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Understated Paris (Hotel Residence Foch)

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The author in front of HRF

My wife and I go on a short holiday twice a year. Whenever we travel we always look for a hotel that is the most upscale within our budget, is located in the safest area, is a short walk  to the major sites while still being away from the maddening crowd and will offer us a glimpse into the way we would live if we were locals. We got that with the Hotel Residence Foch.

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Parisian apartment chic

It’s a narrow, classic style (Haussman era?) building with 7 floors. Very understated. The front desk/reception area is adequate in size and there is a small breakfast/dining area   opening up to a courtyard/garden at the rear of the property. Our room (61) was about 12 square meters excluding our en suite bathroom (which had a tub). Relatively new. Nicely  decorated. Very clean. Very quiet. Daily maid service. Comfortable queen size bed with good quality linens and pillows. Professional, welcoming and helpful staff. And, yes, there is a  lift.

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Lobby with breakfast area toward the rear

HRF, as it is affectionately referred to, is located on Rue Marbeau in the 16th arr. The neighborhood is not touristy at all (read: devoid of pickpockets, thieves or the occasional   homeless person). It is a short, convenient and safe 5 minute walk from the Port Maillot stop of Les Cars Air France (Port Maillot is also the nearest Metro stop). Rue Pergolese  (perpendicular to Rue Marbeau) offers a number of boulangeries, bistros and a Michelin star restaurant called Le Pergolese. From the hotel it is a 20 minute walk along tree lined  streets to the Trocadero from where one will get the most iconic views of the Eiffel Tower (Halfway through the walk, grab a croissant and cafe creme at one of the cafes located at  Place Victor Hugo). It’s also a 10 minute walk along tree lined streets to the Arc de Triomphe putting you at the top of the Champs Elysees (or the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore ifone prefers a more exclusive shopping experience). Pub Crawling and nights out are not a problem either because if you miss the last Metro, just take a taxi to the Palais des Congres (a convention center/concert venue/mall located right beside Port Maillot) then walk to the hotel.

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The Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero

The Hotel Residence Foch is a boutique hotel that is very attuned to a certain kind of French life. It gives you a base from which to experience the live quiet and comfortably, away from the crowd, dress well, eat a light breakfast, step out and be seen lifestyle of Paris. If that’s how you want to experience Paris then the HRF is for you.

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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Locked In (Tiffany & Co.)

 Jewelry…  One of the ways to a woman’s heart…  100% sure to bring a smile to her face…  and a man to his financial knees.  Happily, though, we oblige our significant other.  To keep the peace?  Yes.  But, more importantly, it gives us regular guys so much fulfillment to bring happiness to the ones we love.  Be it purchased or otherwise.

I sense that a growing anticipation will be triggered by the previous paragraph.  Your interest, dear reader, has been piqued.  Questions begin to swirl around in your head…  What kind of jewelry did he buy for her?  Was it expensive?  Did she like it?  Alas…  None of that happened.  But, I have to tell you that I was tempted.

Nina, Monika, Lana and Gabby of Rustan’s

Why is it then, that I am writing about jewelry when I didn’t buy anything?  Well, it just so happens that I was invited by Rustan’s to attend and cover the launch of a new collection of vintage inspired yet contemporary “Tiffany Locks” from Tiffany & Co.  I can tell you right now, if the wife were with me, it would have been the end of this blog because I wouldn’t have money left to pay for my internet connection.

The “Tiffany Locks”, made of 18k gold, sterling silver, or a combination of both (a couple of which are in the photo above), are attention grabbers.  They are actually quite innovative.  Taking a mundane, everyday tool such as a lock and turning it into elegant jewelry is remarkable.  It reminds me of the charms in numerous shapes little girls have hanging from their necklaces or their bracelets.  Unlike those, though, these Locks give women a certain allure that says feminine rather than girly, modern rather than new and vibrant as opposed to just plain fun.  The Locks look so good that I would really like to gift a couple to my wife.

Tessa Prieto-Valdes with the lucky winners of Tiffany Locks

The event, hosted by Cosplay Queen, Tessa Prieto-Valdes (referring to the host as the “Cosplay Queen” is cool and not at all derisive), had all the elements of vintage-comtemporary style.  The patented “Tiffany Blue” color was used to accentuate the elegantly festive atmosphere successfully as guests were milling around the display cases pulling out their credit cards to purchase pieces from the new collection.  Those guests that chose to rein in their desires did not have to look sullenly upon the beautiful jewelry as uniformed waiters were roaming the room with very delicious canapes (I was snacking the entire night), refreshing cocktails and over-flowing champagne courtesy of Bizu Patisserie.  The highlight of the night came when twelve guests were chosen and given the chance to win beautiful Tiffany Locks by opening the four display cases they were contained in.  Everyone watched as the chosen guests prayed that the key they were given would open the display cases.  There were a few tense moments, but everyone cheered when all four display cases were opened.  Even those of us who weren’t chosen to participate were caught up in the euphoria.  As the night ended and the guests were merrily going home with their purchases and prizes in little blue shopping bags hanging from their wrists, I take one last look at the jewelry on display and make a mental note for the future.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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James Bondish… (Hackett)

 Ever since the time I decided to eschew the corporate life, I have been waking up with a smile on my face.  No more rush hour traffic.  No more long days.  And, I think more importantly, no more restrictive dress code.  My suits have been relegated to the back of my closet to make space for my casual, but otherwise, smart daily wear.

Of course, I’m not saying that I now look like a slob.  I still do appreciate clothes that are stylish and well-made.  It’s just that, rather than conveying a message of competition and assertion, I would like to think that the way I dress now conveys warmth and acceptance.  I think…

I do still work.  And, because of the nature of my profession (which I am trying to keep a secret), I still have meetings scheduled throughout the work week.  The difference is, the meetings are now more relaxed and informal.  Much like a meeting between friends.

Anyway, my more casual work wardrobe needed a little spiffing up.  Visa suggested that I shop around for a light sport coat that can be used for daytime appointments and not so formal evening functions.  Mastercard readily agreed.  And so, for the nth time, my credit cards find themselves in the men’s department of Rustan’s Makati trying to jump out of my wallet.

Being a regular guy, I made a mental map of the selling area and chose a route to follow.  After about half an hour, I was on my way to an elevated portion when I spied a blue jacket, which is pictured here, by Hackett of London that was left hanging in one of the fitting rooms.  It caught my eye because it was the first time I had seen something like it.  After ensuring that the room was empty, I entered to get closer to the item.  Maybe it was the yellow lighting in the room, I don’t know?  Called a “Blue Delave”, its soft blue color and luxuriously light linen fabric reminded me of the ocean, an immaculate shore line, and an ice-cold Daiquiri with those little umbrellas.  Or, maybe I’ve just been watching too many James Bond movies…

It wasn’t much of a fight, really.  I knew that this was the jacket I’ve been looking for.  It looks good.  It will go with the clothes I already have and it’s perfect for the tropics.  This is one time I gladly handed over my existence to the sales person and signed on the dotted line.

Now…  What to tell the wife…

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Machiavelli is Filipino! (Machiavelli Chocolatier)

I love the rain.  The weather gets a little bit cooler.  Streets and buildings get a much needed wash down.  The leaves on trees and plants glisten with their coat of water.  The sound of raindrops hitting the pavement muffles the otherwise deafening sound of daily life and, for a few hours or so, we are forced to slow ourselves down.

And slow ourselves down we did one stormy afternoon when classes were cancelled and work was called-off early.  Knowing that traffic would be going in the opposite direction, I swept my wife from bed, got into the car and hied off to Makati for a relaxing, mid-afternoon date.

Soon enough, we found ourselves in the immaculate and familiar confines of Rustan’s flagship store in Ayala Center (Let’s face it…  Most of us grew up borrowing our mother’s frequent shopper card).  We had a leisurely stroll among the beautifully laid-out displays with my wife taking note of the “X” items (my knees are quivering as I write this), while I was subtly directing her toward the men’s department.

I thought my efforts were succesfull when something caught her eye (*face palm*).  She immediately made a bee-line for some well-lit refrigerated display cases set against a purple background.  With no other choice but to follow, I scampered off after her.

She was already choosing what to buy when I made it to her side.  I don’t blame her.  We were staring into the display case of Machiavelli Chocolatier and the chocolates on offer were bite-sized works of art.  We bought a couple of pieces (the Grand Marnier and Coconut Screw) and relished the smooth, buttery chocolate that could have only come from the best chocolatiers in the world.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that most of the chocolates on offer had Filipino names.  There was Yema de Manila, Dusty Negros and Batangas Star.  There were even chocolate bars dedicated to prominent Filipino personalities such as Benny’s Morrocan Bar (dedicated to Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco) and the Cory Aquino Bar wrapped in yellow.  I asked the proprietor, Raul Matias about the store and he confirmed that the store is his original concept and that he made the chocolates himself!  Amazing, really.  It just goes to show that Filipinos can stand as equals on the world stage.

I’ll have this over Belgian chocolate any day.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Hi-Fi Pinoy (A-Audio Research)

 Saturdays are the bomb!  I’m sure this applies to most people.  Of course, there are those that have to work on a Saturday and will automatically dislike this post, but, hey, I’m just saying…

Hmmm…  Where was I…  Oh, yes.  Saturdays are quite special for us regular guys because it is the day we do NOTHING.  Yep.  NOTHING.  Yes, there are those who take the time to do some physical exertions, but, really, why would anyone want to do that?

There was this one recent Saturday, I was browsing through some interesting sites (not the pornographic kind) when a friend of mine sends me an invite over to his house to hang out and listen to some new speakers he had in stock.  Not having anything on my schedule (hehehe) I said, “Yeah, why not?”  Since it was raining cats and dogs at the time and I was thinking of stretching my truck’s legs, I thought that I might as well have some free food and brewskies to go with it.

I was dumbstruck when I entered my friend’s “cave”.  He had an array of speakers beneath his 100-inch projector screen that would put any showroom to shame.  I chose a spot on the couch and wasted no time in ordering him to put on some tunes.  As the first few notes of Hall & Oate’s “Sarah Smile” filled the room (Yes, Hall & Oates.  Some of the readers may be laughing, but you know, I know, you like it) I was struck by how clear and honest the music sounded.  It was as if the band were playing right in front of me.  After the CD played its last track we switched to some Karen Carpenter and hearing her sing made me feel like I was in the embrace of this warm, haunting, amazing voice.

Being that I didn’t live there, I had to bid goodbye after a couple of hours.  But before leaving, I asked my friend what speakers we were using.  His answer floored me because it turns out that we were listening to his new bookshelf speakers from the Genesis collection of A-Audio Research the entire time.  Bookshelf speakers!  Even more amazing is that A-Audio Research is a Filipino company!  Its bookshelf speakers from the Genesis collection, which is the one in the photo, with a tweeter and a 5-inch mid-bass puts out sound that would compare to the likes of Marantz or Bowers & Wilkins.  It’s even bi-wired so that audiophiles could power the tweeter and woofer separately to get better sound separation and clarity.

It looks like that new wi-fi router will have to wait.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Convention Loot (VMV Hypoallergenics)

Medical conventions are usually staid affairs teeming with stuck-up old men or crusty old women.  If there are any young doctors, you’d see them shifting in their seats, thinking of heading out to the hotel pool or the adjacent golf course.

It’s not a vacation for their family members either as those who are brought along find themselves hanging out in the room or in the pool area waiting for hours for their respective spouses/parents.

Not this guy.  No, sir.  I’ve had my share of conventions and I’ve loved every single one of them.

You see, my wife is a dermatologist and the way conventions go, their annual medical convention is husband nirvana.  While my wife is dutifully listening to the latest scientific updates from speakers who come from all over the world, I am sitting amidst the numerous corporate displays taking advantage of the excellent foot massage while enjoying my chai tea latte and keeping an eye out for freebies.  Yes, freebies.  And I’m not talking about boxes of anti-biotics.

Walking around the vendors’ area where the corporate displays are is like walking around the cosmetics and skin/body care floor of a high-end retailer.  They have the latest and about to be launched products on display.  The best part is…  You guessed it.  Freebies!  Most, if not all, of these companies give out samples of their best-selling or most expensive products.  And, they’re quite generous about it.  There was one year where we were able to get enough free soap that we didn’t have to shop for that item for six months!  This year, I hit pay-dirt again with a number of freebies from VMV Hypoallergenics called Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo Boo Balm; Grandma Minnie’s Coo & Clean Baby Wash and their Armada Baby 50+.

My kids love the water which means we’re at the beach club every month.  It’s a lot of fun, but being kids, it also means that they are out playing in the sun for hours, their skin gets the occasional scratch and it takes a lot of soap to clean away the salt water residue.  With a formulation specially made for ultra-sensitive skin, this trio of skin care products is the answer to our concerns.  The sun block is protective enough but not as sticky as other brands, the balm helped soothe a couple of scratches (mine included), and the baby wash made my kids smell clean and fresh without any powerful odors.

I’m definitely looking forward to what they have to offer during the next convention.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Hooligan (BMW)

It was a rainy saturday morning.  I had just dropped-off my wife at her appointment and told her that I would take a quick trip to the local car show.  Of course, knowing how obsessed I am with cars, she thought I was making a joke, gave a gentle laugh, and waved me off.

As I merrily drove along the wet roads, I thought about how the timing could not be better.  Because of the monsoon rains and the fact that I would be arriving at such an odd hour, it meant that parking would not be a problem, the crowd would be thin and I could linger around each display as long as I like.  When I got there, it was as I thought it would be…  A slice of motoring heaven.

Inside the exhibition hall the automotive works of art were gleaming in the light.  It was an amazing sight.  Standing by the entrance, I surveyed the layout of the show and decided that the best route was to go in a counter-clockwise direction before slicing across each of the aisles (there is a method to fully appreciate these annual exhibits).

My decision to take the route was immediately rewarded by the presence of this silver 1974 BMW 2002 Turbo (Please pardon the electrical cables.  There was a bikini clad model standing there but she was blocking the car so I asked her to move).  It is beautiful.  Yes, there were more exotic and rarer cars on display such as an angry 1976 Lancia Stratos, a very sublime 1956 Mercedes Benz 300 SL “Gullwing”, an extremely elegant 1966 Ferrari 330 GT, a rare 1967 Toyota 2000 GT, and a playful Porsche 356C.  But, for some reason, it was the BMW that I was drawn to.

This car is cool.  The silver paintwork is immaculate.  The BBS wheel and tire combo nestled inside the fender flares gives off such a macho vibe.  The black leather interior is well-made and the livery gives the car that extra dash of color.  It is like a bespoke, slim cut, Paul Smith suit.  I imagine myself in the car, driving at a reasonably quick clip, up and down the winding back roads of Subic.  Or, if I want to be a hooligan about it, blasting full-throttle down McKinley Road at 2am and having so much fun that I turn around and have a go in the other direction.

I want to own this car so much that it makes my insides hurt.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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