Lauren Viera

Correspondent

  • Chicago, Illinois, USA

Lauren Viera is a correspondent who lives in Chicago and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. Viera contributes articles on spirits, travel and lifestyle to Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Crain’s Chicago Business, Imbibe, MensJournal.com and others. She was a senior editor on the launch staff of Time Out Chicago, and was a staff writer on the travel desk of the Chicago Tribune. A native Californian, Viera has lived in Chicago for a decade and chronicles her love of horticulture and cocktail culture on her blog, The Glass & Garden.

  • On April 8
    Emil Stancu is now following Lauren Viera
  • On January 22
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    Where can I vacation at a Graff Diamonds property?

    Graff Diamonds owns a stunning luxury vacation destination in Delaire Graff Estate, the 100-acre wine estate located in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Comprised of a collection of ultra-high-end luxury lodges and outfitted with a full-service luxury spa as well as two dining destinations, the Delaire Graff Estate is one of the most pristine luxury accommodations in the country of South Africa. In addition to tours and tastings at the historic Delaire Graff Winery, which was founded in the late 1700s in one of the most idyllic wine-growing regions of the world, the Delaire Graff Estate features ultra-luxe amenities, from a private cinema to a detail-oriented salon. Accommodations range from Deluxe and Luxury Lodges accommodating two adults to the Owners and Presidential Lodges with double the capacity. Each private lodge comes standard with its own private heated pool, and numerous posh amenities ranging from pillow menus and iPod docking stations to luxury bathroom amenities and the use of an iPad during guests’ stay. For the ultimate souvenir, you need only visit Graff Diamonds’ new flagship African store, which opened on Delaire Graff Estate in November 2013. Its showcases display one-of-a-kind rings, jewelry pieces from Graff’s collections — including Love, Lotus, Graff Icon and Butterfly Silhouette — and timepieces from Graff Luxury Watches.
  • On January 22
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What is Graff Diamonds’ Delaire Graff Estate like?

    Graff Diamonds’ Delaire Graff Estate is located in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in the heart of the country’s most prestigious and historic wine region. Established in the late 17th century by governor Simon van der Stel, the vineyards have grown in strength during the centuries since, and upon the Delaire Estate’s acquisition by Laurence Graff in 2003 were renamed and reimagined as part of an ultra-luxurious hospitality and viticulture destination. The vast estate is comprised of the gorgeous historic winery as well as private lodging, culinary and spa experiences open to those who have booked in advance. Ten private villas, each with their own private plunge pool, are centered around a main lodge with a cinema and an Asian-fusion restaurant, Indochine. The spa features an infinity pool and state-of-the-art facilities and treatments using products from Aromatherapy Associates and Swiss Perfection. What’s more, exemplifying Laurence Graff’s love of modern art, the Delaire Graff Estate is also home to one of the most aesthetically interesting contemporary art collections in the world. Among the recent acquisitions is Vladimir Tretchikoff’s “The Chinese Girl” (also known as “The Green Lady”), and many more significant 20th-century works are spread throughout the estate and gardens.

    In November 2013, Graff Diamonds’ new flagship African store opened at Delaire Graff Estate. Created by Graff’s Monaco-based interior design team, the décor was inspired by African and Cape Dutch styling, incorporating a rich color palette that echoes the spectacular landscape surrounding the Estate. Opulent showcases display one-of-a-kind rings, jewelry pieces from Graff’s collections — including Love, Lotus, Graff Icon and Butterfly Silhouette — and timepieces from Graff Luxury Watches.
  • On January 22
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What is the Graff Luxury Watch collection?

    Launched in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2009, the Graff Luxury Watch collection comprises more than 20 different models across five collections: Technical, Sport, Evening, Jewelled and Bespoke. All Graff watches are equipped with Swiss movement fine-tuned to the most discerning precision, and are inspired by the unique faceted design of the classic cut of a diamond: “timeless, yet contemporary,” as the company explains. All Graff Luxury Watches feature diamonds hand-selected by Graff Diamonds gemologists, making each watch in the collection a truly special luxury accessory. Most of Graff’s luxury watches are tailored to include special design features, from self-winding caliber (GraffStar Grand Date), to water resistance up to 300 meters while diving (ScubaGraff), to higher-caliber movement of the GraffStar Slim and MasterGraff Ultra Flat watches. Ladies’ watches are brilliantly eye-catching in their design, from the iconic Butterfly adorned with butterfly-shaped diamonds inspired by the Graff Diamonds jewelry collection, to the BabyGraff, which features 30 half-carat diamonds on a single row bracelet with 106 diamonds on the case and dial.
  • On January 22
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    Does Graff Diamonds make sport watches?

    Graff Diamonds boasts an impressive collection of sport watches in its Graff Luxury Watch collection, launched in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2009. The collection’s Sport watches expertly pair horological precision via exemplary Swiss sporting with Graff’s iconic design and impeccable gem-setting skills. Three watches round out Graff’s Sport collection: the ScubaGraff 47mm, the ChronoGraff 45mm and the ChronoGraff 42mm. The ScubaGraff, Graff’s first diving watch, features a 50-hour power reserve and perks paramount to the serious diver, including water-resistance guaranteed up to 300 meters. The ScubaGraff is available in DLC (diamond-like carbon) and white gold, DLC and rose gold, and a stunning rose gold model. Both the 45mm and 42mm ChronoGraff Sport watches are available in a variety of luxurious finishes, from white gold with white or black dials, to rose gold with a choice of dials. The 45mm ChronoGraff is a classic design that includes a second dial, and the eye-catching 42mm ChronoGraff model is available in a variety of face finishes with either a rubber or crocodile strap.
  • On January 22
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    Does Graff Diamonds make ladies’ watches?

    Graff Diamonds makes elegant ladies’ watches in addition to a range of watches for men, totaling more than 20 models across five collections. As part of the Graff Luxury Watch collection launched in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2009, Graff’s ladies watches marry gorgeous diamond features with the pristine precision of the finest Swiss watch-making in the world. One of the most iconic ladies’ watches is the Butterfly Watch, the classic model of which features a diamond butterfly–adorned face and a handsome black satin band. Three additional styles of the Graff Butterfly watch pair a solid-colored crocodile band with its owner’s gemstone of choice: rubies, sapphires or emeralds. Other popular ladies’ styles include the LadyGraff and BabyGraff (a whimsical collection of diamonds surrounding a diamond-encrusted face), the Galaxy and Baby Galaxy (featuring a delicately paved watch face surrounded by a band bursting with diamonds), and the Diamond Swan and Baby Swan watches, whose wings delicately conceal a “secret” watch face.
  • On January 22
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    Does Graff Diamonds make watches for men?

    Graff Diamonds’ Graff Luxury Watch collection makes four styles of watches for men: Technical, Dress, Sport and Bespoke. Designed to appeal to the diamond enthusiast who wishes to have a handsome timepiece wrapped around his wrist for any number of occasions, Graff’s watches for men incorporate the finest Swiss watch-making with a truly luxurious aesthetic. The Graff Luxury Watch collection (which includes watches for women) was launched fairly recently, in 2009, in Geneva — the capital of luxury timepieces. Incorporating flawless technology with stunning hand-selected gemstones, Graff watches for men range from technically beautiful models like the MasterGraff collection of Technical watches, to the practically beautiful ScubaGraff and ChronoGraff Sport watches, and the elegant GraffStar collection of Dress watches, a few of which are suitable for both men and ladies. In addition to Technical, Dress and Sport watches for men, Graff also produces Bespoke watches upon request, suited to its owner’s preferred diamond, gemstone, dial and engraving specification.
  • On January 22
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What are some of Graff Diamonds’ most famous diamonds?

    Graff Diamonds founder Laurence Graff has both acquired and handled some of the most treasured gemstones in the world, from the Hope of Africa and the Windsor Diamonds to precious stones that have since acquired the Graff name. Among Graff’s most famous diamonds are the Idol’s Eye, the Emperor Maximilian, the Porter Rhodes, the Begum Blue, the Paragon, the Star of America, the Golden Star, the Wittelsbach-Graff, the Lesotho Promise, the Delaire Sunrise, the Graff Constellation, the Graff Pink, the Graff Sweethearts and the Letseng Star, in addition to the aforementioned powerhouse Windsor Diamonds and Hope of Africa. Laurence Graff acquired each of these diamonds over time, pursuing important auctions to build the Graff collection one precious stone at a time. In many instances, Graff’s team has been set to task re-cutting and polishing these famous diamonds to bring them to their full potential under the Graff Diamonds name. The 603-carat Lesotho Promise, for example, was painstakingly cut and polished by an expert team, yielding 26 flawless gems ranging from 3.14 to 76.41 carats. These diamonds were then set by Graff’s team of master craftsmen into one of the most valuable and unique necklaces in the world.
  • On January 22
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What are Graff Diamonds’ engagement rings like?

    Graff Diamonds is highly unique in its use of minimal platinum settings, which allow the beauty and brilliance of each diamond to shine through. Graff’s master craftsmen spend many years at the bench, working to hone the ability to enhance and complement a stone the Graff way. An example of this can be seen in Graff’s diamond engagement rings, which also rely on this stone-led craftsmanship, meaning each ring is crafted by hand to cradle each diamond’s unique silhouette — there is no “one size fits all” setting. Master ring mounters at Graff ensure a stone is placed into its platinum mount so light can pass through it, amplifying the brilliance of its natural luminescence. Graff Diamonds’ engagement rings are truly stunning pieces of jewelry, from the signature style known for its rose-gold pavé of hand-matched pink diamonds around the band to the custom diamond rings made to suit the desired aesthetic of the wearer. All Graff engagement rings are laser-inscribed with the Graff logo and a GIA identification number upon completion.
  • On December 10
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    Where is Grace located?

    Grace is located at 652 W. Randolph St. in Chicago’s West Loop, a popular neighborhood for fine dining that’s commonly referred to as Restaurant Row. Grace is on the ground floor of a plain commercial building at the far eastern end of Randolph just east of the expressway. It’s only a five-minute walk from the Clinton “El” stop on the Green Line, and there are a handful of bus routes with stops near the restaurant. Valet parking is offered directly in front of the restaurant. And when your dining experience is complete, reception is happy to telephone for a cab if one is necessary.
  • On December 10
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What is the scene like at Grace?

    Grace is a sophisticated dining experience with a scene to match. Because it’s booked exclusively by reservation (oftentimes months in advance), there are never more guests at the reception area than open seats in the dining room, lending the restaurant an air of members-only exclusivity. Both lighting and music are kept low, and the warm, neutral tones of the dining room’s aesthetic puts all of the focus on the food, rather than the room or those populating it. Grace’s demographic skews toward middle-age diners, with quite a few couples dotting the dining room, although it’s popular for small groups and business diners as well.
  • On December 10
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    How do you get a reservation at Grace?

    Grace is an incredibly sought after dining experience in Chicago, and demand for reservations reflects its popularity. The medium-size restaurant seats just 64, which means that booking in advance is highly recommended. The best way to secure a table at Grace is by calling the reservations line (312-234-9494), which is answered by a host on Tuesday through Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time. Reservations are taken up to two months in advance, and seatings begin at 5:30 p.m. Unlike many restaurants, Grace’s earlier reservations are a keen option, considering how dinner is a 12-course affair that can last several hours.
  • On November 27
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What kinds of skincare products are used at Chuan Spa at The Langham, Chicago?

    Chuan Spa at The Langham, Chicago uses Thalgo skincare products, the French marine-spa brand founded in 1964. Thalgo was a pioneering company that initially manufactured algae-based products for the medical field — years ahead of the current trend of algae-based products in cosmetics serving as a key hydration agent.

    Several different Thalgo products are incorporated into each treatment, and the spa offers the complete line for sale in its reception area. While products are always available for purchase, they’re merely suggested by the staff — not pushed — at the end of a given appointment. Samples are also available if you’re interested in trying something at home or in your room before making a financial commitment.
  • On November 27
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    Does Chuan Spa at The Langham, Chicago offer couples treatments?

    Yes. In fact, any of Chuan Spa at The Langham, Chicago’s signature massages can be booked as couples’ massages with side-by-side beds. Just inquire at the time of booking to request the service.

    With nine different massage treatments to choose from (five signature massages and four more traditional, western-style massages), there are quite a few options for pairs looking to get pampered in sync. Dual-massage table rooms are large enough not to feel cramped, and each features a generous private bathroom with double sinks, as well as a large shower. Though it’s not suggested, we imagine the extra-large bathroom may come in handy for couples who book dual treatments and need to shower together afterward.
  • On November 27
    Lauren Viera answered the question: Lauren Viera

    What is the style of Chuan Spa at The Langham, Chicago?

    Chuan Spa at The Langham, Chicago is designed like its sister spas all over the world, which all pay homage to traditional Chinese medicine. The Asian décor flourishes with delicate lines, gorgeously painted screens, careful attention to light and dark contrast, and stones and waterfalls playing prominently in several areas of the spa. The locker rooms are clean, bright white with a few pops of color from single orchids on the vanities. The reception area, lounge, treatment rooms and post-treatment sensory pods room are all softly enhanced with delicate scents and customary Chinese music permeating the air. The spa’s calming combination of dark woods, clean lines and minimal aesthetics flows across the entire floor, down to the indoor pool with which the spa shares locker room facilities.