Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Leslie Hotel Reopens on Ocean Drive

Had to wear a "geometric pattern" dress

One of my passions is Art Deco--architecture, fashion, jewelry, posters...

Recently the Leslie Hotel in South Beach, reopened after four years of solitude--empty, deteriorating, fading...It was the last empty hotel on Ocean Drive to undergo renovation.

I walked by this hotel for 17 years and witnessed its bustling days in the 90's, decline in the last decade and now the reintroduction.  The owners added a rooftop pool which itself was amazing to watch cranes load in the frame and the pool.

To learn more about the hurdles, the challenges, the transformation, click here to visit my Art Deco Tours page.  Take our Miami Walking Tour of Art Deco district to discover other Deco gems.

Julien Bergier (architect)  & Christine Michaels 

"Leslie" was the secondary name.
The original signage and name was the "Ed Singer" Hotel
Leslie signage at night
New rooftop pool at the Leslie Hotel (April 2014)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Pimp, the Prostitutes and the Peacock

My blog is about "the joy of life"--my passions, adventures, learning experiences.  Here is a rare humorous posting of a true incident. I'm not the comedic writer but this true story is one that causes me to laugh out loud every time I retell it--you had to be there.

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It was a Saturday night in Miami, the outer skirts of an edgy neighborhood Wynwood.  I stress "outer skirts" and "edgy" which means DON'T STOP,  DON'T SIGHTSEE, DON'T Pass Go, Go directly to Jail which is a safer place...A white sedan turns onto a street; stops, engine turned off and out tumble three women with porcelain skin; one wearing fitting jeans, loose gray shirt; the second woman with Irish red hair and wearing a coral sundress; and the third woman in short bangs and wavy brown hair sporting ala Betty Page with strapless sundress and heels.The driver in bright orange shirt and bling across the chest gives the girls clear instructions; The driver watches the girls through rearview mirror.  The sun is setting. In another neighborhood it's a romantic setting. In outer Wynwood, it could signal danger, a death warrant. The streets are quiet. The women stand on a street corner. Like pros, they begin waving their arms. Passerbys, men, are smiling.A handsome male in vivid blue vest and thrust chest, raises his voice.  Is he enthralled by the women or bothered? Is he calling them or complaining?

A police officer pulls up and asks the woman in strapless dress "Are you working?"  They continue conversing. Then the officer races around the corner in his police car, passes the white sedan, makes a sharp U-turn and pulls up alongside the driver.  He asks the driver "Are you a local? Are you with these women?"

Olivia getting out of white sedan. Standing on street corner

The women:   No they are not prostitutes. What were they doing? Preventing a peacock in the middle of the road (the male creature with blue "vest" and thrust chest) from getting struck by a car!  The women are employees of the ASPCA and were in town for a conference. As animal lovers, they knew the chances of this stunning peacock getting hit.  Yes a peacock in the middle of a bad neighborhood. Only in Miami!

The hookers--can't you tell?
(Photo taken before the incident--they only had one drink!)
The driver: It was me! Wearing my Bebe shirt, the brand name encrusted in diamonds.  The police officer was clearly concerned and advised that we leave immediately. He warned "There was a murder here last week. You don't want to be walking the streets here". I explained to the officer that I live here and the girls are visiting from New York City. To defend their actions I explained they are with ASPCA--they save animals! He didn't seem impressed but still concerned.  "You should go now."

Dear, sweet, innocent Olivia wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry--she did both.  "Do I look like a hooker?" I explained any attractive woman walking the streets in a dress this part of town is going to stand out--no matter her profession. Although how many hookers wear a lanyard?!

Christine (the pimp), Olivia and Carly (the prostitutes) at Cafeina Wynwood
If orange is the new black maybe I could wear my own uniform?
As the scenario sunk in, we burst into laughter which turned into tears. Who would ever have thought that nicely dressed women would be mistaken for a pimp and prostitutes. We weren't even wearing thigh high boots or spiked heels or mini skirt or showing cleavage.

The peacock was safe and strutted back home to his female mate. The pair are shacking up three doors down from that infamous street corner.  The question is, what was the peacock doing crossing the road? And is the peacock trained for some nefarious activity? I did see him illegally parked in a handicap spot earlier...  You never know in Miami.

Be sure to share your comments below. Click "comments".

Monday, May 12, 2014

Viva Outside Las Vegas

Westin Lake Vegas
This past weekend I attended the annual #BlogPaws conference, a social media conference for pet bloggers.  It was not on the strip of Las Vegas but thirty minutes outside of Vegas at Lake Vegas, in Henderson, Nevada. My nonprofit site will cover the purpose of the conference and all the cute pets. Here I want to focus on the venue and my side trip to the strip since I have not been here since 2007.

Surprisingly it was an enclave of rich upscale homes on a lake near Hoover Dam.  The host hotel was the Westin Lake Vegas Resort  & Spa and it was unexpectedly the nicest Westin yet! With the dry heat, the dearth brown terrain, peppered palm trees and glistening oasis of a lake, and the Moroccan theme tile and decor in the hotel I felt transported to northern Africa or the Middle East, neither of which I have visited.

Lobby with view of lake (Westin, Lake Vegas)

The serenity of the location is a great solution to enjoy the weather, escape the tourist trap of Vegas but still only a 30 minute ride to the strip for action.  The hotel has two pools, one adult pool and a family pool on  lower level.

I was nominated for 2 awards--Best Cause and Best Video

 The Westin hotel offers paddle boarding and boating.  Great form of exercise!

On Friday night I escaped to the strip for dinner, a show, gambling and dancing.  Sure enough I accomplished all four without getting lost, making new acquaintances, sipping plenty of complimentary champagne and dancing the night away.

The Westin offers a shuttle to their property on the strip. From there I walked three U.S. blocks (not European) which is  bit of a hike but I wore my smart heels (not platforms) to the Bellagio hotel to see Cirque du Soleil "O".
Balcony Bellagion Hotel, Las Vegas

So many convention hotels that take up not one but two or three entire blocks! I felt like Alice in Wonderland.

Bellagio was beautiful. It houses brand name stores at one entrance (Tiffany, Gucci, Prada, etc.) and the corridor leads you to the casinos, to the right is the Cirque du Soleil "O" show. Definitely the most spectacular production that has a moving water stage. The acrobats perform their signature aerial stunts but land by diving into the water. Synchronized swimming is another feature. But the entire stage features many moving parts and design sets. Clearly the theater was custom made for this show. INCREDIBLE! I highly recommend it.

The concierge at the hotel got me the best seat in entire audience!

So after the show I'm wandering through the casino and turns out I was a lucky charm for some gentlemen playing Black Jack.  Why didn't that luck bring me fortune at this slot machine? Lost $10. Oh well.
I was having more fun sitting at Black Jack tables and drinking cocktails.

As I was leaving the casino I walked by a handsome nightclub--Hyde. People were forming a line.  Not a kid in my 20's I don't stand in lines to go dancing. Upon exiting the hotel, a couple of handsome guys in black suits asked me if I'd like VIP access to Hyde. Little did I know when I mentioned my name one of the guys emailed or texted my name to the club. Within ten minutes we walked up to the front of the line and my appeared TYPED on a list.  Maurice ushered me in and told the waitress to serve me unlimited champagne.  And the dancing began all night long. Thankfully I'm not a big drinker. Makes me sleepy--so I had energy to dance.

So when asked the purpose of my visit, I always hesitated.  Pet Bloggers and Vegas are an odd match and the quizzical expression on faces confirmed it. So towards the end of the evening I introduced myself as Cat Woman, at least to the men. They were interested in learning more! They got an earful about homeless cats  and black cats. And they seem genuinely interested.  My work was done. Mission accomplished. But I had fun too!

To read more about #BlogPaws on my cat site visit
To see photos of dogs and other pets at #BlogPaws, visit