Sunday, July 17, 2016

Christie’s Sells Cullinan Dream, Sets New Record

Back in May, the auction house Christie’s announced the sale of the fancy intense blue diamond called the Cullinan Dream. At 24.18 carats, the diamond was regarded as a rare find. Now, the diamond holds the title as the most expensive fancy intense blue diamond to be sold.

Fetching more than $25 million, the diamond was auctioned at Christie’s on Thursday in New York. Classified as a Type llb diamond, the Cullinan Dream comes from the 122.52-carat rough blue diamond found in the Cullinan Mines of South Africa. The largest of four diamonds to be found, the diamond falls into a rare category that accounts for less than one-half of the 1% of all diamonds found.

Its unique color is the result of small amounts of boron being trapped in the crystal carbon structure during the formation of the diamond. The Cullinan Dream is now set as a cut-cornered rectangular mixed-cut fancy intense blue diamond and is flanked on either side by a tapered baguette-cut diamond. Other well-known diamonds that have been mined from the Cullinan mine include the 3,106-carat rough diamond that is known as the Cullinan Diamond. This rough diamond was then cut into two magnificent gems that now sit on the Imperial State Crown and Sceptre of the British Crown Jewels.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

4 Luxury Summer Fragrances for Men

Confidence comes from the perfect outfit and the right attitude. At Men’s Folio Singapore, they know that what seals the deal is the right fragrance. We share an office with them and can always smell them before we see them yet they never overpower our senses, which is a compliment, we assure you. The experts at men’s fashion and lifestyle share with us four luxury fragrances for men that will not only add character but also shape your identity.

To read on about the fragrances, visit Men’s Folio Singapore.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

16 NYC Hotels Going Green in 2016

Some of New York City’s most iconic and luxurious hotels including the Waldorf Astoria and The Peninsula have signed a pledge to reduce their emissions as part of a citywide plan that aims to remove the equivalent of 100,000 cars off the roads.

A total of 16 hotels have joined Mayor Bill de Blasio’s NYC Carbon Challenge, promising to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 percent over the next 10 years.

That represents 32,000 metric tons of emissions and $25 million in energy cost savings.

“In joining the NYC Carbon Challenge, New York City’s iconic hotels are now also worldwide leaders in the fight against climate change, and are once again redefining excellence in the hospitality sector to include responsibility for climate action,” said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, in a statement.

“While visitors to NYC for the most part won’t be able to see the building system changes, these steps will be every bit as important to the city as the steps the Rockettes take.”

In 2014, New York received 56.5 million visitors. Together, the 16 participating hotels represent more than 11,000 rooms.

Hospitals, universities, office and residential buildings have also committed to joining the carbon diet as part of the mayor’s plan to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Buildings make up nearly three-fourths of citywide greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, Hilton Worldwide became the first hospitality group to achieve the US government’s Superior Energy Performance certification last month. Facilities that obtain the label have improved their energy performance by up to 30 percent over three years. Certified Hilton hotels include Washington Hilton, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort and Hilton Union Square San Francisco.

Want a guilt-free stay in New York at an environmentally-conscious hotel? Here are the 16 hotels participating in the NYC Carbon Challenge:

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
1 Hotel Central Park
Crowne Plaza Times Square
Dream Downtown
Grand Hyatt New York
Hotel Pennsylvania
Hudson Hotel
Loews Regency Hotel
Lotte New York Palace
The Pierre – A Taj Hotel
The Peninsula New York
InterContinental New York Barclay
InterContinental New York Times Square
Roger Smith Hotel
Waldorf Astoria New York
Westin New York at Times Square

Source: luxuo

Buy Damac Property, Get Free Supercar

We rarely cover promotions here because it is just too prosaic but Damac Properties – for the 10th year running – is offering something we cannot pass on reporting. In conjunction with the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), the developer is promising free 2016 models of the BMW 730i, BMW X6 and Lamborghini Huracan for buyers of its properties in Dubai. According to the Khaleej Times, which broke the story, eligible buyers will get their car upon payment of just 20 percent of property price. The promotion holds true for the full spectrum of Damac Properties, including the villas in Akoya, Damac Residenze in Dubai Marina, serviced apartments in the vicinity of the Burj and Versace-styled villas on Palm Jumeirah. Longtime readers will realize that we covered something similar some years ago right here, proving that some promotions are indeed worth revisiting.

Source: luxuo

Mystery Electric Car Prototype at CES

It is a day of carbon-friendly news for us as the enigmatic Faraday Future reveals its first ever prototype vehicle January 4 on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Faraday Future, which seeks to “redefine mobility,” is named after renowned experimental physicist Michael Faraday (he of the Faraday Cage fame). The company made waves with its secrecy in the lead-up to CES and finally unveiled its first prototype vehicle while continuing to offer scant details on its ownership and structure.

Going by the shape and structure of the prototype though, we are wonder if the firm is from Gotham, with funding from Bruce Wayne. Faraday future took the wraps off its Batmobile-style vehicle (just look at it), which is part of a plan to compete against the likes of Tesla and reshape the auto sector. This baby is a 1,000 bhp monster that The Verge calls both “ridiculous” and “pretty cool,” which also sounds to us like a fair description of the mythical Bruce Wayne.

“We are embarking on a complete rethink of what mobility is,” said the company’s senior vice president of research and engineering, Nick Sampson, unveiling the “FFZERO1” prototype car on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company actually calls this a “hypercar” and given that it theoretically crushes to race to 60mph in 3 seconds and tops out at 200mph, that is fair. For some context though, the McLaren P1 hypercar has fewer horses but goes quicker in every way. Of course, the P1 is also a real car so there is that.

Sampson said Faraday intends to move “very fast” on its plans and has already announced a $1 billion factory to be built near Las Vegas.

In just 18 months since its founding, Faraday has 750 employees and intends to produce its first car within two years. Faraday will move fast because it will act “more like a technology company than an automotive company,” Sampson said.

At the event, Faraday confirmed a “strategic partnership” with China-based media and tech firm Letv, but did not elaborate on its ownership or even indicate the identity of its chief executive.

The company told AFP that Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting is among its investors and popular speculation has it that the company is a Chinese venture. What is known though is that its employees include former executives from Apple, BMW, Google, NASA, Tesla and other prominent firms.

Sampson said Faraday has created a variable architecture platform to create multiple vehicles, and is using techniques such as virtual reality to speed up development. He also said Faraday was exploring “new types of ownership” for the vehicles, but did not elaborate.

Based in California, Faraday Future announced its factory plans in early December, saying it would be a “first phase” for the new company, which is yet to get a vehicle on the road.

The facility is “something more than an ordinary ‘assembly line,'” according to its announcement, and will include three million square feet (280,000 square meters) “for passionate creators and diligent visionaries, where new concepts will be refined and implemented.”

It will create 4,500 jobs in the region.

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

Source: luxuo

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Mr and Mrs Smith reveal best boutique hotel 2015

The Pig On the Beach in Studland, Dorset was crowned the Best Smith Hotel 2015 by Mr and Mrs Smith for its fairytale hideaway, seaside setting and sense of whimsy. Mr and Mrs Smith is an organization of renowned anonymous connoisseurs who specialize in independent luxury hotels. According to the AFP, the panel of 50 judges were convinced that the seaside manor in Dorset channels British charm with romantic cottages, free-standing baths, four poster beds and restored dovecotes.

The country house features 23 bedrooms that offer uninterrupted views of the sandy coastline and, according to Mr and Mrs Smith, evokes the setting of a ‘happier’ Harry Potter movie. No Deathly Hallows this.

If the main house is reminiscent of Harry Potter, something about the thatched roof and hexagonal shape of restored dovecote cottages could be reminiscent of The Shire, in The Hobbit. Staying with the good vibrations, that would be the lovely book, not the bloated film series.

Compact trailers are also transformed into independent cabins for a whimsical glamping-style getaway.

Decor is shabby chic, with vintage light pieces, rotary phones and weathered furnishings set against crisp, white, and floral linens, wood beams, and lounge chairs that are set under the window for daydreaming.

The kitchen serves British garden food, with ingredients either plucked from their own garden or sourced within 25 miles (40 km) and include home-smoked pork belly with crispy courgette flowers, and rhubarb cheesecake with wild rosehip syrup.

For the awards, the panel took into consideration the votes of 22,000 travelers, whittling down a list of 1,000 hotels to a dozen winners.

Here are a few other notable winners from the 2015 Smith Hotel Awards:

Best dressed hotel: Ett Hem, Stockholm
Sexiest bedroom in the world: Roccia Suite, Bellevue Syrene, Sorrento, Italy
Hottest hotel bar: Zetter Townhouse, London
Best hotel restaurant: Oreade at Monteverdi, Italy
Best hotel pool: Amangiri, Utah, USA
Best spa hotel: The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam
Best budget boutique hotel: Masseria Cervarolo, Puglia, Italy
Best for families: Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji
Eco Award: Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
Above and beyond: Huka Lodge, New Zealand
Best newcomer: The Battery, San Francisco

Source: luxuo

Marriott-Starwood union creates world’s largest hotel group

The world of hospitality got a little cozier November 16 when US-based Marriott International announced it will acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. This US$12.2 billion wedding will create the world’s largest hotel company. Many readers will wonder what will happen to their Marriott Rewards and/or Starwood Preferred Guest status, which is exactly why we picked up this story from the wire. More on that later…

The agreed merger unites Marriott brands, which include Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance and JW Marriott, and Starwood names such as Westin, W and Sheraton into a giant that operates 5,500 hotels spanning some 100 countries.

The acquisition will further Marriott’s goal of boosting its presence in key emerging markets China and India, where Starwood is well-represented, as well as in Europe, executives said.

“The driving force behind this transaction is growth,” said Marriott chief executive Arne Sorenson.

“To be successful in today’s marketplace, a wide distribution of brands and hotels across price points is critical,” said Adam Aron, acting chief executive at Starwood. Both companies are also big players in North America.

The two companies had combined revenues of nearly US$19 billion in 2014 and currently have about 1.1 million rooms worldwide. The combined company will dwarf number-two global hotelier Hilton, which has 4,500 hotels and 735,000 rooms.

Loyalty programs in focus

Wouter Geerts, travel analyst at Euromonitor International, said the union between two such large companies differs from other recent hotel mergers, which have seen big companies like Marriott buy regional players such as Delta Hotels and Resorts, a Canadian company.

A key question is the future of the two companies’ customer loyalty programs, Geerts said.

“As brand loyalty remains important in the hotel industry, it can be expected that individual brands will change little in their offering and price level,” Geerts said.

“The major impact of this acquisition for travelers will therefore be around the loyalty schemes of both companies. It has to be seen whether Starwood Preferred Guests will be swallowed up by Marriott Rewards/Hyatt Gold Passport.”

Starwood’s future has been a subject of speculation since Frits van Paasschen unexpectedly resigned as chief executive in February following a disagreement with board members over strategy.

Starwood in April announced it had hired investment bank Lazard to consider strategic options, including a possible sale of the company. Companies earlier discussed as possible buyers included InterContinental Hotels, the Chinese company Jin Jiang International and Hyatt Hotels.

Marriott said the deal would allow it to notch US$200 million in annual cost savings annual in the second full year after closing. Starwood is expected to continue a program to sell company-owned hotels to franchisees, raising US$1.5-$2.0 billion over the next two years.

Analysts said that Marriott could opt to divest itself of Starwood’s underperforming Sheraton chain, but may also choose to invest in turning it around.

Starwood shareholders will receive 0.92 shares of Marriott International, Class A common stock and US$2.00 in cash for each share of Starwood common stock, a joint statement from the companies read.

Starwood shareholders will separately receive about US$7.80 per share from a transaction set to close prior to the Marriott-Starwood merger closing — the spin-off of the Starwood timeshare business and its merger with Interval Leisure Group, which has an estimated value of approximately US$1.3 billion.

Marriott chief executive Sorenson will lead the combined company, which will be based at Marriott headquarters in Bethesda in the US state of Maryland. The transaction is expected to close in mid-2016.

In midday trade, shares of Starwood were down six percent at US$70.49, while Marriott was off 0.4 percent at US$72.43.

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