woman giving a speech
a foggy mountain

Harnessing renewable energy from sources like hydro electric power is essential for investing in the future

Jessica Hodges

Jessica Hodges

From renewable energy to alternative food products, biotech to healthcare, ESG is helping to bring impact to the forefront of investment portfolios. As a partner at Deloitte, Jessica Hodges is responsible for helping private clients build responsible investments into their portfolios. She speaks to LUX about the increasing centrality of ESG to business strategy and why family offices need to be ahead of the curve. By Samantha Welsh, Philanthropy Editor.

LUX: What drove your own interest in ESG?
Jessica Hodges: I was interested in ESG issues from a young age – albeit the acronym didn’t exist yet – and was always keen to get involved in projects that had a social or environmental angle. My job means I come into contact with a large number of families, and I’m keen to ensure that we, and they, make an impact through the work we do. Considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks is becoming increasingly central to business strategy.

LUX: What trends are you currently noticing among family offices?
Jessica Hodges: Family offices are all unique, but generally we are seeing more of an interest from the next generation in issues that have a positive impact on the environment and on society. Younger generations are becoming increasingly involved in managing their family’s wealth and demanding investments that align with their values. They are particularly focused on how they measure ESG impact, considering on a case by case basis the impact companies are having and how they may change to align to ESG values, as well as using data to understand it.

Many next gen clients feel a real sense of obligation – particularly if the source of their wealth may not have been considered to have positive impacts in the past. Often in a family with multiple siblings, you might see one sibling managing the family business, one running the family office and one leading the philanthropic side of things.

LUX: Which sectors are next gen investors most interested in?
Jessica Hodges: Areas of focus include renewable energy infrastructure projects; alternative food products; agricultural technology and alternative farming; healthcare and biotech. What is so interesting is how ESG is bringing that ‘impact’ element into the broader investment portfolio – an area I think family offices are ahead of the curve on.

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LUX: What makes family offices potentially well suited to ESG investing?
Jessica Hodges: Family offices typically have more control over deciding and managing their priorities than public funds as they are private. They do not have to respond to shareholder demand in the same way, and have flexibility over how they use their large pools of capital. Their investment horizons are also often long term: instead of looking to make a quick return, they invest over five year periods or more, and do not have the same financial return requirements that larger venture capital firms have.

Being smaller, and typically more flexible and agile, makes it easier to introduce policy change and implement if they have the skillset to do so. Additionally, there are some family offices that are heavily focused on supporting their local community, helping to make more noticeable and measurable change locally rather than on a macro level.

Jessica Hodges delivering a speech tog gusts in front of a screen

Jessica Hodges delivering a speech at the Deloitte Family Office Conference

LUX: What basic interventions can a family make to incorporate ESG targets into an investment model which has been in place for generations?
Jessica Hodges: Due diligence of sustainability practices is key. This is an area that family offices will need to consider planning for, as a resource for sufficient oversight of external managers could be an issue for smaller organisations. It’s also key to have effective controls in place to measure and monitor fund managers, and ensure strategic objectives set by the family office are met.

ESG-proof due diligence and investment processes are also extremely important. This can include fully understanding the investment philosophy of any external managers (without any complicated jargon), obtaining evidence of shareholder engagement, and verifying performance data. The easiest intervention to make is often an exclusionary policy: the family picks a few areas they are not willing to invest in, such as organisations that negatively impact the environment or public health.

Read more: Professor Peter Newell on why the wealthy need to act on climate change

LUX: The ESG sector is unregulated and family offices value authenticity and trust: how do managers evaluate risks such as data validation, fraud, and greenwashing?
Jessica Hodges: It’s key that family offices have independently verified credentials. Besides checking a firm’s governance mechanisms, internal systems and controls, assurance would focus on whether there is a positive risk or ESG culture and a good level of awareness. In the same way that auditors come in to very financial data, providers will come to verify non-financial data over ESG metrics.

LUX: How is the ESG industry model disrupting traditional investing models?
Jessica Hodges: Firms are trying to determine which of their investments have both positive and negative social or environmental impacts and want to be clear on the implications of these with their public disclosures. They are also figuring out factors that will resonate most with their clients. If product governance is not thought through properly then there could well be negative consequences. My expectation is that there will be increased monitoring requirements with regards to asset portfolios, leading to additional costs – although proponents of this would argue that it is money well spent.

The sales part of the investment cycle is more complex since investors in ESG are not seeking to solely meet financial return objectives: at what point do you determine your exit? Historically, family offices – along with private equity – might have been looking to exit at the point when they could maximise their financial profits. Now, family offices will need to consider whether the targets outlined have been achieved, along with the broader impact on society or environment.

LUX: What makes a successful family office?
Jessica Hodges: The most important thing for a ‘successful’ family office is alignment of goals, and understanding what the family hopes to achieve. It is only by knowing where you want to get to that you can understand if you have really got there and measure how you performed!

Landscape photography by Isabella Sanai

Jessica Hodges is an Investment Management Audit and Assurance Partner at Deloitte

Reading time: 5 min
colourful dining room interior
colourful dining room interior

A dining room interior by SKIN. Image by Andrew Miller Photography

Founded by interior designer Lauren Lozano Ziol and graphic designer Michelle Jolas, SKIN is a luxury interior design studio that offers its clients the opportunity to accompany designers to furniture markets, design shows and antique shops. Ahead of the studio’s London launch, we speak to Lauren Lozano Ziol about the business concept, her inspirations and designing spaces to promote positivity
two women in contemporary interior

Lauren Lozano Ziol (right) with Michelle Jolas

LUX: How did the concept for SKIN first evolve and who’s your target customer?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Since Michelle and I first met over a decade ago, we have succeeded in pushing each other out of our respective comfort zones of graphic design and history of art, allowing us to continually challenge style boundaries. When we founded SKIN in 2017, we bonded over our love for materials that can be used in design. There are so many exciting and interesting ways to use materials such as cowhides, shagreen, snakeskin, leather, fabrics, veneer and so much more. Wallpaper is another critical consideration for us, in the past, we contemplated creating a wallpaper line, and the name ‘SKIN’ was a fun play on all of the above. As we considered what SKIN as a company meant, we realised the meaning is profound – it’s your outer layer, what you show to the world, it’s inner and outer beauty, it’s diversity – this led us to name our website skinyourworld.com.

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Our target customer is a discerning client who appreciates the beauty of high-end, quality interiors and materials, with a shared interest in art and furniture history, who isn’t afraid of mixing period pieces and jumping out of their comfort zone to create unique, elegant and sophisticated interiors. Also, a client that likes to have fun with the process.

LUX: What’s your creative process when you start on a new interiors project?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Firstly, we learn about the client, who they are, what they like and what inspires them in their daily lives so that we can understand their needs. The creative juices then start flowing. We create vision boards, art collection ideas and materials. We lay out the floor plans and make sure the scale is perfect, we then select potential furniture, sketch ideas and pull it all together with renderings to show the client. We love being in the client’s space with all the materials. Colour and texture, lighting and luxurious material all play a synchronised role in the complete design. When we present to a client, we love to collaborate with them, it sparks creativity and new ideas.

luxurious home interiors

A private residence project by SKIN. Image by Andrew Miller

LUX: In terms of the design side of the business, is it important to have a style that’s recognisably yours?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Yes, and no. Yes, in terms of being refined, elegant, timeless, classic and chic – whether the interior is modern or traditional. However, every client is different, so we like to explore what that means to the project and not box ourselves into one look. We want each project to be unique.

Read more: Two new buildings offer contemporary Alpine living in Andermatt

LUX: Is there a design era that you’re particularly drawn to or inspired by?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: French 40s and Art Deco in terms of style and materials. We also adore Maison Jansen.

luxury library

Library design by SKIN. Image by Andrew Miller

LUX: How much of a consideration is sustainability?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Very much so, our environment has never been more important, so we work together with architects and contractors to bring the right materials that are long-lasting and good for the planet. Now more than ever the need for healthy communities, clean air and non-toxic environments is paramount.

LUX: Why do you think lifestyle services have become more desirable in recent years?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: We firmly believe that environments influence how you feel. They have the potential to promote creativity and help make you your best. If you like the space you’re in, you feel happier amidst the disruption of Covid-19. The well-being achieved from a well-thought-out, organised home can have long-term positive effects on the whole family.

Read more: Three top gallerists on how the art world is changing

LUX: Are your excursions designed to inspire or educate, or both?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Both! We make a list, head off to explore and see what catches our eye. We love talking about the history of pieces when we go on an excursion, but ultimately, we settle on what speaks to us and inspires our project goals. The day can end very differently to what we set out to accomplish because there are always hidden gems and treasures to find along the way.

LUX: Should good design last forever?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Yes, our philosophy is “timeless, classic, chic with an edge” which allows us to create an ageless design yet pushes us to look for new and exciting trends.

LUX: What’s next for you?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Our London launch, which we are so excited about. We are ready to meet new and interesting clients and breathe life into amazing projects. Again, our environments have never been more critical, and we are ready to take on our new adventure.

Find out more: skinyourworld.com

Reading time: 4 min
Luxury hotel interiors of a drawing room with painted walls and soft furnishings
Facade of a grand mansion house

The Rocco Forte Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland

Since he created it in 1996, Sir Rocco Forte has grown his eponymous luxury hotel group to include multiple properties in key destinations across Europe, with a major expansion this year within his family’s native Italy. And there are plans for the boutique group to move into the US, Middle East and Asia. LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai speaks to the group’s chairman and founder about new openings, changes in the hospitality industry and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur
Colour portrait of a middle aged man in a suit

Sir Rocco Forte, Chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels

LUX: Rocco Forte hotels is currently in a period of planned rapid expansion – why now?
Sir Rocco Forte: We had a period of consolidation after the financial crisis and have gradually come out of that and the business profitability increased. We’ve improved the quality of the management team. Generally taking the company forward, it was the right moment to start expanding again and looking at adding additional properties…

There are a huge number of different luxury brands within Marriott. Having said that, I think there’s an opportunity for the niche player somewhere, a business that is much more personalised in its approach to its customers, where attention to detail is extremely important. I think people are looking for things which are more individual, more related to where they are going. They want the rubber stamp wherever they go. I think it is going to get more and more difficult for these big companies to actually deliver that, and for a smaller organisation like mine, it’s easier because the top management is hands on. The business and the detail of business has some advantages.

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LUX: How has the landscape and your business philosophy changed since you started?
Sir Rocco Forte: It’s changed significantly on the technological side, the way people buy hotels in particular is much more a business done through the internet than there was than it was before, there are online travel agents who are becoming quite powerful. Customers are now more inclined to book through the web than going to direct to hotel. Then there’s the social media aspect which is also becoming more important, as a means of communication and promotion of properties. There is an interaction between guests who have tried properties and posted comments and so on. This is picked up by other people and used to validate their choice. TripAdvisor type sites didn’t really exist before and now people use it to make up their minds about hotels. Then you have the back of the house side of things; technologies have come in there and give management a greater ability to know their guests. There is increased technology in the rooms, television, wi-fi. Wi-fi became available 20 years ago and now people complain unless they had the fastest band available in the hotel. People used to pay for wi-fi and now they don’t want to pay for it anymore. Telephones, actual landlines have gone out of the hotels; they are hardly used.

In terms of the actual service side, the principles remain the same. The customer wants to be treated as an individual, wants to feel a warm welcome when he goes into a hotel, wants to be recognised. Maybe the relationship between the customer and the staff members has changed to some degree, it’s become slightly less formal, which is something that we did from the beginning.  I wanted to de-formalise the service to some degree. Then you’ve also got to keep up to date in a hotel because there are things that people have in their own houses that they expect to find at a hotel and it is a competitive market place.

Luxury hotel interiors of a drawing room with painted walls and soft furnishings

The front hall at Brown’s, a Rocco Forte hotel in London. Photo by Janos Grapow

LUX: The marketplace is much more crowded nowadays with new players coming in and there’s Airbnb. What is it that has allowed you to keep going and growing with so much more supply?
Sir Rocco Forte: Airbnb doesn’t really effect the luxury end to any great degree. Airbnb has already started to show problems with consistency. There are plenty of niche players coming in and it does eat into the marketplace, but if you have a well-located hotel and you deliver an excellent service and have a regular clientele that like the place, it’s very difficult to prize a luxury customer away from a hotel that he’s used to and where the staff are trained to his needs. There have been a lot of new openings in London and there are more in the pipeline; there’s always a supply and demand equation. I think you’ve got to try and distinguish your hotel group from others and make a potential customer feel that they will get something special, something different if they come to you. The staff are the people who deliver the service and you’ve got to ensure that they’re motivated in the right way. They need to have the right training, the right philosophical background. We put a lot of effort into induction where we tell them about the family, the history of the company, the history of the hotel and something about the city where the hotel is located  so everyone has a sense of heritage and belonging as a family. It is my sister and myself and three children running the hotels, we know a lot of the individual staff members and it creates a sense of warmth in our hotels which you cannot necessarily find anywhere else.

Read more: Chaumet’s latest exhibition reveals the symbolic power of tiaras

LUX: Is it important that your guests can recognise the brand when they’re staying at one of your hotels?
Sir Rocco Forte: Yes, part of having a group is that, you get cross fertilisation and you get customers using more than one hotel, following the brand. So the brand is important because the customer knows that if he comes to Brown’s or goes to Hotel de Russie in Rome, he will get a certain type of service and a certain type of welcome.

LUX: A lot of your properties are significant and historic properties in individual cities, how do you imbue them with the Rocco Forte brand?
Sir Rocco Forte: The induction is consistent throughout the company that creates the blueprint on which the hotel is based. My sister who leads the decor has a strong agenda and sense of place. It is very difficult sometimes to please everybody. The thing is you get a hotel designer to design the hotel and there are the prototype rooms, but it is never quite finished, it is a design hotel, you are always adding little bits and pieces and so on, which gives a more personalised touch. My sister does that very well. She usually buys locally, which give the rooms a more homely feel.

Views from a luxury terrace over a European city

The view from the Popolo Suite at Hotel de Russie in Rome

LUX: You have lots of developments happening in Italy at the moment – is Italy a particularly important destination to you?
Sir Rocco Forte: Italy is not the easiest place to do business, so in a way that is an advantage for us. Italy is a tourist destination, it is the prime tourist destination in the world. The American market loves Italy and that’s a very important market for travel. About 40% of our business comes from the States, you can get high prices for the rooms you sell, which in some destinations it’s impossible to do. So from that point of view, it’s attractive. The bureaucracy and the labour laws make it difficult, but the demand is there if you get the right hotel in the right location and at the price.

LUX: And Italy is underserved by luxury hotels, isn’t it?
Sir Rocco Forte: Yes, there’s no luxury chain across Italy, and we now have the opportunity to create one. We have six hotels and the three new hotels that we’re developing — we are doing a second hotel in Rome, a small 40 bedroom hotel in Puglia, and we have just taken on a place in Palermo, which is a 100 bedroom hotel and used to be a jewel of a place, but is now very run down and it’s been badly run for many years. It is a wonderful destination hotel. The city Palermo is having a revival, a lot of people are buying houses there, and doing them up. It is quite a good time to go in there and I already have a resort in south of Sicily, and Palermo is the airport you use for that so having the two properties working together is beneficial. But obviously, I need to be in Venice and Milan, I’d like to be on the Amalfi coast and some of the other heritage cities with smaller hotels. I am pushing to try and get there.

I also still want to be in the States…New York and LA and Miami maybe, I’d like to be in Paris, I’d like to be in Moscow, and probably another German city. Hamburg or Dusseldorf would complete the German equation. We are doing our first hotel in the Far East, in Shanghai, which will open next year. We don’t have a clear date, things get delayed quite a lot there.  It is moving forward, but slower than it is supposed to. That will be our first step into that part of the world. We will see. If I am going to travel to my hotels and if they are way out, that’s less attractive. I have to think carefully about it, about how far we extend geographically. Within Europe it is fairly straightforward.

Read more: Maryam Eisler’s new photography series reimagines pastoral romance

LUX: With the new portfolio that you are developing, are most of the hotels owned or managed, or both?
Sir Rocco Forte: The Palermo hotel we bought, but we probably won’t keep the ownership. We are talking to a partner about taking it on and leasing it back to us. The other two are leases, I prefer leases to management contracts because we’re in control with a lease. You have complete control of the property and you can do more or less what you want. With a management contract, the owner tends to interfere all the time. He thinks he knows how to run the property better than you do. If the hotel is doing well, he doesn’t need you, if the hotel is doing badly it is your fault. You take on more risk with a lease, but then it is a bigger upside and you have control over your own destiny.

Luxury hotel suite with plush furnishings

A Junior Suite at Hotel de La Ville, one of two Rocco Forte hotels in Rome

LUX: As an entrepreneur, what qualities have you needed to get to this stage with RF Hotels?
Sir Rocco Forte: Very difficult to say. I think you have to have a passion for what you’re doing, what you want to do, and you have to really care, and have people around you who believe in what you’re trying to do, who will help you to do it. You have to have determination. Where there are obstacles you have to overcome them. You have to have the determination to overcome them, not take no for an answer, continuously try to move things forward. It is easy to get dispirited, upset and to give up. A lot of people do, but I am not made that way and I am always looking forward, always looking to see if I can do things better. It is that, and I think the minute I stop having a passion, then I should stop working. But I hope that will never happen.

LUX: Do you have dreams of passing on the business to your children one day?
Sir Rocco Forte: Yes, but my kid are still in the early stages and they might well reach a stage, where they don’t want to take on responsibility so we’ll see. At the moment, that’s the idea. And it’s good having them working the business, it gives a certain continuity to the business and it adds value to the business. In the short term, it makes us different to a lot of other companies and from a personal point of view, it gives me a huge amount of pleasure: my kids have left home, but I see them all the time. We’ve got something in common to talk about and to argue about, and to enjoy. You never know — I could go under the proverbial bus tomorrow. And then what happens? The business is in a position where it can continue to go forward, but then my family would have to decide what they want to do.

LUX: Talking about the younger generation, do you think that, as customers, their demands of the hospitality industry are different?
Sir Rocco Forte: Apart from the technological side that we were talking about it earlier, the way they dress is differently, but in the end of the day they still enjoy service and being looked after. It depends…a lot of them are brought up under very comfortable circumstances and they understand that way of life and I don’t think they are particularly different. All the ones I’ve seen using my hotels, seem to enjoy the facilities like anybody else. I suppose there is more of a consciousness of wellness and well-being and looking after yourself than there was in the previous generations. We meet those demands through the facilities that we have in the hotels already. But I wouldn’t say there is anything dramatic and to build a hotel for a specific sector of a population is narrowing your market quite considerably. I also think people whether they are millennials or older people, like the idea of heritage and like the idea of history, and they enjoy it when they experience it — I don’t think that has changed. Most people want to know what is the next thing? I don’t know what the next thing is, but I think hotels tend to follow trends rather than set them. Mine do anyway. I think in the luxury sector, that is more so than it is anywhere… You have hotels now that have no staff, you put a credit card in a slot, you get a room key and you go up to your room. And there isn’t a restaurant, there are communal rooms for people to use, you help yourself, all these sorts of things, but not at the top end of the market. I don’t see anything dramatic on the horizon.

Read more: Where I would invest £100m in property by Knight Frank’s Andrew Hay

LUX: Your portfolio is predominantly city-based. Have you ever been tempted to start a resort hotel in tropical climates? And if not, why not?
Sir Rocco Forte: Because anything I’ve looked at hasn’t really worked financially. I haven’t managed to find anything. The hotel in Puglia has a beach facility available, but it is not on the sea. And then there is a seasonality thing, which is difficult. When you are building a new hotel from scratch, to finance that on quite a short winter season, for example, is difficult because it closes, then it opens for a very short summer season and then it closes again…

Luxury contemporary style villa with a private pool and wooden terrace

A luxurious villa at Rocco Forte’s Verdura Resort in Sicily

LUX: And what about the residences model that a lot of new hotels seem to have now, is that something you’d ever consider?
Sir Rocco Forte: It depends on the property, the location and the size of the property. But in Rome we’re now doing five luxury apartments, which are situated on the corner of Piazza de Spagna, which is within walking distance to our hotels (one is on top of the Spanish steps and the other one is on Piazza del Popolo). So that’s a new endeavour. Also we’re building some villas now in Verdura, which initially will be let as basically a sort of extended stay or hotel accommodation for families who want to stay together in one unit. We’re starting to get into that market.

LUX: Are there any other new developments in the pipeline that we should know about?
Sir Rocco Forte: My daughter has been working on the spas. The spa in the new hotel in Rome will be her spa design, which she thinks will be the first properly designed spa. She thinks that it has more activity and treatments and so on, which will encourage people to come and see. There are a range of creams that she produced which are properly organic so that is a bit of a new venture. Otherwise, we are continually looking to improve the facilities in our hotels. We are looking at the food side particularly. It is difficult for hotels to do restaurants well. We are always searching. A lot of places that have successful restaurants started out being run by restauranteurs, rather than hoteliers and then they have a few rooms as well. For example, Chiltern Firehouse or Costes originally, they had a few rooms and then they bought the hotel next door extending it. I haven’t found the key to creating really successful restaurants. Our restaurants are doing well by the standards of hotel restaurants. If we are doing 120 covers a day, we are happy, but there are restaurants doing 250 covers a day. Some hotel restaurants you go into, you never see anybody there. That is not the case with ours, but we can do a lot better than we do.

Discover the full Rocco Forte portfolio: roccofortehotels.com

Reading time: 15 min
hotel bar restaurant with view over New York City
glass hotel facade

The entrance to the Moxy Hotel in Chelsea, NYC

President of Lightstone Mitchell Hochberg has put his stamp on New York with multiple real-estate developments, including luxury residences 130 William Street and 40 East End Avenue. In partnership with Marriott International, Lightstone are also developing lifestyle hotel brand Moxy, which has multiple properties spread across the US, Europe and Asia. LUX speaks to the entrepreneur about succeeding in a saturated market, New York real estate and working with the world’s biggest architects. 

Man stood in front of sculptural wall in a hotel

President of Lightstone Mitchell Hochberg

LUX: Lightstone is one of the largest privately held real estate companies in the US with your focus mainly in New York City. How do you succeed in such a saturated market?
Mitchell Hochberg: We’ve been able to distinguish ourselves by staying true to two common threads – across each of the various real estate segments in which we develop, each of our projects is entirely unique and as well, features a strong design aesthetic.

For instance, with our Moxy hotels, we saw an opportunity to be the first to develop an affordable micro-room, macro-amenity lifestyle hotel in New York, defining a new category of hotels amidst a sea of luxury lifestyle and lacklustre select service properties.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

In each of our projects, we strategically partner with architects and designers who have a strong design aesthetic, allowing us to create buildings that are provocative but contextual with interiors that are functional yet memorable. With our first two Moxy Hotels, for example, we worked with Rockwell Group to design the restaurants, bars, and clubs and Yabu Pushelberg for the rooms – both known for their luxury projects and unconventional choices for an affordable product, but key to creating the well-designed environments that make our properties special.

In the condominium space, we’ve partnered with two leading architects to design 130 William and 40 East End Avenue. At 130 William, we worked with world-renowned architect David Adjaye to create a 66-story building that pushes against the conventions of tall glass towers with a hand-cast concrete façade that will surely redefine the New York City skyline. At 40 East End, we worked with Deborah Berke, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, to create a boutique condominium that represents a modern interpretation of local historic architecture.

LUX: Do you have a favourite residential area in New York?
Mitchell Hochberg: There’s an enclave on the Upper East Side of New York abutting Carl Schurz Park and Gracie Mansion (the Mayor’s residence) called East End Avenue. It’s a beautiful, bucolic neighbourhood that is fully immersed in the natural surroundings of the East River and the park, with nothing commercial in sight. In this setting, you have the advantage of both being in Manhattan and simultaneously not really feeling like you’re there – a result of the harmonious combination of the waterfront, the park, and the low density residential buildings. It’s the neighbourhood where we’re currently developing 40 East End Avenue, a boutique condominium, and it’s actually the one that I live in.

Read more:  Life on the thrillionaire trail by Geoffrey Kent

LUX: You’re currently working with Marriott International to develop their new lifestyle hotel brand Moxy. How did that come about?
Mitchell Hochberg: After spending many years investing in and studying the hospitality market, we saw an opportunity to develop a new type of lifestyle hotel that could offer efficient rooms at an affordable rate without sacrificing design. In the U.S., everything is bigger – the cars, the TVs – and indeed the hotel rooms. So at the time, nobody was doing this. The Moxy brand incubated in Europe, where travellers have long been accustomed to smaller room sizes, and we felt it had the potential to align perfectly with our vision. So as our ideas evolved, we decided to approach Marriott about forming a partnership to bring the Moxy brand to the United States. We have a longstanding relationship with Marriott, and as the most highly regarded international hotel brand with over 110 million loyalty members, we knew that they would prove to be a huge asset to our developments. Together, we reimagined Moxy for the New York market.

building overlooking a bridge

130 William Street’s view over the East River, NYC

LUX: How does your approach to developing for hospitality differ from other projects?
Mitchell Hochberg: The short answer is it doesn’t. What we’ve learned from our hospitality projects is that our guests don’t want to stay in their rooms – they crave social connections and memorable experiences. So our design has to accommodate that, with lobbies, bars, and restaurants that appeal equally to locals and integrate into the fabric of the community. Our residential projects – from rentals to luxury condominiums – all take this philosophy into account. We dedicate immense amounts of space in each of our projects to amenities – from the 20,000 square foot courtyard complete with a year-round greenhouse at ARC, a rental property in Long Island City, to the IMAX Private Theatre at 130 William (one of the first in New York City), we design spaces that our residents want to spend time in. Similarly to our Moxy hotels, we also consistently activate our residential properties with innovative programming, from wine tastings to yoga classes, allowing our residents to interact and get to know each other. That’s where the magic really happens.

Read more: Maryam Eisler’s Icelandic photography series

LUX: What’s been the most challenging project for Lightstone so far and why?
Mitchell Hochberg: It would have to be Moxy Times Square. From a pure design standpoint, the project had just about every challenge you could think of. The building was an adaptive reuse of a 110-year old office – not exactly an easy canvas for the flexible, vibrant, and memorable spaces you see today. Working within the confines of an existing building is always challenging, but in this particular instance the building was also landmarked, meaning we had to preserve the façade and all of the windows as well. The sheer scale of the project also brought its own complexities – the hotel is 612 keys in total with over 22,000 square feet of lobbies, bars, restaurants, and meeting spaces, including the largest indoor/outdoor rooftop bar in New York City.

Despite all this, I think the biggest challenge was bringing something entirely new to the New York City hotel market. We had to prove ourselves to guests who had never seen anything like this before, and convince them to buy into our “deal”: in exchange for an affordable rate, we could provide a room that’s efficient but stylish, along with public spaces that are engaging and well designed.

Hotel lounge and bar

Moxy’s luxurious lounge bar at Times Square, NYC

LUX: What are your future predictions for the real estate market in NYC?
Mitchell Hochberg: The real estate market in New York over the long term is always going to be strong. There will obviously be hills and valleys based upon macro issues, but you have to keep in mind that New York City is an island and there’s only so much space. People will always want to live here, work here, and visit here, and as a result it will always be a strong market.

LUX: Will Lightstone ever expand overseas?
Mitchell Hochberg: We’re currently discussing investments and development overseas. I think our first projects will probably be somewhere in the UK where we’re a little more familiar with the language and business customs, but we are always open to new opportunities.

hotel bar restaurant with view over New York City

The botanically inspired Fleur Room at Moxy Chelsea, NYC

LUX: How do you switch off from work-mode?
Mitchell Hochberg: One of my biggest passions is travel – I try to travel as often as possible. I’m naturally very curious, and find that my creativity is often sparked by wandering around and getting lost in cities and fully immersing myself in all aspects of the culture, which is both fascinating and inspiring. While I do switch off when I travel, appreciating architecture and design, as well as learning how different people live, serves as the inspiration for a lot of the development we do. In Italy, for example, which is one of my favourite places to travel, I’m constantly awed by the art, architecture, fashion, and yes, even the food. But above all, I’m struck by the genuine warmth of its people. You’ll see a lot of that reflected in the restaurants and bars and Moxy Chelsea. For example, Feroce, our Italian restaurant, took inspiration from some of my favourite spots around Italy: the Caffé and Pasticceria from the bar culture in Italy, where people visit the same spot for an espresso and cornetto in the morning and an Aperol Spritz in the evening; the outdoor dining garden from my favourite restaurant in Rome, Antica Pesa; and many of the design details from my favourite restaurant in MilanDa Giacomo.

When I want to completely chill out though, there’s nothing better than being on a beautiful beach. One of my favourites is Belmond Maroma in Riviera Maya, Mexico. It is casual and relaxed but with incredible service reflected by the culture of the local team who treat you as if you are in their own home. It is the epitome of barefoot chic!

Find out more: lightstonegroup.com and moxy-hotels.marriott.com


Reading time: 7 min
Luxury indoor swimming pool surrounded by plants inside a glass atrium
Luxury indoor swimming pool surrounded by plants inside a glass atrium

The Rosewood Beijing is one of Grand Luxury’s handpicked hotels

Grand Luxury is a curated hotel booking site and a concierge service through which clients can arrange exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. LUX speaks to the company’s founders, brothers Ivan and Rouslan Lartisien about handpicking their hotels, delivering first-class service and making the impossible possible
Colour portrait of founders of Grand Luxury Ivan and Rouslan Lartisien

Ivan and Rouslan Lartisien

LUX: How did you take Grand Luxury from a start-up to a global business?
Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien: From a 3-person company in a maid’s room to a 100-person company based in Paris, London, Dubai, Mauritius, Philippines, Romania and Italy, Grand Luxury has changed entirely in just 10 years. To better serve our individual clientele, we strive to continuously exceed the boundaries of personalisation. We are now the 2nd largest booking force for luxury hotels in Milan, London, Paris, Marrakech. In 2018, we have also become the leading EMEA agency on the luxury segment. The explanation might come from the fact that since the very beginning we have always been truthful to our original values.

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LUX: You handpicked all of the 350 hotels in the booking collection, did you visit them all and what were you looking for?
Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien: We have visited 90% of our hotels and rely on a network of travellers we know since the very beginning for the rest. We also have a team dedicated to visiting hotels on a regular basis but the final choice is always on one of us two.

We are mixing objective and subjective considerations. First of all, the hotel must meet the core standards of a 5-star deluxe hotel. But there must be a rather unique feeling, a special “je ne sais quoi” that will make you feel you are entering in a one-of-a-kind property. A Grand Luxury Hotel might not even feel like a hotel anymore. During our selection process we must have the conviction that we are about to engage in the promotion of a most unique place and enchant our existing clients and of course the new comers to Grand Luxury who we shall lure to our exceptional universe.

Luxury hotel lobby area with contemporary decorations and chandeliers

Grand Luxury clients receive exclusive perks at hotels they book through the site such as the Baccarat Hotel in New York

LUX: What defines first class service?
Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien: For us, luxury starts on-line and off-line when one of us engage on a conversation with the client. Everything has its importance: from the property we had curated, to on-line photos, content and suggestions to enhance the trip. We then ask many questions, not in a formal and mechanic manner but in a way our engagement seem natural and genuine. It’s quite irrational but when you show interest and express empathy, it works.

Luxury used to be materialistic, brand-driven, “stuff”-centric. Today it is more about the “moment”, the parenthesis you open to break away from your daily routine or your busy occupation. From being a Mom of 3 teenagers to a woman who looks after her for that one week and away from the family.

To this end we select, inspect and curate places that are truly exceptional. Not from a physical stand point but from our client’s perspective and for what they really want or need.

Luxury is also about the “results”, the outcome of a trip: be it to celebrate a milestone event or to explore family roots, or simply get away and reunite with your spouse, your mom or your best friends.

LUX: How do the current trends in booking patterns differ from when you started 10 years ago and does it vary across culture?
Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien: To be honest, on some aspects – it did not change so much. We have been quite constant in our strategic vision as we had decided to focus on two salient points: a highly restricted selection of the best hotels in the world, and very personalised service, all of this with a digital twist! The combination of the very best hotels and quality service allowed us to reach a high ratio of repeaters. What has changed in the market is the quest for more experiential travel and the growing desire to experience a destination as locals. That is one of the reasons why Grand Luxury has completely revamped its website, it will be rolled out at the end of the year to embrace these new market trends. Of course, we have to adapt to the cultural aspects.

Read more: How Hublot’s attracting a new generation of customers

LUX: What are the top 5 guest demands?
Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien: Unlike some long lasting and rather terrible clichés, wealthy customers are not capricious and impatient. Their demands (we prefer to use the word requests) reflect who they are and what is important for them (in general or for this specific holiday). If this is a family reunion for a special occasion, all details count from smooth arrivals to small attentions for each member of the family and to make sure you meet these expectations, there is only one technique: ask many questions and anticipate! Do not leave anything to chance (this is good for every single client). Many contact us not to simply find a great holiday spot for them, but for a reason and over the years we had many situations e.g. this famous film director who needed a quiet place anywhere in Europe likely to inspire his writing therefore had to have a solid historic feel without being difficult to reach! This gentleman, a widower for a few months, who wanted to visit all the places he had been happy with his wife before she passed after a sudden leukemia. Imagine the amount of emotion behind his request.

This father who wanted to reward his only daughter for graduating brilliantly. Not a regular five-star palace hotel guest but who had decided to spend well over what he would normally do, to celebrate this milestone event in his family. This very rich family (2 children age 8 and 10) who decided to spend a whole month in Paris and give the children a true education in art, history, culture. They wanted to have a young university teacher every day, capable to take the children on a different experience in a nice, supporting yet demanding manner.

And one day, we had this Australian billionaire who wanted to propose on the third floor of the Eiffel Tower. He wanted to have it for himself and the woman of his life. We managed to obtain a yes from the very traditional institution at a rather high price. Our client was a bit hesitant to spend so much and we knew he was open to an alternative suggestion. In a day we managed to contact the Musée Rodin and to privatise the famous museum for an hour after closing. Champagne had been arranged next to Le-baiser (the kiss) one of the most moving piece of Rodin and of course it work very well as she said yes and was incredibly touched by the gentleman’s surprise proposal.

LUX: Can you tell us more about some of the sought after experiences Grand Luxury can arrange?
Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien: We always try to work on experiences that will work on emotion, memories and take you more deeply in the cultural essence of a country. For instance in Paris, we worked on a specific program about French gastronomy. We picked the clients at 5am at his hotel, brought him to a very nice bakery in the heart of the old Paris to see before the opening of the shop how the croissant and baguette are made, taste it fresh out of the oven. Then the client took a basket of bakeries and was brought on a Riva on the French Seine to eat on a nice private breakfast-cruise, with Champagne of course as you are in France. Then, the client was brought back to his hotel just in time to see the arrival of the food supplies at the Michelin-Star restaurant.

Luxury poolside cabana with plush seating

The Royal Mansour in Marrakech is another of Grand Luxury’s hotels

LUX: How is luxury travel evolving?
Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien: The big change we’ve seen in the last few years is the way people expect to experience a destination. Today, all of our clients from around the world want to feel like a local when they visit a destination, so we bring them experiences that will show them the heart and soul of the place. We have guides in each destination who are really knowledgeable about certain aspects of a place, so we’ll call the guide that best fits the preferences of the guest. In terms of hotels, we’ve seen that more and more people want a more residential feel in the place they stay, so they have a kind of home to go back to in the destination. This is something we’re seeing more and more of with luxury travellers.

Grand luxury app shown on a phone screen

The Grand Luxury app functions as a digital personal assistant

LUX: Is technology increasingly important to travellers or do they want to be off the grid and why did you launch the app to accompany the online site?
Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien: Technology for us at Grand Luxury Hotels is absolutely essential. It has never been used to replace staff but to increase value for our clients. The App is a perfect example. It is a unique opportunity for our customers to have their own assistant directly in their pocket. A transfer, the best new trendy restaurant close to your location, flowers or caviar in your room in less than 30 minutes, a great ballet or musical to go to in the evening! We make it easy for the customer to choose and book among our curated list of partners. And for us, technology is here to answer to clients who want easy and quick options. But if they want to speak to their dedicated adviser, they can of course chat with him/her anytime through the app!

LUX: What can users expects to see with the upscale concierge service?
Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien: Anything, there is no specific limit. It Is all about the client’s needs and wishes. 3 years ago we set a special trip for a small group of opera fans which was meant to end in Prague. On the last night we booked Don Giovanni at the Estates Opera House (where Mozart debuted the famous opera). We had told our clients that a supper would be served after the show but we did not mention where. We had actually arranged for our group to have dinner on stage … with the cast!

On another occasion we had set a wedding anniversary in Venice. The clients (a very nice couple in their 70s) had decided to treat themselves to a long weekend in Venice. Nothing too original so far – but as they head to the restaurant for a dinner we had booked for them, we sent them by boat to a small palazzo instead, where their family and close friends were waiting for them (we had arranged the group to travel a day after and of course made sure their were completely invisible so another of our Venice property was chosen) the family had asked us to surprise their parents, they also wanted to pay for the stay and finally add a fun touch and a small show at the palazzo to also recognise how exceptionally loved the couple was.

LUX: Where will Grand Luxury be in 5 years?
Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien: 5 years ago we had approximately 10 employees. We are now almost 100. The only limit is our imagination. We already have so many plans for the coming months : full relaunch of our website under a completely new design, deepen our offering with far more experiences to offer, launch our new website www.grandluxurycruises.com … Just for one year. What is sure is that Grand Luxury wants to position Itself as a luxury brand offering 360 degrees offer in the travel industry.

Discover Grand Luxury’s list of hotels: grandluxuryhotels.com

Reading time: 10 min
view of luxury penthouse suite with wooden decking and outdoor seating areas
view of luxury penthouse suite with wooden decking and outdoor seating areas

View from a penthouse in the Parc Du Cap development by the Caudwell Collection

In 2006 British entrepreneur John Caudwell sold his pioneering telecommunications company, the Caudwell Group, which included high-street mobile phone retail giant Phones4U, and turned his attention to property and philanthropy. His luxury residential development company, the Caudwell Collection boasts a portfolio of properties in prime locations across the UK and France whilst Caudwell Children is one of the leading charities in the UK for children’s disabilities. LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai speaks to the billionaire about real estate, Brexit and building a centre for autistic children
Portrait of british entrepreneur John Caudwell in front of Caudwell Children sign

John Caudwell

LUX: You were known in the UK as one of the big mobile telephone entrepreneurs back in the 90s, 2000s, but now you are involved in property development. How did that happen and has high-end property always been one of your passions?
John Caudwell: I wouldn’t say it was a passion because for one thing I would never have had the money to exercise or endorse that passion, but I’ve always had a passion for beautiful things, especially beautiful architecture. So, my factory, for example, the Victorian tile factory, that was completely derelict until we took it over. We completely restored it and made it into a really fabulous headquarters for the business. So I guess I’ve always had that interest but not as a property developer, more in terms of developing properties for my own business use.

Then the crash happened, and it was almost impossible to find anywhere to put your money that was safer than under your bed, so you have mattresses stuffed full of £50 notes everywhere. The world was so fragile that you could not have any confidence that it was going to pull through and that your money was going to hold its value. So I decided to put my money into equities that I thought were resilient to a world collapse.

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LUX: What kinds of equities?
John Caudwell: So essential commodities and essential items, things that are always going to be there. For example, there’s always going to be farming, there’s always going to be land and water. Not so much oil these days because that’s a thing of the past, but there were items you could recognise that were probably going to be reasonably – not recession proof – but certainly collapse proof because they would always be needed. Of course even those things were fragile because everything took a big hit, but because commercial property had dropped in value enormously, I decided to start buying property that had long lease holds or even in some cases, shorter lease holds that I could develop and try and add extra value to. That’s how I got into property, but it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing or beautiful property, it was was purely to protect myself commercially. And it did quite a good job – I built up quite a good portfolio, it wasn’t meant to make a lot of money, it was meant to be a protectionist measure. But from that, agents who were having a tough time as you can imagine, came to us with various properties and people came to us with properties that I was actually interested in, things of beauty. For instance, one of the ones we bought was Provencal in the South of France.

Luxury living room decorated in blue and white

The living space in Les Oliviers by the Caudwell Collection

LUX: How’s the development going? Is there a scheduled completion date?
John Caudwell: In the South of France we’ve completed Parc du Cap – a luxury development with 88 1-4 bedroom apartments and penthouses, and Les Oliviers – 6 spacious apartments in a beautifully restored Art Deco building, both in Cap d’Antibes, and we’ve got other Caudwell Collection projects there as well, like Provencal. We’ve been working with the authorities to get Provencal to a point at which we believe it is developable – and after several significant challenges we’re now in a place to say work is fully underway to create 35-40 ultra high-end apartments there. We aim to launch in 2021-22. Over in London, with the Audley Square property, we’ve had to work very, very closely with Westminster council and the planners, and obviously everyone’s got their own angle but there’s been a real spirit of cooperation because everybody wants to see it happen. It’s good for the city because it turns an eyesore into a beautiful building, not to mention the jobs it creates through the building work.

Read more: Inside Lake Como’s luxury residence, Villa Giuseppina

LUX: And with the London developments, such as Audley Square, how did that come about?
John Caudwell: It came about as a result of us becoming aware of the site and contacting Nama, who were the people who held all the debt. You might know Nama as the Irish bank that took all the property debt? We ended up in a two-year negotiation with Nama on the site. It took a long time because there were a lot of fundamental problems with the site, there were a lot of risks at that time and the price they were asking for was too high. But eventually, whilst we were negotiating. we worked through some of the problems and did a whole range of due diligence exercises to try and assess and minimise the risk as well as reduce the price. Eventually, it got to a point where it was acceptable so we did the deal and then that was the start of all the work!

Luxury bedroom with double bed and white and blue furnishings

Les Oliviers was partly restored using local materials and products

LUX: The properties that you’re creating are very high-end, sophisticated, luxury – is there a plan to broaden the brand, the Caudwell Collection, beyond property?
John Caudwell: Well, we are already doing that partly, but depends on the success that we have and we do expect it to be extremely successful. But you know the situation in the UK at the moment is not so good with stamp duty, and the Brexit situation. I mean London is the powerhouse of the world, it’s a fantastic city and will remain a fantastic city – I am extremely positive about the future, but I am a bit concerned about the effect stamp duties have had on the market. I don’t disagree with it incidentally, I think it’s fair enough to raise all these huge sums of money from wealthy people who can afford very expensive properties, but it has damaged the property market. The non-doms, I don’t disagree with either, I don’t disagree with it from a moral point of view because I think the rich have to pay their appropriate share of the taxes, but it’s not good if you start losing very wealthy people who take their economic interests to other countries like Paris and New York and Monaco and so on. Those countries that welcome them, are then taking our livelihood away because those people, by being financially centric to London, also tend to then have a lot of their business interests in the UK and tend to be much more likely to have business centres in the UK.

Read more: Entrepreneur Adrian Cheng & leading architect James Corner are redesigning Hong Kong

And then of course Brexit as the next stage of that whereby I was very strongly pro-Brexit. I wanted a clean proper Brexit with a strong government and I said that when the Conservatives called the election, I said if there’s no other reason why the people vote Conservative, it needs to be to give the power to the party to negotiate a deal. And now where are we? Nearly two years down the line, we’ve got a very, very weak Conservative government with no majority, with a lot of back biting from within, with the house of Lords almost seeming to sabotage the position. I think, at the moment, it’s all very worrying because we needed a strong powerful Brexit or we needed to stay – we needed to either be properly in or properly out, not some horrible mishmash in the middle that doesn’t deliver the benefits. If we’re not careful we’re going to have all the pain of Brexit and limited benefits, which would be a fiasco. So, I am a bit concerned about that, it’s long answer to your question but the answer does relate to how far I see the Caudwell Collection going. And also, opportunities because opportunities like the Audley Square, that allow you to turn something that’s very, very ugly into a thing of beauty, or Provencal, which has been derelict for thirty years, but if we do what we’re planning to do there will become a most magnificent property, on par with some of the properties in Cannes. Those sorts of opportunities don’t come up every day and to be able to make those into a commercial success as well as an aesthetic success, is something that plays very much into my absolute ethos.

detail of spiral staircase and glass lift shaft on a building

The original building façades of Les Oliviers were maintained during the development

LUX: Do you find this new business as consuming as Phones4u and your other previous companies? Or is it more of a side-line in terms of operating?
John Caudwell: Totally different. Phones4u was my life, my absolute life. Most people know of it because of the high street brand, but we were the world’s biggest in nearly every area in which we traded, which was accessories, hand set distribution, we even had our own in-house recruitment company with about 70 or 80 employees there, and we even recruited for other people. Same with security, we did our own security but then did it for other people, so we grew into what was a bit of an empire really, where several of my businesses were the biggest and best in the world. So, it was a complete and utter all-consuming thing, and also it was my entire wealth, so you know, fail at that and I would have been entirely broke, probably not totally broke, but I would have been broke.

Aerial shot of seaside apartments with roof gardens

An aerial view of the Parc du Cap development

Succeed at that and then the result is the result that I got. But it was also extremely stressful, every minute of every day was extremely stressful, and I could never live that life ever again, nor would I want to, so that’s gone, and I am glad it has, but they were very special years. It’s different now, these businesses I didn’t need to do because my life now is all about philanthropy. But when they came along, and I saw them, I thought well, that’s a really interesting challenge. It gives me the opportunity to create a thing of beauty, put my stamp onto London with a building that’s going to be beautiful and timeless and make money as well. It’s a unique situation and a lot more pleasurable. I’ve got a great team of people who are helping me to run all of this and it’s a much more relaxed situation. I’m nowhere near as dedicated to it in terms of my time and effort because I have people who do that, but also its not as stressful and threatening as the mobile phone business was, which was ferocious, every minute of the day. That doesn’t mean its easy – it isn’t, we’ve got to be smart, we’ve got to be clever. Lots of problems to address and solve and we’ve got to create the vision of beauty that we promised.

Luxurious rooftop swimming pool with wooden decking and views of the ocean on the horizon

The view from a penthouse in Parc du Cap

LUX: How important is it for you that people talk about the Caudwell brand in relation to the properties you develop?
John Caudwell: The brand stands absolutely for quality. When people go to the Parc du Cap building, which is the one that I wouldn’t have built, but it is a beautiful, beautiful development, and most people who’ve visited it, say it feels quite pricey, and they understand why it is quite pricey, because the quality is exceptional for that coastline. And everybody says they’ve never seen another development of that quality which is quite nice to hear and that’s sort of part of the Caudwell collection brand. We got the same feedback with Les Oliviers it was the same feedback; it is a building that is really a fantastic quality throughout and is really desirable to live in, and that’s exactly what we’ll do with Provencal once we get started. We are creating these buildings of huge quality and recognisably of huge quality, it’s not just me saying it, but these properties stand the test of third parties too, whether they’re agents or buyers, everybody thinks they’re beautiful.

Read more: Caroline Scheufele on Chopard’s gold standard

LUX: There are parts of Les Oliviers that you restored, using local products and materials. Is restoration an important aspect of your developments?
John Caudwell: Our design approach with Les Oliviers was to carefully restore the original building façades and use some locally sourced materials including natural stone for the terraces and loggia floors, and Provencal limestone paving around the swimming pool. The quality of the finished product is exceptional – from the apartments fitted out with high tech features and contemporary yet classically inspired interiors through to the beautifully manicured Provencal style gardens. You can’t necessarily use local materials all the time and of course it’s a commercial venture, so I don’t put local materials as the priority but what I do put as the priority is that it must be as environmentally friendly as possible. For instance, with Audley Square, we’ve put geothermal in, and I’ve just put geothermal into my house. The whole point is to try cut down on pollution and energy loss.

luxury apartment living room with siding doors onto a terrace and open plan kitchen living area

The living room in one of the two bedroom apartments in Parc du Cap

LUX: Finally, can you tell us more about your philanthropic work and in particular, the Caudwell Children.
John Caudwell: That’s extremely exciting because we help children with 600 different illnesses. During the 18 years that we’ve been running, we’ve had more applications from parents with autistic children than any other category, in fact we’ve had so many applications that 50% of the work we do is with autistic children. We developed methods of intervention that have helped thousands and thousands of children and their families live a better life. Of course, autism is an extremely broad condition; it’s the families of autistic children that have difficulties managing and coping emotionally and physically and that’s where we’ve focussed our effort over the years.

There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK, so the task I gave to my chief executive was how to find more and more children and how to change the medical profession’s understanding of and attitude towards autism. We believe we can substantially help to improve the lives of autistic children and we’ve done it many, many times, but people who wish to be cynical could say that the autistic child would have carried on, on that developmental path anyway, so what you’ve done has made no difference because the child may have made that progress without you. So we’ve built this centre and are putting a big team of medical people in there to prove to the medical authorities that we can intervene in autism and that we can improve the lives of autistic children. When the centre opens in the next couple of months, we’ll still carry on the work for all the other children as well but the focus will be on autism. And if we can change the NICE guidelines to read differently, then doctors around the country, instead of diagnosing an autistic child and saying to the parents, ‘I’m sorry there’s absolutely nothing we can do, just go home and do the best you can with your child and keep your child safe and healthy’, they’ll be able to say, there is help you can get and this is what can be done and this is who you might go to and this is the way you can improve your child’s life.

To view the Caudwell Collection’s portfolio of luxury properties visit: caudwellcollection.com
For more information on Caudwell Children visit: caudwellchildren.com

Reading time: 14 min
Herd of Zebra with heads leaning on each other's necks
safari truck pulled up alongside a group of cheetah

andBeyond game drive in the Serengeti

Joss Kent is a born adventurer. Son of LUX columnist and Abercrombie & Kent CEO Geoffrey Kent, Joss left behind the family legacy to run luxury travel company, andBeyond.

With safari camps all over Africa, and hotels and lodges in select locations across Asia and South America, andBeyond is renowned for its creative approach, commitment to sustainability and spontaneous guest surprises (think champagne breakfast served at sunrise under an ancient baobab tree in the African bush).

Digital Editor Millie Walton speaks to CEO Joss Kent about the excitement and challenges of creating luxury escapes in some of the wildest places on earth

Colour portrait of Joss Kent standing with arms folded

Joss Kent

LUX: What makes andBeyond different from other luxury travel companies?
Joss Kent: What sets us apart is our 27 years of experience and the passionate people who make up the andBeyond team. I am fortunate enough to run a company that is full of talented people who care deeply about what they do. They are, I think, principally driven by the belief that they can make a difference in the world we live in. It is andBeyond’s sole purpose to strive to leave our world better than we found it through our impact model of care of land, wildlife, and people. Alongside this, we also offer extraordinary guest experiences in Africa, Asia and South America.

LUX: andBeyond works with architects to create unique safari camps that differ from the traditional camp image, such as the andBeyond Sandibe Okavango Delta Lodge. What’s the andBeyond design brief? Is there one?
Joss Kent: With a more aware breed of traveller looking towards responsible luxury travel, lodge design is rapidly evolving. As a result, we are focusing our energy and time on trying to make sure that we build sustainably but, at the same time, don’t lose the creative edge that differentiates our guests’ experience. Our large number of lodge refurbishments and new builds showcases the wide range of design that the company’s portfolio encompasses. At the same time, we make sure that sustainability is an entrenched part of the design process. We believe that less is often more and emphasise the field experience that our rangers, guides and hosts offer over opulent lodge design. I believe that the game lodge of the future has a light footprint and uses 100% renewable energy. It uses no plastic, has a zero-carbon offset, a sensitive ecological footprint and a sensitive design, with a strong sense of place.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

LUX: Lots of people assume that luxury and sustainability don’t mix, but andBeyond is proving otherwise. What are some of the sustainability challenges that you are currently facing?
Joss Kent: Because some of the areas where we operate are in less developed countries, certain services are not readily available. For example, in South Africa recycling is easy to do. We have helped to set up community businesses near our lodges that collect our recyclable waste, sort it and sell it on to bigger recycling companies. In countries such as Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya or Namibia, which are less developed or where our lodges are a lot more remote, this is not as easy to do. In these cases, where we cannot recycle, we try to reduce our waste as much as possible.

We encounter similar problems when trying to source more sustainable goods and materials, for example, glass bottles. In some cases there are not available locally and we would be forced to import them. We then need to follow best practice in environmental offsetting, making use of the best compromise available and using other means to offset the impact that we cannot avoid.

luxury safari tent with large double bed and plush furnishings

andBeyond Bateleur Camp in Kenya’s iconic Masai Mara National Reserve

LUX: What do you understand the term ‘transformational travel’ to mean, and have you seen a shift in terms of your guests’ demands or expectations in recent years?
Joss Kent: Travel has evolved from the adage of taking only photos and leaving only footprints. The world’s wild places need us to do better than that. Now it’s about taking memories and leaving a legacy. These days, we find that guests want to be far more actively involved. Whilst spotting the Big Five on safari is inevitably a key goal and reason for staying at an andBeyond lodge, our guests also want to engage with the local communities and actively participate in conservation initiatives where possible – to have a sense of purpose when travelling.

In addition, more and more often travellers are time-poor and, consequently, want to have immersive and authentic experiences in a short space of time. In response to this demand, we have created a set of Small Group Journeys that are designed to cater for specific interests. Examples include the East Africa Photographic Expeditions, the Snow Leopard Expedition in the far north of India and our Mobile Camping Expeditions in Botswana.

Read more: Magical Mountain Touring in Andermatt, Switzerland

We’re also seeing that our guests want to invest in themselves and their families by meeting different cultures and learning from them. We have guests who want to improve their overall health – journeys that include meditation and yoga-focused retreats, such as the ones we offer in India, are becoming increasingly popular. The latest addition to our lodge portfolio, andBeyond Vira Vira in Chile, has a farm-to-table food focus and everything from the kitchen is organic, local and in-season. We’re increasingly incorporating wellness into our African safari experience – andBeyond Bateleur Camp just reopened in Kenya’s Masai Mara with a dedicated spa and fitness centre that overlooks an unbroken Mara vista, while andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge reopened last year with a new rooftop deck for sunrise yoga and meditation.

Herd of Zebra with heads leaning on each other's necks

LUX: andBeyond is known for offering some of the best wildlife experiences in Africa, but of course, you can’t guarantee that you’ll spot any animals. How do you still ensure that your guests have a fulfilling and exciting experience?
Joss Kent: Whilst offering exceptional wildlife viewing is a significant part of what we do, we have seen an increased demand for participative experiences whereby guests are looking for more than just spotting the Big Five. At andBeyond we pride ourselves on delving deeper into offering experiences that engage with the communities too.

We have been breaking down the barriers and including guests in the activities that take place behind the scenes in terms of conservation and community. For example, we offer guests staying at our reserves in South Africa the opportunity to get involved in elephant collaring and rhino notching, both activities that are necessary in monitoring wildlife populations when faced with the growing threat of poaching and decreasing habitat.

At andBeyond Mnemba Island and andBeyond Vamizi Island, where turtle nests are identified and carefully protected, guests travelling at the right time of year can safely escort hatchlings to the sea. We have also just launched two new Small Group Journeys: the Oceans Without Borders Small Group Journey and the Phinda Impact Journey. The former takes place on andBeyond Vamizi Island and is hosted by Dr Tessa Hempson, one of the leading Marine Biologists in East Africa. Here, guests will delve into the fascinating field of marine conservation and gain first-hand knowledge of significant environmental issues affecting the world’s oceans. The latter takes place at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Whilst traditional game drives are integral to this safari experience, it also incorporates elements of our ranger training curriculum, as well as selected conservation activities.

group of travellers in a safari boat down a river amongst reeds

An andBeyond boat safari in Botswana

Another differing experience is the insightful tours that we offer along with our community development partner, Africa Foundation. Our ethos of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People guides everything that we do and, through our work with Africa Foundation, we have been able to bring meaningful change to the communities around our lodges through education, providing clean water, healthcare, and small business development projects chosen by the communities. Whilst we have been arranging community visits and animal conservation activities with guests on more of a bespoke basis, we have also created philanthropic itineraries including Travel with Purpose in South Africa and Travel with Purpose in Kenya with the view to showcasing more than only seeing the Big Five when in Africa. Guests can choose to follow these itineraries as they stand or we can customise an itinerary to fit a guest’s specific interests. Through these experiences we ensure our guests are fulfilled and take away lasting memories and, in their own way, leave a legacy.

Read more: Founder of photo basel Sven Eisenhut on the art of photography

LUX: Many luxury hotels are embracing technology as a way of fulfilling guest experiences. How do you meet the demands of technologically hungry generation whilst still providing a sense of escape?
Joss Kent: We find that our guests want to disconnect from technology and reconnect with families and friends, sharing a meal and talking instead of everyone being distracted by their personal devices. We make this easier to do by trying to limit the connectivity options at our camps to our designed-by-nature lodge rooms, such as at andBeyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge. After all, why stare at a screen when you could be looking out on the best of the Okavango Delta?

LUX: Alongside the camps in Africa, andBeyond offers travel experiences in a handful of destinations across Asia and South America, such as the Maldives, Bhutan, Chile and Peru. Why those particular destinations?
Joss Kent: These days, travellers are looking towards lesser discovered destinations and this is where we choose to operate.

In terms of the countries that we operate in, our vision is necessarily a long term one, as meaningful conservation and community development work takes a long time to develop, implement and measure. It has taken andBeyond 27 years to achieve our vision in Africa and we are continually developing and refining our activities there.

luxury suite overlooking mountains with plunge pool

Private plunge pool at the andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge suite

In Asia and South America, it is our intent, over a medium to long period of time, to replicate what we have done and achieved in Africa. Over the past two years we have started by establishing solid operating platforms (people, offices, touring and ground handling capabilities) on these continents and in those countries that we have chosen for the expansion of the andBeyond vision and model. This is vital, as it means we can now start to engage with governments, NGOs and individuals in seeking out areas of meaningful conservation impact and doing detailed assessments of whether our model will practically work. We have been actively in that assessment stage for 12 months now. It is as a result of the assessment phase that we are now specifically focusing on Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Chile, Argentina and Peru (the Amazon) as the core countries in which we can actively expand our model and vision.

Very soon we hope to have news on some big ideas that we believe in time will become very meaningful conservation and community development projects. They span large geographic areas and are complex and will take time to come to fruition. In parallel, we are close to announcing our first lodge on the ground in Asia (Bhutan) and have just made an announcement regarding andBeyond Vira Vira in South America (Chile). These all form part of the important build-up of our presence and capabilities and are the forerunners of the impactful 3Cs model work that will follow.

Read more: Luxury perched in the Himalayan foothills of North East India

LUX: andBeyond runs a number of community projects. How do you decide where to focus the company’s philanthropic efforts?
Joss Kent: We work collaboratively with our community development partner, Africa Foundation, whose methodology is based on a collaborative, consultative approach. Africa Foundation listens to the needs identified by the communities themselves and guides them in the process of considering the appropriate projects to address these needs. It then works directly with a project committee, consisting of community members who have been proactive in engaging with local stakeholders. Each project is led by a local champion from the community. Africa Foundation focuses on four key development areas that support community empowerment: education, healthcare and clean water, small business development and environment and conservation. Whenever we are looking to build or acquire a new lodge, we ensure that our impact model can be put into practice in every way so that it benefits the land, wildlife and people. Therefore, there are community projects taking place at each of our owned and managed lodges.

LUX: What’s next for andBeyond? Any upcoming openings?
Joss Kent: We have a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline, including the continued revamp of our existing lodges, the rebuild of andBeyond Phinda Homestead in South Africa (due to open in September). The refurbishment of andBeyond Bateleur Camp in Kenya is almost completed and andBeyond Phinda Vlei Lodge in South Africa also recently reopened with a new look. We also have the brand new andBeyond Tengile River Lodge in the prestigious Sabi Sand Game Reserve opening in December.

Over the past three years we have also taken major steps forward in our long-term goal of exporting our impact model out of Africa and into South America. We believe that the expertise and knowledge we have gained in Africa can, in time, create a meaningful impact on this beautiful continent and we are thrilled to be managing our first lodge in South America. As of September, andBeyond Vira Vira in the Chilean Lake District will be added to our expanding portfolio of lodges. For Asia, watch this space! We have exciting developments in the pipeline for Bhutan.

luxury safari tents lit by candles at nighttime

andBeyond Serengeti Under Canvas guest tents

LUX: Do you have a favourite andBeyond camp, and why?
Joss Kent: While all the andBeyond lodges have their own distinct feel, I have to admit andBeyond Serengeti Under Canvas is a favourite of mine. It really does take you back to the time of the old mobile safaris. The camp has a very light footprint, and the experience is all about the guide, the habitat and the wildlife, which are only separate from you by a thin layer of canvas. It gives guests the chance to really unplug in a technical world. There is nothing that beats relaxing around a proper campfire, or the bush TV, as well call it. Here you can fall asleep to the sounds of the Great Migration, curled up against a hot water bottle, and wake up to the sunrise peeking through the canvas flaps of your tent. At the end of a great day out in the bush, preferably walking, you can relax under a piping hot bucket shower under an African night sky.

LUX: How do you relax?
Joss Kent: I love outdoor activities like mountain biking, trail running, kite surfing, polo and riding. I have also recently got into night-time meditation using the Headspace app.


Reading time: 12 min
Portrait of Founder of venture capital and investment company Global Group Johnny Hon in front of artwork

Dr Johnny Hon

Johnny Hon, founder of venture capital and investment company Global Group, is on a mission to lower cultural and trade barriers between east and west to encourage commerce, charity and cultural exchange. The entrepreneur and philanthropist, based in London and Hong Kong, speaks to LUX Editor-at-Large Gauhar Kapparova
portrait of LUX Editor at Large Gauhar Kapparova

LUX Editor-at-Large, Gauhar

LUX: The Global Group seems to have diverse interests and ambitious plans.
Johnny Hon: I founded the Global Group in 1997 whilst completing my PhD at Cambridge University. It has since grown to become a leading venture capital, investment and strategic consultancy with offices in London and Hong Kong. Over the past 20 years, the Global Group has evolved from financing high-yield technology companies to expand into private equity, angel investment and financial services. The company’s diverse interests and areas of expertise range from fine art to FinTech, biotechnology to entertainment and leisure. The future of the Global Group is exciting – we’re a rapidly growing company that responds to opportunities, rather than limiting ourselves to specific sectors. We are always looking for exciting, interesting opportunities, whether that’s a start-up in the UK or supporting the growing appetite for excellent quality wine in China.

LUX: You catalyse and facilitate trade between Europe and China. This seems to be important to you at what must be an essential time to be doing it.
Johnny Hon: We live in an increasingly global era and this is changing the face of modern business. The Global Group has always worked with European companies looking to enter the Asian market, as well as Chinese clients and high net-worth individuals with aspirations in the European market. I believe now, more than ever, it’s essential to encourage trade and mutual engagement between Europe and China and in particular to usher in a new golden era of Sino-UK relations.

In my opinion Brexit can open up vast potential as it will provide overseas investors with more opportunities than ever to enter the market. We have our European office in London, and I think it will always be the financial heart of Europe. I encourage Chinese clients to invest in the UK’s businesses and future, and vice versa, and feel optimistic about the future of global business.

Global businessman Johnny Hon shakes hands with HRH The Duchess of Cambridge

Johnny Hon at the charity première of the stage show 42nd Steet with HRH The Duchess of Cambridge

LUX: You have a broad portfolio of business, philanthropic and diplomatic interests. Please tell us more – it seems you are in effect an ambassador between east and west at a very high level?
Johnny Hon: The main mission of the Global Group is, as our motto says, ‘Bridging the New Frontiers’. We work to remove barriers between the East and the West, and I am passionate about reflecting this in my personal and business interests.

I am British-educated but was born in Hong Kong, and I’m deeply proud of my roots and Chinese heritage. I have always felt like I represent both cultures and I have tried hard to act as an ambassador – a gateway – ever since I set up my company. The Global Group challenges expectations and concerns about doing business in China, and I also embody this role in my diplomatic work.

I am the Honorary Consul for Grenada in Hong Kong and the country’s Ambassador-at-Large. I take huge pride in the private consultancy and advisory work I do with state leaders, prime ministers and presidents from countries around the world.

Charitable giant cheque handover on stage in Hong Kong

Johnny Hon’s broad range of philanthropic and diplomatic work includes charitable fund raising

Philanthropy is a vital part of my work and an endless source of motivation and inspiration for the Global Group. One position that fills me with particular pride is my role as the first ever Diamond Benefactor of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. I am responsible for growing the scheme throughout the AsiaPacific region and introducing Chinese students and young people to such exciting life skills as teamwork, enterprise and leadership.

I’m also a Founder Benefactor of London based think tank Asia House and Vice President of the 48 Group Club, which works to raise awareness of Chinese business and innovation in the UK and promote positive relations between the two countries.

In all areas of my life – business, diplomacy, philanthropy and personal – I take great pride and pleasure in my ambassadorial role.

LUX: Does the West have much to learn from China, and vice versa?
Johnny Hon: We can all learn and benefit from a global outlook. China is now a hub of technological advancements and entrepreneurial spirit. The West can learn from its productivity levels, dedication to innovation and broad acceptance of technology, especially regarding the fourth industrial revolution.

The West, and the UK in particular, is inspiring in the approach it takes to investing in future talent and it is the home of some of the world’s greatest educational institutions. It is also an outstanding provider of services, especially in the financial and legal sectors.

From East to West, I am passionate about education and how it is already changing the business landscape. Right now, over 300 million people in China are learning English and the UK has the world’s second largest population of Chinese students studying overseas. I think we should all look to China and how it is encouraging, supporting and inspiring a global outlook for the next generation.

LUX: Tell us more about your philanthropy and your plans in that area.
Johnny Hon: Philanthropy and social responsibility is at the core of the Global Group. It bolsters my sense of purpose and motivates me to work even harder.

I have always wanted to give back. When I was reading for my PhD at Cambridge, I realised that I would be able to have more impact as a businessman than a doctor, and this started my philanthropic career.

Two Asian business men standing in front of 48 Group Club sign

Amongst many philanthropic roles, Johnny Hon is the Vice President of the 48 Group Club

We’ve now donated to over 160 charities worldwide and my projects have ranged from setting up Oxford and Cambridge University scholarship schemes to sponsoring the first London production of the China National Beijing Opera Company at Sadler’s Wells through the Hon Foundation for Music and the Performing Arts.

It is particularly rewarding to be able to combine my passion for the arts with my interests in raising awareness of Eastern culture in the UK, supporting the Global Group’s mission to bridge the gap between the East and West.

LUX: Please tell us about other areas you are developing in your business that are exciting you right now.
Johnny Hon: Sitting at the helm of a rapidly expanding company that is growing in numbers, clients, countries of operation, and team members, is hugely exciting in itself.

Looking at investment opportunities and areas, right now, there is a fascinating trend for Chinese investors to look to British heritage companies. China has a growing consumer society with an increased disposable income and appetite for British luxury goods such as whisky and smoked salmon. There’s a huge market there for UK companies to work with China, and vice versa, to develop this and other opportunities.

This year, we are building on the sustainable side of the Global Group, with a focus on our shared global future. We are focusing on technology that sets out to tackle challenges posed by issues such as population growth and its environmental impact, including green technology, agricultural technology and biotech, for example.

Investing in something that could improve life quality and expectancy means that I have the potential to make a real impact and change the lives of many millions of people for the better, which is both exciting and awe-inspiring.


Reading time: 6 min

Interiors of the Kering headquarters in Paris

Luxury groups like Gucci owner Kering (Paris headquarters pictured) are adapting to a fresh wave of consumer demand

Fashion and luxury brands need to transform they way they work, think and create to thrive in a new era of luxury consumers, where creativity is king – but just not in the way it was
Luxury goods expert and partner at Bain & Company’s Milan office, Claudia D'arpizio headshot

Claudia D’Arpizio

Touchpoints are becoming more important for the luxury industry. In fact, consumers are becoming more important for the industry. In the past, while the desire for luxury products was very high, it was fuelled by the creation of an aspiration that was mainly ostentation, or showing off social or financial status – this is an over-simplification, but indicative.

And the marketing formula was to create a big desire for these products; and ownership was also being part of a specific circle of people that were, in a way, selected. It was very elitist. Now, consumers are really asking for larger territories of conversation. We can now call aspiration ‘post-aspiration’ because status symbolism is no longer the driver for buying these products. Brands need to enrich the territories of conversation and to pick up the values of the next generation of consumers.

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To do so, they need more channels of communication; and so different touchpoints are playing a very important role. Digital touchpoints are playing an important role and the transaction, per se, is losing interest. Brands really need to create a dialogue that starts much before the purchase, that continues after the purchase, and that creates an ongoing dialogue and conversation with the consumer.

In the past, consistency was very important, meaning all the stores looked the same, all the communication and the valued pillars were very rigid and analytical. Now, brands need to be a platform and express creativity. Consumers want to be surprised and engaged but perhaps they will not be surprised if they only see an environment that always looks the same.

Consumers are looking for authenticity, but they are also looking for different sets of values and attributes, which makes it more and more difficult for marketing strategy at this time, because brands have to have crystal-clear DNA and packaging, and understand the degrees of freedom, and understand who in the organisation can leverage these degrees of freedom across the different touchpoints. This is a very challenging organisational issue with the evolution of the consumers.

Read more from the LOVE Issue: Jean-Claude Biver on why luxury watches are about the experience

The product, meanwhile, is still important, but it is not enough. The exquisite quality of a product is a given for luxury brands. The level of creativity is super-important and an essential element and touchpoint. But the creativity should not just be channelled through the product. Brands need to channel their creative across other touchpoints, through communication and social media strategy, telling a story through different chapters and maintaining engagement with the consumer.

Image of Gorden Wagener chief design office of Daimler from Sensual Purity: Gorden Wagener on Design published by Condé Nast

Experiences are the new luxury. Image courtesy of Condé Nast, publisher of Sensual Purity: Gorden Wagener on Design. Photographer: Jonathan Glynn-Smith

With this disruption, it is probably easier to attract the attention of consumers if you are an emerging brand, because you can become more relevant within a shorter period of time through creative ways of communicating. The product is still very important though and established players from big organisations can really keep up momentum across different touchpoints. Barriers to entry are being pulled down, but keeping pace and elevating the continued desire of consumers can be very demanding.

Meanwhile there is a generational shift in the creative directorship of the fashion and luxury industry that has only just started, and of which we will see more and more. New brands that are managed by millennials are changing the rules of the game, or starting a completely new one, influencing the entire sector.

Read more: Poet Yomi Sode on Slam Poetry’s authentic essence

In the last couple of years there has been a transformational element. There has been a big churn of creative directors and senior management, because a shake-up was probably needed for every company to engage their organisation in the required transformation. These changes have just started. And we will see a lot of convergence in cinema, in film production, TV production and the editorial industry in general, because the intangible element will be as important as the tangible. Creativity will be reshaped across the creative industries.

On the other hand, creativity is still very fluid in terms of age and generation and this is another key aspect of these times. We have different generations behaving the same way, we have different genders behaving similarly about certain topics. We also have fluidity in terms of the social construct.

It is a very liquid society and the luxury sector will become more and more segmented. But, as they adapt, brands need to understand their consumers and always remain true and authentic to their DNA.

Claudia D’Arpizio is a partner at Bain & Company’s Milan office and an expert in the luxury goods industry

Reading time: 4 min
Women model posing in Louis Vuitton new collection campaign
Female model poses in Louis Vuitton coat and bag from the pre fall collection

Louis Vuitton’s strategy to overcome consumer inertia is to develop products, such as this from their 2017 pre-fall collection, which stand out as one-offs

The nature of luxury is evolving fast. Producers and consumers should wise up to the emerging multi-level landscape and never forget the power of the right kind of celebrity, says our columnist Luca Solca
Portrait of Luca Solca LUX columnist and head of luxury goods research at BNP Paribas

Luca Solca

True luxury is about projecting the impression, or even the illusion, of exclusivity. That is what luxury is about. If you can do that from an accessible price point and if you can do it at a very high standard, that is good enough to be true luxury. What it takes to maintain this perception of exclusivity is interesting, because nothing in the modern luxury industry is really exclusive. If it were exclusive, it wouldn’t be an industry. We are talking about businesses that have to grow fast, and growth is the exact opposite of exclusivity. And true luxury is very subjective. True luxury for Bill Gates is buying a set of Leonardo da Vinci drawings, true luxury for middle class consumers is buying a Hermès handbag – there are a million shades of difference between one definition and the other.

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This is what I have previously referred to as the megabrand bathtub: we have a big bathtub and the tub is producing new consumers coming into the megabrand market. New consumers, especially if they are rich, stay in the megabrand bathtub to the point that they realise that middle-class consumers buy the same brands that they do. Then they either trade up within those brands, or they trade up to more expensive brands that they perceive to be more exclusive.

This is also going to be compounded by what I call the category spend shift in which rich new consumers will go through various categories and at some point, they will have so many products in their wardrobes that they will start spending money on something else. Which leads to the discussion about experiences – going on exclusive holidays and sending their kids to universities in England or colleges in Switzerland, buying second homes and holiday houses and then buying planes to reach them.

Male models in Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2017 collection

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2017

I think as consumers get closer to what an established rich person does and is, then they tend to spend less on luxury goods products, not more. There is a fundamental misunderstanding that luxury is for the rich. Luxury goods products are for people who get richer. They go through a time when they splurge and they have to buy their products necessary to fill their wardrobes and then they go into replacement mode. I think that many Chinese consumers, many of whom were early adopters, have now moved into replacement mode already. The reason why we are all talking about the shift from gold to steel in watches, and lower entry price points, is because luxury goods today are predominantly relevant for middle-class consumers. The bulk of the new growth is coming from middle-class consumers who may have a lot of ambition and desire but only limited spending power. They buy cheaper and less exclusive products than their earlier peers. The consumption of luxury goods does always penetrate down a market from the top, though. You start with the richest consumers, then you work your way down to the middle class, which is where we are today in China.

Read next: President of LVMH watch brands Jean-Claude Biver on luxury’s new culture

At the top, there is a small number of people who need to have very special services and products specifically for them. And new consumers have upped their learning curve. They buy more frequently than established consumers and therefore their experience grows faster. New consumers also have more sources to learn about their purchases, via social media and the internet, than used to be the case. Far from being a market where consumers are just shifting to high-end brands, which was the case three to four years ago, in today’s market even if you are in the high end, you are doomed if you stay static. If you just sell iconic products, consumers who have been in the market for a while will have already bought them. They will only part with their money if you give them something that they don’t have. That’s why there has been a race to replace directors; and why Gucci has totally thrown away the past and moved on to new aesthetics, taking a huge risk, which is proving successful. And this is why Louis Vuitton, by the way, is successful – because it developed cleverly isolated ‘in your face’ products that have infiltrated the market with capsule collections.


Reading time: 4 min

Ski season is in full swing, and there’s nothing like nestling around a dining table in your own apartment on the slopes, sipping at your own magnum of Brunello di Montlcino in privacy with your nearest and dearest, exchanging tales of the day’s adventures. However, until recently, the casual Alpine skier without the good fortune to own a home in St Moritz or Zermatt, would risk suffering for their hobby. In contrast to North America, ski apartments in Europe were patchy at best, cramped and devoid of service – and still expensive – at worst.

Then, French hospitality group Pierre & Vacances began constructing its own, purpose-built, resort and apartment complexes, with all the panache of the best ski-in, ski-out properties in North America. Arc 1950, L’Amara in Avoriaz, and Les Terraces d’Helios above Flaine, all in the French Alps, are delightful, contemporary developments, with five-star hotel-style service, spas, bars, pools and – most importantly of all – properly designed ski-in, ski-out facilities. More are in the pipeline, meaning you don’t have to buy a $10m apartment in the Engadine to enjoy high standards in your “own place” on the slopes. Darius Sanai speaks to Martine Balouka-Valette, Chief Executive Officer of Tourism at Pierre & Vacances, about the Alps and other holiday trends.

Martine Balouka-Valette Luxury Leaders

Martine Balouka-Valette

LUX: When we first saw one of your properties (in the recently-developed resort of Arc 1950 in France) we couldn’t help but be reminded of the holistic architecture of top North American resorts like Breckenridge and Whistler. Is that your inspiration – do you bring some North American standards to Europe?
Martine Balouka-Valette: No, I don’t think I would say that. We are inspired by our own architecture! For example, we are planning to develop a new destination, Aime 2000 in the resort of La Plagne, with the architects Wilmotte & Associates [whose projects include new elements of the Elysée Palace, Louvre Museum and Musée d’Orsay in Paris]. It will be of a very high standard, our own style, and it will open in 2019.

Read next: On board Africa’s most luxurious train

LUX: A couple of decades ago, wealthy British people, in particular, would think nothing of piling into shared ski accommodation which was of a far lower standard than their residences at home. Is there now a trend of consumers moving more towards the luxury end of ski accommodation?
Martine Balouka-Valette: Yes. They don’t want to have less than what they have at home. It means that now we are going more and more premium. Price is not an issue – at all. They are looking for services. And we are cementing that, because we need to meet their expectations. It’s key for us. When you are a family you now expect a certain type of product. When you are young and you want to sing and dance and ski and you want to have very good time, it’s slightly different. Families expect us to take care of the children in order to allow the parents to spend time in the spa and skiing. They are comfortable and feel secure that we can take care of their kids. We have developed various products in order for people to enjoy their vacations their own individual time.

L'Amara ski resort

L’Amara, Avoriaz

LUX: What about Asia? Is that something that is important for you?
Martine Balouka-Valette: Yes, we have signed an agreement with HNA Tourism Group (Hainan Airlines) that own 10% of Pierre et Vacances Center Parcs in total, to develop the Center Parcs concept in China. We have an agreement that the outline is to build four projects in the next 3 years. And we also plan to develop a Chinese mountain resort because they are very fond of our facilities at Avoriaz in France. I think with the 2022 Winter Olympics (in Beijing) in mind they want to create a new destination on the mountain that can be completed with new apartments that they have in the mountain, to convert it into a ski resort destination.

L'Amara, Avoriaz

Inside one of the luxury residences of L’Amara

LUX: You mentioned Chinese skiers enjoying Avoriaz – is that is a big potential market? The Chinese in Europe, skiing?
Martine Balouka-Valette: Yes. They love our resorts in France; for example in summer they enjoy coming to Center Parcs to enjoy the Loire castles. They enjoy the mountains, and in Paris we have Adagio (apart-hotels) with more than 5,000 apartments, they are very fond of this type of destination. So the three brands (Pierre & Vacances, Center Parcs, Adagio) meet the expectations of the Chinese clientele; we are pretty sure it is an upcoming market for us. I think it can be a very important business but we have to be careful that we balance between the domestic market and the Chinese market because otherwise the other clientele will disappear because when you have a dominant clientele, it’s not appealing.

Read next: Eric Favre, MD of The Alpina Gstaad on the simplicity of true luxury

LUX: With all the disruptors in the industry, are you optimistic about the future of the type of tourism you specialise in?
Martine Balouka-Valette: I am the CEO of the group so I cannot tell you that there is no future in our business! (…) Our locations are very good. They have space. I think our main competitor will increasingly be Air B and B or One Fine StayOne Fine Stay. This type of business is becoming a competitor for us, apart from the hotel business. But of course there is a future because as a brand what we offer is secure and safe. We have the services there, and we do not cheat our clientele. We are not proposing services that we cannot provide. So there is a real future for this type of business – more and more so. And [regarding upmarket wintersports accommodation] we are the leader. And our goal is to remain the leader in this category. That is why we continue to upgrade our accommodation because that is where the market is.


Reading time: 5 min
Donna Huanca installation
Super-collector Anita Zabludowicz founded the Zabludowicz Collection in the early 1990s with her husband, Poju, to support the works of emerging contemporary artists across the globe.With over 5,000 works by 500 artists, the Zabludowicz Collection moved to a permanent home in a former Methodist church in Camden, London, when husband and wife ran out of space on their walls at home; it holds regular exhibitions and live shows. She also creates initiatives for artists without commercial gallery representation, and funds art education programs. In the latest of our Luxury Leaders series Zabludowicz, a regular star in the Art Review Power 100 list of the most powerful people in the art world, speaks to Kitty Harris about nurturing artists, whether art has to be beautiful, and what her desert island artwork would be.
Zabludowicz collection

Public day at Zabludowicz collection. Image by David Bebber

LUX: What gave you the idea to start collecting?
Anita Zabludowicz: As a collector you don’t know that you’re actually going to become a collector. In the 90s my husband, Poju, and I went to see a Contemporary Art show called ‘High and Low’ in New York. We had never really seen the works of Claes Oldenburg, and Jeff Koons mixed with Pablo Picasso and Roy Lichtenstein. We thought, “that was really amazing, maybe we can do that.” Poju said to me “okay, but you need to go and study, do your homework and learn.” In the late 90s there was a sudden movement towards contemporary art, a new kind of revolution. We met Nick Serota then, while he was building the Tate and he introduced us to Thomas Dane, the architect of our collection. We started collecting Richard Prince photography, the Dusseldorf school like Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Thomas Struth and Thomas Ruff.

LUX: For your own enjoyment and to put up in your house?
Anita Zabludowicz: Yes, exactly until there was too much of it. That’s when you know you’re a collector, when you can’t fit everything on your walls!

Read next: Journeying through Southern Africa on Rovos Rail

LUX: What made you make that leap from a private collection to a public one?
Anita Zabludowicz: I felt very guilty having young artist’s installations in storage and a responsibility to show the works. At that time no one was showing works like these because it was too risky for museums. I saw a gap in the art world and these young artists, who really are geniuses, needed a platform to be seen.

Anita Zabludowicz art collector

Anita Zabludowicz

LUX: Why did you start the residency program in Finland?
Anita Zabludowicz: So that our artists in residence are able to progress their practice as much as possible. We have usually worked with the artist before they do a residency and we tailor it to whatever they wish to do.

LUX: Is that very important to you, to nurture artists?
Anita Zabludowicz: That is the most important thing, so that they continue to grow. And so that when we are with them, they are getting something out of us.

Read next: Fawaz Gruosi on black diamonds and innovation

LUX: What’s coming up next year that you can tell us about now?
Anita Zabludowicz: ‘Invites’ is on now with a very interesting, young, Dutch painter, Willem Weismann. And we also have Donna Huanca which is really something mind blowing. She has used sound and infra-red so that you are actually interacting with the exhibition. Early next year we have ‘Testing Ground’ where we do a master class with four or five major artists, someone like John Stezaker , teaching younger artists. They do a lecture, they teach them, they critique them. Then we bring in the MA classes from the Royal College of art and John Cass (the colleges change each year) who work together to curate a show of the collection. It’s really refreshing and amazing because they are not marred by the market. Our photography show is at the end of March and it’s about the invisibility of the picture. It is going to be quite unique and different. Haroon Mirza will be our solo show in September. He works with digital and analogue and is a real meta modern artist, working with collaging information.

Haroon Mirza

The system blue by Haroon Mirza

LUX: Have you noticed any, or are you nurturing any trends?
Anita Zabludowicz: We don’t nurture trends but we are fascinated by new movements in the world that came from all different directions. For instance, last year, if you can call it a trend, we did a more digital, technological show with Jon Rafman who made a virtual reality film. It was probably the first time this country had seen virtual reality so we had queues around the block.

LUX: Does art have to be beautiful?
Anita Zabludowicz: Beautiful art is fantastic and gorgeous and it is so decorative. But for us, it’s about what’s behind that work of art. There is so much depth, thought and history and that’s what makes your mind expand and think. That’s what art is all about.

Donna Huanca installation

Donna Huanca

Read next: Salvatore Ferragamo on the art of fine wine

LUX: You’re more interested in an artist’s cultural value, not their market value. How do you think the art market affects an artist?
Anita Zabludowicz: The art market is a very strange phenomenon where artists are kind of forced to mass produce. It’s supply and demand and they are adhering to the demand. Then everything just loses its sense of reality. I don’t like to get too much involved when that is happening. It’s too hard. It’s too difficult. It’s too sad.

LUX: There is a new law and you are only allowed to have one work of art – what would you keep?
Anita Zabludowicz: Oh my God! It would be a work by Anj Smith, she’s not that well known but she is the most talented painter I’ve ever come across. I suppose every woman in some way desires jewellery but the most desirable thing to me is a painting of hers.


Reading time: 5 min
Florence-born Fawaz Gruosi spent years working with diamond expert Harry Winston in Saudi Arabia, learning the intricacies of the industry from within. In 1993 he launched his own brand, de Grisogono in fine jewellery’s capital, Geneva. Despite his lack of formal training, Gruosi is now widely considered one of the most creatively daring, sales savvy and charming jewellery designers on the modern market. He speaks to Millie Walton about black diamonds, celebrity endorsements and the need for experimentation.
Models Kate Moss and Helena Christensen pictured with Fawaz Gruosi

Kate Moss, Fawaz Gruosi and Helena Christensen

Fawaz Gruosi at Eden Roc cocktail party in Cannes

LUX: What do you think makes de Grisogono so successful?
Fawaz Gruosi: De Grisogono is characterised by unique and playful design codes. I like people to feel glamorous in my creations and while I have the greatest respect for them, I am not bound by the conventions of traditional jewellery design; at de Grisogono we like to take risks. When you wear de Grisogono you are making a statement, I think this is what makes us stand out.

LUX: Which markets are most interesting in the luxury world at the moment?
Fawaz Gruosi: We are currently expanding our offering in the Middle East and we are also looking into Asia. In Europe, London remains an important market; our Flagship opened in February 2016 and deeply reflects our brand aesthetics and my personal roots. The plan of the store references the typical Florentine villa – where I grew up – with three distinctive rooms: the Corte, the Grande Sala and the Stanza Del Tempo. The space uses chiaroscuro – playing with light and dark, texture and colour – to add interest to the room and create playful backdrop to the jewellery and watches.

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de Grisgono founder and creative director pictured with milla jovovich

Milla Jovovich with Fawaz Gruosi at Cannes in 2002

LUX: How do you compete against historic jewellery brands?
Fawaz Gruosi: We do not compete against historic jewellery brands, what we offer is completely different. We are often described as ‘daring’ and ‘trailblazing’ thanks to the fact that my approach does not conform to the rigours of traditional jewellery design. Our clients come to us because they know they will find something different. I made my name by experimenting at a time when the market was tired of traditional pieces that looked more or less the same. My designs are bold and colourful, we mix semi-precious with precious stones to create unexpected, unusual and beautiful pieces.

LUX: How has the fine jewellery world changed since you first entered it?
Fawaz Gruosi: At the beginning, many people were wary of my approach to high jewellery but now people are actively seeking more daring and challenging designs. Conventional design has given way to greater creative freedom.

LUX: You’re famous for pioneering the use of the “black diamond”, what inspired that innovation?
Fawaz Gruosi: I was entranced by the story of the historic Black Orlov, a monumental black diamond. I began to research black diamonds which had been rejected by the industry, largely because they are extremely challenging to cut. I found them intriguing, captivating, and any other gemstone is immediately enhanced by the dark sparkle of black diamonds, creating one of the most striking chiaroscuro effect. In 1996, de Grisogono launched a collection devoted to the black diamond. It was perfectly pitched at a moment when monochrome minimalism was very fashionable, sparking a massive global jewellery style-trend for black diamonds which continues unabated today.

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LUX: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as the founder and creative director of a luxury brand?
Fawaz Gruosi: The marriage between business and creative approach – thankfully we seem to have struck the right balance.

LUX: How important are celebrity endorsements for de Grisogono?
Fawaz Gruosi: The glamour of celebrity has greatly helped to shape our identity. The tone was set when the first de Grisogono boutique was opened in Geneva in 1993 at a party attended by Sophia Loren. Since then, we have been lucky to play host to many of the world’s most beautiful and famous women who have attended our parties and worn our jewels – Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Sharon Stone to name a few. Throughout the years, we have built lasting friendships with celebrities. By personally choosing de Grisogono for their red carpet moment, they express their love and passion for exclusive, distinctive, dazzling jewellery. This year during Cannes, we were delighted to see Bella Hadid and Kim Kardashian wearing our jewellery, as well as Jourdan Dunn, Milla Jovovich, Toni Garn and Natasha Poly.

Kim Kardashian with de Grisogono founder

Kim Kardashian and Fawaz Gruosi in Cannes

de Grisgono founder pictured with Liz Hurley

Fawaz Gruosi with Liz Hurley in Gstaad

LUX: When you look back on your career, what are you most proud of?
Fawaz Gruosi: I am most proud of the de Grisogono family. My closest team members are at my side for 10, 20 years now. We are just like a family and know exactly how each other works and I am proud of each and every one of them.

LUX: What lies ahead for the brand?
Fawaz Gruosi: We continue to expand into new territories and next year will be exciting in terms of some of the high jewellery creations we plan to unveil.

LUX: How do you relax?
Fawaz Gruosi: I have been so busy in the recent years that relaxing is a true luxury! But a perfect way to relax would be spending time with my family, in Porto Cervo or St. Moritz/Gstaad during winter, listening to music or cooking pasta for big groups of friends at home!


Reading time: 4 min
Tuscany Wine Estate
Salvatore Ferragamo has been an Italian luxury legend ever since its footwear was adopted by Hollywood sirens in the 1920s. Recently, Ferruccio Ferragamo, son of the eponymous founder and currently president of the company, and his own son Salvatore, have ventured into the world of fine wine and hospitality (following in the footsteps of Ferruccio’s younger brother Massimo, who owns the Castiglion del Bosco wine estate and luxury hotel). As part of our Luxury Leaders series, Salvatore Ferragamo speaks to LUX about restoring the medieval Tuscan village of Il Borro, ponders luxury’s demand for authenticity, and reveals his favourite Italian dish.
Ferragamo family restore medieval village Il Borro

Salvatore with his father Ferruccio Ferragamo

LUX: What kind of experience does Il Borro offer guests and what makes it unique compared to other luxury estates?
Salvatore Ferragamo: Il Borro is truly unique because at the heart of the estate lies a medieval hamlet, dating back 1000 years which has been transformed into luxurious suites and villas through careful and respectful restoration. Authenticity is the cornerstone of all past and present activities at Il Borro. This place is one of a kind because of its tradition, at Il Borro, history, art, Tuscan culture and nature offer exclusive experiences and atmosphere that are impossible to find anywhere else.

I refer, for instance, to our Wine & Art Gallery, an artistic description of the history of wine through my father’s collection of prints and artworks from the 15th century to the present day which include works by Mantegna, Goya, Rembrandt, as well as modern artists like Warhol and Picasso. The gallery introduces guests to our cellars, which have been enlarged to enable a higher production of wine, yet still represent a respectful extension of the area beneath the 19th century villa.

At Il Borro we take care of our soil with an old-standing organic method and all our products are both pesticide and preservative free. We harvest the grapes, go horse-riding on the estate, pick olives and cultivate vegetables in a spectacular one-hectare garden. Il Borro is a lively place, where we work the land to reap the fruits that our customers can taste in the Tuscan recipes prepared by our chef, Andrea Campani.

And of course there is a relaxation area, with eco-friendly pools and a spa free of machines, where guests can enjoy a range of treatments carried out by our professional team.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”9″ gal_title=”ferragamo”]

Read next: Motoring Maverick Joe Macari’s investing in classic cars

LUX: What inspired the project of Il Borro Ferragamo wine estate?
Salvatore Ferragamo: It was the history of this place – all we had to do was bring the traditions of this land back to life. Our vineyards are spread over about 50 hectares and we make 4 red wines in total; Il Borro, Polissena, Pian Di Nova and Alessandro dal Borro, our white wine Lamelle is 100% Chardonnay. We also make an exquisite Vin Santo and the jewel in the crown of our wine cellar, Bolle di Borro, a sparkling Sangiovese Rosé made in the classic method.

LUX: How do you compete against more established names and estates in the world of winemaking?
Salvatore Ferragamo: We do this through authenticity and excellence. We could produce three times as much wine, but instead we prefer to offer a product of the highest quality. We don’t exploit our land, we take care of it. Our wines are the result of oenological research, aimed at making premium wines through challenging combinations and effectively looking after the grapes of our territory. On top of all this, we have a unique place: the medieval hamlet where our guests can enjoy an unforgettable experience in an authentic atmosphere, with all the comforts.

Ancient wine cellars of Il Borro

Salvatore Ferragmo pictured in the Il Borro wine cellars

LUX: How has the rise of digital marketing and social media affected the way you approach business?
Salvatore Ferragamo: Digital marketing and social media are the tools of today and they represent a great opportunity for us. Every day we strive to make improvements, using creativity and lots of energy. They offer us the opportunity to communicate in real time and with emotional impact all of Il Borro’s values: hospitality, winemaking, food, health, nature, history, and traditions.

Read next: Frieze founder Matthew Slotover on the future of culture

LUX: Have you always been passionate about wine?
Salvatore Ferragamo: I can’t think of a time when there wasn’t a bottle of wine on my family’s table. Wine is part of Tuscan culinary traditions and being a food lover I cannot imagine dinner, and sometimes even lunch, without a bottle of good wine. Taking care of Il Borro’s winery just came naturally. The best moment of my day is when I start work with a walk through the vineyards.

LUX: Wine and hospitality are relatively new territories for the Ferragamo family. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to face along the way?
Salvatore Ferragamo: Yes, that’s true. But some elements are not new to my family: the Made in Italy mission, craftsmanship, and the Tuscan lifestyle. Il Borro encapsulates all of these elements. The real challenge at Il Borro is respecting the estate, the land and its gifts, through innovations on which we invest considerably, to preserve the authenticity and, at the same time, offer high quality hospitality.

Andrea Campani heads the kitchens at Il Borro

Chef Andrea Campani is renowned for his grilled dishes prepared in a large artisanal oven

LUX: Is your name a passport or a burden?
Salvatore Ferragamo: My name is an honour…except when somebody thinks that I’m “the shoemaker of dreams”, that was my grandfather!

Having said that, I am fortunate to have examples of very successful entrepreneurs within my family, and I can honestly say that it’s a great source of energy and a positive challenge.

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LUX: The Relais & Châteaux group, of which Il Borro is a member, is renowned for the best culinary hotels across the globe. What do you think makes food exceptional and what’s your favourite Italian dish?
Salvatore Ferragamo: This is a difficult question, since food, like wine, is a sort of magic. The creativity of a wine-maker or a chef together with high quality ingredients that, in the end, make the difference.

My favourite Italian dish… another difficult question. Probably Tagliatelle with Wild Boar Ragù in winter and Risotto with Tomatoes and Burrata Cheese in summer followed by a barbecue of our Chianina beef.

LUX: How do the other aspects of the Ferragamo family business influence the running of the Estate? Do you see it as a collaborative project?
Salvatore Ferragamo: We prefer to keep the two family businesses separate, however, I would say it is the strong core of business and entrepreneurship which has been inherited from Salvatore Ferragamo (my grandfather) to my father and my father to me, and of course the Ferragamo name, which links the two together.

LUX: Does Tuscany hold any particular relevance for the Ferragamo family?
Salvatore Ferragamo: Tuscany is my land even though my grandfather was from Naples and my mother is English. This is where I grew up, where my family established the brand, and also where a large part of the new Ferragamo generation lives. Tuscany represents Ferragamo’s creative inspiration at all levels, and we are very proud to be recognised as one of the leading Tuscan/Italian brands in the world.

Read next: Driving through the Italian countryside with Jude Law

LUX: How has the world of luxury hospitality evolved in recent years?
Salvatore Ferragamo: I think there is a growing demand for authenticity. Travellers seem to be less interested in serial/signature hotel concepts, and the magnificent but cold buildings without history, without a soul. Travellers want to live and feel the experience alongside luxury and this offers a truly unique opportunity.

Outdoor activities at Il Borro Tuscan estate

Activities at Il Borro include horse riding, cooking classes, trekking, golf, tennis and mountain biking

LUX: What’s next for Il Borro?
Salvatore Ferragamo: We have so many exciting projects in the pipeline, most notably: the launch of a 100% organic wine; the opening of Il Borro Tuscan Bistro in Dubai, the first restaurant in our franchising project, with the aim of eventually taking Il Borro’s Tuscan cuisine and wines around the world; the implementation of the biological production of our honey; and we also plan to provide Il Borro with an olive oil mill to produce our own biological extra virgin oil.

LUX: How do you manage to balance work and pleasure?
Salvatore Ferragamo: I believe I’m lucky, because I love my job. I could never have spent my days behind a desk. Since I love going horse-riding and playing golf, everything is within reach here at Il Borro and I can easily make the most of the little free time I have, doing what I love!


Reading time: 7 min
Joe Macari is one of the most renowned names in the classic car business, his showroom in London a wonderland of racing cars, supercars and hypercars of all eras, plus the occasional dalek. A racing driver and car nut himself who spends much of his time crisscrossing the world to secure multimillion dollar deals on automotive rarities, Macari has high net worth customers all over the globe and cuts a flamboyant figure commuting to work in his $3m 1960s Ferrari Daytona Spider, cigarette firmly planted in mouth. Macari also has an official Ferrari and Maserati servicing workshop, and was recently appointed an Approved Ferrari pre-owned dealer. For our Luxury Leaders series he speaks to Darius Sanai about his maverick reputation, Brexit, and the hottest cars to buy now.
Joe Macari Ferrari dealer showroom

The Joe Macari Showroom. Image by Dylan Morris

LUX: How is the classic car sales business? Are modern classics important, or just incidental?
Joe Macari: I would argue that the classic car business is as strong as it has ever been! classic cars are now, more than ever, seen as a very strong alternative asset class, with a series of incredibly strong auction results proving that people are willing to pay good money for good cars.

LUX: Is the younger generation as passionate about the mechanics of cars as the older, and is that a problem?
Joe Macari: I think that there will always be a huge proportion of young people who take a keen interest in mechanics, it’s a timeless interest that evolves with the leaps and bounds technology takes over the course of time. I don’t think we’re in any danger of experiencing a shortage of petrol-head technicians any time soon.

Read next: LUX test drives the Rolls Royce Wraith

LUX: Are people more or less into racing than they were when you started out?
Joe Macari: I think racing has become more popular and accessible. F1 has obviously changed massively over the last few years, and my perception is that the changes have led to a migration of sorts. People seem to be more and more interested in events like Goodwood Revival and other classic car racing events in order for them to get their fix of unadulterated, noisy, raw racing.

LUX: How has the typical buyer changed over the decades?
Joe Macari: Certain areas of the world have changed tastes over the years. For example, the Middle East is really waking up to how investable the classic car market is. Obviously there have always been a number of collectors from the Middle East who have sought after classic cars, but there seems to be a broadening in the consumer demographic. Ultimately though, the buyers haven’t changed a great deal. Every single person who buys anything from me shares a burning passion, one I quite obviously hold very dearly, and have used their passion to drive themselves to a level of success whereby they are in a position to buy into their dream. Very few industries share that trait.

LUX: What is hot in the market right now?
Joe Macari: Ferrari are the pinnacle of the classic car market, almost every variant of the 250 sits at over £1m. The Testarossa (particularly the Monospecchio) and the 206/246 Dino are two cars that are picking up value very quickly. Anything limited Edition from Ferrari tends be a safe investment; the 288 GTO, F40, F50, Enzo, Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia, 599 GTO, LaFerrari and F12 TDF’s have all picked up value hugely from their list price and seem to be continuing to rise in value.

Read next: Motoring with Jude Law

LUX: Is the classic car market overheated?
Joe Macari: Not in my opinion, were that to be the case we’d be seeing average cars sell for huge money and a quick browse of recent Auction Results will show you that people hold provenance and condition of the cars in high regard. If a car has very obvious flaws, it won’t make money. If a car has questionable history, it won’t sell.
If we ever reach a point where very obviously terrible cars are being sold for far more than they’re worth, then there would be cause for concern, but until then I firmly believe the market to be the healthiest it’s ever been.


Left to right: Joe Macari & Tom Kristensen after their win at Goodwood Revival. Image by Andrew Gill

LUX: Some 1950s and 60s Ferraris sell for multimillions. Will the newer ones ever do so (even the limited editions)?
Joe Macari: Undoubtedly so, it all boils down to the relationship between supply and demand. The supply of past-generation Ferraris remains fixed, however as the younger generation reaches financial maturity the demand for these cars increases, resulting in rising price. We saw a LaFerrari  sell for $4.7m at Pebble Beach in August, who knows where they’ll be in 10 years time!

LUX: Do people really buy the cars they hankered after when they were kids – does that mean the 50s and 60s cars will drop in price as their owners get old/pass away?
Joe Macari: Not at all! The value these cars have accrued has given them serious kudos amongst the younger generation, I can’t conceive of a time when a 250 GTO or California Spyder are seen as “just another old Ferrari”, they are primarily works of art, and much like art they will continue to cause a reaction and be desired by many.

Read next: Rustic luxury on the coast of Devon

LUX: What gives you the greatest pleasure in your business?
Joe Macari: Witnessing the transformation a car goes through during restoration. We take a car in average condition at best and pour our blood, sweat and tears into making it as beautiful as it was the day it rolled off the production line. I can think of few feelings as totally satisfying as seeing a customer’s face when they see their “new” car for the first time.

LUX: What makes you most frustrated?
Joe Macari: Potential not being utilized to its fullest extent. When someone isn’t doing as good a job as I know they’re capable of doing I get very frustrated. I don’t tolerate carelessness because in my mind the only reason one gets involved in the motor industry is because they have a passion for it, if you aren’t working at your best then you’re clearly not passionate about it.

Porsche Carrera RS pictured in Joe Macari showroom

A Porsche Carrera RS. Image by Dylan Morris

LUX: Do you purchase many cars and hold them back before selling? What car would you like to purchase for your business, that you haven’t done already?
Joe Macari: The only reason that would happen is if we’re planning on restoring a vehicle, we have storage with a number of cars in varying stages of restoration but very rarely, if ever, would we buy a car simply to hold it off market and then sell it at a later date as space is a very valuable commodity.

Read next: The MD of the Alpina Gstaad on modern luxury

LUX: What is the effect of Brexit on your business?
Joe Macari: I think we’ve been relatively fortunate, obviously we specialise in LHD (left hand drive) cars which means that due to the swaying currency our cars became cheaper for Europeans quite literally overnight. A large proportion of our clientele tends to be relatively immune to financial shocks, so the demand for high performance cars is still very much alive.

Ferrari Daytona Sypders pictured in the Joe Macari showroom

Four Ferrari Daytona Spyders. Image by Dylan Morris

LUX: Some years back you became an official Ferrari service centre, and now you are an official Ferrari approved used car dealer – is this significant and what does it mean?
Joe Macari: Above all else it bestows a huge sense of confidence onto our clients that we are supplying the absolute best product that we possibly can be. The fact that before we sell a car we’re able to perform Ferrari Approved Servicing and Sales Prep, as well as provide the customer with ongoing maintenance support, puts us in a position that very few other people find themselves in, and ultimately makes our business unique amongst a host of other very competitive businesses.

LUX: People refer to you as a maverick. What does that mean?
Joe Macari: I suppose people see the showroom and the service centre & imagine they’re run by someone in a suit; I think seeing me with greasy fingers and a cigarette in my hand comes across as a bit of a juxtaposition when in actual fact I like to lead from the front. I gain more pleasure from putting a car back together than pretty much anything else on earth, why would I turn my back on my roots?

Read next: A guide to drinking and dining in East London

LUX: You have good personal relationships with your big customers. Is that important?
Joe Macari: Relationships are without question the most important aspect of any business, anywhere. The friendships I have forged over my years in the industry are far more important than any deal I’ve ever done, the fact that people trust me enough to return to me for business is something I don’t take lightly, it spurs me on to maintain the standards I have become known for.

LUX: How do you secure the cars you want, when everyone wants them?
Joe Macari: By building relationships and gaining trust. Everyone knows that if they need a car, I can find it for them. They know that the car will undergo the highest possible level of scrutiny and ultimately I have cultivated an environment around me and my business whereby people selling through me know that they’re getting the best deal they possibly can. Everything lies in relationships and trust!


Reading time: 8 min
Michael Wainwright boodle fine jeweller

Michael Wainwright is Managing Director and co-owner of Boodles, the British society jeweller, which has nine stores in London and its heartland of northwest England. Soon after the opening of the brand’s spectacular new flagship on London’s Old Bond Street, he spoke to LUX  as part of our on-going Luxury Leaders series, about Britishness, the retail experience, and possibly going to America.

Michael Wainwright co-owner of British brand Boodles

Michael Wainwright

LUX: What is the state of play for the luxury industry?
Michael Wainwright: Our business is less tied to the economy than you might think. We are more dependent on wealthier people who don’t lose their wealth overnight. My thinking these days, after years of economic crises, is fairly optimistic. The prognosis is pretty good for the luxury goods and jewellery sector. The world is a richer place than it has ever been and people will continue buying.

LUX: Boodles is the only significant British jeweller and one of the only family-owned ones anywhere. How important is that?
Michael Wainwright: Britishness is important to our business. British people like to deal with a British brand and our overseas clients love to deal with “Britishness”. British clients account for 75% of our business. Telling the British story is important for us, and also the family story: we are a family business, and maybe we don’t tell that story enough.

Read next: LVMH and Hublot’s leading man, Jean-Claude Biver on personalising luxury 

Refurbished Boodles store on bond street

The Boodles boutique on Bond Street

Mayfair Boodles store interiors

Inside the newly refurbished Boodles boutique

LUX: Are there disadvantages to being British?
Michael Wainwright: There are disadvantages to not being overseas. Lots of brands have presence in Hong Kong, Dubai and Paris. Clients see their brand everywhere; it’s a huge head start. But now there are quite a few Middle Easterners looking for more localized niche brands, which is an advantage for us. They don’t want a brand that is in every mall in the Middle East. Asians still are more about following the herd, but that will change.

Ring from the Raindance collection by Boodles

Raindance Ring

LUX: What are your views on e-commerce?
Michael Wainwright: Only one percent of our sales are e-commerce at the moment, which is not high, but it is growing fast. I think it has potential to reach four to five percent. Most people will want to experience the story, to touch and see things. Online is a very cheap sale, which is very profitable. But in a shop, you have the chance of making an add-on sale, you build a relationship. If a customer buys online, you may never see them again. It doesn’t build the brand experience. Relationships are absolutely fundamental to business.

Read next: British businessman, Javad Marandi talks investment philosophy and strategy

LUX: What’s the greatest challenge you face?
Michael Wainwright: The Walpole Group (the British luxury association) recently noted there are two hurdles to growing a business: one at £20m (annual turnover) and one at £80-100m. We are now at the second hurdle, we are a £80m turnover business. We don’t feel we can build to the next stage just by being in the UK. We are very involved in our business as a family and we have not yet really learned the art of delegation, which is what is required if you are overseas. We would need to pick the right partners for, for example, opening in New York or the Middle East. We would need to acquire those skills of delegation. It’s an interesting stage. These are big hurdles.


Reading time: 3 min