Monday, January 30, 2006

Luxury is the bottom line

BRITONS are taking good care of their bottoms and developing more luxurious toilet paper tastes, figures out today show.

The days of scratchy toilet paper are over - sales of thicker and softer varieties have increased while more functional, recycled paper is falling out of favour.

New products out are responding to the trend towards treating your tush, including tissue with soothing aloe vera added.

Recycled toilet paper suffered a 20 per cent drop in sales to £36.3million in the last year, market analysts ACNielsen said.
Meanwhile soft toilet paper sales rose 29 per cent to £105million in the year ending December 2005.

Decorated paper also seems to be going down the toilet with sales fallen by 22 per cent to £5million. The total toilet tissue market is worth £868million per year, according to data gathered from retailers.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

By 2055, travel will be a rare luxury

The right to travel when and where we please will be severely eroded over the next 50 years as the shortage of cheap oil and environmental concerns force us to lead more local lives, according to a British government report.

Every journey will have to be justified, and face-to-face contact with colleagues, friends and relatives will increasingly become a luxury, with most meetings taking place via three-dimensional "telepresencing".

Foresight, the Government's science think tank, consulted 300 transport experts when drawing up its vision of how travel will change by 2055. It concludes that the growing demand for greater personal mobility is unsustainable and based on false notions.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

2006 Infiniti M45, Luxury Sports Sedan Ready to Roll

Infiniti's M45 is a ready to romp luxury sports sedan that offers both technology and luxury at a price point in the $40,000-$50,000 range. It comes in four forms with our choice being the less expensive six-cylinder M35 version. Also available are an all wheel drive model, the V8 M45 with its 335 horsepower, and a sport model with Rear Active Steering.

Mom's View: This is an executive vehicle and quite capable of handling any situation with its big V8 motivation, smooth five speed transmission, and abundance of features.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Luxury Consumption Index Reaches 104.8 Points as Luxury Consumers Express Confidence in Economy

Luxury consumers' confidence rose 10.4 points to reach an all time high at the end of fourth quarter 2005, according to Unity Marketing's exclusive Luxury Consumption Index. This comes after it dropped to 94.4, its lowest point ever, at the end of the third quarter 2005. The index measures luxury consumer feelings about their personal financial status and the prospects for the country as a whole.

"Luxury consumers' attitudes about the economy and their personal financial status have sea-sawed over the last six months, but ended 2005 with a strong upward trend," said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the Masses -- as well as the Classes.

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Mercedes' $100,000 baby is ultimate in luxury

As I slide behind the wheel of the 2007 Mercedes-Benz S550, I'm faced with a tough decision. What kind of a massage do I want?

A screen on the instrument panel lists the options for the driver's seat: Slow and gentle, slow and vigorous, fast and gentle or fast and vigorous.

I select "slow and gentle" and start out on a 300-mile journey in mid-January.

The high-tech massaging seat is just a small part of the technology-packed new Mercedes-Benz flagship sedan.

In fact, the S550 is so advanced that the company's media launch included a lengthy afternoon technical session prior to the drive. The session educated reporters on the intricacies of such new options as "Distronic Plus," a radar-based adaptive cruise control that basically takes over accelerating and braking of the car from a dead stop. Most other cruise controls systems only work at speeds over 20 mph or higher.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Trump Plans Luxury Condos

Donald Trump said yesterday that he would build a 45-story luxury condominium high-rise along the Delaware waterfront called Trump Tower Philadelphia.

The $190 million project - similar to Trump Tower buildings planned for Las Vegas; Tampa, Fla.; and Chicago - will consist of at least 250 units on Penn Street near the foot of Spring Garden Street, with construction to begin this summer and completion expected in mid-2008.

"I'm really excited about this project," Trump, the developer, casino mogul and reality-television star, said yesterday from his office in New York City. "It will be the tallest building on the waterfront. It is going to be really beautiful."

Trump Tower would be five stories higher than the 40-story towers being built nearby at Waterfront Square at 900 Penn St. Trump would not disclose the exact address, saying his company was in the middle of completing the land purchase.

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Touching the Sky: Connecticut's Luxury Home Market

The town of Clinton sits on Connecticut's Long Island Sound coast just off Interstate 95. Clinton features beautiful waterfront properties and all the charm of New England town life. A pristine 900-square-foot Cape home sits on a private beach in Clinton waiting to be purchased - for a cool $1.2 million. By the real estate market's standards, this cute Cape qualifies as "luxury" in Connecticut.

"We consider anything over $1 million to be a luxury home," explains Andrea Shiffrin, Realtor, ABR, SRES, with Coldwell Banker Connecticut, formerly William Orange Realty (BNH, October 31, 2005). The state's luxury home market presents homebuyers with several distinct real estate niches. In the $1 million to $2 million range, Fairfield, New Haven and Middlesex counties offer beachfront living, in-town historic homes, older construction homes with extensive acres of land, and suburban communities with all-new construction.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Hilton Nears Merger, Launches Luxury Hotel Brand

Hilton Hotels Corp. last month took its biggest step toward reunifying with its U.K.-based namesake with an agreement signed in the last days of 2005 to acquire the lodging assets of Hilton Group plc. The deal—subject to a nod from shareholders, governmental clearances and the securing of more than $5.5 billion in funds—is expected to close late next month or in early March, Hilton Hotels Corp. president and COO Matt Hart said last week.

The reattachment of its international arm—severed for more than 40 years—adds more than 400 hotels to the portfolio of Hilton Hotels Corp., which upon completion "will be the largest and most geographically diverse lodging company in the world, with nearly 2,800 hotels and 475,000 rooms in 80 countries," Hilton said in a statement.

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Ex-Starwood Chief Plans Luxury Chain

Barry Sternlicht's Starwood Capital set plans to launch a new international luxury brand called the Crillon and said it would develop European-style Crillon hotels and serviced residences in major destinations throughout the world.

Sternlicht, the exec behind the Starwood chain who left last year to chart his own course, said the Crillon's flagship is the Hotel de Crillon in Paris, located on Place de la Concorde and one of only six six-star palace hotels in that city.

The Crillon brand will build on Paris' Hotel de Crillon's name recognition and reputation for impeccable service among discerning travellers internationally. Starwood Capital plans to develop Crillon hotels on its own and to partner with other developers and owners and will target properties in the world's most sophisticated cities, which may include London, Rome, Barcelona, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai and Qatar. Resort destinations may follow in one-of-a-kind locations in the Caribbean, the Far East and in ski markets like Starwood's recently acquired Mammoth Mountain in California. Starwood Capital is already working on sites in several of these cities with potential partners.

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Luxury and water still a potent mix

The holiday home property wave has broken but, for the time being at least, living on millionaires' row means there won't be a wipeout. While other beach house sales flounder, luxury home markets in locations such as the Gold Coast, Portsea and Margaret River have powered into 2006. In those markets, multi-million-dollar houses and apartments are selling strongly while other agents complain of their worst lead up to Christmas in a decade.

On the Gold Coast, PRDnationwide agent Doug Green sold three luxury homes for more than $13 million in less than three weeks in the lead up to Christmas.

One of those was the Surfers Paradise riverfront residence of the late Brian and Kathy Ray, who died last year in an aircraft accident in the Victorian snowfields.

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Developer known for natural touches, luxury homes picks Franklin

Crescent Resources, the development arm of Duke Energy that's built some of the most coveted residential communities in Charlotte and at Lake Norman, is stepping into the Triangle with a 120-home project in Franklin County.

A company known for its affinity for natural spaces and water features, Crescent chose a 588-acre site about three miles due north of Youngsville because it is heavily wooded, rolling land with a private lake. A third of the homes will snuggle near the 80-acre lake.

Prices for home sites - from one to six acres - in the gated community to be known as Cedar Lake will range from $150,000 to more than $500,000. Home prices will start at around $800,000.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Cruise ships offer new property investment opportunity

Property investors in America could soon have a novel new investment prospect in the shape of cruise ships converted into apartments.

A shortage of waterfront property on America's Gulf Coast prompted Florida entrepreneur Mark Boyd to assemble a group of investors to purchase cruise ships being sold off by cruise companies and convert the cabins into apartments.

Each apartment suite will cost between $249,000 (£141,875) and $529,000 (£301,464) to purchase and will be subject to a service charge, or ground rent, of between $7,000 (£3,989) and $10,000 (£5,698) a year.

The $15 million annual bill for operating a mid-size luxury cruise ship will be financed by a combination of the ground rent as well as ongoing casino and nightclub operations aboard the ship.

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Sotheby's International Realty Luxury Network Expands to Nashville

Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates, Inc. today announced that its luxury real estate network has expanded to serve the Nashville, Tenn., area. Lipman Realty, Inc., a prestigious firm that specializes in homes in Nashville's highly desired neighborhoods, will now do business as The Lipman Group Sotheby's International Realty.

The firm will be able to offer its clients exclusive Sotheby's International Realty® services, including advertising and business resources that help market significant homes to qualified buyers around the country and world.

"We became attracted to Lipman Realty because of its reputation of providing access to extraordinary homes and dedication to client service excellence," said Michael R. Good, president & CEO of Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates, Inc. "Our network only aligns itself with leading firms that value a high level of client service, and we are very honored to welcome The Lipman Group into our family. Our exclusive resources will enable The Lipman Group to provide exclusive Sotheby's International Realty services to buyers and sellers in the Nashville market."

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

New spa caters to luxury Sundara Day Spa opens on Barre-Montpelier Road

In a relaxing atmosphere of warm desert tones and natural wood, two licensed cosmetologist/estheticians have opened a luxury treatment business in Berlin.

Sundara Day Spa is located on the Barre Montpelier Road in a newly renovated space which formerly was home to the Single Pebble Chinese Restaurant. An exotic sense of the East continues here, both because of the name and interior design of the spa. "Sundara" is a Sanskrit word meaning "beautiful."

Sundara is the first spa in Vermont to feature classic Ayurvedic skin care through Sundari products, which are usually found only in larger luxury establishments such as Ritz Carlton Hotels and the Kenyon Ranches. The appropriate Sundari products are selected for each client to suit individual skin needs, the owners said.

Marion Nelson and Roxanne Smith, owners and operators of Sundara Day Spa, are both native Vermonters. Nelson grew up on a small farm in Jonesville and Roxanne on a large dairy farm in Salisbury.

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Record number of luxury homes sold in 2005

A record number of luxury homes were sold in Bermuda in 2005 according to figures released yesterday by Coldwell Banker Previews International.
The sale of 30 luxury homes – classified as any home priced at or above $2.5 million – represents a 100 percent increase over 2004 when just 15 homes in this category sold.
The highest priced property last year sold for $10 million which is not a record.
Coldwell Banker Previews International realtor Brian Madeiros said that it is "phenomenal" that the market produced 30 such sales.
"It shows that price bands and the luxury market are really starting to rise," he said.
"Bermudians have been the prime drivers of our luxury home market and that has occurred because Bermudians are really benefiting from our international business sector and the local service sector which supports that group," Mr. Madeiros said.
The typical home buyer is "younger, more affluent and lives in Bermuda" according to Coldwell Banker's statistics for luxury home buyers last year which show that 60 percent of those buyers had kids under 20, while 70 percent of them were aged 40-50 and 60 percent were Bermudian.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Luxury Institute Retailer Survey Finds Nordstrom Rated #1 in Customer Experience by America's Wealthy

Wealthy customers voted Nordstrom the brand that delivers the best customer experience with a category-leading rating of 84 in the new Luxury Customer Experience Index survey (LCEI) from New York-based Luxury Institute. Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus were second and third with respective scores of 81 and 80.

Wealthy customers rated seven of the largest luxury retail brands based on direct individual experiences with each company. These included (alphabetical order): Barney's, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale's, Brooks Brothers, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

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Cars: Luxury diesel 407 to break ground in NZ

Peugeot is to break new ground on the New Zealand car market with the launch of an environmentally friendly luxury coupe.

The new two-door Peugeot 407 coupe, planned to arrive here in late February, will be available with an efficient and powerful 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine.

It is the first time a diesel-powered up-market sports coupe model has been offered in New Zealand.

"The arrival of the 407 coupe HDi V6 marks another advance in the widening popularity of diesel cars," said Rod Cunningham, Marketing Manager for Sime Darby Automobiles, the New Zealand importer and distributor of Peugeot vehicles.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hilton launches new luxury brand

Hilton Hotels Corp. on Tuesday launched a new luxury brand named after its landmark Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York as part of its plans to expand internationally after a recent acquisition.

The Waldorf-Astoria Collection, which would compete with other luxury hotel brands such as Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.'s St. Regis and Marriott International Inc.'s Ritz-Carlton, would be a combination of co-branding existing hotels and new properties, said Chief Operating Officer Matthew Hart.

"We are not doing it as a response to them," Hart said, referring to Starwood and Marriott. "We are doing it because we think there is a big opportunity .... We have the potential to go into markets that before this we couldn't."

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Downhill all the way: The ultimate skiing holiday

For those who like to combine skiing with pampering, a high-octane day on the slopes with a low-key evening sipping champagne in a hot-tub, physical exertion with relentless cosseting -- for those, in short, who like their ski holidays luxurious -- then the Game Creek Chalet in Vail, Colorado, is the place for you.

Set 10,500 feet up in the secluded splendor of the Rocky Mountains, the chalet is accessible only by Sno-Cat -- a vehicle specially adapted for traversing snowy terrain -- and, at a wallet-chilling $2,800 per night, offers everything the moneyed skier could possibly want or require.

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Life-changing experiences are key to luxury market

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer spending on luxury goods rose 3.8 percent last year, and is poised to grow more in 2006 as middle-income shoppers opt for high-class brands and wealthy consumers turn to luxury experiences, retail experts said on Sunday.

Speaking at the National Retail Federation's annual convention in New York, Unity Marketing President Pam Danziger said the average amount spent by an affluent household -- one whose annual income exceeds $75,000 -- rose to $52,588 in 2005 from $50,640 in 2004.

Spending on luxury experiences, including travel, dining, entertainment, spas and beauty services and home services, nearly doubled from an average of $11,632 in 2004 to $22,746 in 2005.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

'Brabus' likely to launch luxury sedans in India

New Delhi, Jan. 15 (PTI): Luxury Mercedes cars are dime a dozen in India, but ultra-rich Indians would soon be able to make their machines that symbolise power and prestige stand apart from the crowd, courtesy German bespoke carmaker 'Brabus'.

The German company, which specialises in enhancing engine performance of Mercedes and Maybach vehicles by increasing both power and torque, is planning to launch its "highly individual" products in India this year.

Though its primary focus is on extracting maximum engine performance to produce the fastest street-legal luxury sedans, Brabus also provides improvements to the interior, from upholstery to trim to various electronics.

"We are in talks with two Mercedes Benz dealers in Mumbai and one in New Delhi to introduce our highly individual products," Brabus' Constantin Buschmann, said.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Caymen Islands attends luxury travel show in Vegas

The Cayman Islands attended the Luxury Travel Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada last month, represented by a team from the Ministry of Tourism and Department of Tourism, led by Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford.

“The Luxury Travel Expo provided the Cayman Islands with a great opportunity to showcase its luxury product and to network with travel agents who specialize in selling high–end vacations,” said Minister Clifford.

The Luxury Travel Expo is the world’s largest gathering of travel professionals dedicated to the luxury market and it provides an unrivalled education programme for travel agents. The DoT was a part of this educational programme, conducting several travel agent seminars which highlighted the allure of the Cayman Islands to the luxury consumer, said the release.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Luxury travel gets back on track with train revival

A RAIL name of the past was revived today when the Blue Pullman returned to service after more than 30 years.

The luxurious Blue Pullman, run by independent train company FM Rail, left London's King's Cross station on a circular tour which is likely to take around four and a half hours.

The original Blue Pullman represented the best in luxury rail travel and was used on two routes - London to Wales and London to the Midlands. To mark the inaugural run today, the train was blessed at King's Cross by local priest Father Rob Wickham of St Pancras.

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India to host country's first luxury goods summit from Jan 13

The 'Hindustan Times Luxury summit', aimed at encouraging India to emerge as a major retail hub, will begin here from January 13. The two-day summit will provide a platform for international luxury houses to interact with Indian government and industrialists.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Playboy Signs Deal with JACOB & Co. to Create Luxury Timepieces

Playboy announced that it has signed an agreement with JACOB & Co. to create a line of "Five Time Zone" luxury watches for men and women.

As one of the most sought-after jewelers for celebrities worldwide, Jacob Arabo has been helping celebrities sparkle with his creations for the past twenty years.

"I am excited about our special timepiece collaboration with Playboy, one of the great American brand names," stated Jacob Arabo, founder of JACOB & Co.

"My new designs pay homage to the iconic Playboy spirit that is so much a part of the fabric of our world society. That spirit crosses all borders, demographics, and psychographics, just as the Jacob & Co. brand appeals to a broad cross- section of our luxury global market."

Complementing the aspirational Playboy lifestyle, JACOB & Co. will offer a line of luxury watches.

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Chinese wealthy favor travel, luxury brands

China's wealthy entrepreneurs favor travel, swimming and luxury foreign brand names, according to a study released Wednesday that quizzed nearly 600 business people on their personal preferences.

Nearly a third of the 589 people responding to the survey said their number one pastime was travel, followed by swimming, at 22 percent, and golf, 12 percent, according to the Hurun Report, a company that specializes in collecting information about China's moneyed classes.

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