A Quick Weekend Jet-Away at the Four Seasons Nevis

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We’ve been lucky so far this winter in the Northeast in that it seems like we bypassed the season entirely. As New York denizens, however, it’s our duty to constantly be scouting out the bigger, better deal. In anticipation of a repeat of that bleak and bitter January 2011, I started scoping out quick and easy weekend getaways as of the first of the year and The Four Seasons Nevis came across my radar.

Here’s what I quickly found out about Nevis (pronounced Nee-Vis): it’s an island spanning 36 square miles, bordered to the east by the Atlantic and to the west by the Caribbean Sea. It’s a 30-minute boat trip from St. Kitts and approximately 50 miles from Antigua. The island is accessible through 4-hour direct service into St. Kitts from JFK on American Airlines — but only on Wednesdays and Sundays. From there, The Four Seasons has worked out a seamless transfer system on their fleet of watercraft (they even provide gourmet box lunches for the way back). The other option is a JetBlue flight into Puerto Rico and a connection straight to Nevis airport on a Cape Air propeller plane.

My travel partner and I opted for the direct route, and the moment we landed in St. Kitts our travel-related stresses abated, with the staff of the Four Seasons ensuring that trivial matters wouldn’t enter our brainwaves for the duration of our stay. We were greeted with warm smiles and animated Nevisian personalities at baggage claim and transferred onto the Nevisian Dream. What followed was a 30-minute cruise through water bluer than Robert Pattinson’s eyes, past dormant volcanoes, lush green hills and perfect streams of sunshine – with, of course, a mighty strong rum punch in hand at all times.

We landed at The Four Seasons on the island of Nevis to be greeted immediately by Fabien Lim, the Guest Services General Manager. Lim gave us the layout of the property — 196 rooms on 350 acres all with golf course or ocean views. The resort covers it all — including a host of dining options and experiences, outdoor activities and relaxation/spa services. Virtually everything on the grounds is brand new; the hotel underwent a $110 million renovation following Hurricane Omar and had its grand reopening in December 2010. Plus, it’s impossible not to immediately realize that in every direction, the view is breathtaking. Nevis Peak seems to stretch up in deep green foliage indefinitely, and is almost always surrounded by this fascinating ethereal haze. To the other side, the peaks of St. Kitts are visible in the distance above the bright azure hue of Caribbean waters. It all trumps the view from my New York City office.

There are 12,000 residents of Nevis, and, as one of the largest resorts on the island, The Four Seasons employs around 2,000 of them. Upon hearing this, I thought of the inherent resentment for tourists and self-proclaimed ex-pats that must take place on many an island in this region of the world. On Nevis, however, this simply isn’t the case. My travel partner and I pointed out that this trip would be unbearable if taken with someone you weren’t too fond of (because the general vibe is romantic and tranquil), but I have a feeling that a solo traveler would be welcomed with open arms by the overly gregarious Nevisians. And although this is a lame comparison, probably just like the reception that Jason Segal’s character had in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Actually, just like that. Everyone on the island genuinely wants to be your friend.

Of the surplus of activities offered by the resort, we took advantage of Laser sailing lessons, kayaking, a driving tour of the island, a day in one of the resort’s completely stocked, luxe beach cabanas (personal highlight), and a Rum Tonic Body Treatment (with sugar cane exfoliation and rum/ginger/honey glaze) and afternoon of ultimate relaxation in the serene spa garden. The daily breakfast buffet at Nevis became a creature comfort and AM guilty pleasure. The hotel concierge also helped us select unique dining experiences and memorable sightseeing excursions in and outside the resort. Here is my Must-Try List:

Mango: Farm-to-fork dining directly on the ocean at The Four Seasons property. We judged this to be the best view on the island and hands-down the place to watch a sunset. They serve Caribbean specialties, including spiny lobster, BBQ ribs, daily fresh-catch fish, and a heavenly dessert selection utilizing locally-sourced ingredients. The coconut tart and bread pudding cake are game-changers. The restaurant works with a locally-known agriculturalist called Mansa who hosts tours of his farm especially for hotel guests.

Montpelier Plantation Inn: The Montpelier property is situated on Nevis Peak with stunning views and local Caribbean fare with modern edge. The menu changes daily and diners have the option of enjoying the open-air, European-influenced grandeur of the Restaurant 750 or eating within the ancient structure of The Mill (the interior of a retired 18th century sugar mill). Drinks are served in the hotel lobby and dinner orders are taken here before seating. It all feels very country club. Nikolas, the General Manager, will make sure you feel right at home.

Double Deuce: Located just south on the beach from The Four Seasons, Double Deuce is the late night island hot spot. During our stay, we joined Mazen Saleh, Assistant Food and Beverage Director of TFS, as he manned the DJ booth and made rounds with the regulars. The rum punch/billiards/dancing combo here is exactly what we needed to unwind from unwinding. The very hospitable owner of the joint also insisted on showing me his catch of the day.

Golden Rock Plantation Inn: This charming estate overlooking the Atlantic is an ideal stop-off for a light lunch or an afternoon cocktail. Lizards and monkeys frequent the restaurant and lobby deck, right around the coy fountains, in case you become bored with the view.

Indie Music Romance: The Tallest Man on Earth & Idiot Wind

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Over Sunday morning coffee at the newly opened Scandic Grand Central in Stockholm, Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth, and Amanda Bergman, aka Idiot Wind, explained to me how they first connected over MySpace. It was an unexpected romantic beginning for the two celebrated Swedish songwriters, who met in 2009 and have been performing together intermittently ever since, and who live a private, quiet life together in the countryside.

At the beginning of our conversation, Amanda, who’s got a forthcoming personality and a provocative smile, left the table for a moment, and not until the two became closer in physical proximity did Kristian really relax. Once we started chatting — and they started finishing each other’s sentences — I discovered more about their ballad-worthy romance, their relationship with Bon Iver, and their horse, Golden Sky.

What are you doing now? KM: Just recording all the time. I’m not actually in a rush, and that’s what’s crazy about this record, because I’ve always been in a rush. I used to have a couple of weeks to finish records, but now I can set my own deadlines. So just to get it done, I put a deadline on myself. I can’t say when it’s going to be released, but it’s probably going to be done early next year.

Where are you recording? KM: Where we live, in the countryside. It’s just us and our horse named Golden Sky.

What about touring? KM: I’m taking a break from recording because I’m going to go to Australia in a couple of weeks to do a few shows, and then there’s nothing planned. I’m going to South Africa in February to do two shows, but as far as regular touring, it depends on when the record is out. There are probably gonna be a lot of shows next year.

You’ve said before that when you perform in Stockholm, you feel like you have to try a little harder to win over your audience. Is it still like that? KM: It’s harder to play back home. Or, it used to be harder. It all depends on the venue, I guess. Last time I played in Stockholm, I played two nights in this really classy, seated venue. I guess as a performer, you get home and you get more nervous. It’s probably not so much about the audience and more about myself, and it’s just very different here in a lot of ways. And I speak Swedish between songs.

How did you two meet? AB: On the Internet. On MySpace. KM: We grew up kind of close but we never met. AB: Because you’re older and I didn’t hang out with older people. We’re from about half an hour away. You grew up in a town and I grew up in a small village. KM: I guess we liked each other’s music and we started to email.

How does the dynamic work out with two singer songwriters living and recording together? AB: We manage to work really well together. It’s easy in a sense that you know what it feels like to be in certain situations—whether it’s doing a show or writing songs or recording. You can remind each other when to have respect for what you’re doing or when to realize that something isn’t important. Sometimes you get so fixed… KM: You get stuck on the details and struggle with the stuff that you shouldn’t be struggling with. Writer’s craziness, when you think that you have to get that line and you do it over and over again. And then, the other person can tell you to snap out of it. When we’re recording, it’s fun. One of us is producer and one is the artist, so when I’m doing vocals… AB: I’m sitting by the computer just pressing buttons. KM: Sometimes when you’re recording, it can just get so frustrating. I threw my headphones against the wall. And it was like “Rarrrrrr, do it again, rarrrr”, and Amanda’s the calm producer—and then we switch. AB: I’m more into slamming the door.

image Your house must be battered. KM: It’s an old sturdy house, I think it’ll be fine. AB: When you record with someone you know so well, sometimes it’s hard because he’ll say something to me, or ask me to do something again, and it really gets to me because I don’t’ want to screw up in front of someone I really like and care about, but at the same time, I know that he’s right because you he knows me so well and knows that I could do better. KM: You get pissed off first because you know the other one is right. Sometimes it could be good to record with someone you don’t know. We should try that sometime. AB: Yeah, you can’t behave in the same way or be so childish in front of someone you don’t know.

Both of you have really unique titles, what’s the story there? KM: I was just making up a name and needed a name that day. I never really thought about it. I read something about some dude from Sweden who was the tallest man on earth. I think most band names come out that way. I’ve made up so many explanations for that name. It looks good in writing. AB: Same for me. You can name yourself anything. The reason I changed my name was because I started out with Hajen, which means shark in Swedish and it was kind of a joke. I didn’t really focus on music before that, I just put some songs on MySpace under that name and then people started to pay attention and I wasn’t prepared at all. That was a really stressful year. I didn’t even know if I wanted to work with music. I just needed to start over and had to do it so quickly. A new name is a good way of starting over. KM: You were on the cover of a big news magazine when you only had a few songs recorded. AB: It’s such a strange feeling before you think you’re a musician, and you’re like, no, I’m just playing around. I didn’t mean anything by it. I wasn’t asking for attention, so it’s a really strange thing when you actually get attention for something that you’re not sure of.

Kristian, how did you feel about collaborating with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver? KM: The thing about Justin is that it just feels so natural. I don’t know how to explain it, but where he’s from in the states is pretty similar to the place where we’re from in Sweden. When we go to see him in Wisconsin, it feels like home. New York is great, but we once spent ten days there and then flew straight to Wisconsin. I guess he’s kind of the same dude as me in many ways. We’re around the same age, we like to talk about feelings and grew up in similar places. I’m stealing a lot of stuff from his new record for my record. I’ll have to thank him.

Your shows most often consist of just you on stage. Are you planning to change this with the new album? KM: I’m not going to keep it exactly as it is, but I guess you never know. During the last European tour, I did three songs in the middle of the set with two other guys and it was fun. Then the last couple of shows I’ve been doing by myself again. I’m not sure. This is actually the first time I’ve had time off from touring and I can make decisions about the new album. I hope to be writing really solid songs that can work in a lot of different arrangements. They can, of course, work with just me playing. We’ll see in December how the record turns out.

Do you prefer having support with you on stage? KM: I enjoy playing with people because it’s pretty hard being up there by myself. I don’t know if it looks easy, but if I fall down, it’s going to be dead quiet. But, when you get all that attention, being alone on stage and that scariness is also kind of exciting. You’re always on a thin line. This summer I was playing some big festivals in front of thousands of people and thinking…shit, this actually works. A massive stage and just a little dude. AB: The challenging thing about being alone on stage is that it affects how you view yourself. The fact that if you screw up, you screw up. If every night you feel like so many things went wrong, you start to blame yourself too much. KM: I don’t think any one of us has super high self-confidence, and sometimes you have to do those shows that force you to shape up.

Artists often have mixed feelings about playing big festivals. With your experience so far with that kind of show, how do you feel about it? KM: It’s always different, but it’s crazy, because those are the biggest shows and you don’t get a lot of time to prepare. I liked Coachella this year. I saw a lot of good shows there. We had one day off. That was actually the last time we saw Justin. It was kind of crazy, we were sitting down talking to him and he was like, “Oh shit I have to go now” and he runs onstage. We walked out and we’re like, “Oh wait there’s Justin, and there’s Kanye in his big crane.” AB: As a listener, I just get sad because you just get to see snippets of bands. It’s that whole compromise thing and it’s just like a showcase. It has happened many times that I had a really good experience. Sometimes if it’s a smaller one, otherwise it’s just more like a shopping mall. KM: The great thing about it is that you meet other friends that you never get to see. Last summer, we met Local Natives on every festival. We we’re like, “Hey again, see you next week.” They’re sweethearts.

What are you inspired by for the new album and your current recording? KM: We’ve been listening to the new Feist album, The War on Drugs, the Nurses. Then we have this collection of really weird old ethnic music from 1925 to 1945. It’s the craziest stuff. Jeff Mangum from Neutral Milk Hotel has this radio show and on the webpage, he had this one really weird song and I saw where it came from and found the collection. It’s just mind-blowing. AB: It’s amazing when you’re listening to this strange music in the car. You pass by people driving and think, “If you only knew what I was listening to right now.” I just want to turn up the volume when I drive through our village. KM: Some of it is this weird, isolated musician somewhere making this music up that sounds like nothing else. There are these two bagpipe guys playing glitch electronica. AB: A few weeks ago, you just kept listening to “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous brothers. KM: They sounded so good on the big speakers. I just kept blasting it. And “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. It’s stuff that you heard so many times as a kid, and some music sounds so good when you play it really loud. I’ve been listening to the first track on one of Mark Knoppfler’s solo albums “What It Is”. If you play that really loud, it’s so good. But we listen to cool, indie music too. AB: We don’t really care. We live so far out from anyone who cares about music.

The Best Dang Concert Diary in Texas: Takeaways from Austin City Limits

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After three days of battling excruciating heat, rain storms, and the escalating crowd size at Austin’s Zilker Park, I was actually very sad to see Austin City Limits end. Similar to years past, I’ll leave the great state of Texas with a deepened appreciation for the “weirdness” of Austin, Tex Mex cuisine, and the wealth of opportunities for a good ol’ fashioned adventure this festival has to offer. For more ACL accounts and a gallery of the weekend’s festivities, read on.

1) Less is not more. Everything is bigger in Texas, and this includes Queso serving sizes, golf umbrellas, the ambition behind Kanye’s stage construction, the ACL bike lot, and the hype surrounding headlining music legend Stevie Wonder. Over the past few years, I’ve learned to come to ACL overly prepared, as the weather is almost always unpredictable this time of year and, hell, anything can happen. While here, I always load up on runny Tex Mex queso dip, nachos, and hard tacos, so this year, we hit up Guero’s and Maudie’s in Austin and sampled the nachos from The Salt Lick and Tim Love’s Love Shack inside the festival grounds. (The Salt Lick won our blind taste test.)

For me, the most ambitious performance was Kanye West’s and his troupe of ballerinas on Friday night. For his opener, “Higher,” Kanye descended into the crowd from a hydraulic lift and casually swaggered onto the stage. The following hour and 45 minutes was remarkable in its aesthetic simplicity and near-perfect execution. Unfortunately, the ever-so-anticipated Stevie Wonder’s Saturday performance was marred by some technical sound issues (My Morning Jacket could be heard pretty distinctly even from Wonder’s corner of the park). Dedicated fans set up shop around the Bud Light stage starting that morning in anticipation of this headlining performance, but the impression shared by the exiting crowds was generally nonplussed…To go out with a bang, the weekend ended with recent Grammy winners Arcade Fire; the closing honors served as a homecoming of sorts for band members Win and Will Butler (who grew up in Houston suburb, the Woodlands). They played an aggressive show for the festival’s most-coveted time slot and bid adieu to Austin with Regine Chassagne twirling around in multicolored ribbons and the sad announcement that they wouldn’t be back for a few more years.

2) Be open to try new things. I’ve heard the name Skrillex before, but realistically knew very little about the LA-based electro DJ and producer. Now I do. His performance at the Google + stage on Saturday was surely one of the most crowded, rowdiest and high-energy shows of the weekend. Crowd surfing fans started coming over the front rail in waves as soon as Skrillex took the stage, and the thousands surrounding continued jumping in unison through his hour of glory. At one point, he lifted a fist-pumping, little, blonde boy from backstage onto his soundboard. That kid is going to be so much cooler than anyone I know…I’m now also a converted Tito’s Vodka fan, thanks to the Vodka slushie concoction booth in the media area (amazing idea).

3) Timing is everything. I came with two friends from New York, a camera and a rough itinerary for our 72 hours in Austin. We ended up with an arm full of wristbands, some sweet cowboy boots and backstage access to Cut Copy’s Saturday afternoon performance and Fleet Foxes Sunday show. On Saturday, while standing on fold out chairs in an attempt to catch a glimpse of TV on the Radio from the Google + lounge, a concerned concert-goer approached us and explained that he’d lost his girlfriend, Bridget, and asked if we would hold up a barcode he’d drawn on a piece of cardboard with Bridget’s name. Trying to be polite (we’re in Texas, after all), we obliged, and within seconds Bridget and her man were reunited. Incredible…Like many other surprised festival-goers, we had a few Terrence Malick/Christian Bale sightings (Fleet Foxes, TV On the Radio, Bright Eyes), and have been informed via the Twitter-sphere that they were indeed shooting a film throughout the weekend’s festivities…In addition to hosting some of the festival’s biggest names and attractions, the Bud Light stage also acted as a backdrop for the weekend’s most cringe-worthy-but-cute public engagement. An adorable Aussie fellow took the stage on Sunday afternoon and asked the crowd if he could use it as a forum to ask a “very special question”. The lucky lady joined him, and (phew) she said yes. They also announced that they’re moving to Austin just because they like it that much.

image Austin native Terrence Malick directing Christian Bale backstage at Fleet Foxes

Photo Diary: Making New Friends at Austin City Limits

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This is my fourth year at Austin City Limits. This year also marks the rock festival’s ten-year anniversary (the first six obviously don’t count). These festivals are a lot like airports—they’re pop-up communities, mini social experiments, petri dishes for human social interaction. I keep coming back simply because of the people at ACL, us festival-goers in a contained environment with one another with no fire department-approved easy way out. This year, with my two counterparts, I decided to divert my attention from the media area and get crowd-focused. We made a pledge to interact with every interesting person we passed, using our press credentials as a launching pad.

On Friday, we ascertained some noteworthy Intel. 1) Almost everyone cited “the rainy year” (2009) as their most memorable experience 2) Stevie Wonder is one helluva crowd pleaser. Check out our new BFFs after the jump.

image Patrick Origin: Dallas, TX Track record: 3rd year at ACL The Best: The year that it rained really badly. As annoying as it was trudging through the mud that was up to your shoes and losing my shoes and getting really dirty and as smelly as it was, that made it the most fun. It made it a whole different atmosphere. The Worst: The years of overindulgence. 2011 Attractions: I’m really excited to see Stevie Wonder, because I figure I wont have many other chances to see him again. I’ve seen Cold War Kids a few times before, and I’m excited about them.

image Giselle and James Origin: Cut and Shoot, TX Track Record: G: This is my fifth year; J: My second year The Best: G: Dancing in the rain at Citizen Cope two years ago when it was pouring; J: The mud ruined my shoes. I came in here with some good, brand new shoes and walked out with no shoes. The Worst: J: There are no bad memories here. Only good ones.

image India Origin: Seattle, WA Track Record: Six years The Best: MIA in 2008. And in future tense: Stevie Wonder and Santigold. They’re just gonna bring it home. It’s always been good but it’s gonna be better this year. 2011 Expectations: I’m impressed with the lineup— Stevie Wonder, that’s all I’m gonna say. Also excited about Fleet Foxes

image Jackie and Bob Origin: Austin, TX Track Record: J: Six years; B: All ten The Best: J: The mudfest. That was fun to watch; B: Richard Thompson, Robert Plant and Allison Krause. 2011 Attractions: J: Coldplay, Stevie Wonder and Randy Newman. Backstage Wishes: B: The Secret Sisters; J: I’ll go with Randy Newman. image Junie and Leslie Origin: Las Vegas, NV Track Record: Four years Original Attraction: J: I’m from Marfa, Texas originally, so I was telling her about this and she’s into all the Indie bands. L: He didn’t know who anybody was. I saw the list of bands and was like, “What?”; J: I was like, “I don’t see Iron Maiden on that list.” The Best: J: When it rained a lot two years ago. It was miserable but great. And Foo Fighters (2008). Texas Appeal: L: People are so polite. To have this many people and never see fights or problems—there’s a lot of good energy. 2011 Attractions: J & L: Ray LaMontagne, Brandi Carlisle and Coldplay. Stevie Wonder, he’s a legend and we’ve never seen him. ACL Advice: L: Be prepared for anything: rain, sun. Stay hydrated. Austin Go-To: J: There’s a place called Casino El Camino. They serve the best burgers I’ve ever had.

image Kayla Origin: Oklahoma City, OK Track Record: 1st time Hula Hooping History: A friend brought it to my attention, and I hooped for six hours and was hooked. ACL Appeal: Kanye West. Initial Reactions: It’s pretty awesome, but it’s not very hoop-friendly. There’s just not a lot of room, but it’s just because it’s so crowded. I just wish I had some space.

image Erin and Charlie Origin: Brooklyn, NY Track Record: E: My first time; C: I came two years ago. It was the really wet year. 2011 Highlights: E: Foster the People; C: Kanye Austin Go-To: C: We went to The Salt Lick for barbecue. It lived up to the reputation. Necessary improvements: E: Real bathrooms, no port-a-potties.

image Marissa and Todd Origin: Austin, TX Track Record: M: All ten years. And I’m only 22. My parents are big music fans; T: Six years The Best: M: I liked Tom Petty (2006). And when it started to rain for the big mudstorm here. When the rain came down, everyone was drunk already and we loved it; T: LCD Soundsystem (2010) was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Hands down. And when Bob Dylan played (2007). The Worst: M: When it was 114 degrees, walking to ACL. My friend passed out at Bob Schneider (2010). 2011 Attractions: M: Kanye. Austin Go-To: M: Polvos for margaritas. Torchy’s for a great taco. Uncommon Objects on South Congress.

Photo credit: Jessica Austerlitz

Industry Insiders: Tara Solomon & Nick D’Annunzio, Ink Tank

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Miami-based marketing pro Tara Solomon met her partner in business and life, Nick D’Annunzio, in South Beach in 1997. After testing the waters long distance, the two came together as co-principals in the public relations, marketing, and events firm Tara, Ink., whose clients include the Forge restaurant, the Delano South Beach hotel, and Hermès.

The duo expanded their operation to Los Angeles, in 2005, and added New York last year. Fortunately, given their hectic schedules, Solomon and D’Annunzio balance each other out well. “Nick’s a minimalist, I’m a maximalist,” says Solomon, former “Queen of the Night” columnist for The Miami Herald. D’Annunzio insists that the secret to their success lies in constant evolution. “We stopped faxing and started tweeting,” he says playfully.

“For PR and marketing, integrated vision is now crucial,” he adds. “The best PR campaign comes with a shrewd marketing strategy, so we propose programs, not just campaigns.”

In their Miami office, part of the vision is Solomon’s signature girlie glam style. “I save time by dressing for the entire day and night,” she says. “Which sometimes means I’m wearing sequins at a board meeting or lunching with a new client in a cocktail dress. In Miami, though, no one seems to care.”

Slideluck Potshow Hosts Art Extravaganza

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Ten years ago, against the humble backdrop of photographer Casey Kelbaugh’s backyard in Seattle, the non-profit phenom Slideluck Potshow was born with 50 witnesses’ eyes trained on an old Kodak projector. The concept of strengthening communities through art and food caught on quickly and spread internationally. Last year, Slideluck Potshow broke the Guinness world record for the largest potluck dinner, held under the Brooklyn Bridge in the old tobacco warehouse in Dumbo. Tonight, founder Kelbaugh and the SP team are launching a new concept at New York’s Sandbox Studio, dubbed Slideluck. They’ll also be celebrating a magnificent ten years – hosting a fundraiser, coordinating an auction, and over-serving an art-centric crowd with libations from Brooklyn Brewery, Russian Standard Vodka, and wine club Noble Rot. Dinner will be served by Highlands Dinner Club. More from the founder on Slideluck after the jump.

Explain the new incarnation of Slideluck Potshow. Most of the events in New York over the last four years have been over 1,000 people, but still, they don’t feel like your typical art event. They have a real warmth. The big transformation is happening at our event tomorrow. This is the start of something new. For the last ten years, it’s been a slideshow of mainly local artists and a potluck dinner. What we’re launching now is simply Slideluck. It’s a collaboration with a farm or a supper club, or chef or restaurant. The food will be provided, so no one will be bringing food. The food’s still a critical component, it’s just a slightly different model, and one that we can charge for and execute in more places. We’re going to be collaborating with a lot of organizations that we’ve never had the opportunity to work with before. For instance, we’re going to work with the supper club Studio Feast. We’ll do a pairing of six slideshows and courses. The slideshows might be organized around an idea or geographical region, or a theme of some kind. The chef will interpret the slideshows into his courses. So we can all go on a little journey together. How has the concept spread internationally? Everyday, I get an email saying, “I heard about this,” or, “My friend went to an event in Paris and I think the concept would work here.” We just received requests for East Hampton and right before that, Kathmandu, Miami and Istanbul. All of the expansion has been by request. We’re very involved in the international events, and sometimes we curate the slideshows or bring in a guest curator. It’s usually very collaborative, and generally it’s localized, so a lot of the work comes from wherever the event is taking place.

What’s the biggest compliment you’ve received after an event? One thing that I’ve heard countless times in many different languages is: Thank you so much for bringing this, we’ve never had anything like this before. People walk away very inspired. There are also a lot of long-term relationships, marriages, and babies that have come out of it. Maybe even some divorces.

The traditional gift for a ten-year anniversary is ‘tin or aluminum’. Ideal gift for your ten-year with SP? A robot to answer my emails. One that can multi-task, who’s super efficient, that can free me up a little bit to worry about the bigger details.

Biggest honor? Having Chuck Close in a recent show was a big deal for me. I worked in the Seattle Art Museum at the very beginning of my career, standing in galleries as a guard for one day a week. They had just installed a Chuck Close retrospective, so I was blown away and it had a massive impact on me.

Why people should cough up the dough and buy a ticket. I’m so honored and thrilled by the quality of the host committee, the artists involved, the slideshow, and the quality of the artwork that’s been donated. There are some really good deals to be had in terms of artwork, and it all goes to a great cause. There are 43 pieces up for auction, all lovingly donated by artists in our community from all over the world. The amazing selection can be viewed here. We’re an organization that has been building and strengthening communities for ten years. I can say with confidence that we’ve provided thousands of people with tens of thousands of moments of inspiration around the world. And we can’t continue to do so without support. We’re trying to move towards a more sustainable model and this fundraiser is a step in that direction. The food is going to be out of this world, and there will be a sick afterparty.

Buy tickets to the Cocktail Reception with Hosts/Artists + Dinner + Slideshow + Auctions here. And for Dinner + Slideshow + Auctions here.

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Industry insiders: Pavan Pardasani, Hospitality Hero

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Pavan Pardasani started his nightlife career young as the Director of Marketing for the hospitality and lifestyle management company EMM Group. “When I first got into promoting, every guy I worked with was a few years older than me,” he says. “They’d always say, ‘Pav, the girls you bring around are so young.’ I’d laugh because that was a different time in New York.” Since his first job as the director of the original Pink Elephant and working with Tenjune, the Chandelier Room at the W Hoboken, SL, and Abe & Arthur’s, Pardasani has taken notice of the evolution of the major players in nightlife.

“Social media has made it easier for people to connect, and made it more comfortable for people to go out with relative strangers,” he says. “In a lot of ways, it’s diluted the quality of nightlife, because it’s enabled so many places and people who don’t have the hospitality skills of someone who’s been in this business for a long time, and it’s given a negative connotation to what a ‘promoter’ is.” Working with EMM partners Eugene Remm, Mark Birnbaum, and Michael Hirtenstein, Pardasani will oversee a number of openings in late 2010 and early 2011 to add to the company’s portfolio of exclusive nightlife and hospitality venues.

Industry Insiders: Julie Rice & Elizabeth Cutler, Poo-bahs of Pedal Power

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SoulCycle co-founders Julie Rice (left) and Elizabeth Cutler describe their first meeting in 2006 much like the subsequent founding of their business: serendipitous. Julie had relocated to New York from Los Angeles, where she was first exposed to the indoor cycling trend, as well as the mind/body connection within cardio exercise. Elizabeth had taken up indoor cycling as a means to get back into shape after having her second child. “We met, we connected, and we totally saw eye to eye on what we thought was missing out there and what we could create,” says Cutler. “I started looking for real estate and found our first location on Craigslist.” Their progressive pay-per-class fitness model was, at first, a hard sell, but the SoulCycle community caught on quickly.

“Most fitness centers are membership businesses,” says Rice. “The main thing is getting people to join, and once they sign on the dotted line, you’re going to collect their dues whether they come to your gym or not for as long as you can until they realize they’ve been paying a monthly fee for something they don’t use for way too long. Then, it still takes them six months to figure out how to end it.” SoulCyle now runs five celeb-favored New York, Hamptons and Scarsdale locations that the founders call “fitness sanctuaries.” Classes are held in comfortable, candlelit rooms, ideal for fitting in some R&R for body, mind, and spirit.

Industry Insiders: Jeffrey Jah, Nightlife Innovator

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“One of the reasons we decided to sign on is because it’s the first building in New York that famed architect and interior designer Thierry Despont has done, not only the hotel rooms, but the hotel lobby bar, the restaurant dining room, special events room, and the lounge,” says nightclub owner and restaurateur Jeffrey Jah of his newest midtown New York eatery, The Lambs Club. With partners David Rabin and Will Regan, Jah brought on Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and his wife Margaret to concoct the traditional American menu, with a focus on seasonal items in the opulent, 1930s-inspired space. Sasha Petraske’s cocktails rise to the level of the elegant decor as well, with such singular concoctions as the Gold Rush and Cherry Fix gracing the menu.

Jah is known internationally for expanding the brand of the nightclub Lotus to South America, and now plans to do the same with 1Oak in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janiero in 2011, plus he hopes to reopen the beloved Meatpacking District lounge, The Double Seven, a project that has been in the pipeline for two years, but still hasn’t fallen off the nightlife radar. “Nobody wants it to reopen more than we do. Every day that goes by, we get a call or email or text message from someone asking when it’ll be back,” he says. “It’s amazing that in the ten months that we were open, we touched so many people.” He will also expand The Double Seven concept to Florianopolis, Brazil this year. Jah credits its appeal to his team, and a close eye for detail. “We pay close attention to the details of how a room flows, the design, and the lighting,” he says. “We know how to curate an interesting group of people from fashion, film, music, art, society, and we were the antithesis of what we started ten years prior, which was bottle service in New York.”