Hotel Spa Treatments Go for the Gold, Silver & Bronze

Every hotel spa we’ve ever been to promises the gold standard in treatment, but a few hotels are taking their devotion to precious metals seriously, working them into their spa treatments for that extra layer of luxury per treatment.

The latest comes from Terme di Saturnia in Tuscany, a spa and golf-centric resort that’s a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. The treatment begins with a ginger, chamomile, and silk protein scrub, followed by a caffeine gel treatment infused with flakes of 24-carat gold, meant to draw out impurities. It’s then massaged thoroughly into your skin, and layer of gold dust and ground ginger is applied, and then locked in with moisturizer. It’s also available as a facial, since gold is said to help stop the formation of wrinkles.

That put us in mind of some other treatments as delightful for their indulgent nature as for their result. Fans of silver are generally out of luck at spas (despite its reputation for healing properties, it seems to be too downmarket to feature), but you can satisfy your urge for a cooler metal with the Platinum Rare Facial at the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park (they also offer it at the Beverly Hills Hotel) which uses La Prairie’s Platinum line of products to restore the balance of moisture in your skin and protect cells from damage. Two La Prairie experts will minister to you over the course of 90 minutes, and as generations of the Swiss line’s devotees will tell you, they know what they’re about when it comes to skin.

If you’re looking for a cut above even gold, the Diamond Journey at the Anantara Spa at the Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi is a fitting indulgence in one of the most over the top properties we’ve ever visited. It’s a long and involved process, but we’ll skip straight to the good stuff: the crushed-diamond and mud exfoliating scrub (not as painful as it potentially sounds, we promise), the hot oil massage, the hot stone treatment, and the diamond facial, which uses facial massage and lymphatic drainage to brighten skin.

Of course, if you’d rather not spend your vacation locked inside a spa facility, however luxe, we’d suggest the W Scottsdale’s version of service that will still leave you feeling like you made it onto the winner’s stand. As a part of their Whatever/Whenever concierge service, they’ve introduced a Tanning Concierge to help you take advantage of the local light, by offering expert tips, applications of the best sunscreens and after-sun products, and in-room spray tanning and skin consultations. There’s nothing like a good bronze to give you an excuse to indulge in some spa treatments, after all.

Flying in Style: How Luxury Hotels Are Making Your Airport Experience Less Painful

If you think the best you can do to alleviate the stress of a cross-country flight is a drink at the Polo Lounge, think again. Hotels are going out of their way to make your airport experience smoother, instead of waiting to coddle you once you arrive on their premises. “We try to be a concierge at the airport and make their lives a bit easier whether they’re coming off an hour flight or a 14-hour flight,” James Bardolf of the Peninsula Beverly Hills told the New York Times. His role as “airport concierge” means he’ll greet you at LAX with anything you need, and for a $100 fee, he and his staff will speed your departure by getting you through security fast, securing your access to airport lounges, and getting your seats upgraded. Other hotels are offering similar services, so read on for the full list:

Round Hill Hotel & Villas and Island Outpost Hotel & Villas at Montego Bay get departing guests through security and immigration faster, and lets them rest in a 10,000-square-foot lounge with Wi-Fi, showers, a bar, and mini-spa, for about $30. That’s less than the regular lounge, and it’s newer and nicer.

In Marrakech, the Four Seasons has a hotel pickup service for 600 dirhams ($74) that lets you get your passport checked for customs in the lounge, while La Mamounia’s private 560 square-foot space is designed by Jacques Garcia in the same style as the hotel. It’s also scented with their unique date fragrance, created by Olivia Giacobetti exclusively for La Mamounia. Other hotels that are adding their own airport lounges include the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, the Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort & Spa, Waldorf Astoria Maldives and Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

In the luggage arena (because we’re all trying to stick to that carry-on), you can use the exercise clothing and sneakers at all Westin and Fairmont properties to reduce bulk while packing, or if you’re a repeat visitor, many hotels will allow you to store all your clothing there between visits, including Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons properties. And if you don’t want to deal with the expense and hassle of airport food, see if your hotel can cook something up for you: many hotels, from large (most Four Seasons properties) to boutique (the Montage Deer Valley, One & Only Palmilla) will prepare to-go boxes that will keep you stuffed and satiated on the plane ride home.

One Glorious Night at the Revamped Beverly Hills Hotel

There are few hotels in the world that are so prestigious that you feel intimidated just walking by. Beverly Hills Hotel is one of these hotels, and although I’ve driven by the property at least 500 times in my life, I’ve never had the courage to actually stay there, since I assumed you needed to be a SAG member or at least own a Black AmEx to even qualify. I mean, it’s where friggin’ Clark Gable and Carole Lombard would rendezvous in the 1930’s and Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned with six of her eight husbands, so what am I really bringing to the table ? Still, I recently weathered my anxiety, booked a night’s stay, and indulged in a decadent taste of luxury.

The “Pink Palace” (a nickname affectionately coined by locals) is a 12-acre playground for Hollywood’s most famed names, oozing with decade’s worth of historic moments, like when Katherine Hepburn took a dip in the hotel pool fully clothed after a heated tennis match, and menswear-as-womenswear pioneer Marlene Dietrich famously broke The Polo Lounge’s “No slacks for ladies” rule by turning up in pants. While there’s certainly enough juice between the main building’s walls to fill the pages of any of today’s gossip blogs, the most scandalous tales come from the hotel’s notorious bungalow gardens, so naturally, that’s where I stayed.

image Bungalow 6 is hops away from where Marilyn Monroe and her husband Arthur Miller lived during the filming of their 1960’s musical comedy, “Let’s Make Love.” The bungalows are surrounded by the property’s private garden, serving as a retreat within a retreat for those looking for a more discreet getaway.

image Upon entering my temporary abode, I was instantly greeted with a personalized welcome message, complete with a bouquet of fresh fruit. This was definitely an upgrade from your run-of-the-mill welcome cookie.

image Speaking of cookies, the room’s snack bar was filled with Beverly Hills Hotel branded treats, including trail mixes and mints. I obviously rewarded myself with some for making this far. image While my deluxe bungalow guestroom comprised of 475 square feet of lavishness, including a heavenly king bed and large walk-in closet, I was most taken aback by the bathroom. From the intricately marbled bath and separate shower, to the regal curtains and windows, to the fresh orchids centered by the his-and-her sinks, every detail proves that this hotel truly understands what a sanctuary should look and feel like.

image After marveling over the accommodations, the hotel’s assistant manager Noah Frank gave me a tour of the some of the property’s most storied rooms, including the above superior bungalow that I think I could live in forever.

image Parched from the day’s activities (tough job, I know), I made my way over to the hotel’s famed Bar Nineteen 12, where I received another tour – but this one was a tad more lush. The bar’s manager William Price provided me with a delicious sampling of Nineteen 12’s most popular concoctions. Three things: the tasting presentation was genius, I’m officially obsessed with their signature Black Mojito (first row, far left), and the bar is open to guests and non-guests every night, so I’ll definitely be returning.

image Finally, the night wasn’t complete without experiencing the hotel’s classic turndown service, complete with bedside cookies, bottled water, and this gem of a catalog. What other hotel can guarantee you receive a surfboard, chaise lounge slipcover, and bed for your pet by sunrise? Until we meet again, Pink Palace.

Where Celebs Go Out: Hilary Duff, Michelle Trachtenberg, Kristin Bell

Martha Stewart at Good Housekeeping‘s 125th anniversary “Shine On” benefit for the National Women’s History Museum – Mmm. I love La Grenouille. I love everything of Jean Georges. I love everything of Daniel. And I love Benoit, right around the corner, yeah. Every one of them has its specialty, of course. If you go to Benoit, you can have the oysters—they’re delicious. The souflees are like the best. And at Grenouille—the frog’s legs.

Hilary Duff – That’s a good one, I have to answer that. In L.A, Giorgio Baldi. ● Meryl Streep – Women’s National History Museum, which is yet-to-be-built on the mall, in D.C. ● Michelle TrachtenbergYerba Buena. ● Kristin Bell – In Los Angeles, Real Food Daily. ● Gayle King – I love Jean Georges and I just discovered Quality Meats the other day on 58th, really good. ● Candice BergenJean Georges at the Mark, at the moment. ● Liz SmithSwifty’s, at Lexington between 72nd and 73rd. It inherited the old Mortimer’s crowd, but it’s smaller. They just have the kind of food I love. I can always find something wonderful to eat there: tuna carpaccio, their little hamburgers, vichysoisse. I like everything they do. ● Carolyn Maloney – I go in my neighborhood—Paola’s, right next door, hot dogs on the street the Four Seasons is always a great restaurant. Every corner has a great restaurant. ● Marlo Thomas: – I love Nello, Bella Blue, Il Mulino, and Primola. I’ve got a million of ’em. ● Phil Donahue – We enjoy Nello and Primola. We’re an east side crowd, so those are two of them. And I don’t get out like I used to, so I don’t have as many to suggest to you. But I hope those two will be fine, and I haven’t hurt their reputation by endorsing them. ● Laura BenantiABC Kitchen. I like Back Forty as well. They’re incredible. Their hamburger is the best in the city. And they’re both all local and organic. ● Anika Noni Rose – Dang it, I just went completely blank! Wait a minute. Give me a second because I love to eat, and I am a restaurant girl. Pio Pio is Peruvian and has the best chicken in the world. It’s on 44th and 10th Avenue. ● Cheryl Tiegs – I live in Los Angeles. The Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge, and MyHouse.

Industry Insiders: Mazdack Rassi, the Milk Man

Mazdack Rassi, founder and creative director of Milk Studios, talks about Milk’s big plans for expansion on the West Coast. The new studios will open on May 1, with soft openings between May and June. The facility will be fully operational in June.

When did you hit it big with Milk? We came up with it ten years ago. We started basically as a rental facility, and over the last five years, we expanded more into a proper media company where we do more creative things, create more content, and are more involved in the creative process. Our goal was never to sort of be a space that was for rent or a rental mentality, but more of like to create a creative space and a crossroads for film, fashion, television, and art. We’re about seven divisions now.

Why the need for another huge Milk Studios in Los Angeles? In the last three to four years, there’s been a big trend in our business in New York where we’re working more with celebrities than with models. The main reason is because they’ve sort of started taking over the magazines. Today, to think about a major magazine with a model on the cover is something that’s so outdated. In the last two years, what’s been happening with our campaigns is that more and more celebrities are encroaching on that business, and they’re all here in Hollywood. The greatest modeling agency in the world is now Hollywood. And it’s not a trend — its something that’s going to stay. Celebrities and their agents are much more open to doing high fashion, covers, and campaigns than they were five years ago.

How does the new space compare to the 80,000 square feet of Milk Studios in the Meatpacking District? We took over the Technicolor studios in Hollywood, which were originally built in 1947. It was part of Paramount Studios, and we’re completely retrofitting it and modernizing it. We took it down to its concrete shell, and now we’re rebuilding from scratch. There are some parts that are original — like the soundstage — and we’re restoring these things back to their original glory. We get very involved in the community and our surroundings. This area reminds us of the Meatpacking District ten years ago.

Who have been some of your favorite clients to work with in New York? So many people. From doing an exhibition with Mike Figgis, who is the award-winning director of Leaving Las Vegas, to having Terry Richardson doing a shoot in our studios. He is always incredible and unique. It’s also amazing working with young photographers like Alexi Lubomirski. Watching people grow into these wonderful positions is a great gift. When we started at Milk, we didn’t know who the big photographers were. We just knew all the assistants. They were the same age as us, and we had the same sort of ideas. Those kids now have come to a point where they’re in charge, and they choose Milk as their home and their hub. We feed of that energy.

What are some of your favorite places to go to in New York? My favorite bar in the city is Rose Bar. One of my favorite places to eat is Macelleria in the Meatpacking. And another bar would be the Brass Monkey.

What about LA? The best breakfast is at the Beverly Hills Hotel at the counter downstairs. I think that’s in the basement. Then there’s this amazing restaurant I went to last night, and I would definitely go there again, called Cecconi’s. The bar I like most here is Winston’s.

Hotels Where Celebs Like to Get It On

imageCelebrities are just like us! And just like the average john, they like to check into a hotel, draw the blackout blinds, and bang their lover on some high-thread-count sheets. To prove it, Concierge has a roundup of the top hotels where the rich and (in)famous like to play naughty games:

1. The Soho Grand in New York (Soho) – Favorite of J. Simp and John Mayer when they were hot and heavy, the rooms all have giant windows (good for exhibitionists!) and pets are allowed (hmmm). 2. The Palms in Las Vegas (Off-Strip West) – Michael Phelps has been known to get extra-friendly with the hired help here, and he’s now seriously dating one Caroline Paz who works at the hotel’s Moon Nightclub. Pam, Paris, Snoop, and Britney are all known to get down here, and it is also the famed spot where George Clooney met ex-girlfriend Sarah Larson.

3. Across the pond, third on the list: The Dorchester in London (Mayfair) – With J. Lo, Kate Moss, and The Beckhams as regulars, this is the spot to spot a celeb in London. It is also the scene of a scandalous affair starring Ralph Fiennes, his wife Francesca Annis, and his mistress Cornelia Crisan. Fiennes seduced Miss Crisan one fateful night at the hotel, which launched a two-year affair that ended when the mistress “told-all” to the tabloids, effectively ruining both relationships. Ah, if those walls could talk. 4. The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles (Beverly Hills) – This is the scene of a famous, old-school affair between Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, who used the hotel as their living quarters for two decades while Tracy’s wife (they never divorced) hung out at the ranch home in the Valley. 5. Gramercy Park Hotel (Union Square) – This is the scene of the bizarre tryst between Lance Armstrong and Ashley Olson. It’s also beloved by Kate Hudson, Lindsey Lohan, Anne Hathaway, and J. Lo.

Industry Insiders: Rochelle Gores, Winning Big at Arcade

Rochelle Gores, owner of Los Angeles boutique Arcade, on working long days, saying bye bye to boho-chic, and the year of expansion.

Where do you go out? I love Foxtail, a new club in LA. Cut is a great restaurant that I love to go to for a good steak. One of my favorite restaurants that I’ve been going to for like 18 years is Mistral. It’s in the valley. The owner is Henry. I actually really like 1912 in the Beverly Hills Hotel. It’s very casual and just a nice bar to go to.

What’s your favorite aspect of owning Arcade? The buying, obviously, is one of the greatest parts, because that’s the product, and that’s the branding of the company. I am constantly overseeing the big picture and how it’s going to grow. Last year’s focus was creating the boutique, and this year, it’s launching it into doing private label and possibly into another boutique and growing as a brand. I’m really excited about that.

Who are two people that you admire in your industry? There have been so many great women in my industry. Obviously, Coco Chanel. She was the first one to put a woman in pants, and the first person to put a bag over the shoulder as opposed to carrying it in the hand. I look up to her for innovative ideas. Donna Karan is an amazing businesswoman. Stefani Greenfield from Scoop is amazing in the aspect of retail and buying. And then, my father Alec Gores on the business end.

Trends you love in fashion? Color. People are really into bold color in fashion and accessories. People are loving accessorizing everything from earrings to bags to necklaces and layering things. I think my favorite trend is going back to femininity and sophistication. And going back to that 1920’s woman.

Trends you hate? I’m really liking what I’m seeing because it’s going away from boho-chic, which I really didn’t care for. I really like where things are going. That is what Arcade is all about, feminine, womanly, beautiful, a sophisticated, very ladylike look.

One thing that people may not know about you? I work 18 hour days. I think that may shock people.

What are you obsessed with right now? I’m getting married in May so I’m obsessed with my wedding. The ceremony will be at my dad’s estate in Beverly Hills, and the reception will be at the Beverly Wilshire. I’m getting my dresses made by Herve at Carolina Herrera. I am also obsessed with the jewelry collection that I do with Neil Lane. We do these diamond letters. I wear my “R” every day, and the girls in the store wear the letter “A” for Arcade. It’s called Neil Lane for Arcade, and all of the pieces are one of a kind. I’m excited to expand with him.

What’s on the horizon for 2009? This is the year of expansion for me. I’m looking to expand through online selling, doing my own brand, and opening another store. I’m looking to expand into a larger empire.

What’s your favorite item in the boutique right now? My bathing suits. They’re fantastic. I have all Brazilian bathing suits. I have Rosa Cha, I have Lenny. And we’re one of the only places in LA that sells them.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Buying cosmetics. I’m very girly in that way.

What are you doing tonight? I’m in New York. We’re going to Charles on Charles Street, and then to Bijoux and Southside.

GOOP Scribe Gywneth Paltrow Recommends Los Angeles

imageGwyneth’s latest newsletter over at Goop is all about Los Angeles. Born, bred, and made famous in the city of silicone, GP has a special fondness for the place — as she says “Los Angeles, with its bougainvillea, sea breezes, avocados and eccentric inhabitants, is like no other place and will always be in my soul.” Then she goes ahead and gets busy with recommendations. Let’s recap her top picks.

Hotels Shutters on the Beach Beverly Hills Hotel Hotel Bel-Air London West Hollywood

Restaurants Michael’s La Scala Presto Via Veneto Sushi Katsu-Ya Pizzeria Mozza Hamasaku Melrose Bar and Grill Chinois on Main Nate’n Al Mulberry Street Pizza Santa Monica Co-Op Caffe Luxxe Loteria Grill in the Farmers Market

It’s not a bad list. I agree with her about Shutters, Mulberry Street Pizza, and Mozza, but what about AK Restaurant? Or the Chateau? To see the whole list, with Gwynnie’s commentary, click here.