Linsay Scott had certain expectations when she boarded the cruise ship in Puerto Rico in January of 2007. She, her sister and her dad were anticipating great weather, beautiful sights and loads of fun. But soon enough, Linsay got more than she bargained for or rather more than she ever dreamed of.
Gabriel Alvarado and a few of his friends, all natives of Puerto Rico, were also on the cruise for a little playcation. On day two at sea, Linsay recalls, "I me a handsome Puerto Rican guy (Gabriel) . . . We spent all 12 days of the cruise together and were so sad when it came to an end."
There was just one difficulty with this shipboard romance. He spoke no English. She had no ability with Spanish. So his brother served as translator. "It was pretty much 12 days of Pictionary and charades," she says.
There was just one difficulty with this shipboard romance. He spoke no English. She had no ability with Spanish.
At cruise end, each went home with a determination to stay in touch. They emailed, translated and emailed some more until eventually they were able to actually talk on the telephone — without a translator. Gabriel was a college freshman and had decided to study English. He visited Houston. She visited him in Puerto Rico. And back and forth for seven months. Finally, in July Gabriel moved to Houston.
Fast forward to February of 2009. They returned to Puerto Rico to visit Gabriel's family. "We were walking around Old San Juan (along Paseo del la Princesa) with his family and his cousin, a photographer, who asked to take our picture in front of the famous Raices Fountain. In all of my previous visits to Puerto Rico, we would come to this fountain because it was close to where all the cruise ships docked.
"After the first picture, Gabriel dropped down to one knee, actually, he was on both knees" to propose. She said "yes" and they were wed in April of 2010.
Today, Linsay, 29, works as a fit specialist at Francesca's Collections and studies Spanish. Gabriel works in security.
If Houstonians lived through a recession, it's tough to tell. A new club at West Houston's chichi CityCentre oozes excess out of each tufted leather pore: The Marque, the private club of Houston Motor Club members, spared no expense, from its 3D facial recognition system to its hand-painted wallpaper.
Luckily, there's an area for the
plebeians public to mix with the members-only crowd and get a load of the place. The Empire Lounge, located on the second floor, boasts a pulsating, colored bubble wall behind the bar, which is surrounded by bottle-service booths ensconced in hand-painted wallpaper in a luxury car-inspired palette of "Ferrari reds" and "Lamborghini golds and blacks," says Mark Solomon, Houston Motor Club sales director.
The pearlescent paint in the women's restroom is straight from the Lamborghini Gallardo.
Along with the hand-painted booths — situated on risers of varying heights all the better for people watching, dears — all of the gold leaf accents were hand-applied, as were beaded wall treatments that look like wallpaper from a distance.
The detail — and the homage it pays to the cars — is what's truly notable. Leather-tufted ceilings are designed to recall old-school upholstery. The pearlescent paint in the women's restroom is straight from the Lamborghini Gallardo.
Although public access can get you in the royal restrooms, membership certainly has its perks. To name a few, there is the Tequila Library, which features a community storage area where members can "check out" rare and pricey bottles; the Grand Havana cigar lounge, which has its own scotch whiskey bar, a walk-in humidor, an in-house cigar sommelier and is triple-ventilated so you can smoke inside; plus little conveniences like a private elevator and individual iPod docs in each room so members can select their own tunes.
But The Marque strives to be more than a palatial party scene. Members can reserve the back member's area — which opens at 7:30 a.m. — for breakfast business meetings to be catered by a small kitchen downstairs. A private billiards room and the wine room, which features glass-encased lockers and old-school gas lanterns for a traditional cave-like feel, can also be reserved for meetings or private dinners.
The Marque is located at CityCentre at 798 Sorella Court, upstairs next to Urban Outfitters.
We’ve all heard how damning and abysmal the statistics of long distance relationships all turn out. For the most part, the flux that comes with being in a long distance relationship (or an LDR if you will) soon turns into a chaotic and routinely expensive lifestyle.
For two folks who both work from home, the take-turn-visits quickly start to cramp your style – both in a professional and personal manner. Having been a serial LDR-dater for some time, I thought I’d try something new this go-round. Instead of having to play tour guide in Houston with a visit from him or me heading into the bright lights of Las Vegas to see him, we decided to venture into neutral territory in hopes of keeping the romance alive – Beverly Hills!
Instead of having to play tour guide in Houston with a visit from him or me heading into the bright lights of Las Vegas to see him, we decided to venture into neutral territory in hopes of keeping the romance alive – Beverly Hills!
For our first two nights, we stayed at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. My first thought for two people in the sports world who are practically sponsored by Under Armor and Nike was that we may stick out like sore thumbs in the common areas, but like so many other things in life, assuming is never a good thing.
The entire staff (we’re talking front desk, valet, waiters, maids, you name it) was not only friendly, but more importantly, welcoming during our stay. If you’ve ever ventured into one of the more luxurious brands of hotels, you know that a welcoming attitude goes far beyond friendly smiles and opening of doors.
We were put up in a corner room on the sixth floor complete with a step-out balcony overlooking the Beverly Center, the infamous Hollywood sign, and the overflowing landscape of Los Angeles. Luckily the hotel was big enough (certainly an understatement) to host our individual morning routines.
Each morning he’d get up and head into the library just beyond the lobby and I’d head off to a five-mile running trail down Santa Monica (thanks to the suggestion of the fit-and-friendly morning concierge who always greeted my return with an ice cold Fuji water). Then we’d meet up for a delicious and hearty breakfast at an outside table at the hotel restaurant, Culina. Our breakfasts were filled with fruity smoothies, runny eggs and delightful pomegranate syrup for my almond wheat pancakes.
Chauffered in a Rolls Royce
On our first day we were chauffeured by the hotel’s courtesy car, which just so happened to be all things Beverly Hills — a Rolls Royce. It took us a few miles to The Grove for some shopping and prosecco perfect for toasting the start of our trip at Whisper Cafe.
After a nice stroll back to the hotel in 70-degree sunny weather, we stopped off at Windows Lounge where the bar boasted some of the finest vintage wines, thanks to hand-selected bottles by wine director and sommelier Brick Loomis.
The celebrity sightings in the bar alone were enough to warrant jealousy from all my friends, but the private and quaint ambience of the property was a telltale sign why celebs chose to frequent this particular establishment opposed to the paparazzi-laden feel so many nearby hotels haphazardly welcomed. Fairly new, Windows Lounge opened in August with its internationally inspired strEAT menu and eclectic wine tastings from Argentina, Spain, Mexico, England, France and Singapore.
Amazing wine selections aside, the cocktail menu reflected drinks made with fresh produce from the property’s on-site herb garden, supporting a local and healthy flair all in one bubbly glass.
Finally some time to relax and catch up with each another, we lounged around our comfortable room and played around on the iPad2 (which comes standard in all 285 guestrooms and suites) before heading to the Staples Center to see the Lakers take on Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns. Thankfully the concierge gave us some back road tips so we could avoid the nightmarish traffic that undoubtedly comes with thr territory in LA.
Bikes on the boardwalk at Santa Monica Beach
The next day we took the hotel up on some of their wonderful couple’esque suggestions and rode bikes on the boardwalk at Santa Monica Beach and hung out on the pier housing the brightly colored ferris wheel. We headed back to the hotel for lunch and relaxation at the beautiful poolside restaurant enjoying yet another 70-degree day of sunshine (thankfully the smog had lifted).
For the second night in a row, we headed to the Staples Center, but this time to see my Miami Heat take on Chris Paul and the Clippers. It was a painstaking loss in overtime for Shane Battier and the rest of the Miami crew.
After two glorious nights at the Four Seasons we opted to change scenery and head over to the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel, which was, you guessed it, right smack dab in the middle of the illustriously expensive Rodeo Drive.
Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel boasts the distinct advantage of being the only hotel on the street with one of the highest real estate price tags in the country.
If you’re shocked to hear there’s a hotel on the world-famous street, it’s for good reason. Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel boasts the distinct advantage of being the only hotel on the street with one of the highest real estate price tags in the country.
Although the traffic to get to Luxe was a bit intense (although only two miles from the Four Seasons), once we arrived and met up with valet, we didn’t need the car the rest of the trip. Everything we needed (and much we didn’t) was within walking distance.
Because of the limited real estate, the hotel had a very European feel. It was small, yet intimate with a luxurious minimalist feel to it (86 guestrooms and suites on four floors). We grabbed appetizers and wine (surprise, surprise) at the famed Café Rodeo with comfortable Victorian-style armchairs where we basked in the sunlight on Rodeo Drive sitting among the shoppers and passerbys. The experience brought real meaning to the phrase “Walk of Style."
Comfort food with a Mexican flair
For dinner we walked two blocks and hit up Taberna Mexicana, which serves refreshingly authentic comfort food with a Mexican flair. The place started off on a great foot – ESPN was on the TV at the bar, which felt refreshingly odd just two blocks off the fancy pants of Rodeo Drive with the coveted 90210 zip code.
Our server, Tinh, was by far one of the most attentive and suggestive servers we’ve ever witnessed and started us off with basil-infused skinny Margaritas. He was right on the money by proposing the crispy duck tacos and fresh guacamole (made with pumpkin seeds, pico de gallo and queso fresco). We also shoveled down a course of the mushroom quesadillas (made with Oaxaca cheese, roasted poblano peppers, crimini mushrooms, fresh corn tortillas and tomatillo salsa) which were the most decadent ‘dillas I’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring.
Texas excitement: The owners of Taberna are the same owners as the Original Ninfa’s in Houston.
We kept going with a 14-oz. grass-fed Texas prime rib eye with a molé rub, and finished off the meal with another recommendation by Tinh, the pastel tres leches with a torched marshmallow topping. Texas excitement: The owners of Taberna are the same owners as the Original Ninfa’s in Houston. After such a wildly tasty dinner, we staggered back to our room for a nightcap.
Just before heading back to LAX, we waded through a few blocks of shops and grabbed lunch on the outdoor patio of Xi’an for flavorful Chinese cuisine. Tao, the legendary manager for 16 years (he said he used to have black hair when he first came to work here pointing to his now fully gray mane), greeted us and asked, “Healthy or tasty?” As we both practically yelled “tasty” in unison, Tao laughed.
“Even our tasty is healthy; it’s light and doesn’t have a lot of oil. Being in Beverly Hills we have to be healthy,” he stressed.
Eating Chinese usually gives me a bit of anxiety because I’m a wuss when it comes to hot and spicy, but luckily almost everything at Xi’an came with additional spices to add more kick for the boy. If you ever visit Xi’an there are two must-haves: The fried spinach with sugar and salt and the crispy onion pancake served with multiple dipping sauces.
More Texas excitement: the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel was just two blocks from Kendra Scott’s boutique jewelry shop, which the Texas entrepreneur started in Austin. I spent almost an entire hour playing at the Color Bar while the boy took a business call. Imagine that – a man working while on vacation.
Another outstanding resource for planning our trip was the Beverly Hills Conference and Vistors Bureau, which highlighted some of the great restaurant and bar choices for our stay keeping us happy and within our budget.
Although the trip, the accommodations and company were truly amazing, sadly, I can’t tell you when or if there will be another romantic frolic in our future. Stay tuned.
Resources for your own Beverly Hills romantic getaway:
Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills | 300 South Dohney Drive, Los Angeles, California 90048 | 310.273.2222
Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel | 360 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310.273.0300
Taberna Mexicana | 369 North Bedford Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310.858.7070
Xi’an | 362 North Cannon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310.275.3345
Celebs In Love
Let the rumors subside about one of the most talked about on-again-and-off-again couples in Hollywood: Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.
No, Timberlake and Biel haven't broken up yet again. They have validated their love.
No one seems to have gotten a single picture of the ring.
Following Maya Rudolph's triumphant return to Saturday Night Live this past weekend, the entire crew hung out at an after-party at New York's Asellina restaurant at Gansevoort Park Hotel. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood and new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl Kate Upton all made the guest list.
Though Rudolph's SNL comeback episode was a huge success, all eyes were on newly engaged Timberlake and Biel at the heavy star power after-party. After months of speculation, Biel reportedly finally flaunted her bejeweled left hand throughout the night. Sources say that the couple laid low and exchanged a few kisses.
Only, no one seems to have gotten a single picture of the ring.
After a sudden breakup last year, Timberlake and Biel decided to take their relationship to the next level. Timberlake proposed two months ago, but because the couple is rarely seen in public together, doubts start creeping in about those reports.
Now we just want a peek of what the ring actually looks like — especially since Kristen Wiig and Amy Poehler strongly approve of it.
Falling in love with the pilates instructor: A stretch in London turns intomarriage and an H-Town studio
Kristen Eloe grew up in Austin and graduated from Texas Christian University before landing a job in advertising in London. It was, she says, "a work hard/play hard type of job that brought with it an equal share of rewards and stress."
In search of stress release and in response to a claim in Vogue magazine that a new style of pilates could change your body in 10 sessions, Kristen and a girlfriend found a studio and signed up. And it was there, of all places, that love bloomed. There she met master trainer and studio manager Neil Dimmock.
A year after that initial pilates class with Neil as her instructor, they became engaged.
"I was immediately impressed by his confidence, passion and, of course, good looks," she recalls. "I got in touch with him over Facebook, and soon we were inseparable. We both just knew immediately. We brought out the best in each other and were simply happier together than apart."
A year after that initial pilates class with Neil as her instructor, they became engaged. Last April, they were married in London in the same registry office where Paul McCartney recently wed.
"After the ceremony, we walked to Regent's Park and had champagne and photos taken with the spring-time flowers blooming."
Ready to give up the high-stress advertising world, Kristen and Neil decided to start a completely new life together. So after "a lot of difficult goodbyes," they left London and moved to Houston where Kristen had friends. Their daughter, Ellie Rose, was born last June.
This March, they open their own dynamic reformer pilates studio, Green Park Pilates, "named after the area in London where we first met and where our lives really began." They count themselves among the very lucky to have a situation in which they both live and work together.
CultureMap Emails are Awesome
Landmark Rice Village art gallery hosts first-ever sale event ahead of transformation into multipurpose space
thanks for the memories
For some 40 years, much-heralded Houston art maven Ron Gremillion has been a fixture of the local scene as a buyer, gallerist, and collector. Indeed, his Gremillion and Co. Fine Art complex has become a Rice University landmark.
Seemingly, the Gremillion and Co. Fine Art compound at 2501 Sunset Blvd. would endure in its current iteration for another decade. But like much of Houston these days, an enduring local space is being reimagined.
A group of Houston investors have purchased Gremillion’s property, which was designed by acclaimed architect Jim Lass and are refreshing the gallery and annex — both totaling more than 21,000 square feet. The group has also purchased an adjacent home at 2508 Nottingham St. that dates back to around 1940, which has been gutted to make way for a catering kitchen and new guest apartments upstairs for visiting artists, chefs, and other creatives tied to support inhouse programming and private events.
The result is a new multipurpose space replete with a shaded garden and tree-shaded terrace, which will be renamed Horizon on Sunset. Plans call for debuts by February 2023.
Fans can catch a sneak peek of the new Horizon Sunset during a special Gremillion and Co. Fine Art even and sale — a first in the company’s four-decade history — beginning Saturday, December 3. The specialty sale will last one month, with some 500 of Gremillion’s mostly modern assembled works on sale from $200 t0 $200,000.
Gremillion will personally oversee the sale and consult with potential buyers, along with guest curator Elise Arnoult Miller of Houston-based Arnoult Fine Art Consulting. “Gremillion is a gallery that has supported artists and put them first, and to some degree, that’s how this vast collection was amassed – pieces never stopped coming,” Gremillion noted in a statement. “This last hurrah is an opportunity to pair beautiful works of art with buyers that will be moved by them, compensate their talented creators and make way for the next chapter in a space that has made so many memories.”
Consider this a chance to score some valuable art at bargain prices, and pay tribute to a Houston institution.
-----Gremillion and Co. Fine Art (2501 Sunset Blvd.) will host its first and only sale beginning Saturday, December 3. For hours and more information, visit www.gremillion.com.
A Houston psychiatrist will revive a beloved piano bar that closed during the middle of the pandemic. Caps Supper Club & Bar will open early next year in the former Caps Piano Bar space in Briargrove (2610 Briar Ridge Dr.).
Dr. Venkata Diddi tells CultureMap that he became interested in the restaurant business at the encouragement of his wife, who had worked in the industry before the couple had children and wanted to resume working now that they’re older. He found Caps at the suggestion of a friend who had been a regular at the intimate space, which had a following for its live music, strong drinks, and complimentary popcorn until it closed in 2021. Instead of simply reopening the bar, Diddi decided to add a restaurant aspect and turn the concept into a supper club.
Dr. Venkata Diddi will open Caps Supper Club next year.Photo by Fulton Davenport
Diddi literally plans to get the band back together. The same performers who graced the Caps stage for 17 years will return when the restaurant reopens. During happy hour and the early evening, a piano player will provide a more subdued form of entertainment.
Previously, Caps regulars would order food from nearby steakhouses, but Diddi has brought the food program in house. The proprietor turned to consulting chef Omar Pereney to create a menu of steakhouse fare and other comforting dishes.
A meal at Caps could start with raw dishes like oysters or steak tartare before moving on to shareables such as deviled eggs, fried calamari, or a charcuterie board. Entree choices include seafood, two pastas, a burger, and three steaks — all of which can be paired with sides such as creamed spinach mac and cheese, parmesan truffle fries, or crispy Brussels sprouts.
End the meal with one of three desserts. Beverage options include a range of cocktails as well as wines by-the-glass or bottle.
“People shouldn’t have to think hard when ordering from the menu. The dishes we will serve will only hold three or four components, but they make each other stronger,” Pereney said in a statement. “Our menu will be constantly evolving, and though there isn’t one flavor or ingredient that inspires it, seafood will be a main theme carried throughout.”
Scheduled to open in January, Caps will be open Monday - Saturday beginning at 4 pm with live music nightly. The space will seat just under 100 people and will include a private dining room.
Wrap It Up
Make this holiday season a little more merry and bright when you shop for everyone on your list at Rice Village. The walkable shopping destination has everything from sparkly jewelry to yummy desserts to indulgent beauty treatments — take a look at some gift inspo below.
Give the gift sure to please everyone: Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. Or if a frozen gift isn’t your thing, pick up a gift card for ice cream and get a scoop (or two or three) for yourself while you're there. Made from simple and choice ingredients, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream has 20-plus classic and vegan ice cream flavors to choose from.
Treat yourself and others with Sprinkles cupcakes this holiday season, with flavors like Christmas cookie, gingerbread, chocolate peppermint, and much more.
Show your host or colleague how much you care with a holiday treat from Badolina Bakery & Cafe. Their picturesque cakes — which are available in sizes of six, eight, or nine inches — are offered in a variety of shapes and flavors including raspberry rose, chocolate mousse, and cheesecake. While some are available daily on a first-come, first-served basis, it's recommended you place an order at least 24 hours in advance.
Break bread with friends by gifting one of Badolina's signature loaves. For something all wrapped up, a cylinder of triple-chocolate chip cookies or a box of florentines is the perfect present.
Your search for the perfect present stops here. With crowd-favorite styles in signature soft fabrics, Tasc Performance has something for everyone on your list — all you need is the wrapping paper.
Make your holiday haul walk taller this year with a gift from Tecovas. Their handmade Western boots, bags, and apparel have a quality, fit, and feel you’ll notice from the first time you hold them and try them on.
Hospitality is a big part of the Tecovas experience, and walking into a Tecovas store is a sensory one. The smell of fine leather and the feel of quality Western goods will make you want to explore their selection of boots in calfskin and exotic styles, and maybe even grab a complimentary beverage and kick your feet up.
Vuori draws inspiration from the active California lifestyle: an integration of fitness, yoga, surf, and life. Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Lean into comfort with Vuori’s best-selling DreamKnit fabric — find it for him in the Ponto Collection or for her in the Halo Collection.
However you celebrate, Warby Parker has merriment-inspiring frames, gift cards, and accessories to make your season a success. All winter long, every pair of glasses or sunglasses comes in eye-popping, ready-to-unwrap packaging designed by artist Amrita Moreno. Purchase any two or more prescription pairs, and receive 15 percent off — like magic. (Restrictions apply.)
Good to give but better to get, Krewe is an independent eyewear company that draws creative inspiration from the vibrant culture and spirit of New Orleans and infuses it into every pair of its exceptional, hand-crafted frames.
Nanos, the Spanish fashion house dedicated to children since 1963, offers baby boy, baby girl, little boy, and little girl clothing made in Spain, where every thread is treated with love. This holiday, give the littles in your life the gift of high-quality clothing.
Merry makeup and skincare
The Haus Holiday Haul from Face Haus includes a Haus Facial ($110 value), The Rescue Worker Super Nutrient Face Oil ($39 value), The Schmoozer Hydrating Lip Care ($10 value), and a video tutorial from on of their superstar Esthies, who will help you choose a facial and share tips and tricks on how to use the products at home. Get all this for only $145.
Find fragrance gifts for $75 and under at Sephora's, and scoop up sets for everyone on your list (including you!).
Give the gift of a holiday glow-up with a SkinSpirit gift certificate that's valid on any treatment from SkinSpirit's extensive menu of medical-grade facials and aesthetic medical services.
Bluemercury is making gifting this holiday season easier than ever. Visit the link to explore their gift guide and plan your trip to your neighborhood location in Rice Village. Visit the Beauty Experts in-store for advice on all the latest limited edition gift sets. Plus, they'll even wrap your gifts for you, too.
Featuring beloved precious and semi-precious stones, like their signature turquoise sourced from Arizona and set in 14K gold, local jewelry brand Christina Greene is a go-to for gifting.
Some seasonal favorites include the Simplicity or Southwestern collections for her, cufflinks sets for him, gold beaded bracelets for the trendsetter in your life, or the Letter Necklace collection for those celebrating major milestones in their lives (like "mama," "Mrs.," and "love").
Looking for gifts that are uniquely Texas? Christina Greene also features a wide range of hat bands and badge holders that are perfect for rodeo season. True to its local roots, you can also find a unique turquoise belt buckle, statement-making squash blossom necklaces, and the popular Texas Strong necklace.
Home for the holidays
Shop for the master chef, self-care guru, WFH wiz, budding sommelier, and beyond at CB2. For the entertainer(s) in your life, think modern cheese knives and serving trays, soft throws, candles, beverage dispensers, ice buckets, and gold or marble cake stands.
For the game lover in your life, board games like chess and Scrabble never go out of fashion. Try versions made with marble or wood breathe new life into the classics.
Stop by and get some supremely soft statement gifts with an undeniable wow factor at Parachute Home. Truly thoughtful essentials to elevate the every day, these crowd-pleasers are perfect for cozy season. Choose from soft sheets, cozy quilts, joyful jammies, and more essentials to promote great sleep.
Forget the elf, we'd rather have those adorable holiday wine glasses from Cru Home on the shelf. These stemless wine glasses feature a festive and fun Christmas drinking phrase, and make the perfect gifts and stocking stuffers. Stop in to the convenient Rice Village location to stock up on these and other great last-minute gems for your friends and loved ones
Visit these retailers and more at Rice Village, located at Kirby and University.