UNNECESSARY THINGS ARE OUR ONLY NECESSITIES ISSUE 38
VIVA LA RIVA
NOBU NO FONDUE
WHAT SHOULD THE TIME CONSCIOUS SYBARITE BE PUTTING ON THEIR WRIST?
THE OWNERS CLUB GET TOGETHER THAT TAKES THE SHIP’S BISCUIT
LUSSO TALKS TO THE NEW MASTER OF ALPINE APRES SKI DINING
‘The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children...’ Ezekiel 25:17 Pulp Fiction. Bloody great movie, isn’t it? So many quotes that are actually applicable to real life. I’m reminded of the above faux-scripture because the UK electorate is about to elect a new government. We must make a choice between selfish hoarding at the expense of the less well-fortunate, or the tyrannical imposition of regulations that threaten growth. More importantly, with the SNP holding the balance, will Londoners wake up on May 8th more Scotch egg than Bully beef? Och, indeed! So we’re choosing to distract ourselves by jumping on fast boats, driving fast cars, wearing (not fast) time pieces and took a (very) slow train to eat some sushi. We’ve spent billable time with many luxury icons, so you don’t have to: Riva, Bentley, Land Rover, MB&F Watches and the daddy of sexy seafood, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa - better known to you as Robert De Niro’s pal, Nobu. In the spirit of Pulp Fiction, Cocchi is a tasty beverage, our man in St.Lucia gets a foot massage and as for watches… Actually, I can’t recall any quote in that film pertaining to watches. We love you, Hunny Bunnies.
ROBERT CLAYMAN EDITOR
DANIEL SHARP PUBLISHER
ANNA BASTIAENEN DEPUTY EDITOR
NEIL DAVEY ASSOCIATE EDITOR
ANDRES REYNAGA CREATIVE DIRECTOR
FELICITY KENT PROOF READER
NICK JEMPSON PUBLISHING DIRECTOR
TRISTAN BALIUAG GRAPHIC DESIGNER
PUBLISHED BY SWR MEDIA (MAGAZINES) LTD CONTRIBUTORS AL FOX, CHARLEY SPEED, CHRIS WEST, DAN CROFTON, DONALD TWAIN, DOUGLAS BLYDE, JULIAN DE FERAL, KAREN KRIZANOVICH, NEIL DAVEY, THOMAS PATTERSON. THANKS LIA RIVA, MAXIMILIAN BÜSSER, MARCUS MARGULIES, NOBUYUKI MATSUHISA, TIM ELIA LIMOUSINES,DAVIDOFF ST. MORITZ. MOBILE APPLICATIONS THE LUSSO IOS, WINDOWS, ANDROID AND KINDLE FIRE APPLICATIONS ARE CREATED BY STONEWASH LTD (WWW.STONEWASH.CO.UK) Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. All prices correct at the time of going to press but subject to change. The views expressed in Lusso Magazine are not necessarily shared by the publication or its staff. The publication welcomes new contributors but can assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations. For more information visit tne official Lusso magazine website: http://lus.so Contact Information Lusso Magazine, SWR Media (Magazines) Ltd, 64-65 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EG, United Kingdom
Robert Clayman Editor, Lusso Magazine
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THE BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE WRISTS Apple’s new £13,500 luxury edition smartwatch: shamelessly pricey and aimed at the fashion brigade. You’re sure you don’t need one. But come on, you still sorta want one, right?
Creating things you never thought you’d need and then selling them to you at prices you never thought you’d pay? You’ve got to hand it to Apple. Product prices begin at £299 for the entry-level ‘Sport’ watch and rise to the mid-tiered £479 version - with a choice of case materials, a variety of straps and potentially thousands of software-derived dial configurations it can rise to double that. But it’s their gilded Watch Editions range that’s causing all the kerfuffle across the media. Can the world’s most ‘democratic’ brand suddenly go high end? With eight models that start at £8,000 for the rose gold version and reach
£13,500 for the yellow gold, these pimped up mini-mini iPads are aimed unswervingly at the uber wealthy and those that need to keep up with the Kardashian-Joneses. Since the launch of these new wristbound fingertip tablets, Apple’s shares have gone nuts. You can’t help but admire a brand so confident, its advice to owners of a soon-to-be outmoded £13,500 watch will be the same as it is to owners of an outmoded £600 iPhone: suck it up and go buy a new one. ●
42MM 18-CARAT GOLD APPLE WATCH EDITION, WITH MIDNIGHT BLUE CLASSIC BUCKLE £12,000 (OR £13,500 WITH APPLECARE+ INSURANCE)
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CONTINENTAL BRAKE FAST Charley Speed finds a namesake that on all levels: looks, elegance, sartorial style, luxurious accessories, muscular power, almost rivals his own. Almost
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I like Bentleys. However, upon taking delivery of Crewe’s latest ‘Speed’ iteration of the familiar Continental GT, ‘like’ immediately turned into ‘I’m not giving this back’. The visual impact from the somewhat subtle changes made to this new update have turned a nice looking car into an extremely attractive and rather purposeful beast. Excessive body kits and ludicrous wings are for peasants or ‘da yoots’, as I believe they refer to themselves, and the subtle folds one sees here actually serve a purpose. Let me explain. This is the fastest car Bentley has ever produced. Seek out a suitable stretch, a pilot with the appropriate undercarriage and this flying B will show you 206mph. That, quite frankly, is ridiculous. And now I need one.
I applaud the person who decides that a car which already sports a mighty 6 litre W12 engine, finds it necessary to bolt on a whacking great turbo charger. And not just one, but two of the sodding things. With a pressing appointment in the Midlands, the decision was taken to completely ignore the Bentley’s splendid ‘Continental’ moniker and stick to some of the UK’s more familiar mix of A and B roads. Some of which felt hilariously inappropriate for the graceful brute (oxymoron essential). Due to time constraints, the endurance of a little motorway monotony was inevitable, and realistically, a good initial test. I suspect this is where many happy customers will be putting in the miles. Refinement is essential, but a vehicle
with tyres as vast as the Bentley’s has no right to be so quiet on our ageing, noisy infrastructure. Due to extensive soundproofing and its double-glazed glass, conversations can be had in whispers at seemingly unprintable speeds. With adaptive cruise control engaged, highend Naim audio system gently permeating the cabin, and the beautifully crafted, diamond-quilted hide seats supporting, the UK’s motorway network morphs from dreary chore into a congenial cruise. Such is the wonderful detachment one experiences from the general hubbub outside when piloting Crewe’s latest continent crusher. The cabin is beautifully laid out and the materials and workmanship are, as expected, second to none. From the Bremont time piece, to the intricate, contrasting cross stitching. I relish the detail. One too many beauty shots later and we’re in danger of being a little tardy for our impending engagement. Thankfully, people tend not to dawdle when they glimpse the imposing, ever so slightly aggressive looking GT Speed in their mirrors and with a considerable amount of time now liberated, we left the simplicity of three lanes and ventured onto the more challenging, twisty and sometimes downright unforgiving lanes to see if the big girl could disguise her considerable heft. Slot the machined gear stick into Sport, and the corresponding audio sorcery now ensuing from the rear of the car is not only delicious, but also serves to remind you what such an action means, and to perhaps ponder the sanity of said decision on the slightly damp, gravel-strewn, diminutive B road which lies ahead. The GT Speed is a large car and these lanes vary from tight to single track. But such a glorious sound track tends to rouse my inner hooligan, and wrestling control from the 8-speed gear box via the pad-
dles behind the steering wheel, it seems forward route planning is now essential. No sooner has one buried the proverbial loud pedal deep into the thick carpet and experienced the unfathomable shove that only the most elite engineering can produce, you’ve already arrived at a distant bend far sooner than anticipated, with which the big Bentley is now somehow negotiating with a haste that seems mechanically impossible. The four-wheel drive system is unstoppable. Even on these roads with a heavy right foot, the traction control system’s interference is minimal. The carbon ceramic brakes fitted to our car would, no doubt, stop a large house, and once familiar with that initial bite, elicit the sort of confidence one needs when venturing off piste, shall we say. The grip, stopping power and outright batshit pace delivered from such a substantial luxury GT is deeply impressive. Whether it be zero fatigue mileage consumption or suspension set to hot hatch for breakfast, the Bentley Continental GT Speed is a wonderful machine with looks to match.Listing specs and numbers a tad boorish? Bollocks, this is the GT Speed: 626 bhp, 820Nm of torque @1700rpm, 0 – 60mph 4 seconds, 206mph (yes, worth repeating). For those not schooled in the way of the torque, achieving that figure at such low rpm, results in the power to shift planets with a mere glance at the throttle pedal. And while we’re talking technicals, let’s put that 0 – 60 time into perspective: this car weighs well over 2 tonnes. Shifting all that metal, plus the dozen cows that make the cockpit such an amenable place, is a triumph. I like this car. It’s got my name on it. And I might change the rest to Bentley Continental GT. I can’t wait to inform Mrs. Bentley-Continental-GTSpeed.. ●
CHECK THE BENTLEY WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE CONTINENTAL GT SPEED: WWW. BENTLEYMOTORS. COM
A RIVA RUNS THROUGH IT Two days with the sexiest floating objects in the world – Christina Hendricks in a flotation tank excepted. Set course for luxury max
Italian luxury yacht maker Riva has been crafting boats since 1842. Its polished mahogany-hulled launches are world famous, and quite rightly so. What other boat would the world’s most eligible bachelor use to sail down Venice’s Grand Canal; new bride at his side, the global press recording every single frame? Why, none at all. It could only have been a Riva. George knows how to pick ‘em. Impossible glamour was also the order of the day at the annual Classic Riva Trophy in September, where we took our places for a sun-drenched start in the port of Monaco. More than 20 exquisite craft, built between the 1960s and the
present day, and ranging from 6.8 metres to 28 metres, were resplendent on the starting line ready for the sail to Cannes. Illustrious models with names like cast members from Made in Chelsea included the Super Ariston, Iseo, Aquarama, Saint-Tropez, Aquariva, Rivarama, Rivale, Bahamas, 63 Virtus, 86 Domino, 92 Duchessa. Alright – 63 Virtus sounds like a character on Game of Thrones. Participants were beaming and waving like loons as the event kicked off and who could blame them with two days of sport, fun, glamour and decadence just beginning. With sponsors such as Moët Hennessy and Vertu, the Riva Trophy is, as one
TAP THE ICON ABOVE TO LAUNCH THE FULL PHOTO GALLERY
RIVA OWNERS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE ALONG WITH SPONSORS SUCH AS VERTU AND VEUVE CLICQUOT GATHERED AT THE YACHT CLUB DE MONACO TO TAKE PART IN THE ANNUAL CLASSIC RIVA TROPHY 2014 RACE, NOW IN ITS SEVENTH YEAR
might expect, one of the most exclusive nautical events on the calendar, taking in three major playgrounds for international yacht owners. After an exhilarating start, my only issue of the day was choosing between bellinis and champagne as we sped effortlessly through the waves. However, since Lusso’s boat had Veuve Clicquot’s ambassador on board, our choice remained clear. After arrival in Cannes, a mooring contest took place before we collected picnic lunches for the next leg to the beautiful islands of Iles de Lérins. We anchored en route to dine and then took a dip in the refreshing waters. This, dear readers, is the life. An evening’s stop
in Saint Tropez provided our entertainment: a Brazilian-themed extravaganza at La Plage des Jumeaux. Glittering samba dancers and capoeira talents swayed all to the sound of German oom-pah bands (not really – it was live Brazilian music). The following day’s treats were no less lavish. Beginning with a lively gathering in the square outside Riva’s Saint Tropez office with Italian delicacies freshly prepared by Il Paese dei Balocchi and ceremoniously washed down with yet more Veuve Clicquot, it just felt rude to decline. Once aboard our craft, it was Monte Carlo or bust for the Riva Contest of Elegance. We were a little baffled
about this – we weren’t sure if it meant the boats or the passengers. Either way, we didn’t win. By this point I had well and truly fallen in love with my gorgeous, racy Riva, and was already dreading leaving her behind. But leave her we did – the only consolation being an invitation to the final gala event at the dazzling and uber-exclusive Yacht Club de Monaco. Held on a topfloor terrace, open to the harbour views, it’s designed to simulate the deck of a huge and very beautiful boat. Its lounge bar was decorated in the unmistakable Riva style, complete with iconic images
of the brand through the ages – including the iconic shot of Bardot on board a Riva in all her 1960s glory, unsullied by too much sun or fascism. Riva’s own Lia Riva and Alberto Galassi, CEO of the Ferretti Group (now the marque’s owners) delivered the requisite elegant speeches and handed out incredible prizes to the winners of the two days’ events. It was now clear that we hadn’t won anything at all. Riva, however, had won a special place in our hearts. Keep abreast of riva-trophy.com for details of the 2015 Classic Riva Trophy event. ●
THE TROPHY WAS ORGANISED BY LIA RIVA WITH THE MONACO BOAT SERVICE GROUP AND STYLE LAB (WWW. THE-STYLE-LAB. COM). VISIT WWW. RIVA-TROPHY.COM FOR DETAILS OF THIS YEAR’S EVENT
FOR STOCKIST INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
www.bremont.com tel: +44 (0) 845 0940 690
TUMI TO YOU TUMI, ETC A hard, tough, Italian-style New York deterrent to nefarious types trying to rummage in your bags? It’s either Tony Soprano in a silk suit at baggage claim or one of these bad boys. Capisce?
We’re sure you have a decent suitcase. The kind that’s strong enough to tackle long haul but with more than a modicum of style. We expect you glide through the airport, smoothly dodging the agitated crowds on your way to the first-class lounge, plenty of time for your pleasantly boozy preflight massage. If, however, you don’t, and always arrive … oh, let’s say 30 minutes before take-off, stampeding through security like a whirling dervish, duffle bag strap rapidly cutting off circulation to your paresthetic fingers then perhaps – just as a suggestion, of course – it’s time to rethink your travel equipment? Luxury luggage purveyor Tumi tackles the problem, and then some. Lightweight and roomy, these cases are built from an ultra-tough thermoplastic called Tegris (the kind that’s also used in lifesaving body armour, Nascar race cars and the protective pads for NFL players) and move effortlessly in every direction on double-turning wheels – much easier to pack up and haul ass to the gate.
Tumi really comes into its own when you clock the way the bags are organised. With their cases featuring clever expansion systems, custom padding for laptops and hanger brackets for suits, you can arm yourself with a suitcase built for the modern man. Based in New York but deceptively Italian in its styling and execution, the Accent ranges can be customised with monograms, embossed leather tags and pull ties, to ensure you’ll never be left loitering around the baggage carousel (or wrestling with a stranger over your identical black wheelies). ●
1975 INTERNATIONAL CARRY-ON £1,895
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Choose from either a Presidential, Manor House or Signature Suite that all afford spacious living areas and stunning views across our golf courses
TO BOOK, VISIT WWW.THEBELFRY.COM OR CALL US ON 0844 980 0600 Belfryhotel
TATA FOR NOW Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences is an emblem of a great Victorian past that still offers the very best in contemporary pampering. Julian de Feral is amused Depending on whom you listen to, around the time the Empress of India summoned her pet Pomeranian with her dying breath for a final stately pat â€“ and one would imagine a few wheezy words of wisdom â€“ a somewhat poorly Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, exhausted after years
of holding court as the Father of Indian Industry, resolved to accomplish one of his main life goals: to open a fine hotel in Bombay, with all the European mods and cons, including that new fangled electricity stuff and less of that old-fangled discriminatory stuff. His mission was ac-
VISIT WWW. TAJ51BUCKINGHAMGATE.CO.UK FOR MORE INFORMATION OR CALL +44 (0)20 7769 7766 FOR HOTEL RESERVATIONS
complished not a moment too soon, because Mr Tata found himself on his own deathbed shortly afterwards and was never to experience the growth of the regal Taj Mahal Palace into one of Asia’s largest and most respected luxury hotel groups. Back in Blighty, but a few corgi hops from the current royal residence number one and hidden behind large wroughtiron gates, lies the British bastion of the Taj Group: Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences. Although this hidden court has had royal involvement through its multiple incarnations as cottages for poor children, a cluster of schools and a hospital since the early 17th-century, it was only as old Queen Vic drew her last
breath (and Mr Tata found his resolve) that the gates were flung open to paying guests. Naturally, the proximity to the various seats of power made it a huge draw to the political forces; not least a young Churchill, and grand, worldchanging decisions were made here over port, cigars and coffee. Others came (and still come) for the beautifully embellished court itself: satyrs and nymphs mucking about on the balconies and pediments and disputably the world’s longest frieze intricately carved into the red brickwork, re-imagining all of Shakespeare’s plays rolled into one around an iron fountain centrepiece. To the right of the court, three of these restored Victorian townhouses, named
respectively after their former residents of kings, ministers and falconers, offer 85 suites and residences replete with personalised butler service, a cosy living room and a kitchen, which I’m sure I would have used had I not been on the adjoined doorstep of one of London’s finest Indian restaurants, the Michelinstarred Quilon. Without a doubt Mr Tata would have been most pleased with the sterling efforts of Chef Sriram Aylur and his team, boasting a series of light yet complex Southern Indian treats such as a delicate pyramid of mini Masala dosa and more progressive dishes like the succulent chunks of spiced, baked black cod that had me salivating for days. I hasten to add I wouldn’t recommend any single dish. You should try them all: the tailor-made tasting menu is a whirlwind of flavour, with trios of delicious bites interrupted only by palate cleansers, from a glass of soup here to a thimble of sorbet there.
Forgo the fine wine for a change and have a peek at the excellently curated beer list: no bland or predictable brews here, rather an excellent collection of British and world craft beer, footed by an impressive selection of vintage ales. The rich, peppery 2009 vintage from Fuller’s served in a brandy balloon was a slowsipping revelation; joining in the jazzy tastebud jam like a smooth mature bass player dropping in a few notes in every now and again. Whether to while away the hours in the regal courtyard, plan port-fuelled world domination in your private chamber, retire from the seats of power to have the butler run you a hot bath and mix a Martini or to swoon at the myriad flavours and textures that one of the finest Indian chefs in Britain keeps tucked away in his kitchen, a stay at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate will ensure your last wheezy words to your pet Pomeranian won’t be spiked with regret.●
TAJ 51 BUCKINGHAM GATE SUITES AND RESIDENCES HAS JUST OPENED NEW RESTAURANT KONA WHICH OFFERS AN INNOVATIVE INTERPRETATION OF SOUTHERN EUROPEAN CUISINE (WWW.TAJ51BUCKINGHAMGATE.CO.UK/ DINING/KONA)
BEHIND THE SCENE Opened in 2014 by the duo behind London’s most extrovert dining location, the Wolseley, is the Beaumont the capital’s most introverted hotel? By now, if you’re a Londoner, you’ve probably eaten at the Wolseley in Piccadilly. Or more likely, put up with someone who’s eaten there and just had to tell you what they ate – or even more likely, who they saw. It’s a huge success partly because it’s a restaurant for flagrant extroverts and the rest of us can go along for the ride. In other places, celebs want to sit in the quiet corners. Here, smack in your eye line as you walk in is the ‘winners’ enclosure’: a brass ring surrounding a central group of tables for regulars and rollers. Look, isn’t that the 1980s ad man famous for wearing bow-
ties and touching up secretaries? (My ex-boss! – Ed). What’s he doing eating on his own? Oh, hold on, that blonde twenty-something has just walked in. But he’s old now, and he spends the whole lunch chasing a piece of skate round his table. (Yeah. Definitely my ex-boss – Ed). Within five minutes’ walk of this Viennese tribute act, you can find service that’s much better and food that’s just as good, but the show is nowhere near as good. At the end of 2014, Jeremy King and Chris Corbin opened their first hotel, the Beaumont, in London’s … well, London’s where exactly? The first thing
THE BEAUMONT HOTEL BROWN HART GARDENS MAYFAIR LONDON W1K 6TF THEBEAUMONT.COM INFO@THEBEAUMONT.COM +44 20 7499 1001
THE BEAUMONT HAS 50 ROOMS AND 23 SUITES INCLUDING THE PRESIDENTIAL SUITE WHICH HAS FIVE BEDROOMS AND A PRIVATE TERRACE
you notice about the Beaumont is that it’s quite hard to notice at all. I picked up a cab in Bond Street and asked the cabbie for Brown Hart Gardens. After blank stares, I had to talk him in, using my phone’s map app for the three-quartermile journey. It’s kind of near the current American Embassy, so perhaps you’d describe it as north Mayfair. Or SOS – south of Selfridges. The discretion continues inside. The styling is a 21st-century recreation of 1930s luxe. There is thickly varnished wood panelling and faintly geometric carpets. The styling is beautifully consistent: the door furniture and lift-signage are all subtly deco. I didn’t see anyone else in the corridors, which is not to say there wasn’t anyone else there. Passages are low lit and the deep carpets dampen any noise. The place is immaculately presented and you suspect that the 1930s were never quite this good.
Unfortunately, the service is disappointingly introverted, too. No New York bounce here. No Brown’s Hotel subtle elegance or the Mandarin’s extravagant helpfulness, either. I arrived at 9pm, having missed both lunch and the normal time for Mr West’s ‘meaties’. I asked reception if they could get me a table in the hotel’s restaurant, in, say, 30 minutes, after I’d thrown my bag into my room and washed my face. They phoned across the lobby to the Colony Grill Room: there might be a table, there might not, so if I wanted to go up to my room, when I came back down, the maître d’ would do his best. Oh fine, as long as he’s going to do his best. The Beaumont suites are perfectly in tune with the pre-war theme. The background colours in the bedroom are muted, not quite taupe. Rays of light bounce off the heavily varnished (walnut?) headboard with its gilt edging line and ziggurat topping. The bedside clock
is distinctly low-tech with hands that move over angular numerals. The pictures on the wall are black-and-white photos of long-dead people wearing big coats and hats, set in black, lacquered frames. Pull the curtain back a little and your eyes might just fall on workmen giving the Empire State Building its final polish. Of course, the 1930s were never this good. Besides from the absence of TB, rickets and Oswald Mosley, there are bathrooms with heating under the immaculate black-and-white mosaic tiles, and showers powerful enough to wash
the week out of your hair. So to dinner at Messrs Corbin and King’s lesserknown restaurant. I imagine that in the 1930s, things used to come alive in the restaurants. And they do in the Colony Grill Room – if you’re lucky enough to get a table. My luck was in: the maître d’ found me a lovely horseshoe-shaped, redleather, six-seater banquette (I suspect the receptionist had undersold his abilities). It was also Thanksgiving and there were a couple of upbeat tables of thirty-somethings giving thanks (probably for not being 40). My luck was out:
it was 9.30pm on Thanksgiving, I was forty-something and there was no turkey left. Good steak, good potatoes, friendly service. An early night. And an early morning session in what is called a “gym”, where they have to tighten up the signage lettering otherwise the sign might just be wider than the room itself. Breakfast is in the American Bar, which – wonder of wonders – had actual Americans in it. (You can tell they’re Americans because they’re the only race that can get their shirt collars so stiff and white.)
It took the doorman 10 minutes to find a cab. Naturally, no cabbies know this road exists. When I did jump in and head back the three-quarters of a mile south to Bond Street for another day’s work, the one-way system took us into a queue to sit and wait to get north across Oxford Street, then another queue to take us west towards Marble Arch, and finally a third queue to get us back south across Oxford Street. At least when it’s time to escape London’s hubbub again, I’ll be able to find the Beaumont. Preferably on foot. ●
THE ART OF GLASS WARFARE If you worshipped speed, machines, war (‘the world’s only hygiene’) and destroying museums and libraries, you’d need a drink to unwind. The Futurists sure knew how to party
It’s election time here in the United Kingdom and we’re all loving it, I can tell you. The insincere emoting, the blatant economic bribes to favoured demographics, the tedious internecine tribal posturing – all of it enriches our lives. This year’s manifestos have been a particular highlight of bland language and vague promises to build up our fragile isle. Politicians write bland manifestos. Fact. If you want a fun one, you need the artists. Any of them – Dadaists, situationists, surrealists. Any. They wrote provocative treatises designed to scandalise and provoke the dull middle classes from their slumber and usually promised to smash the country into the ground, before the reconstruction could begin. No one wrote better pamphlets than those cheeky Italian weirdos, the Futurists. Formed by firebrand Filippo Marinetti in 1908, his manifestos called for the destruction of public establishments such as libraries, museums, academies and cities themselves. They worshipped the machine, speed and a total break from the past. But these chaps were Italian – so they were worried about what was for dinner (and afters). La Cucina Futurista - The Futurist Cookbook - was published by Marinetti in 1932. Chicken with Ball Bearings, anyone? The theatrical and
multisensory approach to dining - where oxidizers and lights, for example, would be more important than tradit ion - now resonates w it h us as contemporary, thanks to Blumenthal and Adrià. So what of the Futurist’s love of cocktails? Having re-named every dish to break any etymological sense of warm resonance, they rebranded ‘cocktails’ with their robotlike log ic: polibibite or ‘multi-drinks’. Now, thanks to Italy’s superior vermouth brand, Asti Giulio Cocchi, you can mix mixology with ideolog y. Expert barman Fulvio Piccinino tirelessly researched museums and museums, v isited antique dealers and collectors and experimented on himself to produce ‘Futurist Mixology: Polibibite - The Autarkic Italian Answer to The Cocktails of the 1930s’, published by Cocchi’s own imprint - CocchiBooks. Firstly conceived as a recipe book for other barmen, this handsome hardback collects stories, anecdotes, details of Marinetti
COCCHI VERMOUTH DI TORINO (RRP £19.99) AND COCCHI AMERICANO (RRP £18.99) ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE, AMATHUS, SELFRIDGES, SOHO WINES, DRINKSHOP AND LEADING INDEPENDENT WINE MERCHANTS
& co.’s cuisine with details of 18 bizarre polibibite. Whilst other definitive Italian liqueurs are, of course, featured such as Campari, Cedrata Tassoni, Luxardo, Nardini, Pallini and Strega, Cocchi features strongly in many. Created in Asti, in 1891 when a young pastry chef became fascinated with the pairing of food and wine, the brand produced aromatic-infused wines - a Barolo Chinato and Aperitivo Americano - which gained worldwide popularity. Now owned by the Bava Family, a highly-awarded wine producing dynasty, traditional techniques are continued to craft the magical blend of 12 different distinctive aromatics across five variants of vermouth. So now you can make your own polibibita, such as the Rigeneratore, a ‘fertilizer’-type concoction, one of their Guerra in letto or ‘war in bed’: calorific cocktails designed to provide aphrodisiacal energy to make Futurist babies. It’s served in a champagne flute with half a banana poking out of it and is a legitimate ice-breaker at any social gathering. One suspects that the Futurists would probably hate to be celebrated as a historical source of drink-based pleasure, preferring to utilise today’s technology to dismantle any connection with our culture and history, in the process reducing us to theoretical beings, to be manipulated into their autistic version of ‘perfection’. Yes, I can’t wait for the ‘Silicon Valley Cocktail Book’, either. ●
Assembly of the planetary gear in Caliber 58
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Glashütte Original. Founder of the German Watch Museum Glashütte.
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ONE ONE OF OF AUDI A8 A8 LIMO LIMO ON ON AUDI AUDI CITY CITY IS IS ONE ONE LUSSONIAN LUSSONIAN IS IS COMPANY’S NEW NEW EXPERIENTIAL EXPERIENTIAL THE THE DEVELOPING THE STRANGE STRANGE THE WAY WAY TO TO THE THE PART PART VIRTUAL VIRTUAL DEVELOPING AN AN RETAIL RETAIL CONCEPT CONCEPT BRAND BRAND THEATRE, THEATRE, SIDE LAUNCH ALMOST SHOWROOM SIDE EFFECTS EFFECTS LAUNCH OF OF AUDI AUDI DEALERSHIP DEALERSHIP ALMOST SIXTH SIXTH SHOWROOM ON ON AS AS ENVISIONED ENVISIONED OF CITY, AND PICCADILLY. OF BEING BEING A A CITY, THE THE CAR CAR AND TWO TWO PARTS PARTS SENSE SENSE FOR FOR PICCADILLY. AS AS II BY BY RIDLEY RIDLEY SCOTT. SCOTT. LUSSONIAN COMPANY’S WHAT’S DO, LUSSONIAN IS IS COMPANY’S NEW NEW EXPERIENTIAL EXPERIENTIAL WHAT’S GOING GOING DO, THROUGH THROUGH A A THE THE COMPANY COMPANY DEVELOPING DEVELOPING AN AN RETAIL RETAIL CONCEPT CONCEPT BRAND BRAND THEATRE, THEATRE, TO TO BE BE SAID SAID (AND (AND SMOKEY SMOKEY MENTAL MENTAL FEELS FEELS THAT THAT CITY CITY ALMOST SHOWROOM ALMOST SIXTH SIXTH SHOWROOM ON ON AS AS ENVISIONED ENVISIONED THE THE MANNER MANNER OF OF HAZE, HAZE, MY MY WELLWELL- CENTRES CENTRES ARE ARE SENSE PICCADILLY. BUFFED ‘WHERE SENSE FOR FOR PICCADILLY. AS AS II BY BY RIDLEY RIDLEY SCOTT. SCOTT. ITS ITS DELIVERY) DELIVERY) BUFFED THIRD THIRD ‘WHERE TRENDS TRENDS WHAT’S DO, AT EYE ARE WHAT’S GOING GOING DO, THROUGH THROUGH A A THE THE COMPANY COMPANY AT PRESS PRESS EYE ATTEMPTS ATTEMPTS ARE CREATED, CREATED, TO TO TO BE BE SAID SAID (AND (AND SMOKEY SMOKEY MENTAL MENTAL FEELS FEELS THAT THAT CITY CITY LAUNCHES. LAUNCHES. TO PREEMPT PREEMPT THE THE WHERE WHERE SOCIAL SOCIAL THE THE DIVERSITY THE MANNER MANNER OF OF HAZE, HAZE, MY MY WELLWELL- CENTRES CENTRES ARE ARE THE GERMANS, GERMANS, SCHTICK... SCHTICK... DIVERSITY LIVES LIVES ITS BUFFED ‘WHERE “WE AND ITS DELIVERY) DELIVERY) BUFFED THIRD THIRD ‘WHERE TRENDS TRENDS FOR FOR EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE, “WE ARE ARE AND LEADING LEADING AT EYE ARE DO FORGING BRANDS AT PRESS PRESS EYE ATTEMPTS ATTEMPTS ARE CREATED, CREATED, DO INSIST INSIST ON ON FORGING NEW NEW BRANDS FROM FROM LAUNCHES. TO LAUNCHES. TO PREEMPT PREEMPT THE THE WHERE WHERE SOCIAL SOCIAL DOING DOING THINGS THINGS IN IN TECHNOLOGIES, TECHNOLOGIES, OTHER OTHER SECTORS SECTORS THE DIVERSITY THE GERMANS, GERMANS, SCHTICK... SCHTICK... DIVERSITY LIVES LIVES STYLE STYLE -- EXOTIC EXOTIC FOR FOR TO TO BE BE A A BIG BIG –– SUCH SUCH AS AS FOR “WE AND LOCATIONS, PART FASHION, FOR EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE, “WE ARE ARE AND LEADING LEADING LOCATIONS, PART OF OF THIS THIS FASHION, DESIGN DESIGN DO FORGING BRANDS OR DO INSIST INSIST ON ON FORGING NEW NEW BRANDS FROM FROM UNIQUE UNIQUE EVENT EVENT EXCITING EXCITING NEW NEW OR ELECTRONICS ELECTRONICS DOING MILLENIUM DOING THINGS THINGS IN IN TECHNOLOGIES, TECHNOLOGIES, OTHER OTHER SECTORS SECTORS STAGING STAGING -- BUT BUT MILLENIUM THAT THAT –– ARE ARE STYLE ONE STYLE -- EXOTIC EXOTIC FOR FOR TO TO BE BE A A BIG BIG –– SUCH SUCH AS AS ONE KNOWS KNOWS THAT THATWE WE ARE ARE LIVING LIVING REPRESENTED.’ REPRESENTED.’ IN IN LOCATIONS, PART FASHION, OTHER LOCATIONS, PART OF OF THIS THIS FASHION, DESIGN DESIGN EVENTUALLY EVENTUALLY A A IN.” IN.” OTHER WORDS, WORDS, UNIQUE OR THEY’VE UNIQUE EVENT EVENT EXCITING EXCITING NEW NEW OR ELECTRONICS ELECTRONICS VERY VERY HEALTHY HEALTHY “THE “THE WAY WAY WE WE THEY’VE SEEN SEEN STAGING MILLENIUM LOOKING ALL THE STAGING -- BUT BUT MILLENIUM THAT THAT –– ARE ARE LOOKING ALL LIVE LIVE OUR OUR THE FUTURE FUTURE OF OF ONE HIGH ONE KNOWS KNOWS THAT THATWE WE ARE ARE LIVING LIVING REPRESENTED.’ REPRESENTED.’ IN IN GENTLEMAN GENTLEMAN IN IN LIVES LIVES IS IS NOW NOW HIGH END END RETAIL. RETAIL. EVENTUALLY OTHER EVENTUALLY A A IN.” IN.” OTHER WORDS, WORDS, AN AN EXQUISITELY EXQUISITELY FOR FOR CHOICE CHOICE AND AND THANKS THANKS TO TO VERY THEY’VE CUT VERY HEALTHY HEALTHY “THE “THE WAY WAY WE WE THEY’VE SEEN SEEN CUT GREY GREY SUIT, SUIT, INTERACTIVITY.” INTERACTIVITY.” STATE-OF-THESTATE-OF-THELOOKING ALL THE “WE ART LOOKING ALL LIVE LIVE OUR OUR THE FUTURE FUTURE OF OF CRISP CRISP WHITE, WHITE, “WE HAVE HAVE ART MEDIA MEDIA GENTLEMAN HIGH CHOSEN TECHNOLOGY GENTLEMAN IN IN LIVES LIVES IS IS NOW NOW HIGH END END RETAIL. RETAIL. OPEN-NECKED OPEN-NECKED CHOSEN TO TO TECHNOLOGY AN SHIRT, LAUNCH -- FLOORAN EXQUISITELY EXQUISITELY FOR FOR CHOICE CHOICE AND AND THANKS THANKS TO TO SHIRT, WIRE WIRE LAUNCH IN IN FLOORCUT LONDON, TO-CEILING CUT GREY GREY SUIT, SUIT, INTERACTIVITY.” INTERACTIVITY.” STATE-OF-THESTATE-OF-THE- RIM RIM GLASSES GLASSES LONDON, TO-CEILING CRISP “WE ART PERCHED BECAUSE PROJECTION CRISP WHITE, WHITE, “WE HAVE HAVE ART MEDIA MEDIA PERCHED ON ON BECAUSE IT IT IS IS PROJECTION OPEN-NECKED CHOSEN TECHNOLOGY AQUILINE SURFACES, OPEN-NECKED CHOSEN TO TO TECHNOLOGY AQUILINE NOSE, NOSE, THE THE CENTRE CENTRE SURFACES, OR OR SHIRT, LAUNCH -- FLOORWILL POWERWALLS SHIRT, WIRE WIRE LAUNCH IN IN FLOORWILL GET GET UP UP AND AND OF OF GLOBAL GLOBAL POWERWALLS RIM LONDON, TO-CEILING MAKE -- AUDI RIM GLASSES GLASSES LONDON, TO-CEILING MAKE A A SPEECH. SPEECH. CREATIVITY CREATIVITY AUDI CITY CITY PERCHED BECAUSE PROJECTION HE OFFERS PERCHED ON ON BECAUSE IT IT IS IS PROJECTION HE (IF (IF IT’S IT’S TECH, TECH, THAT THAT YOU YOU SEE, SEE, OFFERS SEVERAL SEVERAL AQUILINE SURFACES, IT’S THEN HUNDRED AQUILINE NOSE, NOSE, THE THE CENTRE CENTRE SURFACES, OR OR IT’S HE) HE) WILL WILL THEN WE WE WILL WILL HUNDRED WILL POWERWALLS SPEAK MILLION WILL GET GET UP UP AND AND OF OF GLOBAL GLOBAL POWERWALLS SPEAK ENGLISH ENGLISH OPEN OPEN IN IN THE THE MILLION MAKE -- AUDI TO MAKE A A SPEECH. SPEECH. CREATIVITY CREATIVITY AUDI CITY CITY TO A A PERFECTLY PERFECTLY OTHER OTHER CENTRES CENTRES POSSIBLE POSSIBLE HE OFFERS OF ONFIGURATIONS HE (IF (IF IT’S IT’S TECH, TECH, THAT THAT YOU YOU SEE, SEE, OFFERS SEVERAL SEVERALUSABLE USABLE AND AND OF CREATIVE CREATIVE ONFIGURATIONS IT’S THEN HUNDRED CHARMING (YES, IT’S HE) HE) WILL WILL THEN WE WE WILL WILL HUNDRED CHARMING LEVEL. LEVEL.ENERGY ENERGY -(YES, THAT THAT SPEAK MILLION THE SHANGHAI, NUMBER SPEAK ENGLISH ENGLISH OPEN OPEN IN IN THE THE MILLION THE PROBLEM PROBLEM SHANGHAI, NUMBER IS IS TO WILL BERLIN, CORRECT TO A A PERFECTLY PERFECTLY OTHER OTHER CENTRES CENTRES POSSIBLE POSSIBLE WILL BE BE THAT, THAT, BERLIN, CORRECT AT AT USABLE OF ONFIGURATIONS TIME USABLE AND AND OF CREATIVE CREATIVE ONFIGURATIONS IDIOMATICALLY IDIOMATICALLY PARIS, PARIS, ROME, ROME, TIME OF OF PRINT) PRINT) CHARMING (YES, AND BARCELONA, SPANNING CHARMING LEVEL. LEVEL.ENERGY ENERGY -(YES, THAT THAT AND BARCELONA, SPANNING THE SHANGHAI, NUMBER RHETORICALLY, THE THE PROBLEM PROBLEM SHANGHAI, NUMBER IS IS RHETORICALLY, MOSCOW MOSCOW AND AND THE ENTIRE ENTIRE 36 36 WILL BERLIN, CORRECT ENGLISH NEW MODEL WILL BE BE THAT, THAT, BERLIN, CORRECT AT AT ENGLISH NEW YORK.” YORK.” MODEL RANGE RANGE IDIOMATICALLY TIME –– INCLUDING IDIOMATICALLY PARIS, PARIS, ROME, ROME, TIME OF OF PRINT) PRINT) REQUIRES REQUIRES MORE MORE WAS WAS II RIGHT? RIGHT? INCLUDING AND BARCELONA, SPANNING THAN ALL AND BARCELONA, SPANNING THAN JUST JUST THE THE THREE THREE FOR FOR ALL COLOURS, COLOURS, RHETORICALLY, THE TECHNICALITIES RHETORICALLY, MOSCOW MOSCOW AND AND THE ENTIRE ENTIRE 36 36 TECHNICALITIES THREE, THREE, AS AS THEY THEY EQUIPMENT EQUIPMENT ENGLISH NEW MODEL SAY ENGLISH NEW YORK.” YORK.” MODEL RANGE RANGE OF OF GRAMMAR. GRAMMAR. SAY IN IN BASEBALL, BASEBALL,OPTIONS OPTIONS AND AND REQUIRES –– INCLUDING WIT, PROBABLY. FUNCTIONS. REQUIRES MORE MORE WAS WAS II RIGHT? RIGHT? INCLUDING WIT, ALLUSION, ALLUSION, PROBABLY. FUNCTIONS. THAN ALL TEMPO LUCKILY, AND THAN JUST JUST THE THE THREE THREE FOR FOR ALL COLOURS, COLOURS, TEMPO AND AND LUCKILY, AUDI AUDI AND SINCE SINCE AN AN TECHNICALITIES METAPHOR TECHNICALITIES THREE, THREE, AS AS THEY THEY EQUIPMENT EQUIPMENT METAPHOR ARE ARE CITY CITY DOES DOES A A LOT LOT INCREASING INCREASING OF SAY THE OF OF GRAMMAR. GRAMMAR. SAY IN IN BASEBALL, BASEBALL,OPTIONS OPTIONS AND AND THE TOOLS TOOLS OF OF OF TALKING TALKING ON ON NUMBER NUMBER OF OF WIT, PROBABLY. FUNCTIONS. THE IT’S WIT, ALLUSION, ALLUSION, PROBABLY. FUNCTIONS. THE NATURAL NATURAL IT’S OWN. OWN. AND AND IT IT CUSTOMERS CUSTOMERS TEMPO LUCKILY, AND ORATOR. IS TEMPO AND AND LUCKILY, AUDI AUDI AND SINCE SINCE AN AN ORATOR. AND, AND, IS IMPRESSIVELY IMPRESSIVELY WANT WANT TO TO DRIVE DRIVE METAPHOR ALAS, ELOQUENT THEIR METAPHOR ARE ARE CITY CITY DOES DOES A A LOT LOT INCREASING INCREASING ALAS, THESE THESE ELOQUENT IN IN THEIR OWN OWN THE OF ARE THE TOOLS TOOLS OF OF OF TALKING TALKING ON ON NUMBER NUMBER OF OF ARE NOT NOT IN IN THE THE ANY ANY LANGUAGE. LANGUAGE. PERSONAS PERSONAL,AND THE IT’S CHAT FUNCTIONS. THE NATURAL NATURAL IT’S OWN. OWN. AND AND IT IT CUSTOMERS CUSTOMERS CHAT QUIVER QUIVER OF OF ESSENTIALLY, ESSENTIALLY, INDIVIDUNNING ORATOR. IS AND SINCE AN ORATOR. AND, AND, IS IMPRESSIVELY IMPRESSIVELY WANT WANT TO TO DRIVE DRIVE YOUR YOUR AVERAGE AVERAGE IT’S IT’S DESIGNED DESIGNED THE ENTIRE 36 ALAS, ELOQUENT THEIR TEUTONIC TO INCREASING ALAS, THESE THESE ELOQUENT IN IN THEIR OWN OWN TEUTONIC TO MARRY MARRY MODEL RANGE ARE TECHNOLOGIST. NUMBER OF ARE NOT NOT IN IN THE THE ANY ANY LANGUAGE. LANGUAGE. PERSONAL, PERSONAL, TECHNOLOGIST. THE THE SCOPE SCOPE OF OF – INCLUDING CHAT INDIVIDUALISED INFORMATION CUSTOMERS CHAT QUIVER QUIVER OF OF ESSENTIALLY, ESSENTIALLY, INDIVIDUALISED BUT BUT MAINLY, MAINLY, INFORMATION ALL COLOURS, YOUR CARS, AVAILABLE WANT TO DRIVE YOUR AVERAGE AVERAGE IT’S IT’S DESIGNED DESIGNED CARS, THIS THIS WILL WILL ONE ONE MISSES MISSES A A AVAILABLE EQUIPMENT TEUTONIC TO ALSO SENSE THEIR OWN TEUTONIC TO MARRY MARRY ALSO BE BE A A BIG BIG SENSE OF OF DEMUR DEMURON ON LINE, LINE, WITH WITH OPTIONS AND TECHNOLOGIST. ASPECT PERSONAS AND TECHNOLOGIST. THE THE SCOPE SCOPE OF OF ASPECT OF OF THE THE ANGLO ANGLO SAXON SAXON THE THE THRILL THRILL FUNCTIONS. BUT INFORMATION NEW OF FUNCTIONS. BUT MAINLY, MAINLY, INFORMATION NEW VENTURE. VENTURE. IRONY. IRONY. OF BEING BEING IN IN A A AND SINCE AN ONE AVAILABLE AN SCIENCE SINCE AN ONE MISSES MISSES A A AVAILABLE AN ONE ONE REALLY REALLY II RECLINE RECLINE SCIENCE FICTION FICTION AND INCREASING SENSE PREDICT IN SHOWROOM SENSE OF OF DEMUR DEMURON ON LINE, LINE, WITH WITH PREDICT THE THE IN MY MY VERY VERY SHOWROOM OF OF INCREASING NUMBER OF ANGLO FUTURE? COMPETENTLY THE NUMBER OF ANGLO SAXON SAXON THE THE THRILL THRILL FUTURE? NOT NOT COMPETENTLY THE FUTURE, FUTURE, CUSTOMERS
DOUGLAS BLYDE WHINE WINE WHINE
espite the insistence by my overpaid, nonjournalist friends that they surely are ‘drinking holidays’, wine press trips can prove to be compact, intricate endurance tests. Yes, I can hear you all now as you go to your store rooms to locate the world’s smallest flight case, carefully extracting from it the world’s smallest violin to play the world’s smallest sad song. Well, microfiddle away. You should understand this: press trips – to quote the great arbiter of the finer things in life, Mr Frederick Mercury – ‘ain’t no bed of roses. No pleasure cruise’ (of which I hope to rant in more depth about in the next issue of Lusso). Although this may be happily selfinflicted later on by group mini-bar raids on brightly coloured Gordon’s bottles followed by Ray Mears-esque ‘uncorkin’’ of samples with biros or even shoelaces, the drinks press trip often begins with a dawn flight, care of a budget airline. Naturally, little consideration is given to how to get the journalist to the actual airport – meaning some already fail the first challenge of actually turning up. This is followed by the unravelling of an itinerary so utterly occupied that it could never, ever run to schedule. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and it often feels like the passing of the hours in freezing cellars/ogling bottling lines/ ambling around half-hearted receptionscum-gift shops is more about saving the organiser’s face rather than sating any editorial mission.
This can lead a freelancer to aspire to a desperate act. Call it ‘daspiration’. In an effort to conserve their possibly paltry fee, the few narrative scraps will later, unseen, be collaged into as beautiful a tableau as possible using the tool of overwriting as camouflage against a lack of substance or relevance. So here is my list of categories, the sore pressure points where the mythological ‘Paid For Piss Up’ can spiral down into something very much less than rarefied. The tasting menu of the prosaic, if you will. Transport I sometimes contemplate giving the press bus a name, considering the waste of life that is being cooped within in its bumpy, metallic womb. Inevitably the vehicle will have frigid seatbelts applying to the many seats shoe-horned in at the expense of a boot, meaning one’s crammed in laptop/camera will fall to the road at least once on opening. There is also the tyranny of cranky, dishonest SatNav. And, in the last 12 months, I’ve experienced one giddily merrily drunken driver. Other Writers Otherwise known as haters of dead air, wine and spirit students masquerading as journalists will vent their knowledge tirelessly, demanding that producers, who are more comfortable talking to their grape vines, are obliged to fully answer technical questions about the bubble size
of Prosecco. But the results will never transpire in the articles they scrawl in provincial rags. Even more frustrating is when said prober adopts local language so aggressively it is to the point of caricature (complete with gesticulations). Hell can indeed be other people. Nourishment or Punishment Unlike glam travel features, rural drinks trips rarely see anything resembling balanced cuisine. Instead, expect the carte equivalent of a hair shirt. From airline tikka baps to foul, underpowered hotel breakfast coffees from noisy machinery. Bread knives magnetised to cutting one’s flesh. The stretched interval leading to lunch and finally the inevitable heart palpitations which tuck in with you for the night, following large, elongated, fatty, vegetable-free, anonymous brown fodder. Waste Having to leave potentially tasty samples/stylish (and sometimes notso-stylish) corkscrews behind owing to there being no provision for hold baggage. Which also leads to... Pointlessly Felled Forests The only way of dealing with the weighty mass of expensively printed brochures, peppered with bizarre, literal translations is to conduct a ‘bin fillet’. One prays the
“WINE AND SPIRIT STUDENTS MASQUERADING AS JOURNALISTS WILL VENT THEIR KNOWLEDGE TIRELESSLY” chambermaid is not in league with the ABV producer. Confinement Scarce-to-none/tricky-to-operate wifi contributes a feeling of being estranged from family and extracted from society – leading to a severe case of “le blues”. In rural Burgundy, no one can hear you scream ... Nunc Est Bibendum I like to think most people drink mostly for fun, unless they are old guard trade, which possibly means they drink because of an alcoholic’s need. Perhaps, the many flaws of the press trip, seemingly arranged to ensure work can seldom be seen as play, can be overcome if the organiser has a little glint in the eye. For the sparkle need not simply be in the glass. So there you have it – I hope that now you feel some crumb of compassion for all that the tireless professional oenological scribe must endure. You don’t? Well, then I can only conclude that you have no heart. On the upside, you probably have a considerably better functioning liver. ●
DOUGLAS BLYDE IS WINE EXPERT, PERSONAL WINE SHOPPER AND SOMMELIER FOR HIRE. WHEN HE’S NOT IMBIBING OR COGITATING THE GRAPES OF HIS WRATH, HE WRITES ABOUT RESTAURANTS, FOOD PAIRINGS AND GENERALLY HAVING A DAMN GOOD TIME. HE’S ACTUALLY QUITE HAPPY WITH HIS LOT.
THOMAS PATTERSON BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME
y grandfather was very good with his hands. He could build anything, from impressive dolls’ houses with tiny lifelike furniture, to full-sized rocking horses, sanded and varnished to a quality that would make professional woodworkers weep, and small children weep even more because they weren’t allowed anywhere near these beautiful toys, lest they got their sticky fingers all over them and buggered them up. My father, likewise, is rather handy, with a shed crammed full of tools and a desire to repair and rebuild the family home with a zeal that makes Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen look like a modest wallflower (although we’ll ignore his attempt to install a sliding door through a load-bearing wall or the time he redecorated my bedroom after a gin and tonic too many and I spent my childhood with upside-down wallpaper). Which makes it all the more baffling as to why I’m so useless at anything with a hint of craft or design. Or mechanics. Or electrics. Or any kind of knowhow that extends beyond pushing a button. A candlestick I made for my mother in a school metalwork class ended up with edges so sharp it was more lethal than
a flick knife. A bust of Marilyn Monroe’s head I carefully moulded from clay transformed the ravishing screen siren into a hideous gargoyle, once I’d pulled it from the kiln and then cack-handedly applied three layers of poster paint. And let’s not talk about the time I spent two hours incorrectly rewiring a plug and then shorted the electrics of the entire street back in 2002 (to the people watching the finals of the World Cup, I apologise for ruining the climax. FYI – Brazil won). Yep, when it comes to making and mending things, I am what the French would call ‘un idiot’. I’d like to think that I’m not alone, that this is a 21st-century malaise affecting all cosseted citydwellers, a disease turning us into nambypamby men and women who couldn’t work a tin opener, let alone a buzz saw, and who think that a bench vice is a new type of illegal sex act that could see you banged up for one to five at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. But I know that’s not the case. The Guardian newspaper is constantly giving away supplements meant to teach us how to build artisanal saunas out of twigs and hemp and I have plenty of friends who can actually make stuff, such as my pal
“A CANDLESTICK I MADE FOR MY MOTHER IN A SCHOOL METALWORK CLASS ENDED UP WITH EDGES SO SHARP IT WAS MORE LETHAL THAN A FLICK KNIFE”
who crafted his own banjo from Arkansas wood so he could sound both creepy and inbred to a highly authentic degree. There’s also the casual acquaintance who hooked up an Oral Exciter to a motorised torque wrench loader and nearly gave himself a heart attack. All of which has got me worried. What is my worth to the world? What can a person who can’t actually make anything offer to a planet with a rapidly expanding population, a planet in which those who remain passive consumers rather than active suppliers will find their worth increasingly diminished, thanks to their meager skill sets. And most importantly, how am I going to come out on top when the Apocalypse hits? See, when the End of Days comes round, and leafy west London looks more like the set of Mad Max – Beyond Thunderdome than the Good Life, I want to make sure I’m one of the cannibal overlords rather than a malnourished sucker in a leather codpiece
being led round like a pet. I clearly won’t achieve this simple aim if I’m unable to make a rudimentary crossbow from the charred remnants of Epping Forest or hotwire a car by pressing together two cables I’ve ripped from the dashboard, like they do in the movies. To which end, I’ve set myself the task of overcoming my ham-fisted ways. I’m going to learn how to make stuff. I’m going to build a record turntable solely out of peanuts and Blu Tack, and whittle down an old oak tree into a three-inch Peruvian nose flute and I’m definitely building some sort of shelter out in the mountains with a plasma TV and one of those taps that instantly produces boiling water, just to get a head start on Armageddon. But first I’m going to try to correctly rewire this plug – and I apologise in advance if you live on my street and were hoping to use your Hitachi Magic Wand for something like a massage. But, hey, do what I’m proposing. Use your hands. ●
THOMAS PATTERSON IS A JOURNALIST AND SCREENWRITER. HIS AREAS OF EXPERTISE INCLUDE PSYCHEDELIC MUSIC, NASCAR, G.K. CHESTERTON AND LOUCHERY.
KAREN KRIZANOVICH I LUG YOU LONG TIME
esterday, I found a carrot in my Birkin bag. ‘It’s for the horse’, I said. Actually, it was a leftover from seeing Oscar Madison pull a submarine sandwich from his pocket in The Odd Couple. For weeks afterwards, I’d gone around carrying food on my person, thinking it cool and amusing. I was young and stupid, caring less what people thought and more about what amused me. I also thought that someone else would find it funny and that that person and I would have a great old laugh. Well, that didn’t happen. Picnic hampers, picnic baskets, bento boxes, tiffins and lunch boxes can carry food. Anything else is sort of disgusting. While Descartes didn’t say ‘I copy, therefore I am’, the idea could be extended to ‘when we copy, we find our tribe.’ I’m not talking about the outlandish, such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s cousin, Little Edie Beale, the co-star of David and Albert Maysles’ cult documentary Grey Gardens. Little Edie shared a shambolic 28-room mansion in the Hamptons with Big Edie, her mother, both ex-socialites. Little Edie’s most famous look? ‘The best thing is to wear pantyhose or some pants under a short skirt,’ she said. ‘You can always take
off the skirt and use it as a cape.’ Not that she got out much, but Little Edie maybe needed a larger suitcase. It’s not only by their shoes can you tell a member of your tribe, but also luggage. What you travel with is an enormous marker of the person, your values, your career, your insecurities and your accidents. A bloke on the train yesterday excluded himself from my tribe by wearing Clarks and carrying Samsonite. Not that there’s anything wrong with affordable functionality and maybe that case was one of Samsonite’s new GeoTrakrs? Personally, though, I like something more beautiful, with great design and perfect functionality. I want something that enhances my life and allows me the illusion that one small area of my life is in order. What picks out your tribe is discernment. As Jeremy Renner said: ‘I once dated a girl who had really ugly luggage. It sounds strange, but it looked like someone vomited on a suitcase. I couldn’t go on a trip with her.’ The first thing a man of Jeremy’s caliber notices about a woman is her luggage. Watch out, ladies. Tribes are united and scattered by basic likes and dislikes. For example, when I see
“WHAT YOU TRAVEL WITH IS AN ENORMOUS MARKER OF THE PERSON, YOUR VALUES, YOUR CAREER, YOUR INSECURITIES AND YOUR ACCIDENTS”
a person with Tumi luggage, I know that’s my peeps. It’s not the price of the stuff, it’s the stuff. Tumi’s built to last and its signature black ballistic nylon is discreet and strong. It’s not like Louis Vuitton, which might help you look like Elizabeth Taylor. Nor is it like Rimowa, which, although beautiful and practical, does sort of scream, ‘Look at ME! I MATTER!’ What luggage you use doesn’t need to work hard to say you’re still relevant. Granted, if I saw a Globe-Trotter Original or perhaps a 19th-century Hartmann, I would definitely think they are interesting choices. Or you could surprise me totally and go for a Ghurka bag which is simply gorgeous and charitable. We’re maybe encouraged to stop buying things and have ‘experiences’ instead, but of all actual things-to-spend-money-on, luggage keeps your stories. Like useful souvenirs, they can be totems to our experiences. My sumptuous Tumi black leather duffle reminds me of Los Angeles. The bright-red Olympia wheelie with the white dots all over it? My mother. ‘You’ll always see it on the luggage carousel.’ ‘Mom, I can see it from space.’ My father’s old suitcase – a relic of the 1940s, hard-
shell with an inside shelf, textured stripe on the outside, leather handle – would be very comfy in Casablanca. Then there are items which, no matter how carefully a member of your tribe has chosen them, are never quite there. In luggage terms, it’s the carry-on or, known after a few spritzen as the Herbert Von (Karajan, in the event you don’t get it). While there are no Federal Aviation Administration-approved dimensions, the maximum size you should drag with you is 45” in 22” x 14” x 9” dimensions for international on-board cases and that’s awkward. The most beautiful one I’ve seen is Bric’s Bellagio Carry-On Spinner Trunk, which is not only traditionally beautiful but also serious kit. Beautiful people will follow you home with a case like this. It’s just the carry-on’s lumpen nature that makes it typically hideous. This is where my pompous idea of ‘tribes’ comes into its own. Despite the proliferation of videos on how to cram more crap into a bag that’s going to fall from the overhead, my advice is not to learn how to pack your carry-on more effectively. The real wisdom? Need less stuff. (And, note to self, leave carrots at stable.) ●
KAREN KRIZANOVICH BEGAN HER CAREER AS A SEX AGONY AUNT FOR SKY MAGAZINE AND WRITES FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES, GQ AND OTHERS. WHEN NOT BEING ADMIRED, SHE IS MUCH SOUGHT AFTER.
WATCHING THE WATCHMAN STORY BY ANNA BASTIAENEN
aximilian Büsser is no stranger to criticism. “You need courage and you need guts to own and wear one of my pieces”, he explains when we meet. It’s fortunate then, that he’s a man with vision and when it comes to watchmaking he’s not about to curtail to conformity. Making no excuses about his maverick approach, the entrepreneur-owner of Swiss watch brand MB&F has carved a successful niche in creating timepieces that sit somewhere between beautiful and totally nuts. When you look through his collections what greets you is a surprising mix of machinery and art. What’s not surprising is that MB&F has been making waves in the watch world, because breaking the mould is what Büsser does best – and his refusal to pander to market trends or other people’s preconceptions has earned him a cult following since he set up the company in 2005. He tells me that on the release of the HM4 (the ‘Thunderbolt’) in 2010, six months before he showed it to anybody he had the prototype in his hand and turned to his team, saying: ‘Guys, I don’t think anybody’s ever gonna buy this.’ But he went ahead and released it anyway. ‘I was scared like I’ve never been scared. And I’m proud I came out with that piece, (because) it was probably the fastest sellout in the history of MB&F. People went ballistic and every piece we delivered sold almost immediately. I thought: “Really? People are following me there?’”. That opened a door for Büsser. He admits it was like being told: ‘OK, customers have followed you way further than you ever thought they would, you’re now allowed to go much
further, so don’t be scared anymore.’ And since the HM4, no one could accuse him of being scared. ‘I know that one way or another there will be somebody out there who’s got the same weird outlook or creativity as ourselves.’ It’s hard to look at one of MB&F’s creations without marvelling at the work. They’re designed in such a way that one cannot quite tell where the machine ends and the art begins. The Legacy Machines echo the classic designs of a century ago but with some visionary twists – balance wheels appearing to float above the dial and, in the case of the LM1 in collaboration with Chinese sculptor Xia Hang, the power reserve is indicated by a tiny aluminium man. The man sits up straight when the movement is fully wound (Mr Up) and gradually slumps over as the power diminishes (Mr Down). Six years ago, when watch aficionado and connoisseur Marcus Margulies selected MB&F to be part of his eponymous steel-and-glass boutique on Bond Street, he saw something in Büsser’s collection that resonated. It was a collaboration that now seems inevitable because at Marcus Boutique, if you’re after a normal watch, then you are in the wrong place. At that time, in Max’s own words, MB&F’s contraptions and art installations were ‘considered as aliens’ in the horological sector. In many ways, they still are. But displayed between the idiosyncratic and intensely personal collections in Marcus’s store, it seems likely that MB&F’s crazy constructs and unique approach signify a rebellion where beauty is to be found in the obscure. And with Max behind it, people are sure to follow.
After graduating with a degree in micro-technology engineering, you spent seven years in the senior management team at Jaeger-LeCoultre and another seven at Harry Winston Rare Timepieces. Would you say you choose your career or did it choose you? I’ve followed my gut and taken a ton of risks to become the man I am. Watchmaking more or less saved my life. Coming out of college, I was about to sign either with Procter & Gamble or with Nestlé and, luckily for me, a man believed in me much more than I believed in myself (Henry-John Belmont, the then MD of Jaeger-LeCoultre). He asked me, or more or less coerced me, to join his team 24 years ago, when nobody wanted to work in the watch industry in Switzerland; the whole industry was bankrupt. What’s been your proudest achievement during your time at both companies? When I entered Jaeger-LeCoultre, there was no money and no glamour in
any of the watch brands, it was virtually dead. And it gave us a meaning. We were there to save a company. We were there to save an industry. Most people don’t have that when they work, I was really lucky. Seven years later, when I was headhunted to head up Harry Winston Timepieces, I didn’t actually know that it was virtually bankrupt. At the beginning it was extremely tough, I thought I’d never manage. But I did, and going through those tough times and being able to get through them gave me the courage to create my own brand. MB&F is known for creating radical, surprising timepieces that sit somewhere between beautiful and conceptually ‘out there’. Do clients wear your creations or preserve them? Everybody I know (and I know at least 30%-40% of all the owners of MB&F), they all wear them. What’s very interesting is that MB&F owners are really special breed of people. You need courage and you need guts to own and wear one of my pieces.
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How would you describe an MB&F owner? The MB&F owners are not show-offs. Which might seem confusing because the pieces are so ‘out there’, so the assumption is that owners clearly want to parade them. In my view, if somebody wanted to show off they’d want their watch to be recognised, they’d want everybody to know the price and everybody to like it. Whereas with MB&F, everyone around you will ask: ‘What the F is that?’ and, ‘you actually paid money for it, are you insane?’ People don’t know the brand so they have no idea what the value is – they’re likely to criticise and judge you. People who buy an MB&F are extremely strong-minded. We make about 280 pieces a year and around half of those are repeat customers. It’s a community of thought – when someone loves what we do, they love everything about the brand. MB&F owners are patrons of my company. They not only enjoy wearing an incredible piece they love, they’re also helping us create the next piece, and that really means something. Your approach to watchmaking seems very different – you work with individuals or small partnerships making limited numbers of expensive watches for elite groups of clients. Is that the way the industry is going now – more boutique than the large watch houses? It’s very, very polarised and it’s going to become even more so as time goes on. Today it’s either the giants, who generate anything between £400 m to £4 bn a year, or the super-small artisan brands like ours. Basically you don’t want to be in the middle. You’re either a big brand or you’re a very small artisan, if you’re in the middle you’re not going to exist for long. We’re not the only artisans – there’s a certain amount out there, although most are struggling because it’s an extremely complicated and difficult business.
MB&F IS ONE OF THE CLOSEST THINGS I’VE DONE TO PSYCHOTHERAPY. I’M EXPRESSING MYSELF EVERY YEAR WITH MY NEW CREATIONS
You founded MB&F in 2005 and are therefore unencumbered by confines of heritage. Do you still consider yourself as ‘aliens’ in the horological sector? It’s extremely complex, I must admit. When I created my first piece, I’d never in my life created a watch for myself. I’d spent all those years analysing the market, the trends and the competitors, and creating a product which would fit into the marketing mix, and suddenly I was being asked: ‘Forget about that, what would you really like?’ Actually MB&F is one of the closest things I’ve done to psychotherapy. I’m expressing myself every year with my new creations. You also have to accept that certain people are going to hate what you do. Your range is stocked at the Marcus watch boutique on Bond Street, which holds some of the worlds rarest and unique watches. How long have you been working with him and how did that come about? I’ve been working with Marcus since about 2009, so while we didn’t start at
the beginning, it’s been six years and he had the guts during the crisis to take on a new brand like mine. The man has guts like no one else in this industry. If he sees something exceptional, something which is extremely well done, even if it’s very particular, he’ll go for it. And it all started that way in 2009. Watches today have been freed from their functional obligations. Would you say that watchmakers now are as proud of unveiling a new ‘métier d’art’ – whether that’s in the form of sculpture or clever visual illusion – as they once were when launching a new complication? Yes, try to explain to me why 99% of my colleagues are continuing to do round, rectangular or square complications with the same old dials and hands. I just don’t get it. Since 1972 and the quartz era there is absolutely no practical reason for all the craft in the mechanical timepiece, it’s 10,000 times less precise than quartz. It’s more expensive and less reliable. You must be
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delusional if you think you’re buying a mechanical watch just to tell the time. I totally respect tradition, I love historical timepieces, because a real beautiful tree needs to have really solid roots and we have great roots in watchmaking. But I think it’s time to start sprouting a few other branches and MB&F is my answer to that. You launched your gallery and retail space in 2011 in Geneva, the MAD Gallery, to coincide with the unveiling of the LM1. What was the reason for it? The reason I created MAD Gallery is that originally, even now actually, most people don’t get what I’m trying to do – they say: ‘But it doesn’t look like a watch.’ But by assembling all these mechanical art pieces, we actually make people understand why we exist. People who come into the gallery start understanding. Not all of them, but some of them start getting what we’re trying to
do. When the practical reason of a piece has been taken out, it’s still so beautiful and incredibly well made with passion. The designers are not thinking about how they can please other people or make money, they just have a need to express themselves. Why the name? Melchior came about because for at least 500 years the eldest son in my family was always called Melchior Brüsser; his eldest son would be Baltazaar Brüsser, the next eldest son would be Melchior, and so on. My grandfather, however, was Melchior and hated it so he had everybody call him Max, which is why I became Max two generations later. I actually love the name and I’m trying to convince my wife that if we have a son we can use it – she basically said, over my dead body. So instead, I called my robot Melchior for my 10th anniversary. ●
LIVING THE DREAM STORY BY ROBERT CLAYMAN
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here’s a reason certain aphorisms become tired-out cliches, and usually it’s through mere overuse or that they just don’t make any sense at all. ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’? Well, actually, the friend indeed is me, if I choose to help the needy loser in question. Tsk. And please don’t get me started on the ‘bird in the hand being worth two in the bush’. I can just napalm the bush. Voila! Instant double rotisserie. However, when said saying is also no longer aphoristic in any way, shape or form because it is no longer true, then truly, it is time to put it to bed. Most astute global travellers would consider Dr Johnson’s ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’ to be no longer truly applicable. In Fat Sam’s day, London was becoming the capital city of an empire – Charing Cross the very epicentre of the entire globe. Today, the world is considerably bigger. Even New York, you will hear from jaded indigenous locals, is risking becoming past its sell-by date, too expensive now for anything unique or organic to take off. We are now on the look out for emerging destinations to pique our interests and stimulate our senses. And thanks to emerging airline technology, getting to them has never been more untaxing – physically or environmentally. Air Canada started flying its sleek fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners direct from London to Toronto last year, as part of a wider European expansion programme that included direct flights to Milan and Lisbon. Having moved into an all-new Terminal 2 HQ and set up a sublime, arcing Maple Leaf Lounge – all (maple) wood panelling and curved glass, the carrier now flies four times a day, with AC849 at 3.10pm currently being the 787’s moment to shine. Flying is rarely as civilised as it used to be, but landing at Toronto Pearson at 5.30pm local time, having spent the afternoon in international business class on the healthiest, quietest airliner in the sky is pretty snazzy.
The airline’s excellent concierge service makes the job of negotiating ‘the Queen’s Terminal’ that much smoother – staffed as it is by the some of the most experienced and relaxed of Heathrow’s veteran groundstaff – some going back to the Trans World Airlines days of the 1970s. Exclusive to the Dreamliner, IBC offers their ‘executive pod’ in a one-two-one seat configuration, so you can remain serenely isolated, while being massaged by your seat, watching the massive 18” touch-screen screen with hundreds of movies and TV shows or contemplating a rather refined dinner service. I usually keep it light on longer flights, but here I’m tempted to get stuck in. An excellent three-course lunch, which features a genuinely good roasted lamb rack and apple tart sets me up for a good run of movies, undisturbed by ambient noise or jet lag.v This is due to the 787’s much quieter engines and greater levels of cabin humidity and pressurisation. Taking out the central overhead luggage bins also creates a sense of space and airiness, as does the much-vaunted big windows and mood lighting, colours changing to fool your pineal gland across changing time zones. The plane’s refined premium economy configuration is being installed in their 777 fleet as well. Once there and met off the plane by another very friendly young Air Canada concierge, I’m whisked through Pearson’s ultra-clean glass utopia, or Terminal 1, as they like to call it. Now I head into the city. While not as established a cultural destination as New York or as ‘on the brink’ of a renaissance out of turmoil, like Detroit, Toronto is a city that projects a keen sense of possibilities and opportunities, but with a relaxed confidence and genteel air. Like Bill Murray on an MBA at a second-tier Ivy League college. Eating out, obviously, is a huge growth area around the world and none more so than here. A resident of some 40 years standing tells me that in the early 1970s there were about four
acceptable eateries in the Downtown area. That’s all changed. Among the many Canadians of note who have been masquerading as American showbiz icons for years, including Joni Mitchell, Dan Aykroyd, Neil Young and Sesame Street’s Big Bird, Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman is a Torontonian local (by way of Komárno in Slovakia). He has partnered up with Jonathan Waxman, master of the Californian school of light French cuisine and ex-pupil of its doyenne, Alice Waters. Their joint venture, Montecito, has the relaxed and casual feel of a members’ club, a double-height space defined by hanging pictures of film industry icons and giant video screens offering a constant moving vignette of the view from Reitman’s Californian window. With a menu that changes daily, it seeks to marry the signature styles of both Waxman and head chef Matt Robertson, while utilising the best of Canada’s continental produce. Seasonal Ontario fruits and veg, organic chicken from Mennonite co-operatives, cheeses direct from the nearby dairies, regional grass-fed beef and maritime shellfish are all on the menu. I get a heads up from an industry friend who helped with the launch and plump for delicious kale, the outrageous meatballs and the confit duck. Did I mention I was sharing everything with my host? On the other side of the venue, people are posing with a replica of Ghostbusters’ Stay Puft Marshmallow Monster. For a second, I consider it a critique of my appetite. I’m certainly not bored by life here yet. The next morning during a sturdy walk through the Downtown area, I descend into PATH. Like a highly impressive mall in Dr Strangelove’s post-Apocalyptic city underground, PATH is the largest underground shopping complex in the world with 371,600 sq m (4m sq ft) of retail space. Most visitors assume this self-sufficient subterranean ‘other’ was constructed to combat ferocious winters. Well, Torontonians, like all Canadians, are made of stern stuff and
-14 C winds and 5 metre snow drifts for four months barely register as ‘nippy’. The PATH was built in anticipation of projected overcrowding on the city’s 19th-century grid pavements. Nigel Farage would fume, if he realised that immigration had been incorporated into Toronto’s capital building programme back in the 1960s. I flaneur across Dundas West to the Art Gallery of Toronto, a collision of the old and new – a 1900s gallery that was synthesised to a Frank Gehry glass-andwood cocoon in 2004. Although Gehry was born in Toronto, and as a child had lived in the same neighbourhood as the AGO, the expansion of the gallery actually represented his first work in Canada. Inside, one finds the statement personal collection of Canada’s wealthiest family, the Thompsons, including the mesmerising ‘Massacre of the Innocents’ by Rubens – in 2002, the most expensive painting ever at £50m. A vibrant space that hosts everything from Bowie to Al Weiwei to Michaelangelo, it is a cultural guardian of Canadian culture. Much pleasure is gleaned from the Group of Seven landscape group of the 1920s, who immersed themselves into the colours of their indigenous wilderness. Emily Carr, a contemporary, went to live on reservations and became somewhat of an animist, her forest trees and totem poles incorporating the kinetic flow of Van Goch with an almost shamanic sense of vibration. Alex Colville is a giant of Canadian art. An ex-war painter, his granular, almost pointillist realism by its very physical nature is utterly cinematic. Surreal, yet quotidian, they are masterpieces in quietly screaming hidden stories. No surprise that Wes Anderson steals from him in every film and Stanley Kubrick hung his works in the rooms of the Overlook Hotel. Canadian life might be quiet, but they do style as well. A brief sojourn around some of the city’s interesting gentlemen’s boutiques reveals options for the dapper – a renaissance in made-to-
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measure tailoring and one-off pieces means unique spots such as Gotstyle, Gerhard Supplies and Uncle Otis are a pleasure to browse and, for a country famous for the Lumberjack shirt, quietly inspirational. At no point do I wish I’d been a girlie (just like ma dear Papa). A fine dinner at downtown favourite, Nota Bene, includes a dreamy black cod, brilliantly acidic/sweet squid and exemplary cote de boeuf carved off the bone. This sets me up to leave the city and head down to the south of Lake Ontario – Niagra Falls and environs. The falls themselves are just one of those things you have to do. Sadly, on my day there, the safety conscious Canucks won’t take the chopper up for an eagle’s eye view (a bit of low-hanging cloud. Really) – but against steel-grey flume and brilliant white foam, the unsettling roar of nature in full effect is offset by a thousand Japanese tourists in their pink, diaphanous ponchos. Spawning Koi carp against raging water. Divert east and you get to Niagra-OnThe-Lake (population 15,400), a stunningly picturesque preserved town, gentrified and organic, cultured and aspirational. Canada’s own Hamptons
boasts a George Bernard Shaw festival and the highly desirable residences of some serious maple money. And they live well. This is, after all, the heart of the country’s icewine revival. The micro-climate and efficacious sediment structure of the lake’s shoreline makes this perfect vineyard country. Inniskillen is probably the most famous, their winemaker Bruce Nicholson is frequently invited around the world to attend grand prize givings. He prefers to stay and tend his Reisling, Cab Franc and Pinot Noirs, among other varieties. Waiting and watching weather reports like a hawk, when it reaches -14C, he bursts into action. The fruit at this stage is dessicated almost like those covered in noble rot. Quickly harvested, it makes for a sweet, yet refined and expanding end product – full of citrus and tropical fruit favours. Truly the good life is to found all around the world. I leave Toronto with one final aphorism in mind. Coco Chanel might have been a bisexual, treacherous, Nazishagging collaborator. But she wasn’t stupid, saying: ‘There are people who have money and people who are rich.’ Those lucky Canucks are both. ●
DISCOVERY CHANNEL STORY BY ROBERT CLAYMAN
nce upon a time, I was an ad man. Like the Ice Age giant bears that roamed from the fjords to Sussex, my kind faces extinction. No one wants zingy headlines and witty, well-constructed copywriting these days. Even you, dear Lussonian, probably just enjoy the shiny pictures and scan the wordy bits from your tablet screens with tetchy impatience. I don’t blame you. The brave new world of brand building is in hashtags. Yes, fashion a catchy hashtag, ‘seed’ it across Twitter and social media, then create some nice, not too overtly branded ‘content’ – YouTube films and lifestyle tips etc, and watch your logo end up everywhere. The problem is, a) it’s not easy. Because most brands don’t make stuff that’s good enough, which leads to b) you can’t polish a turd. Luckily, Land Rover is a brand that makes incredibly good stuff. So anyone of a creative bent can polish those leather and aluminium parts to an impressive shine. I even know a couple of the chaps that have the brief. Lucky buggers. Their current brilliant synergy of brand, product and lifestyle is the incredibly catchy and psychologically ingenious #Hibernot. A wilful corruption, of course, of ‘hibernate’ – it taps into the current, economically driven trend for indigenous holidays married to the challenge laid down to middle-class families to get out there more, even in winter, when most dads want to establish a permanent base on the left-hand-side of the couch. It has already done that holy grail of ‘social’ – it’s crossed over into the ‘vernacular’, earning its place in the ‘zeitgeist’ and gaining ‘traction as a ‘meme’. Pay attention – there’ll be a PowerPoint presentation later. Leading the drive to get us all to Hibernot is their latest model, the new Discovery Sport. First revealed a year ago at the New York Car Show as
the Discovery Vision, this signals the demise of the old Disco and the Freelander and a new harmonisation of the marque. From now on, there will be three distinct shapes/moods/iterations. This year’s heritage Defenders will be the last waltz of the classic model, before some seriously sexy utility plant emerges carrying the torch, next year. At the other end, the Range Rovers will continue to bridge the gap between function and premium comfort and style, with more choice of spec and hybrid body styles. Now, this new SUV is the perfect intersection between the two poles. A suave missing link that offers old-school practicality and sturdiness, with the DNA of the wildly successful Evoque clearly there in its handsome face and raked profile. Back in late January, when Land Rover had been ensconced in their Iceland base over the winter months, Lusso was invited to get behind the wheel of the Discovery Sport and truly get a feel for the art of hibernoting in the most spectacular fashion. As a summer baby, I’m more of a pure hibernator – but Iceland seemed the perfect place to change my mind. And a perfect venue for the brand and this model. The entire country is nothing but a vast slab of volcanic basalt formed from the tectonic rupture where the North American Plate rubs under the Eurasian Plate, foundation of all of Europe and Russia. We fly in on the highly elegant Icelandair (cheekbone-sporting flight attendant? Check) over where this visceral wilderness meets the Arctic Ocean’s shore in breathtaking fashion. Off the plane, into a drivers’ debrief and then out, out into the lands of the ice and snow – and, yes, I was minded to sing Robert Plant’s battle cry opening of Led Zeppelin’s Viking-inspired ‘Immigrant Song’. Foot down, all together now: ‘Ayyyyyyeeeeaaaaaaeeeeeeaaaarrgghhh!’.
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Myself, a glamorous companion and a further 20 identical Discovery Sports speed out north, along the coast from Reykjavik and then turn east, in land. The dusk is breathtakingly luminous, petrol-blue skies and glowering mountains. Twenty minutes out of the city, the ground underneath studded tires is snow covered and, in some places, decidedly off road-ish, but the Discovery makes it all serene. The Tolkienesque fairytale setting outside doesn’t hurt, of course. Indeed, the country has given a huge amount to literature. The Viking sagas of the 10th and 11th century are considered to count as the very first novels, prefiguring Cervantes’ Don Quixote by at least six centuries. No mention of all the Irish ‘thralls’, of course. The breeding stock and heavy lifters the Vikings brought with them for the original settlement now provide 50% of the population’s DNA. And what a population. After stringing up every rapacious or incompetent
banker responsible for the deleterious financial crash of 2008, they reinvented their entire economy using actual democratic means. In 2011, Reykjavík was the first non-English-speaking city in the world to be named a UNESCO City of Literature. However, while the cultural gifts of Iceland – Björk, Sigur Rós, Magnus Magnusson – give their people much to celebrate, their relationship with their environment is hugely defining. Iceland remains largely uninhabited, with more than half of its 320,000 inhabitants living in the capital city. The long summer days with near 24-hours of sunlight are offset by short winter days with very little sunlight at all. Fortunately, while winters in Iceland are dark, they are relatively mild. And you’d tolerate the sun buggering off for a few months if you went to bed seeing the aurora borealis nearly every other night. We drive through complete darkness, only occasionally coming across some
of Land Rover’s support team, clad in layers of mustard-yellow outerwear. One of them takes me through the next generation terrain response system, which can proactively utilise a variety of intelligent human machine interfaces and capability technologies, giving any driver the confidence to tackle virtually any terrain with ease. He suggests that the grass/snow/gravel setting will provide more grip and stability, but the sand setting – which selects lower gear ratios from the ZF nine-speed gearbox and more rear wheel drive bias – is more ‘fun’. He’s not wrong. Through this lunar landscape we whizz, as detached from quotidian daily reality as it’s possible to get on earth (were we really in Hounslow five hours ago?) until we spot a massive lick of flame. The Yellow Men have lit a brazier to signal our arrival at the Nesjavellir geothermal power plant, close to UNESCO listed national park Thingvellir. Pipes that run across the Icelandic landscape contain this pipinghot water, which is used to heat more than 90% of their buildings and most of the swimming pools. A volcanic island with an abundance of renewable energy sources and a small nation with an innovative mindset provides for an exciting case study on how to move towards a 100% sustainable energy society. Using the impressive hill descent control, the Discovery takes over, as we crawl down a virtually vertical snowledge down towards the moonbase vision of the plant below. Sulphurous fumes fill the sky and our noses, as the steering wheel, pedals and adaptive headlights overrule me. Safely down on a flat road, we leave the egginess behind and head to Hotel ION. Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir, the hotel’s founder and owner discovered an abandoned building, previously used as staff quarters for the power plant. With Santa Monicabased Icelandic designer duo Minarc they have created a beautiful unique luxury property situated in this stark landscape. The elegant building blends
into the lava/moss environment, while respecting Mother Nature – after all, it is located next to a (hopefully) dormant volcano, Mount Hengill. After a night sadly bereft of the much hoped for aurora, we wake early and lead the convoy towards some of the geographical and topological wonders available. We glide across a silent vista of pale blues and subtle greys, water, air and land barely distinguishable from one another. With Iceland’s own soundtrack composers-in-residence, Sigur Rós rising passionately from the advanced 825 watts, Meridian Surround Sound 17-speaker system, we are very much experiencing the other worldly in perfect circumstances. First stop is (and I rarely use this word unironically) epic Gulfoss. The ‘golden waterfalls’ are situated in the upper part of River Hvítá, cascading down two steps, one 11 metres high, the other 22 metres, into the 2.5km-long canyon below. They were created at the end of the Ice Age by catastrophic flood waves, which have revealed alternating strata that show the warm and cold epochs of history. See? Epic. After a quick diversion to see a geezer by a geyser, we lunch at Friðheimar Greenhouse Farm, growers of tomatoes and cucumbers all year round, despite Iceland’s long, dark winters. It uses greenhouses with state-of-the-art lighting that can be controlled from an app, anywhere on earth and abundant supplies of geothermal water, which provides heat to the greenhouses. The borehole is 200 metres from the building and the water flows into them at 203°F. Specially bred bumble bees buzz around us, pollinating away, as we enjoy the fruits of their labours. A crumble and ice cream with a tomato coulis, anyone? Magic. Replete, I stagger out, enviously glancing over at the crew’s big white Defender, propped up on four steerable caterpillar tracks. Before I start the journey back to Reykjavik, I peer inside and, of course, am immediately struck
by how sparse and functionally uninviting it is for a mere civilian like me. The Discovery is a whole other story. Its interior has been designed to provide a versatile and calming space, where every occupant feels equally comfortable and the driver can pay maximum attention to the road. An incredibly versatile five plus two seating means families and friends will get the most out of the SUV. ‘Discovery Sport has required an incredible degree of creative intellect from both designers and engineers,’ says Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Design Director and Chief Creative Officer, who has flown in to put the car in context for us. ‘It’s been designed for hectic modern lifestyles.’ Talking of hectic, we’d been warned of a whiteout and one duly came in, horizontal snow blitzing across my screen, the horizon disappearing into the sky. Told to never pull over (you can’t tell what’s ground
and what’s 10 feet of soft snow) the only choice is to follow the pale red rear lights ahead and keep calm. Luckily, with the new vehicle higher and more poised than before, I barely break a sweat and, with my co-pilot asleep through the whole affair, I serenely pull up outside 101 Hotel. Opened in 2003 in a former office building, the 101 Hotel is the brainchild of Ingibjörg Pálmadóttir, daughter of an Icelandic supermarket magnate. After studying at Parsons School of Design in New York, she used the family resources wisely, visiting the world’s best boutique hotels. With 38 tastefully stripped-back rooms and suites, a very good restaurant that becomes a popular evening hotspot and a elevated monochrome dress-and-décor code, it is a highly revered destination in Iceland. The elegant clientele suaving it up in the lobby bar are offset against the
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eclectically crazy crew at the bustling concert venue next door for a rare concert by Icelandic dance music legends GusGus – featuring an angular, svelte Aryan male android and his Thor-like sweaty singing partner. Our cheekboned flight attendant is there letting her (very blonde) hair down. Iceland really IS a small world. The whiteout experience was my last immersion into the comforts of the Discovery. The next morning we are coached out to perhaps Iceland’s most invigorating experience. Named one of National Geographic’s 25 wonders of the world, the Blue Lagoon sits in a craggy black lava field, that in geological terms, is still fresh. Its unique properties – geothermal seawater and a closed eco-cycle – represent a unique relationship between nature and technology. A Bond-type visitor centre houses an operation that has developed an exclusive
range of products and services based on bathing in the milk of magnesium blue waters, said to cure psoriasis and various eczemas. The science works thusly: coming from 2,000 metres beneath the surface, the seawater travels through porous lava, undergoing mineral exchange and then near the surface, concentration occurs, due to vaporisation, evaporation and finally, sedimentation. Bosh. Healing power is derived from active ingredients: silica, minerals and algae. What that means is you exit their Austin Powers-type lounge into an Arctic bluster, sit in water as hot as a bath, while tiny bullets of hale slam into your face. It sounds beastly, but in fact is utterly life affirming. If this is the life of a #Hibernoter, I’m in. Just as long as I can experience it from the comfort of a highly capable British SUV. It’s the new form of long-term survival. ●
SUCCESSFUL SUISSE SUSHI SOIREE A world-famous name is given pride of place in the town that virtually invented aprĂ¨s-ski. Can the man that launched a thousand black miso cods net another niche, this time high in the Alps?
It all seemed so easy. After landing, this is how it looked on my itinerary: Train: 11.13am: Zurich Airport to Zurich HB (Platform 3) 11.37am: Zurich HB to Chur (Platform 7) 12.58: Chur to St Moritz (Platform 10) Arrive St Moritz 14.55pm* *(A hotel transfer will be waiting for you)
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However, in the effort to get from my house to Gatwick to Zurich, I’d had to get up at 3.30am, mainly due to an overzealous minicab firm. Has anyone else ever got to an airport two hours early for a 7am flight? No? I win. Pyrrhically. Thus, by the time I board the Albula/Bernina Express at Chur, my mental faculties have begun to fade. This was a shame, since I was alert for the dull standard train out of Zurich. The Albula is a totally different kettle of rail porn. Part of Switzerland’s Rhaetian Railway network, this serpentine narrow gauge single line snakes through some of the most spectacular vistas anywhere in the world. The route climbs over 1000 metres in less than 70 km, over impossible achievements of engineering, such as the breathtaking Landwasser Viaduct, near Filisur, an arc of dark limestone, 65 metres high. Then there are the 54 other bridges and some 39 tunnels, including a near 6km penetration through the Albula Pass. I slump in the Panoramic carriage, mouth agape - half out of exhaustion and half out of drooling wonder. The fact that this is such a precious sight - UNESCO has listed the entire Albula valley as a World Heritage site - alongside that this was all accomplished at the very end of the 19th century soon forces me to focus tired eyes.
Luckily, that asterii is approaching. As we ascend through snowy cantons, each more picturesque than the last, the Swiss promise of a journey run like clockwork bears fruit. I arrive dead on time and stagger out of St Moritz’s chocolate box station. Here is the *. Waiting for me is a gleaming extended wheelbase Rolls-Royce Phantom accompanied by a chauffeur in peaked cap and red, gold and navy great coat. Snazzy doesn’t cover it. I sink into cream leather for the long journey of about 500 metres to my destination. It was still worth it. That said, so’s the destination. Badrutt’s Palace effectively is St. Moritz. Before the grand opening in 1896, the sleepy village by the lake was remembered as the site where an epiphanal Roman centurion of Egyptian origin was martyred in the third century. Things only really changed in September 1864, when a local hotelier, Johannes Badrutt, made a wager with four British summer guests: that if they returned in winter and preferred it, he would reimburse their travel costs. They did and they did and he did and winter tourism was conclusively born. The first European Ice-Skating Championships came in 1882, the first bobsleigh run and race in 1890. Newer events, like ice polo and Olympic events give way in summer to altitude training for distance athletes, particularly cyclists, runners, and race walkers. The town maintains an air of graceful high-end insouciance that no doubt comes from having its cultural and commercial foundations rooted in the grand hotel tradition. Badrutt’s dominates, partially by reputation, and partially by location – nestled as it is, slap-bang on the shore of the elliptical Lake St Moritz, equidistant between its two ends. Its distinctive mountain-shaped central tower that serves as the town’s emblem dominates the built skyline, mirroring the real star of the vista, Piz Rosatsch, all 10,000 feet of her. The Badrutt experience is therefore about both what happens in the exceedingly fresh air and also under
its carved wooden architraves and panels. The hotel boasts seven restaurants, including the bustling earthly pleasures of Chesa Veglia, the town’s oldest farmhouse, dating back to 1658, which houses a fabulous pizzeria, a grill and two bars. Spas, service and housekeeping are all of an elevated level that one only hopes to find, but rarely does. However, it’s the hotel’s newest eatery that has necessitated this visit. Nobuyuki Matsuhisa – better known to you and I simply as Nobu – is arriving by private jet from Italy at the nearby Engadin Airport. As his gunmetal bird streaks across the lake for landing, I’m whisked in Badrutt’s other Roller to meet him. This beauty – a perfect specimen 1969 Phantom VI limo – lives safely underground and is available for guests to get pootled anywhere in the local environs. Abusing Switzerland’s lax attitude to smoking laws, I puff a Hoya de Monterrey Corona in the back. Thus the press who are assembled to meet Chef Nobu swarm my car, thinking I’m very much someone. When availed of that notion, they trudge off in genuine disappointment. I feel a pang of hurt. His new venture here will be one of only six ‘Matsuhisa’ restaurants in the world with Nobu himself present in the kitchen for the first few days of service. Luckily, over a few samples, we get a brief window to chat in his rather reassuringly expensive-looking new dining room, designed by, of course, Martin Brudnizki. The maestro of warm, welcoming lounge-type elegant eateries has created an open space for 108 guests that borrows from the best of the 1930s, 1940s and 1960s. A sushi bar showcases the kitchen behind it and over to the side a cocktail bar that evokes the Ivy or Dean St Townhouse. I first ask the master of ‘kokoro’, or ‘feeling with heart’ what the main difference is between the Nobu chain and Matsuhisa. ‘Simple,’ he shoots back. ‘No De Niro!’. In fact, Matsuhisa was his first solo venture in LA, opened in 1987. Robert De Niro was the regular customer and fan who chased him down for years,
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with the canny sense of opportunity he’s brought to his other business ventures. They have collaborated on the Nobu brand since 1993. He talks in an English still charmingly faltering after all those years working in America (and appearing in Scorcese’s Casino and Austin Powers), but warmth and openness will break through any language barrier. Raised by his mother – his father having died when he was eight – Nobu first trained at a Tokyo sushi parlour, Matsuei. In a familiar echo of later events, an enthusiastic and entrepreneurial regular encouraged him, and at 24 he moved to Peru, where a large immigrant Japanese community needed the taste of home. How did he find Lima? ‘Eye opening!’ he recalls. ‘A brand-new experience. And fish was never in short supply – back
then, anyway.’ But with few Japanese ingredients available, he had to improvise using Spanish-infused Mediterranean ingredients. ‘Of course, I don’t call it “fusion”’. Oh? What do you call it? ‘Nobustyle, of course!’. He recalls how he developed this style by utilising empathy, listening to the demands of customers and pleasing them. He developed his ‘new-style sashimi’ when he cooked some raw sushi for a nervous American lady, in increasingly hot olive oil, to her eventual great delight. This reveals that sense of care and love of pleasing that marks Nobu’s own kokoro. However, that good heart has been tested. Before Los Angeles, he broke out on his own to another growth market, Alaska. In 1970, oil pipelines were creating a burgeoning
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economy. Just as it was due to open on Thanksgiving Day, and still uninsured, his new Anchorage restaurant burnt to the ground. ‘How did that affect you?’ I ask innocently. ‘I almost killed myself,’ he grimly recalls, nervously taking mints from a small tin. ‘I couldn’t eat, drink, or even talk and I was on the edge…’ He positions the tin on the edge of the table and insinuates it teetering. ‘But you didn’t...’ I start to ask. ‘The babies. Eight months old, and 18 months, were playing around me, happy to actually see their dad, because I’d been working so hard, they hadn’t seen me much. And I heard a voice from God in the laughter of my daughters. My family saved my life.’ I ask how he balances family life with an international empire of more than 30 ven-
ues that take him away for 10 months of the year. ‘I’m still married after 42 years because I’m away 10 months a year!’ he half-jokes. ‘But in my chefs, I have family all over the world. They are all Matsuhisas.’ He shows this sense of warmth at the sake ceremony that night that marks the opening of the venue, mingling, cooking, shaking hands – even indulging my De Niro impression and then pulling his own version of the famous grimace. It’s better than mine, but then he does know the man. The marriage of Matsuhisa’s clean, elegant food and Badrutt’s old world elegance will no doubt be considered a winning fusion … sorry, a Nobustyle success. And well worth taking planes, trains and overzealous mini cabs to get to. ●
PASTEL LA VISTA, BABY From a time of rolled-up sleeves, shoulder pads and Margaret Thatcher’s firm handbag, Barbados’s luxury legacy is being renewed for the 21st century
PORT FERDINAND INTRODUCES A NEW CONCEPT: MARINA LIVING, TO BARBADOS, AS THE RESORTS OFFERS LUXURY HOMES WITH THEIR OWN BERTH FOR A 50FT-60FT YACHT
Barbados. Back in the day – well, the early 1970s of my childhood and the (very late) 1980s of my teens – the name was synonymous with absolute luxury. This was THE Caribbean island, THE dream destination. And then lots of people started going there and, well, suddenly it didn’t seem that glamorous. To be fair, it’s not Barbados’s fault that the likes of Simon Cowell now consider it something of a home from home, or that there are monied ex-pats, bankers and other meeja types and B-list celebs who nestle in at Sandy Bay and parade on jetskis for the assembled paparazzi. Nor is it Barbados’s fault that the resulting shots pop up in The Sun and assorted other tabloids and the pink-topped prole-baiting magazines, in between stories of ‘my Anglican vicar boyfriend was a bondage-obsessed psycho-killer’, selling the island’s lifestyle to the check-out queue and Daily Mail readers. It might just be Barbados’s fault, however, that it’s not really moved on from this 1980s image of glamour. If you go and explore the ‘must visit’ locations, you’ll find a number of restaurants and bars that, while perfectly pleasant – and frequently with impressive cliff-top views across the sea – haven’t moved on since snow-washed denim and when George Michael was an actual sex symbol. We’re talking nouvelle cuisine, oldschool pasta dishes and artfully stacked plates. We’re talking the days of when sushi seemed like a novelty. We’re talking the kind of ubiquitous safe dining you get in London and New York, without even the slightest whiff of the local or the authentic. The prevailing vibe is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ as, judging by the clientele in most of these places, the 1980s were their own personal heyday or, at the very least, Miami Vice is still their idea of cutting-edge fashion. Now, I must admit that I didn’t see anyone with their jacket sleeves rolled up to reveal a contrasting colour lining but that’s probably only because they were due out later in the day. On the early shift, if you’d thrown a coin
into a crowd, you’d have hit someone in espadrilles/shoes-but-no-socks/slightlytoo-short pastel coloured trousers/a collarless shirt. And, in at least one case, all of the above. Happily – for there is a happily – it’s an image that Eoin Sullivan, General Manager of UNNA Resorts, is desperately trying to get away from. On a beautiful catamaran cruising up and down the island’s West Coast (which in no way evokes memories of that Duran Duran video), Eoin grills me on my dinner the evening before at one of Barbados’s most celebrated restaurants. I tell him a slightly more tempered version of the above rant. The fish was excellent – as you’d expect from an island community – and the fruit and the rum were top notch. It’s just that it was all a bit, well, you know, that Duran Duran video. Eoin nods in agreement, and details his plans for the next phases of the new development of UNNA Resorts: a restaurant called 1359 (the island’s longitude/ latitude) that actually acknowledges the existence of Caribbean cuisine and the excellent local ingredients.
In its own words, UNNA resorts ‘bridge the gap between self-catering and a luxury five-star hotel’. In my words, you have to add that it’s sort of a luxury buy-to-let as well – for those with a net worth of more than US$5m. When you want your apartment, it’s yours (although at 2,500 to more than 6,000 sq ft, ‘apartment’ is a bit of a misnomer: seriously, it’s only on my second night, after opening what I thought was a cupboard door, that I discover a short corridor and the third bedroom/en suite). When you don’t need to be there, it can be rented out to holidaymakers looking for something non-Cowelly. They get the sort of accommodation normally provided by a luxury villa but with the amenities and services – a concierge, water taxis, private chef – of a five-star hotel. You, on the other hand, have the reassurance that your investment is being watched over and cared for. While not a qualified financial adviser – or even an unqualified one, for that matter – Barbados’s attempts to overcome its economic problems have ensured that property investment comes
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THE LUXURY HOMES CAN ALSO BE RENTED. BOOKINGS CAN BE MADE ONLINE BY VISITING PORTFERDINAND.COM
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with myriad benefits. In 2013, a Special Entry and Reside Permit was introduced, allowing Barbados residency to investors and their families. Importation of furniture is duty free, ditto bringing your yacht in and, of course, you benefit from the island’s low tax rates. You can also open foreign currency accounts which are exempt from all exchange controls. Ahem. The longer-standing UNNA Resorts location, at St Peter’s Bay, is very pleasant but perhaps slightly tired. However, Eoin is very aware of this and is pushing the place forward. There’s a new extension – still under wraps at the time of my stay – and an ongoing programme of redecoration and changes (not least with the in-room safes, which have a clever habit of losing their batteries when you close the door, meaning you can’t access them with your numerical combination. Still, at least I knew my passport was very secure for 48 hours… ) But over at Port Ferdinand, the new development… well, that’s a whole new shiny and jaw-dropping kettle of fish. Part of the wow factor is that it brings
the concept of marina living to Barbados, with each luxury home having a berth for a 50ft-60ft yacht. That, of course, also means the crystal waters of the Caribbean have been extended to your door which, as well as being extremely photogenic, also means there are turtles already living here. Although still under construction (there’s another year or two before this 16 acre site is completed) phase one – 46 homes and yacht berths – is completed and available. The design is stunning: spacious, stylish, cool and quiet. The facilities are, of course, first rate, from fibre-optic broadband to 24-hour security, via the afore-mentioned dining facilities, and even a kids’ club if you need time away from the offspring. Best of all, perhaps, the location – the north-west tip of Barbados – brings you that little bit closer to the island’s stunning east coast and the real and local heart of the place. The concept of UNNA Resorts may be old-school luxury but geographically – and ideologically – it’s a very welcome shift away from the Sandy Lanes of this world. Didn’t she have a hit in 1983? ●
WHEN IN AROMA Donald Twain visits the most topographically interesting of all the Caribbean islands and finds it reeking of pheromonal tension, excellent food and (not) bad gas
A GARDEN VIEW ROOM AT CAP MAISON STARTS FROM £275 PER NIGHT ON A B&B BASIS
‘If it doesn’t smell, you’re going to die.’ Warming words from our guide at Sulphur Springs, the world’s only drive-in volcano. If you can’t smell something unpleasant at this UNESCO World Heritage site, it means the concentration of brimstone in the air is too high, and you’re shortly to meet your maker. Today, with nostrils full of egg, I’m safe. Safe enough, in fact, to take my clothes off and cover myself in volcanic mud. It’s the done thing. Knee deep in hot grey stream water, I claw mineral slop from the bed and slap it on. Further up, an eyesome couple are busy working each other’s limbs with a paste that’s far whiter than mine. When I’m done ogling, I enquire. Their’s is the ‘good stuff’, richer still in skin-friendly sediment. Kindly, they share their derma gold, and I begin to wonder whether I’ll be the recipient of a double-headed magma frotting. St Lucia, last autumn: I stayed at Cap Maison, one of the island’s five-star hotels. Found on the northern tip of this verdant Caribbean comma, its cliff-top location and Spanish Indies-style architecture is a luxury proposition I’ve not seen elsewhere. It was within its grounds that I had my first chance to meet a few indigenous St Lucians. Idiosyncratic and invariably affable, they’re an interesting people. The island’s rich, often chequered history – the Brits and the French fought over it for 200 years – goes in some way to explain a culture rooted in the colourful creole tongue. Cap Maison’s executive chef Craig Jones (ex-Manoir, no less) is a Welsh, body-building Rastafarian. We first met at Cap’s beach-side bar and restaurant, the Naked Fisherman – so named because of a still-operative rod wielder who favours working in his birthday suit, nearby. Of note, the sweet soy razor clams – not to be missed. I got to know him a little better the next day when he guided us around the capital’s
age-old market, which has been selling and smelling – thickly of savouries, spice and fresh flesh – since the days of French rule in the early 1800s. Later, his light-hearted cookery class (my tongue still swims for his jerk lobster pumpkin salad) held in one of the hotel’s larger suites, confirmed the calibre of his character. Seafood dominates the hotel’s offering; the fine wine that marries with it is not in short supply, either. Oenophiles should corner the hotel’s new number two – and resident wine maven – Jasper, who invited us for an evening of sniffing and sipping in the wine cellar. Five Old Worlders concluded with a fantastic Austrian dessert wine from Krachen. I suggested Pétrus next – they were all out. Later, a group of us (five girls and your intrepid reporter) attended a street party – or ‘jump up’ – in neighbouring Gros Islet. We warmed to our driver Charlie immediately. St Lucia’s number one squash player, he was grumpy in an avuncular way, making no bones about where was safe to go and what time we should be back. The main street (veered from at your own risk) was a colourful accident of worn-wood houses made noisy by stalls selling hand-made jewellery, just-hewn straw hats and piles of fried food. It was Piton beer (the island’s own brew) and Caribbean-coloured music, blasting from stacked sound systems, that fuelled an evening of alfresco bump and grind – R Kelly would have been proud. Though, should you have a demure demoiselle in tow, it’d be wise not to leave her soloing for too long: the local lads were quick to swarm my gaggle when I left for more Piton. Inevitably, we were late back to the bus; the banging tunes distracting our otherwise exemplary time keeping. Charlie’s rather stern admonishments only slightly masked our drunken giggles.
The island presented itself to me, properly, on two occasions. First, from Cap Maison’s speed boat, which we took in consummate comfort to Soufrière and that neighbouring volcano. Onboard was where I made my mind up that, to look at, St Lucia was far more interesting than its sister islands: rugged, verdant and volcanic. It juts and jags its way out of the perfect blue. A point best illustrated near Soufrière at the Pitons – also protected by UNESCO, because of their aweinspiring beauty. Arriving, as we did, by boat, I felt like Kevin Costner’s character at the end of Water World: rock, soil and flora as I had never seen before. I don’t have gills, though. Not yet, anyway. Our final excursion was a trip around nearby Pigeon Island, a national park comprising two grassy hills and an old British fort. The summit offered the trip’s best views, with lines of sight all the way to Martinique. My lasting memory, though, will be with our masseur/ tour guide Julian. ‘Look at my eyes,’ the island’s Casanova said, entering the ticket office. Whatever issue the female attendant had soon evaporated into lust. ‘What am I going to get out of this,’ she
said. ‘Whatever you desire,’ he aptly returned. For the first 15 minutes of our walk I begged him to teach me everything he knew. I got his dreamy stare and little else. On the walk back, we all took a dip in the sea; Julian took phone numbers. After lunch, we saw the other side of our tour guide’s skill set – his hands. As if another person, his professional head was zen-emitting and only interested in knots. Quite possibly the best massage I’ve ever had, and a totally child-friendly happy ending. An elevated wooden deck, lapping waves beneath, lightning forks on the horizon and a beautiful St Lucian woman: sounds like a Davidoff advert. But it was the scene of our last night. Rock Maison is Cap’s best dining option, holding only a handful of guests. With spirits high, conversation, as it sometimes does, turned to the pros and cons of atheism. At the same time we tried to open a bottle of wine with a shoe. When we called for more, it arrived tout de suite via the ‘champagne zip line’ – naturally. The girl? Sadly I didn’t emit the suave tang of Davidoff... ‘What is that smell? Oh yeah. Egg.’ ●
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HOMME FROM HOME Ownership clubs are emerging as the preferred way to indulge in having luxurious bases in different cities around the world. Dan Crofton is the man with the keys to le ch창teau
THE HIDEAWAYS CLUB IS AN ALTERNATIVE FORM OF FOREIGN HOME OWNERSHIP WHERE MEMBERS INVEST IN, AND HOLIDAY IN, A COLLECTION OF LUXURY HOMES IN FANTASTIC LOCATIONS ACROSS THE GLOBE
As no survey has ever found, the major downside of buying a second home is this: you will have to keep going back to the same sodding place for the rest of your life. It’s a bit like being the member of a very expensive gym. With a dodgy roof. That you have to fly to get to. But what if there was another way? What if you could have your pick of 50 of the slickest pads in the world’s coolest destinations, someone on hand to organise your trips, and someone else taking care of all the bills? If you think that sounds better on every count, then we’re in agreement. Now this concept isn’t entirely new, but it has been taken to another level by a company called the Hideaways Club. Founded in 2007, the London-based firm’s first fund – the Classic Collection – has become the largest club of its kind in the world; investors get year-round access to a portfolio of 50 luxury villas and chalets worth £1.5m-plus apiece throughout Europe, Africa, Mauritius and south-east Asia for a lead-in investment of £88,000 (premium membership, which gives between four and eight weeks of access a year, will set you back a cool £230,000, though). The properties range from chalets in the Swiss and French Alps and Japan’s Niseko ski region, to top-end villas in the south of France, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, South Africa and Croatia. Homes in Ibiza, Mauritius, Bali and Phuket were recently added to the portfolio and there are plans to buy up ‘many more’ over the next three years.
In 2011, the firm launched its second fund – the City Collection – which now includes apartments across Vienna, Prague, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Rome, Istanbul, London, Dubai, Trillium in Singapore, Bangkok and Florida. The plan is to build up a stable of 120 city centre properties by 2018. Instead of outright ownership, members pay an annual sum to invest in and stay at the properties, which are all accessed via a central concierge service. The firm calls it ‘a logical financial alternative to the higher risk traditional purchasing model’, but in the best sense of the phrase, it isn’t for everyone; membership for the Classic Collection is being capped at 600 to ‘preserve exclusivity’. To get our heads around the idea, we decided to try out something from the City Collection, billed as a portfolio of pied-à-terres in the best urban locations on the planet. Arriving at the Paris residence, a super-grand apartment in an exclusive corner of the eighth arrondissement known as the Triangle d’Or, we get our first taste of how the international jet-set do holiday homes. Perfectly positioned on the third floor of an elegant 19th-century ‘pierre de taille’ building on rue de Cérisoles, with full-length windows and polished herringbone parquet underfoot, this is the Parisian scene from every movie ever made. You can even see the top of the Eiffel Tower from the wrought-iron Juliet balconies. The interiors are on the right side of eccentric, mixing pared-down contemporary design with lavish period styles. Mirrored art-deco cabinets, bronze-
shaped stools and bang-on-trend tables lie artfully under ornate cornicing and elaborate ceiling roses, whilst a vast 21st-century take on a period portrait hangs in the kitchen. This is no page from Elle Deco, though. The chairs swallow you up, the flatscreen TVs are huge and the bathrooms feel more like spas. Our kind, avuncular guide knows this city like the back of his hand and reels off a list of bars and eateries you won’t find in any guidebook. We think about inviting him along for a whistlestop tour, but conclude he probably has much better things to be doing. On the other hand, we do not, and so waste away a glorious sunny Paris afternoon in the best way possible, strolling through the Tuileries Garden, getting hopelessly lost in the world’s biggest and best antiques market – the 7 hectare maze of Les Puces – and losing count of café noisettes. We follow the Seine to find our way home, before trying one of the recommendations on our list of restaurants, L’Avenue, which proceeds to blow apart our preconceptions about what’s possible with pasta. Though we have all been here before, over the course of the next few days, we saw many sides of the French capital from our beatific base; the side that has the power to make every other city in the world seem like a gaudy monstrosity; the side that celebrates the art of stopping for a drink; but most of all, the side only seen by locals and a handful of highly successful friends. We didn’t just go to Paris; we lived there for a while. And didn’t have to worry about the roof cladding. ●
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WHERE MOOR IS MORE La Mamounia was the most celebrated of North African hotels. But can this oasis in the seething melting pot of Marrakech flourish once again?
LA MAMOUNIA HOTEL, AVENUE BAB JDID - 40 040 MARRAKECH. VISIT WWW.MAMOUNIA. COM OR CALL +212 524 388 600 TO BOOK YOUR ROOM. YOU CAN ALSO EMAIL INFORMATIONS@ MAMOUNIA.COM
I’d been meaning to visit this ancient place hewn from the sands of the Sahara, in the shadow of the mighty Atlas Mountains, for years. Besides, journeying to the home of sultans, snake charmers and seething souks from London Stansted to Menara takes just three and a half hours by Boeing 737. That’s less time than it takes to watch Lawrence of Arabia. Or to drive to Stoke. As we’re catapulted through the Medina in a frenzy of noise, fear and farikah, it simply doesn’t feel as though we’ve earned this level of exoticism. A journey of less than four hours is not enough time to prepare you for the sight of the Jemaa el-Fnaa market square, the world’s biggest melting pot by day and barbecue by night; or for stumbling across a palace encrusted with gold from Timbuktu; or for discovering a trove of earthly treasures buried deep in the souks – labyrinths of leather and cloth. It may not even be enough to prepare for the scorching North African sun and so, desperate for shelter, we make our way towards the mirage of palm trees, looking for shelter and an ointment for our overwhelmed minds. Those towering fronds, as we were about to find out, belonged to a paen to opulence known and loved the world over; an oasis in the chaos. La Mamounia proves the beauty of this city’s architecture: when the hotel first opened its doors in 1923, the world’s elite flocked here in their droves. Its lavish colonial charms and a fastidious dedication to service would go on to make it the haunt-of-choice for guests including Sir Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Caroline of Monaco, with Churchill famously describing it as ‘the most lovely spot in the whole world’, in a letter to FDR.
Maintaining these stratosphericallyhigh standards would inevitably prove a challenge, however, and by the latter part of the century, the package tours from Ohio had descended and it was generally accepted that a makeover was in order. We were here to experience La Mamounia 2.0. Could it recapture the elegance of a bygone era and cater for our pernickety 21st-century demands? Our questions are answered almost immediately as no less than six concierges – resplendent in floor-length velvet capes – lever open the gilded front doors as we arrive. It’s at least five more than the task requires, but the tone is officially set. Making our way through the sumptuous lobby, past the obligatory Chanel boutique and into a lift that smells of pure leather (because it is made of pure leather), it is clear that we are gravely underdressed. We ascend to the second floor with a selection of minor royalty, ambassadors and French celebrities, and our guest liaison begins to explain how La Mamounia got its mojo back. The low-lit hyper-luxe ambiance is the result of an extraordinary $165m top-to-toe revival, masterminded by French superstar designer Jacques Garcia (of Hotel Costes fame). Rather than keeping us a safe distance from the rich tapestries adorning every wall, we are actively encouraged to run our fingers over the arabesques and fine calligraphy. Every detail, from an intricately carved Atlas cedar handle to each tiny zellij tile, has been agonised over and created by a veritable army of Moroccan craftsmen. Up to 1,000 people were working here on some days of the renovation. In many ways, it is these ancient arts handed down through generations that have brought La Mamounia bang up to date; they do not date quickly, like multinational brand names or ideas
plucked from a trend spotter’s guide. The best is always in fashion, because it doesn’t try to be fashionable. Our suite is high up in the palm tree canopy with views across the orange groves. In the distance, a vast stretch of azure turns out to be an 8,600 square foot pool heated to 27 degrees all year round. Not a degree either way. In the distance, the drums and pipes of Jemaa el-Fnaa fill the perfumed air with adventure. We sip gin in the colonial Churchill Bar, mint tea on the pool terrace and icecold water on the tennis court before our first sunset.w Arising the following day, our plans for an elaborate sightseeing tour are scuppered by one of the finest breakfast spreads in living memory, and we barely manage an outing to the famous Jardin Marjorelle, Yves St Laurent’s horticultural tour de force. Using Marrakech’s most famous symbol, the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, as our coppertopped reference point, we made our way back through the melee on foot, but soon end up hopelessly lost in the maze of the Medina. Emerging blinking into the sunlight some hours later, carrying two chess sets, a bottle of hammam oil and what we currently think is probably a poncho, it’s time to retreat to our salubrious sanctuary. La Mamounia’s endless facilities, including an extraordinary 27,000 square foot spa, put pay to further forays. Leaving the confines of our 8 acre Eden just seemed criminal, despite the riches we knew were on the other side of those sandstone walls. Before long, a blackedout limousine whisks us back through the streets to the glistening tarmac of Menara. We had barely scratched the surface of Marrakech, but we had travelled to another world in the space of a weekend – and it’s good to know that Stoke now has some competition. ●
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GET YOUR JUST DESERTS Anna Bastiaenen is a sleek, purebred exemplar of her species evolved to do one thing – party. And now she’s found her perfect habitat
COSMOPOLITAN LAS VEGAS 3708 S LAS VEGAS BLVD, LAS VEGAS, NV 89109, UNITED STATES CONTACT +1 702698-7000 OR VISIT COSMOPOLITANLASVEGAS.COM TO BOOK A ROOM
There will come a time in your life – think of it as an inexorable truth, a pivotal point in your existence – that you’ll find yourself in Vegas. Maybe it’ll be business, a stag, a stopover en route from LA, but at some point you’ll be standing on the Strip at 5am staring blankly at a hairy crossdresser in a cowboy hat singing ‘wanna get lost in rock and roll’ into a gold karaoke mic. And you might not have even considered it before. You might have always said: ‘Yeah, no, that’s not my kind of thing. I’m more of a beachwith-moderate-activities kinda guy.’ But the thing is, underneath it all, you know it’s inevitable. What’ll happen next is this – it will smack you between the eyes. The Herculean scale of everything, the remorseless glitz, the fact that you can take a rain shower at 4.30am and then order a burger and a Bloody Mary from room service. By day three of whatever conventionslash-stag-party-shitshow landed you here, you’re fried. You’re high on oxygenated air and you’re repenting the several hundred/thousand dollars you just sunk on the roulette table. But take it from me that, once you’ve experienced it, you’ll be plotting your next visit before you’re even on the flight home. There’s a slew of five-star mega-hotels on the Strip (has to be the Strip. No alternative piece of tarmac is sanctioned), so I’d done my research and booked the Cosmopolitan. A newish spot, open since 2010, it’s billed as providing ‘a welcome respite from the theme-iness of other Vegas hotels’. Which you’d think must have been written by an insane person until you compare the Cosmo to the rest and realise the statement is true. For a start, there are no Grand Canals on the first floor or roaming centurions in the lobby. Instead, in addition to the mandatory casino, bars, pools and clubs, it has a modern vibe and abstract installations like the repurposed cigarette machines that dispense $5 art pieces. Surprisingly stylish rooms – and spacious, given that there are nearly 3,000 – have wraparound private terraces with
skyline views and give an impression of New York bachelor pad. King-size beds framed by leather ottomans, flat screens and glass-walled showers. But it’s all about the nightlife: among your options are a three-storey bar built inside a giant chandelier, a hybrid supper club interactive show called Rose. Rabbit. Lie., and the legendary Marquee night/day mega-club, where the premium bubbly is delivered by the Champagne Fairy who arrives on a zipline, naturally, and the go-go girls dance on stages. There might have been 25 other nightclubs that could have done us, where women in vajayjay-skimming dresses sell you the same Grey Goose and cranberry while exactly the same dance tracks play on loop every single night. But Marquee is a destination joint and one of the most badass in Sin City. It gets the pick of the big DJs. Somewhere in the recesses there’s the ‘Library’, fitted with fireplace, book-lined walls, a vintage billiard table and cocktail waitresses dressed as librarians. But we hit the main club. Because that’s what you do here: Vegas allows you to party very, very hard. Absorbed into the pulsating throng of the mosh pit, momentarily blinded by fit-triggering strobes, dodging the creepers and the drunks and the stray elbows, it really kicks off. Debauchery. Mayhem. There’s no rhyme or reason to the flow of the place and the energy races. Then, like three minutes later, when it’s four in the morning, you’re still bizarrely alive but someone makes the call to go and it seems like everyone has the same idea, so you exit in the tidal flow of burnedout partygoers back through the lobby, past the casino floor and back to your neon tower in the sky. Although there are enough comic-like oddities to compete with Disney, Vegas takes itself startlingly seriously. Madness is professionally dispensed and meticulously monitored. Everything’s shiny and new and big and bright – and the drunken disorderly are expertly assuaged and expunged. Security has seen
it all before. They must have seen everything. In Vegas, if someone throws up all over their $10,000 table next to the dance floor, you know that within seconds a crack team will materialise with towels and Clorox, leaving the puker remarkably pukeless. Because here, puke will not interfere with lucrative fun. Cosmo’s STK restaurant is a highlight – a sexed-up steakhouse cocktail bar, you slide into cocooned booths set in smooth cream and black lacquer; smoky mirrors reflecting the sultry vibe. A DJ spins records to one side. Aside from the chance to rub shoulders with the occasional steak-loving celebrity, a filet/bone-in 14 oz/kobe wagyu plus truffle fries and cream corn has to be the best defence against an offensive hangover. STK’s portions (generous, just not so big that you need a lie-down) won’t defeat you so the fun never has to stop. Pool time is essential – not the retoxifying Marquee-kind (though that’s an option), but the kick-back-and-piecetogether-the-previous-night’s-clusterfuck kind. Cosmopolitan has several: the Boulevard pool (yacht club polish), the Bamboo pool (discreet haven) and the Marquee Dayclub pool (with cabana bungalows). There’s also the epic 50,000 sq ft Sahra spa and hammam where you can get your twisted muscles dealt with, even if by now it’s your twisted brain that needs assessing. But there has to reach a point when the thrill ride comes to an end. Dazed bodies emerge from the chaos, airport-bound, blinking in the shadowless midday sun wondering what in God’s name just happened. You may never speak of it again, but the memories will (perhaps unwelcomingly) always cling. Like superglue. In this clock-less desert city, where the freaks roam free and where less savoury venues entertain the low-rollers in casinos that are thick with the sad smell of cigar smoke and lost pensions, the Cosmopolitan is altogether better, brighter, and way, way cooler. I still can’t explain it, but Vegas hasn’t seen the last of me. ●