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Test-driving the every-day Lamborghini


It’s 80 degrees in Indian Wells, Calif., which makes sense because it’s 9am in March. This is the desert, of course, where everything is hot. And in a minute, or, actually, 3.2 seconds, things are going to get hotter. We’re standing in the brick driveway of the La Quinta Resort & Club, courtesy of Waldorf Hotels and Resorts, surrounded by attractive hacienda-style buildings and a riot of pink, white and red flowers. But all anyone can see is blue. And yellow. And black. Three 2017 Lamborghini Huracán Spyders and one Coupe, each as jagged and edgy as the nearby Santa Rosa mountains, await drivers.

I am one.

Read complete story on Observer.comA Spyder at Coachella

Alfa Development’s Michael Namer On History, Architecture and Sustainability

IMG_4205Many artists conceal changes to their work. Process is not always appreciated, and can be misconstrued as flaw. The appearance of an early layer—whether imperfectly erased or deliberate—is called pentimento (see Hellman, Lillian) and some artists hate it. Others revel in the study of development, the steps taken from beginning to end. Michael Namer, the chief executive officer and founder of Alfa Development Group, is among the latter.

Istanbul-born, Havana-escaped, Los Angeles-raised, New York-formed, the 61-year-old West Village resident is today, in his words, a painter by avocation, a developer-builder by vocation. Each layer of his life, his work, his building is as integral as the next.

We’re sitting in a muted model guest room on the seventh floor of the HGU New York, formerly known as the Grand Union Hotel. At 34 East 32nd Street in Manhattan, which should be ready for guests sometime in 2016. Earthy grays, blues and khakis inside deliberately negate the flashing brightness of the city. Mr. Namer, in navy sports coat and tie, stretches his khaki-clad legs, flashing the bright orange soles of his brown suede wingtips.

With seemingly little effort he’s inserted himself in every aspect of his current project. He draws himself in, deriving pleasure from everyone and everything around. On the 10th floor, the top, he found newspapers stuffed into the plaster spread during the 1915 expansion of the 1905 original building. Slowly, he extracted the pages from the wall.

“I’ll show you downstairs,” he said, delighted, describing Vanderbilt headlines and local postcards and art that will fill the 40,000-square-foot hotel, reminding or teaching guests that this place, like the city around it, is rich with history, culture and life. Mr. Namer hopes guests of the hotel and the not-yet-named, recognizable-chef-headed restaurant will be aware of their surroundings. This is New York and nowhere else.

Read complete story on The Namer of the Game

The Ever Changing Face of Times Square

image from the clock approached midnight on Dec. 31, 1903, a tradition was born: a New Year’s Eve bash at the intersection of Seventh Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street, then known as Longacre Square.

The year 1904 began with fireworks from the roof of the in-construction new headquarters of The New York Times: 1475 Broadway (the first ball drop was 1907/1908). At the time, the 25-story 1475 Broadway was among the tallest in the city, and the world. A few months later the city renamed the intersection and the soon-to-open subway station below for the building (and business) above: Times Square.

“This is the Great White Way, theatrical center of America and wonder of the out-of-towner. Here midnight streets are more brilliant than noon, their crowds on ordinary evenings exceeding those of large town carnivals,” reads The WPA Guide to New York City, in 1939.

Last month the city announced a record 56.4 million visitors in 2014.

Read complete story on Get With the Times: The Ever Changing Face of Times Square

The Incarnations of Times Square’s Knickerbocker Hotel

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View of Times Square New Year's Eve Ball from roof of Knickerbocker Hotel

In February, a bit of New York City hospitality history was resurrected with the opening of The Knickerbocker Hotel at 6 Times Square, at 1466 Broadway. The 230,000-square-foot building on the southeast corner of West 42nd Street and Broadway was built in 1906 by John Jacob Astor IV for a hotel of the same name.

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An original column (original paint!) in now-closed subway-level floor of Knickerbocker Hotel

Maison & Objet Comes to America

Parisohlala_CorinneCampenioIt’s like the second-coming of Art Basel, say Miami locals of the buzz surrounding Maison & Objet’s American debut. The highly regarded Paris-based interiors trade show hits the beach May 12-15, 2015. Teresa Laughlin, a spokesperson for the event, hears Art Basel-like references nonstop. “There are so many ancillary events taking place all over the city, officially connected and independent, so excitement is very high. Add to that the exceptional reputation that Maison & Objet has built, and anticipation is very high.”

Maison & Objet Americas sold out quickly, which is outstanding considering the number of U.S.-based design events taking place that same month, including NYCxDESIGN (May 8-19), Collective (May 13-17) and ICFF (May 16-19). That said, it’s hard to compare the size and scope of Maison & Objet, which brings countless categories together.

Read complete story on What to Expect When Maison & Objet Comes to America

The Renovation of Paris: 5 Luxury Hotels

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Plaza Athénée (c)Eric Laignel

Recent news from Paris has moved people all over the world. Even as the impact on tourism is debated, hotels are opening in the world’s most visited country. And oh-la-la what hotels they are.

Not so long ago, things looked different. In the 1990’s, says Richard Martinet, principal architect at the local Affine Design which specializes in high-end transformations, European palaces lived their last moments of glory. Lacking sufficient investments to bring them back to their original standards and revive their souls, Parisian palaces were withering too.

Yet even as the recession that dominated most of the last decade was felt worldwide, investments were made by luxury hotel operators. The returns are coming in now. It’s stunning to consider how the money was spent. These aren’t new builds with absolute freedom of structure and design. These are historic renovations, spectacular century-old buildings with many rules and laws, unexpected accidents (some happy), and thoughtful methodology.

Read complete story on The Renovation of Paris: 5 Luxury Hotels

Obama First President Since JFK to Sleep in Rhode Island

RIpostcardOn Thursday night President Obama will sleep where few presidents have slept before: Rhode Island.  It's been more than a half-century since a sitting president–JFK–spent the night in the nation's smallest state.  

“Rhode Island is obviously a small state, easy to get in and out of, so the fact that President Obama has chosen to spend the night is a huge honor and privilege,” says Martha Sheridan, president of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Downtown Providence, she said Thursday afternoon, was abuzz in anticipation.

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Japan's New Luxe Urban Hotels

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looking down from Abeno Harukas

It’s minutes to sunrise in Osaka, Japan’s second largest city where the country’s tallest building – 300-meter (984-foot) Abeno Harukas - opened March 7th. Guests of the Marriott Miyako Hotel (1-1-43 Abeno-suji, Abeno-ku, Osaka 545-0052; phone: 81-6-6628-6111;, occupying floors 38 to 55, await the express elevator to the top. It’s a perk of staying in one of the 376 rooms of the country’s newest hotel: exclusive, early (and free) entry to the glass-enclosed 60th floor. Even in imperfect weather you can see Kyoto, Kobe, Kansai Airport, and the Ikoma mountains. Observation deck indeed.

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Best of the best in Pittsburgh

You don’t know Pittsburgh. Sure you’ve heard bad things about the decline of industry and Quarterbacks, but that’s all in the past. These days the Steel City is hot and vibrant. Young Pittsburgers – many of whom sojourned in NYC – are returning home, taking advantage of the low cost of living, and opening fun, quality restaurants and bars in the city’s 90 neighborhoods (car rental is advised).

This guide is limited to a manageable few, but be open to venturing beyond. Such as: if you’re around on a Wednesday check out the Pittsburgh Banjo Club @ The Elks Lodge (400 Cedar Ave.), 8-11pm, $2 beers. Literally banjos. And old timers. And the hip. The 300,000 people who call this city home are in sync. Join them.

A perfect place to start your Pittsburgh trip is the lovely Point State Park, and not just because we suggest waking up at the convenient, massive, adjacent Wyndham Grand (600 Commonwealth Pl.; 412-391-4600; 712 rooms, from $219. A $40-million, six year renovation of this 36-acre park was completed in June. Here is where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers converge to form the Ohio (the Three Rivers). Water is everything, of course, so what you really need to know about the City of Bridges(!) is it’s worth fighting for (French-Indian War; American Revolution).

Continue reading "Best of the best in Pittsburgh" »