Andaz West Hollywood
January 3, 2013, 8:05 am
Filed under: Andaz, hotels, Hyatt, reviews, USA | Tags: , , , , ,

The Andaz is Hyatt’s collection of boutique hotels, and I enjoyed the vibe, intimacy, and amenities of the Andaz West Hollywood as much as I did during my previous stay in 2011.  The check-in staff (“hosts” in Andaz lingua franca) recalled details of my last stay, and thoughtfully asked if I would like a similar room looking out to the famed Sunset Boulevard in the immediate vicinity and the downtown Los Angeles skyline beyond.



The room I was assigned was spacious, and one special feature that distinguishes the front-facing room from those that look out into the fabulous residences that line the hill behind the hotel is that rooms facing the front come with a relaxation alcove with lounge sitting and a separate flat-screen TV of its own.  Not that guests will be utilizing the TV all that often with the spectacular views of the glittering Los Angeles skyline especially at dusk.



A refreshing change from the Portico Spa products found in all other generic Hyatt properties is the aromatherapy series of toiletries set from Lather by Modern Apothecary.



Facilities include a fairly basic gym, but fitness buffs might want to time their visits as the hotel as saw fit to place the treadmills and elliptical trainers in the direct rays of the relentless Southern California sun in the morning hours.


Guests of the Andaz West Hollywood should take a trip to the rooftop where the pool–as well as verdant flora and more great views–await.





The Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

Nestled in the Coahcella Valley embraced by majestic mountains such as the San Bernadino Mountains, the San Jacinto Mountains, and the Santa Rosa Mountains, the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells (formerly known as the Hyatt Grand Champions) is a 45-acre desert oasis in a well-to-do neighborhood festooned with posh gated communities.




The grounds are verdant, and immaculately manicured.  The rooms are spacious, with a step-down area holding a living area, workdesk, and balcony space looking out into the property.  The color scheme comprising muted earth tones is soothing and the furnishings are comfortable for an extended stay.





There are three pools (including a small water slide) and the fitness center is more well-equipped than most Hyatt Regency gyms, although it is also  much busier as it is open to members of the community (for a fee, one is fairly certain).



The Hyatt Regency Orange County

The Hyatt Regency Orange County exists–along with the myriad other properties such as Marriott, Residence Inn, Sheraton, etc–primarily to serve the throngs of tourists flocking to the nearby hallowed Disneyland.  Indeed, Disney runs a tour desk in the lobby and a regular shuttle ply the hotel and America’s favorite playground.


Perhaps it’s because of this reason that the Hyatt Regency Orange County has the most capacious atrium lobby of any Hyatt I’ve yet encountered and the smallest rooms.




The room I was assigned was basic.  A king-sized bed when you enter, a flat-screen TV to the side and a workdesk awkwardly placed directly in front of the TV, a side closet, and a bathroom across.  The designers of the hotel probably expect guests to be out all day making the most of the Southern California sunshine and visiting the numerous places of interests.



Facilities include a decent sized pool (expect it to be filled with kids) and an adjoining gym with the standard StayFit equipment.

Universal Studios – The Rest of the Pictures
April 25, 2009, 4:32 pm
Filed under: California, USA, vacation

Universal Studios is more accurately a sprawling theme park incorporating a suite of working film and TV production studios with multiple state-of-the-art sound stages and minutely-reproduced production sets.  The most awesome of the production sets, in my opinion, must be that of the 2005 War of the Worlds set (yes, the one starring Tom Cruise).

Here are some others…see if you recognize them.

A Christmas show just for the kids (and kid-at-heart).

But even amidst the pyrotechnics and hum-drum, there are still areas of pristine tranquility.

Picturesque Mission Bay, San Diego
February 6, 2009, 2:47 pm
Filed under: beaches, California, USA, vacation | Tags: , , ,

Nestled just south of San Diego along the Pacific Ocean in a picturesque enclave, Mission Bay is part of the recreational Mission Bay Park, the largest artificial aquatic park in the United States.  The total land area, including the water catchment, is about 4,235 acres (17.14 sq km), placing it the 9th largest municipally-owned park in the country.  I stayed there for a couple of days, and took these pictures from the vantage point of my hotel balcony and along the docks of the bay.

Los Angeles Landscape
January 1, 2009, 3:33 pm
Filed under: USA, vacation | Tags: , , , ,

California well-deserves its moniker of The Golden State.  It is a state–and at 160,000 square miles the 59th largest in the world were it a country–that is truly blessed with nature’s wondrous abundance.  Despite the frigid temperatures in the teens, the December trip to Southern California left me renewed in my appreciation of nature’s resilience and its healing qualities.

From Los Angeles to San Diego, this trip sojourned to nature’s creations as well as man-made wonders.  I’ll be sharing more in the weeks to come, but for now, the last set of pics in this post comes from the internationally-ranked University of California at San Diego.

 And last but not least, the Geisel Library Building, an architectural masterpiece that though designed by William Pereira in the late 1960s, remains as 21st century as it has ever been.  Find out more at the UCSD Libraries homepage.

Streets of Philadelphia

Compared to the numerous large American cities I’ve been to, I’d have to say that Philadelphia (pictures of its City Hall below) appears to be grittier than most.   Opulence is juxtaposed with poverty as the disenfranchised wander the streets a mere block away from Ritz Carlton.  

Still, it is one of the most architecturally fascinating cities, with designs dating back to the colonial times.  A friend reflected that a city’s architecture hints at the era where its money was made.  I think that is an astute observation. 


Philadelphia is widely regarded as the birthplace of the American Revolution and American Independence.  Indeed, the Liberty Bell is enshrined in the city, directly across Independence Hall and near the National Constitution Center in the Historic District.