Asia: Walk This Way
Taking a page out of Hollywood’s public relations handbook, Hong Kong has just unveiled its own Avenue of Stars. The 1,443-foot-long strip — almost the length of five football fields — features the names and handprints of some of the city’s most famous film stars, including Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Yun-Fat Chow.
Chop-sockey movie buffs also will be pleased to find featured on the avenue such important figures as Sir Run Run Shaw, founder of Shaw Brothers Studios, where Quentin Tarantino hangs out when in town, as well as acclaimed directors John Woo, Ang Lee and Wong Kar Wai.
The promenade, which is located along the harbor in Tsimshatsui, Hong Kong’s premier tourist area, cost $5 million to complete. The walk begins at a two-story-high replica of the Hong Kong Film Award statuette and includes plaques commemorating milestones in Hong Kong cinema, including a nod to the man who first garnered international attention for the city, Bruce Lee.
Visitors looking for even more Hong Kong film trivia, including set locations, can also get a Hong Kong Movie Odyssey Guide at any Hong Kong Tourism Board visitor information center. Visit discoverhongkong.com for more details. Avenue of Stars, along the waterfront in Tsimshatsui, Hong Kong. — Constance Haisma-Kwok
Australia: Horsing Around
While the trade show season may be a busy time, it’s always important to stop and smell the roses, and what better place to do that than at Australia’s Derby Day to be held Oct. 30 at the Flemington racecourse in Melbourne. It’s the kickoff of the eight-day Melbourne Cup Carnival, whose highlight is Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, the so-called “race that stops a nation,” and which is regarded as one of the racing world’s most prestigious trophies. However, many of the glam attendees have more on their minds than horses.
First, there are the aforementioned roses, considered by many to be one of the world’s finest displays. Then there are the chichi corporate marquees. And, of course, there are the fashions. They grow more colorful with each passing year, perhaps due to the 50 percent spike in female attendees over the past decade, as well as the Fashions on the Field competition, which last year put on a contest of its own between the well-turned-out for more than $170,000 in prizes.
It was certainly an eye-opener for Paris and Nicky Hilton, the VIP guests of Seven Network at Derby Day in November. “It was just really cool,” Paris told WWD. “It felt like something out of Alice in Wonderland; everyone had these big hats. That was crazy.”
Derby Day, Flemington Racecourse, Epsom Road, Flemington, vrc.net.au. — Patty Huntington
Brazil: Ship Shape
São Paulo, a city of nondescript luxury hotels, became home in late 2002 to the stylistically irreverent Unique Hotel.
This boutique hotel, the work of architect Ruy Ohtake, looks more like a ship out of water than a place to sleep, with its distinctive half-moon shape, green copper facade and porthole windows.
However, guests’ accommodations are far better than those found below deck. Of the 95 rooms available, the most coveted are the corner suites, where the building’s architectural curves carry through to the interior with a wood floor that flows seamlessly into the wall for a ramp-like effect. The big bathrooms include a shower stall, a separate Jacuzzi-type bathtub and a sliding wall that allows you to soak in the bathtub while either watching a flat-screen TV or gazing out
of the huge, circular window. Special sound-proofing and blackout window shades keep the rooms silent and dark for jetlagged travelers.
But for those ready to get out and about, the hotel beckons with its crowning jewels: a red-tiled rooftop pool with piped-in underwater music, and the adjacent Skye restaurant, which offers everything from pizza to sushi and one of the best views of the city skyline. Rooms average about $310 a night. Unique Hotel, Avenida Brigadeiro Luis Antônio 4700, São Paulo,?55-11-3055-4700. — Michael Kepp
Canada: In the mix
An appreciation for art and an appreciation for wine come together at Galerie 1225 Art et Vin, Montreal’s first gallery and wine bar.
Located in a 100-year-old historic building, Galerie 1225 Art et Vin unites not only art and wine, but also the old and new, with an original marble fireplace, exposed brick wall and dark wood floors contrasting with the more modern yet elegant steel and leather accents, like the spiral staircase that ushers visitors from the first to the second floor.
Owner Amal Chamandy, an artist in her own right, mounts a different show every month and features up-and-coming as well as established local and international contemporary artists, including Richard Roblin from the United States and Mexican Remigio Valdes de Hoyas.
Also in her collection are more than 200 wines of recent vintages that can be ordered by the bottle or sampled by the glass (from $5 to $10), as well as a selection of port, scotch, beer and four kinds of martinis. There are also appetizers, including a plate of prosciutto and melon ($10), desserts and a selection of cheeses (ranging from $6 for one selection to $20 for four) to complement the beverage menu.
“I’ve always wanted to open an art gallery, but not a traditional one,” said Chamandy. “I’m also a bit of a wine connoisseur after taking a couple of courses on wine, so I thought I’d integrate the two types of connoisseurs. The two worlds complement each other so naturally and seem to bring people together with similar interests.” Galerie 1225 Art et Vin, 1225 rue de la Montagne, Montreal, 514-395-1225, galerie1225.com. Open Tues. through Sun., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. — Brian Dunn
England: Star Gazing
London paparazzo Richard Young will step onto the red carpet himself this summer when a retrospective of his 30 years as a celebrity photographer goes up at Covent Garden’s Hospital gallery, June 10-Aug. 22.
More than 100 photographs will be on display at the exhibition, including images of Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol at Studio 54, and Elizabeth Hurley’s celebrity debut in that safety-pin Versace dress. On the flip side of celebrity, the exhibition also will feature shots such as John Paul Getty Jr.’s release by kidnappers.
A book to accompany the exhibition, “Shooting Stars,” also will be available for $36. The Hospital, 24 Endell Street, London, 44-207-170-9100. Open Mon.-Wed., Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sun., 12-8 p.m. — Nina Jones
England: Sipping Up
After taking Chinese dining in London to a whole new level with Hakkasan, restaurateur Alan Yau now aims to do the same for the tea house, with his new venture, Yauatcha.
Located over two floors in Soho, Yauatcha, like Hakkasan, has been designed by French interior designer Christian Liaigre. The sultry basement restaurant, which specializes in all-day dim sum, such as Chilean sea bass mooli roll for $9 and shark’s fin and seafood dumpling consommé for $11.50, contrasts with the light-filled first-floor tea house, which will serve more than 150 types of tea, with blue tea, a lighter drink than black tea, proving the most popular. The tea house also will feature a patisserie with delicacies created by Stephane Sucheta, formerly head of the U.S. division of patisserie Pierre Hermé. Mouthwatering treats will include Crème Passionelle, a chocolate shortcake and passion fruit cream for $6, and Mandarin Mocha, a creamy mixture of milk chocolate, anise, ganache, Chinese mandarin coffee and absinthe for $6. Yauatcha, 15 Broadwick Street, London, 44-207-794-8888. Tea House, open late June, Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-11:30 p.m., and Sun., 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Dim sum restaurant open Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-11 p.m., and Sun., 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. — N.J.
France: New Gems
Step aside Mona Lisa. The Louvre museum is about to welcome another sparkling attraction. On June 17, the Museum of Fashion and Textiles will inaugurate a new permanent gallery devoted entirely to jewelry. Two rooms of the museum, recently renovated with donations from Rolex, will display some 2,500 rings, necklaces, bracelets and brooches dating from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, including Art Deco pieces by Boucheron and Cartier and works from French jewelry designers such as Line Vautrin and Albert Duraz. The exhibit also will show works by artists such as Georges Braque, Alexander Calder and Henri Laurens, as well as designs from the Sixties by Jean Dinh Van. The Museum of Fashion and Textiles, 107-111 Rue de Rivoli, Paris, 33-1-44-55-57-50. Open Tues.-Fri., 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. — Emilie Marsh
Italy: Garage Band
If you are looking to squeeze in a spa treatment, do a little flower shopping or browse for a new car all during your lunch hour, look no further than this multipurpose hangout tucked into a renovated Fifties-era garage. Spa/flower shop Habits Culti, a Mini Cooper showroom and fusion restaurant Noy all come together in an odd, but effective, combination. Noy’s Asian-influenced Mediterranean fare, including beef sashimi and pasta with squid ragu, has attracted the likes of Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana and DSquared twins Dean and Dan Caten. Fashionistas also are flocking to Habits Culti for stress-releasing massages and post-meal detox treatments. And true Mini fans are not only driving off with new models, but also snapping up T-shirts, sweaters, jackets and watches bearing their favorite car’s logo. Habits Culti, Via Mauri, 5, Milan, 39-0248517286, open daily, from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Noy, Via Soresina, 4, Milan, 39-0248110375, noyweb.com, open Tues.-Sun., 12-3 p.m. and 8 p.m.-12 a.m.; Mini Ambros Saro Showroom, Via Mauri, 5, Milan, 39-0248022998, open Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-1 p.m., and Mon., 3-7.30 p.m. — Chiara Hughes
Spain: Lucky 13
Not every pretty young thing parties till the wee hours of the morning, even in round-the-clock Spain, which is why Barcelona’s Club 13 still attracts a hot crowd, despite the fact that it closes its doors at 2:30 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends. “People come to have a drink, a dance and that’s it. They go home to bed,” said Jennifer Dizgun, a spokesperson for the club.
Tucked under the Gothic porticos of Plaça Reial, the year-old Club 13 is housed in two cozy brick caves with cushy sofas and banquettes. “Energy” drinks are spiked with sweet, bubbly water and a DJ spins loud rock, funk and sometimes dance music, depending on the night’s theme. Fashion scenesters include the irreverent ready-to-wear designer Mireya Ruiz, who threw her post-show party at the club during February’s Barcelona Fashion Week, and managing director of mega fashion brand Custo Barcelona, David Dalmau, who was spotted there on a recent Wednesday night. “It’s the best place in town,” he commented. “Fun, fun, fun.” Club 13, Plaça Reial, 13, Barcelona, 93-3172352. — Barbara Barker
Spain: Yoga Retreat
Predictably, Hotel Omm, named for a yoga mantra, has a soothing interior with neutral colors such as gray, brown, violet and green; geometric shapes, and a sophisticated lighting system that includes fluorescent floor effects and triangular skylights. But while guests may come to this six-floor, 59-room hotel owned by the trailblazing Tragaluz Group (of Bestial and Aqua fame) to do some relaxing, there are plenty of distractions to keep them on the move.
Omm’s Moo restaurant, for example, is one of the most coveted tables in town. Run by the Roca brothers, Joan, Josep and Jordi, who also run two Michelin-star restaurants on the Costa Brava, Moo serves up tantalizing specialties such as confit of baby suckling pig and fresh-fruit sorbets for dessert.
There is also a bar and rooftop pool with views of the Antoni Gaudí-designed La Pedrera building and its smashed-glass mosaic chimneys.
And if that’s not enough, there’s always Passeig de Gràcia, considered Barcelona’s Madison Avenue, right at the hotel’s doorstep. Prices range from 200 euros, or $239 at current exchange, for a double to 400 euros, or $478, for the hotel’s only suite. Hotel Omm, Rosselló, 265, Barcelona, 34-93-4454000, hotelomm.es. — B.B.