Spend a Stylish Summer with the Tech Elite of Silicon Valley

The last time I spent a weekend in Menlo Park, I got sunburnt. Yes, it might come as a surprise that the birthplace of Google Glass can also be a hip travel destination with plenty of chances to catch glimpses of the blazing California sun, but the area is shedding its dorky backstory and emerging as one of the hippest getaway spots on the left coast.

For years, Silicon Valley — the region of the San Francisco bay peninsula that stretches from Palo Alto to San Jose, and where Facebook, Google, Apple, YouTube, eBay, and Yahoo are all headquartered — didn’t have a town square, a physical epicenter where the new breed of hip-to-be-square wealthy wunderkinds could gather, gush about Steve Jobs, and gloat about IPOs.

That all changed after the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park started attracting entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The local tech elite come to the Rosewood to mingle with like-minded power players. Its ideal location in the center of Silicon Valley makes the hotel the perfect place to have a lunch meeting, host a conference, or just to catch some fresh air away from the office. Yet it’s still close enough to the neighboring tech headquarters as to not risk getting stuck in commuter traffic.

Surrounded by drab businesses hotels (even the Four Seasons in nearby Palo Alto is rather bland), the Rosewood is a sight for sore eyes and can really make an impression for more boastful affairs. The picturesque pool area is the go-to hotspot for exclusive cocktail parties, and other industry-only elegant soirees have lured the millionaires (and billionaires) in the area.

Want to check out one of these parties to pitch your next great app idea (Grindr for pot dealers? Pandora for music videos?) but didn’t get an invitation because you’re not the founder of Instagram? Don’t worry. Most of these things just advertise themselves as invite-only. No one is there checking names or, god-forbid, Twitter followers. If anyone stops you to ask questions while in the hotel’s bibliotheca-style lobby bar, just tell them your name is Dave Morin. You invented Path. And as for dress code: make sure you wear a hoodie.

But beware looking too much like a fresh-faced, tech-savvy executive, especially on Thursday nights, when the Rosewood welcomes matchmakers for their stylish and popular, yet unofficial, “Cougar Night.”

The only women you should be mingling with are Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. But how to “lean in” and start a conversation with the first ladies of tech? Tell Sheryl that her TED Talk made you proud to be an unemployed stay-at-home dad (a.k.a. trophy husband) and remind Marissa that she looked flawless in Alexander McQueen. They may be powerful feminists, but they still like to receive compliments.

For those visiting Silicon Valley on business to secure the next billion dollar deal, there’s even more incentives to choose a stay at the Rosewood Sand Hill. The hotel also offers private two and three-bedroom villas, ideal for out-of-town businessmen working remotely during an extended stay.

Soon, Silicon Valley might become a travel destination for more than just geeks with startups. Architecture and design enthusiasts will be interested to see the truly spectacular buildings being planned to drastically reinvent the Silicon Valley skyline.

The new Googleplex in Menlo Park will be made up of several bent buildings connected by bridges. Nearby in Menlo Park, Facebook has hired iconic architect Frank Gehry to design its headquarters expansion. And in Cupertino, Apple is planning to land a spaceship-like structure that has been dubbed the “Death Star” because of the project’s outlandishly sci-fi delusions of grandeur.

So next time you’re in Northern California looking to meet Mark Zuckerberg while admiring one-of-a-kind architecture, take the Cal Train to Silicon Valley. Just remember to apply sunscreen.

[BlackBook San Francisco Guide; Listing for Rosewood Sand Hill; More by Oscar Raymundo]

All the President’s Cocktails

For those of us who failed American history in high school, now is the perfect time to visit the Round Robin Bar in Washington, D.C., the only place in the world where you can get a history refresher while sampling the drink menu. To commemorate the drinking habits of Jefferson, Nixon, Obama, and their presidential ilk, Round Robin mixologist and history buff Jim Hewes has crafted a signature cocktail for each American head of state, 44 cocktails in total. Class is now in session. 

“The selection is representative of our Founding Fathers’ tastes, the spirits of the era, as well as the availability of certain spirits, which was much different from our day,” Hewes says.

The specialty drinks menu debuted just in time for this year’s Inauguration at the hotel bar of the “Residence of Presidents,” the Willard InterContinental hotel in D.C. The bar will continue to serve the 44 cocktails year-round.

Not surprisingly, a popular choice is the Blue Hawaiian, inspired by Barack Obama. The cocktail combines the sitting president’s penchant for aged tequila with curacao, giving the beverage a similar tint to the azure waters near Obama’s birthplace. That’s the Pacific, not the Indian Ocean.

Other interesting selections include Tanqueray for Bill Clinton, California sparkling wine for Ronald Reagan, and Maker’s Mark for Harry S. Truman. Richard Nixon served Bacardi and Coke aboard the presidential yacht, while the Beefeater martini was the signature cocktail of JFK’s Camelot.

Our Founding Fathers preferred foreign wine to spirits, however: Madeira Mediterranean wine for Washington, French red wine for Jefferson. James Monroe was the first president to shake things up with the Sherry Cobbler, commonly referred to as America’s first cocktail.

Hewes hasn’t forgotten about the presidents who chose to abstain from alcohol. Abraham Lincoln replaced his early taste for whiskey with an affinity for apple cider, Calvin Coolidge embodied New England Puritanism by drinking only cranberry juice and soda, and buzzkill Jimmy Carter introduced alcohol-free white wine to the White House.

The true lush of the executive office, however, was Herbert Hoover, who personally recalled Prohibition by “nobly experimenting” with loaded Long Island Iced Teas. Hail to the chief indeed. 

[Related: BlackBook Washington, D.C. Guide; Follow Oscar Raymundo on Twitter]