Part 1: Killing two birds with one stone in Mexico: Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s day.

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Part 1, Mexico City:

Today I’m off to one of my favorite cities in the world to research the real estate market for my new restaurant project in Mexico City. It will be a nice change going to the warm weather of Mexico after a week of freezing cold in Canada. It’s the 5th of May, which, in the US, is a big celebration of the Mexican independence “Cinco de Mayo”; the irony is that NO one celebrates this holiday in Mexico; it’s just an American manufactured holiday for the purpose of selling beer and tequila. Oh well…I guess no one here needs an excuse to drink beer and tequila…the least, me!

I’m exited to stay, once again, at my Mexican ”Brother from another mother” Eugenio Lopez’ amazing Polanco penthouse, surrounded by one of the best art collections of contemporary art in the country. I’m a little concerned about the news that Mexico City is experiencing one of the worst air pollution in its history; something like smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day just by breathing the air….I’m glad I stopped smoking! To try and contain this urgent problem the city has come up with a system of allowing only half the cars in the city to operate on certain days of the week and the other half on the remaining days of the week. Pretty cleaver if you ask me; it forces people to use public transportation…not that I would be happy with that!

I immediately notice the difference when Eugenio’s driver picks me up at the airport and there is no traffic on the way to his home. Mexico City is renowned for one of the worst traffic congestion in the world and today it took us only 15 minutes to get to our destination, a trip that usually takes one hour and a half. I’ve been a guest at Eugenio’s home several times before, so Its always fun to come back and see all the friendly faces that work for him, especially his personal chef Lupita who always spoils me with the most delicious Mexican specialties during my stay. Eugenio is in full form and I am quickly updated on our busy schedule of dinners and parties and who know what…it’s never a dull moment with my Eugenio!


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They have really big spiders in Mexico…bring bug spray!

 

IMG_9085Amazing contemporary art just outside my bedroom

 

After a quick change of clothes, we are going to one of the city’s best restaurants: La Rosetta (www.rosetta.com.mx) where we are meeting up with his Mexican contingent. The elegant restaurant is spread through several rooms in a stunning old mansion house in the city’s Roma district, in Colonia Roma and it is renewed across town for its delicious and simple Italian food with a Mexican influence by chef Elena Reygadas. Dinners are very long in Mexico, just like Europe, they loooove sitting at the table for hours and hours. At the risk of sounding rude, I must take my leave; I’m beat from getting up at 5am in LA to travel to Mexico, so after my 5th Vodka Tonic, I excuse myself and retire in my fabulous Polanco penthouse.


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The beautiful 18th century villa turned into the restaurant Rosetta

 

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More Rosetta Restaurant

 

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The hilarious Christian Hannig and Claudia Zacarias

 

My morning starts with one of the best possible treats I can think of: Lupita’s famous Chilaquiles…in bed! There are no words to describe how good this classic Mexican breakfast dish is, with fried “Totopos”, green chile salsa, roasted chicken, Crème Fraiche with a side of beans and Mexican cheese…YUMMY! As I mentioned before, I am here in Mexico City to look at locations for my new restaurant project, so I have my brother David picking me up to spend the day driving around Polanco and La Roma to look at potential spots. It’s amazing to see how many high-end American restaurants, such as Nobu, Morton’s and Mr. Chow, are popping up everywhere in the rich areas of Mexico City, a definite sign of the emerging upper-class starving for luxury goods and services and high-end restaurants. For lunch we stop at one of my favorite cafés in Polanco, the darling Maison Belen (www.maisonbelen.net); a charming café where you can enjoy all sorts of Mexican and American brunch dishes on a lovely, sunny terrace.

 

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Lupita’s famous Chilaquiles…in bed!

 

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Nobu in Polanco

 

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Mr. Chow…opening soon in Polanco

 

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Uriarte, my favorite Mexican pottery store in Polanco

 

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Maison Belen in Polanco

 

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The lovely display of pastries at Maison Belen in Polanco



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Two “Packing” gentlemen fixing my bedroom TV…only in Mexico!

 

It’s now 4pm or otherwise know as siesta time! I’m dropped off at Eugenio’s home so I can rest for a few hours before getting ready for Charro Salinas’s birthday party tonight. Charro is the son of the ex president of Mexico Carlos Salinas, and he’s having a sit-down dinner at the iconic Mexican restaurant Cicero Centenario, in the Zona Rosa of the city (the naughty area…), a breathtaking 18th century building decorated in colonial style with amazing traditional Mexican food…right up my alley! We arrive at 10pm, on a 9pm dinner invitation, and we are the only ones at the restaurant beside the birthday boy and his girlfriend; That is typical Mexican behavior: 9pm means 11-12am; don’t try fighting it, it’s not going to change…ever!!!!

 

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Cicero’s amazing dining room

 

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The bar at Cicero

 

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Cicero’s dining room

 

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Delicious ceviche at Cicero’s


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Alvaro and me drunk

 

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Mariachis playing all night long behind me

 

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Cake time for Charro Salinas’s birthday

 

By 11:30pm the party is in full swing and I get to meat the most wonderful people, starting with Alvaro Ariza, a local restauranteur and the gorgeous, club owner Karla Deregil among many others. I will say, Mexicans are so incredibly polite and charming and always going out of their way to make you fell welcomed and comfortable. Four hours later and 8 margueritas in, my new best friend Karla, kidnaps me, along with Alvaro, from Charro’s dinner and whisks us through the streets of DF in her chauffeured Cadillac to her night club: M N Roy, named after Manabendra Nath Roy, the Indian born revolutionary and founder of the Mexican communist party. Of course, M N Roy is the hottest underground club in Mexico City and within an hour it is packed to the hilt with beautiful people, dancing to the tunes of DJ “Gordo”. Though plenty of fun, I manage to escape around 4am, totally exhausted and desperately ready to get into my comfy bed back at Eugenio’s. Buenas noches amigos!!!

 

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The gorgeous Karla and DJ “Gordo” at N M Roy night club

 

It’s morning again, or should I say, almost afternoon and I’m just waiting to see what will appear at my bed for breakfast today; after ringing the bell my the bed (I know…super fancy!), a tray with Huevos Rancheros arrives and they are as delicious as the Chilaquiles from yesterday; I could get used to this really easily!!! It’s time to get out of this bed, pack and get ready for my brother David who’s picking me up to drive to Cuernavaca to surprise my mother for Mother’s Day on Sunday. It’s been a wacky 48 hours and I’m so thankful to my dear friend Eugenio for treating me to yet another great time in his beautiful city!!! I can’t wait to open a business here so I have a reason to come here more often.

 

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Huevos Rancheros in bed…as one does!

 

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Amazing view of Chapultepec Castle and park from Eugenio’s penthouse

 

Part 2, Cuernavaca…coming soon.

First day of skiing…God help me!

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Waking up in St. Moritz is truly a dream; especially in my beautiful, comfortable and spacious suite at The Kempinski Hotel (www.kempinski.com/en/st-moritz/grand-hotel-des-bains/welcome) that my childhood friend and Hotel GM Reto Stockenius has arranged for me. Looking out the window and seeing the enchanting town with the Swiss Alps as a backdrop is medicine to your soul and puts you immediately in the best mood possible. I guess I have the same connection and awe with the mountains as other people have with the ocean back in California; the shear size, presence and overwhelming beauty, takes over you and you are suddenly part of the miracle that is NATURE!

St. Moritz is an alpine resort town in the Engadin, a valley in Switzerland. Twice a host of the Winter Olympics, St. Moritz is mostly know for its jet set and aristocrat clientele that has been part of the fabric of this town since its inception. Winter in St. Moritz is as good as it gets, and the infrastructure is second to none: great skiing, amazing hotels and restaurants, sassy night clubs and more glamour than you can handle! A mecca for billionaires, celebrities, royals and sports figure, St. Moritz always seems to deliver with flying colors!

 

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My fabulous suite at The Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains

 

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My sitting room

 

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View from my window

 

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View from my window

 

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The stunning 19 century facade of the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains

 

Today is my first day skiing in 6 years since I broke my shoulder in Whistler, Canada, when an 18 year old drunken hooligan, ran me over with a snow mobile!!!! Yes…a snow mobile, that threw me up in the air 15 feet to land on my shoulder; I passed out on impact and woke up in the emergency room of the local hospital with my deranged friends laughing at me…equally as drunk as the criminal that ran me over!!!! That was my dear friend Jeff Bartlett’s bachelor party, so it’s not a surprise that multiple injuries, to multiple people happened during the trip.

So back to St. Moritz; today I will ski after 6 years and I’m really exited and nervous at the same time…I don’t want to brake anything else!!!!! The fact that I am soooo out of shape now will not help either. So it’s me and my brother Jonathan off to the slopes today at a comfortable 8 degrees weather; if I don’t brake my neck, I’ll probably freeze to death anyway…no positive outcome here! Surprisingly, the day goes really well, the weather is amazing, not a cloud in the ski, the snow is fluffy and dry and I just got back into the swing of things like a champ! The best part is realizing that I’m a better skier than my little brother…HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Brotherly competition never dies…

 

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Amazing Coffee Shop on the slopes

 

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Ready and gorgeous…

 

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Corviglia sceenery

 

IMG_7587A very happy Robert ready for lunch

 

After 3 hours of skiing, I can’t feel my legs or body for that matter, so it’s time for my favorite pastime on the mountains: Gluhwein…and lunch!!!! Gluhwein is the equivalent of Mulled Wine in the US and a staple in the European mountain resorts to keep warm (at least that’s the excuse we use). Jonathan and I stop at one of our favorite mountain eateries for lunch, or more specifically, the Swiss staple: Bratwurst with Rösti and mustard. It’s amazing to me how the simplest little things in life make me soooo happy; I don’t need a Bentley or a Hermes leather Jacket…give me a Bratwurst or cheese fondue and I’m truly fulfilled…literally!



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The outdoor bar at the Alpina Hütte

 

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Alpina Hütte’s amazing terrace overlooking the Swiss Alps

 

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Menu

 

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A swiss mountain classic: Bratwurst with Rösti

 

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My little brother Jonathan Kass

 

After a great lunch on the terrace of the Alpina Hütte (www.alpinahuette.ch) looking at the Swiss mountain range, both myself and Jonathan decide that we had enough for the first day and that it’s time for a nice walk around St. Moritz and a hot chocolate at the legendary Hanselmann Bakery (www.hanselmann.ch), a staple in St. Moritz and a must after a long day of skiing. Once back at the hotel we go for yet more indulgence with an hour of SPA action at the Kempinski. Now I am literally paralyzed with exhaustion…I need a serious disco nap before dinner.


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Classic Engiadina style architecture

 

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The iconic Chesa Veglia restaurant, also part of the Palace Hotel

 

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One of Switzerland’s most famous bakeries and a St. Moritz institution: Hanselmann


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The beautiful Laurent Perrier ice bar for the après-ski Bolli

 

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Hanselmann Bakery at dusk


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View from my suite at dusk

 

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Tonight I’m having dinner with 3 of my oldest friends in the world: Reto and Simona Stockenius and Fabrizio Malfanti, whom I’ve known since I was 3 years old along with my brother Jonathan Kass. It’s not often these days that you can sit at a dinner table with people you love so much and have known for all your life. Catching up over a period of 40 years is no small feat and will require multiple bottles of amazing Swiss wine to do the job. We are eating at the fairly new Dal Mulin Restaurant (www.dalmulin.ch), which I picked on the Internet because of its stellar reviews; all the other top restaurants were just way too expensive for my little “Jet setting on a dime” wallet. Expensive in Switzerland is NOT the same as the US; “expensive” in St. Moritz is $300-400 per person without an expensive wine; so I’m hoping this more reasonable eatery with great reviews, will impress us, for we all are pretty demanding customers!

As expected, dinner goes on for hours and laughter is in abundance, in fact, we close the place down after midnight. Dinner is really good; the boys share a massive Stinco di Vitello, cooked to perfection, while the rest seem very happy with their dishes. Reto picks a Swiss Charbertin red wine that is truly out-of-this-world for a medium priced wine.

 

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Tonight’s restaurant choice

 

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The very Swiss warm and cozy dining room at Dal Mulin

 

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Our round table at Dal Mulin



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Steak Tartare at Dal Mulin

 

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Stinco di Vitello al forno



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Amazing local wine that Reto Stockenius picked for us

 

We are all so tired now but as they say: “No rest for the wicked”…one more stop before hitting my very comfortable bed. Reto and Simona want us to see one of the hottest bars in St. Mortiz, where their kids usually hang out when in town. Contrary to all the other hot night spots in St. Mortiz like The King’s Club at the Palace Hotel or Dracula at the Kulm Hotel that are ûber exclusive, super expensive and difficult to get in; Baracca is an old barn where poor workers used to gather after work for some cheap booze. Now, of course, it’s no such place; though it’s still the old barn, it’s now a favorite with the young ones visiting St. Moritz. It’s loud and packed to the tilt and people often end up dancing on tables to the same old European favorite tunes like the Gypsy King and yes…Crystal Water’s “She’s homeless”! We last just about 30 minutes before we all realize that we are a little to old to hang with the kiddies, so we finally head back to the Kempisnki and hit the sack!!!!

Good night from heaven…or as the locals call it: The top of the world!!!

 

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The infamous Baracca restaurant and bar

 

labaracca_20150201_212025The very simple interior of Baracca



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My brother Jonathan Kass with my gorgeous childhood friend Simona Stockenius

 

 

One more holiday weekend in Paris before returning to LA for Christmas with the family.

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After a few days in Los Angeles for work and to get my Christmas tree together, it’s off to Paris again for one last weekend before coming back to LA for Christmas Eve with the family. Paris has recently gone though one of the worst terrorist attacks in their history, it has shaken them to the core and I feel that it is imperative to support them by doing exactly what the perpetrators of such evil want from you: to live in fear and hide at home, disrupting an entire city’s economy and lifestyle. So now more than ever, it is crucial to go to Paris and support them by being there and doing all the things that you would do at any other time whilst visiting this magical city. It’s a small contribution, but worthy of my efforts!

The moment I arrive at LAX airport, I immediately notice the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks; it’s one of the busiest times of the year at LAX, but you won’t know by entering the Tom Bradley International Terminal today…It’s a ghost town! The State Department just issued a travel alert for all Americans traveling abroad and you can definitely see the impact it has had on travelers. That’s why I firmly believe, it’s now more important than ever to travel and show these terrorists that we shall not change our way of life and give in to fear and intimidation. Finally, it’s time to board my Swiss flight to Paris in my very comfortable business class seat for the 12-hour flight.

 

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Arriving at LAX

 

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The incredibly empty International Terminal at LAX

 

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Not a soul in the Duty Free shopping area at LAX

 

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More…



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I’m the only pine at the Business Class lounge…so spooky!

 

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My home for the next 12 hours

 

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My comfortable cubical on Swiss Airlines

 

I’m meeting my dear friend Luc Cartier, who is flying in from Montreal with a few friends of his to support the Parisian as well. We are staying at a lovely apartment in Avenue Montaigne, one of the best neighborhoods in Paris and where all the best shopping, eating and drinking happens daily in great style. The flat is literally 2 doors up from one of my favorite restaurants: L’Avenue, 2 blocks away from the George V Hotel and across the street from Louis Vuitton…perfection! Once I arrive at the Paris airport, I immediately notice the high security presence all around and a chilling sadness on people’s faces; it’s gut wrenching to see my favorite city going through such heartache. I leave politics and acts of war and terrorism out of my blog, but I can’t help feeling so sad about what’s happening here. On the way to the center of Paris you can’t ignore how empty the streets are and when I finally arrive at my destination, you immediately see all the empty streets, cafes and shops…it’s a tragedy! All I can think about is to go out there with my band of friends and eat and drink in as many cafes and restaurants as possible, go to more museums (even though I’ve seen them all) and go shopping for Christmas presents. I will be out there defiant and undeterred and in due time, so will all the Parisians who will always rise from the ashes to shine once again!

All right, let’s do this! First thing is the Christmas village down the Champs Élisée, where every holiday season, a bunch of street vendors build their little Christmas themed huts and sell just about anything wintery or touristy. Luc and I start the late morning with a Vin Brulée to get the internal temperature up from the frosty 45-Fahrenheit Parisian weather. My favorite part is the Michael Jackson’s Thriller ride with black mannequins of Michael Jackson dressed as Santa…to funny! We are making our way to Place de La Concorde where the enormous Farris Wheel stands in the middle of the square; I have serious fear of heights, but as I said, we must show our support by going on these very public rides in order to make a point…that’s of course if I don’t throw up in the little gondola on the way up; that would make a different kind of point all together! Sadly, there is no one in line, so we make our way to the scary gondola in no time; the climb to the top is beyond scary but the fear is quickly repaved by the shear beauty of this city from high up! Everywhere you look is spectacular and gives you a real understanding of the size and beauty of this City of Lights. All right, photos taken…get me off this thing!!!! We are meeting my darling friend Vincent Simonet, the Opera Singer, at Chez George, a charming, super French bistro in the Marais area; though my food was not terribly good, the place is simply fabulous; don’t order the Veal Brains…No Bueno! The server was hilarious trying to pick up my friend Vincent during the entire lunch with no shame whatsoever…Got to love these French! It’s back at Avenue Montaigne for a siesta before our marathon night with Luc’s Canadian friends followed by my international posse.

 

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Walking by the Super Chic Plaza Athenée on Avenue Montaigne

 

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The charming Christmas market on the Champs Élisée

 

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My favorite…Roasted Chestnuts

 

IMG_6780Vin Brulée to warm the soul


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More Vin Brulée…got to keep warm possums!

 

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The hilarious Michael Jackson Thriller ride with the scary black mannequins dressed as Santa

 

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The giant Ferris Wheel in Place de La Concorde

 

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Scared to death!!!

 

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The amazing views from high-up on the Farris Wheel: Arc de Triomphe

 

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Tulleries

 

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Eiffel Tower

 

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The Louvre

 

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Rue Rivoli


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The quirky Chez George

 

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Dining Room at Chez George

 

First order of things is drinks at out favorite bar at the George V Hotel…again!!!! It’s a great way to start the evening with my usual Lychee Martini. When you walk in the hotel you are immediately mesmerized by Jeff Leatham’s extraordinary new 10′ tall blue-mirrored penguins that sit in the center of the lobby along with the most beautiful flower arrangements that only Jeff can produce. When you make your way to the Bar…another gasping surprise: a 14′ glass freezer enclosure with a 10′ tall Ice sculpture of a few penguins inside it; never have I seen such originality and “Wow” factor for a Christmas display.

 

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View from our balcony on Avenue Montaigne

 

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Walking over to George V Hotel

 

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The Dior store CHristmas decoration

 

IMG_6754Jeff Leatham’s incredible mirror Penguins at George V Hotel


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With Vincent Simonet

 

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More…

 

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The mirror Bear in the Couryard at George V Hotel

 

IMG_6757My favorite Martini in the world

 

Luc and I are meeting a whole bunch of Canadian actors and producers friends of his from Montreal at this darling restaurant: La Rotisserie on the Rive Gauche                             (www.larotisseriedelatour.com), owned by the legendary La Tour D’Argent                           (www.tourdargent.com), which happens to be just next door. My dear friend Vincent Simonet is join us for what will surely turn out to be a messy evening…you know those Canadians! The Duck Confit is beyond amazing, which is their specialty, and the company is hilarious with a very drunk Diane who keeps singing Donna Summer’s hits and our fabulous friend from Montreal Annie Delisle, who owns the best male stripper club in Montreal!!!

 

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The legendary La Tour d’Argent Restaurant

 

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La Rôtisserie Menu

 

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La Rôtisserie dining room

 

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And kitchen…

 

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My canadians: Luc, Annie Delisle and Diane

 

Finally it’s time for the glamorous segment of this evening; a uber-chic party at Ginger Restaurant, that my jet-setter friend Carol Asscher is having for her usual group of fabulous people…just because she can! There, I’m meeting my beautiful friend Kasia and a fellow Angelino and realtor Barry Peele. This is the part where we all get slaushed and messy, so I will kindly take my leave and say goodnight now and see you all back in LA by Christmas Eve where I will meet with my family for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner.

 

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With the super chic Carol Asscher and friend

 

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With the stunning Kasia and Barry Peele


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IMG_6763The Symbol of French endurance and perseverance…Vive la France!!!

Ralph Lauren, Picasso and George V…that’s my idea of a perfect day!

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Bonjour Paris!!!!!

Just so exited to be here! Today I am going to all my favorite foodie places to buy presents for my friends and family back home. First stop: Maille, the best Dijon Mustard in the world since 1747… I guess It must be good if they’ve been around for so long. This shop is soooooo charming with it’s old fashion store front in the corner of Place La Madeleine and the renovated interiors showcasing the biggest selection of flavored mustards I have ever seen. You have the choice of the classic pre-bottled jars or you can get the fresh mustard right off the “Gun”; just like a draft beer, mustard comes out of the spout and into a porcelain Maille Jar, sealed with a cork and ready for travel; amazingly, good mustard stays good for 1 year if refrigerated. I buy 1 large, medium heat Chardonnay Mustard Jar and one large Hot Mama, Chablis Mustard Jar as well for those randy days in LA…I have no clue what I mean by that! Mustard…Check!

 

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The stunning store front of Maille

 

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The many flavors of Maille’s mustards

 

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It’s Macaroon time and where else but Ladurée around the corner from Maille on 18 Rue Royal. Ladurée is a French luxury bakery and sweets maker house created in 1862; it is one of the top premier sellers of the double-decker macaron, fifteen thousand of which are sold every day in the many new locations around Paris and the world. Once you walk inside you can’t help being mesmerized by the many colors and flavors of Macaroons, so beautifully displayed, calling your name! They are not cheap but worth every penny and every calorie. It’s fun filling the old fashion, 8 piece boxes with all different flavors; my favorite: Chocolate and Pistachio. Needless to say, by the time I make it out of there, I’ve ingested at least 6 macaroons myself…well how would I know what to buy if I don’t try them and find out which ones I love? Macaroons…Check!

 

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The delicious Ladurée boutique on Rue Royal

 

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Ladurée’s famous macaroons

 

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The Ladurée macaroon selection chart

 

2014-01-31-19-43-49Ladurée’s beautiful macaroon gift boxes

 

Finally, it’s off to Fauchon on the other corner of Place La Madeleine. Founded in 1886 in Paris, Fauchon is a Parisian institution and an international gourmet food company, which sells a wide range of own-brand products including delicatessen, cakes and pastry, breads, confectionery. The packaging and fabulous selection make it a must when visiting Paris, even though it’s quite touristy…oh well. I stock up on their amazing Fois Gras de Canard, some exotic teas for Mom, a few Éclairs down my throat and…Check!

 

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Fauchon at the Place de Madeleine

 

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The amazing Fauchon store

 

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A mouthwatering display of Eclairs

 

Time flies when you’re having fun! It’s 1PM and I’m ready for an American lunch at Ralph Lauren’s new restaurant on 173 Boulevard Saint Germain in the Latin Quarter of Paris. I know it’s a scandal to be eating American food when in Paris, but you got to take a little breather from French rich food every now and then with a light and fluffy Cobb Salad…Just let me believe that! I am meeting my lovely friends: Vincent Simonet, Luc Cartier and Diane for the usual boozy, LOL kind of luncheon. The beautiful new Ralph Lauren’s restaurant is inside the courtyard of the impressive new clothing store in Paris; it’s decorated as only Ralph would, totally chic outdoors veranda surrounded by flowers and RL pillows and fabrics. The menu is definitely American fair and well executed, I must say; the waiter was a laugh and a half…or maybe it was us…I don’t remember. This place is red, hot, popular and apparently, very difficult to get a reservation, though I walked up to the hostess stand with no reservation and talked my way into a beautiful table in 10 minutes…experience darling, experience!


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Entrance to Ralph Lauren’s new St. Germain restaurant


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The beautiful courtyard at Ralph Lauren

 

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Our pretty table at Ralph Lauren

 

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Leather Menu

 

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My delicious Cobb Salad

 

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Vincent’s Chicken Paillard

 

Though I could spend the entire day with this lot, laughing and drinking away, I can’t get to loopy because I am going to visit one of my favorite artists in the universe: Pablo Picasso’s newly re-furbished Museum. “Give me a museum and I’ll fill it,” Pablo Picasso reportedly said; and the city of Paris did just that! The renovated Picasso Museum closed since 2009 for renovation, finally reopened in 2015 in the Hôtel Salé, a spectacular Baroque 17th-century mansion in the Marais district. What can you say about Picasso that hasn’t already been said; he’s the MASTER, he’s the one who changed art forever and brought it to the new century; he’s a genius and a great inspiration in my life! The new museum does him justice; it’s so beautiful and grand with it’s dramatic staircase in the middle of it; I’m sure Picasso would be proud. After spending 4 hours in the museum with a very bored Raphael, who was done at 1 hour; we finally make our way home for a siesta before dinner at another landmark restaurant in Paris: L’Avenue on Rue Montaigne.

 

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Picasso Museum

 

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Picasso Museum entrance

 

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The stunning staircase at the Picasso Museum

 

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Robert Kass contemplating Picasso’s work

 

IMG_5343Picasso’s work

 

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Picasso’s work

Tonight I’m meeting Luc Cartier and Diane again for a night of laugher and lots of booze, because that’s the way we roll with this group. L’Avenue restaurant is a staple in Paris’s high-society and a favorite amongst the who’s who of rich and famous Americans…usually not my kind of place: too trendy and way to snobby! But I do make an exception for L’Avenue because of its amazing Steak Tartare and sublime Potato Purée and believe me, I don’t say this lightly! Definitely worth dealing with the thick layer of attitude and snobbery that this place delivers with no apology day after day! I always enjoy letting out an occasional burp in here just to see the expression of disgust on the faces of these “Larger than life” characters…”Oh mon Dieu”. Dinner is amazing and after 3 bottles of Burgundy the three musketeers are ready to wabble over to our favorite Bar in Paris: the Uber Chic Bar at the George V Hotel, just a few blocks away from L’Avenue.

 

IMG_6846L’Avenue restaurant on Avenue Montaigne


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One needs a cocktail before choosing what to have for dinner…

 

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The best Steak Tartare in Paris along with the best Mashed Potatoes in the universe

 

The George V is yet another institution in Paris and one of the best Hotels in the city for a century! I’ve been visiting this hotel since childhood; it was my Mom and Dad’s favorite in Paris in the old days and it continued to dazzle me to present day. An added bonus is my friend Jeff Leatham’s spectacular flower arrangements that have adorned this Hotel for many years now, setting it aside form the rest. It’s really expensive here, but if you can afford it, it’s really worth the experience it delivers to its guests. If you’re looking for a great drink, nothing beats the Lychee Martini that is shaken, not stirred, at your table by a young, beautiful bartender. Impossible to get  table here too, but thankfully, Mr. Cartier has been boozing it up in here for many years, so we were immediately greeted with great fanfare and seated at the best table in the house! Morale of the story? It helps to have boozy friends…

 

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One of Jeff Leatham’s beautiful arrangements at George V Hotel in Paris

 

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More Jeff Leatham genius at George V Hotel

 

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George V courtyard dripping in orchids

 

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George V super chic bar

 

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My favorite seat at George V’s Bar

 

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My favorite cocktail: Lychee Martini

 

Now we are seriously tipsy and it’s probably a good idea to wabble back home before we start swinging from chandeliers and get kicked out. That’s the great thing about Paris; you can always drink a little too much and then shake it off with a nice walk back home, while looking at the most beautiful city sights humanity has ever created.

 

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Amazing view of the eiffel Tower on the way home

 

One thing I know, If I make it to my old age, this is the city I will live in; I can’t imagine anywhere more inspiring and fulfilling than Paris. Good night possums…

 

 

What happened to St. Tropez?

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There is something very special about landing at Nice airport; it’s something about the south of France, it’s vegetation, architecture, its scents; the color of the ocean and this feeling of summer that take over me each time I’m here. After collecting our luggage we make our way to the very convenient and glamorous helicopter service to St. Tropez. There is no better way to avoid traffic and get a good idea of the shear beauty of this renowned coast all the way from Nice, through, Antibes, Cannes, Juan les Pins all the way to St. Tropez.

I’ve been coming to St. Tropez over the summer every year since I was 10 years old; I must admit I am quite jaded about this summer mecca and when I say: “What happened to St. Tropez” I’m referring to the tragic change this spectacular French resort has gone through over the last 10 years. It’s become a victim of it’s own success and today, it’s a playground for really tacky, nouveau riche (or wannabe “Riche”) wanting to flaunt their money and trophies and St. Tropez is happy to oblige with a myriad of ridiculous, commercialized gimmicks designed to take as much money as they can while dignifying and promoting such appalling behavior. Hummmm…do I sound a little negative? As I said, I’m really jaded when it comes to this place; there was a time when I thought St. Tropez was the most amazing summer resort in the world. I guess that after doing the same thing over and over for so many years, you grow tired of it and less welcoming of imminent change. Make no mistake, St. Tropez is absolutely beautiful, it’s just the summer people and the summer commerce that ruin it these days. If you have the opportunity to rent a house in one of the many little villages that pepper the coast’s hills, with a group of friends and enjoy the many local restaurants, markets, wineries and beaches, then this place is still amazing; but hanging out in town, along side the new madness…well, that’s clearly not for me anymore! Enough said…let’s move on.

 

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Our helicopter service to St. Tropez

 

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The very unfreindly French pilots

 

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Arial view of the port of Cap d’Antibes

 

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The stunning bays of St. Tropez

 

Once we land in St. Tropez, our driver is waiting to drive us to our hotel: Pan Dai Palais (www.pandei.com); one of the newer five start hotels in town and probably my favorite, because of it’s small and intimate size (only 10 gorgeous rooms), its exclusivity and it’s impeccable service. The Moroccan themed hotel is a converted 18-century estate that reeks of chic and it’s literally in the middle of town where everything is happening. It comes in handy when you had a few too many drinks and need to crawl back home.

 

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The super-chic Pan Dei Palais Hotel in St. Tropez

 

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Pan Dai Palace lobby

 

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My beautiful Maharaja Suite

 

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More Maharaja Suite

 

After settling into my room, we begin our 24 hours jammed packed visits of St. Tropez; starting with, what else, the beach! There are plenty of beaches in St. Tropez’s Pampelonne Bay and each one has a totally different crowd and purpose; my days of Nikki Beach, Voile Rouge or Bagatelle are most definitely over; the only beach I can bear these days, is Les Palmier, which is the most upscale and subdued of the whole lot, though I still like a long, boozy lunch at the iconic Club 55 (www.club55.fr/en/). After tipping the doorman $100 to get through the gate (you have to tip everyone here to get anywhere…kind of like Vegas), $200 for 2 chaise-lounge on the beach, $50 for two towels, $80 for a bottle of Evian, it’s finally time to relax and enjoy the beautiful sun and the expensive blue waters of the Pampelonne Bay, that looks more like a parking lot of mega yachts, fighting for the best position along the coast, than an ocean. After a lovely $400 lunch for two on the beach and a party at Tahiti Beach with my old friend Luigi (a staple in St. Tropez for over 30 years) spinning away and making us Tropical drinks the size of a fish bowl, it’s back to Pan Dai for a little siesta before the night marathon. $1000 afternoon and no shopping bag to show for…

 

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Robert Kass and Raphael Tessier getting sauced on Luigi’s Tropical Punch massive drink

 

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IMG_5616The amazing Luigi spinning at Tahiti Beach

 

Tonight we are driving 35 minutes outside St. Tropez in La Croix Valmer to dine at Couleurs Jardin Restaurant, a super charming outdoor restaurant perched on the beach. The food is amazing like most of the restaurants in these parts; my Pata Negra, a Spanish pork specialty, is to dye for! Two bottles of Burgundy later, it’s time for trouble! We drive back to St. Tropez and after a walk around this beautiful port town to digest our very heavy dinner, we move to the trendy Cafe de Paris at the port, where another old friends of mine from St. Tropez, is the GM. My friend Philippe has been running trendy clubs and bars in St. Tropez for the last 30 years, from the days of Le Bal to Le Pigeonnier to Chez Maggy’s and this one is no exception. Philippe is bigger than life and probably the funniest person in France; he will not let you leave his establishments standing, in fact, he’s happy to see you leave horizontally! Thankfully, I manage to stumble out before the customary demise.

 

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The ocean-side Couleurs Jardin Restaurant in La Croix-Valmer

 

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The open terrace dining room at Couleurs Jardin

 

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Heirloom tomatoes with burrata and tapenade

 

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Mussels au Gratin


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Spanish Pata Negra

 

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The charming, restaurant lined side alleys of St. Tropez

 

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St. Tropez’s iconic port lined with mega-yachts

 

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The omni-present Mega Yachts in the port oif St. Tropez

 

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The one and only Philippe holding court at Café de Paris

 

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The famous Tarte Tropézienne at Café de Paris

 

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The best dessert ever at Café de Paris

 

It’s now 2am and the perfect time to go to “THE” club in St. Tropez for the last 40 years: Les Caves des Roy at the Hotel Byblos (www.byblos.com/en/). This place is difficult to explain; it’s like a seventy’s club that never grew up but intact, shines brighter than ever; it’s a mecca for the worst kind of rich patrons one could think of and their dreadful groupies than come along with them. I will admit, I had many, many of amazing nights at Les Caves through the years, but now it’s literally painful to visit this joint. I remember many years ago when this club started a trend of interrupting the music every time someone bought a $15,000 Magnum of Dom Perignon or Crystal and the DJ announced the city from where the rich buyers came from, which in those days was not to often.

Today there are so many rich people that they literally interrupt the music every 10 minutes to announce a new city every time someone buys a mega bottle with the incredibly annoying words: “Dubai in the house” or, “Bangladesh in the house” or “Hong Kong in the house” while the waiters fight their way across the club, carrying the large bottles with sparklers in toe, to the your table, so that everyone knows you’re the ONE. Not to mention they pack this relatively small club to the hilt making it impossible to even move; I’m seeing the headlines already if ever a fire brakes out in this place: “French Toast”. The funny thing is that unequivocally, year after year, I run into so many of my friends in here from all over the world who are just having the time of their lives, just like I used to…I guess I started to early. This place is generation proof and here to stay no matter what this old goat says…Good for them!

 

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Place des Lices on the way to the Byblos Hotel

 

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The very exclusive and eternally jammed-packed Caves du Roy in St. Tropez

 

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Robert Kass in St. Tropez in 1995 sporting the young fashionista look

 

n1210396193_1230368_2265Dinner in St. Tropez with friends in 1995

It’s 5am and this grumpy and inebriated Suizo is ready for bed and thankfully, I can crawl back to my fabulous hotel that is just around the corner and slip into my four post Maharaja throne for whatever is left of this night before tomorrow’s imminent departure to Monte Carlo for the day and finally Paris for dinnertime. I don’t think I’ll be coming back to St. Tropez anytime soon, or at least, until I can afford a villa in the hills for me and my friends.

Bonne nuit mes petits poussins!

 

Hitting the Grand Bazaar with Cher and Loree Rodkin, dinner at Zuma and party at Soho House, Istanbul

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Starting the day in Istanbul, or more specifically at Nibbles’ house, is quite an experience; breakfast is served on the outside veranda, right on the Bosphorus and it’s an eclectic feast of local fruits and vegetables, a variety of breads, home made jams, feta cheese-cucumbers and peeled tomatoes, olives, omelets, and more!!!! It’s so much food, but all so delicious you can’t stop! Today we are going to the famous Grand Bazaar, an Istanbul institution and a must-do when visiting this city.

The Grand Bazaar, built in the 15th century, is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops, which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It is listed No.1 among world’s most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. 

It’s not for the faint hearted, in fact it’s a hustle and bustle of the craziest kind; it’s the art of buying and selling at it’s best. If you don’t know how to haggle…you will be taken advantage here with no mercy! I’ve been going here for years and sharpened my skills with every passing year to the point of perfection!!! Everyone shops here: locals and tourists alike, there are western prices and local ones and the trick is to get closest to the local price as you can. However, today’s visit will be a whole new experience for me; why you ask? Because CHER is going with us! I cannot even imagine how it will be like visiting the Grand Bazaar, with hundreds of thousands of visitors, with one of the most famous and iconic figures of our century…I’m breathless with anticipation!

We are off to the Four Season Hotel to pick up the divas: Cher & Loree Rodkin with entourage. It’s a quick boat ride across the waters and under a few bridges on the Bosporus and here we are here. Loree is already waiting in the lobby, as she is always on time; unfortunately you cannot say the same of lady” C”… one hour and a half later, HRH makes it to the lobby. With us is a pair of a Turkish version of a Navy Seals, who look more like Manchurian assassins than body guards…they are terrifying!! It was four of them to begin with , but Cher felt it would warrant unwanted attention, so cut it down to 2…thankfully!


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Raffi and myself on the way to the Four Season Hotel to pick up the divas

 

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Going under one of Istanbul famous bridges

 

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At the Four Season Hotel waiting for the Divas

 

After a 45 minutes van ride to the old center of town we are ready to rumble. Your first time at this 600 year old market is truly breathtaking; the energy around here is intoxicating and the thousands of stands selling everything and anything your heart desires make your head spin. We walk through the grand entrance into one of the main streets of the bazaar; people are staring the entire time, but can’t quite make out if it’s really Cher, a “Look-a-like” or a drag queen. What are the chances of her walking around one of the busiest markets in the world with just two bodyguards and a few friends; It’s the foreigners that recognize her immediately, but have no doubt, NO one is getting through the Manchurian Assassins!!! We shop and shop and shop till we can’t feel our feet anymore; I’m the chosen “Haggler” for the whole group, so after 3 hours of wheeling and dealing; I’m literally spent!!!! It’s time for a swim, a massage and a nap back home before getting ready for dinner at one of my favorite restaurant in Istanbul: Zuma.

 

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The newly restored Beyazit Mosque by the Grand Bazaar

 

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Entrance to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

 

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One of the many covered streets in the Grand Bazaar

 

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Shops and more shops

 

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Looking like a total tourist at the Grand Bazaar


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IMG_4616The amazing painted 15th century arched ceilings inside the Grand Bazaar



IMG_4619Café life at the Grand Bazaar



P1010158The amazing 15th century vaulted ceilings in the Old Grand Bazaar

 

10PM, time to pick up the gang again for dinner at Zuma (www.zumarestaurant.com). Yes, dinner in Istanbul starts at 10PM and continues till the wee hours of the morning…no Blue Light Special here! It takes a while to get used to eating so late, but when in Rome. Zuma’s cosmopolitan twist on traditional Japanese Izakaya cuisine, sits well with the Turkish elite. Like Las Vegas in the 90′, Istanbul is attracting all the big names in the culinary world: like Nobu, Cipriani, Spago, Ciccone’s, etc. Zuma, however, has one of the most beautiful terraces on the Bosphorus and sitting here for dinner overlooking the water, the lit mosques and the colorful bridges is truly spectacular! The food is delicious and reminiscent of Nobu’s cuisine; the miso marinated black cod wrapped in hobs leaf, the roasted lobster with chilli ponzu butter and the chili marinated lamb chops and homemade pickles, take the cake! A lovely lady from the table next to us, courageously comes over to our table and tells Cher how honored they are that she is in Istanbul and extended a big welcome on behalf of the Turkish people…dramatic but heartwarming. What an amazing group tonight: Loree Rodkin, Cher, Raphael Tessier, Jen, Endar, Paulette Howell and myself; we are all having the best time and all thanks to the best hostess in Turkey, our own, wonderful Nibbles. Once again, before you know it, it’s 2am and time for the ladies to retire and for the boys to go hunting!


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Dusk on the Bosforus

 

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Arriving at the Four Season Hotel to pick up the gang

 

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Me and the beautiful Nibbles

 

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The stunning terrace on the Bosforus at Zuma Restaurant

 

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Another view from Zuma restaurant

 

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Jenn, Endar and Paulette Howell at Zuma

 

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Loree Rodkin and Jen

 

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Cher and Robert Kass at Zuma

 

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Exotic fruit platter with tropical sorbet at Zuma

 

IMG_4594 2Turkish balls on ice…couldn’t help myself.

 

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The beautiful mosque on the Bosphorus


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One of the many changing colors of Istanbul’s bridges

 

Endar, Raphael and myself are going to the newly opened, member’s only, Soho House Istanbul (www.sohohouseistanbul.com), for a few nightcaps and a mingle with Istanbul’s elite…or so I’m told. The building, built in 1873, is absolutely spectacular; prior to Soho House takeover, Palazzo Corpi, as it is named, used to be the home of the US ambassador. In 2014, Soho House bought the building and began extensive restoration work on the Palazzo, returning it to its former glory. We are greeted with open arms by Soho’s charming manager who takes us for a tour of the Palazzo before we join a few of Endar’s friends on the rooftop bar. The place is beyond beautiful and without doubt, the most beautiful Soho House of all. The view of the Bosphorus and the city skyline from here is just amazing, not to mention, the rooftop pool looks very inviting and available to guests for a swim anytime. The crowd is definitely über chic and a testament to the growing, young Turkish society that is hungry for the best the West has to offer! It’s now 3AM and I am ready for my gorgeous bedroom on the water; tomorrow it’s sightseeing and a marvelous sit-down dinner on an old steamer boat, up and down the Bosphorus with best friends from both the US and Turkey…cannot wait!

 

IMG_4719Arriving at the stunning Soho House Istanbul

 

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Stairwell at Soho House

 

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One of the Grand Bars at Soho House

 

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Soho House Lobby

 

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Rooftop restaurant at Soho House

 

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A tired Robert Kass leaving the Soho House

Lunch with the dinosaurs, tea with Dame Joan and total madness at the Summertime Ball festival at Wembley Stadium

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Another day…another packed schedule! Today I’m revisiting my childhood by going to one of my favorite museums in the world: The Museum of Natural History (www.nhm.ac.uk). I can still remember my reaction when I first saw the massive Blue Whale hanging form the ceiling and the first dinosaurs in my life…I must have been 5 or 6 years old. Since then I have seen many dinosaurs, in fact, I’m surrounded by them back home in Beverly Hills…but that’s all together another story! My very handsome and very fit friend Robbie Banner, picks me up at 11am and off we go to see the lizard; after an hour searching for parking (don’t bother driving in central London, It’s impossible to find a parking and when you do, it costs a fortune!!! Better to use Uber or a cabby), we finally make our way into the iconic building that is The Natural History Museum. The first site in the main lobby, is an amazing skeleton of a Brachiosaurus Dinosaur who reveals a striking resemblance to so many people I know back in the US…oh no he didn’t!!!!! Just kidding…not really. The place is exactly how I remember it exempt all the animals and skeletons seem much smaller. Both Robbie and I are suddenly 15 years of age again, looking in wonder at all these amazing creatures filling the halls of this beautiful museum. After a quick lunch at the grand cafeteria at the museum, it’s off to the legendary Harrods (www.harrods.com) for a look-e-loo. I’ve been visiting Harrods since I was a baby and nothing has ever stuck with me more than Harrods’ food halls; they are truly a thing of beauty, imagination and perfection! I can spend hours wondering these halls, not to mention, I can also spend a small fortune here on all the amazing world foods readily available at all times. Harrods has gone through lots of changes through the years, but it is still a treat and a London MUST DO when visiting this amazing city.

 

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Natural History Museum

 

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Main Lobby and it’s main attraction: The Brachiosaurus Dinosaur

 

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T-Rex skeleton

 

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Robotic T-Rex

 

Now it’s off to Belgravia for tea with my ex-step-mother Joan-Collins…now Dame Joan!! Depending on the mood, It’s always a laugh catching up with Joan and the mood is better than ever now after recently receiving her title of Dame Commander of the British Empire from Britain’s Prince Charles…She is one happy and proud Brit!!! It’s also really nice sharing my recent experience in Peru with Joan’s husband Percy Gibson, who is himself, a Peruvian.

 

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Dame Joan after receiving her title of Dame Commander of the British Empire from Britain’s Prince Charles

 

It’s 6PM and Robbie is on his way to pick me up for the highlight of the day: The Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium. I don’t know if I’m ready for this…I hate concerts and I hate big crowds, but my boy Bob Semanovich is behind this event so I will suck it up and make the best of it! The ride to Wembley Stadium is only about 30 minutes but parking your car is another one hour (should have taken a damn Uber!!!). The event started at 3pm; it’s now 7:30pm and we are entering the arena: “God help me”, it’s packed with 60,000 screaming teenagers; there is no way in hell I will survive in here…I’m already planning my escape! “Alright Kass, it’s survival mode: first thing…find a bar, get drink, calm nerves!” I desperately wobble through a maze of hotdog stands, pretzel stands, Slurpee machines and screaming kids to find the mother load: alcohol. I finally see something that looks like a drink but is in fact a Smirnoff wine cooler bar…it will have to do, I’m desperate! Robbie and I make our way back to our seats and slurp away on our disgusting wine coolers through three acts: Ariana Grande, Ne-Yo and Pitt Bull before we agree that it’s really time to leave!!! It’s 10:30pm and we are famished; we must find a suitable place to eat before joining Bob at the Summertime Ball private after party bash at Mahiki in Mayfair. Turns out that finding a place that serves food after 11PM in London is quite a challenge…shocking!!!!! We went by a dozen restaurants and all of them already stopped serving food; what’s up with that??? Isn’t this London???

 


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Tickets to Summertime Ball

 

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Wembley Stadium

 

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Ariana Grande performing

 

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Ne-Yo performing


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Pit Bull performing

 

All right, time to regroup and think…we take a cocktail brake at the very glamorous The Wolseley on Piccadilly Road (who’s kitchen is also closed), inhale 10 mini cheese balls each from the bar, two Martinis and…Eureka!!!!!! Hard Rock Cafe is just down the street and it’s definitely open till late!!! We stumble down what seems much further than I remembered, but finally arrive at “Old faithful”: the very much OPEN, Hard Rock Cafe. At the risk of aging myself, I came at the opening of the Hard Rock Cafe in London with my Dad back in the 70′ when we lived in Mayfair; it was the very first Hard Rock Cafe and the then owner Peter Morton, was my dad’s friend and that joint became a favorite of ours for many, many years. Memories aside, I’m salivating over the idea of the HRC bacon cheeseburger with a black & white shake…It’s on!!!!

 

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Having a drink at The Wolseley in Mayfair with Robert Banner


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Hard Rock Cafe London

 

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Hard Rock Cafe interior

 

1am…food coma! Got to snap out of it, it’s time to join Bob at the after party up the street at Mahiki! After a few meltdowns at the door when they couldn’t find my name on the list, we finally make it down to the basement floor of this 4-story club and reunite with a now very “Happy” Bob and co. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long before Robbie and I catch up with the rest of them, especially when very large bottles of Ciroc vodka are parked in front of us calling our names. The rest of the night is a little blurry and probably not suitable for this blog anyway.

4am…What an amazing day: I am exhausted, drunk, happy and “one” damn year older!!!!! Tomorrow it’s off to Switzerland to visit my family and celebrate my birthday once again, in a much more civilized and subtle way…it’s always good to keep a good balance!

Good night everyone and Happy Birthday to me!!!!!!!

 

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The Shot Boat at Mahiki in Mayfair

 

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The 19 year old amazing DJ that rocked the house

 

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Robbie Banner trying to tell us something about the very large bottle of Cîroc

 

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A very happy Bob Semanovich

 

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I don’t quite know what’s going on here with Mr. Kass

Lunch with Tamara Beckwith, Dinner with my Jimmy Choo girl and party-on at Chiltern Firehouse

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Not even on day in London and I’m waking up with a English hangover! No worries…I can sleep in today though I do have lunch plans with my one of best friends in the entire universe (Too much?) Tamara Beckwith. When I come to London I almost always stay with Tamara and husband Giorgio Veroni (my Italian bestie), but this time around Giorgio is in Moscow for his Formula E race and Tamara is super busy with…well, being Tamara!! So I only get her for a quick lunch this time around…we’ll make the best of it. Tamara and I have been friends since we were teenagers along with my other two English best friends: Tamara Mellon and Vassi Chamberlain; and today I get to see two of them! Tamara is very fancy so of course we are going to the Bulgari Hotel (www.bulgarihotels.com) for lunch of which she is an ambassador, meaning free food and drinks for anyone she brings in…sounds good to me! I try to find something proper to were for the occasion and Uber off to Knightsbridge. Tamara looks ravishing as usual and our lunch seemed to go by in seconds before her next appointment shows up (busy little bee…). She is one of the funniest gals I know and when we are together it’s instant trouble…the good kind of course! After a quick catch-up, sadly we need to part, so I take the opportunity to visit Tamara’s Little Black Gallery in Chelsea before getting ready for another best friends dinner and a party at Andre Balazs’s super trendy Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone (www.chilternfirehouse.com).

 

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Front entrance of The Bulgari Hotel

 

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Bulgari Hotel super chic lobby

 

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I didn’t take a photo of us at lunch so I’m using an old one of me and Tamara Beckwith from Hannah Coleman and Edoardo Polli’s wedding in Milan

 

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Tamara’s Little Black Gallery in Chelsea

 

After a quick disco nap, I’m so exited to see some of the greatest friends I have tonight; I start off with dinner in Chelsea with the wonderful and beautiful Hannah Coleman, along with her terribly dashing Italian husband Edoardo Polli, the sweetest girl in London Elika Gibbs and last, bit not least, the funniest man alive Karim Al Hawaggi, AKA Waggi. I met Hannah many years ago through Tamara Mellon; at the time, Tamara had just purchased Jimmy Choo and Hannah just started working for her. 20 years later, Tamara has sold Jimmy Choo and Hannah is now the President of the very successful, high-end shoe empire. She was just a shy girl then and now she’s a powerhouse of a woman with a family to match! Elika Gibbs (www.practicalprincess.com) is also an old friend, compliments of Tamara Mellon; I’ve watched this girl grow up into a wonderful person and mother and now a very successful business woman with her company: Practical Princess: a high-end service that goes into your closet and re-organized everything to perfection. And then there is Waggi…he’s just the sweetest and funniest man alive, you cannot have a normal conversation with him; it’s constant laughter to the point of abdominal total failure. Waggi and I have been through a lot of trouble together over the years and growing older hasn’t seem to have slowed us down in any way, shape or form! He gives “Silly” a whole new meaning.

Waggi and I are the first to arrive at Tom’s Kitchen (www.tomskitchen.co.uk), a swanky Italian eatery on 27 Cale Street in Chelsea, and we immediately go into compulsive giggling for 15 minutes before we even say one word to one another!!! The hysterics are finally broken off by the arrival of the rest of the gang and after lots and lots of hugging and kissing we make our way into the lovely open kitchen dining room for a delicious Lamb shoulder with garlic mashed potatoes and a fabulous Pomerol that Mr. “Gourmand” Polli picks for the table. Catching up with this group is more than I can wish for; we go back so long that this dinner fells a bit like coming home. After two hours of eating, drinking and most of all, laughing, it’s time to dash and join Vassi Chamberlain and husband Adrian Harris for the Net-a-Porter cocktail party at Chiltern Firehouse.

 

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Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea

 

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Tom’s Kitchen’s interior

 

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The signature Lamb shoulder and mashed potatoes

 

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My darling Hannah Coleman Polli

 

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The hilarious Wiggles, “Practical Princess” Elika Gibbs and Edoardo Polli

 

Vassi Chamberlain is the last link in the Mellon connection; she was Tamara’s best friend for ages and we met when we were just teenagers. Vassi is a wonderful writer and has been editor of top publications such as English Vogue, Tatler Magazine and currently, Net-a-Porter Magazine. We have gone through many chapters in our lives together and are still tight as thieves; I’m thrilled to see her and her terribly handsome husband Adrian; it’s been quite a bit since our last dinner in LA during Oscar’s. I’m also curious to see this place everyone is talking about: Chiltern Firehouse; the latest of Andre Balazs’s collection of successes in both the US and abroad. Clearly a converted Firehouse, this new Hotel-Restaurant-Bar-Lounge is truly hot and trendy and makes the Chateau Marmont in LA look outdated! After the customary “Balazs door policy nonsense” at arrival; we go into the bar-lounge area to join the Net-a-Porter cocktail party. The place is stunning and the staff is, as always, très cute and sexy in the little slinky outfits. Vassi is way to busy with her co-workers, so I gladly catch up with Adrian who’s always a great source of inspiration; this is until we run into Tara Bernerd out in the courtyard with a bottle of Rose in front of her. Tara is a successful English interior designer that I’ve know for many moons; she’s quite a “live one”, so it’s just a matter of seconds before we start boozing it up together! The place is packed to the hilt and trying to get a dinner table proves impossible. Thanks to Tara’s resilience with the now, very annoyed management, we finally compromise with a small table in the lounge area and hors d’oeuvres instead of dinner (fine with me since I already had dinner a few hours ago). I don’t know how much fabulousness I can take for much longer; Tara is now taking Latin..I think; and Vassi and Adrian are ready to take me back to my Chelsea Pad. Goodbye beautiful people…these Brits sure love boozing it up!

 

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Chiltern Firehouse Hotel, restaurant and bar

 

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Chiltern Firehouse’s stunning Bar and lounge

 

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Chiltern Firehouse stunning Bar

 

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Chiltern Firehouse Dining Room


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Adrian Harris and Robert Kass having a chuckle

 

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Uber-Designer Tara Bernerd and Robert Kass

 

This was definitely a F&F kind of day (Friends and family for those of you who don’t know…) with all of my English besties…I am sooooo satisfied, full of love and ready for bed! I love London….zzzzzzz

“WE” are off to London Town…England that is!

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After a very brief few days in LA, it’s off to London to celebrate my 40…ish birthday and check out what’s new in one of my favorite cities in the world! London is very dear to me, I lived in London throughout my youth and went to grammar school at St. George School in Hanover Square where I was made to wear a red blazer, red shorts, striped white & red tie and red hat…I believe that’s where it all went pear shaped! When my father, Ronald Kass, was asked by the Beatles to be President and founder of Apple Records in the early 70′; we all moved to the lovely neighborhood know as Mayfair. My brother and I were very young and started living between Lugano, Switzerland and London. Even after my dad and his, then bride, Joan Collins moved back to LA, I continued my love affair with London for many years up to the present day. Through all these years I’ve cultivated amazing friendships in London that I continue to enjoy immensely and use as an excuse to pay the occasional visit.

I am particularly exited about this leg of the trip because I am using the website Airbnb for the first time (www.airbnb.com) and I’ve rented a lovely 1 bedroom apartment in Chelsea, one of my favorite neighborhood in London. I’ve been hearing about his new way of lodging for some time and I decided to take the leap and try it out; who knows…is this the death of my usual high priced hotel rooms? I’m also exited to fly one of my top 3 airlines in the world: British Airways (www.britishairways.com); This time around, I managed to get a free…ish business class trip with my American Express miles, even though the tax and luxury fee you have to pay on a miles ticket is pretty steep; even so…it’s a hell of a lot better than the standard $8000 plus you have to fork out for this kind of fare! So off i go for my favorite travel routine: cocktails, dinner, 2 movies, sleeping pill, sleep, breakfast and I’m in London! I’m flying the massive Airbus 380 for the first time, so I did my legwork (as I always do before traveling) and researched which is the best floor on this double decker-flying monster and which is the best seat I should get; as usual, I refer to www.seatguru.com to do the job. Top floor, window seat it is!

After a brief visit to the very un-impressive business class lounge at the new International Terminal at LAX, I’m ready to nestle into my fancy little cubical for the next 12 hours. The first thing I notice when I arrive to my seat, is that they are arranged in such a way that the person next to you is NOT facing the same direction as you are, as in all flights, but the opposite way; meaning, he’s next to you and facing you! We’re talking facing faces 2 feet away from one another. Now, I have two problems with this, first of all, I need to face the direction that the plane is flying towards, no flying backwards for my sister! Number two, it’s very uncomfortable and awkward having a perfect stranger so close to you trying not to stare you in the face; of course there is an electronic separator that you can raise once you reach 35,000 feet, which opens up a new set of issues of who will be the first to have the courage to raise the privacy wall. I definitely don’t like this layout at all! I try to break the ice with my neighbor with a few witty remarks, but apparently he was not amused and asked to be moved to another seat! All the better, now I don’t have to stare at “Mr. Humorless” and I can raise the separator without feeling rude. I thought my remarks were quite funny…oh well.

Not a moment after settling into my seat, I hear a voice from the cubical behind me: “Robert, is that you???”. I can’t believe it, it’s my dear friend Bob Semanovich, who just happens to be in the seat behind me…what a laugh! Bob and I go back a long time and I’m so exited to have all this time to catch up with him since we haven’t had a chance to visit in quite a while. Bob is a big shot in the music industry and I am pleased to hear that he is going to London for a big music festival at Wimbledon Stadium that his company is organizing and even more exited that he will give me two tickets to the event…I guess I’ll have to fit that in my very busy London schedule somehow! All right, enough pleasantries with Bob, we both want to pop a pill, sink into our flat beds and sleep our way to London…ZZZZZZZZZ.

 

 

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British Airways’ flying monster Airbus A 380

 

 

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BA’s weird business class layout with facing seats

 

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The very comfortable business class cubicles on the Airbus 380

 

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My surprise traveling neighbor Bob Semanovich

 

We are just about to land and I’m anxious to see my new Airbnb “flat” in Chelsea. After a short 45-minute Uber ride (these people are everywhere!!!) I arrive art the flat to meet Alessandro, the landlord; I am happy to say that this place meets all my expectations; a charming classic English 1 bedroom apartment with lots of light, a lovely terrace for my afternoon tea (that will never happen…) a fully equipped new kitchen and a very comfortable bed. The location is perfect, just in the mix of things and e few Uber pounds away from my social neck of the woods. I settle in, unpack my 15 outfits for my English stay…yes, you need lots of outfits when socializing in London, lots of fashion rules, fashion snobs, mandatory suits or dinner jackets in many places, all rules to which I gladly succumb to…coming from LA where you wear shorts and flip flops to a wedding! In the rush of things leaving LA I did forget a tie and tonight I’m going to the chicest and most exclusive private club in London: Loulou’s, where jacket and tie is a must to enter, so is a membership! Thankfully, my dear friend George Glasgow is a member and has invited me to dinner at this “impossible to get in” new spot.

So it’s off to Jermyn Street, one of my favorites streets in London for shopping; I’ve been coming here since I was a baby with my dad who was very fashion forward and extremely dapper. One of his favorites was Turnbull & Asser, a very old fashion English brand that has been around since 1885. I’m a sucker for tradition so I think it appropriate to honor my father’s memory with a tie from this gorgeous and yes, quite stuffy store. $150 later, I have a tie for tonight; it’s now off to my beloved Fortum & Mason for a little visual stimulation; This iconic department store, as Harrods, is a tribute to England and all that is traditionally English; it’s been around since 1707 (like most everything in this country) and it’s the definition of English high-end shopping. Though I am always so temped to stock up on their amazing tea selection, biscuits, Stilton cheese, patés, etc… this time around, my long travel schedule won’t allow weighing myself up with merchandize, so it’s going to be just a jar of my favorite Blue Stilton cheese and some water crackers for my afternoon snacking back at the Chelsea apartment.

 

 

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Jermyn Street, SW1

 

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Windows at Turnbull & Asser

 

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Side entrance at Fortnum & Mason

 

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One of the many beautiful design features at Fortnum & Mason



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Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly Road

 

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Wine and spirits hall at Fortnum & Mason

 

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Fortnum & Mason’s famous teas

 

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Alright, it’s time to go back for a nap and get ready to meet my dear friend George Glasgow (CEO of G.J. Cleverley & Co., one of the best of bespoke English shoemaking and craftsmanship), for an evening at London’s hottest new private club: Loulou’s. Turns out two good American friends of mine, Michelle and Jason Sheldon are also in London so I invite them along with my British friend Robert Banner to join me at 5 Hartford Place, Mayfair; which happens to be just a few blocks away from my old house on South Street. It’s time to see what all the fuss is about; we enter though the very nondescript side door and into a small reception area where immediately you are asked for your name and membership; after telling the very well dressed gentlemen that I was expected by George Glasgow, we are ushered into the the main salon to sign our names on a book and then directed to the Martini Bar on the 3rd floor where George is waiting for us with Martinis at hand.

Loulou’s has become the hotspot for London’s upper crust; it’s a multi-story townhouse, along Mayfair’s Shepherd’s market. Owner Robin Birley, English businessman and political activist, has transformed this traditional townhouse into several lounges, a drawing room, a martini bar, a library, a cigar room, stunning courtyard, a nightclub and two très chic restaurants all designed by Turkish fashion designer Rifat Ozbek (who’s never designed an interior space before). Robin Birley, is the son of Mark Birley and Lady Annabel Goldsmith, who themselves owned several members’ clubs in London, including the legendary Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar, both of which I frequented as a young lad. Each room at Loulou’s has a different mood and provides a totally different experience. There’s a stuffed giraffe, greeting the guests as they enter the Madagascan Bar on the way to the over-the-top disco room. The who’s who of London are regulars here including the Royal family, Mick Jagger, Daphne Guinness, Kate Moss, me, George Clooney and the list goes on.

By 10 pm the place is packed and it is practically impossible to move, having been in LA for so long, you can’t not notice how everyone, and I mean everyone, is so elegantly dressed in suits and ties, black ties, long gowns and fashion galore…these Brits sure know how to whip it up! Drinks start at $30 a drink so you better be ready for a BIG bill; my favorite is the passion fruit martini! I don’t even dare find out how much dinner costs; then again London is the most expensive city in the world, so if you’re on a budget, you got your work cut out for you!!! My favorite story of the night is when the group “One Direction” came in without being members and arrogantly told the front host: “don’t you know who we are?? We are One Direction and we want in!!!!” to which the host calmly replied: “I’m terribly sorry Sir, but you are not members of the club, so the only direction you’re going is out the door!!!” So British…so Brilliant!!!!

 

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Loulou’s on 5 Hertford Street

 

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My Posse: George Glasgow, Michelle Sheldon, Jason Sheldon and Robert Banner

 

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The Dining Room

 

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One of the two stunning Dining rooms

 

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The beautiful outdoor patio

 

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3rd floor Martini Bar

 

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Basement Bar and night club complete with stuffed Giraffe

 

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The venerable toilet at Loulou’s

 

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The beautiful Madagascan Bar

 

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George is set on showing me every room at Loulou’s, where of course we must have a drink; so 8 rooms later, I’m about to pass out! This place is really fancy so perhaps it’s time to leave before I make a fool of myself. Michelle, Jason, Robert and I have the brilliant idea of walking to Barkley Square for a nightcap at Morton’s…that part is a little blurry but I know I was there because I have a photo to prove it! Thankfully I make it back safely to my Chelsea pad; what a great first night in London!!!! Tootles possums…talk tomorrow!

 

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4AM at Morton’s in Barkley Square for a nightcap…hopefully!

 

New Year’s madness in Acapulco, Mexico

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My God…Acapulco; I haven’t been to this place since the early 80′, when it was still a Jet setting mecca that started way back in the 60′, and eventually fell off the world platform due to its violence and unattractive over development. My dad & mom would vacation here when it was a pristine bay with crystal waters and it’s signature palm leaves umbrellas or “Palapas”on the beach. It was the place where Liz Taylor and Richard Burton would mingle with all the Hollywood set and the wealthy Mexicans hosted all the rich and famous from all around the world. Two of the most memorable Acapulco characters doing the hosting were the fabulous and eccentric, Texas-based, Baron & Baroness di Portanova who built one of the most iconic homes in Mexico: Villa “Arabesque”; an Alibaba and the 40 thieves themed mega estate with multiple pools, a “Harem” lounge & ding room, complete with harem motive murals, a funicular that brings you from the house level to the ocean, a “20,000 leagues under the sea” discotheque and so much more; the Villa was featured on the James Bond movie: “License to kill”. They were renowned for the many lavish parties they would throw and the very glamorous guest list that would attend! I remember going to a few parties there when I was young and being so impressed with these incredible hosts and the “Joie de vivre” they exuded; I was also equally shocked watching all these famous people get completely wasted and belligerent…little did I know that just a decade later, I’d be doing exactly the same thing!!!!!

 

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The Über glamorous late Baron & Baroness di Portanova at Villa “Arabesque”, Acapulco

 

On December 30th, Eugenio’s driver picks me up at my mom’s home in Cuernavaca for the 3 hour drive to Acapulco; this Mexican version of Formula 1’s Schumacher, took all of 2 hours to get there (instead of three), by driving at blistering speeds during which I held on for dear life in the back seat of the SUV, bouncing from side to side as a bobble head as he flew through those mountain curves at 120 miles an hour!!!! By the time I arrived to my destination, I didn’t care what would happen over the next few days…I was just happy to be alive!

I arrive at the beautiful villa that Eugenio rented for the holidays in the prestigious Las Brisas colony, where the iconic Las Brisas Hotel (www.lasbrisascollection.com/hotels/acapulco) with it’s famous pink Jeep’s and pink casitas, each with their own pool, rules as the best hotel in Acapulco. Once there, a very friendly and efficient house staff, welcomed me with tropical drinks and delicious mexican treats. You didn’t need to twist my arm to much before I started stuffing my face with “gorditas” and mini quesadillas that, for some reason, are so much tastier than any you would find in LA. There I met the gang of “Bandits” that were also guests of Eugenio’s and with whom I would spend the next several days, including some LA friends like Ferdinand Bare and his girlfriend Maria Conchita Alonso, the handsome film maker Adrian Burns, the artist Jeanette Longoria, the hilarious Priscilla “Queen of the desert”, just to name a few.

Not to long after settling into my suite, I decide to take a shower, so I get undressed and just when my nickers were half way down my legs, a 3 foot long snake (no…not mine) appears from underneath my bed and rapidly slithers across the room just a few feet away from my bare feet! Let me tell you, I never jumped so high and screamed so loud in my life!!!! I could just see the headlines: Kass dies in Acapulco from snake bite to his “Willie”! I went running out the door into the garden like a mad man in my underwear, screaming “bloody murder”; you should have seen the faces of the house staff, who probably thought: “Here you go, another crazy “Gringo”! I finally was able to explain the situation to one of the guards who promptly went to my room and killed the beast!! After the scare I went through I should at least end up with a snake skin belt…no? not PC? It took another 12 Margueritas before I could go back into my room; this time with 3 armed guards, who checked every square inch to make sure no more local fauna was planning to keep me company.

We all decided to have a quiet night at home so we could shine the day after for New Year’s eve. The amazing chef at the house, whipped up the most incredible dinner, my favorite being the shrimp chile soup that was to die for…literally; my mouth was on fire for 2 days!!! On New year’s eve day, we planned a boat ride in the late afternoon, to witness the last sunset of 2012; it was truly magnificent and romantic…too bad I was the only single person on board! Once back at the villa, preparations begin for the big night; I was thrilled to find out that the party we were attending, was in fact at Villa Arabesque, which is now owned by Jenna Jaffe, the sister of my good friend Jeanette Longoria, who was also a guest at Eugenio’s.

 

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Acapulco Bay view from my bedroom

 

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Siesta spot

 

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“2012 last sunset” boat ride with Maria Conchita Alonso and “Tequila” the Chihuahua

 

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and other guests…

 

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Last sunset of 2012 from our boat

 

After getting lost a few times on the way to the party in our “presidential” caravan of guests and armed body guards, we finally arrive! It was so weird being at this house after so many years; not a second inside the gate and the drinking started, it was like I never left. Close to midnight, one of the most beautiful new year’s traditions I’ve witnessed around the globe begins: the lighting of the Sky Lanterns. They are traditionally constructed from oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame, and contain a small candle or fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material. When lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern causing the lantern to rise into the air. Suddenly, the dark sky is illuminated by hundreds of glowing dots…it’s truly magical. The less popular part of this beautiful tradition is that these paper lanterns catch on fire quite easily, and before you know it, they turn into little flying fire balls that eventually land on people’s properties setting everything ablaze. I witnessed one home catch on fire just half a mile from our location…but in hindsight, it did look pretty!

At midnight the fireworks spectacle began and thanks to our position, we could see the entire show lighting up all of Acapulco Bay. I always get so sentimental at midnight on all new year eves…I just start thinking how lucky I am to be alive and to have the life I have, regardless of all its ups and downs. I think of my family and the people I love and loved through the years; I think of all the people who are suffering and don’t enjoy the same opportunity I was given, and before you know it, I get all chocked up and teary eyed. But the tears are quickly replaced by joy and the believe that a new year is like a rebirth and an opportunity for dreams to come true and to do things better this time around.

Around 1AM dinner was served in the “Harem” themed dining hall; sadly most everyone was to drunk to appreciate the delicious meal, including yours truly. By 3AM we are ready to leave and embark on a marathon of other private parties in the surrounding hills. It was literally like a “flash of sequence”, appearing at each event for a few air kisses and off to the next, I think it finally ended by 8AM when we all crawled back to the villa and finally into bed, but not before stuffing a few last quesadillas down my throat!

 

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Pool level at Villa “Arabesque”

 

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Outdoor living at villa “Arabesque”

 

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Mexican New Year tradition: lighting of the Air Lanterns

 

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Releasing the Sky Lanterns

 

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Fireworks across Acapulco Bay

 

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Riding the camels…

 

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Dinner time in the “Harem” themed Dining room with the handsome & cheeky Adrian Burns

 

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The infamous Discotheque at Villa “Arabesque”

 

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Villa “Arabesque” from our boat

 

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Main pool with views of Acapulco Bay at Villa Arabesque

 

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One of the many lounging areas at Villa Arabesque

 

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Double rainbow outside my bedroom on 1/1/2013…must mean “Good luck”!!!!!!

 

Another event worth mentioning that we attended after New Year,  is the Alleman’s party at their beach home in Puerto Marquez. Miguel Aleman was the 47th president of Mexico and as expected, his family’s party, on his private beach, was sure to deliver! There were several different stations with chefs cooking up local foods to order and all tables centerpieces were decorated with huge shells, corals and glass bowls with live gold fish swimming in it. The beach was all lit with Tiki torches and the “Saturday night fever” dance floor was placed on the sand with the most beautiful back drop of the open ocean. The most unusual part was the large amount of uniformed military personnel, complete with AK 47 machine guns, circulating around the property at all times…I guess it gives you an idea fo the kind of environment they are living in. After eating way to many servings of ceviche and drinking way to many tequila shots, we eventually leave for club Palladium (www.palladium.com.mx) my good friend and colleague at Hilton & Hyland, Trista Rulland’s family joint. This place is the real thing, I’m talking NYC 1980′ type club, enormous with incredible sound system, state of the art light show, complete with cages for gogo dancers, sitting on a bluff overlooking Acapulco Bay. It’s amazing to me how these 3rd world resorts have these incredibly expensive, huge nightclubs…things that make you go hummmm! The other big nightclub is the 30 something year old Baby O; still packed to the hilt with young, beautiful rich Mexicans in head to toe Hermes, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana ordering bottle service like it’s 1999…

 

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Beach wonderland

 

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Ceviche boat

 

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Dessert display

 

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Eugenio Lopez & Jeanette Longoria

 

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Mexican home security with AK 47

 

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My two “Chicas”: Trista Rulland & Maria Conchita Alonso

 

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Club Palladium

 

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Last Acapulco sunset from our infinity pool before going back to LA in the morning

 

At last, it’s time to go back to reality; my time in Acapulco was amazing, all thanks to my incredibly gracious and generous host and dear friend Eugenio Lopez, without whom none of this would happen…I wish everyone in the world could have a friend like him!

 

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Me and my buddy Eugenio Lopez