Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Ritz-Carlton Company Repeats as Most Prestigious Luxury Hotel Brand in 2006 Survey of the Luxury Institute

For the second year in a row, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. has been ranked first as the most prestigious brand by The Luxury Institute's Luxury Brand Status Index Survey. The award-winning hotel company took top honors over 18 other hospitality corporations among consumers with a minimum net worth of $750,000.

"At a time when many brands claim to offer their customers luxury, it is very gratifying to see that the truly discerning and sophisticated traveler selected The Ritz-Carlton brand as their number one choice. We are especially pleased that we were rated highest for superior quality and making our customers feel special across all of their experiences," said Simon F. Cooper, president and chief operating officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. "It is a tribute to the commitment to our guests from our ladies and gentlemen at our hotels and resorts around the world," he noted.

The Luxury Institute is the uniquely independent and objective research institution that is the trusted voice of America's wealthy.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lap of luxury | Luxury Asian Hotels

A Colleague recently paid more than $2000 to spend a single night at one of the great hotels of the world. It's a blow-your-mind amount, but he explained it somewhat sheepishly in much the same way explorers explain why they risk life and limb on an outlandish feat: because it was there. No longer young, he wanted to experience what it was like, just once.

Fortunately, you don't have to spend anywhere near that amount to live like a king, to be waited on by discreet butlers, to be collected at the airport by limousine and have your every whim indulged.

A clutch of fine hotels in Asia offer service and style that is so legendary that they need no introduction. They're simply known as The Pen, Raffles, Oriental, Shangri-La ... and they'd be delighted to welcome you and me, even if only for one unforgettable night.

Click Here for a Review of the Asia's Luxury Hotels

Monday, April 10, 2006

Luxury Plastic - American Express Centurion Card?

You're stranded on a desert island with nary a chilled Voss in sight. You've got a tragically hungry Chihuahua on your hands, and you're in sore need of a caviar facial.

Do you slump into the dune and cry? No. You pick up your satellite phone, call your credit card company and order a private jet to come rescue you.

Yes, your credit card company. Private bankers used to be the go-to resource for the wealthy, offering clients everything from exclusive access to art gallery showings to dog walking services, and that is still often the case. But card issuers have also been getting into the rewards game for the high-flying set. A select few issuers have introduced credit card programs in the last few years for the most elite of consumers, those willing and able to spend $250,000 or more a year and put it all on plastic.

Some of the programs have an almost mystical allure, mainly because they are by invitation only and thus closed off to the hoi polloi. The American Express Centurion card, also know as the "Black AmEx" is the subject of much speculation on Internet chat rooms. It does exist, but only 10,000 people are thought to have one, including teen actress Lindsay Lohan, who was reported to have lost hers one night two years ago.

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Mandarin Oriental To Open Luxury Hotel In Barcelona

Hong Kong, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has today announced that it will manage a new, luxurious hotel currently under development in Barcelona. The project provides the Group with a unique opportunity to expand its luxury brand in Europe and in particular, into one of Europe's foremost travel destinations.

Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona will be a stylish, 144-room hotel, ideally located on Paseo de Gracia, Barcelona’s most prestigious address, at the very centre of the city's commercial and entertainment district. The property provides easy access to the city's finest shopping, dining and cultural venues and is a short walk from many major tourist attractions. From the hotel, guests will be able to stroll amongst the city's celebrated promenades and architecture and enjoy the attractions of the famous Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter. Barcelona's many museums, churches and parks are all close at hand and two buildings designed by the city's most famous architect, Gaudi, are just a stone's throw from the hotel.

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Spring's hottest new luxury cars

This spring's hottest new cars are all about money.

Half of the vehicles in the following slide show, which highlights ten of this season's most desirable new luxury cars, have sticker prices in the six figures. What's more, they are worth it.

We are talking about such highly desirable vehicles as the newest Aston Martin from Ford Motor, the 500-horsepower BMW M6 coupe and the quickest Cadillac that General Motors has ever built, the XLR-V convertible.

Fortunes are riding on these vehicles. Take the ultra-cool Cadillac Escalade EXT pickup, which will go on sale in May. It is part of the new Escalade family (the SUV version just went on sale), and GM desperately needs the Escalade to be a hit. The nameplate is not only the flagship vehicle riding on GM's new GMT900 architecture, on which the company may have spent over $1 billion (GM has repeatedly declined to declare the development cost to, it is also a risk: an expensive, big, high-profit truck line that is coming out as sales of such vehicles are declining.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Luxury home project gets underway in Warwick

Forty-seven luxury homes starting in the upper $700,000 will be built on 47 acres of land on a hillside in the Town of Warwick.

Officials of Pelton Crossing LLC, local business and government officials Wednesday formally cut the ribbon to ceremonially start the project. A model home is under construction at the present time.

Local developer Sandy Pankin, who has constructed a number of housing developments in Orange County, is excited about his latest project on a "premier site." Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton said the new homes will be a welcome addition to the community.

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Developers reveal details on downtown Winston-Salem luxury condos

Developers Kerry Avant and Thad Lewallen officially revealed details of their One Park Vista luxury condominium project in downtown Winston-Salem on Thursday.

The project, which has been discussed since the middle of 2005, will have 33 condominiums, eight of which have already been reserved, Avant said. Prices will range from $290,000 to just over $1 million for the one, two, and three-bedroom units, which will be between 1,250 square feet and 3,400 square feet. The Davis building, on Fourth Street, just east of Cherry Street, will be torn down and the eight-story One Park Vista will rise in its place.

"We're trying to capture a niche of the market," Avant said. "We're going for a more upscale market and I think that market exists here."

The development is considered the first phase of the long-discussed Civic Plaza project, the remainder of which is a 3-acre site being studied by Durham-based Niemann Capital for a mixed-use project that will likely include residences, commercial space and a large park.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Swiss govt to 'intervene in response to new Chinese luxury watch tax

The Swiss economy ministry intends 'to intervene in the coming days at several levels' in response to China's decision to slap a 20 pct sales tax on luxury watches, a major export for the alpine country, HandelsZeitiung reported citing a spokesman for the ministry.

'The economy ministry sees China's new 20 pct tax on luxury watches as discrimination against Switzerland, because 99.6 pct of imported luxury watches in China originate in Switzerland,' spokesman Christophe Hans is quoted by the paper as saying.

The government will not refer the issue to the World Trade Organisation, although there would be grounds to do so, Hans added. The new tax has been in place since April 1.

Swiss watchmakers include Swatch Group AG and Compagnie Financiere Richemont AG, and booming sales in China have been a major growth driver in recent years.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Horses bed down in luxury stables

THE FIRST horses for the Grand National meeting have started to arrive at Aintree.This year a new stable yard has been opened to house some of the 350 animals which will race during the three days.The man responsible for making sure every horse is looked after is 60-year-old stable manager Derek Thompson.

The veteran of 38 Grand Nationals, who lives in Melling Road, has to satisfy every trainer that each horse will receive the first-class Aintree treatment. The stables will be cleaned out every day and the requested bedding provided so every hopeful sleeps well before their big race.

With horses often arriving at dawn, some of Derek's five-strong team are at the racecourse for 5am to welcome the arrivals. And it is the Irish contingent which are often the first to come to Aintree to avoid any potential problems with ferry crossings.

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Unlocking the DNA of luxury

Only ten of the world's top 70 luxury brands produce 80 per cent of the profit. To better understand this elusive world, UK luxury goods consortium, Walpole commissioned Added Value to undertake a major research study across three continents. The study cracks 'the DNA Code' of luxury brands, categorises luxury consumers and compares their motivations in different markets, revealing that what drives consumers towards luxury brands is the most primal of triggers: the need to feel more desirable.

A major research study across three continents into what drives consumers towards luxury brands reveals it to be the most primal of triggers: the need to feel more desirable.

Commissioned by Walpole and undertaken by Added Value, the research cracks 'the DNA Code' of luxury brands, categorises luxury consumers and compares their motivations in different markets.

"One hundred years ago luxury businesses knew their customers. Often by sight. Today, too often, luxury brands don't really understand the fast-changing, varied and complex set of attitudes of the people who buy their products," says Guy Salter, deputy chairman of Walpole. "This is partly because there is surprisingly little good data compared to other consumer sectors. We commissioned this unique research to help to change that. We were particularly interested in comparing motivations of customers from different markets - and understanding what resonates with them and what doesn't."

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Living Control - The Luxury Touch of Multiroom AV

It's a solid gold proposition, the answer to a prayer. Multiroom entertainment is the 'no-brainer' solution to the perennial conflict between decor and entertainment in the home. Its power resides in a promise improve access to entertainment and yet rid the home of multiple hi-fi systems, wires, racks and associated paraphernalia, leaving decor virtually unmolested. A virtuous liaison of convenience and aesthetic liberation has propelled the concept into new builds and renovations for over a decade, but the speed of take up is accelerating with a widening choice of delivery.

Basic Principles
The principle of multiroom entertainment is simple: a central source shared by many users in different locations. There are three types of system now available: the very rudimentary two room (or two zone) system, which relies on simple speaker level control of sound in the second zone from an amplifier in the first; a bespoke system, which is custom-installed and tailored precisely to user needs in terms of access and choice of source; and the newest category of system, which uses a PC as the source and a wireless network as a means of distribution.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Hotels roll out luxury amenities

Flat-screen televisions, satellite radio, spa treatments, yoga, vials of scented oil on pillows – Rhode Island hotels are spending lots of cash to offer luxury amenities to their guests. It's all about differentiating themselves by offering something that others don't. But the financial rewards of these expensive amenities remain unknown. Hotel managers say they think there is a return on investment of luxury, but don’t have the data to back it up.

"We're not able to measure it," said Stuart Meyerson, general manager at the Hyatt Regency Newport. The hotel does pay attention to guests, he said, but "there are no tools to measure the impact of additional amenities." Robert Kok, associate professor of hospitality management at Johnson & Wales University, said hotels have to add unique amenities, "or you don't compete." Yet there are also dangers in what he calls an "amenity creep," he added: Mid-sized hotels, especially, can lose customers if they increase their room rates to offset the cost of amenities.

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Style and luxury: just add water

If you've got the cash to spare, then a Riva will run through it, reports David Lockwood.

It's Early on a Saturday morning and the weekend warriors haven't yet stirred. Not so the four-blade bronze propellers whirring astern of the brace of Riva motorboats. The floating fashion accessories from the prestige Italian yard are a seamless blend of old and new. Traditional lines, hand-beaten chrome fittings and classic column shifts meet high-tech diesel engines with two-speed automatic gearboxes, push-button onboard gadgetry, a lofty lux factor and, oh, a high price to match.

But if this is boating Italian-style then we must do the Italian thing first. Go hunting for attention. A roaring run down Port Jackson, a sweep past the Prime Minister's Kirribilli digs, a saunter before the teeth of Luna Park and across the gape of the Harbour Bridge, before a fling around the mouth of Circular Quay. Finally, a mad dash past the Opera Hose and down the jaws of a wind-swept Sydney Harbour. Oh, what fun ...

Though my eyes are streaming and the hair is horizontal I have no reason to doubt that we have stopped joggers in their tracks, the ferry masters near us are green with envy, and that black helicopter swooping overhead is taking a closer look. Later in the day, as the throngs emerge on the harbour, I catch anglers gazing from under floppy hats and other boaties looking with wonder.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Basel shows off luxury to the world

The Basel world watch and jewellery fair opens its doors on Thursday with high hopes that 2006 will prove another bumper year for the luxury goods sector. The Swiss watch industry will be particularly keen to put in another record performance after posting exports totalling more than SFr12 billion ($9.16 billion) in 2005.

But there was also a warning on the sidelines of this year's glamorous Baselworld event that the sparkle of gemstones comes at a high human price in the developing world. If analysts are to be believed, high demand in the luxury goods sector is set to continue in a world economy that has been steadily growing.

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Ritz-Carlton plans luxury mountain lodge at Tahoe area ski resort

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company announced Wednesday it will operate a new luxury hotel planned at the Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort near Truckee, California. Company officials say the 172-room Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe will be modeled after the upscale mountain lodges built in the West a century ago.

It is scheduled to open in late 2009. It will be part of a 300 million-dollar resort with ski-in, ski-out town homes, condominiums, restaurants, swimming pools and a spa.

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