Safe Travel – State of Emergency? Stay Awhile.

The state of California and numerous others have declared a state of emergency, gatherings are cancelled, schools are closed. What to do? Suitcase at the front door has always been my mantra, and I am not going to sit out the Corona Virus at home – there are safe alternatives nearby! Hotel Bel Air has always been my 90210 favorite, well truth be told, their sister Beverly Hills Hotel is probably tied for number one.

Hotel Bel Air pool- my pool suite was just beyond the gate- so perfect!

The West Coast sisters in the Dorchester Collection of lovely hotels reside in a small pocket of Beverly Hills – like fascinating sisters, they each exude unique personalities. I’ve stayed at both The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air and love each for innumerable reasons.

Lush landscaping Hotel Bel Air

My recent jaunt to Hotel Bel Air to attend travel events and meet clients reminded me again of the gracious carefree art of living in a hotel, and with the current climate and fear surrounding the CV issue, hotel living might be the perfect antidote. Consider a dash away to the extraordinary, far from typical, Hotel Bel-Air. A quick bay area/Burbank or LAX flight, the perfect mini escape, disappear and catch your breath for a few days, order in, hole up in a bungalow or suite or pony up for the grand Presidential Suite with pool, avoid the hysteria in superb comfort! As part of the hotel Arrive in Style program, the hotel will provide a complimentary car to whisk you from airport to hotel, details below.

Hotel Bel Air

I am actually considering a partial hotel lifestyle. A la Heloise, Elaine Stritch and Howard Hughes, who had a fondness for Bungalow 3 at The Beverly Hills Hotel, a 30-year fondness, in fact!

Presidential Suite Living Room, Hotel Bel Air

My recent several days jaunt to Hotel Bel Air reminded me of the cozy comforts of hotel living – coffee is quietly delivered exactly when you wake up, cleared away while you visit the first-rate, almost never used gym, at Hotel Bel Air, I’ve never encountered a soul in the gym. Schedule all your meetings in the snug private booths at Wolfgang Puck, a mere jaunt down the stairs from your hilly eucalyptus suite or just past the pool in my recent suite stay. My four months long plant-based diet was challenged, my furtive room service vice is a Club House Sandwich and I succumbed. And it was so worth it! Professional cocktail event advice – dine before you go – so much easier to balance a flute of bubbly without noshing on petite canapés, chat, sip and pay attention to multiple conversations. Room service Club House sandwich pre-event solves multiple problems.

Presidential Suite pool Hotel Bel Air

Hotel Bel-Air, despite the close proximity to downtown Beverly Hills shopping and culture, is surrounded by twelve acres of lush gardens and tucked into a pocket-sized canyon. Amid towering palm and silver leafed eucalyptus trees, the Spanish Colonial design is subtle and elegant. A hidden sanctuary amongst the wooded hills, untouched by the clamor of life beyond the gates of Bel-Air. The most quintessentially private and exclusive hotel, delivering low-key elegance since 1946. Suites with garden patios, private plunge pools are enchanting. Move up to the canyon rooms and relish the sweeping views of the canyon from your secluded plunge pool and deck. On my last visit, yes, I escape here as often as possible, a bit of spring mist kept the fireplace in my suite crackling most of the day, a cozy enclave where I cocooned and worked in between meals with my clients.

Canyon Suite Hotel Bel Air

An extended list of swells have been long term hotel residents, among them Howard Hughes at The Beverly Hills Hotel, Coco Chanel at The Ritz in Paris, Playwright Tennessee Williams lived in Manhattan’s Hotel Elysée for 15 years. One story circulates that guests would complain to the front desk about the constant tap tap tapping of a typewriter. According to Wikipedia: “They knew right away who the culprit was, but they couldn’t very well ask Mr. Williams to stop playwriting, so we simply moved the guest to another room.”

After a few days dining, languishing and working at Hotel Bel-Air, I can easily imagine moving into a hotel. A simple elegant lifestyle might be envisioned by my days here…amble down the hill to Wolfgang Puck restaurant; dine and catch up with friends, idly observe the fascinating locals, picking up on idiosyncrasies and imagine their story. One evening I used the hotel car to make my way to The Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel for dinner with friends and clients. Leisurely life here in the hills, both properties diminish travel stress. Plan your meetings or entertainment between both hotels and I guarantee you will wonder why didn’t I do this before! Wolfgang Puck serves light fresh gourmet Mediterranean fare, all day long.

Need a Corona Virus staycation? Hotel Bel Air provides ultimate luxury, rooms comfy and cozy, don’t even venture farther than the spa! Mosey to the gym followed by a massage, return to your perfectly made up room…what’s not to like, Eloise?

Tote your book bag, laptop if you must, to the lush pool, surrounded by towering palms, and tended to by a very sweet Cabana guy, Frank, who knows if you’re snoozing and doesn’t disturb your 40 winks! Quiet jazzy bossanova background music only interrupted by birdsong – what could be better?. Tell me!

Wolfgang Puck restaurant resides in a Spanish inspired courtyard, hide away in a corner booth while enjoying the delicious contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. The celebrated hotel bar feels like a glamorous private club, afternoon tea or chic cocktails by the roaring fire is where you will find me entertaining my clients and friends.

One of my dearest local clients came for dinner, we curled up in our half-moon shaped banquette and traded ‘table confidential’ stories for hours – I’m appropriating her quote: I forgot how much I love Hotel Bel Air – once you cross the bridge over Swan lake, you enter a portal of relaxation and calm.

The Dorchester properties spoil our guests! Diamond Club amenities are bestowed on our guests: Arrive in Style If you book a room up to a Junior Suite category you will receive: A one-time $100 hotel credit. Daily full breakfast for two guests. Upgrade to next category at time of booking up to a Junior Suite. High speed internet included. Round -trip transfer LAX or a $200 transfer credit for neighboring airports.

This is an especially stressful time, why not indulge in pampering and escape from the frenzy. Hotel Bel-Air and The Beverly Hills Hotel two scrumptious properties, Five Star Luxury!
Cross into the serene Portal of Hotel Bel Air. Call us for all the little amenities bestowed!

Cross the portal to Hotel Bel Air!
Hotel Bel Air pool

Cross into the serene Portal of Hotel Bel Air.

Useful sites for staying tuned in to Travel Conditions:

Oaxaca Inspired Pursuits

New Year, Need New Skills? Creativity and Cooking in Oaxaca. After enjoying a few fun filled days in Mexico City, challenge yourself with pottery making and traditional Oaxacan cooking classes. Oaxaca, barely an hour flight from Mexico City, has become a foodie magnet and for hundreds of years, famed potters have been designing pottery here. In Oaxaca, as in other cities and towns in Mexico, pottery is familiar as decoration and is widely used for practical purposes. The pottery best known in Oaxaca, a colonial-style city about 325 miles south of Mexico City, is unusual in that it is black.

The black pottery of Oaxaca has a satiny sheen, sometimes with a silvery luster. It was developed by accident in 1953 from the traditional drab gray ware of the area. That was when the late Rosa Real de Nieto, a potter from a family of potters of Zapotec Indian ancestry, tried burnishing a simple clay pot with a piece of quartz before firing it. The pot that emerged from her kiln in San Bartolo Coyotepec, an adobe village about nine miles south of Oaxaca, had an attractive patina.

Image result for oaxaca black pottery

A Foodie Paradise, gourmands are flocking to Oaxaca to appreciate the diverse regional cuisine. The cooking varies by region and is one of Mexico’s foremost food destinations. Cultural diversity translates to a broad range of ingredients and preparation styles, many methods date back to pre-Hispanic eras. Corn is a dietary staple and is served in an infinite variety of dishes. Fresh herbs, dried and fresh chilies, sweet moles and handmade tortillas are just a few of the staples that make Oaxacan meals distinctive. Do cooked grasshoppers sound appealing, practice the word: chapulines !

Chapulines. in the market. Often seasoned with chile and lime, these crunchy bugs add a yeasty, salty tang that one reviewer compares to “salt and vinegar potato chips, but a bit wetter.”

Oaxaca has several grand markets and is home to many excellent restaurants. There are several noted cooking schools, we prefer classes that offer market to table preparation. Join in with Chef, wander the markets selecting fresh ingredients and return to the professional kitchen to prepare a traditional re-creatable dish!  The school we prefer also sells prepared ingredients that you can tote home as well. Your next Cinco de Mayo dinner will be a coveted invitation!

The Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca is a botanical garden in Oaxaca City, Mexico. It occupies 2.32 acres of land besides the Church of Santo Domingo

A sample offering itinerary, each Journey is of course bespoke, based on your wishes, but this is a Creativity focus escape:pottery and gastronomy!

Arrive Oaxaca and settle in at the Hotel Quinta Real Oaxaca.

Hotel Quinta Real Oaxaca

Set in the grounds of the 16th Century Santa Catalina nunnery, with inner courtyards and thick stone brickwork, the hotel has a tranquil, otherworldly feel. The staff, dressed as monks, who wander the halls at night lighting a candle outside each room and the constant scent of fresh flowers, only add to that feeling. The walls are dotted with original frescos and many of the early features such as the nuns’ washing fountains remain. Under the hotel are tunnels leading to the two of the main churches of Oaxaca. The hotel’s location in the heart of central Oaxaca means that many of the important tourist spots, restaurants and shops are within easy walking distance. 

The rooms are grand, with slated wooden ceilings, dark-wooden furniture and tiled floors. Each room has distinctly Oaxaca touches with locally made lamps, throws and cushion covers. The external-facing rooms are double-glazed helping to reduce street noise. There are two gardens as well as a large, heated swimming pool surrounded by grass; a great place for peaceful rest after sightseeing. Las Novicias bar is nestled in the corner by the pool, in case margaritas by the pool are in order, but be warned the piano at the bar has been known to play by itself…

Hotel Quinta Real Oaxaca

Day One Private Cooking Class with Market Tour. Start at 9 a.m. in the City Centre. You will then be taken on a tasting tour by one of our guides, where you taste exotic food and meet the charming people who work in the market.

Depending on your cooking enthusiasm and stamina, you will visit a large or small market, like La Merced and continue with the cooking class.  After you head out to Rancho Aurora for an introduction to Oaxacan cuisine and a presentation and explanation of that day’s dishes and their ingredients. Oaxaca is noted for their seven types of mole sauces. Grab an apron and create a delectable five-course meal, guests will enjoy the meal after the shopping and preparation!

Oaxaca, Mexico

Day Two Oaxaca City Tour Private Half Day a walking tour designed to work off some of the scrumptious dining! Meet your bilingual guide at hotel to lead you through the colonial city of Oaxaca. Walking its cobbled streets and observing its vibrant squares, colonial structures, and numerous churches, you will learn about Oaxaca’s historical and cultural importance.

You will be guided through the central plaza (Zócalo) to the largest central market of Oaxaca, where you will learn about the different handicrafts of Oaxaca.  Visit a museum of Oaxacan painters to experience local contemporary and traditional art. You will also visit a photography museum, which is set around a quiet patio, before heading to the Museum of Oaxacan Cultures with its views over the botanic gardens.

After exploring the museum, continue to the botanic gardens before being driven back to your hotel. Walk to dinner from your hotel.

Oaxaca, Mexico

Day Three Private tour to San Bartolo de Coyotepec, Ocotlan & San Antonio. Today you will be picked up from your hotel and head to the nearby community of San Bartolo Coyotepec, famous for its black pottery where you will meet one of the best crafts worker of black pottery and learn how the black pottery crafts are made. 

Next you will drive to Ocotlan, the home of well-known Oaxaca artist, Rodolfo Morales (1925-2001).  Visit the mural painted by Morales that adorns the walls of the Government headquarters, before exploring more of his work in the museum housed in the former convent. Also visit the Aguilar sisters in Ocotlan, famous for its ceramics.

Rodolfo Morales Mural, Oaxaca, Mexico

Depending on your interests and if time permits you will also visit the community of Atzompa to visit the great ceramic artist and visit a blind ceramic sculptor.

Lunch at Mi Tierra Linda – Known for their irresistible hand-crafted mole dishes.

Oaxaca, Mexico

Day Four Private tour to Mixteca Alta with Pottery Workshop. An art class designed to nudge your creativity spirit! Meet your guide and drive to Mixteca Alta to meet a great potter master and enjoy a workshop where you learn how they make their crafts. Kids will love squishing the wet clay between their fingers in attempting to create their masterpieces. Instructors will be chosen to suit every level of talent!

Day Five Gather your gourmet goodies, pottery and head to the airport for your trip home.

Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca Restaurants of Note: Criollo, Itanoni, La Teca. Lobster tacos at Casa Oaxaca. Casually elegant Casa Oaxaca Café & Restaurante for drinking chocolate de agua. Breakfast at Boulenc. Origen Oaxaca. Pitiona and El Destilado  

Shopping Suggestions: for a range of quality Oaxacan souvenirs: Andares del Arte Popular . For traditional huipil blouses, Arte Amuzgos Near the Museo Textil de Oaxaca. Amate Books. La Mano Magica Amazing crafts including papier mache, alebrijes, black pottery and textiles

Adios Mexico!