Travel

February 12 2007




If celebrity patrons are an indicator of a hotel's popularity, the Maldives super-lux Huvafen Fushi is about as hot as it gets. George Clooney popped in for lunch last month, Kate Moss partied in her Ocean Villa, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes booked in a massage during their honeymoon, Alexander McQueen had left when I arrived and when I left the island, Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana and John Galliano were set to arrive (separately).



Trendsetting Huvafen Fushi has been raising the benchmark since its first inception two years ago. Opening its doors to feature the world's first underwater spa, Huvafen Fushi has since earned its spot on the coveted Conde Nast Traveller MagazinesUK and US Hot List.

This discreetly luxurious, contemporary retreat is located on its own lagoon on a tiny island in North Male Atoll. I arrived late into the night direct from Singapore, the flight doesn't get in until 10pm (note: book Emirates instead to arrive during the day).



When I was escorted into my over-water bungalow, I felt like I'd walked into an Apple store/Armani showroom, with a bed in the middle surrounded by all my favorite gadgets. Surround sound Bose indoor/outdoor music system, Plasma TV screens, Bang & Olufsen phones, iPod Nano with an incredible selection of music that had already been installed, a separate massive bath which overlooks the ocean, my own private plunge pool, oversized king size bed, Frette linen, designer furniture (including pieces by Frank Gehry) electronic curtains, waterfall shower, the list goes on and on.



Waking up in the Maldives is something everyone should experience before they die. The view from the bed in my room overlooked the plunge pool which overlooks the Ocean. It’s an incredible sight, serious postcard material.

The day at Huvafen Fushi starts off with a buffet breakfast in Celcius, luxe-but-laid-back dining on a white sand floored deck branching out over the lagoon. Next it's off snorkeling where you'll see the most amazing colored coral and sea life including sting rays. It takes approximately 3 hours before you realize you have a tan, the sun is extremely bright and even with 30+ sunblock, you tan quite fast and you notice tan lines by the time you've finished breakfast.



My day was busy, yet I did nothing. I snorkeled, I tanned, I read, I snorkeled again, I read more, I walked over to the over-water gym, and walked back out (are you kidding, who can face the gym on holidays) and before I knew it, the sun was already setting.  So I headed to Umbar to order a cocktail and sit back in the seriously comfy lounge chairs and watch the sunset while the chill band played, very Cafe Del Mar. The music, the sunset, the people, the atmosphere  - it's an amazing vibe. Dinner at Salt restaurant (barefoot) is a highlight. The food was fine dining at its best, as good as anything you'll find in the world's best restaurants.

Famously, the highest point in the Maldives is only four meters above sea level, so perhaps its not surprising that the Huvafen spa is underwater, something totally exclusive to this resort.  It's like entering a glamorous fishbowl where you are the main attraction to the fish. It's the perfect environment for a massage. I chose the Maldivian monsoon ritual massage and it defies description. All I can say is that I don't think I will ever be able to top the experience. Incredible is an understatement.



BEST TIME TO GO
NOW UNTIL MAY

COOL FACTOR
The friendly, laid-back staff: guests in pavilion accommodation get a 24-hour butler service, while the rest of the resort gets a FISH (Fast Island Service Host), which amounts to the same thing. The underwater spa is a must.

FACILITES
Three restaurants, a lively bar, a seriously cool well-stocked underground wine cellar, an over-water yoga pavilion and the world's first underwater massage treatment rooms complete the picture.

COST
Bungalows from US$880

This year, Huvafen Fushi is proud to announce three new initiatives. An übercool 70ft luxury yacht, an exclusive compilation with one of the world's most famous DJ and Producer, Ravin from Buddha Bar, Paris as well as an uplift to the world's first underwater spa.



When Huvafen Fushi first opened two years ago, Per Aquum Resorts, Spas & Residences, CEO, Tom McLoughlin, commented, "This is just the beginning. We will continue to refine the original Huvafen Fushi concept, while constantly pushing the boundaries in delivering the ultimate guest experience."

Huvafen Fushi has certainly made this statement its driving force with more amazing concepts on the way. -  Billy Tikos



Design

February 10 2007

Bathroom, washroom, toilet, powder room, ladies’/men’s room, whatever we call it, it is the one place in any public or semi-public place – including restaurants, hotels, concert halls, clubs or bars – that really tells what the entire establishment is all about.



Sometimes it may be possible to fake customer care, cool or luxury at the front end, but the truth is always revealed in the loo. If the bathrooms are ordinary, filthy or in poor repair – or all three – you can be sure that the whole concept is just surface glare, without substance and without true respect of the guests.



Just as the owners’ attitudes are reflected in the staff they or their managers hire, their true values and beliefs are revealed in the places that get overlooked in poorly executed concepts: parking garages , coat checks, kitchens, and most visibly and most commonly, bathrooms.



It continues to baffle us why it is not obvious that the experience of going to a concert or dining at a restaurant includes the entire experience, not just parts of it. The divine food in a restaurant or the concert at a venue has a lot to cover up if the journey to your seat was poor agony. We have all had experiences like this: You were scared in the car park, got soaked in the line-up outside, had your wet coat crushed and your scarf dropped at the coat check, and when you proceeded to freshen up in the bathroom, it was completely uninspiring, poorly lit, ill-equipped and stinky. You are disappointed, but not surprised. It has happened too often.



Which is why we are glad that bathrooms are starting to get some serious design attention. There is so much room to impress and surprise that it is amazing everyone isn’t doing something about it. It is one huge untapped opportunity. Because most of us have been so thoroughly underwhelmed hundreds of times, our expectations are quite low to start with.



Owners and designers of such places have an unprecedented chance to surprise, please and pamper us, and to show that they really mean business all the way through.



We are hoping that we will be seeing much more of great bathroom design and that there will be fewer disappointments in your future. Let us know when that happens. - Tuija Seipell










Food

February 10 2007

Gone are the days when surly ice-cream men trawled suburbia with their diesel spitting vans and bags of flakes. Those travelling sweet-sellers forever condemned to the cultural quirks of childhood. Well, almost. Adam Ellis, design director of brand agency Coley Porter Bell (CPB) has rekindled his love affair with ice-cream in a van and hopes you will too.  Say hello to Scoop.   

- was inspired when, recently, I bought my four-year-old daughter an ice cream, and the whole theatre of my childhood came flooding back. Wouldnít it be great to relive the excitement of getting butterflies when you heard that kitsch music playing from around the corner?



Winning CPB's 'Blue Sky'competition, Ellis took the £2000 (US$ 3900) prize money and put it straight into his winning design. ìI wanted to rekindle the magic with a mantra of style with a smile and the ice creamís not bad eitherî, says Adam.

Playing on that sense of nostalgia, Scoop breathes life into the run down image of selling ice cream on the streets. Taking a blinged out van fitted with chandelier and a host of fancy puddings, Scoop brings boutique eating to the masses. And with flavours including Turkish Delight, organic champagne and traditional marmalade, it's not exactly child's play. Delivering it all in bespoke cutlery, who said Mr Whippy was just for kids? 

So far Scoop has only been available in Londonís East End, but Ellis has big plans for the summer. “I'd like to do music festivals, art galleries, weddings, anything with that sense of theatre”.

So kids, I mean adults, what are you waiting for? This is a great business opportunity. Contact us for Adam's e-mail address.
By Matthew Hussey

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Transportation

February 5 2007



The boat you see here is a 30-foot concept from designer David Borman. He has designed and developed it to be the efficient future of transport. "That Wally powerboat, which I think is $20 million for the 50 footer, it sucks down something like 2,000 gallons of fuel an hour and it only does 70mph. I'll be using less than a tenth of that amount of fuel going twice as fast."

"My tag line is: helicopter speed at a powerboat price. It's the ultimate status symbol, but it's got a practical side too. I love the Bahamas, love the Tortugas, but they're between 130 and 200 miles from here in Miami. If I were to have a conventional yacht that could only do 25mph and I've got a 3-day weekend with the kids, I might as well forget it. By the time I got there it'd be time to turn around and come back home. Scale up to a 64 footer Sea Phantom and you'd literally be able to cross the Gulf of Mexico with impunity. It would cruise at 150mph, you'd have room for several staterooms, and you could walk around in the wings. It would be fast enough to run from Key West to Cuba in 20 minutes, when Cuba opens up. It would literally take you longer to get out of the harbor at Key West and back into Havana than it would to make the actual passage."

Like a chimera between a stealth bomber and a submarine, the design is sculpted around the central body airfoil. "I was able to draw on NASA research, free over the Internet, from the '60s to integrate into my philosophy", David acknowledges. "I had to put a backbone on it to support the tail, and it just so happened that I had just seen a photograph of a children's model of the late 1920s Bugatti Atlantique, so I lifted it almost directly from there."

Borman has invested some serious time and effort in his dream project – thousands of man hours and $1.3 million in the project. But the rewards are potentially massive.



"The ultimate objective is passenger transport. For $2.5 million I'll have maritime transport capabilities similar to a $10-12 million aircraft. Not only at a fraction of the purchase price, but also at a fraction of the operating expense and I'm not encumbered by the FAA's rules. Airports are getting backed up; they've run out of expansion room. Aircraft can hardly get any bigger because the airports can't get any larger. 60% of the world's population live within 300 miles of a coastline; I could envision dozens of these just running up and down
the Florida coast alone. It could scale up to 90 feet if someone wanted to carry 100 passengers at high speed. It's a whole new world of transport."

The first customer Sea Phantoms will be 50 feet long, cost $2.5 million and be capable of cruising at 140mph with 24 people on board. By Wes Siler. Exclusive online extract from Intersection Magazine.

Ads

February 4 2007



These gravity defying ads for DTACK - Adhesive tape, use extreme examples for the tapes use in hilarious ways. As funny as it may seem, the humor is also very relevant in today's age defying conscious society.

We think perhaps the male version of the ad may have been a little extreme! by Andy G

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Lifestyle

January 23 2007




The days of the designer super gym have arrived. Leading the pack is London's GYMBOX; a new �5m mega gym located in the old Lumiere Cinema space at the St Martin's Lane hotel. Providing a unique experience is paramount in the new generation of fitness centre and Gymbox succeeds in breaking the old mould, with live nightly DJs and quirky classes such as 'Gladiator Games' - where participants engage in exercises from the eponymous early 90s TV show - and the 'Stiletto Workout, performed in heels.



The St Martins Gymbox is actually the second venue for the fitness center brand, with the first opening in Holborn in 2004. Getting fit has never been so hip.



Is there a super deluxe new gym, sports or fitness centre in your city that we should know about? Let us know as we would like to feature it in a special feature for our print magazine. By Bill T

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Fashion

January 20 2007


Trussardi parade last week at Milan Fashion Week - such a fantastic concept using a luggage conveyor belt to showcase their Fall-Winter 2007/2008 collection.



Travel

December 10 2006


Singapore is the latest city to unveil a new themed room hotel, putting the 'b' into boutique as it's never been before. The new generation design hotel is all about individuality and intimacy - the anti hotel if you will - more Hollywood mansion than mega hotel chain.



Singapore's fabulous New Majestic Hotel fits the bill, with 30 unique rooms designed by prominent artists and designers. Showcasing a mix of vintage and new furniture, the rooms adhere to different themes from the 'Hanging Bed Room' where murals span whole walls through to the incredible Aquarium Room where a glass-encased bathtub sits in the middle of the room. by Lisa Evans


Art

November 23 2006


The V&A museum in London has a display of a new interactive audio-visual installation in the John Madejski Garden. Volume is made of a series of vertical light columns and will respond to visitors' movements, triggering a display of light and sound.

The collaboration is between lighting designers United Visual Artists (UVA) and Robert Del Naja (aka 3D) of Massive Attack and his long-term co-writer Neil Davidge (as part of their music production company, one point six). The installation is part of the Playstation Season, a series of contemporary, interactive events at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts, The English National Opera, Sadler's Wells, The British Film Institute and the V&A.  

Times:
Daily, 10am -5.45pm. Late night opening until 10pm on Wednesdays in 2006 and Fridays in 2007.

Prices: Free Nearest Tube station: South Kensington

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Travel

November 20 2006


It's a brave concept for a hotel: modeling the entire aesthetic on the industrial oil rigs of 1950's Mexico. Especially for one that's "moored" at the hedonistic Caribbean adventure playground that is Playa Del Carmen. But Hotel Basico  - the chic offering from boutique hoteliers Grupo Habita pulls it off with unapologetic conviction.

The gist is as follow.  The building, perched on Playa del Carmen's exclusive Fifth Avenue shopping and restaurant strip, references Mexico's rustic petroleum industry, with the rooms looking out onto a central mess hall-like restaurant area (note: best fish tacos in the 'hood). Above is a rooftop cocktail bar that features luxurious cabanas made from the back of old trucks with inbuilt mattresses and white-as-white cushions, two concrete petroleum tanks that serve as swimming pools (note: from the pool you can sip old-school margaritas and look down on the crowds below and out to the Caribbean, one block away). Breezy house music and handsome hotel staff waft throughout the building all day. Effortlessly surreal.



Now, I personally go by the theory that if you're going to work with a gimmick, be sure to go the full distance. Basico's architect, Hectar Galvan, seemingly agreed with the sentiment when he put this project together.

In the rooms, no detail is left un-themed. Exposed pipes with fire hydrant-style taps run along the walls. An industrial-strength bath and the king-sized, multi-purpose bed (perched on an elevated palate) sit in the middle of the room. Everything is exposed and raw; the toilet is the only thing in the room concealed. There are rubber curtains on the floor-to-ceiling window and pulley chain detailing throughout. The signage around the hotel references the typography of Mexican taxis from the 1950s. Superbly construction-worker chic!

The effect is softened, however, with what one of the managers referred to as "nana touches". Continuing with the retro feel, mosaic planter pots are smattered throughout and the recycled floor tiles are straight from "a Mexican grandmother's patio". Or so said the manager. The freight lift that takes you from the open-air reception to the rooms and restaurant above is decorated with succulents in red pots.



Some adventures in life are about the journey. And some holidays are about a wild hotel room experience. A sojourn at Basico taps into this ideal. This isn't the romantic experience for honeymooners wanting to hide in their own Caribbean cocoon. No, it's all about the exhibitionist couple who get into the flirtatiousness of the concept, who want to be part of the party that goes on up at the rooftop bar every night until 1am. And who are open to "having lots of sex", as suggested in the hotel introductory manual that's chained to the bed. It doesn't have to be alone.

PS. Be sure to borrow the hotel snorkeling gear and visit the surrounding cenotes (underwater caverns teaming with colorful fish).

PPS. While in Mexico check out the other offerings in the Grupo Habita chain: Deseo in Playa Del Carmen and Condesa in Mexico City.. by Sarah Wilson

 

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