December 09, 2013
Courtesy of Abercrombie and Kent
Forget what you know about traveling the world in 80 days and its medley of challenges. Passport to the World, the newest collaboration between private-jet company Flexjet and award-winning travel outfitter Abercrombie & Kent, offers adventurers a premier opportunity to circumnavigate the globe by private jet.
The 14-day itinerary takes up to eight people aboard a dedicated Challenger 605 aircraft, stopping in seven celebrated cities. The setup allows guests to travel with just their intimate group (versus people they don’t know) and to leave on dates that work best with their schedules instead of pre-planned departures.
In Japan, shop stores in the Nishi-Umeda district of Osaka and dine at Kyoto’s Michelin three-star restaurant Arashiyama Kitcho. In China, learn tai chi from a resident master at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and cruise Hong Kong’s famed Victoria Harbor at sunset. India brings the Taj Mahal in Agra; a private tour of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum marks Turkey; and Paris offers after-hours access to the Louvre.
“One-of-a-kind travel experiences are the new luxury,” says Flexjet president Deanna White. “We’ve created a turnkey solution to an incredible private-jet experience our owners would never be able to plan on their own. There is no limit to the unique offerings we can craft.” From $1.5 million; 800-554-7016; abercrombiekent.com.
December 09, 2013
Courtesy of Edmundo Castillo
Winter is almost here, but Edmundo Castillo has warmer weather on his mind. With the launch of his new Spring 2014 collection, the Puerto Rican-born designer brings together an assembly of modern and graphic silhouettes in bright, bold colors. Inspired by 1970s contemporary furniture, the designs incorporate exotic skins and come embellished with organic elements like wood, raffia, resin and oversized metal paillettes for an au natural appeal.
A highlight? The Barby ($1,295; pictured above), a flat sandal made of jade calfskin suede, cracked gold leather and hand-cut metal anaconda embroidery paillettes. “I love the simplicity of its silhouette,” Castillo says. “It’s all about the work on the shoe—the embroidery is like a piece of the tail of a golden mermaid.” Available starting December 15; Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills (9700 Wilshire Blvd.; 310-550-5900) and Bal Harbour (9700 Collins Ave.; 305-865-6161); edmundocastillo.com.
December 09, 2013
Courtesy of Portfolio/ The Penguin Group
Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World (Portfolio Hardcover), by writer and DEPARTURES contributor Mark Ellwood, examines the desire for a discount from every angle with humor and in-depth reporting. We chatted with him about the strategy—and the science—behind the almighty deal. amazon.com; mark-ellwood.com.
Q: What surprised you the most as you put the book together?
A: Finding out that we are genetically pre-programmed to respond to discounts and deals—that a chemical in our brain urges us to act when we see a sale sign. It’s a hormone I nicknamed “buyagra.”
Q: Seems fitting! Is it the same everywhere?
A: In the 18 months I spent researching the book I traveled around the world, from Japan to Turkey to Australia to the UK, and I was staggered by the shift in buying attitudes across the world. Put simply, developed nations, which were once so discountphobic, are embracing their inner haggler, while China, India and others are discarding their discount mindset.
Q: How will bargain mania continue to affect luxury goods?
A: In the 1990s the luxury market boomed, as high-end marques became household names. It’s a situation that combines profit and pitfalls: Expanding in response helped juice these labels’ bank balances, but it also risked tarnishing their cachet. I suspect that luxury will cleave in half, where a customer can decide if he or she is cheap or choosy. Everyday items from a core collection might be produced at large volume and potentially discounted at season’s end; a few ultra-select, truly limited-edition pieces will be custom created—their scarcity driving the retail price skyward.
Q: What does it mean for travelers?
A: The retail Rubicon that the travel industry will likely be the first to cross is what’s euphemistically dubbed “personalized pricing.” This is a tweak on dynamic pricing that uses more than just market data to decide cost for a certain customer: It factors in that customer’s history, loyalty and spending power. If you consistently book a last-minute business-class fare, for example, it telegraphs to an airline that price isn't a deciding factor for your purchase, so that firm can charge you more. It will make browsing and booking anonymously ever more important. Even now, when it comes to travel I only use an incognito Google Chrome browser window—a price prophylactic.
December 05, 2013
The Dorchester Collection is bringing back the exhilaration of the journey with its Ultimate Grand Tour of Europe: a 12-day trip through London, Paris, Geneva, Milan and Rome by way of one cultural highlight after another.
Taking inspiration from the original Grand Tourists, who explored these same cities in search of art, history and culture in the 18th century, this modern-day incarnation retraces the footsteps of curious British aristocrats while adding a contemporary spin of its own.
Highlights from the highly ambitious itinerary include stays at all five Dorchester hotels: Le Meurice, in Paris; Hotel Principe di Savoia, in Milan; Hotel Eden, in Rome; Le Richemond, in Geneva; and the Dorchester, in London. Private, expert-led tours of the British Museum, the Louvre and La Scala Opera House (plus a private viewing of da Vinci’s The Last Supper in Milan) mingle with wine tastings, high teas and châteaux visits.
Michelin-starred dining is courtesy of chefs like Alain Ducasse and Fabio Ciervo, and transport is by helicopter, Eurostar, Mercedes, Maserati and vintage Citroën—proving that getting there (wherever it may be) really is half the fun. Price upon request; 44-18/2975-1038; grand-tourist.com.
December 05, 2013
Courtesy of Scuola del Cuoio
Scoring quality leather in Florence is about as difficult as finding a hot dog in Chicago. But I didn’t want Gucci, Prada or Ferragamo. I was on the prowl for something different: esoteric, timeless, outstandingly stylish and, most important, something nobody at home would be able to identify. My search led me down a labyrinth of centuries-old cobblestone streets to an alley behind the famed Santa Croce church. Here, at the Scuola del Cuoio (Leather School), I had been told I would discover some of the most exceptional leather in the city. I wasn’t disappointed.
The Medici family had gifted the historic building—vaulted ceilings, preserved frescoes—to the Franciscan monks of Santa Croce during the Renaissance. After World War II, it was decided to tap into Florence’s rich leather heritage and create a school that would offer war orphans a practical trade. Along with two distinguished Florentine families (Gori and Cassini), the friars transformed the Medici wing of the monastery into a school, which passed down the time-honored traditions of leather crafting to a new generation.
That commitment to artistry still stands. Hides are tanned, cut, stitched and assembled in open workshops in the exact same manner as was done by the workers’ ancestors. Glass cases brim with exotic accessories crafted from every type of pelt under the (Tuscan) sun. In contrast to mass-produced wares on Via del Corso, on-site artisans craft the school’s burled-leather cigar cases, desk accessories made with goatskin inlaid with 22-karat gold, alligator luggage, crocodile handbags and lambskin jackets.
Despite the luxury goods, the school still focuses on education, offering short (three-hour) and long (one-year) workshops to tourists and locals. After wandering through the workshops and test-driving numerous bags, I decided on two statement-making python cuffs and a black calfskin Epi wallet with a dramatic red interior. No one back home could identify the origin. Mission accomplished. Piazza Santa Croce, 16; 39-055/244-5334; scuoladelcuoio.com.
December 05, 2013
Courtesy of The Standard
After decades of enduring a less than elegant reputation in basements and rec rooms, Ping-Pong returns to its luxe roots, thanks to The Standard hotel and SPiN Galactic’s exclusive table ($5,995).
Like every custom table The Standard features at its properties—an amenity that has become an integral part of the hotel’s culture since it opened in 1999—the SPiN Standard Table has a solid-wood, black-matte base; a custom STIGA playing surface in signature Standard red; a sleek white centerline; a removable net; and solid steel hardware.
The elements reintroduce refinement to a sport that began as a sophisticated after-dinner tradition in 19th-century Britain, when paddles were made from the lids of cigar boxes and balls were carved from Champagne corks. Using innovative craftsmanship and modern design, this new table upholds the game’s civilized origins while offering a state-of-the-art playing experience—a win by any measure. standardhotels.myshopify.com.
December 02, 2013
Nothing transforms a city quite like Art Basel, and the upcoming Miami South Beach edition is no exception. Hundreds of events, local restaurant and hotel openings and a slew of surrounding art fairs will pop up this week (December 2–8; artbasel.com). From VIP affairs to the show’s newest sector, here’s a handful of happenings to keep on your radar.
• Don’t miss a new sector of the fair devoted to editioned works, prints and multiples. “We are formalizing something we had already been offering,” says Art Basel director Marc Spiegler. “Editions are a great entry point to collecting because they allow people to collect work by artists at lower prices. And there is a highly specialized collecting scene for multiples.” Thirteen galleries will participate, including Pace Prints (New York) and Niels Borch Jensen (Berlin), with works by Cindy Sherman, Chuck Close (pictured above) and more. 300 W. 41st St., Ste. 214; artbasel.com.
• Fusion MIA Fair will launch its inaugural display of African and Latin artists on December 3 with an invitation-only First Look fête, with music by the Miami Symphony Orchestra. A series of events will follow through December 7, including an awards ceremony and a lecture series. 22nd St. and NW Second Ave.; fusionmia.com.
• As Maserati celebrates the debut of its new Ghibli, it will also host an opening-night VIP toast at the Pérez Art Museum Miami’s new facility (December 5, 7–10 p.m.; 1103 Biscayne Blvd.; pamm.org) and will sponsor a VIP lounge at Art Miami (3101 NE First Ave.; art-miami.com) with events like a symposium on collecting art by women and a brunch for museum professionals and curators.
• On December 4, Berluti CEO Antoine Arnault will unveil the newest collaboration between the men’s fashion house and furniture designer Maarten Baas. The four pieces Baas created for the label include a valet, two mirrors and a chaise longue. The items will be on display at Berluti’s Miami boutique for the duration of Art Basel. 161 NE 40th St.; 305-573-4170; berluti.com.
• A parade of other fairs joins Art Basel, including Scope (December 3–8; scope-art.com), Red Dot (December 3–8; reddotfair.com), PULSE (December 5–8; pulse-art.com) and Design Miami (December 4–8; designmiami.com). Look out for the retrospective of famed fashion photographer Marco Glaviano showing new limited-edition, large-scale versions of his black-and-white images of supermodel Cindy Crawford, now printed on canvas and sprinkled with diamond dust. “I believe that after so many years, these are the most iconic pictures of the supermodel era,” Glaviano says. The opening reception will be held at the dedicated CC Lounge during the Art Miami / Context VIP preview (December 3), and the retrospective will remain on view there for the duration of the fair. 3101 NE First Ave.; art-miami.com.
December 02, 2013
Walt Danley Realty
6240 E. Cholla Ln., Paradise Valley, Arizona; $13.75 Million
La Casa Que Canta (aka the House of Song)—a 19,475-square-foot, nearly three-acre equestrian estate located in a private neighborhood in Paradise Valley, Arizona—is as memorable as its scenic location. (Camelback Mountain, the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and the McDowell Mountains surround the desert town.)
The owners, who built the property in 2009, chose the design elements found throughout from the United States, Spain, Mexico, India, Italy and Morocco, contributing to an intriguing mash-up of styles. Antique wood doors, ironwork by a local artisan, carved stone, European tiles and reclaimed wood floors highlight the five-bedroom home, which also has a guesthouse, 16 fireplaces and a wine cellar.
Outside features a full-sized riding arena and a three-stall barn with Spanish paving stones. The stables were built using timber from a barn in a hundred-year-old Czechoslovakian town in Nebraska. Taking full advantage of its desert locale, La Casa Que Canta has an outdoor area for barbecues and an idyllic courtyard pool and grotto, where a pathway of stone steps seems to be float over the water.
Contact: Walt Danley Realty; 480-991-2050; waltdanley.com.
December 02, 2013
Lancôme takes an extra-indulgent approach to gifts this year with an exclusive presentation of its year-old fragrance La Vie Est Belle. Teaming up with legendary Swiss music-box maker Reuge and crystal purveyor Baccarat, the brand has released a limited-edition collectible called La Vie Est Belle L'édition Féérique ($35,000): A bottle of La Vie Est Belle housed in a handmade music box with a mini Baccarat chandelier of nearly 200 crystals hanging above it. Just 15 of them were made.
The music box plays “Beautiful Days,” a song by the Belgian band Venus that was featured in the fragrance’s original campaign starring Julia Roberts. Its 144 notes—deciphered by Reuge using a process that involves a special keyboard of blades that vary in length according to each tone—ring out by pressing a button as the vase turns and the bottle catches the light.
Interpreting the spirit of the scent (lush with iris, patchouli and sweet culinary notes) was no small task, and creating one of these showstoppers is an absolute labor of love: Each takes 120 days of work by hand to produce. neimanmarcus.com.
November 28, 2013
At the first ski-in/ski-out wine cellar and tasting room in the world, located at The Little Nell in Aspen, Carlton McCoy, the property’s new wine director and the youngest master sommelier in the country, is taking full advantage of his 20,000-bottle collection. “I look at this as sort of a secret wine club,” he says. “This is not a cookie-cutter cellar tasting room. Everything is personal, from what you drink to the music you listen to.”
McCoy consults with guests to design a theme based on individual preferences, from a grand cru flight of Burgundies to Champagnes by smaller, lesser-known producers. After a final run on Aspen Mountain, skiers meet a concierge who will rack their skis and provide them with slippers, an alpaca blanket and glass of private-label Champagne. Tastings (from $500 for up to six guests) take place in an intimate, custom-designed space in the wine cellar (complete with housemade charcuterie and a local cheese plate), which allows McCoy to pull bottles on the fly.
“This is a great opportunity to have wine you cannot access anywhere else in the world,” he says. “The sky’s the limit.” For inquiries, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; 675 E. Durant Ave.; 970-920-4600; thelittlenell.com.