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Anywhere, Anytime

Global

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Were travel, art, architecture, fashion, food and adventure meet. Founder and global adventurer Geren Lockhart was "Born Packed" when she started traveling at a young age and never stopped. This site follows along on her journey. 

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THE WATERHOUSE SHANGHAI

Geren Lockhart

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The Waterhouse at South Bund is a diamond of a design hotel tucked quietly away in a 1930's ex-Japanese Army headquarters in the neighborhood of South Bund in Shanghai. It is a raw and organic take on the melding of the old with the new, designed and re-built by the local celebrity architect and design firm Neri & Hu design and research office. They created a space that feels unique in the middle of the "older" part of town which is being torn down and replaced by peach high-rises holding thousands of apartments. The Waterhouse is a welcome respite from Shanghai which can be really, really, really full on pretty much all of the time. Standouts for the property are the art collection, the Tracy Emin neon behind reception makes sure you know that art is crucial when you've just walked thru the door. The owner of the property is a collector, but of chairs, he's obsessed. There are all kinds of chairs throughout the property, the most bizarre is the vintage barber chair that sits outside my door set in an open space as a piece of sculpture. 

The rooms are spacious and well appointed if a bit Jetson's in their user experience. Frosted glass walls divide the bathroom from the main bedroom and portal windows slice and dice your views of the city and skyline which really did engage me in looking at the city differently. Beds are placed in the middle of the room, they function as storage, work table, and bed all in one. Comfortable...very comfortable. Robes, slippers, stationary, and amenities remind me of East London (where they also own the Town Hall Hotel) or Williamsburg and to be honest these memories were a welcome normalcy which I often yearn for when tromping through Asia. The best way to sum up the rooms is chic new loft. They're peaceful despite their lack of adornment. 

The food......ahhhhhhhh, THE FOOD. Jason Atherton of Maze fame in London steps out on his own for the first time with Table No. 1 at The Waterhouse at South Bund, and he wins. Big big winner. I have told many people since my stay that the food was stellar for anywhere in the world. Not just stellar because it was western cuisine in the Eastern part of the world. From the coffee at breakfast, to the snacks waiting in my room when I would plop down after a long day at the factory and most likely in a car for hours it heightens the experience at the hotel by many notches. The clientele at dinner is the Shanghai version of a cosmopolitan crowd you almost solely encounter in London making for a great mix of locals and visitors. The menu is smaller bites and plates of heightened but not fussy concepts. Wonderful ingredients, some of which are grown on the property, are combined together in familiar but not expected ways. I will confess that once I had the food, I didn't eat anywhere else for the rest of my stay. It wasn't my first trip to Shanghai and I had a compulsion that this may be the only time I get to partake of Jason's genius at Table No. 1. The staff is well trained and knows the experience that the chef is trying to create. The kitchen which you can look into from the courtyard is a well oiled machine, reminding me of the kitchens of Spain or the UK the chefs all looked to be on their way to greatness of their own. It was a family environment of ex-pats really focused on the reason they are there. 

The Waterhouse at South Bund is a hotel standout from a design and culinary perspective, they have some kinks to work out with the flow of the rest of the service but I don't speak Mandarin and you can't complain that you can't communicate if you don't speak the native language....

I would stay again, and anytime I am in Shanghai you can bet you'll see me at Table No. 1, probably more than once! I had a mid-day flight and the team packed me a take away meal from the restaurant so that I didn't have to have plane food. A very good tip if you're departing home from the hotel. It made the long trip home a bit better.

The Waterhouse at South Bund

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CAMP WINE

Geren Lockhart

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Abe's abode. This is what I call "wine camp, camp wine", but really it's Abe's house in Napa Valley. The home of Scholium Wines where I stomped some grapes. The property sits on the river in Napa and houses an eclectic collection of art and foodie treasures. 


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CLASKA TOKYO

Geren Lockhart

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Claska is a lifestyle concept as much as it is a hotel property. The large Mad Men era building sits in the Meguro neighborhood of Tokyo which is a bit off the more traveled paths of the city. Meguro is a very robust area with good public transport access, I wasn't bothered in any way by the location. However I was surprised by the lack of design hotel properties in Tokyo. It feels as if every other detail of every other thing is being considered from design and concept perspective, despite that you will be challenged to find a place to lay your head that isn't either a luxury property from a global player (I'm not complaining about that in any way, but I wanted a design experience) or a Japanese business hotel - think pods. The building and it's rooms are big by Tokyo standard, with 20 rooms across 4 floors there are distinctly different types of rooms to choose from. Rooms fall into 4 categories: Traditional Tatami, Japanese Modern, Contemporary and Weekly Residences. I stayed in one of the contemporary rooms on the 7th floor full to the gills with conceptual stuffed animal art pieces that I thought were going to freak me out, but ended up being a nice juxtaposition to the urban landscape. All of the rooms and common spaces deliver. For my next stay I will go for the Japanese Modern or the Weekly Residences, every room is worth its rate. Rates which are surprisingly reasonable compared to what you hear about in Tokyo.

The concept shop sells mostly Japanese wares a well edited offering from designers and craftspeople throughout the country. The shop at Claska is one my top three favorites from the stay. I found it especially good because of the smaller artistically considered selection on offer. Compared to The Loft or Tokyo Hands it was easier to navigate. It is simple to understand the artistic take when you realize that there are two separate galleries in the building that regularly have shows up. Upon arrival you are greeted on a lovely welcome floor with reception and open plan restaurant that is great for a traditional Japanese breakfast or tea in the afternoon. My favorite parts of the building were the common spaces and the architectural details that they had left in place when they re-purposed the property to turn it into a hotel (see amazing tile below). Thoughtfully placing seating and working areas are spread throughout the common spaces on each floor. There is a shocking amount of open space and it's all cinematic, it is a very photo friendly property. The toiletries are from Marks & Web which became a favorite for gifts when I was in town. You will be conserving in the interest of bringing them home with you. The linens were crisp and luxurious with two different robes on offer. 

The best part of the whole building is the rooftop terrace, stunning views of the city skyline from an underexploited vantage and an excellent place to sip coffee with my new crush....Mt. Fuji that is. I woke up each morning in my animal filled room looking out the window a the magical mountain. I fell hard. I was lucky that I had three clear days in a row where he was on full display and it was just after winter so he was in tip top camera-ready shape. The last morning I was there a fashion shoot for a Japanese magazine was in full force with fittings in the gallery space on the 8th floor and a small crew setting up on the roof. It was nice to see all the space being used in a creative way. I really felt like I was living in Tokyo for a moment. 

The service at Claska is wonderful. They're not chasing after you like butlers, but they are smart, thoughtful and have a genuine concern that you enjoy yourself and are comfortable while you're with them. I will be back to Tokyo and Claska as soon as my life allows. 

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THE SCHOLIUM PROJECT

Geren Lockhart

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The Scholium Project is the brainchild of Abe Schoener, a former professor from St. John's College and someone I am lucky enough to call a friend. I have always wanted to participate in a wine grape harvest and began pestering him over the last few years for the chance to help out. Having grown up in California near enough to Napa for school field trips there from a young age, it was in my blood. In retrospect deciding to participate in the harvest, is most closely aligned with waiting for the birth of a baby. Abe and I exchanged many e-mails and calls. The conversations were filled with guesses about the weather and when it might be right to harvest. As luck would have it I was attending a birthday party for another friend in Marin County in early October, and the grapes cooperated. I woke up the morning after a wonderful celebration and I hit the road to Scholium’s home base on the river in Napa. A small group of us gathered early that foggy morning. Most of us were meeting for the first time over coffee while gathering the supplies needed, bins, clippers and gloves. 

A caravan collects and we’re headed out to the groves to began the harvest. Abe works with many growers and different grape varieties for the brands vintages. This is part of what makes his wine unique and so special. He processes the wine in his own winery, but the grapes come from various spots throughout the valley. I realize while we are in the vineyard picking that Napa is good for the soul, there is something about the place that is peaceful and chaotic at the same time. It’s almost like the ground knows the value of the crop it supports both economically and emotionally. We pick hundreds of pounds of grapes and head to the winery to set-up for the processing. We load the haul into a contraption that primarily operates as a boa constrictor to the grapes. Abe makes the most amazing “orange” wine which I have come to learn is white grapes put through a skin-on fermentation and this is the process we were working with. Wine making is a science with a bit of magic thrown in. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. There were test tubes and thermometers and conversations that bordered on sounding like the biology classes I remember from long ago, but even with all that there’s the sun and the air and the variables that all need to come together over weeks and years to birth a beautiful vintage. 

The moment has come and I GET TO STOMP GRAPES. Not in a barrel like on I Love Lucy but still! I recommend that this is added to your bucket list. It’s freeing and fun and productive all at once, and you’re part of something that won’t really come to life for a year at least. I love the cooperative work style that is a part of the culture Abe had created, everyone including him is learning all the time. After we finished the days pressing we check the development of the rest of the seasons work. There was more stomping and a lot of conversation contemplating the progress each barrel had made and what it might mean to each vintage’s future life. We then hit the road to go look at the ripening progress of some other more precious varieties with the idea that the upcoming pressings could be scheduled…or not depending on the verdict. 
 
It was a perfect sunny day in Napa, I learned so much more than I expected to, and I felt the magic. Abe pens the most amazing newsletters which are worth signing up for, the wine is supremely good and it’s worth a visit to their digital world for the knowledge to be gained alone. There are forward thinking retailers and restaurants that stock the wines, however I think it’s more fun to digest the information on the site and ask the winemaker directly if you have questions. I’ve got two cases waiting for me at home in LA and I can’t wait to find excuses for dinner parties just to be able to partake of the wines with my friends. Especially the 2011 Prince aka “orange wine."  

 


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