We have all heard of behind the velvet rope, but how about behind the trump loi?  I just got a special peak at what’s been happening at Ritz Paris.   The cherished palace, which has stood every so gracefully at 15 Place Vendome for 116 years has officially passed the half way point in the highly anticipated and extensive renovation.  So, the countdown is now on for my beloved Ritz Paris to reopen its gilded doors.   I have been promised that the unprecedented renovation will evolve the Ritz into a new palace for today’s discriminating luxury traveler and everything from top to bottom will be changed, but somehow remain the same…which sounds absolutely perfect to me.  

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “When I dream of afterlife in heaven,the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz. It’s a fine summer night. I knock back a couple of martinis in the bar—Rue Cambon side. Then there’s a wonderful dinner under a flowering chestnut tree in what’s called Le Petit Jardin. That’s the little garden that faces the Grill. After a few brandies, I wander up to my room and slip into one of those huge Ritz beds. They are all made of brass. There’s a bolster for my head the size of the Graf Zeppelin and four square pillows filled with real goose feathers—two for me and two for my quite heavenly companion.”

We now just need to wait a little bit longer

À bientôt!

 

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)

I am lucky to have Olivia Chantecaille as a friend.  Not only is she obviously a stunning, uber-successful fixture in NYC, but she is one of the kindest and loveliest women I know.   Olivia is the creative director of her family’s ground-breaking skincare and cosmetics line, Chantecaille.  Their products are known worldwide as the preeminent luxury line of technologically advanced, serious skin care–deeply steeped with natural botanicals and pure ingredients.  Their “Cause-metics” Collections have impressed me with such an unexpected and creative approach for creating awareness and fund raising for charitable foundations supporting all forms of nature.  Chantecaille is “Using Beauty to Change the World” and has been a staunch supporter of marine conservation and endangered animals.

I recently sat down with Olivia to get her insider’s travel tips.

Q: Olivia, you are not only one of New York’s great beauty and style icons, but you jet set around the globe for both work and fun and always manage to look so fresh and lovely–what’s your secret weapon for that travel puffiness and overall look of exhaustion that I always seem to suffer from upon arriving to my destination?  I need sunglasses regardless of rain or sunshine so not to scare the passport control guards with my weary looking eyes!

A: I agree with you that a great pair of sunglasses is a must! As I get older, I find that fatigue and stress show more on my face than before and I have to take more preventative measures.  Now, I don’t wait until I reach my hotel to put on a mask, I wear a sleep in mask that goes on like a cream and is completely invisible to keep my skin hydrated and protected throughout the flight.  I alternate between our Jasmine and Lily Healing mask and our Bio Lift mask, both literally save my skin, especially if I have to land and go straight to work.  When I am trying to sleep during a long flight, I like to use an eye mask made of silk to avoid any creases or irritation on my skin and underneath I sneak on two clear, gel eye patches from our Gold Energizing Eye Recovery Mask (launching in December). The seaweed gel patches miraculously eliminate dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles!

Q: We have travelled together and I remember several years back being en route to St. Barths and we were stuck on the tarmac at JFK for hours and hours and thankfully I had all my goodies to keep me occupied for these unanticipated delays.   For this reason, I always carry my “Bored to Death” bag (well more of a compartment in my carry on) which is my comprised of an iPad filled with books and TV series that I swear I am going to start and the few movies I have yet to see.  I also carry a soft-cover book for all the times when the flight attendants parol the cabin to make sure ALL electronic devices are turned off.  But, my pièce de résistance is a little clear bag I bought at Muji.  This little zippered pouch has been such a blessing in times of need.  I have managed to perfectly fit every plug, cord, adapter, head phone splitter, charger, portable charger and the list goes on into this little pouch–and the pouch is durable and clear, so I can see everything rather than digging for surprises.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been thankful for this little guy, and the TSA inspectors seem to appreciate the tidiness of all the electronics in one place.  So, what’s in your carry on that might surprise us?

A: Oh! I remember that flight, there was a horrible blizzard and the windshield of the plane had cracked from the cold and we waited over five hours on the plane for the airline to fix it. I am like you, I travel like I had lots of small children with protein bars, books, every magazine I haven’t read, movies, music and games on my iPad, a cashmere shawl and cozy socks in case the AC is blasting. I always have a pen from my last hotel visit to fill out forms, Clean Well all natural hand wipes, Rescue Remedy and essential oils for my nerves, and Altoids.

I design small pouches for the stores all the time and I have a few translucent ones which I fill with beauty products. I never trust the products on the plane since I know the cost of goods so I always make a point to bring my own lip potion, face and hand cream, rosewater spray and tons of glosses.

It’s a miracle I can even carry my bag.

Q:  Seeing as you are the face of Chantecaille, what are your travel beauty rituals and is there any advice you can give our readers?

A: Well my secret slipped out in your first question. I wear my healing mask as a cream to protect my skin from the ravages of flying and sneak gel eye patches under my silk eye pillow to offset five years of aging! My favorite trick is to spray my Pure Rosewater liberally on my face every few hours. It is loaded with anti-oxidants and moisture- great for my skin and the air around me. Most importantly, I make a point to drink water throughout the flight and avoid any caffeine. I would highly recommend wearing a heavier moisturizer during the flight and avoid makeup if possible and to bring lip balm and hand cream.

Q:  I know you had a world-tour honeymoon not so long ago and have been many places in your life, but what is on your list of must-see spots?

A: My husband and I have a long list of places we would love to visit.  A few of our top picks are the Maldives, Turkey, Argentina and Morocco. I would also like to discover more of the United States.

Q:  What is your favorite airline and what perks have you appreciated most from any airline?

I love to travel but have a horrible fear of flying, so any airline that can help alleviate any stress wins my vote! Most of my trips are international for work, mainly Europe and Asia. So I look for comfortable flat beds where you are not staring directly at another passenger, and since I have a hard time sleeping on planes, I like a wide selection of new movies. It’s usually how I catch up on the movies people are talking about. One of my favorite airlines is British Airways. From the moment you check-in, they try to make your experience pleasant and painless, I’m sure the British accent has a lot to do with it. I’m still waiting for a massage on board, but the best perk has to be an upgrade.

Olivia Chantecaille in front of Spanish Steps

Q:  Obviously I am a bit obsessed with hotels (hence this great pleasure to work with LHW)…you spend a lot of time in Paris- would you mind sharing your favorite Paris hotel?  And maybe sharing a hotel that you haven’t experienced.

A: My mother’s family is from Paris and I have spent many vacations there, also I studied at the Sorbonne and lived like a Parisian. It is one of my favorite cities in the world and probably the most beautiful. My favorite hotel there is Ritz Paris in La Place Vendome. My mother first brought me there when I was very young for my first ’grown-up’ dinner and from that moment I fell under it’s magical spell. The Ritz embodies the old world glamour and sophistication of Paris in every way; from the service, to the food to the rooms. Since my memorable dinner there I have stayed many times. I actually like to try different rooms and have a completely unique experience each time. I am anxious for it to reopen and curious to see how they could possibly have improved it!

When I go on holiday, I love to go somewhere new where I can learn about a different culture or somewhere remote where I can be on or near the water. I have always wanted to visit La Mamounia in Morocco. It is a legendary hotel and everyone I know who goes, loves it. I think it would be a memorable visit where I would also have the chance to learn about a very different culture that I’m sure would inspire me to create some interesting new products.

The other breath-taking hotel I would love to escape to is Katikies in Santorini. Being a water baby, this hotel seems to be all about the sapphire blue Mediterranean water. It strikes me as a wonderful place to forget about work and cosmetic laboratories and recharge my batteries. Hopefully I get to go very soon…

Thank you Olivia!

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

Rachel Roy, designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and mother, designs to inspire women to feel smart, confident and individual.

Originally from California, Rachel attended college in Washington DC. Upon graduation, Rachel pursued her passion for design, and moved to New York City to work freelance; styling magazine shoots and music videos.

In Fall 2004, she applied her sophisticated aesthetic to her own collection, RACHEL ROY, which debuted in department and specialty stores for Spring 2005. With striking silhouettes, a sophisticated color palette and inventive pairings which transition from day to evening, Roy has garnered editorial acclaim in publications such as Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, W and Vanity Fair.

Presently, RACHEL ROY NEW YORK has grown to include four full collections each year, and in June 2008, created a joint venture with Jones Apparel Group Inc. in the hopes of expanding the wholesale business globally, introduce new product categories and open stand-alone stores in the United States and abroad. To date, the RACHEL ROY collections are available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and top specialty stores worldwide.

 

Time seems to stand still in Capri.  

I have been visiting the island for many years and aside from the new storefronts, the newer style, cute open-air taxi cabs and some extra-large mega yachts, the island looks the same as it did in the photos from the 1950′s with Jackie O and Brigitte Bardot strolling the slippery stone streets.  

Il Riccio Beach Club & Restaurant

Qui si sana means “here one heals,” in Italian, and Capri is the perfect place to do just that. While I love all the Morgano Hotels (Scalinatella, Casa Morgano and the Grand Hotel Quisisana), one of my favorite activities is simply sitting at the bar at the footsteps to the entrance of the “Quisi” after dinner and watching the Italians stroll through town.  Nowhere else in the world does one see such a colorful array of clothing on both men and women – Palm Beach doesn’t even come close! While red pants on men seem to be de rigueur, there is every shade of yellow, blue, orange and green…oh, and I almost forgot purple (that is, shades of pale purple, bright pink, watermelon, lavender, bright purple, and the list goes on).  That’s just the pants – there are also molto color options for cashmere sweaters and scarves and suede driving shoes – yes, tutti color options are open in Capri, and combinations of any and all are encouraged.

 

The same can be said for the ladies, but simply add more prints – Pucci, Missoni, and the like. This summer, the chicest of chic women are all wearing Faraone Mennella jewelry. Rather than just having color options in clothing, the woman strolling through the Piazzetta and up to the Capri Palace and then back down to the main thoroughfare in front of Quisi are all donning truly magnificent colorful pieces from my friends behind the company Faraone Mennella – Amedeo Scognamiglio and Robero Faraone.  Their beautiful new flagship boutique is located just a few steps away from my favorite restaurant Aurora, at Via Fuorlovado 23.  Their collections are beautiful and everyone is abuzz on the island over their new shop.  

 

My Farone Mennella Friends in Capri!

 

One of the best things about Capri is that the stores are open late, so you can shop before and after dinner. My recommendation is to do your clothing shopping prior to pasta at dinner and reserve your jewelry shopping for after dinner.  I love Russo Uomo (right next to the Quisisana) for men’s clothing. I also love 100% Capri right across from Faraone Mennella.  Just about every Italian designer has a shop and naturally Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana, Kiton and Tod’s are my first stops.

La Fontelina Capri

A trip to Anacapri is a must, as is a visit to the Capri Palace. It’s absolutely beautiful and the entrance looks into the depths of the swimming pool. Very fun! Also in Anacapri are many quaint and beautiful stores selling locally produced linen clothing.  And now for the food…yes, the food.  For lovers of Italian fare, there is no shortage of delicious spots…in fact, that is pretty much the only option for dinner – Italian!  I had dinner one night at Villa Verde (very popular open air spot) and the waiter recognized half our table as regulars and started taking our dinners orders. I turned to my friend Amedeo and wondered if there were no longer any menus and he replied that he never needs a menu since all the restaurants in Capri have the same dishes – which is only half true. I love La Fontelina and Da Luigi for lunch (both swimming / lunch spots directly under the iconic Faraglioni rocks).  I also adore the newly redone Il Riccio for lunch which is the beach club below the Capri Palace (check out the dessert buffet!).  Il Riccio is also open on weekend nights for dinner.  No trip to Capri is complete without a trip to Da Paolino (set amidst a lemon grove turned ristorante).

If you haven’t been to Capri, you must go. Tutto bene!

We all understand the importance of our safety, and yet can’t help but roll our eyes as we go through TSA security…shoes off, belt off, empty pockets etc.  The movie ”Up in the Air,” depicted this perfectly; George Clooney had his routine down to a tee, including the easy removal of his shoes.

The need for the perfect travel shoe is critical for any savvy traveller.  Laces are a no-no and as much as I cringe while writing this, comfort is very important while traveling.  I was never a fan of Tevas or Birkenstocks and while I love Tom’s Shoes, I was recently introduced to Charles Philip slippers by one of the chicest men I know, Carlos Souza.  For those who don’t know Carlos, not only has he been a public relations genius for the Valentino company for many years, he is also a globe-trotting bon vivant who’s style is only outshone by his warm and lovely personality.

I received a pair of Charles Philip slippers from Carlos and was immediately hooked.  While Charles Philip does refer to these hand-crafted shoes as slippers, they are neither too delicate, nor too precious.  These slippers are truly the most comfortable shoes and immediately fit like a well worn glove.

Carlos Souza

The lining is ultra soft and the sole is sturdy enough to trek through even the longest of connections at any airport or through the maze of the Medina in Marrakech on my way to La Mamounia.  The styles are often crafted from shirting materials and are cobbled by hand in Shanghai. You will love them!

Happy traveling!

 

Rachel Zoe needs no introduction.  She is by far among the most powerful woman in fashion today and has revolutionized the world of styling and just doesn’t stop impressing me with her endless accomplishment. I often marvel at the growth of Rachel Zoe, Inc. and can’t keep up with her daily additions to her world. She truly has it all, a brilliant career, an adoring husband, an adorable baby son and the charm, wit and kindness to lure anyone into her world. She is the crown jewel in the crown that is Hollywood style and most importantly, I consider her amongst my closest friends.

While Rachel needs no introduction, she does need to travel and travel she does…below are just a few tidbits Read More