Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When the Travel Channel goes on Vacation...

I am constantly asked if I get to travel for my job at Travel Channel and the answer of course is yes. I travel a lot... a whole lot... I have an addiction. However, I have never been asked where would the entire Travel Channel go if we all just picked up and went on vacation. Wouldn't that be something? Where would a group of travel passionates go on vacation? Hawaii? Bora Bora? No, No, people... we go to Lansdowne, Virginia!

Lansdowne Resort sits in the middle of Virginia's horse and wine country and the grounds are really beautiful. The rooms are very nice with comfy beds (minus the pillows... way too soft), plenty of room and free wireless. The best part of the rooms were the bathrooms with slate tile floors, revolving shower heads and yummy bath products from Gilchrist and Soames.

When we checked in on Sunday, the news quickly spread that Sarah Palin was also a guest and that secret service was crawling all over the building. Now, as I have said in previous blogs... I am a fair shade of purple when it comes to politics and I was just impressed that they chose this hotel over the Ritz! Anyway, that evening we were all in the tavern when we were told that we were not allowed to leave the bar until she went up to her room from the lobby. Can you imagine? They locked the entire Travel Channel in the bar for Palin? For us it meant...

British Leader who loves Obama

Plus security locking us into a bar because of Sarah Palin...


JK... I don't even know who these guys are... but I loved the pic.

I also LOVED that the Palin gang brought the campaign bus and parked it right out in the front drive of the hotel. You know that once that bar door was unlocked I was one of the first ones to run out the door for a photo op! Note to self... I need a campaign bus.

Travel Channel is definitely corporate and this retreat was about real work. We have a real office with a receptionist (her name is Katie). We have little kitchens with microwaves and fridges to hold our brown bag lunches. Our vending machines have the usual crap... no crickets or monkey brains like you see in the commercials. I have a bigger office in this building than Sam, Anthony or Andrew! (Can you guess why?)
It was a great few days filled with cool discussions about our business and networking with colleagues from other departments or offices (our interactive team is based on New York and our Big Daddy, COX Communications, is based down in Atlanta). We also had a great time enjoying some down time in the tavern and playing group trivia hosted by a real Quiz Master! Did you know that you could catch Herpes from a beer glass?

Here are some highlights... enjoy the candids and video.
Travel On.. Lori

Saturday, October 18, 2008

On Location on the American Riviera... Santa Barbara

Each and every time I visit California, I find something else to love about it. This time was no different when I found Santa Barbara. Unlike my other favorite CA town (Mill Valley), this little town is known for its BIG spenders. This is the land of the vacationing billionaire and I was determined to see what the American Riviera was all about. BRING IT ON!

There are no direct flights from DC to Santa Barbara. You can either jump on a connection or you can try to brave the hour and a half drive from LAX. I chose a connection through Phoenix and landed in Santa Barbara at 10pm. The terminal building looks more like a Spanish style home than an airport. The best part was when the man drove our baggage to us from the plane to the small outdoor space that they called a baggage claim. Quick, Cute and Easy.

I picked up my rental from AVIS and made my way to State Street in the heart of Santa Barbara to find my hotel for the next few days. I was here for a couple of shoot days with Sam and to also start our new style web series with Christina Burns... one of my favorite people in the world and Sam's stylist.

I checked into the hotel and met up with a friend for a beer at a small pub across the street. I was exhausted and after a few drinks I was starved and ready for bed. We wanted a late night snack... so, we headed out to a local hotdog place and I chowed on a corndog and some fries. The corndog was on a stick and it reminded me of growing up and eating a dog and some cheesefries with my parents on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. Ummm... but, I was going to pay for it in the morning!

My full tummy and the alarm woke me up for our early am call time. It was our first shoot day for the style series and I wanted to meet with Christina nice and early to get our game faces on (makeup). We met up down in the lobby with Brandon, our director and drove over to our first location for the day... Couture Candy.

Yup it is exactly what it sounds like... a perfect little place filled with beautiful clothing that looks like candy to a girls eyes. Couture Candy is an online clothing retailer and this was their headquarters. Their office is on the second floor of a building and looks more like a funky photography loft than a retail store. Oh, by the way... nobody gets access to this place... except for designers and stylists and I had one with me! Here's Christina with Stephanie of Couture Candy! LOVE that girl.

Couture Candy helps us with wardrobe for Samantha. So, we were going to shoot our first webisode as Christina dives into their fab closet filled with yummy couture for Sammy. It was paradise and Christina was like a rockstar!

After Couture Candy, we headed up to Montecito to a little boutique called Kate to meet up with a local bathing suit designer named Sonja. Sonja is a Brazilian and she makes beautiful "loungy" bathing suits that are just dreamy. Sam wore one in our Miami episode and now we were looking for a couple more for the new episodes being shot in Hawaii next month. So, Christina went to work... and so did we for another webisode.

By the time we got finished with our bathing suit piece, we were all starved. So, we walked down to street to Tre Lune... a small cafe only a few stores away from Kate. The place was adorable with old black and white Hollywood photos and tiny dollhouse style wooden chairs hung on the walls. Each little chair had a golden label with a name. I asked the waiter about the chairs and he told me that each chair represented one of their regulars. I walked around and noted Ellen Degeneres and Portia DiRossi had their names on chairs. That's kinda cool.

I ordered a tossed salad with grilled shrimp and Christina and I shared a veggie panini (a recommendation from Sonja) and it was yummy. My new mission... get a chair at Tres Lune in Montecito. I made a mental note.

Our next shoot location was back at the hotel with Christina unpacking Sam's bags. It was a long day and I was hitting the wall after the late night and now a full work day... so, as soon as I could back out... I went back to my room and took a nap.

Sam called me at 8:30 to see if I wanted to meet her for a late dinner. So, I walked back across State Street to a restaurant named Joe's Cafe which is known to have the stiffest drinks in town. (Note to self... order water.) Sam and I both had a spanish style meatball soup and we shared some grilled salmon and veggies. Her hubby met up with us for a bite and some conversation and we called it night. I had a bunch of shows to screen and some scripts to work through before I went to bed.

The next morning, I was up early and we did not have a crew call until 1pm. So, I decided to get some green tea and take a walk through town. I took a left out of my hotel and found some amazing shopping. State Street is like an outdoor mall... it has everything from drug stores and small cafes to a Macy's, Nordstroms and Anthropologie. It reminded me of a bigger and better version of Georgetown. Kind of posh with some cool skateboarder stores mixed in. I stopped into a kids store and picked up a cute stuffed puppy for Eva-Bel and then I went into a yoga store and finally found a travel yoga mat. Yeah... no more borrowing from random studios!

Before I headed back to the hotel, I grabbed a bite to eat at a place called the Natural Cafe. This is California... the land of healthy food and exercise and I alwayys try to eat "clean" while I am here. I ordered a grilled veggie platter with tofu and a green tea with ginseng. Just eating and drinking this stuff made me feel skinnier.

After lunch, I met up with the crew at the hotel for our day of shooting with Sammy. We went over to the Four Seasons Biltmore to shoot at the Coral Casino. The Coral Casino is a members only club right across the street from the Four Seasons. With a membership fee of $250,000 per year... this place is not for millionaires... its for BILLIONAIRES. It was beautiful and it certainly feels like the riviera. Just perfect.

We shot with the Executive Chef of the property, Pilar Sanchez, one of California's best who had a beautiful little place called Pilar Napa that I read about and always wanted to try. Pilar made a yummy salad with Sam up in one of the private cabanas and she was amazing.

The shoot ended at 6pm and we were all ready for a bite to eat. So, we headed back to Joe's for a bite. I was not going to the late night salsa shoot because I had to be up for a 7am flight back to the East Coast. So, after dinner I said my goodbyes to the crew and went back to my room. I decided that I wanted to take a late night yoga class at a place called Yoga Soup a few blocks from the hotel. So, I grabbed my new yoga mat and went to class.

The class was called Late Night Flow and I was suprised to see so many people waiting for the class with me. The class was a perfect way to end my few days in Santa Barbara. It is totally worth checking online for local gyms or yoga studios while you are on the road. It is always fun checking out a new class and feeling like you tried to stay on your gym schedule while you are away from home. Try it sometime... PLUS, the stretching was just what the doctor ordered before I had to jump on two airplanes for the long trek back to DC.

I am now writing this blog from my sister's couch in Greensboro, NC. I landed in DC on Thursday night, worked from home on Friday and then got in the car and drove to NC to be here for my neice's 6th birthday party. The party was great... but, the highlight of this weekend was the yummy North Carolina BBQ at Stameys! The barbeque here is not the sweet smokey type like you would find in Texas. The sauces here have a vinegar base and it gives the meat a real bite. I chowed down on some chicken and pulled pork and some hush puppies. I then washed it down with some homemade peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream. See... in Cali I was all healthy.. in NC I am all BBQ. When in Rome...

Travel On