Archive for the ‘SF Bay Area’ Category

Chef Profile: Hugo Campos

July 27, 2010

Hugo Campos is the head chef at our Bar Adagio in downtown San Francisco.  Although his family was originally from El Salvador; Hugo grew up in Southern California.  It was there, well to be more specific…in the kitchen of a diner in Riverside while working as a dishwasher that his love for the culinary world began.  When asked about his particular culinary influences; Hugo is quick to state that he doesn’t look up to the typical celebrity or high-profile chef.  The biggest influences on his culinary career have always been a number of sous chefs that he’s worked with since that job as a dishwasher right out of High School. (more…)


San Francisco on Two Wheels

June 3, 2010

So, you’re road trippin’ through California and you’ve had an amazing time so far!  The feel of the open road and the wonder that is all that California’s landscape has to offer has made the trip well worth it. Even the 100 degree temperature through the valley didn’t bring you down. But, now that you’re in breezy San Francisco, let’s give that gas pedal and your wallet a break. A vehicle might be the best way to see California, but San Francisco is a city built for two (wheels that is).  Here’s a list of top rides and must-experience pit stops along the way:

  1. A bicycle adventure can easily begin and end at our Hotel Vitale, right along the Embarcadero.  Turning left will lead you to an amazing and flat ride along the water all the way past Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and even the Golden Gate Bridge if you so desire.  Be sure to stop at Ghirardelli Square for a chocolate sample or double peanut butter hot fudge Sundae.  Then, it’s back to the Vitale and our Americano Restaurant & Bar where you can watch the sun set over the bay while sipping one of our famous cocktails.
  2. By turning right at the Hotel Vitale, you’ll ride towards AT&T Ballpark.  Head around the outside of the ball park, then cross the 2nd Street bridge, make a left, and you’ll hit the cutest little kids ball park ever with views inside big ballpark itself.  Enjoy the sun and the bay and then, of course head back to the Americano for more drinks. (more…)

Road Trippin’

May 16, 2010

William Least Heat Moon wrote that there are no yesterdays on the road, and it does seem like the road trip has a special power to temporarily untether us from our lives and, in so doing, let us reimagine them. One of the gifts of travel is that it frees you from your everyday context. The road trip, properly undertaken, boils life down to a post-it where normally it may feel like an Excel spreadsheet with too many tabs. You can plan excessively if you want to, but the best road trips are a little shaggy and undefined at the edges, leaving space for the unexpected.

The road trip is about all of your favorite music along for the ride, turned up loud when there’s a lull in conversation. It’s about inappropriate snacks of questionable vintage from a gas station in Barstow and BLT’s on under-toasted white bread in Redding. It’s about going out of your way to visit Frank Sinatra’s grave in Palm Springs or crossing the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. It’s those hours when the usual tug of to and fro and bills to pay and Facebook seem as trivial as they are and you listen to your trip mate’s story with real attention.

Road trippin’ is kind of like the exhilaratingly mild shock of swimming in the ocean for the first time in years: it wakes you up, brings you back to who you are, and reminds you that the simplest pleasures are all you really need to be content. And at the end of every day on the road? Cool, clean sheets on a bed you don’t have to make. This summer the travel sugar plums that are dancing in our heads are all about Road Trippin’ California. We’re putting our playlists together, calling our friends, and packing our swimsuits. Let summer begin!

Green Meets Glam at the Galleria Park Hotel

April 21, 2010

Paul Frentsos, general manager of San Francisco’s Galleria Park Hotel

Yesterday we featured an interview with Hotel Del Sol general manager Gary Sterman on the challenges of greening an entire hotel. Today we’re excited to hear from another of our San Francisco hotels to achieve green certification, the Galleria Park Hotel. The Galleria Park, located in downtown San Francisco, has all the glamour of old Hollywood. Housed within a 1911 building, the hotel faced a daunting task in greening the structure, having to replace old fixtures with energy-efficient ones while keeping its vintage style. Paul Frentsos, general manager of the Galleria Park, kindly offered his insights on why it was important for the hotel to go green and simple things people can do to lessen their carbon footprints.

Why did you decide to pursue green certification for your hotels?
The employees of the hotel expressed a lot of concerns and enthusiasm for becoming green and felt strongly that it was the direction we should go as a hotel to help with the environment.

What were you required to do to achieve certification?
The city of San Francisco has extremely diligent and detailed list to achieve the status of a San Francisco Green Business.  We spent quite a bit of money replacing all the toilets, faucets, shower heads, fluorescent lighting, and waste receptacles to mention just a few things.  Chemical usage and storage were also a big change as well.  Composting and recycling were also a huge part.  Asking hotel guests if they wanted fresh linens or if we could remake beds without changing the linens and getting fresh towels to help save water usage was a big change as well. (more…)

(Sweet) Green Dreams at the Hotel Del Sol

April 20, 2010

Gary Sterman at the Hotel Del Sol in San Francisco

Earth Day celebrates a big birthday this year as it enters its 40th year. Amidst the messages of environmental doom and gloom, there are countless inspiring stories of people who are working toward positive change on a grassroots level – in their cities and towns, at home and at work. Joie de Vivre has long been committed to sustainability via our Green Dreams program. We’re working hard to green all of our more than 30 hotels across California, and recently learned that we have the most green certified hotels in San Francisco, a worthy distinction in a city long known for its progressive social and political ideas.

One of our five green certified hotels in San Francisco is the Hotel Del Sol, located in the city’s Marina District. General Manager Gary Sterman and his staff shepherded the greening of the Del Sol according to rigorous standards put forth by San Francisco Green Business. The process took more than two years, and as part of our celebration of Earth Day we spoke with Gary to learn more about the process. Tomorrow, we will speak with Paul Frentsos, general manager of the Galleria Park Hotel, to learn about his hotel’s green certification efforts. (more…)

One More Cup of Coffee

March 3, 2010

San Francisco is a city that has gone through a few booms and busts through its history.  From the infamous good times of the Gold Rush to the overabundant wealth of the dot-com boom; San Franciscans have learned to take these good times as they come and enjoy them while they last.  During these particularly difficult economic times, San Francisco has once again begun another sort of boom, but this one is all about liquid gold which is to say artisanal coffee and tea.

If you meander off the beaten path a bit you will find plenty of high-quality coffee and tea to keep you warm, happy, and wide awake.  Blue Bottle Coffee Co. is located on Mint St. and is well known in San Francisco for its microroasting.  To translate, this just means that they take multiple steps from selecting choice beans (they choose to use certified organic mostly) to utilizing the practice of small batch roasting in order to create an excellent cup of coffee.

Sightglass is a coffee shop located in the South of Market area which is also known as the SoMa neighborhood.  At the moment they are in the process of creating their very own roast-house in a warehouse space.  This does not stop them, however, from offering some wonderful espresso right in the opening driveway of their construction zone.  Going to Sightglass is a great way to see San Francisco’s creative use of space as well as its passion for a great cup of coffee. (more…)

Joyful Entrepreneurs: Eric Kipp

March 1, 2010
As part of our “Joyful Entrepreneurs” series, now and again we’ll interview people who are doing inspiring things with their work. This time around, we got a chance to field a Q&A to Eric Kipp, a yoga practitioner who founded Hiking Yoga in San Francisco. According to Eric, hiking yoga is a great combination of yoga and cardio (and let’s be real, it is hard NOT to experience some level of cardio simply walking up the city’s hills…) that is made extra special with spectacular views. Enjoie…
What is hiking yoga? 
Hiking yoga is a mix of the cardio of hiking with the power of yoga. We explore San Francisco’s famous hills and less known gardens and stairways. We are a hybrid of a yoga studio and an outdoor bootcamp company offering 10+ hikes all over the city between sunrise and sunset.
What benefits does it provide that you can’t get from hiking and yoga on their own?
We are right in the middle between two worlds. We get many people who do lots of yoga and not enough cardio and many runners and cyclists who have very stiff muscles. All of the relaxing effects of yoga combined with the cleansing of a great sweaty cardio workout. The part that surprises many is how diverse and gorgeous the terrain of SF is and how much there is to learn about the city.
What are the best things people can do to center themselves in times of stress?
Just simple reminders that a few minutes or even a few breaths can make a huge difference. We work in three to four yoga stations on our 90-minute hike. The first few are five to seven minutes and the teaching is how much different our bodies and minds can feel after a few minutes of yoga and deep breath.  (more…)

Neighborhood Spots: South Park

February 26, 2010

Our February “City Flavor” writing contest with Trazzler and the SFCVB is nearing the end with “Neigborhood Spots” as the fourth of five themes to inspire your literary muse. Our guest micro-essayist today is Lori Lincoln, director of public relations in our home office in San Francisco.

Being fairly new to San Francisco I’m always on the lookout for new neighborhood spots.  This city is a collection of individual  neighborhoods, each with its own distinct (and often quirky) character, and many hidden gems.  One of my new favorite spots is South Park, which is tucked away in SOMA/South Beach not far from the AT&T Park stadium. It’s a mini neighborhood within a neighborhood, sort of like a doll within a Russian matryoska, and nearly invisible from the streets that border it – Brannan and Bryant and 2nd and 3rd streets.  Made up of a mix of two-story Victorians and striking modern buildings curved around a lovely oval-shaped park, South Park feels like a London square.  And, in fact, it was built in the 1800s by an English businessman to resemble one. 

Fortunately today anyone can relax in what once was the private park, enjoy lunch at one of the picnic tables, or dream up their next internet business.  South Park is dotted with cute cafes and is a creative cluster, with the offices of architects,  industrial designers, and tech businesses.  On a sunny day, South Park is a great place to relax and enjoy a green urban oasis. And who knows, you might just overhear someone brainstorming the next new big thing on the internet.

The Castro Theatre

February 19, 2010
Our February “City Flavor” writing contest with Trazzler and the SFCVB is picking up steam with “LGBT Icons” as the third of five themes to inspire your literary muse. Our guest micro-essayist today is Brian Springfield, art director in our home office in San Francisco.
D.C. has its Capitol Building and Paris has its Eiffel Tower. To visitors to San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, the iconic landmark is the Castro Theatre. Built in 1922, the Castro Theatre is arguably the grandest place in San Francisco to see a movie. And not just the old classics – the Castro Theatre shows the full range of film formats, from classic black-and-whites, to current release 3D favorites. Occasionally, the theatre also plays host to special events that cater to the local LGBT audiences: recently, the stage has been graced by favorites Kathy Griffin, Joan Rivers, and more drag queens than you can shake a feather boa at. So, if you visit the Castro, be sure to take in the move palace’s newly-renovated marquee -refurbished for the filming of “Milk,” the Harvey Milk biopic filmed locally in neighborhood. Or better yet, buy a ticket at the window, venture into the grand screening room, and sink into your plush velvet chair. Take in the music wafting from the organ, manned by a live organist before each show – the lights dim, the screen begins to glow, and you become part of history.

Captain Fanplastic

February 17, 2010

The Plastiki, a 60-foot catamaran made of plastic bottles, is setting sail early next month. The vessel will begin its 11,000-mile voyage from San Francisco and will sail across the Pacific to Sydney, with a few stops along the way. It’s the brainchild of David de Rothschild, a British eco-adventurer who seeks to address the massive amount of plastic waste that is not recycled and instead ends up in the ocean or landfills. The catamaran will sail through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an expanse of floating garbage that is toxic to marine life and birds. Beyond raising the single issue of plastic recycling, with the Plastiki de Rothschild and his crew are addressing how design must evolve to address environmental conservation. The Plastiki may not be the sleekest of crafts, but it’s been built with great care and purpose, and we’re proud it’s embarking from our city’s shores.