Tag Archives: TOP 10

Botanica Luxury Estate in Phuket

Botanica Luxury Estate in Phuket

Botanica Luxury Estate is pleased to offer overseas buyers and investors very flexible payment plans through a five-year Rental Programme. When the custom-built residence completes, Botanica Luxury will rise on the most desirable address in Phuket.

Currently under construction, the development will comprise 21 elite residences with bespoke villas and areas of 265 to 700 sqm to accommodate up to five bedrooms. The luxury development is just a close proximity to the pristine Bangtao or Laguna neighbourhood, offering plenty of boutique shops and restaurants along the 8 km stretch of white sand.

Designed by AAP Architecture, the firm has been involved in the development of private homes on Phuket for over 12 years and the architectural designs thus far, have attracted onlookers to pause and fully immerse in the sanctuary living environment that evokes peace and calmness, and relish the beautiful mountain scenery.

Perhaps, the Botanica Luxury is the grandest villa ever designed by the architectural firm, consistently pushing boundaries and bringing vibrancy to every landscape they design and custom build.

Each villa centres around a natural stone tiled pool. (Botanica Villas Phuket)

The villa features a free-flowing floorplan that is capped by a vaulted, teak wood ceiling and framed by concertina glass doors. (Botanica Villas Phuket)

The transom windows above the glass doors allow the light to flow into the house and give added elegance to the main area of the home. (Botanica Villas Phuket)

The tile flooring in the home area matches that on the terrace for a seamless transition to the outdoors. (Botanica Villas Phuket)


Zagat Names Washington DC Hottest Food City 2016

Washington DC leads the pack in the list of ‘The 26 Hottest Food Cities of 2016’ curated by culinary guide Zagat.

The US capital is growing steadily in its culinary status. It had only gotten its inaugural Michelin guide on October this year, in which two stars were granted to Pineapple & Pearls, a minibar by celebrity Spanish chef José Andrés, and The Inn at little Washington. No three-starred ratings were awarded.

Zagat, also known as the burgundy guide, differs from the Michelin guide in the rating process. While the red guide has incognito inspectors reviewing the restaurants, Zagat refers to guest reviews to define its ratings.

The arrival of acclaimed restaurants has also helped Zagat in making the decision to give the top spot to Washington DC. There is the RPM Italian by US reality TV stars Bill and Giuliana Rancic, as well as Pizzeria Vetri and The Shaw Bijou, amongst others.

“Most longtime residents would agree that DC was stuck in a dining rut for decades, and it’s almost as if someone hit the fast-forward button,” say Zagat editors.

Rounding out the top five spots are Los Angeles, Denver, Boston and Seattle.

To compile the ranking, Zagat looked at cities that experienced the biggest growth spurt, award recognition, new openings and media attention.

Zagat’s not the first to pronounce Washington DC the US food city of 2016.

In August, Bon Appétit magazine pronounced the capital the restaurant city of the year, for the new wave of “fearless” neighborhood eateries.

Here are the top 10 food cities of 2016 according to Zagat:

1. Washington DC

2. Los Angeles

3. Denver

4. Boston

5. Seattle

6. New Orleans

7. Asheville, NC

8. Philadelphia

9. Charlotte, NC

10. Atlanta

5 SS17 Fabric Trends: Tulle, Fur and More

The Spring/Summer 2017 season has designers experimenting with adventurous textile choices and fabrics not commonly associated with the season. Aside from the usual club of classic cotton, linen, wool, denim, knits, silk and synthetic materials, here are the more alternative attractions:

Tulle in Two Ways

Tulle and transparency at Christian Dior © FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Tulle and transparency at Christian Dior

This key trending fabric was interpreted in two different ways for SS17: romantic or mysterious. Chloé offers a romantic style, with light colors and a dash of bohemian vibe. Jacquemus used tulle to create voluminous miniskirts, and paired it over loose fitting pants. Lace material also complements tulle on several iterations.On the mysterious side, comes Christian Dior (above) and Saint Laurent with their darker offerings. Other designers who showcased tulle-powered creations were Rochas, Giamba and Hood by Air.

Leather and Vinyl


Colorful leather from Bottega Veneta © ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP

Both are favorites from many seasons, but the rock ‘n’ roll fabric duo were the stars of the SS17 collections. It was interpreted in almost all forms – from coats and dresses to tops, jackets, skirts and pants. Black reigned supreme but there are varieties in khaki and midnight blue, for example at Sonia Rykiel. Dior presented leather tops and skirts, while Saint Laurent showed asymmetrical leather dresses. All the usual suspects added leather to their collections: Versus Versace, Jeremy Scott, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and Bottega Veneta (above). Meanwhile, Vinyl was notably present at Kenzo (below), Lanvin and Topshop Unique.

Kenzo does vinyl © BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

Kenzo does vinyl

Lamé and Metallics


Lamé shines at Saint Laurent. © BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

SS17 was glamorized through the use of lamé and metallics at the four fashion capitals. In the past, lamé was frequently used as a supporting player but this season, it became the main character. The material can give a futuristic, tough chic vibe, but can also be ultra feminine. Saint Laurent (above) used lamé for its pleated dress, while Wenda Nylon created lamé dresses, skirts, jackets and pants. Balmain and Elie Saab also utilized lamé to bring out the glamour.

Synthetic Fantastic


Synthetic parka and pants from Stella McCartney © PATRICK KOVARIK / AFP

With the rise of the streetwear and athleisure trends, nylon became a favorite of designers and ateliers. The sporty side of nylon was spotted on the runway at Stella McCartney (above), Anne Sofie Madsen and Versace. Givenchy used nylon to highlight its signature masculine/feminine style on its jacket and pants (obviously in black, by the way). Aalto also previewed dresses and jumpsuits in nylon.

Fur in the Summer

Fendi does fur. © GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

Fendi does fur.

Integrating the fall/winter fabric in pieces made for the sun was an emerging trend, as seen in Miu Miu with its fur collars and multicolored coats. Fendi (above) evidently jumped onboard the trend with a handful of pieces, notably a stripe print fur, and Prada stood out with its fur-finished shoes.

5 Best Castles Europe

Invest in These: 5 Top Castles, Europe 2016

There is no better place than Europe to admire some of the most majestic castles in the world. Once theaters of war and conflict, houses of the powerful, those medieval palaces are -for the most part- still standing and ready to reveal their oldest secrets. Palace Magazine selected five of the most beautiful castles currently for sale across the continent so you can start writing your own fairytale now.

1) Italy: Medieval Castle Near Siena – $31.13 million (above)

This castle dates back to the 12th century and despite multiple alterations and extensions it retains the appearance of a true fortress. Set on 360 hectares, the estate includes restored farmhouses, olive groves, vineyards and views stretching all the way to Siena. The 40,000 sq. ft. main castle has 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, original frescoes and fireplaces. Available through Sotheby’s Realty.

2) Ireland: Glin Castle – $7.27 millionGlin Castle

This plush castle near Limerick has been in the FitzGerald family, hereditary Knights of Glin, for over 700 years. The property features 21 bedrooms and superb interiors with decorative plasterwork and notable collections of Irish furniture and paintings. Set on the waterfront and within 23 acres of gardens that seamlessly link to the wider parkland estate and woodlands. Available through Christie’s International Real Estate.

3) Spain: 13th Century Castle – $16.27 million13th Century Castle

Located in western Spain near the border to Portugal, this impressive castle includes over 1,000 acres of land and hunting grounds for wild boar and deer. The property was built in 1275, but has been fully refurbished and includes six bedrooms, nine reception rooms and a small museum. Available through Moulin International Real Estate.

4) Scotland: Earlshall Castle – $6.48 millionEarlshall Castle

Located in Leuchars, Fife, near St. Andrews, this stately 16th century castle features 10 bedrooms, eight reception rooms, a grand dining room, several outbuildings and a five-car garage. The property is set on 34 acres and has a celebrated walled garden designed by Sir Robert Lorimer. A number of renowned golf courses are located nearby. Available through Savills.

5) France: Castle Uzes – Price Upon RequestCastle Uzes

This picturesque 12th century castle in the south of France boasts over 8,600 sq. ft. of living space with 31 rooms, inner and outer courtyards, a roof garden and a swimming pool. The property has been fully restored, but retains original features like a Louis XIV fireplace, 17th century frescoes and coffered ceilings. Available through Sotheby’s Realty.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

Worst Car Flops: 8 remarkable stories

This month marks the 57th anniversary of Ford pulling the plug on the Edsel, a car brand that flopped so badly that its name has become a synonym for commercial failure. But while Ford may own the rights to the name Edsel, no end of carmakers have built ‘Edsels’ of their own since that fateful day in 1959. We are reminded of Mercedes putting the Maybach brand to bed, then releasing Maybach models under its own name just this year. It just goes to show that you sometimes can’t keep a good model line down. We doubt very much though that the Edsel will be coming back to life…

On November 19, 1959, Ford lost $250 million. That’s how much it cost to abandon the Edsel marque. Hyped as the car of the future ahead of its launch on September 4, 1957 and backed by one of the biggest marketing campaigns in automotive history, the Edsel failed spectacularly to live up to its billing. Ford sold 116,000 Edsels and residual values were so bad owners were given $400 coupons to help them trade up to a new car.

The failure was huge yet, as the following list shows, carmakers didn’t necessarily learn the lesson. Some of these are enduring cult classics though…well maybe only the DeLorean. There is certainly something to being a noble flop, making some of these models more desirable today, probably because they were failures.


Facel Vega Facellia (1960-1964)

Facel was a glamorous French GT carmaker and its flagship, the Hemi V8-powered Vega, was out of reach to all but the super rich. So it decided to build a beautiful compact car with a smaller, cheaper powerplant. But then the company made a fatal error – it decided to build the engine locally. The resulting powerplant had a habit of shattering. Facel went under in 1964.


Bricklin SV-1 (1974-1976)

A safety sportscar sounds like an automotive oxymoron but in 1974 it sounded like a good idea to the government of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, which subsidized the bizarre car’s development. It had giant bumpers front and rear, a steel safety cage and temperamental gullwing doors. Its one saving grace was a V8 engine. However, it never worked because the car had no front air vents. The engine couldn’t breathe.


DeLorean DMC-12 (1981-1983)

Go beyond the stainless steel exterior and gullwing doors, and you’ll find a car built from donor parts. The engine was from Renault, the brakes from Ford. Early cars had reliability issues and by the time they were sorted, the company was in debt, the world in recession and the company’s founder had been arrested on drug charges.


Alfa Romeo Arna (1983-1987)

This partnership should have been a recipe for success but the finished car, a collaboration between flamboyant, exciting Alfa Romeo and phenomenally reliable and solid Nissan was completely unpalatable. Instead of Nissan building a car based on an Alfa Romeo design, Alfa Romeo built a car based on a Nissan design – the worst of both worlds. You only have to look at it to understand…


ARONA Sterling (1987-1991)

Built on a Honda (Acura) Legend platform for ultimate reliability but with a cabin that oozed the walnut veneers and leather associated with the best of British craftsmanship, the Sterling actually sold well initially. However, it didn’t take long for things to go wrong. That Honda chassis was connected to the body and engine by Rover – a British company with a terrible reputation for reliability and quality.


Pontiac Aztek (2001-2005)

If a camel is a horse designed by committee, all the Aztek is missing is two large humps on its roof. Hailed as the car that could save GM when it launched, it ended up killing the Pontiac brand altogether.


Maybach 57/62 (2005-2013)

Forget what rappers say, the Maybach was bad. Based on an old Mercedes Benz S-Class platform, it was already out of date before it launched. Even though it had seats that reclined flat and a glass roof that tinted at the touch of a button, neither was enough to make the car stand out against the Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Most expensive houses in the world: 5 residential streets only the richest can afford

Having an exclusive postal code is certainly desirable but being on the right street in the right city adds weight to the tried and tested mantra in property investment: location, location, location. From Hong Kong to Miami and the French Rivera, we take a look at the top five most expensive residential streets in the world.

1) Peak Road, The Peak, Hong Kong

Nestled amidst the greenery of Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak, Peak Road tops our list as the most expensive residential street in the world. Located at the summit of Hong Kong Island, properties along this prestigious address not only offer panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong city skyline, but also provide a respite away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Just 15-minutes away from Central, properties on Peak Road average at $10,591 per sq. ft. Records were set for the Hong Kong property market when the 124,000 sq. ft. 75 Peak Road sold for HKD 5.1 billion ($657.7 million) last year.

2) Kensington Palace Gardens, London

London’s ‘Billionaire Row’ is a private, mansion-lined street that is home to the ultra-wealthy and various foreign embassies. Located next to Kensington Palace, average property values; though available properties are rare, cost GBP 42.6 million ($55.19 million). The most expensive property was a 16,500-sq. ft. mansion that sold for GBP 80 million ($124.23 million) to tycoon Wang Jianlin.istock_13481081_medium

3) Avenue Princesse Grace, Monaco

Situated in the glitzy city of Monaco, the Avenue Princesse Grâce, named after Hollywood legend Grace Kelly, is the most exclusive and expensive street in this tiny principality. Home to lavish seafront residences selling for $7,990 per square foot, the palm-tree-lined avenue has a slew of notable residents such as Andrea Bocelli, Lewis Hamilton, Roger Moore, and Helena Christensen. However, due to finite space, apartments and properties on the street are currently only available for rent.

4) Indian Creek Island Road, Biscayne Bay, Miami

Located in the exclusive island village of Indian Creek, Miami’s ‘Billionaire Bunker’ is the most expensive residential street in America, where massive waterfront estates average at a hefty $21.48 million. The 294-acre island consists of just 35 estates bordering a private 18-hole golf course, and is heavily protected by its own security force which guards all amenities. The most expensive property was sold for $47 million to a Russian buyer and boasts 13-bedrooms, a 3D theater, and a 7-limo garage!

5) Boulevard du General de Gaulle, Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

Boasting spectacular views of the Mediterranean Côte d’Azur, Boulevard du Général de Gaulle is one of the priciest streets along the French Riviera, with luxurious beachfront villas costing $79,000 per sq. m. (USD 7,339.35 per sq. ft). Located in the prestigious Cap Ferrat (above), the boulevard is also home to iconic hotels such as the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine. Palace Magazine is published by Lux-Inc.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland: Millennials’ Top Travel Pick

A staggering 5,000 millennials selected Iceland’s Blue Lagoon as the most popular bucket-list travel experience. Arguably, Iceland anything makes for a good bucket-list experience but given the popularity boom this volcanic rock of 300,000+ has been experiencing in recent years, you might want to choose your specific destination with care.

‘The No Regrets Travel List’ was compiled by youth travel company Contiki, with people aged 18-35 around the world naming their dream holiday experiences in a recent poll.

From the 20 destinations that made it onto the list, Blue Lagoon in Iceland distinguished itself in first place. The milky blue pool has self-cleansing water that renews itself every 40 hours, reportedly boosting the health of those who bathe there.

As mentioned, Iceland itself is a rising star in the world’s tourism industry, mostly thanks to innovative tourism campaigns. It has become a favorite of nature lovers and adrenaline junkies alike, with estimates of 2 million tourists in 2017, a five-fold increase from 2010. The country is also prominently featured in TV hit Game of Thrones, which depicts Iceland as a mythical land of ice and fire.

That said, this is a list and Iceland just tops it. As you can see, the Pyramids of Giza also put in an appearance.


Here are the top 20 travel experiences among Millennials for 2017:

1. Bathe in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

2. See the Great Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)

3. Walk the Great Wall of China

4. Chill out on the beach at Byron Bay (Australia)

5. Learn how to make pizza in Italy

6. Road trip along Route 66 (USA)

7. Gondola ride in Venice (Italy)

8. Kiss at the Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

9. Watch sea turtles lay their eggs in Costa Rica

10. Picnic in the French countryside

11 . Party in Las Vegas (USA)

12. Visit Yosemite National Park (USA)

13. Watch the sunrise over Uluru (Australia)

14. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

15. See the Mona Lisa (Paris, France)

16. Try all the gelato in Rome (Italy)

17. See the Grand Canyon by helicopter (USA)

18. Cuddle a koala in Queensland (Australia)

19. Zipline through the rainforest in Costa Rica

20. Ride a bike through Amsterdam (Netherlands)



Top 5 Billionaire Hotspot Cities 2016

In advance of the likely the first billionaire presidency of the USA, our friends at Palace Magazine looked at cities around the world that draw the most attention from the billionaire class. It is of course no surprise that Donald Trump’s home turf, New York City, is a magnet for the one-percenters but you might be surprised to learn that Beijing trumps Shanghai in the billionaire stakes.

New York City

Home to the world’s top financial centres like Wall Street and Silicon Alley, New York draws more moneymaking tycoons than anywhere else in the world, with 79 billionaires holding a combined net worth of $364.6 billion residing in the city. The city also hosts three of the world’s 10 richest people: industrialists Charles and David Koch, each worth $44.6 billion, and ex-New York City Mayor and media mogul Michael Bloomberg, worth $49.8 billion.

Hong Kong

Asia’s financial capital comes in second with 68 billionaire residents worth a combined $261.3 billion. A lover of luxury, Hong Kong has more Rolls-Royce automobiles per capita than anywhere else in the world, and is home to the most powerful figures in Asia: business magnate Sir Lee Ka-shing, ranked the second-wealthiest man in Asia with a net worth of $32.8 billion, and real estate tycoon Lee Shau-kee, worth $25.1 billion and ranked the second richest in Hong Kong.


The financial capital of the Russian Federation, Moscow has the third most number of billionaires in the world; 60 individuals worth a total of $217.6 billion. Moscow’s super-rich include various self-made commodity moguls such as gas and petrochemical magnate Leonid Mikhelson, Russia’s richest man, worth $16.5 billion, and oil and banking mogul Mikhail Fridman, worth $15.6 billion.


Beijing, one of the world’s ancient capitals, comes in fourth with 51 billionaires worth a combined $149.9 billion. Its wealthiest residents include China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, worth $30 billion, as well as Jack Ma, worth $28.3 billion. Both Wang and Ma have recently invested in American entertainment firms, with Wang purchasing Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion, and Ma investing in several Hollywood blockbusters.


With a strong property market and a reputation as one of the world’s most glamorous cities, London remains an attractive destination for the super-wealthy (Brexit notwithstanding). The city counts 48 billionaire residents who boast a combined wealth of $187.7 billion. They include American businessman Len Blavatnik, worth $14.7 billion, and Indian-born businessmen Sri and Gopi Hinduja, worth $19.9 billion.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

Top 10 US Hotels Revealed: Trivago

Park Hyatt Aviara

5 Best Presidential Suites San Diego Presented By Expedia

The city of San Diego is known for many things but for us, it is mainly a great unknown. Apart from a sterling recommendation for its zoo (reputedly one of the finest in the world), we know precious little about this port city and its famous US Navy connections. At the prompting of our friends from Expedia, we thought we’d kick off what will hopefully be a regular series (more or less, this is the Internet after all) exploring cities we’d like to visit. Here’s what we found in our research (that’s what the Internet is here for folks) on the second largest city in California so far.

For one thing, it apparently has fine food (here’s hoping Michelin/Zagat et al get here), nightlife, surfing spots and numerous golf courses that attract visitors each year. Like we said, San Diego is on our ever-growing list of travel destinations and, should it be on yours too, then we and Expedia have some advice. Like every dream location we set our sights on, we do our best to keep our eyes peeled for only the best accommodation options. It is our pleasure to present our top five luxury accommodation options in San Diego.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Spa & Golf ClubPark Hyatt Aviara

Avid golfers will fall head over heels in love with this location, thanks to its 18-hole golf course that was designed by Arnold Palmer. Joining the golf course are other recreational facilities such as a to-notch spa with 20 treatment rooms, an indoor co-ed solarium lounge, aromatic steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools and a romantic couple’s suite. Boasting 327 guestrooms, of which 43 are suites, the rooms provide guests with scenic views of foothills, swimming pools, the golf course and Batiquitos Lagoon. Our top choice for suites is the Park Luxury Suite that features two large balconies, providing guests with a space to look out over the Pacific, and 1,640 square feet of room to relax in. In the master is a marble bathroom fitted with double sinks, a glass enclosed shower, a deep soaking tub (always a must) and a private water closet.

For more information, visit Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Spa & Golf Club.

Omni La Costa Resort & SpaOmni La Costa Presidential Suite

This happens to be a place that provides not only luxury accommodations and attractions close by, but also a space that specializes in holistic healing with The Chopra Center. However, what caught our attention was the Presidential Suite that boasts three bedrooms and three baths. At 3,500 square feet, the living room looks out over the golf course with floor to ceiling windows. Creating a cozy ambience is a fire place in the sitting area. In a sweet blue hue, the suite is an inviting space perfect to unwind in while on holiday. Two of the three bedrooms in the Presidential Suite also feature their very own sitting areas and private marble baths.

For more information, visit Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.

L’Auberge Del MarL'Auberge Del Mar San Diego

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean is the L’Auberge Del Mar. This family-friendly resort offers guests a luxurious spa and is situated close to scenic hiking trails such as the Torrey Pines State Reserve. As with most resorts and hotels in San Diego, this hotel also provides a space to enjoy golfing at an exclusive course. Additionally, guests at the L’Auberge Del Mar will also be able to enjoy horse races at the Del mar Racetrack in the summer. At 1,500 square feet, the Presidential Suite is the obvious choice here. The best digs in this house feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms. With an interior design by Barclay Butera, the suite is a calm and soothing area thanks to the cream colored walls and dark wood fixtures. Other highlights of the suite include a fireplace and a Jacuzzi tub.

For more information, visit L’Auberge Del Mar.

Fairmont Grand Del MarFairmont Del Mar Manchester Suite

Located on the coast of Northern San Diego is the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, just a short distance away from coastal communities such as La Jolla, Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe. The hotel is a part of the prestigious Fairmont Group of hotels, and offers guests not the usual one Presidential Suite but two! Yes, there are two Presidential Suites here and we’re not entirely sure why but that improves our chances of actually booking one. The Mizner and Manchester Suites include working fireplaces in the living rooms as well as marble bathroom finishes complete with their own deep European-style soaking tubs, dual sinks and separate showers. While the Mizner Suite offers a view of the resort grounds, the Manchester Suite (above) boasts a view of the golf course.

For more information, visit Fairmont Grand Del Mar.

Rancho Valencia Resort & SpaRancho Valencia Hacienda Guesthouse

While this resort does not have a Presidential Suite, it does have its very own Private Guesthouse called the Hacienda that is just as luxurious. At 5,000 square feet, there is no denying that this is a spacious holiday housing option when in San Diego. Boasting three King bed suites, a garden patio, wood-burning fireplace and a deluxe private bath, the guesthouse is also equipped with a private heated pool and whirlpool spa. With an abode-style private home concept, this accommodation option is the definition of a home-away-from-home.

For more information, visit Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa.

Presented by Expedia.com.

3 Hottest Prints Trends: Spring/Summer 2017

Prints dominated the Spring/Summer 2017 collections and this trend is set to be big for the upcoming season. Ranging from retro to masculine, pop art and even minimalist chic, we take a look at three of the hottest print trends this season.

Retro ChicRetro prints have a 1970s vibe at Chloé. © BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

From Isabel Marant to Chloé (main picture), Dries Van Noten, Michael Kors and even Prada, the retro vibe was out in in full force. Embracing the 70s effect, designers featured prints in the form of large flowers, big bright blooms as well as diamond and check prints. Shown in head to toe looks, the retro prints are set to make a comeback — talk about a blast from the past.

Geometric Prints000_dv2232740-f2a01145433-h0

Lanvin, Paul Ka, Chanel, Fendi (above) and Nina Ricci are keeping last season’s trend of stripes. Inpinstripes, widebands, horizontal and vertical, the pattern was seen on oversized shorts, dresses, overcoats, pants and coats. Another geometric print seen, was polka dots. In classic shades, the pattern was seen in collections for the likes of Dior. Patchwork also made a comeback on the runways with designers such as Marc Jacobs. Sporting bohemian and romantic discreet form of patchworking along with a 1990s version, the pattern proved to still be a hit after more than one season. Ellie Saab, on the other hand, went big on stars, embroidered or printed all over sumptuous dresses for an out-of-this-world look.

Messages Galore000_dv2232432-41b6e150412-h0

Printed letters, numbers, logos, large motifs, quotes and slogans land as wearable messages this season as seen on Gucci (above). While Dolce & Gabbana is clearly a master of the genre, it isn’t the only label playing the game. The current craze for streetwear is buoying the trend, with potential buyers passing all kinds of messages from designers to the public at large. It’s a trend that’s fun, practical and light-hearted, and very much in line with the spirit of the season.

Best Luxury Cruise Liner Revealed...

Best Luxury Cruise Liner Revealed…

If you’re looking to cruise in style next year, here is another list to reference and pore over. Travel editors at US News & World Report have created a guide to the best cruise lines for holidaymakers with different needs.

In the luxury category, Crystal Cruises took top honors while also being ranked as the best cruise line for couples. So, for romance and top-shelf travel joy, Crystal Cruises appears to be the best bet.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in the category of most budget-friendly holiday, the top spot went to Celebrity Cruises. The brand also ranks tops in the category of best cruise line for the Mediterranean.

Disney Cruise Line was also a big winner, taking the title of best cruise line for families and best itinerary in the Caribbean.

To compile the ranking, editors looked at cruise ship quality, reputation among travelers, health assessments from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, price, class and itinerary offerings.

Overall, 15 cruise lines were ranked across six categories. It is estimated that 24 million people will have taken to the high seas in 2016, with interest expected to rise next year.

US News & World Report isn’t the only prognosticator to weigh in on the best cruises on the high seas. Recently, editors at Cruise Critic named Carnival Cruise Line the best brand when it comes to value for money and Princess Cruises best for romance.

Where they are agreed is Disney Cruise Line, which also took the title of best for families at Cruise Critic. Here are the results from US News & World Report:

Best for luxury
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Oceania Cruises
For Families
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
For couples
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Azamara Club Cruises
In the Mediterranean
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Oceania Cruises
In the Caribbean
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Crystal Cruises
Best value for money
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
Royal Suite Burj Al Arab

10 Most Expensive Middle East Hotels

You can be sure that the guests filing out of the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai don’t count their pennies. Because according to a new ranking, the luxury property is the most expensive in the region.

After crunching the numbers, editors at luxury-hotels.com came up with a ranking that lists the most expensive hotels in the Middle East based on room rates during the month of November when hotels post the highest average daily rates.

At the Burj Al Arab, instantly recognizable from a distance for its sail-like design, the minimum room rate is $1,928, making it the most expensive hotel in the region.

Prices reflect the cheapest available rate for a double room between November 1 and 30.

Rounding out the top three spots is the Al Maha (Dubai) at $1,776 and Six Senses Zighy Bay (Oman) at $1,330.

The list shows that Dubai – the city of superlatives, where opulence comes to bask – is home to the most expensive hotel rooms, dominating the top 10 list with eight addresses.


Looking to travel to the Middle East? Here are the hotels that will set you back the most:

3 Fashionable Coffee Table Books 2016

Koenigsegg One:1 photo

Koenigsegg Wins Science Prize with FreeValve Engine

Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg makes vehicles that are as brilliant as they are unnecessary so we were a little perplexed to learn that the company had won the 2016 Popular Science Grand Award. The thing about proper science is that you can’t just throw together a bunch of turbochargers, add a dash of extra horsepower and expect recognition. On the flipside, building a beautiful vehicle gets you nowhere just as quickly. No, the mad genius Christian von Koenigsegg won this accolade for his company through the cam-free internal combustion engine it pioneered.

To be clear, we applaud all efforts to engineer better cars and that is what Koenigsegg has done by effectively ditching the camshaft. This is no small matter because the camshaft has been an integral part of the internal combustion engine since, well, at least 100 years.

Christian von Koenigsegg was considered crazy for wanting to start his own supercar company, completely from scratch. But when his first car was finished in 2002, people quickly started changing their opinion. And 14 years later, the Swedish entrepreneur and inventor has proven himself an automotive genius, delivering innovations with his tiny committed team that some of the world’s most storied and established brands are struggling to keep up with.

Therefore it should seem obvious that the Koenigsegg FreeValve engine, which made its debut this year in a Chinese Qoros concept car, should be hailed as one of the biggest innovations of 2016.

Taking the place of the camshaft is a hydraulic actuator system that controls how the engine breathes. This new system allows each valve on the engine to be opened or closed independently, at a unique moment and for a unique amount of time. Theoretically, this could mean the eradication of every inefficiency inherent in the camshaft system. So, to make a long story shorter, this is a big deal. Motor Authority has a great video from Engineering Explained for those of you who want to learn more.

Koenigsegg Wins Science Prize with FreeValve Engine

The McLaren 570S Coupé

Beaten into second place on the Popular Science list is the McLaren 570S which was singled out because it is, in the publication’s opinion, the first truly usable supercar. Despite sitting low to the ground, having 562hp on tap and a 200mph+ top speed, it can be driven comfortably in real-world situations.

The top three is rounded out by the Chevrolet Bolt EV which makes the list for being the first true electric car for the people thanks to its ability to cover 238 miles on a single charge and costing just $37,495 before grants or subsidies.

Elsewhere in the list there are awards for the new Mercedes E-Class (eighth place) for its cutting-edge car-to-car communication system that relays live road and weather conditions in seconds to other Mercedes cars; and for the Audi SQ7 TDi.

Ranked in fifth place, the premium SUV makes this year’s cut for its innovative lag-free turbo system that uses two traditional turbos plus a third, electrically powered compressor that spools up instantaneously regardless of engine revolutions or exhaust gases. It makes a diesel feel as responsive as a gasoline engine.

Koenigsegg Wins Science Prize with FreeValve Engine

The New Mercedes-Benz E-Class

World’s Top Urban Destination 2017 is…

Lonely Planet has selected the French city of Bordeaux as the hottest urban destination for 2017 but it has long been on our list of excellent places to visit. The city has the largest number of preserved historical buildings in France, outside of Paris, and it plays host to that Dionysian spectacle called Vinexpo. Bordeaux is also home to some of the biggest names in French wine such as Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour and Château Mouton-Rothschild.

Anyway, the famous travel guide has dubbed Bordeaux as “A sleeping beauty [that] has awoken,” clearly a reference to the city’s nickname, La Belle Endormie. A high-speed rail line is currently being built to link the aforementioned city to Paris, which will definitely boost tourism appeal of Bordeaux. The city also houses the Cité du Vin wine museum, where visitors can savor the culinary specialties of the region. Tourists will be able to enjoy the urban, cultural space that overlooks the Garonne river.

Cape Town of South Africa ranks second in the best cities category, followed by Los Angeles at number three. The list also features lesser-known travel gems of Ohrid in Macedonia (fifth) and Pistoia in Italy (sixth), which we honestly know nothing about!

Ohrid in Macedonia is one of Lonely Planet's top destinations for 2017. © Lonely Planet Lonely Planet

Ohrid in Macedonia is one of Lonely Planet’s top destinations for 2017.
© Lonely Planet

On to the less city-specific lists, it seems like the 2017 trend will be Pacific destinations. Who hasn’t dreamed of dipping into the turquoise waters of the world’s largest ocean, anyway? Seriously, there’s enough room in the Pacific to fit all the landmasses of the world… Taranaki, New Zealand leads the pack as the first runner-up of the 2017 best regions to visit list. South Australia ranks fifth, and the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia ranks seventh. As for countires, Lonely Planet named Canada in the top spot for 2017, followed by Colombia and Finland for second and third place, respectively.

A roundup of all Lonely Planet’s hottest destinations for the coming year will be compiled in its “Best Of 2017” guidebook, due out October 27.

Lonely Planet’s full list of best destinations for 2017

By country

  • 1. Canada
  • 2. Colombia
  • 3. Finland
  • 4. Dominica
  • 5. Nepal
  • 6. Bermuda
  • 7. Mongolia
  • 8. Oman
  • 9. Myanmar (Burma)
  • 10. Ethiopia

By region

  • 1. Choquequirao, Peru
  • 2. Taranaki, New Zealand
  • 3. Açores, Portugal
  • 4. North Wales, UK
  • 5. South Australia
  • 6. Aysén, Chile
  • 7. Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia
  • 8. The Georgia coast, USA
  • 9. Perak, Malaysia
  • 10. Skellig Ring, Iceland

By city

  • 1. Bordeaux, France
  • 2. Cape Town, South Africa
  • 3. Los Angeles, USA
  • 4. Mérida, Mexico
  • 5. Ohrid, Macedonia
  • 6. Pistoia, Italy 
  • 7. Seoul, South Korea
  • 8. Lisbon, Portugal
  • 9. Moscow, Russia
  • 10. Portland, USA
3 Celebrity Homes: Redefining Luxury Country Living

3 Celebrity Homes: Redefining Luxury Country Living

There’s nothing like living in the middle of nature that inspires a sense of tranquillity and respite away from city life. In the latest issues of Palace magazine, the editors took a look at three celebrity residences that are icons of elegant living.

TOM FORD3 Celebrity Homes: Redefining Luxury Country Living

Possibly one of the most stunning creations from Japanese architect Tadao Ando, designer of the Armani Teatro in Milan and the Ground Zero Project in New York, is the Cerro Pelon Ranch. This 20,662 acre New Mexico property owned by visionary fashion designer and filmmaker Tom Ford is now on the market for sale with the Kevin Bobolsky Group. Fusing design aesthetics with the spirit and beauty of the Galisteo Basin, this exquisite estate features a striking glass-walled main residence seemingly suspended over a sleek reflecting pool, an adjoining state of the art eight-stall horse barn, indoor and outdoor riding arenas, and the Cerro Pelon Mountain, a significant Galisteo Basin landmark located right in the heart of the ranch. Commanding $75 million, Ford’s Sante Fe retreat not only offers an exclusive private airstrip and hangar, but also accommodates the Silverado Movie Town, an Old Western movie set originally constructed for the 1985 film Silverado. The town has since been further developed to include usable building structures, and is regularly leased for television and movie productions, most recently: Cowboys and Aliens, 3:10 to Yuma, and Thor.

Tom Cruise3 Celebrity Homes: Redefining Luxury Country Living

Cloistered amongst the mountains just minutes away from the resort town of Telluride, Colorado, lies a sprawling 298-acre estate graced by an elegant Storybook main residence and guesthouse. Surrounded by wooded grounds affording scenic mountain beauty and serenity, the home boasts a private trail system with views overlooking the region’s 14,000-foot peaks, as well as amenities such as a private helipad, an in-house fitness center, separate staff quarters, and a private elevator. This property is known for having had only two owners in the last century; namely a family of Basque sheep-herders who settled in the area in the 1920s, and Hollywood movie star Tom Cruise. Featuring a massive 10,000 sq. ft. home consisting of four bedrooms and six full bathrooms as well as a 1,600 sq. ft. guesthouse with three bedrooms and three full baths, the Cruise estate is priced at $59 million and available through Telluride Sotheby’s International Realty.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis3 Celebrity Homes: Redefining Luxury Country Living

The former First Lady and international style icon’s childhood Hamptons estate is now on the market for sale with The Corcoran Group. Originally belonging to Onassis’ paternal grandparents, the Bouvier summer home, dubbed Lasata, was purchased by fashion designer Reed Krakoff in 2007 and lovingly restored according to its original Arts and Crafts architectural style. Built in 1917, the estate encompasses a light and airy 10-bedroom main residence, a one-bedroom guesthouse, a two-bedroom pool house, and beautifully landscaped gardens. Classically elegant and uniquely American, this Hamptons-style property is offered for $39 million.

This article was first published in Palace.

Invest in These: 6 Floating Villas

Flying over the Maldives in a prop plane, islands appear like green pebbles in a blue-green sea. From above, constellations of resorts are also visible, their villas often snaking out from the edge of the land, hugging the sides of boardwalks and perched atop wooden stilts.

Not all villas are tethered to docks, however. At some new resorts, the bungalows have been designed to float on the Indian Ocean. One such project is named The Ocean Flower and includes 185 floating villas arranged in the form of a Maldivian flower. Designed by Dutch architecture firm Waterstudio, the two level villas have three bedrooms, private plunge pools and are priced from around $2.5 million.

The Ocean Flower

The Ocean Flower

“What we tried to do with our office is to take the difference between a normal house and house boat and make them the same,” says Waterstudio founder Koen Olthius. He began designing floating homes in the Netherlands, but now exports the concept to worldwide locations.

The Ocean Flower forms part of The 5 Lagoons, a master-planned resort in North Male atoll, a 20-minute boat ride from the capital of Male that is a joint venture between Dutch Docklands International and the Maldives Government. Waterstudio is also designing the Amillarah, another phase of The 5 Lagoons that will feature10 floating private islands arranged in an archipelago configuration. Each will have a private beach, pool, greenery and a jetty to moor yachts.

In the Maldives, where natural islands are small, scarce and vulnerable to tides and rising water levels, resort developers are progressively turning to floating architecture. “The concept suits [the Maldives] perfectly,” says Dymitr Malcew, a Singapore-based architect. He designed a luxurious floating home concept for a French developer in 2012 and has since received inquires from resort developers and private investors around the world, including the Maldives.

Malcew Floating Homes, Maldives

Malcew Floating Homes, Maldives

Malcew’s house concept features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a terrace and full-height windows that provide optimal daylight and views. The home is built on a floating platform that can be easily moved and electricity is supplied via solar panels, or a network if it is docked at a marina. It also has a water purification system. “I was inspired by the automotive and luxury yacht markets rather than a typical architectural approach,” Malcew explains.

The floating house concept is not confined to the Maldives, however. In Thailand, resorts like The Float House River Kwai Resort in Kanchanaburi features floating villas made of teak wood and bamboo, each having a private balcony and pier. Thai design firm Agaligo Studio has also introduced a modern take on the floating vernacular with the X-Float, a series of floating resort villas on the River Kwai that are made from lightweight steel framing clad with fiber cement siding and plywood. The units are all oriented to maximize river views while also shielding the intense tropical sun.

Hong Kong-based consultancy BMT Asia Pacific has also created floating home concepts it likens to a ‘stationary yacht,’ designed to create novel experiences for holidaymakers. The Sea-Suite debuted in 2014 with three models – Floating Lodge, Houseboat, and Beach Cabin, each of which use an egg-shaped mold as the basis for transportable, easily adaptable and nautically minded lodging designs. The newer SeaScape edition features expansive 40-foot decks on a triangular floor plan. Each villa is customizable and can be expanded with the option to add on a variety of units, including a sun deck or covered pool, making the floating resort up to 1,800 sq. ft. in size. The design also features an underwater bedroom housed in a 13-foot diameter acrylic column that creates an aquarium effect with 360-degree views of marine life.

The Floating Seahorse

The Floating Seahorse

A new project in the Middle East unveiled in December also proposes an underwater bedroom. Kleindienst Group’s new development is called The Floating Seahorse and features a collection of floating villas off the coast of Dubai. The structures are designed like unpowered boats and have three levels: a submerged master bedroom and bathroom designed to offer views of the surrounding marine life, a main level with a kitchen, dining area and deck, and an upper level that has an informal bed, kitchenette and glass-bottomed Jacuzzi. Developers sold around 60 units when the first models went on sale. The remaining seahorses are priced from $2.8 million.

“We are seeing a trend worldwide, where High Net Worth Individuals are looking not only for a penthouse, but that private island feeling,” says Koen Olthius. In his home country of the Netherlands, 50 percent of the population lives below sea level, and the Dutch have spent centuries constructing dikes, pumps, and drainage systems to keep the encroaching North Sea at bay. Floating houses have provided an alternate solution – as far back as the 17th century, barges were repurposed as homes.

The Floating Seahorse, Interior

The Floating Seahorse, Interior

In recent years, floating structures have again grown in popularity, particularly in the face of extreme weather. The obvious advantage is that they move vertically with fluctuations in water levels caused by tides, heavy rainfall or other flooding. They are also easily relocated.

But beyond the pragmatic reasons, floating homes are also appealing to prospective residents because they afford an intimate proximity to water, and a feeling of openness, with light and views that are more akin to a boat than a house. A ‘normal’ house requires a large margin with the water level to prevent flooding. With a floating home, openings in the façade can safely be placed just 35 cm above the water level.

In the United States, floating homes are most common on the West Coast, particularly in Seattle where Lake Washington, Lake Union, and The Locks offer sheltered water edge conditions ideal for floating structures. Standing inside the floating home is an incredible feeling, says Eric Cobb, a Seattle-based architect who works on floating homes. “When you are on the first floor, you are maybe a foot off the water level and it feels like you are on a boat. It’s an amazing experience to have a sliding glass door off your bedroom and the water right there.”

SeaScape Luxury FLoating Villas Concept

SeaScape Luxury FLoating Villas Concept

In recent years floating homes in Seattle have become increasingly regulated due to their impact on the shoreline. “They are big, they create massive shaded areas and it impacts eco systems,” says Cobb. Municipal regulations now prevent the development of new floating home slips, although the resale market is thriving.

Koen Olthius at Waterstudio believes such municipal regulations reflect an “old-fashioned way of thinking” and stands in the way of allowing floating homes to proliferate into the mainstream market and create what he believes is a more sustainable housing model. “The experience we have in Holland makes us experts in how large and small foundations can be,” he says.

Many architects argue that since floating systems are adaptable and can be moved at short notice without leaving scars on the environment, this makes them a more sustainable and durable way to build. BMT’s SeaScape model, for example, is designed for offshore locations around small islands where a minimal footprint is key. The overall power load is also mitigated by the option of installing solar panels on the roof, as well as by natural ventilation. “While we haven’t specifically focused on green features in the design, a number of them are intrinsic to a waterside location — improved natural ventilation from sea breezes and temperature moderation through the hull from seawater,” says Sichard Colwill, Managing Director of BMT Asia Pacific.

Amillarah Private Islands, Dubai

Amillarah Private Islands, Dubai

The concept also provides a solution for humanitarian causes, particularly in low-lying, flood-prone regions. Luxury developers have funded much of the recent innovations to floating homes, but Olthius says a new wave of demand is coming from land-strapped and flood-prone cities from the Ukraine to China.

In the UK, design firms have proposed similar typologies as a means to deal with flood-stricken areas of the nation and as a solution to London’s housing shortage. Baca Architects recently developed a buoyant home for an NLA competition to address the capital’s housing crisis. The project aims to install prefabricated floating housing on disused space along the 50 miles of rivers and canals in Greater London, as well as the 150 hectares of additional “bluefield” space in its docklands, marinas and basins.  For Koen Olthius, the transition to water homes is simply a matter of plugging them into the existing grid. The demand for floating homes is clear, he says, now it’s a matter of negotiating with municipalities and insurance companies and educating them on the long life span of water homes, and their low maintenance costs.

The Float House River Kwai Resort, Thailand

The Float House River Kwai Resort, Thailand

If sea levels begin to rise as predicted, municipalities may have no choice but to embrace the floating home model. For the moment, some countries are more open to the idea than others. Waterstudio has spent the past two years working on a project in Florida, but have encountered considerable resistance from the local community. “If I have an empty space of land, you understand that I can build there, but if I have a piece of water, everyone complains,” Olthius says. “In the US people have a stronger feeling of rights and of privacy compared to other parts of Europe or Asia. These homes can benefit the whole community.”

However, even if there isn’t a dramatic rise in sea levels, Olthius says he is committed to building on water. “We are concerned with urbanization, with the price of land, the need for land,” he says. “Water gives us three things: space; safety and flexibility, and a very short response time to changes we cannot foresee.”

Story Credits

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

Terminal 3 Singapore Changi airport

Top 10 Traveler-Endorsed Airports

Have you ever visited an airport on a layover that you wished would last longer? Travelers who have found themselves in Singapore’s Changi Airport won’t find this question odd. The 2016 edition of the Airports Survey carried out by Sleeping in Airports bears out the truth of this, with Changi claiming the top spot.

This result is of course unremarkable because Changi Airport is the clear consensus favorite. Earlier this year, Skytrax and ASQ had already declared Changi King of the Skies, as it were. In fact, there hasn’t been a credible threat to Changi’s position in years. Helping it retain its top ranking are its butterfly and orchid gardens, cinema experiences, street food halls and free foot massages. Joining Changi at the top are two more Asian airports, Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea and Haneda International Airport in Tokyo. All three were recognized for being efficient, clean, fun and friendly. Skytrax had Incheon and Changi tied for first place.

“What ultimately unites these terminals together is that coming to them is the opposite of a chore,” editors of Sleeping in Airports write.

“Rather, passengers are often found wishing their layover could continue for just a little longer so that they can check out the IMAX theater, the aquarium, the indoor jungle, the multi-story slide, the spa, or something that they haven’t even thought of yet.”

For the survey, travelers were asked to rank their experiences based on factors such as comfort, services, food options, immigration and security, customer service and cleanliness.

Of note, the only airport in North America to crack the top 10 list is the Vancouver International Airport in Canada.

Here are the top 10 airports in the Sleeping in Airports survey:

  • 1. Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore
  • 2. Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea
  • 3. Haneda International Airport, Tokyo, Japan
  • 4. Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 5. Munich International Airport, Germany
  • 6. Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan
  • 7. Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, Canada
  • 8. Helsinki Airport, Finland
  • 9. Tallinn Airport, Estonia
  • 10. Zurich Kloten International Airport, Switzerland

Irish Mansion Revealed as World’s Best Hotel 2016

CN Traveler magazine’s 29th Readers’ Choice Awards named Ballyfin Demesne hotel in Ireland as the world’s best hotel 2016. The hotel gained worldwide attention for being Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s honeymoon resort, thanks to its refined elegance.

Commonly called Ireland’s Downton Abbey, the Ballyfin Demesne is a country house that was reopened in 2011, following nine years of renovation to restore its former grandeur. Irish art and antiques, Irish mahogany, and French chandeliers adorn the interior of the mansion. The 614-acre estate also consists of a wood, a lake, and extensive gardens. It only has 20 rooms though so exclusivity is guaranteed. 

Salon of the Ballyfin Demesne​ Hotel, Ireland © Ballyfin Demesne​ Hotel

Salon of the Ballyfin Demesne​ Hotel, Ireland
© Ballyfin Demesne​ Hotel

The 29th edition of CN Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards recognized the best of travel as voted by its 300,000 readers and curated by its editors. Nabbing the second spot on the list of world’s best hotels is COMO The Treasury, Perth, Australia followed by Hotel Matilda, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Here are the top 10 winners of the year:

1. Ballyfin Demesne, Co. Laois, Ireland

2. COMO The Treasury, Perth, Australia

3. Hotel Matilda, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

4. Umaid Bhawan Palace (Taj), Jodhpur, India

5. Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Dorset, England

6. Virgin Hotels Chicago, IL

7. Waterford Castle, Co. Waterford England

8. Hotel Unique, São Paulo, Brazil

9. The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Co. Mayo, Ireland

10. Hotel Il Pellicano, Tuscany, Italy

For more results, visit http://www.cntraveler.com/travel-awards/readers-choice-awards.