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Category Archives: Luxury

Steve Jobs’ Super Yacht Venus unveiled in Aalsmeer – Dutch Design (63)

Steve-Jobs-yacht-venus

On October 27, 2012, one year after I shared the speculations about Steve Job’s unfinished super yacht,  his Super Yacht Venus has been unveiled in Aalsmeer, the Netherlands ( a stone’s throw from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport) at the Dutch Royal Feadship De Vries yard.

Imacs steer Steve Jobs Venus

Reportedly the yacht is operated via 7 Imacs. Very daring, I would say, to trust the software so much to have it reign a super yacht. Although I know Oracle’s Larry Ellison reportedly developed his own software to do same with some of his super yachts.

Source and photo’s: The Dutch language blog One More Thing

Honeymoon Suite Whirpool for Two

7-Foot-Champagne-Glass-Whirlpool-Bath-for-Two-

Roman Towers Romance

Seedy, stylish, romantic or just fun this Whirlpool for 2 in your honeymoonsuite?

Its in an all inclusive couples only resort in the Pocono Mountains PA, USA.

Toast your romance with a sensual soak in the world-exclusive, 7-foot tall Champagne Glass Whirlpool Bath-for-Two. Set on Pocono Palace’s golf course, The Roman Towers are designed in a Grand Roman theme with floor to ceiling columns, stunning arches, vaulted ceilings, covered walkways and a private, arched underpass for parking. A cathedral window offers a panoramic view of Pocono Palace’s lush surrounding landscape.

Via the Roman Tower

I’ve quickly looked at their Tripadvisor reviews….mixed…

Speculations about Steve Job’s Unfinished Super Yacht “I” – (Dutch Design 61)

Steve Job's Unfinished Super i Yacht

With the demise of Steve Jobs all sorts of unconfirmed rumors appear as to the whereabouts of his unfinished super yacht, the design of which was commissioned to Philippe Starck a couple of years ago. Apparently Jobs has commisioned Dutch Royal Feadship to build the yacht. According to more rumors currently the hull is in Feadship’s Aalsmeer yard. As usual Feadship remains silent as to their clients details.

Would it look like the above rendering? (via Jameslist)

Steve Jobs Floating IPodOr more like a floating IPod? (via A Few Too Many)

Would it follow the design of Philippe Starck’s “A”?

Predator
Look like the Predator? (As Cult of Mac believes)

Feadship Qi
Or more be like Like Feadship’s Qi? Like Bootblog believes.

H2ome
Like H2ome, built by MMGI? (via Gatsby Online)

Feadship X Stream
Or more like Feadship’s X Stream? Like IPad Info believes.

Speculation all over the place. I’m insanely curious, and you?

5 Tips for Visiting Vienna in Luxury

Vienna-XMass-MarketThe Rathaus (City Hall) Christkindlmarkt (Chrismas Market) in Vienna

1 General
Over 40 years I visit Vienna almost annually. Hence I may have visited it over 40 times already. I may be biased, but for me Vienna is the number 1 city destination, especially around Christmas. It has a lot of Old World charm and elegance.
When I checked my Vienna category here, I noticed I had only one post labeled correctly with Vienna, while I have mentioned it in over 30 posts.
So it’s about time to cure the huge omission of not having written about Vienna in detail with tips and so. As one of my travel blogging friends will heading there I’ll rather do it now than later, to be able to help her a bit. Because I have so much material, it certainly will take several posts.
As Vienna has one of the best tourist sites at Wien.info, you should always check it out before you visit Vienna. You can even link through very easily to order theater tickets online or make restaurant reservations via its Search and Book widget at the right.
It may also be an idea to look for free audio/video tours at Itunes. I found this one, but haven’t checked it out yet.

City Airport Train (CAT)The Vienna City Airport Train or CAT

2 Getting There
Traveling by air you’ll most likely arrive at Vienna’s Airport which is located south of the Danube river between the little town Schwechat and the village Fischamend and only approximately 15 miles due east from the city.
From there the best connection with the city center is the City Airport Train (CAT) follow the signs. Traveling with the Cat you’ll end up in the city center and if your hotel is in the city center (roughly in the neighborhood of the Ring), it is somehow easy to reach walking from the CAT city terminal. It is also good to know that you can check your luggage in there for your return flight. Especially handy when you have a late flight back and want to do a bit of last minute shopping. You can check your luggage in in the morning and don’t have to return to your hotel. Before you get on board of the CAT it is maybe handy to buy a public transport pass for several days.

Vienna tram with Christmas decoration at the KarlsplatzEven the trams have Christmas decorations in Vienna

3 Public Transport
Vienna has a tightly knit net of bus and tram lines. As it spreads across the city like a spiderweb, it is not always easy to find the right connections.
Vienna is one of the last cities that has realized a small metro network which means it is fast and efficient. When I’m not using my car I use the metro, or U Bahn in German.

Style Hotel Vienna with Café CentralLeft Café Central, Fiakr in the middle and the entrance of the Style Hotel in Vienna right

4 Hotels
Austrian Hotels are usually very good and Vienna has many good and also more affordable hotels, but my favorite hotel is the Radisson Sas Style hotel. It is right in the center, two steps away from the “Goldene Meile” (the Golden Mile) shopping area of the Kohlmarkt and from the Graben. It is close to the Royal Palace and various theaters and museums. It is opposite Café Central where you can have a better breakfast for less than that in the Hotel. When you are on a shopping spree, you can drop your finds underway while shopping. It is not too big with 75 rooms and the personnel is very friendly. I find it really nice to hear the “clippediclack” of the horse hoofs and their echoes through the streets early in the morning, because one of Vienna’s great tourist attractions, the Viennese Fiakrs or horse carts that do the tourist routes from the Stephans Dom, always come along this hotel on their tours.

Café Landtmann in ViennaLandtmann

Sacher Torte!

Elephant Decorating at Demel ViennaElephant Decorating at Demel Vienna

5 Coffee, Coffee, Coffee and Cake!
Vienna is all about Coffee and Cake. They practically invented the Café and have maintained the old Café traditions throughout. A Konditorei is more of a cake selling shop or pastry shop where they serve coffee and tea and lunch as well. Usually the Konditoreis are less relaxed than the cafés, but usually they offer better quality (the ultimate quality) cakes.
Some of my favorites are:

  • Café Central off course
  • Restaurant Café Landtmann, just opposite the City Hall.
  • Hotel Sacher. It has its own café and on your first visit to the city it is a must to taste their very own world famous Sacher Torte.
  • At Dehmel you should try and find a place in the back (you’ll have to go through a door in the back of the shop with coffee bar) in front of the huge glass separation with the kitchen where you can follow the decorating of the wonderful cakes they make.
  • Oberlaa, Neuer Markt 16, Konditorei & Restaurant is one of our faves as well.
  • In summer you shouldn’t forget to visit the Café in the Gloriette, a pavilion in the Garden of Schloss Schoenbrunn.

More to follow.

10 Questions For (33): Patrick Goff of Hoteldesigns

I’m glad to continue my favorite series of interviews with those of interest in the hotel and travel community. Today I like to introduce Patrick Goff @HotelDesigns to you.

1) Who am I?

Good Question.  I have been asking myself for at least 40 of my 63 years. Was it Descartes who said, “I think therefore I am”? Well I create, and this defines me.  As a small boy I was in trouble when I caricatured an uncle as a great ape so successfully that for twenty years he held a grudge about the teasing he got from his brothers.

In the 1960’s, the greatest decade of the 20th century, I was at Art College at Bath Academy. Listening to the Beatles and Stones, going to Zappa concerts and discovering what a great invention the Pill was. Art College in the mid to late sixties was an amazing mind expanding experience.  I was a studio assistant to artists as well as finding my own artistic voice.

There followed some 15 years in which my goal was only to work as an artist, an activity that saw me having 3 shows a year and interviewed on radio, TV and national press. My work is in private and public collections alike. I taught in art colleges for a while. Then marriage changed the landscape, along with a critics review in the Guardian that led to me withdrawing from public exhibiting.

I still paint, and look forward to doing more in the future, but I no longer exhibit. Of course I also now spend a great deal of time photographing hotels, and HotelDesigns provides an outlet for my creativity through photography and writing, albeit somewhat ironically as a critic.

Practising-for-when-I-had-a-camera-(c.1953)

2) What do I like about what I do?

After some twenty years designing hotels I wanted more than to be a working designer. I started HotelDesigns by chance and when divorce forced me to leave the award winning design practice I had built, I used the site to create a magazine about the work of the hotel design profession, much underrated by hoteliers for the contribution it can make to an hotels profitability and popularity.

Editing HotelDesigns, with its 80,000 readers a month, is challenging. Almost as challenging is making it pay. My magazine differs from most in that we actually visit the hotels we write about, and we insist on taking our own photographs. This makes production slower and more costly but has given me the pleasure over the last eight years of visiting 27 countries on four continents to write my Reviews and Miniviews of hotels. No longer just written by me, I now have a staff of two reporters and one freelance writer who contribute, as well as support staff.

The real fun is in the travel and looking at the range and breadth of hotels provision, the variation in standards and discovering gems such as Haagsche Suites.

3) What Don’t I like?

I don’t like the constant selling, fighting with the bank and struggling to be profitable. I don’t like flying, which used to be an adventure and have some romance but is now, at every level, a degrading, dehumanising and uncomfortable experience.

I especially don’t like four star hotels claiming five star status, abetted by corrupt rating authorities who don’t enforce their own guidelines. I particularly hate accountant driven design decisions in so-called luxury hotels, where bathrooms don’t have separate walk-in showers as well as soaking tubs, where concepts of luxury are compromised by penny pinching attitudes. I especially dislike buildings where it is obvious that there were cost overruns in the construction phase that have been recovered by cutting the finishes budget – the bit the guest really notices.

4) About HotelDesigns and its Aims.

HotelDesigns aims to promote the work of the specialist hotel design fraternity. Interior design is different to architecture, and hotels should be designed from the inside out. Nor should good design be expensive so we cover all standards from the basic hotels like Etap through to the top luxury establishments. We try to show how so-called B&B’s like Haagsche Suites are designed to a standard that embarrasses high flown neighbours such as the Meridien Den Haag.

We try to be a picture rich environment so that details such as the skirting board design, or wash hand basin panel design can be seen clearly. We aim to be a one stop resource where designers and hoteliers alike can find inspiration, ideas and those who can help them realise those ideas.

We carry a sourcing Directory (free to use) which has global contract only suppliers, contractors and a list of hotel experienced designers. No retailers here, and people with genuine expertise to share.  Companies in the Directory come from Europe, India, China, Middle East and North America.

Our DesignClub provides information such as standards guidelines, details of hotel groups, a Gallery which currently has over 15,000 images and to which we add about 500 a month, mainly of hotel interiors. It also details Hotel Groups development plans, economic forecasts and analyses of our industry.

Everything we do remains available on line – and archive of over 150 hotels looked at in depth with another 7,000 articles which include articles on Spa design, on Branding in Hotels, on the history of Design through the Bauhaus for example. There are articles on colour, on ‘going green’ and profiles of leading designers and supply companies.

This is a rich resource for those wanting to see what is happening around the world as well as a growing history of hotel design in the 21st century.

5) My top 3 Destination Experiences

About four years ago I discovered Bushmans Kloof in the Cederburg Mountains of South Africa. I have characterised it as a little piece of heaven on earth. It is losing its innocence now it has been in Condé Nast and has had an all weather road constructed to it – in winter last time I was there it was cut off by rain turning the road into an impassable morass. When I went back I was prepared to be disappointed but enjoyed it as much as ever.

Second would be Damaraland in Namibia. Brilliantly designed, not so brilliant as an hotel operation, but mind blowing scenery. To have a leopard purring loudly outside your bedroom door is unnerving when your partner says go see what it is.

Thirdly Berlin. For me seeing Europe’s most exciting city during its rebirth has been memorable and still excites. I stayed in several excellent hotels but the Radisson Blu with its remarkable fish tank, making the whole thing a memorable destination experience.

6) My Top three accommodations

I’d measure this by the ones my girl friend says we have to go back to one day. They would include, you’ll be please to hear, Haagsche Suites! There are many to choose from but the Marine in Hermanus is one she insists we go back to, another which I have never featured, but we go back to quite frequently is a Relais du Silence in Luxembourg, which I am selfishly going to keep to myself.

7) My Top 3 food/wine experiences

Best has to be the memorable lunch at Gidleigh Park with Michael Caines in the kitchen. Beautiful day and the most memorable meal by a Michelin starred chef.

Secondly lunch in a South African vineyard, watching baboons walk past about 50 metres away whilst drinking a chilled South African white, flinty and pale.

Thirdly dinner overlooking the waterhole on the edge of the Etosha National Park in Namibia (Ongava Lodge is a Review waiting to be written)with an parade of rhino, giraffe, gemsbok, and (my favourites) guinea fowl by the hundred processing past, with a local red wine washing down char grilled Springbok

8) My 3 Worst destination Experiences

Can I name them without giving offence I wonder? The spa in Hungary which had no doors on the treatment rooms, windows open to the gardens beyond where the masseuse had put shawls across for privacy, and a sound system that was a ghetto blaster in the corridor outside the treatment rooms. Someone though it a good idea to add a water system that ran at 5-bar, giving a shower that created its own cloud patterns in the bathroom it was so powerful, and which flayed you alive when taking a shower. Food was buffet bad, like a holiday camp.

The Budget Hotel chain I couldn’t write about because of the semen stains on the bedcover and carpet, the delaminated suspiciously stained toilet seat (the photographs will never make it into the Gallery in the DesignClub). Staying on a Sunday with it on a business park where there were no restaurants for miles.

The five star hotel in Holland where the dining room chairs were too low, the wardrobe rails too high to reach and where the bottle bank, emptied at five in the morning, was underneath my bedroom window. Food service was unmemorable and would have to have been wonderful to overcome the annoyance at the poor design.

9) Tips for London

If you like shopping, the newest five star, the Arch is nearly on Oxford Street. For a bargain haggle with the Grange St Pauls at the weekend, or the Marriott West Quay – both primarily serve the business market and offer cut price quality rooms at the weekends.

Near St. Pauls is what is currently my favourite London restaurant, North Bank, but I like to take visitors to the Old Cheshire Cheese just off Fleet Street. Refurbished after a fire in 1666, this has a chair marked as being where Charles Dickens sat. Redolent of history, it serves traditional British food which has delighted everyone I have taken there. A Belgium friend wondered why British food had such a poor reputation after a steak pudding and a helping of Spotted Dick.

On a wet day a museum or gallery- my favourite being either the Geoffrey Museum in the Kingsland Road, with its history of English interiors, or the Museum of London after its recent refurbishment. But then I also love the Imperial War Museum which surprises with the second largest collection of British art after the Tate, all themed around war – it still commissions War Artists and shows their work.


The Fish tank in the Berlin Radisson Blu hotel

10) Any other question I like to answer?

[Silence]

My take:

A couple of years ago I was able to lure Patrick over to The Hague to inspect my Haagsche Suites. Only because he had scheduled to review another hotel in The Hague, he finally gave in to my persistence and came. Although (off course) I knew we had done a good job, his prize really surprised me, especially because I find that our big brother competitor here in The Hague had done a good job with their renovation. Patrick also wrote our first review on TripAdvisor. That made us number 1 hotel of The Hague for a long time. We fell back when the TripAdvisor review algorithm began to chime in with putting more value to recent reviews than old reviews. Currently we’re back on number 3 after a long period of neglect on my part.
So a threefold thank you now to you Patrick:

  1. For giving in to my persistence and writing a very thorough review of our small hotel.
  2. For writing our first ever TripAdvisor review
  3. For writing this wonderful interview and surprising me with even more prize.

This keeps the small struggling luxury hotelier going :-)
And:
I do love your photography and certainly will take you on your invitation for a good English pub bite!