This week, I travelled with the VIVA GLAM Dream Team travelled to Sayulita, Mexico to shoot an editorial at the beautiful Serene Sayulita beach house! On day one of our journey, we traveled from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta by plane. Then, we drove a short distance from Puerto Vallarta to the small, charming town of Sayulita. Sayulita is a small fishing and coconut community that sits on the Bay of Banderas in the northern state of Nayarit. With a population of only 7,000 inhabitants, Sayulita was the perfect location for us to shoot a tropical destination editorial.
With us was editor-in-chief, Katarina Van Derham, photographer Deja Jordan, model Karolina Chomistekova and her father Daniel, Candace and myself. Since Viva Glam Magazine is a family business, Karolina invited her father as it was always his life long dream to visit Mexico. They flew all the way from Slovakia to location! In fact, it took them over 22 hours to fly here!
On our first day in Sayulita, the weather was perfect, a balmy 78 degrees and sunny. And we took advantage of this fact by shooting outside and by our infinity pool and Jacuzzi. We also shot at the beach in Sayulita amidst the large rocks, friendly hermit crabs and swaying palm trees. Later in the day, we drove into town to location scout for the next day. We found Sayulita to be a delightful little village that looked like it was straight out of a romance novel. In fact, it reminded us of Jurassic Park driving down into town through the rich, dense jungle. And we were reminded of Romancing the Stone while in the town square!
We walked the small, narrow cobblestone streets while looking at local coffee shops, restaurants and markets displaying local produce such as guava, pineapple and loquat fruit. After a few hours in town, we drove back to Sayulita Serena through an ancient cemetery that displayed relics and religious tokens. During this time, we saw an exotic Chachalaca sitting in the tree above us! A Chachalaca is a species of bird found only in Mexico. Looking like a cross between a turkey and small peacock, it was quite a site to see!
At the end of the day, we ate dinner that consisted of home made pizzas, black beans, Spanish rice, salads, flan and plenty of good red wine! But, much to our surprise, it began to down pour. A tropical thunderstorm became the entertainment for the evening as we ate under an open palapa. As we laid our heads on our pillows that evening, we were lulled to sleep by the sound of gentle rain on our windows. And we wondered, "What will tomorrow bring?" These were our last thoughts before falling into a sound, comforting sleep deep in the jungles of Sayulita, Mexico.
It is rainy season in Northern Mexico, and day 2 of our adventure to Sayulita included a torrential downpour that lasted until noon. But, having checked the weather earlier, we photographed beautiful Slovakian supermodel, Karolina Chomistekova, in our elegant beach home, Sayulita Serena.
Wearing an orange leopard print dress by Loulakis with matching bright, matte lipstick, Karolina was every bit the Viva Glam Supermodel we expected her to be!
By noon, the sun magically appeared and we had ideal weather to shoot outside, bright and a balmy 78 degrees! We decided to shoot Karolina by the infinity pool wearing a gorgeous orange Trina Turk oversized hat and bikini, so chic! And we also shot on the pier where photographer, Deja Jordan, decided to cool off by jumping into the ocean between takes!
Next, I shot in the pool with high fashion menís makeup!
During the shoot, Karolinaís father watched while swimming in the pool. Coming to Mexico was his lifelong dream and he enjoyed following us to the waterís edge to beachcomb. After the shoot, we joined him for dinner where lots of stories were shared between Americans and Slovaks. Even with limited knowledge of English, he managed to communicate quite well. Lots of red wine was shared and many memories were made.
We woke up to clear skies on day three of our adventure to Sayulita, Mexico and realized we were on the cusp of a perfect day! Our shoot would take place in town and everyone was excited to experience everything that this village had to offer!After a short, bumpy ride into town, we arrived in Town Square. We were surprised by the hustle and bustle of the city. Local artisans displaying their wares proudly showed homemade woven necklaces, beaded earrings and multi-colored handbags. A man carrying a tray of delicious homemade donuts asked if we wanted breakfast. And we began to see the wonderful opportunities to shoot.
There were ancient walls of every color, turquoise, flaming red, orange and lemon yellow. And the main street was made of cobblestone with colorful banners above. We shot our VIVA GLAM Supermodel Karolina in a couture dress by Gucci dancing with a mariachi band and also playing the saxophone! And she loved posing with a local father and son who sell handmade woven purses. I enjoyed running through the town in a bright yellow pair of pants and paisley top. These action shots reminded us of Rambo or Top Gun! And I loved posing with a local, friendly dog!
After the days work, we had the opportunity to look through this charming, storybook town with its quaint shops, restaurants and villas. We even noticed a large iguana sitting up in a tree above us! Dinner was at an authentic Mexican restaurant as Karolinaís father requested food that was from this area. He loved the homemade chips, tortillas, green salsa and guacamole. And we had the best quesadillas, chiles rellenos and frijoles!
Later that night, there was plenty of red wine, chess and stories to share about another perfect day in Sayulita, Mexico.
Happy Birthday Michael!
March 13: Tonight we celebrated our friend, Michael Blu's birthday at Cecconi's in West Hollywood, CA. Cecconi's is a small, intimate Italian restaurant with a fun, upbeat vibe. Lots of stores were shared, good red wine and future appointments for chess were discussed! Wishing you and yours a wonderful birthday and prosperous year ahead, Michael!
Imanta Resort: Where the Jungle Meets the Ocean
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of traveling with Candace and Viva Glam Magazine to The Imanta Resort in Mexico to shoot a men's fashion editorial. Imanta is a luxury resort, an undiscovered gem hidden amidst the lush tropical jungles of Punta de Mita.
After our short, two and a half hour flight from Los Angeles, we landed at the Puerta Vallarta airport and were greeted by Imanta representatives. The Imanta Resort is only 45 minutes from Puerta Vallarta and the drive to Punta de Mita was charming. We enjoyed watching the city's colorful inhabitants selling local goods, the pristine beaches and the lush vegetation on our short trip. Half an hour later, we drove down an ancient cobble stone street to the entry of Imanta. It reminded us of Jurassic Park with its tall wooden gates that completely hid what was waiting behind. A guard ushered us in... and we were in paradise.
Imanta is far removed from the hustle and bustle of Puerta Vallarta. It is surrounded by jungle. And it has the secluded look and feel of an island on the mainland. It is a private luxury enclave beyond words that awaits you in a jungle paradise.
As you wind up the mountain towards Imanta, you start to see wildlife. In fact, there are humorous stop signs for land crabs, coatamundis and horses. Flocks of exquisite black and yellow songbirds swooped over our caravan and this only further built our anticipation of what was to come.
Imanta is built on the side of a mountain and the first thing we noticed were views to die for!
When we came to the main lobby, we felt like Christopher Columbus discovering the New World. The anticipation of exploring this new tropical paradise was at our fingertips!
Our first thought was, "Pictures don't do it justice!" And the second thing that came to mind was, "How did they build Imanta on a mountainside?" We stood in wonderment and awe at the beauty that was laid before us.
In actuality, the owner is a true visionary who started imagining Imanta over 20 years ago. He designed a jungle paradise that fits all of your needs by comfortably bringing the outdoors inside; the line between indoors and outdoors is seamless at this resort.
He had a true vision of what he wanted. This open space design also incorporates high-end furnishings and creature comforts such as high thread 100% cotton sheets and hand made luxury soap for his guests. And every suite has a view that will take your breath away.
It is important to note than Imanta is also environmentally friendly. In fact, all of the wood used to create Imanta was taken from the exact location. And all of the stone was also harvested on site. Local products were also used within the design of this sprawling hillside paradise.
After arriving to Imanta, we were greeted by a warm and welcoming staff bearing refreshing hibiscus juice and cool towels. What a wonderful surprise! We were then escorted to our suites. At Imanta, the suites are not numbered, rather there are 13 suites all with different names. Mine was the Aramana Suite which is 2500 square feet in size. High vaulted ceilings made each suite open and airy. Each has a private balcony with outdoor bathtub where you can take a midnight bath underneath the stars. Also, some suites have a private swimming pool! The oceanfront suites immediately made you surrender to the soothing presence of the Pacific Ocean. These rooms allow you to appreciate both the jungle and the ocean at the same time because Imanta sits surrounded by the jungle and overlooks the ocean. And it is a place where you can appreciate the stunning harmony of nature and architecture at the same time.
Perhaps the most impressive suite is the Presidential Suite: Casona Jaguar, or Jaguar House. Everyone from royalty to Hollywood celebrities such as Kanye West, Julio Englesias and Ciara have stayed at Casona Jaguar. The Presidential Suite stands out like a true gem in this tropical paradise.
Casona Jaguar is 10,000 square feet in size and offers two master bedrooms and a third smaller bedroom for children, staff or a nanny. It also has a 65 ft. private infinity pool, state-of-the-art kitchen, stunning living room and dining room. The view of Imanta's private beach is stellar from this suite and one feels on top of the world as you can view Imanta's 250 acres all around you.
Imanta is also a spiritual retreat where you can relax and unwind. The world class Imanta spa offers facials, massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, shiatsu, pedicures and manicures to put you into a relaxed splendor.
There is high end shopping at the Imanta boutique where you can find exquisite pieces from jewelry designers, purse makers and other local artisans. Or if you are the more active type, horseback riding, surfing, snorkeling, windsurfing, ATV riding, hiking, yoga, kayaking, golf and fishing await you.
We were happy to lounge in one of several pools at Imanta, all were like bathwater, the perfect temperature. Then, we beach combed Imanta's private beach and had our lunch on the beach at the bar.
And speaking of meals at Imanta, their world-class chef, Olivier Deboise and his wife, Emmanuelle Chene, oversee all meals presented at this luxury resort. Chef Olivier presides over the main courses and appetizers while his wife, Emmanuelle, creates the delectable desserts.
We enjoyed Embodegados eggs in the morning which are fried eggs inside a homemade corn tortilla topped with Molcajete sauce and served with refried beans, asparagus, baby new potatoes, tomatoes and Oaxaca cheese. Another morning favorite was Motulenos eggs that are fried over a corn tortilla with red tomato sauce and served with banana, peas and ham. Chef Olivier does not have a menu for Imanta. Rather, he believes it is important to create based on availability of fresh items daily. He said, "We search for the best products, the closest possible, and we try to give it the best treatment possible." Meaning, he uses only the freshest, locally produced products to create menus on a daily basis. After all, why have tuna on the menu if it was not fresh that day?
The staff on the whole offers impeccable service. They are available 24 hours a day and were on hand to offer advice on where to go, what to see and do. For example, we were up late at night watching television and needed help with the remote. The front desk sent a staff member down immediately to help, even though it was well past midnight. Room service was prompt and there seemed to always be someone around to help. This is a service-oriented resort with most of the staff speaking both Spanish and English fluently.
Another wonderful and unexpected addition to the Imanta Resort is the Imanta Tree house. This is Imanta's private escape, located only a stone's throw away from the resort. An Imanta shuttle will drive you five minutes further up the mountain through the jungle canopy to the Tree house. This Tree house is a three story home over looking the Pacific Ocean. Its open-air design allows for no walls on the sides of the house facing the sea. Perched high above, it is the perfect way to view a gorgeous Mexican sunset.
While we were there, we were charmed by local resident, Pancho, a Coatis, or Mexican tejon. This badger-like creature is a playful member of the raccoon family and Pancho is a regular at the Tree house. He entertained guests by standing on his hind legs while begging for crackers! In addition to the Coatis, Imanta is full of friendly creatures. We observed large land crabs, comical hermit crabs, lizards, butterflies and a wide array of colorful tropical birds. At night, we were serenaded to sleep by the sounds of nature; tree frogs and birds of paradise gently cooed in the dark providing soothing sounds that lulled us to sleep each night.
The Tree house is ideal for a romantic hideaway, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will never forget.
Imanta sits on 250 acres of jungle, exotic wildlife, mountain views, private beaches and ocean splendor. And future plans for Imanta include developing 10 residential lots between Imanta Resort and the Tree house.
The Imanta staff best describes the resort as:
Imanta: The harmonious interaction of natural beauty in magnificent places with environmentally sensitive architectural design, bringing the individual charm of each site fully to life.
It truly is a slice of heaven where you can relax in awe and splendor where the jungle meets the ocean. Whether you want to simply walk on the beach, sit and read a good book, or share valuable time with a loved one, Imanta is able to meet all of your needs.
As we left our secluded paradise nestled in a lush jungle environment, we knew we would one day return. And we remembered the phrase:
The keys to the kingdom await you at The Imanta Resort!
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Last month, my partner booked a series of commercials that were shot in San Francisco. I always enjoy supporting her career, so we flew up there for a few days. She worked 12 hours days, so I spent time on set and also got to see a few of the sights.
Getting here, was quite the ordeal due to San Francisco fog. We woke up at 2am, were at the airport at 6am, on the tarmac in the plane, only to be told the San Francisco airport was shut down due to fog. Long story short, we waited in the airport for an unprecedented 10 HOURS before we finally took off that evening.
At this point you might be asking yourself, "What does one do in the airport for 10 hours?" Obviously, a very valid question because I wasn't quite certain what to do either. I helped Candace read lines. We listened to Ziggy Azalea on our minion earphones that came from South Africa that were a gift from supermodel Basia Tyrkalska (thank you Basia!). We wandered the airport mall and ate mediocre food.
We were also traveling with character actor, Aral Gribble, who was great company. So, 10 hours in LAX was not as bad as is sounds. During this trip, we became great friends with him and look forward to seeing him back in LA!
Here we are, waiting 10 hours at LAX for the fog to clear in San Francisco.
As we were stuck in the airport for 10 hours, Candace and Aral Gribble read lines.
Listening to minion ear buds while waiting at LAX.
We're finally on the plane!
Getting fitted for wardrobe.
Wardrobe lending a hand.
Candace and I running lines. There was a tremendous amount of technical dialogue for these spots.
Candace goofing on set.
On the set of 4 spots for a business app. She signed a non-disclosure and can't say what the commercials for are until they air.
Sunny San Francisco Bay in the morning, outside our hotel room.
As I had mentioned previously, my partner and I are crazy when it comes to Halloween. It is one of our favorite holidays and we spend much of October celebrating. Here is a collection of pics that includes minions, zombie schoolgirl and zombie doctor, Princess Jasmine and Captain Jack Sparrow, Mickey Mouse, a hot dog, a tiger, Candace eating random body parts, a guillotine and Grumpy Cat all thrown in for good luck!
When all the fun was over, we went out and grabbed a bite!
Austin: Deep in the Heart of Texas
A good portion of my partner's life was spent in Texas. She also grew up in Europe, but considers herself primarily from the South. So we travel there several times a year. Visiting Texas always includes shooting guns at the gun range. But these guns are probably not the kinds legal in most states! And this time, we went to a Cowboys game in the new AT & T Stadium which was a sight to see. The Cowboys beat the Colts an unprecedented 42-7!
We spent most of our time in Austin. Known as the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin is a city that is steeped in both the traditions of the Old West and the innovations of new technology, music, culture and cuisine. With over 250 live music venues, Austin is home to rock, country, the blues, classical and music in many other forms. And with many restaurants with 5 star critical acclaim, Austin is also a city known for its eclectic food culture. Also, with the help of celebrities such as Sandra Bullock, Matthew Mcconaughey and director, Richard Linklater, the film industry has taken notice of Austin and it is now a leading destination for both big budget and Independent film.
We began our trip to Austin with the open-minded attitude of exploring everything the city had to offer. Whether it be sky diving at Adrenaline 365 or listening to live country music on the infamous Sixth Street Strip, we were ready for just about anything. We stayed at the charming Hotel San Jose on South Congress Avenue. This hotel is known for its emphasis on Indie film. There are hundreds of eclectic movies that are complimentary for you to watch during your stay. Whether it be John Water's Pink Flamingos, Richard Linklater's Slacker or The Wilson Brothers' Bottle Rocket, you'll get a crash course in Indie film during your stay at this charming, hipster hotel.
And speaking of hipster, Austin has created a 1980's time warp that is unique only to Austin. It has its own style of dress and Congress Avenue is lined with vintage and resale stores that make its residents look unique and charming in their own way.
Just walking a few blocks from the Hotel San Jose, you can see how South Congress Avenue is known for its upscale shops, restaurants and food trucks. And you can't walk down South Congress without a stop to the world renown, Home Slice Pizza. Even New Yorkers can attest that this is some of the best thin crust New York style pizza in the country. Home made and created with artisan ingredients, Home Slice makes mouth-watering Margherita, Eggplant and White Pie with Spinach... what's not to love? After, stop by the Hey Cupcake! whimsical trailer parked next door for home made cupcakes to die for! Our favorite was the Michael Jackson, a chocolate cupcake with white frosting!
Another famous landmark on Congress Avenue is the "I Love You So Much" wall. Located next to Jo's Coffee Shop, thousands of people have taken their picture under this simple, yet poignant piece of graffiti. Friends, family and couples have all posed under this sign and you'll have a hard time finding a person in Austin who has not done this at some point in their lives.
Further down Congress is the infamous Bat Bridge. What is a Bat Bridge you might ask? South Congress Avenue just happens to house the largest population of bats under a man made structure in the world! Yes, it's true. South Congress Avenue is home to literally millions of insect-eating bats. Each night during the summer, hundreds of people congregate in the park at dusk to watch the bats emerge from their daily slumber. You can also ride on the bat watching tours from Capital Tours or picnic on the sidelines while waiting for the bats to make their nightly foray out into the night in search of insects. You will learn quickly that bats are not the scary creatures they are portrayed in the movies. Rather, they perform an important duty to the community each night by eating millions of mosquitoes that breed in nearby Lakes Austin and Travis. So, I guess bats are not so bad after all.
Another must stop in Austin is the Sixth Street Strip which is located downtown. This is the hub for Austin's nightlife with live music venues, bars and restaurants stretching for several blocks. One favorite stop here is Tears of Joy, a premium hot sauce shop that offers one of the largest collections of hot sauce in the world. Some sauces come with an "extreme heat warning" and they are not joking with some of the most concentrated infusions of ghost and habanero peppers the world has to offer.
Austin is home to The University of Texas, so you will notice that this is a city driven by youth. As a result, technology is in the forefront here. South by Southwest is one of the largest conferences for technology interactive, music and film in the world. It has garnered the reputation for being a breeding ground for new ideas, creative technology, film and music. This explosion of culture takes place in March over 10 days each year. With Hollywood's hottest celebrities, the latest technology and music's newest stars, this convention is not to be missed.
Eco-friendly, Austin is a progressive city that prides itself on recycling, riding bikes and walking instead of driving. It even has Cars2Go, a progressive way of "renting" cars that are parked throughout the city. Once you are finished, you park it in a designated spot, and you leave it for the next driver! This is a great way to minimally use a car only when you need it. And Austin was designed with eco-friendly travel in mind with many walking and bike paths throughout the city, around the lakes and in the suburbs. We took a walk around Lake Travis and gazed at the multi-million dollar lake homes that dotted the water's edge. Is this where Jesse James or Billy Bob Thornton live?
On the final day of our trip, we decided that no excursion to Austin is complete without a visit to I Fly. We originally intended to go skydiving. But, we realized this might be a bit too extreme for some of our family members. So, a trip to I Fly was a perfect compromise and something the whole family could enjoy together. And at about a fraction of the cost of a real sky dive, it appealed to just about everyone! What exactly is I Fly? It is a flying experience in a giant wind tunnel that generates up to 1600 horse power wind from four fans. This creates a cushion of air on which you float safely and comfortably. It is an experience for all, but if you just want to watch in the comfort of the viewing rotunda, that is an entertaining experience as well! What an incredible adrenaline rush and it completed our visit to one of the most interesting cities Texas has to offer!
Food, entertainment, culture, music and the great outdoors, what doesn't Austin have to offer? As we watched the sun set over the big Texas sky, we couldn't have dreamed of a better trip deep in the heart of Texas.
"Now just you hold on there, little lady. You'll get your turn soon enough!"
Here we are in beautiful Hawaii. My partner and I had the opportunity to go recently and while the rest of the country is in sub-zero temperatures, Hawaii was a balmy 85 degrees. So, needless to say, we spent most of the time by the pool soaking up the sun! We brought Spam flavored macadamia nuts back as souvenirs and ate our fair share of Hawaiian shaved ice. Our favorite snack of the day? Fresh pineapple that is as sweet as candy and the traditional Hawaiian plate lunch, two starches plus a casserole! We loved listening to the geese outside our window each morning and fed them our leftovers. Who knew geese like poke and musubi?
Sounds of Change Fashion Editorial
I am always supportive of my partner's career. And recently I had the opportunity to co-produce a fashion editorial for The Celebrity Issue of Viva Glam Magazine. Our Asian Beauty themed editorial, Sounds of Change, took the VIVA GLAM team to the rolling hills of Calabasas, CA. Climbing hilly terrain to location is nothing new for the Dream Team. In fact, we have travelled far distances and crossed harsh landscapes all in the name of getting the perfect shot. But this time, we did it with a 5 ft. musical harp! The harp slowly trekked a quarter of a mile from base camp up a windy hill to an impressive field overlooking the city.We chose to incorporate musical instruments into this fashion spread that included the large harp, flute, violin, concertina and ukulele.
So in addition to the actual shoot, there was a lot of prep work searching out these specific instruments. Visits to private homes, prop houses and professional musicians took place in the weeks ahead of the shoot. Beautiful hand-sewn couture gowns were provided by Aneroc Designs. These dresses were hand-painted and painstakingly hand embroidered for weeks ahead by the Aneroc Design team. At the end of the day, we knew we had captured something exceptional. As the sun went down, smiling faces trekked back to base camp, instruments in tow, and hungrily hunted every last protein bar available!
A special thank you to The Dream Team:
- Katarina Van Derham
- Deja Jordan
- Corena Gibson
- David Stenstrom
- Candace Kita
- History for Hire
Recently, we had the opportunity to stay at the rMIT house in Palm Springs, CA. This house boasts the largest private residence pool in Palm Springs and was recently used by the Jonas Brothers during their stay in Palm Desert. We vegan barbequed, sat in the sun and spent most of the time in the pool. At night we were only a short distance from the Palm Springs main strip so we went to dinner with friends. A great weekend getaway and look for these images and more in the Viva Glam Magazine Travel Issue!
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Halloween at Disneyland
Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. And this year we had the opportunity to go to a private event at Disneyland and dress as our favorite characters! I was Captain Jack Sparrow and Candace made a lovely Princess Jasmine. We trick or treated throughout the park and visited the pumpkin carvers. With only 5000 people in the park, there were no lines! And no visit to Disneyland is complete without pizza at midnight at the Pizza Port! The next day we marveled at the Disney Grand Californian and ate way too much ice cream. Watch out for more Halloween fun to come in The Doug Out!
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A Photo Shoot in Belize
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...if you pelize
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Placencia, Belize with Viva Glam Magazine to shoot a men's fashion editorial at the Belize Ocean Club.
We took an island hopper from Belize City to Placencia.
Everyone is still alseep!
Placencia is a tiny fishing village off the coast of Belize. It is home to only 1000 residents and recently got its first paved road 5 years ago!
Yoga on the beach at 10 am, prompt.
Getting haircuts on the beach!
More yoga under a palapa on the beach, 10am, yawn!
Shooting on the powder white beach.
Shooting at the Belize Ocean Club with photographer Deja Jordan.
Shooting on location in between tropical rain showers!
Also with us is Victoria Secret model, Alina Puscau.
I'm getting my hair cut by Angelica Curiel of the Giuseppe Franco Salon in Beverly Hills, except we're on the beach in Placencia!
Watermelon licuados were our favorite every afternoon, so refreshing!
I am trying to do this yoga move!
Candace and I enjoying a dip in the ocean!