Friday, October 3, 2014

The Annals of Luxury: Some Tourists Avoiding Manhattan in Favor of Brooklyn

Which statement is true?

(1) Derek Jeter has changed his mind; he's not retiring after all.
(2) Compassionate conservatism really does exist.
(3) Hotels in Brooklyn are doing better business than their Manhattan counterparts.

Ready in 2015: Renovations are underway at Brooklyn's Italian Renaissance Bossert
Hotel, where the Dodgers celebrated their 1955 World Series win over the Yankees

It's (3), of course, according to Hotel Management magazine. The publication cites a study, originally reported in Real Estate Weekly, showing that Brooklyn hotel occupancy levels are well above the national (and New York City) average.

Also read: Beyond Manhattan and Into the Void

The article goes on to say that, surprisingly,  some visitors are avoiding Manhattan hotels altogether. They prefer to stay in Brooklyn, where they get more bang for their buck, along with the right to brag about being cooler than their hipster friends back home.

Some 27 new hotels are planned for Brooklyn. These include a top-to-bottom restoration of the 1909 Hotel Bossert in Brooklyn Heights and the Pod Hotel in Williamsburg.

Can SLS, Ace, and Morgans be far behind?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Great Gifts: Your BBQ Grill Cleans Itself While You Watch "Seinfeld" Re-runs

Even though summer is almost gone, The Luxurist likes to use his outdoor grill nearly year 'round (as many do, other than those who live in Ulan Bator where it can get down to -25º in January; but I digress).

The Grillbot comes to the rescue!

The worst thing about outdoor cooking? Cleaning the steel grill. It's too hot to manage after dinner, and by the time you get to it the next day, you're faced with a hardened, carbonized mess. Yuch! (And does anyone really look good in rubber gloves? But, again, I digress.)

We now have the good folks who invented the Grillbot automated grill cleaning robot to thank for relieving us of these unpleasantries. Simply place the Grillbot on the grate, press the button, and you're done. The gizmo's strong rotating wire brushes will scrub your grill to shiny perfection.


You must have this. You must! Get one for yourself right here.

If you need a lot of them, for a fabulous cast and crew or holiday gift, for example, then best to call Jasper & James at (310) 581-6710.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Trouble In Paradise: Their Homes Are Too Big, But Don't Feel Sorry For Them

Can your home be so big that you don't enjoy living in it anymore? For some, the answer is yes. Now, this is what The Luxurist calls a high-end problem.

22,000 sq.ft. Southampton estate, must $69 million


A recent article in The Wall St. Journal found that the owners of super-large homes – 10,000 sq. ft. and above – are a particularly remorseful lot. They have everything but privacy. The upkeep of such properties requires a small army of housekeepers, gardeners, handymen and, in the case of the most expansive estates, a professional manager earning $150,000 per year.

Even if they can easily afford it, some of the moneyed-set balk at the high maintenance costs. (If you build a home with a 37-yard long swimming pool, 11 bathrooms, a 9,000 sq. ft. garage for your cars, and a two-level movie theater, what do you expect? But I digress.)

Of course it's not all about the money. It never is for the super rich. There's the loss of privacy issue, as we said. It can be hard to find your way around a 30,000 sq. foot residence and difficult to yell at your kids if their rooms are a couple of football fields away from your private study.

Prine Jefri of Brunei's Las Vegas compound, a bargain at $15 million

 (The Luxurist wants to know why the owners of gargantuan homes need to admonish their children anyway, if they can't hear them or if they need an Uber account to reach their bedrooms? They don't know what the kids are doing in the first place. But, again, I digress.)

Yes, owning a mammoth residence can be a huge headache, unless you are in the market to purchase one. With so few buyers able to afford them, these homes take a long time to sell, and sometimes bargains abound. One of the largest homes in the country, a 73,000 sq. ft. Las Vegas compound  owned by Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei, was listed for sale at $60 million. Several price cuts later, it went  for $15 million.

That's a loss of $45 million, which is another sort of high-end problem. Or if you're part of the Brunei royal family, it may not be a problem at all.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Things Not Available in the U.S.: Sony Walkman Returns on Steroids

Does the world need another portable audio player?

Sony of Japan thinks so. Earlier this year it introduced a new, seriously robust device aimed at the audiophile set. It's not thin and light, like the iPod. It's bulkier and heavier, because it is carved out of a single block of aluminum.
www.theobserbationsofaluxurist.com

With 128 gigabytes of storage, it's aimed at those who want to listen to ultra-high quality uncompressed audio files – or high resolution audio, as it's come to be known. These recordings contain about three times the digital information of a CD.

Sony is marketing it under the long forgotten Walkman label, first introduced 35 years ago.

Further limiting the appeal of the new Walkman is a $700 price tag. But it does come with high-end Sony earphones, not the usual entry-level earbuds bundled with other audio players.

Right now the gadget is available only in Japan and Europe. Sony has not announced plans to sell the device in the U.S.

However, it's possible to have one shipped to you from Japan or Korea in a couple of days. You'll find  them on amazon.com.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Make It A Double: How They Say It In Scotland

While small batch and craft bourbons are gaining popularity, premium Scotch remains a staple for The Luxurist.

Buying them online is one thing,  but ordering in a bar can be a challenge. Do you know how to  pronounce  Bruichladdich without sounding like a complete dunderheed, as they say in the Old Country? Now you can, along with the names of some 40 others, thanks to Esquire and the Scottish actor Brian Cox.

www.theobservationsofaluxurist.com

Monday, April 21, 2014

Trend Watch: In Las Vegas, Smaller May Be Better

The opening last year of the 181-room Nobu Hotel within Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas appears to have ushered in a new Sin City lodging concept: the boutique resort. Two other new small luxury properties are about to open in the coming months.

www.theobservationsofaluxurist.com
Asian-inspired luxury at The Nobu, Las Vegas

While it occupies one of six existing Caesar's towers, the Nobu is a serene, completely contained unit with its own dedicated staff, room service, bell service, lobby, security elevators, and more.

The tower was gutted to make way for contemporary Asian-inspired rooms (think sleek black lacquered furniture, Japanese woodblock prints, teak stools in the over-sized showers) that are larger than usual.

www.theobservationsofaluxurist.com
With a bathroom this big, you don't need a room

The mini-bars are stocked with sakes, Japanese beers, and exotic juices. Guests receive preferred seating at Nobu's highly rated restaurant. And that's not all. Caesar's luxurious QUA spa has developed special treatments just for the Nobu.

Walk out of the peaceful lobby and you are steps away from the action and gourmet dining you also came to Vegas for: Cleopatra’s Barge bar, Restaurant Guy Savoy, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, the new Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill, Payard Patisserie, the Forum Shops, showrooms, casinos, and race and sports book.

www.theobservationsofaluxurist.com
The new Cromwell, opening soon on the former site of Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon

Next month Caesar's opens a second boutique hotel next to The Flamingo Hotel. The 181-room Cromwell boasts Parisian-inspired decor, a restaurant by celebrity chef Giada DeLaurentiis, a 65,000 square foot roof-top beach club operated by Victor Drai, and a chic basement-level after-hours bar, also run by Drai, that promises to be a Vegas hotspot for the young and good-looking or the old and ridiculously wealthy.

(Incidentally and seemingly without reason, Caesar's claims that The Cromwell is the Strip's first luxury boutique hotel. So what does that make its own Nobu Hotel, a gussied-up Travel Lodge? But I digress.)

www.theobservationsofaluxurist.com
The Delano: Miami Beach meets Las Vegas

Finally, later this year Miami's trendy Delano hotel launches a 190-room sister property in the part of the Mandalay Bay tower that used house The Hotel (an earlier attempt to bring the small luxury concept to Vegas). The hotel's press agents have been hard at work, promising that the "Delano Las Vegas will bring the effortless style and unparalleled service of the original Delano South Beach to the energy and buzz of the Las Vegas Strip."

(Effortless? In excessive, over-the-top Las Vegas? That we hope we live long enough to see. But, again, I digress.)

As for other Las Vegas trends, the leisure industry publication Travel Pulse reports that the Palm Hotel is following The Peninsula Beverly Hills in making its rooms available on a 24-hour basis. That is, you can check in at any time you prefer and check out at the same time 24 hours later.

Now there's a privilege that all travelers would like to see implemented around the globe.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Watch That's Beautiful, Affordable –
And A Design Classic, To Boot

"Form ever follows function," wrote the architect and father of the steel-framed high-rise Louis Sullivan in 1896. "This is the law," he affirmed, as if to make certain that his intentions would be clearly understood.
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And they were. These few words defined international style in architecture and minimalism in industrial design for the better part of the 20th Century (although not everyone agreed with Sullivan, and his emphatic "ever" is no longer used when the phrase is invoked.)

Flash forward about 50 years to the Museum watch face, one of the archetypal expressions of Sullivan's commandment. Designed by George Horwitt in 1947, the museum dial has no numerals or lines to indicate intervals between the hours. Horwitt reduced the wristwatch face to a pair of elegant white gold hands and one lone dot where the 12 goes, set dramatically against a black background. That's it.

The design has been produced continuously – first by Vacheron & Constantin, then by Movado – since the late 1940s. The timepiece itrself became synonymous with Horwitt's dial and is universally known as The Museum Watch after the Museum of Modern Art added it to its permanent design collection in 1960.

While Horwitt specificed white gold hands and dot againsta black background, today yellow gold is typically used, sometimes with a white or navy blue background in place of black. In any combination it's still a stunner, an affordable piece of timeless luxury that you can use and enjoy every day.

Buy yours here. See other versions of Movado's Museum Watch here.