21 Club way beyond steak and hamburgers stereotype

21 Club beyond steak and hamburgers21 Club way beyond steak and hamburgers stereotype |  New York, United States  |  Last night I joined my dear friend Michael Romei, for a distinguished evening hosted by the 21 Club by Belmond. Our night began, of course, over Martinis and continue over a few fantastic bottles of Sancere, along with the Menu by their new Executive Chef Sylvain Delpique.  Continue reading 21 Club way beyond steak and hamburgers stereotype

Bull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria NY

Bull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria NY by www.carlosmeliablog.comBull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria NY  |  New York, United States  |  Last night invited by my dear friend Michael Romei, Chef Concierge at the Waldorf Tower and General Secretary of UICH Les Clefs d’Or, along with our other friend Alejandro, we shared and enjoyed a lovely evening at one of the most iconic restaurants of New York, the Bull & Bear Prime Steakhouse. VIP treatment right from the start, when we were informed that we were seating at the Waldorf Astoria’s General Managers table, and the excellent service, efficient and professional, but yet friendly and relaxed. We even had the joy to have Celso Moreira, Concierge and Manager on Duty, to stop by and have a little chat with us. There is so much history and myth in these two rooms, that makes the whole gourmet experience even more enjoyable and rich. Every week, when the three of us are in New York, we get together to try a new restaurant and share week with each other. Continue reading Bull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria NY

Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour

Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comGrand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour  | New York, United States | If there is something that always intrigues and interests me about iconic landmarks and destinations, is to dig deep into their apparent facade and learn about the myths and legends behind them. You saw my recent post on Buenos Aires, from my visit last week, and now New York. Invited to join this exclusive group of luxury concierges of Manhattan, by my friend Michael Romei, I took part of this exclusive behind the scenes 3hs tours of Grand Central Terminal and Beyond. The tour was conducted to detail and perfection, by Docent-in-Chief Daniel Brucker, who not only is an erudite in the subject, but also is known and referred as “The Keeper of Grand Central’s Secrets”.
Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comGrand Central Terminal is “the world’s number six most visited tourist attraction”, bringing in approximately 21,600,000 visitors annually. The first tip to learn about Grand Central, is that it is a “Terminal” and not a Station. Grand Central is the point the end and the beginning of the rail line into and out of New York City. Our tour guide, made strong emphasis on this, and demanded respect alluding Grand Central Terminal, is the biggest train terminal in the world.
Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.com
From there on, we immersed into a behind the scenes and secrets tour, which took over 3 hours. I must say it felt like just one. We started with a brief introduction. while seating at the stunning and breathtaking Vanderbilt Hall. This room is very important, and you will be able to read the plaque placed there. The Grand Central was the first building in the United States to be saved under the Landmark Act by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In 1975, when Grand Central was threatened with demolition, Jacqueline Onassis lent her support to the preservation cause.
Photo Sep 23, 10 41 07 AMPhoto Sep 23, 10 36 31 AM (1)Facts: Grand Central Terminal is the biggest terminal in the world. New York’s biggest basement. The entire population of San Francisco passes by and uses the GCT everyday (750K people). 700 trains daily.  44 platforms with 67 tracks. 99% punctuality. 80% Lost and Found rate. 1200 passengers per train formation.

Photo Sep 23, 10 19 29 AMDid you know that all the Train Schedules displayed on the boards, are wrong ? Well technically they are wrong, but on purpose. All train departures are scheduled to leave a minute before they do. This is to allow the massive crowds to move safely and organized.

Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.com Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comHave you ever tried the Whispering Gallery? There is a section of the Terminal on the lower concourse, next to the Oyster Bar and Restaurant. The acoustics of the low ceramic arches, covered of Guastavino tiles, can cause a whisper to sound like a shout. I looks like I am confessing, but no. This is how it works. Stand at opposite corners with a friend. Let your friend whisper something, facing the wall. You will hear it loud and clear on the other opposite corner, you were right next to them.

Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.com

The Grand Central Terminal Clock, is a stunning true jewel. Urban legends say, it is worth between 10 to  20 million dollars. Each of the four clock faces is made from opalescent glass; the story that the faces are made of opal and that both Sotheby’s and Christie’s have estimated the value
Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comThe ceiling over the Main Concourse, one of Grand Central Terminal’s most famous features, displays a massive celestial piece of art. This remained covered for many many years, with grime and dirt, result of millions of cigarettes smoked by waiting commuters. However, if you look carefully, you will notice the great mistake made by the artist. The zodiac on the ceiling is depicted backwards. The Vanderbilt, never recognized this mistake, claiming the painting was made as if God would be looking from the skies.  Also if you look carefully, next to Pisces you will find a hole in the ceiling. This hole was pierced by a Redstone rocket, which was place on display at the Main Concourse to show Americans and the world the supremacy over the Soviet Union and the Sputnik Satellite.

Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comBut this was just the beginning of our behind the Scenes and Secrets for Grand Central Terminal. Till this point, we had seen same as any other regular visitor. But of histrionic guide, had a few more surprises of us, which are only accessible to a few. First we went down to New York City deepest and largest basement. There we saw and learnt about the very soul and power of this iconic station.

Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.com Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.com Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comWe explored the tunnels under GCT, with rock formation that date 600 million years. Did you know that the Grand Central Terminal and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, are linked by a secret train platform and track “Track 61” ? which allowed VIPs to enter the hotel in a more private manner, and was always fueled and ready for the use of presidents. Even Andy Warhol was popular for throwing parties in this train, called “The Underground Party”.
Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comThis simple tiny red button, is the one responsible for shutting off the ENTIRE power of Grand Central Station, in case of an emergency.

Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.com Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.com Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comFrom there we move to the higher floors of the Terminal, where we visited the “Situation Room” and the “Headquarters of Operations”.
Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comBut I must say, that the most exciting part of our tour was reaching the highest point of the building, and seeing Grand Central Station at full splendor, from the city windows of the ceiling. What I called “the eye in the sky of Grand Central Station”. Little windows located right on top the 100 years sing.

Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.com Grand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comGrand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comGrand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.comWhat an amazing way to explore Grand Central Terminal, and learn more about such an iconic building, which in many ways has transformed the life of Americans and most closely New Yorkers. After over 3 hours walking along, up and down, was time for lunch. For this which better option than walking to the lower level and enjoying some great fresh dishes at the OYSTER Bar & Restaurant (I strongly recommend the Manhattan Clam Chowder, and the Tuna Steak, with a chilled Chimay Belgian beer). Hope you enjoyed my report. I do not want to say much, not to spoil your own experience. Once again BIG THANK YOU to Michael Romei, Les Clefs d’Or organization and Metro-North Railroad. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends

Photo Sep 23, 10 46 55 AMPhoto Sep 23, 10 49 34 AMPhoto Sep 23, 10 47 17 AM Photo Sep 23, 10 49 27 AM Photo Sep 23, 10 19 36 AM (1) Photo Sep 23, 10 11 29 AM Photo Sep 23, 10 16 46 AM Photo Sep 23, 10 16 54 AM Photo Sep 23, 10 31 57 AM Photo Sep 23, 10 31 57 AM (1) Photo Sep 23, 10 11 26 AM Photo Sep 23, 11 13 24 AM Photo Sep 23, 11 49 39 AM Photo Sep 23, 11 36 31 AM Photo Sep 23, 11 41 27 AM Photo Sep 23, 11 37 58 AM Photo Sep 23, 11 39 43 AM Photo Sep 23, 11 38 46 AM Photo Sep 23, 11 42 34 AM Photo Sep 23, 12 58 08 PMGrand Central Terminal behind the scenes tour by www.carlosmeliablog.com Photo Sep 23, 12 57 23 PM Photo Sep 23, 12 55 29 PM Photo Sep 23, 1 11 11 PM Photo Sep 23, 1 10 11 PM Photo Sep 23, 1 08 19 PM Photo Sep 23, 1 01 50 PM Photo Sep 23, 1 30 37 PM Photo Sep 23, 1 48 54 PM (1) Photo Sep 23, 1 48 12 PM Photo Sep 23, 2 21 22 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.

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Sunday Brunch at Dovetail UWS

Sunday Brunch at Dovetail UWS  |  New York, United States  |  Every week my two best friends Alex and Michael, and I we get together for lunch or dinner, and we explore new options around New York, or any other city in the world we are together. This week has been Sunday Brunch, as as most of the times, Michael – Chief Concierge at the Waldorf Towers did the picking. He took us, on this GORGEOUS Spring day, all the way up to the UWS – Upper West Side, to try Dovetail.
Located just steps away from the American Museum of Natural History and Central Park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Dovetail offers an intimate dining experience showcasing Chef John Fraser’s award-winning contemporary American cuisine and creative use of seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients. Dovetail received three stars from The New York Times as well as its first Michelin star in 2011.
Chef Fraser formally began his culinary career in Los Angeles and refined his fine dining expertise under the mentorship of Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Napa Valley. He then broadened his perspective on global haute cuisine with a move to Paris to cook at the revered Taillevent and Maison Blanche.
Dovetail offers a myriad of dining options throughout the week. We came to the Sunday Brunch, which includes a 3 Steps Menu for only USD 32 per person. My choices were: Degustation of Canapes for the Table including sweet & savory breads, yogurt parfait, cardoon velouté, cured salmon tea sandwich and venison meatballs. Entree of Greek omelet, olives, feta, dried tomatoes with a side order of cypriot potatoes. Degustation of Desserts including Rhubarb cheesecake, Boston cream cake truffles, Cassis macaron. More info at www.dovetailnyc.com Great times, great company, great food. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends


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PRINT Restaurant at INK48 by Kimpton Hotels

PRINT Restaurant at INK48 by Kimpton Hotels  |  New York, United States  |  Last night along with my dear friend Michael Romei, we stay in my neighborhood – Hell’s Kitchen, and we tried an option that has been there for a long time, but have never tried before. PRINT Restaurant at INK48 by Kimpton Hotels. PRINT is one of New York City’s premiere farm-to-table dining experiences. Executive Chef Charles Rodriguez and Executive Pastry Chef Geoff Koo create dishes that are inspired from products grown in the region. PRINT’s full-time forager carefully procures ingredients that are brought in daily so guests can enjoy the best flavors that the season has to offer.
If you follow me, you know I HATE communal tables. But no worries this is not the only option. We had our own private table close to the windows. But if you are up for socializing or with a big group, this could easily be an option.
Nice bar The Dens adjacent  the lobby of the hotel and the restaurant, for either a pre or post drink. Specialty cocktails are handcrafted and complemented by our light fare menu.
We both went for a two course dinner over a nice glass of Cabernet, FYI I am still on my strict diet (you can follow this at Health & Beauty). The total cost of dinner each was USD 60. First Course: Six Wellfleet Oysters on the half shell, champagne mignonette.
Main Course: Pan roasted Fluke, cauliflower puree, brussel sprouts, leeks, sauteed mushrooms, jalapeño, citrus sauce. Quite a great experience and surprise. Looking forward to come back and try the Sunday Brunch. More info @ www.printrestaurant.com. Bon Appetit.!!!! CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends


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Les Clefs d’Or USA Gala Diner Boston

Les Clefs d’Or USA Gala Diner Boston | Boston, United States | Another great Gala Diner surrounded by the ELITE of Hotel Concierges in the World. This time the USA division of this prestigious international organization. The Gala Diner took place at the Seaport World Trade Center of Boston. For those of you that are trying to figure out my involvement with Les Clefs d’Or organization, I am the person responsible for their Social Marketing, Blog, Facebook, Twitter etc. worldwide. Les Clefs d’Or is one of the many clients I work with internationally on my Tourism/Hospitality Marketing Consultant role, that compliments my long proven career as an International Travel Expert and Blogger. Continue reading Les Clefs d’Or USA Gala Diner Boston

Warm Welcome to Virginia Casale new Les Clefs d’Or Intl President

Warm Welcome to Virginia Casale new Les Clefs d’Or International President | from CarlosMeliaBlog.com | I want to personally extend my CONGRATULATIONS, RESPECT and WARM WELCOME to Viriginia Casale new International President of Les Clefs d’Or. It is a pleasure to know you as a professional and more over as a person. I am proud and excited to be part of your team, assisting you and Les Clefs d’Or family with Social Media and being the Webmaster of Les Clefs d’Or Blog. WELCOME. !!!! CM (picture above Left to Right: Virginia Casale International President of Les Clefs d’Or, Michael Romei General Secretary and Chief Concierge of The Waldorf Towers and Carlos Melia).

( Original post source: Les Clefs d’Or Blog ) At our recent UICH Les Clefs d’Or International Congress in Toronto, Ontario Canada: Virginia Casale was elected as our new International President.   Virginia is the first Canadian to be elected International President and the second time for a female International President.   With more than 25 years of experience in the hotel industry and a member of Les Clefs d’Or for more than 20 years; Virginia has worked at several prime luxury hotels in Montreal and has been Concierge at the Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile since its opening in 2002.
Virginia has been very involved with our organization Les Clefs d’Or for many years beginning with the local chapter in Montreal then representing all of Canada as President.  She has attended virtually every International Congress since becoming a member; has served with distinction on our UICH International Executive Committee: As General Secretary for several years and then 1st Vice President for the past two years before being elected International President. (picture above Virginia Casale with Robert Watson, former International President)
Virginia was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Italian parents; she is first generation Italian-Canadian.  She is a graduate of McGill University with a BA in Languages and Linguistic Studies.   Virginia is married to a wonderful husband Sam and has a beautiful 4 1/2 year old daughter Alessia. Please Welcome Our New International President Virginia Casale!! (picture above from Left to Right: Hugo Legrand newly elected President Les Clefs d”or Canada and Chef Concierge of the Sofitel Montral, Robert Gaymer-Jones President and CEO of Sofitel Luxury Hotels and Resorts, Virginia Casale International President and Simon Stewart also Concierge at the Sofitel Montreal.)

The Waldorf Astoria Tour a reflection of American history

The Waldorf Astoria Tour a reflection of American history • ( New York City ) Now you may experience a different morning in New York City exploring, I would risk to say, the most iconic hotel in the world, home to the most relevant and notable international residents and events. Two times a week – Thursdays and Saturdays –  The Waldorf = Astoria, welcomes everyone visiting New York to travel through time, luxury and history, opening its doors to the public offering a fantastic comprehensive one hour full tour of the premises conducted by expert and passionate guides, ending with a buffet lunch at either one of their traditional restaurants Oscar’s or Peacock Alley. An experience not only appealing to visitors, but also to many New Yorkers interested on learning more about their beloved city.
I would like to specially thank Michael Romei – Chief Concierge at The Waldorf Towers for the invitation and attention during my visit, with whom I had the pleasure to share a fabulous lunch at the Oscar’s Restaurant, after the tour. What a better way to start the weekend exploring New York City, than learning about the history of one of its most relevant and iconic buildings and epicenter of the social-economic-political gatherings of all times.
The tour begins at the main lobby of The Waldorf = Astoria Hotel, right at the Clock Tower where you will be greeted by the expert tour guide Karen – a true character with her allegoric Santa’s Hat, particular and charismatic lady – eager to share all her knowledge, experiences and gossips about the hotel and its past – present visitors. Just a sneak peek of what you will see and learn during this tour, find it below:
The Clock, center of the the main lobby, was a present to the United States by the Queen Victoria of England. Was created
was for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Nine feet tall, the clock weighs two tons. Around the octagonal base of the clock made of marble imported from belgium, are likenesses of Cleveland, Harrison, Washington, Grant, Lincoln, Franklin, Jackson and Queen Victoria. Every quarter hour, the clock sounds the Westminster Chimes.
The Waldorf Astoria Clock was executed by the Goldsmith Company of London for exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. It was purchased by the Waldorf Astoria and was the focal point outside the Rose Room of the original hotel at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street.

The Waldorf=Astoria An Art Deco Masterpiece. ( Art Deco = Art Decorative = Beauty to the eyes ). When Hilton Hotels & Resorts commissioned Kenneth Hurd & Associates to undertake the $150 million refurbishment of The Waldorf=Astoria in 1982, little did anyone realize the decision would lead to the discovery of a long-lost cache of treasure, as well as to a long-term relationship between the hotel and Hurd that would yield a master planned Art Deco restoration of the Waldorf. Still they were amazed to come upon breathtaking Art Deco masterpieces that had literally been kept under wraps for the better part of three decades. Underneath layers of carpeting in the Park Avenue Lobby, the restoration team uncovered a magnificent 148,000-piece mosaic depicting the Wheel of Life by the great French artist, Louis Rigal. It took Rigal over 8 years and a half  to complete this masterpiece.
The Waldorf Astoria houses 40 individually decorated meeting venues and ballrooms. 60,000 square feet of versatile function space accommodate gatherings ranging from small and private to the most grand and extraordinary. The Grand Ballroom is the only 2 tiered, four story ballroom with a full Broadway stage in New York. The Starlight Roof Ballroom located on the 19th floor features striking views of the City.

The Grand Ballroom is one of more 38 lavish private-event spaces in The Waldorf=Astoria. Another is The Starlight Roof, the legendary nightclub that was the city’s most glamorous in the 1930s and 1940s, is another – almost as famous as the hotel itself.
Radio programs broadcast from the unique 18th floor penthouse room, with its a retractable roof that afforded dancing under the stars, first brought the big band sounds of Count Basie and Glenn Miller into America’s homes. For years, New Year’s Eve with Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians was a Starlight Roof tradition.
Today, The Starlight Roof not only continues to be one of New York’s premier venues for elegant evening events, but is also the setting for daytime business and social functions.
Today, The Starlight Roof not only continues to be one of New York’s premier venues for elegant evening events, but is also the setting for daytime business and social functions.

The lobby over Park Avenue – also known as the Ladies Floor – with it Austrian crystal chandelier that dominates the room. The Waldorf Astoria, 301 Park Avenue.
The hotel is now branded as the Waldorf=Astoria, with a double hyphen, but originally a single hyphen was employed between “Waldorf” and “Astoria,” as recalled by a popular expression and song, “Meet Me at the Hyphen“.

Not accessible to everyone, only to some lucky and special guests, you may get the chance to visit the underground railway platform, part of Grand Central Terminal which links this to the hotel, used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Farley, Adlai Stevenson, and Douglas MacArthur, among others. You will also see Franklin D. Roosevelt’s bullet-proof automobile there.
…” The difficult immediately, The impossible takes a few minutes longer…”
Although it’s been more than a century since William Waldorf Astor’s vision of the ideal hotel became reality, The Waldorf=Astoria, the flagship of Hilton Hotels & Resorts, remains true to its original goal. The winning formula is still a combination of unparalleled luxury and unstinting hospitality.
The tour finishes with a backstage visit of the renown kitchens of the Waldorf=Astoria, where you will get to taste the some of the creations by their pastry chefs.
After the tour, you will be invited to join and enjoy a buffet lunch at one of the restaurants of the hotel. Thursdays at Peacock Alley and Saturdays at Oscar’s. After all where in New York can you explore luxury a lunch for only USD 50 per person.
It is impossible for me to cover all the information that Karen shared with us during this tour. A great excuse and reason for you all to visit and have your own Waldorf=Astoria tour experience. I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did and will come back to me with great comments and feedback.

(*) For bookings and inquiries, do not hesitate to contact me: carlos@carlosmelia.com| 212.399.6161 | Toll Free US. 800.729.7472 ext 205

Famous firsts at The Waldorf=Astoria and The Waldorf Towers include:

> At its opening, The Waldorf=Astoria was the largest and tallest hotel in the world.

> The Waldorf was the first mainstream venue to book Frank Sinatra, thereby elevating him about the status of a short-term teenage rage and paving the wave for recording contracts.

> Ginger Rogers appeared in the first major film to feature a hotel, Weekend at the Waldorf.

> The first hotel to start the practice of having assistant managers in the lobby to greet and assist guests with all their needs.

> The first hotel to be included in the lyrics of a Broadway show. The lyrics from Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” include, “You’re a Waldorf Salad.”

> The first hotel to introduce 24-hour room service.

> The Waldorf Towers was the first hotel to suggest people live permanently in private suites.

> The first hotel to give prominence to the Art Deco style in America. Today, the exterior and interior design are acknowledged as masterpieces of this art genre.

> The Starlight Roof, a jewel of décor and dining, was the first supper club to have a retractable roof.

> The Waldorf Towers is the only hotel that is also an embassy; it is the official residence of the US Ambassador to the United Nations.

> The only hotel to be the residence of three first-star generals: Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Omar Bradley. The five-star insignia is still displayed over the door of the “Eisenhower Suite.”

Les Clefs d’Or interview with Michael Romei

Les Clefs d’Or interview with Michael Romei. The best elite of concierges from around the globe gather in the city of Buenos Aires for their 4 days Pan American Congress. The most amazing opportunity to showcase the city of Buenos Aires.
Interview with Michael Romei, Chef Concierge of the Waldorf Towers New York City and Member of the Board of Les Clefs d’Or. Interview by Carlos Melia.