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ritz carlton

What’s in My Bag: The Coolest Flash Drives sent by PR Folks

GEAR, tech By August 30, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

I get a ton of PR pitches and therefore a staggering number of flash drives.  Incidentally, I also receive a ton of CD roms filled with information I can’t access with my MacBook Air.  (PR People please take note).  I thought I’d follow through with Kelby Carr’s ingenious ‘Marketers Who Understand Blogger Outreach’ post with something fun before the long weekend.  So I emptied my USB Drawer and found my ultimate favourites from Public Relations teams who know their brand and respect me as a writer enough to make me want to grin.  Here are my favourites:

1.  McCafe, who engraved my Twitter handle ‘@urbanmommies‘ on the back.
2.  Honda – A clever car key (that I could make into a necklace a la Tiffany & Co and take my data with.)
3.  Disney Fantasy.  Rubber (waterproof I think), fun for kids to play with and very chic.
4.  Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe.  Gorgeous wood.  Refined and symmetrical.
5.  Dole.  Because who doesn’t want to carry a banana-shaped flash drive in their purse?
6.  Disney Cars Land – in the shape of a race announcer’s microphone.
7.  Store Brand in the shape of a formula bottle.  Because I laughed out loud, as no Canadian PR company would ever attempt this given the volatile and judgmental Canadian nursing climate, and the most popular articles on UrbanMommies are breastfeeding-related.
8.  The Victorinox 4GB super-secure flashdrive which cannot be broken into if you’re a PC user.  And because it is made by Victorionox and stores information on it’s own brand, which is smart and somehow ironic.  And I love the spy-like nature of it’s security.
9.  The ultimate: The G. Marquis Winery flashdrive in a branded wine cork.  Because it floats, it’s durable, cool, on-brand, and, well.. they did their homework.



The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

ROAM, USA By August 21, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

They had me at the s’mores gift bags.  Sticks, Marshmallows, Chocolate and wafers.  And fire pits by the pool and hottub on which to create the s’mores.  The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe was built around a main fireplace/chimney, from which the rest of the building emanates.  The main floor is more a great room than a lobby, with families eating, trendsetters having drinks and skiers doing après.  It’s like the community centre of the rich and famous.  Or at least that’s how it makes you feel.

The rooms boast soft sheets, stunning views, fireplaces and insanely amazing toiletries.  Combined with turndown service and fluffy robes? Epic.  My room overlooked the slopes of Northstar and I was torn as to whether to ski or stay in the gorgeous room.  (The skiing was too good to pass up though).

I was to be on TV the day after I left Northstar and the Ritz-Carlton, and my nails were a mess.  A devotee of Shellac, I needed acetone and foil to remove the 3 week-old colour from my fingers (it still looked great but not up to TV standards).  The spa attendants let me in after they had closed to figure it out (how amazing is that?!).  Not only did I see the alpenglow at the end of the day, but the healing, serene environment made me giddy.  And I chose a very au courant blue lacquer for the TV appearance.  You must check out the copper bathtub in the spa when you go.  Stunning.

Similar to other Ritz-Carlton properties, the chain gives tribute to local culture and the art throughout the hotel was sourced locally. My favourite pieces were the 160 beer-can butterflies in the lobby bar, of which only one has been stolen since opening.  You would never know they had been up-cycled.  Hopefully I can find them on Etsy.

I wish I’d had my family there.  As I watched a little boy have his boots nudged on by a valet, I remembered all of the weekends at Whistler mountain with my boys, screaming about their boots being tight.  The Ritz-Carlton staff had magic that I do not.  How I wish my boys could ride the uber-cool snowmobile sleigh and get their gear laced up by a pro!  (The valets at the Ritz even place your skis and poles for you so your only job is to hop into them like an Olympian.)  And watching the families après in the huge lobby are, surrounded by fireplaces, warmth and sun made me decide to return with my boys in tow.

The dining at the Ritz was like none I had ever experienced.  (Knowing Shaun Whyte was ‘in the house’ didn’t hurt either – we toured his world-class halfpipe the next day).  I began with a BNB.  That would be – bacon and bourbon.  The bacon being the stirstick.  Yeah.  I’m hard-core, BTW.  Try to catch up to me on the slopes. Ha ha.

The food was amazing,  (Trying not to be cliché but I can still taste it and I just can’t find the words). There were 6 of us around a table, getting to know each other over dinner.  How rude was I when I asked for a taste of everyone else’s meals!

I’ve stayed with several Ritz-Carltons – New Orleans and I am off to Key Biscayne in Miami right now.  What impresses me the most is how each hotel embraces their environment, meshes with the locals, incorporates the history of their surroundings into everything from the architecture to the menu.   True vibrant hotels allow a parent to teach as well as relax, and taking your kids to this property you can’t help but feel the history, the gold rush, and the national forest emanating from the environment.

My drive back to the airport at Lake Tahoe was unforgettable.  I was fidgeting with my Blackberry, fielding calls from work, and the driver was silent.  He was the same driver I’d had on the way in.  Feeling rude, I struck up a conversation which may have changed me forever.  He told me of his ancestors.  The railway tracks to the right that helped Lincoln win the Civil War.  He told me of his great grandfather who was a guide in the gold rush as his eyes gleamed and his pride showed clearly.  As a river guide in the summer he knows these parts.  He stopped in the perfect location so that I could take one parting photo if the Ritz-Carlton.  Remember in The Thomas Crown Affair – the smile of a Father? – That’s what it was like.  The smile of a man who not only loves the land, but loves the businesses who prolong the history – his history.



Bacon stirstick with Bourbon

The BNB. A Bacon stirstick with Bourbon. Divine.

EAT, holidays By May 9, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , 2 Comments

I love shocking people.  It happens every time I order a bourbon.  The drink just seems incongruous with my classic look and soft spoken voice.  So while at the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe, it was a thrill to see the waiter’s face when I ordered the BNB.  (My colleagues were pretty surprised too, as photos of the drink flew around Facebook and Twitter).  Still evaluating the exact moment to eat the bacon, I must practice this one at home a few times before I perfect the methodology.. Or just head back to the Ritz.


Why you need to stay at the Ritz Carlton New Orleans

ROAM, USA By May 24, 2011 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Come on. As if I wasn’t in love with New Orleans enough. Now I’ve stayed at the Ritz and there is no possible way that I can be away from this enchanted city for more than a few months.  Weeks.  Hmm.  Loving you, Ritz Carlton.  And New Orleans.   Where shall I begin?  The doorman who read my Mom 2.0 conference nametag and had it memorized for the rest of the trip?  The front desk staff  (who were shocked that I didn’t do the ‘American thing’ and demand compensation because I tripped on the carpet in my room) and the housekeeper who organized my makeup by colour.  THANK YOU.  SO MUCH.  (And for not knocking on my door at 8am like the other places I stayed in NOLA.)  Yeah.  The Ritz wins.

But really?  Even if I weren’t staying at the hotel, I would be at the bar every night.  It’s kind of like a wedding.  You know – vibe, stylish dress, where you WANT to be.  The courtyard is romantic and packed all the time (even at lunch.  Especially when there’s an old-fashioned New Orleans Crawfish Boil).  The bar though.  OOOh.  The bar.  The Davenport Lounge (named after Jeremy Davenport, the enchanting “top 10  bachelors in the USA” trumpet player who lent his name to the space) is rife with swing dancers, stunning brides and chic patrons.   But I actually didn’t pay much attention to the clientele.  Even though I was there EVERY night.  Because the jazz was So good.  Davenport was suave and super-talented.  And the band?  Wow.  I had the good fortune to befriend saxophonist Aaron Fletcher.  He took my husband and I to a couple of authentic NOLA restaurants and shared incrediblr stories.  Not only supremely talented (check his own show Sundays at Sweet Lorraines), but a down-to-earth, passionate man who loves the history of jazz almost as much as he loves his own city.

Right.  Back to the Ritz.  I had a chance on an earlier visit to taste the cuisine at M Bistro.  Chef Matt Murphy (a father of 5) brilliantly combines creole flavours with the best ingredients and perfect technique.  (Dear Matt – would you like to adopt me as a sixth?)  The Bistro was authentic, innovative and perfect in every way.  True New Orleans flavours and Matt’s penchant for ‘meet the farmers’ ingredients were clearly defined in the taste of the food.  (Travel and Leisure ranked the Bistro one of the Top 10 Farm-to-Table Hotel Restaruants in America, January 2011).  I should just live there.

The Spa?  Unlike the Guerlian spa at the Roosevelt across the street, the Ritz had a more feminine, nurturing feel.  The apothecary bar was super neat – you could choose ingredients for your own scrub.  Staff maneuvered you through the space in a gentle, seamless way, and the fountain at the entrance alluded to the relaxation you’d soon experience.  You also had the opportunity to shop for unbelievable stuff when you leave.  But why would you ever want to?

What do I miss?  Coffee in the lobby.  The pillows.  The ‘undefined’ customer assistants who seemed to be everywhere, anticipating my every whim.  The amazing outfits you saw at the bar.  The creole perfected my Matt.  Free wireless.  And the fresh flower arrangements EVERYWHERE that were nicer than those at my wedding.  But I’m not bitter.  I’m now planning a 10 year renewal of vows.  (Which will be held at the Ritz Carlton New Orleans.)
921 Canal Street
(504) 524-1331

– Jill Amery is a sucker for beauty, gracious southern manners, soft sheets, world-class jazz, and the perfect cuisine.  But she’s not picky.