bodrum
bodrum

The MedBodrum festivities took place at the Maçakızı Hotel and Villa Maçakızı in Bodrum

Experiences are the future of luxury. Darius Sanai visits MedBodrum, a visionary new type of festival, combining fabulous cuisine, vibey music, art and culture, in one of the hottest Mediterranean destinations

An assemblage of famed and Michelin-starred chefs cooking in the open air by the Mediterreanean; a mellowness of Bossa Nova from Bebel Gilberto, singing just with an acoustic guitarist as an accompanist, just centimetres from the water’s edge;

guests moving seamlessly from Chandon wine to Caipirinhas; a semi-outdoor display of art dotted around two properties, a boat ride from each other, featuring works by Marina Abramovic, Antony Gormley and LUX’s own chief contributing editor, the collector and artist Maryam Eisler, among others.

food

The festival features top international cuisine

Welcome to MedBodrum, a new type of festival, whose inaugural edition took place last week over four days in the spring sunshine and moonlight in a bay surrounded by deep forest just outside the chi-chi Turkish Riviera resort of Bodrum.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

chef

Carlo Bernardini’s recipes are inspired by his late grandmother’s cooking

The aural and sensory entertainment, in what promises to be an annual festival, was stunning. The music came from Skip Marley on the first night through Mestiza and to Gilberto as the grand finale.

There were different presentations of cuisine – from formal dinners to the memorable beachside BBQ cookout – from chefs including Aret Sahakyan, Carlo Bernardini, Alejandro Serrano and Deepanker Khosla.

food

Michelin-starred cuisine for all palates

Never have art collectors been quite so spoiled for choice for sampling everything from exquisite langoustines to a dairy-free vat of pasta with fresh tomato, in a Med-side luxury location – except possibly in their own homes.

And that’s what made MedBodrum special: given the organic villa-style architecture and intimacy of Macakizi, a resort that is a go-to stop off from many superyacht summers, it felt like a big house party, your house party, but organised by someone else who knows all the right chefs and musicians and artists.

Festival guests enjoyed DJs and a variety of top international acts

(Fru Tholstrup and Jane Cowan‘s curation of artworks was seen both at Macakizi, the eco-hotel at the heart of the festival, and the Villa Macakizi private palace a boat ride across the bay.)

But the most compelling memory is that of a wholly new concept created by Sahir Erozan, Macakizi’s owner and the creative mind behind this celebration.

Erozan is a restaurateur and hotelier, and he is wrapping together three areas – gastronomy, art and music, with a good dash of fine wine thrown in – in a way that nobody else does.

medbodrum

Sahir Erozan, the owner of the Maçakızı Hotel in Bodrum, with friends art the MedBodrum evening events

ski marley

Skip Marley, grandson of Bob Marley and Rita Marley, performing at the event in Bodrum.

Luxury consumers love eating well, collect art, and enjoy bringing performers in for private concerts. And yet these activities are too often separated: there is no art at the Miami Food & Wine, no music at the Venice Biennale, and anybody who has been to an Art Basel or Frieze knows the issue with the cuisine and hospitality (there is none).

Erozan is bringing them together all under the banner of the Mediterranean.

Read more: Leading MACAN, Indonesia’s first contemporary art museum

It’s a new kind of luxury experience, one that can travel. Everyone knows that experiences are the new obsession for luxury consumers. There remain challenges: how to integrate the art (and what kind of art?); who to invite and who not to invite – the hotel remained open to regular paying guests; which brands to involve, or not; how to create a “tribe” like the most successful clubs, from Studio 54 in 1980 to Soho House in 1999 and Oswalds in 2024.

art

Artworks by Matous Hasa. Art is one of the pillars of the festival, along with cuisine, music and sustainability

And there is a sustainability element which was a little uncertain: we would say be bold and have conversations with regenerative ocean innovators in the mornings and afternoons, before the music and cuisine (and caipirinhas) really kick in.

For MedBodrum felt like a visiting a club (LUX is too young to have been to Studio 54 but we understand it was an invigorating experience), albeit a virtual one.

People were in their own tribe, curated, like all the best clubs, by one all-seeing owner, in the shape of the permanently cigarred Sahir.

darius sanai

Medbodrum guests on the beachside deck at the Macakizi

With the tones of Bebel Gilberto purring “happy birthday to me” still in our ears (she performed on her birthday, and Erozan presented her with a gift, a cake and some Dom Perignon at the end of her set) we look forward to seeing how MedBodrum develops onwards and upwards for a new and even more international generation.

www.medbodrum.com

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Reading time: 4 min
Clouds and a big yellow landscape

Clouds and a big yellow landscape

Two cameras, one journey, two childhood friends — and eighteen days to shoot their surroundings across the American West. Maryam Eisler and Alexei Riboud had followed separate paths for 38 years. Would the two photographers’ love of the still image converge their paths? LUX finds out

After graduating from high school together in Paris, in 1985, Maryam (then Homayoun) Eisler and Alexei Riboud parted ways; Eisler to the world of business, first at L’Oréal and then at Estée Lauder in London and in New York; Riboud to the world of graphic design and photography, in Paris, New York and Johannesburg, following in the footsteps of his celebrated parents, photographer Marc Riboud and sculptor, author and poet Barbara Chase-Riboud.

Sky, a big old billboard

Lights glowing faintly, flickering occasionally on an old, lonesome sign for a motel on the border of Marfa, Texas, that is long gone; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Nearly four decades later, in early 2024, the art world brought them back together, for a three-week American road trip through parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, photographing space, place and people along the way in a form of visual dialogue. In, and in-between locals travelling by car, well over 2000 miles, from Houston to El Paso… Marfa, Presidio and White Sands to Santa Fe and Canyon Point… they’d hop out of the vehicle at any given moment, and say ‘See you in an hour!’, and go their respective ways, out in the wilderness, reacting to circumstances as they came across them, vowing not to give any advice to each other on what or how to shoot. Not even sharing their images until they returned home.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Laughing, the two recall the fifteen U-turns they took on one straight 22 mile road from Espagnola to Ghost Ranch, because they kept seeing elements they wanted to capture, not to mention the 24 hours they spent obsessing over a missed opportunity, a derelict 1950s motel, now far behind them.

An abstracted image of the white sands

White sands National Park, New Mexico, photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

The images that Eisler and Riboud produced provide an intriguing study of contrasting perspectives and techniques. They both certainly shared a road trip, but in artistic terms (and fortunately for the viewer of the works), they were on parallel journeys, each producing compelling results. As Carrie Scott, the art historian and curator, notes: ‘I am buoyed by the conversation here between these two artists. Maryam and Alexei are shaping our perceptions of the American West through their dual lenses, which in turns gives us a moment to reflect on our fixed perspectives.’ It’s a far cry, as Scott adds, from the ‘longstanding tradition in American photography, dating back to the 19th century, of a singular male voice and viewpoint.’

A policeman leaning into a car with a man behind, and a big sky

A friendly security guard at the Concordia cemetery  in El Paso, TX giving Eisler and Riboud directions to the tomb of John Wesley Hardin, the man who earned himself a reputation as one of the Wild West’s most pernicious gunslinging outlaws; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Riboud is attracted to the outskirts and grey areas, the transitional spaces and borders where he finds the elements to compose his photographs. His approach has been refined over many years of shooting in diverse locations, including Havana, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Shanghai, Chicago and of course Paris — usually with a focus on the peripheral spaces within or next to large cities.

A night sky and a train track

A railway track cutting through the town of Marfa, Texas, photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

‘I like wandering into places I have never been to, especially on the margins of well-known locations, exploring the counter-space of an established geography. My photography is about experimentation. I gather fragments from urban landscapes, in an effort to capture innate structures’, says Riboud. ‘On this trip, I was drawn to the outskirts of towns, and to the frontiers between human settlements and the unpopulated natural environments.’

A Native American dancing

A Navajo Nation dancer performing an indigenous ritual dance impersonating animal spirits, Page, Arizona; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

‘This trip was a huge challenge for me’, says Eisler: ‘My focus has always been on the figurative and more specifically on what I like to call the ‘Sublime Feminine’ in its physicality and in its essence. I had to push myself to work in a new way, this time around, moving away from body landscape to natural landscape.’ But would she find parallels between nature and figure?

Read more: Maryam Eisler: Intimate Landscapes

‘In my work, I always talk about female ‘body architecture’ in dialogue with spatial architecture… its curvilinear slopes, its nooks and its crannies, its valleys. I have often explored this theme in big, barren, hostile nature, from Iceland to Mexico and beyond, except this time the female figure was not there to be photographed. I also surprised myself in adopting a new way to work… primarily using a wide angle lens (which I never do) in order to capture as much of the big sky and vast land as my lens could take in. I wanted to visually overdose on the nature that surrounded me!’

Buildings looking through a wall with pinkish and blue colours

In between walls of a teared down house in the border town of Presidio, Texas, photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

It’s no wonder that these two photographers operated quite differently during the road trip. They are two very different characters. Eisler’s made a quicksilver shift from business and writing to art, and has the smiling, knowing grace of a meditative guru while retaining the poise of a terrifying boss.

A man with a camera in hand taking a picture of the road ahead

Alexei Riboud, photographed by Maryam Eisler on US Highway 90 near Van Horn, Texas, 2024

Riboud, on the other hand, projects a laid-back-almost-to-horizontal suave creativity. Nonetheless, both have clearly forged a deep connection that transcends their decades apart and their contrasting artistic and technical sensibilities.

Man with black shirt sitting on a bench

Homeless young man in downtown Houston with a t-shirt depicting Martin Luther King and Malcolm X’s encounter; Houston, Texas; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

To the extent that the origins of their photography have links, they are serendipitous, through a mutual interest in graphics. Riboud, who did graphic design for an advertising agency in South Africa in the 1990s, began to photograph on weekends, and enjoyed it enough to make it his main focus.

Sky with an old crumbling sign

Derelict remains of the former Art Deco movie theatre in Marfa, Texas; The Palace, closed since the 1970s, is now an illustrator’s studio; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

At L’Oréal, Eisler’s involvement in the development of ad campaigns — what she calls ‘surface beauty’ — revved up her dormant love of visual story-telling. Today, one can experience both the outer and inner dimension in her exploration of the ‘Sublime Feminine’. Laughing, she recalls her father’s niggling voice in her head, asking her what she was doing with that ‘love of photography’ she had so enthusiastically written about in her college applications? But life after the (Iranian) Revolution would dictate otherwise, until years later.

A tree, and sea, and a sign, as seen through a fence

Looking through the US-Mexico border wall in El Paso near Amara House at La Hacienda, an organisation working to inspire connection beyond borders through mutual understanding and meaningful action in pursuit of narrative systems, and personal change; El Paso, Texas; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

Both Alexei and Maryam have indelible memories from their trip. Alexei reflects back on the town of El Paso, near the US-Mexico border: ‘‘There was the feeling of being at a crossroad of narratives with stratified areas, unsettled spaces in transition.’ Maryam recalls a moment on the border of Utah and Arizona: ‘A hypnotising Native American ritual dance made me think deep about indigenous cultural history and the suffering that the native people have and continue to endure… I was completely mesmerised by the strength of the dancers storytelling through moves anchored deep in tradition.’ Riboud points to the gentrification of Marfa, Texas: ‘Beyoncé and Jay-Z just bought a house there! You get a sense that it’s rapidly changing from the isolated artistic outpost that Donald Judd built all those years ago; the city is now attracting newcomers, as real estate prices are booming!’

A man with a camera with big sky behind

Alexei Riboud, photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

The two photographers’ contrasting visual perspectives provide fertile ground for dialogue, and – as Scott says, ‘a new, layered perspective on the complex reality of the 21st-century American West. Where Maryam’s portraits provide narrative depth – each portrait becomes a story, a window into the lives, cultures, and experiences of individuals within that vast expanse – Alexei’s focus on the landscape reflects on America’s historical relationship with western expansion.’

A woman with a camera in the canyons

Maryam Eisler, photographed by Alexei Riboud, in Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona 2024

Riboud praises Eisler’s link between the female body and the architecture of space and place, as well as her graphic eye mingled with sensuality. For Eisler, it’s Riboud’s conceptual visual rendering—‘almost like a painting’ — that stands out above all. ‘The lens Alexei uses enables him to capture space and light in a very unique manner. The end result is subtle, painterly and beautiful, with incredible hues of light pinks and accents of deep purples in some instances. I think Alexei uses light to paint.’

Pinkish trees

Along the banks of Rio Grande river near Los Alamos, New Mexico. This is the view from the House at Otomi Bridge that frequently hosted Manhattan Project scientists. A team room and restaurant at the time – once post office and train station – where Oppenheimer kept a standing reservation for whenever he wanted to dine; New Mexico; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

Kamiar Maleki, Director of Photo London, expresses their effect on one another – their oscillations, recalling Maryam’s ‘evolution from exploring the female figure to this more recent body of work’ and its ‘profound shift towards celebrating the Sublime in a new and different way – as displayed in Mother Nature‘, as well as ‘in the vast potent (waste) lands of the American West landscape.’

Prada shop with photographer photographing

Maryam Eisler, as photographed by herself at Prada, Marfa, by Elmgreen & Dragset in Valentine, Texas, 2024

For Alexei, it’s his ‘minimalist elegance, presenting viewers with unexpected compositions that speak volumes through their simplicity.’

An old man by the window, with a picture next to him

Portrait of an outsider Texan artist, James Magee, a dear friend of the painter Annabel Livermore, whose painting he sits in front of, and who various writers have described as his alter ago, a relationship referred to by The New York Times as ‘a tough act to follow’, photographed in El Paso, Texas, by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Reflecting on the journey, Eisler says, ‘I still recall the vastness of land and the ever-changing skies and clouds. We could’ve produced an entire body of work on the clouds of New Mexico; the evolving light and its plethora of shades… It was sky theatrics every day! As we drove on Interstate highways, I could not help but feel a deep sense of inner peace.

A photographer on a landscape

Alexei Riboud in White Sands National Park, New Mexico, photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

In fact, I had a memorable moment in White Sands National Park, as the sun was setting down amidst scarlet and purple skies. I recall seeing Alexei, camera in hand, standing on the opposite hill, akin to a dot in the greater universe… And for just a second or two, which felt like eternity, I took off mentally into a parallel state of mind, engulfed by Mother Nature. It was so powerful’.

A blue billboard

Weary billboard with missing parts north of El Paso in the vast plains of Texas; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

‘I think the camera changes what you see, particularly when it’s your first experience of a place, of a unique location’, says Riboud. ‘Something happens that you can’t control; it’s your subconscious working, through the frame of the camera, on the construction of the image.’

a landscape with a sign saying 'Keep the Lonely Places Lonely'

Roughly halfway between Van horn and Valentine on U.S 90 reside crumbling buildings seen through a chain link fence: a one time significant railway dewatering station, now turned ghost town of Lobo, Texas; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

And when it’s not the camera, there are parallel – or, rather, oscillatory – expressions, from a writer they met along the way. Glimpse below the poem ‘Eileen’, written by poet Amanda Bloom in West Texas. Her series of linguistic short takes provide a further mode of expression, imbricating the tapestry of their journey:

a woman lying by the pool

Poet Amanda Bloom lying by the pool of the iconic ‘Hotel Paisano’ in Marfa Texas where the cast of the 1956 Hollywood movie ‘The Giant’, starring James Dean & Elizabeth Taylor, stayed during the filming of the movie; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Windmill sentinels
over the oil field.
The air is quick here.
You can’t keep your
thoughts with you.
The star dome
holds you down
while you move.

The yucca heads higher
than a street sign,
flowers brown and dry,
still hanging on, stalk bent
from day after day of the
troposphere in motion.
Learn surrender from
the yucca. It rattles
before its release.

The land is home
to ore, ice volcanos,
ocean floor turned
high desert, Eileen
the horse that did
not die on the way
to El Paso, you.

Pumpjacks pull.
Windmills spin.
The yucca shudders and
two brown blossoms
light on the wind.
Eileen stretches
her bum leg.

The journey – from photography to poetry – provides, in Carrie Scott’s words ‘a dialogue about the deep humanity embedded in the landscape’s history’. And, indeed, it is ‘a tapestry’ as well as a dialogue, as the Director of Photo London concludes – ‘of beauty, emotion, and storytelling, inviting viewers to contemplate the profound depths of the American big nature experience alongside the quiet poetry of simple existence.’

a man reaching with a sign

Here, in Riboud’s street scene in El Paso is what Eisler calls his ‘geometric approach to depicting space in its subtle linearity, very unique to his eye’; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

From dialogue, to tapestry, the works will soon be woven into a book, as well as an exhibition to be launched around Photo London 2025 – and in a way, as Scott aptly notes, ‘that we haven’t seen before’.

See More:

maryameisler.com

alexeiriboud.com

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Reading time: 12 min

LUX checks into the Bellevue Palace, Bern, Switzerland.

Le Lobby is a true classic reborn, a convivial meeting place to exchange views and discuss weighty matters over drinks as well as sushi and sashimi.

The wow factor:

The walk from the train station in the Swiss capital of Bern, to the Bellevue Palace, takes in some traditional cobbled streets and a stretch along a hilltop, alongside some Swiss government buildings. Walking into the grand atrium of the Palace, you pass through a gin bar and onto a terrace, at the end of the same hilltop, from where the ground drops away into a pastoral Alpine view of meadows and forests. There are even cows grazing on the hillsides: all of this from the most city centre luxury hotel of a capital city. All very Swiss.

Breathtaking views from the comfort of your own room

People watching:

Smartly dressed Swiss gentility were all around us; conversing quietly behind their Chopard necklaces and Audemars Piguet watches. The hotel, which was built in 1865 and rebuilt in 1913, is a place where such people have come for generations.

overlooking the River Aare or the Bernese Alps, each room has unique features

Show me to my room:

Our suite had a view out to the Alps: from our balcony we could see the white slopes of the peaks of the Bernese Oberland, the triangular Jungfrau and frightening Eiger, in the far distance. Inside the suite, this was truly a palace of a hotel in the traditional sense: antique furniture, thickly carpeted rooms, huge marble bathrooms and acres of space.

The open kitchen at Noumi Restaurant celebrates world food ideal for combining and sharing. Taste experiences in bowls and from the grill, including vegetarian variations, which are inspired by simplicity

Come dine with me (and other things):

The lobby, with its ornate Belle époque atrium, is the place for a drink when the weather doesn’t suit the terrace with a view outside: the speciality is gin, and it’s a power broker type of place for Switzerland, with important besuited men sipping at Martinis, all in surroundings more dramatic than, say, Claridge’s. But the real surprise restaurant action is downstairs at Noumi Bar & Grill; here you walk into a different universe from the traditional elegance of the best of the hotel, with a DJ spinning tunes in a booth, open plan kitchen, speakeasy lighting and a funky atmosphere. Food is best described as modern wealthy Asian: poke, tataki, simple grilled steaks. Ingredients are of superb quality and the kitchen’s touch is light but delicate. Very vibey, if rather out of keeping with the rest of the hotel. We could eat there every night.

Find out more: bellevue-palace.ch

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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.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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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Reading time: 3 min
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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Reading time: 6 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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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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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 Val Fex above the hotel…And that’s just the hiking and climbing, most of which begins on a path directly from the hotel’s back door.

Read more: Bittescombe Lodge and Deer Park, Somerset, Review

You can kite-surf and paraglide nearby, or stroll down to the village of Sils and see Nietzche’s house; or stay in the hotel grounds and swim (indoors), play tennis (indoors or outside in the woods), sunbathe amid the trees – or get a cavas and paint.

waldhaus-sils.ch

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX
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A hotel building with a red awning at the entrance and turrets around the roof and a palm tree

The exterior of the Castillo Hotel Son Vida, compete with turret

In the third part of our luxury travel views column from the Autumn/Winter 2022 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Castillo Hotel Son Vida, Mallorca

On any luxury visit to Mallorca to date, you might have expected to spend your time in a villa or hotel deep in the countryside or on a secluded coastline, or amid some of the most delightful and unique experiences in the world.

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As I arrived at Castillo Hotel Son Vida, it became clear that here was a different luxury experience. The hotel, originally a 13th-century castle, is on a hilltop overlooking the bay and city of Palma. Day or night, the views from its huge terraces are mesmerising and, while the hotel is located at the forest edge, with a large outdoor pool, it is only 10 minutes to Palma itself – more of which, later. The arrival is as grand as you might expect in a development of an original estate once owned by one of the great Mallorcan families. The hall leads to a dining room where paintings depict classical scenes.

A dining room with wooden walls and large glass chandeliers over the table

A grand dining space at the hotel

My room was everything you might expect in a grand Mediterranean hotel, only bigger. There are excellent hotels on Mediterranean islands where guests can feel constrained by the size of the building and rooms, dictated by a lack of space in the location. This had more of a French Riviera feel. Open the windows and there is a balcony with a view across the terrace to the city below and the bay and mountains beyond. Dinner on the terrace was sea bass baked in salt crust with local vegetables, with some floral sparkling wine from Catalonia – and that view. Almost as impressive was the breakfast, which focused on Mallorcan flatbreads and local jams.

A large terrace outside a yellow stone building

The huge main terrace, which overlooks the bay

You could spend your visit lazing by the pool, playing golf next door (this is one of the best courses in Spain) and enjoying the tranquillity (the hotel is 16+). But it would be a shame not to take advantage of the unique location and visit Palma itself. I combined a walk around the quite magnificent and recently refurbished cathedral with tapas in the old town and an after-dinner drink in the Santa Catalina area, just as it was getting lively. In revitalising Palma, the authorities are driving a far more upmarket type of tourism than is associated with some of the island’s beach resorts. Palma’s old town is all about gastronomy and sitting on terraces enjoying an Aperol spritz or a glass of Mallorcan
white wine. It felt like discovering Barcelona’s little sister.

Read more: Luxury Travel Views: Four Seasons Napa Valley, California

At evening’s end it’s just 10 minutes by taxi back to Son Vida, where you can decide whether to chill amid medieval surroundings next day, take another excursion into town or visit a beach. That, and the pleasantly high standards offered by this Luxury Collection hotel, make it very much a destination as Mallorca becomes a haven for upscale travellers.

Find out more: marriott.com/pmilc-castillo-hotel-son-vida

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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yacht in turquoise water and green island behind it

yacht in turquoise water and green island behind itAino Grapin is CEO of Winch Design, an international design studio for luxury planes, homes and most famously, yachts. Here, Grapin speaks to Samantha Welsh about the increased focus on sustainability in yacht design and the special requests of next generation yacht owners

1. What was the founding vision for Winch Design 36 years ago?

Drawing inspiration from Andrew’s own passion for sailing and the sea, Winch Design first began in 1986 by focusing its creativity on sailing and motor yachts. With a 36-year heritage in superyacht design, our studio is now creating projects across land, air and sea.

The challenge we set ourselves for each day is to realise the dreams of our clients. Their aspirations are, in themselves extraordinary in their sophistication and scale, inviting a creative response that has to be both unique and full of imagination.

A house which has been lit up inside

2. Deeply embedded at the outset in environmental and social responsibility, how is the company working to meet UN sustainable development goals at studio level?

Andrew had a genuine interest in sustainability very early before it became such a hot topic and has driven that passion into the business. We have created our own ‘Life Worth Living’ plan to care for people and the planet through four key pillars: protecting our air, land and sea, caring for our communities, leading our industries and transforming our business. We have also partnered with the Water Revolution Foundation and signed their Code of Conduct, committing to prioritising sustainability throughout our entire supply chain.

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At studio level, we have a dedicated sustainability specialist whose responsibility it is to research, source and test, not only materials, but suppliers too. They manage a resource matrix of sustainable suppliers that analyses and tracks their methods of sourcing, manufacturing and application of each material to check it meets the correct criteria.

3. Data shows the average age of a boat buyer has decreased by over ten years since the pandemic, what does this new generation want from a luxury fit-out?

We are seeing an increase of younger owners, who are typically more in-tune with the effects of climate change and ocean pollution and are more likely to request or be open to innovative and sustainable yacht design.

In terms of interiors, younger clients do not like the high-gloss and dark wood finishes which are typically associated with traditional yacht interiors. Natural textures and experimental finishes are more popular with younger clients.

a white yacht int he sea

Younger clients are also asking for more informal social spaces, a step away from formal dining and entertainment styles traditionally found. This is showing that guests really want to switch off when they’re at sea. Clients are staying on board longer and require more multi-functional spaces.

Explorer yachts are also gaining popularity with the younger crowd. Clients want to be able to navigate around the globe for extended periods of time in a 7* environment. Their yacht must be able to thrive in any environment, no matter how harsh.

4. At project inception, how do you persuade clients to make sustainable choices?

We make sure to introduce all of our clients to sustainable options right at the start of the process. The choice of sustainable materials becomes a part of the narrative of the project and we educate our clients to understand that sustainable options don’t mean you have to compromise on luxury.

Wooden samples with patterns on them

5. Where are you focusing your design energies?

Alongside sustainability factors and the increased popularity in explorer yachts, we are seeing an increased focus on the use of glass on yachts. Huge expanses of glass are being used, to bring the outside in and allow clients to feel immersed in their surroundings. This yearning for a connection with nature has also led to the increase in more refined, natural interiors, with open grain woods, soft, light furnishings and even living walls of greenery.

Read more: Markus Müller on Nature Economy

We have no set house design style and as a result each project we complete is totally unique. Currently we are working on a variety of projects across our yacht, aviation and architecture studio. These include VIP submarines, the world’s largest twinjet plane and the OWO (Old War Office) penthouse.

a yacht in the sea with an iceberg behind it

6. What do clients most want from their time at sea?

Our clients want time to switch off, enjoy time with their family and friends and explore new destinations in complete privacy.

Find out more: winchdesign.com

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purple and red background with a model with his finger to his lips in a leather outfit wearing glasses and a man wearing a suit in the background also wearing glasses
deck chairs and a pool on a roof terrace looking over the city of Hong Kong

Image courtesy of Rosewood Hong Kong

Adrian Cheng is a leading tastemaker, founder of cultural-retail destination K11 MUSEA, art collector and investor in innovative companies. Here he outlines brands catching his eye for 2023

Jewellery

A wooden jewellery store with products on display

Image courtesy of K11 MUSEA

Brands that bring creativity and self-expression to the mainstream always attract my attention. That is why I find L’ÉCOLE School of Jewelry Arts interesting. Starting in Paris and now expanding into Hong Kong (at K11 MUSEA, above) and Shanghai, their studios provide amazing courses for people wanting to learn and create jewellery in all forms.
lecolevancleefarpels.com

Fashion

A black and white photo of a model on a catwalk wearing a black vest and large angled trousers

Image courtesy of Keystone Press/Alamy

Like many others, I’m watching Schiaparelli (above, in 1978), to see what happens next. Having met creative director Daniel Roseberry and hearing about his love of savoir-faire and mixing old and new, I’m really excited to see how he continues to evolve the brand. I have a feeling there are many exciting things to come.
schiaparelli.com

A man wearing purple shorts, hat, vest and shirt on a dark runway

Image courtesy of Reuters/Alamy/Benoit Tessier

AMI Paris is a brand to keep an eye on as it rapidly expands. I love its mix of casual and chic – it’s so great for everyday wear. The brand has a mission to make luxury fashion accessible and that really resonates with me, too. I’ve also been very impressed with its collaborations with Moncler and Eastpak.
amiparis.com

Retail

Whiskey on a shelf by a window overlooking the sea

Image courtesy of Stephen Grant/Alamy Stock Photo

I’m a huge fan of Arbikie’s whisky (above), which is grown, distilled and bottled on a Scottish family farm with a 400-year history. The distillery is fairly new, and it is making waves because of its ‘field-to-bottle’ approach. Sustainability is very important to me. Plus, the flavour is second to none.
arbikie.com

purple and red background with a model with his finger to his lips in a leather outfit wearing glasses and a man wearing a suit in the background also wearing glasses

Image courtesy of Keystone Press/Alamy

I’m always on the lookout for what’s hot in the tech industry. I’ve been really impressed with the London start-up VITURE. The brand’s VITURE One are XR smart glasses with a virtual screen so you can discreetly stream and game while wearing. They are super lightweight (and look just like classic sunglasses, which I like). I am a sucker for anything that combines fashion with technology.
viture.com

An entrance with white stone and trees

Image courtesy of AJL Photography Ltd/Rosewood Phuket

Asaya Wellness is a concept by Rosewood Hotels that the group is expanding across its properties, including Hong Kong. It combines therapies, meals and experiences to support physical and mental wellbeing. I may be biased, as Rosewood is family-run, but its Chi Nei Tsang treatment in Phuket, Thailand is mind-blowing.
rosewoodhotels.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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people in a shopping centre in Milan
people in a shopping centre in Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II mall in Milan: The city has long been a magnet for the world’s wealthy

LUX speaks with Alan Hooks, Managing Director, Head of Private Clients UK at Julius Baer, about the Swiss private bank’s 2022 report on the changing consumption and spending habits of the wealthy around the world
A man in a navy suit, red tie and white shirt

Alan Hooks

LUX: Are we seeing a generational change in the way high net worths (HNIs) and ultra high net worths (UHNIs) spend and invest, taking into account sustainability considerations?
Alan Hooks: Certainly we have seen that shift in approach from a next generation perspective, and that’s where the acceleration of these conversations are coming from. So when you talk about investment habits, the majority of those conversations are held with the future custodians of the wealth of the family, so we are seeing that manifesting itself quite considerably in those conversations.

When it comes to consumption habits, the report also shows that high net worths, and ultra high net worths are typically early adopters of new technology, new product design, that will have a positive impact on the environment. With that advocacy comes some responsibility because typically that early adoption will mean others will start to follow. I think that’s an important trend to observe, and we’ve seen that come out of our Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report over the last few years.

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If you look at the shifting patterns of consumer spending, you’ll see a move from possessions to experience. In particular, that can be seen from the report in terms spending on health, and travel and leisure have been quite significant in the in previous years. During the pandemic were not able to freely travel as much as they would have done, but now it’s over, that is strong. We are certainly seeing from a London perspective the leisure and tourism sector is an area where discretionary spend is high.

A restaurant with brown leather chairs

Heston Blumenthal’s restauarnt The Fat Duck, outside London. High net worth individuals are spending more on experiences according to the report

LUX: You rank various cities in the world in terms of their cost and desirability. Any place stand out of particular interest?
AH: What’s great about the report is that we highlight cities around the world where there is still great opportunity, Sao Paulo for example, has a significant population, high degree of a younger (wealthy) demographic signifying great opportunity.

LUX: What other elements are important for HNIs and UHNIs?
AH: What recent months have shown us is the focus on security and safety and countries and cities that can offer that level of security and stability, are important. In this demographic that becomes important as a factor in terms of where people are basing themselves or may be relocating. Other considerations such as lifestyle, education and so on are also important. The cosmopolitan nature of cities around the world, certainly for international families, is important.

An iceberg in the sea with people looking at it from a speed boat

Expensive but exclusive adventure experiences like Sven Lindblad Expeditions gives guests the opportunity to see sites like this iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland

LUX: Crystal ball gazing, what do you expect to see in next year’s report?
AH: I think I would expect to see trends continuing in terms of continued focus around health and well-being. I would be interested to see whether the challenges that we’ve observed in the 2022 report will remain in the future, or whether that starts to settle. For example, if we look at some of the findings on London in leisure, we see a significant demand for leisure, tourism, hotels and restaurants. We are also hearing from hoteliers and restauranteurs about the challenge around finding staff.

Read more: Chef Heston Blumenthal: The Culinary Resurrector

It will be interesting to see and hear from respondents over the next 12 months whether this trend is continuing and how things are faring as a result of things settling down after the pandemic. It will also be interesting to observe the levels of creativity we find from businesses in product design and in servicing high net worth and ultra-high net worths. What we have learned in the pandemic is that typically there has been innovation and creativity in these areas.

Find out more: juliusbaer.com

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a swimming pool by the sea surrounded by grass and trees
a swimming pool by the sea surrounded by grass and trees

The InterContinental’s pool area

Cascais, on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, has a fabulous summer climate, culture, history, cuisine, convenience – and a bijou hotel to enjoy it all from, as LUX discovers

“You have to go to Cascais – it’s the light, and the atmosphere but really the light” says Tony, the legendary manager of the staff cafe at Vogue House, Condé Nast‘s London headquarters, and as Portuguese as salt cod.

Tony and I have had this conversation numerous times over the years. When I got my own office and PA, meaning I didn’t visit his Hatch canteen any more, we would talk on the stairs or before I hosted a client in the Vogue House boardroom, as he organised snacks.

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I was intrigued not only because Tony was a local, but because he was particularly passionate about a place that is not really on the international radar. People speak of the coast south of Lisbon, or up towards Porto, but Cascais (pronounced Cash-kise), on a map, looked intriguing. It’s only 20km or so from the Portuguese capital, but past the mouth of the Tagus river and on a stretch of coast that angles sharply around into the Atlantic. It is a historic resort town and only a few kilometres from Sintra, the hilltop town that is a destination for tourists from all over the world.

A bedroom with a grey throw and cushions

A deluxe room

Cascais being a weekend resort for the well-to-do of Lisbon, is not teeming with luxury hotels, with the exception of one: the InterContinental. This is a chain that may be more familiar to business travellers, but, as I walked into its lobby, it was plain to see that this property is aimed at a whole different world.

“The light,” I said to nobody in particular, inadvertently echoing Tony’s words. The floor- to-ceiling windows on the other side of the lobby opened out into a world of light: the green of the grass around the pool, a couple of floors below, a deep blue sea, a light blue sky that, it would transpire, turned into a kaleidoscope as the sun made its way from above the coast of southern Portugal, in the distance ahead, to set over the Atlantic, to the right. There must be some psychology involved here, on the western edge of Europe, but the light was different from the Mediterranean – less hard, more watery, somehow. Maybe it was the waves: rolling, louder, more insistent than those on the quasi-landlocked Med.

A restaurant by the sea with parasols

Furnas do Guincho

Maybe it was all auto-suggestion but there was nothing illusory about the pool. It sits on an island of grass and trees, above the main pedestrian promenade linking Cascais with the old resort town of Estoril. To the right was a cute little bar area – a bar, a few tables, a lawn, some flowers and trees – where we retreated on arrival, and found ourselves greeted by vast gin and tonics in stemmed bowl glasses, flavoured with a local herb that tasted halfway between basil and mint. It felt like drinking the view.

The rooms were the next surprise, and in the best possible way. There is no generic corporate style here: instead, large, high- ceilinged, contemporary-touch bedrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows onto big balconies. The blue fabric wall behind the bed matched the sea; elsewhere the room was light greys, taupes, bronzes and swathes of blue. The effect was utterly relaxing: we enjoyed the balance of comfort (top quality beds, excellent functionality) with design flair, individuality and the sense of being in a particular place. And with the balconies looking out over the pool, promenade and sea, it was very peaceful. There was, we noticed on the second day, a little local train line beneath the pool area and by the promenade: it gave a sense of character, rather than detracting from the experience.

prawns in a blue bowl

The hotel’s fried Mozambique. prawns à ǵuilho

You could lie by the pool all day, loungers on grass, and sip basil-mint gin and tonics. One observation we made, when visiting in mid-summer, while the sky was clear and blue with uninterrupted sun every day: it was notably less scorching than on any Mediterranean coast. Daytime temperatures were about 28C (82F), maybe 10ºC cooler than the average temperature in August in Turkey, Greece or Sardinia.

This means you have more energy, and no need to retreat inside for air-conditioning (itself
part of the vicious circle of global warming), which meant we descended the private staircase to the promenade and walked to Cascais’s old town, a kilometre or so along the seafront, every day. It’s a bijou place, with small café and restaurant terraces, a little beach, and a warren of backstreets housing craft shops and speciality dining, from sushi to local seafood.

A town with white buildings by the sea and a pier

Cascais old town

Beyond the town centre, a taxi ride away, is the most spectacular restaurant in Portugal, Furnas do Guincho. Its huge terrace seems to hover over the rocks at the point where the coast turns northwards and the Atlantic hurls its full force at Europe – not a place to swim in the sea, but a memorable place to sample a mixed-grilled shellfish platter or specialities (all caught the same day), such as red snapper or grouper.

The restaurant at the InterContinental was less dramatic, but even more pleasing to sit in, for the sense of serenity. On a higher floor than our room, the small private terrace looked out to a sweeping view from the outskirts of Lisbon, along the coast, to the left, to the ocean beyond Cascais’s colourful roofs, to the right. The décor consisted of light-yet-opulent blues, greens and bronzes – everything open to the light. Equally refreshing was the food: grilled, locally caught sea bream with a hint of lemon and thyme.

Read more: Luxury Travel Views: Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

Step outside the lobby, at the front of the hotel, and you’re on a busy main road, which you wouldn’t think existed from the other side (that’s clever architecture for you). It was convenient, though, for trips to the hilltop palace-collection at Sintra, and to the Lisbon Oceanarium, Europe’s largest indoor aquarium. And for getting to the hotel in the first place: the InterContinental is a 30-minute taxi ride from Lisbon’s international airport. It’s rare to find a luxury resort-hotel in Southern Europe so close to a major transport hub, meaning it beckons as a weekend break as well as a summer holiday destination. I had better let Tony know: he was right.

Written by Darius Sanai

Find out more: estorilintercontinental.com

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A double staircase looking over at a terrace
A double staircase looking over at a terrace

The leafy terrace at Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid

In the first part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring 2022 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid

“A little bit more, Sir?” A bartender is holding up a bottle of artisanal gin, having already emptied what seemed like a half-gallon of it into a bowl-shaped glass, filled with ice, slices of limon (a kind of lemon-lime cross) and juniper berries. I look up at the trees, the expanse of the square behind them, the outline of the grand Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum beyond, and the moon above, and think: yes, why not. I have arrived.

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If the arrival is a key part of any hotel experience, the post-arrival at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid, was pretty important, too. I had left my bags to be taken to my room as I wanted to catch the last embers of daylight from the bar’s terrace, which sits above the garden restaurant, itself almost contiguous with the trees of Retiro Park. You are in the centre of one of Europe’s most vibrant and dusty metropolises, but surrounded by nature (and, in my case, soon immersed in a very good small-producer gin).

round bedroom with a sky painted on the ceiling

The hotel’s royal suite

Neither of Europe’s other two grand Ritz hotels, in London or Paris (the three were born siblings, created by César Ritz to redefine the grandeur of hotels at the start of the 20th century, but are now owned and operated separately), offer such an outdoor experience, or indeed such a refreshing one. I am not speaking of the gin here, but of the decor: Mandarin Oriental’s magic wand over the previously grandiose but fusty Ritz Madrid has created lavishness with a certain elegance and contemporary class.

It’s a perennial question: what to do with a grande dame hotel – in this case, one of the grande dame hotels – to bring it into line with what a new generation of traveller expects, while not destroying its soul. I have seen hotels with decorative ceilings ripped out, with hip bar designers imposing darkness where there was once light, and with questionable contemporary art replacing dusty but meticulous classics.

A white corner of a building with trees and a garden in front of it

The hotel’s Belle Époque façade

Fortunately the Ritz does not fall into these traps. Our Mandarin suite combined fresh but classic colours – pale walls, pale gold furnishings – with hints of MO style, such as black lacquer detailing. The service was up to date, effortless and effective without being stiff: just the right balance to cater for a wide variety of traveller.

Read more: Chef Ángel León: Ocean Sustainability Supremo

And the food in the Jardin (Garden) restaurant was also spot on: kimchi chicken skewer, Thai sea bass ceviche, grilled sole with artichokes. You can delve into the paella menu, as many others were doing. The hotel may claim it has updated its Belle Époque origins to work in the luxury travel world 110 years after it opened (I don’t know, I didn’t check, but it’s the kind of thing a hotel would say) and in this case, they would be absolutely right.

Find out more: mandarinoriental.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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art exhibition installation
riverview at night

Walking back after dinner. Image by Darius Sanai

Paris, the eternal city, never changes. Or perhaps it does. After a two-year hiatus, Darius Sanai notices some interesting happenings during a week of meetings with luxury CEOs, art dealers and creatives

Meeting an old friend for the first time in two years, I wonder if she will have aged and find her instead fizzing with renewed life.

The friend is Paris. I am here for the first time since just before the pandemic hit Europe. “Since Brexit, people are coming here instead of London because it’s easier to get a job,” says Kai, a graphic designer I bump into at a gallery opening. Estonian, she moved to the vibey/slightly scary 19th arrondissement from Dalston, in London, in September.

That doesn’t mean that Paris hasn’t suffered from city flight, like London, New York and most other metropolises. Prices of apartments in the centre of Paris are down 2.5% year on year. The sellers are not like Kai. They are wealthy and middle aged. Maybe an exchange of the wealthy bourgeoisie for edgy graphic designers in their 20s is the reason for the vivacity. Property prices in the dodgy/cool 19th are up 3.8%, from a much lower base.

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To dinner on the Left Bank with Francois Pinault’s CEO of Artemis Domaines wine estate group. Frédéric Engerer has Château Latour, the celebrated Eisele and Clos du Tart estates in Napa and Burgundy respectively, and several others, under his thumb. I get the feeling from Frédéric that these may not be the last: luxury goods titan Pinault is buying great wine estates like he once snapped up Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Saint Laurent.

At Les Climats, the Parisian restaurant with “the best wine list in the world”, according to numerous magazines, the sommelier at first doesn’t recognise Frédéric, who is arguably the most powerful man in French wine. This could have been embarrassing but Frédéric is understated, leafing through the list as anyone would. The penny drops. “Ah…sorry, I didn’t realise who…” stammers the sommelier. It’s fine.

We do a side-by-side blind tasting of his own Clos d’Eugenie against another excellent Burgundy. Frédéric and I both manage to identify both wines correctly, simple for him, and a 50/50 for me. Having had a bottle of champagne and two bottles of Burgundy on a Tuesday night, with meetings all day Wednesday, we decline the suggestion of a dessert wine.

luxury bedroom

Our suite at the Hotel Costes Castiglione. Image by Darius Sanai

Back at Hotel Costes, I am walking slightly unsteadily towards the lift in the arresting, Christian Liaigre-designed lobby of the new Castiglione wing, when I am greeted by someone walking out of the bar. After establishing I am who he thinks I am (two years absence and a compulsory face mask have that effect), Jean-Louis Costes invites me for a drink in his bar.

Over a late-night glass of Badoit, the man who first created a new vibe for Paris with the Hotel Costes in 1995 tells me his plans to expand the Costes even more. A boutique is becoming a palace. It’s also turning into my kind of place: I found the Jacques Garcia-designed original Costes a bit self-conscious, or perhaps it’s the people I met there over the years. The Castiglione, with its high ceilings, visual drama and flair, is Paris showing Dubai, London, New York and anywhere with pretensions of grandeur, how contemporary luxury style is done. If Marie Antoinette were alive and holding court in 2022, she would do it here. I reflect on how the most talked-about hotel in France among the social and media (and social media) sets is owned and run by a man who doesn’t do interviews (the profiles I did with him for LUX and Condé Nast Traveller in 2021 were the first he has ever done for the international press) and isn’t on social media.

Read more: Why you should get your new car ceramic coated

The next morning, I walk downstairs as Jean-Louis walks into the lobby. He offers me on a hard hat tour of the new spa and swimming pool, under construction beneath the hotel, and the next wing, to be a loft-style chill out zone, opening later this year. I promise to say nothing about them until the time. Only, the pool is very big and will be special. “I don’t want to build something for three people doing lengths,” he says. Jean-Louis reminds me of Nick Jones, founder of Soho House. He looks at the same space everyone else looks at, and sees an idea for something nobody else can see.

photoshoot in paris

Bird’s eye view of Angie Kremer’s photoshoot for the next issue of LUX. Image by Darius Sanai

I walk to Montparnasse, to the Photo House studio where Angie Kremer, a happening young photographer and videographer, is doing a shoot for the next issue of LUX on young creatives in Paris. Gen Z Parisians entering the workforce seem far more open to culture and ideas from the rest of the world – and outside the Peripherique – than the previous generation of twenty somethings. A positive impact of social media.

Vanessa Guo & Jean-Mathieu Martini. Courtesy Galerie Marguo

Vanessa Guo and Jean-Mathieu Martini are not Gen Z. They are globally connected millennials on a mission. Vanessa, former director of Hauser & Wirth in Hong Kong, moved to Paris and opened Galerie Marguo in October 2020. The gallery is in in a former government building in the Marais and looks out onto a newly rebuilt courtyard – the Square Arnaud Beltrame – where public art and outdoor private views take place next to a kids’ playground. (No Takashi Murakami works here.)

Vanessa says a new generation of collectors is interested in collecting a new generation of artists. Back to Brexit: with taxes and paperwork on art in and out of the UK, Paris is vying to take over London’s preeminent role in the European art world. The collectors are coming here too, she says. So long a museum of culture and brands managed carefully by a closed elite, Paris is opening out. The imminent arrival of Art Basel, displacing the more local FIAC from its seat at the Grand Palais, will change things even more.

art exhibition installation

Installation view of “Ziping Wang: Obsession Indifference and Onionskin” at Galerie Marguo, Paris

Amin Jaffer, collector and curator of the sublime, is out of town this week so I can’t take him up on his invitation for tea at his beautiful home, where his art collection is so beguilingly put together that I never want to leave. Instead, he organises for me to have a tour of the new Al Thani collection, which he curated, at the (also) new Hôtel de la Marine. The building is on Place de la Concorde, directly in the centre of the north side. The collection is a sliver of the art from Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and surrounding regions, collected by Qatar’s ruling family over the last decades. It is presented delicately, clearly, warmly, with excellent descriptions that are both clear and authoritative. And have no “side”. Curators of far lesser intellectual worth writing dreadful, biased descriptions in some of the leading institutions of the Anglo-Saxon world should take note and learn from the Qataris, and Amin. I make a note to ask him to give me a personal tour next time.

Read more: Richard Curtis on the Power of Pensions

At meetings at Kering‘s HQ, at a former military hospital on Rue de Sèvres, I reflect that Francois-Henri Pinault’s sustainability strategy and introduction of environmental P&Ls for his brands felt revolutionary and a bit weird when I first spoke about them ten years ago. Now, it feels normal, the least you can do. Meanwhile the metaverse feels revolutionary and a bit weird now.

contemporary art sculpture

A sculpture at the Al Thani Collection. Photo by Darius Sanai

A final lunch with the LUX team and Angie Kremer at Château Voltaire. This new mini five-star hotel with 1970s themes is where Kanye West stayed for the last fashion week. I have tuna tataki with ponzu and frisée salad. Angie points out that frisée can misbehave when covered with dressing and goes for haricots verts. We plan a little party and exhibition for her shoot after the next issue is out.

Time to catch the Eurostar, where the security still doesn’t provide trays, so your Balenciaga coat sits on the conveyor and your Fragonard perfume bottle gets chewed up between the ramps.

At the Eurostar arrivals area of London St Pancras, the huge Dent clock above the Tracey Emin neon has stopped. It’s an easy omen for a writer. London hasn’t stopped, but in Paris, something has restarted.

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luxury hotel
luxury hotel

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

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

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

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

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

spa swimming pool

The pool overlooks the champagne vineyards of Épernay

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

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

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

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

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

luxury hotel bedroom

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

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

Book your stay: royalchampagne.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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hotel on a harbour
hotel on a harbour

The Idle Rocks boutique hotel sits on the edge of St Mawes harbour in Cornwall

Located on the harbour’s edge of Cornish fishing village St Mawes, The Idle Rocks is a coastal-meets-contemporary hotel and locavore hotspot. Ella Johnson checks-in for a weekend of fine dining and relaxation

At 19 rooms, The Idle Rocks is an intimate hotel. Mementos of the owning family, which bought the hotel in 2013, are dotted about the place: photographs and well-read books populate the shelves; a pair of child’s red ballet pumps, un-pristine, sit poised beneath a bell jar. Soft furnishings are in exuberant and mismatched fabrics. The wall art – all by the same local artist – offers colourful, child-like iterations of the surrounding landscape. Signature scented candles and a log fire burn all day and night; shell-shaped light fixtures bathe the communal spaces in glow. Yet there is no music or forced ambience here: only the sound of the sea just outside the window.

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The Idle Rocks is located on the harbour’s edge of St Mawes, a small fishing village on the Roseland Peninsula. Described by The Times in the 1940s as ‘a kind of British edition of St. Tropez’, a mild climate means that St Mawes is attractive year-round, and some prefer coming here away from the hectic summer months when crowds of ‘staycationers’ from across the UK fill the county’s narrow lanes and surfing beaches.

luxury hotel bedroom

One of the hotel’s grand seaview rooms

You can hear the waves wherever you happen to find yourself in the hotel: bath, breakfast, bed, or otherwise. We took the corner room with the two Juliet balconies overlooking the harbour and slept with the doors open for maximum effect (the complimentary night-time hot water bottle meant there was no risk of getting cold). In the daytime, the room is light-filled; Breton-striped curtains, raffia rugs and a travel trunk nod to the nautical while letting the view do the talking.

Head to the fireside when it is time for aperitifs and plan a culinary trip around the peninsula. Of chef Dorian Janmaat’s seven-course seasonal tasting menu, our favourite course was the venison loin with celeriac, cavolo nero, and blackberries, washed down with a glass of Black Ram Cornish red from the local Trevibban Mill Vineyard.

Read more: Designer Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar on the future of luxury events

Seafood lovers will also enjoy the lemon sole with braised salsify, cep, Cornish caviar and verjus, or the Cornish monkfish with roasted chicory. (We tried both: with the water’s edge just metres away, it would have been rude not to).

hotel lounge

The lounge area with colourful artworks by local artists

If you book out the whole hotel for exclusive use, you get the keys to the Idle Rocks-branded Land Rover thrown in. Take it out for a day of shooting or beach walking with friends, stopping off at noon at the Hidden Hut in Portscatho to warm your bones with a bowl of fish chowder on the beach.

When we returned to the hotel, we booked in for a massage in the hotel’s treatment room. While the Aromatherapy elixirs were a tonic after a day braving the Cornish elements, none was so therapeutic as lazing about in our own private cinema afterwards. The Secret Cinema is located at The Idle Rocks’ sister establishment, the St Mawes Hotel, just across the road, and is a good alternative for those looking for something a little more laid-back.

Rates: From £230 incl. breakfast (approx. €250/ $300)

Book your stay: idlerocks.com

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boat in antarctica
boat in antarctica

Lindblad Expeditions travellers explore Booth Island, Antarctica

Sven-Olof Lindblad is an influential Ocean Elder whose work combines marine conservation, education and eco-tourism. He speaks to Sophie Marie Atkinson

In late January 1966, 57 travellers arrived at Smith and Melchior Islands on the Antarctic Peninsula aboard a chartered Argentine navy ship. Pioneer Lars-Eric Lindblad was the man behind this voyage, one which had previously only ever been undertaken by professional explorers and scientists. This event marked the beginning of commercial travel to parts of the world that, until then, most could have only dreamt of visiting, as well as the birth of a whole new industry.

Exploration, discovery and an innate desire to immerse oneself in nature clearly run in the Lindblad blood. Lars-Eric’s son, Sven-Olof, spent part of his life in east Africa, where he photographed elephants and wildlife and assisted filmmakers on a documentary about the destruction of rainforests. This experience, coupled with the many trips he joined his father on, ignited a passion that lives with him today.

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By 1979, Sven-Olof had founded Special Expeditions (now Lindblad Expeditions), an innovative travel company that today offers oceanic expeditions aboard small ships. Like his late father (who died in 1994), Sven-Olof’s mission is to enable people to explore hidden corners of the world. Destinations include the coast of Alaska, Baja California, Patagonia, Russia, and even the islands around Scotland. But visiting these regions is only a fraction of the company’s story.

Lindblad Expeditions seeks to take what we currently call ‘sustainable travel’ a step further. “Sustainable travel basically means that you can just continue what you’re doing without causing a negative impact, so essentially ‘do no harm’,” Sven-Olof explains. “I think what we need to do is figure out how to use our energy and our imagination to think more in restorative rather than just sustainable terms. We’ve done so much damage to our environment that we need to shift gears fast.”

man standing on the sea shore

Sven-Olof Lindblad on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic, 2014

This is why planetary stewardship and meaningful change are at the heart of the Lindblad Expeditions offerings. They are facilitated in a number of ways. Firstly, the company is carbon-neutral, offsetting all its operations and making it easy for travellers to do the same with their flights. The ships are entirely free of single-use plastic, and all food provided on board is responsibly sourced.

The company has formed a partnership establishing the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund, with donations often coming from inspired passengers, with each of the 15 ships raising finance for different programmes. “We have a hugely successful project called Pristine Seas,” explains Sven-Olof, “the objective of which is to create large marine protected areas. We raise a minimum of $500,000 a year for that programme, often up to $800,000.

Read more: How Science is Harnessing the Power of the Sea

“In the Galápagos, we put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a local school that we believe will educate the future leaders of the islands.” They also help local fisheries implement better technology for their work.

Motivating people to care is another piece of the Lindblad puzzle. “One of the things I love about having this fund is its action, which we often see in the most surprising ways,” he says. “One individual had travelled with us at first to Alaska then to Baja California and then to the Galápagos. He called me one day and said, ‘I’m a trustee of The Helmsley Trust and I’m fascinated with what you do.’ Over a number of years, he became the trust’s most significant conservation investor. He was pumping $9 million a year into the Galápagos and about $6 million into Baja. He had never thought about this field before and these trips just opened his eyes.”

Sven-Olof doesn’t see any of his efforts as philanthropic. “I’ve made a point, in relation to our industry, never to use the word ‘philanthropy’,” he says. “If we gave $100,000 to the children’s hospital in New York, I would view that as philanthropy, but when it comes to anything related to travel, I view it as investment. At the end of the day, natural resources, cultural resources, historic resources – these are what the travel industry depends upon. So why wouldn’t we naturally want to invest in the maintenance of these, our core assets?”

On top of these myriad achievements and endeavours, Sven-Olof is one of 23 global leaders – including Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques) and James Cameron – who use their power and influence to protect our marine worlds. These are Ocean Elders. Sven-Olof explains that their primary purpose is to try to sway political decisions, or lobby governments or certain businesses. “There are a lot of scientific resources behind Ocean Elders owing to the fact that members include the likes of Richard Branson, which means we can produce weapons that we can put on desks of prime ministers, weapons signed by all of these people.”

It would appear that Sven-Olof Lindblad, with a fleet of 15 ships and the backing of some heavyweight peers, is more than armed and ready for the war against the destruction of our precious oceans. His role at the helm of eco-travel looks set to continue.

Find out more: world.expeditions.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter Issue.

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beachfront hotel
beachfront hotel

© Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer

In the second part of our luxury travel views column from the Autumn 2021 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai discovers a new side to Monaco at the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel

Just getting to the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel puts you in the mood. Unlike some of the grand hotels of the principality, the Beach is what it says it is. We drove past the entrance to a huge outdoor swimming pool and waterfront water-sports complex, and then down a narrow driveway to the entrance of this pink stone mini-Palace.

The vibe is deliberately casual, boutique glamour rather than formality. A low-key reception area, then up to the room with a balcony overlooking the terrace, swimming pool and sea, looking back out at Monaco in the mountains above. It was only from here (or from the yacht) that you recognise the vertiginous nature of the place: Monaco is built basically at the bottom of the cliff face, the land rising relentlessly upwards to become the Alps.

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It’s a few steps from the front entrance to the swimming pool and beach area. The pool is huge, and you have the choice of sunning yourself there, in a cabana or on the pier – when we were there, this seemed a little too adventurous as it was being washed by some rather lively waves.

beach restaurant

The Monte-Carlo Beach’s La Vigie Lounge and Restaurant. © Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer

We had a pleasant aperitif on the seafront terrace and were then whisked off to Yannick Alléno at the Hôtel Hermitage in town for dinner. A new addition to the Monaco dining scene, this restaurant is overseen by superchef Alléno and occupies a crescent-shaped, sea-facing terrace amid the grandeur of the Hôtel Hermitage. It is a quite spectacular gastronomic experience: Alléno was inspired by the years he spent in Japan, and the precision, focus, perfection and lightness of the cuisine – without being in any way ‘nouvelle’ and shrunken – is mind-blowing. The best new restaurant of 2021?

Breakfast and lunch the next day were both taken at the hotel, by the sea at the beach – it is the one place in Monaco where you feel you are away from the admittedly glamorous hustle of the town. The lunch terrace restaurant, Elsa, is noted for being the first 100 per cent organic restaurant to receive a Michelin star; wild-caught fish play a starring role here and my local white fish, in a vegetable broth, was just what was required ahead of an afternoon’s swimming in the pool, accompanied by a reviving glass or two of Deutz.

Book your stay: montecarlosbm.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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luxurious outdoor swimming pool
luxurious outdoor swimming pool

The Club Dauphin pool at the Grand-Hotel

In the first of our four part luxury travel views column from our Autumn 2021 issue, LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai experiences a taste of old world glamour at Four Seasons Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat

Cicadas trilling down a long avenue lined with high walls, behind which some of the world’s most expensive real estate lurks. Glimpses of the Mediterranean through the hedges. A security-guarded gateway, a short driveway and doormen opening doors on either side at the entrance to a Belle Époque mansion.

Arrival at the Four Seasons Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat could barely be more grand. You are in an unchanged south of France of 1920s flapper legend. Not here the camper vans, beach-going day-trippers and crowds of normal people that besmirch even the swankiest Monaco boulevard. Cap Ferrat is a place where the rich can be rich, and the Grand is the sea-facing jewel at its tip. High ceilings, light marble, big windows: first impressions are of a Parisian palace hotel transplanted and reworked to suit the setting, rather than anything like a resort. But wait, that comes later.

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Our room was light, a bedroom connecting through sliding doors to a living area with a taupe sofa, white and light grey colourways everywhere. Open the window (there was no balcony) and lavender and thyme and the sound of the cicadas pour in in one sensual flow.

luxurious hotel facade

The gardens and Le Cap. Image by Darius Sanai

Down through the palatial lobby, out of the door at the top of the staircase at the back of the building (or is at the front?), and down towards the gardens, it’s as if you are descending through layers of formality into total chillout.

Read more: Art Basel Miami Beach is Back and it’s Buzzing

The terrace of Le Cap restaurant is on the first layer of terrace, shaded by mature trees. Next layer down is a casual dining terrace and the bar where a rather good jazz band played under the canopy of the trees every evening. Carry on walking across the big lawn of the hotel and you can take various paths into a labyrinth of flower beds and trees – quite an indulgence in the place with the highest residential real estate price in the world. The gardens are on a gentle slope down towards the sea, and at night the combination of starlight, the bouquet from the plants and the sound of the jazz is intoxicating, even without a champagne cocktail.

luxurious entrance hall

The entrance hall

Directly across a little road from outside the back gate at the bottom of the garden is the entrance to Club Dauphin, the hotel’s beach club (local people can also join as members). You can take a funicular down the steep hillside that descends towards the sea, or walk down along the flower-lined path. You’re then presented with the club restaurant and swimming pool, at the very tip of the Cap. It seems that there is sea for 270 degrees around you, and what isn’t sea is either swimming pool, or a terrace where very expensive people are nibbling tiny amounts of vibrant food and being served out of magnums of Provençal rosé wine.

Here, the palace hotel you are staying in feels a long way away, and you have reached the pinnacle of informal chic as epitomised by somewhere like St Bart’s – or indeed, the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat.

Lunch at Club Dauphin and dinner at Le Cap seems to be standard practice at the Grand – preceded in our case by an aperitif next to the jazz band, our bench seat offering a gorgeous view across the lawns and trees to the sea. The food is a kind of ultra-superior Provençal: razor clams and cockles with seaweed and fennel bavaroise; grilled asparagus in thyme jelly; and a particular favourite, grilled red mullet with olive tapenade, tomato hearts and basil, fish and tomato reduction. The only thing that was missing was David Niven chatting to Audrey Hepburn at the next table.

Book your stay: fourseasons.com/capferrat

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue. 

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A building
A building

The OWO by Raffles, Whitehall, London

man wearing a suit

Jeff Tisdall

The Old War Office was the centre of operations for the UK war effort. Three quarters of a century later, The OWO has once again become a focal point, but this time as one of the leading hotels and branded residences in Central London. Ahead of the hotel’s opening next year, Samantha Welsh speaks to Jeff Tisdall, Senior Vice President of Development, Residential & Extended Stays at Accor, about Raffles’ first London-based project

1. How significant is Raffles’ arrival in the UK and London?

It is difficult to underestimate the importance of Raffles’ arrival in London. Really, there is an argument that this is the most important milestone in the evolution of the brand since the opening of Raffles Singapore back in 1887. Raffles Singapore takes its name from the British statesperson Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of the modern city-state. It has been setting the standard for luxury hospitality for more than 130 years, introducing the world to the concept of private butlers. There is something very fitting and meaningful about bringing the brand back to the UK as part of this extraordinary development.

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2. Why does The OWO standout in the London super prime market?

The OWO has really set itself apart in London’s resilient, super prime residential market. Over the last decade, branded residences have really come into their own and often dominate the very highest end of leading property markets around the globe. In this market context, The OWO Residences stands out as a one-of-kind opportunity. The dedicated Raffles team will deliver an unmatched service offering. We spent a lot of time during an extensive planning phase, curating the offering and designing an unrivalled set of private facilities that are exclusive to residents.Without question, this will be an extraordinary address to call home.

dining room

The dining room at The OWO. Image courtesy of Grain London

3. Have you seen as much branded residential development in London as has been observed in other super prime markets?

I think it is fair to say opportunities to develop luxury branded residences have been more constrained in markets like London, where we see greater reliance on historical conversions. The integration of the hotel and residences at The OWO ensures an array of services will be available to residents, with an internal courtyard that provides the residences with some physical separation from the hotel. It is this perfect balance between service on one hand, and privacy, exclusivity and security on the other, that is often so elusive, and perfectly achieved at The OWO.

Read more: Pioneering Artist Michael Craig Martin on Colour & Style

4. How does The OWO compare in scale to other Raffles residences?

Each Raffles Residence project forms part of a global portfolio of extraordinary private homes – all meticulously designed, luxuriously appointed, and of course infused by Raffles legendary passion for service. Yet, each project is entirely unique.

In terms of scale at The OWO, our partner, the Hinduja Group, has taken the private amenities available to a new level of luxury. Residence owners will have access to an extremely generous 30,000 square feet of exclusive residential facilities. Of course, The OWO will also be a culinary destination, featuring nine restaurants and bars.

a bedroom with white sofas

Principal bedroom at The OWO. Image courtesy of Grain London

5. Why have branded residences become so appealing post pandemics?

For many, the pandemic has served to help bring what is important in life back into clearer focus. The fact that for purchasers at The OWO, their homes will be serviced by Raffles, a brand with experience and trust accumulated over more than 130 years, brings tremendous peace of mind. Today’s UHNW buyer is also looking for authentic, meaningful luxury. From a service perspective, we focus on what we describe as emotional luxury. How we make a resident feel is every bit as important as the services we deliver. From a dedicated concierge team to fitness and wellness attendants, dog walking and sommelier services, private chefs and legendary Raffles Butler services, there really is no detail overlooked.

6. What benefits do residents of The OWO receive?

The Residence Director leads a dedicated residential team of 25-30 people. This team is focussed solely on The OWO residents. In-residence dining, catering for private events, spa treatments and housekeeping are just a few of the optional a la carte services that can be arranged. Homeowners will also be embraced as VVIPs at Raffles London, enjoying priority reservation privileges at dining venues and preferred pricing. The effect is to create a sense of belonging, recognition, and privilege. Additionally, through the Raffles Owner’s Club, this preferred status is extended beyond The OWO to 5000+ participating hotels and resorts worldwide, and more than 40 brand portfolios.

Find out more: theowo.london

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Glacier landscape
Glacier landscape

Melting glaciers will contribute to dramatic sea-level rises. Pictured: the Gornergletcher and Monte Rosa, Switzerland.

man in front of book case

Professor Peter Newell

Academic Peter Newell made waves in the global media recently with a report describing how the wealthy have a disproportionate effect on climate change, and a duty to change their travel, business and leisure habits. As COP26 kicks off in Glasgow, he speaks to LUX about how moral duties increase with net worth

LUX: How do you define ‘unnecessary travel’?
Peter Newell: It is not for us as individuals to work out what counts as unnecessary travel: governments, cities and businesses can send clear signals about which travel is critical and which is largely unnecessary. Wealthy employers can set sustainable travel policies for their companies. But all of us can also exercise responsible self-restraint. Addressing poverty and social inequality means that carbon will inevitably and justifiably increase for some people, especially, but not exclusively, in the Global South.

To still live within tightening carbon budgets means cutting back on luxury emissions, including where travel to conferences and meetings is no longer necessary when virtual platforms can replace that need, as well as reducing frequent flying for holidays. It is worth remembering that just one per cent of people cause half of global aviation emissions.

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LUX: What are the ethics of travelling for sporting events and art fairs?
Peter Newell: With finite carbon budgets that have to be shared equally, some activities become harder to justify than others. We should focus less on whether a particular event is ‘essential’, because we all feel what we do is essential, and ensure that we have sustainable and low-carbon forms of travel accessible to all. But until that’s in place, there is a need to reduce unsustainable travel through policy including taxes (to subsidise affordable, low-carbon transport), restrictions on air expansion or carbon rationing. There is an issue of collective responsibility here that trumps individual whims.

LUX: Is there any validity in the idea of personal carbon offsets?
Peter Newell: Personal carbon quotas may have some value but need to be implemented carefully. Offsets are notoriously problematic, subject to double-counting and fraudulent savings, and are really just passing the costs and the responsibility for reducing emissions onto others. Displacing responsibility is not the answer.

LUX: If wealthy individuals only do what is ‘necessary’, what’s the point of being wealthy?
Peter Newell: The issue is both how much wealth people have, because emissions are very closely related to purchasing power (to buy larger homes, cars, flights etc) and how that wealth was generated in the first place. If people make their money from activities driving the climate crisis, that is part of the problem and needs to be addressed. No amount of sustainable living will compensate for that. For wealthier people, it is also about where you invest your money and how you use your influence politically.

LUX: If everybody acts ‘correctly’, jobs will be lost in the oil, aviation and other sectors.
Peter Newell: Most discussions now are about transitions – helping workers to retrain in renewable energy industries or to work in other sectors of a sustainable economy. Research suggests most of them want a secure and reasonably paid job and have no loyalty to fossil fuel companies. There is also a need for compensation and regional development plans, the like of which have been used in helping coal-dependent regions transition to new development pathways. It is about protecting poorer workers as we make the necessary changes and redirecting the vast sums of state support in subsidies and aid that fossil fuel companies receive towards support for jobs in sustainable industries.

Read more: How Durjoy Rahman’s art foundation is promoting cultural collaboration

LUX: What of the tourism industry in the Global South?
Peter Newell: Many in the Global South are amongst the most exposed to the worst effects of climate change, a problem most who live there played little part in accelerating. For this reason, they are rightly demanding tougher action from the Global North, including reducing emissions from aviation. Small, low-lying and Caribbean island states have rightly been the champions of bolder climate action because their lives depend on it, even where some are heavily dependent on tourism. What you also might see, as we have here in the UK, is a huge boost to local economies as people holiday nearer to home. Aviation may become more sustainable through fuel and engine technology, but that will take time and clearly, for all our sakes, wealthier citizens need to reduce the amount they fly.

LUX: Is it realistic to try to recalibrate the desires and aspirations of the wealthy?
Peter Newell: Climate chaos is not a realistic or attractive prospect, but that is where we are headed. So, carrying on with business as usual is not an option. The investment and political power of the wealthy is vast and can be used to positive effect – to divest from fossil fuels, to support low carbon innovations, to use their profile and influence to back key campaigns and to pay taxes that generate the funds to address these challenges. This clearly isn’t happening on anything like the scale required. The wealthy share the same planet as the rest of us. They are part of the same society. With that comes duties and responsibilities to behave in ways that serve common interests. Planetary survival is one of those. This is a key moment for those with power, wealth and influence to use them in a bold and responsible way to safeguard all of our futures, including their own.

Peter Newell is Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex

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

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fields in Scotland
golf course

Torrance golf course at the Fairmont St Andrews

Located on the east coast of Fife in Scotland, the Fairmont St Andrews is a grand resort hotel with a championship golf course, spa and multiple restaurants. LUX checks in for the weekend

Arrival

A challenge with some of Scotland’s great hotels is that they are quite an ‘interesting’ drive away from an airport. No such problem with the Fairmont St Andrews, to which you whiz from Edinburgh or Glasgow airport along smooth roads. An hour later, the countryside reveals a view of the North Sea, and the resort grandly perched in front of you, surrounded by farmland and, given the location, a golf course.

Fairmont is a North American brand, and you could be forgiven for thinking you had arrived at a resort in northern California, with a grand driveway, ornate signs and a swanky entrance. The grandeur continues inside. Having checked in, you walk into a huge atrium lobby from where a lift takes guests to their appointed floors.

The Room

The views were tonics, and quite different to those in the Scottish Highlands. We looked out over the grassland dropping down to the steely endlessness of the North Sea, which sounds bleak but to the right were rolling hills dotted with picturesque farmhouses, and the East Neuk art colony down the coast.

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Continuing with the North American vibe, the room was huge and lavishly appointed, with marble bathrooms, excellent lighting and air-conditioning, which you often don’t get in hotels in this part of the world, where quaintness is too often an excuse for neglect. Perhaps there could have been more Scottish character in the rooms, but there was plenty of that outside the windows, and in St Andrews next door.

Hotel suite

One of the hotel’s deluxe suites 

The Experience

Unlike some places which install a treatment room and call themselves a resort, the Fairmont St Andrews really is a resort. There is a big spa, indoor pool and one of the most renowned championship golf courses in the world. A couple of miles down the road, there is also the course of the Royal and Ancient.

All this means you could entertain yourself without ever leaving the resort. There are several restaurants in the main building, but we chose to dine at the St Andrews Bar & Grill, a few minutes’ walk away on the golf course with a fabulous sea view, which served lobster, charcoal-oven steaks and oysters, along with a superb selection of champagnes. We will have to save La Cucina, the Italian restaurant, for next time.

Read more: Culture and Cuisine at La Fiermontina, Puglia, Italy

Exploring

St Andrews is famous for its golf, but is also one of the country’s most attractive old towns. We spent the day exploring the streets, the university quad, the castle and cathedral, and enjoying the astonishing variety of restaurants of different cultures packed into the tiny town with its very cosmopolitan student base.

restaurant booth

Squire Restaurant is just one of the hotel’s dining options

The Verdict

Super-swanky American resort service and standards meet one of the most desirable locations in the Old World. Our only regret is having to cut our stay short.

Find out more: fairmont.com/st-andrews-scotland 

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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hilltop hotel in vineyards
hilltop hotel in vineyards

The Castello Banfi wine resort. Photograph by I. Franchini.

Staying at two wine estates at opposite ends of the region, LUX experiences fine wines, history, cuisine and the spiritual tranquillity that only Tuscany can offer. First up is Castello Banfi Il Borgo, a wine estate and historic hilltop hamlet transformed into a luxury hotel

Where

On a hilltop in the far south of Tuscany, above a broad sweep of valley and plains, with the massive, looming forested ancient Etruscan volcano of Monte Amiata in the far distance.

The arrival

You know you’re in wine country when you drive to Castello Banfi. The land for miles in every direction is covered with vineyards; a smooth, quiet road leads to the estate from the main road connecting Montalcino, on its hilltop to the north, with Sant’Angelo Scalo in the flat valley below. Banfi is not just a wine estate, it is a hamlet, all converted into a luxury hotel (il Borgo), wine estate and celebrated restaurant. There is even a museum of glass bottles. The feeling is that you have arrived at a very exclusive destination, but a working one, with the vines all around making some of the most famous wines of Tuscany. The ‘hotel’ is the cluster of buildings down the single cobbled road of the hamlet, which have been artfully and expensively restored.

historic fortress

rose garden

The restored hilltop fortress (above) with its rose garden

The views

The place to be here is the pool, which looks out to the south, over vineyards, agricultural land, and plains, over to forested hills in the far distance, many miles away, beyond which are the beaches of the Maremma. At night, you can sit on the grass by the pool and try and guess how far away each point of light in the blackness of the land is: 10km? 20km? In contrast to northern Tuscany, the views here are vast, unending, almost unsettling in their scale. Or is the best view from the bedrooms, which look out over a terrace and to the Monte Amiata volcano in the distance to the east? You are spoiled for choice with different vistas here.

swimming pool and vineyards

The swimming pool with views over the vineyards. Photograph by Darius Sanai

The rooms

The old hamlet’s rooms have been cleverly repurposed into a luxury setting, with beautifully treated woods, marble and fabrics. They are less about light and more about texture, although throwing a window open always reveals a dramatic sight of vineyard and horizon.

Read more: Why Maslina Resort, Hvar makes the perfect summer destination

luxurious hotel suite

One of the suites at the Hotel Il Borgo

Wining and dining

Banfi is known to connoisseurs around the world as one of the most significant producers of Tuscan wines. We were given the rare pleasure of a tasting personally overseen by the estate’s director Enrico Viglierchio. The Poggio alle Mura, one of the prestige cuvées of Banfi, is made from a blend of some of the best vineyard sites in the area, many of which you drive through as you approach the estate. Deep, powerful and rich, it’s a Brunello di Montalcino for those who love their wines to resonate. Meanwhile the range-topping Poggio all’Oro is elegant, almost delicate, its older vintages having a complexity of earthy layers, a connoisseur’s wine. You can choose from those and many more at the Sala dei Grappoli fine dining restaurant, in a medieval courtyard, which serves elaborate, intricate, complex cuisine like total black crisp egg, pallone di gravina cheese foam, avocado and Cinta Senese pork dust (and that’s just a starter). There’s also La Taverna for more relaxed, hearty Tuscan dining indoors.

taverna style restaurant

The Taverna restaurant

The highlight

Apart from the wines, it’s the architecture of this intimate private village, and the way you and the other guests (never many of them) feel that you have a whole, perfectly tended, luxury hilltop community and all its astonishing sightlines to yourselves.

LUX rating: 9/10

Book your stay: castellobanfiwineresort.it

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue.

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house hidden in trees
house hidden in trees

Maslina Resort sits within a former olive grove on the edge of Maslinica bay. Photograph by James Houston

Why should I go now?

For endless blue skies, crystal clear water, and the slow, seductive pace of island living. Croatia remains one of the most popular and reliable summer destinations in Europe, and thanks to the sheer number of islands (there are over a thousand), there are still a handful of unspoiled spots to be found.

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While Hvar town might be bring to mind superyachts and glitzy parties, the island itself is rugged and wild with dense pine forests, remote fishing villages, and a rich, layered history. Maslina Resort opened quietly in 2020, mid-pandemic, and offers a wholesome, earthy kind of luxury.

First Impressions

The colours are the first thing you notice: the vivid blue and white spray of the Adriatic sea as the speed boat curves around the base of Hvar island and into Maslinica Bay. From a distance, the wooden-clad buildings of Maslina Resort are barely distinguishable amidst the earthy green of the olive and Aleppo pine trees, but inside is everything is bright, open, and bare with smooth, cream walls, terracotta-tiled floors, and white floaty curtains, which divide the reception, library and a sunken lounge. Each space is filled with beautiful objects and eclectic furnishings, including a spectacular 12-ton rock from the island of Brač which serves as the reception desk.

It has the feel of a fashionable, much-loved pied-à-terre, which in a way, it is: the owners are French financiers who fell in love with the raw beauty of the island and purchased the land to build their own little hideaway.

sunken living room

The public spaces are open-plan, creating a sense of light and space. Photograph by James Houston

The Experience

Guests spend their days padding around barefoot in their swimsuits, wandering between the restaurant, poolside, spa and the sea. Bedrooms are divided between six-interconnected pavilions; some have their own private plunge pools or gardens, but for the best sea views, check into a panoramic suite. There are also three spacious seafront villas for groups of friends or families.

swimming pool amidst trees

The view over the bay from the balcony of a top floor bedroom. Photograph by James Houston

There’s a strong focus on holistic living that connects with the local culture and landscape. Spa treatments involve botanical oils, scrubs and baths, and for those checking in for longer stays, there are wellness programmes designed for stress-relief and detoxification. One of our favourite experiences was guided meditation under the shade of a tree in the organic garden, which sits just behind the beach, providing a soothing soundtrack of rolling waves.

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

The main restaurant makes the most of the home-grown seasonal produce, pairing Mediterranean flavours with Japanese cooking techniques (think herby salads, fresh fish, flat breads, and olive oil), while the beach bar (open from 5pm onwards) offers a more causal menu of tapas and seafood dishes.

fine dining restaurant

The indoor dining room at the main restaurant. Photograph by James Houston

As the staff come mainly from the surrounding communities, they have an expansive knowledge of island’s sites, histories and customs. We spent a wonderful afternoon with one of resort’s expert guides,  who took us on a tour of the ancient town of Stari Grad followed by wine-tasting in a beautiful, candlelit cellar, and dinner at a konoba-style restaurant, perched high up on the hillside. 

Takeaway

Unlike a lot of luxury island resorts, Maslina feels genuinely rooted in its surroundings, which has less to do with its architecture, and more to do with the people and natural landscape. The atmosphere is laid-back and unpretentious; you feel at home, almost instantly.

Rates: From €300 per night, including breakfast (approx. £250 / $350)

Book your stay: maslinaresort.com

 

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tropical villa doorway
house with green door by the sea

Inspired by the vibrant colours and laid-back lifestyle of the island of Capri, fashion designer Catherine Prevost’s latest collection was celebrated with an in-store exhibition of artworks by Maryam Eisler, Karolina Woolf and Pandemonia. While the show has now ended and most of us remain confined within the borders of our countries, we can still escape to sunnier shores through powerful imagery. Below, we share a curated selection from Maryam Eisler’s latest photographic series

All images copyright and courtesy of Maryam Eisler.  maryameisler.com @maryameisler

For more information on Catherine Prevost’s Capri-inspired collection, visit: catherineprevost.com

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terrace views
terrace views

The view from the terrace of the Royal Penthouse suite at the Mandarin Oriental Geneva

In the first of our four part luxury travel views column from our Summer 2021 issue, LUX editor-in-chief Darius Sanai enjoys fine dining and Alpine views at Mandarin Oriental, Geneva

Geneva is a city that will be known to LUX readers as a place to park the jet ahead of a skiing holiday, and a city to visit a few times a year on banking business.

It is also a centre of tourism, although its hotels tend to be focused more on the business traveller: plenty of exclusive restaurants and conference rooms, less in the way of relaxation and views.

During the lull in the pandemic last summer, I decided to combine visits to clients in Geneva, Andermatt, Zurich, Germany and Champagne into one single drive, rather than the more fraught process of taking planes, trains and taxis.

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Arriving in Geneva by car rather than the usual plane/taxi combination opens your eyes to the city’s location. To arrive from northwest Europe, you make your way down a winding motorway through a valley in the Jura Mountains, with the Alps opening out in front of you beyond the lake.

It was a summer’s day with deep-blue Alpine skies, and I would rather have camped out in a deckchair then be cooped up behind the sealed windows of a business hotel, however luxurious.

Fortunately, the Mandarin Oriental is a place to combine both business and leisure. After a Covid-secure check-in, I was ushered into a lift by myself, and checked into my junior terrace suite. In many hotels, even expensive ones, a junior suite is really an excuse to charge a higher rate by sticking a sofa into a king-size bedroom. But not here.

To the right, a big glass-walled bathroom, with an electric blind you could lower for privacy. To the left, an extensive dressing area, and in the room itself a big glass desk, cabinets and bookshelves, plenty of oriental chic furniture, a triple-bed corner sofa and coffee table, with a lot of space in between. Not a suite of rooms, but a very large, well-designed and light bedroom, which could easily have been divided in two – which would have ruined the effect.

Outside was the pièce de résistance, certainly on a sunny summer’s day (less useful in Swiss winters): an extensive private terrace with sun loungers, chairs, a table, outdoor candles and a Buddha. The terrace looked out over the Rhine river at the point it tapers from the lake, across the old town and the rest of the city to the Alps beyond.

hotel bedroom with views over a river

A guest bedroom in the Royal Penthouse suite at the Mandarin Oriental Geneva

Furnishing was in a pleasing contemporary classic green and gold, and the glass bathroom answered a question Nick Jones, founder of the Soho House group, posed in my head some 20 years ago. At that stage, Nick was just planning to launch his first hotel, Babington House in the British countryside. He told me over lunch that the rooms would be completely different to anything anyone had seen before in a hotel, starting with the bathrooms. “Why should there be a bathroom on the right or left as you go in?” he said, somewhat gnomically.

Read more: Superblue’s experiential art centres & innovative business model

Now, as anyone who has been to any of the Soho House properties and their imitators will know, you can find a bath almost anywhere within the perimeter of the room. But the problem is that people want privacy and cosiness in bathrooms, sometimes; and at other times they may wish to see the world or the world to see them. The glass-walled bathroom in my terrace suite was the perfect answer: with the blind raised, this was a large, wet, marble part of the bedroom and terrace. And with it down, total privacy.

On my last night I had that welcome rarity on business trips, an evening alone, due mainly to pandemic caution deterring any formal dinners with clients. It was a warm evening, and I ordered room service on my terrace from Yakumanka, the hotel’s acclaimed Peruvian restaurant.

Three staff members arrived and swiftly moved to the terrace to set the table; the courses arrived separately, so they would not get cold.

This is pure, focused cuisine. White fish with calamari, tamarind sauce and tartar; grilled calamari with white chaufa and Szechuan leche de tigre. Particularly memorable was the sautéed rice with calamari, lettuce, bok choy, Chinese cabbage and tortilla.

All accompanied by a creamy but fresh bottle of Deutz champagne and that view across the city to the Alps. A business hotel and a relaxation zone all in one in the heart of town and with the flawless professional service, swift yet relaxed, the group has made its name for.

Book your stay: mandarinoriental.com/geneva

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue. 

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summer in the alps
summer in the alps

Andermatt in summer

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

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

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

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

 

JOHAN GRANVIK
The serial entrepreneur

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

hotel courtyard

The Chedi Andermatt courtyard

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

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

Swiss village

Looking down on the Piazza Gottardo. Image by Valentin Luthiger

KAREN O’MAHONY
The working-from-home holidaymaker

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

alpine golf course

The Andermatt Swiss Alps Golf Course. Image by Valentin Luthiger

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

Man in a ski jacket

FRÄNGGI GEHRIG
The local

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

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

interiors of a concert hall

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

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

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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grand swiss hotel
grand swiss hotel

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

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

luxurious hotel drawing room

The drawing room of the Helen Badrutt Suite

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

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

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

outdoor swimming pool

The Badrutt’s Palace pool overlooking Lake St Moritz

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

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

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

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

hotel suite drawing room

A newly refreshed St Moritz Suite

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

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

Book your stay: badruttspalace.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 Issue.

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Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante
Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Convertible car

Interior of the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

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

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

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

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: astonmartin.com

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

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Orange Car
Orange convertible car

Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible

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

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

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

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

Inside Bentley Convertible

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

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

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

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

LUX Rating: 19/20

Find out more: bentleymotors.com

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

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hotel bedroom

The Heritage Suite Bedroom at Castello Del Nero, Como Group’s latest opening in Tuscany

Olivier Jolivet has sat at the helm of COMO Group since 2017. He oversees the COMO Hotels and Resorts portfolio across 15 locations, and masterminded the launch of Castello Del Nero, the group’s first property in continental Europe. Here, Jolivet tells Chloe Frost-Smith why the luxury travel industry will see an increasing demand for small hotels, private residences and wellbeing experiences this year

Olivier Jolivet

LUX: What sets COMO apart from other luxury brands?
Olivier Jolivet: COMO and its businesses are unique in the luxury landscape. Since its inception, the shareholders stayed the same, which provides stability to the organisation and the opportunity to think long term. It’s a massive competitive advantage, especially when recruiting the right talents. COMO is not only a brand, it’s a ‘lifestyle‘ and this why we have invested in fashion, wellness, sport and will continue to do so in the future.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: COMO is currently reopening properties in select destinations after temporary closure due to the pandemic. How’s that going?
Olivier Jolivet: One of our founding purposes at COMO has been our 25-year commitment to holistic wellbeing among customers, staff and the communities where we operate. As our properties re-open, we continue to adjust measures to remain in line with different government guidelines, and when we are in doubt of guidelines, we will always go further to ensure the safety of staff and guests.

In the long term, health isn’t ever a quick fix ,but a life-long commitment. This is the driving force behind COMO Shambhala – the wellness heart of COMO, which has always prescribed an integrative approach to wellbeing.

LUX: Can you tell us a bit about the launch of COMO Shambhala By My Side?
Olivier Jolivet: COMO Shambhala By My Side is an innovative digital wellbeing companion, launched by COMO Group’s holistic wellness brand, COMO Shambhala, to bring wellness programmes and personal consultations into homes around the world. The online platform brings together the holistic expertise honed at both COMO Shambhala Urban Escape in Singapore, and COMO Hotels and Resorts wellness locations around the world. Through the digital platform users can access COMO’s rich network of international experts. COMO Shambhala By My Side provides a sanctuary for those who seek tranquillity and the inspiration to stay active during these uncertain times and beyond.

spa treatment room

luxurious bedroom

The Bayugita Master bedroom at COMO Shambhala Estate, and above, the treatment room in the retreat villa

LUX: What’s your approach to sustainability for now and in the future?
Olivier Jolivet: No matter the location, we operate with the belief that we can deliver unique experiences for our guests while operating sustainably. We reduce our consumption and source locally, managing our water and energy to minimise our impact on the environment. We celebrate local culture and support the domestic economy, offering immersive and authentic experiences. This is true for all the business we operate.

We have a long-term philosophy and sustainability has always been a key part of our make-up – we just don’t feel the need to shout about it.

Read more: Why Sofia Mitsola is one of our artists to watch in 2021

LUX: You recently oversaw the brand’s first venture into continental Europe, Castello del Nero. Why Tuscany?
Olivier Jolivet: When you want to be an international lifestyle brand, it is difficult to avoid Italy. Tuscany is one of the most amazing regions of Italy with its history, its landscape, its tradition and food. You will always have a strong local market and a great international appeal.

tuscany hotel

The exterior of the chapel at Castello del Nero

LUX: You have managed two luxury travel brands with Asia-Pacific origins – your current role with COMO and your previous position at Aman Resorts. Is this coincidence, or is there something in particular that drew you to these destinations?
Olivier Jolivet: Even if these two brands have the same geographical origin, they are very different in their conception and in their history, and yes, I was very curious about it. What drew my attention is probably the myth around them and their huge potential for growth.

Read more: Artnet’s Sophie Neuendorf on the rise of a new Renaissance

LUX: Bhutan is a relatively unusual country to have in the portfolio. What is your thought process when it comes to scouting out new destinations?
Olivier Jolivet:  We look for destinations with soul. Our hotels inspire people to live fuller lives and make a meaningful difference by creating experiences worth re-living, whether it’s meditating at an ancient Bhutanese temple or diving with manta rays in the Maldives. Our guests want to satisfy their quest to explore our destinations with COMO.

water villa

A water villa at COMO Cocoa Island resort

LUX: How do you think the coronavirus crisis will affect the luxury travel in general and your group in particular?
Olivier Jolivet: Travellers will opt for smaller groups, more intimate locations and specialised offerings instead of 300-bedroom hotels. Our hotel business model has always catered to this, focusing on the soul of each destination, offering limited rooms and suites, and catering to those who seek to improve their wellbeing. For COMO, it’s not about long-term change; our core philosophy toward proactive wellness isn’t changing, it’s just never been more front of mind. We are successful not by chance, but because we continue with our vision.

LUX: What travel trends do you anticipate emerging in 2021?
Olivier Jolivet: I have always said that luxury has something to do with space and intimacy. It is now more relevant than ever, and small destinations will prevail. Travellers are on a pursuit for privacy and intimacy, and we’ve noticed an increased demand for our private villas and residences, as well as private, exclusive experiences. I also predict there will be a strong emphasis on people wanting a wellbeing offering.

LUX: Do you have any new developments in the pipeline?
Olivier Jolivet: We are focusing on developing our lifestyle component by investing into new trends, new businesses and new destinations. We’re also in the process of launching our COMO Club, with access to the world of COMO from hospitality to wellness, sport and fashion.

Find out more: comohotels.com

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man sitting with bags
man sitting with bags

Jonathan Riss has designed a collection of bags exclusively for One&Only

Belgium-born designer Jonathan Riss is the founder of JAH AHR, a luxury brand which transforms authenticated vintage designer bags through embroidery techniques. His latest collaboration with One&Only Resorts – a collection of limited edition custom-designed vintage Louis Vuitton Keepalls – is inspired by the local heritage and culture of each of the brand’s destinations. Here, Abigail Hodges speaks to the designer about his creative process, sustainable fashion and the future of travel

1. What led you to start re-crafting iconic vintage fashion pieces?

We live in a society of significant over-production and if you analyse consumer behaviour, you quickly see that people prefer iconic pieces, not because of their value, but because of the work and effort to perfect these pieces over time so they too reflect the values and desires of society.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Today, there is an increasing demand for sustainability as well as individualisation. The idea that we not only take vintage objects and give them a new lease of life, but also to continue to work on them. To be part of this pursuit of perfection, but at the same time to continue to reflect the wants of society by offering singularly unique pieces is very interesting.

gorilla bag2. Can you tell us your favourite story about one of the bags you’ve sourced?

There are so many stories across the different mediums that we are transforming. One that springs to mind for the Keepall collection is a bag we sourced in Moscow that was originally made in 1991, on which we placed the USSR flag as this was the year of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Another bag we found was in Hong Kong that was made in 1997 which was the year of the historic handover so we imprinted this bag with the Hong Kong flag. We also sourced some bags in Tehran which have our Persian rug design reflecting the philosophy of our collections, which is to highlight the imprint of the local culture where the object was used or sourced.

 

designer in the studio

Riss at work in his studio

3. What does your design process typically involve?

The most important aspect of what we do is not the design itself, but the narrative that sits behind and around each piece. So the provenance often leads the design as the actual story of each object is much more interesting, and the design is an extension of the story, but of course, exploring different techniques of texture is a vital part of the design process enabling the execution of the narrative.

Read more: Win two life coaching sessions with Simon Hodges

4. How did your collaboration with One&Only come about?

This is a beautiful topic. One&Only owns a stunning portfolio of unique properties all over the world that really reflects the philosophy of our collection. The opportunity to create a bespoke heritage collection that allows us to showcase the cultural, social and natural aspects of each destination was an incredibly exciting opportunity as this is exactly what we do with all of our collections.

bag and kangaroo

5. When deciding how to celebrate each destination, which elements were particularly important for you to highlight?

There are almost too many elements to consider, so again, we were often led by the bag itself. For example, for Cape Town we had a bag that was originally made in 1994 which was the first year of Nelson Mandela’s Presidency so we created a design celebrating the great man himself.

Similarly, we had a bag for Rwanda that was from 2002 which is when the new Rwanda national anthem was officially inaugurated so we placed the lyrics from the anthem on an interpretation of the national flag. For Dubai, we wanted to showcase the incredible architecture as well as the importance of Islam so we overlaid a blessing on the Dubai skyline. In Mexico, we are fascinated by the contrast of the colour and vibrancy of the Dia de los Muertos with meaning behind the celebrations. In Malaysia, we loved the romance of discovering ancient statues and carvings in the jungle. The breadth of inspiration is also important to us.

6. What’s inspiring you currently?

Given what has happened in the past year, I am getting excited by the future of travel, and how the quality and experience of travel will evolve. As we have seen, anything can happen that impacts society in a dramatic way so what is interesting is to see how we elevate ourselves and I am working on a new project thinking about this, so watch this space.

Follow Jonathan Riss on Instagram: @_jay_ahr_

To purchase one of Jonathan Riss’s bags for One&Only email: [email protected]

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hotel lobby

The lobby of Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg

In the final edition of our luxury travel views series, LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai enjoys the Parisian elegance and ease of Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg

Location, location, location. What is the nearest luxury hotel to the epicentre of Paris shopping, the original Hermès flagship store on the corner of rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré and rue Boissy-d’Anglas? I would understand if you were thinking Crillon, Ritz or Bristol, but you would be incorrect. The Faubourg is so close that you could fish a Birkin out of the Hermès window display with a fishing pole and a hook.

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The frontage, in a road now closed to traffic for security reasons as it is so close to the Élysée Palace, belies the grandeur of the entrance hall when you walk inside. The welcome is swift, efficient and friendly, as you would expect from this significant European luxury hotel group.

luxury hotel bedroom

The Faubourg Suite

My room was well-appointed in a very Parisian style: vintage mirrors, Vogue photography, plenty of plush. With the rue Boissy-d’Anglas closed to traffic, it was also wonderfully quiet for a city-centre room.

Read more: Life coach Simon Hodges discusses the complexities of familial relationships

I had declined the offer of dinner with a business contact, as I had some research to do ahead of a meeting the next day, so I slipped downstairs with my iPad and found a place in the bar, a cosy, jazzy little room at street level.

luxury hotel interiors

The Blossom restaurant

Sometimes, on travels, after a number of meals offered where different levels of cuisine are showcased, there is nothing you feel like more than a Caesar salad, which the bar provided with no qualms and in very Gallic style, with corn-fed chicken and proper fries on the side. Paris is near enough to Burgundy to justify choosing a medically necessary Macon-Uchizy from the excellent 2016 vintage as an accompaniment.

My meeting the next day was not at Hermès but at a brand located next door. A 90-second commute. Now, that’s luxury.

Find out more: sofitel-paris-lefaubourg.com

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

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hotel suite drawing room
hotel suite drawing room

The Jackie O. Suite at the Villa Kennedy

In the third edition of our luxury travel views series, LUX Editor-in-Chief returns to Villa Kennedy, a Rocco Forte hotel in the centre of Frankfurt, to discover how it stands the test of time

Frankfurt is not a city known for either its romance or its luxury experiences. So, if someone suggested flying there for a romantic weekend, you might start doubting their sanity.

But bear with me here. Having landed at Frankfurt airport, a 15-minute taxi ride through a forest into Sachsenhausen, an area of grand villas, took me to the Villa Kennedy. A villa hotel with a spa a long way metaphorically from the skyscrapers of the city centre – although Sachsenhausen is just across the river from the financial district.

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I had been to the Villa before, when Rocco Forte first opened it in 2006, and was curious to see how Europe’s most endearing (and indeed enduring) hotelier has adapted it to the times.

exterior of castle hotel

luxurious courtyard

A view of the hotel’s façade (above), and the gardens

This is a very exclusive hotel and the Zen-like atmosphere virtually wafted me up to the Jackie O. Suite, whose library room was bigger than that in many a decent home, and looked out over a tranquil central courtyard, via an extensive private terrace. The decor was sixties inspired, with swathes of gold, and the coffee table was laden with books on art and design. The bedroom was separated from the extensive bathroom area by corridor so long that you could take your exercise at the Villa Kennedy just by walking the length of your suite.

As well as being a financial capital of Germany, Frankfurt is close to the Rhine winelands, and it was pleasing to see a good selection of those wines by the glass at the Italian restaurant, Gusto, that evening. Gusto is on the ground-floor level by the internal courtyard, and while the weather was not good when I visited, I imagine sitting at a table in the courtyard would be a delightful Italianate experience on a sunny summer’s day.

Read more: How to shop for art online by Artnet’s Sophie Neuendorf

I needed to finish off a presentation ahead of my meetings the next day, and the calm atmosphere and efficient service were just what was required to accompany a laptop, a glass of Trocken Rheingau Riesling and some tuna tartare with ricotta and cucumber. Perhaps, though, the restaurant has missed a trick in being too efficient, feeling like a better place for a corporate dinner or an editor working on a laptop, than a more lingering and languid romantic dinner.

swimming pool

The spa swimming pool

That’s probably due to the nature of Frankfurt, although it’s a bit of a shame. The hotel also has a celebrated spa, which I didn’t have time to visit on my overnight, but which caters to the Frankfurt elite. Combined with the efficient journey, the architecture, location, and magnificence of the suite, a visit to the spa would’ve been a perfect ending to a romantic break, as long as there was a cuisine experience to match. Turn Frankfurt into a lovers’ location: Sir Rocco, you have overcome many challenges in your colourful life, and here’s the next one. It just needs a softening of the dining area to add the right mix of atmosphere, and ecco. Done.

roccofortehotels.com

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luxury alpine hotel

The Alpina Gstaad’s main building and gardens, which opened in 2012. © The Alpina Gstaad

Artistic, playful and utterly spoiling, The Alpina Gstaad may just be the best hotel anywhere in Europe. So why don’t you know about it?

A contemporary jazz duo is singing and playing its heart out. Your champagne bottle is emptying steadily as you look out from your sofa at the array of contemporary art around you, and the rolling mountains in the distance. It’s time for Japanese, and you and your companions wander over, just a few metres, into a different world into Megu. This is Switzerland’s highest-rated Asian restaurant, a Michelin-starred area decorated by blonde Alpine wood, antique kimonos and slatted wooden partitions.

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The vibe is lively but not raucous, stylish but not gaudy, expensive but not stuffy. Everywhere at the Alpina has a contemporary mountain chic laced with a global sensibility, a generosity of spirit and space, and a sense of future.

contemporary sculpture

Dritte Tier by Thomas Schütte, part of the hotel’s extensive collection of contemporary art. © The Alpina Gstaad

The Alpina in, or to be precise, above Gstaad, is the one example of a European resort hotel that surpasses its surroundings. Some of the great legacy hotels of Europe have been defined by the locations they sit in and need to live with the legacy. Others feel as if they might have been transported from any exotic location in the world.

asian restaurant interiors

The hotel’s Japanese restaurant Megu. © The Alpina Gstaad

The Alpina does something else: it redefines the location it is in. Given that Gstaad is the hub for some of the world’s wealthiest and most discerning people, that is quite an ask. Yet breeze in amid the local granite and reclaimed wood, walk up the sweeping staircase to the bar, lounge and outside terrace, enjoy the light and the art collection, and you know you’re in a place which is writing its own story.

Read more: Chopard’s Caroline Scheufele on versatile jewellery design

There is nothing particularly Swiss about a salt room, a cavernous underground lounge and juice bar, or a huge indoor pool and hydrotherapy area in a grotto. Or about a Japanese restaurant with 16 Gault Millau points and a ‘gastronomic’ yet contemporary informal restaurant, or Sommet, also with a Michelin star and 18 Gault Millau points. Like Schrödinger’s cat, the Alpina is, and it isn’t. Maybe it’s the owners: one is a local Swiss, one is decidedly international, together they give the Alpina its confidence.

views from a jacuzzi

luxurious hotel interiors

The duplex Panorama Suite with its outdoor jacuzzi. © The Alpina Gstaad

But this is not a place where comfort is sacrificed on the altar of credibility. The rooms have a gorgeous mix of local wood (much reclaimed from barns), stone, contemporary art and giant glass-cowbell light fittings – with perfect sheets and massive bathrooms. And huge balconies; whatever side of the building you are on you have peace, a sense of place and a magnificent view.

Gstaad is moving to its own tune, there is something of a real-estate boom in the area right now. Among the most fortunate are those who bought one of the residences within the hotel building: these are effectively buildings within the building, to match the most opulent chalets anywhere in Switzerland. Unfortunately, they have all sold, but if you know the right people, you may be able to persuade them to rent them to you or, who knows, even sell them to you, one day. Meanwhile, just check in.

Darius Sanai

Book your stay: thealpinagstaad.ch

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

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portrait of a man

Abdullah Ibrahim by Lex van Rossen

Abdullah Ibrahim was discovered by Duke Ellington, fought against apartheid, and played at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration. The South African jazz legend speaks to LUX from his Cape Town home about his hopes and dreams

My favourite view…

The stars in the night sky over the green Kalahari.

The best place to listen to jazz…

Where your chosen jazz musicians are playing.

Where you’ll find the coolest new bands…

In the place you least expect.

The only thing I’ll queue up for is…

A masterclass with a master.

Most overrated tourist spot…

The beach.

Most undiscovered tourist spot…

The unlisted one you discover.

man outside in shirt and tie

What I love about Cape Town…

The flowers and animals.

My favourite smell…

Musk.

I feel most at one with nature in…

The desert, hills and rivers.

The best local dish…

The traditional dish prepared at home.

My favourite memory is…

The next one.

What I think of the youngest generation…

I was once like them.

If I live to be 200 I would like to see…

If that bird at daybreak still sings the same song.

My proudest achievement is…

Realising and accepting that the process of learning is boundless.

My greatest fear is…

Becoming complacent and lapsing into a comfort zone.

My biggest regret is…

Not doing enough to seek for knowledge.

Find out more: abdullahibrahim.co.za

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

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hotel lounge area
hotel lounge area

The reception area at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore

In the first of our four part luxury travel views column, our editor-in-chief Darius Sanai recalls the breathtaking views and chic ambience of The Fullerton Bay hotel in Singapore

A first-time visitor to Singapore before would be forgiven for being rather surprised arriving at the rooftop swimming pool at The Fullerton Bay hotel. The city state has a reputation for being efficient but unexciting – a business city for the wealthy, not a tourist destination.

Walk out of the lift on the top floor of the hotel, and you realise that reputation is outdated. In front of you is a huge outdoor pool with sunloungers both beside it and along both sides, inside it – meaning you can have both a wet bar and a wet sunbathe. Or moonbathe, in my case, as I had just arrived on a long-haul flight in the evening. Beyond the pool was a bright and throbbing outdoor bar area, the front row of which looks directly across the water of Marina Bay at the celebrated skyline of the Sands landmark on the other side, beyond which is the ocean and, in the distance, the islands of Indonesia.

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It may seem ‘normal’ if you are a resident of Singapore but coming from the western hemisphere this tropical city skyline-bar-swimming pool combination is literally breathtaking. A quick swim, then down to my room to get changed ahead of a couple of drinks in the bar, refreshing the palate before a long day of meetings the next day.

hotel roof bar

The rooftop Lantern bar at The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore

While I was swimming, my room had been transformed. Normally, the ground floor is no place for a suite in a luxury hotel, but at The Fullerton Bay, the ground floor is located directly on the water. No road, no path, nothing in the way – the screens in my room had been folded back by the turndown service so I had a 180-degree view of the harbour, and when I stepped out onto the balcony and into my own personal swimming pool, I could also have taken a couple of steps more and jumped into the sea.

Read more: Activist José Soares dos Santos on environmental responsibility

If I’d been on my own, I would’ve stayed right there on the balcony, ordered some champagne, and chilled in the equatorial moonlight.

Up on the roof, by 10pm, the bar was turning more into a nightclub, with people dancing in an area cleared of tables. I sat at a table on the corner of the bar terrace, a 360-degree view of Singapore city centre all around. A pretty exhilarating introduction into the city.

living room

The living room of its Robinson Suite

In a time when eating outside is advisable as well as enjoyable, The Fullerton Bay has no shortage of options, as I discovered at my outdoor breakfast the next day. It is served à la carte, with tables well spaced, and a choice of Malaysian/Indonesian (nasi goreng), Chinese, and western, it would have been perfect on a luxurious break. On a business trip, though, I recommend you don’t make the same mistake as I did and go down in a crisp white Margiela business shirt to wear at your meetings – 8am, Singapore weather is hot enough to turn you into a sweat ball, meaning a rapid return to the room to change.

rooftop jacuzzi

The hotel’s rooftop jacuzzi

Fullerton is a legendary name in the Asian luxury industry, owned by the redoubtable and charming Ng family (who are also active in Hong Kong) and the more famous hotel and original of the same name is located 100m along the waterfront. The Fullerton, a local institution, is the colonial-era palace but is not priced at the same high-level as its more exclusive sister hotel. It is where you have to go for spa treatments, and I arranged one for just before my flight home. It was a mixture of Chinese pressure-point massage, ginger, rosemary and lavender oil, and stretching and soothing that was the perfect end to the Singapore stay-over. Over the years, I have changed my pre-long-haul flight routine flying back from Asia from champagne and sushi to a swim and a spa treatment, which is definitely more effective if you want to feel fresh on landing the next day.

Find out more: fullertonhotels.com

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

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Reading time: 3 min
house in the water
house in the water

The Lisbon Oceanarium, Europe’s largest informational and educational space on the oceans, is operated by a foundation launched by Portugal’s Dos Santos family. Image by Paulo Maxim

Claudio de Sanctis, the new Global Head of Wealth Management at Deutsche Bank, has been passionate about the oceans since he was young. He now sees the blue economy – the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth – as a major and necessary target for investments. LUX speaks with him to discover why

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX

man in suit

Claudio de Sanctis

LUX: How did your interest in ocean conservation arise?
Claudio de Sanctis: It’s something that goes back to my childhood. I was brought up in Italy and school summers there are very long. I spent a good portion of that time in the water snorkelling and skin diving in the Mediterranean and I developed an incredibly strong connection to the sea and the life in it. You carry forward that passion for animals and life in the sea; and then, if you are 47 as I am now and you are still spending your holidays diving in the sea with your family, you witness first-hand the changes that have gone on. You have this passion, you have witnessed this crisis, and there is a part of you that says something needs to be done.

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LUX: You have personally noticed the environmental changes in the sea?
Claudio de Sanctis: One hundred per cent. If you don’t dive or spend time underwater, the ocean may seem like a beautiful, big, blue expanse and it’s difficult to perceive how it’s changing; it looks as beautiful now as it did 50 years ago. But if you do actually spend time underwater, you then notice that the Mediterranean, for example, has changed dramatically. In the past 40 years, plastic has replaced fish. There were previously a lot of fish, and now there are far fewer and plastic is popping up more and more so it’s now almost impossible to get underwater without seeing a large amount. Also, tropical fish are being seen in Greece, for example, which is a concern as it suggests a very significant change in temperature. If you go to the tropics, the situation is very similar. I have less than 20 years’ experience diving in the tropics, but even in that time, the situation has deteriorated and reefs have disappeared.

LUX: And this is what inspired your focus on the blue economy, which includes ocean conservation and much more besides.
Claudio de Sanctis: That’s correct. There are two fundamental beliefs informing this. One is that institutions such as Deutsche Bank have a fantastic history, if you realise that, for example, we have invested in young artists for the past 40 years for no other reason than social responsibility. While we are a business for profit, doing things because they are relevant and important for the societies we operate in, and because it’s right to be doing them, is important. In that context, we try to do things that are relevant to our clients. I meet clients on a daily basis and more often than not, the discussion will turn to conservation and particularly ocean conservation, and the strongest message I get is one of interest and one of alarm. “How can I help?”, they ask. And that’s how the blue economy comes into play because I believe that the best way to protect the sea is actually to explain to everybody the extraordinary sustainable, long-term economic value it has. There is a lot we need to explain to the world, such as the fact that we breathe because of the ocean; if we damage the ocean beyond a certain point, we won’t be able to breathe air any more. This is very much where education comes into play. And if you understand how the ocean can produce long-term economic development for low-income, underdeveloped countries, that is very relevant. If it’s properly harnessed, the blue-economy potential for a country such as Indonesia is extraordinary. It can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and give them long-term prospects.

LUX: Are there increasing investment opportunities for the blue economy?
Claudio de Sanctis: There are, but there is so much more to be done, which is why the conference we are holding is so interesting. At the moment it is a very thin market but you essentially have three main drivers. The first one is very wealthy families who set up dedicated foundations, which in turn invest long term in ocean conservation and the blue economy. In that space, education plays a massive role. Secondly, if you don’t want to have a dedicated foundation then you can invest in financial instruments. There are more and more liquid financial instruments starting with blue bonds that allow you to contribute capital with a certain degree of return in order to help these underlying themes. The last element that we need to develop is investing directly in companies as more start up with a blue economy angle.

LUX: Will the blue economy become more important within environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing in general?
Claudio de Sanctis: That’s a very good question. My view is that when it comes to ESG, there is no need to put different sub-themes within ESG into competition. There is so much need for more across the board. I can say that interest in ocean conservation and the blue economy is growing exponentially and the awareness of it is growing extraordinarily fast because it’s tied to very important problems. I mean, science has now led us to understand that the oxygen for two breaths in every three comes from the sea, which is something that, five to ten years ago, very few people knew. So if you pollute the sea to a point that that sort of oxygen production slows down, you have a huge problem, because we’re not going to be replanting a lot of forest in the next 50 years. And planting forest takes a long time. Most of the ESG themes are fundamentally interlinked. For example, ocean conservation, blue economy and climate change all interlock.

Read more: Fashion designer Kevin Germanier’s sustainable glamour

LUX: Do companies who may believe they are not responsible for, say, ocean degradation because they are based far from the sea, need to be made aware of this interlocking, that the ocean is relevant to them?
Claudio de Sanctis: That is a very fundamental point. Awareness is everything and in my view, the awareness we need to create is not so much in the companies as in the end consumer. Everybody needs to understand the relevance of this resource, that the ocean is deteriorating and what the consequences of this are. And then on the positive side, what are the opportunities we can extract from the sea if we actually manage it properly? When we talk of the problem of plastic in the oceans, everyone thinks of the poor albatross found with plastic in its stomach, which is a significant problem. It’s an easier problem to grasp than microplastics, which are less visible. But while plastic bottle and bag waste affects marine mammals and sea birds, it is microplastics that affect fish. And the biggest polluting factor in the plastic problem is our clothing. Every time we wash our clothes in a washing machine, particularly anything that has plastic fibres, we release microplastics into the ocean. This is just an example, and this is why we need education, because there is so much more that we need to know and that we need consumers to know because it is they who ultimately drive politicians and purchasing.

LUX: What would you like to achieve through your blue economy programme?
Claudio de Sanctis: In our business we talk to a number of very significant families about what it means to actually have positive impact. So even if we help a few of these families be more aware of the problems and solutions, that is already gratifying for me personally in terms of helping the cause. From a Deutsche Bank point of view, my aspiration is that in the next two to three years when Wealth Management clients think about oceans, they think about ocean conservation and economic development tied to that. And then they think of Deutsche Bank and pick up the phone and speak to their banker here.

Find out more: deutschewealth.com

This article originally appeared in the LUX x Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Blue Economy Special in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 7 min
historic building facade
historic building facade

The Gainsborough Bath Spa occupies two Grade II Listed buildings in the heart of Bath

The Gainsborough Bath Spa is located in the heart of the historic city of Bath, but with access to natural thermal waters, extensive spa facilities and a calming atmosphere, it’s no ordinary city hotel. LUX checks in for a midweek stay

Staycations have soared in popularity this summer and it’s likely to be a lasting trend not only for pandemic reasons, but also for travellers seeking a more sustainable alternative to travel. For London residents especially, Bath is a no-brainer. One of the UK’s most beautiful and historic cities, it’s just over an hour by train from Paddington Station or an easy two and half hour drive, and if you’re staying at The Gainsborough Bath Spa you don’t even have to worry about parking. The valet is there to meet you at the bottom of the hotel’s steps and on check-out, the car’s ready and waiting, stocked with water bottles and a little tin of mints for the journey. It might not sound like much, but these are the kinds of thoughtful extras that contribute to a completely stress-free experience.

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The YTL group (to which The Gainsborough belongs) is known for its acute attention to detail. Added to the top-notch valet service, all the rooms, regardless of category, have complimentary mini-bars stocked with artisanal snacks and juices, and the bathrooms are filled with an abundance of good-sized Aromatherapy Associates toiletries and fitted with underfloor heating.

Luxury hotel bedroom

One of The Gainsborough’s courtyard rooms

The rooms are smart, modern and spacious, decorated in a soothing colour palette of duck-egg blue and gold with varying layouts. We stayed in a two bedroom suite, which takes the form of a maisonette with a double room and bathroom upstairs, and an additional double (or twin) room downstairs with a small sitting room. Both beds were exceptionally soft with piles of pillows, but the downstairs room was somewhat lacking in natural light whilst the rest of the suite benefited from towering ceilings and huge windows.

Read more: Diango Hernández’s disruptive Instagram art project

spa interiors

bathing pool

Aromatherapy bar (above) and one of the thermal pools in the hotel’s spa village

The Gainsborough features the only hotel spa with access to the city’s natural thermal waters. Currently, visitors are required to pre-book one-hour bathing sessions to prevent overcrowding, but that still leaves plenty of time to dip into the different pools, sauna and steam rooms with breaks in-between for shots of thick, spiced hot chocolate (a favourite of the Romans). In terms of treatments, there’s usually a wide selection including various acqua therapies, but due to current Covid restrictions, the signature massage is the only offering, beginning with a foot bath in neroli water infused with rosemary and pine essences followed by a full body massage using calming lavender oils. Spa experiences begin with a mini workshop making scented salts using a selection of Aromatherapy oils, and end with a cup of pink Hibiscus tea on the terrace overlooking the baths.

Read more: Holly Chandler of boutique travel company Fish&Pips on travelling post lockdown

restaurant interiors

Dan Moon’s restaurant is currently only open for breakfast

Dan Moon’s restaurant, which usually serves elegant dishes made from seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, is only open for breakfast at the moment. In the afternoon, tea is served a chic mirrored lounge known as The Canvas Room and the bar is open in the evenings for cocktails.

It’s a hotel that prioritises its guests’ relaxation and privacy. Staff are warm and attentive, but generally leave you to wander freely, creating a pleasing sense of homeliness. It’s the kind of place you can imagine returning to year after year.

Rates start from £325 per night for a Deluxe Room including breakfast (approx. $400/ €350). Book your mid-week getaway: thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk

Please note: This review was carried out before the global lockdown. Valet parking is currently not available to guests. 

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Reading time: 3 min
beetroot gnocchi

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

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

Beet gnocchi with amaranth leaves

20 red and green amaranth leaves

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

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

To finish
40g tofu

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

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

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

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

Transfer dough into a piping bag and refrigerate.

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

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

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

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

Barbajuans. Image © Richard Haughton

Barbajuans with ricotta & spinach

Makes 50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baba au rhum. Image © Richard Haughton

Baba au rhum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more about Domaine Clarence Dillon: domaineclarencedillon.com

Visit Le Clarence: le-clarence.paris

 

 

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Reading time: 7 min
fine dining restaurant
hotel facade

Located in heart of Knightsbridge, Mandarin Oriental London backs onto Hyde Park

Why should I go now?

The last few years haven’t been easy for Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. Following the hotel’s biggest ever refurbishment, a major roof fire broke out in 2018 causing significant damage and almost two years of closure. It reopened at the end of 2019 with a bright new contemporary look, only to face closure again due to Covid-19.

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Thankfully, the hotel reopened its doors to guests on 23 July, and for those looking for a luxurious and relaxing summer staycation, there’s no better place; London is at its best in the summer and the hotel boasts one of the best locations from which to enjoy it. The back entrance of the hotel (reserved for the Queen) opens directly onto Hyde Park where you can jog, picnic, meditate, horse ride, row on the Serpentine and wander through Kensington gardens whilst the other side (the public entrance) sits opposite Harvey Nichols. Down the road is Harrods and South Kensington, Mayfair and the West End are all a 15-minute stroll away.

What’s the lowdown?

The hotel was originally built in 1889 as a gentleman’s club and the  grand red-brick Edwardian exterior remains beautifully preserved as a relic of the city’s past. The interiors, however, have been given a hefty make-over by designer Joyce Wang. A light, floral colour palette reigns throughout with flashes of gold and copper detailing; flower-shaped lighting features hang from the ceilings and huge vases of fragrant seasonal blooms designed by McQueens stand on almost every surface alongside misty terrariums filled with giant succulents. The atmosphere is joyful, calming and a tiny bit eccentric. Entering through the double doors (held ajar by men in top hats and red blazers) and up the grand staircase, feels delightfully cinematic and otherworldly.

grand hotel entrance

The entrance into the hotel from the street; the Hyde Park entrance is reserved for the Queen

The underground spa is moody and sexy. Redesigned by Adam D Tihany, it features a slim 17-metre heated pool with a good-sized gym, but the real highlight is the wellness experience. The experience begins in the changing rooms where there are a variety of (gender separate) pools, steam and sauna rooms followed by a relaxation room, featuring exceptionally comfortable loungers, snacks and mindful activities such as colouring, breathing exercises and meditation. If you’re having a massage, facial or scrub, this is where the therapist collects you from (it’s worth remembering to arrive in plenty of time), but even without a treatment, it’s a deeply calming space to spend time in. We went twice during our stay and on both occasions, we had the facilities to ourselves.

Read more: CEO of Azumi restaurants Sven Koch on the future of hospitality

underground swimming pool

Redesigned by Adam D Tihany, the spa features a 17-metre underground swimming pool

In terms of dining, Bar Boulud is the hotel’s all-day French bistro. Situated on the lower ground floor and accessible by a separate entrance from the street, it offers a relaxed, easy atmosphere and a menu of refined comfort food; our favourite dishes were the rich onion soup and creamy, white wine moules served with thin, crispy pommes frites. Despite its name, Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner serves lunch or dinner in a more high end setting with a range of a la carte and tasting menus and an exclusive chef’s table experience.

The prettiest of the restaurants, however, has to be The Rosebery. Open throughout the day, The Rosebery serves one of the most impressive hotel breakfast menus we’ve ever experienced. Alongside the usual array of  pastries and cereals, there are detox juices, bircher museli, exotic fruit platters and beautifully cooked dishes with lots of healthy options. The afternoon tea is also something of an occasion with a bespoke menu designed to match the chosen tea blends.

fine dining restaurant

The Rosebery is open throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner

The service throughout the hotel is impeccable. Every member of staff, even the ones we hadn’t met, seemed to know our names, but we also liked that it never felt intrusive. Many of the hotel’s guests are public figures (we spotted a few familiar faces who we won’t name), so privacy is respected and prioritised.

Getting horiztonal

Our Deluxe room overlooked the streets of Knightsbridge and straight into the windows of Harvey Nichols, which was a somewhat surreal but amazing experience. We especially loved watching the transition from day to night as the sun dipped and the lights began to glow through the windows.

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

The room itself felt spacious and airy with pale grey walls, soft-coloured contemporary furnishings and a huge double bed with mountains of pillows. There was a stylish drinks cabinet by the door complete with crystal champagne flutes and a coffee machine, and the  marble bathroom featured a powerful walk in shower.

luxurious bedroom

The Knightsbridge Suite

Flipside

While there’s a lot to love about Bar Boulud, the interiors could do with a refresh to match the new, brighter, youthful elegance of the hotel.

Rates: From £740 (approx. €800/ $950)

Book your stay: mandarinoriental.com/london/hyde-park

Millie Walton

Please note: This review was carried out before the breakout of coronavirus and the subsequent closure of the hotel. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Bar Boulud are due to reopen soon, whilst the spa currently remains closed due to government guidelines. The Rosebery is open for all-day dining and afternoon tea, as well as 24-hour in-room dining. Please check the hotel’s website for further updates.

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Reading time: 4 min
Country hotel
luxury historic hotel

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

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

The Lygon Arms, Cotswolds

THE LOCATION

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

THE ARRIVAL

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

Luxury bar and restaurant

The Lygon Bar and Grill

THE STAY

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

ANYTHING ELSE?

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

Book your stay: lygonarmshotel.co.uk

luxurious hotel bedroom

Le25bis is the first of its kind in Épernay

Le 25bis by Leclerc Briant, Champagne

THE LOCATION

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

Read more: Driving from Alsace-Lorraine to Lake Constance

THE ARRIVAL

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

bathroom

THE STAY

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

ANYTHING ELSE?

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

Book your stay: le25bis.com

Country hotel

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

Lords of the Manor, Cotswolds

THE LOCATION

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

Read more: Fashion superstar Giorgio Armani on his global empire

THE ARRIVAL

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

contemporary interiors

The bar at Lords of the Manor

THE STAY

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

ANYTHING ELSE?

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

Book your stay: lordsofthemanor.com

luxury hotel bedroom

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

Grand Hotel Europäischer Hof, Heidelberg

THE LOCATION

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

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

THE ARRIVAL

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

hotel entrance

THE STAY

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

ANYTHING ELSE?

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

Book your stay: europaeischerhof.com

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

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 6 min
Landscape photography
Landscape photography

The view across the Rhine valley from Alsace’s Chateau de Haut-Koenigsbourg to Germany’s Black Forest.

LUX takes a journey from Alsace-Lorraine to Lake Constance, through a historic, beautiful, tranquil and gastronomic part of France and Germany that is curiously overlooked on the international tourist map

Location photography by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

There was a point at which, quite abruptly, the Autoroute A4, the east-west artery arrowing out of Paris towards Germany, became interesting. For hours before this point, we had been driving on a wide motorway flanked by flattish fields. Wind turbines and the occasional tractor were for the most part the only distractions from the monotony, with the exception of a brief section, near the city limits of Reims, where the vineyards of Champagne crept up an unexpected hill to our right. But the Montagne de Reims is better experienced in a glass than through the glass.

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An hour or so east of Reims, as if the gods of scenery had decided on a set change there and then, the highway swept to the left and up through a sudden forest on a long incline. The forest felt ancient, revealing glades and streams between its fronds, even when travelling at a cruise. There had been no warning of this scenery’s arrival, making it all the more compelling. In a few miles, a sign told us we were in the Forest of Argonne, known as the site of some of the worst battles of the first world war, and among oenophiles as the source of wooden barrels for some of the world’s great wines.

As if now trying to free itself from its straight-laced former self, the motorway writhed through a series of hills, along viaducts and across shallow valleys. We were now in Lorraine, technically part of the same, recently created region of Grand Est that we had been driving through for hours, but in reality a different part of Europe, historically, linguistically and, evidently, topographically. Lorraine, by itself or bound to neighbouring Alsace, is arguably as Germanic as it is French. Without crossing a border, we had changed nations.

historic building

Riquewihr, one of the historic villages on the Alsace wine route

We turned off near Verdun and followed a country lane that tracked a little river, turning left at a little junction and heading into the forest. Through a tiny one-horse village aligned along the road, and some wrought-iron gates, and we arrived at our overnight stopover, the Lodge Hôtel du Domaine de Sommedieue.

Read more: Why we’re dreaming of summers at Badrutt’s Palace, St Moritz

The reception area doubled as a restaurant, in an old building with a few tables outside, scattered across a lawn shaded by tall trees and bordered by a series of ponds. Our room, tidy, clean, well prepared and functional, was in a newly refurbished building a few metres away. The Sommedieue advertises itself as a fishing lodge, but we don’t fish, so we ordered a bottle of very good Côtes du Rhône from the receptionist/ waitress, who happily chilled out by the bar with her beau, with no pressure on us late arrivals to drink up and allow her to lock up. We drank the bottle, then another, at an outside table, alone with our thoughts and the plopping of fish, until a deep night-time absorbed us all.

lake with boats

Uberlingersee, the northwestern stretch of Bodensee (Lake Constance), in southern Germany, is an idyllic destination for summertime leisure visitors

The next morning the waitress had been replaced by the busy, jolly owner, who asked me which newspapers we would like. He placed a selection on a long wooden table inside the restaurant which he had festooned with a breakfast spread worthy of a still life: fresh, fat loaves, thickly sliced; home-made raspberry and apricot jam; slabs of butter; a bowl of apples.

We headed on, eastwards, through Lorraine, through forests and past rivers and lakes, still in France but with road signs reading as if they were in German: Harskirchen, Hirschland. Lorraine and neighbouring Alsace were at the heart of Europe’s history and wars for centuries, sometimes French, sometimes German, sometimes independent: they have seen peace only since the establishment of the forebear of the European Union after the second world war.

The town of Phalsbourg is bounded on one side by high wooded hills and on the other by meadows dropping down into the lowlands of Alsace. It sits on the border of Alsace and Lorraine, and we were there for its annual festival, the Festival de Théâtre. We arrived in the late afternoon, and walked into the central square, which with its gabled, almost Hanseatic architecture, feels like it belongs more to the Baltic than a country with a Mediterranean coast. We had a pizza on the terrace of one of the square’s handful of restaurants, while the festivities geared up; children and adults wearing the traditional red wandered by, eating candy floss and sipping on local wines respectively. A jazz band launched into a fabulous set as the day turned from gold to light blue to darker blue.

As the band finished, we climbed into the car and headed into the hills enveloped in deep forest and arrived, around midnight, at the Auberge d’Imsthal, a little inn set on a lake in the forest, ringed by hills. I sat on the balcony, listening to fish splashing and animals crashing through the forest, looking for shooting stars.

Church at night

Notre-Dame de l’Assomption church in Phalsbourg, a town in the hills on the border of France’s Alsace and Lorraine regions

The Alsace Wine Route carves its way across slopes lined with vineyards and scattered with Hansel and Gretel villages. The road is slightly elevated from the Rhine floodplain, and as you snake through the vineyards you see views of the deep blue mass of the Black Forest mountains. Halfway along the wine route, we stopped off at the village of Eguisheim, which sits amid its vineyards near the leading edge of a steep hillside leading up to the Vosges mountains.

Read more: Artist Marc Ferrero on his collaboration with Hublot

Eguisheim is tiny – the size of a city square in Paris or Madrid – but seems both eternal and infinite. Its narrow streets, lined by 500-year-old gabled houses, many of them in pastel shades, are arranged in an oval shape, with a breathtakingly bijou square with a fountain at its heart. We sat in a courtyard belonging to a wine producer and drank light, pure local crémant rosé sparkling wine, as the sky and the buildings changed colour and a cool breeze wafted down from the mountains as night fell.

convertible silver car

Mercedes S 560 Cabriolet

For our epic drive across Europe, we had a Mercedes S 560 Cabriolet, a big, handsome, luxurious convertible with seemingly limitless performance and the ability to whizz down any road in a ‘swoosh’ of power and smoothness. The armchairs cradled us like a jealous lover, and, with the roof down, their air-conditioning kept us chill when the sun shone, and warm at night.

The most memorable, and attractive, thing about the Swoosh-mobile was its effortlessness; the way you could fire it up and almost instantly be going at the speed limit, while it made bumps and bits of broken road disappear as if they were not there. So many fast cars these days are tuned as if they are going to be driven on a racetrack, riding down the road so firmly that you fear the movements on your expensive wristwatch will disassemble themselves every time you hit a bump, and making you fear for the integrity of the wheel every time you crash into a pothole. The S 560 is different: it is made to give its driver and passengers the most soothing drive possible, at a level of luxury that would have been inconceivable in a car only 15 years ago.

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

If that makes it sound like the car is boring to drive, it’s not. There is a certain rakish, louche joy in whipping the roof down, cranking the concert-standard Burmester hi-fi up to high, and aiming down the road, elbow on window sill, the car emitting a deep, sonorous but quite muted gurgle. It responds well to changes of direction, not driving nearly as softly as its super-smooth ride would have you fear. Perhaps on a racetrack it would suffer against sportier rivals, but who takes this kind of car on a racetrack anyway?

It certainly didn’t suffer on the autobahn. Parts of German motorways remain free of speed limits, meaning that, once you spot the roadside sign telling you all speed checks are off you can go as fast as you wish without fear of being stopped or photographed by the police. As the autobahn descended from the Black Forest towards Bodensee (Lake Constance) on the final part of our journey, the no-limits sign appeared. The road arrowed straight down a gentle incline bordered on either side by meadows, with no junctions, and no traffic ahead of us. With the accelerator buried, and a rumble of chest-beating from somewhere inside the exhaust system, we surged, roof down, unstoppably, past an indicated 150mph in a matter of seconds. I finally eased off at 155mph when the wind above the open roof was at a severe hurricane level. The S 560 may be easy going, but it can also go.

car dashboard

Convertible sportscar

Such speed hastened our arrival on the shores of Bodensee, which is shared between three countries: Germany on its northern shores; Switzerland on the south shore opposite; and Austria at its eastern edge. Überlingen, on the German shore, is a small and historic resort town. That evening we strolled along the lakefront along a pathway festooned with gardens and small hotels, past the Strandbad (lake beach), where families were sunbathing, playing games and jumping into the lake, and to the centre of Überlingen. A row of cafes, restaurants and ice-cream booths faced the lake, alongside the pedestrian path; a passenger ferry docked, sending a mother duck and her ducklings into a tizzy and causing a passer-by to rescue a duckling which had jumped into a hole for safety. A ten-year-old brother and sister played trumpet and violin, quite competently, attracting a pile of donations for their bicycle fund. A mini beach-volleyball tournament attracted a small crowd, sipping local beer sold from a pop-up stand, on the waterfront. Überlingen is a special find, a tidy, beautifully preserved hark back to another era that feels all the more relaxing now because of it.

For our final overnight, we drove five minutes to the Park Hotel St Leonhard, on a gentle hillside, covered with meadows, orchards and vineyards, above the town. From the wide balcony of our room, the hill sloped down into the town towards the lake; across the two fingers of Bodensee, the lights of the settlements on the Swiss side lit up, the Alps forming a jagged graphic backdrop. The air was wet, herbaceous and grassy. This had been Europe, both new and old, at its very best; and sometimes true luxury cannot be measured by hotel stars.

Four Alsace wines to try

Alsace’s wines remain curiously undiscovered. Whites and sparkling dominate, all are fresh and sophisticated, some are sweet but others are dry, complex and fabulous value; and there are many good producers, keeping prices reasonable.

Domaine Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile
Rich, rounded, but bone-dry riesling with layers of candy and lime. Fabulous wine and value.

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris
Sweet but not cloying, packed with a thousand fruit salads and much more. One of the greats.

Bruno Hertz Crémant d’Alsace Rosé
Heart-stoppingly pure sparking pink, simple and delicious, tasting of summer forest.

Domaine Hugel Riesling
Somehow unctuous and dry at the same time, stony with kiwis; older vintages can age beautifully.

For more information visit: mercedes-benz.co.uk

Note: This trip was undertaken pre-lockdown. LUX paid in full for all the hotels in this feature. 

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Ocean safari
Luxury beach suite

One of the beach suites with a private pool at Alphonse Island

Keith Rose-Innes is an environmentalist and globally renowned fly-fisherman. Having first travelled to the Seychelles as a fly-fishing guide, he is now the Managing Director of Alphonse Island, where he continues to promote sustainable travel. Here, he speaks to Chloe Frost-Smith about falling in love with the Seychelles, building an eco camp and his predictions for the travel industry after lockdown

Portrait of a man

Keith Rose-Innes. Credit Nick Kelly

1. Your passion for fly-fishing has taken you all over the world. What has been your most memorable moment from your travels?

My first trip to the outer atolls of the Seychelles is still my most memorable travelling experience. Google Maps didn’t exist in the early days and we would arrive with old nautical charts. It was incredible knowing that you could be the first person to guide a fly-fisherman on that particular flat, and that you might discover an incredible spot at any time and then personally, name it for guests to experience in the future.

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Sustainable tourism provides the opportunity to form partnerships that can protect places such as these. Unlike many other fly-fishing driven conservation efforts, we have never been focussed on solely protecting the marine environment; we have also contributed equally to the protection and preservation of the terrestrial ecosystems of the outer atolls. The Alphonse Fishing Company, Blue Safari Seychelles, Islands Development Company and Island Conservation Society have joined together to form a partnership to manage and execute strategies and projects to protect the species and environments through means of public funding, which is collected via donations and fundraising initiatives. These funds are then donated to the foundations of Alphonse, Farquhar, Cosmoledo and Astove. These are specific to the individual atolls to oversee the funding of the projects operated by the Island Conservation Society. Each destination has a weekly presentation that provides a detailed update of the progress the various programs are making and also provides the opportunity for guests to discuss the environmental topics with qualified environmentalists and marine biologists.

Remote exotic island

An aerial view of Poivre Island, one of the Seychelles’ outer islands

2. Other than the obvious, what made you decide to settle in the remote atolls of the Seychelles?

I cut my teeth as a fly-fishing guide in the Seychelles 22 years ago and guided full time for 17 years before co-founding Alphonse Fishing Company and now our latest initiative, Blue Safari Seychelles. The years I’ve spent promoting and establishing the remote atolls of the Seychelles as one of the world’s best saltwater fly-fishing and ecotourism destinations have been the best years of my life. Although I travel extensively and have a second home in South Africa, my real home is on the remote atolls of the Seychelles. If I had to hang my hat anywhere in the world, it would be in the Seychelles. Living how I do comes with obvious perks, not least of which is access to the various incredible ecosystems on my doorstep. I have been lucky enough to be the first to fly fish and guide trips to numerous of the now well-known outer atolls of the Seychelles. Many would call it pioneering, but I see it as school fees. I know the outer atolls of the Seychelles so well and I love every day that I get back out on the water.

3. What was the inspiration behind Cosmoledo Eco Camp, and do you have any plans to create similar concepts anywhere else in the future?

The purpose of the Cosmoledo Eco Lodge is to establish sustainable ecotourism in line with the Blue Economy, as well as to conserve and monitor the area. One of the most important reasons for the camp is to have a year round presence monitoring the environment to deter foreign, commercial fishing activities which have been taking place. During the months from May to November when the Eco Camp closes to guests, a team of Island Conservation Society rangers and scientists stay on location with our skeleton crew to monitor the area.

The temporary and minimalistic camp was constructed with recycled containers that were retrofitted in South Africa, shipped to Seychelles and then placed on plinths and opened up to form a front deck and back bathroom. The entire container is covered with a sail to create shade and cover from the rain. It’s a concept that I hadn’t seen done anywhere else and echoes a sense of responsibility as almost everything used in the building was recycled.

The feeling you get when staying in a very comfortable, air-conditioned and full glass front container is unique. It’s almost like the cabin of a ship placed in a nature wonderland. The bird sounds, untouched vegetation and view over the lagoon are incredible. The main central area is a tent that is placed on the sand and placement of the camp was selected where there were foundations from buildings erected in the past. The entire camp can be removed completely without leaving any trace of humans behind.

Beach front villa

A beach villa at Alphonse Island

4. What were the main challenges of turning shipping containers into entirely eco-friendly pods?

Initially, it was difficult to imagine how we’d fit all the necessities in such a small space, but once completed, we realised how little you actually need. The next hardest aspect was fitting everything onto three barges [for transportation] and building the camp in only 21 days. We couldn’t fit all of the necessary furniture onto the barges, so we decided to build some it on site from the recycled pallets and timber, which were used to brace everything inside the containers when shipped.

Read more: How Andermatt Swiss Alps is tackling climate change

5. How do you think travel has been impacted by the current lockdown, and what will travel look like once this period ends?

I think it’s still too soon to comprehend the outcome as we are only starting to feel the far-reaching ramifications of a total lockdown of the worldwide tourism sector. It has affected our business immensely as we have hibernated all islands. We are, however, in a strong position and we will open up when things are safe to do so.

My outcome is somewhat positive as smaller to medium-sized private hotels should excel and especially, in destinations that have not experienced any cases of Covid-19. Hotels that have an emphasis on safety, social distancing and health protocol will be focused on.

I do feel that long-haul travel will be somewhat impacted from a health concern point of view and vacation travel may become less frequent, but as the focus shifts towards wellness it is quite possible that travellers may choose longer periods at a destination that caters to all needs, whilst avoiding busy airports and numerous flights. Without a question, there will be a renewed focus on family time, wellness, authenticity, environmentally-friendly travel, well-being and nature. After lockdown, family time will be key, which is why I believe small eco-lodges with family-based activities will excel.

Ocean safari

A guided walk on Alphonse island. Image by Anthony Grote

6. Have you seen any positive effects on the environment during lockdown, and if so, are there any sustainable steps which can be taken to ensure these continue?

We haven’t seen any direct environmental positives that directly relate to Covid-19 other than less air pollution. There are some negatives as a weak economy prevents our ability to fundraise for the foundations that protect our atolls.

There has, however, been a huge silver-lining. My life’s work has been to try to assist in protecting these amazing places and on the 26 March 2020, the President of the Seychelles, Danny Faure, officially signed the bill demarcating 30% of the territorial waters of the Seychelles, legally binding Marine Protected Areas as part of the large-scale Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan. This is a first-of-its-kind initiative, exchanging national debt relief in exchange for ocean conservation policy co-designed by the Nature Conservancy, Seychelles Government and the World Bank. The Alphonse Group, Desroches, Farquhar, Poivre, Cosmoledo and Astove are all included in the gazette, culminating in a five-year project led by the UNDP-GEF with Island Conservation Society, Blue Safari and Alphonse Fishing Company as some of the key partners amongst others who are specifically focused on protecting the unique and pristine tropical marine ecosystems of these remote atolls. The policy designates the offshore waters up to 1km from the outer coral reefs as protected ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. These designations seek to conserve the exceptional biodiversity and natural value of these marine areas whilst ensuring the enjoyment of sustainable ecosystem services into the future. We are blessed to have the Seychelles Outer Islands in a prestige state that has changed very little since the early days and now, it’s up to us humans to protect it.

Find out more: bluesafari.com, alphonse-island.com

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Reading time: 7 min
Man wearing glasses
Man wearing glasses

Erdem Moralioglu by Tom Mannion

Erdem Moralıoğlu’s flagship store is in Mayfair, but the heart of this designer to the stars is in hip east London, where he lives and has his studio. He gives LUX a pre-lockdown tour of his home patch

My favourite view…

The view from the restaurant at the top of the National Portrait Gallery

The most romantic spot for dinner…

St John on Commercial Street

The best spot to read a book…

The London Library

The best place to take a selfie…

No selfies!

Where you’ll hear the coolest music…

The Glory in Dalston

The only coffee I’ll queue for…

Violet on Wilton Way (they also do the best cinnamon bun in the world)

The perfect spot not in a travel guide…

The stacks at The London Library – I could spend hours getting lost in all the books

A tourist destination that’s worth the hype…

The Turbine Hall at Tate Modern

The best spot for some people-watching…

Broadway Market on a Saturday

The taste that reminds me of my childhood…

Mangal 2 on Stoke Newington Road, which is my favourite Turkish restaurant in London

My favourite museum/gallery…

The Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum or anything at Maureen Paley

The shop I never want to leave…

My shop in Mayfair. I spend a lot of time there and many of my clients say it feels like home

The best place to soak up some nature…

In the pool at London Fields Lido in winter

The perfect weekend brunch…

Allpress Espresso on Dalston Lane

I’m prepared to make a detour for…

The National Portrait Gallery

I’m at home in….

Hackney

View the designer’s collections: erdem.com

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

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Reading time: 1 min
woman standing in front of pink flowers
woman standing in front of pink flowers

Portia Antonia Alexis is a leading consumer business analyst, neuroeconomist and mathematician

Portia Antonia Alexis is a neuroeconomist and consumer goods analyst specialising in the luxury and beauty sector. Following the publication of a recent research paper entitled ‘The Global Elite,’ the McKinsey alumnus speaks to LUX about how populism is just another form of protection for ingrained elites, why more women will become entrepreneurs, and how self-made billionaires are not always what they seem

LUX: Recent elections in the US, UK and elsewhere have returned a populist message. Yet US President Donald Trump and UK PM Boris Johnson are part of the elite themselves, and their elections are benefitting the elite more than anyone else. How can this be?
Portia Antonia Alexis: Right-wing populism emerges when the political and economic status quo fails the majority of people. Populist politicians build their base by constructing an in-group – in this case, hardworking white Britons – and pitching themselves as the champions of this “oppressed” group. They then blame the out-group – Muslims, migrants and scroungers – for the hardships everyone else is suffering.

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In doing so, they channel widespread anger away from the powerful – the economic and political elites – and towards the powerless.  They may claim to be tearing up the status quo, but their fundamental objective is to protect capitalist institutions when they are at their most fragile.

This strategy extends into the realm of policy. Johnson’s electoral agenda – from clamping down on crime to ending freedom of movement within the EU – will polarise politics around an opposition between white, working-class Britons versus migrants and welfare scroungers. He will declare himself tough on crime and migration while casting his opponents as out-of-touch elites who don’t understand the concerns of ordinary people.

Right-wing populism must be seen for what I think it is: a symptom of a crumbling capitalist order that no longer promises a better future for most people.

LUX: An increasing number of super-wealthy are self-made. Is this good?
Portia Antonia Alexis: This question reminds me of the controversial Forbes cover story naming Kylie Jenner a “self-made” billionaire.

Critics cited that it was irresponsible for that magazine not to address how Jenner’s family fame helped her amass her fortune. And it’s true, in a way. Calling Jenner self-made connotes a sense of empowerment and a narrative that she lifted herself by her bootstraps. In contrast, her successful company is not so much the result of being self-made but rather an extension of the already successful empire that’s driven by her sisters.

Most bottomless pockets, not just Jenner, consider themselves entirely “self-made.” Rich people are very conflicted about their entitlement. To cope with this conflict, many simply pretend to be self-made. President Trump is a glaring example. Even though he grew up wealthy, he introduces himself as an entrepreneur.

The best evidence of this bias to claim “self-made” status? The annual September release of the Forbes magazine list of America’s 400 richest.

The necessary conclusion from these findings: Forbes is spinning “a misleading tale of what it takes to become wealthy in America.” Most of the Forbes 400 have benefited from a level of privilege unknown to the vast majority of Americans.

Read more: Inside artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat studio

LUX: When will women start to have a significant presence in the ranks of the super-wealthy?
Portia Antonia Alexis: While women still represent a relatively small part of the billionaire community, they are a continuously growing segment. Perhaps more interesting is that the percentage increase in self-made women was more significant than the rise in the number of billionaires overall, which could signal a change in who will create and control wealth moving forward.

Much of the increase in super-rich women is due to entrepreneurship. These women, like all self-made successes, exhibit several core characteristics. For example, they typically have high levels of self-efficacy, are adept at strategic networking, and are accomplished negotiators.

Women that have created their wealth are different from those that marry or inherit their wealth in several essential ways. They are more willing to take calculated business risks, and they are often motivated to take steps to enlarge and enhance their fortunes through new business ventures, sophisticated tax and investment strategies, and the creation of family offices.

There is unconscious bias in the system, though. I believe many men would like to see more women at the top. I don’t think they’re all actively trying to keep women out, but some discrimination still exists.

I am confident that we will achieve gender parity in top income generation over the next generation. The girl who can dominate a field of robots is a woman who can dominate a field of men.

lady in white dress

LUX: As millennials mature, will the nature of consumption change?
Portia Antonia Alexis: Millennials are less wealthy than people were in the past, which makes them very price-sensitive for brands and products that are not differentiated from competitors. But while they have less money, they are very value-focused and are willing – thanks to their parents’ finances – to pay for quality or status.

And they are very tech-savvy, having grown up on the internet and with smartphones. They are well-informed and quick to adopt new technologies. Finally, they are into health and wellness, taking a more active role in physical fitness than keeping to an ideal weight or getting enough sleep.

LUX: Are millennials and Gen Z investing more into the ESG and impact investing sectors, or is it lip service?

Portia Antonia Alexis: When investing, millennials are committed to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. They want to be responsible investors.

In the early days, this mainly amounted to the exclusion of investments exposed to industries such as tobacco, alcohol or armaments. Still, it is now turning to broader ESG and sustainability policies. For example, we are increasingly asked about board diversity: millennials want to know how many women are on boards or in senior management.

Millennials are not the end of the generational transformation of consumption patterns. Some 77 million members of Generation Z, also known as centennials, have been born since 1997 – making them as large a cohort as the millennials. They are the most diverse generation, with almost half of them belonging to a minority group.

The potential for higher returns from companies that position themselves to benefit from the changing consumption patterns of millennials and centennials should make them especially attractive for investors.

Read more: How Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah is establishing itself as a cultural hub

LUX: Can you invest ethically and get the same return as investing without regard for ethics?
Portia Antonia Alexis: A common assumption is that sustainable investment is about conscience rather than profit. Almost three out of 10 people avoid ethical funds because they believe the returns will not be as high as more conventional alternatives.

Very often, people assume you have to give up decent returns to do good with your money. But this isn’t philanthropy, and it’s about people, planet and profit. The research bears that out, showing that sustainable funds are often generating better returns than more traditional funds. Some still regard ethical investing as a fringe activity for do-gooders, but evidence shows how wrong this assumption is.

This year, the National Trust announced it was divesting its investment portfolio from fossil fuels. Meanwhile, equity research house Redburn recently removed buy ratings from the biggest oil companies, saying that demand for oil is set to decline as the focus moves to renewables.  Not only is it savvy to maintain a varied portfolio, but sustainable investing is also becoming increasingly mainstream, opening up more impact investing opportunities to all levels of the investment community.

Research shows this type of investment can provide equal, if not better, returns than more conventional funds. And also, the variety of companies financed by impact investment funds – those that score highly on ESG factors – perform better. These businesses typically have lower costs of capital and higher returns.

woman seated in white dress

LUX: Is ethical investing being led by the West, and does the rest of the world need to catch up?
Portia Antonia Alexis: In most Western countries, between 40 to 80 per cent of investors want to invest “ethically”. They desire to make money and create a better society. However, the funds screening investments for ethical conduct usually make up less than 3 per cent of total mutual fund, unit trust, or ETF assets in those countries. These ‘ethically screened′ funds frequently focus on investments related to the environment and sustainability, social responsibility, or are faith-based, and so on.

Investing ethically, for some investors, is essential as they believe it also impacts their personal or spiritual development. They think they ultimately share in the responsibility for the activities of the company, companies or funds that they invest in.

In many Muslim countries, ethical investors invest in Islamic financial products such as Sukuk—Islamic bonds. These assets sometimes represent a significant proportion of total financial system assets in these countries, in contrast to the socially responsible investment (SRI) priorities of many Western investors such as mitigating climate change or regulating genetically modified foods. SRI in developing countries may need to address health care provision, poverty alleviation or food security. The SRI schedule tends to be shaped by a market dogma that can elevate or marginalise issues according to their perceived “financial materiality” to investors preoccupied with finding a business case for acting ethically.

Read more: Boundary-breaking artist Barbara Kasten on light & perception

LUX: How are the children of the super-elite dealing with the wealth created by their parents?
Portia Antonia Alexis: I often describe elite kids as having “well-fed child syndrome.” The idea is simple enough: they’re not made aware of their limits, only of their capacities. They get a sense of the world not as rules and regulations, but instead as an open terrain to be negotiated. Whereas the experience for a lot of disadvantaged kids is that of “you can’t” — of the limits placed upon you, the rules you have to follow, and the punishments likely to be laid down on you, the experience at St. Paul’s is that “you can.” This is an empowering way to treat children. This ethic — this sense of potential and an open world before you — helps with success.

A lot of very wealthy people are not accountable to their community, they’re not responsible to the people they love, they show their power and control through the transaction, and they are unhappy, from what I can tell. The people I know who are very wealthy and are happy are all contributing something to society.

LUX: Are experiences replacing luxury goods as the purchasing focus of the wealthy?
Portia Antonia Alexis: At the end of November of last year, the Savigny Luxury Index, compiled on the stock values of 18 leading luxury companies, reported a drop in average stock prices to reach a lower level than at the beginning of the year.

In the past, luxury was associated with champagne, caviar and designer clothes. Nowadays, with increased affluence, luxury is no longer the preserve of the elite. More and more consumers have traded up as old values of tradition and nobility have become less critical. People are enjoying much more material comfort in comparison with previous generations, and this has resulted in a trend of a cultural shift for cultural fulfilment and aspiration through experience. Therefore, it could be argued that luxury is increasingly about experience and authenticity rather than monetary value.

The focus on aspiration and experience means there is an increasing emphasis on personal transformation through, for example, well-being and travel. Therefore, luxury is becoming more challenging to define because the language has changed. Luxury today is not necessarily expensive. It can be accessible to a mass market, not traditional; it can also be personal, authentic and experiential. However, the old-world luxury of consumption and elitism still prevails.

LUX: Does elite mean wealthy, or does it mean privileged in other ways? Can you be one of the elites without being wealthy?
Portia Antonia Alexis: Elite suggests by definition that it goes for both wealthy and privileged. An elite is a relatively small group of people with the highest status in a society, or in some domain of activity, who have more privileges or power than other people due to their condition. Elitism is believing in or promoting this sort of arrangement, whether that be in the academic world, politics, art, sports, or anywhere else. Almost all the national income gains over the last 40 years have gone to the wealthiest 5 per cent of Americans.

If you think that only the top 5 per cent of American earners have become more productive or been the sole producers of value, you don’t understand how an economy works. Elites have used their power to extract a greater and greater share of the national wealth. And that must be addressed.

I don’t know if you can be one of the elites and not wealthy. But I do know ones who can be against the elite and still be wealthy and privileged.

Read more: Examining the work of visual artist & philosopher Wolfgang Tillmans

LUX: So far, populism in the West has returned right-wing, free-market, nationalist political leaders in the UK, US, Poland, and elsewhere (see Q1). Will high tax/socialist politicians succeed?
Portia Antonia Alexis: The resurgence of populism has abruptly reshaped global politics over the past few years, but what it means for economic growth and financial assets has yet to become apparent.

Although markets are quick to respond to individual events—such as a populist party’s rise to power or the introduction of a tax cut or spending increase—they have not yet grasped how populism could affect the global economy over the long term.

This poses a challenge for investors, as they need to understand the economics of populism to position their portfolios over the years ahead effectively.

The early stages of the policy profile outlined above can be glimpsed in President Trump’s deficit financed tax cuts and the ruling Italian populist coalition’s battles with the European Union (EU) to push through an expansionary budget.

The fiscal accounts of Hungary and Poland have structurally deteriorated after the election of rightwing populist governments, and the market’s price in an economic deterioration in Mexico under the newly elected left-wing president Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

It is worrying that most of the populist governments that undertake these fiscal expansions lack the fiscal space to do so.

LUX: What is the most exciting trend you have observed among the elites?
Portia Antonia Alexis: The rise of populism has become a global obsession in the last year. Whether it’s Donald Trump or the Brexit movement, the rise of populism has helped crystallise the fact that there are two kinds of elites: those who like to bash populists for being foolish, and those who wish to bash other elites for failing to give populists enough of what they want.

What’s interesting is that the anti-elite elites don’t seem to have policy preferences that differ that considerably from other elites. Everybody thinks the status quo needs changing in one way or another. And I don’t think points based on skilled immigration systems and relocation vouchers aren’t what most anti-immigration protesters have in mind.

Nor do I think a vigorous points-based immigration system, relocation vouchers, or any policy ideas of anti-elites would have done much to stop the current global wave of populism that we’re seeing. Had anti-elite elites been handed the wheel 15 years ago, I think we’d pretty much be right where we are right now.

LUX: You initially trained to become an equestrian show jumper, today you are an economist, mathematician and business analyst. What changed?
Portia Antonia Alexis: I spent an extensive amount of time training to become an international equestrian. Ultimately, I found I loved mathematics more. When I was volunteering as a youth counsellor with the London Metropolitan Police, offering counselling and therapeutic care to youths who had been victims of crime, I witnessed a range of diverse socioeconomic issues. These issues concerned me, and I found it interesting to analyse the problems from an academic, investigative and human lens. I wanted to find a way to research the determinants relating to wealth, income, poverty using a range of the method. And to predict the probability of wealth distribution income inequality and social mobility in detail. The rise of the global elite and the rise of income inequality and the decline of the social movement.

The most important thing I learned as a mathematician is that I can’t explain it all on my models, I must get out and meet the world. I enjoyed the process, and it motivated me: the people and their stories. Economics studies the behaviour of people. There are a lot of variables that can’t be explained in the models. Even if they could, those models would be useless. When I started working as a researcher, I didn’t spend my time thinking about what Keynes or Hayek said, nor did I try to show how the mathematical models work. I just went to the data, applied some statistical analysis and applied them on the real world.

This is the kind of work that counts, the type of knowledge that is useful, because it’s not doomed to stay on a shelf for centuries, and it has a connection with the people out there.

I still love horses and ride and show jump for leisure these days. I take part in equine therapy once a week, which involves activities with horses and other equines to promote human physical and mental health. I also occasionally write research papers on trends within the horse racing industry and the global equine industry.

Follow Portia on Instagram: @portiaeconomics

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Reading time: 14 min
interiors of lounge
Luxury country estate house

The grand exterior and park of the Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden

Our editor-in-chief reflects on travels to some of the world’s great hotels, old and new, across Europe and Asia

Brenners Park, Baden-Baden

Swing open the balcony door at the Brenners, and you are in a fairytale land of luscious trees and deep lawns, with a stream running along the end of the garden in front of you. Locals and tourists stroll along the path beyond, kids run in the flower-bedecked meadow.

Not that long ago, Baden-Baden in Germany was pretty much the place in the world to come to get away from it all. In the days before jets, the view from the Brenners Park, overlooking the gardens, with the tops of the hills of the Black Forest immediately beyond, and the opera house just down at the end of the park, was as good as it could possibly get.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

It feels pretty good right now. I ease myself into one of the balcony chairs, listening to the birdsong, reflecting that we are in the heart of Europe, a tiny distance from my home, somewhere unencumbered by the over-commercialisation of modern tourist destinations, and without hurricanes, typhoons or sweltering heat.

The hotel is in a little valley which itself is the centre of the spa town of Baden-Baden. Walk out through the grounds, over a little bridge, turn right and you are in a Baroque town centre within around four minutes’ walk. The park itself feels like the hotel’s back garden. Arriving at the grand entrance, you are aware of drawing up at an institution that has attracted the world’s great and good since 1872. Emperors from Germany to Persia stayed here. The reception area has the feel of the ground country house, rather than a city hotel, and a short climb up an oak-panelled staircase (or in a cute vintage lift) took us to a grand corridor with our suite at one end, and the connection to the adjoining villa containing the hotel’s famous wellness and spa area.

True to its history, the Villa Stéphanie is a health, medicine and recuperation centre in its own right. Sure, you can swim lengths in the conservatory pool and chillax on wooden sun loungers inside facing the park, or outside in the park in summer. You can also have a treatment and a tour of the wet facilities in the 5,000sq m spa, with its pool areas overlooking the gardens. You can also get proper medical consultations and physiotherapy along with everything else – the medical centre is housed in yet another building, adjacent to Villa Stéphanie.

Interiors of restaurant

The subtly modernised Fritz & Felix restaurant

I settled for an excellent analysis and treatment session of physiotherapy regarding my tennis elbow (conclusion: too much phone use, and too little actual tennis) after which a refreshing 50-length swim gave me an appetite. We wandered down for dinner at Fritz & Felix, an art-deco styled but distinctly contemporary culinary concept, a restaurant/ bar/kitchen. It was a refreshing contrast to our expectations of a historic German hotel. The menu, all in lower case, featured a delicious looking selection of high-quality but simple dishes: sole with capers, parsley, lemon and olive oil; local pike perch with lentils, balsamic, thyme and olives; fillet of beef with chimichurri and broccoli. The rack of lamb with chick peas, raisins and cumin went down particularly well.

The Brenners Park is part of the same group as the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in the south of France and the Bristol in Paris, and you can tell with every flutter of perfect service. Pure class.

Book your stay: oetkercollection.com

Rooftop Swimming pool

Mandarin Oriental Singapore’s swimming pools with views across Marina Bay

Mandarin Oriental Singapore

It was late when I arrived at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore. The transfer from the airport was quick, only 15 minutes. But the flight had been delayed, we had circled during a storm, and I had missed my dinner arrangement, so was feeling rather irritable.

I explained this all to the pleasant young lady who met me at reception and took me to my room (in-room check-in is such a slam dunk for a luxury hotel that they should all be required to do it to retain their five-star status) and she sympathised and, in that luxury Asian hotel way, immediately came up with a solution. Why didn’t I go to the poolside lounge bar, Bay@5, still open, for a glass of wine and a bite to eat?

Read more: Back to school with Van Cleef & Arpels

There aren’t many city hotels in the world where the swimming pool bar will be open, let alone tempting, at 11 o’clock at night, but this Mandarin, it turns out, was very much one of them. On exiting onto the pool terrace, I was greeted with a night-time-hued blue pool and surrounding tropical foliage and, across the waters of Marina Bay, an archipelago of black liquid and skyscrapers that is one of the most intimate yet dramatic night-time cityscapes in the world. Being on the fifth floor, we were just raised above the streetscape of the bay area.

The storm had passed over, the sky was starry with a warm breeze. The terrace of the bar area had a few couples and a small group sipping wine, and 80s music playing. I sipped on a beer so cold the condensation poured and reformed and poured again onto my lap, and instantly I felt much improved.

Contemporary interiors of a bar

The bar at Mandarin Oriental Singapore

The food was exactly what you might want after a long and jet-lagged journey: I had a vegetarian pizza with San Marzano tomatoes and grilled vegetables, and a hamachi ceviche with coriander. There was a selection of cocktails from Mandarin Oriental bars across the world, some fine Australian wines, and Ruinart Blanc de Blancs champagne, but the draft beer suited me fine that evening – I was the last to leave, and back in my room I was half tempted to leave the curtains open so the harbour lights lulled me to sleep, although in the morning I would have been woken by the tropical sun.

I had a morning in my room before meetings in the afternoon, which was nothing if not invigorating. The decor was contemporary Asian luxury: lots of greys and taupes, some piano blacks, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Fortunately, Mandarin Oriental has not yet fallen for the trend of assuming everyone works lying down propped up on pillows in their beds, and there was a proper office chair and desk, which I shunted around to face the view. On my final morning I had an hour spare, and went back to the pool deck, this time to do some lengths of the huge pool and spend 10 minutes lying under the overhead sun. With a view directly across the harbour and out of the sea, it felt like we were on a tropical island, and in a sense we were. Pretty impressive for a city-centre hotel, and I can’t think of anywhere that beats it for a resort in a city of glamour.

Book your stay: mandarinoriental.com

Grand country house

The Four Seasons Hampshire brings a modern style to its 18th-century English manor house and park

Four Seasons Hampshire

The clouds were dramatic as we headed up the drive towards the brick manor house that is the Four Seasons hotel in Hampshire. The hotel is on a slight hill above open fields of English countryside, and on a sunny day, puffs of white and slabs of grey fought each other for places in the Atlantic-washed sky. Arrival was made even more atmospheric at the sight of three fawn-coloured horses, their riders gently leading them across a lawn to the stable block.

The feeling here is of space and light; you (or your kids) are free to roam down the slope leading around the hotel to the restaurant, café and eventually the shooting field at the back. Inside the building, a covered passageway in the conservatory leads to a spa block with a big indoor pool with a glass roof, and outdoor Jacuzzi and sunbathing area, completely private on an Italianate terrace.

interiors of lounge

The lounge are of the Wild Carrot restaurant at Four Seasons Hampshire

Our room was a blend of traditional English coloured cushions – pinks, dark pastels, and burnt orange – a combination of leatherwork, ornate wallpapers, with windows looking over the open fields. Less than 40 minutes from Heathrow, you are plunged into a serious English country house experience.

Read more: High altitude luxury at Riffelalp Resort 2222m, Zermatt

We were expecting a slightly formalised English dining experience, but fortunately the management had more sense than that. Wild Carrot, the main restaurant, has been reborn as a kind of grand Parisian bistro. There were leather banquettes, bare wooden floors and no tablecloths, and a menu featuring lots of raw and local ingredients. Typical was the very welcome lightly torched house-cured mackerel with pickled radish and hollandaise, and a main of Somerset salt-marsh lamb rack with roasted cucumber, Greek yoghurt, tomato chutney and mint. All the vegetables are locally grown.

Luxurious indoor swimming pool

The hotel’s pool is attached to the converted stables

Unlike some traditional English country house hotels, signs proclaim children and dogs are welcome, and there are plenty of activities for both. The riding stables offered us a trek across the fields and around the lakes and hacking around the woodland on horses which had been perfectly matched to our height, weight and experience. There is also a high-wire adventure park, which involves zip wires, ladders and perilous bridges to clamber across, all with highly professional instructors.

There is also tennis, clay pigeon shooting, cycling, croquet and an immensely satisfying spa. The grounds are vast – a walk down to and around the lake and back is enough to work up a full day’s appetite. Altogether, it’s impossible to think of another English country house hotel which offers such a complete range of experiences in such luxury, let alone one so near Heathrow Airport and the capital.

Book your stay: fourseasons.com

Grand palace in snowy setting

The Gstaad Palace was once called, for good reason, the ‘Winter- Palace’

Gstaad Palace

A memory of a place is first recalled by rapid-fire still or moving image (or maybe now a GIF?) in your brain. A few weeks after my visit, my instant memory of the Gstaad Palace was our table at Le Grill restaurant. Wood-panelled walls and ceilings and a thick Alpine carpet, and veneered wooden chairs and occasional tables gave it a mountain chic. Formally dressed waiters bustled around, chatting with guests they have known evidently for years or decades.

They were no less courteous to us, to their credit, although of course we had no common anecdotes to share with them. With Alpine flowers on the thick tablecloths, and cuisine rich and local ingredients, including flambéed dishes prepared at the table by the waiters like a glorious piece of 1970s revival, it was an evening experience unlike almost any other.

Read more: The Thinking Traveller’s Founders Huw & Rossella Beaugié on nurturing quality

There was a fantastic Hungarian traditional string band playing in adjacent bar, alternating with a soulful jazz band. The house Burgundy, poured from magnums, accompanied everything extremely well. You could choose Le Grill to propose to your other half, for a family get-together, or a casual dinner for one – it’s that versatile.

When we drew back the thick red curtains of our suite in the morning, we were greeted by the Alps as drawn by Laurent de Brunhoff, creator of Babar the Elephant. Big, forested round hills dropped into a broad bowl, above which jagged rocky peaks loomed. The Palace is the cornerstone of Gstaad, the reason the village has become one of the epicentres of wealth in Europe. In winter, after dinner at Le Grill or one of the other restaurants, you would roll down to the GreenGo nightclub, with James Bond and Pussy Galore sitting on corner sofas sipping two olive martinis as Julio Iglesias rocks the dance floor.

cosy lounge area with open fire

Today, the hotel’s modern spa adds a warmer kind of seclusion from the outside world

In summer, when we went, the nightclub is a swimming pool, connected to the spa (open year round) and looking out onto a garden with a cute kids’ playground, and lined by the hotel’s famous clay tennis courts. Here, you can play as if you were born with a pro living in your garden house (as many guests likely were) with a 270-degree view of the mountain bowl of the Bernese Oberland. If you need something bigger than the hotel’s internal pool, wander up to the Olympic-sized pool the hotel shares with the village (it has its own sun-lounger area, and this is a very posh village). We loved our simple, abundant mountain-food lunch at the pool bar.

The Palace is the kind of place which makes you feel very welcome, but at which it is always evident that there are layers of society into which money simply won’t buy. In its lavish lounge and bar area, just behind reception, old families from Germany, Switzerland and Italy, whose forebears have been coming here for generations, chat easily about art, girls and boys, and schools. The windows in the corridor leading down to the restaurant contain watches and jewellery, from famous brands, that simply might not be available to you unless you know them personally.

The service, however, is sublime for everyone – there was not a flicker of an eyebrow when we booked a tennis court, arrived on the court, and realised we didn’t have any rackets or balls. They were served up in an instant. I just enjoyed sitting on the terrace at breakfast, picking out a gluten-free croissant, looking out over the view, and catching snippets of cultured conversation in several European languages. Perhaps we will be coming back here for generations also.

Book your stay: palace.ch

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 12 min
Spider on lake in countryside
Small art gallery inside an art hotel

Ellerman House’s art collection features nearly 1,000 works

Hotels have long housed art collections, and now many are opening their own gallery spaces alongside art-focused programmes to offer guests unique cultural experiences. In his latest column for LUX, Abercrombie & Kent’s Founder Geoffrey Kent handpicks his favourite art hotels across the globe

Ellerman House, Cape Town, South Africa

Art lovers will delight in staying at this landmark hotel on Cape Town’s coast. Within the elegant Edwardian mansion of Ellerman House, close to 1,000 works of art reflect the changes in South Africa’s social and geographical landscape since the 1930s. Artists in the collection include John Meyer, Erik Laubscher, Jan Volschenk, Cathcart William Methven, and Pieter Wenning to name but a few. Guests can take a self-guided art tour with an electronic tablet providing insight into each piece. If you prefer, the in-house guide is on hand to take you around the extensive collection and beyond – guests can request guided excursions to the city’s local galleries, enjoying behind-the-scenes access and unmatched insight.

ellerman.co.za

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Luxurious hotel bathroom with artworks

The bathroom of the Royal Suite at The Silo, Cape Town

The Silo, Cape Town, South Africa

A disused grain silo may seem an unlikely candidate for a museum and an art hotel. Yet, this imposing building on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront has been transformed in recent years into a bastion for the African arts. The lower portion of the building is now my friend Jochen Zeitz’s eponymous Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. It’s home to the continent’s most extensive collection of contemporary African art. I’m proud to be one of its founding members and to support its primary aim of encouraging intercultural understanding. It’s a fantastic collection in an extraordinary building. Above, the museum is the beautiful Silo hotel in which I stayed for a few days before departing for the South Pole on one of my Inspiring Expeditions. The six storeys of luxury accommodation are brimming with curated artwork. The Silo’s owner, Liz Biden of The Royal Portfolio, has used the space to display her collection of African pieces. There are works by upcoming artists as well as more established names, such as Nandipha Mntambo, Cyrus Kabiru, and Mohau Modisakeng. The hotel even features its boutique gallery The Vault.

theroyalportfolio.com/the-silo

Artworks hanging on walls of lobby area

Hotel B is Lima’s first and only art hotel

Hotel B, Lima, Peru

For those of us who travel often, firsts are increasingly hard to come by, yet Hotel B is that rarest of things. Lima’s first – and only – art hotel is aptly situated in the city’s most bohemian district amid galleries and fashion boutiques. The building itself is brimming with character, converted as it is from a 1920s colonial mansion. Stay in this restored ‘grand dame’ to admire its private collection of more than 200 artworks, proudly displayed across the landings. Hotel B’s close relationship with nearby Lucia de la Puente Gallery allows guests to request private viewings easily; the gallery offers a fantastic insight into the world of contemporary Peruvian art.

hotelb.pe

Read more: In conversation with Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat

Spider on lake in countryside

‘Crouching Spider’ sculpture by Louise Bourgeois at Villa La Coste in Provence

Villa la Coste, Provence, France

The pastoral landscape of Provence is impossible to upstage, so the owners of Villa La Coste have sought instead to adorn it with dazzling flourishes of creativity. Throughout the biodynamic vineyard of Château La Coste and art hotel, sculptures are tucked amid verdant woodland, hills, and lawns – including works by acclaimed artists Ai Weiwei and Tracey Emin. You can enjoy a two-hour private art and architecture walk with the curator, learning all about the eclectic collection while taking in the beautiful Provençal countryside. Also, the hotel is home to its very own arts centre and hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Stay here, and you’ll never be short of art to admire (nor home-grown wine to sip as you do).

villalacoste.com

Art hotel bedroom

MONA Tasmania offers visitors the chance to stay on the museum grounds in a contemporary pavilion

MONA, Tasmania, Australia

Set on the banks of the River Derwent, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is Australia’s largest privately owned gallery and museum. It was masterminded by gambler and mathematician David Walsh and exhibits his diverse taste in art – from Ancient Egyptian relics to quirky dioramas. Whilst the museum isn’t strictly a hotel, visitors have the opportunity to stay in one of eight contemporary pavilions, each with its own unique character. As well as access to an enclosed lap pool, sauna, and gym, you’ll have a museum chock-full of eclectic and eccentric artwork right on your doorstep. Enjoy unfettered access to MONA’s permanent collection, and utilise its ‘O’ device during self-guided wanders to learn more about the art.

mona.net.au

Find out more: abercrombiekent.co.uk

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Reading time: 4 min
Mountainside city at night
Mountainside city at night

Georiga’s capital Tbilisi sits amidst the Caucasus mountains, on the border of Europe and Asia. Image by Denis Arslanbekov

Why should I book now?

Thinking of booking a spring break? There are few places more lovely than the Caucasus mountains, on the border of Europe and Asia. And in the region, Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is unmistakably the most beautiful city. In a broad valley surrounded by mountains, at its heart is a medieval old town with a fortress towering above. The country has two millennia of history and feels like it was once the centre of a culture and empire – which it was. Winters are cold, summers are hot, and spring, with the trees and blossoms in full bloom, are perfect.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

What’s the lowdown?

The Radisson Blu is the best-located hotel in the city, at the top end of the broad Rustaveli Avenue, the magnificent boulevard, lined with palatial buildings, that bisects the town centre like a more elegant Champs-Elysees. Rooms have views across the city to the mountains beyond. It’s a modern, light and airy place with a lot of glass everywhere. Climbing out of our car and being greeted by the doorman was our first taste of hearty, genuine Georgian hospitality – we had two recommendations of things to do before even entering the reception area. The receptionists were equally friendly, and, you felt, from their hearts: this was genuine national pride, not just training.

Interiors of a chic restaurant

Filini is the hotel’s chic Italian restaurant (above), and in the warmer months, guests can dine on the rooftop terrace (below)

Chic rooftop restaurant

Getting horizontal

Our “superior” category room was spacious and very light, with full glass walls on two sides, and gorgeous views across to the churches of the old town. Decor is contemporary and minimal: whites, creams and light greens. The minibar was filled with local snacks – creamy Argo beer, and packets of local pistachios. There are two restaurants in the hotel, both of them contemporary-chic, and an excellent selection of neighbourhood restaurants just across the square. Wander down Rustaveli Avenue, where a highly fashionable passeggiata takes places every evening in the warmer months, and you get to the Old Town’s wonders, but as a place to stay, we preferred being slightly out of the tourist main drag at the other end of Rustaveli.

Read more: Galleria Continua’s Lorenzo Fiaschi on opening a space in Rome

Luxurious hotel bedroom with floor to ceiling glass windows

The rooms on the higher floors offer the best views over the Old Town

Flipside

The Radisson Blu Tbilisi really didn’t have any drawbacks. Although we would advise anyone visiting to pay more for a room on a higher floor, to maximise those views.

Rates: From GEL 424.80 (approx. £100/€150/ $150)

Book your stay: radissonhotels.com/en-us/hotels/radisson-blu-tbilisi

Darius Sanai

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Reading time: 2 min
large leopard standing on rock
Lush rainforest with waterfalls

Argentina is one of Geoffrey Kent’s must-visit destinations for 2020. Image by Jonatan Lewczuk

LUX columnist and Abercrombie & Kent founder Geoffrey Kent reveals his hottest destinations for the new year plus top tips of what to see and do

Egypt

Egypt has an enduring appeal with its mesmeric relics, atmospheric souks, and natural wonders. After the tumult of recent years, the Land of the Pharaohs is making a deserved comeback. In 2018, more than 11 million tourists visited Egypt, and the World Tourism Organisation has since named the country the world’s fastest-growing travel destination. In the latter half of 2020, the Grand Egyptian Museum is finally set to open. Encompassing 500,000 square metres, this vast exhibition space will showcase an omnium-gatherum of Ancient Egyptian finds – 30,000 of which have never been exhibited in public before.

My top tip: Egypt is a place where it’s imperative to have an experienced local guide so that you can truly appreciate this ancient civilisation’s history and culture.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Egyptian pyramids with camel trail

‘Egypt has an enduring appeal with its mesmeric relics, atmospheric souks, and natural wonders’

Sri Lanka

The ‘teardrop of India’ brims with lush landscapes, ancient treasures, and rich cultural heritage. Successive waves of Indian, Arab and European traders flocked to Sri Lanka’s palm-fringed shores, attracted by rare spices, precious stones, and magnificent elephants. Today ancient cities, tea plantations, and hill stations vie travellers’ attentions, alongside eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, great beaches and national parks with an abundance of wildlife. On a Sri Lanka holiday, a large dose of tropical warmth awaits, in both the weather and the welcome.

My top tip: Sri Lanka is home to the biggest leopards that I have seen anywhere – be sure to spend time in Yala National Park, where dozens of these magnificent cats live.

large leopard standing on rock

Geoffrey Kent recommends visiting Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park to see leopards

Argentina

There are few places in the world where you can feel the same sense of vastness and isolation that you can find in Argentina’s breathtakingly rugged landscapes. Voyage to Argentina in 2020 to experience one of nature’s most magnificent events: a total solar eclipse. Set to take place on 14 December, this aligning of celestial bodies will be visible from just a few South American countries. In Argentina, the event will briefly plunge northern Patagonia into darkness in the middle of the afternoon. Be among the few to witness this rare, magical moment in a region already famed for its spectacular scenery.

My top tip: If you go this year, you can become one of the first guests to stay at the explora Patagonia Argentina, the latest in the hotel group’s roster of exemplary eco-lodges.

Read more: An evening of contemporary art and fine dining with Gaggenau

Large glacial lake surrounded by mountains

Nahuel Huapi, a large glacial lake surrounded by the Andes Mountains in Argentina

Laos

Until recently, Laos was in the shadow of its more famous Indochinese neighbours. It has often been overlooked by travellers considering a visit to South-East Asia. This country’s charm and authenticity are drawing a growing number of visitors to its lesser-travelled trails, however, and we expect the trend to continue in 2020. Step back in time as you explore this nation of jungles, temples, hill-top villages, and ancient relics for yourself, free of the frantic pace of so many other Asian cities.

My top tip: Go in the forthcoming year to discover the Plain of Jars for yourself. Stretching across the Xiangkhoang Plateau, this vast archaeological site features thousands of enormous stone vessels, scattered by a past civilisation whose culture remains a mystery. While folklore suggests the jars belonged to giants, further excavations in 2019 point instead towards a more anthropological answer: that this was once a burial ground. Visit this hard-to-reach UNESCO World Heritage Site by flying in via helicopter, accompanied by an expert guide.

Exotic waterfalls with blue waters

Geoffrey Kent predicts Laos will grow in popularity as a travel destination in 2020

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most enthralling – and often overlooked – destinations. Following on from an incredible trip there in late 2019 – one of my Inspiring Expeditions – it easily earns its spot on my list for this year. I can recommend thoroughly. Situated in the Horn of Africa, it’s a land of dramatic contrasts – stunning lakes and mountain ranges as well as the Blue Nile. It is home to strikingly diverse and beautiful people such as the Kara, the Hamar, Mursi, and Nyangatom to name but a few – proudly independent, who have never been subjugated in modern times. The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela offer historical intrigue, while the other-worldly Danakil Depression and wildlife of the Simien and Bale Mountains are a major draw for nature lovers. Whether in the bustling cities or remote highlights, you’ll find an abundance of history, tradition, and goodwill.

My top tip: Visit during the annual Irreecha thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people in Addis Ababa. Witness freshly cut grass and flowers being placed in water – a traditional offering that thanks God for the end of the rainy season and the start of spring. It’s a fantastic opportunity for immersion in this aspect of the country’s culture.

Winding Mountain road

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most enthralling – and often overlooked – destinations, says Geoffrey Kent

The Arctic

Celebrate the audacity of exploration on an extraordinary cruise through the rarely traversed Northwest Passage. In 2020, A&K’s Ultimate Iceland & Greenland luxury expedition cruise will be led by a modern explorer, famed mountaineer Alex Pancoe, who just completed the Explorers Grand Slam, an adventurers’ challenge consisting of climbing the seven summits—the highest mountains on each continent—as well as cross-country skiing the final degree to the North and South Poles. Accompanied by Pancoe, voyage from western Greenland to Nome Alaska. Following in the footsteps of Leif Erikson (Erik the Red), who founded the Viking colony in Greenland and ventured to Newfoundland a full 500 years before Columbus, and coming in the wake of more recent great explorers such as Roald Amundsen and Robert McClure.

My top tip: an exceptional expedition crew and luxurious ship make all the difference when travelling to the poles.

Travel expert Geoffrey Kent pictured on a cruise ship in the arctic ocean surrounded by glaciers

Geoffrey Kent cruising the Arctic Ocean

Find out more: abercrombiekent.co.uk

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Reading time: 5 min
Cosy hotel bar lounge area with fireplace
Cosy hotel bar lounge area with fireplace

Boutique hotel Les Manoir de Portes de Deauville offers a homely kind of luxury in the heart of Normandy

Located just two hours from Paris, Deauville has long been a chic weekend destination for Parisians and now with the newly opened boutique hotel Les Manoirs des Portes de Deauville, it’s perfect for families too. LUX Managing Editor Serena Hamilton discovers

Europeans tend to lean towards the same destinations in France. They go every summer, stay in the same house or hotel, get croissants from the same boulangerie and eat dinner in the same bistro. There’s something undoubtedly comforting about that kind of routine, knowing that your expectations will be met year after year, and yet, comfort as everyone knows doesn’t necessarily equal excitement or adventure. So this year, we decided to try somewhere new.

Deauville and its neighbouring town Trouville are often referred to as the “Parisian riviera” not just because of their proximity to the French capital, but also for their chic ambience. Deauville, for example, boasts a year round calendar of film festivals, yachting regattas and vintage car rallies as well as great shopping and a beautiful, albeit busy white sandy beach complete with Instagrammable candy-coloured parasols. The streets are immaculate and everyone is stylishly dressed, which is wonderful if you don’t have children hanging off your arms. For us, holidays are generally more about relaxation, and we tend to look for places which can offer adult-orientated calm whilst simultaneously catering to the children’s endless energy. Not a lot to ask for is it? Thankfully, Les Manoirs des Portes de Deauville fitted the bill perfectly.

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Located a few minutes outside of Deauville town, the boutique hotel only opened its doors this summer and straddles the line between country manor hotel and Parisian chic. It’s set within acres of lush parkland, with a 16th century manor house at the centre and nine surrounding private cottages.The furnishings throughout are a mix of contemporary and antique, whilst the colour palette of pale pinks and creams pairs perfectly with the dark exposed beams and more rustic touches. Some of the rooms and shared spaces also have beautiful old brick fireplaces. More importantly, though, it feels like a space to be lived in rather than just admired, which means you can properly relax rather than stressing every time a child clambers over an armchair.

Historic manor house and lawn

The hotel is set within stunning parkland and gardens (see below) with bedrooms in the main manor house as well as private cottages

Garden of a manor house

We were staying in a very pretty little cottages (adjacent to the one booked by our family friends), which provided more space and the added luxury of total privacy, whilst still in easy access of the outdoor pool, sauna and jacuzzi. As parents it was pure bliss to sit drinking our morning coffee on the lawn whilst our children ran around the park and tipped each other out of the hammocks.

Read more: Half Moon Bay Antigua reveals Rosewood Residences

Sadly, the restaurant wasn’t yet open during our stay, but there were plenty of excellent nearby options including the historic town of Honfleur, where we enjoyed several lunches of delicious moules-frites on the harbour’s edge. In the evenings, after tucking the children into their beds, we strolled across the lawn to the main house for a cheese and charcuterie board with local wines in the cosy lounge bar. No need for hushed in-room dining, or babysitters.

Rustic elegant interiors of a hotel bedroom

Luxurious hotel suite with contemporary furnishings

The interiors blend rustic chic with contemporary furnishings and a calming colour palette

The staff, especially, made us feel immediately welcome and were wonderfully patient with the children’s endless requests for hot chocolates and snacks, which isn’t always the norm with luxury hotels. They were also very knowledgable about the local area and suggested child-friendly activities such as a cute petit train ride through the heart of Deauville, and strolls through the stunning countryside.

It might not be quite the place for the usual Deauville crowd, but for anyone wanting to relax in an elegant, unpretentious setting that’s within easy distance of a beach as well as upmarket restaurants and shops, it couldn’t be more perfect.

Rates start from €120 per night including breakfast (approx. £100/$150). Book your stay: portesdedeauville.com

 

 

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Luxurious beach swimming pool
Luxurious tropical beach resort

The Tongsai Bay is an eco-friendly luxury resort on the tropical island of Koh Samui

The Tongsai Bay is a family-owned luxury resort on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. Set amidst acres of wild tropical landscape, the resort is dedicated to wildlife conservation and sustainable practices. Here, we speak to the resort’s owner Gob Thanakorn about continuing his father’s vision, the challenges of promoting sustainability and why Thailand needs to combat over-development

Portrait of man and woman standing in natural setting

Gob Thanakorn with his wife Goya

1. How was the concept for The Tongsai Bay born?

Tongsai was a brain-child of my late father Akorn Hoontrakul. He was CEO of the Imperial group of hotels, which our family owned 100%. When he decided that it was time to grow and venture out of Bangkok, he surveyed Koh Samui because he thought that Phuket was already developed and Samui had a great potential even though there wasn’t an airport back then. A survey team was sent and I was lucky enough to be on that trip as a 12-year-old. We took the night train from Bkk to Poonpin district in Suratthani (you can still do this part today) and somehow got on a naval ship from Suratthani to Koh Samui. I remember Tongsai as a little piece of backpacker’s paradise. There were only 8 bungalows and a snack hut with green snake on the ceiling. There was a lady without anything on the bottom going for a swim in the sea. Out of all the beaches I saw on that trip, I liked Tongsai the least because of the deep water and course sand. As a 12-year-old, I didn’t think much about the fact that it was a private beach and how beautiful it was being a cove all to itself. This was back in 1986.

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My father then went on a separate trip and he bought the land of Tongsai (the bay and beach was called Tongsai Bay before we even bought the land) within 7 days of laying eyes on it from the sea. He later said to friends that “it was love at first sight”. My father spent 3 months planning how he wanted to develop his resort with an eye on making it his retirement home. He literally slept on the beach during this time. There’s a picture to prove it.

When Tongsai was opened in 1987, it was the first five star hotel on Koh Samui. My father used the tagline “….where mother nature was the architect”. So the concept always was that Tongsai would be a hotel nestled within existing natural beauty of Koh Samui where space is in abundant and privacy is key. Supporting evidence can be found in many of the guest rooms where cottages were built over rock formations instead of blowing it. We have two rooms that have rocks inside the room next to the bed. They used to be called Rock suites. Cottage 235 was taken out of inventory during the renovation years of 1995 because a large Banyan Tree would have to be taken down. Dad chose the tree over a room. According to him, he tried to save as many large trees as possible during the construction of the hotel. Going around them, leaving space for coconut trees to rise through terraces was how he avoided cutting trees. Tongsai Pool Villa 511 used to be called the Mango Villa because a twin wild mango trees are in the middle of the terrace. They still stand today – guests can have complimentary wild mangoes when it’s the season to bear fruit.

Luxury villa terrace with swimming pool

The terraces provide guests with large outdoor living spaces and stunning sea views

As we developed the Tongsai Grand Villas in 1998, the “great outdoor living” concept was used to promote the new villas because of the size of the terrace on each villa. We emphasised the outdoor area more than the indoor air-conditioned area because guests liked to be outside more than inside. So a gazebo was a main feature along with the “bathtub on the terrace” which later made Tongsai famous for being the hotel with a bathtub with sea views.

When dad died in 2002, my wife and I took over the responsibility We had lived and work at Tongsai for a few years and learnt that we used to appreciate nature, but we never thought about protecting it. We encountered a Slow Loris, a nocturnal mammal one night coming back from a late night out and we realised that Tongsai is a home for wild animals living freely and safely. So we put in place measures to protect all kind of animals in the hotel ground including firing staff who are caught killing or hurting animals. Any dead animal will have to be reported and sent for autopsy by a local vet to determine if it died of natural causes or by humans. If it was by human actions, further investigation will pursue. So far we have never fire anyone because of this reason yet. But the message was loud and clear for our staff who now act as eyes and ears for animal protection.

Luxurious hotel bedroom decorated in yellow

The bedroom of a Grand Villa

We have had bird watchers do a survey found 60 plus kinds of birds in a year. Monitor lizards could be seen swimming in the sea (and occasionally the main swimming pool!), climbing coconut trees or lazily walking the lawn. There are squirrels and tree shrews abound. The occasional fireflies can also be spotted at night around Sept  to Oct. In order to achieve this, we completely ban all chemical usage in natural space in the hotel so no pesticides, insecticides or chemical fertilisers are used at all.

It is also worth noting that we are resentful of animals in captivity and forced labour so therefore we do not help guests to book elephant rides, visit zoos/aquariums or circuses. We support the elephant sanctuary where “retired” elephants are fed and left to live a peaceful life in a larger confinement, but unchained. It’s a long answer but you could see how in 32 years the concept had grown but the core remains. That’s why we claim to be “natural to the Core”.

Read more: British model Anna Proffitt on the need for slow fashion

2. What are some of the challenges you face in providing a sustainable luxury service?

I’d put it down to the added work and steps that are required for staff to go to the length of being sustainable. It’s almost the opposite of being convenient for many people in Thailand. You talk about waste and people think cleaning the beach and putting rubbish in the bins. We say we have to know the rubbish first and then we can know how to treat it. Food waste, for example, can be mixed with organic garden waste to make fertilisers so it’s not too bad but the gardeners will say that it’s added work for them. Non-biodegradable waste can be sorted, but that’s not solving the problem at the root cause. It’s better to find substitutes and use recyclable or purely biodegradable. So we opt to buy drinks in glass bottles only – we won’t buy from brands that use plastic containers – but this adds extra work for our beverages staff who feel that glass bottles are heavier whereas a single use plastic bottle is much more convenient and less work. We use lemongrass straws instead of plastic straws too – it’s simple things like this that can reduce non-biodegradable waste. Auditing is also hard and can come across as unfriendly and potentially cause rift with some departments. Sometimes it costs more to source more environmentally friendly products in terms of money, but also time. Educating suppliers can also be draining. Thailand is a society where convenience is king. It’s very difficult to challenge this culture.

Luxurious beach swimming pool

The main pool sits on the edge of the beach

3. What’s your proudest sustainability initiative at the resort?

I’d say the fact that we continue to find Slow Loris in the hotel ground speaks volume about how natural this place is and that can only be a result of the measures we have put in place to protect animals and the natural surrounding in the hotel. We didn’t expand in terms of number of rooms so we didn’t have to cut down trees to open ways for more buildings. I suppose we are proud to say that if you look up Google Earth you will see a patch of 25 acres that is greener than the surrounding pieces of land. We are an oasis for animals surrounded by developments dominated by concrete.

Read more: Inside Mandarin Oriental Geneva’s Royal Penthouse Suite

4. How would you like to see the hospitality industry change over the next few years?

I hope there are less developments since there’s already an over-supply of hotels and villas for sale on Koh Samui and in many other parts of Thailand. The ones that try to keep nature intact are more commendable than others whilst most who would clear all trees first then replant later, which destroys natural habitat for local animals and thus reduces the biodiversity tremendously. I guess it’s wishful thinking, but I think Thailand needs to exercise and enforce its regulations in order to combat overdevelopment fairly and equally. If the law says you need to have functioning waste water plants, then all hotels and restaurants must abide. Sadly, it’s not the case and the authorities don’t even check on a regular basis or follow up with action plan. If the law says you need to have 50% green area then they should be audited regularly and equally too. Ultimately, if mankind can realise that it’s of utmost importance to even just recognise the value of biodiversity (especially in the tropical zones where biodiversity is higher) and act to protect it, we may have a chance to live in a balanced world. If we do all we can to preserve or even increase the biodiversity of the natural world, we will be able to enjoy a quality of life equally. Nature conservation, in the end, is an effort to preserve that biodiversity since it’s the most important indicator of how healthy the natural world is. We have gone too far to destroy the earth and still many are refusing to accept the fact that humans are the cause of the imbalance. It’s time to be responsible humans, which applies to everything you do in the hospitality industry.

Luxury pool villa on an island

One of the resort’s luxurious pool villas

5. What are your 3 top tips for travelling sustainably?

Respect the nature and the culture wherever you go. Be responsible when it comes to littering or choose to consume wisely, considering what is biodegradable and what is not. Basically, try your best not to use single use products especially water. Also be aware of activities that involve animal forced labour and just don’t support them.

6. And finally – what’s your best kept secret on the island of Koh Samui?

It’s a secret!

Find out more: tongsaibay.co.th

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Reading time: 9 min
First class aeroplane seat
First class aeroplane seat

The comfort of the club suites has been improved by the recent introduction of bed linen by the White Company. Image by Nick Morrish/British Airways

British Airways has had a hard time from business travellers, some of it justified. But LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai rediscovered his fondness for the airline on a recent long-haul trip

In the world of the affluent intercontinental business traveller, there are various unwritten rules. One regards jet lag affecting your schedule: it doesn’t. (We recently found an HR manual from the early 2000s which specified a full rest and recovery day for employees on landing after any long-haul flight, which seems as antiquated as exchanging telegrams now.) 14 hour flight, straight into meetings whatever time zone your head is on, followed by dinner and an all nighter as you catch up with everyone in your original timezone. The next morning, kick off at 7 and work through until, and on, whatever flight comes next.

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Another rule regards local customs and language. For a while, pre-globalisation and social media, it was considered polite to learn a little about the country you are doing business in, and perhaps a few key phrases of language. Now, when any four year old can have instagram friends in Bolivia and Vietnam, local customs are for kids. As for language, speak English and just ask Siri. (An important exception to this appears to be China, which is gearing up for the reverse, its own global cultural expansion).

Inside club class on a british airways plane

BA’s Club World has previously received criticism for its seat layout, but the new flatbed units are more private than in other airlines, says Darius Sanai

Both of these rules seems to have seeped into general business culture from the all-work-no-play USA, and specifically from companies like McKinsey and Bain, where a staff member who sleeps at all is an unproductive staff member with spare capacity.

And finally, if you come from or have anything to do with the UK, there’s the British Airways bashing. It seems to be de rigueur to use one fo the following stock phrases: “I had to fly BA, everything else was full,” “I actually prefer the service in (fill in airline) economy class to BA Club” or “(Fill in airline) business class is way better than even BA First”.

Well, after a period of flying long-haul business class on a number of other, acclaimed, airlines, LUX returned to the BA fold for a recent flight from London to Hong Kong and back from Singapore, and whisper it, but we beg to differ. (We should also state here that we paid full fare for all our flights, including the BA ones, and that LUX has, despite our top-tier Gold frequent flyer status, not taken any flights comped or subsidised by BA, or any favours at all from the airline, over the past five years).

Read more: Parisian tailoring house Cifonelli sets up shop in Mayfair

For starters, there is the pre-flight routine. Take any other airline out of London, and you have to either go through the normal security scrum or, in a handful of cases, get chauffeured to a dedicated check in. Given the traffic in London and around Heathrow and concomitant stress about arrival time, we would take our BA option any day: a 20 minute, tranquil Heathrow Express (always upgrade to Business First class), followed by dedicated security at the BA Wing of Terminal Five, which sees you walk from train station to lounge in three minutes (record) and six minutes (average), without having to deal with the main security melee or the crowds of shoppers on the other side. The First lounge itself is spacious and comfortable with open views and the wines and food are good (though not exceptional) – although the cleanliness (simple table wiping, hello??) still needs attention.

Interiors of a smart airport lounge

British Airways’ Concorde Room at Terminal 5, London Heathrow. Image by Nick Morrish/British Airways

Then, on the plane. BA’s Club World has received some flak over the years for its seat layout, where passengers in their seat-bed pods sit awkwardly facing each other in opposite directions at takeoff and landing, and where passengers in one row need to step over the feet of sleeping passengers in the next to access the aisle. I think this is partly justified, and have been known to deliver a hefty kick to one fellow passenger who kept waking me up by repeatedly whacking into my feet as he stepped over me to access the aisle (seriously, if you’re under 70 and can’t step over an obstacle 50cm high, you need to do something about your fitness).

The flip side is that the flatbed units are actually less exposed to the aisles than in other airlines, and that your head and upper body lie very cosily in the unit when you are asleep.

A big improvement was the recent introduction of bed linen by The White Company; I had thought this would be a superficial gesture, but the soft bottom mattress protector, smooth duvet and puffy pillow are superior to the offerings on any other airline I have flown. Meanwhile, all-new Club World suites are being rolled out shortly, promising a step change (excuse the pun) in quality.

Read more: Jetcraft’s owner & chairman Jahid Fazal-Karim on global trading

BA also seems to have made an effort to address an old gripe from long haul travellers, the service. This isn’t yet at the levels of the top Asian airlines, but staff have made a step change in service, willingness, and helpfulness, and, call me American, but it’s rather nice dealing with people who speak English as a native language and who have the same cultural references – a call for a late night KitKat brought the requisite chocolate bar, not a cuddly toy.

The accoutrements of the flights are also excellent: tablecloths, proper cutlery, nicely printed menus, a good choice of food and a cute snack bar with an array of fruit and snacks. The wines are still not up to the celebrated standards they were before the previous round of cost-cutting, but at least they are not getting any worse and contacts at the airline say there are plans to reinvest in them. (Tip: always drink the champagne. Although BA Club World no longer serves prestige Cuvée champagnes as standard, they are always good and you are drinking a much more expensive product than the wines, which typically cost a third of the price per bottle, or less, of the champagnes. This applies to almost all airlines.).

Luxury plane food

Club Class onboard dining choices are excellent, but the wine is still not up to previous BA standards

And while the BA Arrivals Lounge at Heathrow may not have the quality of bathroom as the American Airlines one, it serves a killer English breakfast with particularly superb mushrooms, in a tranquil post-flight atmosphere, and also has free massages available in its Elemis spa.

After my latest round trip, I asked myself if I would insist to my travel bookers on trying another long-haul airline first next time; and my conclusion was that I would ask them to try BA first of all, for a combination of the reasons above. As long as the airline doesn’t let things slip again as it did when current CEO Alex Cruz first took over (note to Alex: reinvest in the wines. People care and it’s important for your brand). And now comes the hard part: getting the long-haul business travel warrior community to talk about flying BA as a boast, not an excuse. You heard it first here.

For more information visit: BA.com

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Reading time: 6 min
Luxury cruise ship on the ocean at sunset
Luxurious cruise ship pictured floating at sunset

Sirena is the newest addition to Oceania Cruises’ fleet

Luxury cruise brand Oceania Cruises is in the midst of multi-million dollar project, which will see the refurbishment of their six ship fleet and the introduction of new exotic itineraries. We speak to the brand’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director Bernard Carter about the changes to come, fine dining at sea and how the brand is tackling sustainability

Portrait of a business man

Bernard Carter

1. Can you tell us about the OceaniaNEXT initiative and what it means for the brand?

Our $100 million OceaniaNEXT initiative is a sweeping array of dramatic enhancements designed to elevate every facet of the guest experience; from thoughtfully-crafted new dining experiences and reimagined menus, to the re-inspiration of our six luxurious and intimate ships.

The ships are being completely transformed – with brand new designer suites and staterooms and stunning new décor in the restaurants, lounges and bars – which will result in ‘better-than-new’ ships.

On top of this, we have announced we are preparing to take delivery of two new Allura-class ships in 2022 and 2025. This new class of ship will represent an evolution of the Oceania Cruises’ experience with all the elements our guests treasure: a warm, intimate, residential style, the most spacious standard staterooms afloat, amazing suites, and of course, excellent cuisine.

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2. How do you provide fine dining services onboard?

Along with destination and service, we believe that cuisine is a key element of the cruise experience and this is what Oceania Cruises has been built on. Our promise to offer ‘The Finest Cuisine At Sea’ stands at the very heart of our business.

The key to offering such incredible food at sea is planning. We plan menus months in advance to ensure the smooth running of onboard operations.

This meticulous planning sits hand-in-hand with the need to build an impeccable network of trusted suppliers, who can deliver the quality goods we demand for ‘The Finest Cuisine At Sea’. Meats, fish and produce from specific and dedicated farms, some where we are the only customer – every detail is covered with care and attention to ensure we only use the very best ingredients.

Fine dining table with wine and bread

Oceania Cruises has a reputation for high quality cuisine onboard their ships

More than a quarter of all crew onboard an Oceania Cruises’ ship is dedicated to the culinary experience. Our high ratio of culinary staff to guest means that each dish is able to be created in our state-of-the-art galley à la minute.

Alongside the fantastic food on offer in our restaurants, we love to engage with our guests and offer them the chance to have a hands-on experience at The Culinary Center, our cookery school onboard Marina and Riviera. Here, our guests can cook along with our talented master chefs at fully-equipped individual workstations. We also offer a range of culinary excursions, giving guests the chance to see well-known destinations through an alternative ‘culinary lens’.

3. With a career spanning 25 years in the industry, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed?

There’s been a real and meaningful shift towards wellness in the last ten years or so. Where once, the likes of offering fitness classes and having fully-equipped gyms onboard were seen as a nice-to-have element, they are now a crucial element of a holistic suite of wellness options for guests.

Just last month, we unveiled our new ‘Aquamar Spa + Vitality Centre’ the most unique and comprehensive spa and wellness centre at sea. This will be introduced across all ships by mid-January 2020 as part of our OceaniaNEXT enhancement.

This extends well beyond a traditional spa, offering a complete and original collection of holistic wellness encounters both onboard and ashore, including wellness cuisine options, land-based tours in ports of call, and onboard treatments and classes.

Our guests are active, they are leading rich and fulfilled lives. For them, wellness is not a pursuit, it’s a lifestyle.

Read next: Jetcraft’s owner & chairman Jahid Fazal-Karim on global trading

4. Do you think the expectations of luxury cruise clients differ from the demands of customers at luxury hotels, and if so how?

In a word: no. Guests who appreciate, and seek out luxury do so in all areas of their life – from cars to jewellery, from cuisine to travel.

At Oceania Cruises, our guests are a like-minded group who appreciate the same things, and our onboard operation being akin to an English country hotel, or a private members club lends itself to discerning individuals that want to explore the world from the comfort of their own home away from home.

Dining room onboard a cruise ship

Luxury bedroom onboard a ship

Here: The Penthouse Suite onboard Insignia. Above: the ship’s grand dining room

5. How are you tackling issues of sustainability?

Our environmental commitment is continually evolving and expanding into additional areas of our operations, both shipboard and shoreside.

Our industry is inextricably linked to the condition of our oceans and as such, continual improvement is one of our core responsibilities. In line with this accountability comes our commitment to preventing accidents and incidents involving pollution, reducing the environmental impact of our operations, and managing waste through recycling and reusing materials.

A great example of this is earlier this year, Oceania Cruises became the first cruise line to introduce VERO Water, the Gold Standard in still and sparkling water service onboard. All guest accommodation is be stocked with refillable and reusable VERO Water decanters as well as all restaurants and bars. With the introduction of VERO, we will eliminate more than three million single-use plastic bottles per year from onboard use

This is being extended further to include keepsake refillable water bottles for each guest to take VERO Water ashore with them, eliminating several million more bottles per year.

6. What’s been your most memorable voyage to date?

I have been lucky enough to experience many amazing cruise destinations during my career, but my most memorable has to be the 14-night journey onboard Nautica from the historically pivotal city of Istanbul through to cosmopolitan and vibrant Barcelona.

After an overnight stay onboard in Istanbul (which allowed us to really explore the city in depth) we set off around a variety of Greek islands, each with their own unique charm. These included Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini and UNESCO heritage site, Monemvasia – where only a limited number of visitors each year are allowed onto the Old Town, built into a massive rock that can only be reached by a half-mile causeway.

Having spent a week living the ‘island life’ we headed to the western Mediterranean to experience the beauty of Sicily, the Italian gems of Rome and Florence and then to the billionaires’ haven, Monte Carlo. This second week was quite simply a majestic parade of history, culture and luxury – and