Thursday, March 27, 2008

Virgin Atlantic

Inflight massage station

Virgin Atlantic's new Upper Class Suite is set to challenge the traditional first class market and become the natural choice for soon-to-be homeless Concorde flyers. Priced at a business class fare, but targeted at both business and first class markets, the Upper Class Suite is supported by a groundbreaking integrated launch campaign, created by Start.

The challenge; To create a revolutionary strategy, which would be Virgin Atlantic's first ever global below-the-line product launch and branding campaign solely from the UK.
Initially, Start branded the new Upper Class Suite following extensive strategy and naming discussions with Virgin Atlantic's Brand Team and advertising agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. The name 'Suite' signifies a quantum leap in quality and comfort offered by the new concept - a radical, patented new design providing passengers with an extra-wide seat that flips over into a customised, extra-long bed - in relation to rivals' standard business and first class seats. This required a novel approach for launch communications.

The solution: a global campaign featuring integrated, on and offline direct marketing pieces tailored to key audiences. The high-value showcase brochure was styled after a 12" limited edition album and will be sent to 2 400 top corporates and premier flying club members across the UK. A 7" version of the brochure was also sent to over 90,000 flying club members, travel agents and flyingco. companies across the UK. In the US, a total of 120 000 brochures are being sent out to top corporates, flying club members and travel agents. Over 56 000 will be sent out in South Africa, and 4 000 in Japan.

The key brochure pieces invite the audience to the microsite, the hub of the campaign. The site enables the visitor to explore the Suite concept and simulate the new Upper Class cabin experience. HTML emails were sent to over 230 000 flying club members across the UK, and over 118 000 members in the US, to drive them to the microsite where they can experience and explore the Upper Class Suite for themselves. Start also developed a moving image video that translates the ground-breaking Suite concept into a corporate sales environment.

Start also created a 'Suite Selection' chocolate box, sent to nearly 2 500 agencies and intended as a 'sharer' mailer for agencies to distribute and enjoy. The 'Suite Selection' raises awareness and drives excitement about the new product. It includes the 7" brochure and encourages agents to visit the microsite trade section for offers, incentives and to experience the Upper Class Suite.

With the Upper Class Suite campaign, Start has made a revolutionary change to the look and feel of airline photography and imagery. By layering interiors photography with moving-image fashion-style photography inspired by style and fashion magazine art direction, the brochures, video and microsite have real energy and synergy.

Breda Bubear, Head of Advertising and Promotions, Virgin Atlantic says: "The day has finally arrived and didn't you do us proud! The site is working perfectly and we're getting great reaction to it...Thanks again for being as passionate as us about this project - we couldn't have done it without you!"

Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin, says: "Our Upper Class Suite demonstrates our firm commitment to continue to invest in product innovation. Quite simply, our Upper Class Suite gives you everything and more than you get in others' first class - except the bill!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

United International First Class


Terminal 5 Heathrow

Facts and Figures
Terminal 5 will be able to handle 30million passengers per year, taking Heathrow's total number of passengers to around 90 million. This will make Heathrow the world's busiest airport.

The new terminal building will be big enough to fit around fifty football pitches across its five floors.

The terminal's control tower will be the highest in the UK.

Around 18km of conveyor belt will be used to transport luggage around the terminal when it opens.

It is the UK's largest ever single site archaeological project, with over 100 hectares of land requiring investigation.

So far there has been over 80,000 artefacts found throughout the project, including pottery, worked flint, a hand axe dating back to 3000BC, a wooden bowl and a wooden bucket dating back to 1500BC - 1100BC

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Off to Saint Paul de Vence

I am finally off to Saint Paul de Vence, a small medieval village fifteen minutes from Nice, twenty from Cannes and hour from Monaco and Eze. Originally made famous as a favourite of Picasso and Matisse and today is the chic, secret enclave where stars have their second home – Rod Stewart and Roger Moore.

Anyone who is anyone at the Cannes film festival heads to the terrace of La Colombe d’Or which hasn’t changed for fifty years. The walls are adorned with original paintings by Picasso, Chagall, Miro, Van Gogh and there is even a Giacometti sculpture by the hotel pool.

La Colombe d’Or

Why I like going there so much? Because its understated, chic, close to the sea and all the French riviera parties, yet it seems like a world away.

M's House

Ramses - Madrid

Ramses - a bar, a restaurant and a club - is the most recent creation of a designer-hooligan - Philippe Starck. Expanding on three floors and opened just in December 2007, it outshines any of Starck's latest designs, including Bon restaurant in Moscow or a hotel Fasano in Rio de Janeiro.

Though, a bar occupies a large space in the centre of the first floor, do not rush to associate it with a lounge. Old guy Starck has found again an opportunity to play around with his favorite interior object - a chair. Scalps are split off not to garden gnomes at this time (as at St.Martins Lane hotel, London), but Oscar statuettes - at least gold-color faces seem to have exactly the same features as the famous Hollywood movie award. Someplace else guests may plop down on small rocking-chairs, with seats bearing cheeky posteriors' imprints! Despite this minor recklessness, Starck reveals his presence just in few more details there - leaving the overall ambience of the bar light and tastefully minimalistic.

The dance club, too, located in the basement floor, does not present much surprise to Starck's style connoisseurs - a small bar, dim lighting and an excellent nightclub atmosphere. The true Starck's extravaganzas start at the second floor restaurant, lavishly garnished with flaunting decadent elements. Pompous candelabra, eclectic sofas and an absolute mixture of styles in chair design - some being upholstered with black and white fur even. Also a bar design stirs a peculiar sensation, as you savor a drink sitting on a bar stool with broken off arm supports and a word "DEAD", as if with a designer's own thumb, daubed on its back...

Along with the main restaurant area there are two smaller dining-rooms - the biggest of which may seat no more than twenty guests. It's almost impossible not to put your nose in the air there, as an impressive El Greco copy stretches all over the ceiling. Another, the smallest one, meant for just ten people, features an autonomous kitchen, with a chef cooking according to particular wishes of the guests only.

And, yes, a visit of a restroom! As in most of Starck's restaurants, it is an experience in itself. A marble washbasin bears an amazing resemblance to a table used in forensic medicine, while a graceful swan neck stretches out instead of a water tap - much like the ones of the hotel Faena in Buenos Aires (priding in Starck's interior, too).

Cuisine, although seemingly disregarded (quite often being the case at Starck's restaurants), is outstanding, too. It features a creative approach in vast variety of international dishes, including Middle East hummus and beef tails.

Hotel Santo Mauro - Madrid

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Plaza Athénée pedals ahead of the pack

The bicycle has arrived in Paris! Starting with Vélib, the new city-wide bicycle renting
program, travelling on two wheels is the hottest way to explore the City of Lights. Hôtel
Plaza Athénée
is now offering guests a piece of the action with “the Plaza touch”: a chic
and comfortable geranium-red bicycle with all the trimmings.

Based on a Dutch model, the bicycle combines luxury and practicality. Cheery red
paniers are attached to either side of the rack, permitting cyclists to tote that day’s
shopping back to the hotel. An elegant golden bike lock comes with a matching key
that can be worn around the neck, and a Plaza-red helmet ensures safety without
sacrificing style.

Just imagine! The freedom of taking a leisurely ride along the Seine, sun shining
overhead, with a gourmet picnic tucked snugly behind....

The bicycles are available to hotel guests through the concierge team at Plaza
Athénée. Upon special request, they are also available for purchase – a very special
souvenir from the quintessential Parisian Palace. - A great idea!

Indagare arose out of my frustration. As the founding editor of an award-winning travel magazine, I planned trips often and felt that there must be a better way to do so. Thanks to the Web, I can do everything from shop for groceries to manage my music online, so why was researching travel so excruciating? I was tired of collecting torn-out pages, digging through notes and tracking down people who really do know a place and what’s happening there now.

I wanted a well-curated archive of sophisticated cheat sheets, but I also had to be able to customize them. And more than that, I craved the ability to tap into a community of worldly friends and trusted experts—people who understand my tastes and share my passion for authentic experiences—with whom I could exchange advice and addresses. After all, today luxury travel goes beyond staying at a five-star resort, and the recommendations that so often make a trip memorable cannot easily be found online or in books.

Whether it’s hosting a concert for your friends in a palazzo in Venice or touring the ruins of Angkor Wat with an archaeologist who protected them from looters, these are life’s unforgettable moments. When you join Indagare, the keys to experiencing them will be at your fingertips. Like you, I trust a tip from a friend more than one from any other source. Indagare’s reports are written by me and by journalists who are my friends, whose opinions I value and who understand my high standards.

Become an Indagare member and gain access to the ultimate directory, one that will steer you to the people and places that will make your journeys remarkable. Join a club for passionate, like-minded travelers so you can trade opinions and share discoveries.

Indagare is the premier resource for the world’s most discerning travelers. We hope you’ll join us so your journeys can be enhanced by ours—and so ours will be inspired by yours.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Home - London


Why am I investing in Madrid apart from being Spanish? Here is why:

1.Madrid is an economic, political and administrative hub with a solid and diversely structured economy, and a truly dynamic city. In 2005, Madrid's growth has reached 4.0 percent, the highest amongst all Spanish regions and 6 tenths over the national growth.

2.Diversity and differences co-exist with social harmony and institutional stability. Madrid is renowned for its generosity and hospitality. The political framework is peaceful and offers guaranteed growth and stability.

3.Situated in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula, Madrid has a privileged geo-strategic position and is the natural link between Europe, Latin America and North Africa. Naturally, the top foreign companies setting up in Spain have chosen Madrid as the base for their head offices.

4.The hospitable administrative, fiscal and political environment encourages investors and the availability, price and quality of land and offices are amongst the most competitive in Europe.

5.At the forefront of scientific and technological innovation, Madrid has one of the most advanced regional networks of science and technology in Spain, and indeed Europe.

6.Madrid offers a highly qualified work force yet considerably lower labour costs than cities such as London, Paris or Amsterdam. It is an ideal space for creativity as its young, vibrant and intellectually inclined population is coupled with an extremely dynamic and consolidated business culture.

7.It has modern, high-quality infrastructure where innovation is the common denominator.

8.Its cultural heritage is among the most important in the world in terms of art, culture and monuments.

9.It is a cosmopolitan city embracing new cultures, where visitors quickly feel at home and where more than six million people from 172 different nationalities live side by side harmoniously.

10.Madrid is not only the gateway to the South American, North African or European markets, but also the largest local market in Spain.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Practically every upscale travel magazine from Peking to Paris has written about Amanjiwo over the past decade. Editors have gushed about its unique and romantic location amidst the padi fields with direct views of Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist monument. But ten years on, does Amanjiwo still make the grade?

You can feel your shoulders physically drop as you arrive at Amanjiwo. Everything about the place is calming, from its design that carefully mirrors Borobudur to the mute tones, exotic smells and gentle tinkle from the Javanese gamelan orchestra who play under the central dome. Indeed even the word Amanjiwo means peaceful soul.

The site is located in a natural amphitheatre with the Menoreh Hills rising directly behind, the Kedu Plain in front and four volcanoes Sumbing, Sundoro, Merbabu and Merapi in the horizon. The main limestone building is framed by just 36 suites so the whole place feels quiet and very personal. My suite had a high domed ceiling, separate his and hers open bathrooms, sliding glass doors onto a private garden with an outdoor bath and cushioned lounging area overlooking padi fields. The views are so inspiring rooms are stocked with a water colour set in case you’re overcome with artistic inspiration. There is a high-fi but with just one local CD and no TV, which definitely adds to the away-from-it-all feeling, although some may like the option of a post dinner movie in bed especially given how little there is to do. This hotel really is remote, so definitely not the place to have an argument with a loved one and don’t expect any local restaurants. Luckily the hotel kitchen serves up consistently good Indonesian and Western cuisine in a stylish silver-ceilinged open air dining room. Try the Makan Malam a 7-course tasting menu and if you have a special request, the charming Portuguese food and beverage manager Felipe Lencastre bends over backwards to oblige. Service is often an issue in very high end hotels that rely on local staff who inhabit a very different world. It must seem odd for a waiter who’s family earns a $1 a day in the rice fields, to serve $650 a night guests expensive western food and flutes of champagne. But although service is definately slow, it is always discreet, seemingly genuine and with a smile.

One of the main reasons people go to Amanjiwo is the 4am trip to Borobudur. The hotel has negotiated special early access to the site that allows guests to climb to the very top of the monument and watch the sunrise. It’s a privilege to see this great monument without the hordes of tourists who trample it by day, often stopping just for a photo opportunity and not taking the time to truly understand or appreciate what they are looking at. Standing almost alone adjacent to Borobudur’s great 8th century stupa at daybreak is mystical, moving and touches your very core. From here, through the morning mist you can see the several kampungs (small villages) that are within walking distance from the hotel and you can even opt to ride through them by elephant.

There are certainly things to do if you want to fill your time – jungle treks, cooking classes, cycling, lectures in the hotel library, charcoal sketching with a local artist, day trips to local markets and Yogyakarta – but for me Amanjiwo is about escape, stillness and tranquillity. You can spend days without seeing more than just a few guests. Whilst there is no spa which is a negative, good masseurs come to the room and there is a beautiful infinity swimming pool, overlooked by banyan trees and set into the rice paddies.

A decade on, does it still measure up against new contenders and stalwarts like the Four Seasons? Absolutely, but bear in mind that the management style is decidely more relaxed. By day two, Sean the laid-back aussie General Manager was calling me “mate” and joining us at the dinner table for drinks. His friendly British wife was shouting hello over the garden wall whilst walking her dogs. Now, for better or worse, that wouldn’t happen at the Four Seasons.

Mandala Airways Magazine

The Saint

Verbier - Booked

Four Seasons Island Spa

Welcome to Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa. Covering an entire private coral island, fringed with white sand and crystal clear, perpetually warm water is our most secluded tropical resort, Maldives at Kuda Huraa. Here, palm-thatched water bungalows dip their feet into a sea of turquoise, and sunrise, sunshine and sunset paint the endless sky

This one could come in use after a very drunk week in Lisbon...

Saturday, March 1, 2008