Suite L ife
Author: Will Brand ISBN: 9781905904310 First published in 2015 by Beyond Black BB Publications Suite 7, 40 Craven Street, Charing Cross London, WC2N 5NG, UK
CONTENTS Introduction 4
Es Saadi 64
Around the World In Style Lakani Private Jets 6 Four Seasons Bosphorus
The Norman, Tel Aviv 12 Palace Hotel Tokyo 16 Mary Macdonald 18 Monmouth Historic Inn
E’Terra 24 Footprints on the Beach
Bajacu Villa 28 Algodon Mansion and Wine Estates
Vila Kalango 32 Casa Majani 34 Teitiare Estate 36 Kenoa Resort 38 Swan Villas, Belize 40
Amanzoe 46 Tagomago 48 Manresa Mallorca 50 …for the love of Italy Hotel Splendido, Portofino
Royal Hotel San Remo
La Montecchia 56 Podere Palazzo 58 Rocksure Property 60
Four Seasons Dubai 66 Vamizi Island 68 Thanda Private Game Reserve
Konaditya House 74 Weir House 78 Petit Amour Villa 80 Villa Sungai 82 Galle Forte Hotel 84 La Villa 86 Macalister Mansion 88 Ambalama Villa 90 Four Rivers Eco Lodge
Telunas Private Island
Northern Lights Style Petter Stordalen 100 The Thief 104
European Style Maria Vafiadis
Island Lodge 106 Matterhorn Focus 108 Resort Bad Ragaz 110 French Style Shangri-La, Paris 112 My Private Villas 114 La Borde 116 La Mas de Chastelas
La Verriere 120 The Philanthropist’s Style Jon Huntsman 122
re you a traveller or a tourist? The way you define yourself is important, not least to us, inveterate globetrotters in search of that most important of intangibles, the “travel experience”, so that we can summarise it for you and tempt you to try it out for yourself. Our editions are not for the vicarious traveller who sits and leafs through page after page wistfully – rather, the books represent a regularly updated series for those who are keen to break new boundaries or simply looking for their best and quirkiest accommodation option when visiting a particular place. We are unapologetic in selecting the best – life’s too short to settle – and the tourist who is a sight/landmark collector on a budget will have little use for our publications, unless it is for the purpose of dreaming a little. The Suite Life is for those who find and take the time to celebrate life through the unique enjoyment of travelling in great style – those who understand that, while reaching the destination is not the be all and end all, the destination (or departure point, as the case often is with people who are often on the move) represents an important choice. It sets the tone; it establishes the mood; it excites or it soothes; it delights the senses with a distinctive design or architectural style; it opens up new possibilities; it inspires... Above all, it cushions you, even if it is just for the duration of your stay, against life’s inherent bitterness. The Suite Life is about the sweetness that comes with travelling in supreme comfort and appreciating both nature’s and man-made beauty - and about making new discoveries along the way that give life that unmistakeable and authentic piquancy.
Lakani’s secret ingredient When Heidi Lakani founded her eponymous private jet tour company in 2003, she was already a veteran of, and something of a legend in the travel industry.
he had done the corporate end of it and earned her stripes two decades earlier, and wanted to fulfil a personal dream: creating a “studio” that specialised in the art of travel for clients who want only the best and who have the means to pay for it. She set about it in the most ingenious way, by hiring people like her – exceptionally well-travelled tour managers who had been to all corners of the world and turned their passion for globe-trotting into a vocation. Freelance travel professionals who, to this day, can pick and choose with whom they work - she built it and they came. The fact that they CHOOSE to work with Lakani has everything to do with why her clients choose her, rather than any competitor out there. Her recipe for success is the subject of much speculation within the travel industry and many would like to know what the secret ingredient is. Revealing it here wouldn’t necessarily mean that it can be emulated easily - or at all, in fact. It is as intangible as it is counterintuitive if you happen to be a company with an eye for the “bottom line”, i.e. high profit margins. Heidi Lakani is quite a character and a self-confessed “people addict”. She collects people like others collect rare wines – she savours and appreciates them, and she certainly knows how to take care of them, profit margin be damned. “People love to be cared for”, she says, “and my team and I are caring people”. “ The service we offer is both unconditional and uncompromising and this is something that comes naturally to me – so naturally, I attract people who are similar. We avoid consumerism and everything associated with it.” “Once clients have travelled with us, they would never go to anyone else and it is tempting to organise lots of tours, because they are all sold out all the time. However, in order to maintain the quality of our product, we keep groups intentionally small.”
Lakani’s market segment is tiny – she made a decision to cater to the most discerning at the outset, and being focused has paid great dividends. Firstly, because she has got to know her market like no one else does. Secondly, because she has honed her team’s performance to virtual perfection. Thirdly, and most importantly, because she cares about the client rather than shareholders (Lakani is privately owned). Her formula is to reduce the number of passengers (between 25 and 30 on the Around the World private jet program of approximately 3 weeks), so that they would enjoy maximum comfort and gourmet dining in the onboard sky lounge. “ If you pay $250 000 per couple to go round the world, you expect not only the utmost private jet comfort but also hotel accommodations to match. We treat all clients equally and each of them gets a suite, which sometimes can be a challenge.” The Lakani Private Jet tours are accompanied – this means the team travels with the clients (a high percentage of whom are repeat clients) and consequently gets to know them so well, it can anticipate their wishes. “There is no such thing as “not included” on our tours”, says Lakani, “the client just needs to tell me what they want and it’s done”. Lakani’s Private Jet client does not want to stand at airports, worry about their luggage or anything else, for that matter. She makes it easy for them. Luggage is seamlessly collected and delivered from one hotel suite to the next. This a la carte, curated travel experience is what Lakani excels at, of course. Her team has been designing trips since the 1970s and what they don’t know is not worth knowing. She refers to them as “the gift of God” - because they are the lifeblood of the operation. They ensure itineraries are fresh and creative and even when they have visited a landmark a hundred times, they retain their enthusiasm for it so they can share it with the client.
Keeping things ever-exciting and interesting, and never repeating the same itinerary is akin to reinventing the wheel with every tour. It requires not just being supremely welltravelled, but also well-informed – of how the fabric of different countries change; how travel culture evolves and with it, clients’ expectations. Destinations such as Azerbaijan and China have not only changed beyond all recognition since Lakani first started putting them on the “menu”, they change every time she takes clients there. China has advanced by a century since 1979, she says, whereas Azerbaijan is like the West Coast gold rush. Global travellers have changed too. They are busier than ever and want to see more places in a shorter space of time. Once they have identified their favourites from a smorgasbord of highlights and destinations, they go for individually tailored travel experiences. Lakani is meticulous in her preliminary research and seems to approach it as a matchmaking exercise: she connects with clients and tries to establish where they have been, what they have enjoyed, what their particular interests are, what their families are like and what their food preferences are. She is so good at it, she says she almost “feels” what they want. And for some clients, what that is has less to do with sightseeing these days and more to do with level of comfort and cultural experiences. Lakani’s strength is in that she is a solid tour operator, rather than a marketing figurehead. Her
core business is Designed Travel Experiences on scheduled flights – something she has been doing since 1975. She would arrange travel for clients pretty much anywhere they can get a visa for and where there is no fighting. “We know most countries so well and have been there so many times that we have a connection with them. “ She designs for “country collectors” – people who want to check a place off their list and move on – and for people who have a very specific brief (e.g., visit all there is to visit in India). At this level travel is, of course, addictive. Most clients who come to her for a one off trip of a lifetime return within a year or two – because they cannot get the same service elsewhere. Word of mouth endorsement and the recommendation of travel agents mean that she doesn’t need to mass market the product. Her clients are smart, powerful and sophisticated and, like Oscar Wilde, have simple tastes: they are always and only satisfied with the best. Heidi Lakani knows this and wouldn’t dream of resting on her laurels. “If I don’t give them the best, I’ll never see them again.”, she says. She must be mixing her ingredients just right every time – her tours sell out fast and some people go on them just because they like to be a part of it all. The world is her clients’ oyster and she makes sure they find a pearl of an experience in it every time.
Contact information: Lakani World Tours 1300 Bristol Street North, #100 Newport Beach CA 92660 USA Phone: 949-955-1300 www.lakani.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org Lakani World Tours Around the World Private Jet departures feature: • 757 aircraft reconfigured for just 30 passengers in luxurious leather club seating and a restaurant style Sky Lounge for dining and socializing. • No overnight flights. • Suite Accommodations in most hotels. • One Lakani Tour Manager per 15 passengers offering 24/7 concierge service. • A unique itinerary on every departure with a focus on a variety of experiences in each destination. • The Private Jet departs from and returns to U.S. gateway cities. • Dedicated onboard staff who carefully and totally handle all passenger luggage from start to end. • Comprehensive sightseeing excursions limited to 15 passengers with window seats for all. • Fine dining at any restaurant of choice. • Lakani also offers small group regional/single continent private jet tours with slightly different features.
FOUR SEASONS BOSPHORUS A class of its own
If you're looking for the WOW factor and a prestigious address in Istanbul, you'd be hard-pressed to find better than the Four Seasons Bosphorus.
he city that never sleeps is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of delights when it comes to hospitality, but this magnificent Ottoman palace built directly on the Bosphorus, as the name suggests, is in a class of its own. B Beyond has historically been invited to outstanding hotels and retreats and so expectations are high as a matter of course. Still, we felt privileged to stay at the FSB at the time of the Istanbul art fair, when le beau monde is there in force and rooms are scarce. If a single word had to suffice to describe this hotel, that would be opulence. The architecture alone is breath-taking but the views are some of the best the city has to offer.
Late September is one of the best months to visit Istanbul and taking breakfast on the magnificent terrace, directly on the deep blue Bosphorus water, is an unrivalled experience. We loved the juice bar that displayed every manner of vegetables (and fruits, of course) and were tempted to feast just on a variety of exotic liquid combinations that we dreamed up on a daily basis. That of course is impossible as the will power required to resist the rest of the food display was in short supply. It is entirely possible to spend the whole day at the Aqua restaurant that hosts the breakfast buffet – a live jazz band entertains those who decide to extend the breakfast by taking an afternoon tea there. We did not partake, however. Instead, we hit the hammam and two swimming pools, one open air; the other in the underground spa. The mosaic lovers would appreciate the intricate design,
while music lovers would be surprised by the underwater entertainment of soft melodies. A vastly tempting menu of treatments accompanies the state of the art gym and requisite steam and sauna rooms. The bar terrace is a meeting point for hotel guests and Istanbul residents alike and lively till quite late. We spent many happy hours there. We would be remiss if we didn’t write about our suite, overlooking the extensive gardens and the Bosphorus beyond. Bright and beautiful without being ostentatious, it was supplied with fresh fruit platters and flower displays on a daily basis. The marble bathroom was as large as the suite itself, with a separate shower room, and the towel gowns made of the softest cotton in existence. Lastly, getting off a Turkish gullet on the grounds of the FSB is unforgettable – everyone should try it once.
one of the city’s best Japanese restaurants. The unique
of furniture. The bathrooms of the penthouses are all
ambiance of early Tel Aviv through the use of hand
fusion of traditional Itzakaya-style Japanese Tapas
individually designed with engraved marble, intricate
painted tiles, furniture, textures and materials and
and modern European cuisine is mouth-watering. The
mosaics and sculpted mirror panels.
evokes the romanticism of a bygone era of luxury travel
central marble sushi counter and open plan kitchen
in the early twentieth century.
promotes great social interaction, as well as offering full
Primarily located in the Modern Art Deco edifice, best
view of the chef’s preparations.
known to many as Nachmani #25, and The Norman’s
The interior itself captures the Mediterranean
Timber, dark patinated bronze, handmade gesso and antiqued hand finished mercury mirrored glass, along with bespoke furniture and special metal light fittings
The rooftop terrace on the 4th floor also houses an infinity pool finished in iridescent glass mosaics.
design, conjure up glamour and a sense of colonial
The Conservatory and Tower Garden
requirements have been respected as per the strict
The Conservatory, tucked away behind the Reception
preservation standards of Tel Aviv bringing additional
Area at Nachmani 25, is a discreet getaway reserved
charm and warmth to the property.
palisander wood, specially commissioned pewter bar
for the exclusive use of The Norman residents. This
top, marble and leather complement original artworks
private oasis adjoins the stunning Atrium and opens out
Classic Rooms offer 22 square meters (236 square feet)
and feature chandeliers. But swanky interior aside,
to a secluded garden surrounding the Water Tower, an
of indoor space. Relax in an atmosphere of light, airy
the Library Bar is quite simply the social hub of The
iconic landmark of Tel Aviv history. Enjoy the scent of
luxury within a timeless elegance of mid-century decor.
citrus trees, fresh rosemary and jasmine vines there and
Subtle design motifs blend with cool, contemporary
escape from the heat of the summer.
style in color palettes of pastels. Experience the
This is particularly potent in the LIBRARY BAR where
The all-day menu serves light meals and a traditional English Afternoon Tea reinterpreted by The Norman’s resident Pastry Chef.
Tel Aviv Experiences with
The Norman Whatever your reasons for visiting Tel Aviv – and the city certainly merits being a travel destination in its own right – be prepared to be surprised by The Norman, not just a hotel but two iconic buildings that combine effortlessly 1920’s chic and eccentric with contemporary cool and comfort.
In the evenings, do try the classic cocktails with
Both the Conservatory and the Tower Garden can be
captivating energy and excitement of Tel Aviv, an urban
reserved in the summer months for exclusive private
lofty feel with floor to ceiling full glass double panes.
parties, including an open grill.
Deluxe Rooms Located in the historical building and partially in the
an Israeli twist - the Pomegranate Mint Julep or the signature Kumquat Mojito (kumquats are freshly picked
GUEST ROOMS AND SUITES
new wing of Nachmani #25, Deluxe Rooms offer 27
from the hotel gardens).
The art deco modernist building at 25 Nachmani St
square meters (290 square feet) of indoor space with
features 30 individually designed guestrooms while
ability to open windows. Relax in an atmosphere
number 23 is reserved for the suites, the two joined by
of light, airy luxury within a timeless elegance of
The Norman Restaurant
a fabulous mature garden. Cascading terraces, white
mid-century décor. Subtle design motifs blend with
The emphasis here is on French/Italian Mediterranean
parasols and Tel Aviv’s very own incomparable light add
cool, contemporary style in taupe color palettes and
cuisine in where resident chef Barak Aharoni certainly
a special charm to the place that has to be experienced
earthy tones. Experience the captivating energy and
knows his Salade Nicoise (and a whole host of classic
to be appreciated.
excitement of Tel Aviv facing Nachmani Street, adorned
dishes from the region), having worked in some of Europe’s best kitchens. The Restaurant offers three settings in the heart of the hotel: The Main Dining Room, with its Champagne and Wine Bar; The Pavilion, a secluded garden room
The floor to ceiling windows offering a phenomenal
with high ceilings. Rooms located in the new wing offer
180 ° view, the highly individual interiors, the use of
urban lofty feel with floor to ceiling full glass double
noble and eclectic materials throughout, and the sheer
panes facing the original Water Tower of Tel Aviv, built
volume of the accommodations are truly impressive.
at the turn of the century. All deluxe rooms offer glass-
It is the detail, however, that separates this hotel
enclosed rain showers, water closet and vanity.
scented by citrus trees where guests can dine alfresco
from just any generic luxury one: the classic Israeli
Grand Deluxe Rooms
year-round; and The Villa, a private dining room
hand-painted floor tiles with designs that were original
Housed on the first and second floors of Nachmani
reserved for family or business events.
to the two buildings, the intricate embroidery on bed
#25, Grand Deluxe Rooms offer 37 square meters (398
Dinings Japanese Tapas
cushions and drapes, the hand woven floor rugs and
square feet) of indoor space. Take in stunning views of
Dinings offers a sophisticated Japanese menu and
textured gesso applied to the ceiling, fading in relief at
the Tel Aviv skyline, including Nachmani Street or the
sports a long Sushi bar opening onto the large open-air
breathtaking gardens, from your corner flood lit view.
terrace, overlooking the bustling city below. Dinings originated in London and has been rated by Zagat as
the Villa and an additional glass-steel new wing spanning over four stories. The historical architectural
all in the style of early to mid-20th century modern
he Norman is so named after the father of the present owner - Norman Lourie, himself a legendary hotelier who presided over the Dolphin House and Club, the first 5 star hotel in Tel Aviv. The A-listed buildings occupy an enviable position in King Albert Square (23 and 25 Nachmani Street) in the heart of Tel Aviv’s “White City”, a UNESCO world heritage site because of its unique collection of Bauhaus architecture. The property at 23 Nachmani Street was designed by architect Moshe Cherner in 1924 for a private client, Mrs. Friedman. The property at 25 Nachmani Street was designed by Leon Adler as Chassia and Isser Romanov’s home a year earlier and completed in 1925. The buildings were more recently renovated by architect Yoav Messer in keeping with the neighbourhood’s eclectic traditions, while the interior design is the creation of David d’Almada of SAGRADA. There is a point to describing some of the architectural history of the buildings – they would appeal not just to the traveller looking for something different and uniquely atmospheric, but also to the art and architecture lover.
main building, comprised of the historical building,
In the two penthouse suites, original decorative objets d’art are featured alongside signature items
Relax in an atmosphere of light, airy luxury within a timeless elegance of mid-century luxe décor. Subtle
the outdoor terrace of The Norman Restaurant. One
whose creations at The Norman Penthouses include
Exploring Tel Aviv from The Norman
cannot overstate the thrill of staying in a restored
hand-cast bronze chaise longue and armchair with
The restored Ottoman-style buildings, markets,
private residence dating from the art deco twenties.
footstool, coffee tables, console tables and vintage
vintage and antique shops, one of kind boutiques and
brass lamps. An elegant curved sofa, attributed to Italian
countless eateries in the immediate vicinity of the hotel
designer, Ico Parisi, completes this roll call of fame.
make it the perfect departure point for exploring the
The Penthouse Duplex Suite is the ultimate in luxury in Tel Aviv, spanning an incredible 250m2 over two floors, with connecting room options for expanded
The Art of Bathing comes to life where bathtubs
delights of this unique and energetic city. Create your own scent at Zielinski & Rozen
accommodation. The lower floor is classic 20th century
glamorous sheen and the huge silk ‘Couture’ rugs
elegance while the top floor, a new addition to the
designed by Alexander McQueen and woven on
Perfumerie or take an accompanied tour of the flea
building, is designed in a cool 21st century style.
traditional looms/hand-finished in Nepal add to the
market offered by the hotel.
The 2-bedroom suite includes a 70m2 master
design motifs blend with cool, contemporary
Elegant fabrics woven in a satin weave provide a
sense of awe. Woven leathers, using a rare Laotian
Or simply walk through the vibrant Carmel Market
bedroom on the lower floor, a private living area, a 40-
weaving technique, clad the kitchen and bar units and
to buy spices, fruits and vegetables that Israel is justly
inch flat screen TV and a balcony. Another 40-inch flat
the suites bathrooms boast not one but two hot tubs.
famous for. If you are feeling peckish, try the Borekas
screen TV in the bedroom can be watched from Super
There are also items specifically designed by the
Stand for delicious hand-made pastries or the olives
King size bed. The hallmark of The Norman, the floor to
designers for the Norman, which will form part of
and mixed nuts stands, stopping for a coffee at Nahalat
sized bathroom with a soaking tub, double vanity,
ceiling windows, comes into its own here - these open
the “Norman Collection”, a hand picked selection of
Binyamin Street, which is transformed on Tuesdays and
pieces available to the public which will be launched
Fridays into an artists’ street gallery. Or enjoy a glass of
in early 2015.
Israeli wine at the “Wine Bar” with its standing tables
style in blue color palates and natural tones. The
comfort and relax body and soul with its separate
separate enclosed rain shower and WC within
on to a 60m2 terrace with an outdoor hot tub. The
luxurious bathroom offers a deep soaking tub,
glass-enclosed rain showers and a chandler for
a jewel box-like setting, flooded with light and
suite has a second bedroom and full kitchen facilities
separate enclosed-glass rain shower, water closet,
additional coziness. A quaint balcony overlooks King
views onto the gardens. Perfectly suited to host
for entertaining 8 guests in the dedicated dining area.
two vanities and natural light.
Albert Square, the Pagoda House or the internal
a family of up to four guests, they are also able
gardens making for a perfect urban city feel.
to connect to adjacent loft or garden suites by an
The elegantly spacious and well-appointed units with combined bedroom and living room areas
and fixed stools attached to the market wine shop. The Norman Art Collection and
Across the street is Le Café where your recommended
on the highest floor of the hotel, in the new addition
dish will be the Jerusalem Grill. If you would rather
outside hallway that can be privatized creating an
to the historic building. The high ceilings, abundance
The Norman is an art hotel in that it displays original
have a proper sit down meal the Carmel area offers a
One-Bedroom Suites located on the ground
apartment like ambiance.
of natural light, double marbled showers and a free
Israeli art works throughout its public areas, rooms
vast choice of market to table eateries:
floor offer vistas or access of the gardens from
standing bathtub make this the perfect choice for
The Penthouse Suite is a stylish 90 m2 space situated
This is an absolute treat for the contemporary art
are located in the Eclectic building also known as
the bedroom, while higher floored suites offer a
Located on the corners of Nachmani #23,
epicureans with an appreciation for great space and
Nachmani #23. They offer garden, Pagoda House
balcony and a view of the garden, all averaging
measuring 70 square meters (754 square feet) of
acoustics. The now familiar floor to ceiling windows
lover as the artists represented here also exhibit in
or King Albert Square views. Dynamic outside
65 square meters (700 square feet). Discreetly
elegance and comfort overlooking the picturesque
we have come to expect at The Norman open to a
galleries and museums world-wide. Some of the names
connectivity allow for privacy and the possibility to
secluded by French doors, the living room
King Albert Square and the famous Pagoda House.
fabulous 60m2 terraces with its far-reaching views of
whose works you will see as you make your progress
host a group or family, subsequently creating an
overlooks the adjacent Bauhaus architecture of
Featuring high ceilings, a magnificent circular
the city and the sea beyond.
through The Norman include Ilit Azoulay, Sigalit
apartment feeling. High ceilings and wooden floors
the White City. Each of the suites’ living room has
balcony, spacious entertaining area, including a
make for nostalgic for these timelessly decorated
a dining table, fully stocked wet bar and a writing
lodgings. Turn of the century meets contemporary
desk with a comfortable and well-appointed turn of
bespoke designed furniture complemented with
the century inspired sofa and armchair.
The Norman Penthouses occupy a gargantuan
Landau, Dror Daum, Tal Frank, Carmel Ilan, Dana Levy,
living room and separate dining area, pocket sliding
340m2 space over two floors, along with 160 m2 of
Elad Kopler, Miriam Cabessa, Alon Kedem, Elon Ganor,
doors creating a sense of privacy between the
terraces. They overlook King Albert Square and the
Yuval Shaul and Gil Desiano and Tsibi Geva.
bedroom and the living space. A writing desk and
iconic Pagoda House.
smart technology and centralized bedside controls.
King Albert Suites
separate TV for the bedroom make it a perfect to
Located on the first and second floors, these One-
A spacious living area averaging 47 square meters
bedroom suites span over 75 square meters (807
(506 square feet), with a comfortable seating area,
square feet). On one side, the bedroom and living
Norman and was the original home of Hasya &
writing desk and chair laid out on an open plan with
room overlooks King Albert Square from a French
Isser Romanov. It oozes charm and elegance and
the bedroom’s comfortable pure Irish linen bedding.
style balcony. Each of these suites has a generous
has a large modernist style balcony overlooking
The Villa sits between the two buildings of The
*Basta is an excellent choice for fine cuisine and the most wonderful selection of wines; rated top 100 restaurants by Newsweek in 2013. *Gedera offers simple and tasty Swedish-Iraqi (!) cuisine in lovely surroundings. *Minzar is a legendary 24-hour pub that offers excellent snacks and delicious weekend specials. The Norman promises – and delivers – an unforgettable experience in a historic city that
These works can be purchased by the hotel guests
combines tradition and modernity in a way few others
via dedicated art concierge services that also include
do. It is a delightful fusion of originality and seamless,
coupled with contemporary design signature pieces
lectures by the featured artists and personalized art
yet friendly service that epitomizes the best traditions
have been selected from Europe and the US especially
tours to galleries and artists’ studios. The art tours are
of the region.
for this space.
tailored to guests’ interests and organised by Tamar
A number of important early and mid-20th century
Paul Mathieu, Victor Roman, Edward Wormley and Gino Sarfatti are among the celebrated designers
Dresdner, The Norman’s resident art curator, who is also responsible for the hotel’s art collection.
Palace hotel tokyo Imperial beauty
With its iconic address and location, at 1-1-1 Marunouchi, opposite the ancient Otemon Gate of the Imperial Palace, and overlooking its picturesque gardens and moats, this is a modern hotel with a rich history and oodles of attitude.
riginally opened in 1961and razed in 2009 to be built anew entirely from the ground-up, the contemporary reincarnation of Palace Hotel Tokyo that re-opened in 2012 epitomises Japanese hospitality at its best with its second-tonone service in a country where service is legendary. It also exudes cool by subtly reimagining and re-interpreting the traditional and authentic, and incorporating them into its ultra-chic concept. Exuding the ambience of a grand private residence, the hotel would delight discerning jet setters seeking an original experience in Tokyo. In the airy main lobby, the central gathering place that is The Palace Lounge is marked with a larger-than-life fireplace on one side and a white Steinway just opposite, with floor-to-ceiling Macassar ebony bookshelves accentuating its cosy residential feel. The live Jazz ensemble each evening acts as the only reminder that you’re not actually in your own living room.
Just next door, the hotel’s popular all-day dining outpost, Grand Kitchen, serves a lively crowd both inside and out on its moat-side terrace from its open-style kitchen. History buffs would appreciate the re-use of the original Palace Hotel’s shigaraki tiles as well as the lovingly restored bar counter designed by long-time bartender ‘Mr. Martini’, aptly nicknamed after the cocktails he was known to brilliantly custom-concoct for The Royal Bar’s clientele. And those with a penchant for original design are bound to be impressed by how Japanese artisans applied their own contemporary reinterpretation of timehonoured techniques to the interior design of Wadakura, the hotel’s signature Japanese restaurant, to create a symphony of superb craftsmanship. Amidst a meticulously curated art collection comprising of over 1,000 individual pieces, traditional ink wash paintings rub shoulders stylishly with contemporary works by some of Japan’s
most talented artists – with most specially commissioned for Palace Hotel Tokyo. And to complement, greenery and water, the two staple elements of traditional Japanese gardens, are represented throughout. The sense of warmth and sophistication continues throughout the hotel’s 290 guestrooms, with everything about them exemplifying luxury – not the least of which are the private balconies offering far-reaching views of the Imperial Palace gardens and the city skyline that surrounds. Open-style bathrooms with soaking tubs, spacious walk-in wardrobes and earthy colour palettes accented with splashes of deep purple, burnt orange, lime green and muted gold round out the elegant interiors. Where the hotel really comes into its own, however, is with its beautifully appointed suites, each outfitted with a separate bedroom and living room, and complemented by access to the 19th floor Club Lounge and all of the privileges that come with - a decidedly hedonistic touch.
The singular Chiyoda Suite, with its distinctive Japanese fabrics and art works, imbues contemporary Japanese aesthetics while its sizeable outdoor space gives way to uninterrupted views across Tokyo. The ensuite’s wet room-style bath and shower area is outfitted with indigenous Japanese izu stone, an exquisite alternative to marble which, when soaked, turns a striking shade of deep green. The Terrace Suite, named for its incomparable outdoor space, offers the option of private, in-suite entertainment. As does the Palace Suite, with its Maccassar ebony dining table that very comfortably seats 10. And with their warm colour schemes and wraparound, floor-to-ceiling windows revealing amazing views – including that of Mount Fuji, Japan’s most recognisable icon, on especially clear days – both apartments are the absolute height of contemporary chic in Tokyo. A staggering array of 10 restaurants and bars – including the Michelin-starred
French restaurant Crown – makes Palace Hotel Tokyo a force to be reckoned with when it comes to much sought-after dining destinations in the city renowned for having the most Michelin-starred establishments in the world. A luxurious, 1,200-square-metre evian SPA and an indoor swimming pool with views of the Imperial Palace gardens further tempts travellers to remain within rather than heed the call to explore the city that offers endlessly fascinating discoveries. Here, as you can imagine and expect, pampering takes a whole new dimension, with the added Japanese touches to boot. Palace Hotel Tokyo redefines the intimacy and personalisation of the boutique experience precisely because one doesn’t expect it in an establishment of its size and stature. It surprises at every step, from its suites to its spa, to its superb eateries, and not least to the impressive menu of ‘Palatial Pursuits’ on offer – bespoke cultural experiences offering
guests ultra-exclusive access to the city’s leading art experts and foodie guides as well as insider’s access to sumo wrestling and kabuki, among others. What makes the hotel truly outstanding, however, is the hands down best service one could possibly ever experience in Tokyo – and that’s no mean feat. Highly recommended is the long but entirely worthwhile stroll, jog or bicycle ride around the Imperial Palace gardens and, need we say it, booking one of the hotel’s suites, with their Club Lounge privileges. With a breakfast buffet, afternoon tea and evening cocktails & canapés on hand daily, it’s a wonder how anyone ever manages to wander beyond the hotel. When next in Tokyo, indulge in imperial treatment at this oasis of a hotel – it will be a memorable experience, worth the trip even as a single destination in its own right.
mary mcdonald Mary McDonald is a Los Angeles-based award-winning designer, a TV personality, a businesswoman, and an arbiter of taste at large. She has authored a well received popular coffee table book and is currently working on her second, and has her own line of licensed branded product lines sold all over the world. Those who have had the pleasure of meeting her would add that she is personable, funny and slightly off-beat – always an advantage if one is creatively engaged. Beyond Black asked her to define her style in ten questions.
BB: Who and what is your typical client? Are they defined by a nationality or by a sense of belonging to the “beautiful set” globally? MM: Most of my clients are American and at the same time international, with residences everywhere. They are a mixed bunch but generally speaking, influential, wealthy (many are on the Forbes 400 list), ranging from the creative Hollywood types to well-known old money families and their descendants, to fashion people, to sports team owners. My clientele is old-school-set-meets-jet-set, with some pure Hollywood mixed in. Once you get published and have your own TV show, you become more widely known - and not just for luxury interiors. BB. What does an MM interior tell people at first glance – is there a hallmark message inherent to your style/approach? MM. Old world drama and elegance with a layer of contemporary elements woven through the fabric of the room. It would certainly not be described as casual. An MM interior has a very definite point of view, a sense of colour, whether pastel or dual colour, and a throwback to vintage glamour about it. BB. Please, define luxury from your point of view. MM. If we discount material luxury, to me luxury it is the ability to say no to things. The ability to retain control/ regain power over one’s life by editing out what you don’t want - even when it comes to relationships… Of
course, when you run a business, you don’t always have the luxury to say no. BB. Are there certain signature elements that define your style? For example, the use of certain materials, or artisans you like to work with? MM. Yes, I always have a smattering of 18th century pieces, in particular Louis XVI, or just pieces influenced by that period; stone or marble floors; graphic, geometric patterns that hark back to English castles… I have my own line of licensed hand-painted wallpapers, influenced by 18th century ones. I work with the fully customizable de Gournay and Gracie papers, creating a product of my own design. BB. You seem to have been very successful in franchising your sense of style through MM branded/ licensed products. Do you plan to expand the range? MM: Most definitely. I love product design, because I can give free rein to my personal vision, without taking into account the clients’ filters. I already have fabric, furniture, lighting and rug lines, to which I would like to add table tops, linens, towels, outdoor products... It obviously helps to have a TV show playing in 22 countries. The current lines are sold throughout Asia, America and the Middle East. I would also consider a jewellery line, because I used to be in fashion – I started as a milliner, in fact. BB Becoming an arbiter of taste is a process that requires consistency and patronage. How important is
the latter today, in our celebrity endorsement-driven times? Does the former impinge on creativity (as in, does consistency make one less adventurous when it comes to experimenting)? MM. In terms of patronage, I accept that being part of the right group of people or having notoriety on some level is helpful. Celebrity association may be important but not so much to people who cater to a high value clientele. Plus, some people who are labelled arbiters of taste do not warrant the title - they are only considered to be so on the basis of fame alone and irrespective of vision (or the lack thereof as the case may be). People are impressed by an association with a famous person, that is true, and this association is perceived as empowering in terms of creativity and success. Sadly, the ability to buy celebrity-endorsed product does not always or necessarily come hand in hand with good taste. The Grace Kelly era is long gone in the sense that elegance and poise are no longer valued as much or universally. We all have to accept the new reality of life – the necessity to be current and relevant rather than discreet and elegant. As far as consistency is concerned, there is no such thing in the high end of the market because there, you have to cater very much to a personal taste. On the other hand, branded and licensed products need to perpetuate what you stand for all the while allowing you the freedom not to remain stagnant. You have to maintain your basic brand vision, yet expand upon it and grow as a creator. You cannot go into a
completely different direction, or the client base wouldn’t know it’s you. You have to keep repeating the basic tenets of your theme and find a way to mould it differently without changing it too rapidly. BB. Do you draw more inspiration from traditional craftsmanship or from newly developed industrial techniques? MM. While I accept that it is important to stretch yourself, I am more motivated by traditional craftsmanship and have a long-standing affair with it however interesting I may find new techniques. I love places that have hand-made crafts that can only be made there. Fez is a good example and quite biblical in the sense that things are still created there in small workshops. I love the hand carvings, tiles, embroidery, and brass wall panels. I also love the hand-painted tree of life walls in India. BB. Describe your favourite interior – as in, the one you’d personally feel most at home with. MM. A space I feel comfortable in is Nancy Lancaster’s drawing room. It has everything I love: whimsy,
elegance, drama. I relate mostly to 18th century wallpaper, Louis XVI influences, pastel grey, blue and ivory, fireplaces for emotional warmth, and at least one geometrically patterned floor. I like a balance between an old world interior and a pretty colour pallet; between the unexpected and the traditional; something whimsical in a stark home…. Ultimately, I would love to experience many more different rooms than I would ever have the time to create. BB. How do you reconcile personal style with fashion? MM. When you get to the age of 40, you know what looks good on you, so you tend to ignore mere trends. Still, it is fun to engage with the current notion of what is attractive and I am not afraid of being over the top. I am in fact known to be “out there”, sporting stacks of necklaces or some stand out accessory. I have designed quite a lot for myself but just for one off occasions. I buy everyday clothes, adding my own twist: I like taking jackets apart and putting a different lining on, or using feathers and unusual touches. My
first true love is fashion. I have always had an eye on fashion, cared about my home and was interested in who designed whose home. My first job was to create the home interior of Robert Clergerie’s PR agent, Caroline Andoscia. I still find it pretty and often prefer it to client-driven jobs. BB. Name three individuals whose style you most admire. MM. Bill Blass’ classic style, Carolina Herrera (both her home and jewellery range) and David Collins for his true sense of balance. But I could easily name another 20 talented designers whom I admire equally: Muriel Brandolini, Jacques Garcia, Roger Banks-Pye… I also admire people for their individual style: Daphne Guinness, Coco Chanel, Grace Kelly, Lady Gaga, Isabella Blow, among many others.
Since 2012, Nancy and Warren Reuther have been the owners of Monmouth Historic Inn - the custodians of its remarkable history and captivating atmosphere. Experienced and dedicated, they manage 30 rooms and suites with the revived splendour of the Old South, complemented by every modern comfort visitors would desire.
The Monmouth Historic Inn The Epitome of Old South Living
The Deep South is perhaps the most romanticized region of the US – whether in song or literature, on the theatre stage or the cinema screen – and a cultural icon internationally. The state of Mississippi, in particular, conjures up images of steamboats, antebellum mansions, Southern belles, mint juleps, scented gardens and genteel living.
itting above Natchez, the oldest city on the mighty Mississippi river, lies Monmouth Historic Inn. Set within 26 acres of magical gardens, Monmouth epitomizes Old South Living and much more. The original home was built in 1818 by the Natchez postmaster, John Hankinson, and named after his birthplace of Monmouth County, New Jersey. However it was John A. Quitman, a New Yorker, who in the mid1800s transformed the modest Federal style home into the Greek Revival style mansion that stands today. It was under his stewardship that the estate experienced its heyday, acquiring a social and architectural legacy that would far outlive the Quitman family themselves. Monmouth did not survive the Civil War without its own scars, nor did it experience any less hardship than other grand estates in the post-war South. The house fell into great disrepair until Ronald and Lani Riches embarked on a massive restoration in 1978.
The Experience However you fell in love with the South, Monmouth has plenty to offer. You might be a connoisseur of stately gardens, or an admirer of the historic architecture of the region. You might be a birding enthusiast: Monmouth is a stop-over for a multitude of migrating species. (Even if you have never thought of bird watching, the estate is eager to introduce new practitioners and provides binoculars to its guests). You could be looking for a unique venue for an event, private or corporate. Monmouth Historic Inn takes prides in itself as a romantic retreat in particular. Or you might simply be a traveller, eager for the quintessential Southern hospitality at its very finest. The Estate Monmouth’s gardens represent the combined creative effort of many distinguished horticulturists, in particular the antebellum specialist, Bill Garbo. The modern gardens were established by one of Monmouth's early general managers, Harvey Cotton, and are scrupulously maintained for future generations. Framing the entrance to the domain are giant, moss-covered oak trees, planted by John A. Quitman and his family. Entering within reveals that magnolia, crepe myrtle and cedar trees infuse the air with the inimitable scent of the South. Seasonal plants, including ornamental peppers, pansies and snapdragons, vinca, marigolds and moss roses,
bloom in the courtyard. The Lions Head Fountain, home to waterlilies and goldfish, is surrounded by a wealth of white dogwood, pecan trees, jasmine and maidenhair fern. The estate would not be complete without its very own rose garden, which flower throughout most of the year, with an angel statue (one of many found across Monmouth) at its heart. Last but not least, the herb garden supplies the bar and kitchen with fresh condiments and is a revelation in its own right. Also on the grounds is a large fishing pond, its shallows fringed by pretty cypress trees. Overlooking the pond is the Sanctuary, built in the Palladian style, that is only accessible by the so-called Proposal Bridge. One can scarcely imagine a more romantic spot to drop on one knee, witnessed only by the wild ducks that have taken up residence at Monmouth. There are numerous ultra-romantic spots where one could tie the knot. Whether in the Main House, for those with a formal reception in mind; or the Gazebo, for the most intimate of weddings; or the Sanctuary, for the spiritually minded; or the Pergola, as magical a spot as it sounds; these or any other of Monmouth's unique settings can play host to your dream day. The Suites and Rooms Walk into one of Monmouth’s suites and be transported back to a time of elegance and sophistication. Lavish fabrics drape the four-poster period beds. Day loungers evoke hot lazy afternoons and iced tea. From the fine art and gilded mirrors that adorn the walls, to the marble fireplaces and colonial-style furniture, the scene of timeless opulence is set. Some of the suites have private courtyards with their own miniature gardens. Many rooms have spacious bathrooms, with separate washbasins and generously sized, jetted tubs. In-room massage
and champagne options will complete the sense of magnificent self-indulgence. If you wish to impress your companion, reserve Ms. Eliza’s Suite in the Main House. Decorated in high antebellum style, with its spacious sitting room and splendid canopied bed, it is the apex of luxurious living. There are 15 rooms and 15 suites in all, and one can hire Monmouth in its entirety for special occasions. Restaurant 1818 An award-winning establishment and dining experience in its own right, Restaurant 1818 serves a number of mouth-watering Southern dishes. It is located in the original Men's and Ladies' parlours, both ornamented with beautiful crystal chandeliers. Location The Monmouth Historic Inn is centrally located near New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Jackson. Guests travelling by private aircraft can be accommodated at the Adams County-Natchez Airport just minutes away. www.monmouthhistoricinn.com 36 Melrose Avenue at John Quitman Boulevard Natchez, MS 39120 GPS Latitude: 31 deg. 33 Min. 13 Sec GPS Longitude: -91 Deg. 23 Min. 9 Sec. 90 miles North-East of Baton Rouge, LA (BTR) 100 miles South of Jackson, MS (JAN) 90 miles East of Alexandria, LA (AEX) 160 miles North of New Orleans, LA (MSY) 180 miles North of the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Outstanding beauty The brainchild of Laurie Adams, E’Terra is a totally unique property - a product of its founder’s holistic philosophy, ecological and spiritual concepts, and a place of outstanding natural beauty. Built of stone and salvaged timber is at the centre of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve and on a private bay of the Bruce Peninsula.
his secluded estate exists in a Jurassic Park-like capsule of cedar forests, ancient coral reefs and rare flora and fauna species that thrive in the oxygen-rich air of this protected expanse. E’Terra borders two National Parks and was, before the white settlers moved in, a sacred healing ground for the many Native tribes (there are archaeological sites on the lands around the estate and in the area dating back 6000+ years). These same native tribes led the first French explorer Samuel Champlain in 1615 to this dynamic bay known as La MerDouce. E’Terra is private to the point of being secretive - neither address nor phone number are published to the public and are only given once a secured reservation is made. It is nestled in the rocky hinterland of the “Giant’s Backbone” which runs in an arc through Ontario’s crystal clear Great Lakes, part of southern Ontario, north of the Northern U.S. states. Clinging to its stark white cliff faces are the Ancient Ones – thousand year-old cedars. Yet, a small airport is a mere 3 km from the entrance of the property,and a helicopter landing area is on site. There are private chartered 1.5 hour flights from the major airports of Toronto and Detroit, but once you get there, you enter a different world of peace and wonderment – as well as selfdiscovery programs
Wellness Programs If E’Terra is a slice of heaven, Laurie is itsEmpress (as in the Tarot)having not only conceptualised the transformational experience it offers, but taking an active role in managing every aspect of it. She writes about “The Knowing” – a kind of primeval perception of the world and life as the fusion of intuition and emotion. She articulates this in a half poetic/half mystical style with no prescribed structure. In fact, E’Terra seems to be decidedly anti-rigidity or boundary and liberated from time. Laurie sees time as a restrictive concept and seeks to free her guests from it. Her philosophy is simple: if you liberate your mind from age, you would disassociate from age-related ailments, impairments and limitations. Spending a month at E’Terra is nothing short of reprogramming the psyche and rebooting your physical and emotional system. This is achieved through reconnecting with nature, following an Anthropocene diet, disconnecting from the world and its current addiction to high tech; meditating and rediscovering our biorhythm. The Suites Needless to say, E’Terra was built following strong ecological practices, mandating itself to enhance physical and spiritual health. The result is an ultra-luxury wilderness retreat. Artists were engaged to create a living art gallery there by following the patterns of light in the course of the day and colouring the indoor spaces. Each of the 6 suites bears the name of a local species on the Bruce Peninsula (with Merlin’s Loft named afterone of Laurie’s favourite falcon species). A great deal of thought and attention has gone into designing the living quarters at E’Terra massive wood beds, free-standing bathtubs, richly coloured fabrics, Afghan rugs, hand woven tapestries, sunny decks, private courtyards, original art, sacred geometryand
whimsical detail tell a tale of the owner’s idiosyncratic style, making you feel as if a guest in a secluded private domain. Add to this the views of some of nature’s most spectacular canvasses;scintillatingconstellations of the Dark Skies above, rainbows waltzing over the bay after a great storm, colourful orchids peaking out at you from green depths and you are bewitched with a sensual experience without parallel. Explore, explore, explore…. But you don’t go to E’Terra just to enjoy the comfort of the suites. Laurie Adams wouldn’t have that. She is also an ingenious cook, creating daily menus based on organic everything, from rabbit, bison, elk, and lamb to fresh fish dropped off by a native elderandgarnering Mother Nature’s pantry. Enjoy the salt water infinity pool and horse stables;explore the chimerical grottos, mysteriousshipwrecks, nature walks, carved sea stack guardians (the majestic Flowerpots); visit the Manitoulin Island (the world’s largest fresh water island) and wander the unceded lands of the local Native Nations. Quietly observe chipmunks, flying squirrels, the lone wolf, black bears, the rare bobcat and countless other varieties of wildlife. On sunny days the wild bees are busy in the lavender labyrinthand on rainy days the elusive salamanders and melodious frogs peep out from more unexplored places. Bats on evening bug patrol swoop overhead and the abandoned pastures of her family’s homesteads are a praying mantis’s market garden, inclusive of the Monarch butterflies that starts and ends their life journeys here… All arefast disappearing from the rest of the planet. E’Terra is truly a universe apart, a paradise lost of sorts, that reminds us of how close we are to mother earth, yet how far removed we have become from it in our pursuit of the ephemeral.
Footprints on the Beach Footprints on the Beach is an inspired name for a fabulous, privately owned and managed villa on the Turks and Caicos islands.
ot only does it have its own private 100 ft beach on what is arguably one of the best ocean front stretches on the planet (famed Grace Bay on Providenciales), it is in fact so perfect that the footprint it would leave in your memories will last forever. The villa has been designed with an uncompromising attention for detail and while it looks like a classical mansion from the outside, it epitomises contemporary chic and comfort on the inside. Each suite has ocean views to die for; three with queen size beds and two twins. The vast designer kitchen with its quirky technicolor blue cabinets and breakfast bar seating opens to an ultramodern dining room, partitioned by a glass wall. The neutrally-decorated living room and media room provide plentiful relaxation and socialising space. One of a handful of private properties on
exclusiveTranquility Lane and Pelican Beach, it is more often than not hired for milestone family occasions, such as weddings or anniversaries when it becomes your dream home for a week or longer. Owners Robin and Cally live on the TCI themselves and have deployed their formidable local knowledge and resources to bring you the absolute best the islands can offer. “We have thought of everything” is not an empty promise. From every manner of water sport to island exploration, to golf and some of the most sophisticated spa treatments in the world, you’d be totally spoilt for choice. The TCI have one of the most spectacular ocean reefs and diving there is an exceptional experience. If it is a wedding you are planning, this is your perfect location and the owners are your dream team. Or simply book the villa for the most indulgent family and/or friends week you can imagine. It isn’t just the views and the beach, fabulous as they are; nor is it the masterful interior design and fantastically landscaped gardens that make this villa stand out of so many wonderful properties in the Caribbeans. Rather, it is the thought that has gone into everything – from hiring a resident gourmet chef to the games console in the dedicated children’s bedroom suite and everything else in between. The permanent staff enable the residents to totally relax, so there is nothing they need to worry about, knowing they are in great hands. And if you go out with a drink to admire the sunset and picture-perfect tropical gardens, do sit by the fire pit at the edge of the beach and simply enjoy being alive and privileged enough to experience Footprints. Relax and hang out in the outside bar, play pool and foosball while enjoying quality time with family and friends without ever having to leave the property.
A hill top house with spectacular views Build in 2003, Bajacu is a unique property in the Turks and Caicos. It offers the best of all worlds: a spectacular view, with house nested on the highest point of Providenciales; a private beach at the bottom of the hill and a service at par with best hotels of the world. It is an unpretentious, yet upscale retreat.
ajacuâ€? (rising sun in the language of Caribbean natives) is located on the beautiful island of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The home was designed by Marco Aldaco, the world famous Mexican architect, who has been featured on numerous occasions in Architectural Digest as well as other publications and art books. Bajacu itself has also been features in many books and publications around the world. It is situated on a south shore hilltop with a breathtaking 270 degree view of the sea and surrounded by lush tropical gardens. A natural stone path provides direct access from the villa to a beautiful and romantic platform by the sea. The property has been design to be environmentally friendly, with all of its hot water made from solar energy, it has its own desalinization unit to protect the rare fresh water wells of the Turks and Caicos, and you will enjoy the fruits of its own gardens. Bajacu is for the privileged few who demand only the best. This unique retreat offers uncompromising romance, luxury, beauty and serenity.
Algodon a byword of
sophistication in Argentina
Algodon (“cotton” in Spanish) is two properties: a vast wine estate in the Mendoza valley and a turn of the century mansion in Buenos Aires’ Recoleta district, known for its embassies and ultra-chic hotels.
he wine estate has quite a bit of history behind it. It was first acquired by one of Argentina’s legendary golfing families, the Jurados, who fell in love with San Rafael and the natural beauty of the setting (the Mendoza valley is fringed by the Sierra Pintadamountains). They established the nucleus of what is now an important vineyard and winery, but also a sprawling golfing, tennis, equestrian and soon to be polo playing domain. The property was bought by the US-based Algodon Wines & Luxury Development Group in 2007 who added to it by acquiring additional land, bringing the total to some 830 hectares. The group took the wine-making facilities to a whole new level and built a boutique winery that is one of the best in the world. It is quite spectacularly situated overlooking the expansive vineyards and golf green, and boasting an Elaboration and Conservation area, a Casks Room, Lab and a Tasting Room. The estate has over 325 acres (132 ha) of vineyards, both old (dating to the 1940s) and new, producing Malbec, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Rosé, Chardonnay and the celebrated ultrapremium PIMA.
Serious wine enthusiasts visiting Algodon appreciate the winemaking fusion of traditional Argentine knowhow with state of the art contemporary technology and eco-friendly approach. The visit does not need to end there, however. You can claim a plot of your own in what is often referred to as “the Napa Valley of Argentina”, and acquire a firsthand understanding of luxury vineyard living. Certainly, the spot is nothing less than utterly enchanting: the sprawling vineyards intermingle with orchards, olive groves and trees, creating a landscape of unrivaled beauty. Already on the grounds are two estancia-style hotel villas and a gourmet restaurant, Chez Gaston, serving traditional Argentine fare prepared in a clay oven and a flame broiling pit, using produce from the Algodon plantation. The 18-hole championship golf course and driving range, the world-class 10 court tennis center, the horse riding and forthcoming polo field and clubhouse make building a home there a lifestyle decision. The investment rationale for it of course is Argentina’s undervalued real estate and potential in the days ahead for a fast accelerating economy. The Algodon Mansion A Belle Epoque landmark in the heart of Buenos Aires (“the Paris of South America”), this classically elegant building was formerly a private residence that has been transformed into a luxury boutique hotel comprised of just ten suites. The suites can be booked individually or, for a special occasion, altogether making this quite an exceptional proposition. Suites overlook an interior light-well featuring a cascading waterfall that falls five stories, all the waydown to the lobby. The rooftop is a bit of a revelation, housing a swimming pool and an open air cigar bar. The Spa is the first and only spa in Latin America to feature products and treatments from Stendhal Paris. The mansion as a whole is the very epitome of gracious living, reminiscent of the Cotton Club days, with its discreet, clean-cut refinement and restrained elegance.
The Suites We love the signature bathrooms in Italian Calacatta marble and French Limestone, with oversized steam showers and Hansgrohe-designed waterfall fixtures. The products are by French supplier l’Occitane. The suites offer living as well as sleeping space and as you might expect, all high tech amenities. The Guayacan (Ebony) wood floors are a true work of beauty, and guests will also appreciate the original works of art from renowned contemporary Argentine artists. Most artwork can be purchased, and the work is continuously rotated in order to celebrate the talents of local artists. Of particular note is The Royale Suite, with its 1200 sq feet of space and a separate dining room area. You can even have your personal chef that comes with it!
the Andes Mountains. Acreage: 2,050 acres (830 ha)
Food and Wine The dining room is a symphony of burgundy silk and gold leaf, opening onto a glass-covered garden patio which has its own fireplace. As is the case with the wine estate restaurant, produce comes from the Algodon plantation and the cuisine isMendocinean-style, accompanied by the iconic Algodon wines. The private dining room has all the hallmarks of a gentlemen’s club, with its leather loungers and floorto-ceiling wine display. Algodon has won countless awards and accolades by a deluge of publications. The wines have also ranked exceptionally well internationally with a number of silver and gold medals, including Algodon’s Bonarda varietal which is categorized as world’s best by the World Association of Wine & Spirit Writers and Journalists: Top 100 Wines of the World.
Skiing: One of South America’s greatest ski resorts, Las Leñas, is nearby and offers winter sport activities and ski runs with over 25 mile extensions. San Rafael is located between the Rio Atuel and Rio Diamante, two of Argentina’s most exciting natural attractions that offer whitewater rafting, canoeing, camping, horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, recreational fishing and more. Getting There
20 minute drive from the San Rafael airport Taxi & private car service available
AWE offers over 600 homesites, ranging from .5 to 7 acres (.2 to 2.8 ha), for private sale and development Approximately 511 acres (207 ha) of vineyard estate homesites are available Current Property Features
A world-class boutique winery and tasting room An18-hole championship golf course Golf amenities: clubhouse, driving range, electric golf carts, manual pull carts, caddies An award-winning restaurant specializing in authentic Argentine gourmet cuisine An internationally award-winning hotel lodge with a total of 8 suites Championship tennis center with 7 clay courts, 1 hard court, and the only 2 grass courts in all of Mendoza Forthcoming Property Features
Useful Facts: Location, Land & Climate
Located in San Rafael, Mendoza Province, Argentina and situated on the famous Ruta del Vino (Wine Route) in the foothills of the Sierra Pintada Mountains at the base of the Andes. San Rafael sees over 330 days of annual sunshine and is Mendoza’s second largest city. Valle Grande, Argentina’s miniature “Grand Canyon,” is located 20 miles away. The estate’s vineyards and water reservoirs are fed by pure glacial melt and runoff from
A championship polo field: Polo amenities will include a practice field, a training and exercise ring, an equine jumping arena, stables, corals, tack rooms and groom quarters. The Polo Village will include a polo clubhouse and restaurant AWE is developing an exclusive gated community within the estate that includes six distinct residential villages. www.algodonmansion.com www.algodonwineestates.com
vila kalango Let this paradise surprise you
Jericoacoara, affectionately referred to as simply ‘Jeri’, is something of an iconic destination for travellers seeking an off the beaten track experience that is as authentic as it is enchanting.
ts very location, in the middle of a protected national park on the north-eastern coast of Brazil, is already quite unique. Then, there are the sand-onlystreets, merging with the wide beach and the giant dunes from which one can watch the incomparable Emerald Sunset, a rare phenomenon that turns the tip of the setting sun bright green just before it slides below the horizon. Right there by the dunes that have become something of a pilgrimage destination in their own right, is a jewel of an ecohotel called Villa Kalango. “Vila” is something of a misnomer, given that the accommodation consists of apartments, bungalows and palafittes (suspended tree house-like suites) constructed from local materials such as Muiracatiara wood and carnauba straw. The pool may be superfluous given the Vila’s immediate proximity to the spectacular beaches, but it acts as something of a general relaxation and social hub. You can start the day on a hammock there, enjoying a great breakfast of fresh fruit and local delicacies and snack right until sunset, perhaps having a massage in between. Although Jeri offers restaurants and bars aplenty (even a cocktail cart that goes up the sunset watching dunes), the Vila Kalango restaurant
is well worth staying put for, both for the authentic north-eastern cuisine and the views. Especially recommended are the lobster, the fish stews, the paneladas (pan dishes) and the mouth-watering desserts. The feeling of being totally immersed in nature is reinforced by the absence of TV sets and phones. Instead, one can indulge in the ever-popular local pastimes of kitesurfing and windsurfing or take the numerous sightseeing trips offered by Vila Kalango. Sustainability is not just a fancy word there – it is an actively embraced and practised philosophy in every aspect. Water and energy conservation, the use of recycled materials, and encouraging local handicrafts
are all a way of life rather than a trendy gimmick. In common with other romantic getaways, Vila Kalango promises – and delivers – dream weddings. It stirsoft-suppressed longings that we all share: a certain sense of adventure; a need to commune with nature in a setting that is at once remote and beautiful, and the presence of other like-minded people. You can of course celebrate your special day by hiring the entire place and inviting up to 150 guests there to enjoy total seclusion, followed by the kind of honeymoon dreams are made of. The perfect remoteness and breathtaking beauty of the spot makes it, in fact, a favourite with filming and photo shooting crews.
The 5000 m2 of coconut and cashew tree groves along the beach and the charm of the old fishing village of Jeri, just a short walk from Vila Kalango, make for a picture postcard memory, but it is ultimately the people who run the place that give it a touch of unforgettable magic. The staff working at the hotel are all recruited locally. Unpretentious, always smiling and unfailingly obliging, they epitomise the very spirit of Brazil. If you are Brazil-bound, this is an absolute must – a one of a kind, quirky and different experience that is the antithesis of predictable luxury.
CASA MAJANI Mexican indulgence
On Mexico’s Pacific coast, somewhat in the middle of it, lies an area called Riviera Nayarit. This stretch of warm beaches and pleasant villages attracts both upmarket vacationers and ecological tourists
his is particularly apparent in Punta Mita, a fishing village that is at once a thriving luxury destination and an established area for wildlife conservation. Punta Mita is host to the MITA Institute’s ‘Tech Talks’, an annual convergence of Silicon Valley and Mexican technology capitalists and innovators; yet it is also an ideal staging ground to visit the famous Marieta Islands, which are just 20 minutes away by boat. Modern luxury, high technology, and environmentalism: architects Manolo Mestre and Juan Collignon have brought these strands under one roof at Casa Majani. Situated on the northern tip of the Punta Mita peninsula, overlooking the Pacific, this 6 bedroom villa comprised of uniquely charming suites and amenable facilities pays reverence to the natural landscape while promising a most contemporary experience. Set within lush tropical gardens, a network of pathways and waterways elegantly connects each of the residences to the communal spaces. Two vast pools at the edge of Casa Majani seemingly meld into the seascape, creating the impression of a lone peninsula suspended above the ocean.
Mestre and Collignon have recognised the importance of forms and spaces - both interior and exterior - to create both an intellectually and emotionally engaging experience. Each of Casa Majani’s six suites use natural hues and textures, and hand crafted and locally made pieces, complemented by all the modern gadgets that makes your stay feel better than home. The Aramara, or ‘Ocean’, MasterSuite with its spacious, yet personable quarters connected to an outdoor terrace makes one feel like the master of their own, coastal estate. And if you ever need to step out, Aramara is just steps to the sands and the playful waves. Alternatively, Master Suite Keili rises above therest like an inset jewel. With its terrace cantilevered over one of the infinity pools and encircled by water, the suite’s elegant form is embolden by perfect lighting and gorgeous views. But whatever your preference whether it is the Turi family suite, or the more cozy Wiki suite - Casa Majani’s suites can cater to your needs. At the heart of Casa Majani stands the living and dining terrace: the grand palapa. Nested beneath a palm-thatched roof, this space is bathed by the warm
sun and kept temperate by the vigourous ocean breeze. A massive, tropical wood dining table, set under the vaulted ceiling and its soft lights, provides an excellent view for surf and sunset. Whether it is simple, local fare or lavish haute cuisine, this is the perfect spot for indulgence and feasting. Below the grand palapa, a fire pit on a sand beach terrace is also excellent for intimate and relaxed gatherings. More than just indulgence and relaxation, Casa Majani caters to guests of at all levels of activity. The Tucari room, meaning “good energy” has a relaxing, Zen feel. A yoga and fitness room, built with locally sourced wood flooring, its floor-to-ceiling windows cleverly allow one to adjust this indoor space to the weather outside. Beyond Casa Majani, guests can utilise the Punta Mita residential community beach and tennis clubs. Two Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses belonging to the nearby Four Seasons, and day passes to other Four Seasons and St Regis Resort facilities are seasonally available. Not to mention the plethora of local and environmental attractions in the Riviera Nayarit, from whale watching to horse back riding.
Teitiare Estate Some 35 minute drive from Puerto Vallarta’s international airport, on the Riviera Nayarit coast is one of the most astonishingly beautiful properties you are ever likely to visit in Mexico.
or a place to truly have the intangible “wow” factor, one needs several tangibles: a great location, the complicity of nature, an innate good taste and a unique sense of style. When TeiTiare owners Johann and Anne made the life-changing decision to swap the NY fashion scene for a 16 acre beach and rainforest property at the edge of a tropical jungle in Mexico, they already had the magic mix. Today, TeiTiare is a two villa estate born from a wish to create the ultimate barefoot luxury experience – and to live a life as far removed from the city jungle as possible.
Dedicated surfers already know Sayulita, a small fishing village a kilometre and a half away from the estate. Sayulita attracts not just surfers, but travellers in search of authentic experiences that encompass the full gamut of laid back exploration and cultural interaction. Lest you think TeiTiare just happened (the best results always come across as effortless), it is worth mentioning that a renowned architect (Jean Claude Galibert) was involved in creating it - in a style often referred to as Mexican Pacific. The interiors, however, owe all to the owners’ eclectic taste and are reminiscent of their travels around the world: a lot of Morocco, some Italy, some Tahiti, some Samoa and so on. ninamu (Blue House) The original “casa”, Ninamu, which was their first home on the estate, is a beach front stucco house in cobalt blue polished concrete, with two vast bedrooms and a rooftop terrace that’s “like a day bed on the roof.” If it feels like a home, that’s because it was – and still is invested with lots of family memories. This is also what makes it special. The house has a pool, deck and outdoor area – as well as a pizza oven and an outdoor grill – and is utterly spell-binding.
casa O’te Miti (House of the Pacific) O’te Miti, the larger of the two villas, was built on a rocky point with a 200 degree view of the Pacific Ocean. It has 6 bedrooms all with on suite bathrooms, a cinema, gym and a winecellar. TeiTiare has styled itself as something of a high end wellness sanctuary too, offering as it does group beach boxing classes, yoga, surf lessons and SUP and jungle hikes for dedicated fitness boot campers. The fabulous healthy meals post-exertion add a touch of decadence to the whole experience that is “pure Pacific coast Mexico”. If you are not into organised fitness, do go horse riding on the beach early in the morning – nothing ever beats that, even if you are not particularly proficient. Finally, one of the most special experiences in the immediate vicinity is whale watching. You can get very close, literally 20-30 meters, to the whales and for many of us, this is the closest we are ever going to get to these magnificent creatures in a lifetime. As a matter of fact, it is the closest we are likely to get to an authentic lifestyle that owes as much to nature itself as to those who are intent on preserving it. The owners of TeiTiare have done a hard to beat job of creating a very personal, emotionally engaging experience in a poignant setting. We say, all the infinity pools and king size beds in the world cannot make up for their intuitive approach and creative versatility.
The Suites The ten Apoena (meaning “one that sees far”) suites are positioned above the surrounding natural reserve, revealing a spectacular vista of virginal coastline and lush tropical vegetation. The suites are spacious and have each their own interior garden and traditional Japanese ufuro tubs made of fragrant hand-planed cedar wood, a signature touch of Kenoa, present in all its accommodations. The suite space is divided into bedroom, bathroom with an interior garden and a terrace with a view, appealing to visitors who enjoy relative solitude and privacy. The Araxá (meaning “high place where the sun can be seen first”) suite is massive, boasting two bedrooms with their own living space, each overlooking different sides of the resort: one looking towards the ocean, the other towards the natural reserve. The stunning terrace has the same panoramic views as do the Apoena suites and signature Japanese tub. This is a perfect hideaway spot for two couples or a family, valuing their privacy.
The sensual resort Kenoa is an eco-resort on the north-eastern coast of Brazil, conceived and built to please all the senses. Designed by architect Osvaldo Tenorio, the place conjures up a magical interplay between colour, texture, scents, elegance and ultimate comfort against the inimitable canvass of some of the most spectacular nature the South-American continent has to offer.
ts very location - a veritable Shangri-La, fringed by miles of unspoilt Atlantic coast, sea and sand - is both the beginning and the end of a journey for the sophisticate traveller in search of a life-enhancing experience. Kenoa is some 20 miles south of Maceio, the capital of the state of Alagoas, in Barra de Sao Miguel, an enchanted spot of tropical rain forests, mangroves and year-round summer. Roteiro´s Lagoon nearby is one of several coastal lakes in the area. Kenoa has 23 suites, each offering spectacular views, king-size beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, goose-down pillows, double vanity bathroom basins, minibars, personal electronic safes, CD/DVD Players, LCD TVs with USB connection, Wi-Fi and interestingly, a memory card reader allowing you to view the pictures you have taken on the TV screen. Service is impeccable - the staff at once discreet and anticipating the guests´every wish - making it a 5 star hotel experience in a spot of seclusion and utter serenity.
The eight Marajó villas are for beach lovers. Their private infinity pools are designed to look as if merging with the sea just beyond. Each villa offers a 70 sq meter space, split between bedroom, living room, bathroom and its interior garden and a garden terrace with an external shower. Marajó means “coming from the sea” and the name is an inspired one, whether referring to the breeze and sea air permeating the villas, or to the occupants stepping directly from sea into their rooms. This is the perfect beach existence imaginable.
The Kenoa villa is of course a one-off, as the name suggests. Rustic yet spoilingly luxurious, it sits practically on the beach, with ceiling to floor windows sea-side. Its wooden frame blends easily with the surrounding landscape, as does the outside deck framing the plunge pool. The scented private garden is shaded with beachgrass and the whole 200m2 of space delight every sense every minute of your stay. Kenoa´s eco credentials are hard to beat and would meet the approval of the most dedicated environmentalists out there. These include the preservation of the local flora, reforestation, re-use of drift wood, train tracks and metal and other recycled materials, well irrigations, solar panels and the promoting of local craftsmanship. Beyond the Suites Kenoa is a microcosm in that once there, you never feel the need to leave - between the spa and wellness sanctuary, the pool and beach club and the kaamo restaurant, headed by renowned chef César Santos, there is a great deal to occupy even the most demanding traveller in search of an experience. Start your day with a tai chi or yoga session, or a spa treatment in your own room, stroll down the beach to find a place to swim in the perfect turquoise waters of the Atlantic, make new friends at the wine bar, dine on exquisite dishes made from local produce facing the ocean and enjoy the simplicity of the best life has to offer in this magical and unique place.
The three Jaobi villas redefine beach life on a different level. As the name suggests it (jaobi means “of loose soil”), these are spectacular dune dwellings, allowing you to step from your bedroom directly into the water. Although hardly needed, the infinity plunge pools are an added luxury to the already very highly appointed villas. The feeling of utter freedom and one-ness with nature is unparalleled.
Swan Villas, Belize Take a slice of the Blue Caribbean Coast of Belize, add an award-winning architect, and your own passion for life into the mix and what you get is magic.
wan Villas is an exceptional project conceived by two European partners who determined to escape the grind of city life and create a lifestyle resort on the ocean. The international architect, Javier Senosiain, is known for his organic, innovative, unique and audacious designs that integrate with nature. Swan Villas, which he designed, have risen like mythical sea creatures around the bay on the Placencia Peninsula. They are built of ferro-cement and could easily be mistaken for large works of art. In fact, each building is a villa consisting of three separate units: one two-bedroom apartment and two separate private studios, making a total of four bedrooms with their own bathrooms, two balconies, a patio and enough space for up to 10 people. The round king size beds mirror the exterior design, studiously avoiding the angular in favour of smooth, eye-pleasing lines. Each unit has from full kitchen to kitchenette facilities, depending on size, living space and large terraces looking towards lush gardens and the ocean, some 75 yards away. All units have Jacuzzis and power showers, jetted bathtubs with aromatherapy and chromotherapy systems. This truly remarkable retreat has its own permaculture fruit and vegetable gardens and a refreshing infinity swimming pool.
The owners are hands-on and provide a concierge service that is second to none. Yoga classes, bike trips to Placencia, hiking through the jungle, aerobic in the pool, kayaking and even diving with Whale Sharks. If you simply want to relax, watch exotic mammals and birds, admire the inimitable sunset and views all the way to the Maya mountains, or take a stroll along the beach, youâ€™d be left in peace to do just that. Each villa is built with a view of the pool and has beautiful vistas of the bay. Being available for rent (and attracting 5 star reviews), this is a development project that will potentially see further extension. Other villas, yet to be built, will be offered for purchase together with the adjoining land and gardens. They will be professionally managed when the owners are not in residence. Swan Villas is an outstanding concept that captures the zeitgeist to perfection â€“ integration with nature, organics and clean, active lifestyle, whose full potential has yet to be achieved. Belize is in Central America and still fairly sparsely populated. It is English-speaking and a part of the Commonwealth. Lifestyle is laid back and prices comparatively low. For large families or groups of friends Swan Villas offers a truly special holiday experience.
maria vafiadis You could be forgiven for not being familiar with Vafiadis’s name – that’s just how she prefers it – but if you travel a lot and stay at exceptional hotels with state of the art spas, there is a stronger than average chance that you would have come to experience the magic dust she sprinkles over them.
veteran hotel designer in the sense that she established MKV long before hotel design became glamorous, she is confident, poised and extremely well-sought after. She is the go-to person, in fact, if you have a hotel concept and want to compete with the very best internationally.
repetitions of previous projects. We don’t do that even with repeat clients of which we have several. When someone asks us, “why not do another one like this?”, we reply that “yes, we will replicate the spirit of it, but translate it into something new, something tailor-made for the new project”.
BB: You design a lot of hotels internationally. What makes an iconic hotel -as opposed to just another 5 star hotel - in your opinion? MV: Design and service are the two important components of a great hotel, but it is great design and architecture that make an iconic one. Having an iconic status, for all its intangibility, is akin to being an aristocrat – it is inherent to the DNA of the building – its architecture. But nobility also requires you to earn it and this is where exceptional design comes in – it sets the hotel apart and conveys that unique atmosphere that can be so elusive to capture.
BB: How important are first impressions in terms of design, and do you place a lot of emphasis/WOW factor on reception areas, whether this is a lobby, spa or private residence? MV: First impressions, or the initial introduction, are everything and hugely important, and especially so in a hotel. Expectations of hotels, especially luxury hotels, are so very high today. The moment you set foot in the building, that moment counts for everything. The old perception - that public spaces are the lost areas of a hotel – has now been turned on its head. Modern hoteliers have learned how much value these can add in terms of placing the entire hotel – they have learned that creating unique spaces makes memorable impressions. With travel no longer being the domain of the privileged few, there are also many more hotels to compete with. There are hotels that have public spaces that belong to everyone – iconic bars, for example - and people go to them and use the facilities. And there are hotels only for the guests of that hotel. The one thing that applies to all is that the bar is now set very high – because of the way we live and because of how design has permeated our lives at every level. It’s become extremely important. In the past, people visited a hotel to experience something they didn’t have at home. Today, our homes are so much more designed and everyone recognises and accepts that design is part of their daily life, an indelible part of their lifestyle. Hotels
BB: Your job is to bestow that iconic touch? MV: Yes, that’s what we do - we create design that goes beyond the aesthetics. Roughly half of our clients come to us and simply say they want “the best”. We need to interpret what that is, because it cannot be the same for every project or every location. We have to find out what will define their particular property and create the hotel’s identity. Other clients have a very specific brief we have to work with, although this doesn’t take away the creative element. We tend to attract a specific clientele, generally by word of mouth, or because a client has stayed in one of our hotels, experienced our project, and wants something similar. Nevertheless, when a client approaches us, we are very clear on one thing: however much they have loved an existing work of ours, we don’t do copycat or
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have to compete with that and are compelled to do something that’s different, something that will capture and captivate their clientele. BB: What does an MKV interior tell people at first glance – is there a hallmark message inherent to your style/approach? MV: Yes, there is but rather than having a signature style, we have a signature approach – a set of principles to our approach. From day one, I was very aware of the fact that when you are a professional hotel designer, you have to show versatility. I was very clear on not wanting to be known for one particular thing, whether heritage or contemporary design, with everyone coming to me for just that one style. I started MKV at a time when hotel design was not as glamorous as today – at a time when, as a professional hotel designer, you ran the risk of being pigeonholed as a designer who worked to a formula. Hotel design has since become fashionable, with almost every designer keen to get into it. MKV is not a celebrity designer nor are we defined by a particular style. If there is one thing that would describe us, it is this: we create ingeniously captivating projects, each with their own DNA and personality. We always try to give our projects something that would make them very unique and very distinct. This is what our clients recognise. Clients often ask us to design their residences, but this is not something we showcase. These individuals are trusting us with their private lives and we recognise the responsibility of safeguarding their privacy. BB: Are you inspired in equal measures by historic and contemporary buildings? MV: I have no preference for this period or that –
rather, I like authenticity and everything that adds value. I recognise beauty wherever that exists and it really excites me. BB: Define authentic. MV: Something that doesn’t pretend to be something else. BB: If you take a project from concept to finish, do you work with particular suppliers and artisans? MV: Over the years we have got to know lots of suppliers, artisans, people who give a lot of attention to detail and can deliver. People who can create new things for us… This is very important to us because we want to avoid repetition. We rely a lot on good collaborations, on people who share the same values as us. BB: Please, define luxury from a personal point of view MV: I’d say luxury is all the things that go above and beyond our usual needs, that is not about the functional. Luxury is also very personal, it means different things to different people, but, whatever it is, luxury always has the same effect – it makes us feel special about ourselves. The other thing I’d say is that the notion of luxury evolves – what defined it 20 years ago no longer does. Take hotel bathroom design, for example. Twenty years ago, luxury was having a large separate shower as well as a tub; that is not enough now and luxury bathrooms are more like spas in the facilities they offer. BB: Inside/Out space flow, abundant light and framing natural views seem to be recurrent themes in your work. Are these a reflection of your personality or a nod to the expectations of the contemporary client/ traveller? MV: Actually, this is very much a part of my personality and always has been. It may have to do with the fact that I am Greek and then again, it may be because I am
an architect by profession. I have always seen the in and out of a building as one and never liked the distinction between the two. The ability to see beyond the inside, beyond the landscape; this relationship between the in and out have always been paramount to me. At the same time, it is true to say that space, especially in our cities, has become more valuable. We are building floors with less volume to fit more onto expensive land. Yet people in general don’t want to be confined – they have experienced and embraced the Mediterranean lifestyle of outdoor living and want to enjoy it wherever they are to the extent that climate permits it. The outside now is part of the experience and an integral part of our lives. BB: Are you more inspired by the traditional or the contemporary? MV: I have always wanted to own a real chateau – I love grand spaces and soaring volumes - but I’d be equally happy living in a modernist glass house overlooking the ocean in California. BB: You have created a lot of Spas. Do they all share certain signature elements that define your style? MV: I love spas and I love pampering. It is where you take time for yourself and to be by yourself. I like the mystique in spas. You feel very special there because you abandon yourself to being looked after. This is the kind of spas we get to design and most tend to be very big, which is another challenge. The Schweizerhof spa in Bern was an exception and I like to think that we managed to create a little magic in a relatively small space there. BB: Your portfolio shows great versatility – you have designed from casinos to diners to private villas – does inspiration ever fail you? How do you keep the creative spirit honed to come up with ever-innovative concepts?
MV: Inspiration is a weird thing, sometimes you get it immediately, sometimes it needs to evolve. I have been lucky enough to travel a lot and that feeds inspiration, helps you to see things differently. Because we work in different parts of the world, we experience different cultures and discover craftsmen producing things that might be inherent to a specific country and non-existent in others. Bringing new and old techniques together is very, very interesting. In particular, I have been inspired by Moroccan craftsmen on trips around the country. The idea of combining traditional handicraft and new techniques together offers endless and very interesting possibilities. I think we, as a generation in the west, have lost a very important thing, which I hope will make a big comeback – people working and making things with their hands, creating amazing objects. Our work is so much about the little detail. Not everyone knows how to look at detail yet everyone is subliminally aware of it. For example, the design could be very monochromatic, but because of the different surfaces and lighting, it acquires another layer, creating this mystical atmosphere. Sometimes simplicity itself is very striking. So, we also like to experiment with materials and surfaces: the mix of hard with smooth; polished with rough; less is so often more. BB: Tell us a little about Maria Vafiadis the person. MV: I am an intensely private person who has enjoyed living in various parts of the world but, deep in my heart, I remain Greek. I have very strong Greek family values and love going back to Greece. I am happy living in London; I think I would be equally happy in New York. I delight in the vitality of cities heaving with innovative and creative spirit.
Blue Palace Crete
Radisson Blu Gautrain Concierge
The Romanos Room
Schweizerhof Bern Guestroom
Kempinski Corvinus Budapest
Azure waters of
AMANZOE Imagine an Olympian, empyrean paradise. Can you see it? If not, have no fear, for Amanzoe has made such an utopia reality. Imposing Greek columns, framed by sleek, modern interiors lead you to a 38-suite resort - each with their private pool as a matter of course - on a picturesque hilltop overlooking the pretty town of Porto Heli.
ith crystal clear azure waters, a golden sun and fragrant olive groves all around, allow yourself to be immersed in a mythological and paradisiacal odyssey. Name your quirkiest fancy and Amanzoe is sure to have it. With only 38 guest pavilions and a handful of private villas, you will easily be able to indulge yourself in exclusivity. As if to reinforce this, an almost invisible housekeeping is on call: unpacking your clothes, ensuring every surface is spotless… Amanzoe is your own private citadel. Surrounded by the Aegean Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to the west, Amanzoe’s proximity to numerous islands and islets, gives it an unrivaled position. Porto Heli, a picturesque town on the east coast of the Peloponnese, just across from the islands Spetses and Hydra, is full of history. Explore the land which captured the hearts and minds of the Spartans, Romans, Byzantines and Venetians; all of whom recognized the areas’ beauty, wealth and strategic location. Or, if you are feeling cosmopolitan, Athens is easily accessible by a short boat ride. Yet, if being a modern-day Ulysses has tired you out, you can unwind in the Aman spa. As Hippocrates said, ‘Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.’
Evidently the Aman spa takes this philosophy to heart. With state-of-the-art gym facilities, a yoga pavilion with re-engineered oak floors and a comprehensive spa menu, all of this is topped off with beautiful views of the surrounding hillsides. Tantalisingly exotic treatments from the Argiletz clay body wraps to custom facials embrace an holistic healing approach. Or try Watsu, a rejuvenative Hydrotherapy treatment, complimented by a purpose-built Watsu Pool. A Thai massage room will leave yoga aficionados ecstatic, with the promise of deep massages as a reward. Treatments fuse ancient Greek wellness rituals with timetested Asian beauty techniques. The result? An inimitable glow and sense of wellness. It is well-known that the Greek philosophers were the sagest of us all. It is thus we use another truism by Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Amanzoe’s authentic Greek restaurant beckons with the promise of whetting your taste buds: think plump salads, freshly caught fish, the oh-so-delicious mezzes…All of this with the addition that Amanzoe incorporates a biodynamic approach, selecting organic products from its own supply.
And if you wander down to the Beach Club, a 5 minute shuttle ride or 15 minute walk on a sultry summer day, you will see the azure crystal sea shimmering in the sun, beckoning you to indulge. Set in its own private bay, the Beach Club offers two 25-metre lap pools, an array of water sports and an expansive deck for loungers to bask in the sun or under charming pergolas, with refreshments and a full menu on call all day. Four further private Beach Club Cabanas allow for the utmost seclusion. As one guest put it: “I would live here.” Looking across the Peleponnesian coastline flooded by warm hues of a setting sun, we would have to agree. Private villas The villas’ open terraces feature sand-coloured marble floor tiles, traditional dry stone-clad walls, fair-faced concrete columns and cornices. The 20- to 25-metre private swimming pools are lined with emerald-coloured marble, and solid timber pergolas provide shade for poolside lounging or alfresco dining. Rooms feature his and hers bathrooms and dressing areas in marble and oak. The living room flows from the dining area and out onto the terrace, taking advantage of the balmy climate
to ensure seamless indoor/outdoor living. All villas come with two dedicated members of staff. Ideal for family gatherings, weddings and other special occasions, the villas will afford owners and guests complete privacy with the benefit of access to all the resort’s facilities. The design of Amanzoe is strongly influenced by classical Greek architecture, yet is contemporary in attitude and construction techniques. Taking into account the property’s hilltop setting and open views, the design is particularly inspired by traditional Greek acropolises – citadels built atop elevated ground in ancient times. Amanzoe’s entrance and reception areas overlook an expansive reflection pool, beyond which the Library, Boutique and Gallery are set amongst terraces, courtyards and gardens joined by walkways. The resort’s dining pavilions and lounges include the Restaurant, Pool Restaurant, Fireplace and Living Room with its central Bar. Amanzoe Agios Panteleimonas, Kranidi, Argolida, 213 00, Greece Tel: (30) 275 4772 888 / Fax: (30) 275 4772 800 Email: email@example.com
A private idyll
tagomago A short boat drive from the prime jet-set spot of Europe, Ibiza, is an idyllic private island, Tagomago, with a 5-bedroom villa, an over-sized swimming pool and a number of water sports.
Tagomago is eminently quiet and even more so by comparison with its larger and famous neighbour. You can have your cake and eat it - party until you drop and drop off in your remote bit of haven until you recover to party another day. The other massive advantage of Tagomago is the immediate access to every kind of water sports equipment - something that is not a given on Ibiza. A diversâ€™ paradise, the island offers renters a selection of boats for exploring the coastline or just spend lazy days on the water: a Mangusta 108, two Seadoo Jetskis, and two ribs all on a private mooring. Divers can swim along with shoals of barracudas or even the odd shark between May and September when the temperatures are a balmy 20 to 28 degrees
and enjoy the Mediterranean sea and coast with its majestic cliffs, rocky beaches and hidden coves. We love the fact that boating and sailing lessons are made available and that staff are unfailingly obliging, treating guests as just that: house guests on a private island. Tagomago is a Mediterranean gem offering total privacy in a breathtaking setting and a super-stylish alternative to overcrowded coastal resorts. Perfect for booking with friends and families, the island is fully staffed and ran to perfection. It even comes with its very own working Lighthouse, which adds a whimsical touch to it all.
he villa of Tagomago would appeal to holiday makers who appreciate contemporary chic, clean lines, ultimate comfort and sophistication. Rooms are well equipped to a high tech standard and spacious, with wide-ranging vistas of the Western Mediterranean. The kitchen is ultramodern and professional. The massive 17m x 8m swimming pool, complemented by a whirlpool, steam bath and a sauna is surrounded by endless terraces looking towards the spectacular coastline and Ibiza. What makes the island an extremely desirable rental proposition is its proximity to fun-loving Ibiza and at the same time, the ability to escape the razzmatazz, the crowds and noise that go along with the all-night parties.
manresa Mallorcan luxury
The Mallorcan municipality of Pollença, on the island’s northern tip, is steeped in history. Named after a Roman settlement, which is located further south, the area proudly promotes a built environment dating from the High Middle Ages and onward. Crusaderera monuments stand alongside Renaissance and Early Modern buildings, a jigsaw of architectural history that makes visiting Pollença a fascinating foray into the past.
t is here, in this ancient yet charming countryside, that one will also find the Manresa Mallorca; a grand estate where each of its private villas is guaranteed total seclusion within 150 square metres of coastal property. Along a picturesque bay stretching one kilometre, overlooking the Mediterranean sea, guests will find this to be one of the most beautiful and fascinating locations on the Balearic Islands. The estate comprises an early eighteenth century house and five other historic buildings including an old finca, a bird sanctuary and a fisherman’s house. Each have been individually renovated and refurbished to offer an experience that is particular to each, yet of the same impeccable standard. Outward appearances of Manresa Mallorca is not just a showcase for history, it is the ideal for state of the art luxury. No less impressive than its sheer size, Manresa is also an expert fusion of old world and contemporary interior design, where antique flooring and flourishes meets modern art and furnishings. Complete with the latest in high tech gadgets and appliances, staying at Manresa feels like a dream stay inside the perfect home you’ve always imagined for yourself. In total there are eight ensuite double bedrooms for guests. The sheer number of in-house concierge services that can be
made available - from nannies to personal shoppers to private trainers, just to name a few - goes above and beyond the usual pampering. Another stand-out feature is a generously sized swimming pool, rather an elegant rectangle of pale white, glimmering under the Mediterranean sun. From its grassy perch one is entreated to gaze over the azure sea and the grand old hills of the mainland in the distance. The property also benefits from some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, ideal for both swimming and diving. Of course Manresa itself offers a number of activites, from the on-site sauna and tennis court to boat excursions. Last but certainly not least, a helicopter is available for guests who might desire to splash out for breathtaking views over the magnificent island of Majorca. Sometimes it might feel that Southern Europe as a whole is too well-trodden, perhaps too obvious a holiday destination; but this part of the Mediterranean remains a classic destination for a reason. From ancient history to haute culture, from time dissipating leisure to the frenetic pace of modern life, from the best art to the best wines: one can find almost everything within walking distance of a good restaurant. Manresa Mallorca, in all of its grandeur, today might just be the best of it all.
hotel splendido Dolce far niente
If there was one word to describe Portofino and its most significant hotel, Splendido, it would be well, splendid.
ith its flowered façade and breezy, comfortable interior, overlooking Portofino and the harbour, the Splendido has always been the hub for international yachtsmen, old money and those in the know. Each room is simple and peaceful, in keeping with the light blue surroundings that mirror the beauty of the Mediterranean. The suites are well-proportioned with the beautiful Italianate marble bathrooms. The pièce de résistance, however, is the balcony with sweeping, breathtaking views over the bay. For those who want to make a splash yet value discretion, the presidential suites are large self-catering apartments equipped with everything one could want to be happy. The outdoor pool and terrace for those sunny spells, breakfast in the mornings or dinner in the evenings are a magical experience. Watching the sun emerge or disappear casts a magical light on this isolated yet breathtakingly beautiful spot.
We also visited the little neighbouring village, Santa Margherita de Ligure, which has several boutiques, as does Portofino itself, with local shops offering crafts and clothes of every quality but usually the best. The atmosphere along this coastline is one of contentment: everyone is relaxed and filled with joie de vivre. The main attraction, however, remains the Splendido. We were treated to a lively performance by the resident musician and an impromptu duet with a waiter. Eventually, the enticing and magical atmosphere inspired this writer to dance to the Copacabana tune barefoot. Watching couples snuggling on the sofas, groups merrily laughing to the whims of the musician, I thought of Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart and myriad other stars staying at the Splendido. They must have loved the seclusion and the inherent elegance of the place just as everyone else does today. In peak season you will find the jet setting, yachting crowds that descend upon Portofino in the summer. At the end of this, a serene quiet descends upon the small harbour, casting a surreal beauty on this magical place. On our last day the sun emerged over the spectacular bay and as we departed, we vowed to return to this perfect haven of happiness.
he supremely elegant, fine art adorned lobby with its sweeping stairway and marmorino columns, the deep white sofas, the views from each successive reception room and finally, the attentive staff, all make an unmistakable statement: this is a grand hotel in the time-honoured sense of the word, rather than a fly by night modern pretender.
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Our suite on the 5th floor looks over the palm-fringed garden of the restaurant and beyond that, the huge diamond shaped pool that looks like 3 connected pools. The sheer size of it all is impressive but it is the unadulterated beauty of the views from the suites, the sun, scents and colours of the Mediterranean that add up to a sense of perfect happiness. Our bathroom is almost the size of the suite and although we seldom write about amenities, B Beyond being entirely dedicated to reviewing the absolute best, it is noteworthy in its own right.
royal hotel san remo
THE SPA decision that is! The spa, on the ground floor of the hotel a fitness room and an indoor hot pool. A daily ‘menu’ of on offer is posted and although we • specials a delicious cream of beans didn’t get a chance to try them out, they all from Pigna with mussels and sounded eminently covetable.
Our dinner offers Payotincluded: treatments,
soup clams, a combination I hadn’t encountered THE HOSPITALITY before but one that works extremely well. When it comes to hospitality and service, the Italians do it better every time and so it • Goose terrine withgrand black truffles in is hardlyliver surprising that most hotels around jelly, the world employand Italianflavoursome staff. Muscat a rich dish
justWhether as the through name suggests, the sweetness of training or natural combine warmthsophistication. with theinstinct, Muscatthey giving it added professionalism and quite literally brighten your day.
• salads and a selection of rare cheese, washed B Beyond has to admit here to a strong down with a Bardolino rose, Cà de Frati •
partiality to all things Italian and to Italians in particular. We have been returning to the country over and over again – with or and finally, a rich raspberry Vacherin. without TasteMaker (www.thetastemaker. org) subscribers – and each time, we find something new and amazing to write about.
remo is something to behold. Perched ing bay, the stunning Belle Epoque es the San Remo landscape with its opulence.
Corso imperatrice 80 18038 Sanremo (im), italy Tel. +39 0184 5391 firstname.lastname@example.org royalhotelsanremo.com
Sipping from the bottle of Prosecco, compliments of the management, relaxing Royal Hotel is a case in point. on the balcony, we decide to stay an additional night rather than move furtherhe supremely Even though know elegant,we fine art San Remo extremely up the coats the next day. well, thiswith tripitswas something of a revelation. adorned lobby sweeping
Royal Hotel Sanremo is something stairway and marmorino columns, to behold. Perched above the I am keen to try out the candle-lit garden The sofas, elegant hasfrom been a hub of wealthy the deep white thecity views Il Giardino, Russians who have sparkling bay, the restaurant, stunning Belle and what a good each successive reception room and already colonised decision that is! everywhere CapanFerrat to Royal Hotel Sanremo is something to behold. Perched finally, the attentive staff, from all= make Epoque palazzo dominates the Ospedaletti and lifted real estate unmistakable statement: this is a grand Our dinner included: above the sparkling bay, the stunning Belle Epoque prices. This is a trend set to hotel in the time-honoured sense of San Remo landscape with its continue because, quite simply, the word, rather than a fly by night • a delicious cream of beans soup palazzo dominates the San Remounquestionable landscape withopulence. its the Italian Riviera is no less modern pretender. from Pigna with mussels and clams,
Where the sea meetsopulence. the sky unquestionable
everywhere from Cap Ferrat to Ospedaletti and lifted real estate prices. This is a trend set to continue because, quite simply, the Italian Riviera is no less beautiful than the French – and the Italians… well, this cannot be overstated, they do do it better. i
a combination I hadn’t encountered before but one that works extremely well. • Goose liver terrine with black truffles in Muscat jelly, a rich and flavoursome dish just as the name suggests, the sweetness of the Muscat giving it added sophistication. • salads and a selection of rare cheese, washed down with a Bardolino rose, Cà de Frati • and finally, a rich raspberry Vacherin.
beautiful than the French – and the Italians… well, this cannot be overstated, they do do it better. i
Corso imperatrice 80 18038 Sanremo (im), italy Tel. +39 0184 5391 email@example.com royalhotelsanremo.com
Our suite on the 5th floor looks over the palm-fringed garden of the restaurant and beyond that, the huge diamond shaped pool that looks like 3 connected pools. The sheer size of it all is impressive but it is the unadulterated beauty of the views from the suites, the sun, scents and colours of the Mediterranean that add up to a sense of perfect happiness. Our bathroom is almost the size of the suite and although we seldom write about amenities, B Beyond being entirely dedicated to reviewing the absolute best, it is noteworthy in its own right. Sipping from the bottle of Prosecco, compliments of the management, relaxing on the balcony, we decide to stay an additional night rather than move further up the coats the next day. I am keen to try out the candle-lit garden restaurant, Il Giardino, and what a good decision that is! Our dinner included: • a delicious cream of beans soup from Pigna with mussels and clams, a combination I hadn’t encountered before but one that works extremely well. • Goose liver terrine with black truffles in Muscat jelly, a rich and flavoursome dish just as the name suggests, the sweetness of the Muscat giving it added sophistication. • salads and a selection of rare cheese, washed down with a Bardolino rose, Cà de Frati • and finally, a rich raspberry Vacherin.
The spa The spa, on the ground floor of the hotel offers Payot treatments, a fitness room and an indoor hot pool. A daily ‘menu’ of specials on offer is posted and although we didn’t get a chance to try them out, they all sounded eminently covetable. The hospitality When it comes to hospitality and service, the Italians do it better every time and so it is hardly surprising that most grand hotels around the world employ Italian staff. Whether through training or natural instinct, they combine warmth with professionalism and quite literally brighten your day. B Beyond has to admit here to a strong partiality to all things Italian and to Italians in particular. We have been returning to the country over and over again – with or without TasteMaker (www.thetastemaker. org) subscribers – and each time, we find something new and amazing to write about. Royal Hotel is a case in point. Even though we know San Remo extremely well, this trip was something of a revelation. The elegant city has been a hub of wealthy Russians who have already colonised everywhere from Cap Ferrat to Ospedaletti and lifted real estate prices. This is a trend set to continue because, quite simply, the Italian Riviera is no less beautiful than the French – and the Italians… well, this cannot be overstated, they do do it better.
OUTSIDE The villa is surrounded by a well-maintained garden fringed by a low hedge and rose bushes. Just outside the villa walls there is a private fenced park of 6 hectares accessible exclusively by the guests of the villa. In a clearing is a swimming pool with aqua-massage jets - again, exclusively reserved for the villa guests. Weddings and receptions Villa Emo Capodilista provides a dream venue for weddings and other private events and can host up to 100 people in the loggias or garden (for larger numbers, a marquee can be erected on the grounds). The estate is happy to assist with the event planning. The Castle La Montecchia castle is part of a large complex, the Az.Agr. Conte Emo Capodilista, that includes a vinyard, a winery, 4 holiday cottages and a golf club with its 1 Michelin star restaurant. The castle, dating back to the Middle Ages and renovated in 1930, is set on top of a hill, an awe-inspiring structure, detached from all things mundane. Complete with a massive tower and fortifications, it harks back to its majestic medieval past. Yet, until recently, the building was home to an independent cinema school and is, to this day and in part at least, the private residence of the current Count Emo Capodilista. The castle has a distinctive old world charm to it, enhanced by antique furnishings and paintings that reflect the owner’s taste and the family history. The wooden floors and beams, together with the majolica stoves in many rooms, create a warm atmosphere even during the cold season.
La Montecchia Old world charm
La Montecchia is a rare gem in Veneto. The estate embodies a unique blend of ancient history (the castle has belonged to the same family, the Counts Emo Capodilista, since the Middle Ages) and comfortable modernity. The constant efforts of the owner are a guarantee for the improvements of both the exquisite accommodations and the award-winning wines produced at the estate.
BRIEF HISTORY & STYLE In the midst of the Euganean Hills Regional Park, some 40 Km West of Venice and 20 Km from Padua and Vicenza, the villa is a masterpiece of Italian architecture and one of the most original amongst Venetian villas. Originally built as a hunting lodge in 1568 by Gabriele Capodilista, it is constructed as a classic square, its shape replicated in the internal distribution of the rooms: four on the ground and four on the first floor, connected by a magnificent Grecian four level staircase. The villa was designed by Dario Varotari (Verona 1539 - Padua 1596), an architect and a painter, pupil of Veronese. He also decorated the rooms and the ground floor loggia in mannerist frescoes with scenes from mythology and family history. The upper loggia frescos are attributed to Antonio Vassillacchi better known as the Aliense (Milos, Greece 1556 Venice 1629). The grotesques are by Heliodorus Forbicini (Verona around 1533). The statues surrounding the villa are attributed to the studio of the Bonazzas, a family of very skilled Venetian sculptors who moved to Padua at the end of the seventeenth century.
INSIDE The seven ultra luxury, comfortable rooms are spread over 3 floors. The villa boasts two elegant parlours, a dining room for 12, a portico equipped with tables and chairs for 12, and a frescoed loggia on the second floor, overlooking the surrounding vineyards. The basement level has a garage and service rooms (kitchen, laundry, service bathrooms). All of the rooms are decorated/frescoed and furnished with original antiques and well equipped to assure the comfort of the guests. Bedrooms: Ground floor: 2 double king size bedrooms First floor: 2 double king size bedrooms, 1 single bedroom Mezzanine: 1 double king size bedroom, 1 single bedroom Bathrooms: 6 bathrooms (2 with showers, 3 with bathtubs and showers and 1 with a bathtub) Entertainment: The Drawing room has satellite TV, DVD, stereo and WiFi
CASTELLANA sleeping 8 + 2 Another wing of the building has recently been renovated to provide two guest accommodations: the Castellana apartment and the B&B suite, a comfortable and charming accommodation for 2 that can be booked for just a romantic getaway weekend. Castellana is a three level apartment, with the ground floor housing two fully equipped kitchens, a laundry room and a rest room. On the first and second upper floors there are 5 double bedrooms, most with en suite bathrooms, two elegant living rooms, and a TV room. The apartment can either be booked for a large group of maximum 10, or it can be split into two comfortable apartments: one for up to 6 guests, the other for up to 4, each with their own living room and kitchen. Outside, a small private garden is equipped for al fresco meals and is a short walk from the newly built bathing lake, accessible from June to September.
ACTIVITIES & ITINERARIES In the estate and nearby: • Estate wine tasting and visits to the rural tool collection • Discounted rates at La Montecchia restaurant (1 Michelin star) run by the Alajmo family • Discounted green fees at La Montecchia golf course • Tennis court nearby In the region: • Veneto region has a rich culture and La Montecchia is a fantastic departure point for exploring the myriad art and craft, food and wine, architectural and design attractions within easy reach. The estate offers transfers with private chauffeur • Private visits to the cities of art and to Palladio’s villas • Wine tasting tours on Euganean Hills and a grappa tour in Bassano del Grappa • Personal shopping trips • Boat trip around Venice and along the Brenta Canal • Cooking classes • Booking of museums, restaurants, etc.
Domus Civita Garden
Mazzini 31 Living Room
podere Palazzo Restored beauty
Straddling three provinces, Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio, and fairly equidistant between Rome and Florence, Podere Palazzo is, in fact, a former farmhouse-turned-country villa whose palatial credentials are based on its fortunate location, spectacular views and authentic restoration.
Mazzini 31 Pool Spa
Canterbury to Rome and Jerusalem (pilgrims still follow this ancient path). It is little wonder that the owner compares the view from each window of every room to “a Renaissance painting of natural beauty”. The property is spread on four acres of land and set among old oak trees. A newly planted olive grove, Cypress, elm ,wild pear and apple trees, along with wild plum and rose bushes all add to the timeless beauty of the surroundings. On the grounds next to the house there is a beautiful pond, with hammocks loosely strung around it, and a double infinity edge pool fringed by a stone terrace. The French doors opening into the house lead to a living room with a wood-burning fireplace and the same spectacular views that you have from the bedroom windows. The dining room next door sits 12 and opens onto a patio that overlooks the pool. Guests would appreciate the prolific book collection of the house.Those who enjoy cooking can expect a treat: the kitchen is a joy
with travertine stone counters and a central island, as well as seating space for five for those indulgent breakfasts. A long portico is accessed from the kitchen - this is perhaps one of the best features of Podere Palazzo, providing as it does a focal point for entertaining and an open vista to die for. The stone table sits 12 also and together with the outdoor wood-burning fireplace makes for fabulous al-fresco lunches and dinners. THE ROOMS There are five bedrooms at Podere Palazzo, all named after local villages and decorated in minimal modern style with references to Tuscan country style, with their own sitting areas. Terracotta floors, exposed chestnut beams and stone walls are in complete harmony with the style of the “poderi” of Central Italy Four of the rooms have king size beds, while the fifth has twin beds. Bedroom Proceno has its own fireplace and outdoor terrace. Bathrooms are spacious and modern and the ground floor shower is wheelchair accessible.
But it is the views from each bedroom, revealing variously pastures, hills, ravines, Monte Rufeno, the Paglia River, Acquapendente, Proceno, and the caldera of Lake Bolsena that give them that special value that goes well beyond the creature comforts. If lounging by the pool, pond or around the portico is not quite enough for you, the owners have put together an interesting package of activities to more than fill your days. One of these packages is solely dedicated to weddings. Cooking classes with a Michelin star chef, wine and cheese degustations, visiting massage therapists, or chauffeur driven expeditions to the surrounding countryside and shops are just some of the delights on the menu. And if you want to capture the unforgettable experience of staying there, a professional photographer is at hand to create a photo album with a difference: the story, in pictures, of your stay at Podere Palazzo. For More information on Podere Palazzo as well as the other exclusive properties in the collection please visit www.lucidicasa.com/
he stone-built villa is perfect for a family and guests or just friends sharing a private vacation in one of the most beautiful corners of Europe. There is something about Italy that tugs at all our hearts with an inevitability that’s not always easy to articulate. It fulfills our longing for pastoral serenity, for food that is as satisfying and healthy as it is simple, for what is important in life, and for aesthetics that transcend the temporal. The owners of Podere Palazzo, and Patrizio Fradiani, the architect and designer for the house and the other properties who restored the building from scratch, have managed to capture this essence of Italy through use of local materials, preserving the authenticity of it all, but without compromising on the kind of modern design and comfort we most of us take for granted. Set on a hill, and overlooking oak woods, olive groves, vineyards, old Etruscan settlements and medieval towns, the villa offers uninterrupted 360 degree views all the way to the largest volcanic lake in Europe. To the west of the property is the Cassia, an old Roman road, and Via Francigena, the medieval pilgrimage route connecting
Podere Palazzo at dusk
Rocksure Property Invested in luxury
Since 2006, Rocksure Property has pioneered a novel approach to luxury holidaymaking, through the shared equity ownership of villa and apartment portfolios. Through this coownership, investors can simultaneously benefit from any capital appreciation and experience the enjoyment of multiple residential properties. 60
tarting in the United Kingdom, their concept has since been extended to North America - a testament to its ingenuity. For those interested in more than just hotels and rentals - who want to turn their globetrotting into new opportunities - Rocksure offers two types of funds, for villas and apartments, both of which follow the same formula. Rather than buying a wholly-owned property in a single destination, one can invest in a portfolio of splendid, fully-staffed villas - each with a private pool - across different countries, cultures and climate zones. Or one can choose to invest in a collection of magnificent apartments across the most exciting cities of either Europe or North America; or in a portfolio of apartments in single destinations such as London and New York. Together the investors in each fund will own 100% of the real estate, with no borrowings and a planned exit after 7-10 years. All the usual costs of ownership - local taxes, annual maintenance costs, utility charges and staff salaries - are shared between the co-owners according to their share. One needs to spend no time and little expense on maintaining and managing your properties; instead you can enjoy comfortable and good value holidays with family and friends in luxurious surroundings for years to come.
Whichever fund you might decide to invest in, you can roam the world regardless with access to all of the Rocksure properties. Rocksureâ€™s regional concierge services (US & European) coordinate reservations to ensure fair use of each villa and apartment. The concierge service also provides allimportant information and local knowledge such as hotel transport, car hire, where to eat, what to see, the best beaches, cultural attractions, sporting and leisure activites, and so on. On arrival at a Rocksure apartment, shareholders and their guests are greeted by the local Rocksure concierge, who is also responsible for managing the property. They will ensure that the occupants are comfortable, will answer any questions and can help facilitate any special needs. They also organise the daily maid service to clean and tidy the apartment, and provide a change of towels and bed linen as appropriate.The concierge is available by mobile phone. Rocksure villas are similarly hospitable, though tailored to the particular aspects of a villa holiday with a party of family and friends. All of the Rocksure villas are looked after by a housekeeper, who acts as the local concierge and supervises all of the day-to-
day arrangements. Perhaps most importantly, the housekeeper can prepare and serve lunch and dinner, six days per week, allowing everyone to have a real holiday. Babysitters, nannies, chefs, car hire, beauty treatments, transfers and excursions etc., can all be booked through Rocksure prior to departure: a comprehensive menu of services is available in each property (and via a link from the shareholdersâ€™ private website). Philanthropy Rocksure is a corporate sponsor of ORBIS UK, who work tirelessly to preserve and save the sight of thousands of people in developing countries around the world including Ethiopia, India, Vietnam and most recently Zambia. Rocksureâ€™s CEO David Rogers has lived and travelled extensively throughout Africa, so the cause is very close to his heart. He has personally dedicated time and effort to help ORBIS to raise funds for the Zambezi Project in particular. The Zambezi Project not only aims to give the precious gift of sight to hundreds of people in need of help, but to also establish the infrastructure for teams of local, fully-trained staff on a long term basis too.
View from a Senior Deluxe suite
Fabulous pedigree In the heart of Marrakesh, yet obscured from prying eyes by fabulous tropical gardens, is the legendary Es Saadi, a resort with so much pedigree that it warrants a brief digress into history.
1001 Nights Villa
efore Es Saadi became a hotel, it started life as the first casino in North Africa, opened by none other than Jean Bauchet, owner of Moulin Rouge, that all-famous Parisian landmark immortalised in Toulouse-Lautrec’s works among others. Mr and Mrs Bauchet, having spotted the potential of the Red City as a winter resort, presided over the making of a brand new legend there – a resort that attracted countless showbiz stars, politicians, artists, intellectuals and just interesting people. Their daughter, Elisabeth Bauchet-Bouhlal, took over in the 60’s and added a strong cultural element by encouraging and collecting Moroccan artists and initiating a number of events. The history of this dynasty is further being written by her son, JeanAlexandre Bauchet-Bouhlal who, along with his wife Caroline , takes an active part in running the famed resort. Since Jean Bauchet’s days, Marrakech has become a magnet for the beautiful people, with no shortage of hotels, villas and restored riyads. Es Saadi remains the original and most authentic palace of them all – and a home from home to its loyal patrons. Whether you go there for a bit of celebrity spotting or for the poker tournament, or just to enjoy the gardens with their Olympic size pool, you are in for a special treat. The service at Es Saadi is simply incomparable; the atmosphere very special and additionally enhanced by the traditional Moroccan colours, hand crafted furniture and rugs; the ten private villas each an oasis within the oasis that the resort is. Whimsically named and individually decorated, each has its own garden and pool, as well as fabulous entertainment space and direct access to the hotel’s 3000 square metre spa within which is the Dior Istitute, one of only two in the world, the other being in Paris. Built by Moroccan master craftsmen, Le Palace itself has a number of suite options, from the junior suite to the deluxe senior. A unique feature of the executive suites is that you can choose your preferred décor: from light to dark to hand-painted wood. The suites are large – Junior Suite : 70 m², Executive : 80 m², and some have the capacity of being joined if you are a family – oozing that unmistakable oriental magic.
The Corner Suites, at 100-120 m2 with their furnished terraces, are designed in Italian style, each of them different from the other. The Deluxe Corner and Deluxe Senior Suites have spectacular views of the Atlas Mountains. Each of these stunning suites are furnished with unique pieces, both traditional and designer, to please all tastes.Silk and velvet sofas, Tadelakt walls and vast luxurious bathrooms invite you to immerse yourself in the experience that Marrakech is. The penthouse suites have double-width terraces and the panoramic views are nothing short of spectacular. All suites share a number of amenities in common, i.e. clef d’Or concierge service, open access to the Palace swimming pool and unlimited use of the hydrotherapy pathway and the Oriental Thermae® at the Es Saadi Palace Spa. Es Saadi offers traditional Moroccan hospitality in a truly palatial setting – a rare combination even for a destination such as Marrakech, already saturated with high end hotels. The octagonal lobby rising to a sculpted white cupola of a ceiling, the 20 acres of surrounding gardens with their tennis courts, Morocco’s biggest curvilinear pool complex and the amazing 3000 square meters spa with its Dior Institut, a 20-foot circular relaxation pool around a superb century-old eucalyptus tree, all combine to awe even the most jaded of travellers and presage an experience that is second to none.
Four Seasons Dubai Exceptional service
The B Beyond travel team visited the UAE recently and opted for staying at the Four Seasons Dubai. Those who travel regularly to the region know that it is not short of grand hotels boasting the full arsenal of stars.
o why the Four Seasons? Well, firstly because it is reliably consistent and consistent in terms of quality: quality of service, spa and dining experience; fantastic gardens, super comfortable beds. The FS Dubai has its own, cordoned-off private beach, something of a rarity and quite surreal among the skyscraper jungle. An army of pristinely clad staff spring at every corner offering to take care of your every need. The two open air swimming pools on each side of the short walk to the beach are very popular, not least because they allow you to pop in and out between air-conditioned areas and the outside heat with great ease. The scented trees fringing the garden path and the birds making the terrace their own complete the feeling of an enchanted oasis. The hotel also has an indoor pool, of course, as part of its vast and sublime spa. Suites are extremely spacious, with their own lounging balcony – if you don’t mind the heat. Alternating between the intense temperatures outdoors and the air-conditioned interiors is an experience in itself that we highly recommend. It’s akin to stepping in and out of a steam room, in fact.
The FS Dubai is decorated in grand traditional style – that is, mosaiced bathrooms, marbled floors, silk wall coverings and a subtle reminder of where it all began – art works depicting fishing and pearl diving boats. Lofty corridors, fabulous chandeliers everywhere, a palatial lobby, and great views across Dubai’s famous landscape set the tone. Breakfast is one of the highlights of a busy day and the FS never ceases to disappoint. From Arabic to Indian dishes to fabulous freshly squeezed juices and smoothies to every manner of smoked fish and cold meats, the vast breakfast room is a place to linger – if you have time. Our only regret was the absence of coconut water on day one – this, after all, is the home of the palm trees. I was nicely surprised, however, to receive a full container of it the following morning, personally presented by the restaurant manager. Service is by far the most attractive thing at all FS hotels and likely the reason why they draw in a loyal and perennial clientele worldwide. The Dubai hotel is no exception. Discreet multi-lingual staff are at hand at all times if you need them and nothing is ever too much trouble. Would you feel the need to leave the hotel for any reason other than business if you are in Dubai for a short time? Probably not.
A well-kept secret
vamizi island Imagine you have landed, Robin Crusoe-style, on a small island lost in the Indian Ocean, somewhere off the northern Mozambique coast. Now imagine someone has already built your hiding place there and installed a whole team of Man Fridays to look after you, your family and friends.
amizi is part of the Quirimbas Archipelago and was once a stopover port for Arab dhows that transported locally woven fabric, indigo, ivory, timber, manna (an edible gum) and turtle shells. Its tropical lushness, cyclone free waters and thriving trade attracted a sizeable Portuguese population who built a fort, wells and a church. Today, the island is a best-kept secret destination for barefoot luxury travellers who appreciate the adventure of getting there (by private charter planes from Dar es Salaam or Pemba), spotting giant rays and whales, reefs, sandbanks and mangrove forests on the way. The Private Villas are strung loosely along an impossibly pristine beach with azure waters and tropical forests, and represent a rare architectural blend of the island’s diverse history and culture. Above all, they offer an opportunity to experience the authentic wilderness of Africa as it should be, but in incomparable style and comfort. The temperature is pretty constant throughout the year (26°C - 30 °C) and the island’s low-lying position means it is protected from extreme weather.
Private Villa Collection The six private villas (Casamina, Casa Marjani, Papilio, Tartaruga, Suluwilo and Kipila) each have their own distinctive style but the thing that they all share is that seamless blend between indoor and outdoor space, enhancing the impression of communing with nature. Star and beach gazing towers, indoor gardens, Balinese style pitched roofs, hard timber decks, romantic pools and endless dining and lounging areas set among lush tropical greenery are the prevailing themes. Casamina has 6 bedrooms, one of which is in a tree-house while another has its own private study. In common with the other villas, it lies within 3 acres of forest and has access to a generous private beach, offering complete privacy. There are 2 separate children’s rooms, each with 2 sets of bunks, and a shared bathroom. The twin deck, split-level lounge/ cum dining area is open towards the ocean and leading to the swimming pool. We loved the thatched roof and use of drift wood to create an original coffee table.
The tower, inspired by the Portuguese lighthouse on Vamizi, and a signature feature of all the villas, offers spectacular views across the ocean. The handcrafted limestone walls provide the villa with its own distinct identity, as does the beautiful spiral staircase leading to the tree house. Casa Marjani has 5 bedrooms and is set within 4.7 acres of forest, with its own 130 metres beach. The master bedroom, with its elevated study, has not just spectacular views but its own private pocket beach as well. Bedroom 2 is also sea facing with a timber deck leading down to the beach. There are 2 children’s bedrooms set back into the forest, both with en-suite bathrooms, and a spectacular elevated ‘tree house’ bedroom with en-suite bathroom. The flowing indoor/outdoor space takes a new dimension here - under a palm thatch roof and with open sides, the lounge/dining area simply continues into lush and well-kept gardens accessed via hard timber decks. The mezzanine level provides an added level of intimacy if any were needed on the island.
Imagine swinging chairs, hammocks, a beach gazebo and the now familiar touch, a star-gazing tower with uninterrupted ocean views, and you will get the image of a perfect dream of a hideaway. Papilio is a 6 bedroom private villa, sleeping up to 16 adults and children. Set within 3 acres of forest and with 130 metres of pristine beach front. The ‘courtyard’ design of this villa makes it perfect both for smaller groups or large. There are 4 spacious en-suite double/twin rooms, each with their own private deck and living area, as well as a further 2 en-suite double/twin rooms built as “tree houses”, and accessed by a suspended walkway. The master suite has a large dressing room and generous living area. The other suites are spaciously located, giving them maximum privacy. The main living areas consist of a large dining area, and two large sitting rooms; one overlooking the beautiful pristine beach, and the other with a lovely open fire for
those cooler evenings after a day spent on the ocean – cards, backgammon, chess and other games are all available. The pool is set in a large hardwood terrace, with walkways linking it to the main bedrooms and the living area. On the beach itself is a shaded outside gazebo, providing a perfect place for lazy lunches with the soft sea breeze, or dinners with the moon shimmering off the nearby water. Outdoor table tennis, beach badminton and kayaks are available at the villa for guests. Facilities and activities Amazingly for such a remote island, the villas are equipped with Wi-Fi, Bose music systems and every modern high tech comfort imaginable. Drivers, private chefs and sundry hospitality and spa staff are at hand to take care of you so that you can immerse yourself in perfect relaxation and self-indulgence. No island experience would be complete without water sport activities and Vamizi does not disappoint on that
score either: the island has a long tradition in diving and deep sea fishing, and guests can avail themselves of an array of sailboats, paddle boards, kayaks and dhows. Another dimension of Vamizi is its strong conservation ethos. The island’s developers have a sense of the Vamizi’s importance as an area of outstanding biodiversity and a sanctuary for some of the most significant and threatened wildlife habitats in the western Indian Ocean. They run a number of conservation and community projects combining wildlife conservation with tourism and community development, as well as a marine sanctuary, turtle patrols, reef shark tagging, a primary school, a woman’s association, a community clinic and no fewer than four football teams. Vamizi Island is an Alliance Member of the Long Run Initiative, a leadership group established to create and support sustainable, ecologically and socially responsible projects and destinations around the world.
Quite apart from the raw unadulterated beauty of the African bush that surrounds it, the property oozes style, marrying effortlessly the vernacular (high woven straw ceilings) with the classical (massive hard wood furniture and wall panelling) and the contemporary (beautifully appointed, wellequipped kitchen and spacious bathrooms). The shared common areas include a traditional library and even a grand piano, along with various other music instruments. Pool, gardens and waterhole are pristine and the staff constantly a step ahead of guests to make their stay exceptionally comfortable and eminently memorable. Villa iZulu is one of the grandest and most immaculate safari villas in Africa.
Love of the game Thanda Private Game Reserve, located in KwaZulu Natal and meaning ‘love’ in isiZulu, was originally acquired by the Olofsson family who built Villa iZulu, initially as their private safari home.
oday, the Olofssons are among the leading conservationists and philanthropists in Africa, having re-populated what was once a cattle ranch with original wildlife species and created a foundation to educate, support and nurture local communities and culture. The spectacular 14 000 ha property offers game-viewing opportunities that are second to none, combined with staying in an ultra-luxury accommodation in vernacular design suites, tents and the private villa. The nine bush suites of the Thanda Safari Lodge are totally self-contained spaces of 220 m2, with incomparable views of the sprawling game reserve. They are built in traditional Zulu homestead style and offer an all round authentic experience. From the wooden deck and private plunge pool to the private boma where you can dine admiring the extraordinary African sunset, you are immersed in the continent’s intoxicating atmosphere from the moment you set foot at Thanda.
Under the thatched roofs are majestic bedrooms, egg-shaped bath tubs, grand fireplaces and spacious living rooms, all decorated with generic hard wood, beading and leather. The outdoor showers are in keeping with the true spirit of Africa. The common areas include a full library, wine cellar and cigar bar and a view of a game waterhole, with all the animals that have made it their own literally at your doorstep. The Thanda Spa is heavenly at the end of each activity-filled day and its menu includes some very original treatments based on a combination of western techniques and ancient Zulu holistic practices, learnt from traditional Zulu women, to massage, soothe and heal. Villa iZulu Those who yearn for total privacy have the option of renting Villa iZulu, a real gem within the Olofssons’ African reserve. The villa has five suites for up to ten guests, with the master bedroom featuring its own outdoor Jacuzzi.
ACTIVITIES But really, where Thanda comes truly into its own is how it curates the guests’ stay in Africa.The reserve employs some of the best guides and trackers in South Africa and offers two daily game drives, early morning and late afternoon. With guided bush walks, photography lessons, rare bird watching, or visiting a local Zulu community, you would never have time to get bored. Or you could spend some time with the Thanda Wildlife Conservation team, interact with elephants and, for a special thrill, visit the St Lucia Estuary (Africa’s largest coastal lagoon), with its hippo and croc population. Thanda is situated 23km north of Hluhluwe on the N2, towards Mkuze, approximately 220km north of Durban. It is the most perfect setting for romantic getaways, weddings with a Zulu twist (and a blessing by a local under a sacred Marula tree), and of course, for committed conservationists.
HUMANITARIAN WORK The Olofssons have embraced Africa and see the work of their foundation there as the most important project of their lives. Thanda is actively involved in conservation & wildlife research, while the Star for Life ‘Aids Free That’s Me’ is a HIV education and prevention programme supporting 100 000 scholars throughout South Africa and Namibia. Travellers with a social conscience would find the combination of fabulous scenery, abundant wildlife (not just the Big Five, but an array of smaller species too), utterly spoiling accommodation and a community benefit spirit impossible to resist. Thanda really does tug at anyone’s heart strings, in the special way that only Africa at its best can.
Konaditya House Ultra elegant
Konaditya House is an ultra elegant private villa on the South-Western coast of Bali, built on a large estate with 70 meters of beachfront giving onto the Indian Ocean. The location alone is magical: uninterrupted views across the vast water expanse, close to a gem of an authentic village, Cemagi, and just a half hour drive from bustling Seminyak with its trendy bars and eateries.
he villa comes complete with its own utterly blissful lotus pond and an organic garden supplying the professional kitchen. Konaditya is an architectural and design showpiece combining traditional Balinese style and authentic building materials with a strong contemporary vibe and all the facilities you would expect of a 5 star hotel. Yet, it is as intimate and unique as a private home. Its collection of Balinese art and crafts is a revelation and representative of the owners’ passion for travel and discerning eye. The villa is really a haven away from the tourist crowds that the island is notorious for drawing all the year round. Although it has just four en-suite bedrooms and two suites, it is equipped with a state of the art gym, a tennis court and massage and yoga rooms where guests
can try out alternative treatments offered by professional therapists. In fact, everything about Konaditya is on a scale consistent with a boutique hotel – even the 5 star trained staff that will pamper you into a state of perpetual Zen. The “media room” houses an extensive film library, while the book library doubles up as a billiards room too. There is also a small private office for guests who cannot leave work behind. The villa has a series of living spaces and a dining area, some more formal than the others, but all sporting the distinctive Balinese high ceilings and a feeling of lightness and space. With views towards gardens and pond, they contribute to the sense of serenity and wellbeing pervading this truly outstanding Balinese property. The villa’s heavy antique entrance door opens to spectacular grounds: five antique stone lingayoni, a veritable explosion of flowering white frangipanis, a riverside garden leading to the beach, replete with palms, flowering russellias,
jasmines, bougainvilleas, gingers, hibiscus... Best of all, the bedrooms overlook it all. The estate is also home to one of the oldest banyan trees on the island. The ocean-fronted infinity pool is simply fabulous, fringed as it is by palm trees and lush tropical plants. The guest rooms are scattered around the inner courtyard and overlooking the lotus pond, with the largest of them enjoying views of both river and sea. The two master suites, located at each end of the villa, open towards beach and ocean and offer fantastic views, as well as fabulous living space. All the rooms and suites are a feast for the eye with their distinctive art works and antiques, and a feast for the senses too with their outdoor bathrooms. Konaditya is a rare gem in Bali. It sleeps up to 15 and is eminently well suited to visitors with an appreciation for privacy, exquisite taste, a quirkiness that gives it atmosphere and superb service throughout.
WEIR HOUSE Green paradise
A private villa built on a hill amid lush rain forests and clove tree groves, Weir House is an exceptional Sri Lankan retreat.
Imagine waking up to the sound of the river and tropical gardens, having breakfast on your own veranda, watching the myriads of rare birds; then wandering down to the living room, with its 270 degree views; taking a stroll through the three main gardens and sampling some of the fruit or picking exotic plants;
there and justly gets rave reviews by every visitor. If this is your first visit to the island, you will be sampling Sri Lankan cuisine in great style. Breakfast is either western or local style but most visitors love the hoppers (Sri Lankan pancakes). Tea, coffee and juices are on tap,
of the Lord Buddha, the Paradeniya Botanical Gardens, Kitulgala (where you can ride the rapids of the Kelani River) or Adam’s Peak, famous for its giant footprint, considered sacred by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike. If you need a driver/guide to explore the
relaxing in the shallow pool with its Jacuzzi... Sri Lanka can be heavenly, but it doesn’t come any more heavenly than this. Should you get a little restless, you can explore the estate uphill and would be rewarded with a visit to the Weir House’s own pepper and coffee plantation, as well as the herb and vegetable garden. These supply the kitchens of the villa which has its own resident chef, Lesley. The food at Weir House is quite simply superb. It is one of the finer points of staying
which is a great and much appreciated touch. Should you wish to try your hand at cooking, there are plentiful supplies in the house kitchen, all coming from the local market. Most people come to Weir House to enjoy all it has to offer – the rare luxury of solitude; a sense of wilderness tempered by sublime comfort; great food - and hardly ever feel the need to leave the grounds. If you do decide to explore further afield, however, you would love Kandy and Dalada Maligawa, the ancient royal palace that now houses the sacred tooth relic
island, The Weir House will make available a separate section to accommodate them. So well appointed the house is and so obliging the staff, in fact, that the villa has become a destination in its own right. The spell-binding location, the enchanted tropical gardens and the villa’s very remoteness all exude the kind of special magic that separates the merely luxurious from the memorable.
he 6-acre property has a small river running through it and is as idyllic as the most perfect movie set, yet secluded and private. It is, in fact, a private home that the owners make available to rent in its entirety when they are not using it themselves. A stylish architect-designed villa, it would delight those who want to escape the easy kitsch and tourist crowds of mainstream resorts. The living areas are spacious and uncluttered, the 4 bedroom suites exquisitely designed and maintained. Each suite is named after a particular local spice or flower: Gammiris (pepper), Kurundu (cinnamon), Karabu (clove) and Halyconia (a flower grown in the gardens). The Halyconia suite is so large, it can sleep up to four, making the villa perfect for families or friends. The en-suite bathrooms are ecologically friendly, powered as they are by solar panels.
Petit Amour Villa Jewel on the Seychelles
Living fully up to its name, Petit Amour Villa is an exquisite jewel in the Seychelles, on the north-western side of the island of Mahé. Close to some of the most spectacular beaches in the world, this is an elevated 7500 sq ft property with 4 individually and distinctively designed bedroom suites, allowing for total privacy and a tailored holiday experience that would be appreciated by those who steer clear of the soulless uniformity of hotel chains.
ach air-conditioned villa suite has its own balcony or terrace with exceptional views over the bay and towards the bustling areas of Bel Ombre, Beau Vallon and Glacis, with their world class restaurants. The villa itself is elegance personified, with a largely open plan space on the ground floor, where marble and wood interact to create an atmosphere of opulence. The contemporary kitchen, with its breakfast area, overlooks the ocean, providing a feast for the eyes and for the soul first thing in the morning. There is a dedicated sitting room on the next floor, with enough high tech equipment, music and movies to keep you busy during those lazy stay-at-home days and evenings. What makes staying at Villa Petit Amour an absolute delight, however, is the highly individual, and discreet, service provided by the resident staff: a butler (who greets you on arrival at the airport), a chef (preparing outstanding meals with the freshest produce) both supported by a waiting and housekeeping team. Repeat visitors rave about the hospitality, in fact, just as much as they love the villa itself.
Activities The Seychelles have a richly deserved reputation for having some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. The villa staff are happy to organise just about any water sports activity you fancy, including scuba diving, snorkelling , fishing or boat charter. There are three diving clubs in the Beau Vallon area and if you have always wanted to try scuba, this is the one place in the world where you should. The sea fauna is remarkable for its beauty and variety. Some of the other treats on offer at Petit Amour are daily massages, nutrition advice and healthy meals, yoga, an in-house gym, a personal trainer and early morning swims in the Indian Ocean. And if that’s not enough, should you decide to get married in the Seychelles, you can do it right there at Villa Petit Amour. The property is a fully licensed wedding venue and the staff take care of all admin and logistics, allowing you to bask in the happiness of your most special moment. Honeymooners value it as a perfect escape in a picture postcard setting that offers the exact amount of either seclusion or excitement they can possibly wish for. We guarantee, in fact, that you would fall in love with Villa Petit Amour if you are Seychelles-bound.
Villa Sungai River house
On Bali’s southwest coast the picturesque village of Cepaka, a preserve for the best of traditional life on the island, winds its way north to south. Between old temples and quaint houses, along quiet lanes lined with giant palm trees, vibrant frangipanis and scented tuberoses bloom. Rice paddies ripple outwards from Cepaka, and seem to meld into the tropical jungle that shimmers emerald in the sunlight.
t the heart of this seemingly still place, above what is nevertheless a lively and bustling scene, runs a small river secluded within its own lush arbor. On its canopied banks is the aptly named Villa Sungai. The Malay word simply means ‘river’, but the Sungai team hopes that it becomes a metaphor for the rich journey in places; in sense; and even of the self in such luxuriousness. A kind of spiritualism if you will - though not merely that found by American divorcées on their bicycles. The retreat is comprised of the eponymous, threesuite villa and the two-suite Sungai Gold. One can reserve both lodgings, collectively termed the Sungai Platinum Residence, for up to 17 guests to experience the comforts of a private idyll. While the thatched roofs and the verdant backdrop might suggest a rustic theme, still in some romantic past, Villa Sungai is so much more.
White-washed teak furniture and a ‘chic khaki’ decor demonstrate a worldly elegance, simultaneously comforting and alluring. Both villas have their own pool of course, the waters appearing to drop into the jungle below as in some magical scene. Villa Sungai is more than just a scenic residence, however, and prides itself on a highly professional and personal service. From your first arrival on Bali, where the airport butler and chauffeured transfer await, an impressive complement of staff will attend to your needs throughout your stay. Whether you desire to be intimately pampered, or to simply lounge in idle luxury, the Villa Sungai team is on hand to fulfill your wishes and needs. Though a stay at Villa Sungai might feel like a world of its own, some of the best known places on the island are easily explored. The Canggu beaches, renowned for surfing in particular, are just a ten minutes drive away. The capital and business centre, Denpasar is an hour drive. The tourist hubs Seminyak and Ubud are much closer. Indeed, Cepaka is a curiously tranquil spot in the ebb and flow of Bali’s hustle and bustle.
Once you have feasted your eyes on the beautiful surroundings, you can follow suit with Villa Sungai’s culinary delights. Serious foodies will be tantalised by contemporary south-east Asian cuisine and Indonesian specialties, using only the freshest local ingredients. A veritable banquet of aromas and flavours awaits, with mouth-watering dishes such as crab, coconut and kaffir lime on betel leaves; crisp fish, green mango and roasted coconut salad; Balinese lamb stew with yellow rice; and lemongrass and palm sugar panna cotta with orange and chilli caramel. No stay at Villa Sungai is complete without experiencing the range of body treatments and yoga classes from the spa. Sublime massages, therapeutic skin care, and traditional Balinese healing therapies at the hands of Sungai’s talented therapists will create a sense of perfect well-being. And when you want to simply lavish your body, Villa Sungai offers traditional Balinese baths, scrubs and wraps, and other beauty treatments - all using natural and organic products - from the comfort of your own poolside domain.
galle fort hotel
A world within a world, an experience like no other… call us what you will; but call, stop by, stay… you may never want to leave. The Galle Fort, Sri Lanka, is a marvellous melange of Dutch, British and Sri Lankan architectural and cultural history. With fewer than 200 homes inside its 17th-century ramparts, it is also an intimate, even romantic destination.
ne of the most exceptional buildings is also its first port-of-call for luxury hospitality - the Galle Fort Hotel. One of the grand mansions of the fort, this remarkable building has been many things to throughout its history: a gem merchant’s mansion, an RAF barracks, a lapidary and more. Today, the hotel is quintessential Galle - a beautiful, eclectic, eccentric treasure in a town which has a magnetic appeal for history and culture afficionados the world over. With foundations dating back over three centuries, the property was originally a Dutch mansion and warehouse; the extant 18th century doors and windows on the building’s façade are perhaps the best examples of their kind within the Fort. A regency top floor was added during the British era when the house was refashioned for the Maccan Markars, a renowned family of gem merchants. Along with a grand Palladian colonnade, a ceremonial entrance arch was installed, which, to this day, never fails to amaze.
Rescued from neglect and decay, and painstakingly restored in 2003, the property retains a praiseworthy historical authenticity and value. In 2007 UNESCO awarded the hotel the Asia Pacific Heritage Award of Distinction, calling it “a masterpiece of cultural heritage and conservation”. The restoration of the property created a benchmark for similar projects within the Fort, and is still exemplary today. In the decade following its brilliant restoration, this 14 suite boutique hotel has gained a world-class reputation for offering a singular experience to its guests. It pays homage to Galle’s cultural and aesthetic milieau, while offering beautiful surroundings and a delectable cuisine - complemented by an excellent standard of service. From the cosy Garden Rooms, just for two, along the frangipani scented courtyard, to the sophisticated, opulent Grand Apartments; there is a room to meet any traveller’s desire, that is ‘just so’. The Porcelain room, named for the 19th century blue and white porcelain plates that adorn one of its walls, evokes the height of colonial splendour and luxury. Alternately the Cheng Ho suite, a tribute to the 15th century eunuch admiral of the Chinese ‘Treasure Fleet’, references South East Asian high culture in its appointments. The Count de Mauny-Talvande room, named for an explorer
of chequered history and designer of the room, is a penthouse suite of unbridled taste, creativity and ardor. The hotel bar-restaurant, where one can find their bearings over a cocktail, is an ideal place to meet interesting people and fellow explorers beneath its high ceilings and grand archways. In the evening a relaxed atmosphere, over a candle-lit dinner, feels like an experience of a bygone, classic era. In Galle, fresh produce and seafood are available in abundance all year round; but the area is known particularly for its lobster and jumbo prawns. The hotel’s draws inspiration, both philosophically and delectably, from the historical Spice Road. With a dizzying variety of fresh produce, skillfully prepared in the equally numerous dishes, the food here is truly a journey - of discovery and of culinary inspiration. One starts the day among the hotel’s wide verandas and its colonnaded court, a subtle sense of colonial grandeur. The inner courtyard is for lazy days under the sun and the pool ideally located for a midday break. Navigate Galle, and meander along the historic walls as the sun passes once again over this old, yet still vibrant bastion. The Galle Fort Hotel a fusion of Galle’s own multifaceted culture, old school class and the best comforts of modern hospitality. In short, it is both unmissable and unforgettable.
la villa La Villa in Pondicherry, India, is a restoration project that has been carried out with unerring taste and with great flair for its rich colonial past.
ondicherry itself is a coastal town with an unusual architectural history combining elements of Dutch, Portuguese, British and French rule, with some fine examples of elegant 19th century villas that have survived, if only just, to present day. The area attracts high value investors because it is far removed from the typical garishness, noise, congestion and crowds associated with the country in general. It is, in fact, as restrained and chic as a first class European resort. LA VILLA is one of two properties restored and re-purposed as an ultra-cool single occupancy villa and a boutique hotel respectively by a small team consisting of Indian-born, Paris-based entrepreneur Sylvain Paquiry and architects Tina Trigala and Yves Lesprit. The team have quite literally given a new lease of life to the properties, all the while keeping true to the architectural and cultural heritage of Pondicherry.
They have also given a new lease of life to every manner of artisanal activity there by employing craftsmen working with ancient bricks, lime plaster and coloured cement; re-purposing old timber and cotton fabric to create custom furniture and stationery; commissioning hand-made tiles and a wealth of handicraft decorative items; training and employing local people to staff the villas. The integration with the natural environment is on a whole different level here while the dialogue between ancient and contemporary is an elegant and seamless re-interpretation of Pondicherry’s colonial past. Each of the six suites is different with the décor harkening to bygone days when luxury meant authenticity and quality rather than the ubiquitous all mod cons and hotel chain-trained staff. The design is classic and uncluttered, with large airy spaces, underscored by
white-washed walls that provide an elegant counterpoint to the dark reclaimed timber used to make some very original pieces of furniture. The vernacular fabrics and fine porcelain add splashes of colour. LA VILLA has its swimming pool, of course – again, clean, unfussy lines, leaving the beautiful gardens around it to thrill the eye. It is impossible to overstate the timeless sophistication of the place, but if that isn’t quite enough, the owners have built in an interesting menu of possibilities. Visitors can, for example, watch how the tiles for the property are made - a fascinating journey into true handicraft techniques - or visit the local facility where waste cotton cloth is turned into exquisite marbled card
boxes and personalised stationery. Some of these items are available in LA VILLA’s “Ideas” shop. The development of the two properties represents an interesting business model of sustainability and of repurposing, sensitively and imaginatively, old buildings. Preserving the architectural heritage is a worthy goal in and out of itself. Reviving artisanal culture at its best is another. Creating an artful fusion of old and new for generations of discerning visitors to enjoy and appreciate must surely be uniquely rewarding. LA VILLA is located some 140 km/3 hours drive from Chennai airport (Madras) and transportation is provided on request.
If you are a whisky drinker, head for The Den. The owners have made a real effort to outsource an astonishing selection of single cask and single malt whiskies from literally all round the world. In terms of atmosphere, the Den is the ultimate in cool with more than a touch of decadence – there aren’t, after all, many places left where you can enjoy a cigar of your choice without paying lip service to political correctness.
MacalistEr Mansion A joint project of fellow Penangites and restaurateurs, Dato Sean and Datin Karen, Macalister Mansion is a concept hotel combining the nostalgic allure of a stunning historical mansion with contemporary quality design and features, further contextualised and enhanced by specially commissioned works of art.
he distinctly British quirkiness of the mansion is a reference ( if one were needed) and a lasting tribute to Sir Norman Macalister, one of the first British Governors of Penang (then known as Prince of Wales Island) from 1808 – 1810. Located in the heart of Georgetown, Penang, this boutique hotel offers a club-like atmosphere with its cigar and rare whiskies room (“the Den”), a world class gourmet restaurant, a beautiful garden with its swimming pool, and eight suites. This club-like (or grand home if you prefer) atmosphere is carried over to the Living room, a great space to socialise and sample the vast selection of TWG teas. The dining room is a sophisticated affair, not least because of its impressive wine list. The menu is innovative and offers what is, quite probably, the best dining experience in Penang. Given the city’s reputation for gastronomy, this is no mean feat. Macalister Mansion has its own cellar and boasts a wide selection of wine in Penang. A number of the wines are offered by the glass and if you are a wine buff, this is the perfect place to start or/and end your evening.
The Suites Suite 1, known as the bridal suite is a 53 m2 space with its own dressing area which has, appropriately enough, floor to ceiling mirrors. A love sonnet above the bed is decidedly Shakespearean and has been specially commissioned for this purpose. Equally appropriate is the vast king size bed with its goose down pillows. No other hotel in the world (that we know of, anyway) has an entire pillow menu, a signature of Macalister Mansion. This gives you an idea of how seriously sleeping comfort is taken there. Suite 2 is a 52sqm of bedroom and living space with an adjoining bathroom suite. If four poster beds is your thing, this is the suite for you. The view is of the swimming pool and lawn and the art piece selected for the suite is a privately commissioned photograph by Howard Tan, a local Penang photographer. Suite 3 is the largest in the property, a staggering 60 m2, with its original wrought-iron balcony overlooking the grounds of the mansion. Another privately commissioned work, by Lee Meiling, a Malaysian artist based in Singapore, has been selected there. The piece is a fabric collage of the front façade of Macalister Mansion. Suite 4 is rather special because it is in the turret of the mansion. The original wrought-iron spiral staircase in the alcove leads all the way to the top
and makes you feel as “the king of the castle”. Its charm is unbeatable, enhanced by a wire sculpture by Low Chee Peng, a local Penang artist, showing side profiles of Sir Norman Macalister and his wife. Suite 4 is adjoined to Suite 5, the only twin room in the property. It has a dedicated study and art and design pieces from all around the globe. Suite 6 is a 40sqm space split between bedroom and living space with an adjoining bathroom suite. With views to the lawn, it has a stunning ‘Sailing the Celestial Sea’ art work by Indonesian artist Albert Yonathan with hand-casted porcelain ships and is inspired by the sea voyages of Sir Norman Macalister. Suite 7 is a 51sqm of bedroom and living space with its own study area and views of swimming pool and main entrance. The textile piece in the study by Grace Tan is called the Tartan Cube and represents a contemporary take on the original tartan colours from the Macalister clan in Scotland. Finally, Suite 8 features exposed truss beams, a flashback to the original 1900s building and an art work by Malaysian based artist Thomas Powell that features key events of the life and times of Sir Norman Macalister. All of the suites have complimentary WiFi and snacks and drinks, Nespresso Coffee machines, an electric kettle, a personal safe and a Bang & Olufsen BeoSound System. Bathrooms are outstanding in terms of space and comfort and all visitors without exception describe them as nothing less than “incredible”. That’s endorsement for you! Macalister Mansion part of Heritage Redefined, owner Dato Sean’s initiative to regenerate and repurpose historic colonial buildings. It is remarkable in terms of scale of the project and attention to detail and well worth making the trip to Malaysia for.
Luxury... and more
Ambalama Ambalama, a “resting place” in Singhalese, is a wellchosen name for the eponymous villa in Galle, Sri Lanka, although we reckon “restful” is more apt. Resting in style, with the ocean and beach quite literally in your front yard, at one of the most exotic locations in the world may encapsulate the spirit of the place but cannot begin to do it justice fully, so read on.
esigned by the late Bruce Fell-Smith, the villa was conceived to transcend the
boundaries between interior and exterior space and this architectural fluidity is carried over to
and the mesmerising surf just beyond. Galle, of course, is a short tuk-tuk ride away, should you wish to indulge in some shopping expeditions. Apart from the delights of Galle, the area has a
the infinity pool and outdoor showers, one of the
great deal to offer by way of blue whale watching
greatest pleasures in a tropical climate.
(Sri Lanka is one of only two places in the world
It is further enhanced by nature itself, which
where they are still sighted), surfing and diving,
provides uniquely memorable sightings of turtles
visiting the numerous spice plantations and food
hatching their eggs right by the property.
markets, marvelling at the “stick fishermen” or at
The villa itself is airy and spacious, all lofty ceilings and antique furniture, yet very private, consisting of just four bedroom suites, all of which look over the ocean (the views are, after all, to die for and the reason why you are on the island in the first place). As you enter the grounds of the property, you are immediately enchanted by a small walkway crossing a pond that leads into an elegantly decorated and furnished living space, open on three sides. The sound of the beach waves sets the tone for your entire stay. The Suites Imagine king size four poster beds made of exotic dark timber, covered with crisp linen sheets and protected by mosquito netting voiles; imagine high ceiling fans (although the suites are also fully air-conditioned); imagine double doors leading onto manicured terraces and towards the sea... Imagine your very private outdoor shower, in addition to the en-suite bathroom... Imagine the ocean breeze and spectacular scenery...
the leopards in Yala National Park. But what really makes Ambalama the outstanding destination that it is, are the people who work there. Roshan, the resident chef, would fit into any Michelin top notch establishment. Accompanying him on trips to the local fish and spice market is an experience in its own right. Sampling his amazing range of creations is another. Roshan is, by all accounts, a versatile cook who would rise to any on-demand request. One of the greatest things about Ambalama is the daily food credit facility which allows you to select and purchase what you want to eat at cost. You might fancy the catch of the day, BBQd on the beach. Or a local speciality, as elaborate as they come... Nothing is too much trouble for the dedicated team who take care of visitors’ every wish with warm Sri Lankan service and hospitality. And when your day is done, simply relax by the pool and watch the spectacular sunset the island is famous for. Or opt for the Sri Lankan massage in your suite and dream of your next day in paradise. Ambalama is so perfect, many choose to take their wedding vows there. The romantic appeal
Much more Ambalama is all of that and much more.
of the place cannot be overestimated. It offers an all round pampering experience
The artistically decorated living and dining area
that indulges all the senses at once and makes
leads to the infinity swimming pool, the lush
you wish you would never leave. No wonder its
gardens, the great Ambalama for sunset drinks
been described as “a little piece of paradise.”
Four Rivers Floating Lodge Jungle hideaway
Cambodia, putting to rest its difficult past, is now a thriving tourist destination - and promises more to come in the future. Away from Phnom Penh, away from the popular trails, there is a place of blooming forests and unspolit culture.
hanks in part to the legacy of the civil war, the Cardamom mountains are home to luscious and fragrant flowers, the vibrant colours and calls of birds of paradise, and prowling jungle animals. This ecological hideaway, with its perfumed atmosphere of peace and quiet, is home to a boutique, environmentally friendly resort that captures the imagination with its luxury facilities and opportunities to explore this land of paradise. The 4 Rivers Floating Lodge is the kind of place where you forget all the cares and concerns of modern life, where you forget having been anywhere else in fact. With its origins in the safari veldt of Africa’s game parks, each of the lodge’s 12 double and twin-bed tented villas, at 45sqm each, is a modern wonder. Secluded within these palatial residences, cocooned in comfort and spoilt by the best furnishings and decoration available, one can experience a very special form of hospitality. Not that flatscreen television and surround sound will be any match for what you will witness from your spacious sun-lounger balcony, where you can enjoy a snack or cocktail in complete solitude. Start your day waking up to a vista of the Cardamom mountains. As the mist clears over the water, there is little to disturb the natural calm other than the plop and splash of a feeding fish, the startled cry of a far-off bird and the growl of a predator returning home after a kill.
Everything, from breakfast to a haute cuisine dinner, to a barbeque are prepared from fresh produce bought at the local markets. Every meal is expertly prepared by a team of chefs in a purpose-built kitchen. Western and Southeast Asian foods are a speciality, however there a wide selection of culinary offerings from around the world - complemented by the sommelier’s range of wines and spirits from an accomplished cellar. And as the clock ticks on, lounge by the restaurant and enjoy the majestic colours of the setting sun. Or treat oneself with a refreshing dip in the river. As you stroll through the fragrant forest the stillness is broken only by the roaring Tatai river, as water cascades and crashes into a gorge 12ft below. In the dry season, one can wade out into the gently rolling stream and dive into the depths below. Though the 4 Rivers Floating Lodge is a marvel in itself, perhaps the most amazing part of the experience is the sheer number of opportunities to explore this isolated, fantastical part of the world. Their philosophy is to simply spoil their guests for choice - and it is very easy to resist the temptation to stay in the comfort of your tent. Rich in natural beauty, Tatai River is the highway of the Cardamoms and Southeast Asia’s largest coastal mangrove. Kayak downriver with an experienced local guide, through the mangrove waterways that lead into the jungle. Indulge in a hydro massage courtesy of the majestic Tatai Waterfalls; team up with the local fishermen, and try your hand at fishing for your supper; or snuggle up with someone special during the Sunset Cruise. Venturing further afield, trekking tours offer the chance to discover the customs, beliefs and natural cures of the inhabitants of the Cardamom Mountains and its forests. The lush slopes are also the perfect hiding place for all manner of animals, most famously the Javan rhinoceros, Indochinese tiger and Asian elephant. Siamese crocodiles, once thought extinct, have also been seen in the rivers that criss-cross this haven. This remarkable rainforest ecoregion is thought to harbour more than 100 mammal species, many of them endangered: the clouded leopard, pileated gibbon and Malaysian sun bear to name a few. The resident birdlife is estimated at a staggering 553-plus species, making this a dream come true for bird watchers. Storks and cranes wade through the wetlands, song birds love its wooded slopes and the brahminy kite hovers overhead on the hunt. Among the rarest of sightings are the silver oriole and the great hornbill, thought to be on the brink of extinction.
telunas private island A perfect spot
Telunas Private Island was developed by three college friends who had a classic epiphany moment when they landed on the island’s beach during a trip to Indonesia some 15 years ago.
lassic, because most of us have dreamt of creating an idyllic tropical retreat. The vast majority, however, know it’s just a dream, discarded with a tinge of regret once we leave our “perfect spot” behind.
“This is our beach… let’s buy it and get started!” The group had no hospitality training, but compensated for it with a very clear vision of what they wanted to achieve: an inspired and inspirational resort that focused on experiencing local culture and involving the local community. The 15 private island villas were built in 2014 on the water itself – Malay-style on stilts - harnessing nature’s air conditioning power, the sea breeze. Each 90 m2 space consists of a sitting room, private balcony, king size bed, and a children’s loft. The villas are spacious and airy and furnishings are made, rather originally, of recycled wood from old fishing boats. As you can imagine, the views from the verandas are absolutely spectacular, both across the horizon and observing the sea fauna below. Telunas is just 50 km from Singapore, but feels like a
world apart – because it is. It was conceived to feel like a private home and it does: from the moment you step on the beach, you are welcomed with a refreshing drink and taken to your slice of paradise. We all have a different definition of paradise, but disconnecting from our super-busy lifestyles has become a luxury for some, a necessity for others. The absence of Wi-Fi on the island means you can instead reconnect with family, friends, nature, God, or just your inner self, and enjoy the singular pleasures of paddle-boarding, kayaking, jungle-trekking, discovering deserted beaches, experiencing simple village life and sampling the freshest of foods. Or you can simply take it easy and relax by the infinity pool, enjoying an Indonesian massage on your veranda, selecting from a vast Kindle book menu (an inspired touch, this!) and having a romantic sunset dinner by the ocean or in your own villa – on the sea. Island guests can also hop on the resident boat and explore further activities across the cove at Telunas Beach (the other resort that forms part of the same property) and the surrounding area.
Telunas Private Island wouldn’t be what it is without the staff, though. The owners recruit and train local Malay people, in line with their entire philosophy of being part of the community, and this has paid off handsome dividends as all visitors without exception rave about the service. From the moment of boarding the resort’s own boat to the moment of arrival and throughout the stay, guests are pampered with a highly personalised service. Telunas provides an exceptional introduction to the Riau Islands and Indonesian island architecture, culture and cuisine. Its proximity to ultra-modern, ultra-busy Singapore is all the more appealing as it reminds us that there is life beyond work, social media and TV/computer screens. It’s the kind of life most of us are in danger of forgetting, but desperately need for our sanity of body and spirit.
PETTER STORDALEN “He moves a lot when he talks”, observed Dag Knudsen, the photographer tasked with the shoot and boy, did he move! Illustrating major points of his story, or just emphasising something he felts strongly about, he punched the air with his fists and only sat still on special request.
is personal and corporate stories are intertwined and infused with drama aplenty, and would likely make a fine Hollywood movie some day. He is already a hugely prominent individual throughout Scandinavia and is busy establishing a global presence as an environmentalist. So who is Petter Stordalen? Humble beginnings and ‘The Strawberry Effect’ One of 4 children born to a Porsgrunn, Norway grocer, he says he was supposed to take over his father’s store (in the family for a third generation). The store was his life and he also loved selling on the local market. He made the local newspaper news when he was still in his teens – for being ‘the best strawberry seller in Norway’, an exaggeration, he says. ‘Why and how were you the best?’, I ask him. ‘I had the necessary energy and guts. But you also need to love what you do and I loved selling strawberries. If you love what you to do, you will achieve success, even if you fail from time to time – because success is built on a succession of failures.’ When he complained to his father about the quality of the strawberries, the advice, ‘sell the strawberries, they are the only ones you’ve got’ impressed itself on him sufficiently to become a guiding principle in life: make the best of what you have and don’t complain about what you don’t have. ‘That’, he says, ‘is how and why I became the youngest manager of the City Syd shopping centre in Trondheim.’ ‘I took over Steen & Strøm (a historic department store in downtown Oslo, regarded Norway’s equivalent to Harrod’s in London) at 30 and got fired in 1996, having turned it into a huge success.’ Stordalen’s falling out with Stein Erik Hagen, the company’s largest shareholder at the time, is well documented. Stordalen was the CEO but, he says, Hagen didn’t like his strategy and probably didn’t like him either.
‘I felt it was my company, I had built it up, yet I left with nothing, but a few stock options.’ ‘Mike Tyson said one smart thing: Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.’ ‘At that time, in the summer of 1996, I was punched in the face – I was knocked down. I was sitting thinking, what do I do next? I’d been there, done that, it was time to try something different. ‘So, I thought, ‘hotels’. How much did I know about hotels? Nothing, nothing at all, but I love people and I love culture, and hotel business is about people, so it should be easy.’ ‘When people ask me what my motivation was, if I am honest, the only motivation in the summer of 96, was REVENGE! I wanted Revenge! I thought, ‘I’ll be back but with a brand new company.’ ‘I had a little money from my severance pay and a few stock options that I sold. I took it all and put it into this hotel that had gone into bankruptcy, in a small town close to where I was born. I had been invited to this conference where everyone thought I was going to talk about shopping centres. Instead, I told them about this hotel and how I would build the biggest hotel company in Norway. When people started to laugh I said, ‘I will build the biggest one in Scandinavia’. I had to literally carry people out of the conference room, they were laughing so much. Then one guy asked me during the Q&A session: ‘Petter, how many hotels do you have?’ ‘ONE, I HAVE ONE! I bought it yesterday!’ ‘From then on, two months after I’d been fired, I added one hotel every second week and 50 employees every 15 days and built a hotel chain in less than 3 years. The secret? Energy, guts and enthusiasm!’ ‘It can’t be just that’, I say. ‘Building a business is like mud wrestling in the street’, he says. ‘You have to fight and sometimes you have to fight rough. I don’t regret anything, though - I’d do it all over again.' ‘In 16 years I have leased, bought, sold and franchised everything from 5 star hotels to B&Bs. I like
to own the big properties and lease the others. I also own the best spas in Norway.’ My Favourite Wife’ You would expect this kind of rugged determination to transfer over to a man’s private life too and in this man’s case, you would be right on the money. Stordalen was divorced, with three children and a committed bachelor when he set eyes upon Gunhild, his second wife, at a party in Southern Norway. The way he tells the story is mesmeric and I can well imagine how his style of wooing would have proved irresistible with just about any woman. He had sworn his best friend to tell him off if he ever decided to marry again and even promised him the pick of his art collection – any work he chose if he took the plunge again. ‘So, I am at a party in the south of Norway, standing there, and suddenly I see this girl – tall, beautiful, blonde, in 16cm Louboutin heels – she is 175 without heels and I am 171 - and I thought, ‘she looks beautiful!’. We talked and later, I told my friend that she was special - she was different. The only problem was, she was in a relationship. I worked for two years just to get a first date. She thought I was just a rich playboy and she didn’t want to date me. But when her relationship ended I told her ‘you have to give me one chance, just one dinner’. Gunhild challenged him to a race. If he beat her running round a track, she would agree to a dinner – except Stordalen had a better prize in mind. He was going to the wedding of his best friend in Finland two weeks later and wanted her to go along with him as his ‘secret fiancee’. She’d been running every day for the last 10 years, so she was confident enough to agree the terms. Stordalen must have been pretty confident too, because he promptly called the mother of his soon to be married best friend and informed her he was engaged but this had to be a secret because of the
media. The hostess not only insisted they come together, she said they had to sit next to each other at the reception, which was his game plan all along. ‘How did you know you’d win the race?’, I ask. ‘I didn’t know. She was fast and like a gazelle, but something in my head told me,’ this is your chance’. I am not very competitive but I am a man, so at one turn I overtook her, shouting ‘what’s the matter, are you out of breath?’ This seemed to zap her.’ ‘So we had dinner at my house. This was THE date of my life, so I had taken care of every detail: I’d checked and knew she liked sushi; I had flowers everywhere; a matching shirt; a table overlooking the fjords… She was coming up the stairs, oblivious of it all. She didn’t care. As far as she was concerned, it was to my disadvantage to have a big house with a big carbon footprint. Nor did she care about the art. We had some wine, we danced. I have this DJ friend who is the Norwegian Simon Cole, who had prepared different lists of music for the occasion. It was the seduction date of all times. She had to come with me to the wedding and the rest is history.’ Stordalen is both democratic and generous when it comes to his extended family. He has been taking a Mauritius vacation for 15 years to which he invites not only his ex-wife and children but everybody’s current and former boyfriends/girlfriends – even his mothers in law making it a party of some 40 people. Does he need fine diplomacy to manage them? It’s not quite Gaza, he tells me with a twinkle in the eye, they all get on fine. The Art Dimension Petter Stordalen is different from all art collectors I have ever met for one simple reason: he does not call himself an art collector in spite of the considerable collection he has built over time. When I ask why that is, he says that for starters, it sounds too pretentious (one thing you could never accuse Stordalen of is pretention). He also says that true collectors study their subject, whereas he collects with his heart. Many would prefer the latter definition for a true collector, but I let it pass because I want to hear how he started. ‘I started with buying boring art’, he says in his direct fashion, ‘Norwegian fjords, houses – just to decorate my house. Then, I decided, I am done. I took everything out, I redecorated and bought art with my soul and my heart. The first ‘real’ work I bought was by the American artist Ross Bleckner and this is still at my house. After that, I bought everything I liked. It didn’t need to be works by famous artists – just works that I wanted on my walls. I bought from galleries, through friends, on trips… I started to think about art in hotels. Most hotels acquire art that
is meant to blend with the general colour scheme (I used to get requests from my team, asking ‘Peter, can you buy something in blue to match the cushions?’). For me that’s totally wrong.’ One day I was at home and got a call from the manager of a new restaurant we had just opened. The restaurant was a huge success, so I was surprised that a customer had complained. I told the manager to deal with it. Why call me? The manager said the customer was Sune Nordgren, the then head of the National Museum, who apparently said he could not eat at the restaurant because he couldn’t bear to look at the art. Given this was the most important art guy in Norway, I said, OK, I’ll take a meeting. 'This is how our relationship began - I asked him there and then to source out works of art for me. He changed my views on art - he took me to NY and to Rome to meet artists. We went to some crazy places. In one gallery the only work of art was a large mud installation. Another art studio had nothing but candles in different colours. When you lit them and let them burn out, all the different colours would blend and you would get a unique palette. I thought, ‘are you kidding me, I could make this myself’. At some stage Sune left the National Gallery and I asked him if he would come and work as my art adviser. We started to select art for the hotels and we developed a strategy. The art would be provocative henceforth.’ ‘Do you see the installation of the 3 Somali sisters (restaurant of The Thief hotel)? It’s by the Norwegian artist Charlotte Thiis-Evensen. It depicts the girls deciding whether to wear the hijab or not – an important decision because whatever that decision may be, it has its consequences for life. I liked it from the start and if others find it too provocative, that’s their problem. After all, if you have an art hotel, it has to be something totally different, the art has to challenge the viewer, it has to stand out.’ ‘We had been looking at different locations for an art hotel and when we found this one for The Thief, I said forget all of your preconceptions about how a hotel should be decorated. I am a sponsor of the Oslo museum for contemporary art (the Astrup Fearnley Museum) which allows us access to the museum’s art library. I selected two pieces to loan from the museum: The Horse Thief by Richard Prince and the Anthony Gormley sculpture of a man bent over in prayer. It is important that people are able to see these works in public spaces other than museums.’ ‘We next decided to have unique art in every room and commissioned Sir Peter Blake to produce some work for the Oslo suite. We also have the Apparatjik Suite which is an art work in its entirety made by Apparatjik,
an international group of artists and musicians, on a disco theme. We are constantly discussing more suites on different themes. The Thief redefined, in a way, hotel art or an art hotel.’ ‘I don’t want my art collection to be stored. I occasionally worry about people handling the works or even stealing them, but people don’t steal art – if they nick something, it would be a lamp or something like that.’ ‘What we now do is more directional. For example, we are planning to use Jaume Plensa’s head sculptures for all our hotels across Scandinavia so that you know immediately it’s one of my hotels when you see these giant headsoutside. I have one outside of my house – it’s a huge sitting Buddha that changes colours at night. I had some complaints from neighbours at first but when I told them it was Sune Nordgren who chose the work, they were fine. That’s the difference: if I say something is good, they’d think it’s typical, he is crazy – but if it’s Sune, they would respect his choice.’ ‘We also placed three huge Plensa sculptures in front of the Gothenburg Post hotel. They are sat on 12 m poles and had it not been for Sune, who told the local government ‘Petter is thinking of donating this to the city’, the reaction might have been different. As it is, they are delighted.’ No business on a dead planet Petter Stordalen’s business card makes an interesting topic of conversation. First of all, there is the "crest” which he designed to incorporate the key elements of his life: strawberry flowers, the words ‘we care’ in Norse, an image of his company’s headquarters, the company symbol and a picture of his dog. Under the crest are the words ‘No Business on a dead planet’. He is quite possibly the most ethically-minded capitalist I have ever encountered, something that would have endeared him considerably to his second wife, a prominent environmental activist and spokesperson. His take on the environment is so pragmatic, one wonders why it has not become mainstream argument. ‘Even if projections about global warming and natural disasters facing the planet are wrong or exaggerated’, he asks, ‘what do we have to lose by protecting the environment? We have everything to gain, in fact – cleaner air, cleaner water, healthier lifestyle… And if the prognosis should prove right, I worry about what I would tell my children when they are in their 40s and ask me, ‘what did YOU do to prevent this?’. I ask him if he’s read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate, in which she argues that capitalism should take much of the blame for climate change.
Captalists, he counters, might in fact be the solution to the challenges faced by the environment. Else, all you’ve got is the politicians who know what to do, but not how to implement it, because their major imperative is re-election. Capitalists don’t have to think about being re-elected. Stordalen is big on responsible capitalism. He is well aware of the power of social media and the fact that businesses that do not adopt the model of sustainability are ultimately doomed. The same is true of behemoths that avoid paying taxes – consumers would punish them in the long run. ‘My biggest competitor’, he says, ‘ is a company registered in a tax haven. Why should they have a competitive edge because they avoid paying tax?’ He is equally scathing against financial instruments used purely for the purpose tax evasion schemes. ‘I want to pay tax. Everyone should because this is how roads, education and medical care are funded.’ ‘I am often asked, are you a socialist? Not at all, I am a capitalist. But if you don’t change, people and public opinion would force you to change and that might not be good for you.' ‘I want to work hard and help preserve the social democratic system that we have in Norway.' When I ask him about his extensive philanthropy efforts, he talks about his wife of whom he is inordinately proud – with good reason. Gunhild Stordalen is the initiator and driving force behind a new global initiative EAT, and a multistakeholder platform EAT Stockholm Food Forum, earlier this year, which focused on food, health and sustainability, with debates and discussions between opinion and policy makers, researchers and industry. Petter Stordalen credits her with being a catalyst for change, able to conjure up the participation of Prince Charles, Bill Clinton, Hans Rosling and the Crown Princess of Norway, among many others. ‘I know nothing about philanthropy’, he says, ‘ I am just trying to do something, to make a difference.’ That, of course, is what philanthropy is all about and his personal record on that score is nothing short of impressive. As the conversation comes to an abrupt end – he is expected elsewhere – I can’t help but thinking, thank God for people like Stordalen. One of the true life enhancers, he makes the world that much more colourful and exciting, even if the rest of us are only seated on the spectators’ bench.
Jewel in the crown
pretty big names there and one would be forgiven for thinking the Warhol must be a reproduction. It isn’t. Alongside the Warhols are works by Queen Sonja of Norway, Charles Ray, Bryan Ferry, Sir Peter Black, Richard Prince, Fionna Banner, Tony Cragg, Niki de Saint Phalle, to name just a few…
The Suite Life…. ….at the Thief is unlike any other you have encountered, however well-travelled you may be. High tech urban chic meets original art is one way to describe it, although that doesn’t even come close to the art immersion experience that The Thief is. All of the suites, from the junior to the penthouse, have Geneva Sound systems with docking stations; wireless internet and work stations, movies on demand, Nespresso coffee machines, safes with power points and room for laptops, room and concierge service 24/7, mobile check-in. The size, design and art works is where they vary.
The Thief is the jewel in the crown of Norwegian hotelier and art collector, Petter Stordalen. Its location, on the islet of Tjuvholmen, infamous for being the home of robbers in the 19th century, is nothing short of spectacular, with views over the canals from every bedroom and suite.
The Junior Suites… Are 40-43m2 each and located between the 3rd and 8th floor. All have views over the canals of Tjuvholmen and the Oslo fjord. Separate bedrooms furnished with Brand van Egmond and B&B Italia design furniture, large Vittorio marble bathrooms with rainforest showers and signature bathrobes and slippers would please the most demanding comfort seeker. The original interior design, the Antonio Citterio armchairs and hand-picked art works add an extra dimension that is quite unique in a hotel setting.
uite properly for a hotel that defines itself as an art hotel, it is also right next door to the Astrup Fearnley Museum. Its eccentric and often irreverent owner has created, with the help of a team of international design stars and Swedish curator Sune Nordgren, an incredibly stylish and distinct product that owes much to his personality. When I met him for an interview, he spoke about his disdain for formulaic colour matching interiors and textiles and for his fascination with contemporary art. It is easy to underestimate Stordalen’s commitment to using The Thief as an art gallery. We live at an age when boutique hotels try to reinvent themselves in a bid to stand out and often acquire a few hastily chosen artefacts placed here and there by the interior designer. The Thief is a different experience altogether, displaying original art from the collection of the Astrup Fearnley museum of contemporary artand many works commissioned by Stordalen for the suites. The very cool, streamlined interior houses the hotel’s own permanent art collection, with original works for each room and suite. Interactive TVs offer ‘art on demand’ with a choice of contemporary video art. There are some
The Brit Suite For this suite, the most quintessentially British contemporary designer was invited to collaborate with a Norwegian one. The result is a perfect dialogue between Terence Conran and ESKE’s Karina Holmer and a nod at the iconic 60’s, Carnaby Street retro chic, and all that epitomises the free love decade. The quirky collages of Sarah Hardacre add a “naughty but nice” touch to it all. The sound experience is divine, as one would expect of Tivoli Audio. The 70sq2 space is split between a living room, a separate bedroom and two large bathrooms, with the signature rainforest shower in one and a bathtub in the other. The Broom Suite Another famous Brit, designer Lee Broom, has teamed up with Karina Holmen again to create this one. Broom is said to have been chuffed at the opportunity to showcase his furniture at The Thief and rightly so. He is well placed in this suite alongside Bryan Ferry whose photography is adorning the walls. Clearly appealing to Anglophiles, the 70 sm2 suite has its own private balcony, as well as the prerequisite
separate bedroom and two large bathrooms that we have seen in the Brit Suite. The Apparatjik Suite Now here is a very unusual, let your imagination rip suite created by supergroup Apparatjik that includes video art, music, disco textiles and art installations galore. Apparatjik, a collective of international artists and musiciansworked withKarina Holmen on the interior that includes zany disco-ball textiles, pixel-patterned blankets, a roof-mounted projector showing Apparatjik’s video art and disco balls in the bathroom and lounge. The suite is also decorated with eights prints signed by the supergroup. We loved the small Apparatjik curated library of books, vinyl and albums of the group’s favourite artists. The 40m2 suite has a separate bedroom with a Hilding king size bed and the signature Antonio Citterio designed armchairs in the sitting room. The Oslo Suite… …at 94m2 is the “regal” suite of the hotel. Lest you assume it is simply named after the Norwegian capital, you’d be disabused of the notion as soon as you are confronted by 3 original Peter Blake collages, all inspired by Norwegian landmarks, and part of his eponymous art project. The project was a collaboration between The Thief, Tjuvholmen and the Stolper + Friends gallery and celebrates also a number of famous Norwegians: Fridtjof Nansen, Roald Amundsen, Sonia Henie, Edvard Munch… This is a penthouse suite with a private roof terrace that has spectacular 360 degree views, making you feel as if on top of the city, both literally and figuratively, and as if out on the fjord. The outdoor shower is a great touch, not seen in any other hotel – certainly in this hemisphere. With its own fireplace, dining room, pantry kitchen and bar, and interiors designed byMassimo Castagna, Antonio Citterio and Anne Haavind, it is perfect for private en-suite entertaining. The bedroom is something to behold with its modernist four-poster bed and Ross Lovegrove lighting, while the bathroom feels like a mini-spa with the Vittorio and Polaris marble everywhere and the rain shower in a beautifully crafted alcove. Summary Quite the most extraordinary city hotel you are ever likely to visit – a perfect yet idiosyncratic fusion of high tech chic, top quality detail, comfort and above all, original art. A total art immersion experience of extraordinary proportions and service that is at once impeccable and friendly. If you stay long enough and look carefully, you might even meet the hotel’s owner, Norway’s coolest philanthropist, Petter Stordalen.
island lodge Passion for the environment
One of the myriad uninhabited islands of the Stockholm archipelago is home to an extraordinary and ultra-ecologically pure/ sustainability-dedicated destinations in the world.
n as much as ‘ecological’ and ‘sustainable’ have become catch-all words that define the preoccupation of the new millennium, they don’t quite do justice to Island Lodge. This exceptionally well-conceived tented camp provides a rare back to/one with nature experience minus the rough edges of regular camping. The experience is spiritual as much as physical and rewarding on several levels, even if you are only moderately passionate about the environment. The concept was inspired by one of the two owners’ previous work as a designer of high end safari lodges in South Africa and by the legacy of Buckminster Fuller, the American architect who developed the geodesic dome. The seven high tech tents have been modelled on natural disaster units, but project partners Kristina Bonde and Torkild Berglund have taken both the “disaster” and the “boot” element out of camping by creating super comfortable interiors.
Well beyond that other catch-all word, ‘glamping’, the domed tents will appeal to those who appreciate the clean lines mirroring the outdoor landscape; the timber floors; the wood-burning stoves and kerosene lamps; the very comfortable beds and finest bed linen; the electric combustion loos and outdoor showers, the spectacular views that are a given because of the location. The views can be enjoyed from every unit as the tents are all strategically positioned for the purpose. The island being an old military base, a former torpedo workshop bunker deep inside the mountain has been adapted as a meeting room for 30 and provides high tech facilities and an original setting for corporate get-togethers. The seafront dining tent offers a culinary experience that as astonishing as it is unexpected given the remoteness of the place. Local produce includes game during the season, freshly caught fish, a variety of mushrooms and organic ingredients, while the resident star chef is a past master of under the tent BBQ dinners. Guests can enjoy relaxing in the “floating” perched above water sauna and in a wood fired hot tub for up to 10. But really, where the Island Lodge experience comes into its own are the various activities on offer: from yoga and massage for the less active to sea safaris, sailing the property’s trimaran, trekking around the island, mushroom and blueberry picking and, the most esoteric of all, firewalking, as originally practised by North-American Indians. The latter is supervised by two firewalking experts and awakens senses we have long forgotten in our modern world. This is a very unusual and special travel destination offering a nearly total nature immersion in great comfort and in the knowledge that the utmost thought has been given to preserving the environment. The latter is, in fact, one of the camp’s reasons for being while at the same time creating a sustainable model for supporting local communities. Guaranteed to provide an invigorating alternative to any other European vacation, Island Lodge is in an eco league of its own. http://islandlodge.se
Matterhorn Focus Schluhmattstrasse 131 3920 Zermatt, Switzerland Telephone: +41 27 966 2424 For more information please visit www.matterhorn-focus.ch
matterhorn Focus Exceptional experience
Zermatt is one of, if not the trendiest ski resort in the Swiss Alps, drawing the famous, the beautiful and the wealthy every winter (and increasingly in the summer months too). Hotels there offer a service that is second to none in the world and facilities to match.
owever, for well-heeled travellers, it is the experience that makes for an exceptional hotel. Enter the Matterhorn Focus, an ultra-modern alternative to your run of the mill 5 star Swiss retreat. Eschewing the somewhat tired formula of traditional Alpine interiors, this is an ultra-modern artistic establishment that spells “cool” large throughout the entire property. Designed by Heinz Julen (who has also created the suites’ furnishings, lighting and is the man behind the entire concept), the Focus focuses on unobtrusive elegance and on special attention to detail. Run by Chris Noti and his attentive team, this is consistently voted as a top destination hotel in Zermatt and with good reason. First of all, there is the location – just by the cable car station “Klein Matterhorn Paradise” and within walking distance of the village centre.
Then, there are the rooms and suites: 20 double rooms, 4 small and 3 large suites, and 3 family rooms, almost all with fabulous large windows revealing the majestic Matterhorn and reminding you why you are there in the first place. All have the creature comforts expected of a top Swiss hotel: en-suite shower bathroom (some with a free standing bath tub), cable TV, radio, safe and W-LAN. Nearly all have a balcony with spectacular views towards to Swiss Alps. What makes the Matterhorn Focus rather special and unusual is its style: quirky, without being pretentious; arty, without being intimidating; comfortable without being fussy. The service is on par with the pervading contemporary theme – youthful and super-helpful staff that add a new dimension to Swiss hospitality. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Matterhorn Focus wellness centre. It’s indoor swimming pool, with the same amazing Alpine views, is complemented by an outdoor whirlpool and a fabulous saltwater bath, as well as the usual variety of relaxation areas and saunas, massage and beauty treatments. If there is one thing that the Matterhorn Focus does well, it is atmosphere and the wellness centre positively oozes that. The interplay between light, colour and materials is, once again, the credit of Heinz Julen. The hotel does not offer lunch or dinner, but its breakfast selection is one of the best both in terms of quality and quantity, and sets the tone for your day, whether you are skiing or exploring the mountains in the summer. A short stroll to the village of Zermatt gives you countless dining options, a refreshing alternative to half and full-board packages. This is a sophisticated and chic Alpine retreat that would appeal to visitors with an appreciation for THE EXPERIENCE, rather than just a place to put down their skis. From the super-comfortable suites, to the stylishly contemporary interiors, to the faultless yet unstuffy service, the Matterhorn Focus is a refreshing and long overdue alternative to standard issue 5 star hotels that often lack that intangible but all important personality touch.
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz
St Gallen, Switzerland, is the home of one of the world’s leading and most beautiful spas, Bad Ragaz. The spa benefits from its proximity to the source of the thermal water in the Tamina Gorge flowing at 36.5 °C and appreciated for its healing qualities as far back as the 16th century when alchemist Paracelsus praised it for its low mineral content.
ne of the Leading Wellbeing and Medical Health Resorts in Europe is the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, including the Grand Hotel Quellenhof & Spa Suites, the home of a number of exceptionally elegant and comfortable rooms and suites. The hotel Grand Resort Bad Ragaz has an impressive choice of 8 eateries - seriously spoiling the guest. The restaurant Bel-Air with 15 GaultMillau points serves Japanese specialities and Cuisine Équilibrée, the resort’s culinary health brand. Restaurant Olives d’Or brings you platters of Mediterranean specialities; Namun with 13 GaultMillau points, a taste of the Asian cuisine; Zollstube, traditional Swiss fare, and various other restaurants and cafes en route around the extensive resort, leaving you anything but hungry! Since December 2016 there is also a new gastronomic concept by three Michelin star chef Andreas Caminada.
And, if, after feasting, you feel sufficiently energized, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz has amazing activities on offer. When the snow falls, you can carve your way down the slopes through powder snow, and when spring is in bloom, you can enjoy various nature trails, meandering over lush landscapes. For the adrenaline junkies there are myriad activities: river rafting, paragliding, adventure trekking – to name a few. Or, if you prefer to relax, take advantage of the resort’s TWO golf courses! The 36.5° Wellbeing & Thermal Spa The hotel spa is a seriously high end establishment and would be appreciated by spa aficionados as a thermal water world in its own right. While it offers all the prerequisite facilities, it is also intensely beautiful and purifying, ultra-professionally run by resident medical staff, and battery-recharging in a way few spas are. The hotel is replete with its very own medical health centre, 18 modern suites for inpatient rehabilitation and is the first hotel in the world to house a La Prairie Boutique. The Ragazer weight loss program is another reason to visit, as are all the additional golf, sports and cultural activities that Bad Ragaz has on offer, from wine grape harvesting to music concerts. Whether you like winter or summer sports, culture or shopping, Bad Ragaz offers a totally comprehensive and unforgettable body and soul revitalising experience in the Swiss Alps and the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is THE place to explore them from.
Grand Hotel Quellenhof & Spa Suites Royal Suite Royal charm is in the air on stepping over the stylish threshold of the 200 m2 luxurious Royal Suite on the top floor of the Grand Hotel Quellenhof. Chesterfield sofas, noble intarsia parquet flooring, an open fireplace and a piano adorn the spacious salon and living room, and combine to create a timelessly elegant interior. A personal butler will prepare a soothing, exclusive thermal water bath in your private spa oasis on request. Spa Suites Guests of the Spa Suites have exclusive usage of the 36cinq Lounge. Enjoy drinks or one of over 30 waters from all over the world whilst overlooking a breathtaking mountain panorama. Noble walnut parquet flooring, the finest silks and organzas and exclusive bedlinen in an oversized bed with adjustable AirTouch® sleeping system for relaxing and ergonomic sleep soothe your skin and soul. A free-standing whirlpool bath, sauna and steam bath offer the ultimate spa experience in the comfort of your room.
Superior and thus be converted into the Penthouse Floor (600 m2). Enjoy a panoramic view of the entire resort in complete privacy from the terrace which surrounds the whole floor. The zenith of opulence and the highest point of the resort, the penthouse suite epitomises luxury. Presidential Suite If you wish to indulge, the presidential suite, spanning 300 m2 is the ultimate suite. Equipped with modern technology, the suite includes two bedrooms, a dressing room, a smokers’ lounge, a wine cabinet and a kitchen. With floor-to-ceiling windows, a sauna, a steam bath and adjustable lighting, the presidential suite is simply beyond luxury. The Presidential Suite can be combined with four Spa Lofts Superior, extending into a Presidential Floor spanning a magnificent 600 m2, creating a total of six bedrooms, each with a separate bathroom and a private balcony. www.resortragaz.ch
Penthouse Suite With all of the facilities of the Spa Suites, the luxurious Penthouse Suite spreads over 440 m2, leaving nothing to be desired. A personal butler is at your beck and call in your temporary home from home. On request, the Penthouse Suite can be combined with a Spa Loft
When next in Paris,
Built as an hotel particulier (a private mansion) for Napoleon Bonaparte’s great nephew, Roland, this is one of the most beautiful buildings in a city that has more than its fair share of remarkable architectural jewels.
ith unparalleled views of the river Seine and the Eiffel Tower (I was compelled to take a picture of the latter from my room window), on Place d’Iena in the 16th arrondissement, the hotel offers an opportunity to experience some of the city’s rich history in truly palatial style. By all accounts, Roland Bonaparte was a man of taste, learning and great fortune, living at a time when sumptuous homes reflected the social station of their owners. Indeed, this was no ordinary home – for a generation, it became the hub of Parisian society, as well as that of scientists and intellectuals whose company the owner favoured. Fast forward to the 21st century when Robert Kwok’s Shangri-La group acquired the historic building and, after important works, re-opened its doors as a 5 star hotel. A number of original features and rooms have been restored and preserved in accordance with their status of historical monuments. The magnificentreception rooms and areas would bowl over even the most jaded traveller – it is not often that one gets to sample the suite life in the former home of a Bonaparte!
The interior, designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, is an opulent mix of dark wood, marble, oriental wall papers, gold leaf and bronze, murals and mosaics. The Asian element is discreet – a vase here, a framed artefact there, a pot of welcoming jasmine tea on arrival, the staff uniforms…. The hotel is not striving to appeal just to a wealthy Chinese clientele as many of its European counterparts hope to do – it simply is, and while I was there, guests included an array of nationalities. I loved the view of the gardens below and the vast swimming pool (said to be the largest indoor pool in Paris) with its sky-blue ceiling. A small but perfect steam room nestles in the ladies changing area and the fitness room is exceptionally well-equipped for a city hotel. My suite had its separate sitting room, a vast bedroom with a sitting area and an intricate bathroom split in 3 distinct areas: vanity room, bath tub room and shower room. Even more intricate and entirely delicious were the little cakes and red fruits platter – a great welcoming touch that never ceases to delight me. The Shangri-La has 3 dining establishments: Shang Palace, a Cantonese restaurant with a team of chefs from China, L’Abeille, an haute-cuisine French restaurant, and La Bauhinia where breakfast is served. If you are accustomed to a full buffet breakfast, you would be disappointed – the menu is a la carte and offers continental, American, Asian and organic versions. Staff are incredibly attentive and multi-lingual. This is a property of exceptional pedigree, boosted by the financial muscle of a major hotel chain, and would appeal to those who love discreet opulence, an absolutely impeccable standard of service in every area and an atmosphere of restrained elegance that counter-balances the splendour of a truly imperial palace. Why else do we love it? Because, in a city full of pretentious hotels that often do not live up to their image or website’s promises, this one goes beyond expectations. Shangri-La, Paris 10 Avenue d’Iéna, Paris, 75116, France (33 1) 5367 1998
Cassinella, Lake Como ra
Renting directly from the owner makes eminent sense – in addition to presenting substantial savings and greater flexibility, guests are guaranteed a range of individualised services and options. Owners understand that the experience is everything. They organise private guided tours, sporting activities, concerts, cooking lessons, yacht hire and anything that makes a stay beyond the ordinary. My Private Villas does of course arrange private jet charters through a third party provider and operates concierge services with 24/7 on-site staff. The team is dedicated to put together a package of privileges, preferential rates and bespoke services such as booking front row seats for a show or ,tables at a trendy restaurant or a personal shopper.
my Private villas
Luxury Villa Rentals Direct From Owner My Private Villas is a private club of owners who wish to offer their properties for rent directly to discerning guests at rates that are lower than anywhere else.
hether you have the chance to own an exceptional home and you want to make it available for rent or you are looking for staying in an unusual, historical or spectacular property that is not easily accessible, this is an exclusive club worth joining. Properties are meticulously vetted before owners can join the club and the majority are found in some of the most desirable destinations in the world. From the French and the Italian Rivieras to the Caribbeans; from ski resorts to golf, scuba, horse riding or other sporting estates; from wine and olive oil domains to fabulously restored châteaux, My Private Villas has managed to put together an outstanding collection of dreamed properties. They are superbly appointed and many come with their own Butler, a 3 star Michelin chef, personal trainers, chauffeurs, nannies... Chalet Peak, Zermatt
Additionally, the club’s multilingual managers are committed to make the booking process smoother and to address any questions. The dedicated local house managers are on hand to look after guests’ needs during their stay and generally manage the property. The properties enrolled in the Club portfolio are not just holiday villas. They can be rented for private weddings, corporate and team building events. My private Villas’ properties are for those who look for a difference and for privacy with the highest possible standard. We love the fact that one can book directly with the owner – the personal element and the choice of distinctive homes are the greatest asset of this unique club.
Chalet Truffe Blanc, Verbier
la borde la belle vie At least until very recently, France has often been by characterised by the following popular view. Paris, the indefatigable metropolis that touts itself as the icon of Europe, dominates the north; its geographical and philosophical opposite, the bright southern coast; and, lying in-between these poles of la belle vie, the all too often dilapidated and crumbling chĂ˘teaux of the old countryside. 116
f course the times have changed, and many of these grand homes have been restored to their architectural and spiritual elegance. One of the finest examples lies in the Manor La Borde, an exclusive luxury guesthouse that exudes the quintessential charms of French stately home. Only one and a half hours drive outside the capital, it is nestled within the ever-picturesque heartland of Burgundy, a tapestry of patchwork fields and serried vineyards. Just outside the fair village of Leugny, the 16th century manor is immediately striking in its timeless beauty. With its fair walls skirted by blooming meadows and gardens, its towers bedecked with climbing vines and roses, the manor seems to have sprung to life from the pages of a Romantic novel. The interiors at La Borde are likewise enchanting. This secluded residence can accommodate up to twelve people across five suites suffused with old world antiques. Each of these spacious, yet also cosy rooms has been done up in a classic country chic decor, as wonderful as the picture in your mind. Think exposed beams in abundance and with elegant, clean lines; and polished terrecuite floors which shine in the stream of light that comes from the multitude of windows and openings. Modern furnishings, such as grand velvet-backed beds and free-standings
baths deserve praise from the most discerning visitor. Around the courtyard, nestled in the middle of the property, you will find a gym and wellness centre, a common room with an amazing stone fire place and the cosy breakfast- and dining room. For small conferences or business meetings there is the library and fully equipped business centre, for a discreet exclusive use. (If you wish to arrive in style, there is even place to land your helicopter). Equally pleasing are the revived gardens and green spaces, which are the passion of the current owners. A wonderful conservatory emerges in the Rose Garden, in which guests can soak up nature while enjoying the fireplace inside with a glass of wine. An avenue of lime trees connecting the main house with a stand of oaks and a pond marked the start of a grand environmental programme that ran from 1997 to 2011. Between that period 17 acres of field was gradually transformed, and the property now includes a rosary, orchard and vegetable garden, roughly 1600m2 being the key to La Bordeâ€™s fine dining experience. With two dedicated hosts - owners Rik and Marieke - one can expect either a tailor made or private experience; but in both cases the hospitality is warm and conducive to an excellent experience. Here, there is a relaxing, convivial atmosphere based on the simple - and also the best pleasures. One can pass the warm, bright days lazing around the pool, play tennis, or treat oneself to the spa. Alternatively, one could simply cosset oneself in a comfortable, armchair with a good book and soak up the sunshine, sights and joyous life of this thriving manor. Not to mention, of course, the best of local cuisine at La Borde, made with vegetables, herbs, and fruits from their organic gardens. Very little can be put in words, other than that the food - paired with the same Burgundy wines from the extensive cellar, that Dumas praised - is well worth a trip in of itself. Beyond the manor, a wealth of culture and history abounds - with chĂ˘teaux, vineyards and a golf course among the highlights for exploration. But to us, that all sounds like much too much fuss: if one is looking for the classic French experience, fortified with the essentials of modern luxury, why go anywhere other than the very best?
Le Mas de Chastelas Legendary charm
There is, a hop, skip and a jump from St Tropez, something of a secret haven that has been known to the initiated for decades – Le Mas de Chastelas.
iscretely tucked away from the perennial traffic down below its gated entrance, it feels like an enchanted domain with its mature gardens and parkland, fabulous pagodas, pavilions, patios and secret little corners that one happens upon just walking around. In fact, being left to explore in peace is easily one of its greatest virtues. The staff are smiling and helpful, but as unobtrusive as you would want them to be if you have come here to escape from the hustle and bustle outside. Most of your stay will likely be spent on the terrace, so this bears describing in some detail. The terrace is really an extension of a great hall, itself a series of rooms, alcoves, art-covered walls, an indoor bar and hallways leading to a dining area and the stairway to the bedrooms. If the weather permits it (and this being the South of France, it almost always does), you will complete your check in with a glass of welcoming wine or Champagne, sitting by the pool which is central to the terrace.
Surrounding it is a very mature garden that gives the impression of hardly containing its exuberance and a series of quirky statues. The outdoor bar has greenery cascading around its sun canopy and further to the side are the well shaded breakfast tables, set among trellises and stone flower pots aplenty. If it is chilly in the mornings, discreet heaters under the canopies calibrate the temperature at breakfast. Breakfast is buffet-style - a feast of fresh local produce and some of the best breads you are ever likely to taste. The bedroom suites are old French farmhouse style – well oiled terracotta floors, muted whites, separate loos, period bathrooms and large comfortable beds. The windows (or terrace if your suite has one) open to the fabulous gardens, flood-lit at night, and a delight to wake up to in the morning. Something of a legend in St Tropez, Chastelas has played host to a bevy of famous actors, musicians, artists, including Claude Berri who filmed Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu there in his film Je Vous Aime, and
Serge Gainsbourg who played the piano for Jane Birkin. You can spend hours looking at photographs of all those who have loved Mas de Chastelas and given it the special stardust that is an indelible part of its DNA. The hotel has its own Jack Nicklaus designed golf course, as well as tennis courts and a dedicated private shuttle. Its rich history notwithstanding, the Mas de Chastelas doesn’t rest on its laurels. More recently, it has seen the addition of a Palladian Villa, in tribute to the Italian renaissance architect theorist Andrea Palladio and a contemporary Italian-styled Tuscan Villa, boasting open-concept en-suites and hanging beds. The hotel has a well-deserved 5-star rating and is listed in the Michelin Guide with a three-roof rating. A charming and very stylish alternative to the multitude of hotels on this most famous of peninsulas in the South of France, the Mas de Chastelas is the well-known secret of “the beautiful people”.
Modern medieval rennaissance Restoring an old priory in the Provence is probably everyone’s dream but breathing a new life into a ruin is not something most people would contemplate.
hen Xavier Rolet, now CEO of the London Stock Exchange, bought his dream Vaucluse property, it was nothing more than a few stone walls and a large longneglected vineyard. By the time he met his wife, the incredibly eloquent Nicole Rolet, his restoration project was under way, but would take several years to complete. If the dream is his, she is the high priestess of the ancient priory – in more ways than one. An American-born former banker, daughter of a food critic and wine collector, she had “an educated palate” even before she moved to France – or rather, between London and la Verrière, the unique estate that she and her husband have managed to create after years of determined hard work. “Determined hard work” is really shorthand for a multitude of frustrations, trials, and errors and tribulations associated with renovating in the South-West of France, as the writer of this piece has come to appreciate at her own expense. Nicole left banking and embraced the challenge after a personal epiphany about the
meaning of life and the kind of legacy we all leave behind (or not) once we are gone. Today, La Verrière is fully restored as a medieval retreat cum boutique vineyard near the hamlet of Crestet, at the border of Gigondas, itself synonymous with high pedigree wines. The grape varieties include Grenache and Syrah, with smaller quantities of Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Clairette de Die and Mourvèdre, all cultivated to organic and biodynamic principles. Nicole endows the word “retreat” with a rather authentic meaning, quite medieval, in fact. She flits effortlessly between narrating how the Chene Bleu label wines evolved and describing the kind of enlightened visitor she encourages to stay at La Verrière. As I listen to her, I am suddenly reminded of Boccaccio’s Decameron and its privileged group of people in a country retreat, except Rolet cultivates a distinctly more philosophical, spiritual as well as oenological dimension. A retreat then for individuals who have or want to step out of the mundane and
ephemeral, so that they can contemplate the meaningful and lasting. People with ideas and the ability to communicate them and inspire others... Paraphrasing Nicole or summarising the ethos of what she and her husband have created is a tall order. The Verrière has to be visited to be appreciated for what it is: a place of timeless beauty and serenity, restored and furnished with exacting attention to the utmost detail, and conceived to host like-minded people in a spot of sublime natural beauty enhanced by the intervention of very passionate owners. Wine Boot Camp La Verrière is inextricably linked to the Chêne Bleu Extreme Wine boot camp course. This is not your average oenotourism gimmick – in fact, it has been rated, over and over again, as the world’s best in terms of learning, discovering and mastering every aspect of fine wine making and degustation. To begin with, there is the location: La Verrière is nestled high up forested 150 hectare estate in the Dentelles de Montmirail with the Vaucluse region of Provence, with Mont Ventoux to the east, and the Ouvèze Valley in the north. The forests alternate with vineyards, olive groves, terraces and gardens and at the edge of it all is the
solitary blue oak tree (re-purposed as a work of art by sculptor Marc Nucera who painted it with the blue-green solution used to protect organic vineyards worldwide). This magnificent landmark has given the name label of the wine. The stunning infinity pool completes the estate. Then, there is the complex micro-geology of the terroir: mostly clay and chalk limestone rock, instrumental in forcing the vines to penetrate deeper, thus feeding on a rich cocktail of minerals. The very exposure and altitude of the vineyards favour them too as wine buffs would know full well. The estate produces two flagship reds, Héloïse and Abélard, named after the famous medieval philosophers and lovers, are made from very old Syrah and Grenache vines. Says Tom Harrow: “The wines at Chene Bleu have got better and better, and they started at a very high level. The introduction of their best-in-show Rosé and subsequently younger vine wine Astrolabe has also shown their interest in engaging at a more accessible level as well. I have previously described the Aliot white as “the Hermitage Blanc of Ventoux” and now the Wine Spectator is suggesting the reds are
the region’s first “Super-Rhones”. The Héloïse – with its higher Syrah content has a poise and elegance but no shortage of steel that is appropriate for its namesake, the Abélard conversely is slightly rougher hewn, more strapping and broad-shouldered, somewhat ironic – given the reduced condition of the man himself… The estate’s Extreme Wine course is also worth mentioning - a smell it, drink it, live it experience for the duration of your stay, taking place as much in Chêne Bleu’s vineyard and winery as in the classroom” The Wine Boot Camp of Chene Bleu is a uniquely intense program that is hailed as the best in what is a crowded and snobby industry, which is no mean feat and a huge credit to the Rolets. The estate also welcomes small corporate parties and builds original and inspirational experiences with a strong medieval element for them. La Verrière can be hired in its entirety in the popular summer months and represents a treat like no other for connoisseurs of exceptional quality in general and wine excellence in particular.
Jon Huntsman The cynics of the world should probably meet Jon Huntsman. So touching and unshakeable is his belief in human nature’s fundamental capacity for goodness that he could easily proselytise on the subject and in fact, has.
e has written two books on the subject: Winners Never Cheat and its sequel, and is about to have a third one published (“half the book is about how I made money and the other half is about how I spent it”, he says). The more apt word is, of course, how he’s given it away to causes close to his heart. His original title was Play by the Rules – because he has lived his life by a set of rules that amounts to no less than a code of honour that the early Mormon settlers in Idaho would have been proud of. I spoke to the man for more than an hour and thought the entire time, how do I put across this philosophy for living, this passion for doing the right thing without sounding cheesy? Well, first of all, there is Huntsman’s phenomenal record of philanthropy, the scale of which is rarely seen, the Giving Pledge notwithstanding. He was the one who, when the billionaires’ group was still only 45 strong, advocated that his fellow ultra-wealthy commit to giving away not 50, but 80 or even 90% of their fortunes, and disburse it during their lifetime. So, I thought it best to quote him liberally, in the hope that the conviction and sheer force of his personality come through. “I have given over 80%”, he says, “I’ve been doing it for 35 years”. “ I gave a little speech at the Giving Pledge meeting and proposed that we up the percentage, but Warren (Buffett) said to me, “Let’s just get them to commit to 50% first”. “If someone has made a billion and gives away half of it, they can still live pretty well on half a billion and at the same time help other human beings.” “I admire Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Lots of folks are generous but if you are worth a billion, you should give away 90% of it and you should give it in your lifetime. Giving it after you die is hardly charitable – after all, if you don’t die, you wouldn’t
be giving anything at all. I never thought much of people who give after their death. It is sad that with 1200 billionaires in the world, there are only 19 who have given over a billion.” “It’s the greatest joy to see what your money does for others and to be able to share what you have. Some people love money. I don’t. I feel very fortunate to have built a lot of businesses and to have surrounded myself with knowledgeable people.” “Some people want to have a lot of yachts or planes or marry several women in their lifetime. My addiction is making people happy and sharing what I have with others.” This brings us neatly to my next question: why Armenia? To place my question into context, Jon Huntsman was so moved by the plights of the Armenian people at the time of the 1988 earthquake that he ended up giving the country a staggering $53m so that it can rebuild itself – more than any other organisation has, in fact. And he still does… He funds 26 scholarships a year paying for 4 years education, room and board, transportation, tuition, fees… The only condition is that graduates go back to their country and help build its infrastructure. He has been helping Armenia and Armenians for 25 years now and has visited with his family 46 times. Armenia has rightly given him a medal of honour and made him an Armenian citizen. He speaks warmly of the people he has so generously supported. “We stayed there the longest”, he says, speaking of the earthquake humanitarian effort, “It was a privilege.” Jon Huntsman knows a thing or two about staying the course. He did not inherit his vast fortune – he made it from zero and went through patchy times, but survived and prospered spectacularly. He even
beat cancer not once, but four times. His businesses operate in 75 countries and he is a legend in the petro-chemical industry. We have him to thank for some of the most commonly used items today: the egg carton and the McDonalds burger box, to mention just the ubiquitous. I ask him why and how people become philanthropists, knowing full well he can only answer for himself. He says some people are simply born to give and to share what they have with others. His own philanthropy is based on his upbringing and on “personal urge”, he says, and half of what he has given was given anonymously. “There is no greater thrill than to give a 100 million to a hospital, for example, or a greater satisfaction than to be able to give someone an education.” How does he decide who or what he gives to? “Good question”, he answers. There are no selection committees and the like, though. “People write us letters and we read them. It’s a great joy to be able to change someone’s life, but it must be something that impacts your personal life, that Impacts your heart - something you have lived through.” “When I first went to Armenia, I knew what it was like to not have food or medical attention. I related to it.” “I relate to cancer, because many of my relatives died of it.” “When I was young, a wonderful Jewish family decided to sponsor this poor kid from Idaho and gave me a full time scholarship to an Ivy League college. I have tried to repay this by doing the same for others.” “So when you give money, it has to be a cause that touches your soul. You don’t give to causes you can’t relate to, or at least not vast amounts.”
Many would agree with you and your driving principles, I tell him, but the world has changed a lot in the last few decades. The prevalent ethos seems to be “get everything fast and get as much as you can for nothing”. I have a hard-working builder who tells me, with a degree of bitterness, that the world belongs to the fast talkers rather than the doers. What message do you have for ordinary, hard-working people like him who get dispirited and discouraged? “Genuine winners don’t need to cheat”, says Huntsman, “but only follow their hearts and you must find it in your heart to be nice to people, to be honourable.” “Unfortunately”, he continues, “a substantial number of people belong to the fast-talking/money grabbing/ showing off category, especially the rogue financiers, but there are still some very nice people in the world who play by the old rules and I hope that what I have to say in my books will tie young people to the old values “. “Friendship and respect are so much more important than making money. People have forgotten this.”
“Popularity is something that comes and goes – it is a temporary state. Respect is permanent. I’d rather be respected. I gave this same speech at school because I believed this even as a young man. My principles were well-entrenched even at that age and I don’t think I am the only one. There are a lot of decent people in the world and certainly a lot here in America. Men and women who don’t look for any notoriety or commendation - they are just honourable thoughtful people.” If there is one thing that you could change in the world, what would that be, I ask him. Jon Huntsman would like to have two, so I let him. “I would choose two equally important things: world peace and the opportunity to cure cancer. I can’t do much about number one, but I am doing everything I can about the second. I have built the finest cancer research centre in the world. Cancer is more prevalent today than ever before, yet not enough resources are dedicated to curing it – probably because there are no immediate returns to the investment. I will be trying to help cure this epidemic until the day I die.”
Huntsman Springs Jon Huntsman has been busy with something else that’s close to his heart. “I wanted to come back home to my roots”, he says, “where my father was a school teacher and build something there for the next generation”. Home, of course, is Idaho, where he bought “a great piece of land, on which I thought it would be good to develop an alternative to Jackson Hole, Wyoming - away from the tourist traps and junket shops”. “Originally Mormons came to this part of Idaho because there was plenty of water and because of its beauty.” “It is every bit as beautiful as the Swiss Alps and what we built is a great summer and winter resort on the other side of the mountain from Jackson Hole. Huntsman Springs has one of the best golf courses ever built in the world, fantastic skiing and skating, fly fishing, deer and wild buffalo.” “And just as everything is first class in our cancer hospitals, schools and all else we build, so it is with Huntsman Springs. “