just. wow.

kelly wearstler’s accomplished quite a bit–playboy “playmate of the month”  turned big time interior designer and now, fashion designer as of spring 2011.  of course, being married to brad korzen of viceroy hotel group doesn’t hurt either.  my company has worked with her studio on a few viceroy properties and i’m especially a fan of the the 7th floor of department store bergdorf goodman.  i forgot to visit the last time i was in nyc, but i will make sure to go this february when i’m there.

she’s really translated her hallmark whimsical style into fashion apparel successfully.  but her marketing team especially is doing a fantastic job.  the  upcoming look book shot by jamie beck of from me to you fame featuring kelly framel of the glamourai notoriety in malibu is just stunning.

i apologize for the many photos, but there are a lot.  and there are so many good ones.  and what would a nod to jamie beck be without a cinemagraph?

shot on pacific coast highway

and speaking of jamie, how cute is this post on her other half?

hotel missoni

i’m pretty excited that my firm’s working on hotel missoni belek, antalya in turkey.  we have some amazing designs and projects, but unfortunately i can’t afford to stay at any of these luxe hotels.

to give you an idea of what it might look like, here are photos from the other hotel missoni properties.

hotel missoni edinburgh

hotel missoni kuwait

hotel missoni belek, antalya isn’t slated to open until 2014.  other locations in the works are oman (2013) and brazil (2014).

i normally find missoni clothing too loud and 70’s-looking but i’m loving how it looks as an interiors palette…especially the vibrant colors and patterns.  now i’m really excited for the target collaboration.

and here’s a sneak peak to that!

over 400 products, priced all the way from $2.99 to $599.99…thankfully, most are supposed to be under $40.  i’ll be counting the days until september 13th.

never stay at planet hollywood vegas

so i recently took my mom to las vegas for mother’s day/her birthday since she hasn’t been to las vegas in about 10 years or so and the strip looks pretty different now then it did the last time she was there.  i found a pretty good deal at planet hollywood and had never stayed there, but it was such a bad experience that i had to blog about it.  the last time i was in vegas, i stayed at the cosmopolitan and while it was bad enough to prompt my boyfriend to write a bad review for it on yelp and tripadvisor, i wasn’t too upset and would give it another chance.  but planet hollywood was terrible and i’m inclined to never stay at any harrah’s/caesar’s properties again.  how could they have messed up so badly?  let me count the ways.

  1. when we checked-in, their computers were down and they couldn’t issue any room keys so we had to wait forever (keep in mind that we had a show to catch in about an hour…there was a couple in front of me that canceled their reservation and looked for a different hotel)
  2. the room needs to be renovated as it’s pretty worn out…but i didn’t hold it against them
  3. there weren’t that many lights in the room, one of them needed its bulb replaced
  4. there was no mini fridge…not a big deal for me, but my mom wanted to refrigerate something.  i was pretty surprised by this…how ever will they rip off their customers?
  5. the speakerphone on our phone was broken
  6. the tv’s sound kept going in/out
  7. whenever my mom called housekeeping/front desk, they put her on hold for a very long time and sometimes even hung up on her!
  8. we were locked out of our rooms when both our keys wouldn’t work
  9. i tried to use the phone by the elevators about this problem, but it was broken
  10. i went down and waited in line for the front desk to get the problem fixed, and was given an attitude by the woman helping me.  she told me that the cards had been demagnetized, that’s why they weren’t working, and not to keep them near other credit cards or cell phones
  11. holding the key cards in my hand the entire time, i go upstairs and they still don’t work
  12. pretty pissed by this point, i come back down and the line is much longer.  i tell the guy working that i would like to speak to the manager
  13. the manager makes me wait for a very long time (i think he was on a phone call)
  14. i tell him that our experience at the hotel has been rather unpleasant and he offers to give me 50% off one night’s rate.  this isn’t too much since i had booked the deal at a very affordable rate and when i ask if this is the best he can do and he says yes, i accept
  15. we ask for an escort to our room to make sure the keys work because i do not want to come back down a third time and he’s kind enough to arrange technicians to make sure we get in ok
  16. since i had already paid in full when i booked the hotel, i asked if i’d be credited on my card and he says yes.
  17. throughout this experience, i am most offended that the woman i spoke with, and especially the manager, never apologized.  when you work in hospitality, service should be a top priority and even if it’s not your fault directly, you can still say something like “i’m sorry that happened, let me see what i can do”
  18. the vending machine on our floor ate my mom’s money then broke
  19. this trip was about a week and a half ago and i realized yesterday that i had not seen my credit card credited yet
  20. i had to call them today to have it processed

i don’t know…am i expecting too much?  have i been spoiled by nicer hotels?  i know this isn’t a five-star hotel, but it’s still supposed to be pretty decent, and i would think that the level of service should be better.  i don’t think i’m asking for too much…i’ve stayed at nicer hotels, but i’ve also stayed at worse ones and never had these kinds of problems.  this has been the worst stay and hotel service i’ve experienced so far, and i hope it stays that way.

i will never stay at planet hollywood again, and i have my doubts for the rest of the brand now.

the weekend in review

this weekend, i watched rango and dined at bottega louie in downtown los angeles; this is my review for both.

RANGO

friday night, boyfriend and i used the discounted amc tickets we purchased through various groupon-like sites to watch rango.  until the movie came out, i had little desire to watch the movie based on the trailer.  to be honest, i am pretty biased and tend to think the worst of most animated family films with the exception of pixar.  but the reviews for rango have been very good with many people already claiming that rango will win best animated film at the oscars.  and if there ever was a year for pixar to lose, it would be the year cars 2 is released.  why?  because cars is their worst reviewed and just plain worst project in their portfolio.  it doesn’t mean the movie is bad, just that it isn’t nearly as good as their other films.  for them to release a sequel is based mostly on the profitability of the franchise (nascar is huge) and john lasseter’s own fondness for cars and route 66.

anyways, back to rango.  the movie indeed was very fun and good.  this is george lucas’ industrial light magic (ilm) studios’ first foray into feature film animation and they have done an amazing job.  not only did the graphics look great (and life-like at parts), the animation was superb–the characters’ movements flowed naturally.  and i was pleasantly surprised to find that the cinematography was very stylized and beautiful even.

the plot follows a pet chameleon, who gets through his lonely, caged life with thespian theatrics, as he gets lost in the desert.  he stumbles upon the town of dirt, which is experiencing a severely diminishing water supply, and creates a new identity for himself as the sheriff.  the overarching themes of the story were hope, identity,  and self-discovery.

i had previously read in reviews that the movie is more for the adults, rather than the kids and i definitely agree with this.  many of the jokes were adult and i found myself wondering if kids would really enjoy this movie since i think they might not get 70% of them.  some of the aspects of the movie that i found fun were the references to other movies and figures (fear & loathing in las vegas; the good, the bad, and the ugly; and clint eastwood) and so many characters had mustaches, including one of the villains, rattlesnake jake, whose mustache was more like painted on since snakes don’t have hair.

rattlesnake jake in rango

the animal characters were not cute at all…maybe because westerns are gritty.  i couldn’t even tell what a lot of the animals were.  the film is essentially an animated western and influenced by the those that came before it; this can be seen in the visual style.

conclusion: i recommend the movie and wouldn’t be surprised if it did win best animated film at the oscars this year.

 

BOTTEGA LOUIE

700 south grand avenue
los angeles, ca 90017

bottega louie is an italian restaurant located in the heart of downtown los angeles.  with over 2,000 reviews and 4 stars on yelp and rave reviews seemingly everywhere, i’ve been wanting to try this place and finally did so on saturday night for dinner.  bottega louie doesn’t accept reservations and as boyfriend and i were heading over there around 7 pm, i read yelp reviews on how the food was mediocre to delicious; the service was horrible to excellent; the wait time is long; and the environment is beautiful and loud.

we parked at the $6 valet next to the restaurant (there isn’t really an other alternative besides searching for street parking, there are other lots that are cheaper, but not by much).  we quickly realized that we had seen bottega louie in passing before and had said we wanted to try it out because it looked so interesting.  the restaurant was once a parking lot with homeless people that was transformed into a dining destination in 2009.  it has tall glass windows all around and is a huge space that includes the restaurant, bar, and patisserie.  as we stepped inside, we ogled at the large space, the hordes of bodies dining or waiting, and the beautiful architecture.  the simple white contrasted with gold, high ceilings, and intricate moldings transported us from the grime of downtown los angeles to new york city.  i think the high ceilings also had a hand in creating the echoey loudness of the restaurant.

we were greeted by a line of people–a line just to put your name down for a table.  expecting at least a 30-minute wait, when the maitre’d told us it would only be a 15 minutes, we agreed that it would definitely be longer than that then hurried over to the patisserie to check out the decadent desserts.  it couldn’t have been more than 5-10 minutes when the hostess tapped me on the arm and asked if i was part of mr. boyfriend’s party and told me our table was ready.

upon seating, we were given complimentary sparking and still water and asked if we had any food allergies.  i think the service throughout the night was very good.  the waiter explained the menu/dishes and gave a few recommendations since we were first-time customers.  we decided on the portobello fries small dish and a 50/50 pizza of the sausage and napoli to share, i ordered the orecchiette pasta, and boyfriend got the recommended trenné.

bottega louie portobello fries, photo from tummy diary

the portobello fries are the most reviewed item in the bottega louie yelp reviews and were also recommended by our waiter.  they’re strips of portobello mushrooms battered and fried and served with a garlic-based aioli.  they were delicious and one of the highlights of our meal.

bottega louie sausage pizza

the sausage pizza is made up of fennel sausage, tomato sauce, and mozzarella while the napoli is made up of red onions, mushrooms, olives, tomato sauce, and mozzarella.  the sausage half was better than the napoli because, well…meat > veggies.  the pizza was pretty good and would have been much better if the center wasn’t so soggy.  i don’t know if it’s because they put too much sauce on it but the center of the pizza was droopy and soggy.  as i ate away from the center toward the crust, the pizza got better and the crust was very good.  i think mozza’s pizza is still better in terms of their dough and flavors, but bottega louie’s would be a strong contender if it wasn’t so soggy.  i’d still want to try the pizza again on my next visit to see if the sogginess is just how the pizzas are made or maybe we had a “bad” one.

bottega louie trenné pasta, photo from gourmet pigs

boyfriend’s trenné pasta was pan sauteed with braised prime rib eye, tuscan black kale, and shaved granna parmesan.  this was my first time seeing trenné pasta; it’s similar to penne but more triangular shaped rather than circular (for the opening).  i had a bite and i liked that the pasta was crisp on the outside.  the noodle itself tasted heavily of the rib eye and i don’t think it’s a dish i would have personally liked and probably won’t order it in the future.  but boyfriend enjoyed it…especially the large shavings of cheese.

bottega louise orecchiette pasta, photo from i heart yummy

the orecchiette is house made with sausage and olive oil in a a swiss chard ragù sauce.  i love pasta but thought this dish was just ok.   i also normally love tomatoes but thought the cherry tomatoes in the pasta were much too sweet;  the dish tasted better after i started avoiding them.  i was getting pretty full after the portobello fries and the pizza so i boxed some of my pasta so i could save room for dessert.

bottega louie le grand macaron, photo from dt diaries

i have a sweet tooth and love macarons so we ordered le grand macaron–french vanilla ice cream sandwiched between a vanilla macaron served with berries.  i paired this with my favorite wine–moscato d’asti.  the wine was good as always and the macaron was also good.  it was difficult to eat with a spoon/fork though since the outside of the macaron was so hard.

we were surprised by the bill–in a good way!  we were expecting the bill to be pretty high since it’s a nice place but the total (before tip) was a very reasonable $75.  i was amazed–i was sure they must have left something off our bill, but nope, they got everything: appetizer, pizza, 2 pastas, glass of wine, and the dessert.  we will definitely be back again.  after boyfriend paid the bill (thank you, dear!) we went back to the patisserie.

there were 5 flavors of macarons available when we went: chocolate, earl grey, lime, raspberry, and vanilla.  i wanted to try earl grey since it’s one of my favorites and was also interested in the lime yuzu.  we also thought there might be more flavors available in the patisserie since it looked like there were a lot of colors.  unfortunately, lime was sold out but apparently there are new batches/flavors every 4 hours and they paint them by hand (probably why the colors looked so different for the same flavor).

we ended up buying 2 earl grey, 1 chocolate (for boyfriend), and 1 raspberry (for me) macarons.  i also got a tiny blueberry tart and pistachio cupcake and boyfriend got a raspberry chocolate ganache tart.

bottega louie cupcakes

the cupcakes are so cute because they are covered in sparkly sprinkles and topped with a tiny macaron.  the pistachio is pictured in the photo above, bottom right.  i ate the blueberry tart saturday night after we got home from the restaurant and thought it was just ok; i prefer the fruit tarts at porto’s.  the macarons were very good and i look forward to sampling more flavors in the future.  i had the pistachio cupcake a few hours ago and was surprised by how light and fluffy the cake was.  most cupcakes i’ve had from western bakeries (like sprinkles) have dense, thick cake.  the cupcake is vanilla with black cherries on the inside, pistachio cream frosting, and topped with pistachio nuts, sprinkles, and a mini vanilla macaron with pistachio cream inside.  i was a little hesitant of cherry and pistachio but it was pretty good.  because the cake was so light, it reminded me of sponge cake–which i really like.

photography disclaimer: all bottega louie photos in this post are from the bottega louie blog unless indicated otherwise.

travel deal | intercontinental hotels group brand-wide sale 65% off

intercontinental hotels group (ihg) is discounting their rates at all their hotels through april.  this is impressive since ihg has over 4,400 hotels across the world.

and to sweeten the deal, if you pay with a visa credit card, stay 2 consecutive nights friday – sunday through april, you can get reimbursed up to $100 on checked-bag fees charged by the airline.

top deals include:

  • Staybridge Suites ATLANTA Buckhead
    $73-$85 Feb. 25-26; March 4-5; weekends April 8-30
  • Holiday Inn Midtown 57th Street NEW YORK CITY
    $77 Feb. 27-28; $125 March 9-10, 13-15
  • InterContinental TAMPA
    $83 April 22-23, 29-30; $97 April 15-16; $104 April 1-2, 8-9
  • Holiday Inn Georgetown WASHINGTON, D.C.
    $89 Feb. 19-21; $99 Feb. 18; March 4-5, 11-12
  • Avenue Crowne Plaza CHICAGO Magnificent Mile
    $98 April 17-24 (Easter week) 
  • Holiday Inn Express BOSTON Cambridge
    $102 Feb. 26; $119 Feb. 25, 27-28; $127 March 1-18
  • Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf SAN FRANCISCO
    $111 March 2-3, 6-10; $120 March 13-17, 20-24, 27-31
  • InterContinental HOUSTON
    $108-$119 weekends through March 26
  • InterContinental DALLAS
    $109-$112 weekends March 18 – April 30
  • Crowne Plaza PHILADELPHIA West
    $128 Feb. 26-28; March 4-5, 11-12, 25-26; April 1-2
  • Holiday Inn Express Century City LOS ANGELES
    $139 most dates through April

this deal was stolen from travelzoo, so get more details on their page.  a little warning, they’re advertising it as 65% off but please keep in mind the fine print: “as much as 65% less than comparable hotels.”  but it’s still a good deal regardless, so take advantage before it ends february 25th.