November 12 2012
A seamless flight to San
Francisco is followed by a quick cab ride into the city under breezy blue
skies. I notice that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has a new exhibition of
American flag painter Jasper Johns’ works, and manage to squeeze it in before
I am delighted to be staying at the Four Seasons, experiencing the unfailingly good service that starts from the second the doorman opens your cab door. Nothing is ever too much trouble. I love how they take your departing flight details upon check-in, to enable them to slip your boarding pass under your bedroom door, along with your bill, the night before you leave.
I am given my room early, freshen up after the journey, and then do the rounds of Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Barneys before my afternoon meetings, and a brief detour on the BART train, to check out alternative health stores and a new natural remedy apothecary on Valencia Street in the Mission district. Then it’s time for a civilised tea at the Mandarin Oriental with a venture capitalist who is a heavy investor in beauty.
Next I meet up with a dear friend, Gary McNatton, at his new homewares store, Hudson Grace, at 3350 Sacramento Street. Gary’s taste is sublime: gorgeous baskets for firewood, French linens, Gio Ponti flatware, and signature church candles from Mexico. Thank goodness my cases are full. After a full hour of browsing, we depart for a delicious seafood dinner around the corner, at Garibaldis.
Saturday starts with an early workout in the adjacent Sports Club/LA. Breakfast comprises green tea, steel cut oats and berries – I need some slow-burning carbs to get me through the day.
At 10.45am I head off across the bay to Larkspur, a glorious sunny cab ride across the Golden Gate Bridge with recreational sailboats charting their way below. This journey to work is right up there in the picturesque stakes, alongside the Star Ferry crossing between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
Marin Country Mart is buzzing. We opened a Space NK apothecary there in late August and our customer base has been growing steadily. The Saturday farmers’ market is in full swing in the car park, and new eateries Rustic Bakery and Belcampo are packed to the gills. Families are splitting up to go to their respective areas of interest – kids climbing the modern tree sculptures, fathers in workout gear heading off to the gym or grabbing benches for a seat in the sun, steaming coffee and newspapers in hand. Mothers are darting between classes at YogaWorks, or indulging in a spot of shopping in James Perse, Roberta Roller Rabbit, Poppy childrenswear and, thankfully, Space NK.
During my one-to-ones, I meet some very interesting women. With ages ranging from early 20s to 70, they are all concerned with repairing sun damage, anti-ageing skincare and making the most of their appearance – generally in the most natural yet effective way possible. We discuss supplementation and nutrition, lifestyle and exercise, and I have to say they are a pretty savvy bunch when it comes to ingredients.
I finish up around 5.30pm and head back to downtown San Francisco. A therapeutic soak in my bathtub laced with Aromatherapy Associates' Deep Relax bath oil is just what the doctor ordered, followed by room service – tomato soup and a field green salad. All talked out, I retire early and tune in to Game Change, the HBO movie of Senator John McCain's 2008 election campaign, starring Julianne Moore as an excruciating-to-watch Sarah Palin.
Sunday starts with five miles on the treadmill, breakfast and a spot of early Christmas gift shopping in Barneys. My final California PA of the year starts at 1pm in Bloomingdale's, and I try to fit as much in as I can beforehand.
Done by 4pm, I jump in a cab to Fillmore Street and pound the pavements until closing time. Tomorrow I have a press breakfast, and then four hours to cover the rest of San Francisco’s retail.
In northern California, gourmet is everything and chocolate is absolutely the flavour of the moment – Dandelion Chocolate, Chocolate Lab and Charles Chocolates are all battling it out in the educative-factory-plus-café stakes. This is a trend with legs.
My work done, but with way more to see, my time is unfortunately up. How nice to leave somewhere with a longing to return… as soon as possible please.