Private Tour of the Buckingham Palace in London

Private Tour of the Buckingham Palace in London  |  London, England  |  This morning very early and under the rain, we came to have our own private tour of the Buckingham Palace and the Royal Collection . It was amazing to have the whole Palace for ourselves before the rest of the tourist came in. Continue reading Private Tour of the Buckingham Palace in London

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.”

Gay Cruises Season 2011 multiple options available

Gay Cruises Season 2011 multiple options available December is around the corner and most of you around the world, already have your Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year Holidays gateways already sorted out. This is a list of some of the Gay Cruises scheduled for season 2011, covering multiple destinations, options and crowds. So if you find any that interests you or would you need further information please do not hesitate to contact me at any time. CM by Carlos Melia ( Ph. 212.399.6161 | Cel. 347.944.0026 | Toll Free Number 800.729.7472 Ext. 205 | carlos@carlosmelia.com | Skype/Facebook/Twitter carlosmelia ).
> An EPIC Caribbean Voyage February 19th – 26th 2011 ) • Norwegian Cruise Line’s incredible new ship that reinvents cruising once again.  You’ll be one of the first to experience the many new entertainment options of the EPIC, including special performances by the Blue Man Group and the world’s only ice bar at sea. You’ll be visiting unique, exotic islands which are waiting to be explored on this Western Caribbean Voyage from Miami to Mexico and Honduras. Cabins from USD 999 per person based on double occupancy. Government taxes and fees not included.
> Gay Group to HAWAII on Cunards Queen Victoria ( February 17th – March 03rd 2011 ) • Enjoy 14 nights on one of the most luxurious ships on the high seas. Departing from Los Angeles with 4 days at sea to experience the majesty of this ship, then sailing to visit Hilo, Honolulu, Nawiliwili, Lahaina and 4 other wonderful days at the sea. Cabins from USD 2049 per person based on double occupancy including port fees and NCF.

> All Gay Cruise to Costa Rica and Panama March 06th – 13th 2011 ) • Puerto Caldera, Isla de Coiba, Panama, Gulfito, Isla del Cano Drake Bay, Quepos, Curu, Isla Tortugas. Imagine sailing on a tropical sea. There are black sand beaches, turquoise waters, emerald rain forests and white face monkeys. And above all, there is the magical, dream-like quality of sailing on the luxurious S.V. Star Flyer…enjoy a sense of joy and freedom and endless possibility. Cabins from USD 2475 per person based on double occupancy. Government fees and taxes not included.

> Tahiti & Society Islands Cruise on the Luxurious Paul Gauguin ( May 07th – 15th 2011 ) • Gay Group visiting the most romantic and beautiful destination in the world, on one of the most luxurious cruises at sea. Sail round trip from Papeete, visiting Raiatea, MotuMahana (private island), with two full days in Bora Bora and Moorea. Cabins from USD 3806 per person based on double occupancy including Flight on Air Tahiti Nui round-trip to/from Los Angeles + taxes + gratuities + meals + room service + watersports (except Scuba) + alcohol + beverage + entertainment.
> Miami Beach Pride Cruise ( April 18th – 22nd 2011 ) • In April 2011, our community is coming together in a big way. Starting with Miami Beach Gay Pride on April 16th, South Florida will show the world a true celebration of the beauty and strength of our community. Make plans now to extend the magic of Miami Beach Gay Pride by joining the group that will be departing on a 4-night cruise to the Bahamas April 18th – 22nd, on the Norwegian Sky, leaving from the Port of Miami, right after Pride weekend.  And the celebration doesn’t end there. You will return, just in time, to join the opening night of the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival which runs April 22nd – May 1st, 2011. Cabins from USD 419 per person based on double occupancy. Government fees and taxes not included.

> Scandinavia & Russia Cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas May 30th – June 11th 2011 ) • Gay Group visiting some of the  most beautiful places in the world. Whether you are looking for history, culture or plain natural beauty, chances are you will find it on this cruise vacation to Northern and Western Europe. From medieval architectural styles to modern, world-renowned museums and theater to world-class shopping, gentle rolling hills and dramatic towering fjords. An amazing adventure awaits you around every corner. Cabins from USD 1420 per person based on double occupancy. Taxes and port charges not included.

> Italy, Spain, Africa and France Cruise with overnights in Barcelona and Ibiza August 01st – 10th 2011 ) • coming out on sale NOV 08th. You can be one of the first to sail on the bran new Celebrity Silhouette ship, that has been secured for this 100% Full Gay Cruise. Sail round trip from Rome, visiting Florence, Pisa, Barcelona, Ibiza, Tunis, Naples and Ajaccio. Cabins from USD 2049 per person based on double occupancy plus taxes and tips. Single shares available.
> Rome to Venice Cruise on Windstar’s Wind SurfSeptember 03rd – 10th 2011 ) • Come and sail the Amalfi and Dalmatian coast abroad the MSY Wind Surf. Experience a new adventure that will take you on an extraordinary voyage from Rome to Venice. Sip a Posip alongside elegant bohemians in chic Hvar, explore designer boutiques in Capri or enjoy stunning view of an erupting volcano. Castles and beaches, bastions and boutiques, bright days ad starry nights, all awaits your and 312 other privileged guests as you sail towards a timeless journey. Cabins from USD 3199 per person based on double occupancy.Does not include international airfare, trip cancellation insurance, gratuities or port fees.

CM by Carlos Melia ( Ph. 212.399.6161 | Cel. 347.944.0026 | Toll Free Number 800.729.7472 Ext. 205 | carlos@carlosmelia.com | Skype/Facebook/Twitter carlosmelia ).