CALIFORNIA Travel Guide
Most of the hotel ghosts that we hear about here are pretty harmless. They are more poltergeisty rather than in-your-face frightening. But at the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, there's clearly something that is at best, haunting and at worst, downright evil at play.
You may remember this hotel from earlier in the year when a young woman was found dead in the hotel's water tank. As if that wasn't tragic enough, her body had been in there for two weeks. It was only until guests and residents at the Skid Row hotel noticed the water had a black color and a foul odor. You're already creeped out. But now VigilantCitizen.com has found something even more disturbing--a video surveilance tape that shows the young woman, Elisa Lam, in the elevator shortly before she lost her life.
If you watch the video, you will see that Lam was not in her right mind. She entered the elevator and pushed all the buttons. Then when the doors wouldn't close, she peeked around the corner to see if someone was coming but yet she also hid herself and acted afraid that someone might see her.
Things get weirder still. She steps out of the elevator and begins waving her hands in a strange fashion and they appear to be a little warped. Finally, she walks away from the elevator and out of the camera's sight. The elevator then closes its doors and takes off.
Later, she somehow found a way into the gated water tank area, that's also protected by an alarm system and into the water tank where she drowned. Her death was ruled by the coroner's office as an accidental drowning but no drugs or alcohol were found in her system.
Hotel Fashion / Fashion Designers / Dorchester Collection / Luxury Hotels / California Hotels / Beverly Hills Hotels / → All Tags
Thinking of starting your holiday shopping? Yeah, we’re not either but, luckily, the good folks at the Dorchester Collection’s Beverly Hills Hotel have our backs.
The hotel is launching an exclusive jewelry line by Anndra Neen (Phoebe and Annette Stephens are the sisters behind the label), winner of the 2011 Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize, for the gift-buying season. Available the first week of November and only through December, you can pick up a piece of the collection at The Beverly Hills Hotel's gift shop. That's it. There's nowhere else. Pieces from Anndra Neen have accessorized Michelle Obama, Jessica Alba, Drew Barrymore, Nicole Richie and Anna Paquin so you'll be in fine company.
The first piece to launch is a distinctive bracelet inspired by the hotel's iconic design elements, from distinctive shades of pink and green to the signature banana leaves found on the wallpaper and landscaped gardens across the property. It is created by hand and features Agate stones and alpaca and brass materials. (We wanted to show you the piece but we're told it's still being perfected by the design team.) Additional pieces to debut include a necklace, choker and clutch. To give you an idea of cost, the bracelet will retail for $485. Not horrific at all.
All this week, we'll be talking about Hotel Beds--where to buy 'em, how to make 'em, how to trust 'em (see story below!) and what to do when the bed isn't enough to send you to Sleepyland. Got a hotel bed question or comment? Send it to us! We're not sure about you, but we like to know a little bit about the different beds in which we sleep. At the end of the day, hotels are simply community beds, a concept that brings up a few questions: How often is the mattress replaced? Or worse... what about those spills and stains? We caught up with Philip Ridgway, Director of Housekeeping at the Four Seasons San Francisco, to get some answers. Here are 6 things to know about the life of a hotel mattress:
1. All the mattresses in the Four Seasons San Fran are the same, and they are made specifically for the brand. They are usually ordered on a large-scale by the corporate office and delivered directly to the individual hotel. They typically try to replace the whole hotel at once about every ten years, unless there’s an incident where one has to be switched out.
2. Speaking of incidents, don’t worry about spilling that glass of wine. Just don’t set the room on fire. Four Seasons will only charge in the case of gross negligence, like if you had a huge party and literally (not figuratively) set the sheets on fire. They won’t charge you for a small spill or if your kid wets the bed. Those things happen. The best thing to do is just be honest and let housekeeping know.
Wine Country Hotels / Napa Valley Hotels / Wine-Tasting Hotels / Food and Wine Festival Hotels / → All Tags
It’s fall and if you are anything like us, you’re excited about turning leaves, unpacking some sweaters… and wine. Well, let’s be honest, we are always excited about wine. But it just so happens that fall is also wine season and that means grape stomping, wine tasting and, more specifically, a very special festival in Napa. Allow us to elaborate.
Two of the main components that make the Central Coast of California so unique, the combination of wine country and the ocean, are now available in one place at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara.
The upscale hotel, known to host big-names such as Michael Jordan and a number of celebrity weddings, recently opened a new on-site tasting room called The Experience (name needs work?), bringing many of the area's wines directly in-house. We have to say that the room looks beautiful, and the ocean-views of the property will no doubt make guests rethink whether the drive up to the Santa Ynez wine country is necessary.
The wine list includes pours from all over the world with a spotlight on local vineyards, including Firestone, Foley and Lincourt. Interestingly enough, and perhaps a bit surprising, tasting at the Bacara is not significantly more expensive than it is at the wineries themselves. Flights of four are $10 and flights of six are $15 at the Experience, while a flight of six is $10 at Firestone Winery, for example. When you factor in the 45-minute ride to wine country from the Bacara, the prices are rather reasonable.
When we toured the Palihouse Santa Monica a few months back, the hotel was still in the middle of transforming the old Embassy Hotel Apartments near Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade into hotelier Avi Brosh's vision for "Palihouse at the Beach."
But now the hotel is ready to show off its incredible design.
Here's a bunch of photos we've received from the hotel of the lobby and a guestroom. Take a minute and browse through these shots. We think you'll like.
Room categories are classic rooms, studio suites and one and two-bedroom "residences." Rates range from about $350 to $1,500 per night. But remember, that includes free WiFi, AppleTV, Dean & Deluca minibar treats and finally, a chic and sophisticated place to stay in Santa Monica.
[All photos courtesy of Palihouse Santa Monica]
Just waiting for the financing to come through on your new Bentley? Aren’t we all. Well in the meantime, allow this Fantasy Friday post to guide you one step closer to being behind the wheel of this ultimate luxury car, and out on the open road. But where to take this baller-status vehicle? Well, since it belongs to St. Regis as part of their “Grand Tour Aficionado Package," we’d say wherever they allow. Lucky for you, it’s on a road trip along the gorgeous California coast!
During the next couple months, St. Regis Monarch Beach and St. Regis San Francisco are pairing up to offer a roadie adventure featuring a two-night stay at each end of the drive (in a 900+ square foot suite), a Grand Tourista Bag created by fashion designer Jason Wu, a Bentley key chain (to flash around after and convince people of your potential ownership) and of course, access to your very own 2013 Bentley GT, Bentley GTC, or Bentley Mulsanne for the 10-hour drive between destinations.
You can start your road trip at either of the two properties, with the drive winding up or down the Pacific Coast Highway through Big Sur, Surf City USA, Santa Monica, Malibu and Santa Barbara. We suggest letting Magellan ride shotgun if you’re directionally challenged.
Celebrity Scoop / Sean Parker / Hotel Drama / Hotel Weddings / Lodge Hotels / Green Hotels / Big Sur Hotels / California Hotels / → All Tags
We love to watch celebs drop huge amounts of money on their weddings, especially when they're at lavish resort hotels and feature star-studded guest lists and more decimal points than any one of us can imagine. The recent nuptials of Facebook co-founder, Sean Parker was no different to any other cashed-up internet mogul.
The details are like this: he paid $10 million to reserve the entire Ventana Inn. The Big Sur luxury eco-lodge played host to his "I dos" deep in the woods of their campground section that was reclaimed back to nature in 2007. Parker's wedding planner moved in building walls, water effects and fake ruins on the old campground to create the ultimate forest-themed wedding that would go down in The Parker Family history as a fairytale day.
Sounds all magical and beautiful, right? No doubt that the massive check he signed over to get a little privacy during their day created a truly memorable experience. One problem: the folks over at Ventana broke some rules correction: laws by allowing the guest to transform the redwood forest into a wedding site all without the compulsory permits.
Hotel Exercise / Hotel News / Kimpton Hotels / Hotel Fitness / LA Hotels / Fairmont Hotels / → All Tags
Hot yoga is so last-season – not only because of the weather, but especially since the founder of the trendy hot yoga program Bikram is being accused of sexual harassment. Still, though, we’ve gotta keep those chakras flowing even while we’re on the road, so we’re loving Kimpton Hotels’ more low-key, individualized yoga program, soft-launching in April across the brand. According to our source, each Kimpton property is encouraged to do things a little bit differently, but all properties will offer an in-room yoga television channel, in-room Gaiam yoga mats, and extra towels/flavored waters/antioxidant snacks delivered to the room by request.
But it's the new aqua yoga that has us most excited. Read on to find out more details!
Next week we'll be debuting our HotelChatter 2013 Cruise Guide. It might seem like a funny time to release this as, to put it lightly, the cruise ship industry has been in the spotlight over the past year. And few flowers have been thrown on stage.
There have been some dramas. Costa Concordia sank off the coast of Italy. The disabled Carnival Triumph had its feces run down the walls. Food-related illness continues to be a problem. And now cities are starting to debate whether or not they should welcome ships, whether they do more harm than good. Charleston is having an internal debate about it currently, and it isn't pretty.
One resident described cruise ships as "sardine cans" that are "susceptible to horrific accidents that instantly can put thousands at risk for their lives.” Another saw the ships as a detriment to the city's ambiance. “I can’t believe they are doing this to Charleston,” she said. “I can hear the announcements from my house. And that black smoke. It just tumbles out of that smokestack. You should see the dust in my car.”
While a reasonable person could understand that side of the coin -- the resident's viewpoint -- we can't forget about the other side -- the business side. And also a strong consumer force that continues to love cruising.
This year will be the five-year anniversary of the big crash of 2008, a financial crisis that hit the hotel industry – like so many others – hard. All the hotel openings these days notwithstanding, many a project was scrapped as a result, long before they started breaking ground.
Yet, some others got caught in the middle, stuck in a weird kind of hotel-limbo: well on their way to completion, but without any sight of the moment when the finishing line, and paying guests just beyond, will be reached. Case in point: The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage.
Hotel Renovations / Hotel News / California Hotels / Sierra Nevada Hotels / Mountain Hotels / → All Tags
The main complaint we've heard/read about the Sierra Nevada Lodge at Mammoth Lakes is that it's a little outdated in its decor, that the rooms are a bit old.
Well, they certainly addressed that comment card with a three-year multi-million dollar renovation, including the new construction of six chalets and 15 fireplace suites. The resort officially "re-opened" on February 1, although it never really closed, and now has a total of 149 rooms.
The chalets (pictured above) are located next door to the lodge and have full kitchens with butcher-block countertops and wood burning fireplaces. We dig the old-school snowshoe lights on the wall -- that's the good kind of "outdated" decor -- and the wood-burning fireplace is a mountain treat that's becoming less and less common thanks to liability and lawyers.