Happy Hour in San Francisco

We miss Happy Days. And no, we’re not talking about The Fonze (though there was something about Fonzie, wasn’t there?).

We’re talking about the days when people strolled outta work at 5pm for Happy Hour

These days, “Happy Hour” in San Francisco isn’t just for office workers marking the end of another day’s work.  At the bars and lounges located in the city’s hotels, it’s also a chance for visitors to celebrate their good fortune just to be in San Francisco.  Fortunately for both visitors and locals, several hotels are offering special drink prices and nibbles to make those hours even happier.  Since we’re huge fans of hotel bars, here are a few top picks:

Bar 888 – The InterContinental 888 Howard St. at 5th St.

www.grappabar888.com

Bar 888 features in San Francisco’s newest hotel features classic and contemporary cocktails – including specialty grappa-based drinks – and pour fine wines from both the Old and New World. Happy Hour is Mon.- Fri. from 4-8 p.m. with $5 and $6 beer specials, $7 wines, cocktails for $8.88 and delicious bar bites created by Chef Dominique Crenn of newly Michelin-starred Luce restaurant.

345 Club Lounge / MO Bar – The Mandarin Oriental 222 Sansome St.www.mandarinoriental.com/sanfrancisco/dining/mo_bar/

In the tradition of great hotels, MO Bar is the social center of the Mandarin Oriental, in the heart of the Financial District. The bustle of city streets gives way to an intimate setting perfect for enjoying cocktails with taste. 345 Club Lounge offers a “VIP Happy Hour” Mon.-Fri., 4:30-8:30 p.m. with specials that include $3 bottled beers, $5 Sangria and $7 premium wine selections. Guests may enjoy watching sports or joining others for one of the bar’s fun event nights including Poker Night, Ladies Movie Night and more.

BAR 1915 – Larkspur Hotel 521 Sutter St.

www.larkspurhotelunionsquare.com

BAR 1915 in the heart of Union Square, offers half-off wines by the glass and draught beer along with specials on pizzetta, panini and hand crafted salumi. Low key, Chef Robert Helstrom of Kuleto’s Restaurant has designed an interesting menu to appeal to visitors and locals alike. Happy hour is 4:30-6:30 p.m. daily.

Caruso’s – The Westin St. Francis 335 Powell St.

www.westinstfrancis.com/unwind

Caruso’s was named after the Caruso the distraught opera singer who moved from The Palace Hotel to the Westin St. Francis after the Great Earthquake and Fire in 1906. He walked over in his bathrobe wit his entire entourage. Caruso’s, located in the historic Westin St. Francis, is offering a new signature social experience, The Unwind Hour, featuring the tastes, sights and sounds of Napa Valley and beyond. Sample premier wines paired with fine hors d’ oeuvres. Tues.-Sat., 5-7 p.m.

cityhouse – Parc 55 Hotel 55 Cyril Magnin St., second floor of Parc 55 Hotel

http://www.parc55hotel.com

“Cityhouse” restaurant and bar, located on Parc 55’s renovated second floor, presents a modern take on American Classics, specializing in steaks, chops and seafood flame-seared on the hotel’s signature wood-fired grill, while the lounge provides a hip and convivial setting for relaxing, connecting with friends, sharing small plates, and enjoying selections from the extensive wine and cocktail list. It scored 4 1/2 out of 5 stars on Opentable.com as well! From 3 –7 p.m. Tues.-Sat., buy any drink or bar bite and get a second round for just 55 cents.

Infusion Lounge – The Hotel Fusion 124 Ellis St.

www.infusionlounge.com

Infusion Lounge is an Asian-inspired sub-rosa lounge located in the heart of Union Square with one of the coolest designs around. Happy Hour Special: Tues.-Fri., 6-8 p.m., $3 beers, $5 wine and $5 mixed drinks. A three-course prix fixe menu is also available for a reasonable $33.

Knuckles – The Wharf at the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf 555 Northpoint

www.hyattatthewharf.blogspot.com

Knuckle’s Happy Hour (Mon.-Fri.) is 5-7 p.m., with half price draft beers and house wines. Also featuring Thursday Night $6 House Martinis, as well as themed buffet nights and monthly winemaker events.

Kyo-ya Restaurant at the Palace Hotel

2 New Montgomery St.

www.sfpalace.com

Located in the heart of downtown San Francisco in one San Francisco’s historic hotels, Kyo-ya is the perfect place to meet friends, relax and unwind – all in a beautiful modern setting. Happy Hour in Kyo-ya is Mon.-Fri., 5-7 p.m., with complimentary Bar Bites, $3 Sapporo beer and $6 specialty cocktails, and award winning sushi at affordable prices.

La Scene Café & Bar – The Warwick Hotel 490 Geary St. at Taylor

http://www.warwicksf.com

La Scene is a personable yet vibrant bar in the heart of the Theater District, steps away from Union Square. Happy Hour specials Tues.-Sat., 5 -6:30 p.m., with $2.99 beers, $4.99 house wine and $5 well cocktails.

Lobby Lounge – The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco 600 Stockton St.

www.ritzcarlton.com

Located convenient to the hotel entrance and to The Ritz-Carlton Bar and Dining Room, the popular Lobby Lounge offers striking floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the city. The popular gathering spot for guests and locals is set in a landmark Nob Hill building which is currently home to The Ritz-Carlton and recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.The hotel’s weekly Raw Bar menu features a generous selection of fresh oysters and shellfish, complemented by optional paired wines, Wed., 5-7 p.m., and The Lobby Lounge features a new diverse farm-to-bar Bloody Mary menu available daily.

Redwood Room – The Clift 495 Geary St.

www.clifthotel.com

The Redwood Room, a haven for San Francisco bon vivants since the 1930s, is now offering a different specialty cocktail each week for $8, available during 5 p.m.– 2 a.m. Sun.-Thurs.; 4 p.m.–2 a.m., Fri.-Sat.

Roots Restaurant – The Orchard Garden Hotel 466 Bush St. at Grant Ave.

www.therootsrestaurant.com

Roots at the Orchard Garden Hotel serves contemporary American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair and is committed to featuring local produce, naturally raised meats and sustainable seafood whenever possible; its cozy bar is a great spot for enjoying organic cocktails. Happy Hour special: Receive a complimentary appetizer with the purchase of a glass of wine or signature cocktail between 4 -7 p.m. daily.

Urban Tavern – The Hilton San Francisco Union Square 333 O’Farrell St.

www.urbantavernsf.com

Urban Tavern is a newly transformed modern gastropub serving approachable food in a casual but sleek setting. Happy Hour specials include: half-priced cocktails, wine by the glass and $4 beer 3-5:30 p.m. A food menu of burgers and small bites are also available.

XYZ Lounge + W Café –  The W San Francisco 181 Third St.

http://www.whotels.com/sanfrancisco or www.xyz-sf.com

Keen to be green? W San Francisco’s eco-licious cocktail menu uses local, organic, sustainable and seasonal ingredients whenever, wherever possible. Five at Five for Five– five days a week. Happy hour includes a selection of handcrafted organic cocktails, micro brew beers and biodynamic wines paired with organic bar bites by executive chef Paul Piscopo, all for $5 each. Mon.-Fri., 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the W Café or XYZ Lounge.

The Penthouse Proposal

The Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel, one of our favourite under-the-radar properties, has called our attention to an exciting new option for those considering becoming engaged in the New Year.

The Penthouse Proposal Package,” is built around the fact that the hotel is home to the Liam Neeson Penthouse Suite, which is one of the most romantic hotel suites in all of New York. Located on the top floor of the hotel, the Penthouse is full of unique features that provide the backdrop for a marriage proposal unlike any other.

As you enter through the living room, with a large sitting area around a fireplace, you’re greeted by the richly elegant decor and a dining area ideal for sharing a romantic room service meal lit up by a custom designed Waterford Crystal chandelier. Named after famous actor, the suite is filled with photos and memorabilia that the star presented to the hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide light during the day and great views at night, while a door from the living room takes you out to a very large private rooftop patio, where the skyline and the stars combine to create an unbelievably romantic atmosphere.

The bedroom features a canopied queen size bed, dressed in Egyptian cotton sheets and a featherbed duvet, while the bathroom, with its oversized bathtub and double shower, are all done in magnificent marble tile that was imported from Italy. Bathroom amenities were created exclusively for the hotel by Tarrocco and soft robes and slippers make the luxuriant room even more cozy. You’ll feel like you’re staying in a private Park Avenue apartment.

While the setting itself certainly creates a romantic atmosphere, the components of the package take full advantage of the setting. Fresh flowers and chilled champagne await the couple on arrival, and as they walk in, the romantic CD of their choice will be filling the Penthouse with music. A special romantic dinner for two will be served by a skilled white-gloved waiter in the Penthouse, enjoyed either inside or out on the patio under the stars. The timing of the proposal is, of course, left up to the discretion of the guests. The next morning, room service breakfast will be served, in bed if you prefer, and a rose petal bath will be drawn. A late checkout can also be arranged. We particularly like that part.  Other inclusive options are available, and include a favorite movie on DVD, chocolate covered strawberries, candles, and CD’s to enjoy during dinner.

This experience is available at a rate of $1,999.

Other options are available at additional costs that vary, and include spa treatments, a violinist at dinner, and car service to and from various destinations. As the Penthouse is a one-of-a-kind suite, availability of the package is limited.

So call the Director of Sales, David Ferdinand, at 212-784-2634 to plan your special evening and tell them Jaunt Magazine sent you!

Cartagena Chic

Cartagena… it’s the latest destination to get people talking.

Sizzling nightlife, beautiful women, historic colonial mansions, and el Caribe.

What more does one really need? To that end, we found one sexy little spot that’s perfect to rest your tousled head.  Situated in the heart of Cartagena ’s Old City along the Caribbean coast, The Tcherassi Hotel + Spa sits on a colorful, narrow street lined with historic colonial houses.  After an extensive two year restoration and renovation, a 250 year old colonial mansion comes to life in fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi’s first namesake hotel.

With seven unique rooms and suites, The Tcherassi Hotel + Spa reignites the magical setting of a bygone era while delivering all of the modern amenities and comforts discerning travelers have come to expect today.  Seven unique guestrooms, including a large suite with a private pool, occupy the four-story mansion providing an exclusive oasis for privacy-seeking guests. Each of the rooms have been designed by Silvia Tcherassi and named for elegant fabrics used in her fashion collections; providing just one example of how Tcherassi incorporates fashion into the hotel’s design. Offering either views of the city, the lush garden or the sea, the large rooms (ranging in size from 400 sq ft to 1200 sq ft) feature restored original stone walls, dramatic high ceilings, large open bathrooms  and private walk-out balconies creating an open and airy Caribbean feel.  Tcherassi also has designed all of the amenities including his and her robes and bath soaps made with her custom fragrance.

In addition to the oversized, luxurious accommodations, the hotel boasts VERA, an indoor/outdoor, chic Italian restaurant and lounge by Chef Daniel Castaño, overlooking a vertical garden with over 3000 local plants, a full service spa, four pools and a roof deck with 360 degree views of both the historic city and the sea. The search for inspiration and relaxation is easily achieved as over 30 staff members cater to each guest’s every whim. Although The Tcherassi Hotel + Spa is an oasis within itself, it is the perfect place from which to enjoy the vibrant culture of Colombia’s hotspot… Cartagena de Indias.

Por fin!

Rates range from $295-$894/night.

http://www.tcherassihotels.com

Eyes Wide Shutter

We’re always looking out for an eye-catching, artistic good time so when we heard about the InterContinental London Park Lane‘s new unique Insider Experience offering guests an unforgettable photography experience around key London landmarks, we had to check into it.

The EYE Photographic Workshop has been created in collaboration with professional photographer and founder Michael Potter, offering guests of the hotel a one-day photography workshop with a digital SLR camera.

Canon 35mm digital camera equipment will be provided if clients do not have a digital SLR camera with them. The workshop not only gives guests access to London’s iconic sights and landmarks, but allows them to acquire a valuable new skill and a truly local and authentic experience to take back home.  The workshop is for all levels and for those looking for an intimate size class with real hands-on experience.  Be it knowledgeable amateurs or snap-happy novices, the workshops are tailored to all abilities and offer an unforgettable hotel stay in one of the world’s most famous cities.  Guests enjoying the experience will be offered the choice of four different packages:

Old and New

Contrasts the new buildings with the old, juxtaposing the historic aspects of London with the city’s modern pace of life.

Pro Studio Fashion Shoots

Guests learn how to shoot fashion on a model both in Shepherd’s Bush Market and at a studio.

Wildlife in Richmond Park

Guests learn the techniques of stalking and photographing birds, large game and the landscape of the park.

Petersham or Clifton Nurseries

An opportunity for guests to visit the greenhouses and plants exhibited at the nurseries and photograph the setting and local environment.

The photography experience kicks off with introductions and coffee in the Club InterContinental of InterContinental London Park Lane. After a brief on camera operation and basic digital photography techniques, it is onward-bound with a professional tutor for a day of shooting.  During a working lunch in the city, guests take an opportunity to review their own shots before spending the afternoon with individual photography tasks.  The day finally comes to a close back at the hotel where participants have the opportunity to edit their collective shots and compile their own slideshow on a DVD.

Prices start from approximately US $1,548 for two people (plus VAT) including one night’s accommodation at the prestigious InterContinental London Park Lane and a one-day tailored workshop for two with EYE Photography.

For reservations or additional information on unique Insider Experiences at InterContinental London Park Lane:

http://www.london.intercontinental.com or call 888 424 6835.

Honeymooning in Mauritius

There are few people in life who make exotic travels their # 1 priority.  We’ve found that these rare travel gems are often physically fit and funny, with a broad sparkling smile that allows them to make friends with the locals where ever they go. We’re happy to say, Victoria Korosis, is just that sort of a passionate travel bunny.  An integral part of the Jaunt Magazine fold, this week she’s writing about her trip to Mauritius and her stay at the luxe Oberoi.

For a traveler reluctant to redefine her interpretation of luxury, ie) that it can exist in forms other than a hostel in Russia with running water, arriving at the Oberoi resort in Mauritius was an indulgence hard to deny.  Nestled along the lush coast of the deceivingly populated island north of Madagascar, the Oberoi exists as a sumptuous enclave even for the most lavished traveler.

We were greeted at our car (arranged by the resort in our pre -arrival questionnaire) by our first names and sweet smelling towelettes to refresh after our trek from Dubai. A cool drink of fresh mint and cane syrup (think mojito sans rum) was served as we were guided to a pavilion overlooking the sprawling grounds. Our gracious host pointed out the various points of interest in our field of view as our wedding weary bodies sunk into the plush couches. Soon after, we were greeted by Singh and guided to one of their 75 luxury bungalows. Our bags already placed in our closet (which was roughly the size of my first apt in NYC), we opened the bottle of complimentary wine, cut into fresh kiwis and took in the spectacular view from our porch.

Now working in the hospitality industry, I am particularly appreciative of the little touches and special amenities that make a hotel stay personal, not just relaxing;  laundry delivered same day in a fragrant wicker box adored with local flowers, a turn down service also including a thorough freshing of the room and crisp folded towels (as noted by the obsessive compulsive organizer in me), the bowl of artfully arranged flowers floating below the headrest of my massage table and the maitre d’ who greeted us at the path from our bungalow to personally escort us to our private candlelit table on the beach for dinner.  As the week went on the special perks continued – as did our game of counting how many other honeymooning couples we encountered on the resort (the French tipped nails always the give away…she says looking down at her own)

Aside from the personal service, the hotel itself is one to be admired. Member of the exclusive Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a group widely revered and personally my benchmark for luxurious unique travel, the Oberoi does not disappoint.  Each room boasts a shower with a second door leading to a private outdoor jungle – that the shower head still reaches – customized pillows, a large Jacuzzi built deep into the marble floor of the bathroom, as well as personal outdoor lounging and dining area (and private pool in some pavilions) completely unseen from neighbors (though not the local exotic birds). On the resort grounds, other highlights include two infinity pools more spectacular than that at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong as well as a variety of water sports and local outings (or so I hear…)

Just beyond each pool is the picturesque white sand beach onto which laps the perfectly clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Add in the full spa, a friendly staff (at a ratio of two to every one guest), and a seared scallop appetizer worthy of re-ordering every night, the luxuries here somehow seem endless.

And if you are really looking to indulge while at the Oberoi, go for the ultimate in extravagance and stay at one of the resort’s two Royal Pavilions. With separate living and sleeping pavilions, a private pool, secluded lounging and entertaining area, and a thatched roof deck perfect for dining, the Royal Pavilion is the ultimate when it comes to decadence. And at upwards of 5,000Euro a night during peak season it should be! It covers an area of over 650 square meters, and can also interconnect to two other luxury bungalows (roughly 70 squ meters each) making it perfect for family getaways. Famous residents to stay here include Sonia Gandhi and the President of Madagascar.

As we left this island paradise to take our honeymoon into Lebanese territory, we were overwhelmingly touched by not just the beauty of our surroundings but also the warmth of the people who made our stay truly memorable.

Next stop…Beirut!

The Oberoi, Mauritius

Baie aux Tortues, Pointe aux Piments, Mauritius

www.oberoihotels.com

RATES: 2009/2010

Luxury Pavilion: 770Euro – 1600Euro

Luxury Villa with Garden: 1020Euro – 2200Euro

Luxury Villa with Private Pool: 1350Euro – 3300Euro

Royal Villa with Private Pool: 2400Euro – 5000Euro