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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Monday, March 27, 2006

Qatar Airways taps HK market with luxury service

Choosing dishes by a la carte plates, having a taste of caviar and served with individual tea's not a candle-light dinner in some fancy restaurant, but a cabin meal aboard Qatar Airway's flight to Hong Kong.

Just starting flying between Doha and Hong Kong, Qatar Airways announced Monday here that they will focus on luxury services such as the above to stand firm on Hong Kong's aviation market full of competition.

"In today's age of travel, customers are becoming more experienced and more demanding looking for more choice and the highest levels of service," Akbar Al Baker, the airline's chief executive officer, told a press conference on Monday.

Besides the extravagant cabin meals, the Middle East airline's Airbus A330 aircraft also features other luxury treatment for first and business class passengers, ranging from chairs can lie 180-degrees flat as a bed, 78-inch seat pitch to 15-inch personal LCD TV screens.

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Switzerland : Baselworld - Luxury goods show to begin on Mar 30

The world's leading Watch and Jewellery Show to be held at Basel, Switzerland from March 30 to April 6, 2006.

As the world's biggest and most important showcase for the industry, BASELWORLD is the ideal place for conducting business and networking. BASELWORLD is the industry highlight of the year in an environment of increasing worldwide demand for luxury goods.

BASELWORLD 2006 – World Watch and Jewellery Show
Date: March 30th to April 6th 2006
Place: Exhibition Center Basel
Opening hours: Daily from 09.00 to 18.00
On the last day of the Show 09.00 to 16.00
Admission: Day ticket CHF 45.00 Students CHF 30.00 Pass for duration of Show CHF120.00
Organiser: MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Luxury by the Sea

AS property prices continue to inch slowly upwards, developers have been busy presenting their new projects to catch the wave of positive sentiments from the ground. For the house hunter, the wide array of choice is quickly becoming a headache. What to buy? Where? New or old?

But if you like the east in particular, you'll be pretty spoilt for choice because there have been quite a number of launches there over the past few months. For instance, the newly-launched Meyer Residence in the popular Katong area should be an attractive draw to young couples and small families. Located along Meyer Place near Tanjung Rhu, it's a short drive from town and the fabulous eateries of the East Coast area.

This 19-storey freehold project has just 68 units, great for those who want some privacy and yet not feel stifled in a congested environment. Developed by Sing Holdings, most of the bigger three-bedroom units face the sea. But while it's just a short distance from the beach, it's far enough that you won't get the hum of the noisy East Coast Parkway (ECP).

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Caribbean Luxury Resorts Go High-Tech with IP

NXTV, Inc., the provider of digital in-room entertainment, voice, and data services to luxury hotels worldwide, announced that its license partner in the Caribbean, Cable & Wireless, has signed long-term agreements with three St. Lucian Resorts with a total of 466 rooms. NXTV already provides systems to hotel and resort brands like Four Seasons, JW Marriott, Raffles, Omni, and W Hotels. Its in-room systems help transform guest stays into dynamic, interactive experiences.

Under the latest arrangement, the Coco Palm resort, the newest property on St. Lucia, is a 92-room, 4-star state-of-the-art hotel at Rodney Bay. It will be the first hotel to install the NXTV system. The resort is designed with a touch of French tradition, but the digital experience offered to guests will be anything but old-style. The C&W system will add modern day comforts, including WiFi, cable television, and on-demand video.

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Pamela Anderson Buys Luxury Las Vegas Condo

Pamela Anderson is the new owner of a condo in a $1 billion luxury high rise in Las Vegas.

The developer of the building, Laurence Hallier, says the actress bought a 2-bedroom penthouse that has views of the Las Vegas Strip. He adds that similar condos in the building sell for $2 million.

The Associated Press reports that actors Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio are also rumored to have bought units in Panorama Towers.Hallier says Anderson's condo is not expected to be completed until the end of 2008.

He says, "She lives in Malibu. So for now she's fine."

Yvonne Lee - All Headline News

Luxury hotel inaugurated in Damascus

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Wednesday inaugurated in Damascus a new 100-million-dollar luxury Four Seasons hotel, whose principal owner is Saudi tycoon billionaire Prince Al-Walid bin Talal.

One of the world's wealthiest men, Talal owns some 200 hotels, including Paris' George V and New York's Plaza. At the inauguration ceremony, he paid tribute to the country, saying he would "continue to invest in Syria despite the pressures" on it.

Syria, which contains a wealth of archeological and historical sites, is experiencing a new upsurge in tourism, even though it is under pressure from the West over its policies in the Middle East.

The 18-story Four Seasons, decorated in Ottoman, Persian and Syrian styles, is located in the center of the capital looking out on the Great Mosque. It has 297 rooms, 12 residential apartments, three restaurants and a spa. Talal owns 65 percent of the hotel, while the balance is held by the ministry of tourism and the Damascus municipality. –– AFP

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Companies tap into trend of leasing luxury

Ever want to borrow the latest Fendi bag for a month or drive around in a bright yellow Lamborghini for a day?

A number of companies are tapping into consumers' penchant for leasing luxury. They're targeting both the affluent who don't want to hold on to anything for long and those less monied folks who want to get a taste of the lifestyles of the rich.

Seattle-based online service Bag Borrow or Steal allows customers to borrow designer handbags through a monthly membership fee. New York-based Gotham Dream Cars LLC will deliver exotic cars like a Lamborghini Gallardo to customers' doorsteps for a rental fee ranging from $595 to $1,950 per day.

Golf manufacturer Callaway Golf Co. is making it easier for customers to trade in old golf clubs and get discounts on new ones at 4,000 golf stores and pro shops nationwide. The retailers get reimbursed for the price difference, and Callaway resells the old clubs on a Web site called

Then there's Portero, a two-year-old online luxury exchange site that sells secondhand high-end electronics, fashion, jewelry, art, cars and home items. It now has 8,000 buyers and 6,000 sellers registered.

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Attitude is a luxury when selling to the high end

Luxury Brands - and the sleek assistants who sell them - must lose their snooty attitude if they wish to survive in Australia, a visiting French marketing guru warned yesterday. "I walked into the Chanel store on Castlereagh Street in Sydney and I felt very intimidated by the attitude of the employees," luxury brands marketing professor Michel Phan said.

"Relationships with luxury brands start from that first point of contact, and if that is bad, if an employee is overly formal or intimidating, a potential customer is not going to come back." Professor Phan, who speaks at the "Australuxe - Selling Luxury" conference in Sydney today, urged brands to make themselves relevant to a younger customer base to ensure longevity.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Global brand that means luxury - and James Bond

Savile Row is the epicentre of bespoke tailoring and is envied around the globe. Men travel from as far afield as New York and San Francisco for what are considered to be the world's best suits.

"I can't think of another street that has almost become a brand in itself," says Carlo Brandelli, the creative director of Kilgour. "Whether you are in Tokyo or New York, Savile Row stands for prestige and luxury. It is synonymous with the impeccably dressed man, James Bond and England."

Firms such as Huntsman and Ede and Ravenscroft are masters of all the elusive qualities that major fashion brands seek, including unequalled customer service and a rich heritage.

When Tom Ford, the former Gucci supremo, announced his new menswear store opening in New York in the autumn, he described it as "a cross between a Savile Row tailor and an Italian fashion company".

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Luxury Resort opens in Exuma, Bahamas

Grand Caribbean Resorts, Ltd., a Bahamian-based resort management company, is pleased to announce the opening of Grand Isle Villas, a new seaside residential resort. Grand Isle Villas, located in beautiful Great Exuma, Bahamas, is a new community of 72 luxurious ocean and golf course villas located within the 500-acre Emerald Bay Resort. Perfect for families, honeymooners, couples and intimate groups, these spacious two and three-bedroom villas provide the ultimate in luxury and comfort.

Grand Isle Villas is the perfect Caribbean getaway. The resort offers activities including golf on the incredibly beautiful Greg Norman designed golf course, sailing, swimming, charter fishing or exploring the many nearby uninhabited cays. Complimentary waters sports are also included and pampering at the nearby spa can be arranged. Grand Isle Villas also provides guests with a personal concierge who will arrange dining, either privately in your villa or at one of the several nearby restaurants. Villas are pre-stocked with guests food and beverage preferences prior to their arrival.

Grand Isle Villas offers spacious two- and three-bedroom villas which are available for purchase and resort rentals. Grand Isle Villas provides amenities that include twice daily housekeeping, au pere service and golf carts to use around the resort.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

In Accordance With Luxury And Comfort

Chennai is fast transforming into a prominent Meetings Incentives Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) destination and a hub for business travellers and the growing number of chic business hotels in the city is a testimony to this trend. An embodiment of magnificence and elegance, the Accord Metropolitan located in the heart of the city and its commercial hub, though less than a year-old, has made its mark as a luxury business hotel.

The unique facade of the hotel sporting a kind of pergola for a roof is easily spotted from afar. The glass interiors in the lobby flood it with natural light, giving it an extremely spacious and bright look. The aesthetic marble flooring, white ceiling and rich maroon, silk drapes provide the lobby with a stylish, modern look and the intricately designed chandelier adds to the grandeur. The hotel lives up to its motto of "transcending hospitality" and it believes in exceeding the guest's expectations. The 162 lavish guest-rooms and suites are comfortable and welcoming. For the busy business traveller, the rooms are equipped with broadband and dial-up Internet access and with well-stocked mini-bars to unwind after a long day.

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Lexus Announces Pricing on GS 450h Luxury Gas/Electric Hybrid Sport Sedan

The 2007 Lexus GS 450h, the world's first luxury performance hybrid sedan, goes on sale in early May with a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $54,900. Beyond its advanced gas/electric hybrid powertrain and Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) stability control system, the base price includes a wide array of premium standard features typically offered as popular options on the GS 300 and GS 430.

"The GS 450h is a top-flight luxury performance sedan designed to have class-leading acceleration and responsiveness," said Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Bob Carter. "Like the RX 400h, it is a performance-luxury vehicle without compromise, with fewer emissions and improved fuel economy over competitive V8-powered luxury sedans."

A completely new Lexus hybrid powertrain propels the new GS 450h. The system combines a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a new compact, high-output, permanent magnet electric motor that drives the rear wheels. The transmission utilizes an advanced two-stage motor torque multiplication device for the Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) motor, delivering responsive and seamless acceleration with no power loss.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

England Enjoy Luxury At World Cup Hideaway

If the England players are not yet convinced that a World Cup triumph awaits, they need only take in the scene from their mountaintop hotel in the Black Forest this summer to feel like lords of all creation. There are majestic vistas of the landscape near Germany's border with France. Such a panorama does not come cheap and this must be the grandest base the national team has ever occupied for a tournament.

England check in to the Schlosshotel Buhlerhohe on June 5, 2006 and hope to be resident there until they leave for the World Cup final in Berlin on July 9, 2006.

The only occupants will be the Football Association party of about 55 people and staff from BBC and ITV, who hold the British television rights.

When the status of an institution has to be measured, cost is a crass and convenient index. The presidential suite comes in at some $1,500 a night. It has been occupied by statesmen such as Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton, which testifies to the prestige of the Schlosshotel. One frivolously imagines David Beckham taking up residence in the suite, but the FA says it may be used only for group meetings. Perhaps, though, Sven-Goran Eriksson was staking a claim when he mentioned that he personally needed a room big enough for chats with his coaching staff.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lauderdale developer plans $800 million luxury hotel near Orlando

A Fort Lauderdale developer announced plans on Wednesday to build a 1,260-room Intercontinental hotel on Lake Bryan about four miles from the Orange County Convention Center.

The luxury hotel, which would be the largest Intercontinental in the world, will be called Palazzo del Lago. Hospitality Development Group plans to begin construction this fall. It is expected to open in early 2009 at a cost of $800 million.

The resort would contain 994 units in five 18-story towers called the Villas at Palazzo del Lago, a condominium hotel with prices starting at more than $300,000 each. The remainder of the rooms would be conventionally financed.

Luxury hotel in Oceanside is on track to open in 2009

Plans for the downtown Oceanside luxury hotel overlooking the ocean are proceeding on schedule for a late 2009 opening. And members of the city Economic Development Commission were pleased to hear it last week from the developer, Jeremy Cohen, vice president of S.D. Malkin Properties of San Diego.

There were some minor glitches in the beginning with paperwork, Cohen said, but the project is back on track.

Cohen showed 43 slides briefing the commission on plans for the seven-story hotel with two ballrooms 9,000 square feet combined an adjacent boutique hotel and high-priced time shares.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Luxury Hotel Opens In Iowa City

A new luxury hotel is opening is opening its doors in eastern Iowa. The Plaza Towers And Hotel vetro opened for business in Iowa City today.

The towers includes: grocery store, resturant, conference room, condominiums and the Hotel Vetro. After four years of construction, the 13 floor plaza towers is the largest building in town.

Jay Leavessur of Hotel Vetro says: "There's a pulse to it theres going to be a lot of artwork a lot of natural light, glass, stainless steal it has a very modern look but a lot of energy behind it as well."

The Hotel Vetro is also smoke-free.

Charles Street to get luxury bath showroom

A distributor of high-end faucets and other home hardware products will open a showroom this summer on Charles Street in Mount Vernon.

Retail and development experts were optimistic about Bath Time Inc.'s success, in spite of some of the turnover among Charles Street tenants over the years and the recent closing of a popular, long-standing sushi restaurant. The move will bring a unique destination retailer that will get a boost from high-end condominium projects under development, several retail sources said.

Bath Time Inc. will open an 8,000-square-foot showroom at 1010 N. Charles St., replacing H. Chambers Interior Design, which moved to Montgomery Park, a 56-acre office complex, a month ago.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Ground broken for luxury rental tower in Long Island City

Empire State Development Corp. Chairman Charles Gargano joined local elected officials and business leaders Wednesday for the groundbreaking of Avalon Riverview North, an upscale 39-story Long Island City housing complex is expected to produce more than 600 rental units.

The completion of the 600,000-square-foot building will end phase one of the Queens West Development project, Gargano said. "I am pleased to be here today and excited that we are taking another step forward in the redevelopment of Queens West, as we continue to bring this unique and valuable treasure on the East River to its full potential," he said. Gargano said the building should be ready for occupancy in late 2007 and that the building will also feature 2,750 square feet of retail space.

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In the lap of luxury

From bathrooms worth a fortune to private golf courses and parks, the word "luxury" is being redefined in these premium developments.

A fully equipped gym with sauna and steam, a massage chair and a jacuzzi - all fitted into your master bathroom. This is not one man's fanatsy - it is a norm that 105 families enjoy in The Forest, Noida, developed by Omaxe Constructions.

And that's not all - there's an exclusive cigar lounge for the residents, and the 6,000 sq ft penthouses boast of private terrace gardens and swimming pools in each flat.

Ahuja Developers in Mumbai will offer you bathrooms with Grohe showers that cost over a lakh each, gold-plated taps, Portuguese in-laid marble lobbies, Italian soundproof windows and onyx kitchen platforms.

Others make do with car parks with exclusive Bisazza tiles, hand-painted murals in the lobby, skid-proof car parks, your own personal remote control to open electronically controlled gates and security television-phones at every door.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Luxury yacht companies target Dubai International Boat Show

The Dubai International Boat Show 2006, organised by the Dubai World Trade Centre, will host many of the world's luxury boat builders, waterside developers, interior design companies, charters and brokers at this month's show.

Top end custom yacht builders such as Amels, Azimut-Benetti, CRN/Custom Line, Lurssen and Trinity Yachts will line up alongside property developers including Nakhleel, Dubai Maritime City and Dubai Festival City, in an impressive 2,550 square metre air conditioned area at the Dubai International Marine Club, for what will be the largest exhibition of leisure boats, equipment and services in the Middle East.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Luxury on the Orient Express: The ultimate train experience

It may not be the longest train journey in the world, a record currently held by the 9,288.2 km (5,787 miles) Trans-Siberian Railway.

Nor is it the most strikingly scenic: The Glacier Express in Switzerland, and Vietnam's Reunification Express both offer views of mountains and jungle respectively -- that make most other train routes look positively mundane.

Nor is it even the world's most exclusive rail experience with a maximum of 22 passengers per trip, touring France in the über-chic Palladium probably deserves that title.

For sheer luxury, character, panache and historical resonance, however, no train journey on earth can quite match a trip aboard the legendary Orient Express, a locomotive that justifiably bears the nickname "King of Trains."

"It is quite simply the ultimate luxury train experience," says UK rail expert Mark Smith.

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Plans call for luxury condo high-rise in Atlantic City

Developers in Florida and Pennsylvania are working on what appears to be a $90 million, 38-story luxury condominium complex on the Board-walk next to the Showboat Casino-Hotel.

The plans now in the city's planning office show 25,000 square feet of retail space and 425 one- and two-bedroom condominium units. The top two floors would hold 10 two-story, two-bedroom units. The plans say the project could be built in two years.

The proposal could mean the end of rumors that a smaller "boutique casino" would be built in the same general area of the city's South Inlet neighborhood. How-ever, in the filings, the plans refer to the building as both “The North Beach Club Resort & Residential Development” and "North Beach Club Casino Resort and Residen-ces."

The developers, North Beach Holdings LLC, also own about 20 acres of vacant land in that neighborhood, assessed at $20,933,900.

The plans come at a time when city development seems increasingly geared toward upscale resort high-rise condominiums. It also comes as the city is contemplating updating its master plan to allow more residential development in the Southeast Inlet.

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Arizona tops $1 billion in luxury home sales in 2005

With Scottsdale and Paradise Valley leading the way, Arizona became one of the seven states with over $1 billion in sales of luxury homes during 2005. A study by Coldwell Banker on the nation's hottest luxury home markets ranked Paradise Valley ninth among 75 cities in the United States, with $637 million in luxury home sales. Scottsdale ranked 10th with nearly $594 million in sales.

The two East Valley cities ranked highest in the increase in luxury home sales volume in 2005 compared to the year before. Paradise Valley increased 251 percent and jumped 43 places in the rankings, while Scottsdale increased 205 percent, rising 37 places from the 2004 standings.

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Plans for luxury hotel complex still on track

Plans to build a luxury hotel complex just outside Barnard Castle are still on track according to the company backing its development.

Directors of Primula Ltd have commissioned a series of environmental surveys to be carried out on Humbleton Farm with a view to building a 120-room hotel, 18-hole golf course and 150 chalet lodges.

Other amenities currently being touted by the developers include tennis courts, a swimming pool, spa and leisure centre.

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M&C Saatchi in luxury brand venture

M&C Saatchi is launching a premier brands unit called Provenance to lure luxury goods makers, many of whom create their advertising campaigns in-house.

The subsidiary has been set up to assist luxury brands deal with the growing complexity of their marketing strategies. Big spenders from Russia and China are becoming just as important to luxury brands as their more traditional counterparts in the UK and US.

Some ad agencies have poured scorn on the marketing efforts of premier brands, saying they use too many clichéd images and lack the "big ideas" to make campaigns successful.

Jane Boardman, Provenance chairman, said: "As the sector grows they will have to look outside for professional help. They want better quality people working with them and people who can do everything." Boardman added that Provenance would not be assigning a full-time creative executive to the project in order to underline its "supportive" role.