Villae International Issue 16 - Amat Luxury

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16 For connoisseurs of the good things in life...


16 years


the trusted reference for buyers and sellers of luxury real estate in Europe

COVID and residential sales Ever since this Covid-19 pandemic first appeared, friends and clients have shared their concern about how it is affecting the property market. Our response is twofold. Firstly, stay calm. Not only do panic and fear worsen the situation, but they also lead to poor decision-making, and this too is something we can do without right now. The other part of our message is that the market has a tendency to overact, overcompensate, because it has always done so… It does this both in good and bad times, when the market is buoyant and when it is down. Real estate as an asset class therefore reacts strongly to outside factors but, since it is also primarily a residential necessity and not just a form of investment, property does tend to find its equilibrium soon enough.

José Ribes Bas

EREN Director

It reminds me of a client from Singapore keen to find a property on the west coast of Mallorca. He told me that this acquisition was going to produce a “negative yield” for him, when maintenance costs were factored in. Though his professional specialisation was analysing and investing in hedge funds, he overlooked one important factor – that of utility, in this case in the form of pleasure. The home is the nucleus of one’s family life and the launch pad for your desired lifestyle. It is a safe haven in a rapidly changing world and a recompense for years of hard work, and all these factors together add up to a concept of value through use and enjoyment that is recognised even in classical economics. The benefit derived from owning such a property is therefore not only measured in the strictly financial terms of an accounting ledger, but has a financial as well as an emotional value. My client from Singapore overlooked this fact until he chose to sell the property years later and found its location, design, amenities and yes, the lifestyle it offers, to be in high demand, with buyers ready to pay a generous price for them. And thus the intangible becomes measurable in financial terms. Covid-19 is in many ways a game changer that affects many different aspects of life. It will make previously unheard of measures accepted and create new habits in its wake. How will it all impact upon the property sector? Rimontgó’s field of expertise is residential real estate, and more specifically the luxury segment. In this area there are of course buyers and investors waiting for prices to drop significantly, just as there are homeowners on the verge of panic who may satisfy such expectations. However, for each of these, there are many in no need of selling who will withdraw their properties from the market until the overall situation improves, and as part of this we are seeing a slow but gradual reduction in the supply of luxury homes. Economists call these movements simultaneous displacements-to-the-left of the supply and demand curves. It leads to an overall contraction in the size of the market, with a reduced number of properties offered for sale and fewer transactions – essentially a temporary rescaling of the sector that doesn’t necessarily require a downward adjustment of property prices. As my grandfather Pepe used to say: “business is done not when you sell something, but when you buy it”. History is full of cases where people bought during or in the immediate aftermath of tumultuous periods, and found themselves well recompensed. Having said that, there will always be people who panic or need to sell in a rush, and this is part of what creates opportunity in situations like the present moment. Timing is a crucial element in all of this, and it has two main components: the moment when the opportunity to buy or sell arises, and the duration of the investment. Ken Jacobs, a longstanding friend from Sydney with whom I share a philosophy about business, says that “Market conditions are less important a point of consideration when you’re buying a home than when you’re selling it”. This is exactly because the buying of a property, unlike stocks and bonds, is a longer term commitment to a home. Property is a consistently present and important form of investment, but it remains a physical ‘bricks and mortar’ one, and this intrinsically tangible aspect is partly why, like gold, it can soar at times but inherently remains regarded as a solid, reliable investment and ‘refuge for capital’. There will be much suffering and uncertainty ahead, but one thing that remains unchanged is the fact that a property is a home and personal refuge as well as an economic asset, and it will remain so long after this crisis has passed. Welcome to our international publication.

José Ribes Bas. Director




VILLÆ INTERNATIONAL is a publication of:

European Real Estate Network, Ltd., 1st Floor, 1 East Poultry Avenue London EC1A 9PT United Kingdom T. +44 020 7592 8900 F. +44 020 7592 8901 EREN Board of Directors Ueli Schnorf Giancarlo Bracco José Ribes Bas Original Concept by Benedetta Viganò, Diana Morales & José Ribes Bas Writer Michel Cruz MANIFESTO DESIGN s.l., Marbella (+34) 952 880 923 Art director and Design Modesto Granados ESTUDIO MODESTO, Valencia (+34) 667 208 071 Photo credits Shutterstock Advertising Editor José Ribes Bas D.L.: V-757-2006 VILLÆ 2





04 COMPORTA SIGNATURE The essence of raw chic

50 LOST CIVILISATIONS Where did they go?

12 THE HOUSE OF HERMES European elegance at its best

56 GRANADA Seductress of the ages

16 EUROPE FIRST–HAND: LAGO DI GARDA Beauty that inspired art

66 THE MODERN MEMBERS CLUB Revival of a classic

18 MONACO A business plan under a threat?

68 EUROPE’S FINEST REAL ESTATE A handpicked selection of beautiful homes from around Europe

24 THE ENVOLVING ART OF LANDSCAPING Adding natural value to your home


34 EUROPE FIRST–HAND: TICINO Switzerland’s own Riviera

94 EREN DIRECTORY Our boutique office addresses across Europe

36 FROM BUTLER TO CONCIERGE The evolution of personal service 40 BUILDINGS THAT ABSORB POLLUTION When construction cleans the air 48 EUROPE FIRST–HAND: LISBON Europe’s forgotten jewel





If you don’t know what raw chic is you probably haven’t been to Comporta, a natural paradise that is the preferred escape destination of what can truly be called the most discerning travellers in Europe. Occupying 50 kilometres of unspoiled beaches, dunes, pine groves and glorious countryside amid stellar views, comporta is the place that has given birth to a new expression of understated, natural style.





A NEW SENSE OF STYLE The result of this mix of upmarket elegance, natural abundance and sense of freedom is a style that reflects itself in everything; from the architecture and interior design to the restaurants and hotels of this getaway destination. Like Ibiza and Arcachon, Comporta’s style is refined in a natural, understated way, only more so, and it is from this ‘back to nature comfort’ that Raw Chic has evolved as a recognisable design movement, using natural materials native to the region and celebrating the light, views and fragrance of the area, where the scent of pine and wild flowers mingles with the salty sea air. This is a world of peace, where long, languid days are spent to a soundtrack of seagulls, braking waves and the cooling Atlantic breezes. People like Madonna and the Koplovitzes are buying the typically extensive plots and building dreamy hideaway cottages and villas in this low-volume environment, where neighbours can seldom be seen or heard but the cream of European visitors congregate at the robustly chic eateries, cafés and boutique hotels of the area. Already famous are the Sublime Hotel and the newly inaugurated Quinta da Comporta. Spanish billionaire and textile tycoon, Amancio Ortega is teaming up with Gucci to create a 200-hectare eco-resort right near the beach in what passes for a large development in this protected area.







COMPORTA SIGNATURE A new beach club is also in the making, but don’t imagine anything akin to others in Ibiza, Marbella or the Italian Riviera, for here too rugged chic is the prevailing ambience. In this sense, Comporta is more like Lège-Cap-Ferret or Tarifa. Bernard Soultan and Livia Cioara know Portugal well but first discovered Comporta some years ago. “We fell in love with it immediately,” says Livia, whose interior design style has been greatly influenced by what she saw and experienced there. “It impacted us profoundly, and what has come out of this is Raw Chic, a style that embodies the sensation of nature, sophistication and freedom which we associate with Comporta.” Based in Marbella for many years, she has worked on many interior styling projects, from private homes and boutique hotels to commercial premises, and is now introducing a newly-inspired design language to a region that has its roots in the understated, natural elegance of Comporta. “Everything there, from the dunes and the skies to the pine groves, fishing boats and driftwood, creates a wonderful sense which, when brought together by artisans and interior designers, produces a style of décor that fits in beautifully with the contemporary trend towards ecological, healthy living using sustainable, natural materials. Their look, tactile qualities and colours create a balance in us that fills the home with ambience while also being refined and beautiful.”



ARTISAN DEVELOPERS This décor style inspired by the unique ambience and setting of Comporta is not only being introduced into other suitable parts of Europe, but also finds its expression in the artisan villas being created by Bernard Soultan. “The plots are large, the building restrictions tight and the densities and heights low, and that’s just how we like it. We’re following a philosophy of ‘luxury handcrafted real estate’ in the architectural design, style, layout and sustainability of these wonderful lifestyle properties, which I like to think of as cabana villas.” Natural materials native to the area play a central role in what are modern, natural homes with extended indoor-outdoor zones designed for the ultimate in privacy, views and yes, Raw Chic.

Pedro Mateus SILFIDUCIA real estate Lisbon, PORTUGAL


“When the Portuguese Riviera, and later the Algarve, were born as top international destinations, Comporta was still a private domain undiscovered by most. Today, it is fast becoming the place to be for a discerning elite who wish to be surrounded by peace, privacy, nature, immense ocean skies and the charm of rustic chic ambience that made places such as Saint-Tropez famous.”




The House of Hermès Founded in 1837, Hermès represents the pinnacle of luxury – a revered name even among the pantheon of prime brands.


escribed as a high fashion manufacturer of luxury goods, Hermès is the proud torchbearer of a long French tradition of exquisite design, artistry and handmade production that stretches back almost to the Middle Ages and forms one of the pillars of the European domination of top segment purveyors. Its legacy can be felt to this day, in the form of legendary marques such as Saint-Louis, Baccarat, Bugatti and, of course, Hermès. For those in the position to appreciate quality, Hermès is as much about history, pedigree and tradition as it is about timeless design and exquisite handmade quality. Established in Paris almost two centuries ago as a maker of the finest riding harnesses, Hermès has remained true to its roots, maintaining its headquarters in a classical building at 24 Rue Fabourg Saint-Honoré and unlike many others, employing exclusively European master craftsmen for the production of its collections.




These range from the finest leatherware – including iconic handbags, accessories and also saddlery – to home furnishings, jewellery, perfumery, watches, apparel and prized textiles and silks. By the 1920s, Hermès’ reputation as one of the most exclusive brands in the world was firmly established, and it continued to grow throughout the rest of the century, transitioning from an aristocratic clientele to the rich, beautiful and famous of the world. A timeless quality Royals and aristocrats continued and indeed continue to be part of the Hermès demographic, but since the 1940s iconic names such as those of Grace Kelly and Jane Birkin became associated with the marque, followed in the 1990s by a rejuvenation of the company and its product lines. Around this time, tableware became an important part of the business, and Hermès strengthened its position by acquiring controlling interests in top French manufacturers such as Périgord, Saint-Louis and Puiforcat. Top quality crystal, porcelain and silverware were in this way added to the timeless collections that have formed the backbone of a successful company true to its own values. Hermès is a torchbearer of quality, noble natural materials, investing in handmade artisanal production and not farming out the responsibility for its own production. While it goes against the accepted business practice of the past two decades, this ethical philosophy has stood the company in good stead. In 1993, it went public on the Paris Bourse, but the Hermès-


Dumas family continued to control the majority of shares. In fact, the family later staged a rare buyback of shares in a bid to stave off the possibility of a hostile take-over by LVMH, marking the desire to preserve the purity and unique clear focus of a company that ranks among the most valuable brands in the world. Not surprisingly, since with a commitment to creative design that stays true to the Hermès heritage while also remaining up to date, craftsman quality and strict control of its brand values, this is a luxury purveyor that is more in demand than ever, with revenue exceeding $4 billion per year. CEO Axel Dumas leads a family business with a uniquely untarnished pedigree, selecting the finest designers to work with just as the chefs that serve the private corporate kitchen on the top floor of 24 Rue Fabourg Saint-Honoré go on to become famous Michelin stars in Paris and elsewhere. As supporters of handmade artistry as well as creators of some of the finest products in the world, Hermès indeed represents the pinnacle of luxury, with the noblesse oblige that comes with the title.


“Hermès is one of those names that represent the very pinnacle of quality, luxury and style. The brand has done so well to blend its exquisite craftsmanship to modern tastes, and it keeps alive the tradition of beautiful handmade products created by the finest in their trade, be it leatherwork, silk, perfumery or even furnishing – Hermès is the aristocracy of brands.” Eva Marschall Marschall Real Estate Vienna, AUSTRIA





LAGO DI GARDA by Marco Argentieri Cofim Immobiliare. Veneto, Garda Lake, Verona, Italy.

The Lago di Garda is a beautify spot – which view would you recommend? MA: The largest lake in Italy is full of enchanting places but the panoramic / aerial view from Monte Baldo is truly unique. It can be reached in 15 minutes by rotating cable car from the shore of Malcesine. What other sites would you recommend? MA: First, I’d like to recommend Sirmione, where we can find the largest and best-preserved medieval castle. Next, the “Vittoriale degli Italiani” in Gardone Riviera, once the luxuriant villa of the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio. Last but not least, I would like to suggest the eastern shore that goes from Lazise to Bardolino, 12 km of “bright” shore interspersed with beaches and ancient villages. What is an experience not to be missed in this region? MA: In the south east area of the lake, between Colà di Lazise and Sirmione, there is the best spa area, a unique wellness experience from Roman times as seen in the archaeological site of the “Grotte di Catullo” in Sirmione. Which kind of boating activity is best? MA: The best way to get us in the mood that surrounds the Garda Lake and to embark on the characteristic boats of the Navigarda. For the more adventurous I suggest a small motorboat that will take to you romantic historical marinas or beaches. Are there towns and residential areas that really stand out? MA: The lake's shoreline and towns are all nice and to buy an ancient/historical site, a beautiful villa in panoramic location or on the beach with private dock is a top investment. Some modern and high-tech homes in small residences are also loved by buyers from all over Europe. How would you describe the unique enchantment and romance of the Lago di Garda? MA: The lake, often unmoving, calms and ensures us. Less impetuous than the sea, it can relax us at first glance. It is nature, strong and sweet at the same time, that welcomes us without asking for anything in return.



Monaco, a business plan under threat? Forever now, the very name of this picturesque principality on the Mediterranean has been synonymous with the pinnacle of style, glamour and privilege. A tax haven refuge for the super-wealthy, Monaco has attracted HNW individuals from around the world, but is this status assured in the face of a rising challenge to its business model?





his tiny principality on less than four kilometres of Mediterranean shoreline is in many ways a remnant of the past and an anomaly in the modern world, for along with a small collection of other micro-states in Europe, Monaco retains the charm of the medieval and classical princely states that once spread across much of Germany and Italy. Reigned by the Grimaldi family almost uninterruptedly since 1297, it calmly lay in the shadow of Europe’s tumultuous history, basking in the Mediterranean sun until in the late 19th century a railway connection to Paris opened up its charms to the world. From then on, the Monegasque economy developed rapidly, as its glamorous casino drew in a European elite keen to experience this idyllic setting. Today, the Monte Carlo casino is an icon of luxury and privilege, much like the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, opened in 1863 by the Societé des Bains de Mer (SBM), which also owns the casino and the opera. These landmarks have since become immortalised as icons of Monaco’s upper class living, accompanied by images of Formula One cars emerging from the tunnel under the Fairmont Hotel and racing past the yachts moored in La Condamine. It’s an image that attracts many visitors, including day-trip tourists crossing the border from France. In the 1960s, the principality received a shot in the arm when Prince Rainier III married Hollywood star Grace Kelly in a fairy tale wed-



ding. It caused a further upsurge in interest, leading the prince, and resident and investor, Aristotle Onassis to disagree as to which direction to take. Onassis laid the focus on making Monaco an ultra-luxurious destination, but the prince believed this was too risky a strategy and so diversified his offering between attracting millionaire residents to his tax-free haven and allowing the construction of mid-range hotels for the broader public. A change of direction? Onassis gradually drifted off, and Monaco’s fate was sealed – very successfully so, as it turned out – but in becoming too dependent upon the appeal of 0% income tax and low corporate taxes, Monaco missed a chance to improve its offering. Quite the opposite, in fact, as from the 1970s until recently its real estate was of questionable quality, in spite of the fact that the top locations within the principality command up to $100.000 per m2. The fact that this is even possible underlines the pull exerted by such low taxes, but with increasing pressure upon Monaco to exchange information on residents and impose taxes, this may not last forever. France and other European countries have pushed hard for decades to gain a better insight into the financial affairs of Monaco and its multi-millionaire residents, which make up a third of the population, but ever since the United States entered into the fray the demand for disclosure and change has



greatly intensified. For now, Prince Albert has been able to stave off such calls, but this may not be possible indefinitely, and if Switzerland is anything to go by it would be wise for Monaco to develop a Plan B, just in case its tax-free status proves to be untenable in the long run. To err on the side of caution would be to follow the advice of Onassis fifty years on and make Monaco a sparkling jewel of luxury and opulence on the Mediterranean. It is all these things in spirit and form, yet the real estate stock constructed here over a period of almost forty years does not adequately mirror this, so it would be good to plan for a time when tax-free status no longer warrants world-topping rates of $100.000 per m2. The response would be to beautify the town, enhance and modernise its offering, and create a finer quality of real estate available to the world’s affluent. Beautifying Monaco Fortunately, this process is already under way, with new property developments that represent a significant improvement upon their predecessors. One towering example is the Tour Odéon, whose luxurious sky villas are topped by one of the most extraordinary – and expensive – penthouses in the world. It is this kind of modern extravagance, along with the renovation of iconic hotels and landmarks, that will re-establish Monaco’s intrinsic luxury appeal and assure its future prosperity. The prince has understood this, and with his latest – and final – land reclamation project has eschewed density of construction in favour of quality homes surrounded by top amenities and precious green zones. While Monaco’s future as a tax-free haven remains uncertain, it will most likely continue to be a low-tax destination and is also building upon the appeal that drew people here in the first place – that which made this the foremost centre of affluence, luxury and refinement in the world.

“Since living memory, Monaco has been regarded as the ultimate destination for UHNW individuals. Of course the attraction has a lot to do with its tax-free status, but the tradition of luxury, glamour and privilege is so well-established that it would endure even a change in the tax status. Even so, Monaco is wise to focus more than ever on quality.” Marco Argentieri COFIM Verona, ITALY





The evolving art of landscaping

From classical opulence to minimalist Zen, landscaping has always followed the trends of the times. Today, sustainability adds an intriguing element to the design mix of modern gardens, and landscapers are rising to the challenge.





rom the moment humans settled down in one spot they developed the desire to craft their immediate surroundings to their tastes and needs. Thus were born gardening, landscaping, architecture and urban planning, not to mention decoration, in a process that has been evolving ever since. The earliest civilisations were marked by their mastery of the required techniques, and can still be recognised by their unique styles of architecture and landscaping, developing from the hanging gardens of Babylon and the Minoan courtyards through to the gardens of the Renaissance and the splendid chateaux of the classical era. By this time, those who could afford them showed off as much through their grounds as through their properties, and indeed, house and garden have always been interconnected. The beautifully detailed stylistic designs of classical palaces contrasted with the more rustic greenery and patios of rural cottages and monasteries, which invited peaceful contemplation. In the Muslim world, meanwhile, the lack of water made its designers and engineers masters in the use of this scarce resource; a feat also visible in splendid parks not so much resplendent with extensive green lawns and flowering bushes, but captivating spaces dominated by water channels, fountains and sparse but effective plants. In the waving shadow of tall palm trees, they acquired a mesmerising, serene ambience that played on the senses with a profuseness of texture and fragrance. And so, different cultures adapted to their settings and created a rich variety of landscaping traditions to accompany their indigenous architectural and decorative styles. These combined provide the ultimate mix for any dwelling, no matter how big or humble. From Chambord and Japanese Zen to the Alhambra, the world provides a flowerbed of creative inspiration that we can draw on today.





Modern style vs sustainability Whatever their style and inspiration, modern gardens must increasingly be imbued with a balance; a harmony between human landscaping and the local climate and resources, for who better to care for nature than those that work with it? Landscapers are therefore the vanguard for architects and town planners to follow, in this regard, and just as the latter should incorporate cultural and environmental factors into their designs, so should gardeners create oases of peace and natural beauty that enhance rather than detract from their surroundings. This challenge, which many a ‘green finger’ is relishing, by its very definition requires different solutions in different locations, i.e. a localised approach. “In semi-arid regions such as California, Australia, South Africa, much of the Middle East and the Mediterranean, the first principle to follow is being economical with water,” says Oscar Vázquez Moó, a professional landscaper responsible for many of the finest creations in the Andalusian region. “In this sense we can draw a lot of inspiration from the Moorish designers of old, whose use of light, tones, textures, scents and water features created a very special, transcendent atmosphere that was cooling in summer and nurturing in winter.” The examples are many, but Oscar was so moved by what he experienced within the Al Menara gardens in Marrakesh that he named his company after this little green paradise in Morocco’s arid south. “For too long, humans have arrogantly been trying to bend nature to their will, creating water-guzzling subtropical gardens in semi-arid regions and ignoring indigenous plants in favour of imported ones,” says Oscar, who enjoys creating sustainable designs as much as producing beautiful green areas.







“Landscaping, like architecture and construction, is responding to new technologies, new possibilities and also the needs of a new era. We have to start being more mindful of our actions, from personal consumption to development, and landscaping plays an increasingly important role in this. It all begins with returning to indigenous planting in harmony with its setting.”

Guifré Homedes Amat Luxury Barcelona, SPAIN





Beauty in sync with nature “Our task today is to be in sync with local climate and resources wherever in the world we work, and this – rather than trend – produces the greatest variety and beauty in garden styles.” It is an approach that focuses more on creating a human-embellished version of the local landscape rather than imposing an alien one, and to this end landscapers such as those at La Menara are working with indigenous species supplemented by complementary counter tones. “In Mediterranean gardens this means planting drought-resistant xerophytic plants, many of which are semi-succulent, as well as using local pines, oaks, cork, olive and citrus trees, wild flowers and also heather, to which we add exotic splashes of colour in the form of lavender, jacaranda, cherry trees and many more.” The advantages are many, as such gardens are not only in harmony with their natural and cultural surroundings, but also much easier and cheaper to maintain. “Chipped wood, stones and reeds form part of this ambience of the senses, as do water features and courtyards – an essential home-garden lifestyle element in large parts of the world. Another feature not to forget is that it’s wrong to chop away all the trees to create a broad view, for it leaves you exposed to the elements and you also lose the amazing impact provided by cleverly framing views.” This also holds true in more northerly climes, where local conditions however invite the use of moss, different tree and plant species, pretty little toadstools, and more abundant water. “You know you’re in harmony with the surroundings when the atmosphere created by the garden you’ve designed is an embellished reflection of its setting. Ultimately, that is the best a landscaper could wish for.”





TICINO by Ueli Schnorf Wetag Consulting. Canton of Ticino, Canton of Uri, Switzerland.

Is Ticino more Italian or more Swiss in character and culture? US: On first impact you will note the Italian: sunny and warm, laid-back, the language and food culture are identical to Italy. When you dig deeper it is very Swiss: Well organized, a perfectly functioning infrastructure, a clear and stable juridical framework, just like the rest of Switzerland. Ticino is an extremely attractive best-of both-worlds option indeed. Which is your personal favourite spot of this beautiful region? US: It depends on my mood: The view from Ronco s/Ascona is magical like no other. The remote Bavona Valley with its mighty Foroglio waterfall is like a photoshopped fairytale valley. The viewpoint from Castagnola church onto Lugano and S. Salvatore is where I bring my friends to make them never want to leave again. Locarno’s vibrating international art atmosphere during the Filmfestival’s nightly open-air projections on piazza is very unique too. What would you recommend a newcomer to do first to have an authentic experience of Ticino? US: It’s up to the newcomer’s preference: In Lugano area, for example a breakfast at Hotel Splendide terrace, then walking the Lugano lakefront, taking a ride up to Mt. Bré or Mt. S. Salvatore, having a rustic dinner in an original Grotto under the trees out in the green and a night stop in elegant Hotel Principe Leopoldo’s garden bar, enjoying the perfect view down to Lugano. But I can easily give you 10 equal alternatives Which are the finest residential addresses within the region? US: In the Lugano area these are the villages on the hills around the city centre: Castagnola and Ruvigliana both on Mt. Bré hill, Collina d’Oro/Montagnola, and a couple of villages around the city and on the lakefront. In the Lago Maggiore aera, Ascona is number one, nearly equalled by the villages on the slopes around Ascona, such as very expensive Ronco, Minusio, Brione, Orselina and Brissago. Is it too romantic to picture oneself in a classic Aquariva on Lago di Lugano or Lago Maggiore? US: Not at all. At some point you will turn off the engine, and all you’ll hear are the tiny waves clapping on the mahogany board. The warm evening breeze is drying the water drops on your skin, and a voice says softly: do you want a drink now? You’ll see the moon rise on the horizon, and then you’ll kiss and you’ll know you have finally arrived in paradise. Which is better: a town or village location on the lake’s shore? US: For the Aquariva dreamer it is most convenient to look for a lakefront property, but the good ones are extremely rare. Many are preferring a hillside property with magnificent views onto the lake and the hills. Some like maximum privacy and total tranquillity which they will likely find higher up, 10 to 15 min drive from the lakesides offering even more spectacular views. It depends on the mindset, we see very expensive properties in all of these locations.




From butler to concierge Where yesterday’s luxurious home was managed by a butler, today’s enjoys the altogether less invasive services of dedicated concierge in a continuum of comfort and refinement found in the world’s finest homes.


here was a time when every aristocratic estate or senorial household had a gentleman butler in charge of running the home on behalf of its residents. The practice, which has its origins in classical times, peaked in the 19th and early 20th centuries before becoming largely obsolete in modern times. A contemporary version of the classic butler, in the form of a personal assistant and home manager, continues to this day and has in fact been revived, but many of the luxury home services once provided by teams of live-in staff are now the domain of made to measure concierge services that are rather more flexible in their make-up and response.





“There was a time when the classic butler was considered done, a relic of the past, but today we realise that people with tight schedules still need the support of qualified professionals. The post may have changed its name to personal assistance or even private concierge, but the concept remains very much alive, especially among buyers of the very finest homes.”

Yannis Ploumis Ploumis Sotiropoulos Athens, Greece

Of butlers, estates and private members clubs The classical world was one in which positions of privilege and servitude were passed from generation to generation, with only the occasional break in a long-established order when the fortunes of a particular individual or family shifted. In classical times the privileged classes had not so much employees as servants, though many of the latter ended up running households and even entire estates. It is from this period that the forerunner of the later butler comes, in the form of the person responsible for the home’s wine cellar. From this early ‘F&B Manager’ to the iconic head of domestic staff, the Buticula morphed through Old French Boteillier to Anglo-Norman Buteler, and finally butler. By the 18th century, this wine steward had worked his way up the ranks from mid-level to senior member of the household and effective manager of the entire body of staff. This difference in status was gradually marked by special uniforms that made the butler immediately recognisable, though today’s personal assistant, or modern butler, mostly wears smart business suits to look and feel more like a true PA. Personal service in a modern world Today, it is a paid position, not a socially preordained role in life, and as a result 21st century butlers can be male or female, and both client and employee can be of any background. Apart from the new iteration as PA, the classical butler has all but disappeared, largely replaced by the modern revival of another old-school tradition – the concierge service – even though today’s version can vary somewhat from the original meaning.

Originally, the concierge was the multi-home version of the butler and his team, providing reception and personal support services, as well as managing cleaning, maintenance, babysitting, catering and many other functions, to residents of luxury hotels and apartments buildings. These became popular in cities such as Paris, London and New York, and still form part of the classic appeal of the finest top-end condominiums in the latter. In recent times the concierge has made quite a comeback, because those who can afford it don’t only want beautiful homes but also wish for accompanying levels of comfort and service. For many, time is the ultimate luxury and in short supply, so having people take care of the more mundane of daily tasks, such as running a household, can be more practical than mere luxury. For this reason many of the finest apartment complexes, residential resorts and private villas make use of on-site receptions manned by staff headed by experienced concierge managers who can arrange everything from cleaning and maintenance to bookings, private chefs, leisure activities and office support. Though by no means a new concept, it seems the personal assistant and/or household or estate manager is here to stay. The nature of the job and relationship between client and employer may have developed with the times, but for people with the means and tight schedules that make it both possible and a necessity, personal service is an inseparable part of refined living and owning beautiful homes.


Buildings that absorb pollution



Parks were first created to offer much-needed green spaces and absorb city pollution. As the world’s urban centres grow ever larger and space is at a premium, we need to come up with new solutions to a growing smog and air quality problem.


ature maintains a balance between organisms and events that produce carbon dioxide and those that absorb it and other potentially harmful gasses. Man has disrupted this balance since the onset of the machine age and the spread of urban centres first began some two centuries ago. Today the spread has become a sprawl and entire regions are covered in concrete, steel, tarmac and glass, with barely a leaf or blade of grass in place. As a result, temperature extremes, heat currents and smog are becoming part of life in large urban areas. The World Health Organisation (WHO) of the UN estimates that 80 per cent of city dwellers breathe polluted air every day. In Italy alone, this causes almost 90,000 deaths a year due to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. If we don’t want to habitually walk around with masks on our faces, as they do in the Far East, we need to find some clever solutions to the problem fast. Fortunately there are people doing just that, and they come from a wide range of disciplines, including science, medicine and engineering – not to mention architecture. Here are some useful smog-beating architectural creations for the immediate future.



Palazzo Italia Milan

Milan has been one of the most polluted cities in Europe since the 1970s. Earlier attempts to reduce traffic have largely failed and so the city’s air quality continues to diminish. Cement doesn’t have a very good reputation as it is more or less synonymous with urban sprawl and the destruction of natural habitats, but German multinational HeidelbergCement proves that it can also be part of the solution. They have developed photocatalytic cement – a new kind of ‘smart cement’ that absorbs pollutants in the air and processes them within to convert these potentially harmful particles into harmless salts. In this way, a surface of 9,000 square metres of this material can absorb the exhaust gasses emitted by 100 diesel cars and almost 300 petrol engines. The


Italian pavilion at the 2015 Expo in Milan became a showcase for this new material. Dubbed the Palazzo Italia, this huge structure designed by architects Nemesi & Partners and built by Italiana Costruzione, was at the heart of the event at which 148 nations from around the world were represented. 35 metres tall, this was an ambitious project whose elegant white tones, web-like structure produced by Italcementi, which is part of the HeidelbergCement group, is made up of prefabricated cement build sections that feature a special pollutant absorbing mortar. For a city such as Milan as well as others across the world, this is an attractive way of cleaning up the air.


Bosco Verticale Milan

The architects at Stefano Boeri have opted for a natural solution, incorporating trees and plants into their design for a high-rise in the northern Italian city of Milan. Not only does all the greenery hanging off the balconies absorb carbon dioxide, convert it into oxygen and then release the latter into the surrounding city air, but it also looks great in a landscape of hard, impersonal materials such as steel, concrete, stone and glass. Like a vertical park rising into the air, Bosco Verticale is just that, a much-needed reference to nature that soothes the soul as much as the eye and makes the urban environment less harsh and more welcoming. Fighting pollution is not just about reducing harmful particles in the air – it is also about making the

urban world that most of us inhabit a more harmonious, pleasant, safe and if possible beautiful place, for these elements also improve wellbeing and social cohesion. This “world’s first vertical forest” consists of two towers clad in the greenery of 21,000 plants, and in so doing adds almost 2.5 acres of ‘high-rise park’ area to the city’s urban landscape. Not only does it convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, but it also reduces the urban heat island effect and dampens traffic noise. You simply can’t beat nature.



Smog Free Tower Eindhoven

Daan Roosegaarde from The Netherlands has come up with a slightly different solution to the problem of urban air quality. His proposal features a seven-metre tall smog-absorbing tower that uses patented positive ionisation technology to clean up ambient air in public spaces. Endowed with the capacity to clear 30,000 cubic metres of air per hour, it is an ideal ground level solution and one particularly useful for crowded areas where pedestrians have to share space with cars. One could imagine them standing alongside the main avenues of cities like New York, Shanghai and Sâo Paulo, to name a few, and before long this could be a feature of most squares across modern urban centres. The structure is modern and attractively styled, fitted with the latest green technology and should be the kind of public amenity for the 21st century.



Hospital Manuel Gea Gonzalez Mexico City

If smog is a problem in Milan it is an everyday curse in Mexico City, a vast sprawling metropolis of over 20 million people. The Mexican capital is one of the cities most in need of an improvement in air quality, and edifices such as the Hospital Manuel Gea Gonzalez, designed by Elegant Embellishments, is a great example of how it can be done. Once again, the solution appears to lie in a honeycomb façade that not only looks good but has the ability to filter air pollutants as well as provide important protection from solar glare and overheating – thus reducing the need for air conditioning and in the process improving energy and cost-efficiency.

In this case the particle filtering is done by a coating of superfine titanium oxide, which in combination with daylight absorbs and neutralises car emissions and other toxins. The new technology is called Prosolve370e and has the capacity to cancel out the emission from 1,000 cars per day. We’re in need of many, many more buildings such as this, especially in places like Mexico City, but this hospital leads the way in offering intelligent ways forward.

City Tree. London As their name suggests, Green City Solutions is a London-based studio that is serious about solving the challenges posed by large urban centres and mass transport systems. Their concept involves a ‘smogeating’ tree sculpture that is as effective as 275 trees in inhaling not only carbon dioxide but also nitrogen oxide and fine dust particles. The structure is made of a tree box that sucks in these elements from the surrounding air, purifies it and ‘exhales’ it again. This is done by bacteria inhabiting the moss plants within the tree, which convert inorganic pollutants into biomass at a rate of 275 normal trees whilst requiring far less space to do so. The City Tree is another of the growing number of exciting new solutions that, if adopted on a large scale, have every potential of making our air quality breathable again while in the process beautifying the places we live and work in.



Green 25 Turin

The Italians have taken this issue to heart, for the next project is located in Turin, otherwise known for Juventus and its car factories. Green 25, as it is called, is a design by Lucia Nopia that offers an otherworldly aspect to the urban landscape. From the outside this residential apartment complex seems like one of those old mansions forgotten by time and taken over by creepers and weeds, but in reality it was completed in 2012 and is ‘overgrown’ with greenery by design. To begin with, the structure isn’t plane or symmetrical but offers a rather intricate combination of irregular shapes. This, in turn, leads to the creation of rather intimate pathways, terraces and inner squares, all of which are planted in trees and shrubs. The same is true of the balconies, giving Green 25 the look and feel of apartments set within a lush forest. There is so much foliage embracing the complex that even the steel structure is barely visible, with the roof surfaces also carpeted in greenery that absorbs pollution just as it provides a cosseting, cosy and private living environment. The design has a village-like feel that promotes a sense of identity and community within the apartment complex that few of its rather more sterile brethren can emulate, and of course there is technology to aid the fantastic work done by the lovely plants and shrubs. The latter act as a screen between the homes and the city, drowning out city noise, creating a microclimate, reducing temperature and moisture extremes, and once again soothing the soul as they reflect the natural seasons in cities that have long forgotten what that looks and feels like. In addition to this, continuous insulation, sun glare protection, geothermal heating and cooling and rainwater recycling for irrigation make the 63 apartments in the complex unique and environmentally sound. Together, the trees and plants absorb 200,000 litres of carbon dioxide and produce 150,000 litres of oxygen per hour.

“From offices and city dwellings to wineries and luxurious villas on large grounds, we’re witnessing a quantum shift towards sustainability in the design, construction and engineering of today’s buildings. The aim is to make our homes and workplaces energy-efficient, and vanguard projects such as these show the way forward.”

Cristina Martínez Rimontgó Valencia, SPAIN







LISBON by Marta Silveira Catemario SILFIDUCIA real estate, Lisbon, Portugal.

Where would you direct visitors to really experience the beauty and ambience of Lisbon in a single glance: MS: Lisbon and all its grandeur can be taken in from a single glance along the Tagus River. Starting at Praça do Comércio with its magnificent square in downtown Lisbon, the views across the river to the statue of Christ, and then all the way to Belém and this district’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Discoveries Monument, Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. Where do you go for Pregos or a glass of Ginginha in Lisbon? MS: The famous Gambrinus Restaurant is renowned for its unforgettable “Prego” experience. Traditionally eaten at the restaurant’s counter and accompanied by the Gambrinus beer, called “Tulipa”. As for Ginginha, this ruby-coloured liqueur made from sour cherries dates back to 1840. The Ginginha shop called SEM RIVAL has been at Rua das Portas de Santo Antão since the 1890s. A must for tourists and locals. Which spots offer the best views of the city. MS: The Miradouro do Castelo São Jorge viewpoint, located on one of Lisbon’s Seven Hills, is a privileged spot to enjoy a fabulous panoramic view of the city within the walls of the castle. The Amoreiras 360° Panoramic View, located in the iconic Amoreiras Shopping Center. Here, at 174 m above sea level and among the highest points in the city, the panoramic view of the city of Lisbon and the Tagus River is magnificent. Which hidden gems do tourists overlook? MS: The remarkable and iconic 18th Century Baroque and Neoclassical Águas Livres Aqueduct. It is made up of 109 stone arches across 58 km. Only a portion is walkable. A definite ‘must’ while staying in Lisbon. The Madre de Deus Convent, which dates back to the 16th Century. Its lovely church houses the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum), an important guardian of Portuguese art and culture. Would you say that Lisbon has been ‘discovered’ as a city to buy property in? MS: Thanks to tax incentives to attract foreign investment, a mild climate and tranquil and healthy lifestyle, the premium real estate market in Lisbon has continued to grow exponentially. Parts of the city have exhausted their growth potential, but other areas, such as Alcantâra which stands out for its proximity to the Tagus River, accessibility and lifestyle, show great potential for future price appreciation. Cascais-Estoril OR Lisbon, which offers the best real estate? MS: Both areas have exceptional premium real estate options, all depending on the lifestyle one seeks. The Cascais-Estoril area is close to the sea, offers diversified real estate options ranging from villas by the seaside, and inside golf resorts and apartments/villas in the town centre/outskirts or inside private condominiums. Lisbon offers premium historical real estate, aristocratic mansions converted into private luxury condominiums, and emerging residential areas, all within the setting of a capital city by the river.




Lost civilisations Where did they go? Civilisations come and go, but where lore makes some ancient empires enduringly famous others are almost wiped from memory by the winds of time. For many, this merely adds to their aura of mystery and allure.




e all know of the pharaohs that once ruled ancient Egypt and gaze in awe at the incredible pyramids and temples that are testament to one of the greatest lost civilisations of mankind, but few are aware that there were even older cradles of civilisation that stand almost forgotten today. Think of the classical world and we conjure up images of Egypt, Rome, the Hellenes, Persians and Trojans, but there were more, many more, and this article serves to cast light upon them, for many were as impressive as the most famous civilisations of antiquity.

The cradle The birthplace of civilisation as we know it starts at the earliest point of recorded history. Geographically, it is usually placed in the so-called Fertile Crescent, a region roughly following the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Far more fertile 5,000 years ago than it is today, the seasonal flooding of the rivers created an agricultural breadbasket that made it a shining star of the Neolithic period, during which hunter gatherer nomads had begun to establish farming communities. The region covered by war-torn Iraq today had the capacity to support more people and higher population densities than ever before, and so the tiny settlements grew into towns and the first recorded civilisation was born.



The birth of the West

Sumeria, Babylonia and Assyria It was therefore in Sumeria that an organised, stratified society emerged, as well as the first recorded cuneiform writing system. As a similar culture began to form along the floodplains of the Nile, more states arose along the flanks of the Tigris and Euphrates too. Before long, in the 24th century BC, Sargon the Akkadian conquered them all, expanding his realm all the way up Mesopotamia to become the first known emperor in history. By 1700 BC the Akkadian kingdom had evolved into Babylonia, whose capital of Babylon, near modern-day Baghdad, was said to be one of the marvels of the ancient world. Though not as well-known as Egypt’s civilisation, Babylonia under its legendary king Hammurabi was a glorious empire that extended from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean – complete with fascinating ziggurat structures whose ruins can still be found scattered across Iraq.

It is out of this world that our own Western one emerged, spreading westwards with the Greeks and the Phoenicians (ancestors of the modern-day Lebanese), who established trading colonies across the Mediterranean. Southern Italy and Sicily became major centres of Hellenic influence, with Neapolis (today’s Naples) literally meaning ‘new town’. Along the eastern Spanish shoreline, they met Phoenician traders from Carthage, later to become an empire in its own right. Cities such as Cartagena, Málaga, Cádiz and Lisbon trace their origins to these seafarers from what is now Tunisia; centuries later, Hannibal, perhaps the most famous Carthaginian of all time, would cross the Alps and invade the Roman state. Rather than be defeated and confined to the dusty archives of history, the plucky Romans took the fight to Carthage itself and in their ultimate victory laid the foundations for the famous Roman Empire. Another step in the creation of the Western world was made when a certain resident of Sumeria named Abraham followed the calling of his God to the land of Canaan. The resulting blooming of Hebrew culture and Jewish faith in the state of Israel was, eventually, to lead to the genesis of Christianity and Islam, religions that shake the world to its foundations even now.

Neighbouring Elam was to become the first Iranian civilisation, precursor of the later Medes and Persians, but it too fell under the sway of the all-conquering Hammurabi, whose code can be seen as an early foundation of the civilised legal system. Even as Babylon rose to prominence within the Fertile Crescent, its northerly neighbours in Assyria had begun to flex their muscles too. They were eventually to conquer all of Mesopotamia and rule much of what we now call the Middle East, stretching west to the Levantine thalassocracy of the Phoenicians and north to the lands of the Hittites. Throughout all of this, the first form of alphabetic writing emerged in the Sinai, and the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh became the first major work of literature.



Lesser-known civilisations Most of the players in this timeframe have so far been reasonably familiar, but the region between the Balkans, modern-day Turkey and the steppes north of the Black Sea forms the epicentre of much that has shaped Europe. Somehow, the kingdoms of the Hittites, Lydians and Lycians never made it to the top of the history charts and their names have largely fallen between the cracks of time, but in their own day the Hittites were a powerful empire that successfully battled the mighty Assyrians and the Egyptian empire, winning an epic victory over them at the Battle of Kadesh – the greatest chariot fight in history. The Phrygians, meanwhile, were close allies of the mysterious yet famous Trojans, claimed by Romans and Englishmen alike to be their ancestors. Just maybe, the Trojans actually were Phrygians themselves.



Ancient Europe versus New Europe Little is also known about the old Europe before the arrival of Indo-European peoples and languages, such as those of the Anatolian tribes mentioned above. Before the Indo-European invasion into Europe its people were mostly dark-haired, slighter of stature and spoke now lost tongues of which only two remain: Basque and Albanian. Similar to those of the ancient Iberians and Illyrians respectively, these contemporary languages form a link to our oldest ancestors, who thanks to modern DNA sampling form a continuity from the Picts of the British Isles and Gascon of France to the Iberians, Berbers and other ancient peoples.

a more purely ‘new’ civilisation with them that first clashed with the Roman Empire and then engulfed it. We are, therefore, the confluence of all these people and carry them in our very genes and veins – both the famous Romans, Phoenicians and Hebrews as well as the almost forgotten but equally important Hittites, Iberians, Thracians, Sarmatians and ProtoGermanic people. Whatever your nationality, if you’re from the broader Eurasian and Western Asian region you’re a fascinating mosaic of all that went before, a proud descendant of Hammurabi, Hannibal and Abraham as well as Clovis, King Arthur and Arpad.

The ‘new Europe’ came into being with the gradual arrival of waves of taller, fair-haired people coming from the steppes east of the Ukraine. The latter had been a domain of other little-known, yet important and related civilisations of the Scythians, Sarmatians, Alan and Avar – all people with Caucasian-Persian origins themselves. This means that North African Berber and Middle Eastern Iranian elements have long existed in the European population, in fact predating the blonder people we now associate with most of the continent. Called ‘Aryans’ by some – most famously the Nazis – they moved from their ‘Urheimat’ in south-eastern Russia in two main directions, spreading their family of languages into the Indian subcontinent and into Europe. Hence the name ‘Indo-European’. The result is not only the invasion of the Dravidian world and the imposition of the caste system in India, but also the gradual evolution of civilisations in Europe that resulted from the contact between indigenous and new Europeans. The Thracians that gave birth to Alexander the Great and the great Celtic culture that still lives on today are fine examples of this, with later Slavic and Germanic tribes bringing



Granada, seductress of the ages This ancient settlement at the heart of the Andalusian plains is much more than a city, or even a beautiful historical one. It is a cultural and architectural gem endowed with a great deal of atmosphere and charm – the perfect place to enjoy and lose yourself in as you stroll through cobbled streets and grand avenues lined with historic landmarks.





et within the fertile floodplain known as the Vega, Granada also lies within the shadow of the towering Sierra Nevada mountain range. They form a perfect backdrop for a place that is in many ways the epitome of Andalusian Spain, a rich melange of Iberian, Roman, Moorish and Castilian Christian influences that together add up to one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities in the world. The winter air carries the chill of a plateau at 700 metres altitude, added to by icy gusts carried down from the snow-capped mountains that provide such a spectacularly scenic backdrop. While ski lovers are enjoying themselves at the alpine resorts in these nearby mountains, people in Granada itself huddle in cosy tavernas where it is said the tradition of offering a free tapa with every beverage ordered first originated. Not all tapas are still gratis in Granada, but it is one of the centres of excellence for this uniquely sociable and Spanish form of cuisine. Today, Granada is above all a lively student city with a thriving local social scene in which tapas bars, cervezería eateries, cafés and bars play a central role. Whether tucked away in a pedestrian street or basking in the sunlight of a broad plaza, they add contemporary life to a city that is steeped in history. It’s everywhere, from grand Baroque churches, palaces and avenues in the centre of town to the more densely packed market and student quarter just beyond. An undeniable highlight is the magical Alhambra, a Moorish palace fortress that conjours up One Thousand and One Nights.





A city of layers Set upon a panoramic hillock that towers over the city it overlooks, the Alhambra is itself one of the most iconic scenic pictures one could imagine, often framed by mighty snow-capped mountains that rise beyond it. This complex of palaces, patios and gardens is so popular that the authorities have wisely decided to cap visitor numbers in a first come, first served manner. Even so, if you book ahead you should be able to arrange a dreamy tour of its exquisite workmanship and wondrous gardens, not to mention the views enjoyed from here. Even more beguiling than a daytime visit is the nightly tour, when the complex seems to come alive, and if you stay at the nearby Parador palace hotel you can enjoy both and wander through the beautiful Generalife gardens at will. The Alhambra is the symbol of Moorish Andalucía, as it was here that the last Muslim state held out until 1492, when the Christian reconquest of Iberia that began over seven centuries earlier was finally completed. From its fortress wall another Moorish gift to the city of Granada beckons enticingly.









The Albaicín Divided by a small river and standing on the opposite hillside, this erstwhile Moorish suburb retains a wonderfully artistic charm about it. The Albaicín is a maze of cobble stone streets that dissect white-washed houses rolling down a gentle hillside. It is a place of elegant gardens and terraces hidden behind high walls; pleasant squares and flat roof terraces where in Moorish times families would sleep on mattresses to escape the worst of the summer heat. Stroll through its streets, visit an Arabian Hammam spa or enter a classic tea room to absorb the atmosphere. Not far away is Sacromonte, a somewhat poorer district complete with troglodyte cave houses that has long been home to Granada’s Gypsy community and as such is one of the finest places in Spain to experience their unique Flamenco artform. In this most authentic of settings, the unbridled passion of dance, guitar and song produces a state known as duende, and it fits well into the bohemian ambience of Sacromonte. From elegant and stately to raw and authentic; Granada blends its ancient past with the vibrancy of a youthful student city, and the effect is enticing.


“Granada is the kind of place you have to experience. It has beautiful monuments and sites, to be sure, but it is above all the sensory aspect of this city, how it makes you feel, that is so special.”

María del Mar Bas Rimontgó Jávea, SPAIN





The modern members club, revival of a classic To go to one’s club was a concept that almost disappeared as we moved out of the post-war period into a modern era; but now, just a few decades later, it is enjoying a veritable renaissance with a 21st century twist.


he idea of a private members’ club, or gentlemen’s club, as it was once known, is steeped in ancien régime privilege and as such fell out of favour from the 1960s onwards. Increasingly, the likes of Pall Mall, The Athenaeum and the Turf Club seemed old-fashioned institutions out of touch with their times. Most were indeed beacons of the past, generally restricted to affluent men from the domestic upper classes and largely closed to everyone else.

that – the fact that it is an exclusive oasis of peace and sophistication where one can be among kindred spirits. There are still clubs that cater to specific groups, such as men or women, but the majority are open to people of all genders, races and backgrounds, and many a club joins with others around the world to offer cross-country membership benefits.

This did not fit with the doctrine of an era that lobbied for greater acceptance and inclusion, and so many a once-legendary club became a victim of the times and disappeared. The fact that this was not the fate of all, and the members’ club is once again a thriving concept, is due to a series of fundamental social factors that make this kind of establishment not only acceptable, but actually highly desired.

The other factor that has spurred on the revival of the private members’ club is increased prosperity – both in the form of the growing number of HNW individuals – including many new rich – and the greater access the masses now have to tourism, leisure facilities and lifestyle amenities such as spas that were once the domain of a few. To avoid such mass congregations and recapture the sense of refinement and privilege, those with money now increasingly seek refuge in select environments.

Classicism in modern times The gentlemen’s club survived by adapting to new times, opening its hallowed halls to women as well as people from outside the circles to which membership had traditionally been restricted. This meant that not only aristocrats, members of the upper classes and also military officers and highranking government official qualified, but also those of lower-born social status, including self-made tycoons.

The ultimate appeal of the private members’ club is therefore the sense of exclusivity, service and almost old-world sophistication it exudes, but to thrive in the 21st century this has to be melded into an offering that is also thoroughly modern in terms of style, ambience and appeal. Those clubs that succeed in blending classic and modern to perfection and creating a special private oasis are at the heart of a global revival of luxury and elegance.

Money remains a self-selecting factor, as membership is not cheap and many find the appeal of the private club to be just




Europe’s Finest Real Estate

Historical Seafront Villa Aegina Island, GREECE More info on page 72


Historical building in the city center, Vienna AUSTRIA The unique style building offers the ideal setting for sophisticated home decor. Living space 120m², luxury bathrooms smart home control, extraordinary architecture. Price upon request. Ref. MI-2129


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Historical Seafront Villa Aegina Island Aegina, GREECE. This historical house was built in the 1930's and exudes the elegance and style of a bygone era. The main house measures 400 m² in total on a garden of 5.074 m². This charming property has it all - distinctive architecture, style, atmosphere, and easy access to the sea and a small port. It is ideal either as a vacation home or as a main residence. 9 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, house: 400 m², land: 5.074 m2 Price: € 2.900.000


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5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms. House: 658 sqm. Price: € 2.800.000. Ref. 27211

Amat Luxury (+34) 934 529 960


The pinnacle of elegance and sophistication For those seeking elegance in the heart of the city, this is their ideal home within easy reach to an array of amenities Valencia, SPAIN. The flat offers a flexible floor plan with grand entertaining areas and accommodates three bedrooms and four bathrooms. No expense was spared in the meticulous renovation. Further benefiting from an extensive terrace with a retractable cover upholstered in tropical wood benefiting from a bar area perfect for family and friends’ gatherings. The building offers its residents concierge service and security. 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, built: 427 m2 Price: € 2,500,000. Ref: RMGV2967


Property section. Spain

Residence offering all the modern life-style needs In the heart of an idyllic environment in the Montgó area in Jávea is this one-of-a-kind majestic villa with fabulous entertaining areas Montgó, Jávea, SPAIN. Boasting an imposing architecture and well-presented throughout, the property comprises three levels distributed over three bedrooms and three bathrooms, large living areas and inviting bespoke facilities such as a library with office area, terrace, fully-equipped wellness area, wine cellar and parking facilities plus the magnificent garden with a grand swimming pool. Perfect family home. 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, built: 1,190 m2, plot: 5,500 m2 Price: € 5,500,000. Ref: RMG6126

Rimontgó +34 963 504 444


Guernerés Exclusive Lodge An "all inclusive" concept ski-in / ski-out in the heart of the Valais Grimentz, Swiss Alps, SWITZERLAND. Along the ski slopes, the Guernerés Exclusive Lodge offers you a unique setting in authentic surroundings. Enjoy the individuality of your second home to the full while taking advantage of the comfort and convenience of a hotel-style service. Still untouched by mass tourism, Grimentz has been listed by CNN as one of the three most beautiful European ski resorts (2016 & 2017). 36 dwellings in 16 chalets, from a 1.5 bedroom 64 m2 property to the 324 m2 private chalet or 40 individual dwellings, from a 1.5 bedroom 54 m² apartment to a 4.5 bedroom 158 m² apartment. Price: from CHF 708'148. - up to CHF 3'432'500


Property section. Switzerland

Provencal charm with sea view, Ramatuelle, Var, FRANCE

Chalet Adey, Nendaz, Valais, SWITZERLAND

5 bedrs, 6 bathrs, house: 350 m2, land: 10.005 m2 Price € 8'600'000. Ref: 29594

7 bedrs, 7 bathrs, House: 510 m2, land : 3.590 m2 Price: CHF 5'500'000. Ref. 30066

Les Résidences du National Montreux, Vaud, SWITZERLAND Apartment: 4 bedrs. 4 bathrs. Approx. 200 m2 Price CHF 3'400'000. Ref: 33444

Comptoir Immobilier +41 (0) 22 319 89 89


Bungalow-style luxury home in Urdorf ZH, SWITZERLAND

Idyllic lakeside trouvaille in Lucerne, SWITZERLAND

Modern 10-room villa with heated swimming pool; quiet sunny location with nice and far-reaching views.

Exclusive, tranquil lakeside residential district. The lake on your doorstep, the mountains in the distance: 5.5-room gem with potential to become a dream property.

6 bedrs., house: 460 m², land: 1.794 m² Price: CHF 4.900.000. Ref: L10.019

A superior home for fans of modern architecture in Uster, SWITZERLAND 7.5-room villa with clear structures, high level of comfort, an idyllic terrace and sweeping views. 5 bedrs., house: 282 m², land: 932 m² Price: CHF 4.800.000. Ref: L10.055


4 bedrs., house: 171 m², land: 2.517 m² Price upon request. Ref: L09.937

Country villa with fantastic gardens in Bellikon, SWITZERLAND 8-room country villa with beautifully landscaped gardens with pool, natural habitats, and various seating areas. 5 bedrs., house: 382 m², land: 5.656 m² Price upon request. Ref: L10.210

Property section. Switzerland

Stylish 1950s villa with pool and sweeping views in Ennetbaden, SWITZERLAND

History and modernity combined: country house with charm and space in Seon, SWITZERLAND

8-room villa with an exciting 1950s building by Walter Bölsterli, a garden space of over 2.211 m² and an outdoor pool.

Property with main house, granny flat and outbuildings.

6 bedrs., house: 257 m², land: 2.494 m² Price upon request. Ref: L10.111

10 bedrs., house: 550 m², land: 23.405 m² Price upon request. Ref: L10.319

Modern country villa with wellness, pool and lake view, Herrliberg, SWITZERLAND

Unique lakeside property with a historical collection of buildings, Uerikon, SWITZERLAND

Situated in an elevated, prestigious location with heavenly views over the lake to the mountains.

Three fully renovated homes from the 18th/19th centuries on the upper shore of Lake Zurich, with swimming pool and breathtaking views of the Alps.

5 bedrs., house: 483 m², land: 2.013 m² Price upon request. Ref: L10.294

8 bedrs., houses: 780 m², land: 22.951 m² Price upon request. Ref: L09.835

Walde Immobilien AG +41 44 396 60 60


Modern villa with pool & view of Lake Lugano, Cureggia, Lake Lugano, Ticino, SWITZERLAND 3 bedrs. 2 bathrs, house: 153 m2, land: 620 m2. Price: CHF 2’450’000. Ref: 88797


Property section. Switzerland

Large Mediterranean luxury villa, just steps away from Lake Lugano Morcote, Lake Lugano, Ticino, SWITZERLAND 8 bedrs, 7 bathrs, house: 847 m2, land: 2.544 m2 Price: CHF 16.000.000. Ref: 88257 Luxury apartment, completely renovated in the center of Lugano Lugano, Lake Lugano, Ticino, SWITZERLAND 3 bedrs, 3 bathrs, house: 194 m2 Price: CHF 4.160.000. Ref: 88801-1

Palazzo Mantegazza: luxury apartment with lake view Paradiso, Lake Lugano, Ticino, SWITZERLAND 3 bedrs. 3 bathrs, house: 210, terrace: 110 m2 Price: CHF 4.500.000. Ref: 88721

Modern villa with swimming pool & customizable layout Agarone, Lake Maggiore, Ticino, SWITZERLAND 5 bedrs. 3 bathrs, house: 360, land: 677 m2 Price: CHF 2.890.000. Ref: 88786

Wetag Consulting +41 (0)91 601 04 40


Successful international cooperation “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more”. Dr. J.E. Salk

The productive cooperation between members of EREN continues to grow, and this implies not only an increase in cross-border transactions but also the ability to offer an ever-improving service to our international clients. A signature benefit of working with an EREN member firm is the expertise and high quality of service each member gives its clients, while working cooperatively with the highest degrees of trust and accountability. Here is a sample of case studies from the past few months.





Successful cross-border sale during Corona-Lockdown Due to our international marketing and the presentation in the magazine „VILLAE“ we were able to prevail over our broker colleagues in the joint marketing of an exclusive penthouse apartment with an amazing roof terrace and great view over Vienna. Despite all the adversities during the Corona Lockdown, especially due to the limited viewing opportunities, we found a buyer form Germany and they fell in love with the apartment even before visiting it – just from facetime presentation. Once again it has been shown that successful sales follow effective international marketing and service, as seen so often with our international cooperation within EREN.



AUSTRIA MARSCHALL REAL ESTATE. Vienna A modern, dynamic company that combines its technical know-how and knowledge of the local property market with a customerorientated service. Providing a key brokerage and surveying service to private buyers and investors, embassies, trusts and foundations, the firm offers a portfolio of upmarket residential properties, commercial real estate and industrial premises. Währinger Straße 2-4 1090 Wien – Austria Tel: +43-1-533 20 30 Fax: +43-1-533 20 30 30

GREECE PLOUMIS SOTIROPOULOS. Athens. Ploumis Sotiropoulos is a full-service real estate brokerage founded in 1924 and offering a wide range of property in the greater Athens area and in selected other areas around Greece. 6 Panepistimiou, 10671 Athens, Greece +30 210 3643112

GERMANY JLL RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT. Berlin JLL Residential Development is the leading expert in Germany for the sale of offthe-plan condominiums to an international clientele. From six of JLL’s German offices, the Residential Development Division offers project developers a comprehensive range of services for the planning and marketing of their off-the-plan developments. New residential properties are marketed by the multilingual consultancy team in Germany, who covers 15 languages, the 45 sales partners worldwide and JLL's global network. Unter den Linden 14 10117 Berlin, Germany +49 30 88 66 000

ITALY COFIM. Verona Founded in 1978. Cofim is a leading property firm that specializes in both sales and rentals of residential and commercial properties in the Veneto Region and Lake Garda. Its staff provides to multilingual clients quality service from the very beginning of the sale/ren-

tal process over offering a smart marketing plan. Cofim's goal is to satisfy clients offering them an extensive portfolio of properties, from apartments to high-end villas and a wise knowledge of the local territory. Via Brescia,8. 25019 Sirmione - Brescia +39 – 030 – 337 79 72 Stradone Porta Palio, 16/A. 37122 Verona - Italy Tel: +39 – 045 – 800 11 99 IMMOBILSARDA. Sardinia-Costa Smeralda-Porto Cervo. Since 1974, Property Finder and leading high-end real estate specialist in Sardinia – Costa Smeralda. Providing brokerage and surveying services as well as project management , market research and valuations. As developer, promoter and consultant, Immobilsarda guarantees an invaluable local knowledge, an extensive portfolio of high quality properties for sale and rent, seafront villas and estates, luxury golf resort projects, sustainable developments. Via Nazionale 28. 07028 Santa Teresa di Gallura - Italy Tel: +39-0789-754500 Fax: +39-0789-754371 Vicolo degli Archi, 1 07020 Porto Cervo - (OT) - Italy Tel. +39-0789-909000 Fax. + 39-0789-909022 Piazza Krizia 7 07026 - Porto Rotondo (OT) - Italy Tel. +39.0789.381024 Piazzetta Mare 07020 Porto Rafael – (OT) - Italy Tel. +39.0789.700381 IMMOBILSARDA. Milan Branch. Specialized in international clients investors for over 30 years, the branch of Milan provides services in different sectors for owners, investors, developers: from residential, tourism, offices, hotels, funds and retails, advisory and corporate solutions, feasibility studies, as well as property finder, real estate consultancy, marketing analysis, tailor made services for private and owners. Via Visconti di Modrone, 29 20122 Milan - Italy Tel. +39 02 76009446


LA COMMERCIALE. Rome This property specialist for Rome and the surrounding province of Lazio is a leading brokerage, accredited by the Chamber of Commerce to operate with the Real Estate Stock Exchange of Rome, and entrusted with the sale of luxury city properties, large historical country estates and commercial real estate. Lungotevere dei Mellini 44. 00193 Rome - Italy Tel: +39 06 3200613. Fax: +39 06 3218100

PORTUGAL SILFIDUCIA REAL ESTATE. Lisbon. Founded in 1981, SILFIDUCIA is one of the longest established real estate agencies in the market. Our experienced teams cover commercial and residential property, combining innovation with traditional values to provide clients with the highest level of customer service. We provide agency, as well as customised real estate solutions including investment consultancy, development and market research. SILFIDUCIA is part of Grupo SIL, a leading real estate business with more than 60 years of knowledge and perspective of the real estate market. Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo, 6 - 5th floor 1050 - 121 Lisbon, PORTUGAL Tel: +351 213 555 555 •

SPAIN AMAT LUXURY. Barcelona Ambassadors of the Mediterranean Way of Life as we offer a selection of properties characterized by Mediterranean culture, Amat Luxury is focused on luxury properties in Barcelona and primarily residential areas. We are a family business with over 70 years in the Catalan real estate market which supports our experience, professionalism and excellence in customer care. Sant Just Desvern (BCN) Bonavista, nº 63-65 – 08960 Sant Cugat del Vallès (BCN) Av. Rius i Taulet, nº 17 – 080172 Barcelona Balmes, nº 345 – 08006 Barcelona Via Augusta, 3 – 08006 Tel: (+34) 934 529 960

RIMONTGÓ. Valencia, Jávea Specialising in Valencia and northern Costa Blanca regions, Rimontgó is a wellestablished family business that has been building, marketing and selling quality villas and apartments since 1959. Rimontgó’s multilingual team offers a full range of residential and commercial property services, ensuring the company’s success in a vibrant region of Spain.

WETAG CONSULTING IMMOBILIARE SA. Canton Ticino, Switzerland A leading specialist in high-end real estate in the Ticino region of Switzerland since 1973, Wetag offers a broad range of customized real estate and personal solutions. These include the purchase and sale of residential property, assistance with residence permit applications and also with guidance regarding tax-related or legal issues.

Avenida de Lepanto, 1 03730 Jávea (Alicante) - Spain Tel. +34 965 791 035 Fax. +34 965 795 129

Via Antonio Ciseri, 13A 6601 Locarno - Switzerland Tel: +41-91-601 04 40 Fax: +41-91-751 96 38

Po. Amanecer, bl 9, local 10 03730 Jávea (Alicante) - Spain Tel. +34 966 470 983 Fax. + 34 966 470 983

Via Beato Berno, 10 CH-6612 Ascona - Switzerland Tel: +41-91-791 29 20

Gran Vía Marqués del Turia, 62 46005 Valencia - Spain Tel.+34 963 504 444 Fax. +34 963 504 445

Riva Antonio Caccia, 3 CH-6900 Lugano - Switzerland Tel: +41-91-601 04 50




COMPTOIR IMMOBILIER. Geneva. With origins dating back to 1825, COMPTOIR IMMOBILIER is a leading real estate Group in French-speaking Switzerland. Based in Geneva, the company also operates agencies in the Cantons of Vaud and Valais, employing today more than 320 professionals and active in residential, commercial, and luxury real estate with its Prestige division CI EXCLUSIVE PROPERTIES. This family structure carries strong values with a focus on Service, Performance, Ethics and Sustainable development.

1st Floor, 1 East Poultry Avenue London EC1A 9PT - United Kingdom

Cours de Rive 7, 1203 Geneva. Switzerland WALDE IMMOBILIEN AG Zollikon, Baden, Lucerne, Sursee, Thalwil, Uster, Zurich Walde & Partner Immobilien are the leading independent real estate agents for prime, exclusive properties in the Germanspeaking region of Switzerland. Founded in 1985, Walde & Partner operates with a staff of 60 at its seven offices in and around Lake Zurich and Lucerne. The Brand Walde & Partner Immobilien stands for quality, professionalism and the highest level of customer satisfaction. Alte Landstrasse 107 CH-8702 Zollikon - Switzerland Tel. +41 44 396 60 60 Fax. +41 44 396 60 90 •


How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. Anne Frank 1929 - 1945





EREN HEAD OFFICE 1st Floor, 1 East Poultry Avenue London EC1A 9PT - United Kingdom

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