luxury blog


A New Way to Stay at Jamaica’s GoldenEye

Golden Eye
Photo courtesy of Island Outpost

Secluded and stunning, GoldenEye, the exclusive resort in Oracabessa, Jamaica, once the home of James Bond author Ian Fleming, is like few other places on earth. On May 28 (Fleming’s 106th birthday), the destination unveiled a new way to experience its charms: For the first time, guests can book either a single room ($2,500) or all five rooms ($5,500) of the legendary Ian Fleming Villa.  

Formerly Fleming’s home and creative headquarters (where he hosted friends like Noël Coward), the villa—complete with a private beach, pool, staff and gardens and numerous remnants of its glamorous history, including the writer’s desk—is the resort’s marquee perch. And on the occasion of such a monumental anniversary, GoldenEye owner Chris Blackwell wanted to expand the opportunities to experience it.

Continuing the good news, there will be more of the resort to love next year: Currently offering 19 accommodation options (nine beach villas, two lagoon villas, six lagoon cottages, an oceanfront villa, the Fleming Villa), GoldenEye will open 25 new ocean-view cottages in winter 2015. Rooms start at $620; 876-622-9007;

A Cultural Connection at the Carlton Hotel Baglioni

A Cultural Connection at the Carlton Hotel Baglioni
© Diego De Pol

Many hotels claim to be situated at the crossroads of culture, fashion and design, but the five-star Carlton Hotel Baglioni in Milan literally is. Overlooking Via della Spiga, a cannoli’s throw from some of the world’s chicest boutiques and must-see design destinations, such as Nina Yashar’s agenda-setting Nilufar Gallery (Via della Spiga, 32; 39-02/780-193;, not to mention the Duomo and Teatro alla Scala, the Carlton could not be better oriented.

But it’s not just the hotel’s prestigious location that makes it an important cultural hub. The 87-room gem, which was recently refurbished by the Milanese studio Rebosio+Spagnulo, houses a series of rotating exhibits, showcasing the works of Italian design legends like Ettore Sottsass and Achille Castiglioni alongside those of emerging talents such as Chiara Andreatti.

The convergence of hospitality and design is driven by Guido Polito, the chief executive of Baglioni Hotels, who, along with Vincenzo Basile of Basile Artico, curates the exhibits at the Carlton’s Caffè Baglioni (pictured above), as well as other cultural projects that the hotel group backs (for example, a recent art show in the new Roman Penthouse of the Regina Hotel Baglioni in the Eternal City).

“The whole concept behind Baglioni is to give our clients a full Italian experience,” Polito explains. “The idea of transforming the bar into a gallery comes from this. We want our guests to enjoy a drink while experiencing the best that Milan can offer, including beautiful artworks and design objects, some of which are rarely seen prototypes or pieces from museums or private collections.”

The commitment to spotlighting local talent is also evident at Amaranto, the quaint boutique overlooking the hotel’s ground-floor garden, which happens to be the brainchild of Polito’s wife, Maddalena Grassi Polito.

“All luxury travelers have Chanel, Hermès and Armani in their wardrobe,” she says. “So the idea with Amaranto is to offer something very Italian and unique so that a lady can go to a party and know that she is not going to see five other ladies in the same dress or the same bag.”

And for those who like a little rubbernecking with their culture, the hotel’s famed restaurant Il Baretto al Baglioni remains the place for the city’s elite to meet and eat. Rooms start at $395; Via Senato, 5; 39-02/77077;

A Must-See on Stage: “Here Lies Love”

A Must-See on Stage: Here Lies Love
© Joan Marcus

When Here Lies Love—the dancey, on-your-feet theater experience inspired by the life of Imelda Marcos—premièred in April 2013 in downtown New York, it was met with breathless enthusiasm by critics and audiences alike, who were taken not only with the voice of lead Ruthie Ann Miles (playing Marcos herself; pictured above, middle) but also the infectious music by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and DJ Fatboy Slim. For those who missed it the first time around, the show has returned for an open-ended off-Broadway run at the Public Theater. The show (on an open end run in New York) opens in London in the fall as well, and it's worth seeing live—even the newly released cast album, great as it is, doesn’t compare to the real thing. 425 Lafayette St.; 212-967-7555;

Park Hyatt Vienna Opens Its Doors

Park Hyatt Vienna Opens Its Doors
Courtesy of Park Hyatt Vienna

While we were unwinding over the long Memorial Day weekend, Park Hyatt was busy debuting its newest hotel property—its first in Austria.

Set in a hundred-year-old building that once housed the Austrian Hungarian Monarchy Bank, the hotel stands on Am Hof, one of the city’s most beautiful squares. The location makes it the only hotel in Vienna’s Golden Quarter—a UNESCO World Heritage site and new pedestrian-only shopping district, home to Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Prada’s recently opened flagship.

“We were inspired by Vienna’s rich artistic history and had a lot of fun with the building’s past as a bank,” says Katherine Melchior-Ray, vice president of luxury brands. “Our design goal was to reinterpret the past with a modern approach. As such, we preserved the most interesting aspects of the building and then made them our own.”

That includes the ceiling mural discovered beneath layers of paint, now restored and on display in the hotel’s main restaurant; the golden-colored, stone-tiled pool area, which plays on its location in the original vault; and the Art Nouveau–style panels of polished inlaid wood, hand-picked Italian and Greek marble and fine leathers and custom-designed carpets featured throughout. “We created a sense of place that celebrates the traditions of Vienna in a sophisticated, uncommon and enriching way,” she adds. “It’s a mélange of old and new.”

The hotel’s 143 guest rooms include some of the largest in the city, with 14-foot ceilings and accommodations ranging between 430 and 1,830 square feet. The Arany Spa features six treatment rooms, a Technogym fitness center and a separate wet area with steam bath, sauna, sanarium and vitality shower. The four food and beverage options include Austrian and international cuisine at The Bank, Wiener schnitzel and tapas at The Pearl, afternoon tea and pastries in The Lounge and single-malt whiskeys and cigars in The Living Room.

“The brand brings to life the culture surrounding each hotel,” Melchior-Ray says. “And we feel that Park Hyatt Vienna does just that.” Rooms start at $510; Am Hof 2; 43-1/ 2274-01234;

Inside an Indian Family Jewelry Empire

Inside an Indian Family Jewelry Empire
Courtesy of MUNNU The Gem Palace

As the creator of intricate, handmade jewelry popular among royalty, Bollywood and Hollywood celebrities and chic civilians, Munnu Kasliwal was India’s most prominent jeweler when he died of brain cancer in 2012. Today, his Munnu The Gem Palace brand (headquartered in Jaipur, India) lives on through his 29-year-old son, Siddharth, who began working full-time with his dad more than a decade ago. The younger Kasliwal now designs the pieces sold at Barneys New York boutiques nationwide, a by-appointment atelier on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and other high-end retailers globally. (Peacock earrings in amethyst and tourmaline are pictured here.)

While 35 of his father’s works are currently on display at the Moscow Kremlin Museum in an exhibition called “India: Jewels that Enchanted the World” (through July 27;, Siddharth is working on his first collection, set on establishing his own reputation as a master. Here, we catch up with him.

Q: How does your aesthetic differ from your father’s?
I worked with him for so long that the style, quality and craftsmanship is identical. The jewelry looks distinctly Indian but not ethnic. It’s modern. But I am younger, so I would say my work is more playful and colorful in terms of the stones I use. I love spinels, for example. My dad did, too, but I might use more of them in a necklace or bracelet.

Q: What characterizes your creative process?
When something inspired my father, he would sketch. He did literally dozens of sketches in a day, even drawing from his hospital bed in Manhattan. I don’t really draw. When I am taken with something I take a picture on my iPhone, which I show to one of our craftsmen in India. We come up with a design together.

Q: Your own full collection debuts in a few months, but your dad passed away almost two years ago. Why did you wait so long?
It’s actually taken that much time to get my head around the empire. We have 600 workers around the world. Also, when he died there were a few hundred pieces that had to be completed and a few hundred more that we are still creating based on the sketches he left behind.

Q: Can you give us a hint of what your collection will be like?
All I can tell you right now is that it will be seven pieces, which are inspired by one of my dad’s masterpieces that is currently on display at the Kremlin.

Wine on the High Seas with Celebrity Cruises

© Celebrity Cruises

Imbibing on the high seas was taken to a new level when Celebrity Cruises introduced its winemaker-hosted cruises in 2009 and, four years later, its brewmaster series. This year’s 18-cruise lineup began in February, and an 11-night tour of the Eastern Mediterranean, featuring Napa Valley’s Clos Pegase winery and its vintner Richard Sowalsky, set sail earlier this month. But there is plenty more in store.

Riffing on Celebrity’s inaugural Great Wine Festival (May 31;, held in Irvine, California, the 2014 California Wine Festival at Sea (November 1–8; 888-609-1178)—a venture through the Eastern Caribbean aboard the Celebrity Reflection—brings the popular vinous event to the water, highlighting numerous Golden State wineries, two private tasting seminars, an exclusive four-course wine-paired lunch and a sommelier-led tour of the ship’s two-story glass wine tower created by renowned designer Adam Tihany. (Ports of call include St. Maarten, St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.)

The adventures continue through the fall and winter. Grgich Hills Estate, based in Rutherford, California, highlights a 15-night journey along the Panama Canal (November 4–19; 877-849-2730) and a 12-night venture through Australia and New Zealand brings aboard Oregon’s Ponzi Vineyards, Argyle Winery and Roco Winery (January 27–February 8, 2015; 800-367-5348). We’ll toast to that.

Christie’s Launches an Online Watch Shop

Christie's Watch Shop

Christie’s international auction house has officially launched an online retail boutique of rare, vintage and luxury timepieces. Designed to complement the company’s record-breaking global auction sales and bespoke private service, Christie’s Watch Shop makes exceptional designs available for immediate purchase—all year round and for the first time ever.

“We have so many daily requests for specific watches that it became difficult to keep up with demand,” says Reginald Brack, Christie’s international head of watch retail. “So we launched [the watch shop] to cultivate a great supply of the world’s best watches exclusively for the online space.”

After launching earlier in May, the new venture sold 30 percent of its inventory within its first week, featuring styles from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega and Tudor. (Prices ranged from $3,500 to $58,000.) Ten blue-chip brands are currently showcased; the offerings will continue to expand.

In addition to e-commerce, the site provides a host of resources for collectors, including sections like “The Vault” (news, interviews and analysis from Christie’s specialists), “Deconstructed” (in-depth studies of choice selections from the collection) and “Videos: Dialed In” (specialist-guided tours that investigate one watch at a time).

“The advantage,” says John Auerbach, intentional managing director of e-commerce, “is that we offer clients three successful platforms for which they can consign and buy at Christie’s: auction, private sales and, now, retail.”

Private River Cruises through France

Private River Cruises through France
Courtesy of Belmond

While some people prefer to keep in constant motion while traveling, others elect to put down roots, however temporary. Belmond, the hotel brand formerly known as Orient-Express, gives those who can’t choose a way to do both at once with its Afloat in France river-cruising season.

Guests can select from one of five barges—all available for reservations or private hire through October—for tailored, weeklong experiences along France’s waterways, with stops at sites focused on their preferred activities. Organizers will take note of travelers' interests (golf, wine, art, cycling) and create an itinerary to fit.

Consider, for instance, Alouette ($23,800 a couple), a four-passenger, four-crew péniche that cruises southwest France along the Canal du Midi, hitting vineyards, medieval castles and historic towns along the way. Or Amaryllis ($51,700 for six people), an eight-passenger, six-crew barge that traipses from Dijon to Saint-Léger in the north, pausing in Renaissance villages and an open-air market.

Each barge is richly appointed with large picture windows, an air-conditioned lounge, a sundeck and, in most cases, a heated swimming pool. Gourmet meals, Internet access and charming vistas are also part of the deal. 800-524-2420;

Josef Albers in Black and White

Josef Albers in Black and White
Josef Albers

When Josef Albers, one of the art world’s leading educators and theorists, was a child growing up in Germany, he loved going to the post office with his stepmother and hopping from square to square on the black-and-white marble tiles of its checkerboard floor.

“Black and white was in Josef’s bones,” says Nicholas Fox Weber, executive director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

While Albers moved on to devote much of his work to the study of pigmentation, literally writing the book on it (Interaction of Color [Yale]) in the early 1960s, he never lost that early delight with black and white—a predilection illustrated in the exhibit “Josef Albers: Black and White” at Waddington Custot Galleries in London, the first retrospective in the United Kingdom of the artist’s achromatic work.

“There were, throughout his life, occasions when he depended on the simplicity and candor and strength of black and white as relief and reassurance,” says Fox Weber. “There is nothing like that simple balancing act of monochrome; it was home to him.”

Fifty pieces make up the show, ranging from paintings to glass items to photographs to engravings. Albers was perhaps best known for his “Homage to the Square” series of paintings; eight black-and-white examples of it are displayed in the exhibit, along with other notable items like Steps, a glass construction, and a photo collage of painter Paul Klee from 1929. (Study for Graphic Tectonic, 1941–42, is pictured here.)

Albers died in 1976, leaving behind illustrious protégés (his students included the likes of Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg), a sizable body of work and a renown for pushing the boundaries of what a simple line could do.

“His enduring contribution,” says Fox Weber, “was an ability to take minimal means and use them to maximum effect.” Through June 4; 11 Cork St.;

Chefs in Rotation at Fifty Seven

Chefs in Rotation at Fifty Seven
Eric Wolfinger

Diners typically select their favorite restaurants based on consistency. But the newest offering from Los Angeles hospitality group Cardiff Giant throws that idea to the wind, prioritizing variation above all else. Fifty Seven—named in honor of the converted Heinz 57 loading dock that now houses the bi-level, industrial-chic restaurant and performance space for local artists and musicians—hosts a rotating roster of chefs, featuring an original menu for the duration of each residency. (The length of stay is flexible.)

“The concept is really about introducing Los Angeles to the great talent around the country,” says Beau Laughlin, CEO of Cardiff Giant. “We also look at it as an opportunity to introduce these chefs”—whome will include, he says, both rising stars and boldface names—“to the amazing ingredients that we have at our disposal here in California.”

The lineup began with Eleven Madison Park alumnus David Nayfeld, who has been Fifty Seven’s executive chef since it opened in late March. As the first in residency, he trained the staff, designed the kitchen and helped determine the cocktail and wine program, and he will offer his seasonal American menu (diver scallops, heritage pork, pickled vegetables) through May. Josh Drew, who has cooked at Quince in San Francisco and The French Laundry, will take over in June. 

“It seemed like an interesting way to introduce myself to Los Angeles,” says Nayfeld. “It’s also cool to think that, hopefully, for years to come there will be other soon-to-be-great chefs walking through our doors and that we’ll all be linked by that. In short, it’s creating legacy.” 712 S. Santa Fe Ave.; 213-816-8157;

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