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.
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.
Photograph of infant wearing bowler hat and sunglasses while standing on Monterey chair, c. 1940, Wolfosnia Collection by Bruce Weber
Fans of celebrated photographer Bruce Weber—renowned for his contributions to art, fashion, advertising and film—can enjoy a double helping of his work this month, thanks to the latest installment of his literary-and-art-journal series and a compilation of his documentaries.
All-American Volume Thirteen: Born Ready (teNeues.com, $125) lauds a variety of brave, risk-taking personalities via words and photos. Weber, who thinks it’s a dying art to be a character in the world today, profiles Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries, who runs the organization that the late movie producer Ray Stark started to help guide young men out of gang life in Los Angeles. Then there’s Micky Wolfson, an art collector who created his own museum, and Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, who challenged the Defense of Marriage Act and won. There’s even a spin through the world of pro motocross racing.
Bruce Weber: The Film Collection ($60 for four DVDs) is no less impressive or thought-provoking, featuring four of the artist’s documentaries, including Let’s Get Lost (1988), an Oscar-nominated look at jazz trumpet player Chet Baker, and Chop Suey, a look back at Weber’s career. “My camera lets me flirt with life,” he once said. We’re lucky enough to see the results.
When Linda Wischmeyer, president of the private-jet company Intrav, is asked what surprises people most about the brand of flying she deals in, her answer is simple. “That this type of bespoke, first-class, around-the-world travel even exists,” she says.
Intrav’s itineraries for 2014 and 2015 do sound nearly too good to be true. Its inaugural Timeless Destinations trip (April 7–May 1, 2014 or September 8–October 2, 2014; from $99,950) focuses on eight destinations—including Rio de Janeiro, Bora Bora and Istanbul—and is a classic around-the-world journey that recalls a style of travel that really hasn’t been experienced in decades.
Other expeditions include an African journey (February 26–March 21, 2015; from $65,950) through the likes of Madagascar, Marrakech and Tanzania, and a Seven Wonders trip around the globe (January 31–February 24, 2015; from $109,950) that touches down in Bali; Lima, Cuzco and Machu Picchu, Peru; Easter Island, Chile; Fes, Morocco; Sri Lanka; Rwanda and the north or south island of New Zealand. Getting there really is half the fun, thanks to no fatiguing connections and Intrav’s custom-designed Boeing 757-200ER. Big enough for 50 passengers, the plane is flush with details like 180-degree flat-bed seats throughout the cabin, in-flight WiFi, an on-board chef and caterer and an open bar.
“Intrav recognizes that people are seeking highly personalized experiences that leave them with enriching memories long after their bags are unpacked,” says Wischmeyer. “We offer more than a trip. It’s a transcendent journey that leaves an indelible memory.” Call for prices; 206-209-5770; intravjet.com.
Forty-three years ago, jewelry maker Graff put its diamonds on display is a rather unique way, tucking a million dollars’ worth of earrings, bracelets and other pieces into a model’s intricately done hairstyle. The resulting image, “Hair & Jewel,” became a classic, and this year Graff brought it back.
A restaging of the original image highlights a new collection of diamond jewelry, including the pink-and-white flower brooch pictured here (price on request) made of pear-shape stones, rare pink diamonds and a pavéd stem. Other items, like a 10.47-carat blue briolette diamond pendant and a bracelet of 18 emerald-cut diamonds, shine just as bright. graffdiamonds.com.
As if an elegant bottle of Casa Dragones tequila isn’t enough, the exclusive spirit meant for sipping (not shooting) is offering even more this holiday season. Its special gift box ($275), packaged in the brand’s signature blue, contains a bottle of the 100-percent blue-agave Joven tequila along with a pair of custom Riedel glasses—hand-engraved in traditional Mexican pepita style—made especially for tasting.
Produced in small batches, Casa Dragones was founded in 2008 (CEO Bertha González Nieves is the first female maestra tequilera) and begins with silver tequila, which is finished with a touch of extra añejo that has mellowed in American oak barrels for five years. The result is a superbly smooth flavor (the expected bite is nearly nonexistent)—and a perfect addition to any collection. casadragones.com/gift.
When Michael Evans, co-founder of the new Vines Resort & Spa near Mendoza, Argentina—which celebrates its grand opening on New Year’s Eve—first visited the vineyards-rich area in 2004, he found the openness of the winemakers refreshing. “Its like talking to the artists versus seeing the finished product, ” he explains.
He thought others would want a similar experience, and the Vines of Mendoza, essentially a vineyard done co-op style, was born. Nine years later, 127 owners from all over the world oversee their private plots (anywhere from three to ten acres) and enjoy the 230 singular wines produced on the property.
The Vines Resort & Spa, which will open officially to guests on January 15, takes the concept a step further, encompassing 22 spacious, one- and two-bedroom villas (some of which offer superb views of the Andes) that make use of local wood and stone. The restaurant Siete Fuegos, helmed by Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, who is renowned for cooking with fire, opened for lunch last month. The spa, which will feature viniculture-focused treatments, debuts in February.
The resort’s goal is to have guests take part in an authentic encounter with the gorgeous landscape and culture—to learn some Spanish, acquaint with the cuisine, tango. And though wine is the cornerstone, there is no shortage of additional activities. Hiking, horseback riding and fly-fishing are available, as well as a climbing wall, running trails and a gym that overlooks the vineyards. And for those who fall in love with the surroundings, the option to buy into the Vines of Mendoza is always there—proving a more permanent setup in paradise is sometimes best. Rooms start at $650; Ruta Provincial 94, km. 11, Tunuyan, Uco Valley; 54-261/461- 3900; vinesresortandspa.com.
A limited re-release of the Zervos Picasso Catalogue—1,500 sets ($20,000 each) of 33 volumes brimming with more than 16,000 paintings and drawings—is bringing back the iconic compendium’s former glory. Distributed by Sotheby’s beginning December 15 (pre-orders [$15,000] are being accepted now), the compilation is a collector’s item and resource for all generations of Picasso devotees.
Christian Zervos, founder of Cahiers d’Art, a preeminent visual-arts publisher and gallery located in Paris, forged a lifelong friendship with Pablo Picasso. That camaraderie paved the way for Zervos, which many consider to be the definitive archive of the artist’s work.
Cahiers d’Art, founded in 1926, was a trailblazer in its day, solidifying relationships with the brightest stars of the 20th-century art world and producing some of the most highly regarded (and visually stunning) art publications. The outfit shut down in 1960. Swedish collector Staffan Ahrenberg took control of Cahiers and its holdings in 2011.
The earliest volumes of the catalog date back to 1932 and full sets are rare, making this incarnation of Zervos particularly special. Published in an English version for the first time, and featuring corrections made to the original text with the help of the Picasso Administration, it is as vast and absorbing as the friendship that ultimately created it. Available at Cahiers d’Art, 14 Rue du Dragon, Paris; 33-01/45-48-76-73; zervos.sothebys.com.
Byredo Swedish fragrance brand Byredo turns out a special three-part holiday line featuring the brand’s signature black wax: Bibliothéque (pictured here) anchored by patchouli and leather with top notes of peach and plum; Cotton Poplin, a fresh mash-up of linen, white cedarwood and sweet musk; and Fleur Fantôme, which combines violet leaves, tulip extract, suede, rhubarb and lemon petitgrain leaves. $95 each;byredo.com.
NEST Of NEST’s fall and winter releases, Woodland Truffle ($34), an earthy combination of French truffle, black pepper, oakmoss and cedar, hits a transitional tone, while the Holiday Grand four-wick candle ($225) blends pomegranate, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and amber in a glimmering golden glass. nestfragrances.com. Diptyque Colorful holiday candles by Diptyque set any mood with a trio of choices. Try rich Encens des Indes (rose, carnation, incense, myrrh), slightly smoky Ecorce de Pin (pine, cedar, Japanese cypress) or Orange Chaya (orange, quince, Indian spices). From $32; diptyqueparis.com.
Jardins d’Écrivains This French apothecary gives a nod to renowned writers with a collection of literary inspired candles informed—note for note—by the lives of Victor Hugo, George Sand and Rudyard Kipling. Dickens ($95) is a limited-edition blend of seasonal mandarin, pine and agarwood. Available at Twisted Lily, 360 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn; twistedlily.com; jardinsdecrivains.com.
DayNa Decker Wine has been captured in candle form. The Estancia Monterey County Collection by Dayna Decker represents Monterey, California–based Estancia winery’s signature Chardonay, with scents of lemon zest, Anjou pear, pineapple and vanilla, and Pinot Noir, featuring warmer aromas of raspberry, cherry, cassia bark, clove bud and vanilla wood. $44 each, $80 a set; DayNaDecker.com.
Few ingredients garner the celebrity status that truffles enjoy. The homely fungi with the sky-high price tag is beloved year-round, but particularly in the fall. In a nod to the season, Michelin two-star restaurant Enoteca at Hotel Arts Barcelona will serve two exclusive white-truffle tasting menus—seven courses ($260) and six courses ($220)—beginning November 1.
Enoteca’s chef Paco Pérez has big plans for the truffles, which are dug up in the Piemonte region of northern Italy and revered for their particularly earthy flavor. (The chosen few cost roughly $5,000 a pound.)
“White truffle is a unique product highly respected and appreciated by all chefs,” says executive chef Roberto Holz. “The secret lies in its unforgettable fragrance and flavor, combined with the fact that it can be introduced in the menu from appetizer to dessert.”
Pérez’s signature risotto pairs the white truffle with the ou de reig (or Caesar’s mushroom), which hails from Catalonia. Other dishes include sweet-potato gnocchi with shrimp; a low-cooked egg with Iberian ham parmentier and sea urchin; forest consummé; and Wagyu beef with sauce, mushrooms and potatoes—all incorporating truffles. Sommelier Albert Escofet and his team can match wines from the restaurant’s cellar with the menu.
How best to enjoy the bounty? Holz suggests taking it slow. Somehow we don’t think that will be a problem. Through November 28; Marina 19–21; 34-93/483-8108; hotelartsbarcelona.com.
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