Thursday, March 19, 2009

Christine visits the new Fountainebleau

Several weeks ago, Ceci and I set out for an evening in MIMO land. What is MIMO? It stands for Miami Modern. When the Art Deco district started to lack luster in the 1940's and 1950's, the spotlight turned to the new hotels constructed further north around 40th street. The most famous landmarks were the Fountainebleau and Eden Roc Hotels.

So Ceci and I decided to visit the newly remodeled Fountainebleau Hotel which was unveiled last fall with a Victoria's Secret runway show.

As an official tour guide of Miami Beach with a beach strip breadth of knowledge surrounding the architecture and history of hotels dotting "America's Riviera", I had mixed emotions about visiting the Fountainebleau. Did the new owners preserve the 1950s features and spirit?

For the complete review of the hotel renovations, click here to visit my FABULOUS FLORIDA blog.

So first I beelined for the staircase. The famous "Staircase to Nowhere". As you will picture below the Staircase is still intact and still leads to nowhere as evidence by the lit-up red Exit sign at the top of the staircase. But symbolically, the staircase led to recognition. How? Well you'll just have to take my tour to find out!

The lobby is well preserved with a few updates. First, and interestingly, Miami Vice pink and blue lights emanate from the lobby's iconic bar--the Bleau Bar. I wonder what inspired the designer to use blue lights to illuminate the floor and pink for the concentric circles in the ceiling followed by a Jetson-futuristic white light orb? Eye catching indeed but a disconnect from the golden era of the 1950's.

Then we headed for the restaurants for a light meal. Scarpetta was the choice for the evening. For my review of this Italian restaurant, visit Fabulous Florida.

The Bleau Bar long regarded as the meeting place for the celebrities

The bar is full of guests and locals, relaxing from a tiring day at the sun-drenched pool, or clubgoers anxiously waiting for the club to open its doors. LIV (pronounced "live") is a voyeuristic-design, multi-floor, high energy dance club with three, full-service bars, and music selections ranging from house, rock and hip hop. Private skyboxes with European bottle service is available for those seeking VIP treatment.

Originally we learned the entrance admission was a non-recessionary rate of $50.00. That night the rate we heard from bar guests was a palatable $20. We were invited a few times by men supposedly warned that without any females in their all male entourage, would keep them on the other side of the velvet cordon guarded by the "you-have-to-pass my eye-candy filter or slip-me-a-fifty" bouncer. This is typical of popular clubs in South Beach that are the size of sardine cans. However, I found it hard to believe it for this spacious club.

Actually, this evening was meant to catch up with my friend and the fact that my feet survived the past four hours in heels was a podiatric miracle. The thought of dancing sent needles spiking through my meta tarsels. We politely declined.

The hotel was brimming with convention attendees, locals, and other hotel guests and the energy was contagious. No matter what darkness loomed outside the hotel walls from a plaguing recession, within the confines of the hotel, everyone felt luxurious or like a celebrity. Everyone was somebody. I recommend a visit to the Fountainebleau Hotel and at the very least, a drink at the iconic Bleau bar.

Cecilia, Scooter, and Christine

If you have visited the Fountainebleau before or after the renovation and expansion, LEAVE A COMMENT by clicking "Comment" below.
What was your impression?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Best Job in the World

As some of you know, I went for it! I applied for the BEST JOB IN THE WORLD. In case you have been living in a cocoon and news did not reach you via the Internet or television, this job was announced in January--two months ago to the entire world!!! It gained such momentum that the server crashed within a couple of days!

What's the job? The title is Island Caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. What does the job entail? Hiking, scuba diving, exploring the island, experiencing the resorts with beauty pampering, feeding the fish, and sorting the island mail. Next, the caretaker must write a weekly blog about the adventure and conduct occasional television interviews. Lastly, the job is for six months from this July to January of 2010. The salary? $100,000 US DOLLARS and housing is FREE. The state of Queensland provides the caretaker with a three-bedroom island home.

Interested applicants were asked to send a video explaining why they would be the perfect candidate. Of course I applied! THIS JOB FITS ME TO A "T"!!! It was made for me!!! I may not sing like Beyonce to compete in American Idol, hence windows would crack. I am definitely not a supermodel, just your average girl but would consider myself in fine fettle. But I do have marketing prowess, acumen and experience. Plus I am not shy to speak on live television (having served as spokesperson for local company on TV and radio). And, I enunciate well the English language and can write coherently in English. Did I mention I author not one, not two but SIX BLOGS?! Of course you know that as prompted by my Blog Sister emails last year. Lastly, if I can generate excitement about WELDING (without the venerable Flashdance), I can PROMOTE ANYTHING!!! (Yes yours truly was marketing manager for American Welding Society).

The Great Barrier Reef is not just for experienced thrill seekers. My goal was to attract individuals, couples, and families who would not normally consider the island reef as a vacation destination. No, my goal was to dispel the myth, the fear, that dipping your big toe in the waters would attract the circling sharks. The ultimate goal was to tap into the visitor's "inner adventurer" to create a memorable trip of a lifetime. Did I mention I have a Master's Degree in Marketing?

Photo: Christine in her ART DECO Guide "costume"--white floppy hat, Deco sunglasses, blue geometric circle earrings and tri-pastel colored bracelet.

Sadly, my dream of bush walking among snakes, snorkeling with stingrays, scuba diving with sharks and cleaning the pool were not meant to fulfill my yearning for a sabbatical. I submitted my video only to be rejected. WHY? The Queensland Tourism sent me an email indicating my video exceeded the time limit by ONE SECOND. (How could this be--my counter said 59 seconds?). Then they offered me a chance to cut it down and resend. Strangely, that communication reached me the day AFTER the deadline. The website no longer allowed anyone to upload the video. Naturally I was heartbroken. Soon I came to the realization the Best Job in the World was not within my grasp and I continued with my humble existence.

Photo: Christine interacts with sealife--in this case, Wally the Walrus.

The original idea called for an inflatable shark with caption "Feed the Fish? No problem!"

HOWEVER, the truth now only becomes more painful. In reviewing the shortlist of candidates' video that was announced this week, I see SEVERAL VIDEOS that are OVER THE TIME LIMIT OF 60 seconds, even by one second! [Click here to view Anny from Canada, and Kat from Greece and their 1:01 video ]

In visiting Australia, I instantly felt an affinity toward this faraway continent in my visits to Sydney and the Gold Coast. I even applied for residency in 1999 and received it. But now, sadly, this experience leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I will still vote for a candidate and help one person reach their dreams because I know that success now hinges on Internet votes. This is not the first contest where I have tried to win a grand prize. The last one was for a kitchen makeover worth $10,000. I was the runner-up. It took Internet voting from friends, family and strangers to win. While I didn't win, I had so much fun competing.

This time, I am truly disappointed but this is shortlived. The eternal optimist, I believe there's a silver lining in every hardship and disappointment. If my candidacy was not meant to be considered at all, then this only means something greater awaits me! Perhaps Queensland Tourism will invite me as a special guest to visit the caretaker and to bring a new perspective. Two heads are better than one, right? Why would Queensland Tourism extend such a gracious invitation? Well, before this "error" or "unfair practice" reaches the media worldwide and turns into negative press and hence, less tourism for the Great Barrier Reef, such a move would be smart damage control! Or maybe I will win the Lottery, no, the POWERBALL and I can buy my own island. Truthfully, the Galapagos Islands rank number one on my LIST of ISLANDS to VISIT. Perhaps my mother's native country of Ecuador will invite me as their Island Explorer and Blogger--now there's a thought!! Hmm, I think I'm onto something here. The inhabitants of the Galapagos (giant turtles) are less intimidating than sharks and stingrays.

No more dwelling on what could have been in Australia. I'm focusing my dreams and energies toward new and loftier goals! I will create my own BEST JOB IN THE WORLD!

Below is my video application. Many thanks to the following coworkers and friends who helped me put together this video. Now you don't have to worry about feeding another mouth--my promised first born child had I won.

Victor Amador & Hugo Castillo--for our brainstorming lunch sessions. I think we needed more Doritos.

Adrienne D'Annunzio for her patience with all my props and wardrobe changes and filming me. Hey the beach water was freezing cold!!! Now I know what Sports Illustrated models have to endure in their photo shoots. It's no walk in the park.

Marcos Moure for his editing and production skills!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Review of One Thousand White Women

Here is my book review of one of the books the Sexy Potatoe Peel Society has read: One Thousand White Women.

Christine's rating: 5 stars
SPPC rating: 4 stars
Babe Book

This "woman western" novel, full of Indian and Army characters from the wild west was a literary adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed it despite my frustration that the storyline was pure fiction but the details surrounding the description of the prairie landscape, the customs and lifestyle of the Indians, and the U.S. government's treatment of the Indians classified this book as historical fiction. The latter is all true as the author expended years of research.

Upon reading the first few chapters, the main character, May Dodd, is quite the feminist for her time period in the early 1900's. It had escaped my attention, on the front cover of the book, that the author was a man. I don't believe if we ever read a book where the main character is a woman, authored by a man. In reading other reviews, only a handful of readers (all women) considered his portrayal of the female protagonist out of touch with the world of the early 1900's. I would tend to disagree. Again, upon reading the book, I had no idea the author was a man.

May Dodd, is the glue and symbol of strength for this women's group, a cross-sectional swatch of society. This motley crew of women have volunteered to serve their country by marrying the "savages" as the Indians are often called, in order to teach them the white man's culture and thus incorporate them into the "civilized world".

We learn true accounts of the different Indian tribes including their holistic lifestyle, efficient ways, and reverence for the earth. At the same time the savage within reveals their dark side. It seems neither the white man's world or the "Injun" world is perfect. Both have their wondrous ways and bucolic vices.

You will learn a lot from this book and enjoy a true adventure. There is no doubt, that brave women like May Dodd did exist and continue their outspoken habits to ensure equal rights among men!