Miami Turns Up the Heat for a Celebrity-Style Vacation Destination

<b>Miami Turns Up the Heat for a Celebrity-Style Vacation Destination</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Travelers looking for luxe, hip beach destinations have to look no further than Miami’s South Beach, where top celebrities, models and fashion photographers unwind after the sun goes down.

South Beach is famous for its superb beaches, mouth-watering cuisine and infinite celebrity hot spots. One such hot spot is the Maison d’Azur Restaurant at Hotel Astor on South Beach. The French restaurant’s Mediterranean-style decor and candle-lit garden set the tone for a splendid evening and is ideal for both large groups and intimate occasions.

Start the evening off with drinks and caviar sliders — a decadent twist on a standard appetizer — then choose a fresh seafood entrée. Maison d’Azur’s “Market,” located right in front of its open kitchen, allows diners to choose the fish they want prepared. The ratatouille provides a flavorful, yet light, side. For dessert, don’t miss the créme brûlée. Served with shaved lemon ice, the creamy, sweet indulgence is one of the best you’ll find this side of the Atlantic.

On Saturdays, the Maison d’Azur offers a deejayed brunch starting at noon. With bellinis and fresh French-style pastries served on a jasmine-scented patio, there’s no better way to start off your Saturday.

The restaurant also provides ample celebrity-spotting. Fran Drescher and Gloria Estefan have dined at the Maison d’Azur, as have Stefan Fortier and various socialites.

Layla Lounge, also located at the historical 1936 Hotel Astor, brings Moroccan flair to South Beach. The sensuality and warmth of Layla will make you feel temporarily transported to a North African jungle surrounded by resplendent cocktails and a charming garden annex with jasmine trees and bamboo walls.

Cuisine and celebrities aren’t the only things happening on Miami Beach. Step outside the Hotel Astor, and you’ll find yourself in the Art Deco Historic District. Spend an afternoon strolling down Lincoln Road Mall and Espanola Way to browse the many galleries displaying exciting work from contemporary artists, or get tickets to a show at the historic Filmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater.

For more information, visit or find other great MOD Hospitality locations at

Canvas Conveys Cancer Experience

<b>Canvas Conveys Cancer Experience</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Architect Nikko Shabtai was painting in a Beverly Hills art workshop when his art took on a life of its own.

“I was painting a model when I unintentionally picked up my painter’s knife instead of a brush and painted her without a breast,” said Shabtai.

A fellow artist at the workshop noted that the woman Shabtai portrayed appeared to have had a mastectomy, but did not look incomplete or scarred; rather, she looked “beautiful and whole.” Shabtai agreed.

His subconscious inspiration? A family member with breast cancer who had undergone a mastectomy.

Shabtai’s painting, “As I Am, Beautiful and Whole,” took first prize in the third, biennial Oncology On Canvas: Expressions of a Cancer Journey Art Competition and Exhibition, winning a $10,000 donation to the Cancer Schmancer Foundation, which was founded by actress Fran Drescher and educates women on the risk factors and early detection of women’s cancers.

Nearly 600 entries were submitted for the 2008 competition, which was created by Eli Lilly and Company and is presented with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. The competition invited individuals diagnosed with cancer and their families, friends, caregivers and health care providers to express, through art and narrative, the life-affirming changes that give the cancer journey meaning. In total, 26 prizes were awarded to 20 cancer charities selected by 19 winners in various categories.

Second place went to Elizabeth Menges, a high-school art teacher from Boston, for “C. in Bedroom,” a six-painting series in oil detailing the morning dressing routine of a breast cancer survivor who had had a mastectomy.

“The woman I painted opened her home and life to me,” said Menges. “I recorded her stories and photographed her vulnerabilities. She trusted me with the rest. I hope these images help demystify a situation we sometimes fear and broaden our image of how a ‘real woman’ looks.”

Lilly is expanding the reach of this inspiring artwork by touring it nationwide to hospitals and cancer centers. For information on the exhibition, the 2008 competition or the 2009 call for entries, visit