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465 West 23rd Street, Suite 9B
New York, NY, 10011
United States

(917) 664-2294

JOURNAL

CAN I TELL YOU ... TAKE A TRIP AROUND THE WORLD AND SEE THE CULTURES THAT INSPIRE MY DESIGNS.

Filtering by Category: North America

Can I tell you about ... VANCOUVER

Tesa Totengco

STAY

Downtown is where all the action is and The Loden Hotel couldn’t be more ideally located. Ranked first in the top 10 hotels in Vancouver, this luxury boutique hotel’s design is chic, warm and contemporary. Aside from the usual hotel amenities they also provide complimentary cruiser bikes and a local car service. 

DO

 I wanted to see the famous aquarium but to get there we decided to walk along the Seawall in Stanley Park. It is the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path and one of Vancouver’s most popular tourist spots. The path stretches over 17 miles and is busy with walkers, joggers, cyclists and inline skaters. The scenic views of the water and Lion’s Gate bridge were spectacular. The Aquarium is the largest in Canada and a draw for both children and adults. My favorite section were the jellyfish tanks. Watching these creatures constantly moving like they were dancing under water was mesmerizing. I could have watched them for hours. 

EAT 

Annelena was recommended to me via Instagram when one of my followers posted a comment that I should eat there and then tagged sous chef Mark Singson. Within minutes I had a reservation confirmation from Mark himself. Upon arrival we were told that we were having the tasting menu along with the wine pairing. Jeff Parr who is the general manager and sommelier chose all the wines to go superbly with the dishes. From beginning to end Chef Mike Robbins and Mark Singson pulled out all the stops wowing us with gorgeous plating and delicious dishes influenced by a mix of cultures, flavors and local ingredients. I couldn’t resist taking photos of each and every plate. 

WHAT I LOVED MOST

 Museum of Anthropology I’ve always been fascinated with Native American and First Nation’s culture so a visit to the Museum of Anthropology was at the top of my list. The architecture of the building itself, designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson was inspired by structures of First Nations people. Situated on the cliffs of Point Grey the museum offers spectacular vistas of the mountains and the sea. The great hall is awe inspiring filled with towering totem poles, carved figures and canoes from different tribes. The high glass walls brings the light in as well as a view of the outdoor space that includes two Haida structures and more totem poles.

Can I Tell You About ... Tulum, Mexico

Rafe Totengco

STAY

The Mayan Riviera is lined with eco-chic hotels with beachfront restaurants. Playa Azul achieves both with the rustic decor and spare furnishing and is situated in the center of the Tulum beach which makes its location ideal. Our room had an open terrace with a great view of the sea. The cabanas on the beach provided ample shade, and excellent bar service, and made napping in the afternoons a required time in our schedule.
 

EAT

Believe the hype about Hartwood. Everything we ordered was delicious. The pulled pork was tender and deliciously spiced. For dessert I had their home-made sweet corn ice-cream which was just perfect for me, as it brought back fond childhood memories. To be sure of getting a table arrive before they open and line up - otherwise you risk being turned away. Another foodie favorite is El Tabano. The restaurant serves tasty and spicy traditional Mexican fare minus the long line of people.
 

MUST SEE

Get up at the crack of dawn and drive to Chichen Itza. If you get there early enough you will avoid the worst of the busloads of tourists that swarm daily to this historical site and the midday heat. The ancient city was founded around 400 AD and was one of the greatest Mayan centers of the Yucatan Peninsula. The site is huge with multiple temples, pyramids and marketplaces that give a real insight into the power and sophistication of the Mayan civilization. The massive Kukulkan Pyramid has been partially restored, allowing visitors to see how it would have looked when in use as well as the more tumbledown state in which it was found. It is deservedly one of the most iconic images associated with the Yucatan and Mexico.
 

SHOP

La Llorona is a treasure trove full of hand-embroidered fabrics, clothing and accessories sourced from all over Mexico and Guatemala. There was so much to choose from I could have stayed there for hours going through every pile of fabrics. I was in print heaven.
 

DO

Snorkeling through Dos Ojos Cenote is a fun activity to do while you're in Tulum. It is called Two Eyes because of the two large circular cenotes with cave systems underneath. On a sunny day you can clearly see the rock formations of the underwater cave. You'll need a guide and a flash light swimming through the labyrinth of tunnels while carefully avoiding stalactites, stalagmites and other snorkelers. 
 

WHAT I LOVED MOST

I love waking and sleeping to the sound of the waves and feeling the sea breeze that wafted through our balcony. Tulum is a perfect place to unwind and decompress. I can't wait to go back.

Can I Tell You About ... Mexico City

Rafe Totengco

 

STAY

Las Alcobas is a chic boutique hotel situated in the posh Polanco district surrounded by designer shops, restaurants,interior design stores and nightclubs. The international design firm Yabu Pushelberg created the luxurious contemporary look of the hotel and that is enough reason in my opinion to stay here.

EAT

Contramar is the place to see and be seen in Mexico. Get there at noon and you will be able to get a table but arrive an hour later and you will have to wait another hour. From our table it looked like everbody knew everybody. The scene was social, jovial and super chic. The tuna tostadas are so popular the dish is even the password for their wifi!

MUST SEE

Museo Soumaya is the iconic museum designed by Fernando Romero showcasing the private art collection of Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim. The entrance is free and it is even open on Mondays when most museums are closed. Do not miss the top floor that displays a large collection of Rodin sculptures. The outside structure of the museum is quite inspiring. Grab a drink at one of the bars behind it at sunset and you'll see the building glows like seashells with the sun's reflection. La Casa Azul is Frida Khalo's home where she grew up and lived with Diego Rivera. It has now been converted into a museum where you can get a glimpse of how they lived. The furniture and the gardens are well maintained but there isn't a lot of her artwork to see. Walk over to Mercado de Coyoacan and grab a spot at Tostadas Coyoacan. It's a fun convivial place that is packed with people eating their famous tostadas.

SHOP

Carmen Rion works with artisans in Chiapas to weave her traditional textiles and she transforms them into contemporary silhouettes with a nod towards current fashion trends. Her shop is conveniently located within the Downtown Hotel shopping complex.

DO

Hire a driver and go to Teotihuacan (about an hour away from Mexico City.) It is otherwise refered to as the "City of the Gods" and home to some of the largest ancient pyramids in the world. Climb up to the top of the Temple of the Moon and Temple of the Sun to see the vast area the site covers and you can almost imagine what it must have been like when the Aztecs found these ruins which were abandoned hundreds of years prior.

WHAT I LOVED MOST

Diego Rivera's incredible murals depicting the history of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional were everything I had imagined them to be. The murals swarm with symbolism, detail, emotion, and political commentary. I walked around the murals several times, and each time I saw something new and fascinating.