Category: Westin New York Grand Central

May 17th, 2014 — 9:51pm

One of the many wonderful things about my job at The Westin New York Grand Central is it connects me with amazing people I wouldn’t get to know otherwise. That serendipitous occurrence happened once again – during a delightful lunch with wildly popular blogger/cookbook author Tess Masters a.k.a .

Tess and me

Tess and I met while she was staying at the Westin as part of a multi-city tour promoting her fabulous new cookbook. Named for her blog, features 100 gluten-free, vegan recipes that excite even an unabashed carnivore like me. The cookbook is generating plenty of media buzz and with good reason.

Tess and I were introduced via email via a mutual acquaintance a few months ago, and we clicked immediately. Like everyone else I know from Australia, Tess is charming, fun and down to earth. During lunch, we bonded effortlessly over our shared background in TV, love of Westin’s wellness programs and appreciation for the differing attributes of L.A. (where Tess lives now) and NYC.

My first experience of L.A. was 20 years ago with then-boyfriend and CA native . I saw so much of it during the year that we dated that its charms were somewhat lost on me. Over time, though, I’ve come to enjoy it as a very welcome respite from the relentless hustle and bustle of my hometown. Coastal, beachside living and a more laidback attitude are very alluring when you reside in the concrete jungle of Manhattan.

Thankfully, NYC is finally enjoying one of LA’s best attributes – beautiful weather. After our long winter, I’m slowly emerging from a seasonal dating hibernation. It feels good to get back out there. To realize that each time I take a crack at meeting someone special, I am growing and evolving in the process.

A new season indeed.

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February 16th, 2014 — 9:30pm

I’m a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Contrary to the media, greeting cards and jewelry companies, it is not an occasion exclusively for couples. It’s a day to celebrate all kinds of love – and I was reminded of that several times this past Friday.

My morning began at The Westin New York Grand Central, which welcomed staffers with hot chocolate, donuts and brightly colored balloons. Awaiting me inside my inbox – emails from colleagues and business associates wishing me a happy Valentine’s Day.

Friday was a dual hotel day on the job for me, so I headed over to the Sheraton New York Times Square.

In the Valentine’s Day spirit: my colleague (and awesome former boss) Kristin and me

All of us in sales and marketing were treated to a fun lunch (empanadas, cake pops) in our festively decorated conference room.

It is one of my wise coworkers whom I can credit with encouraging me to reach out to someone special who has been on my mind lately. I took the leap and he responded lovingly – reminding me exactly why he has restored my faith in the existence of good guys. And what better day to have that lesson resurface?

After work, I headed home to spruce myself up for a night on the town with good friend and fellow bachelorette Lauren. We ventured out of our neighborhood and down to the Financial District. First stop, watering hole Ulysses on Stone Street, where we enjoyed complimentary Champagne and hearty entrees (red snapper and seafood paella for me, Shepherd’s Pie for Lauren). Then, it was off to Bar 7even 5ive at the Andaz Wall Street.

As bartenders dressed like Cupid and wearing big feather wings roamed the room, Lauren and I talked about online dating disasters, turning 40 and taking steps toward new beginnings.

For me, one of those steps will involve a new direction for my little corner of the blogosphere.  Looking forward to sharing it with all of you soon!

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September 23rd, 2013 — 2:36pm

Friday night, I headed over to the Australian Consulate for a book launch party celebrating Indira Naidoo’s The Edible Balcony.

Indira Naidoo and me at the Australian Consulate

I had the pleasure of meeting Indira, one of Australia’s most highly regarded journalists and TV anchors, earlier in the week when she visited The Westin New York Grand Central for a story she’s doing about . When I mentioned my great affection for , and that I too am an alum of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, extended an invite to the event.

I was truly delighted to attend. The evening reminded me of why I so enjoyed my stint as a Sydneysider years ago — Aussies are such congenial, friendly people. During the reception, I chatted with several expats and enjoyed some delicious hors d’oeuvres inspired by the recipes in Indira’s book.

The Edible Balcony charts her inspiring journey to create a garden on the balcony of her apartment in Sydney’s Potts Point neighborhood.

Indira shared what she learned in a fascinating presentation that showcased how even small urban spaces can be converted to thriving gardens — and the important role of these green spaces in food security and healthier eating.

In just eight months, Indira grew 73 plantings of fruits and vegetables – 154 pounds worth! — on her balcony. What is truly amazing about this is she had no previous experience with gardening. During her talk, I found myself remembering the pride I felt when I managed to grow a small basil plant on my window sill.

The Edible Balcony is a great testament to the wonders that can happen when you’re bold and curious enough to try something new. And it proves that everyone, even city dwellers, can have a green thumb. You can find out more about Indira and order the book .

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May 19th, 2013 — 8:23pm

Friday, I enjoyed a girls night out with my Starwood colleague and friend Anna.

Gaonnuri: authentic Korean fare set against NYC’s stunning skyline

Anna introduced me to , an upscale Korean barbecue restaurant located on the top floor of 1250 Broadway with stunning city views. She read my mind when suggesting it as the perfect date venue (especially the drinks-only window seating area). I may have to return here if my tentative date with a recent Speed Dating bachelor comes to pass.

While enjoying white wine and beef bibimbap (served with rice in a traditional hot stone pot), we talked about being true to where you are in the single versus settling down trajectory, the allure of living abroad and the good fortune of working for a company that is rich with opportunity.

That last tangent of conversation continued over Cosmopolitans at Hotel Metro’s rooftop bar. I confided in Anna about the challenging first few days of my new job – Marketing Manager of the Sheraton New York Times Square. I’m now a two-hotel girl, dividing my time between the Sheraton and my beloved Westin New York Grand Central.

They’re very different hotels so, inevitably of course, I felt somewhat overwhelmed at first. I started to settle in, though, as soon as I received words of support from both my Westin and Sheraton colleagues. For the first time ever in my long and winding career, I finally feel like I’m in a place where I can truly grow and stay put. The management at Starwood Hotels & Resorts is that rare breed capable of pushing you beyond your comfort zone while ensuring you are ready for it.

I’ve said it many times but it bears repeating here. Professionally speaking, I’ve gone from kissing a frog to finding Prince Charming. I was so miserable in my last job that I never thought I would find this kind of career fulfillment again. I can’t help thinking that’s also a good metaphor for dating too. There is always the possibility for something really wonderful to happen.

With an out of town old flame heading this way in a few weeks, I’m looking forward to some kind of wonderful becoming a reality.

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May 5th, 2013 — 8:38pm

This has been a particularly action-packed week — with four work-related events, two of which I had a large part in planning. It culminated in yesterday’s Bridal Bash, an occasion that represented the intersection of business and pleasure which is very much a part of my job.

Westin ladies decked out for the bash: (from left) Jhana, Donna, Jenn and me

To celebrate the opening of our new ballroom, my Westin New York Grand Central colleagues and I came up with a fun idea – inviting women to wear their wedding or bridesmaid dresses again while joining us for an afternoon of cocktails and giveaways. Among those in attendance were a handful of my girlfriends who came to support me and reminded me how lucky I am to have them in my life.

Among my favorite moments: the overcome-with-joy reaction of a prizewinning woman who made me feel a little like Oprah must when she’s giving away something big…Working with a nice WPIX/Channel 11 camera guy to get a sound bite from one of our guests. It was a fun throwback to my TV reporter days, and another example of how I’ve finally landed in a gig where I feel like everything I did before was in preparation for it.

After Bridal Bash ended, my good friend Bobbi and I decided to take advantage of the Kentucky Derby-Cinco de Mayo celebrations going on. Our first stop was Stone Rose Lounge for drinks and light bites. Then, we walked over to the trendy Hudson Hotel.

The hotel’s outdoor fiesta was for ticketed guests only, so we parked ourselves in a corner of the bar for some lively conversation about work and dating. We talked about discovering ex-boyfriends are married, the increasing appeal of non-New York men and viewing past relationships with hindsight.

“Do have you any regrets?” Bobbi asked, about the guys I’ve walked away from over the years.

I actually don’t. Though there are romantic situations I could have handled better, sparing myself and another person a lot of needless heartache, I know I did the best I could at the time. And that I am stronger and, I like to think, wiser for having gone through all of those ill-fated loves. I learned from every single one of them. I’m a better woman for it all, knowing that when I meet the right person, I’ll be truly ready for him.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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March 6th, 2013 — 8:21pm

Saturday, I spent the day with my dear London-based friend of nearly twenty years, Steve.

Our fantastic afternoon began at my day job, The Westin New York Grand Central. After giving Steve a brief tour, we settled into the cozy lounge and dining area of THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen.

THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen's cozy dining area

While indulging in mimosas and hot chocolate — an odd combination that managed to go perfectly together — we caught up on all that’s happened since we last saw each other in .

Steve told me about how and he his partner celebrated ten years together with an English countryside getaway. I shared some recent dating disasters, including a guy who suddenly launched into x-rated talk on date #2 and couldn’t fathom why I wasn’t swooning. Much as I enjoyed the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, a second date is a little too soon to go there, if you know what I mean.

After a leisurely stroll through Grand Central Terminal and some shopping, we stopped at Panera Bread. I’m a big fan of the chain and it only recently opened this one location in Manhattan, so I was excited to visit. Much to our great surprise and delight, Panera’s cinnamon scone was delicious. I say this because scones on this side of the pond tend to be a poor imitation of their British counterparts.

Steve and me at Barbounia

From there, we headed down to Gramercy for dinner at Barbounia, an upscale Greek restaurant with a trendy yet inviting vibe. We shared a few small plates (falafel, burrata with artichokes, hummus, tzatziki and spicy feta) and continued our effortless conversation — talking about everything from why Adele rocks to misconceptions about singlehood.

Steve agreed that it’s often one extreme or the other when it comes to partnered up people’s assumptions about the unattached: that our lives are either just like Sex And The City, or we’re curled up in a ball on our couches, pining away for a significant other. The reality is that, much like relationships, singlehood has its ups and downs. It’s not all good or all bad.

What is most definitely all good — a friendship that only grows and deepens with time. Steve said that, nearly two decades later, ours is still evergreen. I couldn’t agree with him more.

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March 3rd, 2013 — 4:48pm

Monday, my business-pleasure getaway to Florida continued with a drive to Orlando for the Starwood Sales & Operations Kickoff conference. The annual event brings together nearly 3,000 Starwood associates from across North America — and was my first big exposure to what a global, dynamic company Starwood is.

Opening general session at Starwood Kickoff

Kickoff was held at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin, an expansive Westin-Sheraton resort located a short boat or bus ride from the park. The conference began with a general session featuring energizing speeches from
Starwood’s CEO and global sales leader.

Then, it was time for a dazzling Black and White themed welcome reception.

The Black and White Reception

The expansive ballroom featured more than a dozen delicious food and beverage options prepared by finalists in the HOTchef and starMixologist competitions. From grilled cheese lollipops and rattlesnake tostadas to a basil cranberry margarita and dragonberry martini, it was hard to decide a winner but so much fun to sample all the worthy nominees.

Equally delightful — getting to share the experience with my Westin New York Grand Central colleagues. The night ended with a fireworks display and dessert reception at Epcot Center.

My colleague Jhana and I at Epcot Center

Day two was equally action packed, with multiple breakout sessions including one that described the Westin hotel experience. I learned a few new things about the brand I’m so lucky to work for — including a new partnership with Delta bringing Westin’s Heavenly Beds in flight, and allowing for crossover rewards.

Our evening reception was held on the causeway between each hotel.

Conference attendees filled the Swan-Dolphin causeway for an evening reception

More than a dozen different food stations featured such delights as dim sum, fresh tacos, and lobster rolls. It has to be said — Starwood knows how to host a first class event.

The conference reinforced how excited I am to finally be in a job where I feel both happy with where I am and hopeful about what lies ahead. If you’re at a career crossroads, take it from someone who came to Starwood after a job I detested — the right thing is out there.

I look forward to one day soon saying the same about my love life!

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February 17th, 2013 — 5:06pm

Wednesday night, I headed over to David’s Tea on the Upper East Side for cocktails and conversation in celebration of eFlirtExpert Founder Laurie Davis’ fabulous new book, .

eFlirtExpert Founder and author Laurie Davis shared some online dating tips with the crowd

Having worked with nearly a thousand clients and connected with her future hubby on Twitter, Laurie knows plenty about dating in the digital world. Love At First Click is a brisk, engaging read packed with great tips for finding love in cyberspace. Laurie covers everything – from choosing the website that’s right for you and creating the perfect profile to netiquette rules.

All smiles with the author

After reading her book, you won’t have to wonder about whether to wink or how to use emoticons when flirting via email. The best compliment I can give is that Love At First Click has made me consider a  return to online dating. Laurie dispenses her practical, proven advice like an old friend whose wisdom you can’t deny. Her book is a must read for singles navigating the digital dating world.

Laurie and I talked about how excited we are for Tuesday’s First Date how-to event at THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen at the Westin New York Grand Central. Laurie will be joined by her fiancé Thomas Edwards (a.k.a ) and a team of Starwood hotel concierges, sharing their expertise about where to go and what to do on a first date. for more info and to RSVP.

I also had the pleasure of catching up with CeCe of . We talked about work, what’s new in social media — I didn’t know about hot new video app Vine – and adventures in speed dating. I told CeCe about the guy I met at HurryDate last month who called me at work weeks later, soliciting a business lead then clumsily asking me out as an afterthought.

Here’s hoping my next speed dating outing in March will be more successful. In the meantime, I think I might be paying a visit to OkCupid…

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February 10th, 2013 — 5:59pm

Readers of this blog know I’ve been writing a lot less lately – largely because I’ve been wrapped up in my fabulous still relatively new job. This week, the other reason I’ve been MIA is a bad cold.

After five days of feeling both under the weather and tired of this winter, I’m thankful for all of the things that have gotten me through my congested, feverish haze. In no particular order:

TLC from my thoughtful colleagues – One co-worker braved the cold to buy me cough drops, while another offered me tea and my boss gave me a cereal bar and some Emergin-C. Their kindness and genuine caring reminded me all over again how lucky I am to call the Westin New York Grand Central my professional home.

Tulips from dear friends

The comforting company of dear friends – My dear college friend Pam, in town from Chicago, stopped by yesterday with her partner and their efferverscent 8-year-old son. In addition to surprising me with beautiful red tulips (my floral favorite), they cheered me with up easy conversation and laughs. No better RX in my opinion.

Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite – Having received a Kindle from my brother and sister-in-law for my birthday a few weeks ago, I’m still very much in the honeymoon period with this delightful gadget. I spent much of my downtime the last couple of days finishing Cissy Houston’s raw, poignant memoir, . It is a powerful reflection on the pop superstar from the woman who loved her best and definitely worth a read (and, ahem, download). Also taking up room on my Kindle, Amy Spencer’s delightful How To Meet Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match.

Speaking of great gadgets…

My DVR – How do I love my DVR? This weekend, to distract myself from cabin fever, I’ve counted the ways by enjoying TV shows recorded (Dallas) and catching snippets of favorite movies like Sex and The City and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Ferris provided the perfect pick me up today, as I smiled through classic lines like this one:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So true – sick days, of course, being the exception to that.

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February 3rd, 2013 — 4:13pm

One of my many favorite things about my job is it’s given me the opportunity to get to know Grand Central Terminal a little more. Thanks to the Westin’s partnership with GCT, I had the pleasure of taking part in the celebration of this New York icon’s 100th birthday on Friday.

It was standing room only for GCT's Centennial celebration

The Centennial festivities kicked off with a rededication ceremony on the Main Concourse. Speakers included Mayor Bloomberg (who also paid tribute to the late Ed Koch), Caroline Kennedy, Mets MVP Keith Hernandez and Cynthia Nixon.

Cynthia Nixon spoke fondly about GCT and its storied history

Cynthia shared her fond memories of Grand Central, from her 20th high school reunion there to sending off her kids on a school trip. She also shared some poignant words from her dad. He once told her that it’s easy to forget how beautiful New York is because of its fast pace, but remember once in awhile to take a moment to appreciate it. Well said.

The ceremony ended with a rousing performance from Melissa Manchester and singers from Celia Cruz High School in the Bronx — but festivities continued throughout the day.

Me, Kristin and Jenn at GCT’s Centennial gala

Friday evening, I joined my boss Kristin and colleague Jenn at Vanderbilt Hall for a gala event that included cocktails, hors d’oeuvres (including macaroni and cheese balls….delish!) and a few celebrity sightings. Among them, former Mayor David Dinkins and Martha Stewart. We couldn’t resist saying hello to Martha and, much to our surprise, she was gracious and chatty.

Me and Jenn with Martha Stewart

Dinner was at GCT’s iconic Oyster Bar, where the three of us joined staffers from WABC-TV for a three-course meal featuring (of course) oysters, salmon and a pair of desserts (red velvet cake and key lime pie). We talked about things related to work and not, and it struck me all over again how profoundly fortunate I am to spend my workdays with smart, talented women I am learning so much from.

Happy 100th, Grand Central!

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