hyatt-regency-churchill.jpgWhat do you look for when booking a hotel in one of the most tourist attractions of the world, namely London. Perhaps it is good service, perhaps the ambiance, perhaps the restaurant and bars, perhaps the location, and for lovers of comfort, the bedrooms and their amenities. Whatever it is would it not be quite wonderful to find all of these things in one place!

And you The Hyatt Regency London, better known as The Churchill.

A little pricey perhaps but as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”

Just stepping into the foyer transports you to a world of glamour, a world of fascinating artwork and enviable service. I say enviable because many other hotels vie for staff as well trained and service oriented as the Churchill staff are. They truly do make a difference to your stay.

Michael Grey, the General Manager, has made his mark in many hotels including the Hyatt Regency Singapore, the Carlton Towers in Knightsbridge and now after a recently completed multi-million pound renovation program, squires his way around this quite stunning property.

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sanfran.jpg It’s so darn good to get awaaaay.  I’m bored with the predictable patterns of my home life: my constant computer, my cooking, my own backyard.  My brain craves novelty, my tongue new tastes, my eyes new vistas, but my complacency wants it all to come easy--so good to have work in the Bay Area of Northern California.

How auspicious that American made my Alaska Airlines flight disappear so I was forced to discover Virgin America—a mishap that reminded me of how much I used to LOVE to fly.  The moment I went to the ticket window, where the desks are invitingly low, the ticket sellers sympathetic, and the platform weighing your checked (free) bag at ground level so you don’t have to heave it high, I felt soothed.  And once I boarded the plane, the lighting massaged my eyeballs and felt far more flattering than the overhead glare of most terrorist scaring flights. Thinking I look good as I parade in a pinkish purplish glow past the first class flyers always puts me in better spirits sitting in coach.

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hominygrits2.jpg I think I stopped giving grits a chance many years ago when Lucy became our family pet. She's an amazing bird, a Yellow Naped Amazon parrot that has an unbelievable vocabulary, an infectious laugh, can tell my identical twin brothers apart and eats grits every morning for breakfast. Sounds charming but think about being awakened by a bird with a loud, piercing voice calling my name every morning demanding her grits.

By golly, you better get them right or she gets mad and starts screaming. She likes her grits a bit runny, butter, salt and pepper with a sprinkling of cheese. They need to sit for a few minutes so they won't burn her beak because that really makes her mad. Get it right and she turns into this loving soul who will say in her lovely southern accent "Praise the Lord" and "You're a very pretty girl." Gee thanks.

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HermesThere are two faces of Carnival. Friday night my husband and I stood next to Hermes parade newcomers from Dallas, and when they asked where to eat I peppered them with questions to find the right restaurant. It's my favorite food writer challenge. They were looking for casual so I recommended SoBou from the Commander's Palace family for cocktails, Crescent City Brewhouse for brunch with a balcony, and Elizabeth's for fried chicken if they make it out of the French Quarter to the Bywater -- ask for Erin. We parted friends, and I hope their bellies benefited from the exchange.

On Samedi Gras, the Saturday before Mardi Gras Day, I had two goals: 1) See my artist friend Shannon Kelly's American Eagle in the Krewe of Tucks Parade; and 2) Stock up on coffee. Enter the other face of Carnival. A woman walked a wheelchair next to the parade barricade and stood on it as floats passed by, while flashing her pasties for beads. This was during a day parade surrounded by families. When a throw didn't make it close enough, she jumped the barricade to grab it and climb back over.

That was a bridge too far for the policewoman patrolling the parade route. “The next time you do that, I'm taking you to jail,” she told the reveler. “I'm DISABLED!” Pasty shouted as she angrily climbed back atop the wheelchair. I hope she really does need the wheelchair and was miraculously healed for two hours by the Ghost of Friar Tuck. But I doubt it. And I miss the Friday couple.

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palm_beach_life_postcard.jpgThere are strict rules to live by in Palm Beach according to the Shiny Sheet (our local newspaper). Rule Six, for example, is - No socks. Ever. If your feet tend to become cold easily, consider purchasing a pair of Stubbs & Wootton slippers, but Rule Number One - the one broken that could destroy one's standing at Club Collette is the following:

"One does not travel over a bridge.  In the event of a hurricane evacuation or a gala benefit at the Norton Museum, this rule can be waived, but only under those circumstances." In other words do not be caught dead in West Palm! Bill and I, however, gladly risk our rep to eat at Sushi Jo's - a storefront, plate glass dive in the middle of a strip mall in West Palm Beach Florida, proclaiming itself "sushi for sexy people", whose chef is named Jo Clark - Can it get any better than that!

Sushi Jo's chef, Joseph Clark's first "joint" was at the Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan, after having apprenticed at Yama in Lake Worth. This chef is Occidental, L*O*C*A*L and Unashamed!

"Fresh" also comes to mind! Everything at Sushi Jo's is deliciously fresh including the sexy wait-staff, and it is always fun waiting to see if you actually get what you order.

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