Monday, November 30, 2009

Casual is the New Black Tie

I broke my own rule last week: I wore jeans to theater. And restaurants known for fine dining now accept jacketless diners and women in flip flops. Is this a product of the economy? Or global warming? Or a combination of the two? It's an interesting time, albeit a dressed down one. My birthday is in a week, tho, and I sure as heck will be celebrating in style. If you want to join me for a drink, leave me a comment, and I'll tell you where to meet me and what to wear.

Fancations Off-Season: No Worries about Losing the Olympics, Chicago -- You’ve Got The Addams Family!

Halloween may be long gone, but Chicago keeps the spooky spirit alive with the world premiere of The Addams Family Musical, now through January 10, 2010 at the Oriental Theater. From the team behind the ultra-succesful Jersey Boys, the creepy-kooky musical stars Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia in this "mysteriously ooky"comedy based on the TV series from the mid-60s. Tickets range from $28-$105 and can be ordered at

The historic and recently restored Palmer House Hilton makes it even easier to score tickets to the show with their new "Addams Family" package. Stay overnight and you'll get two adult tickets to select Saturday night performances (December: 5, 12, 19; January: 2, 9) in the Dress Circle section. To book this package, call reservations at 866-581-5466. While you're there, be sure to grab a seat in the opulent lobby and enjoy a cocktail before dining at the hotel’s Lockwood Restaurant. Voted One of 10 Best Restaurants To Open in 2008 by The Chicago Tribune and a 2009 Open Table Diners’ Choice winner, Lockwood’s Executive Chef, Phillip Foss, presents a menu that is truly to die for (Addams Family pun intended).

New Yorkers, don't despair. The play moves to Broadway on March 4 to the Lunt-Fontaine theater, but tickets are already a hot commodity. And watch for more Chicago news in my upcoming "Fancations" series.

A Deal a Week: Sedona's Enchantment Resort Wants You to Share and Shop... and Get 2 Free Nights

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, the holidays are in full swing! As an early gift to guests, Enchantment Resort in Sedona has a new "Season for Sharing" package that gives you 2 free nights if you book 3 consecutive nights. After you've explored the beautiful Arizona outdoors and the mystical red rock formations of Boynton Canyon, you can indulge your shopping instincts at Tlaquepaque Village, a gorgeous village of specialty boutiques and art galleries. Like its Mexican artisan namesake, this village has more than 40 specialty boutiques and art galleries so you can shop 'til you drop. The package includes free transportation from the resort to the shop.

Afterwards, relax and refresh with a Native American or Ayurvedic treatment at one of the top spas in the U.S., Enchantment's Mii Amo. (Spa add-ons are priced separately).

To book, click here or call 800-826-4180. The package lasts just until Christmas, exactly when you'll be able to give out all those fabulous gifts you've just bought.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Highline Ballroom -- A Great Venue for Great Music

The High Line - Meatpacking District is really jumping. Just saw this amazing band, Forro in the Dark, with Pistolera as the opener. Another wonderful addition to the NYC nightscape.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Contest Extended -- Enter to Win a Copy of Fodor's Family: New York City with Kids

Happy Thanksgiving! Travel Mamas has extended the contest, so you can still enter and win a book.

Click here for info about what to do in New York City and for details on how to enter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Deal a Week: Remembering JFK at the Fairmont Copley

In remembrance of the tragedy on November 22, 1963 and, on a more positive note, in the spirit of LIFE’s new book, The Kennedys: End of a Dynasty, the Fairmont Copley in Boston has introduced a package that celebrates the life of another one of my favorite Kennedys: JFK. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, and the JFK: To The Moon Package commemorates one of President Kennedy’s most notable achievements: putting the first man on the moon.

The JFK: To The Moon Package
starts at $269/night and includes overnight accommodations and two tickets to the JFK Library and Museum where you can see the new Moonshot: JFK and Space Exploration, a thought-provoking exhibit featuring original documents, photographs and artifacts from the Mercury Atlas-9 Mission, the Friendship 7 space capsule and the Saturn 1 Rocket.

The Fairmont Copley has also created a unique experience for the true JFK devotee: the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum Suite. This suite, developed with the assistance of the JFK Library’s curators and archivists, serves as a mini-museum spotlighting the life of our 35th president. (The suite is available for an additional charge of $200/night).

This package is valid through March 31, 2010. For more information and reservations, click here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Win a Free Book! Vacationing with the Kids in NYC? Grab a Guide for the Holidays with Fodor's Family: New York City with Kids

I'm honored -- Colleen Lanin from Travel Mamas featured my book and my recommendations about things I love about New York City, both secret and not-so-secret, plus other tidbits for readers to discover, all filled with NYC passion. Best of all, they included a photo of my husband and me in our full Yankees-Red Sox dueling finery taken at the old Yankee Stadium.

Read here and enter to win a copy of Fodor's Family: New York City with Kids.

A “Dream” Come True – Disney Launches a New Ship That Tops Them All

Disney Cruise Lines has just started taking bookings for their newest ship, Disney Dream, set to sail on January 26, 2011. This incredible addition to the fleet of magical ships will be the biggest yet—with a capacity of more than five thousand passengers. Disney has implemented some innovative and distinctive features that the whole family will love. My favorite? Being a roller coaster junkie, I can’t wait to try the AquaDuck, a 765-foot-long water coaster that goes around four decks and even extends out over the ocean. You sit in a tube (see photo above) and off you splash! Then, there are the virtual portholes so every interior room feels like it has an outside deck. These virtual portholes use HD TVs to create projections of the sea and will even have the occasional Disney character “swim” by. (Hey, Nemo!) Check it out:

Of course, if you can drag yourself away from your fabulous stateroom or get off the AquaDuck, you’ll never go hungry on this amazing ship. Guests on Disney’s Magic and Wonder ships will recognize their favorite Animator’s Palate, where the room changes color throughout your meal. There’s also the Royal Palace, an elegant restaurant inspired by Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and The Beast, and Sleeping Beauty; and the Enchanted Garden, a more casual spot inspired by the gardens of Versailles, which changes from day to night as you dine. You can also go more upscale at the reservations-only Italian restaurant, Palo.

Post-dinner entertainment finds kids at the “Chill-Out Zones” filled with hi-tech entertainment such as postcard creators and video karaoke. Parents have their own after-dark, kids-free entertainment area, The District, with five distinct venues: The District Lounge, Metro Pub, Pink (an upscale cocktail lounge), Evolution (nightclub), and Skyline (a metropolitan “sky bar” with changing views of city skylines on LCD screens).

And, because this is Disney after all, nightly entertainment for the whole family includes first-run Disney movies at the Buena Vista Theater and major stage productions at the Walt Disney Theater.

Disney Dream will alternate three- and four-night sailings to Nassau for most of 2011. Book now on or or by calling 888-325-2500.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Post-Fancation Holiday: Thanksgiving in Boston Wouldn’t Be Thanksgiving without a Fireplace, a Turkey or a Room Overlooking the Public Garden

If you’re planning to visit your family or your college student for Thanksgiving, instead of hosting the meal at home this year, the luxurious Taj Boston doesn’t want you to miss out on that warm “turkey day” feeling. On November 26, The Café at the Taj is offering a special three-course dinner menu for $75 per person and a special room rate of $75 per person per night (based on double occupancy, and if you have dinner at the hotel). Call (617) 598-5255 to book your turkey (or beef or halibut) dinner. Book your Thanksgiving Dinner Weekend room at (877) 482-5267 -- ask for a room with a wood-burning fireplace (it comes with a menu of firewood to select from, and a Fireplace Butler to set it up). For more info click here .

Only four months until Fenway opens -- watch for more Boston and Fancation news.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Give Up -- Time to Think about Christmas in NYC.... Barney's Has Convinced Me, too

Earlier today, I chastised Lord & Taylor for speeding up Christmas in the city. Barney's is doing an even better job of it at this early junction as well.

So, I guess I can't fight it.

Here are my top recommendations for "can't-miss" NYC holiday activities from early December through January.

* Definitely head over to Rockefeller Center to watch the skating and festivities – it’s magical. Of course, you should go to Barney's to see the windows (for camp) and other department stores for more traditional displays.

* I always suggest going to a Broadway show, regardless of whether it’s Christmas or not. There are lots of good ones – look at and ask me any questions after you review the list. The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall are always great as well, and there's no other place that you can see them.

* If there’s snow, bundle up and take a carriage ride through Central Park. It will be beautiful.

* And, if you have time, there’s the great Brooklyn Christmas Lights Tour that goes to famous Dyker Heights (you have to see it to believe it) and includes a warm-up stop for Italian pastries and cappuccino – -- tell Tony I sent you. Click here to see video of this awesome tour.

Send me your own personal favorites -- I'll add them to the list.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Begining to Look a Lot Like Christmas.... NOT!

Apologies for the reflections coming off the glass here, but Lord & Taylor, do you have to start the Christmas season BEFORE Thanksgiving? It's still a balmy 50 degrees with a hurricane watch.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Maybe She's Related to Me? Gotta Go Ukraine!

I mentioned this video in my post below about Pilobolus. If you haven't seen this video from "Ukraine's Got Talent," stop what you're doing and take a deep breath. This is 8 minutes of pure ecstasy. Click here to watch something truly amazing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

People Get Ready -- Totonno's is Back!

I was one of the few fortunates who got to enjoy the simplest of pleasures: a perfect Totonno pizza in Coney Island last January, just 2 months before a disastrous fire closed the pizzeria for what could have been forever. The good news is that's back.... just about. The gorgeous pizza oven has been restored, although the historic photos are still in storage, but not for long. And the recipes are ready to launch into full gear. We wish Louise Ciminieri and the "longest running pizzeria in the NYC area" only the best. We can't wait to tuck into one of those sensational pies. Save us a booth, Louise.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Deal a Week: Experience a Parisian Holiday, Boston Style

As a native Bostonian and a French major in college, I am captivated by this package from the European-style Eliot Hotel.

The Eliot’s new "Touch of Paris" package invites you to experience the glamour and allure of Paris without leaving the US. For $395 based on double occupancy, you’ll stay one night in a deluxe suite, enjoy a fabulous French dinner at Chef Ken Oringer’s award-winning Clio restaurant, and enjoy a buffet breakfast at Clio's The Bake Shop. The hotel overlooks Commonwealth Avenue near Newbury Street, two boulevards reminiscent of Paris’s Champs Elysées and famed shopping areas.

Available through April 6, 2010. For more information, call, 617-536-7200, or visit

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Atlantic Avenue (Brooklyn) Tunnel Tours -- Sunday, November 22 and Saturday, November 23

Open House New York
and the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association will offer special guided tours of the world's oldest subway tunnel, built in 1844 and constructed in seven months using only hand tools and primitive equipment.

Bob Diamond, who rediscovered the tunnel in 1980 will lead two tours through the half-mile long underground space. Entry is through a manhole cover (!) at Atlantic Avenue and Court St. It's an experience you won't forget.

Tours conclude with a Happy Hour at the Brazen Head, with complimentary Checker Cab Blonde Ale from the Chelsea Brewing Company.

To buy tickets and for additional information, click here.

Happy Hour at the Fatty Crab -- Perfect before Beacon Theater or Symphony Space

Next time I go to a concert at the Beacon Theater (as I did last night to see larger-than-life Lyle Lovett and His Large Band), I know where I'll munch before. Fatty Crab Uptown has introduced a happy hour on weekdays from 4-7, with my favorite finger foods: spicy chicken wings, steamed buns, and Fatty Sliders, all $5 or less. Check out my review on Love this place -- ask for Adam; he's an amazingly knowledgeable server.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pilobolus Dances New York City -- A Must-Watch

Last week I was blown away by Kseniya Simonova and her exquisite Sand Art in "Ukraine's Got Talent." This week, it's Pilobolus's appearance on Conan that knocked me out. Take a look at this 3-minute video -- it's gorgeous and incredible.

2 Jazz Legends Return to Symphony Space Thursday and Friday

This is one concert you don't want to miss, and tickets are only $35. At Symphony Space, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Thursday and Friday nights' shows feature a retrospective of Arturo O'Farrill's Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra since its inception seven years ago, including the world premiere of a new piece commissioned by Symphony Space, The Bronx Museum, and RD Rice Construction that celebrates the life of Sonia Sotomayor. Also on the marquee is legendary pianist Randy Weston performing his African Sunrise Suite and the rarely heard Soul and Culture Suite by Bob Franceschini. Guest performers include students from the Afro Latin Jazz Academy. For ticket information, click here. To hear, a sample of the music, click here. Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway @ 95th St.

New York Skyride Teams up to Feed the Hungry for the Holiday Season

From November 1 - December 31, the motion simulator "experience" in the Empire State Building will be joining with Food Bank for New York City to collect canned goods for hungry New Yorkers. Buy a ticket for only $15 (a savings of $21) when you bring a can of food to donate, and the Empire State Building will also donate $1 to the cause. You must bring a copy of the downloadable certificate from the Web site as well.