Home Bars Come Back in Vogue

By HELEN KIRWAN-TAYLOR from wsj.com

You know bars are back in fashion when people trade "mixologists" business cards. These are people who perform chemistry experiments on alcoholic substances and come up with nifty combinations that win bartenders such as Erik Lorincz of the Connaught Bar in London standing ovations. There are now regular pilgrimages to sample his Bloody Mary with celery "foam."

One would have had to be on a prolonged vacation not to have noticed the amount of bars, private members clubs and watering holes multiplying across Europe. What sparked this trend is a matter of debate though one cannot underestimate the influence of the Golden Globe and Emmy-winning American television series "Mad Men" on our habits. Even teetotalers are polishing up their Baccarat crystal glasses and filling them with ice—just for the sound effects.

You can, however, credit David Collins, the designer behind the Blue Bar at the Berkeley and the bars at Claridge's and the Connaught, for making hotel bars the most glamorous destination places in London. Clients (Madonna and Tom Ford included) often ask him for exact replicas. "People tend to entertain on a different scale now. It is not always the commitment of cooking dinner, so a great way to be hospitable with relatively low inconvenience is to have people for pre-dinner drinks, but with all the trimmings: martini, lemon, sliced apple, etc., and of course great glasses," he says.

Parisian designer India Mahdavi Hudson, who updated the interior of the Coburg Bar at the Connaught Hotel, has a more pragmatic explanation for the trend. "No SMS," she says, inferring that bars may be the last place where people communicate as opposed to staring at their Blackberry screens. Ms. Mahdavi Hudson has just designed a retro '60s style bar for the 10th anniversary of French Architectural Digest, which was installed at the Hôtel Marcel Dassault in Paris in September and features jungle wallpaper and rattan furniturea. Her idea is to create "daytime" bars, she says, "where you meet with friends and leave the mobile at the coat check."

Read full article here.


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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 1/31/2011 at 9:46 AM
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50 Cent Lowers Farmington, CT Luxury Mansion Asking Price

Rapper 50 Cent just wants to get rid of his costly 53-room mega-mansion in Farmington and he has lowered the price again.  He has dropped the price on the 37 bathroom/19 bedroom estate to $9.9 million.

This is the third time the rap star, whose real name is Curtis James Jackson III, has lowered the price on the place he bought for $4.1 million from fighter Mike Tyson . Since putting it up for sale four years ago, 50 Cent has periodically dropped the asking price which began at $18. 5 million and had most recently been lowered to $10.9 million. The property, listed by William Raveis Real Estate, is being billed as a "presitigious home," and is advertised with duPont REGISTRY.

 The 50,000-square-foot mansion is on 17 acres and includes a gym, billiard rooms, racquetball courts and a disco with a "dancing room" featuring stripper poles. 50 Cent reportedly spent millions on improvements to the estate that was originally built by swindler Benjamin Sisti.

 A few weeks ago two burglars were discovered by police hiding inside the Poplar Hill Drive residence. There have also been reports that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had taken a look at the property recently.  

Find out more about this property on duPont REGISTRY Homes.


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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 1/30/2011 at 2:23 PM
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World's Most Expensive Bed goes on Sale for £4m

Shared from newslite.com

A British designer has created what's being described at the world's most expensive bed -- and at £4m it probably is.

King of bling Stuart Hughes says his 'Baldacchino Supreme'  bed is handmade and curved from the best quality ash wood.

But that's just the beginning, the fancy bed is inlaid with 107kg of 24ct gold along with small decorative applications in gold leaf detail.

Then there is the fabric, which is all the finest Italian silk, and the headboard can be customised with diamonds or other precious stones.

Stuart says the bed - which takes three months to complete - is so exclusive only two will be made… unfortunately all that gold and diamonds still won't stop your partner snoring.


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Posted on: 1/28/2011 at 5:00 PM
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Johnny Depp Buys Multimillion-Dollar Luxury Home In Venice, Italy

Shared from starpulse.com

Johnny Depp paid $13.4 million on a house in Venice after falling in love with the city during filming "The Tourist" with Angelina Jolie last year.

Depp plays American tourist Frank, who meets a mysterious beauty (Jolie) who drags him into a dangerous world of intrigue and espionage while traveling through Europe in director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's paranoid thriller.

According to local newspaper "La Nuova Venezia," the actor outbid an Arab prince for the empty building, which is situated in the Santa Croce area of Venice and is one of the only available homes overlooking the famous Grand Canal.


New Luxury Residential Community Opens on Island of Kauai

Shared from kukuiula.com

KOLOA, Hawaii--Kukui‘ula, the first new luxury residential community in Hawaii in over a decade, has opened on the southern coastline of the island of Kauai. The 1,000 acre community is being developed by an affiliate of A&B Properties, Inc., a subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. of Honolulu, and DMB Associates, Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona.

A private $100 million clubhouse serves as the social and recreational centerpiece of the community and includes the main clubhouse, known as The Plantation House, a spa, the Kukui‘ula Golf Club, a Tom Weiskopf-designed 18-hole championship golf course and an elaborate array of swimming pools.  

Kukui‘ula also debuted its Mauka and Makai neighborhoods, with the first model home, a three-bedroom plantation-style Makai Cottage, available for viewing.

Kukui‘ula has sold 81 homesites to date, mostly through a pre-development sales opportunity offered prior to major construction. With first phase construction complete and recreational amenities open, the developer is now resuming active sales efforts.

The Plantation House Reflects Authentic Local Style of Kauai

The 20,000 square foot Plantation House, overlooking Kukui‘ula Bay, is a showcase of classic Hawaii style. A Great Room, with coffered ceilings and wood beams and an eclectic mix of furnishings collected from around the world, opens to a wrap around lanai with seating areas offering all-day views of the Pacific and ocean sunsets.

Dining rooms emphasize fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables and seafood and meats from Hawaii’s best purveyors. The Plantation House also has a scenic dining hale, event pavilion, family-style dining room, ‘Island Pursuits’ outfitters shop, and a game room for adults and keiki (kids) to enjoy.

Kukui‘ula Spa Takes Relaxation and Rejuvenation to the Next Level

A spacious 20,000 square foot garden spa, located adjacent to the Plantation House will open in March 2011. The Plantation House Spa will offer a choice of indoor and outdoor treatment rooms with therapies and services drawn from local botanical products and timeless Hawaiian healing traditions. Additional features include a lap pool and cascading waterfall, men’s and women’s locker rooms, outdoor showers, steam and sauna facilities and private relaxation areas. Members can now enjoy a movement studio for yoga, pilates and dance classes and an extensive selection of fitness equipment.

Kukui‘ula Golf Course A Showcase for Panoramic Ocean Views

The private 18-hole Kukui‘ula course was designed to appeal to players of all ages and skill levels. Designed by Tom Weiskopf, creator of over 50 acclaimed courses worldwide, the 216-acre par-72 course features panoramic ocean views on most holes and a landscape of native flora. The Kukui‘ula course will accommodate limited member play until its official opening in Summer 2011.

First Model Home Now Open For Tours

Kukui‘ula’s 3,670 square foot Makai cottage showcases authentic local style with double-pitch roofs, generous lanais, board and batten siding and raised post and beam construction. The fully-furnished 3-bedroom, 3 1/2-bathroom floor plan also features a great room, salt water pool and spa, outdoor garden showers and a freestanding guest cottage.

The collection of Makai Cottages range in size from approximately 1,500 to 3,800 square feet and are located on a mix of quarter-acre to one-third acre homesites bordering the fairways and greens of the golf course. The Makai Cottages are priced between $2.2 million and $3.6 million; custom homesites begin at $1 million.

Homegrown: Kukui‘ula’s Community Farm & Lake

Located upcountry, Kukui‘ula has created its own community farm where fruits, vegetables, herbs and tropical flowers are grown for residents to enjoy. Current crops include lettuce, beans, peppers, beets, arugula, a variety of herbs and fruits and tropical flowers such as orchids and bird of paradise. Residents are welcomed to gather their own fruits and vegetables, cut tropical flowers and enjoy opportunities for picnicking, hiking and biking.

The farm overlooks a 20-acre catch-n-release fishing lake for canoeing or fishing for exotic Peacock bass.

About Kukui‘ula

Named for the kukui or candlenut torches that once guided fishermen back home to Kauai, Kukui‘ula is located between Poipu, the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and historic Old Koloa Town.

Kukui‘ula is being developed by Kukui‘ula Development Company (HAWAII), LLC, an affiliate of DMB Associates, Inc., a Scottsdale, Arizona-based diversified real estate development and investment firm (www.dmbinc.com), and an affiliate of A&B Properties, Inc., a subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., one of Hawaii’s largest private landowners (www.abprop.com).


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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 1/27/2011 at 2:52 PM
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King or Queen for a Day: Luxury Accommodations at Versailles

By Kate Deimling from artinfo.com.

PARIS—For anyone who's ever fantasized about the opulent life of French royalty in the Old Regime — minus the Revolutionary bloodletting — Jean-Jacques Aillagon, president of the Château de Versailles historic site, is going to make your dreams come true. A mansion on the château's grounds, the Hôtel du Grand Contrôle, will undergo renovations to become a luxury boutique hotel, expected to open at the end of 2011.

Located about 100 yards from the château, the mansion has fallen into disrepair and will cost $7 million to renovate, NPR reports. Without sufficient funds in its budget, Versailles formed a partnership with the Belgian hotel company Ivy International, which will turn the 18,000-foot space into a 23-room luxury hotel. Ivy International will have a 30-year lease on the site, with Versailles receiving a portion of the profits. The redesign will respect the building's historical character and will be overseen byFrédéric Didier, who was in charge of the overhaul of the château'sGalerie des Glaces from 2004 to 2007.

The building is part of the early history of Versailles, but underwent a downward spiral in later times. Built in the late 17th century, the Hôtel du Grand Contrôle was used by finance ministers in the 18th century and became a mess-hall for French officers in the 19th century. The French army only recently handed the site over to Versailles. In a press release, the Château of Versailles states that the building has not been maintained or heated in six years and is in danger of being irreparably ruined without prompt attention.

The mansion, which is on the edge of the Versailles site, with its entrance on the rue de l'Indépendance Américaine, will offer views of the Orangerie, the building where Louis XIV once stored almost 2,000 orange and palm trees during the winter, and the Pièce d'Eau des Suisses, a large pond popular with picnickers.

While the French have traditionally been skeptical of involving private enterprise in national historic sites — and Aillagon has drawn protests in the past for his scheme to turn Versailles into a contemporary art kunsthalle, bringing shows of work by Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami, among others, to the palace — this project has not met with any real resistance. As art blogger Didier Rykner recently stated in a post approving the plan, the building lacks historical décor and was never publicly visited, and, above all, desperately needs preservation.

Find properties in France on duPont REGISTRY.


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Posted on: 1/26/2011 at 2:59 PM
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California Remains Golden

By Elyse Umlauf from duPont REGISTRY Homes.

California wins again--for the seventh year in a row--as the state where most people would like to live.  That’s according to an October 2010 Harris Poll in which it asks respondents, “If you could live in any state in the country, except the state you live in now, what state would you choose to live in?”

Echo Boomer and Gen Xers are especially enamored with the state and those demographic groups rank California as their number one spot, found the Harris Poll. Baby boomers (aged 46 to 64) also love California, ranking it number three, with Hawaii and Florida being their first picks.

Such news likely is no surprise to California real estate practitioners, who see people regularly enticed by the state’s gentle climate and sun-drenched beaches.  The luxury landing pads available in California are abundant, whether they’re historic beachfront properties, sleek contemporaries, golf properties, or stylish urban retreats.

See such properties on the pages of this issue that are dedicated to the ever-alluring golden state.

The architect for a Tiburon, California, house wisely saw a site that demanded something special. As a result, the design exploits the astounding views that, according to Karen Hardesty, capture the essence and joy of Tiburon living.

On one side, the graceful curves of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, the hills of the East Bay, and water traffic of commercial and pleasure vessels are visible. The other views reveal hills, trees, coves, and beaches.

And though the 5,924-square-foot property features high-end details, such as stone, granite and art glass, there’s nothing in the house that shrieks for attention. “It’s elegant, understated, and it’s not a house where you walk in and say, ‘Look at those moldings,’” comments Hardesty, who with Chelsea Hardesty, both of Frank Howard Allen REALTORS® in Tiburon, is colisting the property. “There’s nothing that detracts from the house’s setting. Everything is designed to enhance it,” she adds. Sleek, contemporary, and fresh would all be appropriate adjectives to describe the six-bedroom house.

The property is marked by clean lines and curved design elements that echo throughout the space. Rooms, including dual family rooms, are oriented to walls of glass, and the property’s outdoor decks extend the home’s livable space.

Karen Hardesty points to the master suite as especially attractive and calls it a retreat. For one, it’s secluded from the main areas of the house and it has a sitting room, a dressing room, and access to an outdoor deck with a private hot tub. And the bedroom, itself, features two walls of glass.

The more public areas of the house are ideally suited to entertaining, and the two Hardestys got a firsthand look at how well the property works for guests when they threw a soiree, featuring jazz and champagne, to introduce the property when they listed it. There was an “ooh-aah” sense among guests as they entered through a stone walkway and immediately caught the captivating views.

Additional outdoor features include dramatic night lighting, a sports court and parking for eight cars. In addition, six houses in the neighborhood, including this one, share use of a dock.  The neighborhood, itself, is characterized by large wooded lots, open space, parks and the beach. And though it’s only a 15-minute jaunt from the Golden Gate Bridge, Karen Hardesty says the house makes you feel like you’re worlds away, thanks to a bucolic setting that is populated by oak trees, flowers and meandering paths.

A turn-of-the-century, grand estate in Montecito represents a notable departure in architectural style from the tile-roofed, Mediterranean-style homes more typical in this region of Southern California.

Find California properties on duPont REGISTRY Homes.


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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 1/24/2011 at 11:26 AM
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Zsa Zsa Gabor To List Bel Air, Calif, Luxury Mansion

Shared from wsj.com.

Zsa Zsa Gabor and husband Frederic Prinz von Anhalt are looking to unload their Bel Air, Calif., mansion for about $28 million. A lease with an option to buy is also available.

The real estate agent’s name will be announced later Thursday. Prospective buyers can start looking at the house Monday, says John Blanchette, the couple’s publicist.

The mansion off of Sunset Boulevard was originally built by Howard Hughes, and Elvis Presley lived there for about four years while he filmed movies in Los Angeles, Prinz von Anhalt told entertainment website TMZ. Gabor purchased the home from Presley’s estate in the 1970s, for $600,000, Blanchette said.

Maintaining the home, which is roughly 8,000 square feet with 26 rooms, is becoming too much for the couple because of their age and health problems. They want to move to a smaller Westwood condo more amenable to Gabor’s wheelchair. Gabor, a Hungarian-born sex symbol of the 1950s and 1960s who will soon turn 94, recently had her right leg amputated.

“They have to heat the whole house in winter and you have the problems with an aging house - roof and plumbing and that kind of thing,” said Blanchette, who has been Gabor’s publicist since 1983  - longer than seven of her husbands.

He doesn’t think the home will have any problem selling, even in a down market. “It’s a historic house at the top of Bel Air Road,” Blanchette says. “From the patio on a clear day you can see Catalina Island. It’s a spectacular house.”

Plus, he adds, it’s an address with history: “If only the house could talk.”


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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 1/21/2011 at 3:17 PM
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Construction Finished on Jeter's Luxury Mansion, Tampa, Florida

Shared from Tampa Bay Online.

TAMPA - After more than a year in the making, the House That Derek Jeter Built, the biggest home in Hillsborough County, is finished.

On Wednesday, Tampa's building department issued a certificate of occupancy for the famed Yankee shortstop who calls Tampa his permanent home.

The $7.7 million house dwarfs surrounding homes on Bahama Circle in Davis Islands. Construction began on the 30,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom, nine-bath mansion early last year. Jeter bought up the adjacent lots on which the home sits for $7.7 million in 2005 and 2006.

The mansion is nearly the size of a Best Buy electronics store and currently is the biggest house, square-footage-wise, in the county.

Jeter is in town this week for his charity golf tournament, but it was unknown if he's staying at the new waterfront home or if he's staying in his quaint $1 million home in Avila.


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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 1/21/2011 at 3:05 PM
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The Green, Green Luxury of Home

By TARA LOADER WILKINSON from wsj.com

Even in a world where green has become the new black and words like "sustainable" grace everything from food packages to corporate mottos, the notion of building an eco-friendly luxury home can seem like an oxymoron.

The luxury carbon-neutral home concept—in which properties attain a net zero carbon footprint—has been labeled "a conscience salve," "greenwashing" and "a complete misnomer" by critics.

"You think of a £30 million mansion built with the finest imported materials, the heated pools, the electrical gadgets, the air conditioning, the six-car garage and of course the private jet journey to get there. That can appear at odds with the environment," says Peter Mackie, managing director of HSBC-backed Property Vision, a U.K.-based estate agent.

The luxury carbon-neutral home concept—in which properties attain a net zero carbon footprint—has been labeled "a conscience salve," "greenwashing" and "a complete misnomer" by critics. Despite that skepticism, developers are hoping to turn a seemingly contradictory phrase into a 21st-century success story, laying plans for prime deluxe carbon-neutral property all over Europe. New homes in the U.K, Portugal, Italy, Morocco and Switzerland are being marketed to wealthy individuals around the world, with developers reporting strong demand.

In Morocco's Atlas Mountains, Anwar Harland-Khan, co-founder of green architect group Sustain Worldwide, is behind a carbon-neutral luxury development called L'Amandier. Construction of the project began last year and the villas are expected to be completed this year. All water will be drawn from on-site wells, and rainwater will be harvested for irrigation. Mr. Harland-Khan, who is also working on a Swedish carbon-neutral ski resort, says industry standards in Morocco are stringent and there are certificates provided to clients at each stage. Interiors, designed by U.K. and Moroccan architects Nick Gowing and Hicham Belhouari, have a flavor of Marrakech. Each villa has its own pool shaded by Bougainvillea and almond and citrus trees.

Andermatt Swiss Alps, a major development overseen by Orascom Development Holding AG, which includes six luxury hotels, some 500 apartments and luxury villas and an 18-hole championship golf course.

Half of the sixteen villas, which are priced up to £425,000, have been bought before completion of construction. "Sustainable luxury is about providing for the needs of discerning people today, without compromising the needs of future generations," says Mr. Harland-Khan. "It is well within our grasp."

Read full story.


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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 1/19/2011 at 10:04 AM
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Hong Kong Luxury Property Market Surges

By Sonya Bryskine from Epoch Times Staff

According to the agency's latest report the value of transactions for properties valued at $HK10 million (US$1.3 million) or more totaled HK$196.67 billion ($25.3 billion) last year. The staggering growth has surpassed the 1997 property boom, which followed the government's introduction of electronic transactions of property data the year before.

The 1997 value of transactions totaled HK$173.8 billion, according to Dow Jones Newswire information. The number of luxury apartment transactions in 2010 rose 33 percent to 8,642 and was the highest number since 1997, when 9,532 transactions were recorded, the report said. Hong Kong is facing a property crisis, as prices continue to surge in a market where availability cannot satisfy the demand. Thousands are finding it increasingly difficult to own an apartment, with many living in squalid conditions, cramped into shoebox cages. 

Analysts believe the driving force of the price hike is the growing demand from the mainland China buyers, who are attracted by Hong Kong's free-market economy and relative political freedoms. Hong Kong' s luxury property transactions have hit an all-time high, surging 40 percent in 2010, says real estate agency Centraline Property Ltd.

According to the agency's latest report the value of transactions for properties valued at $HK10 million (US$1.3 million) or more totaled HK$196.67 billion ($25.3 billion) last year. The staggering growth has surpassed the 1997 property boom, which followed the government's introduction of electronic transactions of property data the year before.  The 1997 value of transactions totaled HK$173.8 billion, according to Dow Jones Newswire information. The number of luxury apartment transactions in 2010 rose 33 percent to 8,642 and was the highest number since 1997, when 9,532 transactions were recorded, the report said. 

Hong Kong is facing a property crisis, as prices continue to surge in a market where availability cannot satisfy the demand. Thousands are finding it increasingly difficult to own an apartment, with many living in squalid conditions, cramped into shoebox cages. Analysts believe the driving force of the price hike is the growing demand from the mainland China buyers, who are attracted by Hong Kong's free-market economy and relative political freedoms. 

Read full article here.


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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 1/18/2011 at 2:24 PM
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Hideaways Club Launches City Collection of Luxury Apartments

Alma Kadragic with realestatechannel.com

DUBAI, UAE - The Hideaways Club, a global property company specializing in equity ownership and management of a collection of international luxury property investment funds, announced this week that it is launching its second fund, The Hideaways Club City Collection, a portfolio of luxurious global city apartments.

Following the success of The Classic Collection, the Hideaways Club's first fund of luxury villas across the world - including the Villa Arabella in South Africa and the Villa Palmeira in Portugal - comes the launch of The City Collection - an exclusive private members club which will provide investors with a new way to enjoy a luxurious city lifestyle.

The City Collection will start with 10 serviced apartments in New York, London, Paris, Venice, Miami, and Prague. Other cities will added, including Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok, and Sydney to reach 120 city apartments over the next three years.

Every apartment will be located in or close to city centers and will be overseen by a concierge service to handle everything from booking apartments and arranging dinner parties to acquiring tables in the smartest restaurants or tickets for the best shows.
The City Collection is intended for people who enjoy frequent travel and an international lifestyle. "The success of the Classic Collection and extremely positive testimonials from our members confirms our belief that this type of investment is not just a financially astute way to own and use overseas properties, but provides the means to enjoy memorable holiday experiences while at the same time providing the logical alternative to sole property ownership," said Nick Bettany, CEO of The Hideaways Club.

With up to $2.8 million invested in each apartment, the properties will have a minimum of two double bedrooms and bathrooms, king sized beds with Egyptian cotton sheets, the latest high tech and audio visual equipment, a DVD and book library, wireless internet, flat screen televisions, and fully equipped kitchens.

Premium Membership allows up to 23 nights per year and costs $187,000 for a full equity share. To that is added an annual fee of $8300.  Associate Membership allows up to 12 nights per year and costs $101,400 for a half share. The annual fee is $4306. By investing in the fund, members will share in the appreciation of the entire portfolio of properties and automatically become members of The Hideaways Club.


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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 1/18/2011 at 10:20 AM
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Ritz-Carlton opens Vail destination club

Shared from bizjournals.com

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. LLC of Chevy Chase, Md., has opened its 10th destination club, this one in the Colorado ski town of Vail, the company said Monday.

The property is the company’s third Ritz-Carlton Destination Club in Colorado, which now has the most clubs of any area.

“Our members have shared with us their desire to be in this exceptional location, and we are excited to bring it to them,” Peter Watzka, executive vice president and COO of The Ritz-Carlton Development Co. Inc., said in a statement.

The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club is a members-only, luxury vacation timeshare club for affluent travelers. It provides two equity-based membership options — the Portfolio Membership, offering different locations each trip, and the Home Club Membership, whereby members go to the same location year after year.

Home Club memberships currently run from $100,000 to the low $800,000s per deeded interest, and Portfolio memberships start at $100,000, according to Ritz.  Colorado’s other Ritz destination clubs are near the Aspen and Bachelor Gulch ski areas. Other clubs are in Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, Calif.; Jupiter, Fla.; Kauai and Maui, Hawaii; Abaco, The Bahamas; and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The new Vail Ritz destination club is at the base of Vail Mountain in the Lionshead Village, near Gore Creek. It will be part of a new, proposed village at the resort called Ever Vail, which will be a LEED-certified.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating for energy-efficient, sustainable design.

Vail’s alpine-style Ritz club units range from 1,300 to 2,874 square feet, with full kitchens, fireplaces and high-speed Internet. Club services include on-site concierge, ski valet, housekeeping, fitness facility, spa services, golf privileges at Red Sky Ranch and heated underground garage.


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Posted on: 1/13/2011 at 2:43 PM
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Green 'Ark' home that can house 10,000 -- and looks like a Slinky!

Shared from CNNTech EcoSolutions

(CNN) -- Could a floating dome that can house up to 10,000 people be a model for future living?  Russian architect Alexander Remizov thinks so -- and his prototype design, called "The Ark," bears more than a passing resemblance to the classic children's toy, the Slinky.

Remizov believes his Ark, designed to be constructed from timber, steel and high-strength ETFE plastic, could be adapted for all kinds of environments and put to a number of different uses, including emergency housing -- its prefabricated structure should allow it to be constructed quickly -- and hotels. He's even suggested a variation with a honeycomb-style hull that can float.

After completing a Masters degree looking at non-polluting settlements, Remizov decided to pursue that theme with his architecture firm Remistudio and design a modern building that would be in harmony with the environment.  He says that he took a holistic approach to the problems of providing power to The Ark, working with colleague Lev Britvin on energy solutions to keep it in balance with the environment.

A wind power generator that runs through the center of the building would provide power while the outer surface would be covered with transparent solar panels. If the Ark was built on water, as Remizov suggests, he says it could also utilize thermal water energy.  "The form of a dome promotes the formation of turbulences of air, strengthening the work of wind generators," wrote Remizov in an email to CNN.

"Inside the building, the dome form promotes accumulation of warm air in the top part of a building," he continued. "This heat will be transformed to other kinds of energy and collects also in thermal accumulators."

While still on the drawing board, Remizov believes The Ark could be used for many purposes from apartments to offices and hotels, and be built on different scales to house between 50 and 10,000 people.  The way in which the Ark could be assembled from ready-made structures would reduce the cost of construction, suggests Remizov, who estimates that it would be comparable to the cost of energy-efficient "green" buildings.

"Lightweight materials, such as coating film, light design of the foundation, no insulation due to the presence of the buffer zone, reduce the weight structures, which would lead to cheaper construction," he said.


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Posted on: 1/13/2011 at 8:54 AM
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Drew Barrymore Buys Luxury Montecito Estate

Shared from Seattle Post Intelligencer Blog

Actress Drew Barrymore has splashed out $6.9 million on a six-bedroom mansion in one of California’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.  The Charlie’s Angels star is moving to a sprawling three-acre estate in Montecito, near Santa Barbara, where famous residents include Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Rob Lowe.

Her new home is a three-story Mediterranean-style mansion with five bathrooms, a pool and a spa, celebrity website RadarOnline reports.  She had recently been spotted house hunting in Montecito, a super-wealthy enclave of 10,000 residents.

The home features a guest wing that contains two bedrooms and an office, a traditional-looking wood-paneled living room with fireplace, and four garage bays. There's a little guest house off the main house, some dressing space off the master bedroom, and there are built-in bookcases everywhere.

With a striking glassed-in porch that serves as a long and luxurious sunroom. Further blurring inside and out , the formal dining room has a large paned picture window so that the flowers outside seem part of the room. There's a bedroom fireplace and simply gorgeous grounds for connecting with nature. The property itself is dotted with oaks and hydrangeas, as well as having areas of rolling lawn.


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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 1/11/2011 at 11:57 AM
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Categories: duPont REGISTRY Celebrity Properties | Luxury Real Estate
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