“Special” is a minimalist term to describe how I felt being one of 150 social influencers, mediatypes, VIPs and sweepstake winners nationwide who jetted off for a weekend-long showcase for Hotel Thrillist LA.
I spent a couple hours deciding on what to pack. I weighed the options of small carry-on bottles vs. paying a $25 baggage fee until I recalled how I went home with a full size Bacardi Cherry from Hotel Thrillist Miami. If I was to re-live that win, I obviously needed to check my bag. Goal set, full size toiletries, packed.
When I met my friend Maridel at JFK to get on our Virgin flight, she asked me “Are you ready for this”? I was not so much ready as willing.
Five hours and three time zones later, we arrived in the J.W. Marriott Los Angeles lobby to be greeted by a grinning Thrillist staffer with an over-stuffed gift bag for each of us. Why, thank you. When we ravaged the bags later the clear winners were the Nivea beach towel (so luscious!) and the well-made Bacardi cocktail shaker.
After some primp and prep, we took the elevator to the Ion Rooftop Pool Bar for the first event, “Dine-Around L.A. Live,” which featured delectable cuisine from some of the best restaurants in Downtown LA, including Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Katsuya L.A. Live, LA Market Restaurant by Kerry Simon, Rosa Mexicano, Trader Vic's Los Angeles, WP24 Restaurant & Lounge by Wolfgang Puck and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill. We quenched our thirst with BACARDI Arctic Grape and BACARDI Rock Coconut, smartwater, Corona Light and Wines of Germany.
Post-feast we had the opportunity to have our faces read by the latest party trick, the Bumbys, brought to us by Nivea and their “Look Like You Give a Damn” campaign. Yes, I said “faces read.” Think palm reading, but based purely upon your tan, smile and hair. Whispers around the rooftop said they’re not always so nice, but thankfully Maridel’s biggest criticism is that they want to rename her “Gidget” and if I decided to be a restaurant manager, it would be of a “beautiful people” only establishment. Small success?
Belly’s full and drinks on, the next piece of the night took place at the Club Nokia VIP Lounge nearby. We rubbed elbows with a man who claimed to be “Supreme” from the Wu-tang Clan. I remain skeptical of his identity. I wonder what the Bumby’s would have said?
The next morning Maridel awoke from her Bacardi Arctic Grape dead-induced hangover to attend Yoga for Athletes from YAS Fitness Center (presented by smartwater®, my new favorite water brand). I remained dead and only awoke after she returned and yelled “KATHARINE.” Apparently it was time for the mansion pool party.
Yes – that’s right, I said mansion pool party. Our next adventure entailed boarding a tour bus and heading for Hollywood Hills where Thrillist rented out a Spanish-inspired looking home that could be worth more than 500x my salary.
Needless to say, added décor included scattered Nivea beach towels (yes, I went home with like 5 of them), more smartwater than you could shake a hose at and plenty of Thrillist branded beach balls.
To “top” it off (hah), Top Chef Alums Marcel Vigneron and CJ Jacobsen were our featured celebs for the afternoon, with Marcel concocting delicious BACARDI cocktails using liquid nitrogen while CJ served roasted pig, succulent, thinly sliced melon and hot dogs you wouldn’t believe were hot dogs, among other earthly delights.
However, my favorite part of the daytime extravaganza was when synchronized swimmers, the Aqualillies Flash Mob, came out of nowhere with their flirty umbrellas, waterproof mascara, bright red lipstick and washboard abs. Can you tell I’m a fan / jealous?
[Click video to watch]
Before we reboarded the tour bus back into LA traffic, I was able to sneak a back massage from the Ritz Carlton Spa as part of the smartwater® Relaxation and Hydration Station. Even though I was a bad girl and didn’t sign up for the list, the kind spa staff still made it happen right before they closed shop! Three cheers for 5 star service.
Maridel and I catnapped when we got to our room, because before we knew it we were back to boozing at the newly vamped LA Production Studios where we danced hardcore to Deejay Reprise.
[Brain Sussman, Thrillist Staff]
[Drunken Bus Ride]
Things didn’t end there however, because the party continued on the bus back to the hotel and then in one of the suites where some of the Thrillist staffers has stashed up Bacardi Arctic Grape and kept pouring the drinks. Mingling at the after party, I caught up with Brian Sussman and recounted tales from Hotel Thrillist Miami just before I acquired my full-size bottle of Bacardi Arctic Grape (FTW, bitches!) and peaced out for my room no shorter than 6 a.m.
When I awoke a few hours later, I nuzzled my Bacardi between two Nivea towels in my suitcase, and tended to my bitter sweet hangover by chugging three smartwaters before the airport security checkpoint. The weekend clearly was, in a word, epic.
Thank you, as always, Thrillist. If dating a brand was possible, I’d choose you.
*Photos by Kat Goduco & Colin Young-Wolff