Our head concierge, Hoon Kim, returned last week from a whirlwind trip to three exciting cities in the USA. Here are his impressions on the service culture, the food trends and what to see and do in a short space of time…
I’ve been to the States often, but this was my first visit to Los Angeles. In three days, my partner and I did the usual tourist sites, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame (incredibly busy), Beverly Hills, Venice Beach, West Hollywood (LA’s gay community), J Paul Getty Museum and, of course, Korea Town.
Hiring a car was a good move, because it gave us the freedom to explore diverse neighbourhoods – not just the touristy places – and get beneath the city’s plastic, commercial facade. West Hollywood has a lot of edgy, trendy coffee bars, classy boutiques and specialised shops – very different from the Rodeo Drive scene depicted in the movie, Pretty Women!
All over LA there are plenty of healthy eating choices, such as vegetarian and vegan cafes, and there’s a strong emphasis on organic, ethically sourced products, and coffee that is artisan roasted and served with options like almond milk instead of cow’s milk. The city has many outdoor spaces that are well used by locals. The coffee hotspots are full of people talking, whiling away the time, some with their dogs sitting on their laps – there’s a real sense of community. I can’t comment on the concierge services at the hotels we stayed at in LA, as I didn’t use them – part of the fun of travelling is doing my own research.
Next stop was, Savannah, in Georgia, where we had an unfortunate experience at our chosen hotel. We arrived at 12h50 and as soon as we approached the receptionist, without even engaging with us or asking for our names, she told us rather bluntly that the rooms were not ready. There was no information about what we could do or see in the city while we waited, or suggestions for where to go for lunch. She was even loathe to store our luggage until check in!
From a guest perspective, I realised that if you have a negative experience from the outset, like we did, it can easily escalate into not liking anything at all about a property by the time you leave. As it turned out, the hotel handled requests unprofessionally, the housekeeping was not up to scratch either and this made me reflect again on the power of social media to share positive or negative experiences.
Savannah itself was amazing as it’s a historic town with great architecture. I loved all the ‘Spanish Moss’ on the trees, which is so typical of the southern states. Southern soul food is mostly deep fried, from the excellent seafood to the famous fried green tomatoes my vegetarian partner enjoyed.
Four days in New York meant indulging in a show on Broadway every day – theatre is my passion. We saw If/Then, Les Miserables, Hedwig and Angry Inch, and Bullets over Broadway. We also had dinner with Cape Grace guests who stayed with us in 2010 – they took us to the Michelin-starred restaurant, Hakasan (truly fabulous). Would you believe that Whoopi Goldberg was in the audience with us while we watched the excellent Hedwig and Angry Inch?
We particularly enjoyed spending time wandering around Brooklyn, appreciating the landmark Brooklyn Bridge, and discovering an amazing vegetarian restaurant for lunch (again a huge trend here, just like in LA). We also dined at Red Bamboo, a hole in the wall restaurant near Washington Square that only serves vegetarian and vegan food – as good as ever! Afterwards, we bought take-out coffees and went and sat in Washington Square, watched people go by and just soaking up the experience of being in New York City.
Blog post by Hoon Kim
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