Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kudos! to the New Setai, Fifth Ave!


Another Kudos! post, to the design team of Gwathmey-Seigal and das concepts, inc.  on the new Setai Hotel, Fifth Avenue!

Recently I did a quick spin through New York, and the good news is that despite the malaise of the US hospitality industry, there actually are several great new hotels out there. As always, some managed to disappoint, but the shining star on this trip for me was the newest addition to my list of Great Hotels in New York, The Setai on Fifth Avenue.


Hats off to the incredible architecture of Gwathmey Siegal, www.gwathmey-siegel.com, as the ground-up building is quite stunning, with gently rounded corners, the angled windows and a sexy streamlined porte-cochere that extends to the curb. 


 Inside the main lobby of the hotel, they’ve created a stunning spiral staircase up to the second floor, which houses Ai Fiori, their fine-dining restaurant. The art program is exceptional as well. Note the gorgeous piece behind the reception desk, and their "homage" to the garment district, the two mannequins at the far end of the lobby.



Another gorgeous space is the lobby bar and lounge, where you while away the evening to the early morning hours enjoying a nice tapas menu, as live jazz that's actually worth listening to...


But huge Kudos! goes to the interior design team at das concepts, inc.; they have done an amazing job with both the public spaces and the guest rooms. Beautifully outfitted with floor-to-ceiling wood paneling and doors (with exquisite fine cabinetry hardware) they are contemporary but inviting and luxurious, which can be a tough combination to achieve. This was our room on the corner, with a great view of the Empire state building from the 14th floor....



 As a designer myself, I can appreciate the impact of the white carpet, but I do wonder how long that will last.... Gorgeous and comfortable Duxiana platform beds, excellent lighting, and automated drapery systems made the room quite livable, tho. The only problem with this beautiful fenestration detail is that the top half, due to its angle, needs cleaning virtually all the time! 


Bathrooms are wonderful, with unusual stone selections, a fantastic shower and tub, (great Grohe fixtures) and what is becoming the prerequisite mirror with TV screen. But best of all, with all the stone and cool surfaces, the bathroom has it's own little power heater; so staying warm after a shower is as simple as turning a dial! 

  



Note the wonderful attention to detail with the millwork hardware....



Even the Spa was great, very simple, warm and inviting, unusual in a NYC Hotel...




 The most impactful part of my stay was actually the staff and their Capella management. Mr. Guenter Richter, the GM, has trained a fantastic group of front-of-house and concierge (referred to as "personal assistants") and virtually recreates the experience of the Grand Hotels, when delighting guests with anticipating their every need was a normal event. Upon mentioning that I was catching the show The Book of Mormons, I arrived back at my room to find the CD of the shows’ score, with a lovely note from the lead concierge, KImberly. A completely unnecessary gesture, but a very memorable one, and one that virtually guarantees that guests will return. 

If you find yourself needing to hit the Big Apple, be sure to give the Setai a try, and let me know if you aren’t delighted!

Buon Viaggio.....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top Ski Destination, the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch

Ski Season...

There's literally hundreds of resorts, how do you begin to choose? Do you stay in the US, or do you head to Europe? Do you want  great conditions, maybe a fabulous scene, or someplace a whole family will be happy? 


 The Little Nell in Aspen is the Euro favorite, combining a heady mix of Hollywood types and the well-to-do Euros. It's quite the scene, but if you don't already have resies, forget about it for this year....
and yes, the Little Nell is still the best place to stay in Aspen, period

Vail is easily accessible from Denver, so it's loaded with lots of young college types, so the bar scene is busy, if not a bit common. Park City is the second home for a lot of Westport financial types, so the crowd there is definitely specific. Plus there not really any great resorts, which makes this more of a "ski condo" destination, so if you're going, bring friends and someone who likes to cook!

Whistler, B.C. is beautiful, but colder than you can believe, and the resorts are definitely mid-market...even the Four Seasons is completely unacceptable for a five-star resort. Also, sadly, the fires they had a couple of years ago have changed a lot of the views, so I would give Whistler a few years before I went again, if at all....


When staying in the states, I really like the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch for the best all-around winner for a ski resort. 









It's just a half hour trip up the road from Vail, but it feels a world away. This was one of the first Ritz Carlton forays inte the ski resort genre, and they have done it the best in this location. (Can't be said about their new Lake Tahoe project, but more on that later!)


The design is well done (not quite Kudo-worthy) but totally appropriate, and there's lots of well-programmed amenities, such as a Ski Concierge, boot warming stations, an outdoor bonfire bar for apres activities, and one of the BEST spas for a ski resort I've ever been in...


The resort has several restaurants, even a little Spago outpost, which is great for quick dining, and of course, has a fun, casual atmosphere.


The rooms are passable for a ski resort, with fireplaces, and some with balconies overlooking the base of the run.


 Naturally, they get better if you are on the Club level, or decide to grab one of the Penthouses or private residences....


But the real star of the show here is the mountain itself. Unique in that most of the runs can be considered "green diamond", so beginner skiers can enjoy being up at the top of a mountain, not just stuck down on the bunny slope with the "ski-pandas" whizzing through your legs...but don't worry, there are also plenty of black diamond runs for expert skiers as well, so everyone gets the chance to enjoy the experience. And then, afterwards, theres that Spa....it spells "winter-get-away bliss"!

Here's to a chic and fabulous Holiday escape...we'll chat again in the new year!



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Love this great Design-Inspired Wrapping Paper

I'm currently designing a wonderful series of offices that will include walls filled with photo super-graphics featuring amazing images from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. Naturally, now,  my "antenna" are up on innovative uses of photography. I just ran across these fantastic customizable photo wrapping papers from Gift Couture on the Design Milk blog. See more of them at... http://design-milk.com/page/3/








It appears that Gift Couture is an innovative start-up, with their first complete wrapping set to be the "Cheeseburger", but they have many more themes and concepts that will soon be released to online retailers.   


Tell me what you think about these cool ideas! Share some of your innovative holiday wrapping inspirations.....


Lisa