Thursday, 30 September 2010


I am absolutely shattered this evening. It's been a VERY long day.

0600 - swim with Jim & Tim
0645 - interview with local radio station re: luxury travel
0800 - zip around Honolulu for general shots
1130 - arrive at Dillingham Airfield for gliding feature over the island
1330 - lunch
1530 - arrive at Ala Moana Center - largest outdoor shopping centre in world
1600 - film in Honolulu Coffee Company
1730 - film at Tori Richard
1930 - home
2130 - watch rain out of window

Song of the Day: The Air That I Breathe - the Hollies

Weather: Sunny - then VERY rainy!

gorgeous Honolulu beach
Mr Bill - the lovely owner of The Original Glider Rides
With my pilot Mike Maag
4000 ft and ready to be let free
Look Mommy - I am flying!
The north west shore
a delicious all-soya-extra-hot-chai-tea-latte
with top barista - Pete Licata ... in Hawaii, it's pineapples, macadamia nuts, papaya and coffee ..
Too many shirts at Tori Richard - Aloha Shirt specialist from the 1950's
With designer - Tamar Hassing Wong ...

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


So, up early and in the swimming pool (the one with 1.25 million individual pieces glass) ... the water was just as warm as the air ... which was therefore rather lovely. It is, I believe, a 25 metre pool and I managed a few lengths before hunger took over.

I am trying to skip suppers at the moment ... but it is easier said than done!

First up - surfing. The last time I tried this "sport", I fell in several (hundred) times, swallowed most of the Pacific Ocean and vowed never to get on a board again. It was in La Jolla at Surf Divas ... and if I remember, my tutor was tall & blonde ... maybe a wee distracting! Today, my tutor Hans Hedemann, ex-Pro surfer, had me on my board ... and surfing within 20 minutes and I mean standing and riding the waves for at least 30 - 40 seconds! Oh Joy! oh Joy! So Gena ... and my friends at Surf Divas ... yay!

From there it was to the Bishop Museum - the Hawaiian museum. Here I met with Donalyn Dela Cruz who took me round this quite lovely place. The history of Hawaii is happy & sad ... it was once a Kingdom and was intrinsically linked with Polynesia and New Zealand ... AND was a huge friend of the British. Then the Americans came along and basically "took" Hawaii by force - deposed the monarchy - and Hawaii eventually became the 50th state of the USA. The history lesson above is patchy ... but the museum tells you the whole story. It's the first stop on any visit to Hawaii ... definitely.

Chef Mavro (George Mavrothalassitis) is the most famous chef in Hawaii. His restaurant has just been awarded the 5-Star Diamond Award ... and he once won the James Beard Award (very prestigious). Anyway, with his wife Donna, Chef owns this lovely restaurant on South King Street. He is French (with a Greek name) and he cooks with local ingredients. We cooked a fish dish ... it was LOVELY! What a wonderful way to end a stunning day!


Song of the Day: Surfin' USA - Beach Boys

Weather: Sunny ... then Monsoony!
early morning swim!
surfin USA!
happy varun & happy hans
yes - i am not cool ...
with donalyn
chef mavro!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


My first full day in Hawaii and it's been glorious.

Up early (maybe a wee too early) to see the sunrise over Oahu.

The boys started filming at 0700 at the swimming pool. The pool is made up of 1.25 MILLION individual pieces of glass in a huge mosaic ... impressive indeed.

From there we filmed the Spa and my mock arrival. We were shadowed for a while by local celebrity and delightful person Olena Heu who anchors for the KHON2 - the Fox news channel here in Hawaii. ILT was the story ... ( ).

From there it was an interview with the COO of Halekulani - Peter Shaindlin. He's a bit of a legend in the hotel world ... coming from Rosewood Hotels and now the COO of the Halekulani Corporation.

Then - my suite review. It's one of the three Premier Suites on property. It has a fabulous view of Waikiki Beach, the Ocean and Diamond Head ... it's quite romantic ...

SO the suite: 250 square metres in area, 1 bedroom with king bed and 50" HD plasma, an amazing bathroom with plunge pool, a dining room for 6, Sub-Zero Wolf Chef's Kitchen and entertainment room with a $500,000 Steinway & Sons Speaker System. As I write this, I am listening to Puccini and feel like I am at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden - front & centre. The quality is THAT good!

The executive chef - Vikram Garg popped round to show me how to make a fish dish - Onaga with salad. Yum!

Finally out to the al-fresco dining "House without a Key" to watch Kanoe Millar and her lovely Hawaiian dancing!

I am now absolutely pooped and have a busy day tomorrow! Aloha!

Song of the Day: Blue Hawaii - The King

Weather: Sunny & Hot!
the pool
being interviewed - it's not easy you know!
the lovely Olena Heu
the boys with former miss Hawaii (& model & tv host) - Cindy Paliracio
my view
my bathroom - plunge pool & regular bath! how spoilt am i?
no taps on the wash-basins
THAT home entertainment system! I want!
Chef Vikram
Kanoe Millar dancing
Now THAT is what I call a sunset!
The lovely hotel PR - Diane Ako

Monday, 27 September 2010

Aloha from the Hawaiian island of Oahu ... and the famous Halekulani resort which was built in 1907 ... it is located on Waikiki Beach ... one of the most famous beaches in the world.

So, very very miserably, checked out of the Beverly Wilshire and met up with the boys at LAX. We are back together and tomorrow we start filming.

I had never flown Hawaiian Airlines before and it was an OK experience. The service was good, staff was happy and it was all quite easy ... I did sleep for 90% of the 5 hour flight.

In my suite with a very cool bathroom. I have buckwheat pillows so I should sleep like a bebe.

OK have to be up early!

Song of the Day: Cat People - David Bowie (for Maisy, Mittens and Lucy)

Weather: Sunny & Warm!
Bumped into Stephen Wenham - my favourite concierge on Air New Zealand -- at LAX ... the ANZ lounge is an oasis in the LAX Desert I am whole again!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Greetings from The Beverly Wilshire (Four Seasons) in the heart of Los Angeles!

I have now been here 24 hours but feel like it's been so much longer.

I am staying in my favourite suite anywhere in the world. There is no elevator up to here ... you have to walk up 2 flights of stairs to reach nirvana. As you can see, the suite has been renamed to ensure that everyone knows who loves it so very much! Me!

It's not a huge suite ... bedroom and living room all in one, a changing room and bathroom ... but it was the Hollywood home for Warren Beatty for fifteen years! If walls could talk ...

There's a four poster bed ... which is oh so comfortable.

The biggest draw to this suite is the 300 square feet private terrace garden ... it's just a slice of heaven watching the sun rise and set from up here.

This suite is just ... PERFECT I have my own monogrammed bathrobes ... Chef Perfecto from Valencia has put two specials dishes on the menu at BLVD .. in my honour .. Darling Jen and fellow guest Priya took me for a walk around Beverly Hills. On North Canon you will find this rather unusual piece of art ... Darling Jen and I visited the Eden Spa for a mani & pedi ... in preparation for filming, of course! In the afternoon, we wandered down to Venice Beach for a big street festival. I had an ulterior motive. As I have often mentioned, my outfits for the show are designed by Robert Stock at Robert Graham. Well, he has just opened his first boutique ... 1326 Abbot Kinney in Venice ... and I was in garment heaven! Howard guards the door from non-Robert Graham fanatics ...! The Abbot Kinney Festival is a streetfair ... around 1 billion (!) people turn up to eat the food, drink the beer, listen to bands and dance! Even the police get in the party mood! The weather was excellent - the temperature reached into three figures. It was a dry heat though ...
Dinner - Pizzerie Mozza - the BEST pizza in town
Dinner dates - darling Jen and lovely Tim G (from The Biltmore, Santa Barbara). The only person missing is Baby G ... oh, how I wish she was here ...

Finally, the "song of the day" could be a good or bad song depending on what had happened during the day. Until today, every song has been a personal favourite.

However, today's song IS one of the worst I have EVER heard ... it's an anthem for slightly mentally deranged people who deserve ... well, let's not go there ... TIM!

Song of the Day: Teenage Dream - Katy Perry

Weather: Sunny! Hot! Sunny! Hot!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

There is something VERY wrong with the photo above ... where are Tim and James?

I am in the lounge at Heathrow Airport (Terminal 1) ... alone.

The boys are actually flying out tomorrow. I wanted to get to LA early to see one of most favourite people in the world, stay at one of my most favourite hotels in the world ... and escape the cold of London! It's 14 degrees here today (but bright & sunny) ... brrrrr ... in LA it's double that (& more)... yay.

So - tomorrow's diary will be from Beverly Hills 90212 ...

Air New Zealand is my airline of choice and the lounge has an Ardbeg 10 year old single malt! Heaven!

Song of the Day: Alone again ... naturally - Gilbert O'Sullivan

Weather: Sunny ... but ... Nippy

Friday, 24 September 2010

As much as I love editing - it's cold, windy and raining outside and that has made me feel rather down in the chops.

So - today is the first edit of the Abu Dhabi show. It looks soooo good. As usual, only one thing wrong ... me! Haha!

Oli is on great form -- still rather hirsute -- but on fabulous form (!) ....

The archery, wine, car racing, hamam, cooking, dune drive, golf ... and the resorts look SO colourful, alive ... and "sunny" ...

Tomorrow I will be in Los Angeles ... the sun is shining there too! Yay!

Song of the Day: Why Does It Always Rain on Me? - Travis

Weather: Miserable
In MY pool at Qasr al Sarab
Tim doing what he does best ... beer and nothing !
Just out of the hamam ... that is a pain grimace .. not a smile
My new favourite wine ...

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A short diary today as I am swamped.

Tomorrow I am in the first edit for Abu Dhabi ... also meetings about 2011 (which WILL be announced VERY soon) ... and then I am back to pack to fly to LA on Saturday. Thankfully I am flying by Air New Zealand ... so I will arrive resfreshed, happy and "chipper" Stateside ... I just love ANZ ...

The next month is going to be very busy ... but very rewarding ... I hope ...

Song of the Day: Trash - Suede

Weather: Nasty ... Wet ... Windy ...

"Varun Goes to Hollywood"

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

I spent a truly wonderful day with my parents ...

As a treat, my father took me to Tooting ... a suburb of London which is quite cosmopolitan and is filled with Indian restaurants. I grew up in a VERY white part of England ... the county of Surrey ... and was taken to Tooting and indeed Southall every weekend to watch Indian movies (the sole reason I now HATE anything that vaguely resembles a musical) and eat food that Ma couldn't cook at home.

While my school chums went to McDonalds or the local curry house (Bangladeshi or Pakistani food ... which was not very good) I gorged on fabulous fresh food that could have been made in Mumbai or Delhi ...

ANYWAY - I love pizza ... pizza, pizza, pizza in my belly (etc) ... it is the equivalent to me of a fine 30 year old single malt whisky and a Cohiba Robusto ... BUT dosa ... well that's a 40 year old Springbank and a Davidoff Millennium Edition Special R ... exceptional ...

Dosa is a fried pancake made of rice flour stuffed with potato and eaten with an Indian soup ... like miso. This has been my treat since I was a wee tot. Dosa is a South Indian dish ... and my family comes from up North - Agra & New Delhi ... so by rights I shouldn't really like it ... I don't ... I LOVE IT!

Pops took me to Chennai Dosa on Tooting High Street and we ordered the family dosa. It is a whopping 5 feet - YES - 5 feet in diameter. Usually, 1 dosa is around 10 inches in diameter. I just couldn't say "no" to this record sized dosa! We polished this off rather too quickly.

The consequence is that I am SURE my heart stopped twice this afternoon ...

I am skipping dinner ...

Song of the Day: Mary Had a Little Lamb - Wings (the second song ever bought for me)

Weather: Warm & Sunny ...

my wonderful Pops (on the very left) with the proud restaurant manager (what a 'tache he has!) ... and a very hungry me!!!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

I am getting old ... and today I felt it.

My knees have decided that they no can no longer bear the weight of my ever-expanding waist and have said enough. I am travelling from Saturday to the beginning of November. Every hotel & resort I visit will have a pool/gym ... and the cuisine on offer will be the healthiest available so I am going to treat that time as one big 5-week health-farm! I have a nutritionist on board who I have successfully wrangled with ... and with a large helping of will-power, I will be back on track for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year ... and then for the 2011 series which I will be announcing officially next week! Phew!


Song of the Day: OK Go - White Knuckles (AWESOME VIDEO)

Weather: Sunny!
no no
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