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Sunday 24, November 2013.


KASBAH TAMADOT Thursday 11, October 2012

What’s hot? - Hanging out with Richard Branson (but he’s only here about once a year). He greeted us when we stayed, but if we’d got there a day or two earlier we’d have had the opportunity to play tennis with him we’d have had the opportunity to play tennis with him. - The setting makes outdoor dining spectacular, whether you’re on the rooftop or at the pool terrace. And al fresco dinner around the flowerstrewn reflection pool is especially romantic. Taken from

More home than hotel, this is Sir Richard Branson’s personal Moroccan retreat. Set in the foothills of the high Atlas mountains, a 4x4 will pick you up from the airport and, if you arrive at night, Kasbah Tamadot (meaning soft breeze in Berber) is all lit up like a fairy-tale castle.

Need to Know: Kasbah Tamadot Number of rooms: 27, including nine tented suites (five of which have private plunge pools).

There are just 18 individually decorated rooms – think colourful, Moorish details with Indian influences – and, more recently, nine Berber tents perched on the hillside overlooking the valley, some with private plunge pools. Note these aren’t your typical canvas tents – luxurious cabins with an elaborate tented roof is a more accurate description.

One outdoor pool and one indoor pool in the spa. The master suite comes with a private outdoor pool, too. The Asounfou spa (Berber for relaxation) has five treatment rooms over two locations, using Yonka and Aromatherapy Associates products. There’s also a traditional Moroccan hammam and a sauna. There’s a different menu every night of the week, from à la carte to a taster menu via a Berber feast or a North African barbecue.

With the snow-capped High Atlas mountains providing picture-perfect vistas, this is the ultimate R&R destination. You can lounge by the infinity pool, indulge in the spa treatments or have a traditional Moroccan hammam. For more energetic pursuits there are two tennis courts, an outdoor ping-pong table and a croquet lawn, plus a 24-hour gym (should you feel the need). Add mature gardens, a vegetable patch and a menagerie of animals (two camels, three donkeys and four mules) and it’s very much like being a guest at someone’s private estate; one with the most genial staff, employed from the local Berber villages. Offering an antidote to the hustle, bustle and haggling of central Marrakech, Kasbah Tamadot is simply magical.

Check-in/check-out times: 2pm and 12 noon Room service: Yes

You’re spoilt for outdoor dining space, while in winter the elegant Kanoun Restaurant gives spectacular views of the Atlas mountains from indoors. Plus, afternoon tea is served in the library during colder months. The free minibar in your room is a nice touch. OK, there are no spirits, but you do get wine, beer, soft drinks and water. Getting there: Located in Asni at the foothills of the Atlas mountains, Kasbah Tamadot is a 45-minute drive from Marrakech airport and about an hour’s drive from Marrakech. Transfers are available, with a one-way journey from the airport to Kasbah Tamadot costing 890 MAD (around £65) per car for up to three people.

- The attention to detail is impeccable. From the red and green babouches (Moroccan slippers) that serve as ‘Do not disturb/enter’ signs, to the postcards in your room, complete with stamps, that are ready to write and post. What’s not? - A luxurious open-plan tent? Yes, please. Including the toilet? Not so much. The tents with a separate bathroom are better. Plus, they’re the ones with a plunge pool, too. - The tents next to the pond might not be top of our list – the evening frog chorus was a bit noisy!

Near to? The village of Asni, where you can practice your haggling skills at the Saturday market.






ALILA VILLAS ULUWATU Sunday 17, July 2011

Friday 8, February 2013

Russian studio Arch Group has filled an old building in Moscow with its portable sleeping capsules to create the first Sleepbox hotel. The modular hotel rooms were first developed for travellers taking naps in busy urban environments, but have also allowed Arch Group to convert an awkward building in the city centre into a functioning hotel. Conceived as a midpoint between a hotel and a hostel, the four-storey building contains units for up to two people on its first and second floors, while the top floor is filled with single-person capsules. Each Sleepbox is mobile and can be placed anywhere, provided it can be connected to a power source. As well as beds, the rooms are equipped with LED reading lamps, plus sockets for charging laptops and mobile phones. A lobby and reception occupy the ground floor and includes an information zone where guests can use iPads to access the internet, plus a storage area filled with lockers. Showers and toilet cabins are located on each floor and have bright green circular lights on the outside to indicate when they are occupied. The building also contains a handful of regular hotel rooms, which were added to the top floor in spaces where the ceiling heights were too low for a Sleepbox. Arch Group developed the concept for the Sleepbox in 2009 and the first capsule opened at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport two years later.

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CASA KIMBALL Wednesday 6, January 2010

Eco luxury does not get any better than this. The Singapore based Alila brand has a firm grasp of what it takes to do it right. It is a brand to watch in the coming years with 20 new properties launching in Asia as well as Portugal. We are most excited about Alila’s Alila Villas properties. Having just spent time at their sister hotel Alila Villas Soori, we were expecting the same level of luxury and care at Alila Villas Uluwatu. Uluwatu is only 30 minutes from the airport (depending on traffic) and does indeed have the same WOW effect as Soori. Stunning views, cliff-top balconies overlooking the ocean, beautifully designed villas with their own pool and decking, indoor and outdoor showers and just space, so much lovely space! This is one of the reasons why the Southeast Asian luxury is so incredible: They understand space. They design spaces that make you immediately feel you are not “in Kansas” any more. It is unlike anything we run into in our everyday lives, or

even in our customary luxury moments. They make you feel that you are somewhere special and the fact they use sustainable materials in their design makes you feel smugly happy about splurging a bit. The service at Uluwatu is on a level you seldom see. You are greeted by name throughout the resort. The staff at the restaurants knows you preferences, dislikes and allergies but makes no big show of it. It is like a great host, a close friend would treat you. Everyone was extremely well trained and that, we believe, comes from managing director, Sean Brennan, the Aussie who has spent the last 13 years in the hospitality industry in Asia and who is a force of nature on his own. Over our years of staying at hundreds of hotels, we have seldom, if ever, met a hotel manager like him. Sean is the type of hotel manager you would pouch for your own hotel if you had one. He is more hands-on with guests and staff than anyone we have observed. He greets guests

Elegant use of space, lovely surface texture and breathtaking sightlines help this new “stack of boxes” avoid the current architectural cliché and give it the appearance of a villa that is not new at all but rather an established retro holiday compound of someone with a confident sense of style and a stack of extra cash. Casa Kimball is a much-publicized private house and rental villa on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Designed by New York’s Rangr Studio. Casa Kimball owner, Google software engineer Spencer Kimball, found Jasmit Rangr via Google when he needed a designer for his New York loft. That cooperation led to the next project, the beach house in the Dominican Republic. Casa Kimball’s lovely features include huge windows and doors that pivot on ball bearings and have extremely thin and light frames made of a South-American hardwood as strong as steel. Floors and ceilings are covered with local coral stone. The 20,000 square-foot casa has eight suites. - Tuija Seipell

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personally on arrival, shows them around, offers drinks, and sits with them at lunch and dinner, literally moving from table to table making sure the guests are enjoying themselves. He is a pleasure to watch, as he clearly loves what he does. Just like Soori - the images here show exactly what the resort looks like and these last three images were taken by my own camera. And guests become quite giddy and silly about their dramatic surroundings and service. Guest with their $10,000 cameras with super zoom lenses took pictures constantly posing by the pool, by the cliff, in the villas, complete with costume changes every few hours. It was hilarious to watch. We would like to help introduce you, too, to Alila Villas Uluwatu. Mention TCH and you will receive a 90-minute complimentary spa treatment per guest. - Bill Tikos. Best time to visit Bali: July - September




Customers place their orders on a touch screen built into the robot’s wooden facade, or they can key in an emergency cappuccino order through the companion iPhone app. After patrons choose their beverage type—lattes, Americanos, and plain black coffee are just a few of the options—dairy, sweeteners, and flavor shots can be added to taste. The recipe is stored in the cloud for future use, the Briggo bot whirs into action, grinding fresh beans, and when it’s finished, it sends a text message to the customer. Briggo is trying to improve coffee craft through mechanization. Take their approach to steamed milk, the lynchpin of any good latte. “Based on a customer’s selection, we precisely calculate to the gram the ingredients, as well as the precise frothing parameters needed based on those ingredients,” says Briggo CEO Kevin Nater. “Milkfat, size, temperature, additional additives all play into the formulation. In the end, we steam and caramelize fresh milk to create a consistent microfoam that until now could only be achieved by a skilled barista.” Humans work in seconds, scoops, and splashes, but the Briggo system creates a perfect cuppa by measuring every action and ingredient in milliseconds, milliliters, and grams. The first Briggo robot was deployed last year. It worked

well technically but had all the charm of an airport terminal. Emboldened by the success of their pilot location and flush with $11 million in cash from investors, Briggo decided to overhaul their prototype and turned to Yves Béhar and FuseProject to take a second crack at the design. Béhar’s team started by creating a homey exterior for the newly miniaturized machine, now measuring 4’ x 12’ x 8’. “It is important for the design to turn Briggo into a destination rather than a thing,” says Béhar. “We named it ‘Coffee Haus’ and designed it to look, smell, and feel like a coffee shop.” Walnut paneling gives the Briggo system the feel of a local coffee shop, while a perforated curtain reveals glimpses of the high-tech robotic mechanisms at work. The facade was crafted to allow some of the sounds to bleed through, letting patrons hear their beans being ground in real time, enhancing the brand through auditory cues.



Tuesday 20, August 2013

We’ve all been forced at some point to order a cup of coffee from a shoddy vending machine. But thanks to a company called Briggo, and the design talents of Fuseproject, your automated caffeine fix might become as precisely crafted as the cups from your favorite barista. The new Briggo Coffee Haus is an industrial robot that will memorize orders, autonomously prepare a café au lait, and never misspell your name.


Thursday 31, October 2013

to bring these flavorful beans to the U.S., but where Starbucks had to convince Americans to appreciate richer, stronger coffee, the Briggo team faced the challenge of finding spots where those craving caffeine weren’t already presented with dozens of options. Briggo has no real plans to replace baristas or to incur the wrath of the major chains and will instead focus on locations with a high demand for coffee, but few high quality offerings—corporate campuses, airports, hospitals. Automated coffee dispensers can grind out a generic grande and kiosks with surly staffers offer mediocre macchiatos, but Briggo has brewed up a solution that combines fresh ingredients, robotic efficiency, and friendly design to bring taste to French press frontiers.

“The concept of an extruded small house shape with table and stools reminds us of a place rather than a robot or a vending machine, and is expressed through the use of real materials such as wood veneers, glass, and aluminum,” says Béhar. Baristas often end up as the butt of jokes, but Béhar has an appreciation for their craft. He tried to incorporate some of the theatricality they provide into the system and says that “the visually expressive cup appears from a magical turntable that ceremoniously presents the customized brew on a platter.” The company was founded in 2008 after CTO Charles Studor fell in love with Honduran coffee while doing nonprofit development work in the country. Like Howard Schulz, Studor wanted

Ever wonder what the best time is to drink your coffee? You probably know it is not a good idea to drink part of your daily dose of caffeine in the afternoon. Especially for those who have problems sleeping. But, do you ever drink your coffee and feel like it just didn’t work? I know I have that feeling sometimes. The explanation for this has to with a concept that I think is extremely interesting but rarely discussed: chronopharmacology. Chronopharmacology can be defined as the study of the interaction of biological rhythms and drug action. One of the most important biological rhythms is your circadian clock. This endogenous 24-hour clock alters your physiology and behavior in variety of ways but it can also alter many properties of drugs including drug safety (pharmacovigilance), pharmacokinetics, drug efficacy, and perhaps even drug tolerance. But, what part of the brain produces this 24hour cycle and what signals does it receive in order for it to do so properly? It has been known for a long time that light is a strong zeitgeber. A zeitgeber is a term used in chronobiology for describing an environmental stimulus that influences biological rhythms. In the case of mammals, light is by far the most powerful. Following the discovery of connections between the retina and hypothalamus (the retinohypothalamic tract), investigations were aimed at the hypothalamus as the putative master clock. Indeed, in some of the most elegant brain lesion experiments,

Inouye and Kawamura (1979) provided some of the first evidence demonstrating that the hypothalamus acts as the master clock in controlling the circadian rhythm. By creating an “island” in the brain by methodically cutting the hypothalamus away from any surrounding tissue, the circadian clock was completely lost (Inouye and Kawamura, 1979). What does that mean? Well, the output of the hypothalamus nucleus (the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN) that controls the circadian clock has a variety of functions. The SCN controls your sleep-wake cycle, feeding and energy consumption, sugar homeostasis, and in addition to a few other things it controls your hormones. And, with respect to your alertness, the SCN’s control of cortisol (often referred to as the “stress” hormone) production is extremely important. Most readers here enjoy–-and desperately need-–their morning coffee. But if you are drinking your morning coffee at 8 a.m., is that really the best time? The circadian rhythm of cortisol production would suggest not. Drug tolerance is an important subject, especially in the case of caffeine since most of us overuse this drug. Therefore, if we are drinking caffeine at a time when your cortisol concentration in the blood is at its peak, you probably should not be drinking it. This is because cortisol production is strongly related to your level of alertness and it just so happens that cortisol peaks for your 24-hour rhythm

between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on average (Debono et al., 2009). Therefore, you are drinking caffeine at a time when you are already approaching your maximal level of alertness naturally. One of the key principles of pharmacology is use of a drug when it is needed (although I’m sure some scientists might argue that caffeine is always needed). Otherwise, we can develop tolerance to a drug administered at the same dose. In other words, the same cup of morning coffee will become less effective and this is probably why I need a shot of espresso in mine now. Although your cortisol levels peak between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., there are a few other times where--on average--blood levels peak again, like between noon and 1 p.m., and between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. In the morning then, your coffee will probably be the most effective if you enjoy it between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., when your cortisol levels are dropping before the next spike. A version of this article originally appeared on provides information about the field’s understanding of causes, symptoms, and outcomes of brain disorders. The site is a public information initiative of The Kavli Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and the Society for Neuroscience, all leading global nonprofit organizations working to advance brain research. Leading neuroscientists from around the world form the editorial board.


To hear most recent research tell it, coffee is a miracle drink. The magic beans will ward off skin cancer and Alzheimer’s, reduce heart failure and diabetes risks, heighten focus, and maybe even protect liver health. Oh, and decrease suicide risk, according to the newest study that validates our coffee addictions.

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According to a study performed by the Harvard School of Public Health and published this month in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, people who drink two to four cups of java each day are less likely to commit suicide than those who don’t drink coffee, drink decaf, or drink fewer than two cups each day. The study followed over 200,000 people for at

least 16 years. And it’s not just a weak link: the researchers found that the suicide risk was cut by around 50 percent for caffeine fiends. This isn’t the first time that researchers have discovered that coffee and smiles might go hand-in-hand. A 2011 study found that women who drink coffee cut their risk of depression by 15 percent compared to those who don’t. Michel Lucas, the head researcher of the most recent study, told The Huffington Post that coffee addicts can thank caffeine for the good news. The drug may actually act like a mild anti-depressant by tweaking levels of happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine.

Of course, there’s plenty of research out there that doesn’t look so kindly upon coffee drinkers. Recently, the New Yorker published an article arguing that while coffee may heighten focus, that means it also puts a squeeze on creativity. And of course, coffee’s well-known negative effects like insomnia and disturbed sleep cycles still hold. Regardless, we’ll raise our mugs to this most recent study for giving us one more validation for our vice.