All posts by Marlene Ridgway

On the Water, For the Water

Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design recently revealed an innovative 112-meter superyacht — the first of its kind to be powered by liquid hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

Aptly named, AQUA embodies a seamless connection to the ocean, voyaging at a speed of 17 knots with a range of 3,750 nautical miles. “AQUA is inspired by one of the elements of nature that it is closest to: water. Water is the life-sustaining force that makes planet Earth habitable,” says Sander Sinot, founder of Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design. From the cascading swim area that can be experienced at sea-level to the hydro massages in the indoor health and wellness center, water is the inspiration at every turn.

Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design created in collaboration with Lateral Naval Architects a superyacht that produces fewer emissions, yet far exceeds in luxuries. “We consider AQUA to be a major step forward in the application of new technologies aboard a superyacht, while at the same time showcasing an integrated and highly poetic design approach,” says Sinot. The yacht’s sleek exterior mimics the lines of a wave, which is merely one example of the team’s goal to utilize safer and environmentally conscious technology while taking inspiration from discerning owners’ lifestyles. “Our challenge was to implement fully operational liquid hydrogen and fuel cells in a true superyacht that is not only groundbreaking in technology, but also in design and esthetics,” adds Sinot.

Unforgettable Features

Guests will experience relaxation in the highest manner on AQUA. The superyacht’s interiors meld effortlessly with the exteriors, allowing guests to glide between nature and luxury. The five-deck configuration affords the opportunity for guests to experience the water at every level. Cascading platforms allow guests to swim at sea level on the beach deck, while the top deck offers unforgettable views of the horizon as well as the AQUA room. Even the superyacht’s yoga space and workout floor have a gym-wide hatch that opens at surface-level for stunning views that can be enjoyed while using the equipment.

Grand Details

Integrated into the heart of the superyacht, just one of the awe-inspiring features is the grand circular staircase that travels from the top deck to the lower deck. The cylinder of open space in the center of the staircase creates a floating sensation, along with the flowing art piece at the bottom, which reflects the open skies above. “At the lowest level, two vast liquified hydrogen tanks reveal their hexagonal textured surface structure behind a giant facade of strengthened glass,” according to Sinot.

Fit for a King and Queen

The owner’s pavilion — designed with the superyacht’s finest luxuries — is at the front half of the upper deck and features floor-to-ceiling viewing windows, a jaw-dropping central skylight, a private spa section, and plenty of privacy and space. According to Sinot, “we always integrate all aspects of design into a new build: this means acknowledging key questions such as ‘why build a yacht in the first place?’ and ‘how can we ensure that you will enjoy your investment and enrich your sense of freedom?’” AQUA as a whole embodies the openness of the ocean and makes it readily accessible for family and friends aboard.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

The beach deck lounge transforms any morning, afternoon, or night to magic with a series of interlocking spaces that masterfully dictate the atmosphere. Handcrafted wooden screens create the perfect opportunity for dining on every scale from a fine dining setting for 14 to an intimate smaller party. The lounge also includes a circular seating area that is ideal for entertaining or conversation. The area easily rotates and transforms into a top-of-the-line home cinema with light-blocking window covers to ensure total comfort.

According to Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design, “the AQUA room, located at the bow, at the far end of the owner’s pavilion, offers top-of-the-world feeling and endless views from the best position on board.” The private room boasts uninterrupted floor-to-ceiling views, which can be enjoyed in privacy and comfort on the custom-designed floating daybed. Though spectacular views are possible around the superyacht, the AQUA room is a heightened experience altogether.

Super Accommodations

The superyacht has a guest capacity of 14 people, with one beautiful owner’s pavilion, two VIP staterooms, four staterooms for guests, family, and friends to relish in. With a crew capacity of 31, there are 14 double crew cabins, two officer cabins, and a captain’s cabin available on board. There is also space on the superyacht for one 10-meter limo tender, three wave runners, and more.

Renderings and featured photo © Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design

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Better Than Streaming

In 1932, when the impressive Grand Rex Theatre opened its doors in Paris, 80 doormen donned in white gloves and tails greeted guests for a night of glamour and luxury. A night at the theater was an occasion for fine attire, lively socialization, and entertainment. Today, although streaming services have taken technology to the next level and brought the big screen right into our living rooms, the experience is far from the same.

The Open Air Cinema Kamari in Santorini, Greece is a stunning outdoor theater that is surrounded by eucalyptus trees and offers a variety of locally produced wines and ice creams to enjoy alongside movie showings. The owner, Ina Koutroubilis, says, “Our guests tell us that the cinema is like an enchanting secret garden that harks back to the Golden Age of cinema. They come for the whole experience.”

The Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was constructed with details from Indian, Moorish, Islamic, and Byzantine architectural styles and is known today as Milwaukee’s Historic Movie Palace. Karina Henderson, marketing director of Milwaukee Film, notes, “You can watch a lot of movies on your screen at home, but the experience of going into a magnificent building, sitting in a dark theater, putting away your glowing screens for a couple of hours, and letting yourself be immersed in someone else’s story — that’s an amazing thing in this day and age.”

In a world of commercial-free marathon-watching, a night out at the theater is even more of a luxury than in the past. These otherworldly theaters around the world take entertainment to a higher level.

Open Air Cinema Kamari

Santorini, Greece

Open Air Cinema photo by cinekamari.

The Oriental Theatre

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Photo by Jake Hill / milwaukee film.

Foreign Cinema

San Francisco, California

Photo by Charlie Villyard Photography.

Elevated with Flavor

Foreign Cinema in the Mission District of San Francisco, has been a San Francisco Chronicle “Top 100 Restaurant” for 18 consecutive years and is first and foremost a restaurant. Yet the added 35-millimeter films displayed nightly on their outdoor courtyard screen transforms the establishment into an intriguing combination. This pairing of food and film is not a new one, but one that continues to appeal to guests. Gayle Pirie, co-owner/co-chef of Foreign Cinema, explains that at Foreign Cinema, they united culinary and cinematic experiences in an honest way that proved successful.

“At the restaurant, visual media collides in such a way that the aesthetics of the screen flicker easily alongside the vibrancy of the plates,” says Pirie. “This pairing makes sense since the Mission neighborhood, where the restaurant is located, has a rich theatrical past. In the 1950s, it was the city’s hub for movie theaters. In many ways, we’re honoring this legacy while spotlighting the ideals and flavors that have come to define California cuisine.”

Foreign Cinema’s refined menu elevates the experience to an even higher standard. Keeping with seasonal and local ingredients common in California cooking, the restaurant also draws on inspiration from the Middle East and Africa. “Our sesame fried chicken with madras curry and spiced honey is a signature dish we nearly never take off the menu,” says Pirie.

Another example of food and film can be found at the Edible Cinema in London, England, where each guest is supplied with a variety of mystery boxes containing a small tasting menu tailored to specific moments in each film. The element of taste enhances the experience and entertainment without competing for attention.

Inspired Settings

The Paris Theatre was the last single-screen movie theater in Manhattan. With its history and overall classic atmosphere, many were highly disappointed when the doors closed in August 2019. According to The New York Times, the theater was a favorite among locals and tourists and was known for playing foreign films in their original languages.

Although the venue closed, a surprising new owner has reopened its doors — Netflix. The streaming company will use the theater for Netflix-original movie debuts, special events, and other screenings. The venue is over 70 years old and instantly brings to mind the Golden Age of cinema as it sits across from The Plaza in bustling Manhattan.

The Grand Rex Theatre

Paris, France

Top photo from Picasa.

Bottom photo courtesy The Grand Rex.

The setting of these theaters begins the journey for guests and sets the tone for the afternoon’s entertainment. For the Foreign Cinema, “The long corridor leads to an unexpected oasis, much like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, with a climactic courtyard scene illuminated by the flicker of our 35-millimeter projected films and juxtaposed with the roaring hearth centered in the main dining room, all encompassing the warmth of our community of diners,” according to Pirie.

When entering the Open Air Cinema Kamari, “You will find yourself in a lush green garden, surrounded by eucalyptus trees and fragrant night-blooming flowers. We usually play ’50s Jazz music and together with the decoration and lighting design, guests are already enchanted,” says Koutroubilis.

Glitz and Glamour

It was not uncommon for guests to arrive at theaters in sequined ball gowns and tuxedos at the start of cinema and for many years to follow. Although there are more casual options for viewing movies today — such as the living room sofa — the idea of luxury is still a defining component for theaters around the world. According to Henderson, “The grandeur of our building makes any movie into an event,” she says about The Oriental Theatre. “It’s uplifting to be surrounded by the beauty of a gem like the Oriental Theatre, and then sit down and watch an amazing film.”

Similarly, the decadence at The Grand Rex has stood the test of time and continued to draw guests in, only to convince them to return time and time again. Along with the balcony seating and fine finishes, the star-covered ceiling gives the illusion that guests are outside, adding to the glamour of the venue.

There was a sense of community and conversation that stemmed from early theaters when guests would dine, enjoy a film, and then go dancing afterward, making it a whole night of glamourous entertainment and socialization. The theater was a way to experience and learn about far away people and places, which not everyone had the opportunity to enjoy and is still a part of the appeal today. “In 2019, we brought 349 titles from 45 countries over 15 days to our film-loving Festival-goers. It’s truly a community event, and the Oriental Theatre is always busy during the Milwaukee Film Festival,” says Henderson. “Watching a film in a theater is still a special experience that you can’t replicate at home on your TV or tablet.”

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Diagram This

Photos by John A. Peralta

 

John A. Peralta began taking things apart long before he was compelled to truly pursue art. “I was always breaking things open to see what was inside. I’ve had such wonder for the tiny components that make something work,” he says.

Now a self-taught artist based in Austin, Texas, Peralta has a unique taste for both science and how things work as well as art. While working as a business consultant, he began painting as a way to tap into and satiate his creative side. The exploded diagram, which has been an essential engineering tool, melds Peralta’s contrasting interests and inspired his work.

An exploded diagram of a bike on the back of a magazine was Peralta’s original inspiration, but since then, his work has begun to evolve over the years. “It’s more about a concept that imagines that these machines we use — that we often take for granted and use every day — they hold our memories,” according to the artist. “And sometimes in literal ways. The typewriter has an imprint of every letter, every document permanently imprinted on it. It could never be deciphered today, but nevertheless it’s in there.”

Peralta’s art reveals the inner workings of a time in history or a memory. The contrast between machinery and emotion creates enchanting displays and elicits a feeling when you see them. The idea of machinery holding memories extends to all of our objects, according to Peralta. “It’s why we become nostalgic years after for antiques or whatever it might be. We attach emotion to these things and they hold our memories and it’s sort of two-way relationships with the objects in our life.”

Peralta describes a large pile of items in his studio that he might one day choose to take apart, but there is a method to deciding which items he will display. “I usually choose something that would be considered iconic. Something highly recognizable, and familiar, but most of the time, it’s also something that is no longer in use,” he says. Often, he chooses items that people may have seen in their grandparents house or in an antique store. “Those items have a lot of emotion and nostalgia connected to them. I’m also looking for things that the designers and architects put a lot of time and careful thought into.”

“For some reason, it has a strong appeal. I’m not entirely sure why,” Peralta says about the exploded diagram concept, explaining that most people see them in their everyday lives without realizing, but their eyes still light up when they see it displayed like this. “Because it’s not like you can’t see the string. At first, I tried to hide it. I tried all different things to try and hide the suspension. But I began to realize that I actually shouldn’t hide it. The string really contributes to the piece.”

In the Future

Working mainly on commissioned pieces these days, Peralta is still working on a few ideas that continue to push the boundaries of the exploded diagram concept. When asked what his dream projects are, he says, “There’s actually two. I’ve been wanting to do — and I haven’t really gotten anyone to pull the trigger yet — and that’s a grand piano. I think it would be very impressive. I imagine it in a large hotel with a high ceiling or something like that. And the other one is a fighter jet, which would obviously be a very big piece. It would need a superstructure to support it. But I have some really cool ideas of how it would look.”

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Resorting to Hawaii

PHOTO BY MPHOTOI.COM

Kohanaiki

Hawaii’s stunning natural beauty, exciting culture, and penchant for luxury are altogether enhanced for members and guests among the developments and resorts that offer a one-of-a-kind island lifestyle.

Hawaii received over 9.9 million visitors in 2018, according to the state governor’s office. There is no shortage of foot traffic on the islands and more and more families are falling in love with the lifestyle and searching for a second home amongst the Aloha Spirit. A variety of developments and resorts to choose from makes the transition from vacation place to home seamless.

“There is a genuine sense of community among the members, who also love Hawaii and the island experience,” notes Chuck Cary, vice president of sales and marketing at Kohanaiki. The development on the Big Island of Hawai`i is an exclusive, high-end, invitation-only private club community. It appeals to those looking for an escape, which is easy to find on the 450 oceanfront acres. The idea of a luxurious, hassle-free experience is one that rings true for most developments and resorts in Hawaii.

“Luxury buyers are seeking opportunities to establish second home ownership that can deliver unique family experiences and ultimate gathering places – authentic communities that embrace local culture and a true turnkey lifestyle experience,” says Tina Necrason, senior vice president of Residential at Montage International. Montage Kapalua Bay, located on Maui along the waters of Namalu Bay, is an intimate 24-acre resort overlooking the bay.

Nicole Vincent, Realtor/Broker on the Kohala Coast for Coldwell Banker Island Properties, is well versed in the realm of luxury real estate, especially in developments and resorts. She notes that buyers, especially those with families, are drawn to the amenities that are offered in developments because the concierge, planned activities, fitness, golf, fine dining restaurants, and other amenities facilitate ease and convenience all within a community.

PHOTO COURTESY MONTAGE KAPALUA RESIDENCES

 Montage Residences Kapalua Bay

“The happiest clients are able to visit their homes and relax while visiting and really enjoy all the Big Island has to offer,” notes Vincent. The especially enticing elements that developments offer are the family-friendly and community-oriented aspects. “The memberships are structured for families with what is called a vertical membership, meaning the grandparents, children, and grandchildren can all be considered as members. This becomes attractive for families and extended families who vacation together,” according to Vincent. The sense of community is a crucial element that buyers and visitors expect, and it becomes obvious even after a short stay.

“The staff knows you, your likes and dislikes, the same way your family does. That personalized, high-end consistent service is a big part of why buyers know they want to be a part of a private club versus general luxury real estate,” urges Cary on Kohanaiki’s dedication to community. Similarly, Necrason, says, “there is a strong sense of camaraderie in the community through the relationships that are built as families get to know one another, whether through an owner event or shared excursion throughout the year or getting to know the resort staff.”

The luxurious amenities can certainly be a deciding factor for buyers, yet the decision can go further, beyond beach and spa access. “Ultimately, buyers seem to gel with a particular location based on the total package, despite all resorts essentially being able to claim most of the same amenity options,” says Vincent.

Kohanaiki, for example, is committed to sustainability and the conservation/preservation of the environment. “Kohanaiki is recognized as a leader in the evolution of the private club experience,” Cary says. “The planning and development of the community are centered on an environmentally sustainable infrastructure.” While amenities can capture attention, fundamentals such as this also play an important role in attracting guests and buyers.

     

This editorial originally appeared in Unique Homes Winter 2020.

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Windblown Magnificence

ODYSSEY PHOTO COURTESY HORNBLOWER CRUISES AND EVENTS

The Odyssey Chicago River

 

Between top-tier restaurants and skylines, the Windy City is an adventure that’ll satisfy all of your senses.

The best guides to “The Windy City” will urge visitors to experience Chicago on every luxurious level from the river to the skyline. Begin by roaming the Magnificent Mile for a glimpse of glamour on foot, set your gaze over Lake Michigan from historic rooftops and then cruise along the Chicago River before tasting the flavors of the world at top-tier restaurants for an adventure that will satisfy all of your senses.

Kimi Williams, director of sales for Hornblower Cruises and Events, says “Chicago is a big city with a generous sprinkling of Midwestern charm.” Similarly, Adam Skaf, senior public relations manager of The Magnificent Mile Association notes, “Chicago is increasingly cosmopolitan yet entirely cozy and approachable.”

Located in the heart of downtown, The Magnificent Mile is known as Chicago’s version of Bond Street in London or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and is the perfect way to get a feel for the city. “The Magnificent Mile is home to three vertical shopping centers, rang-ing from the country’s original mixed-use mall at Water Tower Place to the 900 shops that appeal especially to locals in the Gold Coast neighborhood with its higher-end retail offering,” says Skaf.

PHOTO AT RIGHT COURTESY OF THE MAGNIFICENT MILE ASSOCIATION

Designed with a bounty of greenery, Michigan Avenue offers a perfect day of exploring with views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River and more. “What strikes me about The Magnificent Mile is the full spectrum of options for a shopping spree, from well-known brands to independent boutiques and luxury retailers,” according to Skaf.

Strolling through Chicago’s streets opens the door to the many neighborhoods that make up this great city. “Chicago has all the benefits of a major city yet it leaves you with a sense of comfort and intimacy as if it was a collection of small neighborhoods. Each neighborhood offers unique experiences with the charm of good old fashioned Midwest hospitality,” says Michael Ditterline.

PHOTO COURTESY THE GWEN HOTEL

The Gwen King Terrace Suite

As the general manager of The Gwen Hotel, Ditterline knows something about hospitality and Chicago’s robust history of architecture and more. “Our original façade on the building was famously created by renowned sculptor Gwen Lux, our hotel’s name-sake.” The Gwen balances modern details with historic glamour that is unique to Chicago and has the feel of a boutique hotel, with all of the benefits of being a part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection. “Located right off of The Magnificent Mile, The Gwen offers a luxurious respite from the bustle of the city below,” according to Ditterline.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MAGNIFICENT MILE ASSOCIATION

The John Hancock Building at dusk

For an equally relaxing afternoon, dinner on the water brings the true beauty of Chicago’s architecture and skyline into focus. “The Odyssey Chicago River redefines the city’s grand tradition of river cruising through its unique blend of contemporary design and elegant dining seen from an entirely new perspective — pulling the outside in and fully immersing guests in the spectacular architecture and vibrant energy of the Chicago River,” according to Williams.

Experiencing Chicago is embracing the city’s history of architecture, great food, and the brisk winds off of Lake Michigan. Luckily, the Odyssey is well equipped for toasty year-round cruising. Williams notes, “One of my favorite things about the city is the incredible views, especially when you get to enjoy this from the water. Admiring the sunset against the skyline while cruising across Lake Michigan or sailing down the Chicago River with the city backdrop is a perfect way to spend the day.”

     

This editorial originally appeared in Unique Homes Winter 2020.

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Home Away from Home

PHOTO COURTESY OF VRBO

More travelers than ever seem to be eschewing traditional hotels and considering lavish vacation rentals for more authentic and comfortable experiences.

Vacation rentals, from cottages to castles, can elevate the overall experience of traveling while avoiding that unsettled feeling of being away from home. Travelers can relish in the privacy of their own space and choose a rental that offers the peace and downtime traveling requires, all the while taking advantage of the same amenities and luxuries offered at a hotel or resort.

“The best luxury rentals can offer fine architecture, artwork, and furnishings that can rival the decor of any 5-star hotel, but without the transient feeling of being in a hotel. It’s as if you’re living in a place that is meant to be lived in, which can emphasize the sense of a place,” says Carol Perehudoff, an award-winning travel writer based in Toronto for the travel site Wandering Carol.

Whether you’re staying for the weekend or a few weeks, skip hotel rooms that can feel secluded and away from the excitement and embrace the idea of your own schedule and space.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF VRBO

An Authentic Experience

Luxury travelers are looking for a more authentic adventure when they visit a new place. They want to experience profound architecture, personalized activities, and the overall culture in an area. “Travelers can have an all-inclusive resort-like experience with the added bonus of space and privacy to completely relax and spend quality time with their loved ones,” according to Alison Kwong, travel expert for Vrbo (Vacation Rental by Owner). Renting a vacation home immerses you in the surrounding culture to create your home away from home. “Oftentimes a vacation rental can be a better all-around experience. We use high-end vacation rentals as a base of operations for custom-built adventures,” says Dan Austin, the president of Austin Adventures.

Vacation rentals make authentic travel seamless. Visit hard-to-reach places or lesser-known destinations in a home rather than a hotel. Easily submerge yourself in a residential area rather than skim the surface of the commercialized options typically available for tourists. “You’re often staying in neighborhoods where residents live, rather than in tourist zones,” says Perehudoff. She describes one luxury vacation rental in Venice as being “as much of a cultural thrill as visiting a famous museum or palace.”

 

Space and Privacy

Space is a significant component to consider when vacationing with family and friends. There are endless rentals that sleep large groups comfortably, which means your party can stay together without feeling crowded or overwhelmed. “Vacation homes are ideal for traveling with family because they allow everyone to stay together under one roof,” says Kwong. Similarly, Austin says, “you can create a better “gather” type of environment … to create bonding moments.” He notes, “one of the biggest benefits is privacy.”

Lounge by the pool, fit in your morning workout, enjoy an afternoon snack, or take a midnight swim all in the privacy of your own space. Forget overcrowded hotel pools, spas, and restaurants when you have easy access to your own private pool, at-home theater, sauna, and other amenities.

Freedom with Amenities

Forget dining on a schedule or mid-morning interruptions. Renting a home offers the desired freedom on a vacation that runs on your own schedule, without sacrificing any of the luxuries. “Travelers can still enjoy special amenities, like private chefs, daily housekeeping and concierge services that organize itineraries full of activities personalized for guests and their families,” says Kwong. Everything from welcome baskets to day excursions and transportation are available.

The Right Choice

Vacation rentals can provide accommodations for groups without the financial strain of booking several hotel rooms. Family and friends can split the cost of a home with the added bonus of endless amenities at your fingertips. “Travelers are increasingly drawn to vacation homes instead of hotels or resorts when going on family or group trips because vacation homes provide the same value at a compelling rate. When renting an entire vacation home, travelers also have access to more space and privacy, better amenities, and the chance to stay in some truly unique properties that aren’t available just anywhere,” according to Kwong.

©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / SHIRONOSOV

Vacation rentals are perfect for large parties who want to create gather experiences without feeling crowded.

 

 

 

Hotels can become a necessity rather than a welcome addition to your travels. Vacation rental companies have their own special niche, while the overall goal of each is to craft a unique, authentic experience for travelers.

Companies with a Purpose

Vrbo is based on the more traditional sense of a vacation rental. Families and friends are offered the privacy that large gatherings crave. Forget overloaded resorts and stuffy hotel lobbies. Instead, stretch out in front of your own fireplace with a book, make a cocktail in your private kitchen, and head out to the pool or spa where you and your guests can relax in privacy.

“Over the last 25 years, Vrbo has grown into a global community of homeowners and travelers with more than 2 million unique properties around the world, ranging from cabins to beach houses and every kind of space in between,” says Kwong. The site began in 1995 and has only expanded over the years, now offering easy-to-use technology to plan a dream vacation.

©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / SHIRONOSOV

Rental sites offer the opportunity to stay in one-of-a-kind homes all over the world for a unique experience.

“One of the newest features Vrbo has added to the site are virtual tours, which pro-vide immersive, 360-degree views of vacation rental properties directly from the listing page,” according to Kwong. “Vrbo makes planning a trip together feel as effortless and enjoyable as being on one. Recently introduced, trip boards is a collaborative tool that allows multiple people to share, vote and collaborate about their favorite properties. That way, everyone is involved in the decision-making process and travelers feel confident that the vacation rental they choose is suitable for everyone.”

The trusted brand Airbnb is one of the more well-known services when renting a space, whether it’s for vacation or business. The luxury facet of the company, Airbnb Luxe, offers a trip designer for personalized activities that are specifically crafted for you and your guests. In tandem with activities and amenities, these ultra-luxury properties appeal to those with an interest in design and have been carefully chosen for that very reason.

PlansMatter is a platform that provides architecturally significant hotels and vacation homes for rent. For those with a special interest in spectacular architecture, travelers can choose from the likes of Pole House, a home in Australia that is suspended 40 meters above Fairhaven Beach; Vila Vals in Switzerland, which is built directly into the mountain scenery; the circular Solo House in Spain, and many more. “One of the highlights of a vacation rental is being able to get away from the crowds and enjoy more natural surroundings,” says Perehudoff. This is a component that can be overlooked when the simple convenience of a hotel is presented.

PlansMatter provides comprehensive information about architects and the properties that will boost the overall experience from the very start of a trip. Everything needed to decide, from photos and customer reviews to blueprints of the home, even a chance to read about the architects, is available.

Vacation rentals are growing in popularity today as a smarter way to travel for groups and for those searching for an authentic experience, but the concept has long attracted savvy and avid travelers. Founded in 1986, Windows on Italy carefully selects prestigious villas and apartments throughout Italy. From Florence to Rome, the countryside to the seaside, rentals with private pools, frescoed lofts, antiques and more will enchant travelers. The brand is another that focuses on one-of-a-kind, top-tier properties that heighten the overall travel experience.

©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / SHIRONOSOV

Experience profound architecture when staying in homes such as this gorgeous Scottsdale, Arizona property.

     

This editorial originally appeared in The High End Winter 2020.

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On Location: Haig Point, Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

3 ocean watch photo courtesy of Haig Point; all others ©Dennis burnett photography

Daufuskie Island offers Southern charm and comfort that can only be found on an island with no bridges. Accessible by a 30-minute ferry ride, my journey to the Haig Point community began and ended with relaxation. Catching a glimpse of diving dolphins as I left the mainland behind was a warm welcome into the exclusive area. The sea island just off the coast of South Carolina, which is easily accessible from Savannah, is one that wholeheartedly embraces the easy pace of the Lowcountry.

“As soon as people step off the ferry they
typically fall in love with the island lifestyle,” says Lauren Hunt, the programming and communications manager at the private, member-owned Haig Point. “Their genuine commitment to the island is why they choose to build and live here.” Members welcomed me with open arms and shared the island’s charming attributes, all with similar stories of visiting and deciding to stay for the long haul. 

If the 29-hole Rees Jones golf course, equestrian center, award-winning tennis facility, and beach club don’t entice you, the real estate will. It ranges in size and price, creating a diverse community with something to offer everyone. Haig Point goes beyond vacation and second homes. Permanent residents are enjoying the influx of younger residents. “More families under age 55 joined in the past three years than the previous 10 combined,” says Hunt. An island destination with no traffic — the island runs on electric golf carts — is an ideal opportunity for those hoping to enjoy a smaller, safer environment for their families.

Homesites for building your dream home and a collection of existing properties make up the variety of real estate within the current 270-home development. On the market for $2.995 million, 3 Ocean Watch in Haig Point was designed and built to the highest standards with stunning heart pine and woodwork soured from a 200-year-old house. Other properties range in price from the mid $300,000s to $3 million.

The island won’t be threatened by commercialization or overcrowding, due to building restrictions, according to Hunt. The community’s Architectural Review Board ensures the nature and integrity of the island remain intact alongside development. Across the water, Hilton Head Island is visible. “Hilton Head Island has 2 million visitors annually. That means easy accessibility to great restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. And with only an eight-minute commute, our hourly water taxi makes it easy to escape back to the solitude of Haig Point,” says Hunt.

3 Ocean Watch offers Calibogue Sound views.

Enjoy uncrowded, pristine beaches.

Haig Point offers a private Equestrian Center.

THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE GLOBAL 2019 ISSUE OF UNIQUE HOMES. TO SEE THE DIGITAL VERSION OF THIS STORY, CLICK HERE.

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The Aloha Spirit

Photo by Charles Roach / aloha films

Experts say it’s the perfect time to buy in Hawaii. But when isn’t it?

Aloha is much more than a salutation or expression of farewell in Hawaii. The “Aloha Spirit” is a way of life. This philosophy of mutual regard and compassion for others was a gift from native Hawaiians and is still practiced today to contribute to the overall experience on the islands.

The relaxed nature combined with pristine beaches, luxurious homes, and natural beauty make Hawaii a dream location for a second or permanent home.

“Oahu, known as ‘The Gathering Place,’ offers a wonderful combination of the amenities you would find in a vibrant metropolitan city as well as easy access to the tropical environment, including beaches, trails, and spectacular scenic ocean views,” according to Tracy Allen, the vice president and global luxury ambassador for Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties in Honolulu. The Hawaiian Islands are a true place for gathering, from outdoor enthusiasts to business professionals, with the surrounding Central Pacific Ocean offering added benefits for all.

“Oahu is truly magical in that it has all of the beauty of Hawaii while offering the ultimate lifestyle in paradise — outdoor activities, dining, and culture,” says Tracy Bradley, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hawai’i Realty. Similarly, Dannette Andrews, at Oceanfront Sotheby’s International Realty, says, “moving to Kauai is a lifestyle choice for people who appreciate the natural beauty and laid back lifestyle.”

Ideally located at almost the mid-way point between the United States and Asia, Hawaii is an oasis with easy access to flights in both directions. Although, visitors may never want to leave the world-renown beaches, gentle waves for canoe surfing or the more extreme Pipeline, gorgeous waterfalls, hiking, ziplining, luxurious homes, and high-end restaurants. “Year-round we are able to surf, play tennis, hike, snorkel, sail, bike, and enjoy paradise,” says Bradley.

Whether buyers are relocating or hunting for a second home, “it’s the perfect time to buy,” says Andrews. “Luxury real estate on [Kauai] used to be considered anything over $1 million, but I would now say it’s pushing closer to $1.5 million. And the ultra-luxury for high-end gated estates start around $4 million and go up.” According to Allen, Oahu is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the U.S., with a strong influx of foreign buyers. “The leading foreign investing is still from Japan, followed by Canada and Korea. U.S. West Coast buyers are also a dominant force in our market and make up a large segment of our second-home buyer market.”

Hawaii Luxury Experts

Hawaii

Tracy Allen

Vice President, Global Luxury Ambassador

Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties

D. 808.593.6415  C. 808.927.6415

Tracy@cbpacific.com

www.TracyAllenHawaii.com

PageS 142-144

Hawaii

Tracy Bradley, R

President, RB-15189

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hawai’i Realty

D. 808.282.3264

tracyb@bhhshawaii.com

www.bhhshawaii.com

Page 42

Hawaii

Dannette Andrews

Realtor (S), CRS, CLHMS

Oceanfront Sotheby’s International Realty

C. 808.635.7019

Danette@KauaiLuxuryLiving.com

www.KauaiLuxuryLiving.com

PageS 44-45

THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE GLOBAL 2019 ISSUE OF UNIQUE HOMES. TO SEE THE DIGITAL VERSION OF THIS STORY, CLICK HERE.

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Flower Power

The future of flowers is now, as innovative companies bring a fresh take to an ancient art.

PHOTO BY CARLOS HERNANDEZ AND STYLING BY KELSEY TIMBERLAKE EVENTS

Year-round, lasting roses, vibrant arrangements, unforgettable event designs, and floral art installations are transforming moods and brightening spaces even as the days grow shorter and cooler. These florists are changing the game with designs that capture the delicacy of nature and create an undeniable addition to any space.

 

Color Theory Design Co. is a Portland, Oregon-based design studio co-owned by Alyssa Lytle and her husband, Brian Hummel. Together, the two offer floral design, event design, floral delivery and even commissioned oil paintings. As a third-generation artist, Lytle handles the creative side of things while her husband manages the marketing and technical portions of the business. “I see Color Theory as being set apart by our holistic design approach — our professional backgrounds in fine art, technology, building and, well, color theory. Between the two of us and our skill sets, we are able to have a unique take on floral design,” says Lytle.

Their stunning arrangements are alive with color and texture and can only truly be experienced in person. From weddings and other events to intricate arrangements and more, Color Theory Design Co. creates an atmosphere as well as an experience with florals. When asked where she draws her inspiration from, Lytle says, “I get inspired by everyday color stories that are easy to miss — a beautiful yellow tree in the fall next to a little chartreuse bungalow in Portland. A rusty bridge with spots of coral and red paint to hide the graffiti at Barton Springs in Austin. Explosions of pear blossoms against the cold gray sky and whitecaps of Lake Michigan right outside the Adler Planetarium.”

Art in the form of flowers and more is only the beginning for Color Theory Design Co. “I would like to expand the design work we do to accommodate the mind and soul in unique ways — retreats and classes … and so much more.”

The co-owners of Rose Box NYC, Inbal Hornik and Dana Dadush, explain that the luxury company “provides the best quality roses that will actually last for a whole year in beautiful and fashionable hat boxes.” Together the two have found a way to pre-serve the fleeting nature of roses. These various rose boxes maintain their beauty for so long that they become a part of a room’s decor if kept in the proper conditions.

 

 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF COLOR THEORY DESIGN CO.

Color Theory Design Co. creates an atmosphere as well as an experience with flowers.

 

“We are so in love with roses and both think that roses are the symbol of beauty. We wanted to create something that would make people happy and make them smile,” says Hornik. The touch of fashion and longevity in the roses pair perfectly to highlight an old-time classic with a contemporary twist.

“The flowers go through a special preservation process with a natural ingredient that allows them to stay fresh for a very long time,” says Dadush, who speaks to the dedication that goes into each rose box. Carefully grown, selected and arranged, the flower boxes speak for themselves in terms of elegance and beauty.

PHOTO COURTESY OF INBAL BAR

Rose Box NYC offers roses that will last a year.

 

Once the fall foliage fades, fend off the gray with a contemporary arrangement from Sage Flowers. The company is a breath of fresh air among classic florists. Based in South London, the pair of friends responsible for the beautiful shop are as undeniably chic as their arrangements.

Iona Mathieson and Romy St. Clair are the co-founders of Sage Flowers, which stemmed from a lifelong interest in florals from Mathieson. St. Clair says, “Personally, I was desperate to get out of what I was doing (healthcare consultancy) and work with creative/like-minded people.” The two are increasingly inspired by travel and small things from a color palette to a mood.

Their online shop boasts a delicate pink hue paired with a subtle yet rich navy blue to hint at their taste for color and style. Using seasonal and often local sources, the two artists often use dried flowers in tandem with fresh flowers to create texture. Sage Flowers creates modern displays that seem to harness the natural yet ephemeral beauty of flowers.

Working with prominent brands, such as Gucci, Instagram, Marie Claire, Royal Oak & The British Academy, the pair wanted to move away from traditional choices and forms and pull inspiration from all over. “Inspiration comes from anything and everything,” says Mathieson.

An Age-Old Tradition 

Floral arrangement appears throughout centuries in cultures from all around the world. Extensive and intricate practices throughout history have transformed and molded contemporary florists today. 

According to The History of Flower Art, published on My Modern Met in 2018, during Egypt’s “Age of the Pyramids” there is evidence in carvings/sculptures that flowers — especially the well-known lotus — herbs, and other plants were left in tombs, cherished, and symbolized prosperity. In Medieval Europe, flowers were relished in religious ceremonies. Ancient Greece and Rome began the tradition of wedding bouquets, which fended off negative energy and represented fertility. Throughout the Victorian era, flowers were a means of communication during a time of reserved men and women in high society. Entire books were dedicated to the symbolic meaning of flowers from various species to specific colors. Bouquets of flowers could carry the length of secret conversations.

Romy St. Clair, co-founder of Sage Flowers.

 

 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SAGE FLOWERS

Iona Mathieson, co-founder of Sage Flowers.

The pair describes their company as a “design-led, South London-based floral design on paper, but in reality, it’s really a lot more than that. It’s two friends doing what they love and trying to be an active and core part of our communities, be it local or creative.”

     

 

This editorial originally appeared in The High End Winter 2019

 

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Sleeping Soundly

Organic non-toxic mattresses and bedding offer a luxury that will help you rest a little easier.

We spend approximately one-third of our lives sleeping. Why not choose the very best surfaces on which to sleep? 

We take special care of the food we consume and the products we use but our mattresses and bedding are often overlooked. In reality, they can largely affect our overall wellbeing. Based on the tips, tricks, and articles scattering the internet, we are desperate for a good night’s sleep, and with good reason. As we overload our schedules and take on more responsibilities, the need for a solid night of rest continues to grow, just as the importance to rejuvenate and reset does.

According to Jack Dell’Accio, CEO and founder of Essentia, synthetic mattresses and bedding introduce low-level toxins into our environment, which our central nervous systems continuously need to fight while we rest. The chronic exposure to the harmful chemicals found in synthetic mattresses and bedding can interfere with our sleep, which can affect everything from productivity and mood to weight loss and eating habits.

Mark Abrials, co-founder and CMO of Avocado Green Mattress says, “Countless studies show that the chemically treated materials commonly used in our manufacturing and building processes negatively impact human health.” The toxins slowly release over time, all the while contaminating our environment “through the processes of volatilization (off-gassing),
abrasion, leaching, and oxidation,” according to Abrials.

Unfortunately, most people “tend to not realize the hidden dangers hiding in synthetic mattresses that can cause health issues over time,” says Dell’Accio. Essentia and other companies are handcrafting mattresses, pillows, bedding and more with materials that are safer and environmentally responsible.

White Lotus Home offers mattresses and bedding that are handcrafted from organic cotton and other chemical-free materials. Essentia uses a natural memory foam that is made from hevea milk — the white sap from the Rubber tree — and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic wool. While Avocado and Happsy avoid polyurethane foams and harsh flame retardants. Dedicated to a good night’s sleep, these companies are improving the environment and sleeping habits.

White Lotus Home

whitelotushome.com

White Lotus Home proves its dedication to healthy living by creating safe, chemical-free hand-crafted mattresses, duvets, pillows, toppers, and more. Wool latex, organic cotton, green cotton, and other materials make these products a healthier choice for consumers. Marlon Pando, the president of White Lotus Home — a company dedicated to creating sustainable and healthy products — says “our integrity and craftsmanship are the main reasons why we have been in business since 1981. We are experts in handcrafting mattresses, pillows, and bedding from the finest fibers on Earth.”

Photo courtesy of Lotos Homes

Avocado

Avocadogreenmattress.com

The Avocado Green Mattress is beaming with several certifications and standards, such as GREENGUARD Gold Certified, GOLS organic certified latex, and OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified latex that ensures its mattresses, bedding and more are reliable products. “We follow a farm-to-bedroom approach when manufacturing our organic mattresses,” says Abrials. “Ours is more sustainable and responsible than the conventional alternative and is truly
built-to-last.”

Photo courtesy of Avocado Green Mattress

Essentia

myessentia.com

Essentia products are making a difference even while we sleep. The company offers a variety of mattresses, pillows, and accessories that are healthier for the average person, but with options that also cater to athletes and children specifically. “Essentia is completely uncompromising. Our products don’t just focus on being natural, our biggest plus is performing for the sleeper. This means truly helping you rest and recover from your daily grind and waking up more refreshed,” according to Dell’Accio.

Phots courtesy of Essentia

     

This editorial originally appeared in The High End Fall 2019.

Sweet Sustainability

Some of the world’s finest hotels have accepted hundreds of thousands of new guests: honeybees that reflect a commitment to sustainability.

A Cut Above The Rest

Sustainable jewelry companies weigh the impact of their creations, in more ways than one.

Dining Responsibly

Seafood challenges chefs and delights diners, but a world of rapidly depleting resources requires conscientious choices.

Green Dreaming

The color green symbolises life, renewal, harmony and growth and is set to steal the limelight of new interior design concepts in the year ahead.

Give the Gift of Sustainability

Ethical and sustainable jewelry companies are adding some sparkle to the world of fashion.

A Guide to the Michelin Guide

Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts is proud to announce that both the hotel’s signature restaurants, the Italian Il Ristorante — Niko Romito and the Chinese Bao Li Xuan, have been awarded Michelin stars during the Michelin Guide Shanghai 2020 presentation ceremony.

Flowers & Diamonds

The delicate and fleeting beauty of nature has been preserved in Earth’s hardest natural substance resulting in the perfect combination of jewelry and flowers.

Sustainable Shoes and More by Nisolo

Nisolo, a sustainable fashion brand, shares its impact report online and offers everything from jewelry and accessories, to heels, boots, bags and more. This company focuses on more than low prices. The handcrafted process involves intentional designs, an ethical work environment, and comfortable fashion that can be worn every day.

Sweet Sustainability

Some of the world’s finest hotels have accepted hundreds of thousands of new guests: honeybees that reflect a commitment to sustainability.

Dining Responsibly

Seafood challenges chefs and delights diners, but a world of rapidly depleting resources requires conscientious choices.

A Guide to the Michelin Guide

Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts is proud to announce that both the hotel’s signature restaurants, the Italian Il Ristorante — Niko Romito and the Chinese Bao Li Xuan, have been awarded Michelin stars during the Michelin Guide Shanghai 2020 presentation ceremony.

A Cut Above The Rest

Sustainable jewelry companies weigh the impact of their creations, in more ways than one.

Big Gardens for Small Spaces

By focusing on a desire to nurture carefully grown fauna, this company has rethought the living wall by making gardening easy for small spaces.

How To Make Your Home Sports-Friendly

Whether you’re looking to add a basketball or tennis court, or something more adventurous like a putting green, home golf simulator or bocce ball court, having the ability to play these sports while at home can provide countless hours of enjoyment.

The Art of Writing

Exclusive writing instruments elevate the tradition of putting pen to paper — a ritual technology cannot erase — into fine art

Bedding for a Cause

The Good Sheet, a luxury bedding brand based in Tasmania, Australia partnered with non-profit organization, One Tree Planted, is planting five trees in its home state of Tasmania with every bedding set sold.

Modern Midwestern Makes

These two Midwestern brands, both with a reputation for timeless design, craftsmanship, and innovation, will debut a new collection in January 2020.

Concrete-Inspired Gift Guide

Looking for inspiration this holiday season? Check out this gift guide with an edge. These concrete-inspired items are perfect for your home or office and will stand the test of time to celebrate for years to come.
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