When it comes to embarking on a new chapter in life, I’m rediscovering that timing really is everything. The time has never felt more right for me to take an extended break from New York. So it is with the happiest heart that I prepare to leave my beloved Big Apple for LA.
My journey to becoming an Angeleno began, in some ways, half a lifetime ago, when I fell in love for the first time with a California guy. During the year of that bicoastal romance, I was introduced to some of the West Coast’s varied attractions–from the charms of Santa Monica and majesty of the Pacific Coast Highway to quaint beachside town Morro Bay. Though the love affair ended, it was only the beginning of my fondness for Cali.
Over the years, I have enjoyed a weekend getaway to San Francisco and Napa, unexpected romance in San Diego and many, many trips to visit friends in L.A. It was during one particular visit nearly 3 years ago that my California dreaming began.
Longtime dear friend A invited me to join his wife at Malibu Winery to watch their incredibly talented daughter Ren perform outdoors. Sitting there in the sunshine with the mountains behind us, I found myself wondering–why have I never lived here??
That question intensified when I applied for a job in LA. The news that I didn’t get it came as I headed West for a third time in six months. At this point, the question shifted to, can this born and bred New Yorker navigate LA’s car – based lifestyle? Was I really ready to bid farewell to my hometown, or just going through the inevitable weariness that comes with living in the city synonymous with hustle and bustle?
So I settled back into NYC life, or I tried to at least. What I found, though, was that it became increasingly more difficult to keep up with the relentlessly fast pace here. Travels to other places only amplified my desire to slow down. And once again, my thoughts turned to LA.
Despite the frequent rivalry between my first and future hometowns, I have always felt that New York is yin to LA’s yang. Opposites that compliment one another. And for this Big Apple native, there’s no other city which feels more appropriate to explore as a local.
Like I said, timing is everything. Two years ago, I reached out to a Starwood colleague who was making the move from LA to NYC. She graciously shared her insights about her life and career in Cali. We had the chance to work together while she was here, and stayed in touch after she went back last fall. She is now going to be my boss and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Along with congratulations and best wishes, I’ve received some questions from family and friends. Among the most popular–how can I possibly leave NYC?
Quite easily, actually. Having already lived in Sydney, I know I’m going to love the beach – cosmopolitan city lifestyle of LA. And I’m also going to love spending more time with A and my other friends out there.
And, even though my zip code is about to change, one thing most assuredly will not–I am a New York City Gal. Forever proud to be, just ready to adopt a new hometown.
The adventure begins April 10th!
If there’s one thing that intensifies as you get older, it’s the swift passage of time. That hit me last week as I returned to NYC’s Marriott Marquis hotel for the first time in six years.
Like one of my 2010 evenings there, this one was for the HSMAI Adrian Awards — the Oscars of travel PR and marketing. And once again, I was fortunate to be celebrating multiple wins, including a Gold Award for the Womanhood Redefined program I launched at one of my hotels. Joining me at the even t– good friend and ace publicist Jen Maguire, who secured front page coverage for the campaign in The New York Times.
The travel marketing world is a small and friendly one, so Jen and I caught up with several former colleagues during the cocktail reception. I told Jen about Paula Butler, an industry veteran and amazing woman responsible for my 2010 blog partnership with Marriott Hotels. Imagine my surprise and delight to run into Paula seconds later!
You really never know when or how a wonderful connection is going to come into or return to your life. That kind of serendipity was also on my mind when I met up later with Australia-based buddy Giuseppe.
Both huge Sex and The City fans, G and I initially connected years ago when he was blogging about the show/movies. Now a hugely successful fashion author/blogger, G moved to Oz after meeting his partner during a trip down under.
Over cosmos at the Marquis’ rotating View lounge, we had an awesome conversation about relationships, travel, work and embarking on new adventures.
Giuseppe is launching an exciting new enterprise. Hearing about it and reconnecting with him was a reminder that it’s never too late for a fresh start. You just have to be brave enough to seek it out.
Last weekend, I caught up with my good friend Bobbi for a fun girls night out.
It was Bobbi’s first visit since moving to Dallas a year and a half ago. After brunch at Grand Central café Pershing Square, we met up later for dinner at Zengo in Midtown. The Richard Sandoval restaurant serves up Asian-Latin fusion in an inviting atmosphere with a cozy downstairs bar that’s packed for happy hour during the week.
Over the course of both meals and then drinks at the W New York hotel, we talked about work, dating and memorable times past—from a spa getaway in Connecticut to our joint 40th birthday celebration. We also reminisced about Helen, our beloved mutual family friend who introduced us 12 years ago.
Helen, Tante Chaya as I knew her, passed away on Monday at the age of 99. For 50 years, she was a huge part of my family–going back to when she and Mom worked for Dad’s company Leeds. Instrumental in bringing my late parents together, Tante Chaya persuaded Mom to stay at Leeds when she wanted to resign within weeks of starting. She also convinced Mom to take a chance on Dad years later and was the one who managed to find a rabbi who would marry them (Mom was Catholic, Dad was Jewish and interfaith marriages were a rarity at the time). It’s no exaggeration to say that, without Tante Chaya, I probably wouldn’t be here.
Though she never had children, Tante Chaya was a surrogate mother to me, Bobbi and so many blessed to know her. Her no nonsense advice and razor sharp wit never failed to make life’s trials—especially those of the romantic variety–easier to bear.
I will never forget the conversations we had–about everything from cherished memories of Mom and Dad to celebrity breakups and of course, affairs of the heart. Tante Chaya encouraged me to never give up on finding love. She was so eager for me to meet my mate that she proudly showed me the gown hanging in her closet, on hold for her to wear at my future wedding day.
Should that day ever come, I know she will be by my side, as she was in life for me and my parents. I have no doubt they are all together again.
Rest in peace, Tante Chaya. You will be in our hearts forever.
In the crowded landscape of burger joints in the Big Apple, Five Napkin Burger is one of the best. So I was excited when 5N recently opened a second location — right around the corner from me.
Like its sister restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, the Upper East Side 5N offers a low-lit bistro vibe, friendly wait staff and a mouthwatering menu of options for burger aficionados. During my first visit, I grabbed a high table near the bar and enjoyed the asiago turkey burger, delicious and as plentiful in size as its beef counterpart. Their cocktail menu is equally robust. I enjoyed the Velvet Mule, a refreshing variation on the Moscow mule.
Signature drinks were also on the menu during my second visit to 5N, with galpal Ayesha. She tried the Breakaway Mai Tai while I savored a Rum Swizzle Punch, both from the Caribbean-inspired drink menu section, and which immediately made me think about relaxing on an island somewhere.
Speaking of travels, we talked about upcoming vacations (I’ve got 3 getaways planned for 2016), fighting the holiday battle of the bulge and job changes. The new year will bring an new dimension to work, with the addition of the Sheraton Grand Chicago to my marketing manager job. So excited for this–and the promise of a fresh start that always accompanies turning the calendar page.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
One of my favorite things to do is play tourist in my hometown. Last weekend, I had the pleasure of doing just that. The occasion — a mini NYC Mount Holyoke reunion with my fellow class of ’95-ers.
Our big 20-year on campus reunion in May left us nostalgic for our alma mater, and newly appreciative of the sisterhood it provided. So, about fifteen of us alums, some local and many from out of state, enjoyed an action packed Saturday taking in some of the Big Apple’s best sights.
Our first stop — the Whitney Museum of American Art. Now located in a brand new building in the Meatpacking District after years in a much smaller venue on the Upper East Side, the Whitney offers a much greater wow factor now. In addition to featuring a better showcase for the likes of Pollock, Hopper and more contemporary artists, it boasts outdoor patios with fantastic views of the Hudson River. A must see for sure.
After strolling through Chelsea Market — and savoring the varied aromas of its many food purveyors — we made our way down to NoLita. First stop, The Daily, a cozy bar with a speakeasy vibe and robust cocktails (that change daily) with names like El Presidente.
For dinner, we enjoyed the rustic charms of the downstairs room at Peasant. Seated a long, distressed wood table by candlelight, we were well taken care of and well fed. The restaurant’s family style menu included three courses, all equally delicious.
As the food kept coming, I had the pleasure of catching up with classmates Sara T., Gretchen and my MHC bff, NYC-based Sara. We reminisced about our college days and the unnervingly swift passage of time since then.
After saying goodnight to the rest of the crew, Sara and I headed uptown to THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen at my work home, The Westin Grand Central. Over cosmos, we talked about relationships, travels and the importance of maintaining life balance, whether you’re a city dweller or country mouse.
Even in the frenetic pace that is life in NYC, finding that balance is doable. Especially when you’re fortunate to have great friends to do it with.
For as much as I adore my hometown, sometimes I need a break from the relentless hustle and bustle of NYC.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite places to unwind from city life is Long Island. I’m very fortunate to have several loved ones who are LI residents and last weekend, I had the pleasure of catching up with two of them.
Saturday, I headed out east to visit my cousin Carla. Our first stop–Verace, an airy Italian bistro located on Babylon’s charming main street. The friendly staff was in the Halloween spirit, dressed as nerds while serving delicious fare (eggplant caponata pasta and flounder oreganata for me, burrata ravioli for C).
After dinner and changing into our own costumes, we headed over to wine bar Molto Vino. Bustling with spirited locals and a jovial waitstaff, it was the perfect spot for people watching (Marty McFly and a mobster were among the costumed characters) and enjoying a festive Halloween night.
Settling ourselves at the bar, Carla and I savored a few glasses of red sangria as we talked about milestone birthdays and winter travel plans. It was the perfect Halloween night–low key fun with one of my favorite family members.
We both treated ourselves to the decadence of a croque madame sandwich while having the kind of soul soothing conversation that reminds you what a blessing it is to have good friends.
One of the subjects that came up–the mental shift that accompanies entering your forties. With three decades of life and learning behind you, this is the era of being truly comfortable in your own skin, of fully embracing your choices without apology or explanation. I’m also discovering that it is a time for letting go of the past and focusing squarely on what’s right in front of you.
Like the saying goes, the present truly is a gift. Especially when you’re fortunate to have wonderful people to share it with.
One of the best parts about living in NYC is the seemingly endless parade of new eateries. Last week, my dear friend (and fellow foodie) Stacy and I paid a visit to Urban Space near Grand Central.
The newly-opened food hall brings together more than 20 chef-driven restaurants. From crepes and seafood to Asian fare, Mexican food and a variety of desserts, there’s something for every palette here. Stacy enjoyed pork buns from Hong Kong Street Cart while I savored one of the signature items from No. 7 Veggie — “total vegetarian chaos and destruction.” Don’t let the name fool you. This heavenly concoction will go down as the best veggie burger I have ever had. The tasty burger is taken to a whole other level of deliciousness—surrounded by smashed avocado, cheese, pickled beets, griddled Onions, and No. 7 Steak Sauce. My only regret is not trying No. 7 Veggie’s other popular item, broccoli tacos. Next time.
Urban Space’s laidback, communal vibe extends throughout the experience. The staff at Maiden Lane welcomed us to enjoy some of their offerings as we munched on our dishes from other vendors. Over a few glasses of Rose and grilled octopus with garlic, we had a soul-soothing conversation about recent highs (Stacy’s meet and greet with, ahem, Coldplay’s Chris Martin) and lows (my recent, painful impass with a family member).
As always, Stacy offered words of wisdom and encouragement that made all the difference. And she reminded me that when it comes to facing life’s trials and tribulations, there is no greater comfort than that of a cherished friend.
Last weekend, I enjoyed an action packed day in my beloved hometown.
It started at Bistro LeSteak on the Upper East Side with my dear friend Crystal. This eatery is a cozy slice of French charm, with charming decorative touches like Impressionist wall paintings and draped ceilings.
Crystal and I settled into a table by the window. Over a delicious brunch (my first taste of eggs Benedict with crabcake. Yum!), we caught up on life, work, family and more.
With her incandescent smile and genuine warmth, Crystal is always like a dose of sunshine. She has a gift for making you see the beauty and fun of what’s right in front of you– as I rediscovered when we strolled through Central Park.
As we took a leisurely turn on the swings, I savored the lush surroundings and muted sounds that make the park such a haven for New Yorkers. It hit me how lucky I am to have this gem a short walk away.
After saying goodbye to Crystal, I headed down to Union Square, where I met up with LA-based galpal and blogger Tess. Over cocktails and appetizers at The Coffee Shop restaurant, we talked about why Westin rocks as a hotel brand — yes, I’m an employee but I legitimately love it. And how there’s no city in the world like New York.
There’s no better way to start the weekend than catching up with a dear friend.
Last Friday, I did just that with that with galpal Stacy. Stacy and I connected four years ago on Twitter over our love for Ricky Martin. We have since enjoyed many epic nights out in NYC — we’re also both foodies — and this one was right up there.
We met up at Café Un Deux Trois, a delightful slice of French charm located just off of Times Square.
The attentive, friendly service and yummy fare didn’t disappoint. It was truly a shared experience, as we split a crisp bottle of wine and perfect escargot, then each had sauteed Dorade with vegetables. For dessert–a heavenly duo of chocolate crepes and (a longtime tradition for us) creme brulee. Delicieux.
Over dinner, we talked about work, the increasingly swift passage of time and travels both recent and upcoming. Along with a potential December getaway overseas, we’re planning a weekend jaunt for this fall. Because as much as we’re both New York City gals, sometimes you need a break from all the hustle and bustle. And it’s a lot more fun when you have fantastic friends to do it with.
One of my favorite things about living in NYC is being able to experience the world’s best entertainment. My dear friend Sara and I recently enjoyed two memorable nights of music and theater.
We joined a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden for one of U2’s eight shows there. The beloved Irish rockers delivered on the Innocence + Experience theme of their current tour, taking the audience on a powerful journey during their 2.5 hour set.
U2 played on two stages and a suspended cage that served as both another stage and projector. Throughout the show, a series of images flashed–from a rendering of teenage Bono writing a song for his future wife to family photos and shooting stars in “Iris,” a moving tribute to his late mom. The setlist covered tracks from their current album Songs of Innocence alongside classic hits including “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Desire,” “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “Beautiful Day.”
Sprinkled throughout were messages of social activism, filtered through the lens of the heartfelt reflection that comes with getting older. Bono spoke with gratitude for fan support of U2’s Red campaign against AIDS, also expressing thanks for the band’s longevity.
For the encore, they ended with “Where The Streets Have No Name” and a version of “One” that had everyone happily obliging Bono’s request to–
“Sing yourselves home.”
No doubt about it—U2 is still one of the greatest rock bands of our time.
Just a few days after being wowed by U2, Sara and I headed to the New Amsterdam Theater to see Aladdin. The stage version of Disney’s beloved 1994 animated film delivers plenty of laughs, heart and romance.
Dazzling choreography, colorful sets and rapid fire costume changes (337 costumes in total!) vividly bring the classic story to life. Aladdin features new songs penned for the show in addition to iconic numbers from the movie. Aladdin and Jasmin’s magic carpet ride to “A Whole New World” is spectacularly recreated.
Adam Jacobs is easy to like as Aladdin, Courtney Reed less so—her portrayal of Jasmine comes off as more bratty than spunky. Jonathan Freeman, who voiced villainous Jafar in the movie, reprises his role with panache. He’s almost upstaged by Don Darryl Rivera, a fireball of wicked energy as snarky sidekick Iago. But Aladdin’s biggest star is Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart. With his infectiously charming portrayal of the genie, Iglehart brings down the house, truly making this iconic role his own.
Aladdin is pure joy – an Arabian Night that’s enjoyable from start to final curtain call.