Archive for September, 2013

It’s Always Sunny in Santa Barbara

Posted: September 28, 2013 in Travels

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There is definitely something to this whole being in ‘the house you grew up in’… especially with the luxury of having it all to myself! I feel like I’m 15 years old again when I would wish for just one solitude moment in the house. Fast forward 25 years and here I am, having spent most of my adult life living alone, yet still relishing a bit! Nothing against my mother whom I love dearly but I am happy she’s out and about and will see her in a few weeks time. But… there’s just something about ‘your parents’ house. Immediate reaction: look in the fridge. What is the deal with that!? It’s almost like I’m checking to ensure nothing has changed from when I last lived here in my very early twenties. Knudsen’s pink container cottage cheese: check! Thanks momma, for letting me crash, it’s so cozy! I just made eggs but it’s no egg sandwich. ;). It’s of course a perfect day for a jog to Goleta Beach, about 79 degrees, or 26 to the rest of the world. ūüôā Enough time has passed that it does thrill me to be home. Good old Santa Barbara… apparently the neighbour’s house was ‘tee-peed’ last night, I noticed en route to my little pop-over on Oleander Street.

I’m so over-the-top excited to be invited to my best and first boss’ (the first one that counts) wedding today. I realize my life is a bit chaotic in comparison to some, but this was an event I just could not miss. I’d have flown to the moon and back to celebrate Richard and Tony’s nuptials. I’m pretty sure Richard has a relatively significant role in making me who I am… today. What a blissful Santa Barbara day!!! The day is sure to be filled with love and chaos every which way I look. What a fantastic day ahead! So honored to be a participant.

I came home from China, with two days to spare until my girlfriend came to stay with me. Poor thing (well… sort of) had a week long of intro into my crazy, but man oh man did she fit into NYC, like a glove! We had the absolute best time: NYC sites, my friends, burgers, exercise and total contentment! I missed her (yes, me, who loves living alone!) after she left. Fortunately I am in Santa Barbara this weekend and had an amazing intro into her fabulous world last night. Honestly… getting to hang with Jimbo, the father of her kids, was like no time had passed but bless us: in a good way. Their kids are amazing and beautiful and completely embody all the best qualities (and good looks!) of both my high school besties! So fun catching up at good old Rudy’s in G-Town and then with her parents as well. So weird when everyone looks the same (or better) than we did 20 years ago. By the way, I can’t wait to see you next month, Kelly! ūüėČ

Things have been so full on the last few weeks, since I was in China. Hong Kong was like a fairy tale at this point. It was fabulous though, and so bizarre how my network tends to unfold. I think I prefer Shanghai, at the end of the day. I failed to update immediately after that portion of the trip, and have lived several lives since, so we’ll just have to call that one a wash! Or a reprieve from my blatherings. ūüôā

Awww yeah… Daft Punk! The queue to get my ass shaking and jog back to mamacita’s to get ready for this amazing Santa Barbara wedding and fabulous old school friends. Standing on the pier at Goleta Beach, I must admit to the nostalgia…

No time for reminiscing though: next week is Rosewood Mayakoba, south of Cancun. Hey, it’s a conference, I don’t choose the locations! ;). Twenty meetings per day, each twenty-minutes long. I love my job.

Happy Birthday to one of my favourite Libras. Hope you and your gorgeous girls are celebrating well. x

My Shanghai Surprise

Posted: September 12, 2013 in Travels
Sad to leave Shanghai, on my way to Hongqiao Airport

Sad to leave Shanghai, on my way to Hongqiao Airport

Am I making smarter destination choices these days, or is it just that as my wings continue to spread, I find myself in more exotic places?¬†¬†The world is getting increasingly smaller for this little Santa Barbara girl.¬†¬†China wow’ed me.¬†¬†And of course, especially being an American, China is a bit of an unknown.¬†¬†Correction: was an unknown.¬†¬†Shanghai is an absolute delight (and very green) and I am actually a bit sad to have just left!¬†¬†What an amazing city… not that I got to see much of it.¬†¬†At some point over this last week I just had to come to terms with the fact that I did what I came to do and let the rest go… knowing full well that I will be back, and soon.¬†¬†Multiple-entry visa is good for one year! ¬†And the Four Seasons General Manager is quite possibly the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen. ¬†Ralph Fiennes has got nothing on you, boy! ¬†ūüėČ

As daunting as it may sound, I do tend to enjoy these flip time zones.¬†¬†Sure, I’m up until at least 3:00am, and then again early in my morning to wrap anything I missed with clients in America before the luxury of my ‘free days’ ensue.¬†¬†As the business grows, my clientele is definitely global but I’m fully comfortable and quite happy with where it’s at and my path forward is more clear… of what I need to do next.¬†¬†Seems to me like everyone in my world is in the same turnip truck and my worldwide friendships just keep expanding as well.

My week was fabulous although I failed miserably at truly seeing anything Shanghaian, except the hotels!¬†¬†Gone are the days of 11 hotel sites in one day, but somehow my days still dissipate quickly.¬†¬†Priorities are straight: clients, exercise, sites and logistics… all of which I executed beautifully.¬†¬†My attempts to see the copious amount of fabulous things to do in Shanghai suffered.¬†¬†I was too busy to research much in advance and relied heavily on my mates in industry for advice.¬†¬†I learned quickly there is enough to do in Shanghai – as there is in New York City, if not more.¬†¬†All the vastly different neighborhoods, each with its own unique panache, would have been lovely to explore.¬†¬†Instead I was educated several times while sitting across the table from a hotelier with a map and tea in between us.¬†¬†Pudong, The Bund, Xintiandi, Jingan, there’s so much!!!¬†¬†And how amazing would it have been to see Sozhou And Hangzhou!!?¬†¬†Sigh.

I strategically arranged my sites geographically so that Tuesday I could explore Xintiandi in the afternoon and the French Concession on Wednesday afternoon.¬†¬†Oh and People’s Park!¬†¬†I’m so disappointed not to have seen the parents in the marriage market holding signs with their children’s ‘stats’, trying to marry them off.¬†¬†Next time!¬†¬†I repeat: “I did what I came to do”… and then some.¬†¬†What a fabulous city.¬†¬†Really!¬†¬†Clearly, Shanghai is begging for me to come back, as the intense thunder and lightening prohibited my attempts at exploration.¬†¬†But I self-spun, ran hard and swam daily… plus visited clients. ¬†“I did what I came to do”.

Language is definitely a bit of an issue though the Chinese have it worked out quite well, in my opinion.¬†¬†When leaving the hotels, the amazing service-oriented staff would write on a ‘taxi card’ your destinations in Chinese characters, on handouts pre-printed with all the hotel information on it as well.¬†¬†Of course I found myself in the mercy of a few kind souls, to help me along the way.

Last night for example, I was a bit frustrated that I’d not been outside a hotel much (although day one I did venture out to find my Chinese red bull!)… and I was deep in Puxi.¬†¬†Oh, and a fun-for-the-farm fact is that Pu means ‘river’, Xi means ‘left’ and Dong means ‘right’, hence you have Puxi and Pudong on either side of the Huangpu River!¬†¬†It really is fun being a blonde Southern California un-educated American.¬†¬†ūüôā¬†¬†Somehow it all works out, I’m aware and grateful for that.¬†¬†Anyway, back to last night, I was at the PuLi Hotel & Spa doing my site which was cut short (damn you Christian Dior) and decided I needed to eat or see something authentically Shanghainese!¬†¬†And I was in the perfect neighborhood to do just that.¬†¬†The rain and lightening had different intentions but I persevered and went to a highly touted ‘local’ Sichuan restaurant.¬†¬†PuLi gave me an umbrella and I just went for it.¬†¬†I’m so pleased that I did.¬†¬†I’m sure there was plenty of Chinese snickering at my idiocy.¬†¬†However, I did it!¬†¬†Even with three menus, one 30 or so pages long.¬†¬†I started to get nervous as I flipped through that bullfrog and tripe might be the only offerings.¬†¬†Awww, then came the Cantonese section and my sweet waiter, James.¬†¬†He kept apologizing for his poor English as we sorted through my grey gooses, Sichuan pork slices, Kung Pao prawns and a bonus Szechuan wonton soup!¬†¬†I should have been the one apologizing, and I was kind and open about that.¬†¬†He told me that my hair is the most beautiful he’s ever seen.¬†¬†ūüôā

Getting a taxi from Jingan wasn’t the easiest and again, I had to rely on the kindness of the restaurant host/cashier for help. I knew well enough by then that I would need someone to explain in Chinese. I wonder what all they say in those situations, the conversations are quite long and seem so involved.¬†¬†Even though there’s a map on the taxi card!

But I made it.¬†¬†And I miss it already as I descended upon Hong Kong. ¬†My Hong Kong plans are entirely NOT what they started out to be earlier in the week.¬†¬†But so perfect.¬†¬†I love it when fate and karma unknowingly take over and guide me.¬†¬†Everything just works itself out, in so many different aspects.¬†¬†Am in the back seat of another Rolls Royce (because that happens every day – ha ha) en route to Tsim Sha Tsui.¬†¬†So crazy.¬†¬†Next trip I will pack lighter and take the 430 km/hour maglev train.¬†¬†ūüôā

Off to discover what kind of crazy awaits me in Hong Kong!  The drive so far is ridiculously interesting and beautiful.
x

Big fun in little China… already

Posted: September 8, 2013 in Travels
The Shanghai skyline from Four Seasons Pudong infinity pool

The Shanghai skyline from Four Seasons Pudong infinity pool

I’m quite relieved to report that I had an uneventful Saturday morning trek to Newark. Yes… New Jersey, again! I’m a United mile whore… what can I say? I plan to use my two system-wides after making 1K this year to visit my Jetsetter in the Australian countryside in 2014. I half packed last night, which who-the-hell-knows when that was at this point, considering it’s now dinner time in China on Sunday. I was in bed at 20:00 hours on Friday (I am trying to get fluent with the rest of the worlds’ translations in weather, english, units, etc), and was up at 06:00! The only downfall of my flight was the unbearable breath of the poor sucker next to me, who, apparently likes to talk to himself. His laptop revealed Chinese powerpoint but with words like neutron and m-t atom, makes me believe he’s probably one of those really smart bad-breath people. It IS as bad as the ‘Bad Breath Brothers’ from Cabo. Remember them!!? ūüôā I don’t think they were the sharpest tools in the shed though. :/

The other noticeable observance is the fidgety-ness of the Chinese people. Please let me preface this entire trip with the blatant fact that I am anything but racist. Though, an observer at heart I remain. I remember watching a documentary on the regiment (and success!) of the Chinese culture and one segment in particular, where at certain jobs they have group stretching sessions. That’s what being on the plane was like! Funny. No, not funny ‘ha ha’ I am a beautifully compassionate and respectful soul! I absolutely brushed up on my respects for the country and even brought gifts! Which yes, I will present with both hands and a small head bow. It’s the least I could do for the insistence on being 100% pampered the moment I arrive. How bizarre is this: the General Manager of Asia’s #3 hotel, who I met in Vegas for 3.7 minutes, had me picked up at airport arrival, in their house Rolls Royce, and dropped at a completely unrelated hotel, and I am not even meeting with them until Monday!

Hard to tell from the photo, but I’m currently in a bit of a slumber at the Four Seasons infinity pool, with a glass of wine, which overlooks the Shanghai skyline, particularly Pearl Tower. I thought it would have been more lit up at night. I purposely didn’t sleep much on my flight so I’d be well exhausted tonight. My airport greeting was over-the-top so nice but then when the General Manager of my hotel came to greet me at check in and saw the Peninsula Rolls… he called with a 90-minute massage scheduled shortly after. I know it’s the Four Seasons, and I’m in a cosmopolitan city but still… not everyone speaks perfect english, so communicating preferences is just more challenging. Jena just completely dialed me in and yet the spa wouldn’t give me anything to sign for, and tips are considered offensive. Luckily I stocked up on Francois Payard from next door to JG’s for several ‘just-in-case’ thank you gifts. It’s gone over well so far. I’d say China already is a huge success!

I am not sure what type massage I was given, think it was just the jet lag massage, a mere 90 minutes but she used this hot Chinese herbal medicine cloth thing on every body area at the end, which was to die for. I did a bit of research in the last few days, to be sure I’m up on etiquette, and was under the impression things would be on the more conservative side here. So when they showed me the locker and disposable panties, I opted to wear them, whereas I’m usually pretty comfortable in the buff. Not quite sure why I even needed them as Jena definitely moved her hands around and tucked the silk overlay into them to get down to my um… well, close to that very last spine bone that is just at the top of ‘cheeks’… the coccyx I think. Then she did this whole ‘cover my nipples’ thing and did a full tummy massage plus the sides of my breasts even. I don’t care what anyone says… don’t judge me, it was one of the best I’ve ever had… and I live well beyond modesty in that realm, after my Turkish bath. For my friend who has FOUR naked men crawling up his wall, I think the spa has the same guys!

Oh! Armani Boy: I’ve got dinner in Hong Kong on the 116th floor… what floor is the restaurant (that you never took me to) at Burj Khalifa?! x

I’ve gone through my 4.5 years of testimonial emails to sift through contenders for my new kick ass website. Will be sending some of my lovelies permission requests, or if anyone has anything angelic-like and witty with praise for me and Envizage, now’s the time to send it over! Contract revisions are also ready for edit. Blog is up and will be the next project for a web designer who brought me to tears upon opening her first few concepts. Speaking of published blog, are you all following http://www.lizcostello.com!? It’s not that complicated and these tedious emails could be a thing of the past! ūüėČ

I’m quite excited for this week. It’s difficult to explain but my brain is always working in the future and there is just so much coming up. I think it will be fascinating. I hope I get some jogger time in. Given NYC doesn’t necessarily expect me up until about 08:00 or 09:00 hours which is flip time for me (12 hours time difference), I plan to self-spin and run daily. If Dubai has self-spinners then Shanghai and Hong Kong must as well! I have no meetings set until lunches so I’ll be up early, I hope. It is inevitable though, I predict I will get a phone call from a particular London client in a panic needing to get from the UK to some random place (like Tokyo), like tomorrow, and back by dinner time with the family. ūüėČ Or something like that.

No doubt I will manage just fine. Especially considering the day that Peninsula lavishly scheduled for tomorrow, after this amazing, relaxing and gorgeous entry to Four Seasons.

I like it here!!! A lot.