One of the world’s most visited cities, London has something for everyone, from history to culture, art, grand museums, dazzling architecture, royalty, diversity and irrepressible pizazz.
London is immersed in history. Not so much that it’s precious, but there’s sufficient antiquity and historic splendour (Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court) to blow you away. London’s buildings are eye-catching milestones in the city’s unique and compelling biography. There’s more than enough funky innovation (the Shard, the Aquatics Centre, the Gherkin) to put a crackle in the air, but it never drowns out London’s well-preserved, centuries-old narrative. Architectural grandeur rises up all around you in the West End, ancient remains dot the City and charming pubs punctuate the Thames riverside. Take your pick.
Art & Culture
A tireless innovator of art and culture, London’s a city of ideas and the imagination. British people are fiercely independent thinkers (and critics) so London’s creative milieu is naturally streaked with leftfield attitude, from theatrical innovation to contemporary art, pioneering music, writing and design. And that’s even truer in these testing recessionary times. The artistic bar has been nudged higher, the audience is more demanding and the Olympic Games are limbering up, so London is moving heaven and earth to entertain. Revel in the choice: outstanding art galleries, museums and festivals, West End theatres, fringe drama, dance and some great music.
English may be the national tongue, but over 300 languages shape London’s linguistic soundscape. These languages also represent cultures that season the culinary aromas on London’s streets, the clothing you glimpse and the music you hear. Sometimes it seems that the entire world has come to town. Museums – such as the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum – have collections as diverse as they are magnificent, while flavours at markets such as Borough and Exmouth range aromatically across the culinary spectrum. London’s diverse cultural dynamism makes it quite possibly the world’s most international city, while being somehow intrinsically British.
A Tale of two Cities
London is as much about high-density, sight-packed exploration (the West End, South Bank, the City) and urban dynamism as it is about wide-open spaces and leafy escapes. Central London is where you will find all the major museums, galleries and most iconic sights, but escape to Hampstead Heath or Greenwich Park to flee the crowds and put the city’s greener hues into gorgeous perspective. Alternatively, venture even further out to Kew Gardens, Richmond or Hampton Court Palace for effortlessly good-looking panoramas of riverside London. Even in the centre of town, you’ll find a city dappled with a well-tended array of parks and gardens, making it one of the world’s leafiest capital cities.
On Friday August, American Airlines, through BlackAtlas.com, announced actor Laz Alonso as the new travel ambassador of BlackAtlas.com at a private launch party and press conference at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Media Elites like Team SFPL were invited towitness the new travel ambassadors inauguration as he will host several travel videos featured onBlackAtlas.com and represent American Airlines and BlackAtlas.com at select events.
The invitation-only event, which took place at the historic Studio Museum of Harlem, featured music by jazz band Rakiem Walker Band and celebrity mixer DJ Cosi.
The evening’s highlight came in the form of a live musical performance by Roc Nation songstress, Melanie Fiona. The event was catered by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant, Red Rooster Harlem. Check out some pictures of the evnt below
HISTORY, FOOD, and THE ARTS – MY LONDON EXPERIENCE
Words By: Rannon “Ray” Harris
Traveling can be one of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences one can experience. Being able to see the world and different places is always something that can further one’s sense of culture. Being a huge traveler, I still get excited every trip I take. London puts a smile on my face every time I think about it. The shopping, the culture, the art, the theater district, and the historical landmarks are just a few of the things that make my heart pitter patter when I go.
This trip was no different, but this time it was even better. As I sit on the plan writing on my iPad, I can’t help but to reminisce about my adventure. My trip began in the NYC running errands with my wonderful Publisher, De’Von Christopher. Of course he had to talk about how I had over-packed my luggage. We had a lot to do before my flight, so we started early; we are the only 2 I know that will cram 20 things in a 4 hour time window. As such, he dropped me off at the British Airways terminal just in time to board for my 7 ½ hour flight which was nothing short of amazing.
Now, this isn’t my first trip to London by far. I have been to London about 7 times in the past 7 years. If I were to move internationally, London would definitely be number 1 on my list. Its diversity and culture impress me every time I go. From the moment of my arrival into London, I was on the move. I took a car service to the 7 Dials Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel where boutique hotel style luxury has been transformed into a form of normalcy. These accommodations were definitely suitable for the Bleu Man! While in the historic 7 Dials area known for its eclectic surroundings, I was amazed by the area, the shops, boutiques, museums (i.e. Tate Modern and National Portrait Gallery) and landmarks.
Before going out for the evening, I tried the Dial Bar & Restaurant located in the Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel. I was then invited to the London Film Festival in the Empire Theater Leicester Square to watch the London film premiere of Anonymous starring Redgrave. Walking the red carpet as only a Bleu man can, I was greeted by Paparazzi and reporters to talk about the movie. The movie was extremely impressive and thought-provoking – it leaves you really questioning who Shakespeare really was. I still can’t tell you the answer to the question! As if my day wasn’t packed enough, I went to the Mayfair Hotel (the official hotel of the London Film Festival) for drinks and the after party. The historic Mayfair’s ambience coupled with London’s industry finest guests made for an evening of networking and good times.
My days and nights continued to be just as hectic as the first by visiting London landmarks and historic sites. The city never ceases to amaze me. After several meals, several sites, and meeting some amazing people, my trip came to an abrupt end. After horseback riding, going on a carriage ride, going to a premiere, eating at some of the best London restaurants, and visiting some of the best sites, I was off to the airport to catch my flight back to NYC. A reluctant Rannon Ray checked out of the Radisson Edwardian Heathrow where I was pampered by having both a massage a facial, to head back to the Heathrow Airport. And here I am now, still basking in the memories of an awesome trip. As I look down at the clouds from of the window, I count my blessings and enjoy this feeling….Another Bleu Destiny Satisfied.
Dial Bar & Restaurant located in the Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel
The heart of the hotel, Dial is about shared experience – from the bar’s delectable small plates to the comfort and conviviality of the restaurant. Here, modern European dishes of impeccable provenance are prepared with market-fresh British produce, while the fragrant spices of the bar’s meze menu hint at the old Covent Garden market’s more exotic wares. A hub at the heart of Seven Dials, this is a chic urban eatery without an ounce of pretension.
National Portrait Gallery
The Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women. Explore over 175,000 portraits from the 16th Century to the present day.
May Fair Bar
Recently judged the ‘Best Hotel Bar in London’ by the readers of the Guardian and London Lite. The May Fair Bar defines itself through its expert mix of the classic and the avant garde. With its menu of over 40 signature drinks passionately crafted by mixologist Marios Elias and his team. The May Fair Bar is an essential stop on the London party circuit.
Thomas Neale devised the characteristic “seven dials” street layout in order to maximize the number of houses that could be built on the site and therefore his profit. The names of the seven streets were chosen with the intention of attracting well to do residents; however some of the names have subsequently been simplified or changed because of duplication with other streets in London. They were originally: Little and Great Earl Street (now Earlham Street), Little and Great White Lyon Street (now Mercer Street), Queen Street (now Shorts Gardens) and Little & Great St. Andrew’s Street (now Monmouth Street). Some of the original street signs can still be seen attached to buildings in the area.
St. Martin’s Courtyard
St Martin’s Courtyard is London’s newest shopping and dining destination in Covent Garden. Discover boutique shopping and fabulous restaurants in beautiful surroundings. At the heart of St Martin’s Courtyard is a stunning open air courtyard with al fresco dining.
The Quince Restaurant located in the Mayfair Hotel
Soulful, sensual and spirited, Quince is the perfect expression of Chef Patron Silvena Rowe’s exuberant personality. A luxe eaterie with an engagingly every-day feel, it is at once alluring yet warmly familiar. Above all, the Quince experience is about sharing – about exploring flavours and textures together.
Regent Street receives over 7.5 million tourist visits a year and there are over 10,000 people employed there. Its Grade II listed facades are considered some of the most distinguished architecture in London.
Perhaps best known as a shopping destination, Regent Street now rivals the Champs-Elysées and Fifth Avenue. With over 2km of store frontage, it is home to one of the finest collections of international brands in the world, including Apple, Burberry, Banana Republic, Jaeger, Desigual, and Anthropologie.
In its 300-year history Jermyn Street has always retained its distinctive character. This applies to the ambience of the street, the services it offers, and to the shops and businesses and the people who own and run them. Inevitably there have been changes in the architecture over the years, with the old houses converted into shops and some facades modernized. However, much of the original essence of Jermyn Street lingers on and it still provides a quintessentially British experience.
The Brasserie, light and informal, is the ideal place to meet and dine with friends and colleagues, freshly prepared seasonal British food. The Brasserie at Heathrow has been refurbished – with a stylish new look.
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. It has been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years. It is an official residence of Her Majesty The Queen, whose standard flies from the Round Tower when she is in residence. Windsor is still very much a working royal palace. The Castle is used regularly for ceremonial and State occasions.
Ascot Carriages through Royal Landscape
They use the sociable 6-seater carriage that belonged to the Late Lt. Col Sir John Miller, Crown Equerry and Her Majesty the Queen’s horsemaster for 26 years. Sir John was also President of the British Driving Society. As well as his immaculate presentations for four Royal Weddings and many state occasions, Sir John was responsible for the Royal Procession down the course at Royal Ascot.
Bel and The Dragon
This former biscuit factory, Bel & The Dragon Reading certainly has an interesting past. Sitting on the waterfront of the Kennet & Avon Canal, a short distance from the centre of the town, this unique building has been lovingly refurbished to house a vibrantly atmospheric restaurant and bar. The boardwalk and moored boat also provides an ideal waterside setting for alfresco dining.
WHERE TO STAY
Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel
The quintessential Covent Garden rendezvous, the newly transformed Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street effortlessly blends with the boutique appeal of its neighborhood. A landmark in Seven Dials village, this is a chic retreat on the doorstep of London’s most celebrated theatres, its beautifully designed rooms equipped with next-generation technology. Hip as the streets that surround it, with a bar and restaurant alive with locals, this place feels real, relaxed and rooted in its community.
Radisson Edwardian Heathrow
“The relaxing ambience inside the Heathrow Hotel eases away the stresses of travelling.”
Heathrow Airport is only a few minutes from the Radisson Edwardian London Heathrow Hotel, but the relaxing ambience inside this fabulous Heathrow Hotel completely eases away the stresses of travelling. This is the ideal place to stay on stopovers, or when making a brief visit to London. Heathrow Hotel is also an internationally acclaimed conference centre with 43 event and function rooms, some capable of entertaining 700 guests. It’s also fully licensed to perform wedding ceremonies and the hotel’s Heathrow airport location means you can get away on honeymoon stress-free.
WHERE TO EAT
Kopapa is the perfect place to meet your friends in the West End.
It’s an all-day restaurant and cafe serving comforting, innovative and hearty breakfasts and brunch on weekends together with a fabulous lunch and dinner menu featuring many small dishes and sharing plates – and from 6 pm, a bar and eatery buzzing with people heading off to the theatre.
RiverHouse is a stylish riverside restaurant and bar extensively refurbished with original modern art, chandeliers and leather chairs. There is a definite “wow factor” from customers visiting the first time. Adding to its appeal is the 100-seater terrace right on the river with views across to Eton Bridge. A wonderful, relaxing place to have a first class meal watching the boats and the river wildlife go by.
Skylines are so passé. In an attempt to give travelers better—or at least closer—ocean views, Dubai-based construction company Drydocks World and Swiss consulting, engineering, and brokerage firm BIG InvestConsult will build the Water Discus Hotel, a luxury underwater hotel in Dubai.
Poland’s Deep Ocean Technology designed the hotel, surrounded by a coral reef, to have 21 two-person rooms with huge windows and an underwater diving center. Rooms will be as deep as 10 meters below the surface, and diving training will be offered. The hotel can also rotate. A large disc-shaped structure above the water will have a spa, garden, and upper-terrace swimming pool—presumably for guests at an underwater hotel who don’t actually want to be in the ocean.
Architect Paweł Podwojewski says he started designing the hotel two years ago. He approached it more as if it were a ship than a building, and kept construction costs low by making the structure simple and not fixing it to the ocean floor. The hotel can surface for repairs or evacuation in anywhere from 15 minutes to 12 hours—the speed is adjustable—and be tugged to new locations. The acrylic windows are the most expensive part, he says, and can be added or removed based on the budget.
Water Discus Hotel is not the first underwater hotel to be announced, but it could be the first to succeed. In 2006, plans were made for Hydropolis, a 250- to 300-suite resort off the coast of Jumeirah Beach in Dubai, though the estimated $300 million project never even began construction. U.S. Submarine Structures also announced Poseidon Undersea Resort in Fiji, which lists a package on its website for seven days and six nights for $15,000 per person. Poseidon, under construction, has been delayed and the opening is at least 20 months out, says L. Bruce Jones, chief executive of U.S. Submarine Structures. Another underwater hotel was planned inIstanbul.
Basic engineering and design questions aside, there are other things the casual traveler might wonder: “Do I still need sunblock? Will my iPhone work underwater? What if the hotel scares away the sea creatures? If something goes wrong, can the evacuation system that lifts the underwater hotel to the surface really be expected to work, as animated in the video? Is it a bad idea to watchJaws 3—in which a man-eating shark breaks through the glass in a control room at an ocean amusement park—before arriving? Could I get seasick?”
The project will cost from $50 million to $120 million, depending on the design, the chairman of Drydocks World told reporters. BIG InvestConsult will fund the project and represent Deep Ocean Technology, which owns the technology and concept for the hotel. The announcement comes a month after Drydocks World sought insolvency protection in Dubai and Singapore to push through a $2.2 billion debt restructuring, according to the Vancouver Sun. Drydocks World and Maritime World are the main contractors for new hotels and floating cities in the Middle East, which so far include two developments with five hotels, reported the Chicago Tribune, and there are discussions to build more underwater hotels around the world.
Timeline of innovations at Olympics past, present and future
The 2012 Olympic Stadium in London. Photo by dirktherabbit.
NEARLY SIX MILLION PEOPLE will converge on London for the 2012 Olympics. It will host more than 10,000 athletes from 205 countries. For 16 days, it will become the center of the broadcast universe, with over 4 billion people tuning in via television and the internet.
It’s an irrational thing, the Olympics. But it’s one of those beautiful human aspirations, like a skyscraper or space mission, that unites a massive group of people to make an impossible situation possible. And like the athletes themselves, it drives each Olympics to improve, to build rapidly, and to see just how far we can push our minds, machines, and manpower to change the world we know.
456 B.C.: The Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Zeus at Olympia, circa 2011. Photo by Kevin Poh.
The Olympics originated as a religious festival. Which, compared to present day, would probably resemble something closer to Bonnaroo than World Youth Day. Over time, the annual Olympic site of Olympia grew to become the focal point of the entire pantheon, which eventually led to the construction of the Temple of Zeus — one of the most influential structures of all time.
Way back in ancient Greece, they didn’t have cranes. They didn’t have AutoCAD. To build such a massive and beautiful structure — on top of a hill, no less — required some incredibly innovative skills. The Temple of Zeus would eventually become the standard by which all other classical Greek Doric order structures are measured, not to mention an influence for future iconic buildings an monuments, such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
1932 and 1964: Consistent and synchronized timekeeping
A starting block at the Olympics. Photo by Tableatny.
It’s crazy to think that at one time, Olympic judges each brought their own stopwatches to keep time during races and other time-centric events. It wasn’t until 1932 that Omega developed its own Olympic chronograph, made with a fly-back hand, which allowed every judge to use an identical, observatory precision-rated timepiece.
Later, we’d see electronically synchronized timing invented specifically for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 by Seiko, who coordinated a quartz crystal timer with the shot from the starter’s pistol and employed a photo-finish mechanism to get results down to 1/100th of a second accuracy. Perhaps more importantly, Seiko says that creating this technology for the Olympics helped them invent the quartz wristwatch in 1969 — a technological milestone for society at large.
1936, 1948, 2008 and 2012: Televised sports
A camera operator at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
In 1936, the Berlin Olympics became the first-ever televised sporting event in history. All around Berlin — Nazi Berlin — thousands of residents watched the Games on 25 big screens inside of specially designed “television halls.” Interestingly, due to problems with the visuals, the audience could only see dark-colored horses during polo and equestrian events — the inspiration for the phrase “dark horse.”
After two concurrent hiatuses of the Summer Olympics during World War II, London hosted the 1948 Olympics, which became the first-ever Games broadcast over the air to home televisions, with over 500,000 people tuning in. 60 years later, the 2008 Olympics witnessed the first-ever High Definition broadcast of the Games to 4.7 billion people.
But perhaps the most impressive Olympic TV milestone will occur this year, as BBC has promised to broadcast every. single. event. of the entire Olympic Games, streaming up to 24 simultaneous high-definition feeds at once.
2008: New athlete technology
The 2008 Games in Beijing saw a deluge of sports technology innovation, like the Nike PreCool Vest, which aims to cool muscles down before events, because studies have shown athletes who use it gain 21% more stamina during their competition.
And of course, shoes have long been a focal point of innovation. For the 2008 Games, Adidas made a shoe designed for runners who only turn left (i.e., every competitive track runner ever), Nike created a BMX biking shoe modeled off Lance Armstrong’s cycling shoe, and Nike’s special Taekwondo shoe — the TKV — implemented a brand-new leather to help judges hear the “smack” of impact more loudly.
But perhaps the most impressive footwear innovation for the 2008 Olympics came in the form of Hitoshi Mimura’s shoe made of rice. Yep: rice. By integrating rice husks into the soles of the shoes, they purportedly offered 10% better traction during a marathon.
And then, there was the air-conditioned tennis racket…
2008: The DiveCam
The Divecam, seen at the right. Photo from Wall Street Journal.
Bringing the billions of viewers a new, exciting way of watching — and understanding — the Olympics is part and parcel to the entire mission of the Games’ innovations.
In 2008, the guy who created the SteadiCam (you know, that thing that’s used to film pretty much everything ever filmed) developed the Drop-Gravity Camera, or DiveCam, by using a very simple but innovative take on a rope-and-pulley system originally designed by Galileo. By allowing the camera to shoot motion steadily in a free fall, it captures the feeling and experience of being alongside the diver like no other camera before it.
2012: The portable stadium
London’s new Olympic Stadium is the first ever flat pack, or “portable” stadium in history.
Photo from Wikimedia.
London’s new Olympic stadium will seat around 80,000 people — but only 25,000 of those seats will be permanent. The other 55,000 will be composed of “flat pack” materials — similar to the easily broken-down assembly-line parts of Ikea furniture — making it possible to export the additional stadium seating to any other venue in the world.
What this amounts to: making a megastadium more than a giant, unsuable monolith long after the Olympics has ended, and in turn creating an incredibly innovative piece of sustainable technology.
2012: The boundless athlete
Oscar Pistorius doesn’t have legs. He’s competing in the 2012 Olympics as a runner. Making him the first-ever prosthetic-legged Olympian in history.
This may be the biggest evidence for the amount of game-changing technology the Olympics is responsible for — spawning the development of prosthetic legs so strong and fundamentally sound that a legless human is able to use them well enough to compete against the best in the world.
Of course, this emerging technology begs the question: Is it fair? Certainly, Pistorius doesn’t have as much body weight as the typical runner, and the prostheses themselves aren’t subject to lactic acid buildup or any other type of muscle fatigue.
2012: The social Olympics
One very big piece of technology available to the 2012 Olympics that all previous Olympics did not have: the current human propensity for sharing every minute of their experiences with their network of contacts. As in, Twitter.
To account for and accommodate Olympic spectators’ connectivity needs, the city of London is implementing free wifi throughout much of the London Underground for the duration of the Olympics — a huge first for public transportation.
Another social media-minded technology spawned as a result of this year’s Olympics is something called the Zeebox. Essentially, it’s like Spotify for your television. It monitors what you and your network of friends are watching, and allows for two-way communication, adding a yet-to-be-tapped potential for creating live conversations around the events.
2016: Kitesurfing and rugby
Kiteboarding in Utah. Photo by a4gpa.
As we look to the future of the Olympics, we can only expect further innovation to come along with the inclusion of new Olympic sports. One of the most exciting announcements for the 2016 Olympics was that kiteboarding will replace windsurfing as an Olympic sailing sport.
Given the fast-paced and high-flying nature of the event, think about the technical innovations that could go into providing an enhanced viewing experience — from developing specially designed, kite-mounted GoPro kits, to using miniature drones to fly around and capture the action in hovering real-time.
Another new sport for 2016: rugby. As one of the most popular sports around the world, it makes sense that rugby has finally found its way into the Olympics — but what makes it interesting is how different the sport is from others. With so much physical contact and fifteen players on the field at once, one can imagine a scenario in which tackles are measured via sensors broadcasting impact data, discreet cameras capture intra-scrum moments, and new sports technology is developed to keep athletes safer than ever before.
Words By: Jeremy “Jai” Toliver
If you’re looking at this page and wondering “Why in the world would they travel to Elkhart Lake?”…. You probably live in the city. On the flip side, while living and working in an industry that never sleeps, peace and quiet is often something that is well needed and deserved. Most times when we think of some type of getaway; we think of Miami, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, and L.A. or even a few places overseas. Rarely do we ever think to look within our own backyard for a quick and inexpensive retreat to unwind. With that, welcome to the quaint town of Elkhart Lake, the Bleu businessman’s escape from the hectic city life.
Eat, drink, and be merry in the decadent surrounding in the historic building of the Paddock Club. This stylish restaurant combines an array of seasonal ingredients with sultry European culinary tradition. Indulge in fresh handmade pastas, fish, steaks, chops and unique desserts that will leave your taste buds craving more.
61 S. Lake Street Elkhart Lake, WI 53020 920-876-3288
Every man loves a fast car, and Road America puts you behind the wheel first hand! It’s truly one of the greatest race tracks in the world. Enjoy a year-round venue with unique activities for groups of all sizes such as; ATV adventure trails for team-bonding, Karting on the Briggs & Stratton Moterplex, and the Two-wheeled Suzuki Supermoto School with a range of driving and riding schools.
N7390 Hwy 67
Elkhart Lake, WI
This was undeniably the most relaxing part of our journey; Aspira Spa’s menu of calming services include massages, facials, color therapy, hydrotherapy, salon services, spa manicures and pedicures. We received a variety of modern treatments from the slow, deep strokes of the Moroccan Hot Oil Massage, to the exceptional Four-Palm Massage. Our Spa Suite featured contemporary living areas with lush amenities including a fireplace, whirlpool tub, patio and love seats. The experience they provide takes spa treatments to a whole new high.
101 Osthoff Avenue
Elkhart Lake, WI
Quit Qui Oc Golf Club
Experience an extensive collection of full amenities for golfers, including a learning and practice facility and pro shop along with a full-service restaurant and bar. Golf lessons are available from PGA and LPGA professionals, as well as power cart and club rentals for those who left their clubs at home.
500 Quit Qui Oc Lane
Elkhart Lake, WI
Lake Street Café
Although Elkhart Lake has made for an extremely comfortable stay, we were in need of a good spot to unwind and grab a cold beer. The Lake Street Café is infamous for their California bistro-style fare and wood-fired pizzas, and are impeccably complemented by a wide variety of specialty beers and wines from an wide-ranging list. They’ve also received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2003–2010 which made this a great spot to hang out in.
21 S. Lake Street
Elkhart Lake, WI 53020
The Osthoff Lake Resort
This luxurious property has received the AAA Four Diamond Award and offers 245 roomy suites, each equipped with their own kitchen, dining and living room, plasma TV, fireplace and private balcony. The resort also includes a cooking school, indoor and outdoor pools, saunas and whirlpools, fitness centers, and game room. So whether you’re there on business, vacationing with friends, family or with that special someone, the lavish accommodations will provide plenty of room to feel right at home.
101 Osthoff Avenue
Elkhart Lake, WI 53020