Cruise into the new year & a new you
It's nearly March. Have you joined a gym, started a healthy regimen, began a daily fitness routine, been kind to each other, said "I love you" and meant it? Well you can always start now. First off get fit. You can do it at home or at a health club like one of my two fave raves: The Sports Club LA (branches in NY, Miami, Vegas an of course Los Angeles and Beverly Hills). SCLA is simply the best. Quite the opposite is Crunch, my ther fave caters to a laid back but fitness tough clientele with a no attitude, no frills concept. The Los Angeles branch has a warehouse feel with hard floors filled with machines to keep you firm and toned. There's also a Yoga studio, Pilates room, cardio area, locker rooms with steams and saunas and a great staff with a happens at Crunch stays at Crunch philosophy.
Thank you for checking out my blogzine. I invite you to scroll down among the entries--and my archives--where you'll find the latest on food, fashion, great gifts, upscale travel, luxury cruises, super spas and what the Dining Diva talked about Friday morning with Rick Dees in the Morning on the hot, new Movin 93.9 FM--the mix that makes you move (www.movin939.com). Feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to come on back as I add new stuff regularly.
Up on the 122,000 square foot Deck: Lots of space, long inviting pools perfect for lap swiming, lots of chaises, space and activities to enjoy (or not). Princess is proud of its "Movies Under the Stars" theaters with Led screens and 69,000 watt sound system. Problem is if you happen to go for a swim in the pool where the screen hangs high up the sound canbe ear piercing. At night popcorn is served and guests are provided with blankets for cool nights.
There's lots of places to eat including three maining dining rooms offering "anytime" dining that allows passengers to eat when they want. Alternative restaurants have added charges like the Crown Grill steakhouse ($25 pp)Vines and Sabatini's ($20 each). But it's well worth it as these eateries dish out the best fare. The International Cafe stays open around the clock to fuel hungry seafarers, a pizza and ice cream bar is also available as well as 24-hour room service.
And speaking of food, the company also offers a Junior Chef at Sea program where tots learn to cook. Not only can youngsters master culinary arts they can look good at the same time with the Teen Makeover program sponsored by the spa for boys and girls. Princess if famous for it's production shows and the Crown continues the tradition with a several new offerings in a really dynamite theater. Sometimes the talent is lacking, but Wi Fi offerstill entertaining.
Head spinning diversions are available all day from morning power walks to bingo and beyond. Some innovative options include scrapbooking@sea; spelling bees, big screen games and get this Tie the Knot at Sea. The latter includes lots of bells and whistles (champagne, live music, candlelight dinner, photos, canvas print, wedding cake,video and more for a mere $1,800 plus $450 registration and license fee.
Plusses: Lots of staterooms with balconies which now boast upscaled furnishings. Supersized casino. Helpful crew especially cabin and dining room staff. Lots of bars (but pricey drinks in most).
Itinerary: Brooklyn to Caribbean (9-day voyages); San Juan to Caribbean 7-day).
Rating: Based on the category of cruising I give the Crown five stars *****. To find out more go to the website for more info: www.princess.com.
Go to Las Vegas Baby no matter what hey build in this city of decadent delights, my heart remains with Caesars Palac where I have many fond memories including birthdays and anniversaries celebrated there. The pools are simply divine. There's an ultra private European-style pool where gals can go topless, drinks are poured, special towels provided and more at what I call it the "Whale" pool because high rollers sunbathe there with their "nieces". Debbie Munch, vice president of media relations, put us up in a humongus room in the 949 room Augustus Tower. Oursuite-like accommodation proved sublime with a large marble bathroom with tub and shower, two sinks and all the necessities. The bedroom area comes with a king size bed, desk, dining area, flat screen TV, floor to ceiling windows with an awesome view and plenty of space to move around. Caesars offers three tiers of VIP lounges depending on how much you're good for at the slots and tables. ou gamble the more you drinks, snacks, continental breakfasts and a nice lounging. The highlight was a leisurely dinner at Guy Savoy, which I've asked my foodie better half, to write the review which appears below, savor the moment......Guy Savoy photos by Brian Leatart
The world of dining at Guy Savoy according to Richard J. Pietschmann, writer extrordinaire and equally extraordinary spouse....
“Look,” said superstar French chef Guy Savoy, “the Eiffel Tower.” He pointed out the window, that secret smile of the French barely moving his lips, and looked. We looked. Sure enough, the famous Parisian landmark rose nearby.
Except we weren't’t in his flagship Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris, the one with three Michelin stars, or in any of his other four Paris restaurants. Hey, we weren’t even in Paris. It was Las Vegas, in Caesars Palace. That was the scaled down version of the Eiffel at the Paris Hotel and Casino across the Strip. It is a jape that the playful, bearded chef no doubt will make often at his brand new Restaurant Guy Savoy Las Vegas, which opened in mid-May as his first endeavor outside Paris. Why Las Vegas when offers have poured in from hopeful partners around theworld? It is said, for instance, that the deals dangled include tantalizing ones proffered by the famously free spending gastronomes known to populate Tokyo’s tonier neighborhoods.
Well, the burgeoning Vegas haute cuisine dining scene is certainly one reason. A healthy percentage of the world’s top chefs have succumbed to the high-roller charms of the city in the last few years. The whales who patronize the off-limits-to-commoners gambling regions at Caesars will be unfazed when confronted with the prices staring back at them from the RestaurantGuy Savoy Las Vegas menu—a $290 per person Menu Prestige, $80 Blue Fin tuna tartare, $140 roasted veal chop (although that’s for two people), and $22 desserts.
But the deal maker turned out to be Savoy’s suave son, Franck, and Franck’s remarkably gracious wife, Laura. When Caesars Palace came calling, the couple tipped the odds in its favor when they told papa they would love to work in Las Vegas. Alors, dad said, Vegas it is. Orsomething like that, if Franck and Laura would agree to run the front of the house.
One afternoon before dining there I was caught in shorts and t-shirt gawking in wonder at the menu outside and looking like the geekiest tourist through the vertical glass slits in the heavy doors by a lovely young woman obviously arriving for work. She paused, smiled, and asked if I had any questions. “Uh, no,” I brilliantly replied. She smiled again, and went in. Later, of course, it turned out that she was Laura Savoy. Worse,she remembered me.
Now that I’ve told you all about Guy Savoy without mentioning the food or the décor, let me say it’s amazing on all counts. It’s the kind of place that has a bread pairing for courses (the chestnut bread is remarkable, but so are theothers), surprises before and between courses, and a way with recipes that makes the final result straightforward in taste though complex in execution. Remarkably, this is not fussy food, though it is inventive and interesting. Nothing is as it seems, yet taste is everything. We had the tuna tartare and “Peas All Around” for starters, Savoy’s signature Crispy Sea Bass and Escalope of Wild Salmon for the mains.
It is one of the tragedies of my gustatory career that I passed on the cheese trolley, but I had heard that Savoy loved desserts—the Menu Prestige that night included two, upping the usual count of courses to 11. We shared a chocolate Ganache that transformed the standard dessert into something entirely new, and then sat back to wait for the dessert trolley, stacked with choices. Let me simply say that you have never tasted prunes like this.
This is a grand restaurant, the décor up to the cuisine in every way. There are just 75 chairs in various rooms, views of the Strip, soaring ceilings, a wall of wine bottles, a champagne lounge witha new-age fireplace, and an outdoor patio for cigars andcognac. This last is where Robin Leachof “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” renown had installed himself and where the chef himself was enjoying a Vegas-big stogie with friends. And of course, a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Well it happened, Caesars has joined the spa generation. As of October guests can unwind and be pampered at Qua Baths & Spa. Look for Roman baths, an Arcatic ice room, crystal body art, and a greatly expanded fitness center. The swank , 50,000 square foot oasis will offer what Caesars calls "Social Spa-ing" a unique concept which will define once I've sampled the waters. There's also a Men's Only Zone , thre pools, a waterfall, frain showers and more. So keep coming back for updates.
Bellagio's Spa--65,000 square foot sanctuary provides unadulaterated bliss with some ofa the best treatments in this town or anywhere. Idid a head to toe beginning with an Ashiatsu massage where the therapist hangs from the ceiling and pummels you with her well-manicured feet, absolute heaven! Also did a Watsu--a water based therapy where you are massage, stretched and led around a warm pool by an able bodied therapist until you melt into a relaxed pulp. From there they led me to a facialist who peformed miracles on my desert dry skin. The grand finale was one of the best manicure/pedicures I've ever had. The facility itself is a knock out and the staff are all gems. They also offer group pamper parties perfect for brides and their attendants; couples packages--ideal for newlyweds, old marrieds or just plain lovers. Prices are steep but well worth the splurge. Call: 702-693-8080 to book your treatments in advance as they sell out fast there. Tellthem Patti sent you.
We also went over tot he Mirage to sample Stack, a new steakhouse that is tres chic and trendy. It gets its name because they stack stuff like the breads and such. The unique interior design of sculpted dark wood room feels like you're dining inside a chocolate layer cake. Had a Kobe beef burger and it was divin--tasty, cooked to perfection and accompanied by yummy fries. Richard did a porterhousethat melted in the mouth. We shared a plate of spinach, mmmmm, and Caesar salad. Washed down with wines by theglass Chardonnay to start, Pinot to finish. It's pricey butreally worth the splurge (not as expensive as Guy Savoy however).
Another night we dined al fresco at the Four Seasons Verandah restaurant. It was a balmy night and we enjoyed a light breeze as we sipped fine wines and ate branzino (moi) and seabass (Richard). We started with carpaccios and salads and ended with mini ice cream bars dipped in luscious chocolate.
Hit the Desert, Palm Springs-style. Book a room at thePalm Colony Hotel a hip, happening new kid in town carved out of Sheila Cluff's former Palms at Palms Springs--which was once a 'poor mans' fat/fitness farm with budget prices and great results. Now a pseudo swank spot the hotel... now that I have your attention you'll have to come back to hear more since I actually haven't been to the new place yet but planning on it real soon. In the meantime you can call (800) 557-2187 or visit www.colonypalmshotel.com.