Turning 85 is no small feat!  The Leading Hotels of the World was founded in 1928 — Wow — just to give you some perspective, it was the same year as the Chrysler Building groundbreaking.  We had a whirlwind of a year celebrating this triumph at LHW and wrapped it up with a final birthday fete last Thursday.  We began the festivities earlier this year during Oscar week in LA, and it is only appropriate that we would close the celebration back in our home town of New York City. 

The party was a bit decadent even for New York standards.  First, the invitations were sent to guests accompanied by a fresh (and delicious) birthday cake–and not a little cupcake cake, but rather a real cake!  The party was held at Harlow in New York and guests had an endless feast of amazing food and there was plenty of bubbly to go around.  There was an over-the-top, travel-themed, multi tiered birthday cake and I can’t forget the gift bags…all filled with goodies from various LHW properties worldwide and a plethora of cool travel must haves.  

 

 

I guess the next milestone will be a 90 year birthday celebration.  So, I will look forward to just five short years and will keep you all posted on what’s happening at LHW in the meantime!

Happy Birthday The Leading Hotels of the World!

(Photos by Jason Russo)

Andrew Saffir, Stephen Gaghan, Daniel Benedict

People always ask me, “How was Cannes?” and I always respond with–exhausting!  I got back last week from two weeks in what is perhaps one of the most surreal trips a person can experience.  I half joke when I respond with exhausting…the truth is the trip is exhausting, but worth every bit of lost sleep. Where else can I travel and absolutely need to bring at least five tuxedos, a bunch of suits, more shirts than one can imagine, shoes, shoes and more shoes and then casual clothing–bathing suits, shorts, gym clothes–the list is endless.  I did manage to over pack one suitcase and the bag arrived to my room in two pieces–fortunately with all my clothes somehow in tack.

 

 

 

I also managed to somehow pack all the luggage into my rental Mini Copper convertible–somehow!  Travel tip:

Consider the amount of luggage before booking a rental car.

The men at the rental car agency thought I was a magician getting all of the luggage into the back seat.

This year marked my 11th consecutive year visiting the Cannes Film Festival.  Yes, the festival is packed with movie premier after premier and glamorous, over-the-top parities, but I do still always manage to quench my wanderlust with some excursions along the Cote d’Azure.  First and foremost, premiers in Cannes are taken very seriously by all–especially at the Palais (the mecca of cinemas, positioned port side, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Croisette).

Croisette View

Black tie is mandatory for all and les Français treat every evening at the Palais as if it were a royal affair.  Not only is black tie mandatory, but gentleman are always required to wear tuxedos with bow ties (not straight ties) and black shoes (not blue).

People are often turned away at the door if the guards find ‘inappropriate attire.’  There are more photographers along the Croisette than film fans–and there are a lot of fans.  I have often looked out to a sea of flash bulbs and wonder how any actor sees a thing on the red carpet.

 

With Olivia Palermo

Which leads me to the red carpet…getting to the red carpet is impossible without an invitation to that evening’s premier and tickets are not easy to come by–even for those connected to the film world.   Once upon the red carpet the fairly tale begins…the trains on the gowns often run half the length of the carpet and the women all look beyond glamorous and the men usually try to look cool (some do and some don’t, but all try). The truth is that the red carpet is pretty intimidating for everyone.  Several years back, I remember leaving the Palais just steps behind Gwyneth Paltrow and as we walked outside and approached the red carpet and the long set of steps leading down to the Croisette the skies opened up and started pouring.  We all stood there watching the rain through the bright lights of the Palais and the flashbulbs of the photographers, there was loud classical music playing and everyone realized there wasn’t a parapluie in sight.  Gwyneth turned and said, “Why not?” – and then gracefully walked down the stairs of the red carpet, in the rain, with the music and lights in the background and I thought to myself – this is pretty amazing!

This year, The Great Gatsby opened the festival, and all movie premiers in Cannes are even more extravagant than one would expect; this one did not fail in extravagance.  I had seen The Great Gatsby in New York, but was thrilled to attend the opening night festivities and experience it Cannes style.  The after party was tented on the beach and was a recreation of West Egg, complete with a performance from Florence Welch, Champagne fountains, fireworks and a massive chandelier.

 

All but a few nights were spent at premiers in the Palais.  Just steps from the Palais and overlooking the Croisette is a Belle Époque masterpiece–The  Hôtel Majestic Barrière.  The Majestic is quite “Majestic” and is the perfect spot for a power lunch, a sunset drink, or a romantic dinner.  Fouquet Cannes is housed adjacent to the lobby and is quite a Cannes hot spot. Fouquet’s menu is very impressive and filled with delicious options for foodies.  I had the most incredible fish curry and my fellow diner had the largest and most incredibly delicious cote de boeuf I had ever seen–or tasted!  For the other nights “off” from movie nights.. one was spent at the restaurant at La Colombe d’Or in St. Paul de Vence.  This is one of my favorite restaurants in the world, La Colombe d’Or is an experience like no other.  Where else can one dine under Picassos and Calders, and have the most amazing food and wine.  There is a dining garden when the weather is warm and during the film festival it is the beginning of fraises des bois (strawberries?) season and the fraises des bois at La Colombe d’Or  are always so fresh and delicious!

Saint Paul De Vence

 

Another night “off” was spent at Tetou.  Tetou is a hot spot during the festival and is always star studded.  The restaurant is right on the beach in Golfe-Juan and the owners are kind and welcoming.  I can’t mention Tetou without also mentioning their famous bouillabaisse and grilled lobsters, along with their famous prices…it is a common joke during the festival that Tetou is not for the frugal.  The prices are not as friendly as the owners!  I also had an amazing dinner at the le Machou in the Old Town of Cannes which is a tiny, spectacular, candle-lit restaurant that is a must during any trip to Cannes.

My last night was spent at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco for a party to celebrate the Grand Prix. The Cannes Film Festival and The Grand Prix usually overlap so I don’t usually make it to the Grand Prix, but this year an invitation to the Prince’s Palace enticed me to Monaco for the night.

 

Yes, I did fulfill my James Bond fantasy but still missed not pulling up to the Palace in a Bond car–my little rental Mini was cute, but somehow didn’t quite add to the night…next time I think an Aston Martin is in order!

Please contact me for any suggestions for a trip to the Cote d’Azure–à bientôt!

Those who know me, know I love LA.  I call it LALA land because I always have a blast in LA and although NYC is my home, I not so secretly would love to have a foot in LA–or at least a toe.  When I found out that Condé Nast Traveler was throwing a birthday fete for The Leading Hotels of the World, I was keeping my fingers crossed it would happen in my LALA land—and, luckily for me, it did!   So, Oscar and his leading lady, The Leading Hotels of the World, both turn 85 this year and I was thrilled to celebrate their joint birthday party high atop the beautiful rooftop of Mr. C Beverly Hills.

It was a perfect night with the stars out in full force, both in the sky and in the ballroom.

The movie themed bash had multiple screens featuring 85 films in 85 Leading Hotels (my favorites are Goldfinger, Casino Royale and Ocean’s Eleven), there was a fully-loaded concession stand, a vintage popcorn machine (popping away), a photo booth and an over-the-top birthday cake (which I had to help move to a pedestal minutes before the party started–fortunately without dropping it!).

Over 200 guests came to celebrate the birthday bash!

 

Among the leading ladies were Naomi Watts (fingers crossed for her on Oscar night!), Eva Longoria, Minnie Driver, Michelle Monaghan, Giada de Laurentis and Katie Lee.  Happy 85th Birthday Leading Hotels and best wishes to you too Oscar!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are so many perks of living in New York City–the list really is endless.  At the top of my list is our accessibility to the arts–particularity Broadway.  I try to see as many productions as possible and while some are more serious and some are more humorous, I do find that all productions are important to the city and add to the complexity of what makes New York, New York.  I had the immense pleasure of seeing Jessica Chastain in The Heiress and loved her performance, along with everything about the production–the cast, the sets, everything was brilliant!  So, I was very excited that I was able to have The Leading Hotels of the World collaborate with Harry Winston to put together an intimate dinner to honor Jessica and her outstanding performance.

Stars of the fashion, music and the entertainment worlds all looked forward to congratulating Jessica on her debut.  Among the guests that came out to support Jessica were Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Patricia Clarkson, Christina Ricci, Dan Stevens, Nina Arianda, Gayle King, Hilary Rhoda, Brian Atwood, Fracisco Costa, Georgina Chapman, Katie Lee, Kyle MacLachlin, Andrew Saffir, Olivia Palermo, Johannes Huebl, Rachel Roy, Thakoon Panichgui, Zac Posen and Stefano Tonchi.

 

 

 

 

The chic dinner was held at The Setai Fifth Avenue’s Ai Fiori restaurant and Chef Michael White (same chef as the acclaimed Marea on Central Park South–one of my favorites) prepared a special menu, and event planner Raul Avila transformed the already stunning dinning room into a modern day version of the famous stage set (filling the restaurant with red, magenta and pink peonies and massive arrangements of magnolia branches).

 

Candle light was glowing throughout and all the guests were so excited to see Jessica and congratulate her on her role. The Heiress cast is outstanding and includes Jessica Chastain, David Strathairn, Dan Stevens, Judith Ivey and is directed by Moises Kaufman.  The Heiress opened November 1st and is playing for a limited engagement of 18 weeks at the Walter Kerr Theatre.  Enjoy!

 

 

Rachel Roy and Olivia Palermo

Desiree Gruber, Kyle McLaughlin, Andrew Saffir and Zani Gugelmann

 

Photography by Billy Farrell Agency