|Travel curator Melanie Brandman.
John and I are traveling around Europe for the Thanksgiving holiday, so expect a few reports from the likes of London, Amsterdam and Paris in the upcoming weeks. But while we are bopping about, I thought I'd check in with my great pal Melanie Brandman, a high-wattage, Australian-born lifestyle and travel PR guru based in New York and the creator of the recently launched Travel Curator website. Haven't heard of The Travel Curator? This is Melanie's opportunity to curate the world and offers tips and suggestions from her far-flung adventures, and no one travels more than Melanie. (And, no, she does not just write about her clients.) Here's a peek into MB's very stylish black book.
Jason Oliver Nixon: So what's your favorite design city and why?
Melanie Brandman: Barcelona. For me, design is an integral part of the city experience: I am always on the lookout for amazing design in every city I visit. I was in Barcelona recently and completely in awe of the modern and historical architectural mix. It's incredible how the locals embrace both, which I think is unusual for a city with a traditional heritage. Of note, the Hotel Arts is a spectacular skyscraper and Frank Gehry's Agbar Tower and The Fish (or Barcelona Fish) should not be missed.
JON: What city is most exciting for you now?
MB: I am loving London right now. It's changed so much in the past 10 years, that's when I last lived there, and the restaurant and hotel scene are really buzzing right now. Culturally, London is one of my favorites. The lead up to the Olympics is giving off a very positive mood in the city.
JON: What is the best city for dining, and tell us about your favorite dining spots there.
MB: Sydney, now and forever. Aussies just know how to make every meal, even the most simple, an experience. Australia definitely has a style of cuisine you don't find anywhere else-the perfect mix of contemporary with a heavy influence from the Mediterranean and Asia, always featuring fresh produce and an abundance of seafood. I also think you get the best coffee in Australia; it's an art form down there. Bills for breakfast in Sydney or brunch on the water in Palm Beach (two hours drive north) at The Boat House is my new favorite place (can arrive by sea plane if you wish). Lunch at Icebergs on Bondi Beach and dinner at Neil Perry's Rockpool Bar & Grill, one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city.
JON: Tell us about your favorite tropical escape.
MB: Bali, Bali, Bali! There is a calming spirituality from the minute you step off the plane. Barbados, because I love the diverse nature of the island. Bequia for its rustic, unspoiled charm.
JON: What is your favorite quick escape from New York City?
MB: The most important thing for me is to be on or near water so I alternate between my boathouse in Southampton, New York (summer) and my lake house in The Catskills in upstate New York year round.
JON: What is your favorite NYC restaurant and why?
MB: With so many amazing restaurants in New York, it's a really tough choice. But I would have to say Jean Georges at 1 Central Park West. Favorite because the food is sublime and the service is spot on. And depending on my mood and the occasion, they really have three distinct dining experiences in one space. From the fine dining room, to the more casual front room (Nougatine) to a quick meal at the bar.
JON: You are constantly on the go. Do you have a terrific travel packing tip?
MB: I keep all my clothes on coat hangers under drycleaners plastic and roll them. They fit nicely into the case, the plastic really stops the wrinkles and is a quick unpack (which I hate)…
JON: What makes a great hotel?
MB: A great hotel is one I never hesitate to recommend. Number one is service. Service can make or break a hotel. Number two is beautiful, yet practical, design, which must have a sense of place (La Mamounia in Marrakech is my example of a great hotel). And superb cuisine, in the restaurants or delivered to my door.