-- Actress/producer Vivica A. Fox hosts The Cougar, TV Land PRIME's new reality competition dating series, which premieres April 15. She shares her travel experiences and tips with USA TODAY.
Q: Where have you been recently that you liked or were surprised by?
A: I went to Miami for the Russell Simmons Art for Life event. It was a little giving back to the community and getting a little fun in the sun. I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. I absolutely loved the service and they were so accommodating. I walked in my room and there were red roses, a bottle of my favorite wine and bruschetta and cheese. The view that I had from my suite was just absolutely gorgeous. It was overlooking the ocean and so serene, therapeutic and very calming. It made me want to move there. I love Miami and try to get down there as often as I can. It's like an East Coast L.A.
Q: What's the best place you've ever visited?
A: Paris, France. I went there for Fashion Week last year and stayed at the Four Seasons George V. What I loved about Paris is there's so much history that we don't get here in America, with the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the statues. It's a beautiful, historical and romantic place — and excellent restaurants. I had been to Paris about 12 years ago and went to Buddha Bar (restaurant), which has this big old Buddha that sits there. I remember when I first saw it. I was like, 'That's got to be the largest Buddha I've ever seen.' It was good to go back.
Q: What's the most surprising/unexpected place you're ever visited?
A: Beijing, China. When I trained for Kill Bill, I was there for a month. There's a huge language barrier. The only thing you're going to see is Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's and Pizza Hut. That's about as much of America as you're going to get. But they're so polite the way they look at you. They just look and smile. My driver was so sweet. He got a little English translation book for me so if I wanted to say something to him then I could just point. I appreciated it. Every time he picked me up he bowed. I was like, "Oh my gosh. I'm in China."
Uma (Thurman) took us to a restaurant that might have been called the China Gardens. They had these little intimate places where you ate that were very private and the door slid. They're so respectful and quiet. Something that I totally enjoyed was the Summer Palace, an Imperial garden where the emperors would go for their vacations back in the day. The grounds were just impeccable. There was so much history.
Q: What's your favorite vacation spot?
A: St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I've hosted their New Year's Eve ball two years in a row at Chenay Bay. It's just beautiful. I stayed at Carambola. Excellent service and great rooms (which) overlook the ocean. You can literally sit in your room on the patio and watch the sun either come up or set. It's just so peaceful with the turquoise waters. Every morning I get up and go running on the beach to start the day off healthy. There's something about the ocean that I really love.
And there's a contessa there who has built an actual castle on the top of one the mountains. It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. I've only seen castles when I went to Ireland to film Ella Enchanted. But to see a modern-day castle built on the side of a mountain in the Caribbean was mind blowing. People said, "Yeah, that's the contessa's settlement. She did well." I said, "Let me go get a count."
Q: Can you offer an insider tip or recommendation for your favorite vacation place?
A: When you go to Miami, go to Prime One Twelve or Prime Italian. They're right across the street from one another. At Prime 112, I recommend the chicken dinner with cream of corn and sautéed spinach. At Prime Italian, I recommend the sea bass with spinach.