball 2016 Gala Dinner for the opening of the SFMOMA – San Francisco Modern Art Museum. The social event of the year. My husband RUBINSINGER was dressing over a dozen high-profile socialites. The evening began over Dirty Martinis at our Presidential Suite at the St Regis San Francisco, and off we went for a private viewing of the museum. followed by a cocktail, dinner and after party. FUN FUN night.

And I am back in New York, home sweet home, ready for my next adventure. Hope you’ve enjoyed my post. I cannot wait to be back in San Francisco. , which luckily enough, happens quite often yearly. You can also check and follow me on Instagram to see all my post-current-future posts and experiences while in San Francisco #GPSCarlosMeliaSanFrancisco. Till next travel experience. Carlos Melia Luxury Travel Curator – www.carlosmelia.com


(*) To book your own travel experience, do not hesitate to contact me either by email carlos@carlosmelia.com or phone # 917.754.5515. Also check our scheduled Travel Groups. I am an experienced Travel Agent with over 25 years of experience, member of LGTNetwork, VIRTUOSO, First in Service Travel, TZELL Travel Network. www.carlosmelia.com

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My very hectic and eventful week in San Francisco plus a day in Sausalito

My week in San FranciscoMy very hectic and eventful week in San Francisco plus a day in Sausalito  |  San Francisco, United States  |  My week in  San Francisco was full of fashion, hotels, restaurants, private events and a lovely simple day out exploring Sausalito, which was the perfect balance to a hectic week. The main reason of my trip, was to attend RUBINSINGER’s – my husband – personal appearance and trunk show at Neiman Marcus San Francisco, and from there on, I built the itinerary and activities around. Take a look a my week in San Francisco, and for more minute-to-minute photos, check out my Instagram San Francisco GalleryContinue reading My very hectic and eventful week in San Francisco plus a day in Sausalito

Huntington Hotel Nob Hill

Huntington Hotel Nob Hill by www.carlosmeliablog.comHuntington Hotel Nob Hill  |  San Francisco, United States  |  Perched atop one of the city’s highest hills since 1924, this elegant establishment upholds a long tradition of gracious hospitality. Only a few blocks away from Union Square and very close to Lombard Street, Chinatown and Fishermans Wharf, on California Street.  On our latest and recent visit to San Francisco, we decided to stay at this hotel, which came highly recommended by acquaintances of ours. Member of the SLH and Preferred Hotels family.

We stayed at a spacious, comfortable quaint one bedroom Suite, with lovely views overlooking California Street, Grace Cathedral, Huntington Park and the San Francisco Bay to the front and Taylor Street to the side. I didn’t have time to try the Spa, but I did use the Fitness Center, which was basic. Something to mention, wether you stay at the hotel or not, is the BIG 4 Restaurant and Bar. named after the nation’s four most famous railroad tycoons of the nineteenth century – C.P. Huntington, Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford and Mark Hopkins. Appointed with lead-glass mirrors and forest-green banquettes, the Big 4 Restaurant instantly transports guests to another era of San Francisco dining, featuring an impressive collection of original artifacts, historical photographs and memorabilia from California’s unique history.

Photo Oct 22, 2 23 22 PM

If you choose to book the Huntington Hotel Nob Hill through me, I can offer you the following extra complimentary VIP Amenities: Full American Breakfast for two Daily in The Big Four, also available through Room Service + One Way Private Sedan transfer from the hotel to the San Francisco Airport for up to two Guest + Welcome Tea or Coffee Service sent to room on Arrival. The following amenities are subject to availability at the time of booking: Upgrade. The following amenities are subject to availability at the time of check-in/departure: Early Check-In, 12:00 Noon + Late Check-Out, 4:00 PM. Because you are worth it !!! CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends

Photo Oct 22, 1 54 55 PM Photo Oct 22, 1 54 46 PM Photo Oct 22, 1 52 55 PM Photo Oct 22, 1 52 45 PM Photo Oct 21, 3 20 30 PM Photo Oct 21, 3 06 46 PM Photo Oct 21, 3 06 42 PM Photo Oct 22, 1 43 44 PM(*) To book your own travel experience, do not hesitate to contact me either by email carlos@carlosmelia.com or phone # 917.754.5515. Check our schedule bespoke groups, escapes and retreats at Coups de Coeur. I am an experienced Travel Agent with over 25 years of experience, member of LGTNetwork, IGLTA, First in Service Travel, TZELL Travel Network.

 

(**) Follow me around the world curating the best on Luxury Travel and Lifestyle by subscribing to my Facebook Page Carlos Melia Recommends, liking my Facebook Page, following me on Twitter, InstagramYouTube and/or pining me on Pinterest. And if you want to travel like me, or would you like to join me, check Coups de Coeur.

ANDAZ West Hollywood

ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood  |  Los Angeles, United States  |  This week we stayed at the ANDAZ West Hollywood, yes the same one that made the news this week for the LGBT Wedding of the Editor in Chief of The Advocate Magazine. For those of you not familiar with the brand, ANDAZ represents a refreshing take on the boutique-style hotel by Hyatt Hotels (aka. sort of the W Hotels for Starwood), offering an atmosphere that is personal, vibrant and uncomplicated. Each hotel features the most adventurous, globally influenced design, yet also inhabits the sights, sounds and tastes of its surrounding neighborhood. Located over Sunset Boulevard, just a few steps away from La Cienaga Boulevard, in the heart of West Hollywood and close to Beverly Hills.

We stayed at a Suite, which was very comfortable, located on the 10th floor. These expansive one-bedroom accommodations offer a total of 800 square feet of space and views of the legendary Sunset Strip and Los Angeles city skyline. Enjoy listening to your Geneva Sound System among striking modern décor and artwork including Eero Aarnio’s playful orange abstract plastic puppy, Harry Bertoia’s trademark Bar Stools and an aluminum Cellula chandelier accentuated by Swarovski crystal pendants. Suites feature a separate living and sitting area as well as a sunroom with floor-to-ceiling windows to ensure that you don’t miss a minute of the Hollywood happenings. Andaz West Hollywood is a non-smoking hotel. LATHER bath and body products.

ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.comThe hotel has a fantastic 24 hour fitness center, overlooking Sunset Boulevard, but this is something that you find at most luxury or 5-star hotels within the Los Angeles area. The rooftop pool is quite nice as well, despite we were not very lucky with the weather, as you can see by the photos below. The views from the pool are not the most spectacular.

ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.comSome of the amenities I enjoyed were: Free WiFi Access, limited on bandwidth, but still good for emails and work matters. Free pastries, coffee and tea every morning at the lobby. Complimentary, non-alcoholic minibar that is replenished daily. Free access to MAC Stations and printers.

ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.comANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.comSince we were on a very tight schedule and social events for Rubin Singer Couture, we did not have time to try/experience the restaurant at the hotel. But we did order room services for breakfast every morning, and it was fine in quality and price.
ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.comThe hotel offers Valet Parking. The cost was approx. USD 30 x day with unlimited times. Usually they were very good with timing, and having the car ready.
ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.comI really enjoy the concept and style by ANDAZ properties. The only comment I have about ANDAZ West Hollywood, which I have not experience at the other properties in the past, is that they perhaps  border too much with informality. When the Front Desk Agent or Valet Parking calls you “Dude”, I mean, I truly enjoy sophisticated things that are also the most simple, but maybe they go a bit beyond simplicity. What do you think ?  Overall, a great stay, location and reasonable price. Mostly, we were happy to stay in a LAX hotel, which didn’t have the stereotype LAX attitude and crowd, where everyone thinks is someone, if you know what I mean. The views of the Hollywood Hills on one side and the Sunset Strip and downtown Los Angeles were a plus. Andaz West Hollywood the most sophisticated things are also the most simple. You may read my reviews staying at other ANDAZ properties in the past here. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends

ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com(*) To book your own travel experience, do not hesitate to contact me either by email carlos@carlosmelia.com or phone # 917.754.5515. Check our schedule bespoke groups, escapes and retreats at Coups de Coeur. I am an experienced Travel Agent with over 25 years of experience, member of LGTNetwork, IGLTA, First in Service Travel, TZELL Travel Network.
ANDAZ West Hollywood by www.carlosmeliablog.com(**) Follow me around the world curating the best on Luxury Travel and Lifestyle by subscribing to my Facebook Page Carlos Melia Recommends, liking my Facebook Page, following me on Twitter, InstagramYouTube and/or pining me on Pinterest. And if you want to travel like me, or would you like to join me, check Coups de Coeur.

Red Medicine LAX gourmet highlight

Red Medicine LAX gourmet highlight by www.carlosmeliablog.comRed Medicine LAX gourmet highlight | Los Angeles, United States | I think we both agreed on this, Red Medicine was our gourmet highlight, of our last trip to Los Angeles. Of course we have a few favorites like Cecconi’s and Nobu Matsuhisa, but this was a brand new discover for us, that our friend Sarah setup for our last dinner in Beverly Hills. Please please open one in New York… I would be obsessed with it. Red Medicine was conceived by Chef Jordan Kahn after 18-hour shifts in the restaurants, at 3 in the morning, usually at some dive in Chinatown, over steaming bowls of pho. The medicine him and his partners in crime needed to stay awake and focus to what would become a fabulous, unpretentious industrial like Vietnamese Restaurant off Wilshire Blvd.

Red Medicine LAX gourmet highlight by www.carlosmeliablog.com This is not a traditional Vietnamese restaurant. They are not Vietnamese. And most probably none of them have ever even been to Vietnam! but The smell of mint, cilantro, and peanuts, the radiant warmth of Thai chili, the satisfying richness and funk of fish sauce, the acidic slap in the face of lime, is what spoke to me, and together with the artistic presentation of each dish I was sold. All I can say is that I look forward for my next trip to Los Angeles to visit them again, because that night we were there, I eat as much as I could and was yet not enough. Below are shots of some of the dishes and drinks we shared for a total bill of USD 230. CRISPY SPRING ROLLS dungeness crab, lime. CHICKEN DUMPLINGS caramelized sugar, confitures. BIODYNAMIC LEEKS yuzu, buttermilk. WILD ALASKAN HALIBUT burnt onion, black roots. YOUNG TURNIPS banana vinegar, crème fraîche. As for drinks we tried #84 citrus, thai basil, herbal, soda. #79 smoky, spicy, earthy, honey, sour. #85 grassy, strawberry, spicy, tart. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends
Red Medicine LAX gourmet highlight by www.carlosmeliablog.com Red Medicine LAX gourmet highlight by www.carlosmeliablog.com Red Medicine LAX gourmet highlight by www.carlosmeliablog.com Red Medicine LAX gourmet highlight by www.carlosmeliablog.com Red Medicine LAX gourmet highlight by www.carlosmeliablog.com Red Medicine LAX gourmet highlight by www.carlosmeliablog.com Red Medicine LAX gourmet highlight by www.carlosmeliablog.com
(*) Follow me around the world curating the best on Luxury Travel and Lifestyle by subscribing to my Facebook Page Carlos Melia Recommends, liking my Facebook Page, following me on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and/or pining me on Pinterest. Also check out my new page Carlos Melia Recommends.

My Los Angeles Red Carpet by Rubin Singer

My Los Angeles Red Carpet by Rubin Singer My Los Angeles Red Carpet by Rubin Singer   |  Los Angeles, United States  |  Following the steps of Rubin Singer as part of his team and Social Media & Blog Master, this week we’ve got to experience, yet another Red Carpet moment. This time in Los Angeles, California at a Private Estate in Malibu for the 2013 Design Care Gala benefiting The HollyRod Foundation to raise funds and awareness to Autism and Parkinson’s disease. The gala featured Life Awards, a full Fashion Show by Rubin Singer and live performance by Grammy Awarded NE-YO. Of course you can see me wearing an original Rubin Singer Tuxedo of his Men’s Collection.
My Los Angeles Red Carpet by Rubin Singer Many celebrities took part in benefit of Design Care. Among them Magic Johnson, LeVar Burton of “Perception,” Garcelle Beauvais of “Franklin & Bash,” Regina King of “Southland,” LeVar Burton of “Perception,” Cedric the Entertainer, Leah Remini of “King of Queens,” Viveca A. Fox of “Kill Bill,” Amy Yasbeck of “Wings,” Alan Thicke of “Facts of Life,” Eva LaRue of “CSI: Miami,” Kearran Giovanni of “Major Crimes,” Laila Ali of “Dancing with the Stars” and Steven Bauer of “Ray Donovan.” among many others…

Here you can see the opening video of Rubin Singer’s Fashion Show featuring the “Valkyrie’s Dominion” Collection. To see all videos and photos,  follow this link to Rubin Singer Blog. As for me…. right now flying back to New York, getting ready for my next adventure curating the world of Luxury Travel and Lifestyle. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends

 

(*) Follow me around the world curating the best on Luxury Travel and Lifestyle by subscribing to my Facebook Page Carlos Melia Recommends, liking my Facebook Page, following me on Twitter, InstagramYouTube and/or pining me on Pinterest. Also check out my new page Carlos Melia Recommends.

SLS Beverly Hills Entitlement & Discrimination

SLS Beverly Hills Entitlement & Discrimination by www.carlosmeliablog.com SLS Beverly Hills Entitlement & Discrimination  |  Los Angeles, United States  |  Luxury and Experience, such big words and so often misused right ? I am sure most of you will relate to this story. Sometimes things do not go as planned, and sometimes (so called) luxury hotels, do not perform as they should or we would expect. From last Wednesday night till today, Monday, we stayed at the SLS Beverly Hills, which in the beginning promised to be a fabulous experience, and in the end fell short on every single aspect you could imagine and beyond. Beautiful comfortable Signature Suite indeed, but unfortunately nowadays this is not sufficient to guarantee a decent stay, according to the standards SLS Hotels nor The Luxury Collection portrait worldwide. How may I describe how we, and when I say we I mean myself among other six guests in our group, felt during our entire stay… I would most accurately use Entitlement, Attitude, Lack of Service, Party Crowd and the worst unfortunate incident to top our disappointment and anger, after being discriminated by one of their employees, who felt by us being a Gay Couple staying in the same rooms, was not up-to his standards, although SLS Hotels, prides itself from being a fully Gay Friendly property. This post is not intended to question or damage the public image of SLS Hotels, just a true report on our latest stay with them from ( July 24 – 29, 2013).Our Signature Suite was lovely, perhaps not the style I particularly like, but no complains over this matter other than that I was not 100% keen on the bathroom concept, the sliding doors and the lightning concept. But trust me, this was nothing compared to what we have in line, to put up through, during the rest of our stay. Philippe Starck-designed guest rooms and suites are at once ultra-modern and classically elegant – just what you’d expect from Beverly Hills. If you like him or not, then that is another question.

SLS Beverly Hills Entitlement & Discrimination by www.carlosmeliablog.comThe following is what SLS Hotels state on their website, perhaps SLS Beverly Hills is the exception to the rule, and I mean this, not in the most positive way …” The brainchild of Sam Nazarian, SLS Hotels has created a new paradigm in the luxury hotel experience that speaks to a global, sophisticated audience. Taking service and luxury standards from traditional 5-star hotels and injecting elements of creativity and community, SLS delivers a guest experience that seamlessly delivers service, style and fun….”  

SLS Beverly Hills Entitlement & Discrimination by www.carlosmeliablog.comI do not want to spend much time on this review, since negativity is not my thing, but I do want to share the email I sent to the Sales and Public Relations Management, expressing our discontentment and anger, after being openly discriminated by one of their Food & Beverages employees, when he walked into our suite to deliver Breakfast and found out that we were two men (aka. a Gay Couple) staying in the room. His face change the minute he saw me on my computer, after my boyfriend opened the door, he made a face of full dissaproval, and literally left the wheeled-table and without even taking the metal lids off the plates, tried to get out of the room after collecting abruptly the check. Situation to which we had to ask him to, quote in quote ” Get Out of our Room “.

 

Here is the full body of my email sent to the management. I will keep their reply private, but I can tell it was one of those classic copy/paste corporate replies, that did not solve anything other than having employees running after the two of us, apologizing for what had happened. But even that did not last too long either, since the following day we went back to reality to suffer the same situation of entitlement, attitude and lack of service.

 

If you ask me, SLS Beverly Hills is far from being a Luxury Hotel, other than their pompous zip code. I would better describe the property as a Party Hotel with low customer service standards conducted by their aspiring entitled staff, where the focus is more oriented to those in-house guests and outsiders willing to visit and be part of the cool party crowd of LAX. far from ” a global, sophisticated audience”. Well fortunately or unfortunately, that is not who we are AT ALL… I mean celebrities, fashion, luxury…. not trying to be snobbish at all, but we live surrounded by this almost every day of our life, so when Checking IN at a hotel we expect merely and plain service, experience, customer service, respect and class. None of those were offered nor delivered to us. I want to make VERY CLEAR that both my partner and I, are low profile and never play the card of being anything else other than a guest, and for that, although having the benefit to access to pompous VIP treatments, we get to see and experience first hand, how a regular guest experience unfolds. Nothing personal to any of the employees of this company, other than this caveman that decided to openly discriminate us, but after a week of being at this hotel, both of us, same as our entire group, were BEYOND excited to Check OUT and leave… I am the type of person, and you can see this by reading my blog, that I love to spend time in hotels, but this time I was SOOOO DONE. !!! CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends

 

Dear Emily and Jeanie
Good Morning. !!
I am sorry to say that our stay has been one of the worst I have ever had around the world, and trust me we travel extensively. Beautiful room indeed, but the level of entitlement and attitude of your employees is beyond annoying and uncomfortable. This was the comment of all those in our group. To top this experience, this morning when we order breakfast in our room, we have to experience funny looks and lack of service when one of your servers, realized that a Gay couple was staying in the room. Very avant-garde in sync with the concept SLS Hotels stand for correct ?
Problems when ordering our car to the Valet Parking, long ridiculous waits for breakfast, lack of service, going to the pool to relax and having to beg for a chair to seat. RIDICULOUS.
Sorry I come back to both of you this way, but the whole experience has been beyond uncomfortable, unpleasant and disrespectful, to end it up with issues with us being gay.
I just though you both should know.
Thank you
Carlos

 

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El Encanto by Orient-Express

El Encanto by Orient-Express by www.carlosmelablog.comEl Encanto by Orient-Express  |  Santa Barbara, California  |  Over a month ago, after our work week in Los Angeles for Rubin Singer Couture, we were invited by the recently opened and now third hotel property in the country by Orient-Express, the iconic El Encanto. The old glamour getaway from Hollywood now back, meticulously restored to capture all the original romance and sophistication that endeared it to both the Santa Barbara community and vacationers in search of seclusion and charm. Original architectural features have been lovingly brought back to life, while modern additions include an expansive outdoor swimming pool and beautiful boutique spa.

El Encanto by Orient-Express by www.carlosmelablog.comWe were too tired to drive from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, so we made the smart decision to take the AMTRAK Pacific Surfliner Business Class Train, from the lovely Union Station in downtown Los Angeles (which you will recognize from many movies), to our final destination, on a panoramic journey that took us approx. 2 hours and 15 minutes.

El Encanto by Orient-Express by www.carlosmelablog.comAs soon as we arrived to the station, our host and driver was awaiting for us with a sign under El Encanto. The perfect way to begin our weekend experience. Check IN was smooth and since our bungalow was yet not ready, we enjoyed a lovely lunch at the outdoors terrace, which in the days to come will become our regular for breakfast and lunch enjoying semi -spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Barbara.

We were hosted at a Premium Bungalow was indeed quite lovely and comfortable. We had our own private entrance with a small patio and a one bedroom suite, full of windows to portrait the views of the gardens. although we would have hoped for some more space for our clothes and suitcases, where the closet is linked right to the bathroom area, next to the shower, which made it a bit of a hazard at some point.
El Encanto by Orient-Express by www.carlosmelablog.comAll Premium Bungalows feature: King-size bed, Large writing desk, Marble bathroom with separate bath and rainforest shower, Private garden or patio. Other accommodation options are the Luxury Suites and the Bungalow Suites.
El Encanto by Orient-Express by www.carlosmelablog.comThe gardens at the property, despite of the recent renovations and the opening (last March 2013) are lush and beautiful, surrounding the main house, the pool area, the casitas mexican style construction, and the spa. Seven acres of gloriously landscaped gardens offer sweeping views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. Drift through the rare flora and enjoy the balmy West Coast evenings. The fitness studio, whether you’re into pilates, yoga, core fitness or boot camp, the Fitness Studio features a variety of classes to ensure that you stay in shape. You’ll also find cutting-edge cardio equipment, a TRX training system and Kinesis fitness products.
El Encanto by Orient-Express by www.carlosmelablog.comDining was quite a paradox, among beautiful outdoors terraces and views, stunning classic and avant-garde style and deco, with patronizing attitude by staff and management and sorry to say but must be true to our own experience blunt and boring menu. The least I expect from a retreat as such, if for them to tell me repeated times I CAN’T do this or that, and being in self choice to relax and unwind in a semi remote location, I expect the restaurants and gourmet offer to be quite enjoyable and tasteful. Their approach an innovative menu offering contemporary California-coastal cuisine infused with Asian touches, French flair, which unfortunately for us did not work.
El Encanto by Orient-Express by www.carlosmelablog.comI spent one of my afternoons on my own, biking around the property and off to the town and waterfront of Santa Barbara, experience which was quite enjoyable, specially on my way back, with their engine-equipped bikes, which helped me with the steep slopes of the area. After that, since Rubin had already left, I decided to stay in enjoying the coziness of my bungalow, and enjoy dinner en privé, next to my fire place zipping through local wine and listening to music.
El Encanto by Orient-Express by www.carlosmelablog.comOrient-Express are big shoes to fill, and when you get such an iconic property as El Encanto, the bar sets even higher. I would give El Encanto a few more month to simmer, settle down and reach the level of service, Orient-Express customers and new comers expect from such a legendary group. Most definitely I would return to relax, unwind and be pampered at he so called North American Riviera. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends

El Encanto by Orient-Express by www.carlosmelablog.com(*) To book your own travel experience, do not hesitate to contact me either by email carlos@carlosmelia.com or phone # 917.754.5515. I am an experienced Travel Agent with over 25 years of experience, member of MLGTPP, IGLTA, First in Service Travel, TZELL Travel Network.

 

(**) Follow me around the world by subscribing to my Facebook Profile, liking my Facebook Page, following me on Twitter. and/or pining me on Pinterest. Also check out my new page Carlos Melia Recommends.

AMTRAK Los Angeles to Santa Barbara

AMTRAK Los Angeles to Santa Barbara  |  California  |  So here is a funny story. After a week of work in Los Angeles for Rubin’s Special Appearances for Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills, we were invited by the new Orient-Express property El Encanto, to visit them in Santa Barbara. So we book our car to drive along the Pacific Coast on last Saturday morning, enjoying the lovely views and the amazing weather. Well not quite so. !!!!! A week before our trip, we realize that both of our Driver’s Licenses were expired. This shows we are both, although non of us are born in the United States, that by now we are two true New Yorkers – who needs to drive when you live in the heart of Manhattan right ?

So the questions was ? How to get from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, in time, not to miss our relaxing weekend at El Encanto.  We both knew that the drive was an experience itself, with all the lovely views of the Pacific Coastline… so we were disappointed to miss that. Luckily we found the right option, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. If you have read my previous reviews on Amtrak, I have not been one of their fans in the past, but I must say that this time, they brought the European Rail service flashback to us. Connecting San Luis Obispo and San Diego through Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, the Pacific Surfliner offers a unique vantage on the Southern California seascape. To get a closer look, you’d have to be on a surfboard.
So went online and USD 95 Business Class Round Trip after, we were at the beautiful Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles, ready to board our train, for our Hitchcock style weekend at El Encanto in Santa Barbara.
The ride was smooth, enjoying during the second half of the journey, lovely views of the Pacific coastline. The train did approximately 7 stops before reaching our destination, Santa Barbara, on time.
Onboard, you may enjoy some basic snacks – trust me, more than some airlines offer you these days, complimentary WiFi, bathrooms  and comfortable seats. reclining 45 degrees. The perfect, hazard free to driving, which in the end would have been useless, since all we did in Santa Barbara was sleep, eat and drink, therefore… no room for driving.
Trains, most of the times in the United States, are synonym or low class or ghetto. Although I can relate to that in some way, if compared to trains services in Europe, here is what I have to say about the Pacific Surfliner – practical, comfortable, punctual, quick, hazard free and with lovely views. We arrived to Santa Barbara in approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, right to head to El Encanto and enjoy our lunch out on the Terrace overlooking Santa Barbara from our view on the hills, on a stunning sunny day. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends

(*) To book your own travel experience, do not hesitate to contact me either by email carlos@carlosmelia.com or phone # 917.754.5515. I am an experienced Travel Agent with over 25 years of experience, member of MLGTPP, IGLTA, First in Service Travel, TZELL Travel Network.

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SOHO House Los Angeles

SOHO House Los Angeles  |  Los Angeles, United States  |  The other afternoon, invited by the FABULOUS Tony Awards nominated and lead actress playing Judy Garland at The End of the Rainbow Tracie Bennette, we came to the SOHO House Los Angeles, to have some drinks enjoying the stunning views of the city. Later we had the pleasure to have the gorgeous Denise Vasi joining us.
If you are looking for a true happening and exclusive spot in Los Angeles, then SOHO House is the place to be seen and see. Opened in spring 2010, Soho House West Hollywood is the second American House and occupies the top two floors of the 14-storey, 9200 Sunset Boulevard. The bar in the Sky Penthouse offers views over LA.
With 180 degree views over Los Angeles, the 30 ft long Club Bar is an ideal spot to relax and unwind. Reclaimed parquet floors, vintage furniture and booths set the scene. Our choice, great cocktails, and of course I have to had my classic Filthy Vodka Martini up with three huge olives.

The terrace garden dining area is lined with olive trees and covered by a retractable roof. There is also a comfortable sitting room and a private dining and bar area for members’ events and screenings. Soho House was founded in London, in 1995, as a private members’ club for those in film, media and creative industries. The Group has since expanded to include Houses across Europe and North America, as well as restaurants, cinemas, spas and hotels. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends
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