Author Archive for GP

The Westin LAX Launches Surf Concierge

The Westin LAX Launches Surf Concierge

Couple going surfing off Waikiki Beach

Surf’s up at The Westin Los Angeles Airport, located less than two miles from LAX, the property now gives travelers the chance to ride the California waves. Westin LAX’s Surf Concierge can organize surf sessions between conference calls or new business pitches. And for international travelers looking for a productive way to spend their layover on the way to Tahiti, the Surf Concierge offers the perfect solution. Guests of all skill levels can book their Surf Concierge experience in conjunction with a one-night stay at the Westin LAX. Westin provides transportation to and from the beach along with a surfboard and wetsuit for each surfer. The sessions last 1.5 hours and are led by surf instructors from Campsurf, Los Angeles’ Premier Surf School, at El Porto in Manhattan Beach.

The program was created in response to the increasing number of millennial business travelers coming to the region for Silicon Beach, one of the world’s fastest-growing tech hubs. As their numbers started making up more and more of the hotel’s guests, Westin LAX General Manager Phil Baxter wanted to develop a program that allows these travelers to get the most out of their spare time.

The Surf Concierge also meets a different kind of demand: that of international travelers saddled with long layovers at LAX, a common hurdle that Westin hopes to help guests navigate. The program gives travelers an opportunity to make the most of their time in Los Angeles.

The Westin Los Angeles Airport

5400 W Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

310-216-5858

www.westinlosangelesairport.com

LAX Updates

LAX Updates

WOW air CEO Skúli Mogensen

WOW air CEO Skúli Mogensen

WOW air Launches Low Cost Service Between LAX and Reykjavik, Iceland

WOW air, an ultra-low-cost transatlantic airline from Iceland, launched west coast service in Los Angeles. The airline offers four weekly flights to Reykjavik, Iceland for low fares. WOW air´s 23 European destinations including London, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Dublin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm. Los Angeles World Airports Chief Executive Officer Deborah Flint said, “We are honored WOW air chose LAX as part of its expansion into the U.S. market. Angelenos will benefit from having low-cost nonstop flights to Reykjavik — a new destination for LAX — and more options to the major cities of Europe.”

Swiss Celebrates First Boeing 777-300ER LAX –Zurich Flight

SWISS, the flag carrier of Switzerland, celebrated the inaugural flight of its newest flagship Boeing 777-300ER on its Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – Zurich route. “We are excited that Swiss Airlines’ new “flagship” Boeing 777-300ER aircraft has now joined the LAX livery family, providing long haul service from Los Angeles to Zurich, Switzerland,” said Los Angeles World Airports Chief Executive Officer Deborah Flint. “The additional capacity and the airlines focus on customers’ air travel experience reflects our commitment to world class experience at LAX.” The totally-redesigned cabin interior of the new SWISS flagship offers comfort and aesthetics in all three seating classes.

XL Airways Launches at LAX with Nonstop Service to Paris

French leisure carrier XL Airways launched at LAX with nonstop service to Paris three times a week, operating at Terminal 2 with Airbus A330 aircraft. The new service to Paris will give passengers more opportunities to choose from during the busy summer season. All tickets include one piece of checked baggage, a hot meal and a snack. Passengers seeking a more exclusive experience can opt for Premium Galaxy class and enjoy comfortable reclining seats at the front of the aircraft, fine cuisine with premium wines, and personal entertainment on Samsung tablets.

Lessons from a Tibetan Buddhist Monk

Lessons from a Tibetan Buddhist Monk

Lama Paljor

Lama Paljor

When I first met Lama Paljor in person, night had fallen over the Kalimpong monastery and I was weary from nine hours of travel to the remote village in the Himalayan foothills. I bent to touch his feet, as is customary when meeting elders and spiritual masters in India. He stopped me, laughing and embraced me in a hug instead. This simple gesture of warmth spoke grandly about the man with whom I was to spend the next three days.

I was introduced to Lama Paljor through TRAS, The Trans-Himalayan Aid Society, when I started my business Tibetan Socks one year ago and was looking for a children’s education program to sponsor. Lama Paljor, through his private school, provides a free primary education to over a hundred children from the poorest families of his village in Sikkim.

Penjo Lo, as the younger monks affectionately call him, became a Buddhist monk at the age of thirteen. His parents were refugees from Tibet and fled to Sikkim, a small Indian state bordered by Nepal and Bhutan. Sikkim has a significant minority of Buddhists who have crossed from the Tibet border to escape Chinese oppression. High in the mountains, multicolor prayer flags silently sing “Om mani padme hum” into the wind, strung from nearly every house and hilltop. It is one of the most majestic places in India, but its villages are home to some of its absolute poorest citizens.

The Pema Tsel Academy, an English primary school offering free education and boarding for children from the severely impoverished local community

The Pema Tsel Academy, an English primary school offering free education and boarding for children from the severely impoverished local community

Ten years ago, Lama Paljor created The Pema Tsel Academy, an English primary school offering free education and boarding for children from the severely impoverished local community. Here, the altitude is so high and the weather so cold, not even sustenance level farming is possible, so the only available work for men and women is laboring on the mountain roads, the conditions of which are so abysmal that deaths from overturned cars are not a rare occurrence.

During my time in Sikkim, I witnessed men, women, and children breaking rocks by the side of roads, wielding heavy loads of rubble, all the while breathing in toxic diesel fumes from passing trucks. The pay for this labor is usually 7,000 Indian Rupees a month, or about $100.

The families are so poor they don’t have the time or means to send their children to school with a lunch. So Lama Paljor started a free lunch program for students, ensuring nutritious meals. Even though the Indian government promises free school lunch to all children in public schools, it is not unheard of for lunch money to go missing. Worse still, sometimes teachers don’t show up to teach at all.

Lama Paljor’s heart shines when he talks about his school and students. His face beamed as he showed me photos and videos of the children, smiling in their uniforms, reciting the alphabet and performing traditional dances during assemblies. The educational quality his school provides and the care for its students’ wellbeing is unique in rural India. With a solid educational foundation, these children can aspire to a better life than the one of hardship and backbreaking toil of their parents.

I spent a total of three days with Lama Paljor and was moved by his graciousness, patience, and generosity. He exemplified Gautama the Buddha’s wisdom in his compassion and awareness he brought to every subtle action: the way he lovingly folded his red wool shawl after removing it, his unsteady but graceful swaying gait.

What stays with me most about Lama Paljor’s character was his child-like innocence and wonderment, stopping to look at a tree and asking aloud how old it might be, his laughter and amusement when a tourist posed for photos mid zip-line. In the three days I spent by his side, he was always smiling, his eyes creased in a state of permanent joviality. At the same time, there was a deep calm emanating from the center of his being. He was perpetually unperturbed.

Lama Paljor has consecrated his life to creating a more peaceful and loving world. From his example, I have been inspired to double my efforts in making whatever small difference is possible through me. Each sale of Tibetan Socks we make provides 12 school lunches to the children at Pema Tsel Academy and it’s their faces I see when I work to build this business so that we can give and do more. The goal is not to make the most money, but to make the most good.

 

LIVE LIKE A MAHARAJA, Visiting India During Off-Season

LIVE LIKE A MAHARAJA, Visiting India During Off-Season

Leela Palace in Delhi

Leela Palace in Delhi

By Adrien Field  

“Atithi Devo Bhava” is a Sanskrit verse from the Upanishads which translates to “The guest is equivalent to God.” Indians take this message to heart, and exhibit incredible hospitality to visitors.

Visiting India off-season, defined as the summer months between May and September can mean deeply discounted fares on everything from hotels to airfare. Be prepared, however, for extreme temperatures: certain places like Delhi and Jaipur will be unbearably hot. But you can beat the heat by traveling to the North and South of the country, discovering India from top to bottom.

Delhi, Haryana

When the mercury in the thermometer is pushing 110 degrees Fahrenheit shortly after sunrise in the summer months, you won’t want to spend much time venturing out. Delhi itself is not the most attractive city for the casual tourist, but it is an excellent perch from which to begin your journey in India.

Situated at the top point of the “Golden Triangle” Delhi completes the tourist triumvirate comprising Agra (the home of the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur, the famous Pink City. Each are a few hours drive away from the capital, depending on variables like passing cow traffic and the fearlessness of your driver.

Within Delhi, there are several places worth visiting: The Lodhi Gardens are home to 15th century ruins spread over 90 serene park acres. There are treasures to be found among the markets of Hauz Khas Village, Lajpat Nagar and Dilli Haat.

Rooftop pool at Leela Palace

Rooftop pool at Leela Palace

Spotlight on Leela Palace

Delhi is a hectic city, full of pollution and noise. For the first time visitor, it can be overwhelming from the moment you step outside Indira Gandhi Airport. The Leela Palace takes away all the stress — you might even forget you’ve spent the better part of twenty-four hours in the air as you step into a BMW or Rolls Royce from its private fleet of cars available for airport transfers.

Opened in 2011, The Leela Palace has set a new standard for luxury in India’s capital. Boasting the largest standard guest sized rooms in Delhi, the Leela offers exceptional world class service and comfort, combining top-notch modern amenities and classical Indian heritage. With its architecture and art inspired by the Mughal dynasty of India’s past, the property will make the guest feel like a modern day Maharaja as you walk down its carpeted corridors scented with fresh floral arrangements.

With four distinct and award winning restaurants, one need not leave the grounds to let the taste buds travel. Megu offers Japanese cuisine with an extensive sake list, Jamavar serves North Indian dishes, The Qube is the spot for continental food and a fantastic breakfast served buffet style. Finally the marquee restaurant is the New York import Le Cirque. Chef Diego Martinelli has come with fifteen years of culinary excellence honed at Four Seasons outposts worldwide. His addition as head chef has infused the menu with inventive dishes — the lucky patrons only need to sit back and let him create a tailored dining experience not soon forgotten.

If you’re feeling frazzled after a day of exploring the city, the Leela is a welcome respite for the senses. Indulge in a spa treatment at the 12,000 square foot ESPA or simply watch the city below from the rooftop infinity pool.

Taj Kovalam

Taj Kovalam

Kovalam, Kerala

This southern state known in India as “God’s own country” is a veritable Garden of Eden. With unsullied coastlines that stretch for 370 miles and nearly year-round perfect temperatures, it’s a vacationer’s paradise. Unlike the well-established Goa to the north, Kovalam is a lesser-known destination and therefore quieter — you won’t find much of a party scene here, just incredibly lush, tranquil settings to explore. The flight from Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram is four and a half hours and then Kovalam is a short thirty-minute drive.

Backwater sailing is a unique attraction in Kerala and excursions can last for days should you desire to rent a houseboat. Lighthouse Beach is worth a visit for its sandy beaches and boardwalk lined with fresh, inexpensive seafood and tourist shops.

Spotlight on Taj

The Vivanta by Taj is the premiere luxury property in Kovalam. The 10-acre property sits above the bay tucked into a lush hill. The property’s 59 cottages with elephant grass thatched rooftops are located on the hill providing a relaxing atmosphere with ample privacy. Standard rooms are spacious, offering either a garden or sea view, and villas with private lap pools are also available. There is no question of not finding shanti, or peace, in this tropical oasis.

Spend all day down by the beach, lounge by the outdoor pool, or even play a round of golf on the 9-hole putting green. The Jiva Spa offers Ayurvedic treatments that can both relax the outer body and awaken the inner senses. Three dining options are available on-site, including Indian, seafood and continental options.

Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

In order to beat the summertime heat of India, you’ll have to travel North into the mountains as the locals do. Shimla once was the summer capital of British India, when the ruling class decamped sweltering Delhi to the Himalayas for cool temperatures. It remains a unique attraction full of history and natural landscapes of unimaginable beauty.

Located 240 miles from Delhi, the best way to reach Shimla is by first flying into Chandigarh then taking a taxi for the remaining four hour passage through winding mountain roads. In this case, the journey really is nearly as great as the destination: at each hold-your-breath, hair-raising turn, the Himalayan views reveal themselves with increasing splendor.

Spotlight on The Oberoi Cecil

The Himalayan foothills of Northern India are full of resort hill stations, but few are as iconic or luxurious as The Oberoi Cecil in Shimla. Set in the foothills of the majestic Himalayas at 2,200 meters above sea level, The Oberoi Cecil is a charming heritage hotel located at the quiet end of Shimla’s famous mall. The restoration of the hotel to its original glory marks the return of gracious living, a tradition exemplified by The Oberoi Cecil since the days of the British Raj. A haven of luxury and comfort, each guest room at The Oberoi Cecil is a reflection of the hotel’s Colonial heritage.

English teas, fine dining at night, log fires, a heated indoor swimming pool, impeccable and personalized service and panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range, are some highlights of the hotel.

Should you desire to leave your cozy environs, adventure awaits in every direction and the hotel is happy to arrange transportation. A hot sulfur spring is located a two hour’s drive away. Nearby Kufri offers skiing (in the winter months) and yak rides.

 

 

Beautiful Monterey for Nature Lovers

Beautiful Monterey for Nature Lovers

bs_pfeifferbeach1_kerrickjames_seemonterey.com

Located north of Los Angeles is the Central Coast of California. Consisting of Big Sur to the south, Moss Landing at the center of Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz to the north, notable points along the bay include Marina, Seaside, Monterey, Pacific Grove and a peninsula of land filled with famous golf courses such as Cypress Point and Pebble Beach. The south side of the peninsula is Carmel Bay, the focal point of Carmel-By-The-Sea -— a picturesque town of understated luxury. The south point of Carmel Bay borders Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, and inland is Carmel Valley where wineries, spas and world-class hotels pamper their guests. Inland from Monterey Bay is Salinas — an agricultural town made famous by John Steinbeck novels such as Of Mice and Men, East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath. Running alongside the valley of Salinas are the Santa Lucia Highlands, where delicious California pinot noir grapes are grown and used by winemakers such as Pisoni Estates.

Moss Landing

Moss Landing

Excursions for Nature Lovers

Horseback riding on Salinas River State Beach with Monterey Bay Equestrian Center is a great way to bond with magnificent horses while enjoying the view of the bay. The horses are healthy and guides encourage a safe canter or gallop. An exhilarating ride on the beach is a perfect way to take in the splendor of the bay.

Elkhorn Slough is full of stunning birds, playful otters and bellowing seals and sea lions. Safari tours begin at Moss Landing as wildlife enthusiasts board a pontoon boat and aquatic wildlife experts lead the tour, explaining the geography and history of the area. The slough is called “Elkhorn” because it is shaped like a half of a huge elk horn. Elkhorn Slough is protected space offering wildlife a safe environment with plenty to eat. In addition to a safari tour on the pontoon boat, kayaking will bring you up close and personal with the birds and aquatic life of Elkhorn Slough.

Monterey Bay Aquarium is best for kids, a fun way to entertain the little ones and teach them about conservation and aquatic life. Located deep into the heart of downtown Monterey and surrounded by old cannery buildings, walking in downtown Monterey feels like stepping back in time to a Steinbeck novel.

Whale watching is a highlight of any trip to Monterey. Princess Monterey Whale Watching offers trips twice a day, morning or afternoon. We recommend the morning tour and be prepared for all kinds of weather and possible motion sickness. Because of changes in our climate, whales who used to travel south for food are staying in Monterey Bay and making this area their home. Humpback and Grey whales are glorious creatures and come right up to the boat. When we visited we spotted a huge pod of dolphins. There must have been over 100 dotted throughout the water. The photo opportunities on this tour are extensive and worth getting queasy on the boat.

A visit to Monterey is not complete without a hike in the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. It’s an easy hike, available to all levels and ages. If you really want to learn about the area then book in a guided hike with Big Sur Guides. Owned and founded by Los Angeles native  Stephen Copeland, the hiking operation treats participants to “insider” information about the park and the history of the area, including the hippie days of Big Sur. The views on the trail are stunning and leave you in awe of nature’s wonderous beauty.

Whale Watching

Whale Watching

 

Cuisine 

The food and wine in and around Monterey is world class. Wineries and farms dot the landscape deep into the Salinas Valley and up into the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Must Visit Farms

Artichokes are a major crop in the area and Pezzini Farms is one of the only family owned farms left. They have an adorable farm shop on the property selling various artichoke products. You’ll also find a food cart with a range of cooked artichokes including steamed, barbequed and fried.

Most consumers are familiar with Earthbound Farms products. Founded in Carmel Valley, they have become huge and supply Costco, Whole Foods and many other grocers with various leafy greens. At the site of their original 2.5-acre farm is a farm shop and community outreach center. The farm shop is a terrific place to grab lunch — of course they have a salad bar, or you can build a sandwich or enjoy homemade soup. Educational tours for all ages are an effective way to teach about healthy eating decisions.

Wine

The city of Carmel-By-The-Sea is tiny and incredibly cute. A number of wine tasting rooms have opened, and wine enthusiasts can purchase a Wine Tasting Passport. The passport includes seven passes to be used for tastings at participating tasting rooms. Some of the outstanding wine features selections from Alexander Smith, Wrath, and Scheid Vineyards.

Folktale Winery is new to Carmel Valley and they are out to impress the community. The space used to be Chateau Julien. The new owners have updated the grounds, bringing the classic space up to modern standards. Folktale Winery offers artisanal snacks served with delicious wine in a beautiful courtyard with live music. An onsite private residence is available to rent for special occasions, weddings or corporate retreats.

In the vicinity of Monterey are the Santa Lucia Highlands where Pinot grapes are grown and wine is made. Plan a full day of wine tasting with visits to Hahn Estate to experience the 2013 Lucienne Chardonnay Lone Oak Vineyard which is a beautifully crisp Chardonnay unique to Monterey County. No visit to the Santa Lucia Highlands would be complete without a visit to Pisoni Estate. They produce some of the very best pinot noir in California. As you make your way back to Monterey stop in at Scheid Vineyards to try their delightful bubbly.

Art @ LAX: Pontus Willfors & Cathy Weiss

Art @ LAX: Pontus Willfors & Cathy Weiss

Douglas Fir Reclaimed

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), in partnership with the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs, added two new art exhibitions to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) that reference the natural beauty found in the urban surroundings of Los Angeles. Pontus Willfors’ Douglas Fir Reclaimed is a site-specific installation of hundreds of salvaged planks of Douglas fir that have been sanded and chiseled to reveal a ghostly image of a Douglas fir tree spanning the hallway of Terminal 3 Arrivals Level. In the same hallway, Cathy Weiss’ installation, Laurel Canyon, Chaparral Habitat: Native Flora and Fauna, features large-scale, boldly colored woodcut prints inspired by the indigenous wonders of Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills. Both exhibitions are on view for the public through June 2016.

SNOW REPORT – 2016

SNOW REPORT – 2016

The El Niño year has started off with great promise, dumping huge amounts of snow on the mountains of California, Utah and Colorado.

Powder day at Mammoth. Photo by Corey Rich

Powder day at Mammoth. Photo by Corey Rich

PARK CITY, UTAH

The new Quicksilver Gondola opened in Park City making it the largest ski resort in United States. Park City also launched Miners Camp Restaurant. Construction on Quicksilver and Miners Camp began in the summer of 2015 as part of a $50 million improvements campaign to connect Park City and neighboring Canyons Resort. Now, a quick, 8 ½ minute ride on Quicksilver is all that separates guests from experiencing hundreds of trails across Park City and Canyons Village.

Miners Camp, located at the base of the Silverlode Lift, replaces the old Snow Hut and offers guests a cozy escape from the slopes. The new on-mountain restaurant features 500 indoor seats and a fresh menu highlighted by local ingredients, daily specials, handmade flatbread pizzas, Mediterranean dishes and local beer.

Park City appointed Manual Rozehmal as Executive Chef of The Farm. To complement Rozehmal’s hire and the newly expanded resort’s debut this winter, the food and beverage program also refreshed menus across various dining locations, including The Farm, Murdock’s Café and Red Tail Grill.

Rozehmal is originally from a small village in the mountains of Germany. He started professionally cooking at age 15 at Le Méridien in Munich through a three-year apprentice program while he also attended culinary school. He received his culinary fundamentals from his grandfather, who took him hunting for mushrooms in the morning, and from helping his grandmother cook dinner with the foraged produce. After receiving his culinary degree, Rozehmal continued cooking in Germany and Switzerland until moving to Dana Point, CA to work as a junior sous chef with world-renowned Chef Michael Mina at Stonehill Tavern. Missing the mountains from his hometown in Germany, Rozehmal was drawn to Park City.

Rozehmal’s background has inspired delicious additions to Park City’s restaurant portfolio, including made-from-scratch soft pretzels with house-made caraway mustard, as well as hot potato soup with cabbage and grilled sausage.

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain

MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CALIFORNIA

Benefiting from a uniquely high elevation, Mammoth’s ski season is the longest in California, starting last year on Veterans Day (Wednesday, Nov. 11). With 7 months of snow the norm, there’s plenty of time to eat, drink, and experience everything that Mammoth Lakes has to offer.

Breweries
Après favorite Mammoth Brewing Company continues to expand its new tasting room, opening an upstairs seating area that will expand capacity, allow for private group events and live music.

Lodging
The New Holiday Haus Hostel offers budget-minded travelers a new lodging option in Mammoth Lakes. The comfortable and modern rooms, kitchen and common areas are located on Main Street, walking distance from the Village Gondola, restaurants, bars and nightlife.

Restaurants
53 Kitchen and Cocktails is Mammoth’s newest eatery in the heart of the Village. Fuel up for a day in the mountains with a good breakfast, and cap the day off with an artisanal cocktail and a selection from a diverse dinner menu. The stage and expansive dance floor also make 53 the destination for live music and entertainment well into the evening.

When Skadi closed its doors two years ago locals thought the restaurant was gone for good. “Back by popular demand” is an overused cliché but it certainly applies here. After spending the intervening years hearing from Mammoth Lakes’ locals about how much they miss the eatery, Chef Ian Algerøen reopened the doors at Skadi. Now located on Berner St. near the Village, Skadi is back to offer authentic high alpine cuisine.

Located inside Bleu Handcrafted Foods, the Tasting Bar offers customizable tours of cured meats, artisanal cheeses and the beer and wines that best complement them. Served atop Bleu’s custom Charcuterie hanger, it’s an excellent après experience, particularly for groups. The culinary tour is curated by Bleu’s knowledgeable staff and updated regularly. Reservations are recommended.

Activities
Five nights throughout the season, Woolly’s Tube Park hosts Electric Tubing and transforms into an electric circus in the forest with DJ’s, drinks (adult and otherwise), food, glow sticks, laser lighting and of course, snow tubing.

Tamarack Full Moon Tours are available every full moon this winter (and the evenings immediately before and after). Naturalist-led tours of the wilderness surrounding Mammoth Lakes take on a whole different feel; the snow on the trails and surrounding mountains soak up the moon’s glow, allowing for comfortable visibility and an unforgettable experience. Guests can cross-country ski or snowshoe the two hour tour, which finishes with drinks and s’mores around the iconic fireplace at Tamarack Lodge.

Sonnenalp Resort of Vail

Sonnenalp Resort of Vail

COLORADO

Beaver Creek
The Osprey Fireside Grill  has opened at The Osprey at Beaver Creek, in the heart of Beaver Creek, CO. As part of the upgrade and rebranding, there is a brand new post oak and peach wood-fueled custom smoker outside The Osprey Backyard, adjacent to the Strawberry Park lift, and six new beer taps that will offer guests rotating beer flights, complete with local Colorado brews.

Telluride
Telluride Distilling Company, Telluride’s first distillery, offers  two types of rums, whiskey, and vodka. The equipment and processes used have been developed in-house and create a truly hand-crafted product. The tasting room is open Thursdays and Fridays from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Vail Resorts
EpicMixTime, an expansion of ski and snowboard app, EpicMix, uses anonymized, crowd-sourced Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals to estimate lift line wait times. Using breakthrough technology, EpicMixTime calculates and displays up-to-the-minute lift line wait times at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.

Where to Stay
The Sonnenalp Resort of Vail is located in the heart of Vail Village. Known throughout the region for its elegant European-style spa, the Sonnenalp features a relaxed seating area surrounding the fireplace. Hotel guests can store ski equipment in air-circulating lockers at Mountain Adventure Center, next to the Vista Bahn, the main ski lift out of Vail Village. The Sonnenalp Ski Shop offers adult ski rentals and accessories, as well as snowshoes and crosscountry skis. Guests of the Sonnenalp may request the use of the hotel’s Lexus sedans or 4-wheel drive luxury utility vehicles for transportation needs during their stay.

 

Northstar California Resort

Northstar California Resort

 

TAHOE, CALIFORNIA

Squaw Valley
A full-service, luxury resort in an idyllic mountain setting, Resort at Squaw Creek rests at the base of Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and just minutes from California’s North Lake Tahoe. This AAA Four-Diamond is ideally situated to offer access to Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, now accessible with one lift ticket. The dramatic lobby, through its floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooks a cascading waterfall and the breathtaking Sierra Nevada Mountains. 405 luxurious resort rooms and suites, complete with resort-style kitchens, fireplaces and LCD flat-screen TVs, comfort guests in mountain home ambiance.

Northstar
With record levels of snow already blanketing Northstar California Resort’s mountain, guests and day visitors alike can enjoy a unique après-ski offering: The Champagne Experience, which includes champagne by the glass or the bottle with oysters on the half shell, available Friday – Sunday throughout the ski season at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.  Adjacent to the Champagne Bar is an authentic 6-passenger Silver Green Gondola, cabin number 14, which is one of the 160 gondola cabins, originally constructed in Veryins, France during 1986 by Sigma. The unique gondola has LED lighting inside, a Bose sound system and Bluetooth capabilities. Guests can relax in the remodeled interior, listen to music, have a drink or use the gondola as a fun backdrop for photos and selfies.

 

Amangiri – Southern Utah

Amangiri – Southern Utah

A visit to Amangiri is everything you expect -— truly spectacular and serene. Set in the visually stunning region of Southern Utah, Amangiri is surrounded by epic views and vistas. 

Amangiri Desert Lounge at Dusk

Amangiri Desert Lounge at Dusk

The long road leading to the resort is completely isolated. The property has a modern design, and is small and intimate. You won’t find a lot of action on the property and that’s the point. The vibe at Amangiri is a mix of Southwest and Asian influence. Every room looks out at the desert and they are built at different angles so each guest is afforded supreme privacy. Guests come from all over the world to experience Amangiri. The property draws celebrities, rock stars and New Yorkers. Despite the upscale clientele, guests are generally decked out in jeans and boots.

Must Do List:
Tour Slot Canyons with a Navajo Tour Guide: Your guide will share the history of the area, old Navajo tales and introduce you to majestic scenery.

Horses and History Dinner at Raven’s Nest: Raven’s Nest is a natural amphitheater located 45-minutes by horse from the resort. After riding over on horseback, guests meet Wally, a local Navajo elder, who shares traditional Navajo stories. A campfire dinner is served under the stars.

Via Ferrata: The “iron road” is assisted rock climbing for all levels. Using vertical steel rungs attached to sandstone walls, guest experience guided assents.

Private Cooking Class with Chef Anaya: Learn to make tamales with chef-led instructions on making masa and stuffing cornhusks.

Amangiri Swimming Pool

Amangiri Swimming Pool

The Spa
The Spa at Amangiri is a huge draw. There is a marvelous steam room, cold plunge and a special water treatment designed to combat jet lag. Guests float on their back in a very dark, deep cavern for thirty minutes in complete darkness. It’s supposed to be the equivalent of getting three hours of REM sleep, and is perfect for international travelers looking to reset their internal clock.

Art Program
Amangiri partners with German artist, Ulrike Arnold, who does an annual three-month residency at Amangiri. Arnold sets up her easel by the caves and uses pigment from the earth and rocks in her paintings -— she literally uses the pallet of the region.

From the nightly turndown gifts, to the superb level of privacy, to the magic-like service, Amangiri is a spectacular destination.

Getting There
LAX to Phoenix to Page, AZ. Upon arrival in Page, Amangiri guests transfer the final 30 miles in a house BMW.

Amangiri
1 Kayenta Rd, Canyon Point, UT 84741
435-675-3999
www.aman.com/resorts/amangiri

Dubai & Abu Dhabi: The Evolving Hub of Middle Eastern Culture

Dubai & Abu Dhabi: The Evolving Hub of Middle Eastern Culture

Four Seasons Dubai

Four Seasons Dubai 

Destination Dubai 

By Frank DiMarco

Gliding silently above the Dubai desert in a hot air balloon, one contemplates centuries of Bedouin tribal movements from coastal fishing and trading areas to desert oases and date farms. Suddenly a group of Emirati falconers come out for a morning hunt with the treasured birds, a reminder the old culture has strong traditions. Emirates oil made its debut into the world marketplace after WWII. Prior to then, there weren’t many modern buildings. The magnitude of construction today is boggling to behold.

The 16-hour non-stop flight from LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal on Emirates Airlines takes an extraordinary route over Greenland, Central Russia and over the Arabian Gulf with Iran to the east and Iraq to the west. Emirates flies the wonderful, double-decked A380 Airbus providing a clean and comfortable ride with seat-back video screens and three exterior camera views. Upon arriving at Dubai International Airport, passengers enjoy a multi-story waterfall.

Dubai

Dubai

You must visit the old Souk (market) area which includes souks of gold, spices and flowers. Located along historic Dubai Creek, which divides the Deira and Bur Dubai sections of the city, these souks are filled with dazzling intricate gold treasures. Barrels and bins display spices from Iran, India and other exotic locations and fill the air with tangy aromas. The view along Dubai Creek has mosque minarets and wind towers on the skyline. Ride through the quay on a traditional water taxi and imagine the atmosphere of the early trading days when small vessels would ply the waters bringing trade to the souks. The sounds of call to prayer add to the mystical feel. In this older part of Dubai, there are interesting museums: Coffee Museum (remember, coffee originated in this part of the world), Dubai Museum and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Cultural Understanding are all worth a visit.

Dubai is a melting pot of cultures with workers from a myriad of origins: Philippines, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Africa, Europe and elsewhere. New buildings and infrastructure construction draw people looking for work. The diversity of faces, accents and styles are a feast for the senses. Expats from all over the world are employed at new hospitals, colleges and sports and tourism facilities.

The man responsible for Dubai’s smart vision and impressive growth is His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He is hands-on and an involved ruler, often seen driving through Dubai without ceremony. In contrast to the astonishing architecture and development, Sheikh Mohammed encourages sustainability and stewardship of natural resources, including such diverse projects as seawater desalination, solar power and even a sea turtle rehabilitation facility. His extended family’s leadership and his close ties to other Emirati leaders, including Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Kalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is positioning the UAE to a future less dependent on oil.

Dubai

Dubai

The modern architecture that comprises the Dubai skyline is stunning. The Burj Kalifa — 163 floors high and currently the tallest man-made structure in the world — dominates. The observation deck is on the 122nd floor and provides an impressive view of Dubai, the man-made islands offshore in the Gulf and the desert to the west. Combining a visit to the Burj Kalifa with a trip to the Dubai Mall can be a full day, especially staying for dramatic lighted fountains in the evening. The Dubai mall contains a ski slope, an aquarium and about 1,200 shops.

On the coast, along Jumeirah Beach stands the iconic Burj Al Arab, with its one of a kind sail-like architecture, heliport and restaurant appurtenances.  Viewed from any direction, one just wants to stare at this 5-star hotel, built on an artificial island. Further southwest, the causeway to Palm Island Jumeirah takes off and winds around the sand-made island. Rocks hauled from the mountain areas near Oman protect the island. From air, Palm Island looks just like its name (and can be seen from space). This is one of the world’s largest man-made islands with sprawling villas and resorts. The view back towards the shore from Palm Island’s wide promenades is equally impressive with new buildings by the Dubai yacht harbor seemingly springing up weekly.

Dubai

Dubai

You must visit the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, located just an hour from Dubai. The Grand Mosque is a trip highlight. The scale of the mosque is awesome. Inside, the mosque is at once opulent, intricate and holy. Adhering to tradition, women must be covered and abayas are provided at no charge. Guides take groups of visitors though the mosque and describe construction details, history and rituals of worship. As well as the Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi will soon have a branch of The Louvre and the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi.

Dubai is trying to get it right for the future. Leadership knows the end of oil is right around the corner. Reinvention is key. A solid, sustainable infrastructure is in place for this growing destination as well as a firm commitment to the safety and security of Dubai’s citizens and visitors. Dubai will host The World Expo 2020 and, based on the progress being made, it promises to be a big success.

Jaguar F-Type

Jaguar F-Type

F Type

F Type

Four hundred ninety-five horsepower, thirty-six-hundred pounds.

This is my third time writing this article. My first submission consisted only of the aforementioned specifications in numerical form along with the photos you’re looking at in this spread. My editor told me that I had to write words. I resubmitted the same content having changed the numbers into the form they appear in the subhead of this iteration. I was informed I’d no longer have a job if this continued. I then posed the question of whether anything else about the Jaguar F-Type really matters aside from the facts that it possesses a power-to-weight ratio that nears supercar status and it’s arguably the best-looking front-engine’d convertible on the market.

Despite it being one of the most beautiful objects I’ve ever laid eyes and hands on, the F-Type and I got off to a rocky start. I suppose it’s often the case with beautiful objects and myself but that’s not a discussion for the automotive column. I picked up our test-vehicle at this magazine’s namesake airport with intentions of a quick jaunt east on the I-10 and up I-15 to Las Vegas to witness the marriage of a dear childhood friend. I did a few (or 20) laps around the vehicle to admire some of the subtle touches that make such a dazzling machine; the forward-slanting grille combined with auxiliary vents and vertical headlights form a ravenous shark-like appearance, flush-mounted door handles which emerge when unlocked, muscular rear arches flexing over massive 295-width tires, a race-inspired rear-diffuser shrouding its quadruple-tipped exhaust, fiber-optic LED taillights… did I mention how gorgeous I think this car is?

F Type

F Type

Hopping in the Jag, I fine-tuned my 10-way power-adjustable seat and it was then that the F-Type and I had our first tiff. At 6’2” and 175lbs, I’m not the largest human being, but owning limbs closer in length to someone a couple inches taller, I was quite devastated to realize that I could not slide back far enough to accommodate my legs without pitching the top of the seat forward — not an ideal sports car seating position.

Gazing around the interior of the F-Type reveals a luxurious leather-shod dash and door surfaces with contrast-stitching, as well as a wide array of high-quality finishes ranging from matte black to satin chrome and dark aluminum. I depressed the brake pedal, eased my index finger into the fluorescent-orange Engine Start button, and brought the beast to life. A strident bark emitted from the tailpipes and a smooth rumble reverberated from the engine compartment as the center air vents rose atop the dashboard. I plugged my destination into the highly intuitive navigation system and was instructed to utilize surface streets. It was 5:30pm on a Friday and the freeway was essentially gridlocked. I dropped the top (which takes a mere twelve seconds to lower or raise and can be done at speeds up to 30MPH) and set off on my way.

F Type

F Type

On city streets with the Adaptive Dynamics system in ‘normal’ mode, the F-Type is quite a docile kitten. The steering is light but tactful, active suspension dampeners adjust their firmness up to 100-times per second according to road conditions, gear changes from the 8-speed ZF transmission are rapid but smooth, and the throttle mapping induces a slight delay in actuation to keep the supercharged V8 manageable in traffic. Pair the aforementioned attributes with an intelligent 2-stage start/stop system that kills the engine at idle and restarts it as soon as your foot lifts from the brake and you end up with a surprisingly tame animal that’s plenty-suitable for everyday city driving.

As the navigation system informed me that I was approaching my onramp I slapped the shifter into manual-actuation and flicked the switch to engage Dynamic mode; the instrument cluster and ambient cabin lighting changed from soothing aqua teal to hellish scarlet red and the exhaust began to roar as the active bypass valve in the mufflers released an unobstructed path for spent gasses to exit. To my delight, the onramp signal was turned off so I (cautiously) stabbed the throttle to its maximum and the roar from the exhaust became a deafening howl; the 5.0-liter supercharged V8 attempted to send each and every one of its 495 horsepower and 460ft-lbs of torque to the pavement. The tail of the F-Type wagged, the traction control intervened, the tires hooked up, and less than a few seconds later I was stomping hard on the 15-inch brakes belting out every explicative in the English language because my speedometer was reading well into the triple-digit range and traffic was coming fast. Jaguar’s official published 50-75 MPH passing acceleration is rated at 2.4 seconds, so extrapolate that as you wish.

Fast forward two days and 500 miles. We’re back at LAX and we’ve confirmed that a two-seat convertible in which I do not fit comfortably and achieves 23 MPG highway is not the ideal road trip car. But we’ve also had a few hard runs through the hills above Malibu and a leisurely cruise up PCH to experience what the F-Type was purposely built to do. And it does that flawlessly.

A two-seat roadster is meant to be the purest expression of a sports car. It’s meant to be compact, lightweight, agile, and it’s meant to inspire a sensation of connection to the  road -— not only through the machine itself but also through the environment which surrounds it. When you remove the roof from a vehicle and expose its occupants to the mechanical snarl that emanates from an engine, the faint squealing of rubber as tires near their limits of adhesion, the echoes of exhaust notes rebounding off of tree-lined back-roads and canyon walls — the driving experience becomes incredibly immersive.

Antonio Lysy, Holidays with Bach

Antonio Lysy, Holidays with Bach

Antonio Lysy Photo credit Paul Flanagan

Antonio Lysy
Photo credit Paul Flanagan

Cellist Antonio Lysy’s upcoming show is generating a lot of buzz with the classical music set. Having recently played to a sold out house for several performances of a production at The Broad Stage in Los Angeles, Lysy will be undertaking the extraordinary feat of performing Johannes Sebastian Bach’s entire collection of solo suites for cello in a single show. In what promises to be a unique musical experience being performed at the very same venue, the rarely performed full set of all six suites, the December 20th show, Holidays with Bach, is a hot ticket.

Lysy’s previous and critically acclaimed show, Te Amo Argentina, engaged the audience in a visually passionate journey through Argentina, celebrating its diverse culture and music. Te Amo also featured music written expressly for the internationally celebrated cellist by well-known Argentine film composer and pianist, Lalo Schifrin. The show went on to become one of the few Cello centered recordings to ever win a Latin Grammy. That is a milestone of which his late father, renowned violinist, Argentina native, and personal inspiration, Alberto Lysy, surely would have been proud.

In a similar concept, Holidays with Bach will enhance Bach’s compositions with multimedia enhancements that further engage the audience to experience and connect more with the music. The concept comes from answering the question, “Where do you want to be when you hear this music? Where do I feel it should be played,” Lysy explained. Keeping the focus on the music, Lysy says the background projections “are simply ornaments, complimentary, and not obtrusive… bringing the audience closer to the music.” The Broad is described by Lysy as one of his absolute favorite venues to perform in citing the perfect intimacy and “balance of size and sound.”

It is a challenge to not only perform the string of suites (with only one intermission), but also evoke the audiences’ emotion. That’s the goal. “It’s like a Grand Slam in Tennis,” the cellist says of the upcoming feat. Recognizing the intensity of this accomplishment, Lysy is readying himself like a champion with a sports psychology coach and implementing techniques as applied to musical training. There is a mental preparation not unlike one who prepares for a marathon. “It is strenuous,” the cellist asserts of the physicality side of it. The coach is basing his training on his dissertation which is instrumental in helping Lysy get into good ‘musical’ shape. The coach is a recent graduate of UCLA, where Lysy also teaches and helped develop the University’s official Department of Music thanks to a generous grant from the Herb Alpert Foundation.

UCLA Professor by day and internationally celebrated cellist by night, the Italian born Lysy seems have a clear goal for the accessibility of classical music both in performing it and a student’s understanding of it. And balance plays a key role in doing so. Soon after graduating and putting his musical talents to use professionally, he also realized his gift for teaching while in Toronto, Canada. Lysy began to understand how each provides “…unique opportunities to nurture. They both motivate and inspire in tandem,” he explains. “I love both and can’t do without either.” Since seizing the opportunities to teach as well as perform in L.A., he, his wife, and their three children have found a “crescendo of welcoming in Los Angeles.”

One of Professor Lysy’s philosophies in teaching and performing is to take a “new perspective” in playing and comprehending classical music. “You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing,” he tells his UCLA students. “I encourage students to find talent in their own uniqueness,” he reveals. One could easily see that with Holidays with Bach, Lysy also teaches by example in applying that philosophy and giving a sensory experience to the audience, to “inspire them in a whole new way. We need that.”

 

Bing Crosby Season, Fall at Del Mar

Bing Crosby Season, Fall at Del Mar

Fall Paddock

It’s all about fall tidings and bringing back the old-school Hollywood vibe the seaside oval was founded on with the ‘Bing Crosby Season’ taking off on Thursday, October 29. This nostalgic season will present superior racing along with a lineup of engaging events during the five-week run. One of those happenings will be the glamorous Opening Day Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest where fashion historians can conjure their inner golden age starlet or favorite celebrity icon. Up to $3,000 in prizes will be given out to the winners of each category: Best Dressed Couple, Best Celebrity Lookalike and Most Glamorous.

Other seasonal events include a Fall Gourmet Food Truck Festival on Saturday, November 7 and Del Mar’s Beer and Cider Festival offering more than 100 local and international brews and ciders all in one place on Saturday, November 28.  Additionally, there will be a special racing card on Thanksgiving Day with an early 11 a.m. post time along with a One Mile Family Fun Run at 8 a.m., where running enthusiasts and families with kids can stretch their legs on the backstretch as they loop around the 1-mile dirt track.

Vintage Hollywood Fashion

Vintage Hollywood Fashion

Saturday, November 14 is Fleece Pullover Giveaway Day. Guests entering through the gates will receive a free pullover sweater. There are also unique dining opportunities to be had every single weekend throughout ‘Bing Crosby Season’ with re-occurring events such as Daybreak at Del Mar, providing visitors fresh breakfast fare with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean during the morning workouts from 8 – 10 a.m. each Saturday.

Every Sunday brunch lovers can rejoice at Bing+Bubbles+Brunch in the Turf Club and enjoy bottomless mimosas, a rotating menu by popular San Diego chef Brian Malarkey and a Turf Club table for the race day.

L.A. Art Goes BOOM For Real

L.A. Art Goes BOOM For Real

Kent Twitchell

Kent Twitchell

Kent Twitchell

Kent Twitchell has the kind of career that provides a blueprint for aspiring professional visual artists. If you’ve spent time driving in Los Angeles then you’ve undoubtedly seen his work. Huge, photo-realist murals that depict subjects staring back at the viewer. His art includes a giant image of the L.A. Chamber Orchestra; eight stories high, overlooking the Harbor Freeway in downtown Los Angeles. Twitchell didn’t set out to paint murals — he started out in the “hippie days” when it wasn’t unusual to put images on walls. At the time he began painting his Monuments to American Cultural Heroes his passion for it led him to paint more and more murals. In other words, he was driven.

Twitchell has been an artist since childhood. When he went to kindergarten the teacher made “a big fuss” over his drawings. His uncle taught him one stroke lettering when he was 14, and by the time he was in high school, he was able to paint letters on trucks. This was in the 1950s. Kent became used to seeing his work in public — on trucks and other businesses. He credits this early experience as the fundamental reason he became a public artist. After a stint as an illustrator in the Air Force, he became an illustrator for JCPenney in Atlanta. After a year in this work he moved west to Los Angeles and stayed with his uncle in Monterey Park. At that time college beckoned and he attended East Los Angeles College, Cal State L.A. and then Otis College of Art and Design.

The Los Angeles Mural Conservatory was largely started because Twitchell’s The Freeway Lady was painted over by the building owner. Initially, Twitchell felt like the owner of building could do what he liked, but members of the L.A. art community were irate — especially Bill Lasarow, publisher and editor of ArtScene. The initial lawsuit was won in 1992, which established the law which states that building owners are required to notify the artist if they plan to paint over or destroy an existing mural. The artist must be given notice so they can move or archive the mural.

These days, Twitchell has finished his second version of The Freeway Lady at Los Angeles Valley College. Next he will create his second version of Edward Ruscha, which is going up at the American Hotel in the Arts District of Downtown L.A. When asked about retirement, the 73-year-old says that he never thinks about retiring because what he’s doing is not really work. It is just play and most people who do what they love are just playing hard.

Levi Ponce Photo by Leonardo Tejeda

Levi Ponce
Photo by Leonardo Tejeda

Levi Ponce

Levi Ponce is the heir apparent to the large scale Los Angeles, (and San Fernando Valley) mural scene. Inspired by Kent Twitchell in his youth, and his father, Hector Ponce, who is also a muralist; Ponce was five when they moved from the Pico-Union neighborhood in Los Angeles to Pacoima — a community located deep in the San Fernando Valley. He was struck by the lack of art in Pacoima compared to the realist murals by Twitchell that he missed from living in Central Los Angeles. In 2011, at the age of 24, Ponce set out to bring large-scale public art to Pacoima. At the time, he asked the city for funding and was turned down. While city officials wouldn’t financially support his vision, the community of Pacoima donated paint and sometimes residents would hang out while he painted. They would bring music, water and food and some even picked up a paintbrush to help. The community was hungry for art and appreciated his efforts. A feature on Good Day LA brought a lot of attention to his work on Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima, and the area quickly became a destination for artistic tours of Los Angeles. Mayor Garcetti even chose this area as part of the Great Streets Initiative. Ponce’s vision is to continue to bring art to underserved communities sharing his knowledge with others who want to create community based art. Keep an eye on www.muralmile.org to stay abreast of his work.

 

Bunnie Reiss

Bunnie Reiss

Bunnie Reiss

Bunnie Reiss is a recent transplant from Oakland to Los Angeles. Educated on full ride scholarships from the SF Art Institute and Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art in France. She took education seriously and achieved a master’s degree in painting. Her latest body of work is based on Plato’s Cosmology. Plato believed the universe needs order and symmetry to exist. That it does not exist in chaos. Her images and characters reflect symmetry and balance taking on both cosmic and human form. Some characters are depicted as delivering messages, searching for their mates and representing their past, present and future selves.

Reiss’ process starts in the sketchbook. She is “big on process” and takes her time drawing and taking notes as she draws. When a bigger idea comes she goes through her previous sketchbooks to map out a story using existing characters. Once it is time to paint, Reiss mixes her own colors. Years of studying color have given her the ability to get the exact color of her vision. She doesn’t shy away from bright colors and paints freehand. She says that she likes to paint on rocks as it’s good practice and she likes the curvature.

With regard to her move from Oakland to L.A., Reiss says that L.A. is better for her at this stage in her career because the city is full of creative people. She says, “It’s one of the only big cities in the United States that can house artists and give them projects and income to survive. With that comes an energy that doesn’t always sustain but is really great to be involved with for as long as it lasts.”

Aaron Rivera

Aaron Rivera

Aaron Rivera

Contemporary painter, Aaron Rivera, made a tough decision more than two years ago with his partner. They decided to leave the changing social landscape of long-time home, San Francisco, for Los Angeles. It is a move many San Francisco artists are making. Ever since, Rivera has continued to find inspiration and create opportunity in the diverse communities of Los Angeles that are reflected in his work.

His latest collection titled Monsters of Leisure is a series of paintings depicting “hedonistic states of revelry…pure emotion, with subjects who are totally oblivious to the concept of responsibility,” as Rivera describes. The bird-like figures portrayed in the leisurely scenes are, as he elaborates, “stylistic vehicle to play with shapes and color while illustrating scenes that people could project their own references onto.” This is reflective of his early inspiration by Greek art which tends to give dimensional storytelling about society.

Today, Rivera’s inspiration has him earning a living in a city burgeoning with possibilities by way of dedicated hard work. He has also found new opportunities professionally in the field of stop-motion animation. His work continues to evolve since his migration south. The artist finds himself more and more influenced by people, a heavy consumption of a variety of media, and the local scenes.

Rivera is fueled by time spent with his family and friends, but that does not prevent him from enjoying travel. He loves the “textured and alive” scene in Mexico City. Back at home in L.A., he explores the assortment of inspiring neighborhoods. Some of his favorite hotspots include Pine and Crane on Sunset Boulevard and the Commissary at the Line Hotel. Rivera also likes outdoor adventures, opting on weekends to leave the car behind and rent a bike, or hop the subway to Pershing Square and roam the popular Grand Central Market, or meander in the fashion district. Sometimes inspiration is easily found in a leisurely walk in his local ‘hood’ of Los Feliz.

Axel Wilhite

Axel Wilhite

Axel Wilhite

Axel Wilhite is a local painter who was born and raised in Los Angeles. He is currently living and working near LAX in Hawthorne; he jokingly says that the township is a few years away from being an art mecca. With no formal training in art he does have a sensitivity to storytelling and creating characters. He loves to bring audiences to strange places by offering familiar images in a skewed context. His latest series of work involves painting on the bills of failed Zimbabwe currency. In a world where economies collapse in the blink of an eye, he loves the fascinating absurdity of painting seascapes, intricate insects or the flaming Deepwater Horizon rig on one hundred trillion dollar bills. He’s working on thirty pieces for a show in Paris scheduled for December.

Raised by a sculptor dad and art conservator mom, he’s been surrounded by art his whole life. After witnessing his father struggle, he did not consider making a living by creating art. He attained a graduate degree in fictional writing at NYU but found that he couldn’t afford to live in New York. He ventured to Japan to continue his Kendo martial arts training while studying swordsmanship. Living in Japan made him feel like a “cultural fish out of water” and he had difficulty connecting with people. Harnessing his cultural anxiety into art, he started painting on Japanese menko cards. Thus began his style of painting on pre-printed surfaces from menko to Audubon bird prints and antique maps.

While he doesn’t show much in Los Angeles — he does get invitations to show in Europe — his fascinating artwork is available to view online or at his studio in Hawthorne.

Brian Ricci

Brian Ricci

Bryan Ricci

Bryan Ricci moved to Los Angeles from New York fifteen years ago to study for his graduate degree at Otis College of Art and Design. That was after finishing his undergraduate degree from SUNY in upstate New York. He supplements his income by teaching and feels teaching art is good for his own practice. Painting is isolating, while accepting a teaching role forces one to be in the company of others, and to reflect on one’s own practice. Ricci’s painting style has evolved from landscapes created in graduate school to his recent bold and colorful abstract pieces. Pushing paint through the back of raw linen creates his current groups of paintings. His work starts with a vision of a group of colors. In the beginning of his process he’s not entirely sure of the outcome. For Ricci, it’s about the “physicality of the paint” versus the actual picture. He interacts with his work by using new layers of pigment as it reacts to previous layers. He knows his painting is complete when his irritation level reaches a breaking point! The process seems to be working for him because his paintings are beautiful. It’s important to see Ricci’s work in person and there are a couple painting available to view at Sherle Wagner in Beverly Hills.

Jovi Schnell

Jovi Schnell

Jovi Schnell

Jovi Schnell lives in Angeleno Heights with her husband who is a wood worker at the woodshop collective, Off The Saw. And, yes, speaking with Schnell feels like walking into an episode of Portlandia. She is lovely, bursting with creativity and says that she gathers inspiration from a hovering vision in her third eye area that emerges on long walks, while bathing, or doodling in her notebook. She’s been working in Los Angeles for several years but is now studying for an MFA from UC Berkeley. Her work has the look of Folk Art but she’s hesitant to describe it as such for fear of not seeming “accessible.” She feels that it’s important for her work to be viewed by different audiences, and her public installations in places such as skate parks are her solution to artwork being available to a wider audience.

Schnell’s creative process starts with a massive flow of ideas. From there she jots down her ideas and literally pulls them out of a bucket to let kismet run its course. Her process goes from thought to brush to paper working diligently. Her collage pieces are very intricate and led to her work using cutouts. She started that series with paint samples from the local hardware store. They were free, colorful and inspiring.

She agrees that over the last decade, Los Angeles has been sourcing great artists. The draw has been the caliber of cultural institutions arriving in Los Angeles as well as the flow of artists moving to L.A. creating a large community of artists with access to space. She adds that the downside is certain galleries are not surviving unless they partake in huge international shows such as Art Basel in Miami.

Deedee Cherie

Deedee Cherie

Deedee Cheriel

The current darling of the L.A. art scene is Deedee Cheriel who just sold out her August 2015 show at MK Gallery. Hailing from Eugene, Oregon she has traveled all over the world which has critically influenced Cheriel’s work. When home in Eugene, she’s surrounded by chickens, bikes, blackberries and organic gardens. It’s a hard adjustment to return to the competitive landscape of Los Angeles where dinner party conversations revolve around the latest professional achievement. She says that she tries not to define herself by accomplishments in an effort to avoid setting herself up for unhappiness. She sticks to working on subjects which are “deeply important” to her and there she finds peace in her work.

Cheriel moved to Los Angeles in her late 20s pursuing a creative life. The Pacific Northwest had yet to develop into the creative mecca that it is today. Her first project in L.A. was as a production designer on a semi-autobiographical movie she co-wrote about a girl rock band. To this day, Cheriel finds that the production and film community support her work. Creative people consume and value art, so they buy it. She’s worked on and off in the film industry to support her ability to work on her art — her film gigs were her “day job” and afforded her a flexible painting schedule.

Cheriel’s style is constantly evolving. Her use of recurring characters is not intentional but is now part of an aesthetic expectation. While Cheriel was living in Santiago, Chile, reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez she fell in love with magical realism. At that time her bandmate’s girlfriend had a pitchy voice and they lived on the 22nd floor of an urban high-rise. This is the precise moment when she imagined the woman as a bird living in a cage. It was the first time she though of painting people as animals, a style that permeates her work to this day.

Chile – Enchantment on the Other Side of the World

Chile – Enchantment on the Other Side of the World

Santiago

Santiago

 

By Lisa France

There are very few places left on the planet where we can travel and feel as if we are truly far away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, while also feeling the ease and comfort of our own homes. The Chiloé Archipelago, a group of islands off the coast of southern Chile, is a destination to quench the thirst for this particular pleasure. This area is rightly described as enchanting, special and magical.

Santiago

There are no lack of activities in the city. The trouble is choosing which of them to enjoy. To see an expansive view of the city, trek out to the second highest point in the metropolis, Cerro San Cristobal. Atop the famous hill sits a 22-meter high statue of the Virgin Mary. The view of the city is spectacular from this vantage point. In addition, the park is lovely for hiking and drinking a distinctive Chilean beverage called mote con huesillo, which is a non-alcoholic drink made of dried peach liquid mixed with wheat. It is a summertime staple of Chile, so much so that there is a well-known saying, “It’s more Chilean than a mote con huesillo.”

A visit to Santiago would not be complete without a visit to the capital square, La Mondea Presidential Palace. It feels more like a village center where anyone can visit and not feel the concern of secret service personnel. Just a small stroll away from “Chile’s White House” as it were, is one of Santiago’s current claims to fame, the Metropolitan Cathedral, where Pope Francis did his Jesuitical Studies. In and around Plaza de Armas, there are many cosmopolitan shops and cafes among a plethora of street vendors.

Where to Stay
Torremayor Providencia Hotel 

The rooms are large with picture windows affording an expansive view of the city. Many of the rooms have a view of Coastanera Center which is the tallest building in Latin America and the second tallest building in the southern hemisphere. The hotel has a rooftop pool, a cozy bar and a solid breakfast which comes complimentary with room bookings. Located in central Santiago.

W Santiago

The architecture is stunning with a delightful combination of modern speckled with hints of the old world. Vaulted ceilings, mood lighting and fireplaces are comforting while also hip. Dine at Terraza for a melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon or smoky, spicy, short ribs paired with Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon.

Where to Eat
L’Astaria

Enjoy the ceviche with a lovely Chilean Sauvignon Gris from Leyda with enough fruit and mineral to create a burst of new flavor. For a main course try the Antarctic Hake paired with Chardonnay from De Martino. Alone they are amazing, but paired, divine.

Bocanariz

Over 30 wines by the glass and 300 different bottles are available

Chiloé

Chiloé

Chiloé

The Chiloé Archipelago is composed of 30 islands, which can be accessed from Santiago by air. LAN now has flights to Chiloé with a quick stop in Puerto Montt. This part of Patagonia, with rolling hillsides and lush green pastures, is reminiscent of the United Kingdom. As in the countryside of England, there are farms, sheep, horses and cattle roaming around the Chiloten roadways.

In general, the island is quite colorful. From the unique cemeteries, where the Huillinco people bury their beloved dead in bright small homes after passing, to the 18th and early 19th century churches, the array of colors light up the partly cloudy skies while also aiding water navigators to locate their ports.

Huillinco Cemetery

Huillinco Cemetery

Where to Stay
Hotel Parque Quilquico

This is an eco-friendly hotel that promotes sustainability — there are even goats on the grass-covered roof. These folks mean business when it comes to using every single resource on the property. Most of the vegetables served are from the garden out back. Decorations, furniture, carpets and other furnishings for the hotel were chosen for their cultural significance. The landscape is stunning. The buildings are embraced by trees, which are sacred to the indigenous Mapuche people. It was paramount to architect Edward Rojasa to incorporate as many native constructs into the hotel as he could, as well as to protect the land. The view of Dalchanue Channel can be seen from nearly every room. The rooms vary in size, but the cottages are a favorite. They are perfect for families or friends traveling together — spacious yet homey.

For dining at Quilquico, order the pulmay, which is one of the native dishes of Chiloé. Each area of Chile has a variation on this dish, but the one at Quilquico is out of this world. The broth! It’s a wonderful combination of salty chunks of pork, clams, mussels, chicken and potato accents that gave rise to a delightful soup.

Tierra Hotel Chiloé

At first glance one may think the structure of the hotel doesn’t quite fit in with the Chilote culture. The hotel could resemble some sort of hip, celebrity owned Malibu home, but upon closer evaluation, it’s evident this hotel was built on the banks of the Rilán Peninsula with great care and consideration for the cultural history. In addition to paying tribute to the rich culture, Tierra takes it a step further by creating a space which is not only visually stunning, but it manages to be contemporary comingled with rustic. There is not an angle on the property that isn’t photogenic.

Curanto Cooking

Curanto Cooking

Dining at Tierra — Curanto!

Curanto is a traditional method of cooking where a fire is made in a pit with large stones. Once all of the wood has burned, the stones are akin to coals. Layers of food are placed atop the stones with mussels, clams, crabs and lobsters placed first. The nalca leaves separate all layers. Foods that require the most time to cook are on the lower levels, while vegetables and breads are towards the top. One hour later there is a feast for more than twenty people. A fine Coyam, an organic red blend from Colchagua Valley, enhanced the smoky flavors.

Activities

At Tierra there are many excursions to choose from which are included in the price of your room.

Tour of Chelín

The Church of Chelín is one of the 16 churches of the Chiloe Archipelago which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a result, this, and the other churches are taken apart, literally, shingle by shingle, named, numbered and restored. It takes years to complete the restoration of these churches, but the result is visually stunning.

Sea Kayaking in the Bay of Quehui

“Ocean view” has an entirely new meaning when gliding alongside these cool tropical-like islands in a kayak. There is a delightful quiet and freedom on the edge of the Patagonian waters that allows you to detach from the tech and frenzy waiting back home.

Chilean Wine

If you can afford the time, we recommend you head out to nearby Cousiño Macul Winery. Founded in 1856, Cousiño Macul is the oldest family run winery in Chile and continues to produce limited quantities of fine Chilean wines. Enjoy a tour and tasting. Be careful not to drive too far east or you will end up in Argentina. Chile is a fascinating place in that it is home to so many climates and this is why wine does very well there.

Getting There

From LAX there is nearly a direct flight on LAN, the national airline of Chile, to Santiago. We had a short layover in Lima, but it’s negligible. Get a window seat if you can. Outside you will either see ancient craggy mountaintops piercing the cloud ceiling on the eastside, or see the endless Pacific to the west.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House

Hollyhock House Living Room

Hollyhock House Living Room

In February, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House — an iconic architectural masterpiece -— was reopened, in the heart of the vibrant, artistic, cultural, and recreational Barnsdall Park.

A significant part of Los Angeles’ storied architectural history, Hollyhock House -— a National Historic Landmark — was one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnificent masterpieces marking his first foray into architecture in Los Angeles. Hollyhock House boasts a lyrical and poetic style of architecture, “California Romanza,” or “freedom to make one’s own form,” which complements L.A.’s significance as a trendsetter in the arts and architecture space. Underscoring its importance as one of the world’s architectural gems, Hollyhock House is now among a group of ten Frank Lloyd Wright buildings that are the first works of modern architecture nominated by the United States to the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.

“Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House is a crown jewel of Los Angeles architecture,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Restoring this landmark to its original glory is a great example of how the city can preserve its unique history while providing Angelenos access to art in everyday places.”

The storied history of Hollyhock House begins with Aline Barnsdall, a Pennsylvanian oil heiress interested in producing theater in her own venue. Purchasing a 36-acre site in Hollywood known as Olive Hill in 1919, Barnsdall commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build a theater where she could produce avant-garde plays. Soon after, the project morphed into a performing arts complex that included her residence.

A philanthropist, art collector, political radical, and single parent, Barnsdall deeded the land now known as Barnsdall Park and its Frank Lloyd Wright designed structures as a permanent home for the appreciation of art and architecture to the City of Los Angeles in 1927.

Named for Barnsdall’s favorite flower, the Hollyhock is incorporated throughout the design scheme of the residence. The recently completed restoration is an important historical revelation for first-time visitors and regulars alike. Visitors will be able to see and experience the house in much of its original splendor. Floors, windows, doors, decorative molding, and long-forgotten paint colors have been recreated with utmost attention to detail.

Hollyhock House features self-guided “Walk Wright In” tours on Thursdays through Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a fee of $7 for adults, $3 for students and seniors with identification, and $3 for children under 12 when accompanied by a paying adult. Special arrangements may be made for docent-led tours, group tours, guided tours, and other engagements by calling 323.913.4031.