Not even a year old yet, the new Kempinski Hotel
in Vilnius Lithuania opened up this past September, making it their first property in the Baltic states. Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square offers neoclassical grandeur with a contemporary casual elegance and is centrally located in Vilnius’ Old Town, also considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. Closeby is the Presidential Palace, with a view over Vilnius Cathedral, the Bell tower, and Gediminas tower.
The hotel is housed in a listed building situated on the corner of Universiteto and L. Stuokos-Guceviciaus; a hundred years ago, this was a grand hotel, well-known throughout the Baltics; now, carefully restored, with an impressive lobby in white marble, and panoramic windows, the building is once again set to be at the heart of Vilnius society.
Lithuania once boasted a Grand Duchy that rivalled some of the greatest empires in Europe; now, once again an independent state, the country is experiencing an upswing in business and culture.
During the restoration of the building, the remains of the city’s 16th century defensive wall was uncovered; part of that old wall has been glassed-in, and can be seen at the entrance to the hotel restaurant.
It was on a flight from Las Vegas to San Francisco, a flight I had made countless times over the years, when I had a deja vu moment about aging. As I glanced over to the woman to my right, I suddenly remembered all the times I had watched the older women in my life as a child and felt as far removed from them then as I do now from a 15 year old male skateboarder from Detroit.
On that flight, a surreal feeling swept over me…as if I was her or could have been a dear friend of hers in a previous life. The moment was short lived but vibrant and incredibly real, and it made me incessantly aware of aging and this precious thing called human life.
She was probably 70 or so, the woman was a petit, short Asian woman with beautiful silver hair, strands of black scattered throughout as the only remnants left of her middle age life. Her skin was glowing despite her obvious fatigue and you could tell she was once a stunner in that way you can about some people; there’s a certainty, a quiet sauciness, and a knowing…
I just discovered a relatively new place on Kearney Street in the financial district of San Francisco called Hakkasan
. From the street’s exterior, it looks more like a bank than it does a restaurant, but through the door and up the elevator, you are then transformed after entering their very trendy, very chic circular bar area where you can also order entrees and appetizers from the menu should you choose not to sit at a table, seating areas surrounding the entire bar area which takes precedence in the center.
The menu is creative, expansive and incredibly unique. Offering a number of soups (chinese mushroom soup with wolfberry, shredded duck and fish maw soup, halibut broth scented with angelica root), pumpkin soup with scallop and crabmeat and others), Hakka steamed dim sum platters (you can have vegetarian or with meat — we tried both, the vegetarian was surprisingly delicious with morel crystal dumplings, bamboo dumplings, beancurd lotus roll and chive flower dumpling), there’s a salt and pepper squid, green salad with ginger and lemongrass dressing, s
tir-fry mushroom lettuce wrap
with pistachio and pine nut, crispy quail in Guilin chili sauce, Jasmine tea smoked beef short rib,…
In the Omni Los Angeles Hotel
at California Plaza’s newly updated 453 non-smoking guest rooms and suites, “an inviting palette of soft grays, ivories, midnight blues and rich chocolates captures the elegance of cosmopolitan living at its best.”
That’s their pitch, although if you look at the photo before, you might just get that impression. What it is IS cosmopolitan, set in a hip and convenient part of Los Angeles. It is also elegant in a simple modern kind of way. Bottom line: for the price, it’s a great deal in downtown LA and convenient to most things in the nearby area, including a ten minute drive to the Convention Centre if walking distance hotels are sold out or overpriced.
I stayed there for the LA Times Travel Show in late February and was full disclosure, was hosted in the end. No upgrade though, so truth be told, they wanted me to experience the hotel’s most inexpensive room, which is likely the room category many casual travelers would book and some business travelers.
They tout the hotel as one that is equipped…
I’ve been to the Waterfront Restaurant
in San Francisco many times and the food is fresh enough and the wine good enough that its worth writing about more than once. There’s a view of the bridge to die for and they have an extensive oyster menu, one which warrants an entire menu alone. It is located at Pier 7 – The Embarcadero in San Francisco. One of my favorite things to do there is to sit at the bar, order a glass of over the top chardonnay, a half dozen oysters, one of their scrumptious salads and a fish appetizer.
The menu changes daily. The night we were there earlier this week, starters included Kampachi Sashimi, served with grapefruit, tarragon and horseradish, sustainably raised off the coast of Oahu Hawaii, Abalone Ceviche (yum), served with a fuyu persimmon, crisp sunchoke and herbs, a butter lettuce salad with apples, champagne and hazelnuts, a beet and fennel salad with dates, spiced yoghurt and toasted pistachios, a warm Maine lobster (my second favorite), served with lemongrass, fingerlime, toasted cashews, and silken soybean and my top favorite,
For all things mobile, mark your calendar for December 11, 2012 in San Francisco. The upcoming Mobile-Loco
conference will be held at Mission Bay Conference and we have been offered a special Magic Sauce Media discount
for Down the Avenue
and We Blog the World
Mobile-Loco will dive into the brand, advertiser and mobile convergence in the context of the Social, Local and Mobile (SoLoMo) marketplace — exploring what this convergence means for big brands, consumers, SMBs and the mobile and location industry.
Executives from Foursquare, Google, Airbnb, Groupon
and other leading brands and investors will address these topics and discuss where the market is heading. Learn from brands how they are taking advantage of today’s new technologies and solutions to build durable brand engagement, relationships and presence in a chaotic and noisy marketplace.
It’s not news that if you’re not on mobile or have an integrated mobile strategy, you’ll be left behind quickly. Apps in this space are enabling hyper-local and real-time personalization, rich content and engagement, and ultimately more bricks-and-mortar transactions. At Mobile Loco, you’ll learn from the leading developers and enablers in this space.
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I didn’t know what to expect from Churchill
, a town in northern Manitoba
that is renowned for polar bear spotting in October and November.
The small Canadian town of 900 people, which is in the polar bear migration path, feels more like a village than it does a town, but one that has the flavor of what you may see on the outskirts of an urban area, except rather than fast food chains being an integral part of the ugly monotonous sprawl, its a gas station, a couple of Arctic lodges and hotels instead.
How fitting that a 30 or so seater flight that heads to northern Canadian prairie towns should be on an airline called Calm Air. I was befuddled by the strict security out of Winnipeg.
After six passport checks and the over-the-top security guard who wouldn’t let me pass through the gate with a drop of water in my water bottle (and I mean a drop), I began to wonder whether I was flying from the Middle East to Washington DC rather than from a mid-sized Canadian city to a rural one, where the biggest security risk is potentially being attacked by a large…
When I flew from the town of Churchill over Canada’s Hudson Bay,
it was hard to imagine I was in North America, heading north towards the Arctic. The views somehow took me to another place, another continent, one I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
There were six people seated in the small sea plane behind us and I chatted for the majority of the trip with Jim Cockburn, our pilot. He was flying a plane from an outfit who call themselves “Wings over Kississing”.
He says they have 15 planes or so and when it gets colder, many of the planes will use wheel skis for landing. The outfit has bases in Flin Flon (main base), Thompson, Lynn Lake, Churchill, and many strategic fuel caches, where they’ll take you off the beaten path – picking you up where the road, rail, and most other airlines end. The airfares range in price but I heard one reference that they charge roughly $13-14 per mile.
Jim has been flying since 1984, certainly long enough to invoke confidence in this passenger, who frankly has had faith in pilots with only hours of training, not years.
“I wouldn’t be ‘any…
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