The Beauty of the Baccarat Hotel

I have always appreciated old world history and amazing attention to detail and style. Immediately after walking into the Baccarat Hotel, the distinct smell of a signature perfume greets you with a welcoming invitation. Having a memorable smell is a detail I can appreciate; certain scents can trigger memories. The experiences that I have had, related to The Baccarat Hotel have created so many incredible memories worth revisiting from time to time. I love the Baccarat Rouge 540 fragrance, created in a collaboration with world class, perfumer, Francis Kurkdjian. I purchased a bottle just to spray it in my bedroom, bathroom or office so I can get that NYC luxury hotel experience. Just the hint of the scent can bring back the memory of designing one of my creations in the hotel room and inspire me to explore it further.

Le Gran Salon West View Baccarat Hotel New York City
Le Gran Salon West View Baccarat Hotel New York City

The Baccarat brand was created over 250 years ago in France by order of King Louis XV. It has teamed with celebrities of film and music to bring this iconic brand into the modern era and to keep its relevance. From its foundation in mirror and glass making to the creation of chandeliers, hotels and even a fragrance collaboration, Baccarat has captured the imagination of those who see it. The Baccarat Hotel in Manhattan doesn’t stray form the brands level of quality.

Le Gran Salon East View Baccarat Hotel New York City
Le Gran Salon East View Baccarat Hotel New York City

The entrance to this hotel is a subtle one, but it quickly escalates as you step off the elevator into Le Grand Salon room filled entirely with Baccarat crystal. Overall, the hotel has over 8000 glasses made of Baccarat crystal. When I arrive in NYC, which is usually in the evening, I love to unwind in Le Bar or Le Petit Salon. These are excellent spaces to enjoy a drink or a meal. My favorite dish to order is called the Cheese and Charcuterie paired with a glass of burgundy. The selection of drinks and food are diverse, with something for everyone with good taste. My suggestion is to always order “The Grilled Hanger Steak.” The heirloom lentils and celeriac puree that come with it are the perfect comfort food after a long day.

Cheese and Charcuterie in Le Petit Salon
Cheese and Charcuterie in Le Petit Salon

In the main floor of the hotel, hang some of the most beautiful chandeliers I have seen, made exclusively of Baccarat crystal. There are 17 chandeliers in the hotel, all Baccarat and one that is made of wood. It is such a relaxing feeling to enjoy a drink under such luxurious craftsmanship. Matthieu, the wine director, quickly became a dear friend over all my stays here. If you like to watch a bottle of champagne get sabered, then just ask him. We discuss wine, champagne and burgundy, often over laughs and shared experiences. He has plenty of knowledge that compliments an outstanding wine list, a detail that can create a memorable experience. And of course, each decanter and glass is the heavy pure Baccarat crystal.

Christopher R King in Le Bar Baccarat Hotel New York City
Christopher R King in Le Bar Baccarat Hotel New York City

The detail of Baccarat extends to each room, including Baccarat glasses in the bathroom. The rooms are very detailed and have spared no expense in the details to ensure a comfortable and unforgettable stay. Their presidential suite was creatively designed with each element thoroughly thought out and executed perfectly, from the fox fur chair in the bedroom to the beautiful view of NYC I get sitting at the desk while I work on the new designs and concepts for CCCXXXIII.

Christopher R King in the Presidential Suite Bathroom Baccarat Hotel New York City
Christopher R King in the Presidential Suite Bathroom Baccarat Hotel New York City

The beds are so comfortable and the bed linens are high quality like I have at home.
My room had a romantic, yet homey, feeling like a high-end upper east side penthouse. The lighting and décor are by far some of the best in city. Most of my design meetings in NYC take place in my suite, so it is nice when you can be comfortable while getting things done. We can easily plow through deadlines and projects list while we drink still water from Baccarat crystal glasses as we stare out into Manhattan through the oversize, floor to ceiling windows in pure luxury and comfort.

Christopher R King in the Presidential Suite Bedroom Baccarat Hotel New York City
Christopher R King in the Presidential Suite Bedroom Baccarat Hotel New York City

The Baccarat Hotel in Manhattan is a hotel recommendation I can feel confident in giving to anyone who is looking for a luxurious and memorable experience while in New York City. This is truly one of the very best hotels I have visited in New York in the past 15 years. The design and functionality of the rooms creates an environment unlike others, and it’s a place that I look forward to returning to time after time while on my travels, for both business and pleasure.

Bulgari Hotel: My Milanese Home Away from Home

When you travel, it is often hard to capture the sense of ease and comfort that comes from being in your own home. Spaces that I have personally cultivated in my homes help me to relax and enjoy a moment of calm in an otherwise hectic lifestyle. The Bulgari Hotel in Milan has found a way to capture this feeling of security and comfort with the added perks that only a luxury hotel provides.

Christopher R. King in his Bulgari Suite

As one of the oldest jewelry houses in Italy, Bulgari has defined itself as a brand that offers only the finest artisan-crafted goods. The label was founded by Sotirios Voulgaris in 1884 after he had moved to Rome with little to no money. The beginning of the brand was dedicated to capturing the style, class, and essence of early Greco-Roman design, which implemented bright colors, ancient coins, and intaglios. After more than 130 years, the easily identifiable creations possess a quality that few other jewelry houses have been capable of expressing.

Bulgari Suite Dining Room

Bulgari has always relied on the close relationships with its wealthy and often celebrity clientele. This association led many world-famous women to become collectors of the works over the years. Princess Grace of Monaco, Elizabeth Taylor, and Audrey Hepburn are just a few of the more notable collectors of the unique and dazzling line. And it is no wonder. It truly has the best to offer in Milan.

Christopher R. King in Bulgari Bar

From this foundation sprung a line of products that still range from sunglasses to watches and fragrance. The creation of the exclusive luxury hotel in Milan was born out of this obsessive desire to provide luxury that spared no expense, from the 4,000-square foot garden in central Milan to the spa and the optional Maserati pick up service. The rooms give a respite from the chaos that exists outside the walls of the 18th-century structure. The warm interior lighting and décor give you the feeling like you are in your own home. As a businessman, I appreciate the little details like the personalized business cards they provide with the hotel address and the cigar lounge where I can relax with a glass of wine and cigar, after a long day of meetings.

Bulgari Suite Bedroom

The hotel was created to be a jewel among Milanese travel destinations. Since I frequent Milan for CCCXXXIII, I appreciate that it is conveniently located to my meetings, yet just a quick trip to some of my favorite places. I can spend the day working with the local artisans on my designs, visit Lake Como and still be able to enjoy a dinner on the hotel’s stylish garden patio with some of the notable fashion personalities.

Bulgari Suite Bathroom

My favorite place in the entire hotel has to be the wrap-around terrace, one of the best features of the spacious Bulgari suite on the top floor. I love starting my day with an espresso on the balcony, overlooking the view and reviewing my latest designs. The bathrooms in the suite offer oversized tubs, giving you a relaxed ending to a 15-hour workday. The staff is so attentive that every need is met, with warmth and effortlessness. Some hotels around the world, even luxury ones, leave me feeling like I’m not entirely at ease. Here, I feel like I’m staying at a great friend or family member’s home where I can come and go as I please and really “just be.”

Bulgari Lobby

Hotel Bel-Air: Escape Into An Old Hollywood Oasis

Hotel Bel-Air

As an entrepreneur building a new luxury company, finding the time to get away can be really difficult. But when you are focused on reaching your goals, you have to find a nearby getaway that inspires you to create beautiful things.

For me, that is the Hotel Bel-Air.

Living in Beverly Hills, it is an easy 10-minute drive to Bel-Air for me, but it is a complete escape. Surrounded by twelve acres of gardens, this place is the perfect retreat to relax or just let the ideas flow. Originally designed as an oasis, it really has such a comfortable, relaxed yet, luxurious atmosphere. Located between the canyons, which allows for cooler nights, even in the summer.

As someone who has always loved the style and elegance of the Old Hollywood era, the history of this hotel completely resonates with me. It is no surprise that it was frequented by people like Grace Kelly, Jimmy Stewart and Robert Wagner. You can almost imagine being in a different time, the way they have maintained the property in this style.

My luggage is usually filled with Brunello Cucinelli for these weekend trips. The style and designs by this incredible Italian company is unmatched. His deep appreciation for cashmere led him to create some of the most beautiful garments. You can feel the “velvety softness” and see the manual work and craftsmanship that goes into all of his pieces. I travel with the Brunello Cucinelli silk throws during the warmer months and the cashmere versions in the winter and fall. These are perfect to throw on when I am reading or sketching designs outside on the patio on a cool night.

Some of the rooms still have wood burning fireplaces, which can create the most incredible ambiance in the fall and winter months. There is nothing better on a cool crisp night, then sipping a glass of fine wine with the smell and sounds of the wood burning fireplace in the background. Since the hotel is located between two canyons, even the summer nights can have a cool breeze so don’t think this has to be restricted to just the colder months.

Of course, I love that it has one of the Wolfgang Puck restaurants on the property so I can easily enjoy my favorite meals and wine. Their award-winning, world class spa is still one of my favorite places to relax and unwind. The estheticians and masseuses there are incredible. They used to carry my favorite face and eye cream from La Prairie, but recently changed to another product. Personally, I wish they would bring back La Prairie. Just putting it out there (wink-wink)! The best part of having this spa so close is that I can walk from my massage straight to my room. No driving or traffic to take me out of the state of relaxation.

I believe you can design your perfect environment and setting, right down to the clothes you are wearing. Just these small details can transform you into a different state. It is in that special place, that you can truly create.

Putting The Pen To Paper

Putting the Pen To Paper

If you want to achieve something in life, you have to plan it. You have to write down your goals, create your list and develop a plan. In the modern world of laptops and smartphones, it certainly makes doing all of this so much more convenient, but to me, there is still nothing like taking a pen to paper.

I have been drawn to art and the written word since I was a child and even as a businessman, I find myself sketching out ideas, creating visual concepts and drawing out my thoughts with images or designs.

I prefer taking notes with a pen and paper. For me, I feel like I retain the information and process it better because I am physically writing it out. But I also just enjoy the art of writing, the inconsistency of the letters, the way the pen just flows on the paper. It has more of a connected feeling rather than having the letters just typed out on a keyboard.

But I want to share something with you. As a high school dropout, I never truly understood how to take proper meeting notes. That is until I was in a board meeting and someone called me out. They had noticed that I always had my notebook and pen, but never took notes during the meeting. I believe honesty is the best policy, so I told them the truth. I didn’t really know how to take meeting notes. We ended up in a conversation on how everyone took notes and their personal style with it. It was an incredible meeting and I learned a lot. I transitioned from just using it for the creative process of my career to integrating it into the more strategic side.

Like anything in life, I believe that you have to have the right tools to fit your lifestyle. For me, I had custom linen cards made for my suit pockets that are about 2.5 inches by 5 inches with my name letter-pressed in a burnt orange. I always carry 3 of these on me at all times and use them for note taking, jotting down ideas or explaining a design in a lunch meeting. And truthfully, sometimes I will end up using them to give out my information. I don’t believe in business cards and never carry one. Of course, I always carry a small Mont Blanc pen with me just for this purpose.

In this picture, I have one of my favorite pens, a Limited-Edition Montblanc Masters for Meisterstück white porcelain rollerball pen. It is handcrafted with white Meissen Porcelain with a platinum-plated cap top and mother of pearl Montblanc emblem. The platinum-plated clip has an individual serial number and three platinum-plated rings embossed with the Montblanc name. The details of this pen are incredible, but is the weight of this pen that makes it my favorite for signing checks, contracts or writing letters. It will put you back about $2500.00 but is worth every penny. And yes, I do have different pens for different projects or purposes. If I am sketching a design, I like to use a fine liner, where if I am signing checks or contracts, I prefer a rollerball. To take a step further, I also like different pens based on what I am wearing at the time. For instance, if I am wearing a rose gold watch and cufflinks, I will use a rose gold pen in my breast pocket of my suit. And as far as brands, my favorites are MontBlanc, Montegrappa, Smythson & Cartier.

Now, the notebook. You need to start with a quality notebook cover. For me, that is usually a buttery leather or an exotic skin. I love crocodile, ostrich and even lizard. In the image above, I have one of my favorites, the Hermès orange ostrich, and leather notebook. Hermès does an excellent job with quality and craftsmanship. Each notebook is handcrafted with a saddle stitch that provides strength and repairability. They also use a very high-quality stationary grade paper in every notebook that feels and looks like Vellum. Which brings me to my next point.

The paper. The paper itself is very important. When I sign agreements, I use a heavier paper grade that matches the weight of the document. But when I am sketching or designing, I prefer Vellum, preferably made from calfskin, because of its ability to capture the finest detail. The modern version is still considered one of the finest materials for drawing, but it just doesn’t have the strength, durability, and clarity as the original. When we were designing the logo for CCCXXXIII in London, we wanted to use the original Vellum to really show every element of the design on a quality material that will last.

Listen, you have to do what works for you. For me, having a beautiful notebook and pen encourage me to use them and get creative. After working in front of a computer screen for hours, there is just something about sitting down with a pen and paper and letting the ideas flow. Trust me, you will your plan in no time and will genuinely enjoy the journey it took to get there.