palazzo
palazzo

Dating back to 1775, this building is nearby the Basilica of Santa Croce in Lecce

Authentic. immaculate, aristocratic, contemporary family-curated luxury in a Baroque palace in a city that’s a living museum? Take us to the Palazzo Bozzi Corso in Lecce, Puglia

Authenticity is becoming an ever greater part of the luxury travel experience. People want experiences when they travel, and cookie-cutter luxury simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

That’s why you get French and Italian fashion and luxury creating spectacular hotels in territories as far apart as Australia and Las Vegas. But authenticity cannot be created through replication or over the Internet; by definition it is something that comes from inside.

outside

The hotel was designed by the 18th-century architect Emanuele Manieri, this historic building attained its unique blend of traditional and contemporary features when it was developed in conjunction with the La Fiermontina Family Collection.

That, more than anything else, is what strikes you when you walk into the Palzzo Bozzi Corso. You are walking along a historic street in Lecce, in the heart of Puglia, buzzing with tourists, locals, craft shops, wine bars, local food markets.

room

Dedicated to the memory of the boxer and actor Enzo Fiermonte, La Fiermontina Palazzo Bozzi Corso offers its guests spaces with ornate furnishings and artworks

This is and was a wealthy town and the Baroque era buildings are grand and imposing. Then you walk into the Palazzo and you are whisked into the private home of a wealthy merchant of hundreds of years ago: the equivalent of walking into a Rockefeller house in a different era.

Except the Palazzo Bozzi Corso has been sylishly and impeccably updated so it feels almost like a perfectly curated exhibition, a museum of contemporary and 18th century Italian design, immaculately reimagined as an intimate luxury hotel.

Art by the likes of John Lennon (a friend of the owning family) and Fernand Leger sits among the Renaissance artefacts; no interior designer in the world could create a passion project so warm and thoughtful. This is a place to live, or at least to stay for as long as possible.

room

The building is also home to original drawings by John Lennon, donated by Yoko Ono, a friend of the owner’s mother.

There are only 10 suites here and every one is different: ours had a stone arch above the bed, church-like high ceilings, modernist furniture, a combination of ancient and contemporary art, eggshell walls, vast mirrors. Bathrooms are out of a show suite at Milan Design Week, except the work, both physically and in the destination.

Walk out of the building and you are in the living museum of Baroque that is Lecce; there is a roof terrace, and you can use the pool in the garden at the nearby sister hotel (also gorgeous), La Fiermontina. Authentic luxury doesn’t even begin to describe Palazzo Bozzi Corso.

Guests also have access to the secret garden and rooftop terrace to see the sunset

www.lafiermontinacollection.com/en/palazzo-bozzi-corso

Darius Sanai is Editor in Chief of LUX and an Editor in Chief at Condé Nast International

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a man sitting on a silk rug
a man sitting on a silk rug

NIGO will be leading the creative vision for Penfolds in a multi-year artistic collaboration

Fashion and wine meet with the collaboration of Japanese fashion designer NIGO and the iconic Penfolds wine brand

One of the world’s most iconic wines just got a little more special. For years, collectors have lusted after Penfolds Grange, Australia’s most celebrated wine and quite possibly the most revered luxury brand to come out of the country. The phenomenon of Grange, as it is known to connoisseurs the world over, from Shanghai to San Francisco, is largely due to its sheer quality – many consider it the world’s best wine made from Shiraz (otherwise known as Syrah) grapes, but also due to its originality.

a bottle and a bandana

This collaboration sees the influence of NIGO’s company, Human Made, which was founded in Tokyo and draws upon
graphic design, subculture and streetwear

Unlike every other iconic world wine, whether from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa or elsewhere, Grange is not made from a single vineyard, or even from the same designated vineyards in a small, geographically distinct area, every year. Rather, it is made from grapes from Penfolds own vineyards and grower partners’ vineyards across Australia, selected by the Penfolds winemaking team for their Grange-like character. It is an icon that is also an iconoclast.

Read more: Inside Penfolds, the global luxury wine brand

a man with lots of wine barrels

NIGO, visiting Penfolds’ Magill Barrel Room, ahead of his collaboration, ‘Grange by NIGO’

So, how suitable that Penfolds Grange has partnered with the wildly original – some might say iconoclastic – Japanese designer and cultural hero NIGO, who is also Artistic Director of the Kenzo fashion brand and founder of Human Made. Appointed as the wine brand’s first ever Creative Partner in 2023, NIGO is working on a series of collaborations with the brand, none more exciting and iconoclastic than the recently released Grange by NIGO, which has seen NIGO design a limited edition gift box for the 2019 vintage. With each gift box individually numbered and including a bandana and bottle neck tag also designed by NIGO in his signature style, it’s a bold step for a fine wine brand, as Penfolds Chief Marketing Officer, Kristy Keyte, explains:

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“This is a different direction for us, and the first time we have changed the distinctive gift box of our flagship Grange. Collaborating with NIGO has been inspired by Penfolds history of pushing boundaries in winemaking, and now we expand this to exploration of new creative ideas. As a collector, NIGO understands the reputation of Grange and its legacy. He was able to create a limited-edition approach that is both playful and fresh while remaining respectful to the history of the wine. We have never done this before, and the result is brave and refreshing.”

a guy sitting looking at a bottle of wine

‘Penfolds has always been one of my favourites’, says avid wine collector, NIGO

NIGO, a fine wine collector himself, commented : “I have been a collector of Grange for many years, but it wasn’t until I visit Penfolds Magill Estate that I truly understood the craftmanship and history behind the historic wine. It was an honour to be the first person to collaborate on a design for Grange, especially as the brand celebrates its 180th anniversary.”

a man holding a bottle of wine

According to Drinks International’s 2024 list of The World’s Most Admired Wine Brands, Penfolds is one of the top three wine brands globally

There are only 1500 standard-sized 750ml bottles and 150 magnums available globally and they are selling fast in this, Penfolds 180th anniversary year, following their initial release in Australia and Asia recently, and they are likely to become highly collectible. We suggest buying as many as you can: its a wine whose box (and nifty bandana) is as striking and delicious as the liquid inside.

Penfolds Grange by NIGO is available globally. Future projects between Penfolds and NIGO will be announced later this year, 2024.

penfolds.com

 

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lakeside hotel
lakeside hotel

The Lakeside building of La Réserve Eden au Lac Zurich which dates back to 1909

The venerable Eden au Lac, one of the landmark lakeside hotels in Zürich, was recently taken over by the flamboyant La Reserve group, and transformed into a luxe-chic destination for every destination. LUX checks in and samples the champagne on the rooftop

The Wow Factor

The rooftop terrace of the Eden. Sitting on a corner table, wearing a light gilet against a cool breeze blowing from the Alps. The rosé champagne you are drinking has a pedigree related to the hotel: this is no ordinary house fizz, but a champagne made by Michel Reybier who owns both the La Reserve hotel group which the Eden belongs to, and some of the most prestigious wineries in the world, including Châte au Cos d’Estournel, and this champagne house, Jeepers. Sitting here, you are distinctly amongst the Zürich in crowd.

People Watching

Behind us, two paper thin American women were discussing travel, plans, deals, and their yoga routine. A gentleman from southern Europe wearing a rare Patek Phillipe, who would have looked very at home in the Yacht Club of Monaco, is sipping cocktails with a young lady. The people here are international, glamorous, wealthy, and wanting to show that they are here.

 

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine 

Show me to my room.

Our room faced out from the front of the hotel, over the lakeside road and directly onto a park and the bathing area of Lake Zürich. A small balcony was an excellent place for breakfast with a view of the forest of hills on the other side of the lake. The opera house is almost next door: this is a very centrally located hotel. The bed with the centrepiece of the room, with the bathroom behind. here it is all about high quality material finishes and details: the wood marquetry is exceptionally beautiful, reflecting the craft traditions in the nearby Alpine forests but presented in a contemporary way, with plenty of shiny metals and exquisite accessories from the glassware to the in room amenities.

green tiled kitchen, chefs

The street level Eden Kitchen which features all day dining

Come dine with me (and other things)

We loved La Muña, the rooftop Japanese Pacific restaurant and bar, which has been designed as an imaginary yacht club by Phillipe Starck. As well as the
superb quality of drinks (as one would expect from this group), the maki, sashimi and ceviches were exquisite. When the weather was less good, we dined inside: no views, but a chic cosiness and intimate style.

 

Find out more: lareserve-zurich.com

 

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 Issue of LUX

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bedroom with view of safari

LUX recommends our top hotels to check into this year. Compiled by Olivia Cavigioli

Glenmorangie House, Ross, Scotland
For a retreat into the Scottish Highlands, whisky distiller’s Glenmorangie House is the place to go. The brand just recently celebrated 180 years of craftsmanship, their single malt distilled and encompassed by the idyll of the Highlands, ‘Glenmorangie’ translating to ‘Valley of Tranquility’ in Gaelic.

Situated along the coastline on the Easter Ross Peninsula, the house is a a stone’s throw away from the distillery so guests are immersed in the whisky making process and the land from which it is crafted. Designer Russel Sage brought the brand’s protected Tarlogie Springs to the Tasting Room, and the barley fields to the guilded Morning Room, curating the hotel with the Glenmorangie story in mind.

The brand hosts an exclusive weekend, ‘A Tale of Tokyo Experience’, in collaboration with drink connoisseurs Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley, where guests can experience the mythologies of two whiskey making cultures. Celebrating Glenmorangie’s new whiskey, marrying Japanese processes and flavours with the classic Highland drink, the weekend offers a cocktail masterclass and Kintsugi cup-making, a touring of the distillery, and unique dining experiences by design of Head Chef John Wilson, as guests will partake in both a Scottish Highland diner and A Tale of Tokyo inspired tasting menu.

22nd-24th March 2024, at £950 per room for a two-night stay in a Standard Room or Cottage.

colourful living room

Find out more: glenmorangie.com

 

The Lana, Dubai – Dorchester Collection

rooftop pool with view of dubai

The Lana Dubai Rooftop

For a culinary whirlwind, Dorchester Collection’s first Middle East location, The Lana Dubai, is one to watch. Set to open in February 2024, the hotel is something of a gastronomical meeting of the minds in the countless dining experiences. Celebrated chefs Martín Berasategui, Jean Imbert and Angelo Musa create four distinct concepts out of the eight restaurants The Lana hosts. Accoladed with twelve Michelin stars, Martín Berasategui develops Jara, a love letter to Basque cuisine and the first of its kind in Dubai.

For modern Mediterranean cooking and cocktails, guests can flock to Riviera by Jean Imbert, who has also created High Society, an after hours lounge located on the rooftop of the hotel. Angelo Musa’s Bonbon Café will bring French patisserie with his own avant-garde approach to The Lana.

Designed by Foster + Partners, the hotel is bound in bright vistas, positioned along the Dubai Canal, a vantage point from which guests can revel in the city’s famed sunsets. The Lana’s spa, and 225 rooms and suites, with interiors designed by Gilles & Boissier, brings together the contemporary and traditional, in Dubai’s trademark style.

The Hotel is now open as of February 1st, now taking bookings. Rates start from £735 per night.

hotel resort in Dubai

Find out more: dorchestercollection.com/dubai/the-lana

 

ROAR Africa’s ‘Greatest Safari on Earth’

beautiful landscape

ROAR Africa’s ‘Greatest Safari on Earth’, is  a pilgrimage through some of Africa’s most iconic destinations, as ten guests can become intrepid travellers over twelve days, going from Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, to Kenya’s Great Migration and ending ceremoniously in Rwanda.

The African odyssey will bring guests to the most splendent views amidst natural phenomenons, such as Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, upriver from which guests will reside at the Matetsi, where they can immerse themselves in 55,000 hectares of protected wilderness.

Along the Okavango Delta in Botswana, guests will have the  opportunity to see Africa’s ‘Big Five’; lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Guests will stay at the Xigera property, described as a ‘living gallery’, showcasing design inspired by the Delta, and works by the continent’s most celebrated creatives. After a few days in the Mara North Conservancy in Kenya, where guests will have experienced the breadth of wildlife from walking safaris to a hot air ballon ride along the Mara river, the trip ends with guests coming into intimate contact with the world’s last wild mountain gorillas at Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

Two trips will be taking flight in 2024 aboard the ‘beyond first class’ Emirates A319 Executive Private Jet, with carbon credits matched to emissions.

August 10-22 2024 and August 25 – September 6 2024 are the two trip dates. Limited to 10 guests each and $148,000 per person.

bedroom with view of safari

Find out more: roarafrica.com/emirates-gsoe

 

Suvretta House, St. Moritz

snowy landscape with hotel

The Suvreta Hotel

Nestled in the valley of the Upper Engadine, St. Moritz, Suvretta House offers storybook winter-scapes and a plethora of Alpine activities to its guests. The resort sits in a natural park two kilometres west of St. Moritz, untarnished by the bustle of winter tourism, promising luxurious refuge in the snowcapped Engadine, with a private ski lift providing direct access to the slopes for guests who wish to embrace the winter sport season.

Bathed in the history and culture of the region, guests can expect elaborate horse-drawn sleighs reminiscent of Schlitteda custom, where young couples would go on rides together. Other attractions include opera and culinary festivals, horse races on the frozen St. Moritz lake, and overwhelming views to accompany a Savoyard lunch from the Suvretta House mountain restaurant ‘Trutz’.

You’d however be remiss to not take advantage of the 350km of ski runs available to guests, along with 220 km of cross country skiing trails, through sunlit valley floors or the illuminated night courses. The resort has even adopted curling, with its own unique Curling Guest Club and natural ice-curling field. Guests can also follow in the footsteps of former world champions who have skated on the Suvretta House ice rink, returning to the elegance and respite of the Alpine castle.

Winter season runs from 8th December 2023 to 1st April 2024. Rooms start at CHF 630. 

hotel living space

Find out more: suvrettahouse.ch

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Gold sports car parked in the desert
Gold sports car parked in the desert

A perfectionist car that offers precision engineering, precision steering and immense speed

Darius Sanai sets off in a McLaren that promises both rawness and refinement

Anyone buying a car like this is likely to have a number of other cars – and even other McLarens – in their stable. Perhaps they have a couple in every home, or a selection of variants of the breed in a country garage. This also means that, more likely than not, a car such as this will only see occasional use. There will be many other cars, some just for fun, others to carry out rather more mundane activities.

So the motivation for buying such a car can often come from the particular emotions that the knowledge of ownership and the driving experience – however fleeting – offers. Some supercars are all about flamboyance; others are about emotions and actions, or at least claim to be.

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In a couple of days of driving the 720S, it soon becomes clear what any owner will fall in love with about this car. Precision. The precision is there as soon as you turn the wheel, with the steering having a focused, perfectly weighted, granular feel superior to that of any of its rivals. Precision engineering is there also in its ability to smooth our bumps, which in many of its competitors are sharply transmitted to both driver and passenger.

This all translates to a feeling, when driving fast on good roads, that you are piloting a piece of exactitude that you could place to the nearest millimetre on the road, and which will respond with exactly as much performance as you need, according to how you bend your right ankle.

brown leather seats in a car with a window above the seats to see the sky

The elegantly understated interior of the McLaren 720S Roadster

Cornering in the McLaren is flat and low, but with a real sense of being connected to the road. It is not exactly raw, as there is much too much refinement and evident engineering to hand. But it is also far from being remote or too light to steer, like some competitors.

Anyone who has met McLaren’s modern founding father, Ron Dennis, will see his DNA in this car: it is in a pursuit of perfection that brooks no compromise. And that perfection is not just reflected in its performance and abilities; it is there in the comfort and refinement of a car that has every reason to have neither. Oh, and this is very, very fast – even at five times the price, a seven-figure hypercar would have difficulty shaking off a 720S.

We liked the interior, which is rather on the understated side for this type of car. It is efficient and swathed in the fake suede that high-performance car manufacturers seem to love. It is distinctive without being flamboyant in the low, quite central, seating positions – this is not a car in which you would take a passenger you dislike.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 718 Cayman GTS and 718 Boxster GTS 

One question we always ask about supercars concern their looks: how crazy, or otherwise, should they be? Here, McLaren has chosen to sit firmly in the middle between the sometimes rather understated recent creations of Ferrari, and the wild-looking cars of Lamborghini.

The 720S is currently being replaced by an updated model, so, if it matters to you, you may be able to get quite a good deal on this one. It is still one of the fastest cars anywhere on the road. And, as a pinnacle of car engineering, it is a must for any collection of normal production (as opposed to limited-edition) supercars.

LUX Rating: 19/20. A contemporary classic.

mclaren.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A palace in the hills surrounded by gardens
A palace in the hills surrounded by gardens

The 19th-century building and Foster + Partners extension overlooking the city

Darius Sanai checks in at the Dolder Grand, Zurich, for a palatial blend of the old and the new

The wow factor

There’s no shortage of that at the Grand. Driving along a forested residential hillside above the city, you turn into the grand driveway and hotel plaza that has a view of all Switzerland, it seems, beneath you. The building, too, is all drama. A luxurious 19th-century building with a Norman Foster extension, it has some of the most original art of any hotel.

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People-watching

We bumped into friends attending a birthday lunch here. It’s a hotel where Zurich high society comes to play.

Show me to my room

We stayed twice at the Grand within a week, interspersed by a trip to a wedding in Mallorca. The first visit, we had a room in the Foster + Partners wing – all curves, glass and modernity. Next time, our room was in the old building, cleverly refreshed to the same colour scheme and cosy. Which you prefer depends on your creative makeup. The modern rooms are efficient and striking; the classical wing has more character.

A room with red wooden beams and red leather chairs on white rugs

The Maestro Suite living room at the Dolder Grand, Zurich

Come dine with me (and other things)

The Grand is a city and country hotel simultaneously. It’s a 10-minute taxi ride to pretty much any business location in the city, yet you are living on a forested mountainside with sweeping views and space. The Saltz restaurant has the biggest outdoor dining terrace of any city hotel we can recall. In the summer months, you have the smell of Alpine forests (and the sight of them in one direction; the city and lake on the other). It makes for a memorable dining experience.

Read more: The Woodward Geneva, Review

The menu was a dream for lovers of clean, contemporary food: whole artichoke à la barigoule, white asparagus (in season) with new potatoes and hollandaise sauce. Another killer factor for us was the indoor pool in the new wing – all black tiles and very Norman Foster. There’s also a terrace and garden where you can relax with a green juice, and an extensive spa.

Find out more: thedoldergrand.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A red restaurant with a large window at the back and long rows of tables with benches and chairs on either side and crystal chandeliers over the bar
A rom with with a white sofa and wooden tables with red flowers on them

A view of the glamorous Baccarat suite at the Baccarat Hotel, New York

LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Baccarat Hotel New York for some Midtown glitz

Midtown Manhattan, directly opposite MoMA: until recently, something of a luxury hotel desert. But not now. Exit your car, breathe the interior perfume as you are ushered into the elevator and emerge on a mezzanine floor that is like a very chichi boutique townhouse of the type that might appear in the TV series Gossip Girl.

The mezzanine is a series of interwoven rooms that actually more resemble a series of townhouses melded together. A little reception area here a living-room area there, a bar here and an outside balcony/terrace over there.

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A townhouse owned by a billionaire, then. The decor is very out there:  Baccarat crystal chandeliers everywhere, quite beautiful craftsmanship on mirrors (also everywhere), deep-pile carpets, bold darks and bright lights contrasting on the walls and ceilings. The Baccarat feels like a French château reimagined for 21st-century luxe Manhattan.

A red restaurant with a large window at the back and long rows of tables with benches and chairs on either side and crystal chandeliers over the bar

Baccarat crystal chandeliers contrast with checkerboard floors in The Bar

And that’s before we got to our room. Light carpets, a modern four-poster bed, huge windows looking out beyond the roof of MoMA and quite the most striking in-room bar. This comprised a fold-out, red-lacquered piece of marquetry containing a set of striking and heavy Lalique cut-crystal glasses, silver tongs and accessorise, and an array of spirits and bottles. Not feeling like any Blue Label during our stay, we used the glasses for water.

Le Jardin terrace was abuzz with young, wealthy New Yorkers sipping some quite original cocktails, all served in Baccarat crystal, of course. We enjoyed a Magic Eye, comprising tequila, mezcal, cinnamon syrup, green apple and cereal milk, refreshing and quietly deadly. You can eat on the terrace, or in the adjoining Grand Salon, where we had dinner the following night. Jamón ibérico, langoustines de St Tropez, crab daikon roulade – a panopoly of modern European with a brush of East Asian.

Read more: Hotel Crans Ambassador, Crans-Montana, Switzerland Review

The Baccarat’s location is also refreshing in many ways, midtown being literally in the middle of it all, so, even if your meetings are on the Upper East Side, Hudson Yards and SoHo, as ours were, it’s not too far from anywhere, and indeed makes New York walkable. Not that many guests at the Baccarat would do that, I suspect. They would rather get their exercise in the very stylish indoor pool, and add additional glow at the Spa de la Mer, before jumping into the complementary city car service, or jumping into their awaiting Escalade. Chic.

Find out more: baccarathotels.com

 

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A green convertible car from above with brown leather seats
A green convertible car from above with brown leather seats

The Mercedes AMG SL 43 is a technically innovative entry-level model of the newly developed roadster icon

For decades, owning a Mercedes-Benz SL has symbolised understated wealth and style. How does the newest model, with a racier intent than its more laid-back ancestors, stack up?

To the car enthusiasts, particularly those of a certain age, the idea of a Mercedes SL conjures up images of stylish luxurious open-top motoring with a sporty edge.

To those of even older vintages, it will conjure up images of something even more glamorous, as the original SL (the words then stood for Sport Light) was the car in which the British racing driver Stirling Moss won the dauntingly challenging Mille Miglia road race back in 1955.

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The model has evolved through many generations since then: in the 1960s, it turned into a car known as the “pagoda“, losing its sportiness but gaining even more beauty.

Its 1970s and 80s iteration was a luxury cruiser, still open topped, but more in use by the housewives of Beverly Hills than any racing driver.

New iterations came in the 90s (luxurious and advanced), and 2000s (with some high performance options available again).

Times change, we pondered while contemplating the newest SL. Our one was presented in bright yellow, its tube-like shape suggesting an extreme sportiness not hinted at since the very first iteration of the car. Inside, it’s snug and driver focused, although unlike the last generations, this car does also have two small back seats in which to cram your designer children, dogs or bags. (Although we think SL customers would send their children separately with the nanny in the Cayenne).

Brown leather interiors inside a car

The Mercedes-AMG SL 43 of the R 232 series is based on a completely new vehicle architecture developed by Mercedes-AMG. The new dimensional concept allows a 2+2 seating configuration for the first time since 1989

Our first zip down the the road confirmed that these racy intentions are carried through to the handling of the car itself: this is a sports car, or it wants to be anyway – in the way of the old-fashioned, longnosed, louche roadsters of the 20th century.

Then, a first trip down the highway confirmed that this car still does what the SL is supposed to do, excellently. It settles into a cruise, nose lifting ever so slightly when you accelerate, and feels like it would be delighted to take you all the way to Portofino in a single journey. In a way that slightly belies its rapid responses at low speeds, it is a very settled and comfortable grand tourer with more refinement than rival sporting cars, such as the Porsche 911 or various Aston Martins.

Read more: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Review

Once you get to Portofino, Tuscany, or wherever your destination is, you will want to enjoy twisting down some country roads with the roof down. Here, the SL is always willing with its responsive steering, and always fun, although it doesn’t have the ultimate sports car balance or ability to deal with rapid changes of road surface and direction with the lightness of its rivals. It can also be a little bit bouncy on a bad road surface, a trade-off, perhaps, for that handling ability. It certainly feels like it has more sporting attitude than its predecessors.

Live with the car, and you get to understand its versatility: this is not an SL reinvented as a pure sports car (as that would see it lose its languid soul), it is a car that is happy with its heritage and has decided to become something of an athlete late in its life. Great fun.

Find out more: mercedes-amg.com/mercedes-amg-sl-43

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A yellow Porsche on a country road with fields in the background
A yellow Porsche on a country road with fields in the background

The Porsche 911 GTS is a sportier addition to the model lineup

Porsche has a unique place in the automotive canon. Its history, racing and heritage, combined with a stream of some of the most evolving and precisely engineered cars, mean it is beloved by collectors. And in recent years, the company has made approachably-priced sports cars that are still a paragon of excitement for those who cannot or do not want to stretch to the more exotic offerings. It has also branched out into family cars, SUVs and the highly dynamic electric Taycan. In a tribute to a brand which is synonymous with German engineering and carries with it a geeky spirit that appeals to those who might collect mechanical watches, in this series we review some of the company’s most interesting contemporary offerings

The greatest consumer products are not those which undergo brilliant reinventions, but those which quietly evolve while remaining seemingly the same. A Birkin bag, a bottle of Château Latour, and an iPad are easily recognisable from their predecessors 40, 20 and 10 years ago.

The Porsche 911 stands at the pinnacle of this list when applied to the automotive world. It was a bit of an anomaly when it first emerged in the early 1960s, with is engine in the back, just in front of the bumper, and a bug eyed look. Porsche had plans to replace it with a completely different model, the 928, in the 1970s. Yet 20 years later, it was the 928 that disappeared into the history books, while the 911, continually refreshed every few years.

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The 911 itself has spawned many different variants: from race specials that only ever increase in value, to increasingly mainstream standard cars that can be driven by anyone and have no shortage of supply. Somewhere between these categories, of the ubiquitous “standard” 911 and the rare GT models, is the GTS.

The steering wheel and controls inside a Porsche 911 GTS

The Alcantara and cloth interiors of the 911 GTS

To drive, the GTS is traditionally somewhere between the company’s more exotic offerings and its mainstream sports cars. The logic behind the GTS is that you wouldn’t want to drive a collectors car every day on the school run or to go shopping. Though having driven the three first iterations of the GTS since it was first introduced in 2010, we can attest that if these excellent cars were made in limited quantities, rather than as a main manufacturer run, we have no doubt that this car would be bought over by collectors in years to come.

And here is the fourth iteration: the 992 GTS, 992 being the model designation for the latest variant of the 911.

Get into the latest 911 GTS after driving the next model down, the Carrera S, and the subtle, iterative, intriguing, differences, are almost immediately apparent. The interior has touches of Alcantara and cloth, and appears more bespoke, less factory made. As soon as you go round the first corner, the steering, good enough in the standard car, feels a little bit more taut, more sharp.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 718 Cayman GTS and 718 Boxster GTS

The GTS is also more responsive around a series of corners, both in its engine response and the way it handles – and the way it sounds. It’s a bit faster and punchier, has more aural sensation, has a more muscular frame, or so it seems, while still being virtually as easy to drive as the standard models. The more specialist “GT” models, in comparison, take commitment and effort, ideal if you are racing around but much less fun in everyday reality for most of us.

Meanwhile the differences with the base cars are subtle, but just like the 911 evolution, many subtle differences add up to a big difference. We think the latest GTS is as compelling as any of its predecessors and its the 911 we would be buying if we were in the market now. You can even get it with manual transmission, unlike a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, if you are a truly committed driver; or as a convertible, unlike its more “collectible” sisters. Enjoy now while we are permitted.

Find out more: porsche.com/uk/models/911

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A white car by a shed in a forest
A white car by a lake at sunset

The EQS SUV is a stylish creation by Mercedes chief designer Gorden Wagener, with none of the brashness of some rivals

Mercedes-Benz has made an electric luxury SUV quite unlike any other, and we love it

One of the fears of anyone who has been appreciative of high end automobiles the last years or decades is that electric cars, while having zero tailpipe emissions (although they still do have a carbon and environmental cost in their manufacture and sourcing of electricity) will lack an essential character.

When every car is electric, this argument goes, they will all essentially be more or less the same thing with a different brand attached – accentuated by the fact that electric vehicles also have advanced and highly developing technological interfaces, which are largely sourced from the same suppliers, like all digital technology.

We remember speaking about these matters with the legendary Mercedes-Benz designer, Gorden Wagener, a few years back; Gorden insisted that there would be as much differentiation in the design and feel of Mercedes’ electric vehicles as there has been in their conventional cars.

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The EQS is a SUV – a type of car usually associated with massive emissions. It is fully electric though, so no worries on that front, at least during its daily use. It also achieves a remarkable goal of being very big SUV that does not look either aggressive or lumpen. It is smoothly designed and seems to shrink on the road, meeting no hateful looks from the resentful brigade.

The real revelation, though, is in the way it drives. Many SUVs set out to try to emulate the driving experience of the regular saloon/sedan cousins, something made almost impossible by their high centres of gravity and inherently massive weight – most of them weigh above two tonnes and a luxury SUV can weigh close to three tonnes.

This means that not only can they not drive like sports cars, but the passengers’ experience can also be compromised, with manufacturers left in a hard place between making the ride firm and unyielding (theoretically improving the dynamic qualities) or softer, but then allowing the forces of physics to dictate something that can be quite difficult to stomach in terms of a wallowing feel, particularly in association with the rapid but silent acceleration offered by electric cars.

A black steering wheel and dashboard of a car

The Mercedes-Benz ESQ SUV has a sophisticated and contemporary driver’s environment

That’s where the EQS is unique. Shoot off in the EQS (like all electric cars, it’s fast, although the 450 model we drove is not the fastest), and you have a delicious feeling of being cosseted – this is not a car aimed at setting record track lap times. Passengers felt the same. There is a luxuriant, old school refinement to being on the move in this car: objectively that is down to a ride that absorbs bumps and bits of broken road.

There is huge refinement in terms of what car companies call NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) but also a feeling that the engineers who made this car just really understand what makes a luxury car. Step out of the EQS into any other electric vehicle and you will notice the difference on this front.

So, a point of difference and a significant one given that this is a luxury car.

The technological interface is also sophisticated and easy to use, although this is much less of a differentiator these days. And while the design feels are highly up-to-date, we wonder if Mercedes has gone a little too far or making the interior feel “contemporary“ rather than “luxurious“. It’s as if the engineers did their bit brilliantly in the way the car rides and drives, but the interior designers were a little bit wary of making it look too traditional. Shame, because no major manufacturer does interior luxury like Mercedes. Functionality is for Teslas.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 911 GTS

But the most important element of a car like this is the feeling of quality, and the way it rides and drives. The EQS has one of the best electric mileage ranges of any car – although range is a technology that will constantly improve – and it is a car that you wish to sit back and luxuriate in, whether as a driver at the helm (and it really does feel like a helm, in the best luxury Mercedes, type of way) or passenger. So bravo Mercedes for having the bravery to create something that is truly – we think – what do your clients will want. Next, just add a bit of Palace of Versailles – or even Schöbrunn, if you want to keep it Germanic – to the interior for that ultimate touch of baroque ‘n’ roll.

Find out more: mercedes-benz.co.uk/suv/eqs/

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diamond drop earrings on a purple background
diamond drop earrings on a purple background

For romance, drama and style, look no further than the latest in high jewellery. Compiled by James Gurney

diamond necklace

Deco delight: The platinum Claustra necklace was presented this year as part of Cartier‘s Le Voyage Recommencé collection, which reaches back tot he Art Deco creations of Louis Cartier and Jeanne Toussaint. This brilliant piece is built around white diamonds, openwork spaces and onyx. The Claustra’s geometric perfection makes colours around it more intense under its cool fire.

cartier.com

 

 

 

A gold and orange diamond brooch

Hear me roar: Two of Coco Chanel‘s obsessions, tweed and her Leo star sign, inspired this Gabrielle ring. Patrice Laguéreau, Director of Chanel Fine Jewellery Creative Studio, makes a leonine statement with yellow sapphires adn garnet set in gold and platinum. These, and an intricate woven texture, make for a standout piece from Tweed de Chanel High Jewellery.

chanel.com

 

 

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blue watch with diamonds on the face

Close watch: Pure water inspired Metaphoria, a new Piaget collection. The Undulata, a limited edition of eight watches, matches watery colours with marquetry, gems and an ultra-thin, hand-wound visible watch movement. Cased in white gold, with an alligator strap and set with diamonds, the watch has a straw, wood, elytron parchment and leather dial by Rose Saneuil.

piaget.com

white gold bracelet with Dior written on the inside

Modern romance: new designs for the Gem Dior collection from Dior Joaillerie’s Creative Director, Victoire de Castellane, are unabashedly romantic. Its declaration of love is built on a geometry of irregular shapes, as of mineral strata, creating a tactile rythm. In this bracelet, set in white gold, the surfaces of the diamonds reflect the elemental forces that drive their creation.

dior.com

gold round pendant necklace

Golden year: Chaumet’s Liens collection celebrates connections of love through geometric motifs drawn from the archive, symbolising the joining of destinies that mark true devotion. This Jeux de Liens Harmony engravable medallion features a gold sunburst radiance that highlights the diamond links joining the two halves together – a bond to represent two souls united for eternity.

chaumet.com

Diamond and white gold bracelet half open with flowers on the edges

Fresh as a daisy: The Miss Daisy collection from Bond Street Jeweller, David Morris takes inspiration from the summers of English childhood memory – bright skies, playful games and joyous nature. In this ear cuff, diamond petals and an Akoya pearl, all set in white gold, combine to create an elegant, romantic piece of surpassing charm and lightness of touch.

davidmorris.com

 

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

 
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A sunny, snowy mountain top on the Alps with a Hotel view.
A sunny, snowy mountain top on the Alps with a Hotel view.

The hotel has dramatic views all around of one of the world’s most spectacular winter sports areas, the Dolomites in northeastern Italy

Our recommendation this ski season is for a place that blends the best of the Alps: Italian and Austrian culture and gastronomy, matchless views, astonishing skiing, and an ambience all of its own

How do you like your wintersports holiday? There’s the social whirl of St Moritz, Gstaad and Courchevel, the competitivity of Verbier and Val d’Isere…and then there are the Dolomites in Italy. Here, the vibe is so different you could be on another continent. It starts with the mountains themselves, sheer caramel coloured walls and stacks of rock, rising vertically above the curiously open and gentle slopes below.

A grey and white bedroom in a wooden chalet style room

The elegantly designed Superior Room

Then there is the culture, a blend of Austrian and Italian, but not really either – suffusing into the villages, food and people. The Dolomites are also home to the Superski area, a circuit of 1200 km of some of the most spectacular runs in the world, formed so you never have to ski the same slope twice as you tour the whole region.

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Our recommended base for exploring the area this winter is the effortlessly chic Gardena Grödnerhof, in Ortisei, at the heart of the area. (The German-Italian place names all point to the region’s mixed heritage.)

A chalet style hotel in the mountains covered in trees

The hotel is also an ideal summer destination for golfers, hikers and mountain bike enthusiasts

The family-run Grödnerhof may not be a palace like some of the most celebrated hotels in the Alps, but it’s every bit as stylish, and rather more understated, as any of its peers. Its design owes as much to Milan as it does to traditional Alpine themes; you are whisked into an effortless world of contemporary Italianate hospitality, but with a view to die for. There are two restaurants, the Gardena, in light Alpine style with Mediterranean dishes, and the Michelin-starred Anna Stuben, with a wine list to match the world’s best – and most eclectic.

Rooms are spacious and elegant and have sweeping views over the matchless Dolomites with light wood panels and cool grey tones; a blend of Austrian cosiness and Italian Bella Figura.

A wooden restaurant with white tablecloths

Anna Stuben’s Gourmet Restaurant, known as one of the best in South Tyrol, lies within the hotel

And then dash to the cable car around the corner as you are in the middle of one of the world’s most spectacular and distinctive ski areas. If you have not skied the Dolomites before, we recommend deliberately not looking out of the window of the lift as you go up and then taking a proper look at the top as the sheer scale and breadth of the view is like nowhere else. You may feel as if you are on a different planet. It’s one of the sunniest ski areas in Europe and also has among the best snowmaking facilities, so you can embark on your circuit which links to the ski areas of numerous nearby villages amid the likelihood both of fine Italian weather and crisp Alpine snow.

Read more: Hotel Crans Ambassador, Crans-Montana, Switzerland Review

A couple of perks the hotel offers are private ski tours at sunrise, with a guide, before all those other people get to the slopes, or just before sundown, when others have left (we recommend the latter, particularly after experiencing the hotel’s wine cellar the night before). And then you may have time to swim, luxuriate in the outdoor thermal baths, and admire the starlight, before dinner awaits.

Find out more: www.gardena.it

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An outdoor terrace with yellow cushioned deck chairs and tables
An outdoor terrace with yellow cushioned deck chairs and tables

The roof terrace looks out over Notre Dame cathedral

Darius Sanai checks in to the newest luxury hotel in Paris. Does it have the substance to match the style?

It’s a winter’s afternoon in Paris and, laden with big bags from Moynat and Hermès, and a smaller one from JAR, you decide to walk the few blocks from Place Vendôme to the Rue de Louvre, the big wheel of the Tuileries Christmas market appearing and disappearing to your right and Francois Pinault’s Bourse du Commerce museum an apparition in front of you.

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Your arrival at Madame Rêve, the newest luxury star in the unrivalled Parisian swanky hotel galaxy, is a little unexpected – or ours was, anyway. There is no palatial lobby with a concierge desk a marble tennis court distance away from reception. The building is impressive enough, a palace from the Hausmann era, but you enter through a simple door on one corner and are immediately presented with two small reception booths beyond richly mosaiced floor area.

A bedroom with white pillows and duvets and beige wooden chairs, floors and walls

Junior Suite at Madame Rêve

Our receptionists were young, friendly and eager – evidently they had skipped the module of “Parisian hauteur” at hotel school – and soon we were rapidly whisked up via a lift, and two long, right angled corridors named after the streets that they line, to our room. The darkness of the corridors made the surprise of the room even greater: instead of a view across the street to a man in the apartment opposite sipping an espresso and smoking a cigarette afforded by so many Parisian hotels, there were angled skylight-type windows, letting in a sky’s worth of light, and looking over rooftops to the church of Sacré-Coeur on the hill of Montmartre.

plants on an outdoor roof terrace

Outdoor terrace surrounded by plants in the heart of Paris

Furnishings are delicious, swathed in caramel leather with bespoke throws, rosewood panels and a bathroom and separate toilet room on either side of the vast bed, located so you can prop yourselves up and watch the light change as the sky turns into night.

All rooms are situated along the quadrangle of corridors on the same floor, officially the third floor, but in effect the eighth floor as the lower floor ceilings of this former post office and repository are so high. So, with the exception of a few rooms facing the inner courtyard, every room will have a view, whether of the Eiffel Tower, mid-restoration Notre Dame, or our view of Montmartre.

A yellow couch in a wooden room with windows on the walls with a view of a large cathedral

Light-filled rooms at Madame Rêve

The hotel is celebrated for its rooftop terrace and bar, but this being winter, it was more compelling to have dinner downstairs on the ground floor in the casual chic restaurant/bar Kitchen. We recommend a pre-dinner aperitif seated at the long bar itself, where you can appreciate the wooden panelling and seemingly Eiffel Tower height ceiling of the room, while rubbing shoulders with art collectors and film producers who have made this their local hangout since the place opened a year ago.

A vegetable opened up with food inside it on a plate next to a glass of wine on a wooden table

Contemporary-classic cuisine at Kitchen by Stephanie Le Quellec

Then, retreat to the lounge style seating all around, order another Negroni and choose from a menu from two Michelin-starred chef Stephanie Le Quellec that blends super-contemporary and traditional, the dishes split into categories like “Healthy Trendy”, “Flashback” and “Gluten Free But Not Vegan”. Roasted cauliflower cacio e pepe style was influsingly spicy, and the Prime Rib of Normand Beef Blazed with Bourbon was served on the bone and had a succulent tang – although the brick-style fries could have had a little more crispness and contrast between skin and interior. A salad of red leaf lettuce with ginger vinaigrette was zingy and uplifting.

Paris has never been wanting for luxury hotels, but until quite recently, the choice of style was fairly constrained to old-fashioned high luxury, aimed at an international private jet and business traveller set rather than a new generation of more stylish and culturally demanding traveller.

A grand wooden dining room with yellow lights

Dramatic high ceilings at the ground-floor bar and restaurant, both hot social locations for Parisians

Madame Rêve addresses this, and how? The serving staff are less formal, more the type of people you might imagine bumping into at the right kind of bar, though they do their job just as well as their penguin-suited peers. As with any hotel with an innate sense of style, not built simply to please anyone and everyone, you may disagree with certain touches: we weren’t sure about the darkness of the long corridors on the room floor, for example.

Read more: Hotel Crans Ambassador, Crans-Montana, Switzerland Review

But that only provides even more of a contrast to the lightness and tranquility of the rooms. And did we mention the location? You are minutes’ walk away from the Louvre, the Marais, the Seine and the Pompidou Centre, as well as the retail temples of St Honoré. And when you come back from an exhausting day of meetings or museums, you have one of the most compelling social scenes in Paris inside your own hotel. Chic!

Rates: From £410 per night (approx. €480/$515)

Book your stay: madamereve.com

Darius Sanai

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A terrace with a fire pit in the middle surrounded by chairs with cushions and a parasol
 A terrace with a fire pit in the middle surrounded by chairs with cushions and a parasol

Alpine views from a snug Crans Ambassador terrace

In the first installment of our luxury travel views columns, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Hotel Crans Ambassador in Crans-Montana, Switzerland

All holiday locations go through phases of being in and out of fashion. St Tropez, so Bardot-chic in the 1960s, was not a place to boast about in the 1990s, but came back with a bang in the Zeros.

Similarly with ski resorts. St Moritz took a yo-yoing in the cool stakes; Courchevel, always upmarket, was really made by Russian money following French fashion and may have plateaued Klosters peaked with (then) Prince Charles in the 1980s and has faded mildly ever since.

And so to Crans-Montana, a rarity in Switzerland in being a meld of traditional village and newish (late 20th century) resort. All the rage in the 1980s, it faded from the global spotlight (while keeping its loyal clientele, largely drawn from old-school European money) in the ensuing decades as Verbier, opposite and down the valley, grew in stature due to its big off-piste offering.

orange food on a grey plate with sauce

Fresh Peruvian/Asian fusion flavours at La Muña

Now, Crans is coming back. This was evident in our first night at the Ambassador. In the soulful La Muña restaurant, looking out over snowfields to a vista of mountains glowing in the moonlight, the sommelier recommended a Swiss red wine. After sampling it – a delightful balance of spice, delicacy, savoury herbs and black fruits – we asked where was from. “Just here,” was the response, with a smile and a gesture to the snowfields. The vineyards making this magnificent wine were a few hundred metres down the slopes.

Not that have great wine estates (there are a number in the Rhône valley below) is a marker for a hot ski destination, but, as cuisine becomes more local and clients more discerning, the Ambassador is a showcase of how that should work.

Our room – all lavish- cosy Alpine chic, had a breathtaking view over snowfields and the Rhône valley to the high peaks of the Valais, and a broad balcony big enough to play ice on (almost).

The Crans Ambassador is 20th-century class remade for the 21st: a place for wealthy families to visit over time, which has refreshed itself over the years without ever becoming a slave to fashions.

Find out more: cransambassador.ch

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Tall and grand white building surrounded by plants

A view of the Hotel Metropole’s grand exterior

In the heart of Monaco is a grand yet intimate hotel that offers fantastic dining, a world-class indoor/outdoor pool, one of the best spas in Europe and a mystique that makes it even more than the sum of its parts. Darius Sanai checks in

The arrival at a great hotel is a key part of its story. The Metropole is situated on the Casino Square of Monte-Carlo, one of the most celebrated public destinations in the (luxury) world. And yet your arrival is refreshingly discreet. Your car turns into a driveway, lined with supercars, away from the public gaze. You are ushered into the lobby as if arriving at a grand private home. The lobby itself is a visual feast, but a discreet one: no overbright lights and high ceilinged grandeur, but a dramatic floral display, tapestries on the walls and intriguingly lit corners and a segue into a bar area to the right. This is a place for insiders – those who really know Monaco.

The hotel lobby’s floral displays change according to the season

Our room, a Prestige Suite, was lavish and contemporary, a hard act to get quite right. Chandeliers and rich drapes, pale furnishings and walls, blonde wood loungers, floor-to-ceiling windows. A place of light, comfort and silence in a town that can sometimes be very hectic.

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The Metropole is famous for its food, and on the first evening we had a highly memorable meal, not at one of its celebrated restaurants but in the cosy heart of the bar, off the lobby. This is where Monaco residents go for casual dining. It’s comfort food, Monaco-style: a fabulous gazpacho, delicate artichoke with parmigiano, and a brilliant summation of Mediterranean cuisine: minestrone with monkfish, black beans and guianciale. Sublime yet simple.

Dark and glamorous retro bar

The glamorous Hotel Metropole Bar was designed by architect and interior designer Jacques Garcia

The bar is a place to see friends as they swoosh back and forth to the lobby and the restaurants beyond: so we chose an excellent Pink Kiss, the house cocktail, gin-based, refreshing and balanced, to toast them.

The hotel recently opened its gastronomic restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs, by chef Christophe Cussac, who has overseen the food and beverage option at the hotel for almost two decades.

For LUX, though, the Metropole’s culinary piece de resistance is Yoshi, a small but exquisite Japanese restaurant situated in the courtyard, with a flower garden outside – a great indulgence considering the price of real estate here. The lacquered chicken – a delicious dish somewhere between teriyaki and yakitori – was memorable, the grilled black cod fleshy and fulsome with miso, and the miso soup refreshingly umami.

Carefully arranged bento bowl on a green placemat

The Obento menu at the hotel’s Michelin Star restaurant Yoshi offers a light refreshing lunch option

Beyond the rooms and the cuisine is the spa, the hotel trying its hardest to ensure you never have to go anywhere in Monaco outside its domain. A wander down a corridor leads to a big terraced pool area, with views across town, a health food restaurant attached (with requisite, impossibly perfect men and women perched at the bar). The service at the pool is magnificent, intuitive and thorough without being overbearing. The pool miraculously turns into an indoor pool in winter, the walls of its pavilion swathed in Karl Lagerfeld frescoes.

Read more: Badrutt’s Palace St Moritz, Review

Just downstairs from the pool, we were wafted into the transformational world of the Bastien Gonzalez ‘Pedi:Mani:Cure’. If you ever wondered why women in Monaco have hands that look 20 years younger than they are, you now know the answer, although seeing a teenage girl emerging from the spa after us did beg the question of whether her hands disappeared altogether into a pre-natal state.

A blue indoor pool with lights at night

Designed by Karl Lagerfield, the ODYSSEY installation and heated pool is covered throughout the winter and al fresco during the rest of the year

But we digress. More than the magnificent hardware, any memory of the Metropole is dictated by the even more magnificent service. Not a given, even in this part of the world, it gives this uber-chic grand hotel in one of the world’s most iconic destinations the feel of a fantastic, extensive private home – albeit one with some of the world’s best chefs cooking for you, and a butler who can rustle up a fantastic club sandwich and cocktail if you just feel like chilling with your house guests in the drawing room. The Metropole is an absolute LUX favourite.

Find out more: metropole.com

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A coastal town with red roofed houses
A pool with straw chairs and palm trees around it

The Beach House terrace at the Rosewood Le Guanahani

With its gleaming white sands and jet-set visitors, St Barths is known as the most exclusive and extravagant of the Caribbean islands. Candice Tucker discovers natural wonders, beautiful hotels and a party spirit

It may be an exclusive destination today, but it is possibly that the early Arawak communities of the tropical island of St Barths were never sufficiently impressed to put down roots – poor soil and water sources saw to that. St Barthélemy has always relied on imports- from food to fresh water and, for the past half century, the super-wealthy.

Restaurants, beach clubs, taxis, villas -all are expensive on the 25sqkm island. unlike other Caribbean destinations, there are no cheaper options. Only the best is available. An unexpected benefit is that local workers expect salaries high than those in London, New York and Hong Kong.

A coastal town with red roofed houses

A view of Gustavia, capital of St Barthélemy on the west of the island

To enjoy the island’ delights, visitors must first arrive. This is slightly hair-raising as your six seater plane has to land between two mountains on one of the world’s shortest runways. not recommended for nervous fliers.

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My first stop was the Rosewood Le Guanahani, located on a private peninsula in the northeast and featuring 66 contemporary rooms and suites, each with a private terrace, in villas and cottages.My experience began by being escorted to a spacious yellow bungalow whose overlooked small green islands in the sea. The room was light and airy with pale walls, white wood-beamed ceiling and soft furnishings offset by dark wood floors and furniture.

A white bedroom overlooking a beach with turquoise sea and chairs and tables outside the room

The two-bedroom Lagoon Suite, situated directly on the beach, at the Rosewood Le Guanahani

The hotel, unlike many in St Barths, enjoys a calm sea and is ideal for families. Its spa features a serene adults-only pool and offers a variety of relaxing treatments. However, you might find simply lazing on a loungers at one of the hotel’s two beaches, being offered ice-cold mango sorbets and accras de morue (a delicacy of spiced salt-cod fritters), enjoying uninterrupted sea views, is relaxing enough.

In the evening, I joined the hotels live music barbecue. The ceviche stand offering a choice of sliced fish with limitless toppings of tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and exotic fruit was a highlight, as was enjoying sunset overlooking the sea. Set in 18 acres, the resort is St Barths’ largest, and amenities include non-motorised water sports and a private gentle hike to the hilltop, from where you can view half of the island.

Bungalows on a hilltop overlooking the sea

The hilltop bungalows and villas of Villa Marie

For a different but equally special experience, I stayed at Villa Marie’s Gyp Sea Hotel, a boutique hotel of 22 bungalows and villas in the northwest. As it is situated in the hills near the island’s highest point, there is no direct beach access, but Villa Marie cocoons you in a tropical paradise, with spectacular views from each room’s terrace.

A curved swimming pool with trees around it

The palm tree-shaded pool in the Secret Garden at Villa Marie

Hikes around the property give you various views of the island and beyond to Anguilla, 43 km away. A walk through a forest, surrounded by goats, down to Colombier Beach is not one to miss. The hotel’s own beach club, Gyp Sea on Pelican Beach, is a few minutes from the hotel and, whether you stay at Villa Marie or not, it’s a must-see – all white sand and turquoise waters.

Read more: Badrutt’s Palace St Moritz, Review

The menu offers rustic-chic specialties including albacore tuna on toast and heavenly platters of profiteroles. At 3pm the music starts and everyone dances on the tables, in true St Barths spirit.

A room with white walls, a blue sofa and dark wood furniture

The elegantly bohemian living room of the Pool Suite at Villa Marie

Another day, I enjoyed a massage at the hotel listening to the chirping rainforest sounds, followed by a dinner at the hotel’s Restaurant Dolce Vita. The aubergine parmigiana and tiramisu were as good as you would find on the Amalfi coast, and the live music that plays every night was the perfect end to this alluring escape.

Find out more:

rosewoodhotels.com/le-guanahani

gypsea-stbarth.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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a vineyard with a house at the back
green vineyards and an orange house at the end surrounded by trees

Dana Estates is one of Napa’s most prized wineries

Dana is a cult collectible among California wines, made in tiny quantities at sky-high prices. Its owners are on a self-declared quest for perfection. Darius Sanai sat down with them for a tasting of their exceptional wines

The universe of fine wine, more than that of any other luxury good, is filled with contradictions. You say you don’t like Merlot, but you pay £2000 for a bottle of Château Petrus, which is made, mainly, from Merlot. You would never dream of drinking a wine made from different vintages all in one bottle, yet you collect Krug Grande Cuvée champagne, which has made its name on doing just that. You don’t like California wines because they are too strong, and prefer to stick to Bordeaux, yet many Bordeaux wines, in this time of climate change, are 14% or 15% alcohol, just the same as their California cousins.

Nowhere is this paradox more vivid than in Napa Valley itself, the heart of California’s great wines. “Napa Valley Cabernet” is considered even by many wine connoisseurs to be one particular style, which they may profess strong views about either way – particularly if they are French, or a little snobbish and British. And yet not only does this area make a spectrum of different styles – arguably, much broader than that made in the grape’s famous homeland, Bordeaux’s left bank – but, geographically, geologically, horticulturally, and meteorologically, it is one of the most diverse wine producing regions in the world.

A lounge with yellow lighting

The winery was re-designed by renowned architect Howard Backen, keeping the original stone walls as its centrepiece

This point was brought home during our tasting of Dana wines with the estates’ owners. Dana itself is situated on the west side of Napa Valley, in the shadow of the Mayacamas mountains (in reality, densely, wooded, and biodiversity rich, big hills, separating Napa from valleys to the west that run towards the Pacific Ocean).

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Dana’s wines are made from grapes grown on both on the sides of the valley, including two vineyards on the slopes of Howell Mountain to the east, part of the range which separates this fertile area from the arid central valley of California. (This geographical detail is essential, as wine is a product of its place).

In the Dana wines we tasted, we were tasting different identities, and personalities, with far more differentiation than the marginal differences in climate and soil in revered heartlands of France.

casks in a room with a chandelier

Dana Estates produces three single vineyard wines: Helms, Hershey and Lotus Vineyard

And here is another paradox. Because while France’s great wines, from Chateau Margaux to Château Petrus to Domaine de la Romanée Conti, are brands that almost any connoisseur worth their salt knows of, very few people indeed have heard of Dana. And this, you would think, would lead to it being undervalued, a kind of hidden gem of beautiful wine to discover and buy up.

And you would be wrong, for all the wines we tasted here are as expensive, and in the case of some vintages more expensive, than the great names of France mentioned above. Tiny production, and a cult following, and also, as we noted in our conversation, an owner and winemaker absolutely obsessed with making the best possible, no matter what the cost. Hi Sang Lee is a Korean entrepreneur who bought the winery because he just wanted to make the best of the best.

Like a few other top and California estates, a conversation and tasting with Dana is like a window into the creation of a future wine, superbrand. And as for those who prefer to dismiss “cult” California wines, as a fad, superbrands, are often only taken up, in the early stages, by the most discerning.

a vineyard with a house at the back

Dana Estates sits at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains in Napa Valley

The wines: Tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Dana Estates Helms 2019
This is pure, brilliant, Napa Cabernet – and for connoisseurs of the region, more specifically, has the wonderful hallmarks of a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rutherford Bench, an area just below the mountains on the west of the valley. There is density, powerful fruit, balanced tannins and a balance – although we would put either put this wine in a cellar for 10 years, or drink it with a Kobe steak personally chosen and cooked by Wolfgang Puck in our home overlooking the Pacific.

A blue carafe next to a bottle and glass of wine

The Helms Vineyard Cabernet displays the classic profile of the Rutherford Bench: dark fruit, richly layered with a hints of spice and earth

Dana Estates Hershey 2019
Hershey Vineyard is not in Napa Valley per se; it is up in the hillsides around Howell Mountain, to the east of the valley. Surrounded by forests, you can feel the freshness and lift in this wine. It’s more delicate, more precise, more defined, while still being a powerful wine. We would drink it with guineafowl in a wine jus cooked in our home in the high Alps by Yannick Alléno.

Dana Estates Lotus 2019
Rich, powerful, deep wine with many layers: creamy black fruit, savoury spice and anise, and velvety texture. We would drink this with Hélène Darroze herself, in a Mayfair townhouse, with an Auvergne-style beef casserole.

Large black wine bottles

Dana is a Sanskrit term meaning “the Spirit of Generosity”

Dana Estates Lotus 2011
It was interesting to see how this wine aged; at twelve years, the muscularity of the previous wine has turned into something altogether more poetic. Still rich with power, but woven through with a silken grace, and the spice has a greater subtlety. With this one we would ask Yan Tak from Lung King Heen in Hong Kong to cook us a hotpot, and eat it in our Midlevels apartment looking out over Hong Kong harbour.

Read more: A tasting of Schrader’s legendary Napa wines

Dana Estates Helms 2005
This 18 year old Dana wine has aged more like a Burgundy than a Bordeaux, opening out into a fresh, fragrant, balanced wine with much subtlety and no trace of tannins. We would drink this by itself, in winter, in our house overlooking the turbulent sea off the coast of wintertime Mallorca.

Find out more: danaestates.com

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A lit up hotel at night in front of mountains covered in snow
A lit up hotel at night in front of mountains covered in snow

Badrutt’s Palace Hotel was first opened in St Moritz in 1896 by Caspar Badrutt

There’s a fairytale palace high in the Alps where everyone is a Royal – or feels like one

Hotel trends come and go. Some may remember the white cube rooms of the 1990s, the lobby-bar obsessions of the 2000s, the hotel-as-club revival of the 2010s, and the genericization of hotel bars into David Collins Blue Bar clones at some stage in between.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Yet the greatest hotels, like the greatest luxury brands, remain effortlessly eternal while never seeming old fashioned, or not to anyone except the most craven and uninformed observer, in any case.

Two grey chairs and a table facing a window overlooking mountains and trees

Views from the Tower Penthouse Apartment

We were collected from St Moritz station by Badrutt’s Palace in a 1960s Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. The two minute ride to the hotel was effortlessly majestic. It suited a palace hotel so entwined with royalty that the Shah of Iran, in his famously vainglorious attempt to recreate Darius the Great’s Persian empire at Persepolis in 1973, flew the Badrutt’s staff out to run the occasion. Nobody else would suffice for the King of Kings.

Breakfast at Badrutt’s is in some ways the encapsulation of the place. In many luxury Alpine hotels, you have a homely, nutty buffet. Here, you sweep down the stairs, past a harpist, into a vast grand dining room. The buffet stretches the length of the room on one side, with picture windows facing the lake and mountains on the other. People dress up for breakfast here, even though it’s not a requirement. The buffet itself starts with an intricacy of cut fruits, segues through a vast array of hot European foods, a forest’s worth of different seeds and berries, and finishes at the far end with “hausgemacht” miso soup, bao, and dim sum. Among all the other guests, it’s quite easy to spot the regulars and long-termers, looking like a Hollywood portrayal of European aristocracy.

A terrace with chairs covered in fur blankets looking over snow covered mountains

The terrace from the Tower Penthouse Apartment looking over St Moritz’s mountains

Our rooms at Badrutt’s were outliers: the Tower Penthouse occupies the whole of the iconic top part of the hotel, and is effectively a three floor private residence, with a huge living area, private terraces, kitchen and dining room, and more bathrooms and bedrooms than we could count. The master bedroom was by itself at the top of a spiral staircase, with views across St Moritz and the lake and mountains.

St Moritz has an appeal as broad as the Palace: in winter you can ski, cross country ski, walk or simply socialise (assuming you know the right people, darling); in summer you have some of Europe’s best hiking to hand, as well as a variety of mountain sports.

A lounge overlooking a large window with mountains covered in snow outside it

Le Grand Hall

Generations of European aristos, meanwhile, have learned how to dive, belly flop or jump from the top of the rock garden that has been built into one end of the huge indoor pool; swimming lengths in the pool involves a constant view of the next gen wealthy adapting their jumping techniques; meanwhile the outdoor spa pool has full drinks and food service, so you can sip your aperol while gazing at the mountains and having a water massage.

A living room with a long dining room table and chairs and cream couches with a black coffee table in the middle

The Tower Penthouse Apartment drawing and dining room

But while the hardware of the hotel has an eternal class, the software – the people hosting you – are even classier. This is where luxury hoteliers go to learn how to be luxury hoteliers. One efficient young chap serving at breakfast, who we vaguely recognised from our last stay four years previously, effortlessly remembered our coffee orders from last time and brought Tabasco sauce to the table unheeded, again a memory of the last stay.

Read more: Francis Sultana: The life of a leader in design

Does he have an astonishing memory or was he just very well briefed? It doesn’t really matter – and what is remarkable in this era of high staff turnover is that the staff at Badrutt’s are always there and always remember.

A terrace overlooking a lake and green mountains

Views of the lake in summer time from the Tower Penthouse Apartment

In that, they feel like they are your personal staff; unlike many hotels, it’s a place you feel like you could move into and live in, because, despite its grandeur and array of offerings – as well as the restaurants inside the hotel, Badrutt’s also owns the wonderful and iconic Chesa Veglia pizzeria across the road – each guest somehow feels like the staff are just there for them. Quite a remarkable achievement.

Rates: From £1500 per night (approx. €1725/$1850) for double room.

During the winter months, the Tower Penthouse Suite starts at £13,580 per night (approx. €15,550/$16,625) 

Book your stay: badruttspalace.com/reservations

Darius Sanai

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A woman wearing a black top standing next to a white and black wall
children in yellow tops playing with a big silver ball

ArtOutreach public sculpture tour for students

Mae Anderson, serves as the chairman of Art Outreach, a non-profit organisation committed to promoting art appreciation and nurturing the connections within Singapore’s art community. Mae’s contributions extend to her role as the Head of Philanthropy Services Asia at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, where she collaborates with clients to bring their philanthropic visions to life

LUX: How has your personal philanthropy informed your corporate role?
Mae Anderson: My experiences in the philanthropic sector have reinforced for me the importance of aligning business values with social responsibility. This is essential to benefit the communities we serve and to enhance the reputation and sustainable values of the organisation. Corporate philanthropy is not just a matter of financial contributions; it is about creating meaningful, sustainable change by strategically leveraging resources and expertise. I prioritise building strong relationships with nonprofits, community leaders, and clients who share our commitment to making a positive difference. This collaborative approach has proven instrumental in developing effective philanthropic strategies that maximise our impact.

A woman wearing a black top standing next to a white and black wall

Mae Anderson, , posed against a mural by Singaporean artist, Chris Chai

LUX: Why was Art Outreach founded and what were the early successes?
MA: Art Outreach was founded to introduce art appreciation into Singapore’s education system, particularly in elementary schools where the focus was primarily on art making, and where there was a lack of emphasis on art appreciation, compounded by a shortage of trained art teachers and limited exposure to the humanities. 20 years on, there have been significant changes in the education landscape In the early stages, our volunteers were trained to deliver free art lessons to local classrooms and played a crucial role in enriching students’ visual literacy and cultural awareness. These early efforts successfully addressed the need for art appreciation, fostering a greater understanding of cultural diversity and societal dynamics among young learners, addressing a crucial need in the education system while adapting to the changing educational landscape.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What is behind the wave of interest in cultural philanthropy in Singapore and the South Asia region?
MA: There are several interconnected factors. First, there is the desire to preserve and celebrate cultural heritage. In an increasingly globalised world, people recognise the importance of safeguarding and promoting their unique traditions, arts, and history, fostering a deeper connection to one’s roots and a sense of cultural pride. The region’s economic growth has played a pivotal role.

A man holding a film camera standing around people

Level Up by curator, John Tung, one of a series of professional development workshops run by Art Outreach. In this workshop, participants learned the finer points of art installation

The rise of the middle class with disposable income opens doors, and as people become more financially secure, they seek meaningful ways to give back to their communities and support cultural initiatives that resonate with their values and aspirations, further fuelling the interest in cultural philanthropy. Governments in the region have introduced policies and incentives to drive private investment into cultural projects and institutions. Further, cultural attractions draw tourists , enhancing exchequers and soft power, Finally, the emergence of the mega-wealthy 1%, catalyses support for cultural initiatives and leads collaborations.

blue flower lights hanging in the dark

Benedict Yu, from 生 Rebirth as part of 醉生夢死 erosion, his solo exhibition at Art Outreach in August 2021

LUX: How has Art Outreach evolved an ecosystem for all stakeholders?
MA: As explained, we began by seeding art education within local elementary schools set about creating an art landscape. We extended our reach to communities through public programmes, discussions, and tours. This made contemporary art more accessible and relatable to local audiences. We support emerging artists through initiatives like the IMPART Art Prize to offer holistic support and foster the development of artists championing Singaporean art.

Two women standing by a wooden table with objects in glass frames on the table

Artist, Berny Tan (left), and curator, Kirti Upadhyaya, against Berny’s artworks from Along The Lines Of – her solo exhibition at Art Outreach in August 2023

From 2024, our Art Outreach Summit will offer artists mentorship, networking opportunities, and a platform to showcase their work, as well as practical programmes such as installation and lighting. More strategically, we enter into public and private partnerships around events and activations. So we serve the range of stakeholders.

children in green and white uniform sitting on the floor with their hands in the air

ArtOutreach primary school classroom programme

LUX: What is the role for private collectors of contemporary art in Singapore?
MA: Private collectors are custodians of cultural heritage, preserving and showcasing contemporary artworks that provide insights into the evolution of artistic expression and cultural trends. Through their acquisitions, they are patrons of emerging talents and established names, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression, opening their homes or private exhibition spaces to the public, elevating the profile of Singaporean art on the global stage and fostering educational and cultural exchange. Finally, the donation of artworks or funds to cultural institutions and nonprofit organisations, has a lasting impact on the sustainability of the arts ecosystem.

people standing by an escalator on a mezzanin

ArtOutreach Art In Transit Tour, Promenade Station. This is a walking tour of the artworks installed in Singapore subway stations

LUX: How should art philanthropists plan so they give effectively?
MA: Effective art philanthropy begins with a clear mission and values aligned with the art landscape and national priorities. Philanthropists should thoroughly research organisations, projects, or artists that match the mission, and then identify gaps and areas where their contributions can make a difference. Establishing clear, measurable goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) can guide their philanthropic efforts and evaluate impact. Philanthropists can diversify their giving portfolio and consider strategic partnerships with like-minded organisations to amplify their impact and bring diverse perspectives.

Children wearing costumes

Art Outreach children’s art workshop

They should assume longterm commitment to foster lasting change and address evolving needs within the arts community. It is critical to implement systems for measuring impact, remain adaptable, and be responsive to changing circumstances or emerging needs in the arts landscape.

Read more: Aliya and Farouk Khan on the Malaysian contemporary art scene

Actively engaging with artists, cultural institutions, and the broader arts community allows philanthropists to stay connected, and they must adhere to ethical principles, be transparent, and respect artists’ rights. You should consider legacy and tax planning and remember that public engagement can inspire others to support the arts.

A woman playing with string on a tapestry hung on a wall

Textile Artist,Tiffany Loy, against her artworks from Lines In Space, her solo exhibition at Art Outreach in January 2023

LUX: How can connectivity and data help in scaling the impact regionally?
MA: Data analysis empowers philanthropists to understand specific regional needs and priorities, to identify areas where their contributions can maximise impacts, and to connect with local organisations and initiatives. By collecting and analysing data in real-time, they decide where best to allocate resources. By collaborating, donors leverage their resources more efficiently, engage directly with regional communities, scale effectively, advocate, share experience, measure impact, and together drive long term change.

LUX: What is your personal advice to a client embarking on their philanthropy journey?
MA: Trust in your passion and purpose. Philanthropy is about making a positive impact on the causes that matter most to you. Sustainable change takes time so persevere. Finally, stay humble and open to learning and let that inspire your growth as a philanthropist.

Find out more: artoutreachsingapore.org

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Thibaut Hontanx is the seventh Chief Blender of the historic Maison Courvoisier. Here, he speaks to LUX about the brand’s famous past, and the importance of celebrating the present

LUX: Can you start by telling us a bit about Maison Courvoisier’s history and why the heritage of the brand is so important to its identity?
Thibaut Hontanx: Courvoisier was founded by Félix Courvoisier in 1828. The brand was officially registered in 1843, and Félix then built the Maison in 1857, which still operates on the banks of the Charente River. He ultimately created the brand because he believed in celebrating the joy in the everyday, and this is something which still holds true for us.

When Félix passed away in 1866, he left Courvoisier to his two nephews, the Curlier brothers, who had lived in Jarnac their entire lives. They expanded the business internationally to London, and Courvoisier was awarded a gold medal at the 1889 Paris World Fair and its cognacs were then served at the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower.

LUX: Indeed, and Courvoisier has been served at many historical celebrations – it was also served at the opening of Moulin Rouge. Are there any upcoming landmark occasions in which you are planning to cement the presence of the brand?
TH: Next year will be a landmark year for Maison Courvoisier; we are thrilled to reopen our home in Jarnac in 2024 after more than a year of renovation work. Beyond our exciting Maison reopening, we will have more updates to share soon…

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Can you speak to the Maison’s Foundation 1828 project and your vision to support small business owners and entrepreneurs?
TH: Foundation 1828 is Courvoisier’s philanthropic platform. It provides meaningful financial and educational support to empower small business owners and entrepreneurs in underserved populations across the world.

In the US, we have established a multi-year partnership with the National Urban League, which is a historic civil rights organisation dedicated to economic empowerment, equality and social justice. Since 2020, Foundation 1828 has also contributed to a $1 million financial commitment over five years to assisting Black and minority small business owners and entrepreneurs in the U.S. This year and beyond, our Maison is aiming to expand its support globally.

LUX: What would you say to someone who has an appreciation for luxury drinks and spirits, but who does not usually drink cognac?
TH: I would say that our Collection of cognacs have something to offer for every taste preference. For spirits drinkers who are looking for a sessionable, refreshing cocktail, I would recommend that they try the Courvoisier Gala cocktail. This drink is very festive and gives people from all backgrounds and taste preferences an opportunity to explore the rich world of cognac through an approachable experience.

If you prefer a neat or on the rocks style pour, I would suggest trying Courvoisier XO Royal from our prestige portfolio collection of cognacs. Courvoisier XO Royal really embodies the roots of Maison Courvoisier through the vision of our charismatic founder, as well as its rich history of revered cognacs that graced the royal tables of Europe. Our ultimate expression, L’Essence de Courvoisier, is also great to enjoy neat.

LUX: Could you describe the significance of terroir in the production of Courvoisier cognac, and how it influences the flavour profiles of your Cognac/Blends?
TH: The significance of terroir is paramount, as it has a huge influence on the flavour profiles of our cognacs and blends. The fruity and floral style of our Maison has been defined by the successive generations of Chief Blenders as Cognac in Blossom. We deeply respect the Cognac region, where our art of making is rooted in harnessing, liberating, and revealing the spirit found in our terroir, crus, and oaks. This philosophy results in an exuberant cognac infused with the vibrancy of the Cognac region.

LUX: In the world of luxury spirits, what are some of the key trends you anticipate in the near future?
TH: I think there will be a continued focus on premiumization and heightened enthusiasm within the cognac category. At our Maison, I expect more experimentation with blends of older, rarer eaux-de-vie to develop our prestige and ultra-prestige segments of the business.

Read more: Entering Veuve Clicquot’s Garden of Gastronomy

LUX: You have a lot of tradition and history behind you. How will you ensure that you continue to appeal to younger generations in today’s market?
TH: We will continue to innovate offerings, introducing new and exciting blends and cognacs that align with evolving preferences, emphasising inclusivity and approachability. Our goal is to continue to offer a cognac experience that is welcoming and accessible to all.

LUX: Why was British artist and designer, Yinka Ilori, the right person to be the Maison’s ‘Ambassador for Joy’?
TH: Yinka is committed to making art playful and community-driven. Likewise, we believe in making the cognac experience a joyful one that can be enjoyed by anyone. We are continuing to redefine the cognac category by placing Courvoisier in consumption moments that are vibrant and vivid. Our work with Yinka continues to bring to life our brand world that is about savouring life’s pleasures.

Find out more: www.courvoisier.com

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A pool surrounded by grey sun loungers and white umbrellas
A pool surrounded by grey sun loungers and white umbrellas

The Fairmont Tazi Palace Tangier pool

LUX checks in for a resplendent yet restful stay at the Fairmont Tazi Palace, Tangier in Morocco

What drew us there?

The hotel is a super impressive, sprawling 5-star establishment, high up in the hills above the Medina in Tangiers. It used to be the home of the Sultan of Morocco’s representatives in the city, and has been restored to the highest standard. Everything feels opulent and grand; the reception area’s 12 metre high ceiling was particularly memorable, as well as the slick pool and vast surrounding area featuring daybeds and cabanas. The grounds are peppered with eucalyptus, pomegranate, palm and olive trees.

A terrace with arched walls and blue and white chairs

A suite’s private panoramic view terrace

Authentic Moroccan touches are everywhere, from the artwork to textiles and mosaics from local artisans decorating its 7 stories. Whichever floor you find your room on, incredible views are a certainty, as the hotel looks out onto the entirety of the buzzing city from high above. You have the privilege of surveying the busyness from your own secluded, peaceful space.

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How was the stay?

Out of the 133 rooms at the Fairmont Tangiers, we enjoyed a classic and comfortable Deluxe room. It was bright and airy with white and blue accents. Despite the Tazi Palace being a hotel of considerable size, we felt very tranquil throughout our stay.

A bedroom with a large window and blue, white and gold details

The Deluxe King room with views of Tangier

We’d never been to Tangier and the hotel staff could not have been more accommodating – nothing was too much trouble. Fabien, Yassine, Zineb and their team were fabulous, organising a personal tour of the Medina and a drive around the city and the wild beaches where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic.

A restaurant with dangling lights and pink cushions on the benches

Crudo, one of the five dining options at the hotel

We loved being shown the Penthouse and Katara Suites, with the Katara being almost 4000 square feet. Other key highlights included our meals at Parisa, where we were lucky enough to dine twice. Authentic Persian and traditional Moroccan cuisine were both on offer. We highly recommend the slow cooked lamb shoulder in tomato sauce.

A bar with yellow and blue furniture and African art on the walls

The Speakeasy Innocents bar, inspired by West Africa

We stayed during Ramadan so were able to experience the Ramadan Iftar Buffet at Crudo, another one of the hotel’s dining offerings. This was an experience in itself; I have never seen so many different dishes on offer in one restaurant! Crudo was centred around sharing delicious food, as opposed to à la carte. There is also the Rose Room, where we enjoyed a delicious light lunch one day.

Read more: St Regis Mardavall, Mallorca, Review

Anything else?

The Spa is seriously smart and refined, with staff second to none; I indulged in a wonderful massage. Another option for relaxation is to grab a cocktail from Innocents, the uber trendy bar with live music and West African art covering the walls.

Two marble beds with towels on them

The spa which combines Moroccan-inspired techniques with products from Sodashi, Maison d’Asa and Swissline Cosmetics

Finally, convenience is always key: the hotel is only 10 minutes from the city centre and 20 minutes from the airport, so it’s an easy option for a quick round trip or a longer stay.

Find out more: fairmont.com/tangier

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Birdseye view on blue ocean beside green land with a cyclist riding through the greenery
Birdseye view on blue ocean beside green land with a cyclist riding through the greenery

Butterfield & Robinson’s Dalmation Coast Active trip in Croatia

Mike Scarola is the CEO of Butterfield & Robinson, a luxury travel company with the goal of making a positive impact. He speaks to LUX about connecting with local communities and travelling on two wheels instead of four

LUX: What was the inspiration behind your Slow Find initiative?
Mike Scarola: The Slow Fund is driven by our passion for sustainability, focusing on education, culture, conservation, and preservation. We needed a formal vehicle to give back, which is essentially the genesis of the Slow Fund. Sustainable travel has been in our DNA since the beginning, just by the nature of what we do.

Seeing the world or seeing a region on bikes or on foot, we believe is a better, more sustainable way to travel. Currently we support nine initiatives globally, which range from conserving species and iconic landscapes across Africa, to supporting gender equality in the safari industry, to our art residency in France. The ideas behind the initiatives we choose to support typically come from our guides or our planners, because they know the region and its needs the best. We always aim to support sustainability efforts or cultural initiatives in the regions where we take travellers, and often try to bring our travellers into some of those initiatives while they’re on trip. This allows them to give back to the communities they visit and understand the essence of Slow Travel.

Two chefs cooking pizzas in brightly lit restaurant

Pizza making lessons from a local chef in Italy on the Amalfi Coast Walking tour

LUX: When you first brought in this idea of sustainable travel and travelling on bicycle rather than taking cars, was there a high client demand for it, or was it something that you had to intensively market?
MS: The long story is that our founder, George Butterfield, is an unbelievable trailblazer. He had a huge passion for travel and bringing people to new experiences. He was always trying new trips,  and in the early 70s he decided to try biking and as a part of a travel experience. But first time round, it just didn’t catch on.

Then he had someone in his office who, in the early 80s, started to make a case that we should try this again. He thought that people that are looking for luxury will also want to bike through Europe. George was actually pretty hesitant at the time, but they tried it and it absolutely took off in the early 80s.

LUX: How do you go about tracking your carbon footprint and why do you think it’s important that companies, especially travel companies, need to be doing this?
MS: We’re in our second year of very detailed tracking of our carbon footprint, and the reason we do this is because we want create a positive impact in the world. There’s a real crisis and we’re part of it, but we’re now trying to be part of the solution. The first step that we thought was important was to try to measure our impact. It’s tough, but once you measure that, you can communicate the biggest impacts of what your company has day-to-day on the environment, and then you can start to take solid steps to reduce it. We’ve always thought about the environment and taken steps to improve our trips and reduce our carbon footprint, but this formalisation allows us to track it on an annual basis.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What’s the philosophy behind your travel experiences?
MS: We think there is a large number of travellers who want to be active when they go on vacation, and who will get a better experience seeing a region on two wheels than they will on four. There’s so many regions now that are wonderful to hike through, to bike through, to canoe through, that also have luxury accommodations, which is often really important for us. We always try to bring our travellers to luxury accommodations, to high end food.

Man standing next to his bike by a sunny slanted road

Mike Scarola on the Tuscany Wine Country Biking tour in Italy

LUX: You do a lot of community-based work trying to enhance their lives whilst travellers come and visit. How do you ensure a community focused approach while also balancing client demand?
MS: What we find is that travellers are looking for very authentic experiences. They’re not only looking to stay in the nicest hotel and eat the best meals. They’re looking to feel like they’ve come away with a connection and a deeper understanding of the region, which lines up really well with what we try to do. We try to source from locally-owned businesses and local people to help deliver experiences on the trip. So whether it’s a specialised tour, or  stopping in the middle of your cycle for lunch in a restaurant owner’s backyard, where they’re going to teach you how to make pasta, these are the types of authentic experiences that our travellers are looking for. We work really hard on a day-to-day basis to try to find them and it’s only possible because of the network we have built up . We have about 125 guides that are located around the world, who know their regions intimately and are often the source of new experiences with locals.

LUX: Can you tell us more about your art residency initiative in France?
MS: Certainly. This a partnership with a former guide, who has an art residency program in France. They came to us to say that they often identify fantastic artists who are very much in need of financial aid, who could use our help. That’s all we really needed to know. A passion of ours is being about to support our guides, and to support art and culture. We’ve sponsored a number of artists. The latest one is a Belarussian artist, who had to leave their home country because of what’s happening over in Ukraine. This was a phenomenal artist who really didn’t have anything, and was going to have to give up their passion and give up their talent in order just to survive. So we helped to support.

LUX: What sets Butterfield and Robinson apart from other travel companies in the industry?
MS: The heart and soul of this business are our guides and our experienced designers. I would argue at the end of the day that we have the best guides and the best experienced designers on the planet.

Read more: Travelling Botswana on Eco-Safari, Review

Guides showing a map of Tuscany to people on a cycling tour

Mike Scarola guiding on the Tuscany Wine Country Biking tour in Italy

We always have a get together, a guide kick off at the beginning of the European season in April, and a guide gathering at the end of the European season. They are the most creative, well-travelled individuals who speak multiple languages with stories from the whole year on how they took travellers to amazing spots. We ask our travellers at the end of the trip to rate us on a whole bunch of different metrics, and the guide score is always the highest and most consistent, because they’re so knowledgeable about the region.

LUX: How do you aspire to continue redefining luxury travel in the years to come?
MS: The biggest thing for me is listening to our travellers. Our travellers have been the best source of direction over the last 57 years, and I think they’re going to continue to be. I think the demand for authentic experiences will continue to grow. The other thing is that travellers are looking to have a bit of an impact on their trips as well. I can see us doing it a lot more where they’re not just visiting and learning, but they’re participating, potentially in a project that they do on a trip that you know makes them feel a little more connected, a little more empathy for the region and the culture.

Find out more: www.butterfield.com

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Model in a sparkly designer suit posing by a dark bacground
Model in a sparkly designer suit posing by a dark bacground

The Blaze Milano Gliss Bolero from the Fall ’23 Collection

Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri is a former fashion editor and stylist, and one of the founding members of Blazé Milano, the a hot Italian luxury brand on the womenswear scene. Here, she speaks to LUX in honour of the brand’s 10 year anniversary

LUX: Tell us about where your interest in fashion began.
Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri: Styling and design have been part of my life since my youngest years. I have drawings of the cartoon Jessica Rabbit in various outfits which I must have done in my first days at school, and photo albums of my youngest sister dressed up in my mom’s clothes, patiently posing for me and my imaginary fashion shoots (…I was around 14-15 years old by then). Later on my mother helped me prepare a design portfolio the year before applying for college. I went to NYC and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, and from there I never stopped.

LUX: Did your upbringing have an influence on your designs?
CR: Most definitely. I have had the incredible fortune to grow up in very colourful and creative homes; my mother is an incredible aesthete, along with being an architect. She has always brought new life to old family properties. Watching her absorbing each step of this process has made me confident with my sense of proportion, colour palettes and composition. Through my mother I had the chance to help restore and renovate – in particular I love retouching antique frescos – and this has become a hobby I cherish deeply.

Corrada Rodriguez d'Acri wearing a Blaze blazer and red shows against an orange wall

Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri

LUX: Can you tell us the story of how you met your co-founders, and when the concept for Blazé Milano was born?
CR: We met through mutual friends and immediately connected, but became close whilst working for Italian Elle, where we worked together as stylists. Blazé was born in those days, around 2012, when we were ready to start an adventure of our own. In 2013, we opened our doors to the world.

LUX: What were the biggest challenges you faced when creating the brand?
CR: At the beginning the hardest challenge was finding the perfect way to divide duties between the three of us and the best way to interact with each other. We were new at everything, so we basically reinvented ourselves as partners, entrepreneurs, and strategic thinkers.

The Serama Bomber from the Fall ’23 Collection

We started on our very own, with no financial help, and we could only count on each other. As the brand continues to grow, everyday is a surprising challenge. We have never taken anything for granted, since even our smallest successes have helped to consolidate this fulfilling present.

LUX: Do you think that fashion design is still a male-dominated space?
CR: Not really. In the past it has been, but now we have Victoria Beckham, Chanel’s Virginie Viard , the Olsen sisters with the amazing The Row, Gabriela Hearst with Chloe and her own brand, Phoebe Philo back soon, Isabel Marant, Dior by Maria Grazia, the Attico girls, Zimmermann, and many more.

Model wearing a brown blazer paired with a red button up

The Everyday Blazer from the Fall’23 Collection

LUX: Ten years on, what do you consider the brand’s greatest achievement?
CR: That our blazers, thanks to our style, aesthetics and trademark Smiley pocket, are recognized worldwide.

LUX: How would you describe the quintessential Blazé Milano aesthetic?
CR: Blazé is timeless, effortless, chic, and wearable anytime, anywhere. When you buy our pieces, you can mix them throughout the seasons.

LUX: What is your favourite piece in the Fall 2023 collection?
CR: The Serama bomber, an oversized jacket with maxi shoulders and an ‘80s vibe – one of my favourites in fashion history.

Sparkly yellow velvet jacket and blue trousers photographed by a digital camera

A shot from the Fall ’23 presentation featuring the brand’s iconic Smiley pockets

LUX: How does Blazé Milano engage with sustainability and the climate crisis?
CR: Since day one we have committed to using the most natural textiles and accessories in the industry. We produce only in Italy; every item is made by Italian artisans and companies, and we are very proud of it.

We committed back in early 2020 with the Green Future project, to reduce the impact of our activities on the planet. Green Future Project is an online platform giving companies and private citizens the opportunity to make a difference and reduce their carbon footprint. A tree is planted with every Blazé purchase.

It is difficult to be 100% sustainable in the fashion world, but by manufacturing long-lasting garments with high-end fabrics, that don’t follow trends in order to never be out of fashion, is already a small but important achievement.

Model in a black dress and heels wearing a grey bomber jacket

Another shot of the Serama bomber

LUX: Would you ever expand into menswear?
CR: We introduced the Daybreak blazer a couple of seasons ago in a style borrowed from menswear, with the addition of our Smiley pockets, a unisex look. We also have a collection of carryover knitwear, marinière and full colour, that can be worn by everyone. Our aesthetic has a masculine feel, but always with a practical feminine touch. Sometimes matched with ruffled shirts or flowy dresses, there is a ’when boy meets girl’ feeling in all the collections.

A complete menswear collection?

We’ll see, maybe one day!

LUX: How do you envision the brand will have changed and evolved by its 20th birthday?
CR: It is a very difficult answer to give, but we really hope to make Blazé a company with solid values and a great team, promoting true Italian elegance as sustainably as possible.

All images courtesy of Blazé Milano

Find out more: www.blaze-milano.com

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A white hotel building with an outdoor pool surrounded by grass and trees
A white hotel building with an outdoor pool surrounded by grass and trees
LUX check in to a spectacularly remastered resort hotel on the edge of Zurich, with a rich rock music history and a deliciously gastronomic and partying present

Sometimes first impressions are wrong. I arrived at the FIVE hotel and resort in Zurich, and walked into the brightly lit, modernist lobby with brown pillars and a wooden island of sofas and magazines in the middle of its white floor, with young black clad staff behind the desk. I sensed I had arrived at a US-style designer hotel, where cool matters more than function, and staff are more interested in their next screen test or modelling job than guests.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

But this is Switzerland, not LA, and I was wrong – in the best possible way. The reception staff were young and informal, but also highly efficient, trained and motivated. That extended to everyone, from the spa receptionist to the bar staff and brilliant teams in the restaurants, who were swift, helpful, chatty, and remembered requests and ideas the next day, without being formal or tiring.

A restaurant with red tables and white chairs

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The FIVE is a new iteration of a historic hotel, in 20th century terms anyway, the Atlantis, which hosted most of the 20th century’s major names in pop and rock. Behind the Reception desk is a tribute in the form of album covers: ABBA, Grace Jones, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson.

The latest reimagination of this hotel, on a hillside on the very edge of Zurich (to one side there is deep woodland, with the city starting below a public park on the other side) blends funky, contemporary vibes with a thick dash of 70s and 80s nostalgia.

A bedroom with a view of a city and beige headboard and throw on the bed

Our room had a huge view over the city, to the lake on one side, and forested hills beyond. The hotel brands itself as the hottest hotel and nightlife destination in Zurich, which could be a mixed blessing; thankfully some bass thumping from a rooftop party, during the day on the Sunday we arrived, stopped in the early evening and never reoccurred. There was a small balcony, a huge bed, more than 2 metres across, a big contemporary bathroom and a generally very relaxed vibe – there is not a car or street sound to be heard at the FIVE.

One of the hotel’s showcases is its outdoor pool, 25 metres long with a huge jacuzzi to match; apparently there is quite a party scene there every weekend, but unusually rainy weather for the duration of our stay meant we couldn’t experience it. There is a chic indoor pool, with a water feature outside the picture window the lines it, and a smaller jacuzzi.

A swimming pool surrounded by chairs and grass

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An undoubted, and slightly unexpected, highlight, of the FIVE is its cuisine. There are four restaurants, most of them situated on a single mezzanine floor with a picture window view across the city and a vast terrace outside. Inside, the decor for each is quite different even though they are effectively in one big open plan space; outside the huge terrace area was sadly out of bounds during the rainstorms of our visit.

I tried the Chinese restaurant, Maiden Shanghai, on my first night,. The decor was a bit bright – Chinese restaurants should be dark, but this is the same place they serve breakfast, and dual-use always leads to compromises. I was a little sceptical about Chinese food on the edge of Zurich but – wow. The hot and sour chicken soup was vivid, vibrating with flavour, no glutinousness, the chicken pure, the spicing zingy. Over many years of travelling Hong Kong and neighbouring provinces of China, this is possibly the best example of this soup I have tasted – perhaps a bit Europeanised in terms of leanness and no fat, but brilliant.

chinese food in a black bowl

The “hand folded mushroom dim sum” had a sweetness to its parcel, and an intensity and umami to its fungi, that again suggested a detail and quality freak was in charge of the kitchen. Meanwhile the quality of ingredients in the sea bass broth main course, including the fleshy and firm fish and wonderful trumpet mushrooms, was superb, as was the flavouring, but there was a layer of oil (perhaps from the fish itself) that slightly marred the purity.

Read more: Great Drive: Lake Zurich, Switzerland to the Tuscany Coast, Italy

On my second night, over to the Vault Wine Bar, just a few metres along the same floor, which has better (darker) lighting and comfortable armchair seating. From the iPad based menu I chose a minestrone, an “insalata” (salad) and the grilled baby chicken main course, Straightforward comfort food to accompany some cocktails, or so I thought, The minestrone was a light, intense tomato broth into which there had been infused some beautifully diced and cooked vegetables: once again, the flavour was beautiful, intense. The “insalata” could have been a standard mixed salad, again, the quality of ingredients – avocado of wondrous flavour, herbs from a nearby hillside, black Italian tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette – made it superb. The chicken was as good as the poulet de bresse in a three Michelin starred restaurant I visited recently.

A lounge with green and red chars and dim lighting

FIVE Zurich is a rare place, where the food far exceeds the expectations set by the descriptions on the menus.

My bar meal was accompanied by some Moscow Mules with intense fresh ginger, served in the correct copper mug, and highly flavoursome limes. It’s as if no average ingredient can make it through the door of the FIVE.

All of this, and FIVE is on the edge of one of Europe’s premier art cities (and Zurich also has an excellent array of bars and clubs); a 20 minute Uber from the centre of town (it’s too far to walk), yet on the edge of a forest. You could go during a business trip or for a holiday – and my superb experience even excluded all the extensive outdoor areas because of the weather. Quite special.

Find out more: zurich.fivehotelsandresorts.com

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The back of a metal watch
The back of a metal watch

Every watch collector knows you can’t just walk into a luxury boutique and expect to buy an in-demand timepiece, any more than you can walk into a gallery and pick up the latest Richard Prince. The space between demand and supply can be acute, and some watches acquire a status beyond value or taste. Here are six of the best compiled by James Gurney

 

A metal watch with a red face

An icon returns: Demand for Zenith’s heritage re-issues such as this Defy Revival is intense. It’s easy to see why. The faceted octagonal case and 14-sided bezel combined with the steel ladder bracelet, gives the £6,100 Defy a character as unique today as it was radical at its 1969 launch.

zenith-watches.com

A black watch with a tech style silver face

Go faster: If ever a watchmaker could adopt the ad slogan “reassuringly expensive”, it is motor-racing favourite Richard Mille. The 1.75mm RM UP-01 Ferrari, created with Ferrari, is the thinnest watch ever designed. All 150 watches to be made are reportedly reserved, at £1.88m.

richard-mille.com

a blue watch with a blue face and strap

Blue blood: François-Paul Journe set up as a watchmaker nearly 25 years ago, after restoring antique clocks. That tradition, combined with a modern aesthetic, has collectors content to wait for years, even for the simplest creations such as the Chronomètre Bleu, which retails for just under $40K, but resells for upwards of $50K.

fpjourne.com

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

 
A blue strap watch with a silver face with a hint of blue

What is the world: Greubel Forsey raises watchmaking to an art form by preserving and reviving craft skills. That the brand is looking to bring prices down to below £200,000 (the covetable GMT Balancier Convexe is around $400,000) and reduce waiting times to under two years tells you all about demand.

greubelforsey.com

A silver metal watch with three black dots in the face

Classic cool: The value of the most sought-after vintage Rolex watches can reach absurd extremes. With others, such as the 1971 pandadial Daytona, the perfection of the design was enough to justify an estimate of up to €500,000 euros at Sotheby’s March 2023 Fine Watches sale.

rolex.com

A silver watch with a blue square face

Dreaming on: Demand for key Patek Philippe designs exceeds supply, reaches fever pitch for Nautilus variations and is beyond reason ($6.5m in 2021) for the Tiffany blue-dialled 5711/1A-018. For a white gold 5811/1G (£58,391), you might have a chance in a few generations.

patek.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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The spacious garden and pool at the St Regis Mardavall, Mallorca

In the fifth installment of our luxury travel views columns, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the St Regis Mardavall in Mallorca

What drew us there?

A huge rolling lawn, two swimming pools, trees and flowerbeds, beyond which stretches more thick grass, the cliff edge and the sea. Face inland and beyond the pools there is a graceful low-rise building, and mountaintops beyond. It’s not what you expect of a hotel in Mallorca, which, by folklore has been split into crowded coastal regions and beautiful but isolated inland areas. Yet here we were, by the sea in the southwest, with as much space as you could imagine. The space between sun loungers could be measured in tens of metres, rather than centimetres, as in many Mediterranean resorts in midsummer. We could have popped a champagne cork from our sun loungers, watched it fly and descend, and still not meet guests on the nearest loungers. You can get that and more in a villa, but few villas have the facilities of a luxury hotel to hand, and, anyway, we rather like seeing elegant strangers at a distance, rather than just our own wonderful guests.

The indoor-outdoor terrace with its endless view

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How was the stay?

You can, of course, enjoy delightful isolation at the Mardavall. This was amplified in our rooms: we had a suite at garden level with its own private pool, separated from the rest of the grounds by a floral hedge. The private pool was situated in our own private garden, with outdoor dining table, sofa, chairs and loungers – and a similar setup inside in case of bad weather (very rare here). If one of the definitions of luxury is unexpected peace, then this was luxury. The Mardavall is also beautifully located. It’s a few steps from the beach, and fewer than 15 minutes drive from Palma, the island’s capital, which has transformed in recent years from a slightly down-at-heel port with a rich history to a rather beautifully preserved historic city: Barcelona without the tourists. We made the foray into Palma a couple of nights, but, in the main, one could be very happy just at the resort. Es Fum, its one Michelin-starred restaurant, is an extremely elegant place to enjoy a lingering dinner, and we also liked the beach vibe and food of the Pool Bar Sa Badia. It’s not a Mykonos beach club, and that’s precisely why to go.

The relaxing St Regis bar

Read more: Royal Riviera, Côte d’Azur Review

Anything else?

Med-hotel beach shops vary in quality, but the little boutique here is quite magnificent for its selection of hard-to-find boutique brands. Not what you’d expect and kudos to its manager. The Mardavall is the kind of place you miss all winter and look forward to returning to in the summer.

Find out more: www.marriott.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 2 min
A blue car on a road by some trees
A blue car on a road by some trees

The Lexus NX 450 on the road

In the third part of our Great Drives series, Darius Sanai travels, in a Lexus NX 450, from the Lake Zurich, Switzerland to the Tuscany Coast, Italy, ending his trip on a bottle of Masseto 2015

What is the best vehicle for transporting a lot of clothes – the spoils of a visit and meetings in various Italian fashion houses – and a lot of wine – the result of a spontaneous drop by the vineyards of Franciacorta in northern Italy? Sitting comfortably just above the speed limit on the Italian autostrada, cruising carefully while listening to the GreenBiz 350 podcast, we were fairly sure we had the answer in our Lexus. Its full name is the NX 450h+ F Sport, but for our purposes it was the car that could just do everything.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The interior design of cars is becoming increasingly important as we do more things in them (they are effectively 3D extensions of the internet), and driving becomes more controlled and less of a sport. And here was a car with a truly beautifully designed interior. It was light, high enough off the road to give confidence – you could see everything that needed to be seen, but not so high that you felt domineering or unstable. Controls that needed to be easily touched were within sight and within reach without any fuss. Displays were clear with excellent typography. The air conditioning was a notch above the usual in terms of its ability to separate climate zones. Like any good design, it didn’t shout about itself, and it had grown on us over the previous two weeks.

A blue car next to a mountain and lake

The journey started in a small town near Lake Zurich on the northern side of the Alps. The road rose and became increasingly winding as it made its way towards the mountains we were due to cross, and we wondered briefly if we had chosen the right car. This is a hybrid SUV, efficiently powered by both electric and petrol engines, but it is also a high car, with plenty of ground clearance, excellent for driving across fields. So would it be right for twisting mountain roads?

A beach at sunset

The beach and pine forest at the Riva del Sole hotel, Tuscany

We need not have worried. This new-generation Lexus uses technology to miraculously minimise the amount the car leans when taking corners, a key consideration when driving to the Alps, as you do not want something lurching from one side to the other like an old Range Rover. The Lexus drove flat, smooth and responsive, even over the highest points of the Julier Pass, between north and south Switzerland. Sure, it wasn’t the thrill of racing a sports car to the edge of its abilities on a sinuous mountain road, but that would not have been possible anyway, given the rest of the traffic and also the strictness of Switzerland’s traffic police. Fast enough was, well, fast enough.

A bedroom with grey and gold colouring and hints of red

The Exotik Suite

Over the border in Italy, after more mountain passes and ice cream, the Alps fell into the low, hilly meadows of Franciacorta, which is where our favourite sparkling wine from Italy is produced. At its best it is creamy, complex and refreshing, like a good champagne, but with the added joie de vivre. At the main farmers’ outlet store for all the producers (and would that there were one of these in every wine-producing region), we picked from producers and cuvées impossible to find in other countries.

A sign of a well-engineered car is that it doe snot flinch when loaded up and driven hard, and this was very much the case with the Lexus. Onwards, it seemed to say, after a couple of days in Milan, as we arrowed through straight autostradas in northern Italy towards Tuscany. Here, we spent an excellent few days enjoying this car’s other attributes: its economy (fuel stations are very hard to find in rural Tuscany), its ability to deal with rough roads and unmade tracks with no fuss, and the comfort and efficiency of its interior in a hot summer. The full-length sunroof also came in for much praise, although it was mainly open at night, when it let in views of the stars and the cries of owls. A car for all reasons, indeed.

A room with a stage and a large vase in the centre of a table

Objets d’art at the Riva del Sole

Our final destination was a place well known to a certain class of intellectual Italians, roughly the equivalent of Britain’s Cotswolds set, but without the pretentions. Castiglione della Pescaia has none of the bling that has been acquired by its fellow Tuscan resort, Forte dei Marmi, but it has nature, and culture, on its side.

A swimming pool lit up a night

The hotel swimming pools by night

There is one resort hotel to stay in at Castiglione: the Riva del Sole, a resort built in the idealistic style of the mid-20th century, when Europe was thriving and confident, and nobody flew to the Maldives or Bali. You approach along a long, straight coastal road flanked on both sides by the stone pine trees that are a feature of the Italian coastline. The hotel appears amid the pineta (pine forest) on the left, between road and sea, a low-rise 20th-century modern building (Swedish owned) that, when you enter, reveals a cavalcade of original and updated modernist designs.

A wooden divider next to a bed looking out to trees

The Coral Suite

The reception area is out of a 1960s David Niven film (duly updated, of course) and our room, while compact, had a lovely aspect across the trees towards the sea. You wander from reception, past a dramatic Italian restaurant housed in another forest building, past a little newsagent shop straight out of a Jacques Tati film (magazines, beach balls, sweets) and a boutique-chic deli. A huge outdoor pool complex – several pools, really – appears on your right, with keen sports swimmers doing their lengths from the early hours. Past a hut serving snacks and drinks (there is some excellent Franciacorta on the menu), the path rises over a dune and down onto the resort’s lengthy private beach.

A restaurant with white table cloths, green chairs and plants around the room

Modern dining at Riva del Sole, Tuscany

Part of a strip of sand that stretches for 15km in a gentle arc, it is one of Italy’s most famous private beaches. The sea is warm and shallow, and the most memorable aspect is stepping out 20 metres into the sea, your feet still standing on white sand and your chosen drink in hand, looking back at the beach. The hotel and all of Castiglione have been subsumed into the pineta, such is the attention to detail of the design. All you can see is beach, forest and the mountains rising up behind. No wonder it is a haunt of the discerning Italian intelligentsia.

A blue car on a patch of grass next to a castle with a tower and turrets

The Lexus making a pit stop at the fortress of Montalcino – ancient Tuscan hilltop village and home of the celebrated wine Brunello di Montalcino

Hidden inside the pineta, the hotel also has a sophisticated Tuscan restaurant, La Palma. Sweeping interior architecture and the forest visible through windows all around combines with a wine vault of Tuscan wines – particularly from Montalcino – that a collector would die for. We chose a Masseto 2015. All savoury power and a wealth of flowing flavours, it is one of Italy’s great wines, and comes from just up the coast from Riva del Sole. In the main hotel there is also a glamorous 1960s-style piano bar, where you sit inside or out on the terrace and are served Bellinis.

Read more: Great Drive: Jura Mountains to London via Burgundy and Champagne

This is not high luxury, but it is high class; a place where the intelligent, artistic and sophisticated go to enjoy themselves with friends. And throughout, inside and out, the interior design, a subtle 21st-century take on mid-century modernism, is both playful and gorgeous. Chapeau to designer Eva Khoury. There are hotels with grander views and bigger rooms, but very few we would want to spend more time in than the Riva del Sole.

Find out more:
lexus.co.uk
rivadelsole.it
masseto.com

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A pool surrounded by grass from a bird's eye view
A pool with deckchairs by the sea

The Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino is the first of the hotel group’s properties in Greece

Looking to extend your summer in the sun? Getting weary of your guests on your yacht? Drop by the brand new Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino in Greece, opened this month

A sunset and a hotel overlooking the sea

Mandarin Oriental collaborated with TEMES, a leading developer known for their commitment to sustainability, to develop the resort

A pool surrounded by grass from a bird's eye view

The hotel has an 18-hole golf course on the property designed by premier golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones II

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A deck chair and parasol with mountains and see in the distance with a sunset

Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino is located next to the recently opened Navarino Agora, a marketplace with curated retail, dining venues, artisanal street food and an open-air cinema

A beige bedroom with a floor to ceiling window sliding door to a terrace overlooking the sea

The hotel has 99 suites designed by Tombazis & Associates Architects and K-Studio, the team behind the renowned Scorpios beach club in Mykonos

A terrace with beige and wooden chairs and a pool overlooking the sea

The hotel used locally sourced materials to create its bioclimatic design, drawing inspiration from local agricultural traditions and the region’s heritage

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A swimming pool surrounded by a hotel trees and hills and fields
A swimming pool surrounded by a hotel trees and hills and fields

Glorious exteriors at the Como Castello del Nero, Tuscany

In the fourth part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Como Castello del Nero, Tuscany

What drew us there?

What didn’t draw us there would be the more pertinent question. This 12th-century castle hotel is on a ridge overlooking half of Tuscany. In the far distance to the north, you can see the domes and spires of Florence; on another ridge to the south, the terracotta shapes of Siena. Both are a short drive away. In between are hilltop villages, and what seems like an endless expanse of forest, vineyard, field and wild boar.

How was the stay?

Our favourite spot was at the northeast corner of the extensive outdoor pool. It is on a terrace that drops away to fields and villages below. At the pool edge is a huge old oak tree, and we set our sun loungers to its left for a view of the hotel, the pool or the Tuscan wilderness, depending on how we turned our heads by a few degrees. The breakfast terrace, relatively newly created in a refurbishment by Como Hotels and Resorts, is a few metres away and has a similar view.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Or perhaps our favourite spot was above the pool on the higher terrace leading to the hotel. This is a huge space, with sofas, chairs, planters and shrubs. The panorama stretches outwards and upwards, as this is an excellent observation station for shooting stars in summer.

A beige bedroom with white curtains around windows

The ancient-meets-modern elegance of the Loft Suite

The Castello has a couple of different wings that feature stylish and softly pared-back rooms and suites. Ours was in a corner on the ground floor, with views out and down the slopes.

A decision on whether or not to leave the hotel each day was a question of one irresistible urge meeting a countervailing irresistible urge. We resisted the temptation to visit Florence, but did drop by Siena, a pleasant 25-minute drive away. We enjoyed being back at the hotel for champagne as daylight disappeared.

Read more: The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, Review

There are innumerable wineries to visit in the surrounding Chianti region: you feel you could jump into them from the terrace. Of course, that would be too much effort and the option we preferred was to sit and enjoy the magical views and order wines to come to us. The hotel has decided not to mess around with the food.

A table and chairs in a wine cellar

Atmospheric dining in the Wine Cellar

Some of the best ingredients in the world, from olive oil to meat, cheese and fruits, speak for themselves at breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the Michelin-starred La Torre, guests can dine on the terrace in summer, while Pavilion offers all-day alfresco summer dining.

Anything else?

Italy is full of ancient buildings that have been converted to hotels with views. But there is nothing quite like the Como Castello del Nero.

Find out more: comohotels.com/tuscany/como-castello-del-nero

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Wide glassy river bank surrounded by trees below a twilight sky

Camp Xakanaxa, on the Khwai River bank

Ella Johnson travels through Botswana on an eco-safari, where the highlight is encountering more hippos than humans – in a landscape owned by wild creatures and where humans are just fleeting visitors

Arriving at Botswana’s Makgadikgadi salt pans in the dry season feels like landing on the moon. Travel westwards by helicopter from Leroo La Tau and watch the dense African bush melt into spacescape. Step out of the aircraft onto a vast flat plain: besides the grey earth cracking underfoot, a total absence of sound predominates.

It is an extraordinary place to be on the final leg of an ultimate safari tour through northern Botswana’s Okavango Delta and beyond. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Okavango is a vital wetland region teeming with biodiverse wildlife and habitats, and is the chief stomping ground of Desert & Delta Safaris, one of Botswana’s foremost tour operators. We have been touring with Desert & Delta for the past seven days, encountering creatures and terrains of encyclopaedic variety – and now this most surprising, lunar-like landscape.

Elephant viewing from one of the EVs at Chobe Game Lodge

We had started out at Chobe Game Lodge, in the Southern African country’s northeast. It is the only permanent game lodge inside Chobe National Park (so named after the Chobe River that intersects it), and we encountered 33 elephants at the waterfront before checking in. We also get an hour’s head start over neighbouring lodges on the morning game drive: for us, the difference between a rendezvous with three lion cubs and their vanishing as other trucks piled in.

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The government’s “high-value, low volume” tourism strategy finds full expression at Chobe. The lodge, managed by locals, was the first in Africa to hire an all-female guiding team (the Chobe Angels) and the first in Botswana to electrify its safari fleet – the solar-powered boats and EVs were a game-changer when it came to proximity with the Big Five.

Chobe is as upmarket as it is eco-conscious. It is run on biogas and has its own recycling plant, where waste plastic and glass are repurposed as decking. It is also where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton celebrated honeymoon number two in 1975, and their very private suite has an infinity plunge pool. Our own room featured a roll-top bath and objets d’art from Zimbabwe, Morocco and Egypt; colours were vibrant and textures natural. Our favourite hangout was the cave-like bar, to which we headed at aperitivo hour for Amarula (Botswana’s answer to Baileys) before a meal on our private terrace.

the Honeymoon Suite patio at Chobe Game Lodge

Next came perfect isolation at our next stop, Nxamaseri Island Lodge, at the uppermost point, or Panhandle, of the Okavango. We reached it from Chobe via a short plane journey west and a boat ride through the Delta’s permanent, papyrus-lined floodwaters. The lodge occupies its own side channel, meaning we encountered more hippos than humans there. Our lodging – one of nine, connected via boardwalks through the overgrowth – was comfortable, albeit with fewer bells and whistles than Chobe. Evening meals were communal and hearty. Wi-Fi was intermittent.

The Nxamaseri region is home to around 325 of Botswana’s 500 native bird species, and we soon became adept at naming slate-coloured boubou, malachite kingfisher and Pel’s fishing owl from the comfort of our evening river cruise, G&Ts in hand. We had a more sobering experience in the mokoro, traditional wooden canoes that brought us nose to nose with crocodiles (perfectly safe, our guide testified).

We therefore welcomed the land-based trip to the Tsodilo Hills, another UNESCO World Heritage Site nearby, with cave paintings by bushmen including the San and Bantu, from 800 to 1300AD, and some reputedly far older. Although their meanings have become less intuitive over time, these paintings have been well shielded from the elements by way ofrocky overhang and ancient baobab. It is also, perhaps, the Botswana we had come to find. From our guide, Metal, we had already learnt that elephants have ten different vocalisations; that the Vogelkop bowerbird likes to decorate its nest with shiny things; that it is possible to deduce, from a pair of erratic footprints, that a guineafowl has recently met its end with a cheetah. So, too, as we studied the Tsodilo paintings more closely, rich patterns emerged.

Outdoor dining at the glass-fronted Leroo La Tau

Another short flight east across the floodwaters brought us to Camp Xakanaxa, on the banks of the Khwai River, in the arid Moremi Game Reserve. Here is a sense of drama: petrified trees dot the horizon; the fragrance of wild sage hangs heavy. Fitting, then, that our guide, TS, would race us out to catch sight of two evasive cheetahs after hours (they slinked across our path unexpectedly, our wheels kicking up dust as we screeched to a halt). Or that we’d have a close shave with Oscar, a battle-scarred hippo who loiters in Xakanaxa’s communal areas, after. Thank goodness, then, for Xakanaxa’s selection of South African reds (Saxenburg, Leopard’s Leap) to decompress after the action.

The kaleidoscope shifted again at Leroo La Tau, our final stop, in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. This is an ever-changing, aqueous environment – viewable from one of 12 glassfronted thatched suites hovering ten metres above the Boteti River, where we spent an entire afternoon watching zebras rove in their hundreds.

Read more: Ocean Fantasy: the Ritz Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

Desert & Delta offers a salt-pan sleep-out for guests staying at Leroo for three nights or longer, but take our advice and pay upfront for a helicopter ride to beat the five-hour drive through the desert. On touching down, our personal chefs cooked a three-course meal for us on the flats; our bed was as if transposed from a Four Seasons, king-sized with crisp, white sheets – and unmediated views of the Milky Way. At roughly the size of Belgium, the Makgadikgadi salt pans are the biggest in the world: to sleep on them, tentless, was to experience darkness and solitude for the first time.

Flying back to Leroo, the moonscape slid back to more familiar bush territory. It is paradoxical, perhaps, that the highlight of our safari was a place devoid of life altogether. Yet it speaks directly to the appeal of a country whose ancient landscape continues to yield up the new and unexpected. In tapping into its extremities, Desert & Delta Safaris takes an old classic and offers a highly original take.

An otherworldly sleepout at Makgadikgadi salt pans

Getting there

We travelled to Botswana via Doha with Qatar Airways. The airline’s signature Qsuites in business class have sliding-door partitions to lose visibility of fellow passengers and bring an extra element of privacy (the partitions reach to chest height, so it’s not quite like having a full suite). On boarding we were greeted with a glass of Charles Heidsieck Rose Millesime and Diptyque amenities and an on-demand dining service with a broad choice (we went for cheese and port followed by a warming Karak Chai). More sociable passengers stopped by the Sky Bar, in its own section of the plane, for a negroni mid-flight. On our layover at Doha, we stopped in the Al Mourjan Business Lounge for sushi and more champagne. Its galactic art installation and water feature made it easy to pretend we were in a five-star hotel.

Find out more: qatarairways.com

Our hosts

Chobe Game Lodge, Nxamaseri Island Lodge, Camp Xakanaxa and Leroo La Tau are among nine Botswana safari locations owned by Desert & Delta Safaris and located within Botswana’s wildlife destinations.

Find out more: desertdelta.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Courtesy of Porsche

In the third part of our Super Powers series from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

The Porsche 911 is an example of a design that has succeeded precisely because it is wrong. No car designer would come up with this car now. It is neither a two-seater nor a four-seater, it has an engine where the boot usually goes and a strangely situated storage space between the front wheels. No one else has created anything like it and nor are they likely to. But this endearing design has been with us for 60 years, initially updated slowly, latterly more quickly.

The latest generation, introduced a few years back, still has the car’s distinctive design features, but is as technically sophisticated as any other luxury sports car. The newest iteration, also known as the 992, is remarkably quiet and refined when driven slowly around town – too much so for some, who say it has been overtamed in search of ever broadening markets.

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We at LUX count ourselves Porsche 911 fans, yet, while we are in awe of the technical abilities, design and performance of the standard 992, we also felt it could offer a little more in terms of engagement and excitement. So we were pleased to be given the keys to this GTS model. Porsche typically produces some race-oriented 911 versions for enthusiasts, but they have certain compromises, including a lack of back seats and a handling set up that, while suitable for a smooth race track, is not ideal if you live in the actual world, as you find yourself rattling over potholes and scraping over bumps.

The GTS is a halfway house between the two. It is the 911 you buy if you drive every day but crave a little edge. As such, it is really a tweak of mainstream 911 models rather than anything spectacular, but Porsche engineering means the GTS models feel more special than they should.

The Porsche 911 Carrera GTS adds a frisson of extra excitement to an already practically perfect and endearingly distinctive supercar

First impressions were of a car that is a little more tuned and willing than the standard model. Everything is incremental: the engine sounds racier and is keener to engage; the steering is more lively. When we took our first roundabout, we felt the car spoke to us in a way standard models do not. On fast country roads,
the differences amplified. Our car had manual transmission – Porsche’s automatic gearshift is smooth and easy to use, but, for engagement, we like a manual when we can find one. Infamously, Ferrari has stopped making them, so raising the values of its last manual-transmission models.

With this and the other GTS enhancements, this car is a joy along country lanes. Acceleration is immediate and rapid: turn the steering wheel a fraction and it responds a fraction; exit speedily from a corner and you feel the back of the car tighten, which lovers of all 911s will appreciate. The GTS feels like a standard 911 that has taken a Chenot detox alongside Pilates and musclebuilding, like a friend who has been working on their fitness. We found it even more fun than the faster and more expensive 911 Turbo, which is a hoot for its “Look how fast we are going!” value, but less precise and delicate than this.

Read more: Lamborghini Huracán STO Review

So, the perfect Porsche? At everyday speeds, you won’t let out a rebel yell, as you might in some of its less sophisticated but popular competitors. And you will not love the manual transmission in town – always a compromise. But for adding an edge of excitement to an already beautiful, competent and desirable car, the GTS is as good as it could be. Get yours with rear-wheel drive, a manual gearbox and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres for a car true to the spirit of the model.

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Hotel balcony overlooking Marina Bay at night

Looking over Marina Bay from the Club Lounge, Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore

In the third part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore

What drew us there?

Some city hotels have spectacular views of nature – such as those in Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town. Others have dramatic city views, as in Hong Kong and Tokyo. From our suite on the 26th floor at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore, we had both. At night, the irregular oval of Marina Bay lit up before us, the spires and curves of its buildings encircling the bay, while the Apple and Louis Vuitton buildings floated on the water amid the ferries. Beyond the skyscrapers was the oil-tanker traffic on the Singapore Strait. We had the nature of an equatorial peninsula and one of the world’s most dynamic financial centres, all in one view.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The refined living room of the Ritz Suite

How was the stay?

Stroll through the Ritz-Carlton lobby and you are in the centrepiece luxury hotel of a self-confident city. Ceilings are high, artworks are dramatic and well curated, and the energy levels suggest this is the place to be, in the place to be.

A perfect way to experience the hotel’s vista is from the Club Lounge on the 32nd floor. Here, we watched the sky turn orange, purple and blue (a mix of haze and effects from the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia), while drinking Rothschild champagne. The lounge has alcoves and a private room and feels very grown up.

Singapore has become a city that celebrates fine drinking as much as it does fine dining, as we saw later, downstairs in the Republic bar. The bar, voted one of the best in Asia, is 1960s themed. Decor is suitably period, and bottles of spirits and liqueurs from the era are available for drinking or mixing. You can order a Singapore sling, but that is considered a little touristic, and we weren’t brave enough to try a shot of Ramazzotti liqueur from 1960, but the stylish bartender mixed us two excellent dirty martinis. They say Singapore has taken some of the creative zing from Hong Kong. At the Republic, at least, that seemed true.

For a different experience and view, head to the hotel pool. Set in a tropical grove just below the entrance, it is sheltered from the rest of the city – a huge outdoor pool with a restful vibe.

Read more: Royal Riviera, Côte d’Azur Review

Our room was as peaceful as the bar is lively. A Club Deluxe suite, its large windows offer an ever-changing vista of the city and the Marina Bay. Decor is gentle: light pine and muted pastels, eminently suitable for a hotel that is both a high-powered business centre and a resort, which is a great strength in a hotel.

1960s cool at the Republic bar

Anything else?

The hotel is a stroll to both Marina Bay Sands – one of Asia’s most extensive luxury malls – and the hawker food markets in the other direction.

Find out more: ritzcarlton.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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A swimming pool surrounded by white umbrellas and deck chairs with a hotel in the background
A swimming pool surrounded by white umbrellas and deck chairs with a hotel in the background

Belle Époque meets contemporary at the Royal-Riviera, Côte d’Azur

In the second part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Royal Riviera, Côte d’Azur

What drew us there?

Many of the great hotels of the French Riviera are places to see and be seen. They are the kind of destinations where wardrobe prep and social diary-checking can take as long as the stay itself.

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Wafting through the understated reception of the Royal-Riviera, you realise you are somewhere quite different. Walk to the pool area behind the main Belle Époque building and there is a low-rise building, Villa l’Orangerie, that houses capacious rooms and suites; to your left is an elegant restaurant beyond which you see the Mediterranean stretch to Monaco. Behind the hotel is a dramatic vista of mountains plunging to the sea. Although the hotel sits in the most desirable residential area of the coast, this is an enclave, a place where you put on your Chanel sunglasses only to protect yourself from the sun. Your fellow guests are as discreet as you are; they don’t need to shout about who they are.

A terrace with deckchairs looking over a pool with palm trees and the sea

The perfect private terrace

How was the stay?

Our suite was in the Villa l’Orangerie, whose rooms and suites are all newly renovated, as is the terrace surrounding the swimming pool and the garden deck, giving us much to admire. We had our own little private garden and could go from our living room to the pool in 12 steps.

Sit by the pool and you won’t feel like leaving: the view of the mountains and the Mediterranean cuisine served poolside or in the restaurant see to that. If you do go out, this is super-prime Côte d’Azur. The village of St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is five minute’s walk one way along a pretty coastal path. The centre of Beaulieu-sur-Mer – another chichi resort in this hallowed region between Nice and Monte Carlo – is five minutes the other way. Outside the hotel is a little sandy beach, a section of which is for hotel guests only. It is delightful and very different to some Mediterranean hot spots: no Instagram celebrities, just people chilling in one of the most spectacular parts of Europe.

Read more: One&Only The Palm, Dubai, Review

One afternoon, we took a taxi halfway up the mountain to the hilltop village of Èze, a medieval scramble of streets with unbelievable views in every direction. Another evening we went for dinner with friends in Monte Carlo, around 25 minutes away. In both cases, we were pleased to get back to the peace of the Royal-Riviera.

A bedroom with a yellow throw on the bed

Discreet Mediterranean styling in a Junior Suite

Anything else?

Breakfast is on an arcaded terrace in the original building, where, later, a glass of vintage champagne sets you up well for the evening. From there, it’s a short stroll to the terrace of the Jasmin Grill & Lounge for a glass of Whispering Angel and a main course of grilled turbot.

Find out more: royal-riviera.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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A hotel on a golf course
A hotel on a golf course

The Sheraton Mallorca Arabella Golf Hotel is the first golf resort on the island

This month we head to Mallorca for a stay with a view of the mountains, ten minutes from the thriving capital Palma

The lowdown

In the summertime, Mediterranean island stakes, LUX is very pro-Mallorca. There is competition from everywhere, ultra-chic individual Cyclades and party-central Mykonos to old establishment Sardinia, and even from its neighbours, vibier younger sister Ibiza, and newly arty Menorca. And dozens of others, many of which could justifiably stake a claim to be the ultimate Mediterranean island to visit.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

And yet: Mallorca has the spirituality and culture of Deia in the west, the intricate beauty and cuisine of Palma in the south, high quality local wines, some celebrated restaurants, and a huge variety of sports, including truly world-leading golf and cycling. It also has the deepest yacht harbour in the Mediterranean, in case your boat doesn’t fit in Monaco’s harbour. And it’s big enough not to bore you.

A swimming pool surrounded by palm trees

The hotel has both indoor and outdoor swimming facilities

Which takes us to the Son Vida estate, in a valley and on a hillside outside the city of Palma. The Arabella Sheraton (originally an Arabella hotel, then taken over by Sheraton) is built in the style of a local finca, or farmhouse. It is surrounded by mature gardens and shrubbery; arriving felt more like walking into at a boutique hotel than an international chain, a feeling that persisted throughout our stay.

The arrival

The reception and bar area lead out onto a broad terrace with a curving balustrade facing across the estate and to the mountainside across the valley; beneath are three large, curvaceous pools, all surrounded by trees, beyond which are tennis and other sports facilities. The public spaces are hung with distinctive and compelling art, much of it by local artists, all part of the private collection of the hotel’s German owners. The feeling is more of staying at a private estate than a hotel, amplified by the staff, who all seemed to be local, warm, friendly and professional.

Fried shrimp on a black plate

La Bodega del Green serves classic Spanish tapas as well as other local delicacies

On our first night we ate at the Bodega, a wine bar on a terrace on the lower floor; sea bream with capers and courgettes. The atmosphere was casual though the service was anything but. The wine list was broad, although perhaps could have championed wines from Mallorca and the nearest mainland area, Catalonia, a little more.

Take me to my room

Our room, with a long balcony, faced out beyond the pools and the canopy of trees, where Mallorca’s most renowned golf course, Son Vida, was on display. While the clubhouse is less than a long tee shot from the hotel, the Arabella doesn’t feel at all like a golf hotel: no groups, no taking over. Couples and families were equally in evidence.

A room with a view of a golf course

Hole in One Suite’s living room

On our second night, we had some light bites on the upper terrace, with its sunset views of the mountains: crystal bread with iberico ham and local olive oil, a very delicate gazpacho, a salad of local tomatoes of various shapes. A very attentive and thoughtful bar manager kept everything coming like clockwork; and as throughout our stay, we felt, if not alone, then certainly very much with the luxury of space.

Read more: One&Only The Palm, Dubai, Review

At night, a chorus of frogs from the lake beyond the gardens joined the cicadas.

Out and about

During the days we discovered a great advantage: the hotel’s perfect location. 15 minutes from the centre of Palma – one of the most underrated cities in Europe – 45 minutes from Deia’s beauty, 20 minutes from the beaches, and 25 minutes from the airport. (And if you play golf, that clubhouse is less than four minutes by foot).

A table looking over a garden with trees and pink flowers

LA Bodega overlooks the peaceful Son Vida golf course

So there you have the Arabella Sheraton: a rather nice synthesis between a boutique hideaway and a luxury hotel, and proof that, with excellent management of a very nice property, an excellent hotel can be even more than the sum of its parts.

Rates: From £300 per night (approx. €350/$385)

Book your stay: marriott.com/-sheraton-mallorca-arabella-golf-hotel

Darius Sanai

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A pool outside a lit up building at night
A pool outside a lit up building at night

The Fairmont Pacific Rim was designed by James KM Cheng Architects

Luxury, comfort and convenience come together at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver. The perfect place for a stopover before making your way to Whistler for your Summer or Winter holiday

The Arrival

You might question whether you’ve walked into the right place when you first arrive at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, as it looks more like a hip new bar in Manhattan: full of people, live music every night, drinks flowing and food circulating. With sculptures and artworks all over the walls, the lobby lounge is a lively setting and a real Vancouver hotspot for the locals. It’s a great feeling to walk into a hotel and not feel like a tourist.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

A fireplace with large sculptures of children on top of it

The lobby of the Fairmont Pacific Rim full of artworks

The Room

The main asset of the room is the floor to ceiling window overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the mountains ahead. At night the skyline of the city is spectacular and in the mornings it’s a treat to watch the sea planes take off and land (don’t worry there isn’t any noise!).

The room is simple in design but very spacious and full of high-tech appliances.

The Le Labo body and hair care in the bathrooms also add that little extra touch of luxury.

A room with cream chairs and wooden tables overlooking the sea and mountains

A suite overlooking the Pacific Ocean

The Experience

The hotel is situated in the perfect location: downtown, and right on the waterfront, so it’s easy to get the water taxi to Granville Island, next to all the high-end and mid-range shops that you’ll find around Robson Street.

Whilst food options in Vancouver are endless, the hotel restaurants are a must-try. The sablefish roll in miso sauce and tuna tataki at the Raw Bar were the highlights of our meal. You could taste the quality of the fish as it melted in your mouth.

A fish dish in the shape of a pink rose

Beautifully plated dishes at the Botanist restaurant

We asked the waitress about the tuna in particular, and were told that the best part of the tuna isn’t even served in the tataki (that would be the belly) and yet it tasted better than most fine dining sushi restaurants you might find yourself at in Central London.

Read more: One&Only The Palm, Dubai, Review

The Botanist, one of Vancouver’s most highly rated restaurants, is also based in the Pacific Rim. We chose golden French toast with berries and eggs florentine with crispy potatoes from the fantastic breakfast offering, serving as the perfect brunch before heading out for a day in Vancouver.

Rates: From £365 per night (approx. €430/$475)

Book your stay: www.fairmont.com/pacific-rim-vancouver

Candice Tucker

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A red and orange building behind a swimming pool with deckchairs around it

The iconic colourful terraces overlooking the pool at the Byblos Hotel

Antoine Chevanne is the owner of the legendary Byblos Hotel in St Tropez. Opening in 1967, the hotel is known for its exceptional service, hosting many of the greatest celebrities in the world and for having the most exclusive location in the area. Here Chevanne speaks to Candice Tucker about how the hotel has kept its status and its future plans to keep it’s  iconic reputation as the ‘it place’ to stay in St Tropez
A man wearing a blue suit with his arms folded

Antoine Chevanne

LUX: Has there been a consistent theme running throughout the ownership of the Byblos?
Antoine Chevanne: We continue to honour the same values and high standards that were originally instilled by my great grandfather, Sylvain Floirat. The impeccable service is our main consistent theme that has been running through our hotel for the past four generations alongside an incredible sense of loyalty and sincerity. Those values are shared by the staff, some of whom have been at the hotel for over thirty years now. From the beginning, we have wanted to preserve a comforting “family” element so that our guests feel at home, whilst still in tune with what is expected from a “Palace” hotel. With an unrivalled sense of hospitality and an unequalled attention to detail, Hotel Byblos highlights the very best in terms of French “art de vivre”.

LUX: How have the type of guests, staying at the Byblos, changed over the decades?
AC: We pride ourselves in offering a sense of warmth in our service which guests appreciate, and ultimately this is a big reason why we have such a high number of returning guests every year. Over the years, we have seen generations of guests coming back for our ultra-personalised service, with guests who came when they were younger, bringing their children and now their grandchildren. Same goes with our employees. Our guests love seeing them again every year. This is part of the “homely” and “family” feel I mentioned before. That’s partly what makes this hotel so special. And just like our guests, the hotel continuously evolves whilst still finding ways to cater to all generations.

An entrance to a hotel with a mosaic above the door and leaves on the walls

The entrance to the Byblos Hotel

LUX: How have guest demands changed since the hotel was founded by your great grandfather/
AC: My family has owned the Byblos since the beginning (1967), so we are uniquely placed to see how guests demands have changed over the years. Our guests’ lifestyle has changed exponentially in the last 50 years, with people wanting more flexibility when they come on holiday. This has been reflected in our services – such as longer opening times for breakfast so that guests still retain some freedom and don’t have strict timings imposed on them. We also have a large variety of food offerings (such as French gastronomy, Italian cuisine, tapas or even by the beach with Byblos Beach) so that guests have a wider selection to choose from. Having choices is a true luxury. When guests come to a Palace like the Byblos, they do not want to be constraint – in fact our hotel adapts to their lifestyle.

LUX: What makes the Byblos, the standout hotel in St Tropez?
AC: One of the key aspects that makes Hotel Byblos stand out is its unique heritage. Over the years, the hotel has remained far-removed from the flashy, ostentatious luxury of the grand hotels of the Riviera and continues to offer an oasis in St-Tropez for guests to escape to and relax under the ever-watchful eye of our attentive staff. It is a village within a village which offers high levels of gastronomy in an intimate and relaxed atmosphere while still keeping that sense of luxury intact. Our employees demonstrate daily their exceptional professional know-how, dedication and high-quality service to each and every guest while creating an atmosphere of pure contentment.

Another of our key standout aspects is the location of the hotel, right in the centre of St Tropez and just a stone’s throw away from La Place des Lices and the port.

A blue and white bedroom with views of the hills in St Tropez

The Two bedroom Suite at the Byblos overlooking the hills of St Tropez

LUX: What has been your fondest memory of the hotel?
AC: There have been so many good memories that it is difficult to choose just one. The one that comes to the top of my mind is probably the extreme satisfaction of having been one of the first hotel’s on the Côte d’Azur to have received five stars in 2010 followed by the “Palace” recognition in 2012. It’s a huge reward to the whole team who have worked so hard over the years to make the hotel what it is today. This achievement is even more rewarding when you remember that we are independent hoteliers and we do not belong to any big international group. To put it simply, we are a French family who – with a great team – managed to build the Byblos’ status over the years.

On a more personal note, I cherish a lot of memories based on some of the unique encounters I have had over the years: from Lionel Richie to Bruce Willis, as well as Naomi Campbell and Quincy Jones. We’ve also had incredible concerts by the pool such as Joe Cocker, Roger Hodson from Supertramp and Niles Rogers.

red chairs and white table clothed tables on a terrace next to colourful buildings

Restaurant Arcadia

LUX: What has been the most surprising aspect of running the hotel?
AC: The most surprising aspect of running a hotel is discovering the true nature of mankind: this encompasses both good and bad surprises though. You learn a lot about yourself at the same time. You have to learn to stay in your lane, to not be judgemental no matter what happens and find a solution. When you’re in charge of a hotel as unique as the Byblos, nothing can prepare you to live such an experience. Why? Because our clientele is different. They have seen everything, experienced everything, and they want more novelty. This means that we are constantly reinventing ourselves whilst still remaining true to our DNA. This is why I often tell people that if they have worked at least two years at the Byblos, they can easily work anywhere in the world.

A view of boats in the sea and a sunset

St Tropez

LUX: Why has St Tropez retained its special reputation as one of the leading summer destinations?
AC: There’s so much to discover in Provence, especially in St Tropez. We are surrounded by beautiful landscapes, views, forests, lakes and coasts. St Tropez also has a great connection with art, culture and traditions qualities that are equally reflected in the hotel. It has retained over the years an authentic character thanks to its origins as a fishing village while keeping a charming aesthetic thanks to the old, winding streets and daily Provencal markets. Many artists during the 19th and 20th century came to St-Tropez to find inspiration and contributed to the growth and popularity of the destination. The well-known summer parties are also one of the many reasons St-Tropez has a reputation as a leading summer destination. However St Tropez managed to combine this with exceptional service and a large variety of diverse dining concepts which sets it apart from other summer destinations like Mykonos or Ibiza.

St-Tropez merges the old with the new, authenticity with glamour, and offers something for every generation.

colourful Missoni print bedroom

The Missoni Suite

LUX: Where is your favourite secret place to visit in the Côte d’Azur?
AC: I don’t wish to reveal too much about my favourite place as it wouldn’t be a secret anymore!  There is however a little cove along the Côte d’Azur, close to St Tropez which is beautiful when the sun rises…

LUX: What do you think will be the next big trend in the hospitality industry?
AC: The next trend is something I’ve been working on for years which can now be revealed. We live in a world that is constantly connected, where we are travelling and performing at a high level. Having time for oneself has become a luxury. Being able to reconnect with oneself and with others is what will guide our industry in the future. We have just started on this journey with the new version of the Sisley Spa.

A wooden Arab style spa room

The Lebanese room in the new Sisley spa

LUX: How does the Byblos meet the increasing demand for environmental responsibility?
AC: Hotel Byblos, alongside all Groupe Floirat properties, is part of an eco-friendly movement that respects the surrounding environment of each hotel. We are wholly committed to a programme of sustainable development and over the last year have implemented a sustainable development charter. The charter is founded upon five key commitments with the goal to reduce all three hotel’s environmental impact in various means. These commitments comprise of: waste and used product management, integrated water resources management, optimum energy consumption, socially oriented initiatives and the enhancement of local economy.

With our Executive Chef Nicola Canuti, we also worked on increasing our sustainable offering in our kitchen and through our food. Chef Canuti is passionate about Mediterranean food and aims to offer our guests local and highly qualitative products that he cares about. To hold to his promise, the hotel features a 300sqm vegetable garden that offers the best of Mediterranean fruits, vegetables and aromatic herbs. We also produce our own honey, served at breakfast from our very own beehives.

A beach with sun beds and umbrellas

Byblos Beach

Our environmental responsibility is also to protect the natural beauty of St Tropez and its region. With our beach, Byblos Beach Ramatuelle, we worked on ensuring as little impact as possible was made on the coastline in an effort to preserve our environment. The Byblos Beach Ramatuelle has a strict “no plastic” policy and the entire structure can be dismantled at will, being made of 100% wood, meaning the beach can regenerate during the winter months.. Water and electricity consumption is eco-oriented.

LUX: If you could give one piece of advice to a prospective hotelier what would it be?
AC: To know your guests, what they want and anticipate their needs. This is ‘key’ in producing and offering the best product!

LUX: Why do you think your regular clients return again and again?
AC: We believe that luxury means being able to provide our guests with a level of convenience and attention to detail that enables them to find the time they need for themselves. Through our service and staff, we offer exclusive guest experiences that reflect the spirit of Groupe Floirat and its legacy.

Find out more: byblos.com

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A woman wearing leaves
women in purple dresses playing violins outside an old Italian building in a courtyard

Black Rabbit Projects perform during the Golden Vines Awards Ceremony and Closing Gala Dinner. Photo by Pietro S. D’Aprano

British businessman Lewis Chester created the most glamorous event in the wine world. He reveals the history and inspiration for the Golden Vines awards
A man wearing a white shirt and necklace standing in front of bottles of wine on shelves

Lewis Chester. Photo by Murray Ballard

My wife, Natalie, hates going to wine events. She finds them boring. Stiff, average food, staid surroundings, too much wine talk, too little fun. For me, as a self-professed wine geek, and longtime collector and lover of all things wine, there was only one way of getting Natalie to a wine event: create one for her. Incredible venues, world-class entertainment, classy crowd, elevated but fun atmosphere – and amazing food and wine.

So it is because of my love for Natalie that Golden Vines, which I started in 2021, is now widely regarded as the world’s best fine wine event. For me, topping last year’s second edition in Florence will be no easy task, given the incredible locations like Palazzo Vecchio, wines like Château Cheval Blanc and Dom Pérignon P2 and entertainment including Celeste. But this is no frivolous activity: we raised over £1 million for the Gérard Basset Foundation to fund educational programmes around diversity and inclusivity in the wine, spirits and hospitality sectors.

Someone pouring a green bottle of wine into a glass with a man sitting at the table

Dom Pérignon held a Masterclass event around the award ceremony

Wine has been an interesting life journey for me. I grew up in a teetotal household in North London. As an undergraduate at Oxford University, to my surprise, no one offered me drugs and I couldn’t find someone to sell me any. So, I created a wine club and never looked back. Then, while studying for an MBA at Harvard Business School, I founded The Churchill Club, a wine, whisky and cigar club.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We were the first American university to be sponsored by the Cuban Government to learn about cigars, even though we had to fly from Montreal to Havana as travel from the United States was banned. Post-graduation, I returned to London and started collecting fine wine and rare whisky. My best friend, Jay, is a huge wine collector, and he got me interested in Burgundy wines which is still my favourite wine region. As I like to say, ‘all roads lead to Burgundy’.

People standing by a bar next to a vineyard

The Marchesi Antorini private visit and lunch that took place around the awards

In the late 2000s, I read an article about Gérard Basset, the only man to hold both the Master of Wine and Master Sommelier qualifications. Gérard had also won the World’s Best Sommelier Championships at his sixth attempt and founded the wine-inspired hotel group, Hotel du Vin. (He had also mentored many of the most prominent sommeliers, restaurateurs and hoteliers working in the UK and France today.) I decided to cold-call Gérard who, to my surprise, answered the phone and invited me down to his hotel, TerraVina in the New Forest. From that moment on, we became close friends and began travelling the world of wine together. Gérard took me to Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Piedmont and Tuscany. The doors always opened for Gérard, which gave me unique access and insight into the wine world.

A dinner table with candles and a large chandelier hanging above it

The Marchesi Antinori dinner

Gérard had more wine qualifications than anyone else on the planet. So, after much prodding and encouragement, he convinced me to study wine. “If you want to become one of the world’s great wine collectors”, he told me, “you need to study wine”. I passed my WSET Diploma, won a number of scholarships along the way, and then he pushed me to study for the Master of Wine. At that point, my wife, Natalie, told me “no way”. (Having later read an article showing that there was an usually high divorce rate among those who study for the Master of Wine, she was probably right.)

Gérard was disappointed, but he suggested we start Liquid Icons together as “my alternative MW”. We had no idea what we would do with the company, but thought we would figure it out as we went along. Sasha Lushnikov had been introduced to me by a school friend as a super smart, young entrepreneur and I had brought him into one of my other businesses. I asked Sasha – who, at the time, had no wine knowledge or experience – if he would be interested in being involved in a wine venture with no business plan, no business model and no idea as to what we would be doing. He eagerly accepted!

A lit up red room

The Taylor’s Port Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships awarded £55,000 each to three BAME/BIPOC students studying for the Master of Wine or Master Sommelier programmes

The journey began, as it usually does for me, over a drunken long lunch. I had been hosting an annual La Paulée (after-harvest) lunch party for my friends in the wine industry. We decided to poll them on who they thought was making the best fine wine in the world, as well as their views as to future industry trends. Sasha and I then wrote a report called The Global Fine Wine Report based on the poll findings which we distributed for free – another consistent theme of Liquid Icons’ business dealings!

At around this time, Gérard had called me to complain about various ailments, including continuous back pain. After undergoing various tests, he rang to give me the bad news. He had esophageal cancer. I knew enough about this horrible disease to know the story wasn’t likely to end well. And so did Gérard.

people standing outside a conservatory in uniform

The Dress to Party Charity Gala Dinner took place at Tepidarium Giacomo Roster

Over the next two years’, the renamed Gérard Basset Global Fine Wine Report grew and grew. Hundreds of fine wine professionals – Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, merchants, brokers, sommeliers, media and press – contributed to the Report’s findings. Unfortunately, Gérard’s condition – after a brief period of remission in mid-2018 celebrated with a wine dinner at my house on a lovely June evening – continued to worsen.

cases of wine and a red wheel

Wines and champagne served at the event include those from Château d’Yquem, Dom Pérignon, Dom Pérignon P2, Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Echézeaux Grand Cru, Harlan Estate, Krug Grande Cuvée, Krug Vintage, Liber Pater, Taylor’s Port 50-year old Tawny and many others

In early January 2019, Gérard asked me to come down to see him at the hospital in Southampton, knowing it would be the last time that we saw each other. After a few hours of reminiscing, he motioned to his wife, Nina, to leave the room so we could chat. As he asked me to keep the conversation confidential, I have never disclosed it to anyone, other than to say that it was Gérard who was the inspiration behind the Golden Vines and the Gérard Basset Foundation. Gérard passed away on Wednesday 16 January 2019. He was 61 years’ old. His passing was greatly mourned by the entire global wine and hospitality industry.

four men and a woman holding awards

The 2022 Taylor’s Port Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships was awarded to Jarret Buffington, Sandeep Ghaey and Carrie Rau

From that point on, I was on a mission to create a lasting legacy for Gérard, and one that would involve Nina and his son, Romané. I just didn’t know what it was going to be. Sasha and I had many ideas. But none of them stuck. Then, in early June 2020, we went to lunch with my friend, Clément Robert MS, who was running the vast fine wine programme for the Birley Clubs and Annabel’s. Getting mildly drunk over a vertical of Trimbach’s legendary dry Riesling, Clos Sainte Hune, I started to pitch the outline idea for the Golden Vines. “Dude, why don’t we take the winners in the Gérard Basset Global Fine Wine Report, and create the Oscars of Fine Wine? It’s never been done before. And let’s do it in a way that Natalie will want to come”. Sasha then suggested we raise money for charity in Gérard’s name, which was the hook that took this from a drunken thought to the exciting idea that we had both been looking for since Gérard’s passing.

A woman wearing leaves

The Gérard Basset Foundation was set up to honour the legacy and memory of Gérard Basset OBE MW MS by addressing the wine industry’s most pressing issues of diversity and inclusion

Clément loved the project and introduced me to Richard Caring, the billionaire tycoon of Annabel’s Private Members Club in Mayfair. Richard agreed to give us use of the Club pro bono for the new charity. Simultaneously, Nina and Romané agreed to get the paperwork started to form the Gérard Basset Foundation.

Read more: A tasting of Vérité wines with Hélène Seillan

We chose educational programmes aimed at diversity and inclusion in the wine (and later, spirits and hospitality) sector as we thought that it was a huge problem in the industry and one that Gérard would have keenly supported. Nina reached out to Jancis Robinson and Ian Harris, CEO of the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust, and soon the Foundation was formed with a great group of Trustees who all knew and loved Gérard; and the rest is history.

A man holding a cocktail to his lips

Gérard Basset © Liquid Icons

The third edition of Golden Vines will be held in Paris in October this year. Like most of the best things in life, entry is expensive, but the £10,000 ticket price will be covered alone by the pouring of Liber Pater, the world’s most expensive red wine on release (€30,000 per bottle).

A woman in a pink dress singing on a stage whilst people sit at tables around the stage

Celeste’s performs during the Golden Vines Awards Ceremony And Closing Gala Dinner at Palazzo Vecchio, 2022. Photo by Pietro S. D’Aprano

Culinary creations will be provided by a collaborative ‘Four-Hands’ partnership of legendary three Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse and two Michelin star chef Akrame Benallal, one of the rising stars of the global fine dining scene. Interestingly, Ducasse will actually be cooking, a rarity for the man with more Michelin Stars in front of his name than anyone else. Family-owned cognac house, Camus, have created an exclusive old cognac blended by the other half of the chef duo, Akrame, only available for those attending the event.

There are two galas, taking place at the marvellously exotic Musée des Arts Forains (Museum of Fairground Arts), Les Pavillons de Bercy and the Opéra Garnier. There will also be masterclasses from some of the biggest names in the wine world.

Find out more: liquidicons.com

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Reading time: 9 min
a man and woman walking in a vineyard
a man and woman walking in a vineyard

Pierre Seillan has crafted Vérité wines since 1998. Under Pierre’s leadership, Hélène Seillan stepped into the role of assistant winemaker at the estate to ensure the legacy of the wine is maintained for the next generation

The French-American father-daughter team running Vérité make some of the world’s most sophisticated red wines, inspired by French classic styles, from vineyards in Sonoma, California. Darius Sanai catches up with Hélène Seillan to sip through a glorious portfolio

Like with most luxury goods, France has long been the global reference point for fine wine. If you are hosting a banquet for a monarch, your default is to serve something French; similarly, if you are gifting a wine to someone whose tastes you don’t know, the default is to go French.

a green vineyard with a path through the middle for walking

Knights Valley Vineyards

And yet, just like the rest of the luxury world, there are major players from elsewhere. Red wines from California and sweet whites from Germany, to give just two examples, can command the same or even higher prices than great French wines. And they are made in different styles.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

So what would a tasting of one of California’s most celebrated red wines, with a French name, Vérité (meaning “truth”), with individual wines called La Joie, Le Désir and La Muse respectively, conjure up? To add further intrigue, Vérité’s founding vigneron Pierre Seillan is French, and our tasting was conducted by his daughter and the current custodian of the estate Hélène Seillan, who is entirely bilingual, her life straddling her family’s native Bordeaux and her adoptive homeland of California.

Three bottles of wine in a wooden box

Vérité’s 20th Anniversary Gift Pack

Vérité’s wines are made not in California’s celebrated wine valley of Napa, but in the next valley along, closer to the Pacific Ocean, Sonoma. Each of the three is made with Bordeaux grapes: Le Désir is based on Cabernet Franc, La Joie is based on Cabernet Sauvignon and La Muse is based on Merlot. The wines regularly get top scores of 100/100 or thereabouts from the wine world’s critics.

Green vineyards and hills

Vérité was born through the friendship of Pierre Seillan and Jess Jackson when Jackson asked Seillan to visit Sonoma County in 1997

Hélène herself is delightful (like her wines) and sparkling (unlike her wines). She has the glamour and charm of a French luxury leader, but the easygoing directness of a California winemaker.

Hélène says working with her father is both inspiring and enjoyable, and she shares his view that “the most important part is the vineyard”; that soil and nature are essential to the creation of a fine wine.

Would the wines be the same blend of French sophistication and California brilliance? In a word – yes.

A house with a large terrace

The home of Vérité in Sonoma, California

A tasting of Vérité wines with Hélène Seillan; tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Vérité Le Désir 2019
A 1970s Chanel ball gown, worn down the flowing staircase of a Loire château, still owned by its pre-Revolution aristocrat. This is a wine that will live forever.

A vineyard with a path and greenery

Vérité Jackson Park

Vérité La Joie 2019
A classic 80s power suit worn by a woman CEO breaking through the glass ceiling: complexity, intrigue, delicacy, balance and nerves of steel, and a harbinger of many things to come. We would buy and keep this for decades.

Vérité La Muse 2019
An astonishing wine that you would serve to a president at a banquet at the Élysée Palace, and also happily drink at Le Club 55. Delicious and rich and striking.

A room full of barrels

Pierre Seillan has challenged himself with crafting wines from diverse terroirs, using the same approach to capture the unique expressions of Sonoma County, Bordeaux, and Tuscany in each vintage

Vérité La Joie 2013
With a few more years, La Joie is the same but with more layers, more experience. The intriguing thing about these wines is that, while they are as complex as almost anything from Bordeaux, they don’t go through those very French adolescent periods of being difficult, uptight and grumpy.

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

Vérité La Muse 2007
Wine snobs don’t think it’s OK to have favourites – you can say a certain wine “shows better” than another. Hélène is no wine snob, though, because I told her this was my favourite wine of the tasting and she laughed. Maybe it’s the age, a sweet sixteen, but it had the freshness and richness of the first four, with a kind of perfumed soulfulness that was all Billie Holiday.

A sunset on a vineyard with green vines and hills in the distance

Sonoma County is one of the most diverse wine growing regions due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the climate flows from West to East

1998 Vérité
This is a library wine, no longer easily available, showcased in this tasting. For me it tasted like an aged Grand Cru Burgundy (even though those are made from a different kind of grape), silky, subtle, gently revealing itself. At 25 years its no longer bold, like the others, and merits sipping over foie gras (or grilled chanterelles on a biscotte-type toast, if you prefer) while musing out of the French windows of your chateau in La France Profonde, looking at the rain washing over your long lawn, in the autumn.

www.veritewines.com

Vérité wines are occasionally available from stockists around the world: check www.winesearcher.com for details

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Reading time: 4 min
A blue and orange Lamborghini on a road at night with a lit up skyline behind it
A blue and orange Lamborghini on a road at night with a lit up skyline behind it

The Lamborghini Huracán STO

In the first part of our Super Powers series from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of a Lamborghini Huracán STO

In the car world, it is generally accepted that the next generations – Gen Z and younger – are not interested in cars as anything other than Uber- type appliances to get them from A to B cheaply, while they sit in the back seat making TikToks.

Evidently, someone forgot to send the memo to the summertime population of East Wittering, a village on the south coast of England. We parked the Lamborghini on the village’s beachside promenade, ready to get some good photography, and were soon swamped – not by water from the English Channel, but by people. Small boys and girls were desperate to have a look inside the car or touch the outside, as if it were an alien spaceship – which it does resemble a bit. People in their twenties told us this was their dream car and could they please have their photo taken with it. One young woman suggested her boyfriend propose to her on the occasion of having their picture taken. Another lady, with three pre-teen children, asked to lean on the car for her photo, then told us she had been a racing driver when she was younger, that her husband had left them that morning, and that this was a great tonic.

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We had expected attention of some sort, but it was notable that it was all positive. Teenage boys on bicycles stopped and gave a thumbs up. Builders in white vans honked their horns and, when we turned to see if they were cursing at us, would, without exception, give us a thumbs up, too. It was like being a celebrity everyone loves, except the celebrity was the car, not the driver.

blue and black seats in a car

A celebrity of a car with full star value, from eye-popping looks to performance to the co-starring role it allows its driver

None of this would have mattered if the car were not as good to drive as it is to look at. Lamborghinis have recently tended either to be a bit safe, with four-wheel drive making them capable but rather less wild than their looks suggest, or, in some cases, just a little ungainly for driving around English country roads. This car suffered from neither ailment. Being rear- wheel drive only and lighter than the regular Huracán, it has a connection to the driver and, in fact, relies on the driver’s ability to handle its immense power. The sound of the engine is magnificent, a real last glorious celebration of the internal combustion engine.

The car moves as well as it sounds. The V10 is old school in that, without turbochargers, it gains momentum in a dramatic but progressive way, each point in the rev range promising a difference in noise and acceleration, requiring the driver to pay attention. The joy of revving this engine to its limit is matched by few other cars.

Read more: Driving Lamborghinis to the Italian Alps

The handling is as sharp as the engine, with the steering immediate and well weighted. This is not an easy car to drive fast, unlike some competitors. It requires concentration and input – you might imagine yourself as Tom Cruise in Top Gun Maverick. But actually, that’s why we love it. It is old-fashioned in the way it demands the driver’s input, and it is so rewarding.

It is also spectacular inside, with its gorgeous, racy interior. The car will not win awards for comfort and smoothness – although it is not terrible in that respect – but then it is closer to a racing car than to other supercars.

So we salute the Lamborghini Huracán STO – not just for what it is, but for what it will likely be: the last of a breed. Its successor, probably helped by electric propulsion, is likely to be faster, smoother, better and less notable. Drive the Huracán for one of the most memorable experiences you can have, in or out of a car.

LUX Rating: 19.5/20

Find out more: lamborghini.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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A palace surrounded by palm trees and a swimming pool at the front
A palace surrounded by palm trees and a swimming pool at the front

Moorish styling at the One&Only The Palm, Dubai

In the first part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the One&Only The Palm, Dubai

What drew us there?

Driving to the One&Only The Palm, Dubai, you realise how exclusive its location is. Your driver turns from the mainland and sweeps along the trunk of Palm Jumeirah – the vast residential development made of reclaimed land in the Gulf. At the top, you turn left from Atlantis (the resort, not the lost city) and proceed down the Palm crescent, past exclusive developments on one side, coastline on the other. Finally, you reach an oasis of lush plants and drive through a gate to the resort, overlooked by precisely nothing.

We were offered a choice of walking to our villa or being taken in a buggy. The latter would be useful in the hottest months, but we walked, passing a swimming pool; a grove of tropical trees; a row of villas bordered with gardens, grass and beautiful pet rabbits; and arrived at our villa.

A restaurant with a view of a skyline in Dubai at night with buildings lit up

A view at night looking across the Gulf to Dubai

How was the stay?

Our residence was on the first floor, opening to a view of the beach, the sea and Dubai. It was so peaceful the urban view seemed like a projection.

Decor was light taupe with hints of gold, and with dark wood furniture. The bathroom featured a huge freestanding bath and walk- through shower. There were hints of Gulf excess in the light fittings, but in a gentle way. The huge balcony had dining and relaxation areas, and the evenings, though warm, were delightful there.

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The main pool is huge, with alcoves where small children played, leaving the rest of the pool largely empty. We had a poolside cabana – a little villa, really – and a private terrace area with an outdoor bed, hammock and chairs. It was hard to resist the siren call of a lunchtime daiquiri, and service was hyper-anticipational and prompt.

A sand island in the sea with a hotel resort on it

The pristine sandy beach surrounding the hotel

Once at the resort, you don’t need to go anywhere else, even to dine. The main restaurant, Stay, is run by Yannick Alléno (whose Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris has three Michelin stars), and is probably the top destination in the Emirate. Our outdoor table overlooked the pool, and Alléno’s purity of execution was evident throughout dinner. We dined the next night at another hotel restaurant. Alléno oversees 101 Dining Lounge & Marina, where locals arrive by boat at the private marina, a DJ plays and Dom Ruinart flows.

Read more: Kulm Hotel, St Moritz, Review

Breakfast was memorable. It had everything from dim sum to Persian salad, pancakes to eggs Florentine, in a vast inside-outside space that kept us delightfully distanced from other guests.

Anything else?

The beach is peaceful, although very hot. It’s a half-hour drive to the Dubai Mall, but well worth it. The One&Only is in another world.

Find out more: oneandonlyresorts.com/the-palm

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 2 min

CEO Guido Terreni. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX speaks to Guido Terreni, CEO of Swiss Watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier about the definition of luxury and the key values which distinguish the classic brand

LUX: What drew you to the world of horology and made you pursue a career in this industry?
Guido Terreni: My girlfriend was living in Switzerland. I decided to join her, and later she became my wife. At that time, I didn’t imagine that I was also getting married to watchmaking.

LUX: What are the core values of the Parmigiani Fleurier brand, and do you believe these have changed over time?
GT: Parmigiani Fleurier is founded on 2 very important values that are embodied in its founder, Michel Parmigiani, who is a living legend of restoration.

The first is a deep cultural knowledge of watchmaking history, and with it, its different crafts across all eras and all components. The second is discretion, because when you are a restorer, even with the highest of skills like Michel, your ego has to disappear. This is because your work is about giving a second life to the work of another creator.

These values are eternal, and our responsibility is to keep them at the heart of our Maison for the pleasure of our clients.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: In the two years since you were appointed CEO, sales at Parmigiani Fleurier have seen dramatic improvement. What is your business strategy and why has it been so successful?
GT: Indeed, we are experiencing a fantastic momentum that originated from the unveiling of the Tonda PF Collection at the end of 2021. The centre of the strategy is designing a pure and contemporary collection that respects the brand’s values of high horological content and understatement, to please the refined and non-ostentatious watch purists of tomorrow. Everything else, meaning distribution and communication, must be consistent with this desire, where quality over quantity is always respected.

Parmigiani Fleurier’s founder Michel Parmigiani in the restoration workshop. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX: Your recently released Calendar Watches Trilogy reflects a number of different civilizations and cultures. Can you tell us about the importance of global or cultural approaches to watchmaking?
GT: Global and cultural approaches are part of the same game. The brand is always consistent when it expresses its creativity, whether to the world, or to a specific audience. Authenticity, deepness of the idea and excellence in the execution must always be there. When you address a different culture, what is deeper than interpreting a different way of mastering time?

It is not a commercial exercise. It is a cultural one, that starts from respect, understanding others and putting the Swiss watchmaking culture at the service of another one, while keeping the Parmigiani touch in doing so.

LUX: How can watches tell the stories of people?
GT: A timepiece is probably the most intimate object we accompany ourselves with. Apart from collectors that evidently have a watch for every occasion and every mood, the majority of watch lovers wear their watches for quite a long and continuous time. It is the only object you don’t think about when you choose your outfit in the morning. It is therefore always right for the owner, because it reflects his or her personality. That’s why you can tell a lot of things from how a watch is worn.

The Parmigiani Fleurier Manufacture. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX: How do you balance honouring the history of traditional watchmaking techniques while also looking to the future and continuing to innovate?
GT: Personally, I value tradition as our roots. They forge your thinking and your craft, but if tradition becomes an obsession, it becomes a cage, a rail from which there is no escape or evolution.

Luxury, to me, is about evolving excellence. Innovation might not be technological, as the quartz watches, or more recently, the smartwatches have demonstrated in failing to supersede the traditional mechanical technology. You can innovate while respecting tradition. You can refuse to accept that everything has already been invented in watchmaking. That, to me, is interesting and creative and pushes our quest to be world premium. Luckily, there is no recipe to express an innovative luxury experience, it’s a question of sensitivity and balance.

LUX: What sets Parmigiani apart from other renowned watch brands, and how do you maintain a competitive edge?
GT: We create discrete high horology, where superior crafts and refinement must respect the non-ostentatious values of our clientele and our Maison. We maintain our competitive edge by aspiring to present innovations that are interesting, and that can become lifelong companions, like the Xiali Calendar, or reinterpreting important functions like the GMT with our GMT Rattrapante, or exploring new functions with the Minute Rattrapante.

LUX: What role does the restoration of watches and other artifacts play in shaping the brand’s philosophy?
GT: To quote Michel: “Restoration is our source of knowledge.” It is important not for the sake of replicating the past, but to acquire and keep alive that sensitivity to the mechanical art that moves us.

The Parmigiani Fleurier Maison. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX: What are the key challenges facing the luxury watch industry at the moment and how should these be addressed?
GT: The luxury watch industry has become a very big market. The bigger it gets, the more mainstream it becomes. The risk for the industry is to lose contact with the true luxury experience, which has little to do with the size of the budgets at your disposal, but a lot to do with the ideas you have in mind.

Read more: Bovet’s Pascal Raffy on horological artistry and engineering

LUX: Looking to the future, what can we expect from Parmigiani Fleurier as it continues to evolve as a brand?
GT: The Tonda PF has just been born. We have to work with discipline and make the collection become iconic.

We will continue to be true to our values and we will continue to be creative, innovative and assure a supreme execution, while aiming to always being interesting.

Find out more: www.parmigiani.com

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Reading time: 5 min

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
A woman standing on a small white stage wearing a leopard print dress
A man wearing a navy t-shirt and black and white jacket

Fausto Puglisi, Creative Director of Roberto Cavalli

Fausto Puglisi, Creative Director of Roberto Cavalli, has revitalised the Italian fashion house, which found high-octane fame in the 2000s, turning it into a hot-ticket brand for Gen-Z. Puglisi talks to LUX about glamour, passion and reimagining Cavalli for a more inclusive age

LUX: You have always had strong links to the Roberto Cavalli brand. What made you join it fully in 2020?
Fausto Puglisi: Roberto Cavalli is a brand I am totally comfortable with. It has always been a brand linked to women’s freedom, to seduction. The seduction that Roberto Cavalli represents today for women is not to please anyone but herself. It is, above all, linked to freedom, empowerment and dynamism. The Cavalli woman is sexy and glamorous- she owns her own body. I love seeing my Cavalli far away from any ideas of misogyny, closure and armouring. These do not reflect my woman, who is free and always advocates for freedom.

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LUX: Roberto Cavalli has a particular place in fashion history in dressing music stars. Is this a legacy you with to continue?
FP: Everything began with music in my career. My biggest supporters have always been music stars and I will continue to support them with Roberto Cavalli. The brand represents a continuous bond with music and so it will remain in the future. It comes to me spontaneously and naturally.

A sketch of Jennifer Lopez wearing a zebra print dress with comments around it

Sketch for a custom-made pieces by Roberto Cavalli, with Puglisi’s comments for Jennifer Lopez in 2022

LUX: How is Cavalli best worn- as a prize piece or as a full outfit?
FP: Cavalli can be both a full outfit and a prize piece. I think of different women and aesthetics when I imagine the pieces I develop for my collections. I am thinking of women who could wear a Cavalli total look, but also of those who could be defined as “not for Cavalli”, but who would be able to wear a beautiful pair of Roberto Cavalli trousers – perhaps combined with vintage knitwear pieces for their parents, or even a Cavalli biker jacket with a splendid skirt by another famous brand.

LUX: What are your favourite pieces from the SS23 collection>?
FP: I love all of them. In particular, the slip dresses in the Wild Leda print, which I wanted to name in honour of Cavalli’s wild heritage. Also from the new collection I love all the flat folds on the clothes that recall old Hollywood, a sort of Babylon in Puglisi Sauce.

LUX: Any print you are particularly fond of?
FP: I love the Wild Leda print. Roberto Cavalli started out as a painter, and, as he transitioned into fashion, he continued to design his prints by looking at art and historical paintings, and interpreting them in his own way. Wild Leda is a celebration of beauty as a female superpower. It is a celebration of spontaneous sensuality, of pleasure in nature, à la Cavalli.

A woman standing on a small white stage wearing a leopard print dress

An image from the Roberto Cavalli SS23 campaign

LUX: Who are the ultimate Cavalli women to you today?
FP: For sure, I would say J.LO, Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift.

LUX: Do you feel that the Y2K trend has been good for the brand?
FP: Absolutely. The kids who grew up with Roberto Cavalli are now about 25 years old and experience the brand as a beautiful memory linked to Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé of the early 2000s and Jennifer Lopez. There is certainly a very strong bond between the new generations and that of Roberto Cavalli in the early 2000s.

LUX: How do you feel about revisiting iconic eras, such as the 2000s, through clothes?
FP: I love it. I was living in the US in the early 2000s when Roberto Cavalli was the big superbrand. First I live in NY, then I moved to LA. Roberto Cavalli was Hollywood, the maximum glamour possible. It was blaring music, a supercar that races tirelessly.

A sketch of Taylor Siwft wearing a sparkly purple long sleeve crop top and maxi skirt with comments around it

Sketch for a custom-made pieces by Roberto Cavalli, with Puglisi’s comments for Taylor Swift in 2023

LUX: What are your thoughts on consumerism in fashion?
FP: I believe in everything that is done with the heart and with passion. Therefore, I do not believe in unbridled consumerism for its own sake.

Read more: Donatella Versace Interview: Doing It Her Way

LUX: Do you like the idea of passing clothes down from generation to generation?
FP: I believe in quality and emotion. Fashion must convey an emotion, so it is right that if a garment is beautiful, well made and able to excite and last over time, it can be worn through various generations. Our latest collection has an example of this in the kaftan, which recalls the famous ones worn by Marta Marzotto. The piece was reworked and adapted to modern times. It represents an ideal, inclusive piece that can be worn by one woman, and then reworn by her daughter or granddaughter who uses it to go dancing in Ibiza. The cuts and shapes of the dress change slightly with the times, but the attitude is the same.

Find out more: robertocavalli.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 4 min
Two long tables in a room with a green light up sign for Richard Mille at the end of the room
Two long tables in a room with a green light up sign for Richard Mille at the end of the room

Dinner at the ceremony for the Richard Mille Art Prize, against the spectacular backdrop of
Louvre Abu Dhabi

One of the art world’s most prestigious awards, the Richard Mille Art Prize in partnership with Louvre Abu Dhabi, was this year awarded to a female artist in the Gulf. Darius Sanai visited Louvre Abu Dhabi for the big event

Under a starlit sky by the edge of the Gulf, two celebrated dancers are performing classical ballet to Beethoven‘s Moonlight Sonata. Two long tables of guests-art collectors, government officials, artists and watch collectors- look on, mesmerised.

The performance is choreographed and led by Benjamin Millepied, the renowned director, dancer, and choreographer (including of the film, Black Swan), and husband of film star Natalie Portman. His accompanying danseuse is Caroline Osmont, of the Paris Opera Ballet. The dance is short, but beautiful. When I ask Millepied afterwards how it is to create and then perform a routine to the Moonlight, which was not written to be danced to, he simply smiles, and says, “I liked it!”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Memorable as it was, the dance at the gala outdoor dinner was just a warm-up for the main act: the announcement of the winner of one of the most significant art prize in the world-and quite possibly the most financially rewarding: the Richard Mille, art prize in partnership with Louvre Abu Dhabi. Worth $60,000 to the winning artist, the Prize, awarded by the uber-luxury, high-tech watch brand, also sees it ten shortlisted regional candidates display that works at Louvre Abu Dhabi, the local iteration of the fabled, Paris museum, whose collection sweeps from ancient Persia to Cy Twombly.

A white building by the sea

Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel

Louvre Abu Dhabi is the cornerstone of an impressive, new cultural district in the Emirate, which will soon house further significant museums, including a Guggenheim, and which is already home to the astonishing Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith complex, comprising a mosque, cathedral and synagogue (plus an education centre), devoted to the three major Abrahamic faiths and nurturing mutual understanding.

Earlier that day, we’d had a private tour of the new Louvre (which was closed to the public, as it is every Monday). The “Art Here, 2022” exhibition, housing, the shortlisted works, had pride of place in the museums Forum. The theme in this, the Prize’s second year, was “Icon. Iconic.“, a suitably art-world-gnomic concept allowing artists to exercise their full creative imaginations. Eight of the ten artists on the shortlist were female, and encouraging affirmation for women in these times.

A white room with light coming through a window

Between Desert Seas, 2021, by Ayman Zedani

The first work is so complex it required several minutes to negotiate and understand. Ayman Zedani’s Between Desert Seas approaches you visually as white salt on an internal roof; and then aurally, as a soundtrack that you quickly realise, is about the plight of the Arabian Sea humpback whale. Listening for a couple of minutes, between whalesong, you learn that these non-migratory whales are a unique species, derived from a pod that became separated from the rest of whalekind around 70,000 years ago. They have developed the own song and culture – and they are under existential threat. Global warming has acidified and poison to the sea, and the removal of water for desalination has made it more toxic.

coloured sheets on a table

Wall House, 2022, by Vikram Divecha

Wall House, by Vikram Divecha, is a proposal by the artist to remove and retain the walls of hundreds of houses in the region that are slated for demolition, and preserve them to show a portrait of our times has created by the houses’ inhabitants. The idea is illustrated by a 1:100-scale maquette, showing what is a large scale installation of this project could look like.

There was Sidelines, a work by Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan, celebrating the intricate heritage of weaving in Saudi history, lost when oil money started flowing in the 20th century.

A brown and cream tent

Sidelines, 2016, by Manal AlDowayan

Afra Al Dhaheri, an artist from Abu Dhabi, showed Weighing The Line, a striking workers, consisting of hanging ropes, pulled down by ropes on the ground-symbolising, in the artists’ words, social conditioning and constructs.

I was particularly struck by Xylophone, a work on pyro-engraved scrap wood by Elizabeth Dorazio, a Brazilian artist, now resident in Dubai. The artist said she wanted to make a statement that wood is a “vestige of excess extractavism”- and the work is quite beautiful and engaging.

UAE-born artist and academic Shaukha Al Mazrou created A Still Life of an Ever-Changing Crop Field, in glazing ceramic, inspired by crop circles, and “natures place in the world, invaded by human imprint”, one of the several environmentally inspired, works and beautiful as an installation.

A large wooden and tin pole

Camouflage: The Fourth Pillar, 2022, by Zeinab Alhashemi

Perhaps the most visually arresting work, Break of the Atom and Vegetal Life (after Zeid), is by Abu Dhabi-based artist, Simrin Mehra-Agarwal. It is a complex work that appears on first sight to be a tapestry. It is, in fact, made of graphite, charcoal, ink, primer, plaster, gypsum powder, stucco, acrylic, gesso, glue, sand, fibreglass, vellum, Mylar and paper on wooden panels. The artist says it “questions nature and its various states of bloom and decay within the context of the histories of war or neglect, as well as the contemporary issue of climate change”. Powerful, complex, at first sight, it looked like a maelstrom of clouds viewed from a satellite.

A woman in a floral dress standing between two men

Peter Harrison, CEO of Richard Mille EMEA,
and Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre
Abu Dhabi, present the 2022 Richard Mille Art Prize in partnership with Louvre Abu Dhabi to Rand Abdul Jabbar

Zeinab Alhashemi, an artist, based in Dubai, submitted the fourth pillar, from her camouflage series that featured at the celebrated DesertX AlUla. The pillar mimics the pillars at the gallery and, made of camel hides over metal rods, tones with the surrounding desert.

Standing by the ruins, the work of mosaic clay tiles by Dana Awartani, an artist based in Jeddah with Saudi and Palestinian roots, was visually striking on the lower floor. Awartani says she deliberately did not use the straw traditionally utilise in the region is tiles, thus allowing them to crack naturally overtime.

an artwork on the floor

Installation view of Standing By the Ruins, 2022, by Dana Awartani

Next to this work was a long plinth on which was displayed 100 of exquisite, intricate little glazed stoneware figures. In a panoply of colours and sizes, earthly wonders, celestial beings, featured, plays, on jugs, cups, human, and natural figures, that related directly as a modern take on Mesopotamian stoneware, including some in the new recollection. The artist, Iraqi-born Rand Abdul Jabbar, is based in Abu Dhabi.

people sitting having dinner in a room lit up with orange and yellow lights

Dinner in stunning surroundings

One of the most valuable art prizes in the world (if not the most back valuable); eight out of ten artist, shortlisted female; powerful themes of environmental loss; significant pedigree from all the artists and support and an exhibition at a Louvre. Why isn’t the Richard Mille Prize even better known, I pondered, while on my way to the prize giving event that evening?

A man and woman dancing on a stage

The ceremony, Benjamin Millepied and Caroline Osmont perform a
ballet choreographed by Millepied to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata

Perhaps because the Middle East and Gulf region is relatively new to the contemporary art scene (they’re not the ancient art scene, in which it predates the West by millennia); or perhaps, because the Western eye does not yet quite respect this part of the East and its culture as it should. In any case, credit to the powerful French brand, the Louvre and iconic Swiss brand Richard Mille for making it happen.

The evening after the dance and a performance by Dutch singer, Davina Michelle, the winner was announced: Rand Abdul Jabbar is Earthly Wonders, Celestial Beings. The artist was presented with the award and generous check.

ceramic coloured art pieces on a white table

Earthly Wonders, Celestial Beings, 2019-ongoing, by Rand Abdul Jabbar

“Rand Abdul Jabbar delivered outstanding works at push the boundaries of contemporary creativity,” said Peter Harrison, CEO of Richard Mille EMEA. “This is a celebration of our tenure partnership with Louvre, Abu Dhabi, and 10 incredible artist from the region, whose work was inspired by their cultural roots.”

Read more: Deutsche Bank: The Art Collection You Didn’t Know About

The originality, power and scope of a generation of artist, based in the Gulf that had been made clear. This is a region that is artistically, on fire.

Find out more: richardmille.com/louvre-abu-dhabi

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 7 min
A silver piano in a bar with black and gold interiors
A long sitting room with black and gold pillars and couches with tables

The Dorchester London’s iconic Promenade’s revamp

Christopher Cowdray is the Company President of the Dorchester Collection. Here he speaks to Darius Sanai about the iconic London hotel’s latest renovations and maintaining brand identity in the process of modernisation
A man with grey hair wearing a suit with a blue tie

Christopher Cowdray

LUX: Can you tell us about the renovations over the last 18 months at the Dorchester London?
Christopher Cowdray: The Dorchester last had a major re-fit in 1989. It gets to a point where you really need to go behind all the walls and change all the pipes and make sure it’s ready for purpose. That’s what we’ve been doing: we remodelled the ground floors, the bar and the promenade, the Vesper Bar, and all the front entrance, while always ensuring we retain the hotel’s identity. What happens a lot in luxury hotels is that people will come in and rip everything out and modernise it without keeping the essence of what the hotels are.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We are also redoing all the guest rooms. At the moment, the first and the second floor are about to be finished and will be ready for bookings in the next two or three weeks. They have been designed by Rochon from Paris who has done the ground floor as well. Martin Brudnizki did the Vesper Bar and will continue designing more in the upper part of the hotel. The final renovation will be the rooftop where we are going to create a new restaurant. During the pandemic when we weren’t allowed to entertain inside the outdoor seating area upstairs became so popular and got such great feedback, so we are creating a permanent fixture there and then extending the top floor. We are really restoring the Dorchester back to its rightful place as one of London’s leading, if not leading Hotel.

A silver piano in a bar with black and gold interiors

The Liberace piano in the Promenade

LUX: Are you worried by new competition in the market, for instance, Peninsula and the Rosewood coming soon?
CC: With any competition coming in, it actually ends up bringing more business into the city. It’s the same with Rome; there’s a lot of competition coming into Rome, and what it does is bring a lot more awareness to the city. One has to be aware of competition, of course, and when you are at the top of the market you want to make sure you are doing everything to remain there. A lot of this comes down to service levels. I think what the Dorchester has to its advantage is incredible service, location, and history. It has a significant history in the city, and we have an amazing staff. It takes time to build your staff and your reputation.

LUX: You mentioned you didn’t rip everything out and make it completely different. Is that decision dictated by the nature of the property? For example, would you avoid doing that at the Plaza Athénée, but consider creating super modern interiors in new builds?
CC: Yes, in a new build it’s different, but it has to be authentic to the area that we are in. For example, in Dubai we have a Norman Foster building. It has a lot of glass with light coming in, overlooking a beautiful marine area. It was trying to decide what the right interior for that would be, and Dubai today is a very vibrant progressive modern society. So how do we create a luxury and comfortable interior in this modern building? It’s not minimalistic but it is light, and it has modern undertones to it.

A courtyard with leaves over the windows and red umbrellas

La Cour Jardin at Hotel Plaza Athénée

LUX: If somebody had been a guest of Le Meurice and they walked into The Lana without knowing it was part of the collection, is the intention that they would realise it is a Dorchester Hotel, or is it more subliminal?
CC: It’s subliminal. They will know from a marketing point of view that it is, and they will receive the top quality welcome and service, but the interiors are very much about the building and the relevance to that building.

Skyscrapers in Dubai

The latest hotel in the Dorchester Collection is The Lana which will be unveiled in 2023 in Dubai

LUX: Is there a tension now between the young generation of the very wealthy who have very eclectic tastes, and an older, more conservative generation?
CC: We are finding that the younger generation like more traditional interiors as well as more modern ones. A good example is probably Le Meurice in Paris. It’s a younger generation going there at the moment, with the Belle Etoile nearby. At the Plaza Athénée you’ve got a bit of Art Deco and you’ve also got tradition, so there are people who love Art Deco and people who love tradition, but they still love the Plaza overall. Some people have certain tastes and I think as we go forward it’s about how to make sure that there’s room for everyone to be comfortable and to appeal to a wider audience.

LUX: What does a luxury group like yours need to do now that it didn’t have to do ten or fifteen years ago in terms of its experience and offering?
CC: The experience side of it is important and, I suppose, more relevant to some travellers, but the underlying essence of ultra-luxury comes down to the investment that you put into the property. The sub-furnishings and the whole design must be of high integrity. Then it’s about the service, it’s about the recognition, it’s about the efficiency of the service, it’s about the atmosphere and the friendliness, and so a lot of it revolves around the people.

A large white house with a field of yellow flowers in front of it

Coworth Park in Ascot

In other cases, it’s location. I see hotels being built today, even in cities like London, with the intention that they will become wonderful luxurious hotels and attract the luxury traveller. But that doesn’t end up being the case because your luxury traveller wants to be at the heart of where things are happening. They don’t want to be 5 or 10 minutes away; they want to be able to go down to the shops or the cinema right away.

LUX: You have celebrated restaurants in your hotels with many Michelin stars. Is it all about getting the Alain Ducasse and the 3 stars, or is this changing?
CC: The dining experience is very important. It’s about creating excitement for the hotel. It’s not only about appealing to the international traveller, but also very much about how you appeal to the local community. You want the hotel to be a part of that local community, you want them to come in and experience it and then talk about it, so the food and beverage and the restaurant are very important. We are very fortunate here to have Alain Ducasse – he’s been here since 2005 when we opened and has been very successful. He used to be at the Plaza Athénée, but then we brought in Jean-Philippe Blondet, a young chef.

A restaurant with a tree in the middle and red cushioned chairs

Hotel Eden’s Il Giardino Ristorante in Rome

With food and beverage, we did well with Alain, but there wasn’t always that excitement there. Today, food and beverage and the restaurants are doing exceptionally well because there’s just so much excitement around the energy that Jean has brought to the hotel. There are the people who really love to go to your fine, gourmet, 3-star Michelin restaurants, but there’s also a lot of people who just love food and want to try upcoming chefs and different cuisines. That’s no longer about French cuisine, it’s about the influences of Asia, influences from the Middle East, influences from anywhere. Food is so important today and people just love trying different experiences.

A table with a view of the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel’s Suite signature dinner at Hotel Plaza Athénée

LUX: And what about the more casual F&B type of experience?
CC: Bars are doing very well on the promenade, and we’ve introduced a lighter menu there. Afternoon tea is always going to be incredibly popular for us; it’s not about heavy meals. There is definitely an emergence of clubs, and I’m not too sure where that’s going to go at the moment because there are so many clubs opening up, particularly in London. People are paying for a membership to be part of it, but at the end of the day it’s just another restaurant and you are really paying for a formal degree of recognition.

A gold bar with barstools around it in a semicricle

The Dorchester London’s new Artists Bar

LUX: How do art and artists come into the renovated Dorchester?
CC: At the Dorchester specifically, we’ve got the artists’ bar which is new. The Vesper Bar is completely new and very popular so I think you will start to see more and more happening there.
45 Park Lane has a very strong following from the art community. They have an artist circle there which was started when we opened in 2011. Different artists did different floors: Peter Blake did the penthouse and Damien Hirst did the ground floor, and they always retain their connection. Of course, we have all the exhibitions there, so it’s been very successful, and it continues to be. With the renovation we spent a lot of time selecting the right art to be featured. It’s about what art is relevant.

Art is becoming very important to us. We’ve had some great exhibitions in Los Angeles – the Warhol was phenomenally successful. In Paris, there’s the association with Museums and tours going on, and we are doing a lot of work there at the Plaza Athénée.

A bar with blue and green chairs

The Dorchester London’s Vesper Bar

LUX: The Dorchester collection has not expanded at the pace of some of the Luxury groups. Is that deliberate on your side?
CC: Very much so. Any hotel we add to the company has to be relevant. For a lot of hotel groups, expansion is just about putting their name on something. But we value our reputation, how we can retain our reputation and deliver on our promises. There’s not a need for us to expand at a tremendous rate. We want to expand, but it’s much more about finding the right hotels to complement the existing brand.

For instance, Dubai is at the heart of what is going on in the Middle East. We found a wonderful property there, not on the beach, but on the Marina, and it’s going to very much appeal to our travellers from around the world. In Tokyo we have the Torch Tower, which is under construction at the moment, but is going to sit at the top of the tallest building in Japan. This will be a great compliment to the company because the Japanese market is very important to us, and the American market going there is important.

A modern building on the sea with boats in front of it

Foster and Partners were challenged to create a building for the Lana that would stand out in a city known for it’s skyline

LUX: Are there any cities where you wish you had a property?
CC: We would love to be in Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney and New York. We used to have a property in New York, the New York Palace, but we sold that because it was a 900-room hotel and although it had a wonderful location, we just felt it wasn’t relevant enough to the company. It came into the company by default, and we thought it was too big and in need of phenomenal renovation. We haven’t found what we want in New York yet. It’s a very challenging market, but we’re getting there.

LUX: How has your guest profile changed over the years in terms of age and demographics?
CC: Guests are definitely getting younger. They used to always be in their fifties and sixties, but now we are certainly seeing very young people in their thirties and younger. We see people from the technology world in particular, who are usually young people who can afford to travel and want to experience the finest.

In terms of origin, America is very important to us, as is the Middle East and Europe, so we are not reliant on one market. Asia is only just recovering so the vulnerable pandemic. Asia was a growing market for us, but then completely dried up over the pandemic. Now it’s coming back slowly. I think it will take a little while to recover.

A balcony with red and wooden chairs overlooking London

The Penthouse terrace at 45 Park Lane

LUX: You’ve been here since 2004 at this property as CEO, and have just been appointed Company President. It’s been an evolution rather than a revolution. Have you ever felt like you want to experiment and go wild and create something, do something completely different?
CC: No, I’ve never wanted to do that. We had a very clear vision from the outset, and we knew that we were never going to grow fast, but that we had to stay relevant. It’s been an incredibly busy 15 years, with the hotels going from five to where we are now, because during that period of time we not only added hotels but have also done very significant renovations in all of them. It’s a fascinating and exciting part of my job, but it’s also very time-consuming.

Read more: Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, Review

LUX: There are a number of luxury hotel brands that have become very big on branded residences, which you are doing in Dubai. Is this a main pillar of your plan?
CC: It’s not a main pillar, but it is a positive edition to the brand. Mayfair Park residences, which is attached to 45 Park Lane, has brought a new facility and a new market to the hotel. People who stay there also want to use the facilities and go to the restaurants. Then in Dubai, the Lana residences will open at the end of this year, and we’ve got various other ones coming up. The individuals who are buying these apartments are also becoming guests in the hotel, so it is creating a very strong market for us. The service that they are receiving is of a standard that meets and exceeds their expectations, and therefore they now feel that they are part of the Dorchester “club” – though it’s not a club, as such.

Find out more more: www.dorchestercollection.com

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Reading time: 12 min
A roof terrace with white bed chairs and tables looking over London

LUX visits the largest residence in 9 Millbank’s ‘Heritage Collection’, The Astor, recently unveiled by St Edward. A stone’s throw from The Palace of Westminster, Banqueting House and Westminster Abbey, the residence is named after Nancy Astor, the first female MP

The Astor features over 9,700 sq.ft. of expansive living space along with an astonishing 360-degree roof terrace, with views of London‘s most iconic landmarks and the Thames. St Edward has modernised the apartment’s traditional layout by creating two new mezzanine areas; the first a vintage inspired library and study, the second, an atmospheric private bar and games room.

On the eighth floor, a former Director’s dining hall has been transformed into a sumptuous 6.3-metre height reception room.

All Heritage Collection owners have full access to 9 Millbank’s amenities including a gym, swimming pool with spa and treatment room, cinema screening room, meeting rooms, parking  and 24-hour concierge.

Throughout The Heritage Collection apartments, St Edward commissioned architect Goddard Littlefair and master artisans to meticulously restore and in some cases, delicately replicate, a catalogue of classical features.

Paul Vallone, Executive Chairman of St Edward said “The penthouse is a unique and prestigious home that reflects the very best of British style.”

A lounge with a white carpet and white couches and grey seats and red cushions
A dining room with blue chairs and arched ceilings and a rug beneath the table

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

A white building with a tree in front of it
A bedroom in grey with hints of pink and red
A marble and grey kitchen with an island in the middle
A bar with green bar stools and a cream sofa and red cushions
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Reading time: 4 min
orange suitcases and rucksack in front of a black sportscar
orange suitcases and rucksack in front of a black sportscar
Ava Doherty reports on Tumi and McLaren’s collaboration on a limited-edition luggage collection titled ‘Unpack Tomorrow’, appreciating the history of the British motorsport brand through motorcar themed designs

The quintessentially English motorsport brand, McLaren, has paired with the travel and business manufacturer Tumi to produce unique limited edition travel pieces to commemorate McLaren’s 60th anniversary.

The collection was unveiled at the final event of the brand’s Spring 2023 campaign, ‘ Unpack Tomorrow’ which championed the Tumi crew member and McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris.

Lando Norris holding an orange rucksack and standing next to an orange suitacase

Tumi and McLaren’s commemorative partnership aims to combine fashion, technology and lifestyle. The brands aimed to highlight their shared ethos of functionality, modern design dialogue and a forward-facing outlook.

Goran Ozbolt, Chief Designer art McLaren Automotive commented, “This edition of luxury travel pieces also celebrates our founder Bruce McLaren’s passion for looking to the future, pushing the boundaries, and matching effortless functionality with a modern design language that reflects the ethos of both companies.”

A black suicase next to an orange car

New technology incorporated into their design process includes ultra-durable Tegris composite material, flexible CFX carbon fibre accents, and the integrated USB charger of the Velocity Backpack.

Tumi aims to further globalise its partnership with McLaren with an international content series at key Grand Prix races featuring influencers, community engagement and exclusive prizes.

Black suitcase and luggage next to a car

Tumi’s Creative Director, Victor Sanz said, “We are thrilled to have collaborated on this collection with McLaren, utilising their famous papaya colour and combining modern, lightweight materials to create luggage, bags and accessories that celebrate their 60th anniversary.”

Find out more: tumi.com/McLarenCollection

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Reading time: 1 min
A hotel lounge with leaves hanging from the ceiling and plants on the floor
A hotel lounge with leaves hanging from the ceiling and plants on the floor

The Whiteley Members Club

A man sitting on a chair wearing a navy suit

Neil Jacobs, CEO at Six Senses

Neil Jacobs is CEO of the iconic hotel and residencies group, Six Senses. Here, he speaks to Samantha Welsh about the brand’s wellness model

LUX: How far are your wellness beliefs rooted in your personal values and lived experience?
Neil Jacobs: It started after studying Hotel Management at the University of Westminster, French Civilization at La Sorbonne University and Italian culture and art in Florence, knowing I wanted to travel and use the languages I’d learnt; I figured the hotel business was a great way of incorporating it all.

My personal passion and love for wellness, sustainability, and travel then played a part in my next steps to joining Six Senses and, naturally, my aim has been to elevate the brand in terms of responsible design, green initiatives and wellness programming. By broadening the company’s global footprint, we’ve been able to create these wonderful spaces and opportunities for people to live and create their own experiences with these things, in a plethora of environments.

Having the opportunity to apply my skills and experience to this unique brand, whilst leading a group of dedicated and likeminded professionals on a daily basis, is a personal joy.

An infinity pool with a view of the sea and a terrace with a table and chairs

Six Senses Kaplankaya, Turkey

LUX: What is the approach to embedding sustainable values from ground up through every resort? How do you measure their impact?
NJ: Sustainability is embedded into the very fabric of every resort, something we can only achieve if it is the first thing we think about when we approach a new project.

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Our eco-conscious approach to real estate starts with thinking about how we preserve, celebrate and enhance the local and global environment, as well as the local community and cultural heritage of the location. Naturally, this means taking a bespoke approach to each resort. We make smart use of our land topography and use renewable building materials, and use local materials wherever possible to reduce our environmental impact.

A wooden staircase in a minimalist designed hallway

The Forestias in Bangkok

We undertake rigorous analysis to ensure we can successfully and accurately measure the impact of each project and continue to learn for future projects. For example, in 2020, the renewable electricity that was generated across our resorts reached an amount powerful enough to power fifteen world cup football pitches.

To us, sustainability doesn’t just mean our buildings are sustainable, it’s also about encouraging residents and guests to live sustainably long term. Many of our resorts and residences now feature Earth Labs, where otherwise discarded materials are recycled and reused. Guests and residents can join workshops and sessions to learn how to reduce their own consumption and re-use materials, the aim of which is to instil long-lasting sustainable mindsets.

A jacuzzi looking over a forest

The Forestias is made up of 27 residences, set in a purpose-grown forest in Bangna, Bangkok

Over the coming years, as we learn more and more from our existing projects, sustainability will continue to show up more meaningfully through in-resort environmental impact reduction, including passive cooling of the properties, electric transport options for guests and the use of biodegradable cleaning products.

Across our resorts, we are already working hard towards being fully plastic free. Resorts have never used plastic bottles or miniature plastic amenities, and plastic straws were eliminated before 2016. For example, in 2018 alone, more than 5 million plastic items were eliminated, including over 1,200,000 coffee capsules, over 52,000 plastic bags, over 26,400 toothbrushes and over 460,000 bits of packaging.

LUX: How does your vision for the Residences’ portfolio translate into screening macro market opportunities and micro-locations, masterplanning site assembly, partnerships, local collaborations?
NJ: Because the approach to each project is so individual, we make decisions on a case-by-case basis as to whether we incorporate residences into new resorts, as buyer motivations can differ greatly to those that drive people to stay in resorts as guests.

A swimming pool overlooking Dubai city

The Penthouse pool at the Six Senses Residences, The Palm, Dubai

We aren’t afraid of delivering resorts in remote locations, but sometimes this isn’t the right fit for residences, and vice versa in other locations. Thanks to our teams and their knowledge and understanding of the local market and global appetite, we can make fully informed plans and decisions on what we build and where we build it.

It’s key that the project and location is innately right for us, and an important initial step is getting onto the land to make sure it is speaking to us, and we can feel the connection. We like to conduct meditations or rituals, and in the past have bought in a sacred geometer to analyse the energy of the land.

A lounge with blue chairs, a checked black and white floor and a large light chandelier

The Whiteley Six Senses Hotel is opening in London in 2023

Once we’ve made these decisions, we begin conversations with potential development partners. With such strong company values, we’re highly selective with who we choose to work with and always ensure our partners share our vision and values.

For example, we are working alongside Finchatton for the first UK Six Senses Residences at The Whiteley. This was a significant milestone for us; to expand into one of the world’s most iconic gateway cities, and we wanted to wait for the perfect opportunity and partner. Finchatton’s hallmark quality matches our own, and the opportunity to collaborate and transform a significant architectural landmark was too good to miss.

LUX: Where did your idea come from, to bring nature, wellness and healing to the global metropolis?
NJ: If you look at the history of people who come to our resorts, it would typically be for a short getaway – a couple of weeks maximum. They’d immerse themselves in the wellness programming, enjoying the facilities we have on offer, resetting in our beautiful and remote locations but then quickly return to their fast-paced lives back in their home cities.

We wanted to find a way to connect the dots, and create these retreat-like spaces, offering relaxation and reconnection, in a location that is much more accessible for everyone: the awareness that often the global elite, while they have the means, don’t always have the time. This is where the migration into urban locations began for us.

houses on a resort by the sea

Each residence at The Forestias comes with a private pool, rejuvenating onsen and organic gardens where seasonal fruits and vegetables can be grown

When we are considering bringing a residential component to our urban locations, it is almost a no-brainer. Alongside our exotic, rural and alpine locations, we want to be in gateway cities, located in the prime neighbourhoods of the best urban communities in the world. The market for this type of home for the ultra-high-net-worth is very strong, which meant there was also a clear and compelling business decision to grow our portfolio here.

LUX: What is the membership model? How is it differentiated from other hospitality Groups’ super prime residences?
NJ: We offer a unique experience to our residence owners; combining the luxury and sought-after amenities of resort life, but with the privacy and personal touches of owning your own space. Owners benefit from exclusive resident savings, as well as VIP status recognised across all Six Senses hotels and resorts around the world.

At Six Senses, we pride ourselves on offering a best-in-class service, and our level of care and attention to detail is what sets us apart from other luxury developments. This unparalleled level of service is in part thanks to our hospitality roots, extended so that all of our owners can fully enjoy the privileges of a hotel or resort, with every aspect taken care of.

A swimming pool and palm trees

At the core of the Six Senses Residences The Palm, Dubai is Six Senses Place, providing residential owners unique space purely for mental and physical wellness

Owners have the option of placing their home into hotel rental portfolio, which opens up an additional income opportunity via renting their homes when they are not staying there. As properties are wholly managed by Six Senses, it’s a completely hassle-free process.

Read more: Coworth Park, Ascot, Review

Owners who place their home in our rental programme automatically take advantage of our furniture packages as standard – with each home inspired by, and designed in line with, the nature of its environment and local community. Dependant on the resort and stage of construction, there are also sometimes opportunities for owners to personalise design details, such as material choices.

LUX: What is next for U/HNWs who seek multi-based sustainable superluxury living? And do you have your personal capstone?
NJ: The Six Senses brand was born from the desire to help people reconnect with themselves, others and the world around them. One of our core goals, is to continue to create a global footprint and allow people to experience our brand in different environments.

A building with pillars and a dome roof

The exterior of the Whiteley Six Senses

Looking ahead at 2023, we are expecting a continued increase in the philanthropic buyer across the branded residences sector. High-net-worth buyers are increasingly seeking a home that has been created in a socially and environmentally mindful way, rather than just investing in purely bricks and mortar.

We are already well placed to respond to this rising demand, thanks to our responsible approach towards all projects through our thorough and sustainable practices.

In terms of a personal favourite of mine, I couldn’t quite say. That being said, part of the richness of my job is the opportunity to interact with our hosts around the world and the buy-in to the brand that shows up in each location. So, my favourite tends to be the project I’m visiting at the time!

Find out more: sixsenses.com/residences

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Reading time: 8 min
A dining room with a window view of Tower Bridge
A dining room with a window view of Tower Bridge

Views of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge surround the residence

Our hotel of the month has grandeur, a high-energy Japanese-Chinese restaurant, jazz under an Imperial dome and much more, right next to the Tower of London

What drew us there?

Arriving at the Four Seasons, Ten Trinity Square, is a monumental experience. Literally. The building, in the city of London, and directly facing the Tower of London, is the former headquarters of the Port of London Authority. Walking up its entrance steps you feel as if you are due to be summoned inside for a meeting with the First Sea Lord about the Imperial Fleet in the South Pacific.

A bar walkway with a blossom tree

Mei Ume offers traditional Chinese and Japanese dishes with a modern approach to the cuisine

Those days have long gone, but fortunately, the building’s new incarnation as a Four Seasons hotel is rather more user-friendly. After checking, in, waft into the domed lobby area with its bar at the far end, the former rotunda at the heart of the orginal building, and you feel you are in a different world to the busy city outside. This is the only true luxury hotel in the city of London, and given that it is also a souvenir’s throw from the Tower of London, it offers an excellent location for an alternative view of the British capital.

The Experience

Our rooms, or should we call them chambers, with vast and high ceilings, were on the ground floor, with a palatial bedroom, connecting into an equally palatial living room, cupboards the size of small apartments, and a bathroom that looked like it might have been a bank vault in a previous incarnation.

Decor is rich, dark and masculine, and you feel you are secure in the heart of the establishment – in this case, the luxury hotel establishment. The Four Seasons also has a significant pool, running across a large portion of its footprint downstairs, with a bank of wellness pools and an adjoining spa.

A bedroom with beige and grey interiors

The bedroom in the Heritage Suite

We were staying one night, it was hard to decide whether to eat light bites in the Rotunda bar under the dome of the lobby, which featured a live jazz band, or go for a more celebratory dinner in the Mei Ume Chinese and Japanese restaurant beyond.

We went for the latter, a vibey place with groups of slickly dressed people in their 20s and 30s looking highly photogenic for their instagrams. The Negronis were cutting edge, and we loved being able to dip into both cuisines: a signature beef rice bowl (with wagyu sirloin, egg and fried rice) along with some Har Gu and Chiu Mai dim sum, ginger and spring onion chicken buns that were just the right puffiness and bite, unagi and cucumber uramaki…it was not fusion cuisine, rather two distinctive cuisines in one high-energy restaurant. And then, we mellowed out with a digestif glass of champagne and some piano jazz in the bar. Beautiful.

A swimming pool with grey walls and lights

The indoor swimming pool at the Spa

Anything else to know?

For business travellers, the hotel is super convenient for the city, and pretty close to Canary Wharf. For tourists, it is right next to the Tower of London had a short walk along the riverbank promenade to the Tate Modern. However, it is a little further from the traditional sites of the West End.

Rates: From £700 per night (approx. €795/$875)

Book your stay: www.fourseasons.com/tentrinity/

Darius Sanai

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Reading time: 3 min
A white house white house with daffodils around it
A white house white house with daffodils around it

The exterior of Coworth Park, originally built in 1776

The Dorchester Collection’s country hideaway near London combines serenity with spa and some brilliant cuisine

Country factor:
15 minutes from Heathrow Airport, less than an hour from central London, this country house is set in a sprawling estate of parkland, lakes and polo fields. You feel like you are in the deepest rural idyll.

What to do?
A more pertinent question is, what not to do. There is, just across the way from the main house, an extensive spa with a swimming pool and hydrotherapy. There is an equestrian centre linked to the polo fields – come at the right time of year, and you can see the British royals play their favourite sport. Otherwise, you can ride. There is an all-weather tennis court, archery, and extensive grounds to get lost in doing long walks. In short, all the benefits of an English country house hotel without having to take a helicopter or drive several hours to get there from civilisation.

A blue glass building on the grass surrounded by trees and a statue in front of it

The Spa which works in collaboration with Germaine de Capuccini

What to eat?
Not so long ago, the cuisine was the question mark hanging over almost any British hotel outside London. Michelin-starred chef Adam Smith shows at Coworth Park how things have turned full circle.

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Particularly admirable is what we would call his concept and execution platform. Across the menus in the different venues, it seems the dish is conceived, and can then be executed in different ways: traditional, vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free.

A terrace with green blankets on chairs and outdoor gas heaters

The Drawing Room terrace which overlooks the grounds

There is no primacy of any style. Ingredients are piercing and local. It’s thoughtful and contemporary. Cooking thought leadership at its best. The main restaurant, Woven, has a delightful, classic modern feeling in its decor: no tablecloths, but as formal as you want it to be, with clever and expensive lighting.

Read more: Waldhaus Sils, Switzerland Review

The other restaurant, The Barn, is a more informal, but still highly polished and sophisticated offering. We would go to the former for dinner, and the latter for lunch. Or perhaps the other way round. Who knows.

A bedroom with a cream bed and sofa

Mansion House Junior Suite bedroom

Lying in
The decor in the rooms is perfectly judged, for where we are: not trying to be deepest wooden beam country style, but not city imposed on a rural dwelling either. Bathrooms are huge, beds almost as huge, and there is all the glitz you would expect of a luxury hotel.

Rates: From £570 per night (approx. €654/$700)

Book your stay: dorchestercollection.com/ascot/coworth-park

Darius Sanai

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Reading time: 2 min
a hotel amongst trees and a lake and mountains in the background
a hotel amongst trees and a lake and mountains in the background

An aerial view of Waldhaus Sils with Lake Sils behind

It has long been a source of inspiration to poets, artists and philosophers – and Sils, in the high-altitude valley of Engadine in the Swiss Alps, still proves a haven of luxury and creativity

Arrival
Waldhaus – house in the woods. To an English speaker, it sounds pretty; to a German speaker, there are centuries of myth behind the forest legend. Sitting on a bench, in the larch forest in the grounds of Waldhaus Sils, we pondered this. To one side, the hotel’s terrace restaurant – a terrace dissolved in forest – was finishing up lunch service. Immediately below us, two clay tennis courts lay empty after a family session had finished – a daughter narrowly beating a father, awash with glee; a family that looked as if they had been playing tennis in the woods for generations.

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Beyond, the mountainside dropped down and you could glimpse the valley floor through the trees: a flat glacial meadow and a blue-black lake containing a couple of islands, thick with pines. Beyond, a steep, largely treeless mountainside, grass, rocks, scree, peaks.

Waldhaus Sils is at the highest point of the Engadine, the wide, high-altitude valley that carves through the east of Switzerland like a scratch in the Alps. St Moritz is 10 minutes down the road, but the village of Sils has its own character and history. Nietzsche and Hermann Hesse lived and visited here; generations of artists came here for inspiration, and some, such as Gerhard Richter, 90 years old and widely considered the greatest living artist, still do come to stay at the Waldhaus.

red and beige chairs in a room with windows

The Waldhaus interior is a triumph of 20th-century modern design

The Experience
The hotel is on a rock just above the village, and what seems at first to be another in the mould of excellent palace buildings in the mountains, turns out to be rather more special.

To walk through the Waldhaus is like walking through a living museum of 20th-century design – when we say living, we mean it’s like a home, rather than curated for the benefit of others. There is a window in one of the drawing rooms that looks directly out at a rock face a couple of metres behind: the rock looks like an artwork in the frame of the window. Everything, from the wood panelling to the chess tables to the signage and the way the keys are arranged behind the reception desk, speaks of indulgent artistry.

Take a room with a balcony and it is as if you are in a tree house, only the balcony also as dramatic views across and along the Engadine and Lake Sils. The rooms themselves continue the theme of being in a home: no nouveau-riche over design here. If you crave three tons of marble in your bathroom, a Toto automatic toilet and Jacuzzi, you would be better to look elsewhere- but as a coherent and relaxing take on classical luxury, it feels wonderful to be in.

A river in a valley between green covered mountatins

Val Fex, high above the Waldhaus, photographed by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

Eating and Drinking
Most of the residents of the Waldhaus (and it feels like a community of residents, rather than hotel guests) dine at the hotel in the evenings. The dining rooms, high-ceilinged and table-clothed, have huge windows directly into the forest, as if you are in a nest. Each evening brought us a different variation on consommé, a broth made with the stock-variously-of forest mushrooms, local vegetables, corn-fed chicken or Swiss beef; one was made with hay stock, and was sublime.

Otherwise, expect Swiss mountain cuisine, precisely prepared, and a treasury of a wine list that virtually compels you to try the wines of the Büdner Herrschaft – the warm, sunny, bijou wine-growing region in the Rhine valley of eastern Switzerland, over the mountains. There is also the terrace restaurant, overlooking the tennis courts, serving salads and grills for lunch.

A red chair on a red carpet with a painting above it and a table with flowers next to it

Activities
Woodland-walks, lakeside-walks around Lake Sils – inspiration to poets and philosophers – rock climbing, mountain hikes to the hidden