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By MARY GOSTELOW | December 6 2012
Cannes, France – Reported by Mary Gostelow for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine
How can luxury increase its value yet further? According to Forum speaker, designer and hotelier Kit Kemp, the answer is simple. Concentrate on quality and longevity rather than gimmicks and spin • There certainly is no spin at ILTM, the serious-business marketplace for the luxury travel sectors. This is the biggest ILTM Cannes yet. Here are the official figures. Hosted buyers? 1,377, including 86 Executive buyers (ten percent up on 2011): 533 of these are first-timers, in all they come from 67 countries and they are certainly working hard – their average number of pre-fixed appointments is 38. The powerful Virtuoso squad is led by the characterful Albert Herrera, who prepared for his Forum moderation by fine-dining at Le Chantécler in Nice. Now for the exhibitors. Here the tally is 1,347, again up ten percent on 2011 – they come from 85 countries. Overall, there are 51,337 pre-fixed appointments, up more than four percent on last year • Yes, the omens are good. As The Economist’s man who knows, John Andrews, said at the Forum, the USA will step back from the fiscal cliff. Although Europe will be in the economic doldrums it will still, with the exception of demonstration-prone areas, entice luxury travelers. In the Middle East, Morocco, Oman and the Emirates will all divert luxury travel that could have gone to neighboring countries – and, at least until the German elections, the most important people will continue to be, in alphabetical rather than any other order, Merkel, Obama and Xi Jinping.
Luxury for Forum speaker Vikram Oberoi, only son of legendary “Biki” Oberoi, is family, or exploring the Iberian Peninsula on his beloved Ducati (his father, by the way, tells me he hopes to have more luxury “vilas,” and, with Dubai opening, he wants center-city in London, New York and Paris) • Luxury for Condé Nast’s Nicholas Coleridge is time. Luxury for Kit Kemp is also time, for herself, in Barbados, Biarritz, Buenos Aires, Courchevel, New York, Puglia and anywhere in Africa, never, ever, in big-brand hotels. Although she still loves designing anew, repairing and maintenance give her most pride – epitomizing her mission to concentrate on longevity. Her own favorite Kemp-designed room is the Crosby Suite, room 2007 of the Crosby Street Hotel in New York • The Pierre’s Sirio Restaurante New York is the hottest in town. Mandarin Oriental’s Jan Goessing was there with its designer, Adam Tihany (and yes, Taj’s Raymond Bickson told Goessing, and Georg Rafael, over dinner here at Le Rendezvous, Manhattan locals really embrace this Maccioni venture). Taj, by the way, continues to give 40 percent of company profits to charity • Gosh, expect so much news and hot gossips on ILTM stands, which now occupy three levels of the Palais de Congres. Consortia stands include Global Hotel Alliance GHA, whose Geneva-based CEO Chris Hartley says from April GHA will add 44 Amalgamated Holdings Ltd AHL hotels, bringing in Art Series Hotels, QT Hotels & Resorts and Rydges.
Istanbul’s spate of luxury openings includes the 186-room Shangri-La Istanbul (GM Sinan Yilmaz), a conversion of a tobacco factory and warehouse between Dolmabahçe Palace and the Maritime Museum, will offer authentic Chinese cuisine. Designer Anouska Hempel launched a cult following when, in London, she designed first Blake’s and then the Hempel. Now she is going to redo the entire interiors of Istanbul’s Jumeirah-managed Pera Palace Hotel, owned by shopping magnate Cengiz Çetindoğan, whose many local stores include Harvey Nichols (the hotel’s CEO is his daughter Demet Sabancı Çetindoğan, a television magnate) • Talking of design, Miguel Champalimaud benefits from the family name – his cousin is Alexandra Champalimaud, and her son Lopo is CEO of top spa-search site www.wahanda.com, chaired by Wolf Hengst. Anyway, it is Miguel who owns the two-year old The Oitavos on the Cascais coastline, 30 minutes from Lisbon, and now, I hear, he adds a stand-alone 1,200-sqauer-foot villa, The Forte, with sundeck and heated swimming pool.
And if it is tents that interest, entrepreneur Luke Bailes’s latest offering is the six-tent Singita Mara River Tented Camp in the northern corner of the Serengeti (to be exact, it is in the 98,000-acre Lamai Triangle, sandwiched between the Masai Mara National Park to its north and the Mara River to the south). The entire, permanent, camp is powered entirely by solar, using photovoltaic technology. It sleeps 16 and, for families, two tents are linked by covered canvas walkway. Manager Lee Bennett, who came from Singita Grumeti, says best migration time is August to October • Virgin Limited Edition’s Masai Mara-set 12-tent Mahali Mzuri (GM Tarn Breedveld) opens July 2013 (Richard Branson’s Necker Island reopens its fire-razed Great House sometime summer, but until then you can stay in Necker’s six Bali-style houses, his private house or on his 105-foot catamaran Necker Belle).
Dubai has to wait until November 2013 until it hears if it will host Expo2020, but meanwhile it is getting ready: Openings coming up in 2013 include the first Palazzo Versace outside Queensland • Art, culture and unique experiences are more than ever essential to luxury travel, even if from afar. The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Sorrento, will, says CEO Guido Fiorentino, benefit from The Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition running at London’s British Museum March 28 to September 29, 2013 – exhibition-goers should rush to Pompeii and stay at his cliff-top palace, with its lemon and olive groves among genuine Roman ruins, overlooking the Bay of Capri • Nigel Hack, of Madrid Beyond, suggests a really different bragging opportunity – go home and speak about taking part in the Castellers, human castles, of Catalunya. Anyone is welcome, he says, to form the pinya, the throng that supports the base of the human tower, though the troncs, the name given to the second level up, is for safety reasons, reserved for regulars. Hack hopes he can persuade luxury travelers from Brazil and Hong Kong to become pinya-holics • In Budapest, Four Seasons offers folk and gypsy music visits, plus studying cake culture, thermal baths or wine-tasting, and twilight “behind the Iron Curtain” tours, and anytime biking sessions • Take a rock-climbing clinic at The Boulders in Carefree AZ.
Cartagena seems to be perceived not as part of Colombia but as an exotic destination in its own right, and its popularity is being boosted by direct Jet Blue flights from New York. The gorgeous Sofitel Santa Clara has launched its Suite Botero, designed by Lina Botero, daughter of Colombia’s living-legend sculptor Fernando Botero (see his easily recognizable works along Singapore’s river, and in the main lobby of Four Seasons Miami) • In London, one of the hottest new suites is Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s Cinema Suite at 51 Buckingham Gate – launched just in time for the centenary of India’s movie industry in 2013. As well as a Steinway Lyngdorf cinema system, there is one Rita Hayworth bedroom, and one more Merchant Ivory bedroom, but is it really true that the suite’s kitchen resembles Stepford Wives?
One hour from London, in the English countryside, Hong Kong’s Chan family is converting its 400-acre Heckfield Place into a 60-room hotel with working farm (hotel GM Charles Oak came from The May Fair). As of its March 2013 opening, the 18th century house will be complemented by a new 65-seat subterranean cinema, food by Tom Parker Bowles (son of Camilla) and chef Skye Gyngell (from Petersham Nurseries) and, romping around outside, Berkshire Pigs and rare-breed Aberdeen Angus • Equestrians, and others, will flock to the 700-acre Hotel Botanique, two hours’ drive north of São Paulo, financed by Body Shop co-founder Gordon Roddick, together with AOL’s Steve Case and local entrepreneurs Ricardo, and fashionista Fernanda, Semler. The 16-room hotel (GM Jonathan Wise) has an all-Brazilian spa with cooking school, and a stable of Olympic-standard horses.
Chantilly’s chateau and great stables, as in A View To A Kill (James Bond 1985) are complexed with the 92-room Auberge du Jeu de Paume, GM Pascall Groell – Arnaud Faye is chef of the two gourmet restaurants • Visit Chantilly, or behind-the-scenes at Opera Garnier, with Paris-based inbound agent Sabina Lakhiani of Must Vacations: She also suggests haute couture perfume workshops and private visits to Victoria Beckham’s favorite bootmaker. Also in Paris, Galeries Lafayette, on rue Haussmann, celebrates a centenary – of its iconic Dome, built by Louis Majorelle. In honor, artist Yann Kersalé’s bespoke Chrysalide luminous creation will decorate the store’s façade, and change with the seasons. What is more, Disney, Swarovski and Louis Vuitton are doing the window displays, and over 100 luxury brands are creating new gift ideas • The Leading Hotels of the World is theming its 85th birthday, in 2013, for movies – coincidentally, the Oscars are exactly the same age. Leading’s SVP Sales and Marketing Claudia Kozma Kaplan has arranged a partnership with Maria Sole Tognazzi’s forthcoming film Viaggio Sola. It stars Margharita Buy as a hotel inspector, and Leading Quality Assurance LQA’s CEO Trent Walsh advised on sequences that were shot in such Leading properties as the Adlon Kempinski, Berlin; Gstaad Palace; The PuLi, Shanghai (whose new GM, by the way, is Jan Tibaldi).
It is not only movies that premiere. The verb also seems to apply to spas, or at least to Spa My Blend by Clarins, which originally launched, as an all-white haven, in Royal Monceau Raffles, Paris. Now Ritz-Carlton Toronto GM Tim Terceira announces the North American premiere of this exclusive Clarins brand of personalized skincare. In Montreal, meanwhile, Ritz-Carlton celebrated its centenary this year with its relaunch, under the tender loving care of the Torriani family – the ducks and duck-house are still there, and Daniel Boulud runs the restaurant. Elsewhere in the Ritz-Carlton network, Tokyo’s spa offers a four-hour holistic retreat (and the hotel’s 53rd-floor Club Lounge in, offering an amazing view of Mount Fiji and the Tanzawa mountain range, is being refurbished). Lake Tahoe, a ski-in ski-out mountain retreat, has a resident marshmologist (?) who shows you how to produce perfect roasted marshmallow s’mores; at Half Moon Bay, fire butlers light your terrace fire pit while their colleagues, wearing wine butler labels, offer your choice of pour; at Dove Mountain, your kids can choose between rollaway beds or (in-room) tents. At Hotel Arts in Barcelona, meanwhile, Australian Donna Stain holds her next quarterly flower decoration class March 9, 2013.
Regent’s 70-room Phuket Cape Panwa, designed by Jaya Ibrahim, opened last Saturday (GM Brice Borin) – overlook the Andaman Sea • New York’s Greenwich Hotel, partly owned by Robert de Niro and his son Raphael, is about to open a 2,500-sqauer-foot Penthouse, with two bedrooms and a hot-tub rooftop garden to look over the city and the Hudson (designer is Axel Vervoordt) • At 122-room Andaz Amsterdam, an historic conversion by designer Marcel Wanders, the 1,500-square-foot Prinsengracht Suite has a 330-square-foot rooftop terrace, ideal for chilled Heineken while watching the canal below • Also coming into the Hyatt network is the conversion of Siem Reap’s already-popular Hôtel de la Paix, shortly opening as the 107-room Park Hyatt Siem Reap (GM Franz Mascarenhas) – an ideal base for exploring Angkor temples, three miles away • In Malaysian Borneo, Gayana Eco Resort, with 52 over-water villas, works with 48 land-set villa sibling Bunga Raya Island, ten minutes by boat. Learn about coral husbandry, at its Marine Ecology Research Centre MERC • Far away in Peru, Ignacio Masias, son of Inkaterra’s owners and himself boss of The Andean Experience Co, opens a 17-room Lima boutique, Hotel B, in February: his first hotel, the 18-room Titilaka experience lodge on Lake Titicaca, is second Peruvian Relais & Châteaux member • Tour the Galapagos on Silversea’s second expedition ship, the Ecuador-based Silver Galapagos (Silver Explorer is now back in Antarctica) • Get into the US political scene when the Peter Silling-designed 49-room Capella Washington DC (GM Alex Obertop) opens in January – it formerly housed the American Trial Lawyers Association • Get into the ILTM swing at the official party, tonight at Le Martinez from 8pm (bring your ILTM badge).