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Six Senses’ Remote Island Resort is Giving Us Major Wanderlust

Unless you know your geography very, very well, you may have no clue where Félicité Island is located. The small, granitic archipelago sits two miles east of La Digue Island in Seychelles, Africa and served as a coconut plantation in the early 1900s until the 1970s. At that time its population was around 50, but fast forward to 2016, and the remote destination is now the home of Six Senses’ newest resort Zil Pasyon.
The property, which opened today, can be reached by speed boat or a 20-minute helicopter ride and features 28 one-bedroom pool villas; two, two-bedroom pool villas; and three- or four-bedroom residences. The accommodations start at 1,880 square feet and the largest category offers 6,673 square feet of space. The private residences come with two floors, and the upper floor is reserved for the master which boasts its own personal swimming pool with a plexiglass floor, an external terrace with a large infinity-edge pool, gourmet kitchen and butler service.
Led by Chef Richard Lee, the resort includes six dining and bar venues ranging from casual café fare to a no-meat seafood restaurant and the Chef’s Kitchen. Ocean Kitchen serves fish, seafood and wellness-inspired dishes sourced from the hotel’s gardens and local farms. At Lakanbiz, guests can sip on flavored and aged rums and kick back with cigars in hand. Dining can also be requested to be arranged at various locations around the island.
Although the full spa won’t be open until January, the resort has created a temporary facility for those wanting to pamper themselves before then. So don’t worry, you can still get out your holiday stress with a massage and facial this winter. Other amenities include an infinity pool, three beaches; a fitness center; personal trainers; weekly open-air, beachfront cinemas; cooking classes; and a dedicated children’s villa. Six Senses can also arrange private fishing trips to neighboring islands, water activities such as diving and snorkeling or an afternoon of swimming with the area’s many turtles.
Villas begin at $1,815 a night and include breakfast.

Where to Stay in Northern Greece: 7 Luxury Hotels to Call Home

There are accommodations in every price range, offering every level of inclusion or abandon, at nearly every destination around the world. What makes a hotel stay outstanding instead of just good and fine is the level of attention to detail. At a macro level, these standout details are things like over-sized towels, spacious and uncluttered rooms, great wine and food, a multitude of amenities and, of course, an unbeatable location.
On a micro level, these details are all of the behind-the-scenes efforts and strategies that create an overall experience: immaculate attention to detail, personal touches, the highest quality products and a relentless consideration of brand knowledge, awareness and customer care.
All of the hotels outlined below are located in the three arm peninsulas of Halkidiki in northeastern Greece and neighboring Thessaloniki. At any of them you will find superb accommodations, traditional Greek dishes spun into culinary art, wine made from grapes discovered by the gods, a setting sun becoming a pink sky, and at any of these luxury hotels you will find an experience.
Kassandra Peninsula &mdash Blue Bay& Hotel

Unfussy and Discreet Four-Star Boutique Luxury

Blue Bay Hotel was my first stay in Halkidiki. I was exhausted after 20 hours of travel and, although I was eager to start exploring Greece, all I really wanted and needed was a satisfying meal, a shower and a pillow to plunge my face into. I didn’t go to sleep until 2 a.m. my first night at Blue Bay—a testament to the warm, welcoming experience offered to me from the moment that I arrived.

I didn’t know if it was the natural surroundings, the serene swimming pool, the family-style buffet of orzo, seafood, salads and pastas that won me over; or if it was the local wine from the nearby village of Afitos and easy conversation with friends, other guests, and the hotel staff. Sitting upon the blue sky atop the blue of the sea, it was one indulgently relaxing moment after the next.

What I loved:
The uncluttered stone-made rooms lined with bamboo floors
The ivory sheath curtains that danced in the Mediterranean breeze against a balcony opening to the beautiful sea
The story of the evolution of the hotel illustrated by the owner over a glass of wine. Sharing in the guest experience is as much a part of the marketing plan as any website or promotion—not a rarity in a family-owned operation.
The location: Blue Bay is approximately 600M (about 3/4 mile) from the village of Afitos where you can shop for artisan crafts at small boutiques, walk the carless streets, explore ruins, or sit on a taverna terrace while watching the sun set. A relaxed atmosphere; quiet, calm, romantic and totally peaceful

Halkidiki — Sani Resort

Everything For Everyone and Thoughtfully Done
Sani is one of Halkidiki’s leading luxury hoteliers. They’ve covered absolutely everything and have put extreme care into elevating the experience had by each guest—that’s hard to find in a resort that spans 1,000 acres. Sani is run by three companies owned by three different families. Over the years, they have collectively surveyed hotel guests to find out what can be improved upon and woven those adjustments into the fabric of the resort.
They really have addressed the possible needs of everyone who could come there—the famous, the wealthy, the foodies, the families who know that their children will be occupied and well cared for—from Russia, Germany, the UK, the Balkans and everywhere else in the world.
What I loved:
Value: When you factor in all of the activities and amenities that come with a booking, the cost evens out.
Dining at New Greek Cuisine 3, the third installment of the annual gourmet food festival hosted by Sani.
Choices: 17 restaurants, some with live music; 16 bars.
Kid-less time for the grownups; a restaurant with an age requirement of above 12 years (exciting for young adults too to get past those velvet ropes); ‘babe watch’ babysitting services and a kids club.
Activities: paintball, archery, day trips to ‘vegetable markets’ (“half vegetables, half everything else”) or the water park in Thessaloniki.
Everything for everyone: Yacht-rental, two to six hours or the full day (including gas). Seven kilometers of pristine white sandy beaches just north of the hotel. The Sani wetlands and magnificent pine forests of the Kassandra peninsula.
You will find that when traveling to other luxury hotels in the region, seemingly all of them have a member on staff who learned the trade at Sani. Not only is there everything for everyone, but they’re doing something really, very right.

The Members-Only Soho House Opens 17th Property in Barcelona

The Soho House is notorious for being one of the best and most-exclusive private clubs in the world. Tomorrow, the members-only brand will add a 17th property to their collection with the opening of the their Barcelona property. Housed in an 18th century building in the Gothic district, the property will include 57 guestrooms, two restaurants, a spa with indoor swimming pool, a rooftop pool, gym and a 36-seat screening room.

Guestrooms will pay homage to their Catalan roots and boast Mediterranean colors, Spanish textiles, mid-century European antiques, double-height vaulted ceilings and Gothic architecture. For dining, guests can enjoy Cecconi’s Barcelona for Northern Italy dishes or head to the Spanish-influenced House Kitchen for Mediterranean-inspired fare. Although it is a members-only property, the spa can be accessed by the public.
Next year the brand plans to open the 252-room Ned hotel in London. The venture will launch in spring 2017 and will be Soho Houses’ most ambitious project to date. In partnership with US hotel owner and developer Sydell group, the hotel will feature nine restaurants and bars.

Embraer Sets the New Standard for Private Air Travel

Brazilian jet maker Embraer has revolutionized private air travel with its new design concept, the Kyoto Airship. Intended to be incorporated into the prototype of its lauded Lineage 1000E jets, the Kyoto Airship is outfitted with vertical windows and skylights, the latter of which is a first for large jets with pressurized cabins and the ability to cruise at 35,000 feet.
The current Lineage 1000E has a range of 4,600 miles and the ability to fit up to 19 passengers. The multi-use cabin has multiple areas for relaxing, working, sleeping, and dining. Its entertainment system has a media center, complete with HD video viewing, a surround sound system and device inputs, all controlled by an iPad.
The Kyoto Airship concept, in particular, was inspired by the Japanese custom of sitting on floor cushions. This is reflected in the use of vertical windows, which offer views no matter where the passenger is seated. Regardless, the plane is flooded with natural light, thanks to the skylights. Both the floor and cabin walls are inlaid with a cherry blossom motif, and the dining table is outfitted with smartly-designed Japanese-style dining sets. Embraer’s president of interior design, Jay Beever, told Business Insider that the technical specs came from the ERJ-145 regional jet, which employs the observer windows that were originally designed for use by the Brazilian government. Though nobody has ordered the plane just yet, Beever says, “We’ve proven to ourselves that we can make this. And when a Lineage customer is ready to order this airplane, we will make it.”

Does First Class Beat Private Jet Travel?

With commercial airlines scrambling to recapture luxury market share from private jet companies, goalposts in the sky have moved. Flying first and business class has never been more attractive but the same can be said for flying private, thanks to new technology, charter methods and accessibility. The shrewd traveler should place value on a few key points when choosing premium air transport: price, time, customization and comfort. Here is a look at the contrasts between choosing to fly commercial or privately.
Price

In general, chartering a private flight is more expensive than the average first class seat. For example, if you were to look at a direct round-trip flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Tokyo Narita Airport on Delta Airlines two weeks out, your first class ticket price would range from $3,300-$6,101, depending on time of departure. Pentastar Aviation’s long-range jets can be chartered for $7,000-$9,000 an hour, which for a fully booked 11-hour round-trip flight to Tokyo comes out to around $11,647 per seat.
However, Silicon Valley is looking to democratize private charter prices through JetSmarter, BlackJet, and Skyjet, to name a few. Founder and CEO of JetSmarter Sergey Petrossov places a high value on democritization, claiming, “It’s more than just opening up the market – we want to provide a social aviation experience that brings social networks alive with human interaction.” Each company offers a range of prices, from individual seats on a plane to chartering a whole bird, so there are more choices than there have been in the past. If you need to do a soup to nuts juxtaposition, Paramount Business Jets offers a price comparison calculator, which takes into account origin city, additional travel time, and other travel metrics so you can make the best decision.
When flying commercial, what you see is generally what you get, unless you’re tracking flights and have time flexibility. That said, if you’re a frequent flyer, price can change dramatically depending on how often you fly and how many miles you have. Of course, you can always go for gold and book a seat on Singapore Airline’s recently introduced Suite Class, which is about $32,000 per ticket.

Time

If you’re the kind of flyer for whom time is of the essence, private offers unrivaled benefits. As airlines require you to be at the airport a certain number of hours before your flight regardless of flight class, by flying private you won’t have to bake in time for airport security, checking in, or be held to the pre-set schedule of a commercial airline. You’re also able to control the exact itinerary, often being able to fly at your whim.
If you’re beholden to an airline’s schedule, you won’t have the luxury of choosing the exact times, but your purchasing power should be enough to be able to secure last minute flights and exploit open first or business class seats that often don’t get sold. With TSA Pre-Check and preferred airline status time spent in security becomes less of an issue, but it may be nicer to not have to deal with it altogether.

Customization

Flying private allows for a myriad of ways to customize – from flight path and times to cabin décor. You also have greater flexibility when flying with a group, provided your plane is large enough. You’ll be able to take your entire family or conduct business meetings while in the air, which is no small feat and something not easily achieved in commercial first class. As for dining options, many charter companies are completely at your service. President of Sales and National Accounts for XOJet, Gregg Slow, told the New York Times, “If they want sushi from Nobu, we figure out how to get them sushi from Nobu”. In terms of special features, the sky’s the limit: According to the Daily Mail, Russian billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich’s jet has the same missile avoidance system as Air Force One and can sit 30 passengers, comfortably, for dinner.
With the advent of apps moving into the private jet space, you’re even able to tailor the type of experience. For example, using Jetsmarter, you can now charter a private plane, buy a seat on another chartered private route, or join one of their regularly scheduled shuttles, which utilize typical aircraft used for private aviation. This offers a completely different spin by introducing both experience and price customization, both of which were previously more or less absent from the private space.
In terms of first class, as with flying private, customization increases dramatically with price. The aforementioned Singapore Airlines Suite Class offers a concierge meal booking service with private chef consultations, and over 1,000 entertainment options. The entertainment systems on all of these flights are top-notch as well, offering thousands of movie, music, and viewing options, including personal LCD screens, internet connectivity and complimentary Bose noise-cancelling headphones. Etihad’s The Residence boasts a special inflight chef who will prepare a personalized dining menu for you, where you can choose from a list of gourmet dishes or ask for your favorite. This is far cry from even the First Class days of old.

Comfort

This one’s a toss-up. As airlines struggle with the fluctuation in oil costs and increasing demand of passengers, there are seemingly limitless options for the discerning traveler when flying first class nowadays. Ethiad’s The Residence and Singapore Airlines’ Suite Class both offer private cabins with beds and showers, and Emirates offers just four seats in one row with fully reclining seats and Poltrona Frau leather, which can also be found on Alfa Romeo and Ferrari’s car seats. On both Singapore and Etihad’s flights you won’t even have to bother with just one berth: both come with a separate seat and bed for you to move seamlessly between. As for dining, Emirates’ first class menu includes a first course Caviar tasting and Singapore’s food is served on Wedgwood bone china.
Then again, you can have all of these perks if you want to fly in a tricked out jet. Flying private obviously offers a wide variety of comforts: privacy, creature comforts as you choose, personal knowledge of your pilot, and a fully controlled schedule, among other things. If you fly with Trans-Exec, you’ll be treated to a private chef who’s always at the ready to whip up whatever you like. If you’re feeling in need of some TLC, they’ve got an in-flight spa too, which offers massages and facials while you’re 30,000 feet in the sky. If some of the aforementioned advantages aren’t available to you by flying private, you can probably access many of them by flying first class commercial. Then again, if you just have to have a golden bathtub on your plane, like Elvis Presley’s did on his jet, the Lisa Marie, then you should probably look into buying your own.

Qatar Executive Brings On a Second Gulfstream G650ER

Qatar Executive (Qatar Airways’ private jet division) has taken on a second Gulfstream G650ER in preparation for the influx of travelers in the spring and summer seasons. Able to fly non-stop from the Middle East to North America, the aircraft is one of the top options for international travel among the company’s elite clientele.
Qatar’s first G650ER was added to their fleet just last December, and this second one will feature the same amenities. The interior boasts an earthy color scheme of walnut brown wood veneers and white leather, with texture added in the form of Loro Piana wool in fishbone patterns. Seating up to 13 passengers in a two-cabin configuration, seats convert into beds and a three-seat divan in the aft provides lounging space, while 16 panoramic windows allow in tons of natural light.
Of course, the aircraft also has some high-tech perks, like an entertainment system compatible with personal electronic devices and an air system that replenished every two minutes.

Singapore Luxury Real Estate: Back to a Buyer’s Market

Singapore’s luxury real estate market has been experiencing some serious highs and lows over the past few years. In March of 2015 Japanese property developer Katsumi Tada suffered a record-setting loss of over US $11 million when he sold his St Regis penthouse for just under US $9 million. The following month Chinese billionaire Sun Tongyu, co-founder of Alibaba, spent more than US $37 million on acquiring the only penthouse unit at the luxury development Le Nouvel Ardmore. That equates to a cost of approximately US $4,000 per square foot in terms of useable area.

Market Cooling Measures

Since 2010, the Singapore government has been introducing cooling measures to bring sharp price increases under control. Most significant have been the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) and Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR), both instituted in 2013

The Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty

The ABSD has imposed an extra fee of 7 percent for Singaporeans and 10 percent for permanent residents buying their second property, while foreigners must pay an extra 15 percent for purchasing any property. Although for the ultra-wealthy the additional stamp duty may not amount to all that much, it has still deterred them from buying.

Alexander Karolik Shlaen, an economist and CEO of Panache Management, is quoted by CNBC saying “rich buyers, indeed, can afford to pay ABSD, but they don’t want to pay 15 percent above local buyers. That is a figure too high to over-pay for the same property.” As a result, local buyers have also stepped back as they are concerned about foreign investors’ loss of interest in the luxury real estate market.

The Total Debt Servicing Ratio

At the same time, Singaporean buyers have been limited by the TDSR, which stipulates that the total of their mortgage and other personal debt repayments does not exceed 60 percent of their gross income.

These measures have successfully dampened interest in the market characterised by a surplus supply. As such, prices have plummeted.

Deadline to Sell

Alongside this lack of demand is the time-sensitive pressure on property developers to sell. A policy implemented by the Singaporean government to stop “property hoarding” by foreigners places an “extension charge” on any units that remain unsold two years after the development’s completion. This fee is set at 8 percent of the proportional land cost for the first year, 16 percent for the second and 24 percent for the third.

Photo Credit: Marina Bay Residences / Christie’s Int.

 

Avoiding Extension Charges

Only companies that are exclusively Singaporean-owned can avoid these charges. As such, further price cuts may be made as developers seek to offload unsold units. Alternatively they may choose to delist and thereby remove any non-Singaporean shareholders and/or board members.

A Market for Bargain Hunters

Either way, it appears that the luxury property market has cooled down sufficiently for those buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines for a bargain to start gradually coming back. This is particularly true of mainland Chinese, who have a renewed interest in the market with prices being significantly cheaper than Hong Kong.

Future Buying Incentives

Additionally, interest in the market by both foreigners and Singaporeans may further increase following the recent elections. It has been suggested that the incumbent PAP party’s victory may spur the government to loosen some measures at the margin to further curry favour with the electorate. Such a move would reduce transaction costs in an already appealing market and thereby boost sales. Indeed the Singaporean luxury real estate market is back to a buyer’s market.

Belmond Villa San Michele Launches Inferno tour

Belmond Villa San Michele is launching an immersive Inferno tour of Florence, Italy, as the premiere of the film draws closer. If you’ve always wanted a starring role in a conspiracy theory film set against the breathtaking backdrop of Tuscany and Florence, this looks a good bet. Hotel guests are be able to experience the adventures of the movie’s main characters – Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) and Sienna Brooks (played by Felicity Jones) – firsthand.

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Interview: Ray Parry, CEO Raffles Marina

Raffles Marina plays host this month to the highly anticipated SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS. While we have met several of our trustworthy partners who will be on hand to meet guests, we thought it is time that we introduce you to Ray Parry, the CEO of Raffles Marina. As the man behind Singapore’s first marina, Parry talks to us about the venue that will host the island’s largest luxury lifestyle event and what is in store for the marina.

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