luxury blog


Istanbul's New Raffles Hotel

Istanbul's New Raffles Hotel
Photo courtesy of Raffles Hotels & Resorts

On Istanbul’s European side, nestled above the Bosphorus in the year-old Zorlu Center—a sort of sophisticated bazaar 2.0 with more than 200 high-end shops, 40 restaurants, residential apartments and Turkey’s first performing arts center to host Broadway and West End shows—is a new Raffles hotel, which opens in September.

The design-centric property has 181 rooms, of which 49 are suites, outfitted with contemporary Turkish touches—think locally made glass, crystal and subtle mosaics. All have floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies with panoramic city views. Request a corner Horizon Suite, which has an extra-large terrace and wraparound vistas of the Bosphorus.

As is the case with Raffles’s Le Royal Mon­ceau in Paris, art plays a large part in creating the hotel’s vibe, with a mix of mediums—paintings, sculpture, photography, video installation—enlivening the space, including a commissioned 26-foot-high Jean-François Rauzier mural in the lobby lounge. Even the bed headboards are moody artworks ranging from calming purples to dusty blues.

Don’t miss the spa. It’s one of Istanbul’s largest and has a modern version of an old hammam; the treatment to try is the Rose, Sugar and Honey experience. The hotel also has two restaurants, two bars and two swimming pools, including an outdoor one on the roof. Rooms start at $790; Zorlu Center, Besiktas; 90-212/336-9160;

Milan’s Hottest New Restaurant

Milan's Hottest New Restaurant: Carlo e Camilla
Veronica Meewes /

For years, Segheria, a former sawmill on the edge of Milan, was one of the city’s hottest venues for a fashionable event—for hosting exclusive, invite-only runway shows, art installations and A-list soirees (Sting performed at one of them), this was the place to book.

But this past spring, Tanja Solci, the freelance art director behind the unfinished industrial space, decided to make it far more accessible, and joined forces with top chef Carlo Cracco to open a restaurant, Carlo e Camilla.

The new spot features a tiled bar, crystal chandeliers, long communal wood tables and an open-door policy (walk-ins are welcome) that’s kept it packed every night. The offbeat food and cocktails often mirror each other—a poached egg with licorice and lavender might be paired with a bourbon cocktail with lavender smoke—making for a daring approach in this wine-obsessed city.

Carlo e Camilla’s eclectic yet minimal decor is also a real draw. While keeping the rawness of the space intact, Solci has filled her family’s once abandoned lumberyard with a striking mix of modern and flea market finds—a Ron Arad table lies beside antique steamer trunks that belonged to her grandmothers; Capellini chairs sit in front of old, mismatched Ginori plates. The mood boards she started with lean against a wall in the pebbled courtyard out front, showcasing in clippings and sketches how the whole look came to be. “My idea of modernity is respecting memories,” she says, “but also doing something up to date.” Via Giuseppe Meda 24; 39-2/837-3963,

Three Luxe Athletic Training Vacations

Three Luxe Athletic Training Vacations
Photo courtesy of Eric Orton

These days vacations are not just for lounging—they’re opportunities for truly dedicated athletes to hone their skills. This fall, running, cycling and tennis devotees have the chance to indulge their passion with these three luxe athletic training vacations, which promise access to experts in three of the world’s most beautiful locales.

  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, celebrated running coach Eric Orton (Born to Run) and Hotel Terra and Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa have partnered to launch a four-day running camp in the Teton Mountains of Wyoming. From September 10 to 13, participants will receive personalized coaching from Orton on trail running and training in world-class terrain. Campers should be able to run a minimum of two to three hours comfortably upon arrival. $899;
  • The Viceroy Snowmass (130 Wood Rd.;970-923-8000; partners with sports concierge service Pros in Motion ( all year-round to create custom itineraries for its guests, but there’s no better time than autumn to hop on a bike in Colorado. Bespoke private packages can include guided road or mountain bike tours complemented by post-ride clinics and massages, as well as gourmet picnics and protein breakfasts. Rooms start at $175; biking packages start at $611 a day.
  • From November 18 to 22, Rosewood Little Dix Bay (Lee Rd.; 284-495-5555; in Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands hosts The Legends Camp, a five-day tennis clinic taught by renowned tennis pros Wayne Bryan, Murphy Jensen and Brad Gilbert. The package includes transportation to Richard Branson’s Necker Island to watch tennis stars Björn Borg, Boris Becker, Kim Clijsters and others compete at the Necker Cup Charity Exhibition and entrance to the “End of the World” charity dinner, auction and party. Starts at $7,645; 800-376-0975;

In the Kitchen: A Dim Sum Cookbook

Photo courtesy of Kevin Koh / Lighted Pixels

In today’s world of gluten hostility, it almost feels rebellious to handle a cookbook exalting flour in all its glutinous forms. But chefs Janice Wong (2am:dessertbar in Singapore) and Ma Jian Jun have delivered exactly that in their collaborative (and now English-translated) effort, Dim Sum (Gatehouse). The subtitle itself, “A Flour-forward Approach to Traditional Favorites and Contemporary Creations,” might as well be a warning label.

Here, however, flour is key as the cause behind the consistency, appearance and flavor of each mouthwatering dumpling, bun and pastry featured. (There’s even a flowchart that explains the connection between them: high gluten = elastic skin = shao mai.) Consider the number of flour casings (“skins”) that are listed—crystal, elastic, chewy, matte, stretchable, transparent and sticky—not to mention the cloud-like buns and flaky pancakes that appear across these pages.

Equally important, however, is the latter half of the book’s subtitle, which declares the chefs’ quest to rethink traditional dim sum dishes for a modern palate and sensibility. While classic flavors are ever-present—shrimp, pork, crab and custard appear throughout—their inventive combinations of dill and turbot, foie gras and cognac, anchovy and scallop, tripe and yuzu have likely never appeared on the menu at your local Chinatown tea parlor.

The result is an elevated approach to an unctuous dining experience and a collection of 90 edibles as beautiful to look at as they are tasty to imagine. Though each dish’s recipe fits on a single page—the design and layout of the book are as modern as its culinary mindset—do not be fooled by the brevity. These dishes call for techniques, proper equipment and patience—and maybe a new appreciation for gluten—that will likely take time to master.

BAM’s 24-Hour Movie Marathon

BAM's 24-Hour Movie-Marathon
Photo courtesy of E. Kaufman Harvey

Film buffs, get your popcorn ready. On September 5, 2014, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is hosting its first-ever 24-Hour Movie Marathon at the Harvey Theater (651 Fulton St.; 718-636-4100;, benefiting its arts-education programs that service more than 200 schools and reach over 30,000 students, teachers and parents each year. Starting at 8 p.m., participants will watch a full day’s worth of films back to back, interspersed with breaks for yoga, massages, coffee, wine and food (from Parker Red and Ted & Honey). Here, Stephanie Hughley, BAM’s vice president of education and humanities, and Matthew Bregman, vice president of development, discuss the inaugural event.

Tell us how this idea came to be. 
Matthew Bregman: Because our work is all about encouraging young artists, we wanted to raise money in a creative way, and a movie marathon seemed a really fun way to approach fundraising. That’s part of the message, too—engaging in fundraising doesn’t have to be serious and dull. It can be fun.

Talk about the films you’ll show. How were they curated?
Stephanie Hughley: As the event is a fundraiser for our arts-education programs, we immediately thought a back-to-school theme would be really fun—and there are so many great school-themed films, like Clueless and Dazed and Confused. The special guests who are joining us throughout the event [including celebrities like actor Taylor Schilling and world-champion rock climber Sasha DiGiulian] will be introducing some of the films, so we’ve left room to add their favorites, too.

Any major goals for this fundraiser?
MB: Beyond raising money, we want people to really enjoy themselves and come away from the event feeling even more connected to BAM and more enthusiastic about engaging in this kind of community-building project in the future.

Participants must raise a minimum of $250 through CrowdRise. To register or give support, visit Donations accepted through October 5.

Total Wellness in Bali

Total Wellness in Bali: The Mulia
Photo courtesy of Mulia Spa

Dotted with ornate temples and surrounded by calming waters, Bali signified spiritual awakening long before Eat, Pray, Love made it a haven for sarong-clad women seeking enlightenment. But the Mulia Spa—a respite for guests of the suite-only The Mulia, Mulia Resort and Villas, in beach-strewn Nusa Dua—takes rejuvenation to new heights with the recent debut of its Lifestyle Wellness program.

The airy spa, which resembles a majestic shrine from the outside, greets guests with uplifting artwork and a red-ginger elixir—a soothing preface to the program’s delightfully intense four or six hours of body treatments, which embrace natural and organic ingredients like turmeric, chile and tree bark.

Those who choose the Spa Buffet, the most extravagant of the customized options, might first be rubbed down with an almond scrub and painted with a sea-salt-and-marine-mud wrap. Penetrating oil is blissfully poured onto the scalp for an Ayurvedic shirodhara session, and an upper-back massage summons sleep. You’ll want to resist a nap, though.

A well-balanced lunch (300 calories or less), such as a bright Asian chicken salad followed by a scoop of heavenly house-made mango sorbet, is part of the ritual (as are breakfast and dinner). Sated, it’s back to the treatment room, this time for a deep, ultra-relaxing Balinese oil massage. The finale? An extraction-free white-crystal lymphatic facial.

It might appear that things couldn’t get headier, but the day is rounded out with two fitness classes, say sunrise yoga overlooking the garden (the early rise is worth the cooler temperatures) and aqua aerobics. Sustain the invigoration with ample time in the wellness suite, tricked out with an aroma steam room offering a selection of soothing and calming smells, a eucalyptus-scented sauna and a “Chromatherapy Chakra” ice room, where LED lights offer a warm contrast to the bracingly restorative 30-degree chill. Half-day (four-hour) packages start at $465; full-day (six-hour) packages start at $625; 62-361/302-7777;

The Four Seasons Paris Perks

Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

The Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris may be one of the most luxurious—and priciest—in the world, but at least those who shell out the minimum $1,240 for a night’s stay are treated to a few exclusive perks, including flower-arranging classes, a market tour with a cooking lesson and a cultural jog.

“We want our guests to have a visit to Paris that’s not your standard ‘see the big sights and leave,’?” says Caroline Mennetrier, the head of public relations. “And these amenities especially highlight what makes us unique as a hotel.”

That includes the legendary arrangements adorning the lobby and other public spaces, which employ 9,000 flowers a week. In new hour-long workshops held throughout the year, head decorator Jeff Leatham shares his secrets on how to replicate his understated, chic designs at home.

Another freebie is a three-hour market tour and cooking lesson with Eric Briffard, the chef of the property’s Michelin two-star boîte Le Cinq. The session begins with a morning walk to the nearby market, where Briffard introduces students to his favorite food purveyors. Once back in the kitchen, the small group helps prepare an entrée and dessert, like grilled salmon with verbena-infused olive oil and strawberry layer cake. The grand finale, naturally, is getting to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Fitness-focused guests, meanwhile, can enjoy the Tuesday-morning hour-long runs, which are far from standard. Two coaches lead exercisers through a journey around the city—from the Eiffel Tower, along the Seine River, through the scenic Tuileries Gardens and past the Louvre before ending with a sprint up the Champs-Élysées. Rooms start at $1,240; 31 Av. George V; 33-1/49-52-70-00;

A Polo Event in Wine Country

A Polo Event in Wine Country
Photo courtesy of Billy Farrell Agency

Get your opera glasses ready: On September 20, the St. Regis San Francisco (125 Third St.; 415-284-4000; will host its first-ever Polo Cup in Sonoma Valley’s Wild Oak Saddle Club (550 White Oak Dr.; 707-539-8629;, adding yet another destination to the property’s sporting tradition around the world.

Like previous events held abroad—the brand has hosted championships in Brazil, the UK, China, Thailand and other locales—the event will kick off with an afternoon match, starring acclaimed Argentine polo player (and St. Regis–brand ambassador) “Nacho” Figueras. While watching, guests can dig into a catered gourmet picnic of Argentine asado (barbecue) from the hotel’s executive chef, Oliver Belliard, and—for a little local flair—sip California wines from Hamel Family Wines. A silent auction will also take place, with travel packages from St. Regis Hotels & Resorts from across the globe. Proceeds will go to Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center, the only year-round premier accredited therapeutic riding program in the Northern Bay Area.

Die-hard fans should reserve the St. Regis Polo Cup Aficionado Package now, which includes two nights at the hotel’s San Francisco location, spa treatments at Remede Spa and Bentley transportation to the match (starts at $6,750). General admission tickets start at $350 per person; purchase at


A Weekend-Long Wine University

A Weekend-Long Wine University: Belmond Charleston Place
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

As with many of the finer things in life, wine is an area of expertise that never ceases to expand: The more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know.

To feed that thirst for knowledge—and then some—Belmond Charleston Place, in Charleston, South Carolina, has launched a three-day Wine U program that covers the essentials with help from Rick Rubel, the hotel’s advanced sommelier and wine director, and a number of guest speakers.

From August 22 to 24, dedicated students can learn about wine varieties, deductive wine tasting, the chemistry between food and wine and personal stocking strategies for at-home cellars. And to show how serious the program really is, the weekend wraps with a blind-tasting exam for all 20 of its pupils.

Attendees can expect to try rare, exceptional wines from the likes of Adelsheim, Zind-Humbrecht, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Krug and Shafer, and unwind after a hard day of study with a gourmet lunch and an eight-course dinner at the hotel’s Charleston Grill. Rates start at $3,000; 205 Meeting St.; 800-383-2335;

Subscription to Have: Try the World

Subscription to Have: Try the World
Photo courtesy of Cory Pavitt

Subscription boxes may be a dime a dozen these days, but every so often something special arrives at our door. While we already call on Monthly Express for all our beauty needs, it’s Try the World we’ll turn to for gourmet goods, sourced from around the globe.

Every two months, members receive a new mint-green box filled with treats from a different city—Paris, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Istanbul and New Delhi, in that order. While the sequence stays the same, the products from each locale will differ each time a new box is shipped. (Don’t like a particular city? Feel free to skip it at any time. Or order each à la carte.)

Curated with the help of in-the-know local experts—chef Christophe Schmitt of Le Diane; French DJs Marvin and Oscar; and filmmaker Nicolas Slomka all contributed to the recent Paris selection—each box is an authentic collection of premium goodies not easily found anywhere else. (The latest Tokyo box, for example, came with Morinaga, an iconic caramel candy with over 100 years of history.)

Complete with a playlist, movie recommendations and local tips, Try the World does more than give a small taste of the world’s unique cuisines; it invites its travel-savvy members along for the ride from the comfort of their own kitchens.

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