28-09-14

Ferrari 458 Speciale A (2015)

Ahead of next month's Paris Motor Show, Ferrari revealed its most powerful spider to date: the 458 Speciale A (Aperta, meaning open).

Dedicated to just 499 Ferrari collectors, the all-new supercar features a naturally-aspirated V8 4.5-liter engine delivering 605 HP at 9,000 rpm and 540 Nm of torque at 6,000 rpm. It will crack the 0-100 km/h sprint in just 3.0 seconds and has a Fiorano lap time of 1'23"5. Other features include a new aluminium retractable hard top, which takes a mere 14 seconds to deploy or retract.

The 458 Speciale A is showcased in a bespoke triple-layer yellow livery with a Blu Nart and Bianco Avus central stripe as well as five-spoke forged wheels in Grigio Corsa. Inside, the interior is simple and it's fitted with lightweight materials and upholstered in Alcantara leather as well as blue carbon fiber on the dashboard, door panels and central tunnel.

More specs and photos here

23-09-14

Real Estate: The $80 Million Dome Penthouse



The "Dome Penthouse", the fabulous topfloor abode at the famed Plaza Hotel, is currently on the market for a record $80 million.

The lavish duplex, ideally situated on The Plaza's 18th and 19th floors, is owned by fashion mogul Tommy Hilfiger, who bought it back in 2008. He and his wife, Dee, spent more than $20 million on a renovation that took more than three years.

"I wanted to bring back the original vision of The Plaza to what it was during Truman Capote's Black and White Ball ... that old-world charm, with the original detail and glamour," Mr. Hilfiger said in an interview with CNBC.

Some highlights of the residence: four bedrooms and five baths, a grand staircase bathed in red carpet, a private terrace with Central Park and Fifth Avenue views and 6,000 square feet of living space.

The Plaza is a fully staged, 24-hour, luxury white glove condominium with a separate private entrance. Residents are offered the full complement of hotel services, including maid, valet and Todd English room service.

19-09-14

BlackBerry Porsche Design P’9983 Smartphone

On Wednesday, BlackBerry and Porsche Design officially unveiled the latest smartphone from the partnership, the Porsche Design P'9983 smartphone from BlackBerry, at an exclusive event in Dubai.

Marking the third smartphone collaboration between the two companies, the device integrates premium quality materials such as sapphire glass for the camera lens, forged stainless steel for the Porsche Design floating logo and chassis, and a special glass-weave technology for the back door. Furthermore, Porsche Design has collaborated with BlackBerry for the first QWERTY version with BlackBerry 10 with specially crafted glass-like keys, and a special 3D effect with silver font characters.

Juergen Gessler, CEO of the Porsche Design Group, "The Porsche Design P'9983 smartphone from BlackBerry makes a statement about its owner's impeccable taste and drive for achievement and success, as well as discernment in making the right choices with products that help them stay on top."

The P'9983 will come with its own unique PIN and be available worldwide early October 2014 in the Porsche Design Stores. It can be pre-ordered now in the european and US Porsche Design Online Shop.

Specs
3.1-inch 720x720 touchscreen
1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8960 processor
8-megapixel rear, 2-megapixel front cameras
2GB of RAM
64GB of storage
microSD slot with support for cards up to 128GB
microHDMI port
2100mAh removable battery
HSPA+ 850/1900/2100MHz in North America, 850/900/1900/2100 in other regions
LTE bands 2/4/5/17 in North America, 3/7/8/20 in other regions
BlackBerry 10.3 OS

11-09-14

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám | Quatrain 46


The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
Translated into English in 1859

-XLVIII-
For in and out, above, about, below,
'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,
Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,
Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.
*

02-09-14

Paris: City of Grandeur

Le Pont RoyalGaspard Gobaut (1814-1882), Bibliothèque nationale de France

"Oh to wander Paris! Such a lovely, delectable experience. Strolling is a science, gastronomy for the eye. To walk is merely to exist, strolling is living." - Honoré de Balzac

For me, Paris is the most alluring and the most magical of all cities. It is ancient but still vital, romantic, elegant, and a treasure for lovers of exquisite art, style, architecture and food. But Paris is also a city with a rich and fascinating history.

Situated on both sides of the Seine river, Paris is a 2,000 year old city founded by a Gallic tribe known as the Parisii. Conquered by Romans and then the Gaul, it was eventually established as the capital of France in 987.

Paris is often referred to as "La Ville-Lumière" ("The City of Light"), because in the nineteenth century, it was one of the first cities that started street lightning. During the Age of Enlightenment it also became a centre of education, learning and philosophy. It was seen as an "enlightened" place to be.

Today, The City of Light is one of the world's leading business and cultural centers and has a population of more than 2.2 million people. In 2013, 47 million tourists visited Paris and the Paris region (including Disneyland Paris and Versailles).

A few weeks ago I travelled to Paris for a three day luxury trip with one goal in mind: to get inspired by the luxury lifestyle of the parisians. I slept in two new boutique hotels, sipped on steamy cocktails in trendy hotel bars, visited a museum, dined in one of Paris's most esteemed restaurants, shopped in the ultra-chic rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré street and did some overnight sightseeing.

I'm based in the Netherlands, so for me, the most convenient and comfortable way to travel to Paris is by Thalys. It took me approximately 3 hours to get there. During my journey I enjoyed some unique benefits with my Comfort 1 ticket. You can check out the benefits of a Comfort 1 ticket here.

Thalys
High-speed rail operator Thalys offers a vast choice of beautiful destinations in Europe. You can travel fast and comfortably between the capital cities of the Netherlands, Belgium and France, or between many other important cities such as Cologne, Rotterdam and Antwerp. In April 2014, Thalys expanded its network with Lille as a new destination. Reservations for the Thalys need to be made in advance. Explore more on: www.thalys.com/destinations


Day 1
13:35: Arrival Thalys - Paris Nord station, taxi to Hotel Dupond-Smith

15:00: Check-in Hotel Dupond-Smith, "John Doe" suite...

Entrance alcove, John Doe suite.
My Moon My Mirror by Diesel Creative Team for Moroso | Villa Rose console by François Azambourg for Ligne Roset | Arnaud trinket tray lamp by Arnaud Lapierre for Ligne Roset | Ro armchair by Jaime Hayon for Fritz Hansen

Bathroom, John Doe suite.
Vidrepur wall ceramics, Saloni | Terre nero ceramic flooring, Iris | Stone One freestanding bath, Aquamass | Quadri fittings, Ondyna

Living Room, John Doe suite.
AK 1330 desk by Ebbe Gehl for Naver | Ro armchair by Jaime Hayon for Fritz Hansen | Tessali couch in variations of green, specially commissioned for Dupond-Smith by Peyroux&Thisy | Modular Chair by Verner Panton, Verpan | Moebius table, Objekto | Grasshopper floor lamp by Greta Magnusson Grossman, Gubi

Hotel Dupond-Smith

What
: 5* boutique hotel, 5 rooms, 3 suites
Where: 2, rue des Guillemites, Paris
Architects: Anne Peyroux and Emmanuèle Thisy
Rates: from €380

If you're looking for a new boutique hotel which offers you absolute discretion and privacy, then go for Hotel Dupond-Smith. Located within the heart of Paris's trendy Marais quarter and nestled in a 17th-century hôtel particulier, this intimate hotel has the secretive atmosphere of a private club. The hotel has five rooms and three suites, each beautifully designed and named after an well-known artistic pseudonym.

What I liked
Staff (warm and friendly), colors, king-size bed, DressingIn room, individual air-conditioning control, bathroom accessories, breakfast, roomservice

Rating
Very Good


17:00: Exploring Le Marais neighborhood

20:00: Diner at 'La Petite Maison de Nicole'...

Hôtel Fouquet's La Petite Maison de Nicole restaurant

What: Tradional Mediterranean cuisine, festive dining. The Parisian interpretation of the mythical namesake restaurant in Nice.
Where: 46 avenue George V * Paris 8th district

La Petite Maison de Nicole is a playful and charming Niçois restaurant located in the prestigious Hôtel Fouquet's Barrière and situated on the corner of the famous avenue George V. On the menu: tastes from Nice, Italian flavours and generous portions. Jean-Yves Leuranguer -  Executive Chef of the Hotel Fouquet's Barrière - and his team delight their customers with dishes as delicate deep-fried marrow flowers, petits farcis niçois (vegetables stuffed with
veal), purple artichoke salad, truffled scrambled eggs, fried local red mullet and roast
Mediterranean lobster. The restaurant is a celeb hangout, so don't be surprised if you sit beside a film star. 

The Space
Elegant space decorated in white and beige, system of sliding curtains. Atmosphere changes every evening, with lighting +
decoration by Jacqueline Morabito. Number of seated places: 80.

The Crowd
Most diners are in their 30s and 40s, couples, foursomes and some families, comfortably-chic dressed. Waiters are professional and friendly.

The Bill
Wine Meerbault Les Tillets, Bourgogne Pierre Labet, €27 per glass, 2 x
Starter Purple artichoke salad and his archoyade, €19
Fish Fillet of Sea Bass 'cooked the way we like it', €59
Dessert White chocolate mousse with Raspberries, €17
Cappuccino, €10
---
€159
Major credit cards accepted.

What I liked
View, music, Bread & Roses's petit pains, fillet of sea bass, white chocolate mousse, wine.

If you go
Reservations recommended. Open everyday from 8pm to midnight. Metro stop closeby and a taxi stop out front.

Rating
Very Good


21:30: Tour inside Hôtel Fouquet's Barrière and cocktails at Bar Le Lucien...

Hôtel Fouquet's Barrière's grande entrance

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world... 

Le Lucien's Parisian atmosphere and outdoor terrace with magnificent garden, make the bar one of the premier establishments in the 8th arrondissement.

Day 2
08:00: Breakfast - Hotel Dupond-Smith...


Breakfast at Hotel Dupond-Smith is served in the lounge or in-room all day. 

09:30: Visit Le Musée des Archives nationales...

Outside Le Musée des Archives nationales

12:00: Check-out Hotel Dupond-Smith

15:00: Check-in Hotel Chavanel...

Lobby, Hotel Chavanel.
Reception desk: Custom-designed by Peyroux & Thisy in Krion Porcelanosa  | Blown-glass hanging lamps Melt Down by Lindstén Form Studio

VIP welcome in my suite. What a lovely surprise!

One of Chavanel's deluxe rooms

The bathroom in the Junior Suite features a wonderful hydro-massage bath that is perfect for relaxing after a heavy day of shopping.

What: 4* Boutique Hotel, part of the Châteaux et Hôtels Collection, 25 rooms (standard, superior, deluxe), 2 suites
Where: 22, rue Tronchet Paris. Between the Madeleine quarter and boulevard Haussmann.
ArchitectsAnne Peyroux et Emmanuèle Thisy
Rates: from €280

 After several months of renovation and refurbishment, Hotel Chavanel recently reopened its doors. Ideally situated in the fashionable La Madeleine area, this boutique hotel is the right place for fashionistas and fashionistos. The stylish 'Junior Suites' are located on the sixth (top) floor and offering a beautiful view across the rooftops of Paris. They are designed in a superb contemporary style and breathe an air of comfort, quality and tranquility. Hotel Chavanel serves a 100% organic breakfast in a stone walled vaulted cellar on the lower ground floor.

What I liked 
Location, lobby (peaceful atmosphere), VIP welcome, bathroom by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, breakfast

Rating
Good

17:00: Exploring La Madeleine area 

Fauchon Paris, 30 Place de La Madeleine 

19:00: Drinks at Hotel Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme's Le Bar

Day 3 
09:00: Breakfast - Hotel Chavanel

10:30: Press Appointment APR18 Rue Du Chateau


APR (Alexandra Public Relations) office

13:00: Shopping in rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré + lunch

16:00: Private view, Vertu Boutique, 18 rue Royale

Vertu's new Signature Touch phone

18:00: Check-out Hotel Chavanel and taxi to Paris Nord station

19:24: Departure Thalys to Amsterdam Central Station

Tips when visiting Paris
* The Metro is the ideal way to get around Paris fast and easily. Above ground, you are never far from a station. A single ticket costs 1,70 euro. It is valid for one and half hours from first validation. A 10 ride ticket can be purchased for 13,70 euro. More info: www.ratp.fr

* Below the City of Light's 12million residents lie the remains of 6million others - known as France's Empire of the Dead. If you're fascinated with dead, than these catacombs are definitely worth visiting. More info: www.catacombes.paris.fr

* When you make a pit stop at Bar Le Lucien and want to treat yourself to a taste of the Parisian luxury lifestyle, order the amazing 'Bombay Fouquet's cocktail', priced at 27. This juicy summer cocktail is invented by head bartender Stéphane Ginouvès (voted France's Best Barman in 2011).

18-08-14

ME Dubai hotel by Zaha Hadid

Opus Office Tower

Popular Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid has designed Dubai's first ME by Meliá hotel. Due to open in 2016, the ME Dubai  is part of the Dh2.5 billion Opus project commissioned in 2008 by real estate company Omniyat.

"We have been searching for the next city for the ME brand to locate in and found it in this remarkable project in Dubai," said Gabriel Escarrer, CEO and Vice Chairman of Meliá Hotels International. "It is a fascinating, exciting city that meets the high standards that ME by Meliá offers guests."

The stylish 100-room hotel will stand in the city's up-and-coming Burj Khalifa district and will include Michelin-star restaurants, lounges and cafes. It will also feature furniture pieces designed by Hadid.

Guests will be allocated a dedicated 'Aura manager', whose job it is to know the city back-to-front and use this knowledge to make the hotel's service "truly bespoke". The service philosophy extends to the owners of the exclusive serviced apartments in The Opus, which includes four penthouses with private roof terraces on the upper floors.

ME Dubai Hotel bedroom


ME Dubai Hotel bedroom 

ME Dubai Hotel atrium

Podiums at the ME Dubai Hotel cafe

ME Dubai Hotel entrance