Stella's Obsessions: Reaping My Rewards

Stella's Obsessions: Reaping My Rewards

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Stella's Obsessions: Reaping My Rewards

We work hard for our money but at some point, the money we spend needs to start working for us.

We work hard for our money but at some point, the money we spend needs to start working for us.

Text: Stella Pak

As creative visionaries, it’s important to be selective with the jobs that we take on. Some are for the creative freedom, experience, or it could be a catalyst to open more doors, while some jobs lay somewhere in between where it helps us pay our bills. We take risks and try something new in the name of innovation and forward thinking. And as romantic as it may seem, we question ourselves in the process getting lost in the details. We need space and time to walk away, cleanse our mental palette and revisit the ideas to structure, edit and release to the public forum.

In order to be reinvigorated and find that balance, it may take more than a coffee break and a walk around the block. Sometimes we find ourselves needing to be pampered and experience a new outlook. I decided to take a trip to Barcelona, the home of Picasso and Gaudi, to find that for myself. I couldn’t ask for perfect timing when American Express launched their Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card. Luckily, within the first 3 months of receiving the card through October 31st, members are granted 100,ooo points for spending $5,000. And if you need ideas on how to spend $5,000, I recommend booking a flight through the airline with the card will earn you 3x the points, while staying at a Ritz-Carlton or a W Hotel will help you earn 6x the points.

Designed by Bruce Graham, Hotel Arts Barcelona is 44 stories of exposed glass and steel and is the tallest building in the city. The view from my room overlooked the beach as I mapped out a leisurely run and activities to decompress and explore. But for my first evening, a treat to Michelin Star restaurant, Enoteca by chef Paco Pérez was a must, followed by a nightcap at P41 Bar & Coctelarium. I don’t find that it’s lazy to take an elevator down to check out the finest Barcelona has to offer when it’s right under your nose.

I made the mistake on my first day to attempt to visit the Picasso Museum upon my arrival in the afternoon. Don’t bother. Check it out first thing in the morning the following day to beat the lines. Here, you’ll find Picasso’s formative work before he found his genius of Cubism. Nevertheless, the building is beautiful and if you’re interested in his visual story in full, I encourage you to check it out. Take a stroll, walk around, turn here and there, and you may find yourself in front of Mercat Santa Caterina. Drink a beer, order a couple of tapas but please resist the urge to sneak chorizos into your luggage. Thank God I was hung over the day before my departure, because of course, airport security randomly searched through my luggage to see what I was smuggling back to the US. Instead, I tanned by the infinity pool of the hotel, overlooking Frank Gehry’s Fish.

What was truly inspiring was Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudi. A combination of Gothic and Art Nouveau forms, the church was only 25% finished when he died in 1926. I couldn’t help but wonder if Gaudi understood how long it would take to complete his vision. They say the church will be complete once the remaining spires are finished in 2026 to celebrate 100 years since Gaudi’s death. It’s Gaudi’s personal interpretation of Gothic architecture where it would be impossible to pair a resemblance. Maybe he knew that this project was beyond his lifetime. Perhaps Gaudi’s passion and ego was to become a legacy to keep him alive forever.

As I visited the ghosts of genius and walked along their footsteps, and ate their foods by day, I opted for comfortable shoes, oversized earrings and leather shorts to dance away by night at W Hotel’s Wake Up Call Music Festival. The music festival is a change of tempo and pumps up your energy level as you watch passerbys dance to the rhythm echoing loud into the beach. With the help of some tequila and a curious mind, I walked the streets to check out the newly opened Barcelona Edition Hotel to stumble upon the Le Mercé Street Festival held in honor of Mare de Deu de la Mercé, the Patron Saint of Barcelona. There were crews of drummers battling each other out in a parade, as a fire-breathing dragon spitting sparklers led the way. It was a breath of fresh air and energy that broke up the 5 star itinerary when you follow your gut and let yourself be spontaneous.

Whatever the cost to elevate your mind, charge it and go. It’s not an irrational decision when you know you’ve earned every point.

Copyright 2014 Matthew Shaw. See licence supplied with this image for full terms & conditions. Copy available at:
Not for use by architects, interior designers or other hotel suppliers without permission from Matthew Shaw


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