luxury blog


A Second Life for a French Manor House

A Second Life for a French Manor House
Courtesy of The Chateau de Thil

Given its legendary châteaux and spectacular countryside, Bordeaux—unlike Alsace, Burgundy and Champagne—has never had an official route des vins. That will change in the fall, thanks in large part to the popularity of Les Sources de Caudalie (, a boutique hotel, Vinothérapie Spa and epicurean destination in the region. Added to its offerings this summer is Château le Thil, an 18th-century manor house and vineyard that has found new life as a bed-and-breakfast.

The Cathiard family—in particular sisters Mathilde Thomas and Alice Tourbier—is behind the enterprise. Located just opposite the clan’s grand cru estate of Le Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Les Sources de Caudalie is named for the cult Caudalie beauty brand that is based on grape-seed extracts. Locals call the family, simply, “les Caudalies.”

Château le Thil, located roughly a mile from Les Sources de Caudalie, was built in 1737. The Comtesse de Clary (Josephine Bonaparte’s sister-in-law) renovated it in the mid-1800s; the royal connection remained intact for the next several generations. “Two-hundred years ago, Smith Haut Lafitte and Le Thil belonged to the same family,” says Tourbier, adding that the manor endured as a favorite summer retreat for various branches of nobility descended from Queen Victoria a century ago. “We’ve brought them into a family circle again.”

Freshly renovated, Château le Thil opens onto three spacious salons housing eight rooms and one suite. (An additional room, a suite with a private terrace, and a swimming pool will follow shortly.) Tourbier teamed with her mother for the decor, which varies from room to room, but the overall feel is rustic antique chic: Chantilly chandeliers, imposing wooden wardrobes, trunks, tables and chairs furnish spaces decked with dove-gray walls enlivened by colorful fabrics.

Motifs range from classic toile de Jouy and grape clusters in the Rouge Merlot suite (No. 2) to a lush landscape in the colonial Retour des Indes room (No. 7) to a mustard-hued Pierre Frey tribal print in the Lascaux & Co. room (No. 5). All bathrooms have twin sinks, clawfoot tubs and showers. And because all accommodations are in the front of the building, each offers views of rolling greenery, ponds and the oak-lined allée royale that leads back to Le Château Smith Haut Lafitte and Les Sources de Caudalie. Rates start at $325 (rooms), $520 (suite); Chemin de Smith Hait Lafitte; 33-5/57-83-83-83;

A Grace Kelly Costume Exhibit in Montreal

A Grace Kelly Costume Exhibit in Montreal
Courtesy of Montreal’s McCord Museum

With the exception of Audrey Hepburn and perhaps Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, few style icons were as effortlessly glamorous as Grace Kelly. “She seemed to lead a charmed life,” says Cynthia Cooper, curator of “From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly—Beyond the Icon,” on view at the McCord Museum in Montreal through October 6. “She grew up in a wealthy family, she was an Oscar-winning actress, she married a prince. But there is another side to her. She was down-to-earth, and she worked hard as an actress.”

That other side is what Cooper hopes shines through in the exhibit, which features roughly 100 objects, archives, love letters, notes, photos and film clips. The museum also highlights approximately 40 of Kelly’s garments on loan from the Palace of Monaco. Cooper, a costume historian, is particularly enthused to bring Kelly’s legacy to life through clothing. Notable articles include the peach-colored dress she donned during the famous convertible scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955) (Kelly made 11 films in her five-year career), and the modest taffeta-and-Alençon-lace frock she wore during her civil wedding ceremony in 1956 to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. (They are pictured here at their religious ceremony.) 

“Our exhibit tries to show what is behind her life as an icon and let the public know who she was,” Cooper says. “We know her as someone who loved her clothes, shopped for things she liked and that suited her and wore them again and again. The ideal femininity of the 1950s suited her to a T.” Through October 6; 690 Sherbrooke St. W.; 514-398-7100;

Saratoga Race Course Celebrates

Saratoga Race Course Celebrates
Adam Coglianese

While pro baseball players might take top sports billing this time of year, another group of elite athletes—thoroughbred racehorses—are the undeniable stars of summer in one New York town. Saratoga Springs, home of the legendary Saratoga Race Course, is helping its storied landmark celebrate 150 years with a 40-day race meet (July 20 to August 25) that puts the institution’s history on display.

“The 150th anniversary season is a celebration of not only the history of thoroughbred racing but the history of the Saratoga Springs community as a whole,” says Rodnell Workman, vice president and CMO of the New York Racing Association. “The track and the city are intrinsically linked with one another.”

Iconic horses like Secretariat, Seabiscuit and Man o’ War have raced in Saratoga, which is one of the most successful thoroughbred race meets in the United States, drawing more than 900,000 fans each summer. The Race Course’s official birthday (August 3) will feature special events and the Whitney Handicap. The 144th running of the illustrious Travers Stakes—the oldest major graded stakes in the country for three-year-olds—happens on August 24, promising a possible showdown between the winners of this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

And in between, city festivals, parades and special events take over the town of Saratoga itself, home to renowned mineral baths, elevated restaurants and a vibrant cultural scene (the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra spend their summers there). But when all is said and done, those 40 days belong to the horses. 267 Union Ave.; 518-584-6200;

Food at Fish & Game Restaurant

Food at Fish & Game Restaurant
Nick Wood Photo / Michael Davis Architects and Interiors

With the opening of Fish & Game in Hudson, New York, chef Zak Pelaccio became neighbors with many of the producers he has sourced ingredients from for decades while cooking in other kitchens. After stints at Daniel and The French Laundry, Pelaccio opened the now closed Chickenbone Café in 2003 in the then unhip south Williamsburg area of Brooklyn. Next he started his Fatty Crew restaurant empire (Fatty Crab, Fatty ’Cue, Pig and Khao) in Manhattan, establishing his celebrity chef credentials.

Now, with Fish & Game, Pelaccio and his wife and co-chef Jori Jayne Emde, are seeing the fruition of a longtime dream to create a four-season restaurant based almost entirely on locally sourced and produced ingredients. Although country in location and casual in ambiance (wearing jeans is not a problem), Fish & Game is not your typical laid-back, farm-to-table establishment.

In what was a former blacksmith building, the restaurant—designed by Michael Davis Architects + Interiors—pays homage to Hudson’s red-light gambling past with burgundy velvet printed wall coverings that contrast with fireplaces in the bar area and the dining room. The tables and bar were built and designed by Brooklyn-based woodworker Peter Heilman.

Menu items change daily, dependent upon the fare growing in the Pelaccio-Emde garden and what is gathered from area producers. Preservation, fermentation and pickling are key to managing the eatery’s no-waste, whole-animal culinary commitment. Guest can choose from a seven-course prix fixe menu (vegetarian or omnivore) or an à la carte bar menu.

Although some items may seem over-constructed and complicated at first glance, preparations are actually anything but. Recent dishes included semolina dumplings with baby kale, amaranth and rhubarb chutney; a Vermont rice bowl contained smoked pork belly, leek kimchi and pea shoots. A salad, called an “assortment of leaves,” was dressed with barrel-aged trout fish sauce and borage vinegar. Dessert left an impression: pound cake soaked in eggs, chocolate and cream, lightly baked and served with strawberry sorbet and strawberry syrup. 13 S. Third St.; 518-822-1500;

Napa Valley Festival del Sole

Napa Valley Festival del Sole
Vi Bottaro

Combining wine, food, wellness and once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences into a single, well-rounded package, Napa Valley Festival del Sole (July 12–21) is one of those events that seems to have it all. In its eighth season, it is the sole time each year when such a conglomerate gathers at various locations in the area.

“Every summer Napa Valley Festival del Sole showcases the brightest stars and rising talent in the worlds of music, dance and theater blended with Napa Valley’s exceptional wines and cuisine,” says festival cofounder and director Richard Walker.

With more than 60 performances and events and 100 participating wineries, the festival kicks off with a headlining show by Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, who will hit the stage at a castle at vineyard Castello di Amorosa (pictured here). (Single tickets are sold out, but a multi-day VIP pass [$650 to $7,500] is still an option for admission.)

Other highlights include a Deco-style gala (July 14) at the grand Meadowood Napa Valley resort, the Yoga in the Vineyard series (July 14 and 21) at the Entre Nous estate and winery in Oakville and a Dance Gala (July 19) featuring the Russian National Orchestra backing dancers from Ballet San Jose, San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. And one of the most popular performances, 24 Hour Plays (July 20), stars the likes of Alfre Woodard, Allison Janney and Chazz Palminteri, who are tasked with creating four ten-minute plays—from germination to final performance—over the course of one day.

Luckily, you and the roughly 10,000 festival attendees have ten full days to enjoy everything the gathering has to offer. 888-337-6272;

The Ultimate Anti-Aging Advice

The Ultimate Anti-Aging Advice
Courtesy of KCM Publishing

When Manhattan plastic surgeon Gerald Imber published the first version of his book The Youth Corridor: Your Guide to Timeless Beauty in 1997, his approach turned heads and, no doubt, improved skin. Now, he has introduced a video-enhanced e-book version of his manifesto—focused on prevention, maintenance and correction—complete with new material and 14 video clips that essentially bring the doctor to you.

“The format was a result of my desire to make the book more personal and relevant, like a consultation,” says Imber. “In fact, it addresses subjects as I do, face to face.”

An informative, interesting read no matter your relationship with anti-aging strategies, the book is like a self-help manual for one’s face, proving surgery alone isn’t always the answer to looking younger. Imber delves into diet (enjoy antioxidant-rich foods), exercise (consider swapping running, which can cause facial skin to lose elasticity over time, for lower-impact workouts) and the foundations of a solid skincare routine (from cleanser and moisturizer to vitamin C serums [we wrote about his Boost 2.0 serum last year] and alpha-hydroxy acids).

The advice is bound to make you re-think some of your habits and, if knowledge is indeed power, walk away armed with the tools to help maintain natural beauty for as long as possible. “The point is for the reader to understand what they can do for themselves,” he says, “and what we can do for them.” Available for iPad and iPhone at;

Monte Carlo Welcomes the Campana Brothers

Monte Carlo Welcomes the Campana Brothers
Fernando Laszlo

Two of the world’s most provocative designers are contributing their talents to a major celebration in Monte Carlo. Marking the 150th anniversary of the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo—one of the principality’s most recognized landmarks—the exhibit “Dangerous Luxury” (July 6–20) will present a world preview of works by Brazilian designers and brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana.

Known for using recycled and unusual materials to create pieces with personality and irresistible texture—a chair made of stuffed animals; the well-known Favela chair made of pieces of recycled wood—the Campana brothers display a quirky, technical creativity. Shown at the casino’s Sporting d’Hiver, the exhibit originated in Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and was extended especially for Monte Carlo, complete with new works.

The furnishings meld natural fibers from central Brazil with Art Deco–inspired European influences. Jewelry (called “forbidden jewels”) will be on view, blending bronze, gold and gems as well as pop items (toothbrushes, alligators) and more traditional motifs. And guests will also be able to view a series of sketches on loan from the artists, which will help to illuminate the siblings’ creative process even more.

"The name 'Dangerous Luxury' is ironic," says Humberto. "What is luxury today? It is mixing gold and diamonds with a very natural straw, a very banal material, to create another object. I think this is the key message of the exhibition. People need to have eyes to see hidden things, so we try to point out situations that are hidden and highlight them." July 6–20; Place du Casino, Sporting d’Hiver;

Browsing the Brimfield Antique Show

Browsing the Brimfield Antique Show
Courtesy Gael Towey

From July 9 to 14, more than 6,000 antiques dealers will descend on the quiet New England town of Brimfield, Massachusetts, for the Brimfield Antique Show—one of the world’s largest open-air flea markets. Antiques dealers and collectors are an interesting lot (how many 19th-century bundt-cake pans does one really need?), but this is where the talent behind Ralph Lauren Home—and probably your favorite interior designers—comes to find singular pieces and inspiration, whether it’s a year for vintage industrial or Mad Men modern.

The show, made up of some 21 individually owned and operated fields, extends for a mile along either side of Route 20. Warehouse dealers drive in from all over the country to load up semi trucks, paying cash for birdcages, blown glass, mercury glass, Gustavian chairs, tables, consoles, floor lamps, textiles and other finds. Mary-Kate Olsen has been known to visit the fair to buy jewelry.

It is as much a trade show as a flea market, which means the pickers are professional (tip: get there early) and bargaining is common (open the negotiations by asking if the dealer would be willing to go lower). It also means that the apparent trends at Brimfield—like transferware platters, hurricane lamps or Deco credenzas—will probably show up in stores and shelter magazines later in the year, so a good eye can put you ahead of the curve.

Now in its 54th year, Brimfield happens three times annually (May, July and September). Eighteen of this round’s fields will open on July 9, with a few more following later in the week. The larger public usually swoops in over the weekend, after many of the pros have come and gone. July 9–14; Rte. 20, Brimfield, Massachusetts;

The Capella Pedregal Food & Wine Festival

The Capella Pedregal Food & Wine Festival
Capella Pedregal

With its sumptuous beachfront suites, palatial spa and 24-acre property accessible only by a private tunnel from Cabo San Lucas, the Capella Pedregal resort hardly needs a special event to lure in visitors. But its second annual Food & Wine Festival (July 10–14), a decadent culinary occasion limited to just 120 guests, is sure to impress.

The celebration of Baja cuisine features cooking demonstrations by some of the most notable chefs in the west, including Tim Hollingsworth, current chef de cuisine at the French Laundry in Napa; Kent Rathbun of Abacus in Dallas; and Yvan Mucharraz, Capella Pedregal’s new executive chef, who hails from Mexico City’s Tezka. Local vintner and master sommelier Humberto Falcon of Mariatinto winery will orchestrate daily tastings of wines from Baja’s Guadalupe Valley, which has a growing climate similar to that found in Napa and Sonoma.

According to Marco Bustamante, food and beverage director at the resort, the festival’s small size gives guests unparalleled access to the culinary stars. Each cooking demonstration—highlighting locally sourced produce like Baja-farmed organic pork, mangoes and line-caught fish—will have just 60 to 70 attendees. The opening-night wine reception, tequila seminar and after-party make for easy mingling.

The main draws, however, are likely the two evening meals: One is a barbecue beach party at the resort’s Beach Club, with chefs cooking on open grills and a team of mixologists serving Baja-themed cocktails, and the other is a grand five-course dinner prepared by the chefs and complete with dancing.

Given all the planned indulgences, Bustamante has only vague advice for guests worried about their waistlines. “There’s an excellent fitness center here,” he says. “So if you really want to be virtuous and head there between seminars, you can.” Good luck with that. Festival rates start at $3,820 (including accommodations, airport transfers and meals); Camino Del Mar 1; 52-624/163-4300;

Verdura at Masterpiece London

Verdura at Masterpiece London
Courtesy of Verdura

During the summer, when London’s art and cultural calendar is at its height, the city buzzes with excitement. And the highlight of this year’s season may well be Masterpiece London (June 27 through July 3), now in its fourth year and quickly gaining a reputation as one of the most multifaceted art, antiques and design festivals around. “It’s a true collectors’ fair,” says CEO Nazy Vassegh. “It’s everything from antiques to contemporary art.”

Indeed, this year’s fair will feature works as varied as Puzzle Portrait, a 1978 painting by Roy Lichtenstein that was purchased directly from the artist in 1983, and a white Carrara marble statue of Bacchus by 17th-century Italian sculptor Domenico Pieratti.

But art isn’t the only thing for sale and for show. Verdura, the iconic American jewelry company, is exhibiting at the fair for the third year. “Fulco di Verdura lived in the U.K. upon his retirement,” notes brand chairman Ward Landrigan. “We are bringing Verdura back home.”

To celebrate its New York Style collection, the original Maltese cuffs that Verdura designed for Coco Chanel will be on display in conjunction with on-sale vintage pieces, such as a 38-carat diamond bracelet ($385,000); a sapphire-and-emerald brooch ($169,500); and a Ceylon sapphire, emerald and diamond ring ($325,000). South Grounds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea; 44-20/7499-7470;

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