BY NEW YORK TRAVELIN’ GAL MAXINE ALBERT
It’s January 2012 and we’ve all made our resolutions and promises to make this the best year yet! And we’re going to keep them - of course we are. I love this time of year – the city is aglow with an aura of hope and renewal. We’re all snugly dressed in our warm winter wear. If we’re lucky we see a snowflake or two and head to the nearest fireplace for a hot toddy. The majority of the holiday tourists have left so it’s the perfect time for New Yorkers to enjoy our sparkling city.
My first New Year’s resolution was to take a New York vacation and start treating myself well in the place where I live, work and get stressed out. After all, people come from far and wide to visit New York. Why shouldn’t I, an actual city dweller, revel in its pleasures. I set definite rules: I had to treat it as a real vacation - which meant a posh home away from home, good food, fine wine, pampering and entertainment. If I found that the results were fruitful, this ‘retreat’ could be incorporated into my regular schedule. With this in mind and my boyfriend in tow, we set out for our New York vacation.
What better place to relax, renew and rejuvenate than an overnight and spa treatment at Taj’s iconic Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park. Its lobby with signature rotunda and trompe l’oeil murals dazzles. And the room, elegant and luxurious, has a breathtaking view of the park. Silks and brocades with a pale ivory, taupe and coral décor create a lush ambiance. I could get used to this. I liked this New York City oasis.
We scheduled the Jiva in-room couples spa treatments with Stephanie and Vladimir. They are not the ice skating duo from the Olympics; they are excellent massage therapists who sent both boyfriend and myself into a state of bliss. They brought two massage tables with all amenities into our room. We both opted for the full body treatment to soothe tired muscles, relieve stress and energize. First our feet soaked in a basin of warm water and Jiva oils and were massaged. We inhaled the ginger and jasmine scents and began to breathe deeply. We learned that the principles of the Jiva Spa draw on ancient Indian wellness heritage and use all organic products, from oils to linens.
Once we got on the table, the sterling duo worked their magic. Boyfriend and I were transported to a serene and restful realm. Our consummate professionals knew where we were tense and how much pressure to apply. I even got a creative solution to a work idea while I was getting massaged – without thinking about it. In-room afternoon tea was the ideal après spa compliment.
2 East 61st Street
212 838 8000
Next we headed to the Lambs Club in the Chatwal Hotel for a pre-theater dinner where famed restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian (our cover story this month), winner of the Food Network’s Iron Chef competition, helms the kitchen. The dining room, with red leather banquettes, celebrity photos lining the walls and a working cozy stone fireplace is glam art deco heaven. The trendy fashionable clientele fit seamlessly with the plush, chic surroundings. I wondered if the cuisine could live up to the style. The food, with careful attention to flavors and creative touches - did not disappoint.
I chose a strawberry gimlet and boyfriend picked Guillermo Wallace – tequila, honey and peated Scotch from their famous old world cocktail menu – served with hand carved ice. At this point, I could not tell if the happy smile plastered across his face was from the Jiva massage or Guillermo’s tequila combo. No matter, it was all good.
For starters, tender, well seasoned and excellent grilled octopus with lemongrass, turnips and potatoes. Hand cut beef tartare was bold and delicious. Hamachi Sashimi was fresh, and well balanced with celery root and compressed apple; quite tasty. A luscious white truffle risotto with wild mushrooms melts in your mouth.
I chose a robust entrée, lamb loin with chorizo, piperade and eggplant – a definite winner. The Atlantic cod with lobster sofrito across the table was prepared to perfect consistency. All were paired with fine wines.
Everyone in the room was smiling and chatty creating a cool, clubby vibe. I was expecting someone from Mad Men to walk in any second. We were taken back to another era, when conversation flowed, the martini ruled and life felt quite grand.
The Lambs Club
132 West 44th Street
212 997 5262
Speaking of grand, we were just down the block from Times Square where two of the brightest lights are currently shining on Broadway - Harry Connick, Jr. in “ On A Clear Day You Can See Forever ” and Hugh Jackman in his one man show. As a diehard fan of the handsome singer/pianist who has been compared to Frank Sinatra, I would go to see Harry Connick whistle Dixie. So off we headed for our entertainment jaunt to spend an evening in the theater with my
favorite blue-eyed crooner.
Forget about trying to analyze the wacky plot where a psychiatrist, Harry Connick, discovers that his gay florist patient David is a reincarnation of Melinda - a feisty big band singer from the 1940’s. Melinda incarnates in full female form and wardrobe, singing and dancing, during the hypnosis sessions, and Connick falls in love with her. Sit back and enjoy the New Orleans crooner with a voice like velvet as he sings that classic Burton Lane/Alan Jay Lerner score. That’s reason enough to go. On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.
St. James Theatre
246 W. 44th St.
212 239 6200
Massage and Overnight at the Pierre – check. Dinner at Lamb’s Club with Good Food and Fine Wine – check. A Broadway Legend as Entertainment– check.
As Mae West, a native New Yorker herself said, “ You only live once, but if you do it right – Once is Enough.”