Tag Archives: Best of the Best

Parker Out: Top Bordeaux Wine Nose Retires

Renowned American wine guru Robert Parker (yes the Parker so many of us rely on when picking vintages – Ed), whose ratings could make or break Bordeaux vintages for the past 38 years, turned his power over to a successor over the weekend, his magazine told AFP.

While it is the end of an era, especially for those who grew up with his 100-point rating scale, the news is not a surprise. The 68-year-old oenologist has been retiring in stages, in 2014 leaving his British successor Neal Martin to rate “en primeurs” (futures) while continuing to evaluate top Bordeaux vintages.

It is this prestigious baton that passed to Martin May 1, while Parker holds on to his role scoring northern California wines, such as those of the Napa and Sonoma valleys.

Parker’s extraordinary nose has earned plaudits from the likes of former French president Jacques Chirac, who said he was “the most followed and influential critic for French wines in the entire world.”

Parker will also stay on as president of Wine Advocate, even though he sold the market-moving magazine to a Singapore consortium in 2012.

His parting Bordeaux evaluation will be the top score on his vaunted 100-point scale that he awarded recently to a Pape Clement 2009, a Graves “grand cru” created by the millionaire philanthropist Bernard Magrez.

He leaves the Bordeaux perch with a reputation for having unwittingly caused the region to standardize its wines to conform with his preference for predominantly wood flavors, strong tannins and high alcohol content.

Download the Epicurio app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines and purchase your very own bottle, today.

World’s Best Loyalty Reward Programs 2016

Frequent fliers have spoken and voted Marriott, Southwest and Air France/KLM among the best travel brands for their loyalty programs at this year’s edition of the Freddie Awards. On the elite rewards program front, Hyatt dominated, along with American Airlines and El Al.

Winners of the awards were announced out of Las Vegas Thursday and are based on the results of three million ballots that are cast annually.

For the 26th edition, Air France/KLM and Le Club Accorhotels emerged as the big winners, taking home five Freddie Awards each for Europe and Africa.


Awards are divided by regions – Americas; Europe and Africa; and Middle East, Asia and Oceania.

This year, Southwest broke American Airlines’ four-year winning streak, taking the award for Program of the Year for the Americas.

Marriott took the title of loyalty program of the year for the ninth consecutive year.

The awards are named after Sir Freddie Laker, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1978 for his contribution to commercial aviation and the British economy.

Laker’s long list of accomplishments includes the founding of Britain’s first all-jet air carrier Laker Airways Ltd. in 1966, which eventually became the largest individually and privately owned airline in the world.

He is also credited with founding the world’s first no-frills transatlantic service dubbed “Skytrain,” which flew between London and New York in the late 1970s.

Here is the full list of winners:



Program of the Year: Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards

Best Elite Program: American Airlines – AAdvantage

Best Promotion: Avianca – LifeMiles

Best Customer Service: Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards

Best Redemption Ability: Avianca – LifeMiles

210 AWARD: Avianca – LifeMiles


Program of the Year: Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards

Best Elite Program: Hyatt – Gold Passport

Best Promotion: MGM – M life

Best Customer Service: Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards

Best Redemption Ability: Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards

210 AWARD: MGM – M life



Program of the Year: Air France/KLM – Flying Blue

Best Elite Program: Lufthansa – Miles & More

Best Promotion: Air France/KLM – Flying Blue

Best Customer Service: Air France/KLM – Flying Blue

Best Redemption Ability: Air France/KLM – Flying Blue

210 AWARD (which honors an up-and-coming program among smaller operators): Norwegian Air – Norwegian Reward


Program of the Year: Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels

Best Elite Program: Starwood – Starwood Preferred Guest

Best Promotion: Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels

Best Customer Service: Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels

Best Redemption Ability: IHG – IHG Rewards Club

210 AWARD: IHG – IHG Rewards Club



Program of the Year: Virgin Australia – Velocity

Best Elite Program: El Al – Matmid Club

Best Promotion: El Al – Matmid Club

Best Customer Service: Virgin Australia – Velocity

Best Redemption Ability: Virgin Australia – Velocity

210 AWARD: Jet Airways – JetPrivilege


Program of the Year: Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels

Best Elite Program: Hyatt – Gold Passport

Best Promotion: Accor Hotels – Le Club Accorhotels

Best Customer Service: IHG – IHG Rewards Club

Best Redemption Ability: IHG – IHG Rewards Club

210 AWARD: ITC Hotels – Club ITC

Top 10 Superyacht Launches 2016

We have taken a look at the top launches of 2015. Seeing as how the Singapore Yacht show has come to a close, we decided to show you some of the top launches of 2016. Sit back, relax and enjoy Yacht Style‘s picks of 2016.


LOA: 38.6m
Year: 2016
Builder: NCA shipyard
Exterior Design: Dynamiq
Interior Design: Bannenberg & Rowell
Naval Architect: Azure Naval Architects and Van Oossanen
The brainchild of yacht designer and broker Sergei Dobroserdov, Dynamiq came on the scene mid-2015 with the intention of disrupting the entire superyacht buying and building model. The first Dynamiq in build is the D4, scheduled for delivery ahead of Monaco Yacht Show 2016. A smart yacht for smart clients, D4 is the result of a top tier collaboration from across the industry. Combining speed (21kts) with long range efficiency (535 litres of fuel at 19 kts), luxury (designer partner brands such as Trussardi Casa, Technogym, Aqua di Parma) and more space than other yachts of this size, the D4 will show the world how Dynamiq is a welcome disruptor for the industry.

Global 104 Pilothouse

LOA: 31.95m
Year: 2016
Builder: Cheoy Lee Shipyards
Exterior Design: Cheoy Lee Shipyards
Interior Design: Sylvia Bolton
Naval Architect: Jon Overing
Built for a repeat client, this is the first of the Global 104 series that Cheoy Lee has launched and is the Chinese yard’s new flagship. A highly efficient and comfortable tri-deck motor yacht, its interior is extremely voluminous for its size, unusually featuring a full-beam master suite and a country-style kitchen on the main deck as well as spacious walk-around side decks all the way forward.


LOA: 45m
Year: 2016
Builder: Wider Yachts
Exterior Design: Fulvio De Simoni
Interior Design: Fulvio De Simoni
Naval Architect: Wider Yachts
While its technical launch came at the end of last year, Wider’s first superyacht M/Y Genesi is one to look out for in 2016. For a first superyacht, this is a boundary-pusher. Her innovative diesel-electric power system features lithium polymer battery banks that not only supply the entire hotel system but also hold enough power to exclusively battery-run the yacht. Still available for sale, this is a yacht for a conscious client who enjoys the outdoors and is looking for something unique.


LOA: 36.6m
Year: 2016
Builder: Horizon Group
Exterior Design: JC Espinosa
Interior Design: Luca Dini
Naval Architect: Horizon Group
Nicely debuted at this March’s Taiwan International Boat Show, Horizon’s RP120 is a sleek yacht that aims to combine luxury with liveability. Indoor spaces are varied to offer different options of entertaining and Italian designer Luca Dini has ensured an aesthetic that airs towards the easy elegance of a beach house. Outside, guests can take their pick from the sofa on the boat deck, the Jacuzzi or the bow’s dinette.

Project 1016

LOA: 50m
Year: 2016
Builder: McMullen & Wing
Exterior Design: Gregory C. Marshall
Interior Design: Gregory C. Marshall
Naval Architect: Gregory C. Marshall
This blue-hulled beauty with the yellow boot stripe is the largest yacht McMullen & Wing has built and the second from its Diamond series. Like her older sister, the world explorer 45m M/Y Big Fish, this project is destined to take her owners off-the-beaten track and has been designed as such. Project 1016 (her name is still a secret) is a muscular yacht with a range of 6000nm, light interior spaces and expansive outdoor space with protected spots like the lowered aft cockpit for fishing and lounging.


LOA: 70m
Year: 2016
Builder: Perini Navi
Exterior Design: PH Design with owner
Interior Design: PH Design
Naval Architect: Philippe Briand
While Sybaris’ launch date has suffered various delays, it can be promised that when she hits the water later this year, she will be one special yacht. A true passion project in every sense, she has been designed by newcomers to the yachting world PH Design with significant input from her owner. Modern and minimal, art is at the core of Sybaris’ design and she will be a floating gallery for pieces selected by her owner, who is an avid and knowledgable collector. Make no mistake though, with an estimated top speed of 17kts and plans for circumnavigation, this will be a gallery with serious sailing credentials too.


LOA: 34.1m
Year: 2016
Builder: Ocean Alexander
Exterior Design: Evan K Marshall
Interior Design: Evan K Marshall
Naval Architect: Gregory C Marshall
Ocean Alexander’s new tri-level OA112 is a rare example of a yacht in this size bracket that offers five staterooms, including a full-beam master on the main deck. The first hull was launched in February in time for Yachts Miami Beach, after construction began in the summer of 2012 following a long period of perfecting.


LOA: 40.4m
Year: 2016
Builder: IAG
Exterior Design: Evan K Marshall
Interior Design: Evan K Marshall
Naval Architect: Axis Group Yacht Design
In build for a US client, Serenity is a tri-deck motoryacht from IAG’s Noble Star series and has been optimised with both private and charter use in mind. The Evan Marshall design combines open and enclosed balconies and terraces throughout the yacht, creating a special extension of the interior.

Project CharleyProject-Charley-Echo-Yachts-YachtStyle

LOA: 46.7m
Year: 2016
Builder: Echo Yachts
Exterior Design: LOMOcean
While the explorer yacht concept is an increasingly popular one for many owners, clients who want the full complement of tenders and toys for exploring, but don’t want to compromise on space or luxury, turn to support vessels. Australian shipyard Echo Yachts has one such vessel due for launch this year. Built to support the 84m trimaran mothership (also in build at Echo Yachts for the same experienced owner), Project Charley is a catamaran with an impressive level of composite infused construction R&D behind it, and has been designed to house a fleet of 11 watercraft.

Arcadia 100

LOA: 29.29m
Year: 2016
Builder: Arcadia Yachts
Exterior Design: Francesco Guida
Naval Architect: Francesco Guida
This is the first of two Arcadia 100 hulls due for launch this summer. While many yards claim eco-conscious designs, this Italian shipyard puts its money where its mouth is. The 100’s hull was designed at the National Physical Laboratory to test efficiency while the aesthetically striking floor-to-ceiling windows integrate solar cells, which provide enough power to run refrigerators, water converters, lights, electrical systems and toilets, and also ensure around 18 degrees of thermal cooling from outdoor to indoor temperatures. A smart yacht for a smart owner.

Story Credits

Text by Angela Audretsch

This story first appeared in Yacht Style.

Nominate a Chef for ‘Nobel Prize’ of Cooking

The Nobel Prize neglects the art and science of cooking and one group of top chefs want to remedy that omission. Already, this latest international chef award has been dubbed the Nobel Prize of cooking and it is now accepting nominations for the world’s most important chef. In case you haven’t been following this story. nominations close April 30.

Launched earlier this year by a group of some of the world’s top chefs including Gaston Aucrio and Joan Roca (whose restaurant El Celler de Can Roca is the current title-holder for world’s best restaurant) The Basque Culinary World Prize was created to honor industry leaders who use gastronomy as a powerful force for change. The organization itself calls it a search for chefs who improve society through gastronomy.

What does that mean, one might ask. More than being a talented chef, the winner will have improved society through cooking be it through the invention of a culinary innovation; a commitment to social responsibility; sustainability; health or environmental campaigns; cultural projects or work that has a positive impact on the food industry. No doubt, some will look askance at such a project, chalking it up to hubris and the impulse towards self-gratification. For example, any winner is likely to see the fortunes of his restaurant and possible related businesses rise as a result.

The award was launched earlier this year out of the Basque Culinary Center.

“With this prize, we hope to share with the world stories of chefs that are using gastronomy for a better future. We need people to nominate those who are fighting for it in any way, even on a small scale: we are all part of the revolution,” said one of Italy’s star chefs, Massimo Bottura.

Jurors include some of gastronomy’s biggest heavy-hitters, including Heston Blumenthal, Dan Barber, Ferran Adrià, René Redzepi, Michel Bras, Roca, Bottura and  Acurio — all Michelin-starred chefs.

A list of 20 finalists — chosen by the jury — will be released in May and the winner announced July 11.

To be considered for the prize, chefs have to be nominated online by a professional from the world of gastronomy. The winner will receive €100,000 to devote to an institution or project of their choice that demonstrates the wider role of gastronomy in society.

Once again, nominations close April 30.


Ferrari and McLaren Earn 2016 Red Dot Awards

Which is better, a Ferrari 488 GTB or a McLaren 570S? Perhaps it is better and safer to split the difference on that question. It turns out that from a design perspective, even the jury of experts that decide the annual Red Dot awards and which, for the first time included legendary automotive designer Chris Bangle on its panel, can’t decide between the two.

Both supercars have been given top honors, a “Best of the Best” award in the product design category. Actually, it is a three-way tie and the third winning car is a bit of odd fit with the supercars but we digress…

Ferrari tends to scoop up a Red Dot award every time it launches a new car, but for McLaren, which has only been in business since 2010, it’s a huge achievement. “The 570S Coupe has enjoyed a fantastic reception since launching last year, and to be recognized by Red Dot with a ‘Best of the Best’ title is a real honor,” said the car’s Chief Designer Rob Melville.

Ferrari 488 GTB 2016

However, for those that believe innovative or desirable automotive aesthetics are still the preserve of dream car companies, the two mid-engine turbocharged V8 200mph+ supercars have this year been joined in the best of the best category by the Kia Optima.

Unlike the other winners, this is a practical, comfortable and affordable four-door sedan and crucially, one developed by a design team based in the US, Korea and Germany to ensure visual appeal.

“Our international design team has every cause to be exceptionally proud of these most recent awards,” said Peter Schreyer, President and Chief Designer of Kia Motors Corporation and Hyundai Motor Group.

In all, 5,200 items, from smart thermostats and stylish chairs to designer sunglasses and luxury pens, were entered for consideration in the product design category for this year’s Red Dot Design Awards.

Of that number this year’s 41-strong jury gave out the top honor – Best of the Best – to just 79 entries in total. The ‘standard’ Red Dot award was won by 1,304 products and a further 107 gained an “honorable mention”.

The full list of Red Dot winners across all 21 categories including for vehicles, will be announced in Essen, Germany at the Red Dot Gala and Awards ceremony on July 4.

Asia’s Top Bar is in Singapore…

There is a new bar capital of Asia and it is Singapore, according to a new ranking of Asia’s top watering holes. The city-state has four entries in the top 10 – the most of any country – and the top spot of course, for 28 Hongkong Street.

In the inaugural edition of Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards– a spinoff of the World’s 50 Best Bars– a panel of 154 judges including “high-level” bartenders, bar consultants, brand ambassadors, journalists and global bar hoppers weighed in to pronounce the best drinking hotspots across Asia.

Taking the top spot is a Singapore bar famous for its discretion. Since opening in 2011, 28 Hongkong Street has built up hype by playing itself down in the manner of a secret, clandestine speakeasy.

Tucked away in a downtown thoroughfare, the bar is non-descript with nothing but the street number to identify itself: There is no awning, no flashing lights, or swanky, velvet-roped entrance.

But once inside the beige doors, the bar’s swish clientele sip on cocktails like the Modest Mule, made with lemongrass-laced vodka, ginger beer, lime and rosemary, and the colorfully named Whore’s Bath, made with manuka honey vodka, umeshu (liqueur made with Japanese apricots) poire liqueur, lemon and Hawaiian lava salt pickled ginger.

“28 Hongkong Street is an emblem of the region,” editors write. “A benchmark of quality across drinks and hospitality.”

Overall, Singapore and Hong Kong tied with nine spots each on the list, followed by Tokyo, which scored eight spots.

But with four of the top 10 spots, including the No. 1 ranking, Singapore is the big winner this year.

The results also surprised editors, who predicted Shanghai to finish fourth after Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo with the number of bars represented.

Instead, Bangkok nabbed the spot with six addresses including Vesper, the city’s top-ranked bar in 17th place.

“Bangkok’s people have a serious case of cocktail fever and, with the number of international ‘tenders setting up in the city and locals opening up their own places, it is only going in one direction from here.”

Here are the top 10 bars in Asia, according to Asia’s 50 Best Bars:

  • 28 Hongkong Street, Singapore
  • Speak Low, Shanghai
  • High Five, Tokyo
  • Lobster Bar & Grill, Hong Kong
  • Manhattan, Singapore
  • Quinary, Hong Kong
  • Operation Dagger, Singapore
  • Jigger & Pony, Singapore
  • Union Trading Company, Shanghai
  • 10. Omakase + Appreciate, Kuala Lumpur

QE2 Birthday Bash: 4 Best London Hotel Suites

Now holding the title as the longest reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II is set to celebrate yet another milestone in her life. Starting from April all the way through to June, Britain will be partying it up in the most regal way possible for the Queen’s 90th birthday. The celebrations will be located in the Queen’s home base of London and is set to attract tourists from around the world. From May 12 to the 15, Home Park in Windsor Castle will host a pageant dubbed The Celebration that pays tribute to the reigning monarch. Each night will see a 90-minute performance by more than 900 horses and 1,500 horses and performers just for her.

If you were one of the 30,000 people who managed to snag a ticket of two for the event, then you would certainly need to find some accommodation in London. It being her Majesty’s birthday and all, we thought it would only be appropriate for you to live it up like the royals do and nothing less than the best will do. From the perfect bathroom to the finest views, we scoured through the luxury hotels of London to bring you the perfect suites to cater to your every need. We bring you our four picks of luxury hotels and their finest suites fit for a queen.

The Goring HotelThe-Goirng_The-Royal-Suite---Drawing-Room

From the Apsley House to the Victoria Albert Theatre, Westminster Abbey and even Buckingham Palace, The Goring is a stone’s throw away from every major attraction near the Palace. The most luxurious room at The Goring? Well, it happens to be The Royal Suite. This two bedroom, two-reception room suite that offers you some impressive views of London. Glamour is mixed with history in here as every room is decked out with interesting elements from all around Britain. With the help of The Gainsborough Silk Company from Suffolk, the suite is decked out in silks that were commissioned by designer Russell Sage, including one that was originally woven for the Dining Room of the Titanic. Guests can feel cosy in an opulent yet comforting environment.ROYAL-SUITE-MASTER-BEDROOM

With large French doors in every room, guests can enjoy a view of the sunset and the rooftops of London, all from the balcony that runs the entire length of the top floor. My personal favorite aspect of the hotel is the Pintrest-worthy shower that is said to be able to fit six people, which has a near life size portrait of Queen Victoria to keep you company — Royal audience, anyone?The-Goring-Hotel-Royal-Suite-Bathroom

The antique four-poster bed from one of the great houses of Britain is another piece of British history that awaits in the Master bedroom. Proving that the little details go a long way, other antiques such as a Georgian decanter, wooden tea caddies and Nailsea Glass paperweights are also on display.

The CorinthiaRoyal-Penthouse-Lounge-Corinthia-Hotel-London

The Royal Penthouse, that sits on the roof terrace, is one of the many penthouses that The Corinthia. With a panoramic view of London, its no wonder that this is an editorial selection to which we return regularly. Featuring two floors that are connected via a private internal lift, the accommodation seems more like a home than a hotel. From the expansive entrance hall, to the living space, study and oval dining room that can seat 10, the penthouse seems to be made for luxury, with its palatial theme.Royal-Penthouse-Master-Bedroom-(crop)-Corinthia-Hotel-London

Make your way up the grand staircase and you will be greeted by two bedrooms that house king-size beds, with continuing doors that allow you to open-up to two further bedrooms. Apart from the honey onyx and Skros marble of the bathrooms, there are many other features, fixtures and amenities in the penthouse that would make it perfectly suited for a royal encounter. Forget walking down to the spa when you have a private spa suite of your own. It even has a walk-in wine cellar, meaning that you would be able to select only the finest that The Corinthia has to offer right there in your suite.Royal-Penthouse-Main-Bathroom-(landscape)-Corinthia-Hotel-London

The Connaught

From London’s Mayfair district, we bring you The Apartment. This suite spells opulence from the moment you walk through those grand hand-carved doors. The dominant theme that runs through the space is the use of shades associated with royalty. From a personal butler who will be on hand for your every need, to a welcome bottle of Krug champagne, suitably chilled, upon your arrival, guests can expect to be pampered during their stay.

Should the suite be too small for your stay, then simply occupy the whole sixth floor as an exclusive nine-bedroom suite. Timing is never an issue here, with your personal barman, daily breakfast and personal trainer available at any time you choose. In fact, forget about time at all. Even the check out is without a time limit. If that doesn’t impress you, then watch the tour of the suite below, and you’ll be convinced — we know we were.

The LanghamThe-Sterling-Suite-Media-Room

The Sterling Suite at The Langham is another that boasts a private lift. Located at Portland Place, the private lift entrance is one of the two entrances to the secluded Lobby of the suite — which is perfect if you happen to have an Idris Elba, Chris Evans or Angelina Jolie stay at the hotel. Apart from the two main bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, standalone bathtubs and dressing areas, the suite also features a luxurious drawing room, a dining area as well as a Home Theatre lounge for guests.The-Sterling-Suite-Master-Bedroom

The Drawing Room, which sits at the heart of the suite, features a unique dual-tone piano, bespoke fireplace and Butler’s bar. The Master Bedroom, which is described as the pièce de resistance, is made up of a Master Salon living area, Master Bathroom and spacious Dressing Room. Attention to detail is an important part of the suite with hand-painted chinoiserie on silver leaf panels, verre eglomise glass with gilded age details and gold and silver leaf hand-painted finishes as well as marble and antique mirror work. Joining the hand-blown Murano glass fixtures is a 24-hour butler service that will cater to your every need.The-Sterling-Suite-Master-Bathroom

World Car of 2016 Revealed

The Mazda MX-5 Miata has been awarded the title of 2016 World Car of the Year, beating all other makes; in the luxury category specifically, BMW crossed the finish line first. Beating out other illustrious rival models such as the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC, the Mazda MX-5 won not only top honors in the overall category but in design as well. Jaguar XE and yet another Mazda, the CX-3, were the runners-up in the design category.

In performance, one of our favorites, the Audi R8 was named the car of the year, beating out the Honda Civic Type R and Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupé.

Audi R8 Performance Car of the 2016

Returning to luxury, the BMW 7 Series was the big winner, ahead of the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90.

For the most environmentally friendly option, the World Green Car, the Toyota Mirai was handed the Green Car of the year, stepping in front of the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius.

At last year’s automobile event, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class was given top honors as World Car of the Year.

BMW 7 Series Luxury Car of 2016


Rain Vortex Jewel Changi Airport

Changi Airport: Best in the World

For four years running, Singapore’s Changi Airport has been crowned the best airport in the world by the World Airport Awards. Beating three of Japan’s international airports, the crown jewel of Singapore’s tourism industry and the first point of contact between tourists and the island puts in a lot of effort to ensure that it retains the title. We don’t mean to toot our own horn here but we must give credit where it is due.

With features such as rooftop gardens, movie theaters, free foot massages, and even free sightseeing tours into the city for those flying into the country, the airport has certainly raised the bar in terms of passenger experiences. It does sound more like a haven for passengers or a holiday in itself than a stressful place of transit, and the staff behind Changi Airport are far from done by the looks of it.

Come 2018, the Jewel Changi Airport, will join the already entertaining facilities and activities available. The bio dome complex will be home to an indoor forest, walking trails and gardens as well as a 40-meter tall Rain Vortex that will be the world’s tallest indoor waterfall upon its completion.

The best airports ranking was determined from the results of 13 million surveys by passengers of 112 nationalities. Their satisfaction levels were rated from check-in to departure, across 39 indicators and involved 550 airports.

Here is the complete list of the World’s Top 10 Airports for 2016:

1. Singapore Changi Airport

2. Incheon International Airport

3. Munich Airport

4. Tokyo International Airport

5. Hong Kong International Airport

6. Chubu Centair Nagoya

7. Zurich Airport

8. London Heathrow Airport

9. Kansai International Airport

10. Hamad International Airport

8 Most Eco-Friendly Luxury Hotels

From collecting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificates to managing water resources wisely, and serving own-garden produce, hotels are balancing luxury with eco-responsibility. We journey across four continents to explore several luxury accommodations and learn more about how what makes them different from other luxury hotels and how they do their part in protecting the environment.


Baja California, MexicoEndemico-Mexico-Form

With a name that is Spanish for endemic, or native to a specific region or environment, this hotel was designed to highlight the isolation of the desert and thus single out the area’s indigenous qualities. Situated just one and a half hours from San Diego, Baja California is home to some of Mexico’s largest wineries and offers a blend of Mexican culture and artisanal activity.

The hotel has 20 chic and eco-friendly cabins arrayed on a hill overlooking the valley, interspersed by natural boulders, and raised off the ground to minimise impact on the landscape. Built with Corten steel and wood, the cabins are designed to weather over time and eventually blend seamlessly into valleys.

The cabins were created by Gracia Studio, a firm with a passion for creating economical architecture, with a particular interest in using modular and flexible buildings. Each cabin is furnished minimally with simple yet sleek furnishings, featuring a king-size bed, wireless Internet, and private terrace with a clay kiva. Concealed among the rocky slope is a pool, restaurant and bar, which all have views out over the seemingly infinite valley.




Laax, SwitzerlandRockresort-Switzerland-Form
The 122-room Rocksresort and its immediate environment run on sustainable energy consisting of hydroelectricity, solar power and more. The resort, which takes its name and design identity from the surrounding landscape, is situated adjacent to the base station in Laax. The property is an environmentally sensitive and a bold architectural concept.




Negril, JamaicaRockhouse-Resort-Jamacia-Form
The rainy season in Negril sees Rockhouse Resort collecting rainwater in five catchment tanks placed across the property. The collected water irrigates the gardens in the property’s eight-acre grounds. These gardens are fertilised with compost made from the resort’s kitchen and bar wastes mixed with shredded garden refuse.

The property’s Environmental Management System (EMS) promotes sustainability and overall reduction of carbon footprint. The resort itself adapts environmentally friendly building material and design expressed in local wood, thatch and open-air restaurants. A preventive maintenance schedule ensures optimum performance of equipment, while a weekly  haul of plastic, glass and cardboard waste is dispatched to the local recycling centre.

Guest rooms are fitted with low-flow showerheads and taps, and low-flush toilets, and equipped with recycle bins for plastic and glass bottles. They are also encouraged to reuse linen whenever possible.




Kitzbühel, AustriaHotel-Kitzhof-Austria-Form
Guests at the 172-room mountain retreat, Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort, savour the essence of Austrian alpine living while the establishment pursues soft environmental impact and community integration from spa to table. The building itself boasts a solar-heated pool while the spa program uses products from the organic line Just Pure. On its breakfast table is served milk from just six cows from a small, exclusive farm that processes its milk the old-fashioned way.




Taipei, TaiwanHumblehouse-Taipei-Form
Located on the top floors of a LEED Diamond-rated Green Building, in the heart of Xinyi, Humble House Taipei is focused on giving back to society. Thoughtful design and actionable measures guide the management of the 235-room glass and aluminum skyscraper. Its water and energy conservation has implemented systems to cut down usage and bring guests on board with recycling and linen reuse programs. Its Sky Garden is a rare urban oasis planted with species that were chosen to encourage biodiversity and help reduce air impurities.




Vienna, AustriaHotel-Topazz-Austria-Form

Located in Vienna’s historic 1st district is Hotel Topazz, a prime example of eco-friendly hospitality. Surrounded by the city’s most acclaimed attractions, the hotel pays tribute to Vienna’s artistic heritage. The remarkable façade is inspired by a cylindrical silver vase embellished with oval amber stones by artist Koloman Moser. The interiors also pay homage to iconic Austrian artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The combination of design and low-energy initiatives is unique for a hotel in the centre of the Imperial City. Heating and cooling is secured by a groundwater well and a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery, and LED technology provides a near-natural light spectrum throughout the hotel. The green approach is manifested in daily hotel operations: the Topazz Salon serves organic products from Austrian producers, including their own range of eco-friendly award-winning wine.




Marrakech, MoroccoAnayela-Morocco-Form

From the time it was brought back to life, AnaYela has followed sustainable design. The five-room riad, a 300-year-old city palace in the heart of Marrakech, was restored by hand—absolutely no electric tools were employed—by over 100 Moroccan artisans.

Hotelier Andrea Kolb set out to create experiences “that truly touch the people” with the project, a mission that found expression in the support and preservation of traditional craftsmanship. In a bid to improve access to education through fair working wages, Kolb connected young international designers with local craftspeople, giving the latter global exposure and a successful sustainable model that saw 50 per cent of profits being reinvested into the community.




New York City, New York, USACrosby-Street-Hotel-New-York-City-Form2

Kit Kemp’s signature style is reflected throughout the 11-floor, 86-bedroom and suite Crosby Street Hotel. The hotel is the first in New York to receive a Gold Certification under LEED. During construction, hazardous site material was disposed of and all demolished material was recycled. Besides energy-efficient lighting, green power, and water use reduction, it has an array of integrated green features, from an urban vegetable patch on the rooftop supplying the hotel with seasonal produce, to a woodland meadow with 50 varieties of native plants. Inside, the furniture, fabrics and finishes are largely American-made, sourced regionally from home-bred designers like Philadelphian artisans Galbraith & Paul.


Story Credits

This story first appeared in FORM Magazine.


5 Top Chefs Who Started in France

In its second year running, French cuisine will be celebrated the world over. It will bring over 1,500 chefs from five continents as they whip up some of France’s best cuisine while showcasing its gastronomic traditions. The chefs will be dishing up a traditional French menu with courses such as aperitif, starter, main course, cheese and dessert, accompanied by fine French wines. Before we join in the celebrations with the rest of the world on March 21, we thought we would take a look at five of the world’s top chefs who picked up the tools of the trade in France.

David Bouley

A big name in New York City’s French food scene, American chef Bouley is on of the most respected chefs in the city’s French food scene. Inspired by his visits to France and Europe, the chef has fashioned his own take on contemporary French food. His flagship restaurant Bouley, in the hip TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City (USA), has even been crowned with a Michelin star. The chef studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, and worked alongside legendary masters of French cuisine like Paul Bocuse and Gaston Lenôtre.

Gordon Ramsay

The Scottish chef and media personality has united age-old rivals Britain and France in his own culinary entente cordiale. It’s certainly no coincidence that the charismatic chef heads up some of the finest restaurants in the land of frogs’ legs and snails (the Trianon Palace in Versailles, Le Pressoir d’Argent in Bordeaux). After giving up an early career as a footballer, Gordon Ramsay set about learning the secrets of French cuisine under industry heavyweight Albert Roux at Le Gavroche in London. The Scottish chef then completed his training in France, working with Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon.

Chef Gordon Ramsey

Chef Gordon Ramsey

Thomas Keller

This American chef has always been a Francophile foodie. He serves up fine fare at his flagship restaurant in California, called The French Laundry, and his New York restaurant Per Se is recognized as one of the best in the world, coming second in “La Liste,” the French Foreign Ministry’s response to the London-based “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list, unveiled last December. He’s the only American chef to hold three-star Michelin ratings for different restaurants simultaneously, placing him in the same league as Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon. Keller went to work in France in 1983, learning his trade in various high-end establishments, including Guy Savoy and Taillevent. The chef was even awarded France’s Legion of Honor (Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur) and was chief consultant on Pixar’s animated movie “Ratatouille.”

Chef Thomas Keller

Chef Thomas Keller


André Chiang

This Taiwanese chef is on his way to becoming a global restauranteur, building the foundations of an international gastronomic empire. He has a particularly close relationship with France after learning his skills under the Pourcel twins – Jacques and Laurent – at their Michelin-starred Montpellier restaurant Le Jardin des Sens. André Chiang first learned to cook alongside his mother before heading to France to discover the secrets of the country’s cuisine. He ended up staying for 15 years, with stints working under Pierre Gagnaire and Joël Robuchon. Today, he’s considered one of the best chefs in the world, particularly for his André restaurant in Singapore.

Chef André Chiang

Chef André Chiang

Shuzo Kishida
Shuzo Kishida is one of a new generation of Japanese chefs learning their trade in France and keeping close ties with the country. Born in the region of Chubu, on the south coast of Honshu island, the chef learned the basics of French cuisine in 1993, working in French restaurant La Mer in a Japanese hotel. Before heading to France, he also did a stint at KM in Tokyo’s famous Shibuya district. After moving 10,000km away from his native Japan, Shuzo Kishida racked up experience in one Michelin-starred restaurant after another, before settling down to a longer spell at L’Astrance under Pascal Barbot. By 2004, he had worked his way up to sous-chef — the second in command — at the triple Michelin-starred establishment. In November 2005, he returned to Japan, maintaining the culinary skills and traditions picked up at L’Astrance to open Quintessence, a restaurant that would take him even further along the road to success with his own three-star Michelin rating.

Chef Shuzo Kishida

Chef Shuzo Kishida

The full list of restaurants participating in Goût de France/Good France on March 21 is available at www.goodfrance.com. To take part in the event, food lovers can simply make a booking directly at the restaurant of their choice.

Ferrari 335 Scaglietti Sells for $35 million

Ferrari stock may be experiencing volatility but the Prancing Horse continues to rise above expectations at auction, with the latest being a 1957 335 S Spider Scaglietti which sold for $35 million. The price is a world record for a racing car sold at auction.

Press reports state that applause literally broke out after the hammer came down on the bidding for the 1957 Scag at the Artcurial auction house just off the Champs-Elysees, Paris, last Friday, February 5.

The world was watching the sale with great interest, especially since Bonhams was also offering significant Ferrari models (amongst others) last week. That sale was nothing to write home about, as far as Ferrari models are concerned, with the 1966 275 GTB Berlinetta selling for roughly $2.29 million. Nevertheless, expectations for a cooling-off in Ferrari auction prices has not yet been met. The race car sold by Artcurial fetched 28 million euros, plus premiums and taxes taking the overall price to just above 32 million euros ($35 million).

For those keeping track, note that this result also beats last year’s top selling Ferrari at auction, the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM Spider, which sold for about $28 million.

The Spider Scag actually beat the record set in 2014 when a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for what was the equivalent of 28.9 million euros. The new most-expensive-ever Scag has a peerless pedigree, having finished sixth in the Sebring 12 Hours race in 1957, driven by British racer Peter Collins and his French partner Maurice Trintignant, and second in the Mille Miglia 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometre) road race in Italy, with Wolfgang von Trips driving. Yes this is the actual Scag that accomplished all that, not merely a similar model. Well, the same car but with some tweaks…

After the Mille Miglia, the car was returned to the factory to have its engine size boosted from 3.6 to 4.1-liters, boosting available horses from 360 to 400, allowing a top speed of 300 kilometres an hour (186 mph). This was in 1957 mind you.

The Scag enabled Enzo Ferrari’s outfit to win the Constructors’ World Championship title in 1957.

The identity of the purchaser of the Spider was not revealed following Friday’s deal but is US-based, according to Matthieu Lamoure, director general of Artcurial motorcars.

“Clearly, we won’t soon forget,” Lamoure told journalists after the hammer came down on the record sale, bidding having started at 20 million euros.

The sleek machine had belonged to the family collection of late French racing driver Pierre Bardinon, who died in 2012.

Legendary British driver Mike Hawthorn drove the Spider in the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1957 and Sir Stirling Moss won the 1958 Cuba Grand Prix with it.

Panama Tops Luxury Destination List 2016

Panama, named the top destination of 2016 by a major travel publication and the best place to retire in a poll by expats, saw the most growth in interest among the world’s richest jetsetters for travel this winter and the coming spring. Granted, this was before the whole business with the Zika virus began but Panama has much to recommend it.

The country boasts one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America and is actually the second largest economy in Central America so its appeal is unsurprising. Oh yes, the world-famous Panama Canal cuts right through the country and has always been worth a visit.

According to luxury travel boutique Virtuoso, Panama saw the most significant growth in bookings – a whopping 107 percent – compared to the previous year for the travel period between January and March of 2016.

After Panama, Thailand and Switzerland round out the top three spots for highest growth in bookings.

Panama may have languished under the shadow of its more popular tourism neighbors Costa Rica and Nicaragua, but in the last few years the country has gained the attention of the luxury travel industry precisely for its under-the-radar aspect and untouched surroundings.

Besides this, the property segment is especially interesting for people looking for retirement homes. A law enacted in 2012 provides exemption from real estate taxes for 15 years and adds on duty exemptions for the import of construction materials and equipment for five years.

Last year, Travel + Leisure magazine named Bocas del Toro – a collection of nine tropical islands – the top destination of 2016 for being home to some of the “purest natural beauty in Latin America.”

Already home to 50,000 US expats, the country also topped International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index for 2016, with residents praising their new home for offering cheaper and healthier living conditions. Countries were ranked based on factors such as buying and renting property, visas, cost of living, environment, health care and climate.

Historic expansions to the aforementioned Panama Canal – an important maritime route and a wonder of the modern world – are also slated to be completed this summer.

The report showed that bookings to Africa have also seen a major uptick, particularly to South Africa and Kenya.

Meanwhile, by virtue of proximity, it comes as little surprise that Mexico and Canada topped the list of most popular destinations in the first quarter for North American travelers.

For the report, Virtuoso analyzed the bookings of more than $35 billion in transactions. The international travel agency is comprised of 380 agency members specializing in luxury and experiential travel.

On the subject of the recent outbreak of the Zika virus, Panama has 50 confirmed cases as of January 28.

Here are the top 10 countries that have seen the most significant growth in year-on-year bookings for between January and March, 2016:

  • 1. Panama (+107%)
  • 2. Thailand (+92%)
  • 3. Switzerland (+56%)
  • 4. South Africa (+50%)
  • 5. Kenya (+47%)
  • 6. India (+46%)
  • 7. Jamaica (+44%)
  • 8. Vietnam (+43%)
  • 9. Colombia (+39%)
  • 10. Spain (+34%)

Here are the top 10 most popular destinations:

  • 1. Mexico
  • 2. Canada
  • 3. Australia
  • 4. New Zealand
  • 5. United Kingdom
  • 6. South Africa
  • 7. Argentina
  • 8. India
  • 9. Chile
  • 10. China

Valentine’s Day: 5 Island Hideaways

Everyone is getting into the Valentine’s day spirit and, if you have not already figured out what to do, TripAdvisor has some high-end options. The company released their list of romantic hotels in Asia and we have to say, we were impressed. Think white sandy beaches, staff who cater to your every need and of course a respite from the hustle and bustle of every day life. Tempted? So are we.

The team at Luxuo knows that you may be hard pressed for time to filter out the whole list, so we decided to give you a helping hand and narrow it down. Here then is our selection five romantic island destinations that would make Nicholas Sparks envious.

Komandoo Maldives Island Resort, Maldives

This truly is a perfect honeymoon destination, not simply because it is in the Maldives but because it is an adults-only retreat. Surrounded by a beautiful lagoon, the water villas are situated over the Indian Ocean.Komandoo-Maldives-Island-Resort-02

Though you have a beautiful view of the sapphire blue waters, each villa also comes with a private Jacuzzi and terrace. Accompanied by top-notch service, it is no wonder the resort topped the list.

The Place Luxury Boutique Villas, Thailand


This romantic getaway in the hills of Ko Tai is truly breath-taking. With nine boutique villas, each with its own private infinity pool, it is private and serene. While you immerse yourself in nature, let the service crew cater to your needs, be it a warm welcome or massages on the sundeck. One TripAdvisor reviewer offered praises for the boutique villa for putting “a lot of thought into the whole guest experience”. We have to agree.

Kandolhu Island, MaldivesKandolhu-Island-1

Now, you will be on a private Island resort but the staff certainly can’t stop some uninvited guests from making an appearance outside your terrace. Home to a rich colorful and lively house reef, some reviewers have had the opportunity to interact with turtles and dolphins and even a “myriad of beautiful fish” as they snorkel steps from their villa. The intimate island hosts 30 villas in five different styles.

Tokoriki Island Resort, FijiTokoriki-Island-Resort-01

Located in the tranquil Mamanuca group of islands, there are numerous ways to access the island resort. Another adults-only resort, it has several contemporary and Fijian-style ‘freestanding’ villas to choose from. You can enjoy the tropical outdoor shower, relax by your personal pool or simply enjoy the sunset and stargaze from your hammock. There is much to do on the island and it must be noted that there are special packages for a romantic getaway, making it an ideal choice.

Baros, Maldives09_Baros Maldives 2

Made of sandstone and timber by expert craftsmen, the beachside and water villas look like they have always been a part of the island. We can’t help that this is the third resort on the Maldives that we fell in love with but who can blame us. With the finest rooms, service and restaurants, this resort rounds off our list of romantic destinations to enjoy. A reviewer’s tip is the twilight dinner for two on the sand bar.

For more on TripAdvisor’s list of most romantic hotels, click here.

Hong Kong is Most Visited City in the World

For the sixth year in a row, come rain or high water as they say, Hong Kong is the most visited city on the planet. With 27.8 million international arrivals, the Special Administrative Region tops the Euromonitor International’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking for 2014. Yes, 2014 because apparently the data has just been compiled for that year according to the AFP report on it. The numbers reported are based on overall arrivals, not just high net worth individuals and a UBS report on the most expensive cities to visit in 2015 lists London (five-star hotel rates at $400 per night) ahead of Hong Kong ($250 per night). In Asia, Tokyo ($500 per night) and Shanghai ($470 per night) are both ahead of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is also cheaper, all-costs included, than either of those cities – $640 versus $1,000 (Tokyo) and $670 (Shanghai); the 2015 UBS report excludes Singapore.

Speaking of which, London ($750 per night, all costs in) surpassed Bangkok and Singapore to take second place on the Euromonitor list. London is the top European city in terms international arrivals followed by Paris ($890 per night, all costs in) in fifth, which is exactly in line with news reports citing London as a city of choice for Chinese travellers. North America’s most visited city and the only one in the top 10 was New York ($1,030 cost per night, all-costs-in, to visit) in eighth. By our count, this makes London, Paris and New York the most popular and most expensive cities to visit. We are not sure if “most expensive” is a tag any city really wants to have though…

Rio de Janeiro showed the highest jump in international arrivals with a 46.6% increase due to the FIFA World Cup and will likely see similar jumps in 2016, thanks to the Olympics. Greece had a record year in 2014: three Greek cities made the Top 100 with Athens seeing double-digit growth.

Kiev did not make the Top 100 for the first time due to geopolitical tension in the region. Saint Petersburg and Moscow saw double digit declines.

The United States and China top the rankings with seven cities each in the ranking.

For more information and the complete list of Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking, you can find it here.

Lodge at Sea Island Named Best US Hotel

Interest in the best the world has to offer explodes once again as The Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia, is crowned top hotel in the USA. The US News & World Report is responsible for this latest ranking, looking at hotels and resorts in the US, the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. According to a variety of press reports, the ranking is based on guest reviews, industry awards and expert opinion on 2,500 properties. Winners apparently represent just the top 10 percent of this total.

We have no information as to why an organization that has the word “World” in its name only looks at regional properties. What we do know is that the awards have been ongoing since 2011 and that this is the second time the Georgia property has won top honors. According to TripAdvisor, a room at The Lodge costs between $350-$700 per night, roughly.

Ritz-Carlton Montreal

Ritz-Carlton Montreal

Here are the top winners in all regions:

  • Best hotel in the US: The Lodge at Sea Island, Sea Island, Georgia
  • Best hotel in the Caribbean: The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
  • Best hotel in Canada: Ritz-Carlton, Montreal
  • Best hotel in Mexico: Rosewood Mayakoba

Most Influential Chef in the World

The battle for title of world’s best chef begins anew in 2016, with Michelin firing off the first salvo in a survey that asked chefs in Michelin-starred restaurants to rate each other. In first place, as the world’s most influential and respected chef is France’s Michel Bras. His peers have clearly selected him as the person who represents the best in high gastronomy.

Bras, whose triple Michelin-starred restaurant Le Suquet, in Laguiole in southern France is considered one of the most prestigious dining destinations in the world, earned the ultimate R-E-S-P-E-C-T of his colleagues in The 100 Chefs list organized by the French magazine “Le Chef.”

Gourmets, food critics and others will note the absence from the top 10 of non-French chefs and the exclusion of some big names from La Liste and 50 Best both, in particular Noma-headliner René Redzepi; number one at La Liste Benoît Violier of Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville is ranked 10th here.

For the Michelin survey, about 530 chefs across five continents – all holders of either two or three Michelin stars – were asked to name the five chefs who represent, for them, the best of the profession; create the most influential cuisine; and should definitely be visited at their restaurant.

The most popular and recurring names among the answers were Bras, followed by Pierre Gagnaire (France), Seiji Yamamoto (Japan), Alain Ducasse (Monaco) and Pascal Barbot (France).

Overall, French chefs emerged the most popular and influential, with 38 of the 100 spots occupied by Gallic chefs. Japan was the second most-represented country with 11 spots, followed by the US with nine.

The first American chef to crack the list at No. 13 is Thomas Keller for his New York restaurant Per Se. Keller ranks second on La Liste.

Unlike other rankings and listings, The 100 Chefs index tries to distinguish itself by being based solely on the opinions of the world’s highest-ranked chefs rather than critics, journalists or galloping gourmets.

This year’s list marks a major leap for Bras, who placed sixth on the list last year.

At Le Suquet, no two dining days are alike, with a seasonal menu that changes every day to reflect the whim and fancy of the chef who may be inspired by the memory of his travels on one day, or the local Aubrac countryside the next.

A sample dish could include anything from lobster tail cooked in butter, deglazed with fruit vinegar and aniseed, or pickled porcini mushrooms soaked in beef consommé with hazelnut oil, wrapped in lentil pastry.

Bras is also known for having been one of the earliest adopters of the molten chocolate lava cake as we know it today, having patented his version of ‘chocolat coulant’ (or runny chocolate) in 1981.

Here are the top 10 chefs and restaurants in Le Chef magazine’s The 100 Chefs list for 2016:

  • Michel BRAS, Le Suquet – Laguiole, France
  • Pierre GAGNAIRE, Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire – Paris, France
  • Seiji YAMAMOTO, Nihonryori Ryugin – Tokyo, Japan
  • Alain DUCASSE, Louis XV Alain Ducasse – Monaco
  • Pascal BARBOT, L’Astrance – Paris, France
  • Eric FRECHON, Epicure – Paris, France
  • Emmanuel RENAUT, Flocons de Sel, Megève, France
  • Martin BERASATEGUI, Restaurant Martin Berasategui – Lasarte Oria, Spain
  • Benoît VIOLIER, Hôtel de Ville – Crissier, Switzerland
  • Joan ROCA, El Celler de Can Roca – Girona, Spain

Cuba Tops 2016 Luxury Travel Survey

As predicted, communist Cuba is now recognized as a bona fide luxury travel destination and more. According to the annual Travel Leaders Group luxury travel survey, Cuba is going to be the biggest up and coming destination for those that like to travel in style and with a sense of adventure. For those who crack a smile at Cuba being embraced by the luxury crowd, remember that China is still communist and that country has a thirst for the lux life like no other.

The Luxury Travel Trends for 2016 report compiling insights from 1,316 US-based premium travel agents puts the Caribbean island in first place as the biggest emerging destination for 2016, followed by the United Arab Emirates, African Safaris and Antarctica. Iceland and European river cruises also get the nod, reflecting the outbound travel tastes of wealthy thrill-seekers in the United States, perhaps.

Also interesting is the absence of Asian destinations in the overall top 10 list, with the most popular choice being China, at number 13 (a three-way tie between China, New Zealand and Spain).

Our recent story highlighting a few offbeat choices, including Cuba, is here along with suggestions on where to stay. For our part, we cannot help but feel that Antarctica and Africa have always been on the radar of the well-heeled adventurer in a way that Cuba definitely has not. Perhaps it would be more useful to choose a specific nation in Africa, even when it comes to safaris because not all national parks are created equal. As for Iceland, well that country’s star has been a rising ever higher every year in the constellation of luxury travel.

“Today’s luxury traveler is someone who seeks incredible, authentic and memorable experiences – not merely 5-star hotels and Michelin star restaurants. So it makes perfect sense that Cuba, Antarctica, and African safaris are among the top ‘up-and-coming’ luxury travel destinations according to our luxury travel agents throughout the United States,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko.

Chile’s Alejandro Aravena wins 2016 Pritzker Prize

Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has been selected as the Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate for 2016. Tom Pritzker, Chairman and President of the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the prize, made the announcement on January 13.

“Alejandro Aravena has pioneered a collaborative practice that produces powerful works of architecture and also addresses key challenges of the 21st century. His built work gives economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption, and provides welcoming public space. Innovative and inspiring, he shows how architecture at its best can improve people’s lives,” said Pritzker in the statement.

Aravena is the 41st laureate of the prize and the first from Chile. Since 2001 he has been the executive director of the Santiago-based ELEMENTAL “Do Tank”. The organization focuses on projects of public interest and social impact, including housing, public space, infrastructure and transportation. ELEMENTAL has designed over 2,500 low-cost social housing units.

Aravena’s firm is known for its use of a participatory design process, in which the architects work closely with the public. ELEMENTAL employs an innovative approach to low-income housing that is called “incremental housing”. This involves designing what they call “half a good house,” leaving residents space to complete their houses themselves. In this way, ELEMENTAL aims to help them raise themselves to a middle class standard of living and give them a sense of accomplishment and personal investment. This also allows social housing to be built in more expensive areas closer to economic opportunity.


The workings of the Pritzker Architecture Prize

The Pritzker Architecture Prize was created in 1979 by the Hyatt Foundation to “annually honor a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture,” according to the official site. The laureate receives $100,000 and a bronze medal.

Nominations are accepted from all nations, government officials, writers, critics, fellow architects and academics. The final selection is made by an international jury that votes in secret.

The winner is chosen by a jury of between five and nine experts drawn from a wide range of fields not limited to architecture. Professionals from fields such as business, publishing and academics sit on the jury. They serve for multiple years to assure balance between past and new members. This year’s jury is chaired by Lord Peter Palumbo, an arts patron and Chairman of the Trustees of London’s Serpentine Gallery.

The formal award ceremony for the 2016 Pritzker Prize will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 4, 2016.

Luxury Carmakers Cheer Brilliant 2015 Finish

Even as prices at the pump hold steady at low rates, the premium segment of the auto industry is popping the champagne after an historic 2015. Over the course of last year, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo and McLaren have all set or are anticipating new sales records. Aside from sales, Ferrari is celebrating its independence and Hyundai is dropping in on the luxury market with the Genesis badge.

For McLaren, a supercar company that’s only been in business for five years, 2015 is the second year in succession that it’s broken the previous year’s record. Even though each model it produces is hand assembled, it delivered 1654 cars this year.

Demand is such that the company is introducing a night shift. “This accelerated development has led to yet another record year, with unprecedented levels of demand for all of our cars, especially the new Sports Series, for which we are currently holding more than six months worth of orders,” said CEO, Mike Flewitt.

Jaguar Land Rover has also enjoyed a bumper 2015, selling 487,065 vehicles – a 5% jump on 2014. “Customer response has been extremely positive, resulting in record retails across UK, North America and Europe. The appeal of our Jaguars and Land Rovers has also been recognized through over 95 global awards in 2015, including 15 for the Land Rover Discovery Sport and 19 for the Jaguar XE alone. 2016 promises to be another exciting year,” Andy Goss, Jaguar Land Rover Group Sales Operations Director, said.

Despite being implicated in the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal, Audi exceeded even its own lofty expectations – selling 1.8 million cars globally and for the first time crossed the 200,000-vehicle mark in the US where it can’t build SUVs quick enough to keep up with demand.

“2015 has proved that Audi is solidly on track and that we are able to master a year that presented various challenges very successfully,” Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, said.

Meanwhile Volvo sold more than 500,000 cars for the first time in its history. “I am delighted to report that 2015 was a year of record sales,” said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive. “Now, with a successful 2015 behind us, Volvo is about to enter the second phase of its global transformation. Once completed, Volvo will have ceased being a minor automotive player and taken its position as a truly global premium car company.”

Cadillac is also reenergized. After years of struggling to compete, it saw a 7.5% growth in global sales. “This creates a strong foundation for our two all-new products launching in the first half of 2016 — the CT6 prestige sedan and the XT5 luxury crossover,” stated Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen.

Mercedes and BMW remain the popular premium automotive brands to beat. Mercedes clocked up sales of 1.872 million vehicles globally, a 13.4% jump on 2014. “We anticipate additional sales impetus in 2016 from the new E-Class, the world’s most intelligent business saloon,” explained board member Ola Källenius.

BMW has yet to reveal full results from 2015 but the firm had already experienced a record 2014, selling more than 2 million vehicles globally; the Munich-based automaker passed the 2 million mark in November last, the first time it has ever done that by that point in the year. “The steady sales growth we’ve shown throughout the year so far reflects the great new products we currently have on the market,” commented Dr Ian Robertson, member of the board of management of BMW AG responsible for sales and marketing BMW.

This report was compiled by in-house writers, in combination with a wire report and image from the AFP.