Yayoi Kusama Statue at the Veuve Clicquot Exhibition. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

Maison Veuve Clicquot has brought its travelling exhibition to London this May. Trudy Ross stepped out to Piccadilly Circus to interview CEO Jean-Marc Gallot amidst sunflowers, paintings, sculptures, and that iconic gleaming yellow 

LUX: Queen Victoria was the first British royal to order a direct shipment of Veuve Clicquot in the 19th century. Now in 2023, with a new monarch having just been crowned, the brand still has this presence in the heart of London. Can you speak to the brand’s long history with the Royal Family?

Jean-Marc Gallot: It is a very, very, long history. I think the first shipment for the royal family was in 1868. In one of the exhibition rooms upstairs we have a menu made especially for Queen Victoria’s son, Edward the 7th Prince of Wales. He gave us the Royal Warrant in 1905, so, I would say, we have a very strong link and history with the UK.

The Maison was created in 1722, so we celebrated 250 years last year. The first shipment to the UK was in 1773, 250 years ago. So there is a long, long story between Veuve Clicquot and the UK. Out of the nine female artists we have here, two are British. We have Cece Philips and Rosie McGuinness, who have created their own portraits and interpretations of Madame Clicquot.

LUX: Throughout these 250 years, what do you think has changed about the brand and what has remained the same?

JMG: What remains today and will continue to remain, is the fact that we have an incredibly inspiring woman at the centre of our history. Madame Clicquot at her time was so courageous, determined, and audacious. She was a widow at 27 years old but her spirit, her audacity, and also this idea of being solaire, being radiant, is what remains in everything we do. It is a state of mind. Everyone from myself, the CEO, to my team, to everyone you will see here today from Maison Veuve Clicquot, works with this state of mind. I think it’s super important to have this spirit of being solaire, audacious and always surprising people. That is not going to change.

Display of Veuve Clicquot’s iconic designs through the years. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

What has changed? I would say that when you are so linked with the contemporary and the people around you, you also have to be very curious and try to evolve. So an example is right here: you have the very first ice jacket made by Veuve Clicquot. This first one was made 20 years ago out of diving costumes, but the ones we make now are made by the Saint Martins School of Business of 100% recycled plastic and this mono-material approach uses on average 30% less material than regular production. You can look at things we made 20 years ago and think, yes, this is nice, but we must continue to innovate, to respond to the times and move forward. Every single box that we make now in Veuve Clicquot is made out of 50% recycled paper and 50% hemp (not the hemp that people smoke!).

What we want to show here is that we have some duties to the world we live in. Not everyone is aware of the need for these things, so as a major brand we can help to act as an exemplar. This is what I am hoping to build with my team.

LUX: Your champagnes are offered at a range of price points. How do you balance keeping its luxurious and exclusive reputation whilst also ensuring it is accessible to a wider audience?

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JMG: I have been working for 34 years in the luxury world. I worked at companies like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Fendi, wonderful luxury names, and I know that luxury, for some people, means something that is not easy to get or seems unapproachable.

I don’t agree with that viewpoint at all. We have a collection of products, starting with the iconic yellow label, Brut, which is the most famous bottle of Veuve Clicquot, then you go to La Grande Dame which is at a much higher price point. Both of them however, embody the spirit of Clicquot, so it’s not a matter of price, it’s a matter of how desirable your brand is and how much you have built around the brand.

Take an exhibition like this, running for 3 weeks in the heart of central London. Some people in this area are on their way to very nice upmarket restaurants, and some are on their way to Tesco. Both will pass the exhibition, they will see these artists and learn about Madam Clicquot’s story, and then they will understand the dream, the spirit and the history of Veuve Clicquot.

Outside the Veuve Clicquot exhibition in Picadilly Square. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Can you tell us about the importance of art and the art world to Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: Actually, we are not really in the art world; I would say that we are in the design world. Design is not art, it is the way of making a beautiful object which is also functional, or building something beautiful around an object. When you sell bottles of champagne you have to build something really extraordinary. We love the beauty of objects and we believe that in champagne, since you have something precious inside the bottle, you have to make the outside of the bottle exciting as well. So we constantly are looking for the next idea, and there is no set recipe. It has to be a surprise, because more than anything else, we love the element of surprise.

LUX: Beyond this all female exhibition, Veuve Clicquot has many initiatives supporting gender equality, including supporting women entrepreneurs through your Bold Woman Award. Can you tell us more about this aspect of the brand?

JMG: This is the spirit of Veuve Clicquot. Fifty-one years ago one of my predecessors thought, what can we do for the 200 year anniversary of Maison Clicquot? They had an incredible inspiration and vision and said, why don’t we celebrate the spirit of woman entrepreneurs, why don’t we shine light on some inspiring women?

What we found out through running the Bold Woman Award was that for women there are many social barriers standing in the way of them running their own company or being independent. Veuve Clicquot is trying to fight against this because we believe there should be as many women entrepreneurs as men entrepreneurs.

The statistic is the following: 92% of women entrepreneurs believe and admit that they would love to have a role model, and only 15% of them can name one off the top of their head. We want to change this and help to inspire women. The first very inspiring woman entrepreneur was Madame Clicquot, and for the last 220 or 230 years, there have been many more women entrepreneurs that we want to shine a light on. It’s about sharing, inspiring and making the world more balanced between men and women.

Cece Phillips, Window Clicquot, 2022.Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: What is Madame Clicquot’s story and why is it so important to the brand?

JMG: You are in 1805 in France, in a very traditional, even noble family. You have faced a lot of challenges because twenty years ago was the French Revolution. You have a very nice husband who you love and a very severe and traditional father in law. Then you become a window overnight. Imagine: you basically don’t exist anymore. What are your options?

You could find another  husband, but instead you say “no, I’m going to take over the company. I’m going to run the company.” Everyone tells you not to, starting with your father-in-law. He says you are not capable of it, you cannot do it, you will not succeed at it. So, you are stuck.

If I had to describe Madame Clicquot, I would say she was  incredibly courageous, incredibly audacious and took huge risks. She teaches us that if you want to do something, just go for it. Never surrender.

LUX: The artworks that are on show here are reimagined portraits of Madame Clicquot. Can you tell me a little bit more about which ones are your favourite, and which one you think speaks to the values of Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: I have to say that I have a love for the Cece Phillips portrait in particular. You have the whole story there. You have a young woman sitting at her table, you see the vineyards through the window, you see that she is studying, very focussed but also very determined. She was writing a lot at the time, writing ideas, writing about the company. She was not travelling, but she was sending letters to all the customers around the world. This and the light, the vibrant, sunny appearance of it all, this is Clicquot.

I have to say, the portrait we have of Clicquot was taken when she was 84 years old and she looks a little bit severe! With all do respect to 80-year-old women, this was maybe not Madame Clicquot at her strongest period of life. Cece Phillips gets it all in one painting, you have the whole story in one, so it’s better than words.

Ines Longevial, Ghost Guest, 2022. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Beyond the artworks, what else interests you about the exhibition?

JMG: The statue of Yayoi Kusama is pretty impressive, but my favourite piece today here in London, which is not really in touch with the exhibition itself; it is the Sunny Side Cafe. I love it because this is actually when Clicquot meets British tradition and British culture.

LUX: The exhibition has been in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and now London. Where is next?

JMG: We started in Tokyo in June last year, and then we did three weeks in Los Angeles, and now it’s three weeks in London. Next year, we might go somewhere else, perhaps a continent we have not been to yet, perhaps South Africa.

LUX: What was the decision-making process behind choosing these three cities?

JMG: These are the three most important market places for Veuve Clicquot. I loved the idea of being in Tokyo because Japanese people are so refined. Then we went to the US and we didn’t want to go to New York because we thought we were going to be lost, and we love the vibes of LA so we went there. When we went to Europe we didn’t look for France – can you imagine me, a French guy, saying that! – but we decided to take it to London.

Yayoi Kusama, Twist with Madam Clicquot! Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Would you take it to France and if not why?

JMG: No, for a few reasons, actually. First we love to speak about our brand outside of our own country, and second because the UK is very important to us, and also because there are some legal constraints in France which wouldn’t allow us to make such an impression in an exhibition like we have here.

LUX: You have a lot of tradition and history behind you. In today’s market, with the younger generation coming up, what do you think are the key changes and the key ways that you’re going to have to adapt as a brand to appeal to these younger consumers?

JMG: We are a luxury maison, and I’m a strong believer that luxury is about what you offer rather than just marketing fast-moving consumer goods. We talked about how to surprise people, how to make people dream and feel that they are getting something that they are really inspired by. My point is that if we keep on being ourselves, being super creative and bringing excitement, I think that we can offer things that people will discover and appreciate, even if they are not tailored to their tastes.

Read more: Visual art and music meet in Shezad Dawood’s latest exhibition

If we start to do it the other way round and try to anticipate what it is that people expect, what they want or think they need, we lose our spirit and our soul. Of course, we need to listen to the younger generation, look at what they do, and how they behave to a certain extent. However, I don’t want to be obsessed with creating something that people will expect.

Find out more: solaireculture.veuveclicquot.com

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Reading time: 10 min
luxury hotel bedroom
luxury hotel bedroom

One of the hotel’s garden suites

The Jumeirah Carlton Tower is a London legend, recently lovingly refurbished. In an unmatched retail location in Knightsbridge, can it regain its 1960s glamour? Darius Sanai checks in to our Hotel of the Month

It’s peak pre-Christmas shopping season and the Jumeirah Carlton Tower is a short stroll from Harrods and Harvey Nichols and basically inside the Sloane Street branch of Hermès, preferred by locals to the Bond Street boutique for its more thoughtful buying. It’s also a dash from the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

What’s the lowdown?

Fashion week tribes all have their favourite hotels, and it’s safe to say that until the pandemic, the Jumeirah wasn’t on their radar. It was more old-fashioned luxury where international visitors sipped tea in the lounge while their kids came back from shopping at Hermès next door. All that changed with the biggest refurbishment in the hotel’s 60 year history, which happened during the lockdowns.

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Everything from the bar, to the public areas, to the restaurant, spa and rooms, has been recreated with a contemporary eye. That in turn refocusses attention on the standout points the hotel always had, but which became lost as its original star faded. It’s in Knightsbridge, right on Sloane Street, but overlooks a peaceful garden square and has views across the city from all sides, unlike any of its competitors. It has the biggest and best indoor pool in London, and, did we mention, it’s right next to Hermès?

italian restaurant

Al Mare Restaurant

The new Italian restaurant, Al Mare, takes the superstar corner position on the angle of Sloane Street. It’s a big, light, airy, New York midtown type of space, and it’s been transformed into a casual chic venue with just the right mix of both, like a grown up Soho House. We recommend one of the booths by the window, and picking from the imaginative and light options from the menu, like tuna tartar with oscietra caviar and ponzu – though there is plenty of comfort food also (we enjoyed a rigatoni al tartufo after a long night out).

You don’t need to go out though, as the hotel’s bar has been pole-vaulted into the top tier of London bars courtesy of an all-star bartending team and some very original cocktails, and relaxed, cool decor.

Getting horizontal

Our suite had a view along the length of the garden square, where we could see locals walking their dogs and children, from a great height: and across the rooftops to the whole of London, from the Battersea Power Station to the City. Even more striking were the bespoke touches: a Berluti shoe polish kit, slippers and products all monogrammed for us, as were the pillowcases. Delightful and very relaxing.

Read more: A tasting of Dalla Valle wines with the owners

Even more relaxing were the new poolside cabanas, replete with an excellent selection of magazines (including LUX). Given the conservatory feel of this huge indoor pool, on a sunny day in February you could settle down and pretend you were, well, somewhere sunny.

hotel swimming pool

The spa and swimming pool

Flipside

Staying at the Carlton Tower doesn’t have the bragging rights of nearby hotels like the Berkeley or the Lanesborough, but we feel that is going to change quite fast.

Rates: From £750 per night (approx. €900/$1,000)

Book your stay: jumeirah.com/london/the-carlton-tower

Darius Sanai

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palm trees and city skyline
cityscape

Image by Sterling Davis

As the art world’s elite flock to Los Angeles for Frieze art fair, Olivia Muniak, founder of catering company La Cura and LA resident, shares her guide on the best places to drink and dine around the city
woman holding plate of food

Olivia Muniak

Growing up in the restaurant business, I learned to appreciate the subtleties of what makes a restaurant succeed. I saw my parents transform a casual European cafe into New York’s coolest lunch spot after which they launched two chic Italian fine dining restaurants in the heart of Greenwich Village and having worked myself in pretty much every front of house position, I know how much hard work it takes to deliver an exceptional dining experience. It goes without saying that the food has to be good, but the best restaurants know that it’s also the lighting, the decor, the people that define their identity and keep clients coming back for more.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Since moving to Los Angeles in 2017 to set up my business La Cura, I’ve made it my priority to scope out the city’s best places to eat and below are just a few of my favourites. Some newly opened, other’s mainstays in my book.

Bicyclette

The sister restaurant to the famed French cafe République.

Stepping down into the bistro feels like midnight in Paris, it’s a lively, warm space and almost every seat in the house gets a peak into the kitchen. Reservations are a must and make sure you arrive a little early for an aperitif at the bar. The food is classic bistro style, but so thoughtfully prepared. The soft egg, onion tart and bouillabaisse are amongst my favourites. Whether you go for a bottle of wine, or by the glass (my tip: ask for half-pours so you can explore the by-the-glass list), talk to the sommelier for their recommendations.

bicyclettela.com

luxurious restaurant interiors

The interiors of Gigi’s Hollwood. Image: @gigis_la

Gigi’s Hollywood

A trendy favourite for a late night dinner that begins and ends with cocktails.

The emerald green and gold interior, and white tablecloths feel fresh and luxe in contrast to the sporty-clad staff – it’s a vibe and we’re all into it. The quintessential California-french menu has many hits including the baguette with butter and caviar, but the most unexpected dish, at least for LA, is the Schnitzel and it’s delicious. Be sure to make a reservation.

gigis.la

Read more: Michael Xufu Huang on Supporting Emerging Chinese Artists

Cafe Stella

A tiny garden restaurant tucked away behind an even better bar.

Go for dinner, plan to stay late for drinks, and possibly, a spot of dancing. The interior is a bit worn and rustic, but that’s what makes it cool. The menu is also French bistro style and has all the favourites: Moules frites, Steak frites, Poulet Roti and Sole meunière.

cafestella.com

Crudo e Nudo

A very casual “fish market” with sidewalk seating, natural wines and the best crudo you will ever taste – trust me!

Crudo e Nudo takes sustainable seafood sourcing  to a new level. The chef knows every fisherman that brings in the day’s catch, and how that fish was caught. You can see the Japanese influence on a very Californian menu in the seasoning of the dishes but also in the discipline in the way the food is prepared. It’s worth striking up a conversation with the chef who’s friendly face you’ll see at the counter. The menu rotates but you can always find these dishes: Vegan caesar with Furikake and  Tuna Toast.

crudoenudo.com

Read more: Koons, Kitsch & the Evolving Art Market

Grá Pizzeria

A funky local spot in the Echo Park area.

The interior is pared down with exposed brick and an open garden patio. A few things worth mentioning about the pizza: the dough is made with a long-fermentation sourdough recipe that the owner brought over from the UK, and cooks in a wood-burning stove so it’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. More importantly, it holds it shape when folded (a true sign of a quality pizza). The Margherita is my favourite but the seasonal pies are always worth a taste. The plate of prosciutto and green lovage salad should also be on your order.

xn--gr-nia.com

outdoor dining

The patio at Gjelina. Image: @gjelinarestaurant

Gjelina

A well-known spot but deserving of the hype.

The menu is a journey through California produce, with some of the most creative, seasonal vegetables, pizzas and pastas. As soon as a vegetable is not at it’s peak, it’s off the menu. Gjelina is equally great for brunch, lunch or a relaxed, yet elegant dinner. If you can’t get a reservation, try  their sister restaurant Gjusta, which doubles up as a deli.

gjelina.com

 

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Reading time: 4 min
luxury hotel
luxury hotel

The Royal Champagne is built into south-facing vineyards on the Montagne de Reims

In the final part of our luxury travel views series from the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks into Champagne’s newest and most luxurious hotel: the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa in Épernay

If the devil is in the detail, the Royal Champagne is a devil of a place. In the best possible way. What detail to pick on? The barista-style Italian espresso machine in the room? The pale-leather welcome box containing a bottle of boutique Leclerc Briant champagne in an ice bucket, two champagne glasses and some fruit slices? The delicate mesh on the light wood occasional table? So many.

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In truth, Champagne has been in need of this hotel forever. I have been visiting the region on business and pleasure for years, and the choice has been between a couple of old-school country luxe hotels with little in the way of contemporary pleasures, and an array of functional places wholly out of keeping with champagne (the drink) and its image of indulgence.

From the very start, it’s plain that the Royal Champagne is something else: an indulgent hotel created with extreme love and style (and budget) by deep-pocketed owners wanting the best and hang the cost. (That is my impression, and I challenge them to prove me wrong.)

spa swimming pool

The pool overlooks the champagne vineyards of Épernay

You approach from Reims by driving up the Montagne de Reims, the forest-topped big hill with vineyards on both sides that demarcates the territory between Reims and Épernay, the two capitals of Champagne. Through the forest at the top of the hill, onto a lane through the vineyards, and the hotel entrance appears out of nowhere.

The Royal is built into the hillside, a contemporary building and a feat of engineering beside the historic building that gives it its name.

Read more: LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai on Effective Climate Action

Inside, everything is light, open. The welcome is professional and swift, and our room, like all of them, faced out over the vineyards, with a big balcony and vista down to Épernay and to the hills of the Côte des Blancs beyond. The balcony table shaped as a hollow-sided mini-barrel was particularly cute. Inside, everything was generous, light grey, cream, gold: the big bathroom has a sliding wooden screen to the bedroom so you can bathe with a view.

The temptation to hang out in the beautiful bedrooms is extreme but should be resisted. A couple of levels below, an indoor pool stretches the length of the main building of the hotel, all with picture windows out to the vista; there are beds on pedestals at either end to relax on, as well as more conventional loungers all around, and on an expansive terrace outside there are more chill-out spaces and an outdoor pool, warmed to cope with the north European weather, on the edge of the vines.

luxury hotel bedroom

Then there’s the aptly named Le Bellevue restaurant, with a vast terrace with a view, where you can choose from an array of specialist champagnes and – amazing for the region – choose from a light, modern, organic-based menu. Bulgur and coriander tabbouleh, baked monkfish with chard risotto, that sort of thing. And do yourself a favour and allow the sommelier to choose for you from one of the small-grower champagnes: you may never have heard of them, because they only sell locally and make in tiny amounts.

The Royal Champagne is so good that it could be a destination hotel and resort for someone not interested in drinking champagne. It manages the trick of being desirable for couples, friends or families without overwhelming with one. The service is brilliant without being corporate (it’s not part of a group) and like another LUX favourite, the Alpina Gstaad, it redefines contemporary hôtellerie. It really is that good.

Book your stay: royalchampagne.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 3 min
floral design
wedding design inside conservatory

A botanical themed wedding designed by Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar

Iranian-born designer Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar does everything from interiors and architectural design to weddings and luxury parties. Here, he shares his predictions on how the event industry will change post pandemic, and reveals the process behind some of his recent projects

man in white shirtIf we can say one thing about Covid, it is that it has pushed us to become more aware of our social life and the things we spend time on. Of course, as restrictions lift around the world, there is bound to be some mindless ‘panic partying’ for a while. After all, we were locked down for a long time, and any event feels exciting, now that we are finally free to socialise again!

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However, after this ‘everything goes’ phase, I think we will quickly be reminded of the lessons the pandemic has taught us: to cherish the personal, celebrate the details, be more mindful of our surroundings and appreciate the ‘offline’.

The Design Process

The process for designing an event is evidently different with every client. You have to dig deep to understand their true wants and needs in order to make their dreams happen. Some clients come with a highly defined idea, but I have found that throughout the process this often changes, as we grow together in bringing the concept to life.

pink floral wedding

For interiors, it is very dependent on functionality. It’s not just about thinking about what the house can do for you today, but also what you might need it to do for you in the future. I want to create spaces that people can grow in, that can sustain them. I include the client in this whole process, especially when it comes to selecting materials. I think it is important for them to become comfortable with the energy and the essence of the structure before they even move in. That is what makes it personal: it feels theirs.

Recent Projects

In my work as an event and wedding designer, I have seen a lot of copy and paste events. While lacking in originality, in some ways this impersonal party hosting was not really an issue in the past, because we always took it for granted that people would show up. This has changed. Now, people, quite rightly, want more. They want something personal. Modern design needs to take the chosen environment into account. This is where you can see the difference between a replicated design and a personalised specific design.

To me, design always needs to be locale-based. In a recent case, the client wanted to go for a full wedding-white look initially, but I knew that in the opulent church space they chose, it would not work. In extravagant locations like these you need a more specific colour palette to make it shine. So we designed a harmonious image, finding contrast in the depth of the colours to enhance the church itself. The result was something unique for them and for the location they chose.

extravagant wedding design

For a ‘divorce party’ I designed, I wanted to create something from scratch, so we used a cargo ship. This meant huge flexibility: we painted the whole thing, did our own flooring, created arches, and designed designated areas that worked for this particular event with the party centred around an ice-skating/ dance floor. We also created a lounge area, and functional spaces such as food and beverage and luxury bathrooms. To create the right ambiance, we used a lot of blossoming flowers and installed trees with led lights, guiding the guests around the ship. Then as the grande finale, highly personalised fireworks installed all around the ship, going both upwards and sideways, led to a unique vista at sea, and a once in a lifetime experience, for guests only.

For another recent wedding, because of COVID and the needs of the client, finding the perfect venue was impossible, so we designed and built our own. We still wanted that heritage feel, so with a big landscaping team, we created a space that felt like it had always been there in nature and nurture. I love designing a venue for a specific function, because it means not only that the event is completely personal, but also that it stays that way forever.

party on a boat

The Future

Since Covid, we have all become stricter with our schedules and more cautious of travelling. Events therefore won’t be less important, they will, however, have to be much more intentional. When anything and everything can be shared on social media or experienced over Zoom, being actually present needs to mean something. There has to be an added value for real life attendance. A merely visual experience, that is easily replicated on screen, will not cut it. We long for an energy that transcends the screen. Something that requires our full presence. Something ‘you had to have been there’ for. That is what sets an event or wedding apart these days. Designing events post-Covid is no longer just about throwing a seamless party, it is an expression of identity.

Find out more: alibakhtiardesigns.com

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Reading time: 4 min
bedroom terrace
palatial hotel on edge of mountain

The Splendido with its legendary pool and restaurants, above Portofino. Image courtesy of Belmond/Mattia Aquila

In the third part of our luxury travel views column from the Autumn 2021 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai experiences la dolce vita in Portofino

My one encounter with the Splendido Mare, the village-based sister hotel of the celebrated hillside Splendido in Portofino, was a little over 10 years ago. Since then, the port area of the village has been pedestrianised, and the Mare has been upgraded with its own character (to reflect a kind of village-chic identity, escaping from the shadow of its showy sibling). What a difference! Artful touches, gentle lighting and townhouse style abound, and getting to our “village view” room along a labyrinth of corridors was a delight, with a feeling of staying in a real house. “Village view” could mean a wall, but actually it was out along the Via Mare, the cute main street, which, now pedestrianised, was a blush of colourful visitors eating ice-creams and pizza at the outdoor restaurants. Perfect insulation meant it was quiet, also.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We arrived late one evening, met at the other end of the Via Roma (all of 100 metres away – Portofino is tiny) by the hotel porter who took our luggage while another parked our car. On the stroll into the hotel we noticed the restaurant at the front of the building, on the main piazza on the harbourfront, was buzzing; twenty minutes later we were installed at a table on its front row, with a perfect vista of the evening passeggiata as the light dimmed over the hillsides on either side of the harbour.

bedroom terrace

The terrace of one the bedrooms at Splendido Mare

The Mare has a family-run vibe, despite being part of an international hotel group; the fritto misto of fish and shellfish with fruit and vegetables was a spectacle in the serving, and worked extremely well with a bottle of Lagrein red from northeast Italy, although a more conventional choice from the wonderful wine list would have been a Frascati or even a chardonnay-based Franciacorta. Next time.

Read more: Nayla Al Khaja on filmmaking and female empowerment

The beauty of the Mare is you can step right out onto the harbourfront (now with zero traffic and no noisy Vespas – a true transformation) and, in our case, onto the hotel’s boat for a whizz around the coastline: to the lighthouse point at the tip of the peninsula and back along the coast to the resort town of Santa Margherita Ligure, playing a game of spot the mansion (Dolce & Gabbana; Versace; Berlusconi; Agnelli) and spot the yacht (pass – seems like stalking).

italian harbour

The harbourfront at Portofino, home to the Splendido Mare. Photograph by Darius Sanai

And then it’s a short shuttle ride or walk up through the gardens to the original Splendido. This grande dame is perched high above the village, and there’s no better introduction than a long pizza lunch (those pizzas! That tomato sauce!) accompanied by a longer bottle of Ca’ del Bosco rosé Franciacorta (Italy’s splendid alternative to pink champagne); the pizzeria is metres from the pool, where you can revive yourself afterwards.

The Splendido’s curved pool is a historic place to gaze out over the bay and dream; we had an even better alternative in the form of our balcony, which had the same view and no other people. Aperitif, quick change, down to the bar above the pool for a little jazz piano and the same view, seen from within the gardens; and then dinner. Definitely the place for the ravioli with Ligurian herbs, lobster and bisque.

Book your stay: belmond.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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white mercedes parked outside a hotel
white mercedes parked outside a hotel

The Mercedes-AMG G 63 is part limousine, part sports car and part SUV, with its lavishly appointed interior, sheer pace and rugged details such as the extended wheel arches

From supercar to supreme cruiser, our reviewers sample some of the latest and greatest from the automotive world, starting with the Mercedes-AMG G 63

Rain; hail; wind; floods. The north European summer offered it all this year. So, we decided to do a country drive with a difference by calling on the AMG G 63. If you have been to a big metropolis recently, you will have seen these, often driven by gentlemen from major oil-producing regions (and we don’t mean Norway). Don’t let that put you off, though, as the G 63, cartoonishly tall and square with rounded-off corners, is a cool-looking bit of design.

The details are even cooler. Doors have been engineered for the opposite of ‘soft-close’: they need to be shut with a slam, and make a satisfying whump on doing so. You have to climb onto a sill to get into the car, and the noise on start-up sounds like a dozen hungry Rottweilers.

But this is not a car only for poseurs. Its passengers agreed it was the most comfortable SUV they had sat in (and these are connoisseurs of the high-end SUV). Smoother than a Lamborghini Urus, less floaty than a Rolls Cullinan, and utterly distinctive and fun.

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The same could be said for the driving: bumbling out of London, it felt like driving a very nicely engineered small house. A fast one, too, as putting your foot down reveals comical acceleration, aided by well controlled suspension that doesn’t lean too much, but also doesn’t bump you around, either. A very hard trick to get right and one which most manufacturers of fast SUVs don’t manage.

Once we were in the countryside, and since this was a road trip in supposedly one of the most adept off-road vehicles in the world, we had to resist the temptation to head off across the fields to test its abilities. We suspect the car would have been fine (it was even wearing Scorpion all-terrain tyres!), the farmers less so.

Fortunately, it rained on our country hotel retreat. Chewton Glen, in Hampshire, is a hotel that has been around long enough, and been reincarnated enough, that it knows what to do in the rain: big indoor pool with picture windows, big hydrotherapy area (indoors and out), and plenty of salons inside in which to chill out.

But, as the rain poured down, sending mini-streams across the windows and the tarmac, there was only one thing to do. Take the G 63 out along country roads.

car interiors

To say it was in its element would be a gross understatement. It seemed the car grew even stronger and more grippy in the driving rain. Several centimetres flowing across one part of one road didn’t phase it, with not even a tricky twitch of the wheel; braking and accelerating was not just managed, but done with aplomb.

For us, the most important observation was not on the night of the heavy rains, but ahead of the journey home the next day. This tall, quirky looking, idiosyncratic machine is not just super-fast and capable. It is exceptionally comfortable to be in over long distances, which is something we didn’t expect, and, most refreshing and unexpected of all, it’s genuinely fun to drive.

We expected it to be a hoot in town, due to its height, its power and the way instant reactions have been programmed into its being. As a city car you may wish to take into account its size, height (for car parks) and the attention it commands, most of it good, some of it less so. But it is also a highly enjoyable companion on a long drive. And it still looks super-cool on a run around town, particularly if you place a two-metre-high, two-metre wide man in stubble, wrap-around shades, and a shiny suit with a bulge in the passenger seat.

Find out more: mercedes-amg.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 3 min
rooftop dining
rooftop dining
Chef Alain Ducasse, who currently holds twenty-one Michelin stars, has teamed up with Dom Pérignon and renowned chefs Albert Adrià (one Michelin star), Romain Meder (3 Michelin stars) and Jessica Préalpato to create ADMO, an exclusive dining experience on a roof terrace overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Candice Tucker travelled to Paris to find out more

ADMO bills itself as an ephemeral restaurant experience due to the fact that it’s open for 100 days only, but it doesn’t really seem the right way to describe a fourteen course, multi-sensory menu, created by five of the world’s best chefs and paired with Dom Pérignon Rosé 2008. Decadent is the word that comes to mind and perhaps, a touch hedonistic.

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Situated on the top floor of Musée du Quai Branly, the restaurant has a prime position overlooking the Eiffel Tower, which as the clock strikes the hour, is illuminated by brilliant lights. Cynics might pass it off as naff, but it feels suitably sparkly for a champagne feast.

fine dining

The fusion of philosophy and food makes ADMO stand out from other gastronomic experiences. The menu specifically excluded meat products, to emphasise its green credentials. Being presented in a minimalist fashion, it further highlighted the importance for people to appreciate food for its refined quality whilst fully satisfying one’s appetite.

Read more: Standard Chartered’s Eugenia Koh on Next Gen Investors

The small tables and dim lighting, made the grand culinary experience, warm and intimate. Between each course, there was lively conversation amongst the journalists, food and champagne connoisseurs, but as each course was placed in front of the guests, the room fell silent. Every plate – notably, the crispy pastry sheet with red mullet and fried scales – provided an explosion of perfectly balanced, fresh flavours that were enhanced by the champagne pairing.

rooftop dining

© François Goizé

Speaking at the launch event, Alain Ducasse explained how each dish at ADMO aims to encapsulate a philosophy of sustainability (all ingredients are locally sourced except the caviar which comes from the north of Shanghai), suggesting that this will, increasingly, define the future of fine dining. “There will be more of these types of projects. There will be more attention on better food, thinking more about the food we can eat and food that is better for the planet,” he said. “I believe this is the roadmap [for the future] and it will not end.”

Vincent Chaperon, Dom Pérignon’s Chef de Cave, also commented on the importance of taking a sustainable approach: “I believe that if we focus on [sustainability], more people will embrace this approach. More doesn’t mean quantitative, it’s qualitative. This kind of project encourages people to recognise a new art of living [that centres around] our relationship with nature. We have to preserve and not only interact.”

If ADMO is a taste of what the future will bring, we’re very much on board.

ADMO is open from Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner at Les Ombres au Musée du quai Branly. For more information, visit: admo.lesombres-restaurant.com

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luxury beach residence
luxury beach residence

One of Molori’s recent and largest projects is this 2,100 sq m home in California, remodelled as a resort

Molori Designs takes the concept of bespoke to a whole new level. Answering all your lifestyle needs, whether you’re on safari in South Africa or settling down in Santa Monica, they specialise in tailoring everything to the individual client. LUX speaks with founder Kirk Lazarus

Super yachts, private jets, sleek urban apartments, tropical beachside villas, endless vistas and infinity pools – global architecture and lifestyle company Molori Designs is in the business of dreams (‘molori’ means ‘to dream’ in Tswana, a southern African language), or rather, the dream. This is the one where you, essentially, have it all. Founded by South African-born, Sydney-raised entrepreneur Kirk Lazarus, the company owns a safari lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, several resorts in Clifton and Cape Town, and Port Douglas in Australia and a superyacht called Told U So. They also develop and design luxurious, turnkey homes for the ultra-rich which are carefully curated to the individual’s needs and tastes, from the art hanging on the walls to the types of spirits stocked in the bar. “Usually when people think of resorts, it’s connected with the idea of going on holiday. Our goal, from a design perspective, is to create a lifestyle where you don’t need to take a vacation from it,” says Lazarus.

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As such, their design approach is focused on not only achieving the highest possible standards of luxury living, but also anticipating the future owner’s day-to-day needs. They often ask clients to talk them through their daily routine from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed so that they can pinpoint moments which could be made more seamless. Of course, this is also the appeal of branded residences, which are kitted out head-to-toe in, say, Giorgio Armani or, in the case of hotel-branded residences, come with all the expected five-star amenities and services: private chefs, valet parking, housekeeping, a 24-hour concierge. The key difference, however, is that with Giorgio Armani or Four Seasons residences, you’re buying into a lifestyle defined by that brand, but with Molori’s homes, every aspect of the design is tailored to the specific individual or family. All furniture is custom-made in Italy and the company collaborates with luxury brands to create bespoke fixtures such as Murano glass × Molori chandeliers, and Missoni Home upholstery.

luxury living room interiors

luxury dining room

The living room (top) and formal dining room of an apartment in New York City overlooking Central Park designed by Molori

There are, however, a few design principles that define every Molori residence. “We make sure that every corner of your home has a purpose regardless of how big the property is,” says Larissa Makkonen, one of the company’s designers. “Amazing views are also always a priority for us. We often use mirrors to reflect the ocean or landscape so that you feel surrounded by nature.”

luxury pool

The pool area of a California beachfront home, designed by Molori in 2018

As the company is relatively small, the team is directly involved in every stage of the project, which allows them to continuously adapt their designs and push for greater levels of personalisation. With yachts, for example, that means going to the shipping yard where the boat is being built and discussing how much they can manipulate the basic structure to include bigger windows or more spacious bedrooms.

Read more: How Andermatt became a leading luxury destination

The ability to adapt is also fundamental to the company’s approach to sustainability. They try to “create the greenest environment possible” while also anticipating changes in climate and landscape. According to Lazarus, beachside residential projects have been particularly challenging in recent years due to global rising sea levels and how the need to accommodate this will impact the coastline in the future.

luxury bedroom interiors

The master bedroom in the New York apartment

For now, though, his sights are set on Miami – “one of the places to be for luxury” – where Molori currently has several turnkey projects in progress. “It’s exciting to see how far we can push the envelope in luxury-style living,” Lazarus says.

Find out more: molori.com

This story was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue.

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kitchen design
kitchen design

The kitchen of a Cologne family designed for socialising, with Gaggenau equipment including a 200 series oven, a 400 series cooktop and discreetly hidden fridge-freezer and dishwasher.

The impact of climate change, digitalisation and the pandemic is demanding bold, new visions for our homes and public spaces. Here, Millie Walton speaks to Sven Baacke, Head of Design at the luxury home appliance manufacturer Gaggenau, and Ian Lambert, Director of Cambridge-based architecture and design studio Inclume — who recently created an installation for Gaggenau’s London showroom — about sustainability, adapting to shifting lifestyles, and the experience of luxury

SVEN BAACKE
Head of Design at Gaggenau

Sven Baacke is Gaggenau’s visionary head of design. Visionary in both senses of the word: he is a passionate, radical creative, and a kind of prophet. Then again, part of his job, and perhaps of all good designers, is to anticipate the future and in some ways, also to shape it.

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Baacke is in the business of kitchens, which means any emerging cultural or social trends are filtered through a very specific perspective: “What will that mean for kitchens?” and more specifically, “What will that mean for Gaggenau’s luxury appliances?” Take, for instance, the trend for biophilic design. While the desire for creating living spaces that are more closely connected to nature might not directly affect say, the design of an oven, it does affect the architectural structure of the home, which in turn, means rethinking the positioning of the kitchen and the way that people move through and use the space. “Our customers are increasingly creating environments such as outdoor kitchens or gardens where they can grow their own ingredients,” says Baacke. “But what we think about is: how far can Gaggenau go? Is the kitchen the limit for us, or beyond?”

team of designers

Gaggenau’s design team

The brand’s global success is built on its ability to create a range of good-looking, technologically advanced appliances that effortlessly respond to these shifts and demands in lifestyle. Baacke calls their approach “traditional avant-garde”, in the sense that they are a historic brand with a contemporary ethos. At one point during our conversation over Zoom, he holds up the Gaggenau designer’s handbook, flicking through the pages to show me what seems to be mostly images, which Baacke describes as “mood boards”. “It helps to have guidelines,” he says, “but it’s not a cookbook.”

How does Gaggenau decide what to make next? “Our designers are very curious, so there are always a lot of vibrant ideas floating around. Mostly, we are thinking of what not to do and I don’t just mean physical design, shapes and colours, but also topics. There are so many things already out there. You really need to think twice before you create something new and to ask what difference will a new product make in the world.”

Despite fluctuating trends in aesthetics, the kitchen remains a central feature of building design. Even if it is becoming increasingly integrated into our homes, for now, at least, we still need somewhere to cook, eat and gather. “There’s a big chance the kitchen will become invisible in the future, but there are two poles of opinion about that,” says Baacke.

minimal kitchen design

Paris kitchen designed with Gaggenau equipment by the Russian architecture and design studio IQOSA

Gaggenau’s appliances might look like design objects, with super-sleek metallic finishes and sculptural lines, but they are also made for everyday usage. “The tactile element of our products is very important,” says Baacke. “Nowadays, with the increasing digitalisation of our lives, nothing is really by chance, everything is calculated. So, it’s nice to still have something in your hand, to touch a real material.”

Read more: How Andermatt became a leading luxury destination

At the same time, technological advances have undoubtedly enabled Gaggenau’s appliances to provide increasing levels of precision and ease in both professional and domestic kitchens. The heat in their combi-steam ovens, for example, can be controlled to within one degree, a process which continually revises the estimated cooking time based on temperature-probe readings from three different sensors. They can also be integrated with voice-controlled AI systems such as Alexa. Is this the modern-day definition of luxury?

“There are a lot of products that are high-end, but luxury is more of a feeling. It’s very individual, and it’s not just about the technology,” says Baacke. “We try to create feelings. When you use our appliances in your beautiful home which is connected to your family, that can be a luxurious experience.”

luxury kitchen design

Gaggeanu’s 200 series ovens

Gaggenau’s materials (think stainless steel, dark aluminium, rich woods and glass) are selected for technical and aesthetic reasons, but also durability, which is a crucial part of the brand’s approach to sustainability. Baacke’s response, as always, is to look to the future, and longer-term solutions, rather jumping on the sustainability trend as a marketing tool without properly considering the consequences.

“We create appliances that are really reliable. You can buy our ovens from the 1980s on the internet and they still work and look good,” he says. “But it’s also a mindset. Does a patina on a surface mean that you have to throw it away, or could it be like a leather bag that gets better over time and tells a story? Crucially, for us and the whole industry, sustainability also means repairability. Can you unscrew the appliances? Can you separate the materials?”

Alongside an increased cultural awareness of the environment, the difficulties of the past year have brought with it a new appreciation for a slower way of living, which in turn has led to a renewed interest in antiques, vintage products, and craft and artisanal practices that all speak to a certain feeling of nostalgia. Since 2019, Gaggenau has been supporting small-scale makers and producers through their Respected by Gaggenau initiative, and Baacke himself recently bought a BMW motorcycle from 1973 that he describes as “the true essence of a motorcycle”. “There’s a lot of anxiety about what the future will bring, so I think people need to have familiar things around them, things that make them feel good,” he says.

Sven Baacke: Where to start with redesigning your kitchen

The first question has to be: why? What don’t you like? Is it the colour, the arrangement of cupboards or the appliances? Has your lifestyle changed in some way? Has your family grown, or have your kids moved out? Do you like to host dinners? Do you enjoy cooking with guests in the kitchen, or would you prefer for them to sit while you cook? Start with the small things, and the ideas will get bigger.

installation artwork

Ian Lambert with Fragment in Gaggenau’s London showroom

IAN LAMBERT
Director of Inclume

LUX: Your installation for Gaggenau’s showroom in London made innovative use of paper. How did that project come about?
Ian Lambert: We won a competition which was run by the London Festival of Architecture in partnership with the paper supplier G.F. Smith, so a large part of the brief was to create something using paper. We have used paper in the past and it’s actually a great material to work with because it’s malleable and very lightweight, which especially helped with Fragment, the window installation, as we were suspending 4,000 polygonal forms. The design took inspiration from the craftsmanship that Gaggenau has pursued since it started as a hammer mill and nail forge in 1683. The polygonal forms were an abstract representation of fragments of metal and we chose colours that reflected the history of the brand, with the black signifying the Black Forest in Germany, where the brand was born, and the orange representing the roaring fires of the furnaces used to craft the appliances.

LUX: What’s your process for coming up with an initial design? What are the factors you consider?
Ian Lambert: We usually start with a brief, which will be formatted as a response to a question. Visiting the space, talking with the client about how they’ve used the space, what works for them, what doesn’t work for them, and how we can introduce new things – all these factors provide a narrative and a set of parameters to work within.

LUX: Where do you, personally or as a studio, find inspiration for new ideas?
Ian Lambert: I think we’re inspired by what’s around us. It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific place. Looking online is quite a dangerous thing to do – you don’t want to copy other people, but you can find inspiration in little details from different projects and also by revisiting ideas that you’ve already done. At the end of each project, it’s not the final piece, because we can always improve. We take each project and then try and build on that next time by refining details. Over time, it gets better and better.

Read more: How to create a truly sustainable luxury hotel

LUX: In your opinion, what are the key principles to good design?
Ian Lambert: I think good design makes your actions feel easier in daily life. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to identify with what’s good architecture or good design. It doesn’t have to be noticed, it can be subtle and understated.

LUX: Do you think the pandemic has had an impact on how people perceive their living environment?
Ian Lambert: I think people are beginning to appreciate the things around them and the value of the spaces that they inhabit. Most people have been working from home lately, so it’s about adaptability. You might have your kids or your partner around and you’re also living in the same space 24 hours a day, so you are able to more easily identify the things that work and the things that don’t work.

LUX: How much of a consideration is sustainability in terms of the materials you use?
Ian Lambert: We’ve always been fairly conscious of what materials we use. With an existing house and its various elements, we try to keep as much of the original as possible, but create a new focal point. We also use a lot of materials, particularly in our installations, that are recycled. It presents a challenge as to how we can use and modify them to create a different experience. It might be just paper or some old pieces of timber but it can be aesthetically amazing if you see something that’s been recycled and then used in a very good way. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that using brand new materials can’t be sustainable. You need to consider other elements. If you’re doing an installation for example, how long will it be up for? Will it get chucked away at the end? Or are you then prolonging the longevity of the material by reusing it in a different way?

LUX: What makes a design luxurious?
Ian Lambert: I think luxury is subjective. For us, as a studio, it’s something that makes your life easier in a seamless way, whether that’s through bespoke design or creating a positive experience for someone. For example, we did a project where we made a raft out of sustainable materials such as recycled timber pallets and barrels. We took it to a lake and it was very complex putting it together, but when you sat on the raft on the water in silence beneath the canopy of trees with different shades of light filtering through, it felt like a luxury space. Luxury experiences can also be about the fun and enjoyment of doing something with other people.

Find out more: gaggenau.com/gb

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 10 min
luxury living space
open plan living room

An impression of the ‘Tiger’s Eye’ bespoke decorative scheme for one of the Chedi Gems, a series of penthouses in The Chedi Andermatt hotel

A major hotel, property and infrastructure development has swept the village of Andermatt in Switzerland onto the world stage of luxury. Karen Chung speaks to some of the key shapers of the future of this still-expanding project, which has attracted real estate buyers from around the world

For such a little place, Andermatt punches well above its weight. With its seductive mix of luxury hotels and apartments, restaurants, boutiques and a chic cultural centre nestled around the historic village, it is a glamorous playground in the heart of the Swiss Alps.

This sleepy little skiing village was reawakened with the arrival of The Chedi Andermatt, the five-star hotel and residences masterminded by Jean-Michel Gathy, the lauded hotel designer behind the soaring Aman Canal Grande Venice, LVMH’s Cheval Blanc Randheli and the soon-to-open Aman New York. Launched in 2013, The Chedi Andermatt pulled off a pleasing paradox: a relaxed riff on the classic Swiss chalet with an undeniably Asian influence, ultra-aspirational yet delightfully relaxed and unstuffy. With 50 hotel rooms, 107 residences and 13 penthouses, award-winning restaurants, a first-rate fitness centre and a state-of-the-art spa, cigar and wine libraries, ski-in ski-out facilities and even a flotilla of ski butlers to warm your boots, it swiftly won a slew of awards, including Gault Millau Hotel of the Year in 2017.

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Over the phone from Kuala Lumpur, where he has lived for 40 years, Gathy muses over The Chedi Andermatt’s show-stopping design interpretation of Swiss chalet heritage. “People ask me, why did you design in an Asian style, but the stone, wood, fireplace, leather, everything is Swiss! The Chedi Andermatt is totally Swiss. The window size, balustrades, materials, everything follows Swiss codes – and believe me, Switzerland has a lot of codes! There’s no one single architectural or design feature that’s Asian. What is Asian is the layering of the space and the lighting, which enhances the layering by creating depth of field.

“I’m from a traditional European background, but when you live in Asia this long you unconsciously assimilate the attitude, the culture, the habits, the values. You do it consciously at first, then you just absorb it. For me, design is an emotional expression of an inner feeling. You just feel this is the way it should be.

Jean-Michel Gathy. Courtesy Jean-Michel Gathy

“And what makes The Chedi Andermatt different is the layering. Think of Europe and how you move from room to room. In Asia, it’s not like that. You don’t have a door from one room to another, you have screens. The flow is very different. You’re always somewhere but you never know where. I don’t do this on purpose anymore. It’s the way I think. In luxury, there’s more emotion. So, when you apply that layering to the logic, you get The Chedi Andermatt. It’s dynamic, layered, pleasant, comfortable, and it serves its purpose.

“I’ve designed luxury resorts my whole life, and know my clientele very well,” he adds. “I’m very lucky. In luxury there’s room for creativity and emotion, and I know how to use the tools to translate that understanding. I design exactly the way I am and create every single project by hand. It’s very natural.”

luxury living space

A render of a living space in one of the penthouses at The Chedi Andermatt

Indeed, your first instinct as you arrive is to kick back, curl up and gaze at those expansive mountain views from the comfort of the capacious sofas. Gathy’s response to an exacting brief was an intuitive one, perfectly fitted to how we want to live now.

Read more: How to create a truly sustainable luxury hotel

The wealthy have long been attracted to Switzerland but buying here has been notoriously hard. All residences in Andermatt, however, are exempt from the Lex Koller law, which limits foreign ownership of Swiss property, while a popular scheme that manages and rents out apartments while owners are away adds to buyer appeal. It’s seriously accessible, too – just 90 minutes’ drive from Zurich, two hours from Milan and four from Munich, while private jets and helicopters can fly to Buochs Airport, a 45-minute drive away.

spa bathroom

An impression of a private penthouse spa at The Chedi Andermatt

“The past year changed everything,” says Russell Collins, the amiable British head of real estate who’s also on the Andermatt development board. “But we really didn’t envisage how busy we were going to be. We’ve sold over CHF500 millions’ [£394.5m] worth of apartments – almost everything we had available – and 2020 was a record year. There were obviously a lot of people sitting at home thinking, we could be skiing now…! Roughly half the buyers are Swiss, half are international – many from neighbouring countries such as Italy and Germany, as well as from the UK, and also Singapore, Hong Kong and Russia. We’re selling the last few remaining Chedi Andermatt penthouses now, which can be fitted out by our team of architects and interior designers, who work with the buyer to their exact spec.” Penthouses start from CHF6.2 million [£4.9m] for a 333 sq m space.”

Developers are also working with Protect Our Winters (POW) to preserve the unique microclimate that makes Andermatt a skiing paradise. Sustainability has been at the heart of the development from the start, with The Chedi Andermatt and all private residences built to stringent Minergie standards for low-energy-consumption buildings. Services run on natural resources (and, refreshingly, are hidden below ground), and in winter an electric bus zips round the car-free development.

swiss mountain village

Andermatt with the new village quarter of Andermatt Reuss to its left. Photograph by Valentin Luthiger

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Andermatt is nailing that all-important lifestyle mix as it becomes a year-round destination without losing its still relatively low-key charm. Its burgeoning mix of hotels, apartments and chalets nestle alongside traditional historic buildings and an expanding boutique retail and restaurant offering. And in summer, as well as hiking and walking, there’s the option of golf on the award-winning course. And after coming to an abrupt halt, its annual music programme is also reviving after an 18-month hiatus.

“I think residents are really encouraged by the fact that we’re so committed to making this a great place to live,” says Collins. “The danger is that we just become a ski resort for the winter months, but we’re looking hard at the year-round offer, creating life at street level and making it a joyful place to spend time.” It’s for the next wave of pioneering buyers to see how well Andermatt achieves that.

The Chedi Andermatt Spa and Health Club

There are spas, and then there is the spa at The Chedi Andermatt, a multi-award-winning, divinely decadent 2,400 sq m temple to wellness. Exclusive organic products are a key feature of the spa; particular highlights are the Tata Harper Natural Glow from Head-to-Toe Ritual and the divinely relaxing Oromovizca Golden Full Body Massage, inspired by the curative properties of Hungarian thermal waters and which includes an invigorating gold-and-sugar peel. The health club boasts the very latest TechnoGym equipment and there’s a hydrothermal spa with a seemingly endless array of baths and saunas, as well as a stunning 35m indoor pool, the longest in Switzerland.

cheese selection

The cheese tower of local Swiss cheeses at The Restaurant

The Restaurant at The Chedi Andermatt

“A sense of occasion for our guests is key,” says Armin Egli, Executive Chef at The Chedi Andermatt, “and creating great experiences is a big part of that. In our four open-plan kitchen stations in The Restaurant, guests can take a seat at the chef’s table to watch food being prepared, whether that’s Asian-inspired delicacies, traditional Swiss fare, or simply see our pastry chefs at work. We also have a five-metre-tall cheese tower, currently showcasing 43 cheeses unique to Switzerland; guests can taste and learn the story behind each one. And we often reinstate favourite dishes. Black pepper beef is a stand-out favourite from the Asian kitchen that we keep having to bring back by popular demand. If it’s not on the menu when you visit, just ask…”

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 7 min

grand hotel facade

Why should I go now?

In the lead up to Christmas London really comes into its own. With sparkling light displays, artisanal markets and towering Christmas trees, it’s one of the best places to go for festive cheer.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Great Scotland Yard hotel occupies one of the city’s most historic buildings and retains a grand old world charm. Plus it’s now home to one London’s hottest new restaurants, Ekstedt at The Yard, reinforcing the hotel’s well-established reputation for dining and drinking.

First Impressions

Few approaches to a London hotel can rival that of Great Scotland Yard. You’re surrounded by the capital’s beguiling mix of history and heritage, architectural styles and even touches of pageantry with the Horse Guards on watch at Whitehall Palace.

The Lobby at Great Scotland Yard Hotel

The area known as Great Scotland Yard dates back more than a thousand years, but was most famously the former home of London’s Metropolitan Police. More recent incarnations included an army recruitment centre and Ministry of Defence office, but today elegant glass street-lamps illuminate the hotel’s Edwardian exterior and brickwork, beckoning in guests from the quiet street outside.

The Experience

An unconventional hotel arrival immerses guests straight into a number of f&b offerings, with a compact reception desk tucked away around the corner. It’s a deliberate move to emphasise the hotel’s growing reputation for gourmet experiences including Forty Elephants Bar, named for a ruthless all-female 19th century gang of robbers and a perfect spot for an aperitif or social drinks. The Parlour is a sensory and design delight where afternoon tea is a big draw for foreign guests while the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Terrace is a real find, a rooftop hideaway for bubbles overlooking the Westminster skyline. But the biggest draw has to be Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt‘s Michelin-starred restaurant, where dishes are cooked over wood fire, using Scandinavian techniques and British ingredients, and accompanied by natural wines.

elegant interiors of a cafe bar

The Parlour serves afternoon tea from Saturday to Sunday

Elsewhere, a gymnasium, an innovative events space, a hideaway whisky bar and an intriguing collection of art and police artefacts from over the centuries ensure constant stimulation whether you’re staying in-house or visiting to drink and dine.

Takeaway

A perfect spot for tourists wishing to discover London, or a fun bolthole for Londoners looking to drink and dine in style, Great Scotland Yard mixes the historical and contemporary to great effect in a storied location.

Rates: From £315 per night

Book your stay: greatscotlandyard.com

Chris Dwyer

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Reading time: 2 min
car event at Italian villa
car event at Italian villa

The new Rolls-Royce Boat Tail was unveiled at Concorso d’Eleganza, Villa d’Este, Lake Como

Rolls-Royce unveiled the world’s most expensive new car at a glamorous event on the shore of Lake Como last week. A recreation of its iconic 1932 model, the Boat Tail comes in a series of three bespoke commissions for clients, believed to be $28m each. Ella Johnson reports

With its wooden hull and sail-like wings, you’d be forgiven for thinking Rolls-Royce Boat Tail belonged on water rather than land. Unveiled at a private ceremony on Lake Como last week, the car’s nautical appearance certainly befitted its watery surroundings; yet this is a car destined to be driven on land – by a very wealthy owner.

The Boat Tail is the latest creation from Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, the division of the UK-based, German-owned manufacturer devoted to making extremely exclusive, limited-run, hand-finished creations for some of the world’s richest people.

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It certainly looks striking, and suited the surroundings of its launch at the Concorso d’Eleganza, the elite classic car show at the Villa d’Este. Standing beside his creation, Rolls-Royce Head of Coachbuild Design Alex Innes described the Boat Tail as ‘transcending mere conveyance’ to ‘become the destination itself’.

There are certainly worse places to be sitting while in the summer traffic jam to get to Club 55 in St Tropez (although the Boat Tail owner would also doubtless have a fleet of helicopters, plus a superyacht and tender, at his disposal for such occasions). The car’s in-built hosting suite at the rear stores two chilled bottles of champagne (platinum-wrapped Armand de Brignac at the launch event, if bling is your thing) plus rotating cocktail tables, leather stools, and a parasol – perfect for that sunset in Malibu. There is also a custom Montblanc pen in the glove compartment and his-and-hers BOVET 1822 timepieces, which can be used as wristwatches, desk clocks, or pocket watches.

car with boot open

The Boat Tail on display took four years from concept to completion, with the close involvement of its owner. It is also the second offering from Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, inaugurated in 2017 with the launch of the dramatic Sweptail, which evoked memories of the dramatic grand touring cars of the 1930s. Rolls-Royce say that Coachbuild, an invitation-only service for its top clients, is designed to satiate the appetite of clients who want to commission and curate personalised cars – described by the marque as ‘the automotive equivalent of haute couture’.

Read more: The eco-art organisation making a stand at Frieze

As Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös commented to the gathered connoisseurs and collectors at the launch, the Boat Tail is ‘the most ambitious commission we have ever undertaken, in terms of technical complexity, innovative bespoke detailing and sheer creative audacity’.

The company is planning on releasing a coachbuilt car every two years, with the next two editions already in advances stages of creation and production. We suggest anyone who is interested in becoming a client buys a few Phantoms, Ghosts and Cullinans in the next few months, and works their way onto the invitation-only list from there. See you at Lake Como.

Find out more: rolls-roycemotorcars.com

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man with glass decanter
whisky bottle and case

Gordon & MacPhail’s Generations 80-Years-Old from Glenlivet Distillery with decanter and case designed by David Adjaye

On the 3rd February 1940 John Urquhart and his son, George, created a spirit at the Glenlivet Distillery, producing a bespoke Gordon & MacPhail cask, only to be sipped in the following millennium. 80 years later, on 7th October 2021, encased in an oak pavilion designed by David Adjaye, the first bottle is going to auction at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Candice Tucker reports

Generations 80 Years Old from Glenlivet Distillery, Gordon & MacPhail’s latest release and the oldest single malt Scotch whiskey ever bottled, will go on auction this week along with the number one decanter and casing designed by Sir David Adjaye.

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“Maturing a single malt Scotch over eight decades is an art, similar in many ways to architecture where you are creating something that needs to stand the test of time,” commented Ewen Mackintosh, Managing Director at Gordon & MacPhail. “Both Sir David and Gordon & MacPhail share a commitment to invest in the future. We both see the significance of creating something exceptional; leaving a legacy for future generations.”

man with glass decanter

Adjaye with the crystal decanter

The British-Ghanian architect’s casing takes the form of a pavilion-like structure made from oak while the crystal decanter was hand-blown at Scotland’s Glencairn Crystal Studio with two cut lenses that magnify the liquid inside and a darkened oak top. “I wanted to create a design that pays tribute to the role oak plays in transforming liquid into an elixir with almost magical properties,” explained Adjaye.

Read more: Milk Honey Bees Founder Ebinehita Iyere on youth work & creativity

The highest bidder at auction will also receive one-of-one signed lithograph of Sir David’s original, concept drawings and a whisky tasting experience for four in London, conducted by Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige, Stephen Rankin and attended by Sir David Adjaye, in addition to the framed original cask head of Cask 340 which cradled the spirit for eight decades.

For more information, visit: gordonandmacphail.com, sothebys.com

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luxurious hotel suite with arched ceiling

luxurious hotel suite with arched ceiling

Suite “Antonia” features the building’s original high-vaulted stone ceilings

Occupying a restored masseria – farmhouse – on a quiet street in the historic town of Lecce, Puglia, La Fiermontina is a five-star hotel with a homely, boutique feel. LUX discovers its quiet charm

Arrival

Like many beautiful Italian cities, Lecce has an unprepossessing ring of suburbs. But drive through an archway and a magical vision appears like an ancient Roman city, even more mesmerising at night, still and lit by gentle oranges and yellows on the ochre walls.

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Past the arch and La Fiermontina is down a quiet street. Walk up a stone staircase lit by uplighters into a walled courtyard, turn into the reception area, and then exit again to wander in a garden enclosed by the hotel’s ancient buildings and the old city walls. The light from the sky and the garden lighting is otherworldly.

The Room

Our suite was reached via a short staircase (there is a lift also, but it seemed a bit inauthentic) and seemed to span two buildings, old and new. The huge terrace balcony looked out over the courtyard, from where gentle jazz wafted up each evening. The bedroom had a vaulted ceiling and light stone walls, with contemporary furniture, art books and little clutter. If there is a more compelling bedroom in the whole of Italy, we would love to see it.

The Experience

We arrived on a weekday evening, slightly frazzled after flying in, renting a car and navigating the racetrack/autostrada for the hour’s drive. (Taking a taxi, easily arranged by the hotel, might be a better option next time.)

Read more: The Best of Tuscany’s Wine Resorts

Walking down from the room in search of the bar and a bite, we came across an enchanting sight. The hotel holds occasional evenings for locals and guests to sample regional beers and wines, and local cuisine in a buffet style. Puglia has been acclaimed for its wines but what is less known is that it’s part of Italy’s microbrewery revolution as well. It was hard to choose between the local beer and a local chardonnay. For the cuisine, we chose from a giant pan of pasta with sausage and melted cheese, and some antipasti.

Choices made, sit at your table in the gardens, under the olive grove near the pool, next to the walls of the ancient city, listen to the jazz and you feel far from the airport transfer.

restaurant with outdoor tables

The hotel’s outdoor restaurant focuses on local, seasonal produce

Exploring

The hotel is in the heart of the most compelling city where you can wander through the latticework of ancient streets. You can get a guide or allow your instincts to guide you. Doing the latter, we stumbled upon a hidden square with a single restaurant and terrace where lunch turned into an after-lunch digestif and into an early evening aperitif.

Verdict

The most mesmerising way to stay in one of Italy’s most interesting cities, and with a homegrown, not a big chain feel. Exquisite.

Find out more: lafiermontina.com/hotel

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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silver sportscar
silver sportscar

Image by Mark Fagelson Photography

In the third part of our Fast & Luxurious car series from the Summer 2021 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of Porsche’s powerful SUV: the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

When we were younger, we had a dream idea of what the perfect SUV would be. An effortless, go anywhere car with endless performance and the ability to take both motorways and winding roads (and on-roads) in its stride, without skipping a beat.

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The first drive in a then new 1990s Range Rover put us to rights. It was quite powerful, and comfortable, and could certainly go anywhere across a field. But at the moment it started even looking at a corner, the whole car would lean over as if it were going to fall on its side, and the general squishiness of its performance made it feel like driving a marshmallow on roller stilts. Not an edifying experience.
Things have moved a long way in the right direction since then, with technology, so often blamed for hampering a successful car experience, providing all the gains.

Now, it is possible to build a huge, luxurious, powerful SUV with the kind of road presence beloved of purchasers of this type of car, and a high centre of gravity which would have made a previous generation of cars lean over in corners. Due to electronics, everything stays flat.

Nowhere is this more apparent then in our spirited drive of the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. This Porsche SUV is top of the range, having enough horsepower to tow a small European country if required. There is a huge amount of room for five passengers and their luggage, and a high-tech interior that will please, and probably confuse, the most ardent technologist.

This Cayenne can win a drag race with almost anything else on the road, its excellent gearbox reading your mind as you approach corners in sport mode, and changing down ready for the next assault of a straight. And in the corners themselves, it stays flat and precise.

Read more: An exclusive tasting of Moët & Chandon’s Grand Vintage 2013

Driving it this way, you do wonder though whether such high-performance needs would be better served by a lighter, lower car like Porsche’s own 911. That car can’t squeeze in as many people and bags as this, and it certainly can’t make its way over a muddy field, but you wonder whether owners of Cayennes do that much real off-roading, or that much super high-performance driving. Most of them would be just as happy with a normal model Cayenne.

But if you want the best of the best, this is up there. Lamborghini’s Urus is even more wild and exciting to drive, but more ‘out there’ and perhaps too much for everyday driving. Bentley’s Bentayga and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan are different types of car, more expensive and more focused on luxury than performance.

In that sense the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is that ultimate SUV for the person who wants it all. Overkill, perhaps, but then what’s the car for?

LUX rating: 18/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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perfumer's studio
portrait of a woman in black and white

Hermès perfumer Christine Nagel. Photograph by Sofia Etmauro

Christine Nagel is one of the most admired perfumers in the world, and has worked as the “nose” of Hermès since 2016. Most recently, she created H24, the brand’s first scent for men in fifteen years. Here, she discusses her approach to creating fragrances and how the industry has changed over the course of her career

LUX: What was the catalyst for your decision to become a perfumer?
Christine Nagel: I am a Swiss national with an Italian mother, I grew up a long way from Grasse and the world of perfumery. My encounter with perfume came through my studies in organic chemistry and my first professional experience. Alberto Morillas, whom I saw from my office window, was instrumental in my decision. He asked two young women to smell his trial fragrances. I saw their smiles, I felt their emotions, I perceived their pleasures. At that precise moment, I knew. I was sure that this job, that allows you to give so much, was for me. So, it was through the infinitely small that I discovered the richness of perfumery. Then, I couldn’t rest until I had become a perfumer, constantly learning, experimenting and perfecting my knowledge. And some wonderful encounters have marked my life. I wasn’t afraid to take risks and luckily, they turned out well for me.

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LUX: What is your favourite scent?
Christine Nagel: The one I’m working on, that is to say the next one. Seriously, though, my favourites fluctuate, and I have no preconceptions about any material or any scent. All raw materials interest me. I like to transform things, I like to make green notes warm, woods liquid, and flowers hostile. But if I really had to choose one, it would be patchouli.

LUX: Do you have a set strategy when creating a new perfume?
Christine Nagel: Once again, there is no marketing intervention before creation. It supports creation, it doesn’t dictate it. What is remarkable about Hermès is the constant faith placed in creation and the creator. If I was chosen by the house, it was for this signature. This recognition is a source of delight every day because I am living my dream of creating fragrances that uphold and embody all the values of this house. My only aim is therefore to create exceptional fragrances.

bottle of perfume

Hermès’ new fragrance H24. Photograph by Quentin Bertoux

LUX: Should people have different perfumes for separate occasions?
Christine Nagel: A fragrance touches or speaks to us through how it resonates with our emotions, memories and desires. It can make us feel seductive or protected in turn. Everyone can find what they need for a particular time of day or year, or in a personal or professional context.

LUX: Are there advantages to having one gender create scents for the other?
Christine Nagel: No, from my point of view it is not a question of gender but a question of style, a question of signature and sensitivity. I don’t believe that people choose a fragrance on the basis of the perfumer’s sex anymore. That era is over. Women are behind some great creations, whether for famous names or niche brands.

Read more: Celebrating women in wine with VIVANT

LUX: Why has it been so long since Hermès created a male perfume?
Christine Nagel: There have been interpretations of Terre d’Hermès, but it is true that there have been no new creations from scratch. The success stories that have become classics have shaped the history of Hermès for men: Equipage in 1970, Bel ami in 1986, and Terre d’Hermès 15 years ago. They were all bold, and decisively different at the times they were created. They all represented the house’s values, with perfumery that made a statement, a free and committed type of perfumery that was deeply anchored in heritage to better innovate in the present. It was time. H24 is a fragrance for a new audience, in keeping with a desire for innovation and with the tradition of great French perfumery promoted by the house.

perfumer's studio

Christine Nagel in her atelier in 2017.  Photograph by Quentin Bertoux

LUX: During the past 30 years has there been a noticeable change in desire for perfume generally, or the type of scent demanded?
Christine Nagel: Since my early days in this wonderful profession, perfumery has changed, and I’m very glad it has. It has changed and adapted to every era. The changes are as much sociological and economic as they are artistic and technical. Economic because mass-market perfumery has emerged, sociological because it has adapted to everyone’s tastes, artistic because the perfumers who create the fragrances are named and showcased. And finally, technological because new methods for extracting materials, new molecules and tools for understanding and analysing materials have also shaken up the way fragrance is designed. As for predicting the future, I don’t want to do that because talking about trends is already talking about the past. But if I had a dream it would be to ban consumer tests and panels that have standardised and confined the world of fragrance.

Read more: Olivier Krug on champagne and music

LUX: Do you prefer combining scents or creating completely new ones? Creating a fragrance that belongs to an existing family or starting from scratch as for H24?
Christine Nagel: It’s not the same exercise and both are exciting. It is perhaps a little more difficult to create a fragrance within an existing family because it involves respecting its spirit, structure and imaginary world while adding your own signature.

Working on an icon, like I did with Terre d’Hermès and Eau des Merveilles, is daunting but also extremely stimulating. I move onto creation after a phase of observation where I examine the formula in depth. I want to understand its workings, decode its mysteries, and then, I immerse myself in creation without fear, which allows me to go quite far. And to be clear, each one is a genuine creation.

fragrance bottle

H24 100ml bottle by Hermès

LUX: What do you think a choice of perfume says about a person?
Christine Nagel: Fragrance says a lot, as does how it is worn. As I said before, perfume can be protective, acting like armour, a protective bubble to avoid others or, on the contrary, it can be a projector, seeking to seduce, to be seen, to show oneself. But it is nothing without the person who wears it. It only exists and speaks to the senses in the way it is used, whether that is abundant or discreet. However it is used, it makes it possible to be.

LUX: What is the most surprising thing you have noticed during your journey as a perfumer?
Christine Nagel: The incredible emotion that a fragrance can trigger. Scent is an endless source of emotions and stories, because each individual scent opens up a new narrative in an imaginary world.

LUX: Do you think in this day and age it’s appropriate to differentiate perfumes by gender?
Christine Nagel: No, I don’t. For me, fragrances are works of art, and as such are not created specifically for women or for men, but for humanity. The fragrance exists in itself, not in relation to its destination. In Eastern and Indian cultures, rose or patchouli can be worn by men. So it’s not the scent that makes the gender, because a scent becomes masculine on a man’s skin and feminine on a woman’s skin. We just have to know how to dare, be bold, trust ourselves and try things out.

LUX: Do you think the best perfumers are born with a creative olfactory sense or is it something you can learn?
Christine Nagel: That’s not an easy question to answer, but it seems to me that you need a certain sensitivity, a curiosity about the world and an open-mindedness that allows you to capture its richness, not forgetting a certain amount of generosity and the desire to share. You also have to be a hard worker because this job also requires great discipline and a lot of work. Finally, and this is as difficult to explain as it is essential, you need an extra measure of soul, a special something.

Discover Hermès’ collections: hermes.com

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Reading time: 7 min
seafront villa
seafront villa

A seafront villa at the Ritz-Carlton residences in Bodrum, Turkey

The concept of the branded residence was born in New York in 1927 when The Sherry Netherland Hotel began offering privately owned apartments overlooking Central Park. Since then, almost all major hotel groups have jumped on the trend, launching collections of luxurious, fully-serviced apartments and villas across the globe. Here, Dana Jacobsohn, the Senior Vice President of Residential Development at Marriott International discusses consumer trends, the impact of the pandemic, and the launch of the world’s largest branded residential complex to date

woman smiling

Dana Jacobsohn

1.Why do think branded residences have become more popular in recent years?

The comfort of buying into globally trusted brands like The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis is becoming even more important to buyers as it ensures the very best in services around the globe. All members of our dedicated residential staff go through over 150 hours of training annually and I think that level of service really appeals to buyers, especially during these unsure times.

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2. Has the pandemic brought about any changes in your sector of the real-estate industry?

Our branded residences business has been resilient, and we have seen strong consumer confidence despite uncertainty caused by the pandemic. The live, work and play phenomenon is a trend that we are seeing across our properties. Vacation homes are now becoming places where people stay for longer periods of time. Many of our residents are working from their homes, so they want to have offices and workstations that seamlessly fit into their lifestyle. We expect to see more vacation homes to become a primary place of residence in the future.

3. How do you engage your owners?

Our teams of dedicated residential staff often become like extended family to our residents. Staff members quickly become familiar with owners’ preferences, their pets, and family, so there’s a very deep level of personal engagement within the communities.

Often in our residences, we’ll have an owner’s lounge, and a place where, say, a celebrity chef comes and does a cooking instruction. However, due to the pandemic, we’ve had to get even more creative with our programming and how we engage with owners. For example, at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Los Angeles,  the staff delivered food to residents during the pandemic, and we organised a cooking class via Zoom.

luxurious villa on the beach

A render of the living space inside a St. Regis branded beachfront villa

4. Where have you seen the most growth in recent years?

While the majority of our branded residential portfolio is in North America, more than 75% of our pipeline projects are outside the US. We are seeing strong interest from markets in Asia and the Middle East.

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

5. What is the most common demand from buyers?

With over 100 locations across the globe, Marriott International’s branded residences portfolio offers something for everyone from beach-front resort-style properties to ski chalets in the mountains or homes that are within walking distance to restaurants in a bustling city. Our buyers’ lifestyle preferences vary, but the common thread is that they all want beautiful design, and trusted services. I think those will always be most important elements to a buyer, regardless of the location.

6. Can you tell us about latest project in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam?

We were thrilled to announce this dual-branded project, The JW Marriott Residences and Marriott Residences, Grand Marina, Saigon earlier this year. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, the project marks the largest branded residential project in the world and is anticipated to include close to 4,200 residential and office units. Each private retreat will offer access to an array of high-quality hotel-like amenities and on-demand services for residents.

Find out more: marriottresidences.com

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mountaintop hotel overlooking a city
mountaintop hotel overlooking a city

The Dolder Grand hotel with the city of Zurich beyond. Photograph by David Biedert

In the second edition of our four part luxury travel views column from our Summer 2021 issue, LUX editor-in-chief Darius Sanai discovers the rewards to be gained from combining business and pleasure at The Dolder Grand in Zurich

Zurich is a city to do business in, and another city with much more to offer than business. I could spend three days in the Kunsthaus museum alone, as well as (in normal times) the thoughtful shows in the Kunsthalle.

In corona times, business trips have fewer long meetings and meals (and in many cases, amen to that), meaning longer intervals in the places you’re visiting, particularly when juggling more than one client.

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Anticipating this, and a lot of downtime at the hotel, I booked into The Dolder Grand. Zurich’s ‘city resort’ hotel has gained a spectacular reputation since it reopened after a long slumber, in 2008. It is located near the top of a hillside above the city, about 10 minutes by car or funicular from the city centre (though the bottom station of the funicular isn’t strictly in the centre of the city). On a golden summer’s day, arrival at the hotel is a tonic. You are in a semi-residential, semi-forested area high above the city, with dramatic views across Lake Zurich to the faraway crest of the high Alps.

The hotel itself was rebuilt by Norman Foster for its grand reopening, and the notable and spectacular are everywhere in the blend of classic and modern, particularly in the artworks literally strewn around the premises.

Contemporary art and design are in the hotel’s DNA; one of the restaurants was designed by Rolf Sachs, the artist/designer son of tycoon Gunter Sachs, both St Moritz royalty.
My junior suite deluxe was pure Norman Foster-meets-One Hyde Park (he designed that, too). Floor-to-ceiling windows with black frames, balcony with black railings with a view across the lake. Sofa the shape of an amoeba, copper bowls with flowers, Mojave sand-coloured carpets with a similar amoeba swirl effect. The bath was strategically placed by the window with a view out into the forest.

neon pink lighting in a restaurant

Restaurant Saltz at The Dolder Grand in Zurich, with the Fauteuil Direction chair, designed by Jean Prouvé in 1939

That evening I chose to dine on the hotel’s extensive terrace. Seeing the colours of the city, lake and mountains change as the day ended was quite an experience, even without the food and the crisp yet lucid chardonnay from the Bündner Herrschaft beyond the lake.

The cuisine was served from Saltz and looked suitably experimental. What, for example, were Swiss dumplings (chicken, salmon, pork belly, ratatouille and roasted cauliflower), I wondered? My waiter told me that they were a take on dim sum, not incarnations of the dumpy European versions. He was right: they were fragrant, vibrant, wonderful, a reinvention of dim sum using local ingredients but respectful of the original and their paper-thin encasing.

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

Chestnut tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and tubers was earthy and genuine. It’s a casual menu, and you can pick from a variety of simple grills and add side dishes and sauces, like creamed spinach with poached quail egg, chilli soy Romanesco, chimichurri, or cognac green pepper jus. No dictatorship of the chef here.

My next day’s meeting was early, but I had to take advantage of our hotel’s pool. Clad with dark stone, it is a welcome addition to a city-centre hotel. It is rare to leave a hotel more culturally enlightened than when you arrived, but The Dolder Grand is one of those places. Not branding itself an art hotel (perish the thought), it is a contemporary cultural institution wrapped into a spectacular luxury hotel.

Find out more: thedoldergrand.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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corridor and stairway
corridor and stairway

Inside the new Castiglione wing of the Hôtel Costes. Image by Alex Profit.

The legendary celebrity magnet Hôtel Costes in Paris is reopening with 38 spectacular new rooms and suites in a new wing on the rue Castiglione. Owner Jean-Louis Costes, who has never before given an interview to the international media, tells LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai about his lack of design philosophy and why the hotel owes its success to discretion

1. What is your design philosophy?

I don’t know what you mean by a design philosophy. I choose people; all my life, I have chosen people. My first designer was Philippe Starck [for the Café Costes, which propelled Jean-Louis and his brother Gilbert to fame in 1984], who was unknown at the time. Then I took Jacques Garcia [for the original Hôtel Costes in 1995], also unknown at the time. And now, as I am getting older, I have taken on Christian Liaigre, because we are both young fathers and our sons were at the same school. Each morning we would have a coffee together and he would tell me “Jean-Louis, I want to redo your hotel”.

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2. What is the ‘legend of the Costes’ that people talk about?

There is no legend. I don’t know. I didn’t do anything deliberately, but it happened. We are different. People talk about the music, the scent. There was no music in hotels 25 years ago. We had a CD that played on a loop, I got sick of having to turn it off all the time, so I spoke to one of our old waiters who had just come out of rehab. I said to him, “Take this space and play music all day”. He knew a few labels and artists and asked if he could make our own compilation CD, and I let him do it and we sold five million CDs. It became a legend, but it was by chance.

As to the scent, everything in the Costes has a little story. I was sitting downstairs when we had just opened, and an attractive woman stopped and said, “Monsieur, are you the owner of this place?” I said yes. She said, “I like it a lot, but it smells bad.” And at that stage it was true – we were just trying to get rid of the smell of the original building works. A few days later I saw her in the pages of Elle; she was the star perfumer of France, Olivia Giacobetti. When I saw her again, I asked, “So, what should I do?” She said, “You have to create something yourself.” And I told her to go and do it, and she created our candle, which is now famous and sold around the world. Before that, hotels just didn’t have their own scents. But I created it on the spur of the moment. There was no strategy, no marketing.

women leaving a hotel

Joan Smalls, Kendall Jenner and Lily Donaldson leaving a Paris Fashion Week party at the Hôtel Costes. Image by Ben Eade/GoffPhotos.com

3. What do you like your guests to do?

I don’t like people who stay in their rooms. The guests have to meet and see real Parisians. People eating in the restaurant need to feel like they are in their own town.

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

4. What makes the Costes different?

I wanted to make an urban resort, not a business hotel, even though we have a lot of business guests. I’m also not part of a group, which makes a difference; we can be more joyful, more dynamic. I am one of the hoteliers who, over the past 25 years, has created this ‘entertainment’ style. And it’s not enough to be in a good location. You have to treat guests better than anyone else does. Your hotel needs to be more beautiful and have better facilities. I am always amazed when people build ugly little hotels and they do well with them.

marble staircase

A staircase in the Castiglione wing. Image by Alex Profit.

5. What makes the new wing, the Costes Castiglione, so special?

I’m not sure. I treat this hotel as if it’s my home, and not just the current enlargement, but from the beginning. I always created it as if I were decorating my own home.

hotel bedroom

A suite in the new wing. Image by Alex Profit.

6. Why don’t you give interviews?

To speak about a place is interesting, but to speak about myself is not. It’s just not my thing. It’s not necessary to create media to succeed. You have to be a bit enigmatic. These days, any hotel which opens and changes its bathrooms wants an article about it.

Jean-Louis gave his first international media interview for this article and asked that we do not publish a picture of him.

Find out more: hotelcostes.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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summer in the alps
summer in the alps

Andermatt in summer

As well as making it a world-class ski resort, the development of the Swiss village of Andermatt has from the very start aimed to attract people who want to live there full-time. Karen Chung meets three residents who, in their different ways, call it home

Andermatt was born from the conviction that if you build it, they will come. With the ultra-ambitious yet sustainable mega-development of what was previously a sleepy, tucked away Alpine village, the town now offers an unparalleled lifestyle mix in a traditional setting.

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The development has since grown into so much more than simply a luxury holiday destination, with a high-low mix from its flagship hotel The Chedi Andermatt and world-beating concert hall, Michelin-starred restaurants and serviced apartments, through to cosy pizzerias, its relaxed attitude and a wish list of outdoor activities and cultural events accessible all year round.

But what is it actually like to live there? Seven years after The Chedi Andermatt hotel put it firmly on the map, three residents reveal why Andermatt has it all.

 

JOHAN GRANVIK
The serial entrepreneur

Johan Granvik grew up near Andermatt and travelled the world before ending up back in his hometown. The businessman behind Andermatt’s boutique Schwarzer Bären hotel and its delightfully cosy-modern Italian restaurant admits his career trajectory has taken him by surprise. “Usually, people tend to go to the big city and never come back,” he says. “I left for the US at the age of 16 and never imagined I would come back. But I said to myself, if a project like this is happening in my own hometown, I want to be part of it.”

hotel courtyard

The Chedi Andermatt courtyard

He joined the launch team for The Chedi Andermatt hotel in 2013, stayed a year and a half, then with a friend he set up his own bar and nightclub. “There’s a lot of opportunity here. We added a restaurant on the slopes and another nightclub, then two summer businesses a few years later.” He notes that the development has brought in more people, but also left enough space for start-ups to do their own thing. “Although Andermatt is growing at an exponential pace, for me the character of the town is pretty much the same. Some thought it would become like St Moritz, but I don’t think it will. I talk to a lot of people in our restaurants who love it here because it’s so down-to-earth, and that’s quite unique. For us the focus is on improving the business,” he says. “We’re in this for the long haul.”

Read more: Umberta Beretta on fund-raising for the arts

Swiss village

Looking down on the Piazza Gottardo. Image by Valentin Luthiger

KAREN O’MAHONY
The working-from-home holidaymaker

“In normal times, I travel a lot in the US, UK and Europe reviewing potential investment opportunities, followed by months of intensive due diligence and analysis. When I need peace and quiet to think, I find the fresh air and light of Andermatt, and the lack of distraction, makes me really productive,” says Karen O’Mahony, a private equity investor who realised the full potential of her holiday home after London’s first lockdown. Sure enough, she swiftly joined the ranks of professionals who, forced to hit reset on their professional lives during the pandemic, swiftly saw potential upsides in the new normal. With the seismic shifts in working pattern and ties to major cities loosened, she can fit in two hours of cross-country skiing first thing in the morning, and be back at her desk before the London business day begins.

alpine golf course

The Andermatt Swiss Alps Golf Course. Image by Valentin Luthiger

“At any time of the year, Andermatt is steeped in nature with views of the mountains on all sides. From skiing, walking, golf and eating out, there’s something to do all year around, and this makes it much more of a home than a holiday property,” she says.

Man in a ski jacket

FRÄNGGI GEHRIG
The local

Folk musician and accordion player Fränggi Gehrig juggles a schedule of rehearsals and concerts during peak season with working on his own music and enjoying the mountains during quieter spells. As he appears on the screen from his home studio in Andermatt, the windows behind him reveal a tantalising view of snowcapped mountains in a stroke of unintentional Zoom one-upmanship. “I was lucky to be born here and to live in the mountains, the beautiful weather, the sun,” he says. “And we’re right in central Switzerland, so most places where I work are at most just a two-hour drive away.”

With a laugh, he recalls how he did his military service in the area where the resort now stands. “It’s hard to say how the town would have developed without this investment,” he says. “Now I might play between 80 and 120 concerts a year. In summer I might play four or five concerts a week. I also play a lot more now in Andermatt than I did a few years ago.

interiors of a concert hall

The auditorium of the Andermatt Concert Hall. Image by Anthony Brown

And, of course, for me as a musician, the most beautiful thing is the new concert hall” – which opened with an epic inaugural concert by the Berlin Philharmonic in summer 2019 that put Andermatt firmly on the cultural map. “The fact that a venue like this, with such an incredible acoustic, is right here in my hometown is amazing – and the other half of the concert-hall complex is a conference centre, so I also play private gigs for companies at dinners. It’s a good place to network, and as it grows, I think there will be even more opportunities for me as a musician. I could never imagine living anywhere else.”

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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grand swiss hotel
grand swiss hotel

The Badrutt’s Palace hotel’s grand frontage and its iconic tower.

High in St Moritz, the grandest hotel in the Alps has just been revitalised. There’s nowhere better to take the summer air with your entourage than Badrutt’s

What could be better than the Helen Badrutt Suite at Badrutt’s Palace? Yes, we know there are some pretty swanky hotel suites out there. The Abu Dhabi suite at the St Regis in the namesake emirate has its own spiral staircase and cinema. The Presidential Suite at the Mandarin Oriental in Pudong, Shanghai, has floor-to-ceiling windows over the city and its own wine cellar and roof garden. Stay at Seven South at the Ritz Carlton in Grand Cayman and as well as 11 bedrooms, you get a free painting to take home.

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But still. Enter the Helen Badrutt and you don’t feel like you have arrived, or paid what it takes, so much as having been granted entry to a very exclusive club, in one of the world’s most desirable pinpoint locations. Badrutt’s Palace is the acme of palace hotels in St Moritz, the world’s most exclusive mountain resort. It’s the fact that it has been so for more than a century, despite its location 1,800m up in the Swiss Alps, that provides a clue to the exclusivity: this is where blue bloods, royals, pretenders and their circle have played for more than 100 years.

luxurious hotel drawing room

The drawing room of the Helen Badrutt Suite

When the Shah of Iran decided to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire with the grandest dinner in the history of the world in Persepolis in 1971 (an act of indulgence that ultimately contributed to his downfall in the Islamic Revolution), he flew in the staff from Badrutt’s Palace. And staying in the Helen Badrutt, you are the crème de la crème of the hotel’s guests (or perhaps the Shahanshah).

Read more: Speaking with America’s new art icon Rashid Johnson

It might be the living room, with its grand décor, bottomless drinks cabinet refilled with spirits in decanters (no tacky miniatures here), Persian carpets and chandelier; or the balcony terrace looking out over Lake St Moritz and the mountain beyond, big enough to host a party for 20 people (we did); or the silent-quiet bedroom or marble bathroom; or that it can interconnect privately to form an entire wing of ten bedrooms.

outdoor swimming pool

The Badrutt’s Palace pool overlooking Lake St Moritz

Maybe it’s the butler service, which, unlike some more thrusting hotels, is almost entirely seen and not heard, Jeeves-style (we don’t know about you, but we don’t need butlers knocking on our door and asking what to do; they should know already, as they do at Badrutt’s).

In any case, staying in the Helen Badrutt bestows upon the visitor a sense of history, transforming the humble paying guest into a multi-suffixed European aristocrat with seats in each major city of the Holy Roman Empire and a foundation in a castled town in Westphalia from where a tweed-suited team of faithful retainers disburse philanthropic goodness to worthy institutions around the world. Or so it feels, anyway.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on Georgia O’Keeffe’s enduring influence

And even if that nuance escapes you, there is the rest of this glorious destination to enjoy. The Palace driver (there is a Rolls-Royce, of course) will whisk you to the foot of the Languard chairlift in nearby Pontresina, for example, from where you waft upwards through a magical larch forest where unknown creatures seemingly create tiny gardens in tree stumps; and from the top of which there is a view to the end of the Roseg valley where mountains live in permanent winter.

hotel suite drawing room

A newly refreshed St Moritz Suite

Or if you prefer to stay in St Moritz, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chopard, et al, are metres, or in some cases centimetres, from the Palace. And if you prefer to stay in the
hotel itself, there’s the swimming pool with its celebrated rock garden to dive from (a kind of mini Alpine Acapulco) and spa, tennis courts, adventure playground and kids’ club.

And the best thing? Well, even old money needs refreshing sometime, and during lockdown the Palace has had more than 40 of its rooms and suites redecorated – the official word is “refreshed” – by New York design studio Champalimaud, which has brought fresh blues and whites and a kind of Alpine light to the rooms. Which means that even if you’re not old-guard enough, there’s a place for you.

Book your stay: badruttspalace.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 Issue.

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Reading time: 4 min
residential apartment
luxury apartment building

Andermatt’s newest apartment building Altera features twelve luxury residences

Andermatt Swiss Alps is the hottest destination in Switzerland right now. The sustainable ski/golf/mountain living resort in the mountains in the centre of the country achieved record property sales last year and that’s set to increase with the recent launch of two more luxury apartment buildings. Buy while you can…

A recently published report revealed that Andermatt Swiss Alps made a total of CHF 76.9 million in 2020 from its property sales, an increase of approximately 25% from 2019 and the highest figure in the resort’s history.

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While the pandemic continues to have devastating impacts on global tourism, the demand for Andermatt’s luxury alpine residential properties has continued to rise. The majority of apartments in the Frame and Alma buildings, which launched in the summer of 2020, were sold out within several weeks, and there are only a few residences left in the resort’s newest buildings, Koya and Altera, which launched in March.

alpine apartment

The open-plan living room in one Altera’s apartments

The interest is partly due to the rare investment opportunity (it’s difficult for foreigners to be able to buy apartments Switzerland), but also thanks to the resort’s development as a thriving year-round destination.

Read more: Tasting with sustainable Napa wine producer Beth Novak Milliken

Since the start of the project in 2007, a total of more than CHF 1.2 billion has been invested to transform what was once a sleepy ski village into one of the most exclusive and dynamic alpine resorts. It’s part of central Switzerland’s largest linked ski area which offers high-altitude cycling and hiking routes in the summer, and home to luxury hotels such as The Chedi Andermatt as well as slope-side Michelin-starred restaurants.

residential apartment

The interiors of Koya’s apartments are inspired by Japanese design

Andermatt’s latest residences

Located in the village’s car-free area known as Andermatt Reuss, Koya and Altera each offer a distinct atmosphere complete with sophisticated design details and luxurious owner amenities.

Koya’s stylish, Japanese-inspired, mezzanine-style apartments are already sold out, but Altera offers twelve, equally beautiful residences for contemporary Alpine living. Each room has been carefully designed to maximise natural light and highlight the staggering views of the surrounding mountains through tall, floor to ceiling windows. The building also features a communal ski room, residents’ lounge with an open fire, a spin studio, sauna, and relaxation area.

For more information, visit: andermatt-swissalps.ch

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outdoor lounge area
outdoor lounge area

The Garden Room at The Lanesborough hotel, Knightsbridge

The Garden Room at the Lanesborough hotel is one of the world’s most glamorous cocktail destinations. Darius Sanai celebrates the end of London’s lockdown with a glass of fine wine and a cocktail

Have you ever wondered what it must be like to be on the other side of the luxury hospitality industry? We love the service at the world’s great hotels and restaurants, from Lombok to London. But to be in the hospitality industry, to be serving demanding, wealthy, privileged, and often entitled customers literally 24/7?

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There are LUX readers who will know the answer, perhaps because they own a hotel or group of restaurants, or trained in the industry before becoming senior executives. From my own conversations (and my limited experience of working in the industry at a very low pay grade when I was younger) there is one thing that unites any institution with great service, and that is the love of providing great service. All those stories about staff going home and cursing and sticking pins in dolls of their customers? Not really, not in the greatest hotels and restaurants. You have to love what you do, however exhausting.

smart hotel bar

And that’s what I realised I had missed when walking through the doors of the Lanesborough in London last week, my first entry into a luxury hotel since last year, unprecedented in my current life. If you are fortunate enough to be able to stay and visit such establishments – not confined to marble and gold taps luxury, but anywhere at the peak of the hospitality industry – you will have missed being with people who genuinely love and get a thrill out of looking after their guests. This goes as much for the old couple who welcome you in to sit on a table (that’s right) in the mountains of northern Iran and treat you with a banquet of tea, local fruits and Petit Beurre biscuits as it does for a luxury hotel.

But if you are visiting a luxury hotel, there are very few that will give you better service than one of the Oetker Collection, comprising among others the Eden Roc, the Bristol in Paris, and the Lanesborough in London.

Read more: Hermès perfumer Christine Nagel on the emotional power of scent

Stepping into the doors of the Lanesborough, being ushered at a distance down the up-lit marble hallway to the grand stairs leading down towards the Garden Room – the outdoor space that they are now permitted to open – was, after London’s lockdown, a luxury experience in itself.

Even if you wouldn’t dream of smoking a cigar, you would be tempted by the cigar wall on your right downstairs and the subsequent cigar library – with delicious looking cigars dating back for decades – on your left as you enter the Garden Room.

It’s a kind of combination of a bar and a terrace. A short selection of excellent wines served in cut crystal glasses, heavy enough to make a thud when you put them down on your table. (Note to the sommelier: while each of the wines is superb in its own right, you have three Sauvignon Blancs as the first three wines on your list.) A Chablis Lechets Bernard Defaix was an excellent match to our dinner of crispy squid, very nutty homemade hummus, garden salads, and a sea bass with olive and tomato (and truffle fries) that flung us, metaphorically, to the Cote d’Azur in June.

cocktail and cigar

This is a cocktail bar above all else, and a virgin mojito (always a hard drink to make brilliantly, without the balance of the Havana Club) was sweet-sour mint perfection.

And the service: it felt like the staff had been waiting for months of gruelling lockdown just to get back to work – which may or may not be true, but they made us feel it was true, which is the suspension of belief of every luxury experience.

The Garden Room may not be for the stogiephobic – although semi-outside, it has the waft of well-aged Havanas in its DNA – but aside from that it is a London destination, now reopened, with glamour. That’s what we have been missing, and as glamour is almost by definition provided by other people, it’s impossible to recreate at home in a lockdown. The Garden Room has it by the magnum.

Find out more: oetkercollection.com/hotels/the-lanesborough/

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man with handbags and watches
man with handbags and watches

Founder of Xupes, Joe McKenzie

Joe McKenzie and his father Frank founded Xupes in 2009, selling a handful of pre-owned Cartier watches from their home in Bishop’s Stortford. The company now sells a curated collection of vintage handbags, jewellery, art and design pieces alongside refurbished luxury timepieces. Here, he speaks to Candice Tucker about sustainable luxury, the rise of the digital marketplace and future collectibles

1. What inspired you to enter the pre-owned luxury retail industry?

I’ve always been interested in and participated in the circular economy. When I was 13, I was buying and selling clothes on eBay. I’ve always had an appreciation for nice things (but couldn’t afford them!) with an interest in engineering. Buying pre-owned gave me the ability to own and enjoy nice clothes for a few months and then, often sell them for double what I paid. When I was 15, I taught myself to repair airsoft gearboxes. Airsoft was an increasingly popular sport at the time and I imported parts from China to offer one of the first repair services in the UK. This was my first proper job that gave me the ability to save up some money. My parents have always taught me the importance of independence and I guess my entrepreneurship started from a young age inspired by my father and grandfather who both ran their own successful businesses.

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The mechanics of watches always fascinated me (my great grandfather was a clock maker) and when I was lucky enough to be gifted one, I became immersed in the world of horology. With the knowledge and experience of buying and selling on eBay, I saw an opportunity to redefine a market that was growing and where others were not offering service or quality. I thought to myself: why shouldn’t the experience of buying a second hand (or pre-owned as we call it) luxury watch be the same or better than buying one new? This is how the idea of Xupes began, in my bedroom at university, and I set out to redefine the perception of buying a luxury pre-owned item. I was completing a degree in photography at the time, and I used this experience to focus on creating a brand that could become a leader in the sector.

watches

A selection of pre-owned luxury watches from the Xupes collection

2. Why are vintage watches becoming ever more popular at a time when everyone has a phone that tells the time and also a smart watch?

This is a topic which has been widely discussed. At first, people thought the smart watch would have a significant impact on the luxury watch market. But customers who own a luxury watch appreciate it for many other reasons beyond convenience. Smart watches provide a service and the technology that helps us streamline our lives day to day. A luxury or vintage watch is a work of art, something with history that tells a story and is an extension of our personality, that one day might be passed on to loved ones. They also can appreciate so have become collectable and in today’s world and alternative asset class. Often, for these reasons our customers have both for these very different purposes.

3. Have any watch brands become noticeably more popular since the pandemic?

The pandemic has had one major impact to our sector: it has accelerated a shift towards digital/online channels versus the high street, a shift that was happening already, but is now probably 5 years ahead of where it would have been had the pandemic not happened. At the start of the pandemic this created a rush of brands struggling to re-organise their businesses to be able to sell online, but it is only now, 12 months on, that many of them have managed to set this up properly whilst others are still developing their operations to cope with this change. I also think consumers are more conscious of the impact their purchasing is having on the planet, bringing a wave a focus on more sustainable luxury, within which the circular economy will play a huge part in years to come.

Read more: Uplifting new paintings by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

This has all meant we’ve seen considerable demand grow across our most popular brands, which people couldn’t easily buy during the pandemic. Examples are Rolex, AP and Patek Philippe, but we’ve seen a new demand in vintage across these brands as well as Cartier, Omega, IWC, and Jaeger-Le- Coultre as customers start to diversify and deepen their interests and collections. Some of the more niche independent brands have also increased in their desirability such as FP Journe, George Daniels, Philippe Dufour, Laurent Ferrier and Moser & Cie. My personal belief is that next year will also be big for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak as it is the model’s 50th Anniversary. I expect prices for vintage Royal Oak’s to increase significantly. Prices in the past 12 months have risen across the pre-owned sector in varying amounts driven by this shortage of supply.

4. What is the decision process when deciding which brands you choose to sell?

We created Xupes through interest and passion for what we do. Our whole service is built around experience and taking time to educate and often learn from our customers. We apply this to the collection we offer and only purchase around 5% of what we are offered. This is because we’re selective about quality, provenance and also the brands and models we select. We believe our collection of watches is one of the best in the industry. Whilst we want our customers to have the right variety, we won’t sell anything and everything and 75% of our inventory is focused across five key brands.

002_Daytona-Stainless-Steel-Gents-6239

A pre-owned Rolex Daytona Stainless Steel watch

5. Is there a clear demographic of the people buying pre-owned watches?

The demographic where we see the largest portion of our customers is 35-50 and 75% male as you might expect. The watches we sell are expensive items often purchased for a special occasion to commemorate a milestone in life or to celebrate a birthday or other event. It’s hard for our team to remember that people often work hard for years to treat themselves to a luxury watch. So many of our customers are professionals from a variety of walks of life. It’s important to add however we have seen an increase in our female customer base; one of our best customers is a female watch collector with over 150 watches in her collection. And we’ve also seen a shift new 20–35-year-old customers buying their first watch with a view to investment, something they can also trade up through our part exchange service.

6. Which contemporary watch brands do you envisage being future collectibles?

We’ve seen Richard Mille sustain huge growth in residual values in the pre-owned market over the past three years. Twelve months ago, we discussed whether this could and would continue, and whether it could be a fad and go out of fashion, but the demand and prices remain strong, and Richard Mille has done well to maintain demand. I believe some of the independent brands could become hugely coveted in the future as the watch market continues to grow. We’ve seen this with FP Journe and Laurent Ferrier as I mentioned as many pieces are made in such small volumes versus say Rolex or even Patek Philippe. We also witnessed the recent discontinuation of the Nautilus 5711 which saw prices spike by 25% in 24 hours in a market where this watch already commanded nearly 3 times premium on the retail price. Lange & Sohne’s release of the Odysseus was another example of a leading brand bringing out a steel “sports” watch which now commands a large premium. Rolex sports watches are always a safe investment and will have future collectability.

Find out more: xupes.com

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Restaurant Markus Neff and The Japanese at the top of Gütsch in Andermatt

Two of our favourite mountain restaurants have just received Michelin stars. You can’t get in there right now because of the pandemic, though they are open for very stylish takeout, and as soon as they open up, LUX will be first in line

It’s a familiar scene. You do a couple of speedy red runs and take the gondola up from the village down in the valley, and within a few minutes you are above the tree line and the view has opened out – in this case, to a crossroads of four high valleys in central Switzerland, marking more or less the centre of the Alps.

At the top station, the sky is a deep ultramarine, and though the sun is strong, the air is chilly. It’s time for lunch.

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At the top of Gütsch in Andermatt, you have the option of two restaurants. But there is no tartiflette, fondue or rösti available here.

The dining terrace. Image by Valentin Luthiger

To your right is The Japanese, run by the team from the Chedi hotel down in the valley. You can luxuriate in a feast of salmon, tuna, hamachi, Swiss shrimp, scallop, sea bass, waghu and tamago nigiri. Or you can just sit on the terrace and nibble on teppanyaki dumplings and drink Krug.

sushi

A selection of sashimi from The Japanese menu

Next door, and reached by an interconnecting terrace, is the Restaurant Markus Neff at Gütsch. Here you have similarly haute cuisine in every sense of the word, but in a very different style: bisque of Swiss Rheinfelden shrimp; saddle of venison, brussels sprouts and chanterelles.

Read more: Juanita Ingram on empowering women in the workplace

It’s a tough choice, for which the only answer is to ensure you have two lunchtimes to sample them both – though you will need to book well in advance.

The interiors of Restaurant Markus Neff. Image by Valentin Luthiger

And as the proof of the pudding is in the awarding, we are delighted but not in the least surprised to hear that both restaurants have just been awarded a Michelin star, in their first full year of operation. Quite an achievement for restaurants where the ingredients arrive by gondola. But that’s kind of what we’ve come to expect at the swanky new development of Andermatt Swiss Alps in Switzerland.

For more information visit: andermatt-swissalps.ch/en;  thechediandermatt.com/en/Restaurants/The-Japanese-by-The-Chedi-Andermatt/;guetsch.com

 

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Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante
Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

In the final part of our supercar review series, LUX takes the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante for a test drive

What is a sports car? In an era of AI and soon-to-be self-driving cars, the idea of driving as a sport is an anachronism. Everything from power steering to radar-controlled cruise control mean the elements of activity and chance in driving are being eroded. If ‘sports’ is a measure of speed, the fact that even the most anodyne of fully electric cars can accelerate as fast as many traditional sports cars only adds to the question.

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One answer comes in the form of the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante. Volante in Aston terms means convertible, and while this car has many modern accoutrements as a price tag of several hundred thousand pounds/dollars/euros would suggest, it is very much old school in that it is aimed at the pleasure of the driver and passenger, and not as an implement.

The Superleggera is powered by a 715hp V12 twin-turbo engine, which means that it has to be a monster. It is a striking-looking car and the carbon-fibre finishing on the exterior adds to the air of menace and poise. Roof down around town, it attracts a lot of looks, of admiration rather than hostility. This is a cultured car, and it makes a cultured noise. Unlike almost any other car with this power, it is also pleasurable to drive around town. Give a car more than 700hp and the ability to accelerate from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, and you often have something that is a bit of a pain to drive unless you are pressing on through an empty, fast road.

The Superleggera has a traditional automatic gearbox, rather than a F1-style manual gear shift (you shift gears with your hands on the paddles), meaning you can just stick it in D like a family school-run car and pootle around town quite happily. It rides firmly but doesn’t shake your brain out through your ears like some cars with extreme power specifications, and its medium-weighted steering makes it easy to manoeuvre. Roof down, you can see all parts of the car for parking – it’s a different story with the roof shut.

It’s the same with the accommodation. On a series of sunny summer days, we managed to cram four full-sized adults into the car for a two to three-hour journey each day. This is not what the car is made for: what you really want is to put the front seats back and drop your Bottega Veneta shopping bags in the rear. Still, when pressed, this supercar really can carry four adults, and some bags squashed in the boot.

Read more: LUX Loves: Richard Mille’s collaboration with Benjamin Millepied & Thomas Roussel

Conversely, the driver and front-seat passenger enjoy a wonderful experience. This is a car that can cruise at extremely illegal speeds, enjoyably and safely without too much breeze in the front. Some cars in this category excel at the racetrack, others are more aimed at high-speed comfort. The Aston is squarely in the middle, and actually succeeds in this difficult task rather well. Mashing the accelerator produces laugh-out-loud thrust all the way into those illegal speeds and beyond. Meanwhile it is a delight to steer through a series of fast, smooth bends.

Convertible car

Interior of the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

It also means that it is not as exciting or capable on tight roads as a full-on supercar; the Aston is heavy and will lose composure if pushed through the gears on a bumpy, sharp corner. Nor is it a calm, quiet cruiser, and the cabin does not have the luxury finish of its competitors. More nicely finished air vents and a detail in front of the passenger (perhaps a Superleggera logo, as appears on the bonnet), along with some more exclusive-looking leather on the dashboard, would make all the difference in what is after all a low production-volume car.

Other elements, though, are unique: the bellowing thrust from the V12, the steering that is calm and talkative; and the feel-good factor of piloting a car that requires effort. It is great fun to drive, and has a feeling of cultured Britishness. It’s very much at one with the company’s history as a supplier of cars to James Bond.

In fact, we can’t think of a better car for James or Jane Bond to be driving down the Grande Corniche while chasing a master criminal in a Tesla that runs out of electricity. Before turning up for an evening of fun and frolic at the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat with his or her gender-neutral companion for the night. Expensive, but a perfect sports car for the times.

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: astonmartin.com

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue.

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Reading time: 4 min
Orange Car
Orange convertible car

Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible

In the third part of our supercar review series, LUX gets behind the wheel of the Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible

Certain cars have visual drama. Other cars loom. Others still are artistic. The new Bentley Continental GT V8 has presence.

It’s a hard thing to do well in a car, presence. Any large car is literally more present than any small car, and the Bentley is on the large side for a car that doesn’t accommodate more than one large suitcase in its boot, But, recently re-designed, the Continental has a svelte way of going down the road, with a rather beautiful front, and balance in its looks. It is not imposing like a Rolls, its presence implies elegance.

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This is a powerful, fast convertible that actually has proper room in the back for a pair of adults. It’s true that four adults, seated in the car and travelling in refinement at high speed accompanied by the mellifluous howl from the V8 engine would need to send all but their hand luggage ahead of them, as the boot could only accommodate some squishy Vuitton bags.

Inside Bentley Convertible

But that’s fine, because the Bentley is a car for being there and enjoying it, rather than getting there, as the name implies. Unless getting there involved a hypothetical world of traffic-free open roads with no speed limits and sinuous curves up mountain passes devoid of caravans and coaches. In which case, the Continental would be enormous fun. The engine has huge reserves of power from low down and makes a great noise as it punches forward. Perhaps it doesn’t have the bite of its 12-cylinder, bigger engined sibling, but you would only really notice if you were having a race. In the past, Bentleys tended to be bruisers of cars – capable and powerful, but not delicate, and sometimes rather awkward when pushed.

Read more: Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem on championing artists

This car will canter at high speed through tight corners which would have left its predecessors losing grip. It’s also enjoyable to drive at low speeds, roof down, enjoying the scenery outside and the absolutely stunning detail of the interior. As cars have become luxury brands more than simply driving implements, the beauty of the finish in this car’s interior is what sets it apart from cheaper competitors that can match it on performance (think Tesla).

That, and its presence. Essential owning, if you have a home in St-Tropez or the Hamptons.

LUX Rating: 19/20

Find out more: bentleymotors.com

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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yellow sportscar

Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD

In the second part of our supercar series, LUX drives the new and improved Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD

Amid the current debate about cultural appropriation, we have a theory that many of the best things in life come from cultural mingling – which is not quite the same thing. Anyone who has visited the region of Alto Adige in northern Italy, which has been swapped between France and Austria over the centuries, will understand Italian culture and cuisine combined with Austrian efficiency creating a whole new world of design and lifestyle? Yes, please.

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We have a theory that the same thing has happened at Lamborghini. This is, on the face of it, the most extrovert and Italian of carmakers. Its logo is a raging bull, created specifically to annoy Enzo Ferrari and his prancing horse. Its cars are not only era-defining design classics (look at the 1960s Miura, which featured in The Italian Job) or the crazy 1980s Countach. They are also, traditionally, loud (visually and aurally), outrageously designed inside, have posing value beyond any other car no matter what the price, and go very fast, if you can handle them.

But this was not all good. Perhaps you wanted something with a soul of a Lamborghini, which didn’t attract a crowd of onlookers every time you drove it. And perhaps you wanted something that you would actually look forward to driving, rather than bracing yourself for a task.

The calming influence on Lamborghini’s hairy-chest nature came in the form of the Volkswagen group, which acquired the company in 1998. Lamborghinis have had a reputation for being better built, more reliable and easier to use since then. But they have also started moving towards the other extreme of becoming efficient. You might have driven the previous model Huracán across Europe, for example, with great satisfaction, but would it have stirred your loins like a previous Lamborghini? The best cultural cocktails are a perfect combination of ingredients, and an alchemy creating something else out of the whole.

Read more: Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem on the importance of championing artists

And this is where the RWD comes in. Lamborghini have taken their current Huracán EVO and taken away the drive from the front wheels, so the previously four-wheel-drive car is just two-wheel drive. They have also reduced the weight, made it more aerodynamically efficient, and, marginally, reduced the power. And they have reduced the price – although that is not likely to be very important to this market.

The reason behind this is to create a car that is not just brilliant on paper, striking to look at and efficient, but to create a car that stirs the soul. The ‘digital’ nature of some of today’s supercars is a reason why some models from 10 or 20 years ago have been going up in value. This Lamborghini is a more analogue car.

back of sportscar

The difference is evident even in the first low-speed corner. You are connected to the steering in a way you are not with its 4WD sibling. Approaching some higher speed corners once out of town, you feel a far clearer weight transfer to the back of the car and, on exiting the corner, you feel your acceleration is pushing the rear wheels out and helping you around the corner. And the steering is not interfered with by any tugging from power going to the front wheels at the same time as you are trying to steer. It sounds a little, but it means a lot. Suddenly, you are driving the car, rather than overseeing something that more or less drives itself.

The Huracán is old school in that it features a V10 engine, with no help from turbochargers or an electric motor. And given that typically these cars are driven short distances over their lifetimes, it will probably emit less CO2 than the average family car. Which is not to say that cars like these save the planet any more than they are not guilty of sacrificing it either.

Lecture over, on to the all-important Lamborghini feature of looks. Ours came in a spiffing shade of matt purple. It garnered stares from bystanders rather than a crowd of them like some Lambo models. If it’s attention you crave, better get an Aventador, this car’s big sister. If it’s driving pleasure, buy one of these.

It gets one of the highest ratings of any car we have ever tested. And if it had even more feedback to the steering, and even more dramatic looks (we like that kind of thing), it would receive a perfect 20.

LUX rating: 19.5/20

Find out more: lamborghini.com

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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Man wearing jacket
Man wearing jacket

Simon Hodges photographed by Matt Porteous

Last month, life coach Simon Hodges discussed why healthy dynamics often deteriorate and offered practical tools to help break out of old destructive patterns of behaviour. In his last column dealing with family dynamics, Simon provides some practical and powerful tips to improve family relationships

Love is always the answer, the answer is always love

This may sound obvious, but I make no apology for saying it: if you want to build more loving relationships, you have to make being loving your primary focus. This is not just a ‘soft and fluffy’ act. Far from it, it is actually the most challenging and most rewarding thing you will ever do.

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The most loving relationships are those where boundaries exist – put simply this involves being honest with yourself about what is ‘ok’ and what is ‘not ok’ in your relationship with others and making this clear to those around you. Once these limits have been set, it is then a case of holding each other accountable to these boundaries (with consequences for overstepping them). Though it may seem counter-intuitive, this requires putting yourself first, having the moral courage to say what you feel and to say it proactively and pre-emptively before any problems occur; take a moment to reflect on this point and be honest with yourself – do you routinely avoid speaking your truth because it feels awkward to do so? And then ask yourself, what are the consequences of failing to do this in your most important relationships?

The other major component of a loving relationships is trust, which can only be built over time. Trust is complex, nuanced and layered. At one end of the spectrum is an assumption of trust based on a contract; at the other end, there is unconditional and ‘pure’ trust, where no matter what, you know that other person will be there for you. Above all, trust is earned by being reliable and consistent in your actions (actions speak louder than words) which meet or exceed someone else’s expectations. And if you really want to build long-term trust and have a life of fulfilment, live a life of service. When we step out of making everything in our lives about ourselves and we seek to serve others, we create a virtuous ‘win-win’ circle.

Photograph by Matt Porteous

Dynamic communication is key

We often get lazy in our closest relationships and forget some of the golden rules of great communication. One of the biggest mistakes we make is assuming that we truly understand what the other person is saying without checking. The definition of effective communication is making sure your message is received and understood the way you intended it to be, but when was the last time you checked to see if that was the case?

Here are two simple techniques to do so:

    • Repeat in your own words what you think you just heard the other person communicate to you.
    • Where you are more unsure if you understood correctly, ask the other person to clarify for you what you just heard.

In using these techniques, you are immediately establishing deeper connection and rapport because you are effectively communicating (at an emotional level) that you care about the other person. You want to truly understand their perspective and as a result they feel heard, respected and valued.

Read more: Simon Hodges discusses how to break free from destructive behaviour

One final practical tip, which is always a game changer in family dynamics and speaks to the point above about serving others, is to learn to listen more objectively and better still, with practice, to listen intuitively. Objective listening is all about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, making a real effort to understand what the other person needs and why. This requires us to step out of our desire to win and control every situation, and to genuinely want to understand the other person’s needs.

Intuitive listening is an art, and it is appreciated by everyone. With practice and real presence, you’ll be able to instinctively pick up insights and feelings around what is emotionally driving the other person’s behaviour. Often you will find out the most important information by tuning into what they aren’t saying: by observing their body language, listening to the tone and intonation of their voice and paying attention to the energy behind all of this. When you can really hear someone, when you value their thoughts, ideas and opinions, your relationship with them will immediately start to transform.

Find out more about Simon Hodges’ work: simonhodges.com@simonhodgescoaching

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Sophie Toh represents several luxury brands, including House of Garrard (pictured above)

Sophie Toh began her career in London’s luxury PR industry before moving to the United Arab Emirates where she established her own agency TOH. Last year, TOH was acquired by leading global luxury communications agency PRCo, placing Sophie at the helm as Group Director. Here, she discusses marketing trends, misconceptions, and the influence of media

business woman1. What first drew you to the world of PR and specifically, the luxury industry?

Growing up, I was heavily influenced by the eighties vogue for big phones, big hair and bigger egos. My first choice for a career was therefore advertising, which struck me as encapsulating the glamour, gloss and unashamedly commercial spirit of the era. I mellowed a little by the time it came to university, where, as a new politics student, I was fascinated by the focus on communications in the Blair cabinet, and decided to become a ‘spin doctor’. I diligently applied to all the political PR agencies in PR Week and found one woman ready to give me a month’s paid trial. The only small issue was that she wanted me to work on the Harvey Nichols and Bureau de Champagne accounts. Undeterred, I accepted, and I suppose subsequently fell into the luxury world.

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2. How have marketing trends changed in recent years?

We’re now speaking to consumers who learned to swipe iPhones before they can speak, and who can spot a direct sales pitch or #sponsoredpost a mile off. That’s the beauty of what we do – it’s so adaptable and fluid, strategies can change direction in line with consumer trends as quickly as you need them to. And currently, in the pandemic era, we’re seeing a huge amount of pivoting by brands and individuals trying to stay on top of the socio-economic context. I truly believe that there will always be a role for communications professionals.

men outside a cafe

Luxury tailors Atelier NA Paris are also on Sophie’s client list

3. What’s the biggest misconception about the industry?

I suppose that we’re all still busily running around promoting Harvey Nichols and champagne houses! Public relations is so much more than press releases and parties, and I think people underestimate how much experience and knowledge it takes to deliver a successful communications strategy, and equally how much influence the media and digital worlds have – good and bad.

Read more: Activist José Soares dos Santos on environmental responsibility

4. Do you have a formula for success, or do your processes change according to the project?

Our most successful work has come from a mixture of deep experience for the specific sector the client operates in, and a creative approach that can only come from real passion and insight. Enthusiasm for a client can certainly grow, but when it’s there from the start, it’s hard to beat.

render of a swimming pool

fluffy white handbag

SHA wellness clinic in Alicante, Spain (above) and handbag designer Tyler Ellis are amongst Sophie’s luxury clients

5. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt over the course of your career?

That it’s a race, not a sprint. And to never compare – either past successes with today’s, or yourself with other people. I am always immensely grateful for every day and every opportunity it brings, even on the worst of days and in times such as now. There’s no point committing to a career if you can’t also commit to finding the fun in it.

6. Where do you dream of travelling to when the world reopens?

So many places… I have a need to completely roam the world. But first to London, where my large, unruly but brilliant family awaits….

Find out more: prco.com

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cable car
cable car
October is not usually known as a ski month. But at the Andermatt Swiss Alps development, you can cruise the slopes down the 3000m Gemsstock in the morning, and be back for some witches’ brew at the Chedi in the evening.

There are many time-honoured ways to get thrills and excitement on Halloween; skiing, traditionally, has not been one of them. Yet if the fancy catches you, that is exactly what you can do this October 31, on one in Switzerland’s most serious ski mountains.

The Andermatt Swiss Alps ski region, located bang in the centre of the country, is opening this October 31 with its top run, descending from a dizzying 2955 metres, the first to open, followed by two steeper and more challenging glacier runs later in November.

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Andermatt’s Gemsstock mountain, where the action is taking place, is one of the most exciting in Switzerland. From the top you can see over to Monte Rosa, near Zermatt, on the Italian border to the southwest, and to Piz Buin, on the Austrian border, to the northeast. There is a vertical drop of more than 1500 metres from top to bottom. Many of the pistes are north facing and benefit from big snowfall caused by the “barrage effect“ of winds sweeping across north-western Europe and hitting the Alps. In simple terms: lots of snow.

ski mountain

Andermatt’s 3000m Gemsstock mountain

This year, after a hot autumn and early September, temperatures plummeted and the mountain has already seen several significant snowfalls, augmented by their own “snow farm” which preserves snow from the previous winter throughout the summer and feeds it into the slopes for the next season.

Read more: OceanX founders Ray & Mark Dalio on ocean awareness

Sadly, Halloween skiers won’t be able to take advantage of the full vertical drop down to the village at the bottom, which will only open in December. But the village of Andermatt itself is a new gem of the Alps, a tiny traditional village of cosy shops and restaurants augmented by a new luxury development.

ice rink hotel

restaurant dining room

The Chedi with its private ice-rink (above), and Japanese restaurant

Aficionados will know that its highlight is the Chedi hotel, with its Japanese at the Chedi restaurant at its heart. There is also a burgeoning new residential development village created around the Piazza San Gottardo up a little further along the road, with apartments – uniquely, open for purchase by foreigners – restaurants, shops, bars, two hotels (one already open) and even a concert hall.

luxury apartment

A rendering of Andermatt’s latest apartment building Enzian

Later in the season proper you can also sample Michelin-level fine dining on the other mountain, Gutsch. For the moment though, it’s time to put on a Halloween costume, book your place in the cable car up the mountain (a new service for coronavirus times) and whizz down from the top on your broomstick, or even the latest pair of Stöcklis.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

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man in suit

Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar. Image by Marko Delbello Ocepek.

Iranian-born designer Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar does it all – interiors, architectural design, weddings. Whether large-scale events or private homes, a converted airplane or a château, he runs the gamut from extravagant to minimal with equal flair and imagination, bringing his clients’ stories to life. Torri Mundell reports

Architectural designer Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar is a man on the move. Since 2003, his striking design projects have made their mark on coastlines, private islands, mountainsides and city streets in Europe, Asia and the Gulf, while his events company operates from Dubai, London, Paris and Monaco. The spaces he conceives, from the cargo plane he transformed into an airborne apartment to a spectacular eco-friendly château in Provence and a refurbished 150-metre yacht extended with landscaped green spaces, are equally dynamic. “I think of spaces and events like personal books,” he says. “They are stories that we experience through an introduction, a body and a grande finale.”

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Though Behnam-Bakhtiar claims not to have a signature style, the emphasis on experiencing a space – rather than simply passing through it – is an essential part of his aesthetic. “To create this kind of extra dimension, I am very detail orientated. I study the space carefully, I envision the memories that can be created and I focus on the senses that can be discovered.”

floral wedding display

Behnam-Bakhtiar’s floral design for a wedding in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

Ali Bakhtiar Interiors clients do not commission him to create something they have already seen somewhere else. “Everything I do is one of a kind,” he says. “I don’t hold on to what I have done or what has been done.” Conceiving wholly original designs for every project can be hard work, he admits, but it means that he never caves in to “the dullness of repetition.” Instead, each project is always “a learning process that definitely keeps me challenged and excited.”

Read more: Meet the marine biologist pioneering coral conservation

Behnam-Bakhtiar’s curiosity, extensive research and the relationships he fosters with his clients to “deeply understand their values, wants and needs” all feed into his vision for a project. Every aspect of design is thoughtfully considered to create a harmonious whole, but his spaces are also full of daring, unexpected moments. Consider the château he restored in Provence: he preserved the historic façade and added a self-sustainable modern basement, a pond that irrigates the rest of the estate and a formal dining room with a glass floor that overlooks a garden lavishly planted with lotus flowers. “I believe it is important to embrace modernity as much as ancient knowledge, because something might look cool and new but it also needs to age well,” says the designer about his blend of the traditional and contemporary.

sunken terrace

A 2019 house on Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat designed with glass walls to make the surrounding forest part of the interior. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

Though the scale of the properties he designs can be vast, Behnam-Bakhtiar imbues his spaces with personal elements as well. “Generally, my favourite events or interior projects are the ones in which I deeply connect with my client, because this is what inspires me to go beyond expectation, and create something ‘out of this world’, a visualisation of their dreams and more.” In the château, for instance, each of the 34 suites was decorated to represent places or moments in time that are meaningful to the owner.

Creating a blueprint that encompasses both grand design moments and personal detail requires a nuanced approach. “Architecture to me is about conserving memory; creating spaces that host our lives but remain in existence beyond it,” Behnam-Bakhtiar continues. “Unlike events, architecture has permanence and so you are not just working on one experience in time, you are working on a timeless structure that impacts repeatedly. I believe architecture, landscaping and interior design need to merge to bring true and lasting harmony.”

He takes his cues from the outdoors to create this harmony. “I used to design houses that stood out from nature,” he remembers. “I now create ones that integrate with nature. The house becomes engulfed by the landscape rather than being simply set in it.” This approach also chimes with the current drive for sustainability. “Much more than ever, we now see nature as something that needs to be integrated in interiors and architecture. Rather than fighting the rules of nature or working against it, which we have done for so long, we are finally starting to see the incredible benefits of an alliance.”

Luxury villa

A 2018 house design in Florida with a characteristic Behnam-Bakhtiar blending of natural and built environments. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

The “green and self-sustainable” glass house he designed for a client on a private island epitomises how this can work. In building the residence from scratch, Behnam-Bakhtiar gave it a “system that transmits and observes energy” along with an ultra-modern, sleek exterior and sumptuous Art Deco furnishings.

Read more: American artist Rashid Johnson on searching for autonomy

Similarly, on a property refurbishment in the French Pyrénées, Behnam-Bakhtiar preserved the ancient rocks that predated the house by encasing them in glass boxes and installing a “hydraulic system to make the house ‘convertible’; completely open towards the seascape, on multiple levels. We also created several distinct courtyards and fountains, to give the landscape exciting layers.”

architectural render

A render of an island house off the coast in Abu Dhabi, with an Art Deco inspired interior in contrast to the building’s ultra-modern minimalist exterior. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

Born in Tehran, Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar was still a child when he moved with his family to Paris after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. He grew up surrounded by art and culture and his parents indulged his drive to “redecorate their interiors on a weekly basis”. Even so, he says, “it was very much a conscious adult decision to develop my creativity professionally.”

His early memories from Iran, particularly before the revolution, “in which large-scale events and gatherings were considered normal” may have informed Behnam-Bakhtiar’s other hugely successful business: event planning. Orchestrating large-scale, fantasy weddings, celebrations and parties is a complementary discipline to his design work but he came upon it entirely by chance. “I was working on the interior design of a palace for a client of mine, whose daughter was in the midst of planning her wedding. Completely uninspired by the process, she had sort of given up on her dream wedding until she coincidentally saw my plans for their winter garden. In love with the plans for the garden, she convinced me to design her large-scale royal-like wedding for 2,500 guests.”

events space

A reception that took place in Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

Behnam-Bakhtiar’s ability to imagine multidimensional, immersive spaces works as well for one-off events as it does permanent buildings, and working across the two disciplines allows for a beneficial cross-pollination of ideas. “I mix architecture and interior design with event planning, and do things that have never been seen or done before. This has allowed me to evolve and remain modern. I embrace the future and the process of change and growth.” In 2019, Ali Bakhtiar Designs was named “best wedding planner in the Middle East” at the Destination Wedding Planners ACE awards, and in the same year the company won an honorary award at the Influencer Awards Monaco.

As with his architectural designs, the events he designs are inspired by their setting. “The location and not the budget is what creates the possibilities,” he says. What would he conjure up for a wedding at a castle with an unlimited budget? “I’d probably create a sunset moment, curate different areas so there is movement and a multi-layered experience of the castle. I would also do something with the façade, so the guests can view it differently throughout the evening.”

Read more: Why the market for modern classic Ferraris is hot right now

He is delighted to be commissioned for wedding and parties abroad. “Like creating a world from scratch, the entire infrastructure is purposefully built and specifically curated for the event, in the middle of nowhere.” The possibilities are endless, he points out, describing a beautiful event he planned on “a private island lit by 50,000 candles. The guests arrived by raft laid with beautiful flowers and in the middle of the island, we created a pond and fountain on which the gala’s dinner tables floated.” More unusually, Behnam-Bakhtiar also oversaw a divorce party on a cruise ship.

As with his design projects, Behnam-Bakhtiar and his team ensure they have oversight of every detail. “The design of the food, the uniforms, the bar; anything that has to do with the visuals, the service, the presentation… To me an event is never just about decoration, it is about continuous implementation; everything needs to run smoothly and as we visualised it.”

floral wedding display

An impression of flower-covered columns for a wedding at the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata in Florence, January 2020. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

floral arch

A rendered image of a tunnel of flowers for a wedding in Cape Town, 2020. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

With high-profile architectural and interior design clients and starry party guest lists, discretion is part of the Ali Bakhtiar Design service. He will not be drawn on the high profile personalities that have commissioned him. “We work with a lot of different people including celebrities and royalty, but under no circumstances do we share our clients’ names, whether we signed confidentiality agreements or not. We pride ourselves on being private.”

Word, however, is out – partly because of the design company’s huge international reach. “We go where our clients are, so it was only natural to expand,” Behnam-Bakhtiar explains of his company’s outposts in Dubai, London, Paris and Monaco. The company does not promote its productions but exposure has come nonetheless through guests’ photos on social media. And who can blame them? The vast hall filled with reflective ponds and dancing LED lights for a party in Shanghai and the arcade of pink roses for a church wedding in St Barts demanded a selfie. “Much of the current exposure of our work is not just because we have expanded but also because it is shared,” Behnam-Bakhtiar agrees.

Contemporary living interiors

A digital impression of a 2019 building design in Switzerland that brings nature into the heart of the home. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

Like the architectural design industry, the events business is also becoming more mindful about expenditure. “I would like to see more consciousness around long-term trust and a sustainable use of funds,” Behnam-Bakhtiar asserts. “Rather than creating an event for the budget and exhausting funds, we now look at what we need for the event. This means we spend less on unnecessary things, so that these funds can be used elsewhere or go to charity.”

Behnam-Bakhtiar’s diligence is even more relevant in a post-Covid era. “Events of up to 7,000 people are postponed for at least a year,” he says, “but the smaller events are starting to take place now, in a more down-sized manner. We’re on stand-by, like the rest of the world.” With his vivid imagination, a roster of international clients and almost two decades of experience, he won’t be standing by for long.

Find out more: alibakhtiardesigns.com

This article features in the Autumn Issue, which will be published later this month.

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contemporary apartment

The penthouse apartment at Alma, one of two apartment houses to become available in Andermatt

The transformation of the village of Andermatt in the Swiss Alps into a place for permanent residence or seasonal getaways is taking more than just the rich amenities already there. It is the care and imagination with which the developers are creating the architectural environment that is drawing in investors, too, as Jenny Southan finds out

You want an escape, away from the crowds, to use year-round and as attractive in summer as it is in winter. It needs to be somewhere secure, clean, easily accessible, with excellent facilities; somewhere your family can indulge in outdoor sports on the doorstep, and then gather for a home-cooked meal, or zip out to the local high-class Asian restaurant in the evening. It should also feel like an attractive investment, in a desirable country in which property is hard for foreigners to acquire; and in a location where there is strong demand for holiday rentals, to provide income when you are not there.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Welcome to the new apartments being developed in Andermatt in the mountains of central Switzerland. In a country where new-build apartments available for foreigners to buy are almost unheard of, the two new buildings, Frame and Alma, sit aside a central square in the brand-new development village of Andermatt Reuss. They are all part of the spectacular Andermatt Swiss Alps development, which has seen a previously sleepy and marginal ski village in a spectacular location transformed into one of the pearls of the Alps, via a $2bn investment by global place creator Samih Sawiris and his company Orascom.

mountain views

Panoramic windows in Alma’s penthouse apartment

The development starts at The Chedi Andermatt hotel and restaurant complex, on the edge of the old village, through a rebuilt railway station and gondola lift station, to the hotel, retail and residential complex at Andermatt Reuss, which features the central Piazza Gottardo around which the new apartment buildings are located. Owners have access to the huge indoor swimming pool, spa complex and concert hall at the Radisson Blu Reussen hotel next door, and Piazza Gottardo has a big sports shop, restaurant, bar and other retail to come. The 18-hole golf course, one of the most beautifully located and eco-friendly courses in Europe, is nearby. Zurich airport is just over an hour away by car or train; and speaking of cars, all the parking in Andermatt Reuss is underground, meaning there is no traffic.

Read more: British artist Hugo Wilson on creating art from chaos

The five-floor Frame apartment house has been designed by Swiss architectural firm OOS with a younger generation in mind. It features 34 apartments (one-bedroom and duplex, some with double-height ceilings) that have been designed to feel airy, generous and bright, despite being compact in size at 50–60 sq m. Bay windows, for example, provide space for sofa beds.

There are also communal areas on the ground level that include bike storage, and a ski room and workshop where you can do repairs. There is a chill-out lounge, a sauna, a courtyard with a fire pit, and the Hearth, which is an entertaining space with a kitchen where you can have drinks or dine with friends. The developer Andermatt Swiss Alps (ASA) says: “You can cook food yourself, get one of the restaurants to deliver or have one of the chefs from the local hotels come in. It’s also a place where, if you are thinking of going out for a week’s hike, you can invite your guide in for a coffee and plot your course.”

communal kitchen area

Frame features a communal dining area with a kitchen

While the exterior of Frame is based on the look of the handsome rendered buildings already in existence in the village, another apartment building called Alma draws its inspiration from local traditional wooden architecture. The developer says: “Our ambition is that in 20 or 30 years’ time the new and old parts of the village will blend together so it will look like one destination. We always ask our architects to look at the wealth of architecture here but interpret it with a more modern eye because we don’t want it to be a pastiche.”

However, the developers don’t want to create an ‘architectural zoo’ – as the developer puts it, “Everything has to have harmony”. Tasked with designing Alma, which sports dark, over-lapping timber cladding, was Dominik Herzog from the Zurich architectural firm Herzog Architekten. Located on the western edge of Andermatt Reuss, Alma has 11 two- and three-bedroom apartments (measuring 122–169 sq m) that have living rooms with fireplaces, bathrooms with freestanding tubs and large picture windows looking out on to the mountains and the Reuss river. There is a sauna on the ground floor.

facade render

Frame’s exterior has been designed to blend in with the village’s existing buildings

The developer says: “The spaces are satisfying, nurturing and enriching. They are not shouty or flashy. They are thoughtfully detailed. Every single apartment has 180-degree views, sunken corner lounges that are heavily upholstered and sheltered balconies so you can go outside even when it’s snowing or windy.” Although Frame and Alma are different from one another, both are firmly rooted in a sense of place. “Their use of materials has been informed by the existing architecture and they have been very careful about how they open up their buildings to the surrounding landscape. The windows almost become the artwork on the walls,” says the developer.

ASA also wanted a car-free environment so much of the investment (millions of dollars in fact) has gone underground to make a double-storey basement of car parking, storage and services. The result is a healthy, liveable, pedestrian-friendly village. The developer explains: “Some people live here full time and others use their property as holiday homes. We have a lot of local clients from Italy, Switzerland and Germany who come for weekends over the season in summer and winter, but also investors from China and Singapore who come and use it before it goes back into the rental pool.”

Open Season

The winter season on Gemsstock runs from 31 October to 25 April, and the Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis season runs from 19 December to 11 April. These dates are, as always, dependent upon the prevailing snow conditions.

For more information visit: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article features in the Autumn 2020 Issue, hitting newsstands in October.

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shop interiors
shop interiors

Loquet’s London shop located at 73 Elizabeth Street, SW1W 9PJ

London-based jewellery brand Loquet is renewing the concept of a keepsake locket with sustainable, modern designs that consumers can personalise and pass through the generations. Here, Abigail Hodges speaks to co-founder Sheherazade Goldsmith about the brand’s ethical ethos, her love of vintage fashion and collaborating with the Wild at Heart Foundation

1.How does your environmentalist background inform your approach to making jewellery?

women portrait

Sheherazade Goldsmith

I’d say it informs everything. Environmentalism isn’t something you frequent; it’s a way of life and seeps into everything you do. Once you understand the repercussions of not protecting our future and that of our children, it’s impossible to ignore. As a fine jewellery collection, Loquet is part of a luxury world and to me, luxury is sustainability. Our process informs that message by taking the time to source the very best materials, crafted with care and implementing practices that create longevity. Our jewellery is for the generation that makes the purchase, the next generation and the generation after that. It’s about preserving someone’s story to be told, treasured and passed on. At Loquet we are preserving what is important to an individual, without sustainability there would be no point in what we create.

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Our first port of call is the office itself, we use recycled or recyclable materials wherever we can, and we create a product that has no existential timeframe, it is recyclable and has no waste. The problem with so much of what we consume is the waste, but in jewellery there are no seasons and the sentimentality of the pieces make them heirlooms.

2. What inspired you to reinvent the classical locket form?

I already had a classic photo locket and a charm bracelet. My locket was an Indian antique made in 18kt yellow gold with elaborate coloured enamelling on the inside. I love Indian jewellery for this reason. They believe that everything should be as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. My charm bracelet was fun and gregarious, full of charms that patted against my laptop keyboard. On a visit to a fairground my son bought me a present, a pendant made with dried flowers, something I use to do with hedgerow flowers when my children where little. It inspired the idea of being able to combine the two and personalise it myself.

locket necklace

The hexagonal locket with a selection of charms

3. Is there a particular piece that you feel best expresses the story you set out to tell through your work?

Our sapphire crystal lockets are our signature. They allow our customers to be there own designer and create a piece that tells their story, in essence a unique talisman of everything that brings them luck and makes them smile, to be worn close to their heart. We’ve recently relaunched our 14kt collection to include some of my favourite pieces to date, that elegantly translate from day to night. Each of these geometrical shapes is hand cast in 14kt gold encasing a clear faced sapphire crystal facade and can be opened to personalise with our endless selection of meaningful 18kt charms.

charms

A selection of charns

4. How do you ensure that the elements of your design process are ethical?

I spent a lot of time visiting jewellery studios all over the world before deciding to work with our current ateliers. This was to insure that the working conditions where healthy and vibrant, and to also talk through the designs with the artisans that were selected to make our jewellery. The companies I ended up choosing are all members of the responsible jewellery council or similar organisations and are, therefore, required to adhere to certain workers rights and high environmental standards.

Read more: British-Iranian artist darvish Fakhr on the alchemy of art

The human connection behind what we do is paramount to the Loquet design. Our pieces are emotional and as such need to be made that way. So many of us jewellers won’t work with a company unless they have the same ethos and it’s important to champion those that have worked hard to campaign for their workers and implement high standards that look after both their employees and the environment.

Locket necklaces

Loquet’s pear and hexagonal locket necklaces

5. Besides purchasing from you, how would you advise a consumer looking to shop more sustainably?

Sustainability is about longevity and well-designed things don’t have seasons. Whether that be furniture, clothing, accessories or jewellery, if something is worthwhile it will last through time and trends. With luxury items, less is most definitely more and that is my philosophy both in the way I decorate my house, my jewellery and wardrobe. Admittedly, I wear mostly designer clothing, but much of it is purchased from secondhand websites such as Vestiaire Collective, Hardly Ever Worn and The Real Real. I love vintage fashion, but you can also find all kinds of past-admired items for a quarter of the price. The buying and selling aspect makes you feel part of a community, almost like an exchange and gives your clothes a limitless life.

6. What’s next for Loquet?

We have a very exciting year ahead with some brilliant collaborations. The first launches in October with Nikki Tibbles and the Wild at Heart Foundation. We have put together a charm collection of Nikki’s favourite flowers chosen for their association with her beloved dogs, each epitomising the way we feel about our pets. A percentage of all sales will be donated to her very special dog charity that was set up a few years ago after rescuing a stray from the streets of Puerto Rico, who became her beloved Rose. The charity is now global and works tirelessly to end the unnecessary suffering of these much-loved pets.

Find out more: loquetlondon.com

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Reading time: 5 min
country manor house
country manor house

Sibton Park Manor House in Suffolk is one of the hideaway properties in Fish&Pips’ UK portfolio

Luxury travel company Fish&Pips began by focusing on alpine holidays before expanding into the Mediterranean and more recently, the UK with a selection of handpicked hotels and remote hideaways. Here, we speak to co-founder Holly Chandler about expanding into new territories and handling the challenges of COVID-19

two women in a garden

Holly Chandler (right) & Philippa Hartley

1.How was the concept for Fish&Pips born?

Philippa Hartley (The Pips) and I (The Fish) founded Fish&Pips in 2006. The name Fish&Pips (Holly nee Fisher and Philippa, Pips) was a light bulb moment courtesy of Philippa’s Mum – it just worked – thank you, Jill.

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Philippa and I have been in each other’s lives forever. Our dads were best friends and we have been on holidays together ever since I can remember. Following university, we decided to do a winter season before looking for ‘proper jobs’ in London, and so after some Cordon Bleu training, Scott Dunn took us on at one of their luxury chalets in Méribel. We loved it and ended up winning a Chalet Team 2004 award. It was here that we realised we made a unique team. Whilst working for Scott Dunn, we saw a gap in the luxury market for a small, expert and personalised ski business, that treated its guests as individuals. With a friendly, professional approach to service, a team with a zest for life, a love of food and a background in hospitality, we had the foundations of Fish&Pips.

Over a decade on, after a lot of hard work, Fish&Pips has gone from strength to strength, and over the past thirteen years, it has cemented its reputation as one of the best small specialist ski companies in the UK, catering for 1400 ski guests each winter. Fish&Pips has been built on strong foundations of superb staff, great food and friendly but attentive service.

yacht on the ocean

Fish&Pips’ portfolio also includes super yachts such as Jeannous (pictured here) which offers holidays around the Greek islands

Our loyal guests wanted an option to holiday with us in the summer, so due to popular demand, we launched our thoughtfully curated collection of Mediterranean hotels and villas in February 2019. Our new investor (Blake Rose from Scott Dunn Travel) helped turbo charge this vision, he came with a wealth of knowledge on Mediterranean product, luxury travel and high level customer service. In June this year, we launched our UK collection of hotels and hideaway and despite the current climate, Fish&Pips has been really gaining momentum.

We are now offering a Fish&Pips holiday across the French Alps, Mediterranean and the UK, and there are plenty more exciting things to come. As we grow we want to make sure that we remain The Friendly Travel Experts, a small team with a big heart.

2. How do you select your partnering properties and is there a specific criteria that they need to fill?

Yes, and this list of criteria seems to be ever-growing. All of the properties that we select must have the Fish&Pips factor and reflect what is important to us. We will only acquire properties that feel personal and welcoming, where the team are professional and friendly and the owner or manager lead with great attention to detail. It’s also important that they are well located and that they offer activities and experiences.  They need to be stylish and have something special about the food, whether it be authentic or Michelin-starred. It is important to us to offer a variety of property types in each destination (family friendly hotels, adult and boutique hotels, wellness retreats, villas, hideaways) but they all need to satisfy the F&P criteria.

Read more: Laid-back fine dining at Knightsbridge restaurant Sumosan Twiga

We are also committed to working with properties that have a passion and policy for sustainability and supporting their local community. Minimising our impact on the environment is a responsibility of ours that we take very seriously and we are currently developing our approach and strategy on this.

When it comes to selecting properties, each property is thoroughly researched, rigorously inspected, re-inspected, and approved by myself and Philippa. It is so important to us to build a fantastic relationship with the properties and get to know them inside out. This is something we won’t falter on as it is this knowledge and detail which can make or break an experience and sets our offering apart. Over the past few months visiting new properties has had to be put on hold so we have instead spent many hours on zoom with owners and managers, but we cannot wait to see them all in person soon.

seaside villa

Each property that partners with Fish&Pips is personally chosen by the founders based on specific criteria

3. What’s your most popular collection and has it changed over the years at all?

Our original offering of operating ski chalets in Méribel Village is still a huge part of our business. However, we are now into our second year of our hotels and houses collection across Europe and we are certainly seeing this grow, not only with our ski guests, but noticeably with new guests turning to us for our expert advice for their summer holidays.

Our UK hotels and hideaway launch has been incredibly popular; in fact, the high level of enquiries blew us away. Everything was aligned for this launch – stunning properties, some fantastic press coverage and excellent timing with a UK staycation boom. We love what the UK offers – there is so much on our doorstep from heritage and history, to more incredible boutique hotels and unique hideaways. With this in mind, we are continuing to develop our UK collection and are excited to introduce more wonderful properties in the not-so distant future, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

luxurious kitchen

The kitchen dining room at Moat Cottage, one of Fish&Pips’ UK properties

Our aim is to become a one-stop shop for travellers. Whether they want a short weekend away in the UK, a summer break in the Med or a ski holiday in the Alps. We want them to be able to come to us eventually for all of their holiday needs. We have big plans!

4. How do you think the coronavirus crisis will affect the travel industry in general and Fish&Pips in particular?

It is certainly a very challenging time for travel and it is difficult predict how it will affect the industry – who knows when normality will resume? With ever evolving policy and travel advice, there is now the added complication of unpredictability! For the industry, there is an element of having to plan ahead, but also to think on your feet and pivot where necessary to react efficiently to these changes. This is where our UK offering has been so successful, as we fast tracked our plans to adapt. It’s definitely takes us out of our comfort zone not being able to make a solid strategy but being small and owner-run, means we can be reactionary relatively easily.

Read more: SKIN co-founder Lauren Lozano Ziol on creating inspiring homes

What I can tell you is how this has shaped the travel industry and Fish&Pips in the short term… At the moment, travellers need the confidence to book. This is where flexible cancellation policies have really become key. This is one of the most important criteria for guests when booking now, whether it be to the Med, Alps or the UK and I can’t see this changing for quite some time.

luxury hotel

Sublime Comporta is one of Fish&Pips’ hotels in Portugal, offering a luxurious eco-retreat one hour from Lisbon. Image by Nelson Garrido

The human touch is more important now than ever and I think this will be an ongoing trend. Covid-19 has shown the importance of the ‘human touch’ and we have really felt this when it has come to people planning their holidays this summer and next winter. Guests want to be able to speak to you on the phone and use your expert knowledge and reassurance to build confidence. It is more important than ever for tour ops to be able to be that extra helping hand.

We have seen a bit of a divide with our guests this summer, and again I think this will be ongoing well into 2021. Those that are embracing the abroad escape and those that would rather not travel out of the country.

luxury bed

We have also seen the type of holidays that people are taking shift as travellers choosing not to travel abroad instead choose to spend their money on more of a luxury UK product whether it be boutique hotel, farm to fork country estate, a glamorous hideaway, a contemporary tree house or a splendid 40th birthday!

For us, we just want to make sure we are ready for guests whether they decide they want to stay close to home or to venture further afield. With this mind, we will continue to develop our portfolio in current destinations, grow our villa and hideaway offering across the board, and we are currently working on some exciting new (and slightly chillier) destinations which we hope to launch in September.

Adaptability is key so that we are ready no matter what is thrown at us next!

5. What’s your approach to sustainability?

Sustainability is something we are really passionate about at Fish&Pips and I have actually been nicknamed ‘Swampy’ for always talking about the environment. We always try to have sustainability at the front of our minds, from our chalet operations to when we research and talk to hotels.

From a chalet perspective we have teamed up with an amazing company called ‘One Tree At A Time’ who are really challenging the way that the ski industry operates. They have created a Pledge system whereby companies and individuals commit to changing the way that they operate and live, with a more sustainable future in mind. We were the first chalet company to sign up to the Pledge last winter and have seen some fantastic results. Our aim is to set a tried and tested template for other chalet companies to follow to help reduce their own carbon footprint.

luxury living room

A two bedroom cabana at luxury eco retreat Sublime Comporta

Our aim was to reduce (waste, plastic, consumption, energy, palm oil, carbon), educate (train our team, challenge our suppliers) and plant trees (offset and encourage our guests to do the same). Guests can now offset their carbon with us by planting trees with us. Last winter we planted 6,700 trees in 4 months.

Read more: Why now is the time to check into Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

When we talk to potential properties, one of our top questions is ‘What are you doing to be more environmentally responsible?’ Our UK properties are really quite impressive and are leading the way for sustainability in the hotel industry, from using locally sourced, farm to fork food, no single use plastics and really caring about their local communities.

We are currently working on a F&P Green Stamp that we will award to properties that are actioning a strong environmental policy and doing their best to make the world a little bit of a better place. Nature is one of the most important reasons for travel, so we must protect it so that future generations can have the same opportunities that we have had.

6. Where do you go to get away from it all?

In the summer I actually live on a stunning tiny Channel Island called Alderney. I’ve grown up between there and London, and have holidayed there since day dot. It has always been my solace, and place of calm, although the social scene on an island 3 miles by 1 is pretty hardcore! At the moment, Alderney feels more away from it than ever before with strict 14 day quarantine restrictions in place for anyone entering, but once you’ve stuck it out then it is totally worth it as it is business as usual – everything’s open, no masks, no bubbles, no social distancing. I am truly spoilt by the beauty of the beaches here, honestly they are out of this world and with only a handful of people to share them with. We can also escape to Guernsey, Sark or Herm by boat should cabin fever kick in. So this is my current getaway and I am actually relishing it, enjoying the peace on this beautiful, untapped island.

Come Autumn, I will absolutely be ready to travel again and I can’t wait to get back to the UK to explore all of our wondrous UK properties and scour the country for more gems – a weekend break away in any of those is my idea of heaven, and Scotland literally blows me away. In the winter, there is nothing like the feeling of freedom that skiing gives you and I won’t give up my ski holidays for anything as they are engrained in our lives having lived in Méribel for 14 winters and my husband is also ski instructor. If I have the time between running businesses (I have a couple in Alderney too) and bringing up my children, I absolutely love heading to the slopes for a few hours, followed by a large glass of wine.

As for travel outside of the UK and France, I adore the variety that Europe has to offer from villas and yachts, beaches and coves, to out-of-this-world authentic dining, to countryside retreats, and icy open space up Iceland and Scandinavia. When things settle down I cannot wait to get back out there and explore more far flung destinations, but for now, Europe offers more than enough for me.

Find out more: fishandpips.co.uk

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Reading time: 11 min
sushi platter
fine dining restaurant

Zuma London (pictured here) might have reopened, but for those cautious about visiting, the restaurant’s delivery service allows you to recreate the same experience at home. Image by Richard Southall

Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai tries out the new at-home delivery service by London’s hippest Japanese restaurant Zuma

Nowhere epitomises the (pre-corona) scene in London more than Zuma, the Knightsbridge restaurant that somehow doubled as a local neighbourhood go-to for lunches and birthday parties, and an international meeting and schmoozing spot for movers, shakers and people with the very best plastic surgeons.

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Like many restaurants, Zuma is open again but some clients are cautious about visiting; and the good news is that the restaurant can now be recreated in your home. OK, not the atmosphere, but you can do that.

sushi platter

sushi dish

Zuma sushi platter (top) and sliced seared tuna with chilli daikon and ponzu sauce

Our Zuma-at-home order was delivered personally by a smart chap from the restaurant, and was presented in beautifully designed logoed boxes. Sauces were presented separately, in cute little jars, clearly labelled, so they wouldn’t make the food soggy.

Read more: CEO of Zuma Sven Koch discusses the future of hospitality

Zuma is famed for its combination of Japanese cuisine styles, with a touch of its own, overseen by Rainer Becker, its creative heart. The Suzuki no Sashimi, very thin slices of seabass, yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe, was a very welcome reminder of the delicacy of fine cuisine that is impossible to recreate at home (unless Rainer is your chef).

japanese dish

Grilled chilean seabass with green chilli and ginger dressing

A signature main course of grilled chilean seabass with green chilli and ginger dressing was a wonderful mental journey into the world of Zuma – and without the distraction of the crowds and buzz, tasted even better. And the spicy yellowtail with sansho pepper, avocado and wasabi mayo, another reminder of the originality and delicacy of Zuma’s art.

It all came with a bottle of their house champagne, Billecart-Salmon, a classy champagne for a classy meal. Just add some music, a group of guys and girls back from St Barth, a diamond-encrusted 16 year old having her birthday with her besties, and, voila, you have Zuma, in your home. And even without all of those, it’s a way of transforming your Friday night without having to get your kitchen dirty.

Find out more: zumarestaurant.com

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Reading time: 2 min
beetroot gnocchi

Beet gnocchi from Le Clarence cookbook of recipes by head chef Christophe Pelé. Image © Richard Haughton

Earlier this year, Domaine Clarence Dillon, the luxury French company who owns the iconic Château Haut-Brion estate, published a cookbook of recipes by Christophe Pelé from its two-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Clarence in Paris. Here, we pick three of our favourites to cook at home

Beet gnocchi with amaranth leaves

20 red and green amaranth leaves

For the beet gnocchi
(10 gnocchi per person)
2kg raw beets
3 big Charlotte potatoes
100g flour
2 eggs
40g butter
75g milk
Parmesan cheese
fine sea salt
nutmeg

For the beurre blanc
300g shallots, finely chopped
200g white wine
100g alcohol vinegar
1 bay leaf
5 black peppercorns, crushed
a sprig of thyme
a sprig of rosemary
100g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Banyulus vinegar

To finish
40g tofu

For the beet gnocchi
Push the beets through a juicer to obtain 500g of juice. Reduce to obtain 100g of juice.

Make a pâte à choux: combine the milk, 50g of reduced beet juice and the butter in a pot and bring it to boil. Remove from the heat and sift the flour into the pot, stirring vigorously to combine.

Dry the dough over a low heat, continuously stirring until it clears the sides of the pot. Transfer the dough into a round-bottomed mixing bowl, and add the eggs one by one. Add the parmesan, salt and nutmeg to taste.

Cook the potatoes in a pot of boiling water. Then, remove from the water, peel and smash into a puree. Add the hot puree to the pâte à choux and knead well until the dough is smooth.

Transfer dough into a piping bag and refrigerate.

Bring a pot of salted water to a simmer. Remove pastry bag from refrigerator, and squeeze and cut 1cm gnocchis directly into the water. Poach for 2 minutes, then remove and return to the cooled beet juice.

For the beurre blanc
Combine all ingredients, except the butter, in a pot. Cook over a low heat for 30 minutes, reducing it almost completely. Transfer 150g of the reduced mixture to another pot over a low heat. Little by little, incorporate the butter, whisking to emulsify.

Strain and add 50g of reduced beet juice and Banyuls vinegar. Allow to cool.

To finish
Drain the tofu and cut it into cubes. Arrange the gnocchi, dried amaranth leaves and tofu cubes on the plate. Finish with the beurre blanc.

Barbajuans. Image © Richard Haughton

Barbajuans with ricotta & spinach

Makes 50

For the filling
200g spinach
400g ricotta
black pepper
the zest of 1 lemon
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

For the dough
500g flour
5g salt
265g water
25g extra virgin olive oil
fine semolina
olive oil for frying

To finish
Kuro shichimi (a speciality of Kyoto, generally composed of white and black sesame sees, red chili pepper, sansho peppercorns, poppy seeds, linseeds and green seaweed).
fleur de sel

For the filling
Blanch the spinach for 1 minute in boiling water. Drain and finely chop.

Mix the chopped spinach with ricotta. Season with lemon zest, salt, pepper and olive oil.

For the dough
Combine the flour and salt in a mixer fitted with a chopping blade. Mix, adding water and olive oil little by little. Once a dough begins to form, remove and knead by hand until smooth.

Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for 20 minutes. Then, roll it finely (2mm thick) and place a small spoonful of filling onto the dough, cover with another strip of dough and then cut into squares.

Line a baking sheet with a dish towel, and dust fine semolina over the towel. Transfer barabjuans onto baking sheet and refrigerate.

Before serving, fry the barbajuans in oil heated to 180 degrees centigrade, until they are golden. Drain on paper.

To finish
Dust with a pinch of fleur del sel and kuro shichimi.

Baba au rhum. Image © Richard Haughton

Baba au rhum

For 45 mini-babas
300g flour
10g sugar
5g salt
15g fresh yeast
150g eggs
120g milk
80g butter, room temperature

For the soaking syrup:
500g sugar
1 litre water
1 orange
1 lemon
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped

For the grapefruit caramel
150g sugar
300g grapefruit juice
50g butter

For the goat’s cheese cream
150g heavy whipping cream
50g fresh goat’s cheese

For the mini-babas
Combine all ingredients except the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead until a dough begins to form, then add the butter in pieces. Knead on medium speed until the butter is completely absorbed, then on high speed for 2 minutes.

Transfer the dough into a stainless steel bowl, form a ball, cover it and allow to rise for 15 minutes.

Punch the dough back down and allow to rise for 10 more minutes.

Transfer dough to pastry bag and squeeze to fill three-quarters of each mould. Allow to rise 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is nicely puffed.

Cover the mould with parchment paper and place a second baking sheet on the top. Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and allow the babas to cool completely.

For the soaking syrup
Slice the orange and the lemon into rounds. Combine all ingredients in a pot and boil until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Remove from heat, allow to infuse for 30 more minutes then strain. Soak the babas in the cooled syrup. Remove them when they have doubled in volume and use a pipette to inject 3ml of rum into each baba.

For the grapefruit caramel
Make a dry caramel with the sugar. Meanwhile, warm the grapefruit juice. When the caramel is golden, remove from heat and dilute, adding 1/3 of the grapefruit juice at a time. Return the pot to low heat and reduce to obtain 250g of caramel. Remove from heat and allow to cool to 40 degrees. Use an immersion blender to incorporate butter.

For the goat’s cheese cream
Whisk the cheese into the cream until smooth and firm

The above recipes are taken from Le Clarence cookbook, written by Chihiro Masui and edited by Glenat Production. Purchase the book via: lcdc.wine

Find out more about Domaine Clarence Dillon: domaineclarencedillon.com

Visit Le Clarence: le-clarence.paris

 

 

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Reading time: 7 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.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

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Reading time: 4 min
ceramics on a table
ceramics on a table

Brunello Cucinelli’s Spring/Summer 2020 lifestyle collection includes handcrafted ceramic tableware

Brunello Cucinelli’s latest ceramic tableware collection evokes the warmth and rustic charm of rural Tuscany, says Chloe Frost Smith

Brunello Cucinelli’s Spring/Summer 2020 Lifestyle collection takes inspiration from natural forms, using traditional Italian handcrafted techniques to create a rustic mood that celebrates spontaneity and irregularity in texture, light and colour.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The ‘Tradition’ ceramics are amongst the most beautiful pieces, combining ancient Umbrian pottery craftsmanship with striking modern shapes. Following an initial forming phase, each piece is fired three times and decorated by hand using the ‘engobe’ technique, a special application of clay coating used to achieve a light polished finish and delicate hues.

rustic ceramic set

The espresso set is amongst the highlights, comprising two dainty coffee cups balanced on saucers with asymmetrical edges, whilst the two-piece plate set features a swirling pattern reminiscent of the texture of a tree trunk.

Seemingly simplistic in design, the uneven lines create a sense of individuality throughout the collection, allowing diners to arrange the complementary pieces together or effortlessly style separately.

Find out more: brunellocucinelli.com

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Reading time: 1 min
Sketch of people holding weights
sport sketch

Dior Rose des Vent ‘Sport’, a sketch by Victoire de Castellane

Dior Jewellery’s Creative Director Victoire de Castellane reimagines the latest additions to the brand’s ‘Rose des Vents’ collection in a series of whimsical lockdown sketches. Here, Chloe Frost-Smith picks her favourite pieces
blue gold earrings

New Rose des Vents earrings

A new series of playful illustrations by Victoire de Castellane depicting domestic scenes in the Dior maison during lockdown, feature the Artistic Director for Dior Joaillerie alongside Christian Dior enjoying an array of at-home activities.

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Hidden amongst these imaginative self-portraits are the designs for the latest ‘Rose des Vents’ Fine Jewellery collection, which subtly replace everyday objects in the colourful sketches including, fridge magnets in the kitchen, flowers in the garden, dumbbells in a home-workout scene, and even appearing on the screen of a Dior television.

Sketch of people in kitchen

Dior Rose des Vents ‘Cooking’ by Victoire de Castellane

A reinterpretation of Dior’s lucky star in the form of a compass rose, the distinctive eight-pointed star appears throughout the collection and de Castellane’s illustrations, adorning circular medallions set in gold and punctuated with diamonds.

Read more: Confined Artists – Free Spirits, a lockdown portrait series by Maryam Eisler

Whilst some pieces are more simplistic in colour, featuring a singular stone such as lapis lazuli in a pair of earrings, or the green four-strand necklace made of emerald and malachite, the multicoloured ‘Rose des Vents’ choker is more daring in palette. A combination of softer tones such as pink opal and mother-of-pearl is layered with vibrant lapis lazuli and turquoise talismans, which can be worn both ways to showcase the stars or the gemstones respectively.

colourful necklace

Bracelet with charms

New additions to the Rose des Vents collection

In contrast, the ‘Rose Céleste’ pieces displaying a sun, moon and stars motif are a monochromatic ensemble of black and white onyx and mother-of-pearl. Following the theme of day and night, which can be further emphasised by reversing each piece, the celestial details of the bracelet, necklace and earrings pay homage to Dior’s passion for divinatory art.

Discover the full collection: dior.com

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classic car parked outside blue doors
classic car parked outside blue doors

ionic cars makes over classic cars with high performance, zero-emissions electric power

LUX discovers how UK start-up ionic cars is replacing the original engines of classic cars with zero-emission electric power

According to government figures, cars currently account for just over 18% of UK emissions. Aiming towards the goal of cutting emissions to net zero by 2050, there have been dramatic shifts towards the production of electric cars with Mini, the Vauxhall Corsa and the Fiat 500 most recently launching electric models. For classic car lovers, however, eco-friendly options are hard to come by, which is where ionic cars comes in.

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vintage car

 

vintage car

The bodywork is refurbished and interiors are fully customisable

The UK-based start-up transforms vintage cars by removing the original high emissions ‘old-tech’ engines and replacing them with zero-emission power. The bodywork is fully refurbished and interiors are customisable with everything from vegan leather to heated seats and matching luggage. For those worrying about the car’s collectible value, the process is fully reversible, or the original engine can be refashioned into a bespoke perspex case coffee table. ionic’s models currently include the Mercedes-Benz Pagoda and Porsche 911 with plans to expand in the future.

For more information visit: ioniccars.com

 

 

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outdoor restaurant
outdoor restaurant

Elsa at Monte-Carlo Beach hotel is the first 100% organic Michelin-starred restaurant, as certified by Ecocert

Ahead of the re-opening of Monte-Carlo Beach hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant Elsa, we speak to newly appointed Head Chef Benoît Witz about his commitment to seasonal, organic produce, sustainable kitchen practices and authentic Mediterranean cuisine

Chef standing in doorway

Chef Benoit Witz

1. What can we expect from Elsa when it opens this summer?

Our focus is on local products and seasonal cuisine. We are keeping the products as simple as possible to highlight their true flavours.

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2. How do you define modern Mediterranean cuisine?

I always look for simplicity. Mediterranean cuisine, to me, is a dish that shows off the natural taste of a recognisable product. We often forgot about what’s essential. My goal is to highlight our local products, and I always choose organic ones. It is necessary to show all the beautiful products we have around us thanks to Mother Nature.

3. Do you pay attention to cooking or eating trends?

I follow clients’ wishes more than trends. I am inspired by the products I can find in the markets, or in the restaurant’s fruit and vegetable garden. My cuisine’s personality is about elegance and health. I want to follow what our body needs.

Read more: Driving from Alsace-Lorraine to Lake Constance

4. What’s your process for creating a new recipe?

I am inspired by old cooking books. I love trying new recipes and using products that have been forgotten and mixing them with new ones. It’s something unusual for food lovers. Most of the time, it’s a success and clients love that.

Table setting by the sea

Headed up by Benoît Witz, Elsa offers a menu of authentic and seasonal Mediterranean cuisine

5. How are you incorporating sustainability into Elsa’s kitchen?

There are a number different ways. First of all, our teams are trained to pay close attention to sustainability. We have constant discussions about how we can do more as it is very important to the wider company Monte-Carlo Societe des Bains de Mer and our property the Monte-Carlo Beach hotel. For example, we group the orders together in order to avoid waste, we ask all our providers to avoid plastic and all of the kitchen waste is sorted and organised. We also only buy local and organic produce.

6. What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?

I love cooking fruit and vegetables, together or separately. I often mix them with cereals such as lentils or chick peas. Since I discovered chick pea flour, I enjoy making pancakes with vegetables. I often use artichoke or salade shavings and then add pepper, salt and herbs. I simply sauté the vegetables, which is how I prefer to cook them. It’s a very easy, filling and tasty meal to make at home. You should try it!

Find out more: montecarlosbm.com/en/restaurant-monaco/elsa

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Reading time: 2 min
Country hotel
luxury historic hotel

The Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds dates back to 14th century

A couple of unspoilt Cotswolds rural idylls from the 14th and 17th centuries, a rare luxury hotel in Champagne with a touch of the contemporary, and the best place to stay in medieval Heidelberg, LUX recommends four historic country hotels to visit post-lockdown

The Lygon Arms, Cotswolds

THE LOCATION

Broadway is a Cotswold village straight out of central casting. This includes the tourists wandering down the exquisite High Street lined with low buildings of local stone, with the Cotswold Hills rising beyond. The colour palette of nature and history is a perfect sand yellow/deep English green.

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THE ARRIVAL

The Lygon Arms looks like a combination of coaching inn and hotel. You expect a ruddy-faced local, fresh out of the local country estate, to appear and help you with your bags, and that is exactly what we got. Parts of the structure of the hotel date back to the 14th century, and the feeling of a cosy history, lovingly recreated by its current owners, is all around you.

Luxury bar and restaurant

The Lygon Bar and Grill

THE STAY

Our room, the Charles I suite with a four-poster bed, was swathed in Tudor dark wood. We ate dinner in the courtyard at the Lygon Bar and Grill: the grilled chicken with chestnut mushrooms and tarragon was highly satisfying. The achievement of The Lygon Arms? To offer true history, nicely updated with casual contemporary service and simple high-quality food.

ANYTHING ELSE?

A 20-minute walk from the end of the High Street and up a hillside takes you to the Broadway Tower, from where you can view the invading Welsh armies swarming across the Severn River Valley. Behind the tower stretch the sweeping green uplands of the Cotswolds proper, with exquisite nature walks.

Book your stay: lygonarmshotel.co.uk

luxurious hotel bedroom

Le25bis is the first of its kind in Épernay

Le 25bis by Leclerc Briant, Champagne

THE LOCATION

It’s long been a matter of bemusement that you can spend your day being serenaded by a major champagne house in Épernay and then find yourself in a disappointing, generic hotel. Le 25bis, owned by a champagne house and refurbished in a luxurious modern style, promises to change that.

Read more: Driving from Alsace-Lorraine to Lake Constance

THE ARRIVAL

There is nothing quite like driving along the avenue de Champagne which radiates from the town centre. Le 25bis is fronted by a delightful courtyard with a few tables and as you walk to the reception desk, you walk past a couple enjoying a champagne tasting, a perfect scene setter.

bathroom

THE STAY

Le 25bis belongs to a well regarded boutique champagne house, Leclerc-Briant, which has a shop at the front of the house. After a long day of visiting champagne houses, there’s nothing quite like tasting the champagne made by your hotel. There are only five rooms, which are huge and have clearly been refurbished with little regard for budget, with pale contemporary furnishings with antique twists, aesthetic floral arrangements, intricate wallpapers and beautiful vintage-style (but very modern) bathrooms.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Make time to visit the Leclerc Briant house itself, and when buying from the shop at the hotel (our preferred cuvée was the eponymous entry-level cuvée, and the rosé was also delicious) make sure you buy in magnum. It is always better.

Book your stay: le25bis.com

Country hotel

Lords of the Manor is located in Upper Slaughter, a pretty hamlet in the Cotswolds

Lords of the Manor, Cotswolds

THE LOCATION

If The Lygon Arms is in the low Cotswolds, Lords of the Manor is in the high Cotswolds. To get there, you wind slowly through Lower Slaughter (probably Britain’s prettiest village, and that’s saying something), past an estate and into the hamlet of Upper Slaughter. Down a drive, there is a manor house with gardens dropping to a lake, and meadows and woods beyond. This view hasn’t changed much since Shakespeare’s time.

Read more: Fashion superstar Giorgio Armani on his global empire

THE ARRIVAL

Walking into the wood-lined great hall feels like arriving at a friend’s country house. You are taken to your room up a suitably creaking staircase. Ours looked out over the drive, lawn and lake, and was decorated in lavish country house style. All around was silence.

contemporary interiors

The bar at Lords of the Manor

THE STAY

Crunching through the grounds you feel like there is nothing more you would need from your English country estate. A walk across a little wooden bridge leads to a path alongside a stream taking you to Lower Slaughter, where you can slake the thirst in an inn. The dining experience at Lords of the Manor is very proper and British: venison and foie gras pithivier with creamed butternut squash and brandy sauce.

ANYTHING ELSE?

You could explore the many sites of this glorious region, but we wager you’ll stroll from the hotel on the secluded walks, and chill out on the hotel’s terrace with a glass of champagne, looking at the grounds, and do nothing else.

Book your stay: lordsofthemanor.com

luxury hotel bedroom

Grand Hotel Europäischer Hof is Heidelberg’s only five-star hotel

Grand Hotel Europäischer Hof, Heidelberg

THE LOCATION

Heidelberg, one of the world’s oldest university towns, lies at the edge of the Rhine river plain at the point at which it rises up sharply into the mountains of the northern Black Forest. It’s one of Europe’s prettiest towns, and also infused with a feeling of intellectual history – and current intellectual power.

Read more: How Hublot’s collaborations are changing the face of luxury

THE ARRIVAL

The hotel, the city’s only five-star property, is located on the edge of the old town, making it easy to get to when arriving by car or train. The family-owned luxury property is big and relatively modern. You turn into a grand driveway and are greeted by a uniformed doorman, and taken up some steps into the reception hall that leads to a jazz bar on the left and around the corner into a U-shape into a formal restaurant, the Kurfürstenstube.

hotel entrance

THE STAY

The hotel is grand and generously proportioned, as was our Executive Suite, which was light and airy with high ceilings, baroque-style furnishing in creams and beiges and rustic golds. While parts of the hotel are old, much of it has been built recently, including the large spa area. You will inevitably use the hotel as a base for visiting Heidelberg and beyond.

ANYTHING ELSE?

The hotel’s delightful concierge’s recommendations are now ours: the Kulturbrauerei, a centuries-old dining hallcum-beer hall with hearty, meaty cuisine and its own beer; and a walk down from the Königstuhl mountain, reached by a funicular.

Book your stay: europaeischerhof.com

Note: All reviews were carried out prior to the global lockdown

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Luxury lakeside hotel
Luxury lakeside hotel

Badrutt’s Palace overlooking Lake St Moritz

St Moritz is well known as the winter playground of Europe’s rich and aristocratic. But don’t dismiss the resort, and especially its venerable and truly grand hotel Badrutt’s Palace, as a summer destination

One single word: Badrutt’s. Among a certain crowd, it conjures up associations: dancing in King’s Club after a long day’s skiing and après-skiing; bumping into billionaires in their Moncler in the wood-panelled corridors; and probably the most desirable (in a conventional way) New Year’s Eve gala in the world. (It may also whip up associations of bedrooms looking out over the frozen lake, though that would mean you don’t actually own a place of your own to winter in St Moritz – tsk.)

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But there’s another Badrutt’s, in another St Moritz. They may be geographically identical, but the summertime town, and Palace, are a different world, and perhaps not yet as well discovered.

Our suite (declaration: we don’t own a place in St Moritz) opened out onto a balcony terrace on which we strolled on the first night, gazing across the lake, up to the mountains beyond, and along the broad Engadine valley in both directions. In summer on the mountains, myriad textures and colours replace winter’s uniform white and brown of snow and rock. A deep-green forest around the grey-blue lake; emerald meadows; high pasture the colour of a dying weeping willow; peak rockscapes in black and grey, slashed by snow, still there from the wintertime blizzards, high up. All looking back at us on our balcony.

luxury hotel room

One of the hotel’s Village Deluxe rooms

Unlike some self-proclaimed palace hotels, Badrutt’s really does feel like a palace. The grand state rooms are places to stroll through in your most formal clothes (you can wander around in hiking gear, but somehow it doesn’t feel right) and in Le Restaurant, the grand dining room, you need to dress formally to match the ambience.

And what an ambience; here it seems you are walking past le tout of Europe’s old aristocracy. The lady at the corner table wearing a gown at breakfast reading the international New York Times every morning; that cluster of teenagers who look like the Romanovs; the artist wearing a smart deep-blue blazer who doesn’t just look like X; he is X. (We wouldn’t name names.)

Read more: Fashion superstar Giorgio Armani on his global empire

And there’s much more to the dining experience than that. We spent one delightful evening in Chesa Veglia, an old house across the street that has been converted into possibly the world’s most upmarket pizzeria (they sometimes allow children to make their own pizzas here, but we’re not supposed to say that). This is relaxed Palace, informal Palace, Palace with its hair down, wearing an Italian-stallion leather bracelet, drinking Ornellaia by the gallon. The food is perfect pizza, and the staff seem to be having as much fun as the guests.

yachting on a lake

Sailing on the lake in the hotel’s yacht

St Moritz in summer is more influenced by the weather of the Mediterranean than northern Europe, so long sunny days are likely; on the one day of cloud we had in our week, we escaped into the vast indoor pool area, which has its own rock mountain off which kids can dive. The deep-tissue massages are as thorough as you would expect a mountain spa to offer.

There are rumours of more developments soon, including a Badrutt’s chalet in the mountains to escape to. Watch this space, or better still, just go.

Darius Sanai

Book your stay: badruttspalace.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Artist painting
Artist painting

Marc Ferrero in his studio

Marc Ferrero’s unique practice of ‘Storytelling Art’ combines aesthetic styles and visual references from different artistic movements and cultures to create striking, narrative-driven paintings. His most iconic artwork ‘Lipstick’ first appeared on the watch face of Hublot’s Big Bang One Click last year, and this month, marks the launch of the latest edition in monochrome. Here, we speak to the artist about visual storytelling, the language of colour and man versus machine

Artist in the studio

Marc Ferrero wearing his Hublot watch

1. Tell us about the concept of Storytelling Art.

Artistic movements will always be a mirror of their generation. To me, a simple graphic representation doesn’t speak loudly enough to create big emotions, but stories touch many different sensibilities. Telling a story, means that you enter in the imaginary world of  people. Nobody is passive in the face of a story, because it mixes two different concepts, inaccessibility and identification.

Each time somebody stands in front of one of my paintings they can relate to it through their own story; this creates a very dynamic relationship between the public and me as the artist. Faced with a graphic representation you are a spectator; faced with a storytelling painting you are an accomplice… it makes a big difference.

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I created the Storytelling Art movement because I thought the field of painting needed a new approach. The normal process for most painters is to start from reality, to create a personal vision. I reverse that process by starting from my imaginary world and creating an entirely new world that is expressed through stories and fictional characters.

Compared to the other visual arts, the evolution of framing in painting is close to zero. I purposefully try to create different framings in order to produce more dynamic images and suspense. Storytelling art is not a graphic style, it is all about interpretation. The fact is all paintings tell some kind of story, but with my work, nobody will discover its story through an audioguide… The story is expressed on the painting directly.

Fiction, manipulation and fusion are the main words of Storytelling Art movement. What could be more connected to the time we are living in now?

2. What’s the story behind your iconic artwork ‘Lipstick’?

The central subject of the LIPSTICK painting is a woman wearing large black glasses. In art history, when an artist wanted to create a feminine subject, he made round shapes. For me, what a woman says is as important as how she looks; this is the definition of a ‘modern woman’. My way to express that psychological reality is to use angles, lines, and Cubist forms through the glasses. The LIPSTICK rebalances all these lines because it is a symbol of femininity. All around the main subject, there are many different realistic portraits of woman, who express the different roles that a modern life can offer.

artist watch

Big Bang One Click Ferrero Steel Red

3. How did you go about adapting the design for the latest Hublot Big Bang One Click?

The first time we met with the Hublot team in Switzerland everybody felt in love with my series of LIPSTICK paintings so it made sense to use that design. We worked as a team with Hublot’s graphic designer to translate the spirit of the painting onto a smaller scale. Usually, I work on a much bigger scale so I had to rework some outlines of the different figures around the central subject. To reproduce a painting onto a watch without trying to find the balance between the size of the dial and the spirit of the
painting itself would be a failure for sure. The strap is based on a stencil that I made specially for Hublot; it completes harmony of the watch.

Read more: How Hublot’s collaborations are changing the face of luxury

4. There’s a distinct graphic quality to your paintings – what inspired this style and what role does colour play?

Storytelling Art is a fusion of all kind of graphism on the same plane. This creates different values of time and space, which is absolutely necessary if you want to express several ideas or a specific story through a painting. Until now, an artist typically belonged to one graphic movement only, but to me, that’s old fashioned and doesn’t represent the time we are living in, but it all depends on the purpose of the painting. For example, my most recent paintings are based on abstraction to express a dehumanised world and the struggle of my characters in a society ruled by mathematical formulas and machines. I stick the characters onto the canvas in a comic strip, creating a fusion between abstraction and graphism which has a very powerful visual impact.

Colours have their own language in my work. For example, red is the colour of passion, audacious people and glamour, blue is the colour of transparency that expresses quiet places and the respect of tradition, but if you go to turquoise, it will express tropical places, holidays… Orange is the colour of energy, violet is the colour of dreams, yellow is a very convivial colour etc. Black and white fit with all other colours but never compete with them. Black has no movement and white is the colour of the future. I love to mix, and experiment with colours to create great harmonies.

5. Are you especially drawn to a particular type of story or character?

Mixing the verticality of a painting and the horizontal concept of a story opens up new fields of possibilities. The stories I’m working on go through the filter of my art.

Graphic tools offer me the possibility to divide a story in different sections of graphic styles. Pop art, for example, tends to fit very well with the heroes of my story. The ‘banksters’ of the story are expressed through Cubism. The world of the machines is treated through surrealism and abstraction, which fits
with the idea of a dehumanised world or the opposite idea of a dream world.

When I’m working on a story, I experiment. My studio is a laboratory, not a place where I copy myself. The type of stories and characters I love to create must fit with my imaginary world and my specificity of being a painter, but it could be a surrealistic modern fairytale or a kind of dream with a V8 engine.

Artist painting in studio

6. What are you working on now?

I am working now to adapt one of my stories with movie producers in Los Angeles. The climax of the story speaks about a dark idol who has changed the value of time and created the acceleration of the world. It is a world led by magic mathematic formulas and machines. The heroes (Lisa L’aventura, Duke Spencer Percival, Cello Di Cordoba) have created a secret network called ‘La Comitive Society Club.’ All the members of that network are connected through another measurement of time, in which the time is not based on hours, but on emotions and colours. The time of human emotion will fight the time of acceleration… It is a story about the fight between humans and machines.

Find out more: ferreroart.com; hublot.com

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Reading time: 6 min
Luxurious hotel bedroom
brutalist building

The exterior of The Standard hotel, Kings Cross. Image by Tim Charles

East London-based architecture and design practice Orms masterminded the renovation of Camden Town Hall Annexe in Kings Cross for The Standard hotel group’s first UK property. Here, James Houston speaks to one of the company’s directors John McRae about the project and its challenges

1. How does your approach differ when working with an existing building versus a new build?

On all of our projects we undertake extensive research and analysis to understand the site, its context and history. When retaining an existing building our research is forensic in order to establish the parameters and rules that will inform and guide the design. We believe it’s important to understand the thinking behind the building, its structural principles and construction techniques. We were fortunate to work with structural engineers Heyne Tillett Steel who share the same research ethos and they were able to build a Revit 3D model from the archive drawings.

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2. What are the challenges when refurbishing a brutalist building?

The use of raw concrete defines Brutalism and in nearly always used on both the structural frame (insitu) and facades (precast). This building was no exception and to add to the complexity it was a two way spanning ‘waffle’ slab that transferred the load of the façade back onto a very deep first floor slab and the inboard columns. This fully integrated structure and façade solution meant that major internal interventions or a new facade would not be viable. Surprisingly, the residual structural load capacity within the building structure was limited and this needed careful consideration when adding the new top floor extension.

Luxurious hotel bedroom

The 9th Floor Suite with views of St. Pancras Station. Image by Tim Charles

3. How do you see The Standard fitting into the wider redevelopment of the Kings Cross area?

The vast majority of regeneration projects within the Kings Cross have been to the north of the Euston Road so it was always an aspiration of the project to draw that energy to the south. A key component of this strategy was to have an occupier such as The Standard, a respected brand with an established following, that can attract people and act as a catalyst for further regeneration within the area. The hotels variety of spaces to socialise, listen to live music and talks means there are reasons to keep coming back.

library space

The hotel’s library lounge offers a space to meet, socialise and read. Image by David Cleveland

4. Do you have a favourite room or space in the hotel and why?

My favourite space is the library lounge on the ground floor. Set within an eclectic collection of eating, socialising and drinking areas that provide visual activity to the street but a moment of calm in the hustle and bustle of Kings Cross the library lounge is a nod to the former Camden public library. Surrounded by carefully selected and arranged books the space is used for meetings, live music and talks.

Read more: Entrepreneur Dr. Li Li on the importance of global relationships

5. What was the inspiration behind the external lift pod?

A new lift was required to supplement the main bank of lifts and serve the 10th floor restaurant and bar. Given the complexity of the existing structure the idea of an external lift was explored to provide a visual marker and signal that something special was going on at the top of the building. The red lift demarcates the entrance to the restaurant, which was always intended to be able to be separate from the hotel entrance. The concept and look and feel of the lift was led by Shawn Hausman Design and inspiration for the form came from the Mercedes Benz museum elevator and the iconic Routemaster bus for its red colour.

architectural sketch

External lift pod

Orms’ preliminary sketches of the hotel’s external lift (above) which takes its colour from London’s iconic Routemaster bus. Image by Tim Soar

6. Do you have a favourite brutalist building in London?

London is spoilt for choice with respect to brutalist buildings but one of the hidden gems is Space House (now often referred to as 1 Kemble Street), a 1960’s office development by Richard Seifert & Partners for the developer Harry Hyams. It is a great speculative office building, whose exteriors reflect many of the themes at play at their Centre Point development. Its innovative use of a precast concrete grid, partial prefabrication that allowed for rapid construction without the use of scaffolding and striking visual effects makes it an exemplar even for today’s commercial developers and architects.

Find out more: orms.co.uk

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Reading time: 4 min
man wearing watch
man wearing watch

Hublot ambassador Maxime Plescia-Büchi. © Hublot SA

Hublot is celebrated for being the most pioneering and original brand in the world of haute horlogerie. The first watch brand to sponsor international football, the first watch company to make an all-black watch with black dial, numbers and hands, the company famously mixes precious and base metals and materials in its timepieces, and counts sports stars and athletes on its roster of fans. Its partnership with London-based Swiss tattoo haute artiste Maxime Plescia-Büchi takes luxury to a different dimension, as Millie Walton discovers through a conversation with CEO Ricardo Guadalupe

Next year Hublot will celebrate its fortieth anniversary. In the world of Swiss watches, that roughly equates to early adolescence, but, as Hublot’s chief executive Ricardo Guadalupe assures me, “You can be young and have success”. This, in fact, neatly sums up the brand’s aspirational ethos and hugely successful marketing strategy. Through select partnerships with the likes of Usain Bolt, Richard Orlinski, DJ Snake and Maria Höfl-Riesch, the brand has developed its own culture encompassing everything from music, sport, cars and contemporary art to luxury destinations such as Courchevel, Zermatt, Saint-Tropez and Mykonos. The idea is, as Guadalupe puts it, “to create a universe of Hublot”.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Today, the brand has 4.8 million followers on Instagram, which is not only reflective of their young consumer base – 60 per cent of Hublot’s customers are aged between 20 and 40 years old – but also the changing nature of luxury itself. “The young generation don’t have in mind which are the standard brands of [the luxury] industry. When you’re older, you’re less likely to move to another brand, your choices are already made,” explains Guadalupe. “That’s why we speak to very young consumers, as young as fifteen. We want them to one day dream of getting a Hublot watch.”

watch with blue strap

The Big Bang Sang Bleu II in titanium pavé

This forward-thinking approach is most clearly demonstrated in Hublot’s choice of collaborations and specifically, the brand’s decision to associate with the art world and notable figures from contemporary urban culture such as renowned tattoo artist and designer Maxime Plescia-Büchi who has now been collaborating with the brand for just over four years. “I think they really took a chance on me at every level,” says Plescia-Büchi, but as a Swiss national, watches were already an integral part of the designer’s identity well before Hublot came along. He recalls flicking through adverts for early luxury sports watches in his collection of vintage National Geographic magazines and even once interviewed Jean-Claude Biver (the former president of LVMH Watches and chairman of Hublot) for an issue of a magazine that he was then running. Nevertheless, receiving an invitation to design the iconic Big Bang must have been exciting.

Designer at work

Plescia-Büchi at work on the Big Bang Sang Bleu

“I prepared some quite radical designs alongside some more conservative options,” says Plescia-Büchi, reflecting on the design process of his first timepiece, the Big Bang Sang Bleu. ‘To [Hublot’s] credit, it was 100 per cent their decision to go with the weirder one.” With a few adjustments – “we had a lot to do in terms of translating how to make [the 2D design] into a watch” – the timepiece launched in 2016 with an initial run of 200 pieces. Crafted largely from glass and titanium, the Big Bang Sang Bleu was a celebration of pure form and geometry, taking influences from architecture, philosophy and Plescia-Büchi’s own tattoo designs. The original idea was to feature the geometric pattern printed onto the watch face with the hands on top, but the designer envisioned more depth and suggested using the shapes as the hands themselves. Given the delicate art of watchmaking, the final version, which features three octagonal discs instead of hands to indicate the hours and minutes, is a huge achievement. “Seeing the watch finished,” Plescia-Büchi admits, “was the closest thing to having a child.”

Read more: Princess Yachts CEO Antony Sheriff on a new generation of yachting

Hublot’s collaborators, unlike with a lot of brands, work with the watchmaker on an ongoing basis, thus becoming an integral part of the brand’s identity. For the Big Bang Sang Bleu II, which was released at the end of 2019, for example, Plescia-Büchi refined the original design to create a more three-dimensional case and inverted the facets to restore Hublot’s iconic porthole shape. “It’s about combining my DNA and Hublot’s DNA to create something new that is also true and faithful to both of the origins,” says Plescia-Büchi. “Something that I find extremely pleasant is that when you’re designing watches you work over many years on slow incremental changes, which is actually quite akin to designing tattoos. You get time to continue improving the design, which is different from designing fashion, for example, because you have a quicker turnover. You can come up with something crazy and the next season, people will have already forgotten.”

Tattoo hand holding watch

The Big Bang Sang Bleu II in gold

The designer was, in fact, approached by another watch brand before Hublot but declined the opportunity: “It wasn’t the level of prestige where I thought I could be”. Though fifteen years ago, Hublot might not have made the cut. Success truly came from the brand when they started “to connect tradition and innovation,” explains Guadalupe, a concept that is at the heart of Hublot’s universe and rooted in a deep understanding of their consumers’ expectations and lifestyles. “The young generation in particular are looking for something iconic with a strong personality and identity,” says Guadalupe. “For men, especially, a watch is the main way to really differentiate yourself, it expresses who you are.” Part of the appeal of buying a Hublot watch is gaining access to the ‘family’ and all the perks that come with it. Football-loving collectors, for example, are invited to all of the games at Chelsea FC with whom Hublot has an ongoing partnership. Indeed, Hublot was the first luxury watch brand to ever support football, again demonstrating a deep understanding of consumer culture as well as a highly innovative marketing strategy. Since 2008, the brand has been the official timekeeper of all of the UEFA men’s European Championships as well as the FIFA World Cup since 2010, and this year, marks the beginning of the brand’s relationship with UEFA’s women’s football.

When it comes to women’s watches, Hublot is still developing – the brand sells only 25 per cent to women – but their approach is unique in the sense that their designs differ very little for the female audience. With the Sang Bleu timepieces, for example, the ladies’ versions are embellished with diamonds, but otherwise remain the same. Look for a women’s collection on the Hublot website and you won’t find it; the watches are listed only by their collection. “It’s no longer men who buy watches for women as gifts. Women decide to buy whatever they want,” says Guadalupe.

Hublot x Women’s Football

Men shaking hands

Aleksander Ceferin, UEFA President & Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot’s CEO

Over the past few years, women’s football has increased significantly in popularity with US-based data company Nielsen revealing that approximately 314 million people are now interested in the game. It is perhaps no surprise then, that Hublot recently announced its support, becoming the Official Partner of the Women’s EURO 2021. “In the end [football] talks to the consumer. It doesn’t matter that not everyone can afford to buy a luxury watch, if they know Hublot is a watch that’s positive,” says Ricardo Guadalupe. But the partnership works both ways. As Guy-Laurent Epstein, Marketing Director of UEFA Events SA, puts it, Hublot’s presence as a world-famous brand is “proof women’s football can be supported on its own merits”.

Find out more: hublot.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 6 min
Exterior deck of yacht
Exterior deck of yacht

The Princess Yachts’ X95 flybridge

Antony Sheriff has transformed the fortunes of Bernard Arnault’s yachtmaker Princess, creating boats that are stylish, in demand and environmentally innovative, for a new generation of consumer. LUX gets his story
Business man on yacht

Antony Sheriff

“It’s the sports car of the range. The hull reduces drag by 30 per cent, and it has sports-car-like performance and a Pininfarina design.” Princess Yachts CEO Antony Sheriff is enthusing over a projection of the R35, his company’s cool-looking 35-foot yacht, the latest in a series of innovations he has overseen in what is fast becoming known as the most dynamic yachtmaker in the world.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

“Sometimes,” he says, “if you are doing something new and are innovating, customers don’t know what they want until you give it to them.” Sheriff has been responsible for a number of innovations at the company, which is owned by LVMH-owner Bernard Arnault through his private equity company L Catterton, both on the product side and on partnerships.

yacht bedroom

Superyacht on ocean

The stateroom (above) and exterior of X95 yacht

In 2016 he launched a collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society, aimed at helping clean up ocean plastics, conserve coral and aid the conservation of marine creatures such as turtles. The Italian-American, who in his previous job launched McLaren’s hybrid P1 hypercar as CEO of the company’s road-car division, is disarmingly straight talking. “We are an industry which makes beautiful products, but we haven’t always been that mindful of the effects they have. We wanted to do something quietly to reduce the impact of yachts on the sea.”

He says the impetus has not – yet – come from the market, but from his own initiative. “We are trying to do the right thing and would rather be on the front foot than the back foot. People enjoy yachting because of the beautiful environment, and we need to try and maintain the water in the state we found it in.”

Read more: Chelsea Barracks is redefining London’s garden squares

Sheriff says that, as with cars, the need to innovate for environmental reasons has actually ended up bringing better products to market. He points to the example of the X95, which has up to 40 per cent more space than its predecessor while using 30 per cent less fuel and matching it in performance; and the Y95, another super-slick collaboration with Italian design house Pininfarina, which seems to have taken up its unparalleled design of luxury modes of transport where it left off with Ferrari after the end of a collaboration there spanning decades.

yacht on a waterway

The R35 performance sports yacht

Sheriff is a little scathing about some of the bloated products on offer from other yachtmakers, and adds: “We are putting the elegance and refinement back in yacht design, creating yachts that look like they belong on the ocean.”

Ultimately, though, he says the biggest change during his tenure since 2016 has been the change in the nature of the consumer. “Increasingly people are buying yachts not as status symbols but as places to spend a wonderful time with family and friends. You go on a family vacation in a yacht and it’s the best vacation possible: the kids stay together with you for fantastic family time, they can’t run away to the nightclub, and you get to spend time with each other in private in a beautiful place.” And, if some of the latest Pininfarina designs continue in the same vein, on a beautiful place, too.

Find out more: princessyachts.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 3 min
glacial alpine lake
glacial alpine lake

The Göscheneralpsee reservoir west of Andermatt is fed by the Dammastock glaciers.

Climate change is creating challenges for mountain resorts the world over. In Switzerland, a new luxury resort is leading the way in incorporating ecologically sound design into every aspect of their development. Jenny Southan discovers the innovations and advances being made in Andermatt

We all know that climate change is a problem, but for ski resorts, which rely on consistently sufficient snowfall, the challenge is particularly pressing – as snow, especially at lower altitudes, decreases, many will be forced to shut down (hundreds have already been abandoned across the Alps). And as the number of ‘snow-certain’ destinations dwindle, there is the added problem that by 2050, half of Switzerland’s 4,000 glaciers are forecast to have disappeared.

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However, the good news is that humans are incredibly innovative, and if serious steps are taken now to combat carbon emissions, the negative effects of climate change could be mitigated. Leading the way in Switzerland is the Andermatt Swiss Alps (ASA) development project, which is one of just a small handful of resorts that is taking serious steps to up its eco credentials and ensure its longevity as an outpost for winter sports.

Stefan Kern, head of PR and communications for ASA, says: “The project is heavily dedicated to sustainability. This is a core value of all our activities – from energy consumption to construction and gastronomy. We are proud to be on the way to being a fully carbon-neutral holiday destination.”

Alpine views

Looking down into the Ursern valley from Schneehüenerstock. Image by Valentin Luthiger

Demonstrating its commitment to the cause, ASA teamed up last year with the Swiss branch of American NGO Protect Our Winters (POW), which is helping it to devise sweeping, longterm initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, as well as consumption of single-use plastic (none is sold at resort sites). At the beginning of 2020, ASA also launched Andermatt Responsible, a platform that “looks at the whole company’s footprint from heating to energy to water,” as Nicholas Bornstein, head and founder of POW Switzerland, explains.

Read more: Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos on the poetry of jewellery

A political scientist with a Ph.D in Swiss environmental policy, there are few people better equipped than Bornstein to discuss combatting climate change in mountainous regions. He says that POW “allows me to combine my love of the outdoors with meaningful action”. He explains that his organisation works to “mobilise our community to implement climate change protection measures” via groups of local activists, professional athletes, companies and mountain guides, who act as ambassadors.

Alpine golf course

The Andermatt golf course. Image by Martin Wabel/Bildsektor.

How is climate change affecting Alpine ski resorts? In addition to making ski seasons shorter, Bornstein says: “The snow line has risen approximately 300 metres in the past 40 years, and is predicted to go up a further 500 to 700 metres by the end of the century, and this is putting a lot of ski resorts out of business.”

He also notes that conditions are becoming more dangerous. “We have seen avalanches in mid-winter of the kind that we would expect in April and May. They are becoming harder to predict.” Why? If the ground isn’t cold enough when it starts snowing, an insulating layer is created by the snow where heat is trapped and snow can slide off more easily. “We call these ‘fish mouth’ avalanches,” says Bornstein.

Read more: Jason deCaires Taylor on underwater art & ocean conservation

ASA has identified key contributors and is taking steps to reduce their impact. Bornstein says that approximately 50 to 70 per cent of CO2 emissions in Andermatt are from people coming to the resort by car so they are putting on extra trains from Zurich at weekends, offering discounted ski passes for people who don’t drive (driving in general here is restricted and there is a good bus system for those who don’t want to walk, including an electric bus). Andermatt Reuss is for pedestrians only.

Alpine village ski lift

Andermatt seen from the Gütsch ski lift

Food production and logistics are also big polluters, especially in Switzerland which imports a lot of goods. Bornstein says that POW has been working with restaurants in ASA to
put a more regional and vegetarian cuisine on menus. Andermatt’s gourmet restaurants are also reducing the amount of plastic-wrapped ingredients they buy.

Even more impressive is the fact that the entire SkiArena of Andermatt (from homes to ski lifts) is 100 per cent powered by hydroelectric and wind-powered energy supplied by Ursern electricity works, which exclusively serves the Gotthard region. (On the Graubünden side of Andermatt, Energia Alpina also provides 100 per cent renewable energy.) Not only that but all the buildings are heated in a totally carbon-neutral way through the burning of locally sourced wood pellets and surplus heat captured from Swiss army computers buried deep in secret bases in nearby mountains.

Read more: How Gaggenau is innovating the ancient art of steam cooking

“People want to see companies stepping up to the challenge and we believe it is going to become more important to position yourself with a ski resort that cares about the future of the environment,” says Bornstein. Even during the summer when people play golf surrounded by green meadows, ASA has ensured that its 20-plus species of birds have plenty of areas to nest around the course – in fact, there are more birds here today than there were before the course was built, demonstrating that being responsible can benefit both nature and mankind.

RING IN THE NEW

architectural render

Arve Chalet Apartments

Arve Chalet Apartments
Arve is a five-floor block of 17 residences (73–116 sq m in size), each with open-plan living and dining spaces, and window seats offering views of the mountains.

Alpine apartment with mountain views

Enzian Alpine Apartments

Enzian Alpine Apartments
Enzian  is a modern, three-floor Alpine villa housing 12 apartments measuring from 62 sq m to 136 sq m. Some come with saunas, private roof terraces and gardens.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 5 min
Octopus tentacles
Exotic mushrooms

Steam cooking can preserve the nutritional value and flavour of delicate vegetables such as mushrooms

The ancient art of steam cooking has gained new impetus with the revolution in healthy and mindful cuisine. Lisa Jayne Harris looks at the artful kitchen innovations from design-led German luxury appliance maker, and chefs’ favourite, Gaggenau

Alice B. Toklas, the celebrated 20th-century literary salon hostess, had one golden rule for cooking: “one must respect the quality and flavour of the ingredients”. Steaming is the most direct way to achieve her objective; it is an efficient way to cook that leaves the food tasting exclusively of itself. Just consider the simple excellence of steamed asparagus with French butter, one of Toklas’s stand-by dishes for entertaining.

Phil Fanning, the executive chef and owner of restaurant Paris House in Woburn and Gaggenau culinary partner, agrees: “You’ve got nowhere to hide with steam: It’s all about the quality of ingredients.” This is essential when you are working with delicate seasonal vegetables like asparagus, new potatoes or peas, but it is just as significant with good quality meat, baked goods or pastry.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

However, healthier eating is another powerful motivator behind the steamed food trend. Boiling vegetables reduces much of their nutritional qualities, such as vitamins C and B1, and other mineral salts readily dissolve in water. Lightly steaming does not disturb the food’s cellular structure or its aromatic compositions the way boiling does, so you preserve more vitamins as well as the colour and texture for a more health-conscious cuisine. “Gentle steam cooking can actually improve the nutrient status of food like asparagus, spinach and tomatoes,” advises registered nutritional therapist, Catherine Arnold, “It makes their nutrients more bio-available to the body.”

ovens displayed in art gallery

Gaggenau’s 400 and 200 series combi-steam ovens are ideal for the precise cooking of seafood

Gaggenau has pioneered steam cooking in the home for the past 20 years and continues to do so, including combination steam ovens: “Whether you’re cooking in pure steam, or in combination with traditional heat, you’re getting the health benefits of steam cooking, as it maintains food’s nutrients, colour and shape,” says Gaggenau’s category manager, Simon Plumbridge. Steam can improve other healthy eating habits such as juicing, too: “Our juice extraction setting gently steams hard-skinned citrus fruit such as oranges, so you get a much higher juice yield without impacting nutrients.”

Steam cooking is also gaining traction with chefs and home cooks because of the innovations in steam-cooking technology. For all its benefits – puffed soufflés, sumptuous bread, those crisp layers in a croissant – mastering the technique used to require an intimidating level of precision. Today, keen cooks are investing in internal temperature probes, gadgets and state-of-the-art appliances to emulate high-end restaurants at home. “The UK’s food scene has massively improved in the past 30 to 40 years, and this growth in skill and quality is reflected in passionate home chefs’ kitchens too,” Fanning reflects. Our private kitchens are becoming more technologically advanced, and ovens that enable amateurs to cook like professionals are both a luxury and an enabler of creativity.

Fresh black lobster

Embracing both the old and the new makes us all better cooks. “Lots of traditional techniques benefit from having precise control over the humidity,” says Fanning. “Take bread for example. For the perfect crusty baguette, you need about 30 per cent humidity for the first five minutes and then very little for the remaining bake. In a traditional convection oven that requires guesswork, but it’s easily and consistently achieved in a combi-steam oven.” Brands like Gaggenau are making this trend for precision steam cooking more accessible. Their combi-steam ovens can be controlled to within one degree, which continually revises the estimated cooking time based on temperature-probe readings from three different sensors. There is no more guessing: “Steam in its basic principle is an ancient way of cooking,” says Plumbridge. “But controlling the level of steam in combination with a fan is only achieved by modern technology – and that’s what brings professional results into the domestic home.”

Read more: Fashion designer Erdem Moralıoğlu’s guide to east London

Steam is also about convenience; rather than waiting for an oven to preheat, a good steam oven heats to temperature immediately. When you combine that with smart, Wi-Fi-enabled technology that lets you control the oven remotely from your office, or even set the bread to prove whilst you’re watching TV, you have all the benefits of ancient cooking just a voice command away. “Connectivity in the home has a lot of momentum at the moment,” Plumbridge observes, “But we’re more interested in future-proofing, so our ovens have the capacity to integrate with apps on any system such as Alexa or Cornflake smart homes.”

As much as new food trends are about keeping pace with technology, steam cooking also allows you to take your time. Next generation combi-steam ovens can sous-vide for up to almost 24 hours on a mains-connected water system or 11 hours with a tank, and cooking meat low and slow with a good level of humidity means it won’t be subjected to heat expansion and contraction, allowing for a more tender and juicy dish. Chefs also use steam to impart more subtle flavours into a dish, laying herbs under a piece of salmon to infuse the fish or steaming couscous in a traditional couscoussier, in which spices, onions and meat cook in the lower compartment and impart their flavour to the grains above.

Octopus tentacles

“Remember that with a combi oven, steam doesn’t have to be 100ºC,” Fanning advises. “You want to cook vegetables as quickly as possible at that temperature, but steaming a piece of turbot at 60ºC or even lower will give you a much more delicate result. Oxtail or lamb shanks can be very gently cooked sous-vide in a combi-steam oven for hours with virtually no chance of overcooking, and duck legs, pork belly, haricot beans or lentils – if vacuum packed with a fat or oil – can be very gently and accurately made as a confit.”

Icelanders have steamed their bread buried next to hot springs for generations and Chinese steaming baskets have been piled with fluffy rice buns and hot dumplings for thousands of years. Steam cooking might be an ancient art, but revolutionary technology, a modern regard for putting ingredients first and a drive to lighten up our diets means that the technique is equally relevant today. True innovation combines the heritage of centuries of steam cooking with precision and performance that inspires. “That’s why Gaggenau ovens are all hand finished,” Plumbridge says. “Only when you piece a product together by hand, the good old-fashioned way, are you actually putting soul into a product. And that’s what really means something to people.”

factory worker

Gaggenau’s factory on the French-German border

Precision Engineering

Darius Sanai takes a rare tour of the Gaggenau factory, pictured above, on the French-German border, and is struck by the melding of industry and creativity

The huge sheet of matte-silver metal looks, somehow, tempting and edible as it sits on the machine bed, like a giant slice of space-age food about to be sliced and diced. Lasers home in on a pattern of points on the sheet, and an instant later, it has a precise latticework of holes and is being washed clean. A few metres away, an operator is in charge of a machine that bends metal. It bends it a tiny bit, almost invisibly, but the bend makes all the difference, our guide explains, as it allows the finished product a smooth, textured finish with no sharp edges.

There is a lot of this in the Gaggenau factory; a lot of working with metal, bending and shaping it, machining it, turning it from sheets, delivered through an entry doorway in one building, into the slick kitchen appliances so beloved by professional chefs.

Metalwork in a factory

Yet metalwork was not what I expected when walking into the factory of a manufacturer of the world’s leading kitchens. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect; my experience of factories is confined to manufacturers of cars and watches. Both of these are very obviously made of metal in a way high-end ovens, cloaked in a kitchen design and so proud of their electronics and technology, are not. Yet there is far more metalworking going on at Gaggenau than in, for example, the Mercedes-Benz factory at Sindelfingen an hour’s drive to the east, or the IWC watch manufacture at Schaffhausen an hour’s drive to the south.

Read more: Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar & the artistic revival of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Perhaps this ought not to be surprising. We are after all in a real factory, rather than a mere assembly plant where components made elsewhere are put together. Gaggenau may now be synonymous with expensive homes, but, as a timeline in the visitor experience centre where we had arrived earlier demonstrated, it has a history in metal. It was founded in 1683 as Eisenwerke Gaggenau, an ironworks which made everything from agricultural machinery to road signs, by Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden. Gaggenau itself is a town in the Black Forest of Germany, which, catalysed by von Baden, became a significant industrial centre and still houses one of the biggest Mercedes-Benz factories.

Gaggenau also made stoves, and eventually specialised in the high-end, highly designed, highly technical kitchen appliances it creates today, eventually moving to its current site from its original home. From the sloping road leading to the current factory in Lipsheim, you can see the curved outline of the Black Forest clearly. “I live there, it takes 30 minutes to cycle in every day,” one of our hosts tells me cheerily. The fact that he lives in Germany and we are just across the border in France’s Alsace is irrelevant: this is the new Europe, and there is, in effect, no border.

It’s a scenic setting for a factory, and also an interesting one: just down the road is Bugatti’s factory (really, a very chic assembly plant), so you could in theory pick up your Chiron and then watch your new steam oven being made. (Actually, the factory tours are not yet open to the public, which makes it even more special.)

factory worker bending metal

The factory is a series of buildings each of which is filled with numerous sections and stations doing different creative activities. Gaggenau’s production process is still very manual; there are 350 workers, many of them trained in astonishingly particular skills pertaining to components or electronics of particular products. There is an air of extreme concentration among the small pods of workers, but unlike in watch manufactures, you don’t get the sense that you are the nth tour to visit that day. Workers are not slickly trained to respond to your questions; some of them are so lost in concentration in operating a particular piece of hot, huge or smelly machinery that they seem surprised to see you there.

What does remind me of a watch factory, or perhaps a pharmaceutical firm, is a ‘clean room’, which we observe from the outside. The room, which sits in a corner of the factory, and the people inside, assembling delicate electrical components of Gaggenau ovens, look like characters in a sci-fi movie of their own.

There is, in another section of the factory, a testing station, where every creation is subject to testing on its accuracy, function, and so on. I lingered a minute or two here, eager to see a malfunctioning multi-thousand-euro oven chucked on a scrapheap (or actually, returned to production to be corrected), but it didn’t happen.

The tour ended and we walked back to the Experience Centre, with its view of the Vosges and walls of the latest steam ovens, slick and architectural, beauty made out of, if not exactly chaos in the factory but certainly industrial creativity. More interesting than any watch manufacture I have been to.

Find out more: gaggenau.com/gb

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue, out now.

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Reading time: 10 min
Standing wine cabinet

Standing wine cabinet

Portrait of woman in white shirt

Lucy Hargreaves

British-owned business Spiral Cellars designs, makes and installs a range of luxury wine storage options from free-standing cabinets to bespoke wine rooms. Here, Managing Director Lucy Hargreaves shares her tips on choosing the best storage option, and explains why storing wine has become a greater priority for consumers

1. As an investor, what first attracted you to Spiral Cellars?

I started collecting wine when I was in my early 30s. What started out as an occasional case bought on a whim at a wine fair, soon became a more regular habit. I would go on tips to wineries and would send a few cases of my liquid finds back home. Trouble was, I was buying at a greater rate than I was drinking (despite my best efforts …) . The house was beginning to look like a wine merchants with boxes stacked everywhere, so when the opportunity to invest in Spiral Cellars presented itself, it was a no brainer.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. How has the company evolved over the years?

In the beginning, we only sold the one product, our eponymous underground Spiral Cellar, but over the years, the range of products we offer has greatly expanded, so much so that we can now proudly claim to offer the broadest range of luxury wine storage on the market. Our portfolio of cellaring solutions now includes state-of-the-art contemporary glass wine walls, more modest yet still elegant freestanding wine cabinets, bespoke wine rooms and of course, our statement underground cellars. With the range of cellaring solutions we offer, we can create storage to suit a wide range of requirements, personal tastes, budgets and available space.

The expansion of our product portfolio was in response to changing customer needs and expectations. Wine storage used to be an after-thought, with bottles hidden away in the bowels of the house. But then, as more of us started to drink higher quality wines, coupled with the growth of home entertaining, wine storage underwent something of a renaissance. Suddenly, cellaring was no longer just a pragmatic storage solution, it became a highly desirable interior feature.

3. What sets your products apart?

Our products are born out of experience. Over the last 40 years, we have installed more than 4,000 cellars in the UK alone and numerous others around the world. It’s fair to say that this has given us a degree of experience and cellaring know-how that is simply unrivalled within the industry. Our clients can enjoy total peace of mind, confident their wine is safely and securely housed in a Spiral Cellar wine room, cabinet, wall or cellar. And as we all know, you can’t put a value on peace of mind.

Wine storage basement cellar

The company’s original product the Spiral Cellar offers a stylish and space efficient storage option

4. How important is it for your team to be knowledgeable about wine?

Wine cellaring is actually a very complicated business. It’s not easy to create the exacting environmental conditions required to aid wine maturation. Yes it’s important that our wine cellars, rooms, walls and cabinets look beautiful, but more fundamentally, it’s crucial that they provide the ideal environmental conditions in which to store both ready-to-drink wine and bottles that need longer term cellaring. To help our team appreciate the intricacies of wine cellaring, they need to appreciate wine. That’s why it’s a requirement that everyone in the company takes the WSET Level 1 course, the exception being our design team who must sit Level 2. I passionately believe that our designers build better cellars because they truly understand wine.

Read more: View James Turrell’s immersive light installations online at Pace Gallery, London

5. What advice would you give to a client considering a cellar installation?

The golden rule is to start with the wine, rather than the space. Take the time to really ask questions of your collection. What size is it currently? Is it likely to grow over time and at what pace? Will you be looking to store larger or unusually shaped bottles in your cellar? What about cases, spirits, stemware etc? Once the storage parameters have been set, it’s then time to think about the form and style the storage will take, and where it will be located within the home. Clients assume that the latter is an obvious decision, but you would be amazed at the number of times we are approached to design storage to suit a particular space, only for it to be positioned elsewhere having visited the client’s property.

6. What’s your favourite wine to drink at home?

I do have some favourites (you can’t go wrong with a decent Zinfandel), but my real love is trying new wines. I’m lucky to have friends in the industry who have introduced me to some absolute gems over the years. I recently had a bottle of Gaja Barbaresco 2008, a case of which was given to me by a grateful client. It’s by no means an everyday wine, but my goodness, it was special.

Find out more: spiralcellars.co.uk

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Reading time: 4 min
Pastel coloured timepieces
Pastel coloured timepieces

Set with 50 diamonds, the new limited editions of Spirit of Big Bang are uplifting evolutions of the Swiss brand’s iconic collection

The colourful collection of new limited edition Hublot timepieces features an uplifting pastel palette, alongside some bolder takes on Spring shades. Chloe Frost-Smith selects her favourites

Big Bang Sang Bleu

Continuing the Swiss brand’s collaboration with Maxime Plescia-Büchi, visionary tattoo artist and founder of Sang Bleu studio, the intricate geometrical centrepiece of the Big Bang Sang Bleu is softened by a dusky pink face and matching strap. The option of a gold bezel adds warmth to the design whilst the stainless steel version provides a more classic look.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Watch with gold face and pink strap

Big Bang Sang Bleu with a King Gold bezel

Spirit of Big Bang

For a brighter pop of pink, the Pink Ceramic Diamonds Spirit of Big Bang is as fresh as it is traditionally feminine. Set with 50 diamonds, the delicate design details of this piece include a satin-finished case, and a white rubber and pale pink alligator strap. Also available in light blue, the colour options for this model are both cheerful and calming.

Pastel coloured watches

Spirit of Big Bang with two pastel variations and a king gold bezel

Spirit of Big Bang King Gold Rainbow

A sparkling showcase of the full colour spectrum, this vibrant edition features over 400 multi-coloured baguette-cut gemstones which make up the colours of the rainbow, a symbol of joy and optimism. The entire dial of the 39-mm model is covered with sapphires, rubies, topazes, tsavorites and amethysts to achieve the striking display. To complete this uniquely chromatic piece, the seven recognisable colours are also blended on the strap to bring the design full circle.

Read more: Isolation relaxation with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s live jelly cam

Rainbow watch with colourful strap and watch face

Spirit of Big Bang King Gold Rainbow

For more information visit: hublot.com

Watch this space: our upcoming Summer Issue features interviews with Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe alongside Maxime Plescia-Büchi.

 

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Reading time: 1 min
White convertible supercar on road
White convertible supercar on road

Bentley’s third generation Continental has the lot – power, handling, looks, and even a rotating display next to the dashboard

In the third and final of our supercar reviews, LUX sits at the cockpit of another super fast convertible: the Bentley Continental GTC W12

It used to be said that sitting in a Bentley was like sitting in the drawing room of a Downton Abbey-style British country house. Wood panelling, tastefully muted colours, and probably a butler with a silver tray of slightly stale sherry lurking on the back seat.

That market for Bentleys has largely died out, and, under the aegis of its German owners (the Volkswagen group), the august British company has undergone one of the most successful brand transformations in the history of the luxury industry.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

If you doubt that, just sit in the cockpit of the new Bentley Continental GTC. I did, and found myself clutching a thick, two-tone steering wheel in black and cream. All around me were acres of quilted leather, more trapezoids than I could care to count, on the seats, and inside the doors. Above the leather on the doors, black lacquered piano would give it an oriental feel, above which was beautifully burnished British walnut wood. The fusion of colours and textures extended across the whole interior, and in between me and my passenger was the most lavish centre console I have ever come across, bursting with polished buttons, dials, and traditional looking air vents; all is as beautifully put together as a Swiss watch.

The positioning of this car is perfect: to the new generation of young, swanky drivers, as likely to be wearing a Hublot or Richard Mille as a Patek Philippe the previous generation has taken care of for you, it looks contemporary, super chic, but still has a nod to its heritage.

And to those who have always driven Bentleys – hey, what’s not to like?

Red interiors of a sports car convertible

We drove the top-of-the-range 12-cylinder convertible version, and the roof zips down in a few seconds leaving you and up to three passengers exposed to the sea breeze in Malibu, Monaco, Mayfair, Macau or wherever. The car sounds wonderful, in a deep, long, slightly rheumy way: it’s somewhere in between being fierce, like a Ferrari, and silent, like a Mercedes.

Click the switch into comfort mode and it lopes along happily, but move the dial into sport mode and the car tightens up and feels like it really wants to go and play. This is a big, heavy, powerful car, not a sports car, but it is immensely fun to drive. It changes direction faithfully – better than its predecessors, which always felt a little bit heavy – communicates well, flies along as it gets going, and is generally a hoot.

Along very tight, twisty country lanes – ironically, down which many traditional Bentley owners will live – you do start to feel its size, and width. But that’s part of the Bentley experience, as you imperiously wave at other vehicles to get out of your road.

Read more: Behind the wheel of the world’s most powerful supercars part two

On more open roads, it feels perfect, wailing its way up through its revs, always smooth, never harsh or unsettled. Its four-wheel drive ensures you always feel safe, and can power out the roundabouts, even wet ones, at comical speeds. And in a straight line, it never slows down. With a top speed of over 200mph, this is the fastest convertible in the world. Just warn your passenger not to get an expensive hair makeover before you try that.

But like any Bentley, its beauty is that it is not just here to be driven hard. You can spend your life pootling around and still enjoy the car’s many assets, most notably its beautifully appointed interior, its general presence and feel. It’s as easy to drive in town as it is down the highway – particularly if you don’t live in a town with very narrow streets. The only minor flaw we could find was that very wide centre console with all its gadgets impinged slightly on knee room for the driver and the passenger. But that just made it feel even more like sitting in the first-class seat of an international airline. Not that most owners would know what that feels like – and the Continental’s interior quality is certainly up to private jet level. We like. A lot.

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: bentleymotors.com

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 3 min
red sports car shown on the road
red sports car shown on the road

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

In the second of our supercar reviews, we test drive a road-burning Italian sports car suitable for all the family: the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

One of the great conundrums for any current car enthusiast involves trying to work out why the country that produces the greatest supercars in the world has in general not produced anything nearly as outstanding to drive in the fast saloon car category.

If you’re looking for a racy two-seater, you’ll look first at Ferrari and Lamborghini. But if you want to carve similar performance and passion for four or five people, you would, in general, need to look to Germany’s Porsche, Mercedes-AMG, and BMW.

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Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo were world-beating sports cars before Ferrari was even born. Its more recent history as (largely) a maker of saloon cars has been less exciting.

Alfa’s heritage still resonates strongly: as soon as the new high-performance Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon was announced, I had texts from excited Ferrari owners wondering if they had found their next potential family runaround in this four-seater high-performance car.

We took delivery of our Giulia in Zurich. The Quadrifoglio is the high-performance version of the Alfa saloon, and the first thing to note: it looks mean. Beautiful and flamboyant alloy wheels are wrapped in Corsa racing tyres, aimed for use mainly on the track and in dry weather. The car may be a four-door saloon, but it looks like it means business. It has a wide shouldered stance, and the racy feel continues inside, where the combination of bucket seats, carbon fibre and a focused dashboard say supercar more than family car.

Interiors of sportscar

So, the Giulia QF can talk the talk, but that’s the easy part. Can it also walk the walk? We are, after all, in an era where any good family saloon/sedan is comfortable, fast and capable. Standards are high, and if you are pitching yourself as both a practical, comfortable car and a sports car, it has never been harder to be at the top of the pack.

First impressions are very racy. This is a car with steering out of a two-seater track machine, and it is extremely bracing. Every millimetre of movement of your hands translates into an equivalent change of direction from the wheels, something that does not often happen with saloon cars which tend to have a lot of safety margin to avoid inexperienced or inattentive drivers wheeling them off the road in a moment of low concentration.

Read more: Behind the wheel of the world’s most powerful supercars part one

The engine sounds glorious; it is a turbocharged V6 with a feeling of being tuned for both sound and power. In a future era where cars are electric or hydrogen powered, the melody of a Giulia QF will be sorely missed. (And before this prompts anybody to write in about greenhouse gases produced by conventionally engined cars, a proper audit of the carbon footprint of every component of an electric battery car should bring you back down to earth.)

So, sharp steering, fabulous sounding engine, fun interior – and how does it drive? The Giulia zinged down the back roads above Lake Zurich with the kind of gusto and brio missing from many of the highly capable but emotionless fast saloon cars on the road today. This is a car that, like some kind of Alpine hound, wants to sniff out twisty roads with delicious curves and power through them, challenging the driver to get everything perfect, balancing their way through the corners before powering outwards
and upwards.

It’s very fast, too – but that is really a given for this category of car, and in a straight line it is neither perceptibly slower nor faster than any of its rivals. It’s more about the way it goes about doing its business with a sense of joy.

But is there a flipside to that, in terms of comfort and practicality? The short answer is no, not really. That Giulia is a good solid motorway cruiser, perhaps not quite as magisterially comfortable as its German rivals, but certainly not flawed. The boot is big, the interior is spacious, although the ride is a little bit bumpy on the big wheels and racing tyres. If you wanted to sacrifice a bit of its alertness for more smoothness, you could swap to Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres, which in our experience come close to giving the best of both worlds.

But given that this is a car aimed at enthusiasts, the sharpness is really no sacrifice to make. For driving your family and friends around with a big grin on your face there really is no better alternative.

LUX Rating: 18/20

Find out more: alfaromeo.co.uk

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue.

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sports car on road at sunset
sports car on road at sunset

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

In the first of our supercar reviews, we take one of the world’s fastest convertibles for a spin: the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

What is the purpose of buying an expensive fast car? The manufacturers themselves have had plenty of focus-group conversation over glasses of Krug at owner events; and so have we at our own gatherings of friends and readers.

Two-seater fast cars generally fall into one of two categories: super sports cars, created to be able to go around a racetrack as fast as possible while remaining legal and reasonably comfortable to drive on the road; and what the industry calls grand touring cars, which can be just as powerful but are biased more towards comfort, theoretically for crossing continents.

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The two categories are bound together by looks – all of these cars are designed to garner attention – and indulgent, hedonistic design. In reality, not many people use cars from either category for the purposes they were designed for. You are as unlikely to take a multi-million euro Ferrari LaFerrari on a race track as you are to test your gold Rolex Submariner at the oceanic depths for which it is designed. And if you want to cross the continent in comfort, you will jump in a jet, and ensure your car is waiting for you at the other end, rather than endure traffic jams and police speed traps.

Which brings us to the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante. This is a car that looks as exotic as it sounds: long, wide, sculpted and slightly brutal. It is not a show-off car like, for example, a Lamborghini, which is guaranteed to get the whole street looking at you; nevertheless with the primordial roar of its engine and its sheer presence on the road, it is a car that tells everybody around that you are here, and that you have made it.

Convertible car interiors

It is also the most powerful regular production Aston Martin, a significant statistic in itself. Get in and steer it down the road, and it doesn’t feel quite as wild as the horsepower figure, which at 715 is around five times that of the average car, might suggest. The steering is superb, with feel and sharpness. Some cars in this category have so much engineering to manage their enormous performance, that the sensations of driving are dulled. Not in the Aston, the noise and handling of which immediately let you know that you are driving something very special. It feels sharper, more alive, and more connected than the previous generations of powerful Aston two-seaters, while remaining comfortable and civilised enough not to shake you around, and that alone should guarantee it some loyal customers trading up.

Read more: Gaggenau presents new series of super-sleek combi-steam ovens

But it is also very much a grand touring car. You don’t feel that every prod on the accelerator will send you hurtling over the horizon and off the edge of the world, as is the case with some supercars these days. The DBS works through its rev range a bit more like a V12 engine of old, gaining speed with momentum, despite having distinctly new tech using turbochargers to aid its power delivery. To appreciate what you can do properly, you need a long stretch of road, ideally with a Mediterranean beach café at the end. Put your foot down, feel the car gathering pace relentlessly as the engine sears towards its redline. It’s a supremely satisfying feeling, and slightly old school with its delayed gratification. It is not a car that tries to handle like a go-kart with a rocket on it. Its pleasures need discovering slowly. But it certainly has a hard, supercar edge to it.

Nobody buys one of these for comfort and practicality, but it does reasonably well on both. There is plenty of space for two in the front, and some shopping bags on the back seats; only a masochist would want to actually sit in the back, although we did fit one teenager in with their legs across both back seats and the roof down. They had a whale of a time.

In an era where cars, even at the very high end, have never been better, but also have never been more similar in terms of engines and general engineering, the Superleggera Volante (Volante just means convertible in Aston speak) has two things that make it distinctive: character and class. You can buy faster cars for the money, and flashier cars, but James Bond circa 1966, teleported to today, would recognise immediately that he was driving an Aston as soon as he shut the door and hit the start button. Priceless.

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: astonmartin.com

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue.

 

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Reading time: 4 min
Lighthouse villa with views over sea
Interiors of a chic living room

Masseria Cardinale is one of The Thinking Traveller’s larger villas in Sicily, located in the countryside with authentic design features

The Thinking Traveller is a villa rental company that offers exclusive access to some of the most desirable properties in the Mediterranean. Guests of The Thinking Traveller also gain access to local insider knowledge through the company’s on-the-ground concierge team who plan bespoke itineraries and experiences. Here, we speak to the founders Huw and Rossella Beaugié about their villa selection process, luxury retreats and their intrinsically sustainable ethos
Man and woman standing in tropical garden

Rossella & Huw Beaugié

LUX: How was the concept for The Thinking Traveller conceived?
Huw Beaugié: We started the company in 2002. Prior to that [Rossella and I] had been living in Paris, where we met in ‘98. Rossella was a cell biologist doing her PhD in Paris and I was an engineer working in marketing at that time. Rossella is from Sicily, so we had been travelling to Sicily a lot already. We went there in November 2000 and that was the kind of the catalyst. We climbed up a mountain called Stromboli, and doing that made us decide that we would like to move there for a bit, which we ended up doing two years later.

Rossella Beaugié: We started doing walking tours first of all and then very soon my friends started saying ‘oh we’ve got this nice house on the island, would you want to try renting it out?’. So the first brochure we put together had three walking tours with volcanos and hills, and then seven villas, I think. At the time we were doing everything ourselves but it worked.

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Huw Beaugié: There wasn’t anything of great quality in Sicily so we realised that we needed to really help these villa owners to create a property and product that would fit our clients and the people we wanted to be our clients. We started advising [the property owners], helping with design and we even began advancing money to invest in pools or refurbishments. We would make contact with interior designers to help them develop the houses. Really quickly we figured that if we were making all these investments, the only way we could really work with these houses and make it profitable would be to deal with them exclusively. That is one of the things we have stuck with ever since. We started with seven houses and we now have about 220 in various destinations in the Mediterranean, but the really vital and big unique selling point is that they are all exclusive to us and that means we can still keep on investing to make sure the quality and service is right, and to have our people on the ground to support that. We are expanding slowly, being careful to always keep the quality increasing rather than diluting.

Pool views over countryside

Views over the Sicilian countryside from the pool at Masseria Cardinale

Rossella Beaugié: The secret has been that right from the beginning. For the first 10 years we were in Sicily so we were around the whole time and then we started hiring staff who are really knowledgeable people and know everybody locally, meaning they can find the best doctor if needed, the best yoga teacher or if you wanted to organise a dinner we can do that. We don’t have reps who move around, our staff work for us 12 months a year and they have insider knowledge.

LUX: What challenges have you encountered now that your main offices are in the UK and you’re based here?
Rossella Beaugié: We have developed quite slowly. There have been two regions that we were interested in but because we hadn’t found the right people or properties we wanted to offer clients, we decided not to go with them. We are happy with the regions we’re working in because we have amazing teams and the owners of properties share our priorities and ethos. The team here receive so many offers of villas everywhere, we could have 10,000 villas! We get that many offers because they see the website, they like it and we have a good reputation, but we have been careful of where we go and what we take on.

Lighthouse villa with views over sea

Faro di Brucoli is a refurbished lighthouse in Sicily with views of Mount Etna across the Ionian Sea

LUX: How do you select the villas to represent?
Rossella Beaugié: They tend to come to us. It is usually owners knowing us already, maybe due to our reputation amongst other owners who also have these kinds of top level properties. So what we do first of all is decide whether it’s for us and we can see that now straight away with Google and photos.

Read more: High altitude luxury at Riffelalp Resort 2222m, Zermatt

Huw Beaugié: Probably 70% of them we cut immediately. The next 30% we go further and ask for more information, and then perhaps the final 5% will end up with a visit and a detailed report and out of those, we probably only take on one property.

Dining table with sea views

Bedroom with sea views

Here and above: Iola is a contemporary villa located on the Greek island of Corfu with sweeping sea views

LUX: What are the key elements you’re looking for?
Rossella Beaugié: We are now at a stage where we know what our clients want so we have criteria, but at the bottom of it, we really need to truly like the property in terms of style and we have to know that the owner could be a good partner because it’s their house and they continue managing the property so they need to be able to reinvest and sort out problems quickly. In terms of more objective criteria, the location and views are important but it depends on the region. Greece, for example, is really all about location so being on the sea and beaches. Privacy is also important and then there are all the things like ensuite bedrooms, a good kitchen, a nice-sized pool, not being overlooked. Then once we take on the property, we have a list of stuff that they have to have such as good quality linen, appliances etc. We recommend things and then our local managers go and do what we call a quality check.

Read more: Founder of Nila House Lady Carole Bamford’s guide to Jaipur

LUX: Is it important to you to have a wide range of different properties in your portfolio?
Rossella Beaugié: Yes, we have clients that have gone from a very charming, chic, three-bedroom house in Puglia and then they book our best property in Sicily, which sleeps 24 with a chef because maybe they are doing a multi generation family holiday, or it’s someone’s wedding anniversary and they want to invite everyone. So yes, we need diversity in terms of size and level of service. Some people could afford to have service everyday but they just want privacy, they want to be able to go around without clothes if they like. Then there are also different styles of property. Some people want minimal or really cutting-edge design, and some other people want to go to a place in Puglia or Sicily with traditional charm.

Huw Beaugié: We also work a lot with people who haven’t even started building. The optimum situation is when someone comes to us and says ‘I’ve bought a piece of land’ or ‘I’m looking to buy a piece of land, and what are your suggestions?’ Or people say ‘I’ve bought this ruin and what should I do with it?’ With those projects, we are involved from the beginning right through to the delivery. We suggest interior designers, architects, landscape designers, everything. Those are the villas that tend to perform the best.

Antique furnished living room

 

Bedroom inside old building

Masseria Cardinale (here and above) offers guests traditional charm combined with luxurious modern amenities

LUX: Can you tell us a bit more about the experiences side of the business? What can you make happen for your clients?
Huw Beaugié: We try to make anything happen that the clients want as long as it’s not against the law!

Rossella Beaugié: The kinds of things that are becoming standard for us is that everyone wants a cook. Especially in Puglia and Sicily, people want to learn to cook and so we organise cooking classes either in the villas or on vineyards. We have three kids who were born in Sicily and grew up there which means we were able to try out things with them and find out what they found boring. From that, we designed some guided experiences with experts who will prepare the tours on two levels so that it works for the parents and it’s entertaining for the kids. Wine tasting is very requested, and water sports are popular, but then we also have occasions like weddings when people want a Steinway piano in the garden or a certain opera singer to perform.

Read more: Inside The Dorchester Collection’s first branded residences

Huw Beaugié: What we are starting to do more of is themed weeks so things like getting a celebrity chef out to a villa for a week and creating a programme for full immersion in the food, which might include cooking classes, demonstrations and tours of markets. This year, we are doing a partnership with Bodyism so that you can take a wellness instructor out with you to the villa.

Villa pool inside courtyard

Flower arranging

The Thinking Traveller has paired up with McQueens Flower shop to offer guests flower arranging courses at Palazzo Gorgoni (above), one of their properties in Puglia

LUX: What’s your approach to sustainability?
Huw Beaugié: It’s the same as when we started. The basic model of restoring or building unique properties in rural locations or old towns using local people to build, cook and garden, all of that is just inherently sustainable. Generally, you’re also using local materials and the money is staying local. The things that have been added to that model since 2004 is more use of solar energy. However, sustainable a client is they never want to give up on air conditioning, which is one of the single biggest consumers of energy in a villa so solar energy supplements that. Then the other big thing is water: drinking water and swimming pool water. Swimming pools lose hundreds of litres of water a day through evaporation so we encourage people to cover pools when they’re not using them and at night. Same with air con, setting the temperature between 24 and 27 degrees, for example, rather than at 18 degrees and wrapping yourself up in a duvet, which uses a lot more energy. In terms of drinking water, we are doing a big campaign to try and get people to install water filters in their homes, which is difficult in the Med where bottled water is standard, but it’s changing.

Rossella Beaugié: We have these little leaflets which we leave in the houses called ‘Think Green’ which have sustainability tips for guests. People are more aware of sustainability issues so it is easier now than it was in the past to encourage these ways of behaving.

View The Thinking Traveller’s portfolio of properties: thethinkingtraveller.com

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Reading time: 9 min
Mountainscape of peaks and glacier
Mountainscape of peaks and glacier

Monte Rosa, the second highest mountain in the Alps at 4,634m (left), towers over Zermatt’s Gorner Glacier. Lyskamm (right) is another of the 33 peaks higher than 4,000m surrounding Zermatt. Photograph taken from the Gornergrat observatory station by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

Zermatt, in Switzerland, has mountain views and activities that are the stuff of legend. It also has the highest altitude luxury hotel in Europe. Darius Sanai checks in and is mesmerised

We arrived for our stay in Riffelalp Resort 2222m by taking four trains from Zurich, each one more quaint and tiny than the previous. The first was a double-deck express that arrowed smoothly through luscious lowlands and past lakes; alighting at the bottom of a deep valley at Visp, we changed to a more pared-back, basic train that made its way up a narrow, steeply inclined V-shaped valley, more gorge than valley in places. Shards of rock sat on the valley floor among trees and cows, a fast-flowing river accompanied us upwards. There were glimpses, as we ascended, of glaciers and snowy peaks, even in mid-summer.

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Arriving at the top of the valley in Zermatt, we crossed a tiny station square, gazing up at the citadel of the Matterhorn looming over the village like a rock god. The next train was a cog railway, which headed in a meandering zigzag through the larch forest up the valley sides; we crossed over a high iron bridge above a waterfall, in and out of deep larch groves, the ground disappearing below us.

Alpine hotel nestled into mountainside

The Riffelalp Resort 2222m sits high above Zermatt in the valley below, with views of the surrounding peaks, including the Matterhorn

After 15 minutes, and feeling a lightness in the air, we emerged at Riffelalp station, right on the tree line. On the other side of the open-air ticket barrier was a tiny, open, narrow-gauge train, and a smiling drive/porter in full uniform, with a peaked cap. This little train, more toy than real, with no windows and waist-height doors, had room for around 20 people and a little luggage. It ground along a mountain path through the forest, at little more than jogging pace, for five minutes, as we were enmeshed in the aromas of pine cones and herbs, until it reached a clearing. Here, 600m above the valley floor, at a height of 2,222m (thus the name) we were greeted with a cluster of pretty Alpine chalets and a view, across and above the confluence of three glacial valleys, over to the Matterhorn, and several other peaks, lit only by moonlight and starlight, glaciers staring at us from across the dark night-time green haze.

Luxury drawing room of a suite room

Bedrooms at Riffelalp benefit from sweeping views over the mountain peaks

If the view was mind-bending, stepping inside the hotel was even more so. For this was no high-altitude mountain hut; we were inside a luxury palace hotel, beautifully created with Alpine woods and finishes, with a long and wide corridor leading down from the lobby area, past a jazz bar with a live band, and towards a restaurant, whose large windows perfectly framed the night-time Matterhorn. All the details were done beautifully, from the lighting, to the granite, wood and artisanal tables in the gently curving lobby/corridor area, whose large windows perfectly framed the mountains: at night, you could spot the helmet lights of the climbers on the Matterhorn.

Luxurious hotel bedroom

Alpine terrace

One of the resort’s bedrooms (above), and (here) views of the Matterhorn from the terrace

We stayed in the Matterhorn suite, an L-shaped series of rooms, decorated in blonde woods with contemporary furnishings, each of which had a balcony looking out over the high-altitude drama of a dozen peaks of more than 4,000m. This is the highest luxury hotel in Europe, and from the bedroom balcony, it certainly felt it. The granite and marble master bathroom was a masterpiece of design and sheer size – in contrast to many Alpine mountain hotels’ compact dimensions.

Read more: Back to school with Van Cleef & Arpels

What was particularly compelling about the resort is that it is just that: a place you don’t need to leave. On the roof of one of the buildings is an indoor and outdoor pool and sun terrace – it gets surprisingly warm on a summer afternoon, notwithstanding the altitude. Inside is a spa. There is a bowling alley, table tennis, billiards, trampolines in a play area outside, and perhaps our favourite part was the garden terrace downstairs.

Indoor swimming pool

The indoor swimming pool at the hotel’s spa

The buildings are located just where the trees start to peter out, giving way to high-altitude grass and tundra, meaning you can sit at a table outside the hotel, watching hikers and climbers go past during the day while sipping a glass of wine – and you have the mountain to yourself at night. Kicking back with a drink after a long hike, as the sunset turns ever more blue, watching the other tourists disappear down the valley to Zermatt, or the serious climbers striding on and upwards towards their bivouacs, is an infinitely relaxing feeling.

Grand restaurant dining room

The Alexandre restaurant serves fresh, light Alpine cuisine

There are three restaurants and a bar (the two main restaurants are open in summer). The Alexandre is the one in the main hotel building and any fears that it will be an old-fashioned Swiss grand restaurant serving heavy cream and food are quickly dispelled. The Swiss Alpine salmon fillet with wild spinach and venere rice was light and umami; meanwhile the Simmental beef with mountain vegetables and potato purée really tasted of Alpine meadows.

We had slightly feared that staying at Riffelalp would mean feeling cut off from the village below, a 20-minute train ride down in the valley. In fact, it was quite the opposite: we felt like we were the privileged ones, in a kind of contemporary, tasteful luxury Nirvana high up in the view, and we never felt like going down. Indeed, we never felt like leaving at all.

Book your stay: riffelalp.com

Pine forest trekking

Larch and pine forests coat the steep slopes immediately above Zermatt. Image by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

Four unmissable summer activities in Zermatt

Hike the Mark Twain Trail. Named after the American writer, it loops upwards and around the mountain from Riffelalp, revealing more and more vast, glaciated peaks at every turn, past high-altitude lakes and meadows, until you reach Gornergrat, the station and observatory at 3,100m with probably the most spectacular 360-degree view in the Alps. The trail is not particularly steep and can be done in three hours, but it’s not for those who have a fear of heights. There are hundreds of other mountain paths, over mountain top and through forest, valley and meadow.

Take advantage of the mountain gastronomy. Zermatt’s mountain huts may look quaint and weathered, but many of them house restaurants of Michelin-star standard, or rustic cuisine of the highest quality, with fine wines from around the world to match. And you need to walk or trail bike to get to them, making them justified. Some of our current favourites are: the Findlerhof, on a forest trail with a mesmerising view of the Matterhorn, where we had fantastic forest cuisine: a local mushroom salad and herbed chocolate fondant, cooked and served by the delightful owner; Restaurant Zum See, in a tiny
hamlet in a lush glade just above Zermatt, where the platter of local air-dried beef and cheese was sublime and the owners charming; Edelweiss, a characterful hut on a cliff directly above the village, accessed only by a short but very steep walk, which felt cosy and atmospheric; and the Whymper Stübe, in the oldest hotel in the village, where Edward Whymper, the English tragic hero who first climbed the Matterhorn in 1865, stayed, and where the fondues are superb and the atmosphere even better.

Mountain path

A panoramic path down from Zermatt’s Stellisee lake with the peaks of Dent Blanche, Obergabelhorn and Zinalrothorn in the background. Photograph by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

Visit the Forest Fun Park. A high-wire park in a forest on the edge of the village, run by mountaineers, its trails, of varying difficulties, are ingeniously devised and variously involve zip-wiring over the river, down above rapids, and across a football pitch, and clambering from treetop to treetop, all in safety and with a stunning view of the Matterhorn.

Climb the Matterhorn. If you’re fit and fearless, plan ahead and book your guide and accommodation, Europe’s most famous mountain can be climbed by capable non-experts. But take heed of advice and guidance: after a gradual decline in accidents in recent years, in 2018 there were at least 10 deaths on the mountain. If you’re not quite up to climbing, a spectacular second best is a hike up to the Hornli Hut, known as Base Camp Matterhorn, on the leg of the mountain, which anyone can do if they are fit and don’t suffer from fear of heights. It’s two hours up from the Schwarzsee lift station, and pretty dramatic in itself.

Matterhorn mountain with fields of wildflowers

Wildflowers grow in the unique microclimate of Riffelsee, at 2,800m one of the Alps’ highest lakes, protected by ridges from northerly winds. Photograph by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

Other places to stay

Up in the mountains above the village, there is nowhere that comes close to Riffelalp Resort 2222m. When staying in Zermatt itself, we like to stay in Winkelmatten, a hamlet on its southern edge, at Chalet Banja. Available for private hire, Banja is beautifully built and detailed by a local doctor and his artistic wife, with four floors of exquisite local stone, wood, artefacts and detailing. It sits above a riverbank amid conifer trees, with uninterrupted views up to the Matterhorn; on the lowest floor is Zermatt’s biggest private (indoor) pool, with the same views, and a gym and sauna and steam rooms. The Alpine library in the atmospheric kitchen/living/dining area is engrossing.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 8 min
Luxurious lounge area of town house
Luxurious lounge area of town house

Residents of Clivedale London’s latest luxury development can enjoy branded services and amenities provided by the Dorchester Collection

Mayfair-based developers Clivedale London recently unveiled the interiors for a townhouse at Mayfair Park Residences, an exclusive residential development managed by the Dorchester Collection. Chloe Frost-Smith takes a look inside

Mayfair Park Residences is a collection of 24 private apartments, all fully-serviced with five-star amenities by the adjoining Dorchester Collection hotel, 45 Park Lane. Ranging from spacious pieds-à-terre to an eight-bedroom penthouse complete with rooftop pool, the generously proportioned apartments are spread over eight floors with sweeping views over Hyde Park.

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Incorporating the character of a Grade II listed townhouse, Lee Polisano of London-based PLP Architecture has created a contemporary yet complementary counterpart to the refurbished historic Georgian façades, one in black-painted brick, the other in Portland stone and white travertine. Fronting two streets and presenting six distinct exteriors, Mayfair Park Residences blends into the surrounding eclectic architectural styles.

Luxurious double bedroom

Grand dining room with piano

The spacious dining room of a townhouse at Mayfair Park Residences, and (above) one of the bedrooms

The classic Georgian period details are continued in the interiors, which draw on historical references combined with bespoke features by Parisian design studio Jouin Manku. With a number of previous Dorchester Collection hotel projects in their portfolio, Jouin Manku has taken a fresh approach to the group’s first residential development, focusing on an organic, natural colour palette and luxurious materials. Soft, muted tones are paired with elegant marble work, floor-to-ceiling windows, and wood-panelled spiral staircases.

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Contemporary spiral staircase of apartment

Interiors by Parisian design studio Jouin Manku blend historical references with contemporary details

Residents will enjoy access to an impressive selection of services available on an à la carte basis, including 24-hour room service, concierge, security, and valet parking. In addition to 45 Park Lane and The Dorchester amenities, residents can also make full use of the heated swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms, and hydrotherapy pool.

Find out more: mayfairparkresidences.com

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Artist desk with lamp, paintings and paints
Artist desk with lamp, paintings and paints

L’École, School of Jewellery Arts, is housed within the Van Cleef & Arpels headquarters in Paris

L’École is a school of jewellery arts based in Paris and supported by Van Cleef & Arpels, offering a luxurious learning experience led by industry experts. Digital Editor Millie Walton signs up for a class

Based one floor of Van Cleef & Arpels‘ headquarters in Place Vendôme in Paris, L’École was established in 2012 with the aim of introducing the wider audience to the world of high jewellery and its significance through the ages. Whilst the school was founded and is supported by Van Cleef & Arpels, it is not, as one might assume, an elaborate marketing stunt (during my class, for example, the only mention of Van Cleef & Arpels is via small-print on the slideshow), but rather a genuine centre of learning albeit a luxurious one. Classes take place in a palatial room which was once the office of Van Cleef’s President and CEO Nicolas Bos, with a break for tea, coffee and Parisian pastries in a stylish lounge filled up with glossy coffee table-books, whilst the teachers themselves are leading industry experts, which allows the classes to cater to every ability.

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The classes fall into four main categories: ‘Introductory’ (which offers a general overview), ‘The Universe of Gemstones’ (with two classes exploring diamonds), ‘Savoir Faire’ (featuring hands on workshops in which you get to actually try out various jewellery making techniques such as Japanese Urushi Lacquer) and ‘Art History of Jewellery’ (which investigates jewellery aesthetics of different time periods). On this trip, I’m signed up for an art history class on ‘Gold and Jewellery, from Antiquity to the Renaissance Princes’, which begins with Ancient Egypt and ends with examining portraits of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

Classroom set up with students sitting at round tables

Classes take place in the original office of Van Cleef’s President and CEO Nicolas Bos

Whilst the prospect of four hour lecture on jewellery is daunting, our teachers Inezita Gay-Eckel and Léonard Pouy are energetic and brilliantly knowledgable with infectious enthusiasm for their subject matter. The class itself mainly follows a standard lecture format, but we are encouraged to jump in with questions, and specialist terms are noted down on the whiteboard for us to copy into our L’École branded notebooks.

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