cruise me the right way

going on a carnival cruise is a lot like going to vegas.

there are a lot of people in all shapes and sizes, eating all sorts of foods that turn them into larger shapes and sizes (myself included), gambling, yard-long drinks in varying shades of azule, too-tight dresses with too many sequins (i may or may not have also fallen into this category. no judging please), toddling toddlers, pimply teenagers, and crocs. lots of crocs.

of course it didn’t used to be like this, or so i am told.

not that long ago, when crocs were still reserved for doctors and chefs (and even then they are questionable), cruising – on any ship – was the highest form of luxury.

staterooms appointed in the finest linens. four-course three-hour meals with white-gloved garçons, and ten-piece orchestras.

naturally once we docked i found it absolutely necessary to research if some such cruises still existed. they do. and instead of a cuddly towel animal at the end of your bed, it’s a bottle of dom perignon or a massage therapist named sven (and sometimes even both).

well naturally it is now my singular life goal to go on one-such (or many such) cruiseships, beginning with the below (future husband take notes)…

seabourn sojourn – an 11,400 sq-ft spa? i think yes. and maybe some more yes. some suites even feature solariums. i don’t even know what i do with a solarium, but i know i want one. and like most seaborns the menu in the avant-garde designed restaurant is curated by foodie darling, charlie palmer. can you say yum?

the paul gauguin it sails where gauguin painted. if that isn’t pretentious enough for you, know that the ship is tailor-made for the shallow waters of french polynesia, so you can get your snorkel on without having to worry about those banal tender boats which are so déclassé. finished snorkeling?  enjoy some butler service (yes i did say another round of beluga), or sun tan on one of their seven decks. going topless is about the only thing you can’t do on this ship. pity.

river queen – okay so it is a river boat, but i assure you huck finn and jim never found themselves on anything like this. with an art deco flair and a sheet count that far exceeds the number of guest rooms, the ship puts some of europe’s finest hotels to shame. and to make the deal even sweeter they offer complimentary bicycles and nordic walking sticks for any excursion. i mean really, who can say no to a nordic walking stick.riverqueen

and last but not least, which apparently can not be called a cruise ship, but rather a a residential yacht, is ms the world.

the expression the world on a string comes to mind as the world is constantly at sea, stopping for 2-5 days at ports as diverse as baffin island (a game of golf on the tundra anyone?) and as close as santa barbara (probably considered the applebees of their visits). twelve marble-encased stories are devoted to 250 full-time residents. the yacht boasts a movie theater, a spa, 6 restaurants, a grocery store, library, a learning annex, and of course residences that are double the size of my current apartment.mstheworld

but before you start counting your scheckles keep in the mind the ms world has a strict financial policy – residents must be worth at least $5 million dollars to be considered (rude) and monthly dues hover around $20,000 (double rude).

well, clearly that is out of my budget range for at least another 6 years. until then you can find me on carnival cruise ships, i’ll be the one happily sipping champagne out of a plastic mug and playing spot-the-mullet.


the view: private island wanton

blue bay ibiza

all this talk of yachting got me thinking.  yachting is really not much fun unless you have a private island to go with it.

i’ve already waxed poetic about necker island. it is my happy place, even though i’ve never been there or invited (cough, cough mr. branson), it speaks to me in the way a young wolf yearns to speak to the moon.  but since my invitation from mr. branson has clearly been lost in an unfortunate mail incident i find myself searching for other suitable private-island options:

laucala island resort

laucala island – owned by red bull kajillionaire, dietrich mateschitz, the island is catered to sporty indulgence. championship golf course (though i don’t golf, it’s nice to know it is an option), 5,000 sq. meter swimming pool (one avoids congestion this way), and a flotilla stocked with jet skis and other completely necessary water accouterment. and if sports aren’t your bag, just take up residence in its 5-star spa or in your private pool. skinny dipping encouraged.

ariara island

ariara  – dreams do come true. and it starts at ariara. located in the phillipines, this island is truly private.when you rent it, it’s yours to have and to hold (along your 17 other guests) and to call your very own. the villas are spaced throughout the 125-acre island, each with tangible luxury in the form of local linens, marble and woodwork.  when your not enveloped in the island’s surrounding greenery, it is suggested you take a tour of the underwater world with your personal dive master florian mueller. he’ll give you more than a few things to look at…

blue bay

blue bay – a private residence located hillside in ibiza, blue bay is so opulent a home, fitzgerald might have very well dreamt up in one of his luxury-laden tales. besides the stunning architecture, 500-thread count linens, and property waterfalls, this spanish oasis comes with a full time staff (chauffer with matching chapeau included), concierge, butler, and a jeep wrangler should guests want to get in touch with their “wild side.” and lest we forget the 22’ mastercraft or private go-karting track.

though none of the above have a necker nymph, which is entirely regrettable, i suppose i could make do. let’s just hope these island/resort owners have the correct address for my forthcoming invitation. that’s natacha with a “c.” thanks.

everyone needs a starter yacht

i often daydream about absolutely ridiculous things. things likes yachts.

several years ago i had the opportunity to go on a yacht. and it was not just any yacht…it was larry ellison’s. helipad, dual jet spas (because one really isn’t enough), private screening room, accompanying jet skis, and a marble bathroom that had nothing on the sistine chapel. really it might as well have been james bond’s.

you know when you find yourself somewhere, and know you just belong? yeah, that was me on this yacht. it just made sense.

so really it’s only natural that ever since, i’ve taken a peripheral interest in the yachting world. mainly in that i would like to own one. a big one. like larry’s.

enter hinckley.

for those of you that are not yacht enthusiasts like myself (we all can’t be), hinckley is the heritage brand of the boating world. one synonymous with piles of old money and people with first names such as chip, bunny and biff.

interest piqued? it get’s better.

this past october all-american brand, tory burch announced they are collaborating with hinckley on the design of their T34 (that’s a new model p.s.). it’s a match made in wasp heaven, nautical stripes and all.

the T34 is your standard run-of-the-mill picnic boat. that goes up to 32 knots. and has $4,000 wood panelling. tory’s touches include textiles, colors and hosting accoutrement (wicker tray, tumblers, etc.)

as the site says, “you’ll need the rods for early morning angling, the tube for an afternoon of thrilling the kids. at sunset, the 34 will entertain you and your friends for a harbor cruise.” i mean this boat practically pays for itself. and the pretension? well that comes entirely free of charge (although sadly, the ascot is NOT included).

so it’s not quite like lar bear’s, but you have to walk before you run, or perhaps better said…boat before you yacht.

hinckley hear i come.

the view: the klementinum

it’s magic. you can tell just by looking at it.

the ceilings seem alive, whispering of times past and present  the ebb and flow of dark wood bearing the literary world’s greatest achievements; the cavernous space echoing ancient mysteries and whimsical theories.

it’s not hogwarts, or an elaborate scene out of macaulay culkin’s (wildly underappreciated) pagemaster. it’s the klementinum library in prague.

and i want to go.

first to indulge, second to read, third to take decorating notes.

the grandeur is completely scalable to an 850sqft apartment and everyone loves a good 16th century globe. especially this girl.

berlin, the comeback kid

i am stricken with the impetuous travel bug. like many, it ails me throughout the year, particularly on mondays, and generally between 2pm and 5pm.

today’s fix? berlin. why? the festival of lights.

for two weeks every year, berlin and its landmarks get bathed in artist-inspired, large-scale displays of light. the candyland concoction of colors, images and shapes on nearly 300-year old buildings, is not only visually stunning, but also pays tribute to the city’s dichotomous nature – the young with the old, the history mixed in with the present.

in truth, beyond the festival, berlin has actually always intrigued me. a city that is in constant juxtaposition with a sobering past, yet doesn’t ignore it, but builds upon it with modernism and a continually renewed sense of culture (the festival being a perfect example).

that renewed culture has lead to an influx of the european creative class – thick-rimmed glasses, tousled-hair, painstakingly disheveled – you know the type. a walk down the street recalls images of modern-day getrude steins and arthur rimbauds; refined hipsters perhaps…except there they are just berliners. no judgment though, these stylishly precocious denizens have galvanized the city with an explosive contemporary art scene, an independent film community and a food forum to rival that of london and paris.

all of this to say…i need to go. and i need to go now.

perhaps a stay at the schlosshotel im grunewald (anything that has oxblood walls and touts 600+ thread count calls my name), a saunter over to andreas murkudis’s eponymous concept store (i.want.everything.) and stop for a savory treat at konnopke’s imbiss (you just can’t go wrong with a 50-year old sausage stand)…and of course the festival of lights.

the city’s constant evolution is mesmerizing…even in pictures…and on this bland monday, i can think of no better place to daydream myself to than new ole’ berlin.

the catalog of my dreams

squeal! christmas has come early. LITERALLY.

neiman marcus’ christmas books is out. deep breaths. every year i wait with bated breath for their christmas catalog of delights.

while the clothes may be nice and the shoots may impress, it is the fantasy gifts the put a skip in my step. this year the gifts range from a mere $30,000 to a cool $1.1MM, offering even the most modest of hedonists a chance to get in on the fun.

(the fact that my bank account does even register on the luxury richter-scale is really a non-issue. i’m banking on some sympathetic gajillionaire reading the post and so forth taking pity on my meager soul by purchasing 1-3 of the below items. i’ll also take a cash check if that is preferable.)

1) jetlev R200 – $99,500 – yup, that water-propelled jetpack that let’s is users hover 30ft in the air and coincidentally also causes it’s users to face-plant from 30ft in the air. regardless it’s pretty neat and i am fan of water propulsion. and while you may think the price is expensive for a a hovercraft, neiman marcus throws in a boat, a pilot certification course and radios so you can gab whilst hovering.

2) bulleit woody tailgate trailer – $150,000– while i have never been or heard of a tailgate quite as high-brow as bulleit’s, i figure you are never too old to learn. and i happen to be quite fond of learning things that involve bourbon.  leather furnishings, wood finishings (handcrafted from reclaimed bulleit bourbon casks…of course), glassware, a flat-screen tv, blu-ray, a surround-sound system, plus a one-year supply of bulleit bourbon. truth be told, if i had this i wouldn’t even go out anymore. i would just invite friends to meet me on random street corners for a glass of bourbon and some boogie knights on blu-ray.

3) his and hers 2012 – $1,090,000 – let’s begin with the van cleef & arpels watches: their movement alone took five engineers three years to create. dial scenes become animated (yes, this is an animated watch folks) silhouettes are the hours, shooting stars are the minutes and they each dance to the time across paris landmarks. anhhh…well if this couldn’t get any more romantic, the lucky buyer will also be whisked off to paris and geneva (first-class of course) and given private tours of the van cleef & arpels boutique, atelier and watchmaking workshops (riveting). but they are also providing “remarkable dining experiences and entertainment to suit your preferences,” while in paris, albet i wonder how far someone (read: me) can take that…

and my personal favorite:

4) private dinner for 10 – $250,000 – while this may seem a bit steep for dinner, behold: four of the culinary world’s most notable chefs—daniel boulud, thomas keller, jerome bocuse, and richard rosendale—will be at your beck and call for your own personal feast. in tow they are bringing bertha gonzalez (THE maestra tequilera, duh), to kick off the evening with a serious tequila tasting. my mouth is performing taste bud olympics at the mere thought. the only thing missing is the matching gym membership you’ll need after partaking in such gluttony. but hey i am sure that will make next year’s catalog, and the gym will be located in heaven and god will be your personal trainer.

so who’s up for some shopping?

the view: ecuador from above

it’s monday. and with it has come an undulating wave of procrastination and mind-wandering.

today my walter-mitty musings have taken me to ecuador.

the canyon steps

why such a random place you might ask? well, i am currently in event-planning hell and any place with a beach sounds better than my sun-deprived cubicle and trying to select the perfect neck width for rented tuxedos.

while i am not in favor of eco-lodges and all natural reserves (too many bugs, too little room service), ecuador has incredible splendors, even if it doesn’t come in the form of a goose-down mattresses.

one such splendor: el pailon del diablo national park.

if the fact that it has devil in its name is not a selling point in it’s own right, let’s discuss waterfalls. they are big; they are bold; and almost excessive.

located in banos de agua santa or commonly referred to as “gateway to the amazon,” this garden of eden is full of forbidden fruits (and i am not just talking about the birkenstock-and-socks-clad tourists), mesmerizing views and a myriad of walking paths that make the hogwarts staircase look elementary.

ok, so i recognize there is no beach in banos or the park, but the waterfall works just as well for daydreams, especially if there is some under-the-waterfall action a la tom cruise and elisabeth shue in “cocktail.”

del diablo hear i come in deed…

a collection: bills of art

the amazing thing is that art really is everywhere and anywhere. especially in a city like los angeles.

and what is even more amazing is that sometimes that art gives you exactly what you need.

let’s decide to matter today.

whether it is to your best friend, your family,  your community, your company, or to the anonymous soul you let cut in front of you on the freeway.

simple sign. simple thoughts. big difference in your day.

los angeles: neverland reincarnate

i am 26 years old. i have serious job (albeit this is constantly in question) at a serious company. i am entertaining the idea of moving in with my boyfriend, i pay my bills on time, am saving for a serious down payment on a car, and yesterday was asked to if i wanted to do a 2ft beer bong.

ladies and gentlemen, meet my friends.

for one of my girlfriend’s 27th birthday, she decided to have a good old-fashioned frat party. kegs, flip cup, beer pong, completely unharmonized sweet caroline renditions and jungle juice was all in abundance.

as i took a break and checked my facebook – which is officially now the wedding book – a realization hit me: los angeles is the town of lost boys (and girls). while nearly half of my social media reads as engagement albums and wedding boards, my friends and i are committed to a life of potentially post-prime debauchery.

i remember being 21, at the height of my college exuberance, going out six nights a week. never letting an 8am class or a long day get in the way of what the night could bring. i remember thinking, god… 27 is SO old. when i am 27 i will be settled, weeknight ragers will be far behind me, i’ll host fabulously elegant dinner parties and be a REAL adult.

the current reality: doing laundry, remembering to take my make-up off, and getting to bed before 2am…all small victories.

and it’s not just me. i live in an entire city that considers a non-hungover morning a bit of a failure.  l.a. forces its inhabitants to live in a state of permanent cognitive dissonance, one where age equals greater money and success (which requires maturity), but youth remains the strongest form of currency…resulting in a town full of lost boys and girls, refusing to really grow up.

hence 27-year old frat parties.

i imagine at some point we will all hit a tipping point, pack up our late nights, move to the palisades where instead of rebel-rousing in public, we will just do it indoors with our kids sleeping upstairs. until then i plan to live up this prolonged, la-induced youth, take in the nevernever land of it all…and wait for my age to catch up with me.

yakkety yakkety yacht

it’s all about submersibles. and i just want to say i called it.

there are so many ridiculous ways to spend one’s money. and the rich – well they have the attention span of an A.D.D newt, therefore demand new, egregious ways to blow loads of cash (while us peasants sit in cubicle squalor sipping on jumbo gulps waiting for 6pm to roll around…not that i’m bitter or anything. nor do i drink anything with the word jumbo on it).

i digress. so the rich’s newest fad? submersibles of course.  it all really began with poster-boy millionaire richard branson. the cool jock that always gets the hot girl first, and in this case, the hot girl is a submarine. a really, really cool one. that is not afraid to go down…with you (he called it the necker nymph for a reason folks).

naturally all the other kids got jealous, so boom a trend was born. as published in a nyt article today an easy million buys you and a few friends a 500-feet-underwater trip of a lifetime.

charles kohnen, co-founder of seamagine hydrospace corp stated that the market is still in it’s infancy (thank god, i would hate to have missed the boat on that one). he continues, “to keep things into perspective, the first helicopters on private yachts were about 20 years ago…now there are around 50 yachts with helicopters on them.”

hmm, perspective…

a bit more perspective for you: one manufacturer’s major selling point is that with a submersible, you really don’t even need the yacht. i mean they are right. who needs a yacht when you can just build a submarine driveway/garage under your private island. one doesn’t want to come off too flashy.

so basically i am about hundred-fifty feet and helicopter pad behind, but at least i don’t have to worry about things like how am i going to custom-build my yacht to store my submarine, or should i get the two or three-person model or most importantly, where am i going to find a staff that will wear shrunken sailor outfits and let me call them capitan nemo.

ahhh to be rich.