DJ Martial Is Just Getting Warmed Up

Marshall Weinstein, known to club-goers and music aficionados as DJ Martial, is having trouble getting used to the deep freeze New York currently finds itself mired in. When I reach him by phone at his Brooklyn apartment, he’s just returned from a work trip to the Caribbean, a difference of 1,650 miles and five layers of clothing. "I was DJing in St. Maarten in 85 degree weather and here it’s 10 degrees outside," he says with a laugh. "The airplane wouldn’t even go to the gate because it was frozen, they had to bus us in. It was crazy." He won’t be frozen for long, as he’ll soon be on his way to balmy New Orleans for a handful of gigs centered around the upcoming Super Bowl. We caught up with him during his brief layover to find out how he got started, his favorite clubs to perform in, and his secret for de-stressing fast.

Where are you from, and what kind of stuff were you into as a kid that led you to being a DJ?

I went to elementary, middle, and high school outside of Boston. I started DJing in 1993 when my older brother introduced me to underground electronic rave music. I was 13 at the time. When I graduated from high school I moved to New York City. My mom is originally from Long Island and my dad is originally from Coney Island, Brooklyn, and my whole family lived in the New York area, so it was a no-brainer. I went to Hofstra and DJ’d my way through college. I’ve been actively in the New York music scene since 1998 when I came to the city.

So, Yankees or Red Sox?

I’m definitely an all-Boston sports fan. It’s a little upsetting with the Patriots losing recently, however now that I’ve got some gigs at the Super Bowl I can focus on work and not sports.

How did you start DJing in the city?

When I got to New York, I realized that I had access to the best city in the world that had the best music. At Hofstra I was on the radio, and I majored in television video production communications, so music was always a part of my life. Whether it was in the studio working with audio tracks or video, or at the radio station on the air, all I did was music music music. When I got out of college, I was still DJing nights and weekends. With my full-time job – I worked at MTV and in the industry – eventually it steamrolled. I was picking up more and more gigs to the point where I was burning the candle at both ends. I couldn’t be in a television studio at six o’clock in the morning when I got out of a club at four.

So you decided to make a change?

In 2006 I realized that I’ve been DJing for 13 years, but I had a career in television. I said to myself, I’ve always wanted to be a full-time DJ. I had an opportunity to work overseas for three months as a DJ, so I sat down with my boss at the time and explained it to him. He said, you’ve got a lot of passion for this, so go for it. I put in my two weeks, it was December 2006, and since then I’ve been a full-time DJ. I also do a lot of private events, not just in New York but around the nation and internationally, and I book DJs at clubs and events through my company, SET Artist Management.

Is that when the momentum started to build?

Once you do one event it leads to another. Being humble and staying true and smiling and constantly following up with everybody, it leads to an escalation. Since then I’ve never looked back or second-guessed myself on leaving a career that I went to college for.

What kind of clubs were you playing at the time?

When I went overseas I was working in Israel, in various places in Tel Aviv,  Jerusalem, and Haifa. Clubs like Shalvata, Lima Lima, City Hall, Layla Bar.  Then I came back to New York and gigs started to add up, residencies here and there. I’ve worked at clubs like Beauty & Essex, WiP, Double Seven, Top of the Standard, Yotel, Stash, STK Midtown, Gansevoort Park, Bounce Sporting Club on 21st, Haven Rooftop.

How would you describe your musical style, and how do you adjust that for the crowd and event?

I’m a 100% open format DJ. I love all types of music and I’m not afraid to drop anything. It’s not about what you play, it’s about what you follow up with. You can drop a song from the ’70s and people start to get into it. For the next song, whether it’s a huge club banger or a perfect smooth transition, it can make the song before it that much better. My outgoing personality shines through my beats, like a sixth sense. I bleed hip-hop, ’80s, rock, house, and still stay true to the music and dance floor because I keep those classics in the mix. And I have no problem playing the most current, hottest tracks, to do whatever I can to keep the dance floor packed till dawn.

So you believe that the context is important, it’s not about any one individual song, it’s about the whole set and the vibe you’re putting out there?

Yes. It’s not like I’ll play one ’80s song, one ’70s song, one rock song, one hip-hop song. Then it can be a bit ADD. It’s more about the way you blend different genres of music together throughout the night to build that crescendo. You finish the night and people look at their watches and they can’t believe it’s four in morning and the club’s still packed.

What do you have going on with the Super Bowl?

I’m down in New Orleans Thursday through Monday. I’m working at the NFL House, doing parties Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and I’m doing a number of parties for CBS, including pre-game and post-game on Sunday. The two CBS parties I’m involved in, there’s one Friday night at the Contemporary Arts Center, and Saturday I’m doing the party at Generations Hall with a live performance from Trombone Shorty, who is a really talented local guy who does huge live performances with a big band feel.

What else do you have coming up?

I’ll be DJing in the number one college town, Morgantown, West Virginia, at a place called Rock Top. I’ll be in Boston. I do a lot of private events for BlackBerry, since I’m the official Latin American BlackBerry DJ. In the summer I’ll probably have a lot of Hamptons gigs.

What clubs do you like to play in?

I like being close to the crowd. Mid-sized clubs work really well. I love working at Stash on 14th Street. Beauty and Essex is a great place to feel the energy and the vibe, and Double Seven is another spot where you’re right in the mix.

What’s on your iPod?

I have a series of playlists for all the new stuff I need to hear. There’s never enough time in the day to hear all the new songs. But when I’m relaxing, I love old school music. Old classic rock, ’70s, ’80s, things like that.

What do you do to relax and de-stress?

I love going to the Russian and Turkish Baths. Sometimes I just need a good shvitz. And I’m not afraid of the cold pool either.

What advice do you have for aspiring DJs?

Be as musically knowledgeable as possible. Everybody knows that electronic music is huge right now, techno, house, dubstep, but the more versatile you are, the more gigs you can play. If you want to specifically become an electronic music DJ, and that’s your passion, go for it, but if you’re trying to get noticed and get gigs and get experienced, the more versatile you are, the more avenues you have. Stay humble and keep in mind there’s a big line between work and play. Keep a clear mind.

Do you enjoy going out and experiencing DJs and live entertainment? Check out the BlackBook City Guides for all the best spots in New York and around the world. Download the free, GPS-enabled iPhone and Android apps, and sign up for our BlackBook Happenings newsletters for New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Knowledge is power. 

Gansevoort Parks Itself In Midtown

The bottom of the luscious swimming pool at the much-anticipated Gansevoort Park hotel has an enthusiastic gal painted on its bottom accompanied by the words “I’m Waiting.” Everyone is waiting and expecting this wondrous addition to 29th Street. It will soon join The Ace and Mario Batali and so many others in an East/West corridor of luxury. The Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking is a success that keeps getting better. The renovation of many of the hotel’s public spaces and the additions of Provocateur, Tanuki Tavern and now Carte Blanche, has taken the property to a new level. Owner Michael Achenbaum, like all luxury hotel operators, is a perfectionist. As my assistant Alice Urmey and I were toured the Ganesvoort Park yesterday afternoon he was constantly, and always in a very gentlemanly manner, instructing workers to do this or that and paying attention to the smallest details. He even stopped to remove some fool’s chewing gum from a flawless glass tiled column. He is as excited as any new father about his new gem. The ICrave-designed restaurants and bars are simply stunning. There are balconies everywhere, outdoor decks and color and light. It’s a forward design that is both chic and accessible. It’s for a smart set that demands smarter service and amenities as the boutique hotel industry learns form itself how to thrill it’s guests.

We retreated from the saws and hammers of the frenetic crews to a sprawling, luxury suite to do this interview. The property’s sound is by the world famous Lord Toussant, who did Pacha’s legendary system. He is an artist, and worker bees were scrambling to prepare for his arrival. He is one perfect piece for the perfect puzzle that Michael and his team are creating. We talked for hours and I’m sure we could have gone on for days. Greatness comes from enthusiasm, talent, experience and smarts. Michael Achenbaum is all that.

You renovated the lobby of the Meatpacking. Everyone makes mistakes or underestimates or overestimates real conditions. You are not daunted by these errors. You recognize them, and you adjust, you change, you perfect, and invariably the end result is ten times better than it was before. You recognized the way you built the space wasn’t the way it worked or should’ve worked, and you made an adjustment. Let’s talk about this adjustment. We realized that when we had done that hotel, our experience previously had been more of Holiday Inns and Hiltons as far as hotels. When we did that front lobby originally, we didn’t have a true understanding of the idea of the social environment for your front lobby. Especially with the interaction with what we have with our rooftop, it became a very difficult space and it never really fulfilled its potential to become a separate social entity. By doing the renovation, we felt that by using ICrave, who do lounge and restaurant spaces, we would create a space that was incredibly guest-friendly. That particular renovation wasn’t done on its own, it was combined with eight million dollars worth of renovations that we’ve done to our food and beverage in the past year: Bringing in Michael Satsky and Brian Gefter to do Provocateur; Jeffrey Chodorow doing the Tanuki space; Renovating the rooftop where we put a lot of time and effort into tearing out Plunge and creating a new feel and sensation with Deborah Anderson’s art and the light boxes on the wall. We really tried to reinvigorate that space even though our numbers were up last year.

It’s arguable that in the last ten years the major trend in hotels has been the importance of food and beverage. You have taken this to a different level . Not only do you have lounges, clubs and restaurants driving your hotels, you also have pools. This is unique to your group. We look at a lot of our competitors, and there’s a reason why clients go to the various hotels. I don’t always agree with everything they do and they don’t always agree with everything I do. Not on a personal level, but just on a business level. We try to balance the fact that we have a huge food and beverage component, as far as our revenue sources, with providing a higher level of service in our opinion, than most of our competitors. When you look at our numbers, over 75% of our profits come from the rooms business. It is actually quite different than a lot of our competitors, where I think their profits really come out of their food and beverage. One thing we do gain from having a Provocateur, a Tanuki, Carte Blanche, the new lobby bar, the renovated Plunge, is that it brings renown to the product and helps push your occupancy. And when you push your occupancy you can push your rate. And that’s what we’re really trying to do—get that undercurrent of velocity on sales of your rooms so that way you can achieve a higher room rate earlier. If you don’t sell your room until very late in the game and you’re only selling them three days ahead of time, you end up having a very difficult time raising your rates and you end up selling them below what you could have otherwise achieved. For example, going into August we were already 63% sold for the entire month of August. We now have the ability to push our rates on those last 37% of our rooms. It sounds crazy, but I’ve run 96% occupied for almost the last four months.

The word Gansevoort is a very strange word. Before, when people would go to Florent, which was the mainstay on Gansevoort Street back in the day, no one could ever pronounce it right. When you were calling it the Gansevoort hotel, was the difficulty of the name a consideration? It wasn’t actually my first choice to be honest. It was my architect’s choice, and I will give him credit, Stephen Jacobs. He suggested it because when we bought into the project, and we ended up buying out our partners, we started to attend meetings about land-marking the district. The area is actually a landmark district called the Gansevoort Market. It’s not actually called the Meatpacking District, even though it’s always been referred to that way historically. It’s almost like calling your hotel The Soho if you were in Soho. At the same time, we were very concerned that people would be unable to pronounce it properly, but I believe that one of our greatest achievements was something written about in the Post. The New York Post ran a brief story about the top places in New York City as far as drop off and pick up points for cabs, and the number one besides the airports in all of New York City was 18 Ninth Avenue, which is our address. It’s not only people coming to us, though a lot of them were, it’s also a lot of people who just say take me to the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District as a launching point for wherever their evenings will take them.

I absolutely do that. I know my cab driver knows where it is, and no matter where I’m going over there, whether I’m going to Spice or getting my hair cut at Bumble and Bumble, I say take me to the Gansevoort Hotel. What’s great about that for us is one, it’s in the back of your mind, and two, that people know how to pronounce it now. That was one of the things I loved about it, because I thought people must know how to pronounce it if everyone knows how to get there now. It was a scary thing at first, but we also felt that it was the intent of the hotel, the intention of our design and everything was to create an experience that would attract a lot of people from Europe, from the West Coast—that kind of clientele. We felt that was an appropriate use of that name. Stylistically, we did a lot of things that tied back to it being Dutch. The actual font of our logo is a Dutch font. There are a lot of details that most people aren’t even aware of. Gansevoort actually means forward goose, the lead goose. So we have a little goose that comes on the bed and quacks.

image

You just discussed the clientele that comes to the downtown Gansevoort. Now you’re opening this one on 29th and Park, which is an area that I’ve been visiting for years. Is there going to be a difference in clientele at the two hotels? The perception of the downtown hotel is that we’re almost all transient and media, but at the same time we are 35-45% corporate under normal circumstances when the market is stabilized. Group business has historically been about 5% of our business. We expect that to continue. We do expect there will be some cross pattern because people are going to want to experience the new hotel, but there’s a clientele that always wants to be in the Meatpacking District and there’s a clientele that always wants to be in Soho. There’s going to be a clientele that wants to be there no matter what, because socially that area is very specific and very special. As the Whitney and all of these other places come down there, it’s just going to get better. But at the same time up here, we think that this hotel, with the design we’ve done, with room sizes, the finishes, and the overall product that we’re building here, we feel that this hotel is truly designed to compete with the Peninsulas, Four Seasons, and Palaces of New York City, rather than being considered a downtown hotel stylistically. What we’re trying to do here is provide, from lobby to guestroom, a Four Seasons experience. Service-wise, room appearances, and amenity-wise. At the same time you have the social options of a downtown hotel. We don’t think anyone has ever done that in New York City.

There’s a bunch of hotels being put up along this 29th Street corridor. 29th Street was historically one of the worst whore-ridden blocks in the city. This was a very bad block. It can’t be worse than what the Meatpacking was (laughs).

But the neighborhood has completely changed and continues to grow. When you look at Soho and Tribeca, these areas excel because of the physical layouts of the buildings. It’s lofts and townhouses, whereas the East Village is tenements. It’s now a growth neighborhood. Is that why you’re here? Do you see 29th and Park as the next neighborhood? As far as location-wise for our clients, it’s a great fit right between the downtown market and the uptown market. Being able to have somebody who is able to go to meetings fifteen blocks away, right in Midtown, is a great bonus to our clientele. At the same time, we definitely saw it as a growth market, just as when we went into the Meatpacking District we felt there would be a lot of growth around us. A perfect example of that was one time I met a real estate broker, and he didn’t know what I did, and I asked him what he was working on. He said he’s moving a client that is similar to a Paragon from another city to New York, and he said he’s moving them to Park Avenue South. I asked him where on Park Avenue South, and he said he wants to be near the new Gansevoort, but not so close that he pays the premium. We really believe that with us, the Ace, the new Batali coming in, and some other major players coming into this market, you’re going to see a huge pop in this area. We had faith that if we came, others would follow.

In Las Vegas, retail definitely drives hotels and in turn the casinos. It’s less so with the properties in New York. If you look at the Meatpacking District as one giant mall with the clubs and everything like that, you have these great stores around it. But over here on Park Ave it hasn’t been the case. Lacoste is committed to having a store in the hotel. How much will retail drive hotels? I’m very interested in doing this store because it’s a very unique concept and I really believe in Steve Birkhold’s vision of where he’s taking his brand. For me, it’s a great brand association because he’s going to be doing not only his classic look and yearly changes in that look, he’s also going to be doing partnerships with major designers to do special edition products with us as well. He’s also going to be doing special edition shoes designed by well-known Japanese designers.

You told me that you and Andre Balazs are different players, and sometimes disagree. What are the differences between Andre Balazs’ approach and your approach? As far as the food and beverage, we have different perspectives on it. Andre does most of the food and beverage in house, while we’re partners in our food and beverage operations. But I really respect the knowledge that others who have been very successful in their industry bring to the table. Their branding adds value to my property. I think it’s worth having a better pie and maybe having a little bit smaller piece of that pie, than having a pie of crap. Maybe that’s not the nicest way of saying that (laughs). From my point of view, I want to ensure—because you have to remember it’s not just your restaurant and it’s not just your bar. It’s your room service, your catering, and all those things. As much as people think you can put something together and just do it yourself, a lot of times you just don’t do a great job. The first person to ever do it successfully was Ian in partnership with Jeffrey Chodorow doing Asia de Cuba and all of these different concepts together. Ian clearly saw the value in bringing in great operators to do work with him. He changed the whole business model to food and beverage being a driving factor in your hotel product. I think a large part of that was Ian’s background of having been at Studio 54 and understanding that being the social center of something was so relevant. Up until that time food and beverage was a losing department for almost all hotels in the world. Almost no hotels made money on it, and they certainly didn’t make money on it if they took into consideration capital cost. Usually when people would see the value in a hotel’s food and beverage, they would ignore the fact that there was a huge capital influx that had to go in initially, and they wouldn’t take that into consideration by giving no return to the owner.

Most hotels just put in food and beverage because they need to service the clients. They have to have room service, so you might as well have a restaurant and hope for the best. Ian changed the whole game by creating a place where the food and beverage was a social center. I think there was a lull in this for a few years after, and it’s coming back really strong right now with the Bowery, with us, with Ace. Hotels and the different environments set at the hotels are becoming the social centers of the city.

image

You’ve built the downtown Gansevoort and the Park Avenue Gansevoort from the ground up. Being a perfectionist, you’ve learned a lot of lessons from the Meatpacking Gansevoort, such as sound proofing, locations of elevators, and bathrooms. There were a lot of problems downtown, which you adjusted. I’d like to point out that most of these problems were due to success beyond reasonable expectations. The property is so popular that elevators and hospitality were originally unable to handle the needs. What accommodations or adjustments were made in design at the Park Avenue location for food and beverage? We have a three-level rooftop with two interior levels and one exterior. We over-elevated the hotel. We have two express elevators to the rooftop that have seven thousand pounds of lift and they run high speed. Our elevators are going to run express from the ground to the rooftop. We no longer have those elevators stopping and also they don’t interfere with my guests’ hotel experiences because they’ll have their own separate elevator from the lobby. These elevators come off of a separate entrance, which is another factor. We’re not having a line outside of the hotel entrance. We’ll have the line on the Park Avenue side with a separate entrance and a long corridor where we can have guests wait as well. And then you release them from that corridor to the elevators, both of those elevators running express. The express elevators literally take twenty or thirty seconds to get up there. We created back corridors from one side of the hotel to the other, so that both staff and patrons always have access, and are never caught on one side without bathrooms. We did far more bathrooms per guest than we had originally done with much higher-end finishes. We built an indoor/outdoor pool. That way it’s truly usable all year round. I’m not a huge fan of indoor pools, so by having it the way we set it up, the indoor pool opens to the outside pool. During the summer it’s completely open air, and if you’re using the interior portion of the pool during the winter you can actually dive through the door and come out on the outside. You don’t have to have that chlorinated sensation when you’re in the pool. We built a full kitchen on the roof so the service and the speed at which patrons get their food is far greater. We built many more bars, and each space has an outdoor area right off it, so if people want to smoke they do have that option rather than us telling them they have to go downstairs or find one spot on the roof where they can smoke. The fact that we built five interior spaces on that roof plus the indoor venues gives us the option to hold several events at the same time. I can now run an event on the entire penthouse one, and still have penthouse two and the roof deck available for something else. I can take the Red Room, which is one of our event spaces on that rooftop, and sever it from all of the other spaces. That way I can still have a private event there for 100 or 200 people, but the rest of the rooftop is available for other events or standard bar service. It gives me much more flexibility by being able to divide up the space.

Does the term “boutique hotel” have any meaning anymore? Not really, in my opinion. I think the world has bastardized that term to the point where it really just means a stylish hotel, or a hotel that is in large part food and beverage driven. I’m 249 keys—how boutique can I truly be? We feel that we offer a high level of service and style, and a lot of social options, but I feel that to be a true boutique hotel, you have to look at hotels like those in England. Tim and Kit from the Crosby. Their hotel is in London, with that bed and breakfast kind of service, though a higher level of service. They were really elegant, smaller, and had 75 keys. When you start getting into hotels that are 150 to 300 keys, it’s very hard. When Ian did the Hudson while he was working at the Morgan Group, he totally flipped this concept on its head. He took a concept of what was boutique, and truly made it fun and stylish. That’s fine, because it doesn’t matter what you call something, it’s the experience the guest has that’s far more relevant. As long as you’re providing a certain level of service and that experience you come to expect, I don’t care what you define me as. I’d prefer to be called luxury.

Luxury is a good word. I’ve been to the Hudson recently, and it’s amazing. It’s better than it ever was. Where are you going in the next five to ten years? Where is this brand going? We’re going to try two things. We want to grow through third party management deals and development. The problem is the product always has to exceed what I’ve done originally. I look at the original Gansevoort and I think it’s a great product and I think it more than suits its market, but I always want to do better. As you said, people in my industry are perfectionists. I look at it and I say, we’ve built a great product, but we can always do better. There are other projects that we are in discussions with about building Gansevoort quality products, but at the same time we are looking at creating a sub- brand. This will give us a little bit more flexibility, because I don’t necessarily have to have a full rooftop pool, or I don’t have to have a full service spa. I could have just the gym. I need that flexibility because I won’t do a Gansevoort without certain amenities. I will never build a product that will disappoint my clients if they come to a Gansevoort property. Some of my competitors have been much more willing to take on many different products, and that’s a different business model and I understand it, but I want people to know what they’re getting when they book my rooms. That’s why I’m very adamant that Gansevoort maintain a different level, and then I’m willing to look at alternative products that will still be vibrant and fun and offer the same level of service, but maybe don’t offer the full array of amenities that a Gansevoort would. That’s another direction we’re thinking of taking, not only our own management development, but also third party deals.

Another thing Ian has done, and we talk about Ian because we both love him and he’s such a genius and innovator, Ian has attached residential to his hotel. Is there a possibility you might do this with future developments? We had done that in Miami, and that was the problem with the project. As a hotel, it was perceived as very successful, but it was cross-collateralized with 255 condominiums that I couldn’t sell. Of those 255, I sold half of those and people walked on their contracts. It’s not that I wouldn’t do residential along with it, but my preference because I am a long-term holder, would be to do a beautiful rental job.

Tell me about Carte Blanche—the ups, the downs, your aspirations. The name is an apropos name for what we’ve created, because we feel that it’s a little bit of something for everyone. You have the opportunity to go in there and there’s so many different things you can enjoy there. You have an outdoor deck, you have a pool table, you have a seating area with a lounge feel to it and DJs in the front lobby. You have a deli counter where you can take out, a seating area, where you have tables and that area. We feel that it hits a number of different constituencies that would enjoy that space, and really revitalizes and invigorates that corner.

It makes you more accessible to the public. Many times you have to go into a hotel lobby to experience it. This being on the corner, the brand isn’t so intimidating. I eat at the Peacock Alley at the Waldorf constantly because it’s a great little place to have a meeting or rendezvous. But no one would ever think of going to the Waldorf to have a meal. The brand is intimidating. A trendy hotel can be intimidating but with the High Line and the shopping bringing a diverse clientele you’ve made the Gansevoort more accessible. The fact you had people walking in, whether it be guests, children with their parents, beautiful models, and they see a pool table, it’s something that draws you to it. It’s an opportunity for people to meet and socialize around this environment. That’s what we really wanted to create, because as I said earlier in our discussion, I felt our original design was proper. It shouldn’t be proper; it should be comfortable and entice you in. That’s what I want for my lobbies. While the new one here, Gansevoort Park, is very beautiful—the furniture is far more comfortable than the furniture in the first hotel. There’s a fireplace—it has certain elements that are going to draw you in either way. That lobby, I felt I couldn’t find a seat that I felt comfortable in. I always felt disappointed that we had not done a more appropriate job of catering to our client. I feel that this new product really does. Jeffrey Chodorow has done a spectacular job with the food—a really unique menu with crepes, carafes of mixed drinks, a great bar menu—and there are all of these different ways to experience it. The food is tremendous and we feel that the price point of what we’ve given is something that is appealing to the neighbors in the area, the businesses in the area, and also to our clients. When you go out to most of the places in the Meatpacking District it’s quite expensive, and this is an alternative that’s a little more relaxed and price sensitive.

Miami: Top 10 Spots to Get Laid

Rose Bar at the Delano (South Beach) – For you more classy folk, find your way to the bar and order a round of bubbly. There’s nothing like champers to attract some female attention. ●Prive (South Beach) – School is back in sesh soon, and this is where the hungry frosh head to get their groove on. All it will cost you is a screwdriver. ●B.E.D. (South Beach) – Because sometimes all it takes is a few cocktails and an accessible BED.

Skybar (South Beach) – Out-of-towners come here for a chance celeb encounter. If you keep the tonic flowing, chances are they won’t be disappointed you aren’t John Mayer or one of the Jonas Bros. ●Casa Tua (South Beach) – Find a pal with entry upstairs, and you pretty much have it in the bag. ●Plunge (South Beach) – This is where the Magic City’s most eligible skirts and shorts find themselves lingering on a Thursday night. ●Club 50 (Downtown/Brickell area) – Rumor has it this is where all the “good ones” have been flocking on Friday nights. Well worth a trip off the beach, even if you don’t get lucky. ●Florida Room (South Beach) – Grab your wingman and get down with SoBe’s 20-something crowd. ●Space (Downtown/Brickell area) – Debauchery ensues at about 6a. ●Mansion (South Beach) – Promiscuous Girl should be the anthem at this fist-pumping club. Throngs of scantily clad chicks wait impatiently for the next round or free entry.

Miami Itinerary: The Bachelor Party

Oh, ye old time tested and treasured art of the Bachelor Party. A rite of passage. It signifies an end of one era, heralds another, and reveals just how brilliant or sleazy your male counterparts may be (as if you didn’t already know). Some celebrate with strippers, steak, and one-night stands. Others keep it classy, opting for a day of golf, steak, and cigars. Whatever your forte, gentlemen, South Beach on the Ocean Drive home stretch has this male bonding event covered. A little bit cheesy, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. Let the male bonding commence.

Stay: The Clevelander. Enough debauchery for your cousin; enough class for your fiancé’s brother.

Friday 9 p.m.: Arrive to Miami International Airport and prepare for a Rock Star host — your Clevelander concierge for the weekend — to pick you up in a fully stocked H2 limousine. 10 p.m.: 1020 Music Boxx. The signature Lynchburg lemonade and margarita pitchers should put you in the right mindset for the evening, or perhaps will render you mindless, which are essentially one and the same condition. 12:30 a.m.: The Florida Room. Suitably tipsy, the Lucite piano and the fact that Lenny Kravitz designed it will all start to make sense.

Saturday 10 a.m.: You may have taken advantage of all that Miami nightlife has to offer into the wee morning hours, but do yourself a favor and unwind on SPF4, The Clevelander’s small open-air deck overlooking the pool and beach for your eating and lounging pleasure. Order up Becca’s Egg Sandwich — a hearty bacon, egg, cheese, and pesto sandwich on San Francisco-style sourdough toast. Down several Bloody Marys and you’ll be back in action. 12 p.m.: Have your Rock Star concierge hook you up with Jet Skis for you and your troupe. Charge it to the room so the best man can pay for it later. 3 p.m.: News Cafe. Spinach dip and sandwiches after water sports. Feel like a local with the other tourists. 4:30 p.m.: Splash Model Showcase. Watch a weekly bathing suit competition from under the Yogurt Bar back at The Clevelander. You can promise your wife-to-be that you never went to a strip club! 8 p.m.: Kobe Club. Shower and after shave on, it’s time to eat, and really eat here; a den of dark leather, steak, and steel weaponry. When the boys get together, these things must be involved. 10 p.m.: Casa Tua. You’re in Miami — may as well try to weasel your way into this clandestine Mediterranean-style beach house for a pre-drink with the boys. Everyone (whether famous or fame-challenged) eventually drops by for a drink. Do as the everyones do. 11 p.m.: LIV. This is why you’ve come to Miami. The ‘Bleau has opened a Vegas-style megaclub for SoBe, the type of place where you could see Brit losing her stuff next to Hilton and Kardashian, and you’ll inevitably find yourself in a long bathroom line. Party like a rock star all the way back to your rock star suite.

Sunday 11 a.m.: Ice Box. You’re feeling like you might want to stick your head in an icebox. Cozy up to the classic comfort food until you and your mates are comfortable once again. Cream cheese French toast should soak up the syrup and everything else you did last night. 1 p.m.: Richard Petty Driving Experience. Sure, you could golf, but judging from last night you’re in the business of making bad decisions, and jumping into a tiny race car sans air-conditioning is a bad idea — until you and your groomsmen are barreling down the Homestead-Miami Speedway at 160mph. Then it’s a great idea. 5 p.m.: One last drink at Plunge. The roof pool promises lots of ladies in bikinis providing one last look at all that South Beach is most known for.

New York: Top 10 Places to Get Devoured by a Cougar

Growing up, my friends had very traditional pets: dogs, cats, Tamagotchis. My family, being the eccentrics that they are (re: immigrants) made sure that my brother and I had something a little more fierce to play with. Our pet cougar loved us for ten passionate years before his unfortunate death at the hands of a demented hunter. My mother, saint that she is, told her distraught sons that our dead cougar was going to “cougar heaven,” a place where “cougars roamed free and never went hungry.” Little did I know she was talking about New York City.

Stone Rose Lounge (Midtown West) – NY’s reigning cougar sanctuary, where newbie Time Warner suits come to get served. Owner’s wife is Cougar Ultima Cindy Crawford. And the fact that I just referred to Cindy Crawford as a cougar makes me feel pruney. ● Nikki Beach A cougar oasis, if you will. No small coincidence that the first cougar I tamed was also named Nikki Beach (she was an amateur porn star). This is where you go to get your tiki torched. ● Geisha (Upper East Side) – Gogougar describes a geisha as a “subservient breed of cougar, and, as a result, a species that doesn’t totally subscribe to the whole Cougar ethic. She’s more interested in pleasing you, than she is in pleasing herself.” We describe it as a posh Japanese restaurant on the Upper East Side in which to get picked up by cougars. ● Bemelmans (Upper East Side) – The great thing about this Carlyle hideaway is that only the rich drink here. The great thing about cougars is that money is irrelevant to them. The great thing about divorces is that they breed cougars. You do the math. ● Cabanas at the Maritime (Meatpacking District) – Cougars love meat and they travel in packs, so the fact that you’ll find them in the Meatpacking District is self-explanatory. And the fact that this island-themed bar resides in a hotel is just lucky. ● 123 Burger Shot Beer (Midtown West) – The opposite of fancy, and that includes the women. Anyone who’s been here knows this place should be renamed 1234 Burger Shot Beer Cougar. ● STK (Meatpacking District) – From Yelp: “The bartenders were nice, and as I was facing them while stuffing my face, we were able to exchange knowing looks when the cougar beside me would lift her breasts and heave them onto the bar while the light reflected on her almost-plastic brown skin as she ordered a dirty, dirty martini.” So yeah. ● Plunge (Meatpacking District) – In the penthouse of the Hotel Gansevoort, Plunge has been code-named “Cougar Central” by, well, me. It’s not very creative, I know, but in terms of accuracy, it can’t be beat. Helpful hint: The pool is off-limits unless you or your cougar are guests. ● Rodeo Bar (Kips Bay) – Question: What is the only thing more cougar than Texas? Answer: A vaguely Texas-themed bar in New York. ● Schiller’s (Lower East Side) – A cougar’s weakness is your strength — it’s called cheap red wine, and this place bleeds it.

See also: Miami cougar dens.
Washington State Cougars Tickets Maples Pavilion Tickets Stanford Tickets

Miami: Top 5 Hotel Joints

imageStumbling distance to our room? Always time for one more round.

1. The Raleigh Hotel Bar (South Beach) – Ask for your martini in a plastic cup, then chill to sexy music around the 1940s-style pineapple-shaped pool. 2. Rose Bar (at The Delano) (South Beach) – The granddaddy of hotel bars. Locals know it’s best to hit during the week, but even a weekend madcap can be forgiven. 3. RumBar (at the Ritz) (Key Biscayne) – For that British colony in the tropics feel, a good place for a drink as the sun goes down.

4. The Biltmore (Coral Gables) – Many Hollywood greats have slept here. Stiff drinks and grand style make you feel pretty dandy as well. 5. Plunge (South Beach) – The future of hip. Nothing else like it on the beach, so might as well splurge.