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the barrister Lifestyle Supplement


Supplement 2016

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Content 04 Dominican Republic:

waiting to be explored By Catherine Dingley

08 Bath The history and

heritage of a timeless city

By Otilie Hague-Duncan


Dalmatian Dreams


Sojaorns in Spain


What is Retirement?

By Derek Payne

By Claire Stokes

By Tom Glanville

20 A Moroccan Oasis in

the Atlas Mountains

By Oliver Warren

24 Majestic Mountain

Living Our pick of the best properties for sale in some of the top resorts‌ By Emma Pawson

30 The historical Loire

Valley steps into the future By Penelope Daish

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Dominican Republic waiting to be explored

By Catherine Dingley


hile we may be fortunate enough to live in a world where few places remain unidentified, our pursuit for an inimitable tropical island – quite like the many seafaring civilizations who braved treacherous waters in search of new, exotic and mystical lands did before us continues apace. For now, however, the spotlight is shining firmly on the handsome island of the Dominican Republic, one fortunate enough to have had “There is no island more beautiful in the world” said of it by Christopher Columbus upon his arrival on the enchanting isle on December 5, 1492. The second largest and most geographically diverse island in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic boasts a proud colonial history that spans more than 500 years, as well as a welcoming tropical climate and a wildlife so diverse it has now also become a hotspot for ecotourists. There is no doubt that it is now also an irresistible magnet for avid golfers – courses stretch for acres under the brilliant sun - nature lovers, and cultural connoisseurs, while its other undeniable appeal are the stretches of sandy beaches which encircle the island all around. What bewitches its visitors now, is certainly what would have appealed to the well-travelled Columbus, after all, it’s impossible not to be taken in by the wild beauty of its virgin rainforest and raw

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coastline, all which of course lie in wait for a new generation of explorers and pioneers. The island’s northern shores, commonly known as the ‘Green Coast’ – La Costa Verde in native Spanish tongue – is home to a lush, wildly varied landscape. It is here that Amanera can be found, the latest venture between Dolphin Capital, a world leading residential resort developer, and discerning traveller-favourite, Aman Hotels, owners of popular Amanpuri, Thailand and Amandari, Bali, among many others. Centrally located on the Green Coast, above the famed Playa Grande beach, Amanera is the first fully integrated Aman in the world, meaning that it features an Aman hotel, residential villas and a golf course which will leave even the best-travelled golf aficionados astonished at its offering. The Playa Grande golf course, after all is the highly anticipated, fully renovated Robert Trent Jones Sr. course, shaped by the winds, framed by mountainous jungles and poised atop 60-foot cliffs towering over the island’s most beautiful beach, Playa Grande – prized for its golden sands and the clear, azure seas which stretch forth from them. Spread over 370 acres of rugged ocean cliffs, the course is the perfect mix of towering cliffs, panoramic views and windswept plateaus – sprawling next to an undulating coastline to create a golfer’s dream tapestry. This exceptional playing experience, famed for its unmatched 10 holes
on the ocean, the most of any course in the Western hemisphere, underwent a glorious

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revival, overseen by the late Jones’ son, Rees. It is, however, the Amanera Villas, tucked away within their own private enclave of the resort, encircling the Golf Course, which make this location the catch that it is. For in bringing together all the intrigue, mystique, history and beauty this island inherently owns, there is nothing quite as tempting for an astute traveller than to own a slice of it all. The Amanera Villas are also not simply the average second home, but offer exquisite properties, ranging from two to six bedrooms, perfectly capturing the entrancing nature of the island, yet providing a contemporary edge to their style. But what, other than the sunshine and the golf course, would invite someone to buy an Amanera villa? It’s not all, of course, about the vistas and the blue sea. For life here encompasses a string of unique cultural elements that are guaranteed to offer something distinctive to those of other Caribbean islands. On any given day, an owner might enjoy a calm or challenging nature hike meandering into the forests, excursions to local towns or embark on boating expeditions to the nearby turquoise lagoons, concealed cyan caves, and the idyllic beaches that make up the intriguing coastline of the island. The Dominican Republic has a truly genial national culture, and, they say, is home to some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean – a claim no doubt disputed just across the water at some other islands. However, what cannot be doubtful is the truly international

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blend of people and hence cultures on the island: hosting a rare fusion of African, European, and native Taíno Indian cultures, the Dominican Republic truly owns a unique identity. A visit to a neighbouring beach town, in which inevitable mingling with locals would occur, would prove this, as tourists often find themselves dancing the merengue and learning more, perhaps, about the Taíno Indian people who inhabited the Dominican Republic from about the 7th century, even before Columbus’ arrival. It was their presence that ultimately meant the island became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, as well as Santo Domingo, the capital, becoming the oldest continuously inhabited city and the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World. Discovering the Taíno culture that is inherent across the land is a wonderful way of immersing oneself in Dominican

culture, and as an owner, it would all be there for one to absorb and learn. Dominicans are also proud of their rich heritage and culture, expressed in every aspect of the country’s vibrant art, music and dance. The local cuisine is a wonderful melange of Spanish and African influences. Mangú, for example, is a renowned dish and a Dominican staple consisting of mashed up plantains (bananas), which are found in abundance in the Caribbean. This is not to forget that music and dance are an important aspect of life of Dominican Republic island life, and locals are known for the creation of the merengue, a form of lively, fast-paced rhythm and dance music, throughout the neighbouring islands. For those with an appetite for adventure, for whom swimming in the sea and gentles ambles in the colourful towns is simply not enough. Most popular

active exploits include exploring nature trails on horseback to deep sea fishing expeditions, as well as learning to kitesurf at Cabarete, the famed kite-surfing capital of the world, which is just 45 minutes from Amanera. There is much to do. Nature lovers on the other hand can discover the avifauna of the island on bird-watching expeditions and spot humpback whale pods off the Samaná Peninsula. But why the focus on Amanera on an island that is no doubt under development in all directions? Its partnership with Aman has certainly added to its allure, but nestled as it is amongst 2,000 acres of virtually untouched land, verdant peaks and lush jungle with centuries-old royal palms, Amanera is being considered as a destination within a destination which heralds a new age for the Dominican Republic, all the while setting a new standard for luxury in the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic is undeniably having a revival, with Amanera leading the charge. This colourful destination is simply awaiting exploration, by guests and homeowners alike. Amanera The larger Amanera Villas start from $7m The two-bedroom Amanera Villas start from $4m +1 (849) 879-5117

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Bath The history and heritage of a timeless city By Otilie Hague-Duncan


n 12th May 1767, a square of yellow limestone was placed on a hill at the edge of the City of Bath. This foundation stone was the first in architect John Wood the Younger’s sweeping arc of Georgian houses, which would later become the famed Royal Crescent. Upon its completion in 1775, this classical facade, which remains to this day a testament to the architectural reaches of 18th Century England, stands to global acclaim. Despite the changing cityscape of Bath, the Royal Crescent remains seemingly untouched above the modern city, where it has stood for almost 250 years. 18th Century Bath was a haven amidst the booming industrial era of pre-war Britain. A spa city harking back to the Roman times, the country’s elite would visit Bath to ‘take the waters’. In this sense, not much has changed in the city. Although Bath now attracts a global audience to its cobbled streets, many still flock to the city seeking the thermal waters renowned for their natural restorative powers. Given the city’s history, it is no surprise that it boasts a large number of spas. One of the finest is the Thermae Bath Spa in the city centre; complete with a heated rooftop pool, it provides the perfect viewpoint for gazing out to the southern fringe of the Cotswolds and limestone hills beyond. Today, standing in front of the black iron railings of the Royal Crescent, it does not ask much of one’s imagination to picture Jane Austen seated on the lawn of the Royal Crescent, furiously penning a novel that would outlive her time. Throughout the Regency Period, Bath and the Royal Crescent were the inspiration for two of Austen’s six novels: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Tourists to Bath, eager to tread in the footsteps of the literary great, are often unwittingly led up the hill to the spectacular arc of the Royal Crescent and the majestic vistas of the great spa city. Arguably the pinnacle of the Royal Crescent is The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. Behind the hotel’s Grade I

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the barrister Lifestyle Supplement ‘bluestockings society,’ an informal literary society the first of its kind. Walking past the thirty houses that make up the Royal Crescent, it is hard not to notice the blue plaques revealing the past inhabitants and guests. Today, tourists are more likely to see a Hollywood star walking the pavement of the Royal Crescent, which has played the backdrop for numerous blockbuster films including The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley as Lady Georgiana Cavendish, wife of the philandering Duke of Devonshire.

listed walls, lies an unexpected acre of private gardens connecting the former coach house to the main hotel building. Stepping into the entrance of the hotel, takes one back in time to the elegance of the Georgian elite and Regency Period, albeit with the luxuries of a 21st century hotel. Heavy oil paintings hang in high ceilinged rooms, smoke billows up from lit hearths, and the furnishings in The Duke of York Suite, aptly named after the gentleman who frequented the building, are more akin to a lavish stately home than a modern hotel room. For hundreds of years, the Royal Crescent has garnered a rich history from the characters that have lived within its walls. These include Lord Nelson and social reformer of her time Elizabeth Montague, who defied 18th Century social norms by wearing blue stockings and thus created the

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As the Royal Crescent approaches the 250th anniversary of its conception, it is attracting an abundance of historians and writers inquiring into its past, none more so than journalist and historian Jeremy Seal who was so taken with the rumoured stories of romance, drama and literature of the Royal Crescent that he delved into the buildings’ past and unearthed a soap opera of characters. Despite the peace and tranquillity that the Royal Crescent is associated with today, its past has been much more tumultuous. The strict covenant outlined by John Wood the Younger, that all doors of the Royal Crescent were to be painted black, remains true today expect for the door of number 22, which stands out a strikingly bold canary yellow. In 1972 the Royal Crescent was subject to social scandal when Amabel Wellesley-Cole, a descendant of the Duke of Wellington refused to paint her door black and instead chose a defiant yellow. To Amabel, her lineage was reason enough

to not conform to society norms, much to the outrage of the local Council. Today, the door stands testament to the vibrant past and people of the Royal Crescent. Bath continues to emanate its history as a Roman spa city, remaining a yellow jewel in the green patchwork of Somerset countryside. As the City of Bath prepares to mark another milestone in its architectural history at the Royal Crescent, it remains to be seen what scandals and tales of love lost will emerge over the course of the next 250 years.

Lead in rates at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa start from £265 per room per night on a double occupancy B&B basis. Suites start from £ 01225 823333

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Dalmatian Dreams By Derek Payne


hether you’re visiting for the first or the hundredth time, it’s impossible not to succumb to Croatia’s alluring charm. In recent years, the country has blossomed into a world-class destination with visitors mesmerized by its sun-kissed coastlines, rich cultural legacy and unrivaled natural beauty

Arguably one of the most dramatic coastlines in Europe, stunning mountains hug the shoreline and sweep down to the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic providing a majestic backdrop in summer and winter alike. Inland, turquoise lakes and rushing waterfalls are buried deep within the range of stunning National Parks bursting with colour and rare vegetation. Indeed, part of Croatia’s appeal lies in its diversity; you’ll find the flash superyacht sets in the country’s glamourous harbours, gastronomes delighting in beachside taverns and the more adventurous hiking up hillsides dotted with olive groves. An intriguing combination, it’s easy to understand why Croatia has been transformed into one of the Mediterranean’s most sought-after destinations. Known as the pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is Croatia’s star attraction and the city’s bewitching beauty is plain to see in its mighty medieval walls and beautiful

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architecture. Exploring the meandering passages of the 12th century citadel, it becomes clear why people are drawn to the stunning city. Basking in the sunshine, locals sit in cafes overlooking the shimmering sea as boats motor to and fro in the bustling harbour. In the evening, the sound of local jazz drifts through the city as mouth-watering seafood and local wines are served in plentiful supply. Away from the crowds, a short boat trip will take visitors to the stunning Dalmatian Riviera. Largely undiscovered, the area boasts eight stunning National Parks and over a thousand islands- some occupied, others lush with pine forests,

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olives groves and lavender fields. A treasure trove for those looking for the true Mediterranean dream, yachts sail between the islands stopping off at deserted beaches and charming coves. Simple home –style cooking championing local ingredients is served up in endearing family-run restaurants alongside a handful of smarter restaurants, hip bars and boutique hotels which are opening with increased frequency in the area. Such is the untapped potential of this outstanding region that British brothers Alex and Adam Pinion have based their entire business model on it. Aged just 19 and 22 they set up Pin & Pin, a specialist

real estate development company that builds properties of an incomparable calibre all along the Riviera. Noticing a gap in the market for luxury high-end homes the brothers set out to create the most exceptional homes in the country. The majestic Villa Ivy is truly breathtaking, sitting on the southern shore of Brac Island. Set over three impressive floors it features four elegant bedrooms, a gymnasium, wine cellar and home office with generous proportions. A quite spectacular infinity-edged swimming pool offers majestic views over the island and is quite sublime in its setting and design. Meanwhile the interiors are impeccably thought

out with unique flourishes and special touches that are so hard to find in other properties of stature in the area. A haven for sporty types, the sailing and yachting scene here rivals any other with hundreds of ports and marinas spread across the islands. Boasting its own mooring and direct sea access, the property has already garnered attention amongst the sailing elite. In terms of interior design, Pin & Pin are careful to finish each of their properties with the uttermost care and attention in everything from fittings and fabrics to furniture and design flourishes. Windows are dressed with the finest

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drapes, kitchens are equipped with the latest gadgets, living spaces are dotted with fine art and feature pieces, bedrooms give onto breathtaking views and outdoor terraces lead into graceful infinity pools. Aside from impressive architecture and generous living and outside spaces, it is soon clear that every Pin & Pin property occupies a coveted location. Whilst building in close proximity to waterfronts is closely regulated throughout the country, Pin & Pin are able to source the most prime sea and lake-fronting spots from only a handful that come onto the market thanks to their in-depth local knowledge and standing within the community. Almost all therefore have direct access to the Adriatic, a rare asset

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for real estate in the area. Crowned as the new Amalfi, Croatia has attracted a chic set of property investors over the previous decade and is fast becoming a hotspot for those in-theknow. Infrastructure improvements across the country are becoming increasingly evident enhancing transportation and day-to-day living. Without the heavier price tag of its European counterparts, the country’s blissful sunshine, long summer season and easy accessibility from all around Europe means it remains popular amongst foreign investors. Remarkably it also remains relatively untouched in terms of mass tourism, compared to the south of France, Spain and Italy‌ all the more reason, therefore, to take advantage of its many assets.

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in Spain By Claire Stokes


t is no secret that Spain regularly tops industry lists as one of the most popular and searched-for places in the world to buy a second home. Its enviable climate, stunning topography, delectable cuisine, easy accessibility and relative affordability set a very high benchmark that few other countries can rival. Its culture is exotic enough to be enticing, yet familiar enough not to alienate foreigners thinking of making it their home. Stepping off the plane onto Murcia’s quaint runway, visitors are dowsed in warm sunshine pouring from cloudless blue skies whilst palm trees rustle in the cooling breeze and cicadas sing in the background. Instantly one is immersed into a

calmer and quieter way of life where things are taken at a slower pace and every day is there to be enjoyed. This is one of Spain’s most popular regions and home to the famous La Manga del Mar Menor - the Sandbar of the Minor Sea. At just 22km long and around 100 metres wide it separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Mar Menor and boasts stunning white sand beaches, marinas and a plethora of water sports, marinas, bars and cafes. It does however get extremely busy during summer months meaning many turn to inland resorts for a calmer place to base themselves. One such example is the bastion of luxury living for the region, La

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Manga Club. Resting on the clifftop above the Mediterranean Sea, it was established over 40 years ago and ever since has been known as one of Spain’s foremost sporting and wellness destinations. Bordered by the unspoilt Calblanque National Park and the Monte de las Cenizas Natural Park, it sits just 20 minutes from the airport. A network of carefully-manicured roads and vast expanses of rural landscape lead you gently into its 1,400 acres and weave between communities of well-established homes that have the feel of small villages bursting with life. The architecture is a mix of traditional terracotta coloured homes with standout white roofs, larger Mediterranean townhouses shrouded in mature trees and spectacular contemporary properties that boast clean architectural lines and take-your-breath-away views. Each community has its own selection of amenities that range from shops to restaurants and swimming pools and all

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offer 24 hour security. It is not uncommon to come across a Tuesday evening tennis tournament or a weekend BBQ brunch in the sunshine with free-flowing Sangria and tapas. Often many different generations of the same family gather for special occasions and visit time and again year after year. As for why this destination has managed to uphold its reputation for over four decades, a lot is to do with the range of activities on offer to home owners. No matter their location in the resort, every home has on its doorstep a panoply of enviable facilities guaranteed to meet all manner of expectations. No less than 28 professional-worthy tennis courts make up the Tennis Centre which has played host to prestigious events including Davis Cup and ATP matches whilst the three 18 hole golf courses offer a challenge like no other in the region for aspiring and expert golfers alike. Eight grass football pitches are

also on offer alongside cricket, rugby and triathlon facilities leaving residents with little excuse not to hone their sporting skills. Wherever you are on the resort, sweeping views are never far away. To rest and recuperate tired muscles, the capacious and recently refurbished 2,000sqm spa is a prime spot from which to drink in the expansive views whilst indulging in a range of highquality treatments. The 5 storey sugarwhite building crowns the tallest point of the resort and is a key focal point in the development. Visitors travel from near and far to enjoy a taste of the La Manga Club lifestyle and the 18 bars and restaurants are constantly peppered with a mix of nationalities soaking up the atmosphere. Cuisine is wide-ranging as are the restaurants’ varied ambiences meaning there’s a place to suit every taste and preference.

Perhaps most special of all though is the approach to the resort’s own beachfront which takes one completely by surprise. Over the crest of a hill, the tarmacked road suddenly turns into a loose stone track that snakes its way down to La Cala Beach. Stepping onto the sand is like stepping back in time to a seaside that has remained untouched by time’s hand, a truly unique experience. Delicate straw-topped umbrellas stand like gentle sentries keeping watch along the sands and from under their restful eyes one can gaze out to a horizon of yacht-dotted azure waters. Just above, a charming restaurant clings to the rocks serving an elegant menu of sophisticated seafood dishes and fine wines. Tables on the terrace are booked weeks in advance and are the spot to drink in the surroundings from morning till night… the perfect way to begin or end a day in the Spanish sunshine.

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What is Retirement? Tom Glanville TEP considers the changing retirement landscape Of course it is easy to forget that the life expectancy in retirement was very different in Downton Abbey times, one of the major reasons for the financial difficulty the State Pension has caused the Government. When the first recognisable State Pension was introduced in this country in 1908 it was paid from age 70, the life expectancy then was around 48 years. When the age for payment was dropped to 65 in 1925 this was still higher than the life expectancy rate at the time. Compare that with the expectation that pensioners will now draw their State Pension for between 17 to 20 years. Another big change regarding the State Pension has been the percentage of pensioners’ income which the State Pension makes up. Previously for the vast majority of pensioners most if not all of their income in retirement was the old age pension, with only a select few having the benefit of a company pension scheme or personal pension scheme. We then went through a phase of a growth in people benefiting from final salary company pension schemes. Now the circle has moved on to final salary schemes outside of the public sector being a rarity. As the availability of the final salary pensions schemes has reduced, the number of money purchase pensions has increased, be it company money purchase schemes to replace the final salary schemes which have been closed, or personal pensions. Up until the last year the expectation would be that the majority of income requirements in retirement would be supplied by money purchase pensions in the future, income in retirement in many cases being made up of a jigsaw of pieces, State Pension, personal pension, company pension, property rental, and investment income being some of the possible pieces. However, in the last 12 months whilst the pieces in the jigsaw may have stayed basically the same, the order in which they may be used has changed. Any plan to rely on property rentals from build up a portfolio of “buy to let properties” may need reviewing. In the last year many buy to let owners have wondered what they have done to upset the Chancellor. The increase in stamp duty on additional homes may well make people think twice about buying an additional property or at least review the profitability calculations. The change

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ver the last few decades there have been fundamental changes to how we view retirement and the make up of retirement. One of the principle changes has been the result of the disappearance of the “job for life”. The classic image of joining a company, working for them for your whole working life, retiring one day with your gold watch and receiving your pension the next day seems to belong with the nostalgia of Downton Abbey.

to the rules as to how much of the interest cost of the buy to let mortgage can be offset against your income tax, of course not only affects potential investors, but also those already committed. Indeed, there have been stories in the press of investors with substantial buy-to-let property portfolios selling out. Then there are the changes to the pension rules. It seems as if there have been amendments to the rules every year for the last decade, which is rather ironic for something which may well be planning for something to use in 30 plus years’ time. One of the biggest changes seen this year, other than the continued attack on the lifetime allowance, covered later, is with regard to the ability to inherit pensions and the interaction with Inheritance Tax. It is quite likely with the continued freezing of the nil rate band for Inheritance Tax (IHT), clients with the potential retirement income made up from the jigsaw referred to above will have a potential IHT liability. Indeed, in many cases the value of the residential home will be sufficient to breach the nil rate band for a couple of £650,000. Therefore, the order which income and capital is used has now become very relevant as a result of the change in the pension rules. I have many clients for whom over the years, I have recommended they invest in their pensions to pay for their retirement and used their ISA allowance each year to give them tax efficient capital available to use in retirement. In the last 12 months some of those clients have looked to retire, so they have been understandably confused when I have contradicted my advice of the last 20 years and told them we will be looking to fund their retirement income from their ISAs and other investments, and leaving their personal pensions alone as long as possible. So now the retirement income jigsaw would look more like State Pension, company pension if final salary, property rental or possible capital if choose to sell, investment income and capital. The money purchase style pensions, be it company or personal, in one way or another we may well rename the “family savings plan”. The new flexibility with regard to the use for pensions has come at a cost in that the amount which can be put into pensions over a lifetime (the lifetime allowance) has been

the barrister Lifestyle Supplement reduced. The lifetime allowance, which peaked at £1,800,000, is set to reduce to £1,000,000 from the new tax year. Whilst this may sound a lot and is easy to compare against money purchase pensions by simply looking at how much is in the pot, if your pension history has any element of final salary scheme pension in it, it is not so straight forward. If you have £3,000 in a personal pension and will have £50,000 a year pension from a final salary pension scheme before taking tax free cash then you will exceed the new limit. A far more likely scenario is where someone has an assortment of pensions from previous employments and does not realise how much of the lifetime allowance the final salary pension will use up. A further complication is if for example your retirement pot is £750,000 and you intend to access this in ten years’ time, what growth rate do you assume on that pot when deciding whether to contribute more funds? After all, a pension contribution is still one of the few things the taxman currently actually helps you with, so they are a very valuable savings option. The one rumoured change to pensions which has been around for years but has not gone away is the possible reduction in tax relief for contributions: specifically the ability for tax relief above the basic rate. To some degree there have been limitations on this by way of the reduction in the annual and lifetime allowances. I still find it rather ironic that a Labour Government

brought in Pensions Simplification with an annual allowance of £215,000 rising to £225,000 and a lifetime allowance of £1.5m rising to £1.8m, and Conservative controlled Governments have brought those limits down to £40,000 and £1m respectively. That said there still seems some appetite to do something about the rate of tax relief given be it a move to a flat 30% relief or just basic rate relief. Although how this will be squared with the perennial problem of not enough people saving for their retirement anyway is another question. The Treasury would love to be able to reduce the cost of lost revenue for pension tax relief but equally be able to reduce the reliance on the State to pay for pensioners incomes. So a bit of a rock and a hard place, although the immediate savings on tax relief must be attractive in these days of short term planning. As mentioned at the start of this article

the concept of finishing work one day and drawing on your pension the next is getting quite rare. The changes to the rules on inheriting pension funds this year has made this even less likely to be the way pensions are viewed in the future. So if the idea of finishing work and then drawing your pension is out of date what should be the way to view retirement? Perhaps a simplistic view would be decide what you want to do in retirement, how much this will cost and then work out how to pay for it. Whilst pensions will still play an important part in the “how to pay for retirement”, the order in which they will be used will have changed substantially. So whilst the make up of the dream retirement and how to pay for it may have changed, the need to plan for it rather than just hope to make it a reality, has not. Indeed, with so many changes going on it has never been so important to plan and review the strategy regularly as any plans made more than 3 years ago will now definitely need updating. Tom Glanville is a Director of Shipman Financial Planning Ltd, a specialist financial planning firm who offer bespoke, innovative advice to legal professionals, their families and other high net worth individuals. Tom can be contacted on tom@ or visit their website www.shipmanfp.

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A Moroccan Oasis in the Atlas Mountains By Olivia Warren

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sk anyone what they think of when you say Morocco and the majority will jump straight to the frenetic and much-loved city of Marrakech; a melting pot of cultures, colours, traditions and experiences that draws thousands of travellers each year. Its labyrinth of souks, revered Jamaa el Fna square, intoxicating ambience, exoticism and unforgettable timbre have made it a go-to, must-be-seen destination that is never far from the top of bucketlists around the world. Ask anyone about the Ouirgane Valley however and it’s clear that this is a region much less well known despite being only an hour from its illustrious neighbour. Characterised by vast open landscapes, sweeping river valleys, cloud-piercing mountains and close-knit Berber communities, the Ouirgane Valley is as calm as Marrakech is chaotic and as serene as the city is clamorous. Camels and goats are as common a sight along the meandering roads as cars and trucks and urban landmarks replaced with miles of undulating farm land. Held in high regard by location scouts the globe over, the Ouirgane Valley is a regular host for film and TV crews but as yet, remains a path markedly less trodden by tourists. This however may soon be set to change thanks to the creation of a small oasis buried deep in the Ouirgane’s very midst. L’Amandier is an expanse of 12 jaw-dropping acres that span a plateau at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Its namesake, an ancient almond grove that remains a centrepiece of the small but perfectly formed enclave. Set over a mile from the nearest road, arrival is via a narrow unpaved track that wends its way through thick vegetation and small hamlets before culminating in one of the most exceptional settings imaginable. Miles of soft green landscape stretch as far as the eye can see, framed in the distance by vast snow-capped Atlas peaks. Closer at hand the ice blue of a nearby lake sparkles between vivid trees and ochrered earth untouched by human hands. Private, discreet and elegant this is a place where nature and topography are given centre-stage and guests invited to celebrate their majesty. A cluster of just 14 villas make up the L’Amandier community and have been beautifully designed to complement the existing landscape composed of locally-sourced materials and features. All have atrium hallways flooded with natural light and resplendent interiors showcasing authentic fabrics and furniture. Tranquil inner courtyards, typical of medina houses are also incorporated, with water features and delicate tiling that invite you to while away the hotter hours of the day in their midst. Outside, capacious terraces encircle each property punctuated with

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simple plunge pools overlooking the surrounding landscape. Crowning the properties, open-topped roof terraces adorned with convivial cabanas are the perfect spot to watch the sun rise and set. Below, the L’Amandier gardens are an impressive panoply of colours, textures, sights and scents. Vibrant and rich they have been carefully thought out and executed with panache and style. Rosemary, lavender and rose perfume the air whilst delightful sunken areas are accented with bubbling fountains and pergolas. The perfect spot for private contemplation, yoga, meditation and thai chi lessons also take place here. Joining the villas later this year, the much-anticipated boutique L’Amandier hotel promises a new dimension to estate living. With just six elegant ensuite rooms, ensuring the sense of intimacy is retained, it will also feature an al fresco restaurant, chic bar and sweeping infinity pool and is set to become one of the country’s most coveted retreats. In terms of design, both the hotel and villas have been crafted to be honest, respectful and authentic in so much as they do little to detract from the majesty of all that surrounds them. The landscape is incorporated into the living areas at every opportunity through capacious glass windows and sliding glass doors and al fresco living is celebrated and invited.

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Those wanting to explore the wider Ouirgane region will find a handful of excellent local restaurants nearby including the highly regarded Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson’s muchloved Moroccan hotel. Service here is sleek and impressive drawing a chic set from Marrakech and offering a range of delectable dishes. For a more authentic experience, visitors can opt to adventure through the area on foot or horseback with a freshly-prepared picnic and personal guide. Hikes can take in local hamlets and the impressive Ouirgane Dam, an eye-catching landmark treasured by locals. For the more adventurous there are chances for kayaking, fly boarding, zip-lining, jet skiing and water skiing and for those seeking a true challenge, the 4 day trek up Mt Toubkal, the highest mountain in north Africa, with overnight stays in a local refuges should suffice. Local shops are not plentiful but feature traditional pottery and local produce that is wholly authentic and absolutely delicious. First impressions of both the Ouirgane and L’Amandier are memorable and for many, unlike any other. The sheer majesty of the settings combined with just the right measure of flourish and flair mean this is a truly special place that should be visited before everyone else discovers it.

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Majestic Mountain Living Our pick of the best properties for sale in some of the top resorts‌ By Emma Pawson

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For romantic charm and unmatched off-piste… Les Chalets d’Adelaide, Grimentz, Switzerland

magic of Grimentz and decided to settle here for good. Bars and restaurants, whilst not plentiful, are excellent providing hearty local delicacies alongside more elegant creations all of which have a friendly welcoming atmosphere.


t the end of a heartstopping mountain pass, the 15th century village of Grimentz lies like an uncut diamond under dazzling Swiss blue skies. Fondly known amongst locals as offering some of the sunniest skiing in the country, this charming hamlet is made up of an atmospheric old quarter replete with ancient dark wood chalets that have barely changed since they were first built. There is also a newer village steeped into the hillside above, where the majority of architecture is a respectful nod to times-gone-by ensuring Grimentz retains all of its original allure. The population is made up mainly of Swiss families with a handful of expats including a couple of British families who discovered the

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This is a place for those with a true passion for the mountains and a love of the pistes which, incidentally, are opened-up to skiers and boarders as early as November such is the snowsure nature of the resort. In a real coup to the village, 2014 saw the opening of the dramatic Grimentz-Zinal cable car which scoops skiers up from the very centre of town and deposits them around 7 minutes later in the shadow of the famed Imperial Crown where over 220kms of pistes (to rival the Four Valleys) lie at their ski tips ready to be explored. Meanwhile Grimentz’s muchcoveted off-piste trails promise powder, adrenalin and dramatic descents and are the reason people visit time and again. For those tempted with a piece of this magical retreat, Mark Warner Property is developing a hamlet of the most luxurious residences available

in the village. Located just steps from the central shops, restaurants and ski lift, Les Chalets d’Adelaide echo the building style of the original chalets but with stylish contemporary touches. Both apartments and custom standalone chalets are available offering 2, 3 and 4 bed smaller residences and capacious 5 bedroom chalets with generous sun terraces and ample space for spa, wellness and indoor swimming pools. There is a choice of finishes that investors can opt for including dark and light wood finishes whilst all properties offer sweeping views of the charming valley. Pricing: From CHF 819,000 for a 2 bed 81sqm apartment to CHF 1,595,000 for a 4 bed 132sqm duplex penthouse. 9 detached chalets available from CHF 2.355m. Two apartments remain for sale in Phase 1 from CHF 786,000 for a 2 bed 78 sqm apartment

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For year-round appeal... Les Chalets d’Elena, Chamonix


hamonix’s reputation as a winter-sports mecca certainly precedes it and places it firmly on the ‘ski circuit’ as a place to see and be seen in however few know that the number of visitors in the summer actually exceed those when it’s carpeted in snow. Suffice to say then, that Chamonix is a veritable year-round location promising a host of activities to keep the whole family occupied whatever the month or the individual’s taste. During the winter months, snow aficionados descend on the valley to engage in a range of pursuits across its 900km of pistes including skiing, snow-shoeing, cross country skiing, husky sledding and ski

touring. The ski areas of Chamonix are set slightly apart from each other dotted up the valley meaning that there is more-often-than-not always a skiable option even in bad weather which is a great advantage. And when the snow has melted away, Chamonix comes into its own as a spring, summer and autumn haven with the opening of golf courses, cycling paths, paragliding sites, hiking trails and high tree walks welcoming a new set of mountainlovers. MGM French Properties, masters of development across the French Alps are offering a chance to become a part of this cherished and closeknit community with a brand new residential offering in Chamonix’s desirable Les Houches; Les Chalets d’Elena. Renowned for its outstanding panoramic view of the Mont Blanc Massif, this picturesque mountain village doesn’t disappoint and is encircled by old wooden Savoyard farmhouses. The new development is located in the ideal location very close

to the slopes and offers 50 one to threebedroom apartments. Sold as turn-key leaseback residences, all properties are fully-managed by the MGM team with underground parking and cellar storage as well as use of locker rooms, a laundry and drying rooms. Setting this development apart, is its range of top-class facilities including an indoor pool, fitness suite, gym, sauna, jacuzzi and steam rooms, as well as a beauty centre with a variety of massages and treatments on offer. Blending contemporary styles with traditional mountain influences, the development will be built using local wood and stone and will be ready for Christmas next year. Pricing: 1 bedroom apartments from £155,000 (€220,000) NET of VAT via leaseback purchase 3 bedroom duplex apartments from £293,000 (€416,000) NET of VAT via leaseback purchase

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For prestige skiing…even in the summer Residence Kalinda, Tignes

For those wanting to try their hand at alternative pursuits, ice diving, skating, ice circuit, ski-jöering, paragliding, rock climbing, dog sleds, mountain biking, skidoo, karting on ice and heliskiing are also all available.


ignes has made its way firmly onto the ski map in recent years and is internationally considered a stalwart destinationof-choice for families and younger groups of friends alike. It has the benefit of being linked to the ski area of Val d’Isere meaning the resorts combined, benefit from up to 300km of slopes, 6 slalom courses, 1 bumps run, 2 snow parks, 1 gliss’ park and some of the liveliest aprèsski in the Alps. Cosmopolitan, sporting and innovative, Tignes can offer you unique mountain living and for true ski-enthusiasts, year-round skiing thanks to the majestic Grande Motte glacier.

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The newly opened Résidence Kalinda in Tignes 1800, within sight of Mont Blanc, is a ski-in-ski-out property which has its very own 8-seater gondola specially installed just below it to ensure owners have hassle-free access to the slopes of the Espace Killy. And for those just starting out, a rolling carpet and drag wire just on the doorstep have been created to ensure mini-skiers are also well looked after. The development also boasts a sports shop, bakery, mini supermarket, tourist office, restaurants and the ESF very close by and is already a popular haunt for Tignes locals. Inside, owners are welcomed into a large reception area with sofas and a fireplace with access to a 1700sqm leisure centre complete with a swimming pool, Jacuzzis, saunas, hammams, fitness

room and “Ô des Cimes” treatment centre. Residence interiors are contemporary and stylish with many authentic mountain features. Residence Kalinda is also the first MGM French Properties project to offer an aqua-fun centre for children making it the perfect choice for all the family. Four chalets are already complete but there are still investment opportunities for leaseback apartments for those eager to invest in one of the prime residential spots in Tignes. Pricing: Phase 1: 2 bedroom apartments from €325,000 excl. VAT via leaseback purchase (available immediately) Phase 2: 1 to 3 bedroom apartments from €225,000 excl. VAT via leaseback purchase (available Christmas 2016)

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The historical Loire Valley steps into the future By Penelope Daish

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o think of the glorious rich green forests and plethora of ethereal medieval castles that make up the great swathe of central-northern France, or in other words, the Loire Valley, is to conjure images in one’s mind. For some, perhaps the slightly more epicurean of us, it is as the modernday wine region splendidly dotted with award winning vineyards, while for others, the Loire Valley is akin to stepping into the pages of history – and the slightly more decadent and tumultuous eras at that.

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the barrister Lifestyle Supplement It has long been known that the Loire Valley, recognisable for its constellation of turreted and grand châteaux, has helped shape French culture and identity – as well as the world’s perception of the country’s history. Acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, this seemingly endless stretch of land, that hosts ancient towns, grand royal palaces, vineyards and a smattering of historical sites, is often labelled by its other name, the Valley of the Kings, a title that doffs its hat to the 15th Century noblemen who followed the aristocracy in fleeing Paris, making for their grand homes in the Loire where debauched entertainment would await. Its influx of wealthy men, tempted by the fantastic wine, clean air and rural aspect of the Valley, which lies an easy two hours outside of the capital, led to the creation of the most elaborate and outlandish palaces. During the French revolution, when the owners of these ‘pleasure palaces’ were tried and effectively banished from their old lives and homes, it was to the relief of all successive generations, that the châteaux remained intact for the modern visitor to tour, behold and enjoy. There is no doubt that the palaces left behind from this decadent time in French history, have become a symbol for an era gone by, as well as helping fuel the romantic imaginations of the world. As its history remains intact, it is its future, however, that looks set to be rewritten. For at the heart of the Loire Valley, amid the ancient forests and picturesque villages, there is one house that is set to have another chapter written into its esteemed past. Under a delicate revival by its current owners, for the first time in its history, the exquisite rural estate of Les Bordes, one which spans 1,400 acres across the Loire, will be offering people the opportunity to own a slice of this UNESCO World Heritage land. But what is so special about this particular abode? Well, it is much like other aristocratic country piles, apart from one surprising hidden difference. Les Bordes is home to Europe’s six time number one golf course, Le Baron, which until now – in keeping with the Loire’s secretive past - has been the sole preserve of private members. However, plans have been announced to sensitively transform the estate into a modern day country retreat for a discerning international community, with the intention of evoking a feeling of how life used to be. The estate may only be 90 minutes from bustling Paris, but it feels like a different world - a place where children can roam free discovering the secrets of the ancient Sologne forest, where long lazy summers and mystical, cosy winters are as equally enticing as each other. A meticulous phase development plan is already in place, and it promises to offer new real estate, hospitality and lifestyle opportunities for anyone attracted to the rural pace of life. Once the home to entrepreneur Baron Marcel Bich, founder of the Bic Biro, Les Bordes commands a mystique palpable from simply crossing the estates threshold, which is largely down to Le Baron. Golf, for Bich, was a personal passion, and it was his love for the game that helped create what Les Bordes is today. In 1986, on his very own dense, wild and beautiful Loire Valley land, Bich set about creating a golf course so fantastic, that it would not only present a challenge to the best players in the world, but would capture the imaginations and desires of avid golfers everywhere. Assiduously masterminded by the great, late architect Robert von Hagge. Within the estate, the first release of homes are in the vicinity of the Clubhouse, which boasts 15th Century timber beams, oversized fireplaces and excellent French fare befitting of a course of this calibre. The cluster of twenty-four modern eco-residences, aptly named Les

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the barrister Lifestyle Supplement Résidences du Plein Air, will become home to Les Bordes’ initial residents. Nearby is where you’ll find Les Domains de la Forêt, an alternative real estate offer. Here, properties will range from two to five hectares in size, and owners will be given the opportunity to realise their own design ambitions with an architect of their choice. Life at Les Bordes will be full of pastimes, especially since plans for the wider hinterland are just as impressive as its special centrepiece. For those wise enough to choose to live here, where wild red deer and pheasant and partridge wander freely, the surrounding deep forests and pristine valleys, will be theirs to explore on foot or horseback. An equestrian and activity centre, will reconnect families with the outdoors, where camping, adventure hiking trails, fishing and sailing, will await them throughout each season. A future town square, Le Village, will feature artisan markets, an organic delicatessen, a chapel, village shops and relaxing spaces designed for eating, drinking and socialising among the wonderful environs. A five-star hotel will also join the ranks of this list. It will be housed within Chateau Bel Air, the majestic and characteristic former hunting lodge nestled among the thick avenue of trees on Les Bordes land. The plans for Les Bordes will mean that the Loire will no longer be just somewhere to visit, or be known simply for its homes, wine and pretty rural location. Instead, they now extend an open invitation for those looking to live a heavenly bucolic lifestyle, amid a haven which will seek to take the best from the past and look to the future. Les Bordes Les Résidences du Plein Air start at €2.3 million Les Domains de la Forêt plots start at €2.275 million Website:

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Independent Schools

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Lifestyle 2016 -17  

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