It’s not often that a small neighborhood hotel can become a trending tourist destination. Safari-themed Mustang Nero is the boutique hotel in Phra Khanong, Bangkok, that has transformed into a place that travelers want to visit, even just for a photograph.
Located just steps from the Phra Khanong BTS station, The Mustang Nero hotel is a buried treasure in the Phra Khanong soi or precinct. It’s not hard to spot this boutique hotel, with its three-floor building painted in black.
Even so, the simplistic exterior does not match up with the interior, which charms its guest upon the entrance. Vintage appliances, large tropical plants, and odd choices of decorations add a peculiar, yet mystic atmosphere to the cozy lobby space. The shaded lobby is a literal jungle, enveloped with giant plants and animal taxidermy.
The hotel consists of ten rooms, each overflowing with native plants along the building’s original scored wood paneling. The doors of each room are marked by a sign that indicates the animal spirit inside including, the Dragon, the Zebra, the Flamingo, and the Wolf.
The décor is kept minimal, blending the design with vintage furniture to create a raw and industrial aesthetic. Plants and chairs are used to fill the bedrooms, which keep the overall hotel design coherent. Other bedrooms donned pink and navy walls besides green velvet chairs. The hotel is like a museum, meticulously designed and staged with an intermix of colors and vintage ornaments.
Breakfasts feature homemade jams, organic vegetables, and artisan ingredients, prepared by Khun Joy, former set designer turned owner and chef at Mustang Nero.
Although nestled quite far from the Bangkok city center at Pathum Wan, there is plenty to see and do in the neighborhood, including the ‘Soho’ of Bangkok, Hof Art Space, the Naiipa Art Complex and the EM shopping malls.
Mustang Nero is Bangkok’s version of a mystic artist loft, tailored for creative professionals and those who have the urge to live among unique things.
Beyond the large condo development projects cropping up in Bangkok’s Phra Khanong soi (district) where Rama IV and Sukhumvit intersect, you will find a diverse community that’s helping this enclave thrive. Still true to its quaint and informal roots, Phra Khanong has slowly transformed into a blend of local finds and cool imports. From the W district – the ‘SOHO’ of Bangkok to Bangkok’s tallest 360-degree sky bar, the soi has become one of the most unique neighborhoods in town. Phra Khanong is the new urban playground for both locals and visitors.
W District – Bangkok’s SOHO
Occupied by countless food trucks and statement bars, W District is Phra Khanong’s most snazzy night-to-go. It has become quite the communal hub for the young and the trendy, boasting an à la mode night-market soaked in a relaxed atmosphere. Expect BBQ skewers, Thai street dishes, pizzas, and beers scarred around the edge of its easy-going ‘Beer Garden’ that reflects Bangkok’s upbeat, yet mellow culture.
Cielo Sky Bar
The Cielo Sky Bar may be one of the best-kept secrets in Bangkok. Perched on the 46th floor of a private project at Phra Khanong, Cielo offers an unimpeded view of Bangkok at 360 degrees. Visitors are whisked to the 46th floor on a private elevator to the doorsteps of this art-deco sky bar. With a curated selection of international dishes and cocktails, Cielo is a breathtaking place to sit and watch the Bangkok skyline.
Naiipa Art Complex
The Naiipa Art Complex created a stir when it was awarded Wallpaper’s design award in 2015. Translated as ‘Deep into the Forest’, Naiipa is one of Phra Khanong’s trendiest landmarks. It’s a mix-used project concealed within an old forest and uses reflective glass to integrate office space, art galleries, art studios, restaurants, and coffee shops to co-exist with the natural environment. It has quickly emerged as an art community for Bangkok’s award-winning designers, architects, and creatives.
Hof Art Space
In between the food and the drinks at W District, Phra Khanong’s Hof Art Space is a premier contemporary gallery that showcases the works of established and emerging Thai artists and aims to support the new generation of international creatives. Hof Art Space is one of the many places symbolic of Bangkok’s burgeoning ground for the artistic community of contemporary art and popular culture.
Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura occupies the rooftop of the brand’s store on Rodeo Drive, a two-mile-long street in Beverly Hills that is host to a parade of luxury fashion boutiques.
The restaurant takes part of its name from head chef Massimo Bottura, who has created a “deeply Italian” menu for the venue.
This marks the second time that Bottura has partnered with Gucci. Back in 2018, the three-Michelin-star chef worked with the brand on its eatery in Florence, Italy. This sits inside the store-cum-museum Gucci Garden that both sells and exhibits unique Gucci pieces.
The 50-cover LA location is designed to be an “intimate and cosy” space that nods to the opulent aesthetic of the existing Florence venue.
It has a private entrance at street level, where the restaurant’s name is written across an illuminated slab of pale marble. Guests are greeted in a lobby upstairs, which is covered in tree-printed wallpaper from Gucci’s homeware range.
Star-shaped spotlights punctuate the black ceiling, while an ornately patterned red rug overlays the parquet wooden floor.
Star forms appear again on the mosaic floors of the restaurant’s outdoor terrace, which looks out over Beverly Hills’ bustling, palm tree-lined streets.
A series of jade-green steel beams run overhead, supporting a sheet of awning that can be pulled across to shield diners from the sun.
Dining tables with red-marble countertops are dotted throughout, along with wicker, bistro-style chairs.
An antique wooden pulpit has also been repurposed as an outdoor bar counter.
Concertina glazed doors close off the indoor eating area, which is anchored by a huge, curved seating banquette upholstered in merlot-red velvet.
Gucci is part of a growing wave of high-end fashion houses that have their own restaurants – Louis Vuitton recently threw open the doors to Sugalabo V, an eatery set within its store in Osaka, Tokyo.
Tucked behind a speakeasy-style door, the intimate dining space features chocolate-brown surfaces and jewel-tone furnishings.
Luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton is selling a fitness equipment range during the coronavirus lockdown, with some simple sports items costing upwards of £1,000.
A set of table tennis bats, named ‘Ping Pong Set James’, by the company, are on sale for £1,759 and include a designer case for the bats.
The French brand is also offering potential customers the chance to buy an LV-branded skipping rope for £536. The set is called ‘Jump Rope Christopher’, and it’s pretty expensive considering the fact you can buy skipping ropes for as little as £3 from the likes of SportsDirect and Amazon.
Pairs of 3kg dumbbells are on sale for £2,158 for people wanting to exercise using designer weights.
The description reads: “These dumbbells have a striking aesthetic and sporty appeal. They are an ideal gift for those who wish to exercise in style or elevate their home gym with exclusive Louis Vuitton details.”
For golf fans looking to update their collection, Vuitton’s ‘Andrews Golf Kit’ is available for £555.
Here is the product description: “The Andrews golf kit echoes the prestige of the world-renowned golf club at the University of St Andrews. Including three golf balls and four tees, it features a metal hook for effortless transportation and bold contrast trims.”
The set would certainly get you some attention on the golf course once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, as it offers a far different look compared to your standard golfing brands like Ping and Mizuno.
However, it’s unlikely that players like Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas will be sporting the brand any time soon.
For people looking to get in some volleyball practice during lockdown, a Louis Vuitton monogram volleyball will set you back $2,700. That’s got to be one of the most expensive volleyballs on the market.
Source: Harpers Bazaar
Where is the ‘Aspen of Asia?’
Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands, is a skier’s paradise. Its powder runs are so impressive, the practice of skiing them has its own name, “Japow,” and enthusiasts travel from far and wide to experience the season, which sees on average 600 inches of snowfall.
Until the late 1990s, Hokkaido was a well-kept national secret, its slopes populated by domestic tourists and a handful of adventurous Australians. It didn’t stay that way for long. Within a decade the Japanese were joined by affluent individuals across Asia, all of whom desired more luxurious lodgings than their budget-friendly forebears.
Local and international developers saw the potential and began investing in Hokkaido’s ski resorts, in particular those around the resort town of Niseko, which is often called the “Aspen of Asia” on account of its luxury offerings and global appeal.
Individual investors followed, aided by a lack of restrictions on overseas buyers, and this has cultivated a strong property market. A report by Nikkei Asian Review noted that the price of land along a major street had risen 88% compared to the same period last year, making it the fastest-appreciating land in the country.
The region’s proximity to the rest of Asia, meant that those who have already invested in Hokkaido property were already seeing a healthy yield.
According to C9 Hotelworks, factors including freehold ownership, a weaker Japanese yen, and high capital gains have boosted the real estate market in Niseko. C9 Hotelworks stated that the average price for a condo in the Niseko resort had soared 25%, compared to the previous year. Current projects for sale are set to top US$1 billion in transaction value.
Niseko’s connectivity is reflected in Hokkaido’s diverse buyer market. The majority of investors hail from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Taiwan, and that these demographics have not changed significantly in the past three to five years.
Buyers in Niseko have the luxury of choice among apartments, villas and houses. Plots of land also present the opportunity to design and build a dream ski home, which is an increasingly popular option.
A number of renowned architects—including Japanese starchitect Kengo Kuma, who champions the use of natural materials and harmony with nature in his projects—have been commissioned to conceive properties in Niseko, both for developers and for private clients.
“Properties benefit from high quality Japanese construction and rapidly increasing yields on investment,” Mr. Lyon, a local real estate representative said. “It is the perfect place for investors to secure a spot for themselves in a world-class resort, and also enjoy strong returns from holiday rentals.”
Source: Mansion Global
Sprawling houses with tennis courts and indoor pools, among other ostentatious features, once constituted the benchmark for luxury properties. But not any longer. Luxury homebuyers now prefer smaller and manageable square footage with modern amenities based on wellness and technology.
Wellness has come to mean more than spas, pools and exercise rooms. The latest trend constitutes of green design and eco-friendly homes. Buyers are also willing to sacrifice square footage for in-town locations near all the action.
Here are the property types and features that the affluent seek based on a recent report by Coldwell Banker Global Luxury.
Modern and move-in ready homes
According to Coldwell Banker’s survey of 22 luxury real estate firms around the world, wealthy home shoppers prefer modern residences – both design-wise and in construction age.
While some may favor renovations of older or historic properties which tend to retain a higher land value, younger buyers prefer new builds with open-concept floor plans that support contemporary interiors.
Nearly 80% of the surveyed agents said buyers want flowing layouts with easy, informal transitions. Meanwhile, about 70% of respondents said that new-construction homes have risen in popularity over the past year.
Luxury homebuyers show little tolerance for outdated designs, even when it may have been built relatively recently. Existing condos, even built 10 years ago, are required to be extensively renovated for new interiors.
When it comes to home technology, 81% of the surveyed agents said their clients seek smart homes.
The definition of a smart home in 2020, goes beyond automated lighting and smart temperature control. Homebuyers want every aspect of living to be seamless.
This may include smart security systems, wireless sound systems and electric car docking stations.
Smart home tech has evolved from the convenience-focused applications to experience-focused integration of components into daily living and energy efficiency.
“I think we’re seeing more multifunctional spaces because people want ease of living. With everyone working on laptops and being so mobile, I’ve found that many of my luxury listings must have home automation that calls for purpose and function.”
Spaces to support a lifestyle
Outdoor living spaces or multi-use interiors have maintained their sustained appeal with luxury home shoppers and millennial buyers.
72% of the respondents said outdoor living spaces are a necessity, while flexible spaces, such as home offices is a growing popularity among younger buyers who may need to run small businesses from home.
“I think we’re seeing more of these multifunctional spaces because people want ease of living,” writes Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties in Honolulu, Hawaii.
As for condos, family-friendly features are highly-favored additions to a home. Certain condo developments include washing stations, walking areas for pets and child care services with activities and excursions for kids.
While traditional features such as spas and gyms may promote well-being, luxury homebuyers want amenities that emphasize holistic health as well as environmental stewardship.
Think energy efficiency, air and water flow and lighting quality as wellness considerations that underline the design, function and location of residences. Today, there are different levels of eco-friendly certifications that buildings can obtain, an advancement that is a part of the growing global trend of wellness real estate.
Living in a “green” development often translates into 10%-20% premiums, the report states.
Source: Coldwell Banker
If the mission of a spa is to create a memorable and rejuvenating experience, Shanghai’s Jiyu Spa brings exceptional beauty, peace and an immersive experience into a broader perspective.
Shanghai-based Hip-pop design team, has visually transformed Freud’s idea into a design inspiration. The Jiyu Spa targets the hidden unconscious mind to feel and enjoy the current moment, not over-analyzing what the mind sees.
The experience is an instant fantasy. Visitors are immersed in peaceful projections of the natural world, where a blurred LED screen plays the cascading movement of a waterfall and slow blooming motions of a young flower. Bonsai trees and waterfalls create a dreamy effect contrasted by futuristic LED-lit glass panels.
To add, this dreamy space is a transformation of a four-dimensional direction of time and space. Creative visuals and a harmonic background music are components to a poetic device to slow the restless. Reflective glass boxes and transparent panels extending outwards from the space, blur the line between reality and the imagined. A play on light and dark is the second poetic device. Shadows appearing over the light reflected off the glossy floors create a visual space capable to capture the unconscious mind. Rooms switching from light to dark and vice versa is a proposition of means to rejuvenate and pays tribute to the fore-coming designs of future wellness spaces.
The euphoric experience brought on by Hip-pop is an escape from the city upbringings of Shanghai. The team places visitors away from the routine life. Jiyu sets an unconventional example using principles of time and space. The design brings a new perspective that a spa is not solely an immersive experience for the physical body, but for the emotional mind.
Days after Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos announced they had finalized the terms of their divorce, the Amazon CEO is reportedly apartment hunting in New York City. The Amazon CEO remains the richest person in the world with a net worth of US$115 billion, while MacKenzie Bezos is worth US$37 billion, making her the fourth-richest woman in the world.
Jeff Bezos is looking to spend US$80 million on a penthouse apartment and two surrounding units in a Manhattan building overlooking Madison Square Park. This would expand his enormous real estate portfolio.
It’s not known how the Bezos family will split up their real-estate holdings, which include six huge properties across the country. A 2017 Land Report named Bezos the country’s 28th-largest landowner.
From two neighboring Beverly Hills mansions to a sprawling estate in an exclusive Seattle suburb, here are the six estates the Bezos own in the United States. Jeff Bezos lives in a nearly 29,000-square-foot estate in Medina, Washington.
Bezos owns two homes in Medina spanning 5.3 acres.
According to The Wall Street Journal, he paid US$10 million for the property in 1998. One home is a 20,600-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bathroom house, and the other is an 8,300-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bathroom home rumored to have cost US$53 million.
Medina, located on a peninsula across Lake Washington from Seattle, is an exclusive suburb that is also home to Bill Gates, other Microsoft bigwigs, tech entrepreneurs and telecoms magnates.
Many of the neighborhood’s mansions are hidden away behind gates and protected by elaborate security systems.
Bezos also owns property in Beverly Hills, California, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Los Angeles. He bought this Spanish-style mansion in the ritzy neighborhood in 2007 for US$24.45 million. The seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom Beverly Hills home is advertised having a greenhouse, a sunken and lighted tennis court, a huge swimming pool, four fountains and a six-car garage.
The Bezos family owns a 30,000-acre ranch about 30 miles from the town of Van Horn, Texas. Bezos grew up spending summers on his grandparents’ ranch outside Cotulla, Texas and bought the 30,000-acre Figure 2 ranch to give his family the same experience. Bezos bought the 30,000-acre property after the seller spent “millions” renovating it. Behind the home is a bunkhouse that sleeps 12. The property is also the base for Bezos’ private space company, Blue Origin.
Blue Origin made history in 2015 when it successfully launched and landed the reusable rocket, New Shepard. Its goal is to become a space tourism company, ferrying passengers up for weightless rides.
In 2016, Bezos bought a former textile museum in Washington, DC for US$23 million. The 27,000-square-foot space in DC’s Kalorama neighborhood is a former textile museum and dates back to 1912, earning it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood, Kalorama, is a hotspot for Washington big wigs. The Obamas own a US$5.3 million home nearby, and Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner moved in down the street.
In 1999, Bezos bought three condos in the Century building at 25 Central Park West in New York City’s Upper West Side under an LLC called “Jetima”. The purchase was from former Sony Music head Tommy Mottola for US$7.65 million. Bezos bought an additional unit for US$5.3 million in 2012, making him the owner of four condos in the historic building. The 32-story art deco building was built in 1931 and boasts a concierge, lift attendants and three separate entrances, on a prime location next to Central Park.
On a quiet patch of land in Tanjung Malim, Perak, strange, miraculous things are happening. The land is filled with large tanks, which in turn, are filled with fish. So far, nothing seems out of the ordinary.
Except that these fish happen to be sturgeon, a breed of fish that typically thrives in sub-tropical, temperate and sub-Arctic rivers, lakes and coastlines in Europe, north America and some parts of Asia.
Sturgeon fish are also better known for its roe, tiny little orbs called caviar that often fetch thousands of ringgit. This little Malaysian farm harvests caviar too!
Breeding the fish
On the invitation of a few Malaysian investors, Chien initially came to Malaysia to start a hot springs resort but ended up deciding to kick-start a sturgeon fish farming project instead in 2008.
The investors pumped in millions of ringgit into the project and Chien got to work. It took him five years, thousands of lost fish, countless expert naysayers, a lot of determination (and some heartbreak) and eight failed attempts before he finally nailed the recipe for breeding sturgeon fish in Malaysia.
“We hired a lot of experts and most of them gave up, but I kept trying,” says Chien simply.
Though Chien – understandably – will not reveal his secret methods, interestingly, after all that trial-and-error, he has discovered that sturgeon fish actually grow much faster in hot, humid local temperatures than they otherwise would.
“The growth of the fish is much faster – because in Europe, they have four seasons, so during winter, the fish don’t eat and don’t grow but here they’re growing and growing 365 days a year,” he says jubilantly.
Chien says the purity of the water used in the tanks is important to ensure good quality fish. As such, he uses water sourced from the forest behind the farm, which is so pristine it has a pH value of seven.
This water is pumped into the tanks three times a day to ensure it remains clean and the fish are only fed commercial marine pellets for optimum growth.
“The natural resources here are excellent, the water quality is very good so I am confident that the fish and the caviar are world-class,” says Chien.
Lim became immersed in the farm’s day-to-day operations in 2017, after being tasked by his family to commercialize the output from the farm.
“Up until that point, the focus had been on R&D, not on selling the fish or the caviar, so I focused on commercializing both,” he says.
Lim spent a year learning the ins and outs of sturgeon farming and caviar harvesting, even engaging a German expert to show the team how to extract the best flavour from the caviar.
Under his watch, the company also launched T’lur Caviar, the first Malaysian brand of tropical caviar in March 2019 and hasn’t looked back since.
Made in Malaysia caviar
Caviar is one of the world’s oldest luxury foods and was originally harvested by Russian and Persian fishermen in the Caspian Sea. It typically refers to salt-cured fish roe only sourced from sturgeon (roe from salmon and other fish is not considered “real caviar”).
The Caspian Sea is often reputed to be the producer of the best caviar in the world, with varietals like Beluga caviar and Osetra caviar leading the premium pack.
There are 27 different species of sturgeon in the world, but T’lur’s caviar yield is only from two kinds – Siberian sturgeon and Amur (Japanese) sturgeon.
Chien and Lim first realised they were sitting on a goldmine when an injured fish was slaughtered and caviar was discovered. Further examination of a sample size of fish on the farm showed that 99% of them were female.
“We suspect it’s because of the environment and weather,” says Lim.
Since most of the fish on the farm are female and Chien had already discovered how to keep sturgeon fish alive in the local climate, selling Malaysian caviar became a foregone conclusion. After all, Chien had already proved to be a sturgeon pioneer.
Why not go the extra mile and become a pioneering Malaysian caviar producer too?
Source: Star Malaysia
In the sleepy mountains of Sapa, Vietnam, stands a whimsical creation by Bill Kingsley. Kingsley is the mastermind behind some of Asia’s most stunning hotels, all of which resemble 19th -century European palaces. His latest Hotel de la Coupole on the hills of Sapa, is no exception.
In the 1880s, the French marched into Sapa. Colonial administrators began to frequent the hills as a retreat to hide from the heat of the Mekong Delta. The region became a French envision, with colonial buildings one against another that overtook the tribal villages. As the wars raged on in the 40s, both the French and locals fled the area. It was not until the 1960s when the locals returned and transformed this sleepy town into today’s mystical destination.
The mustard walls and framed windows of Hotel de la Coupole collectively capture the essence of European palaces. Domed entrances and turrets, associated with the heavens, refine the location of the hotel perched atop of Sapa, once called the ‘Roof of Indochina.’ Stripped rooftops in black and white and the mix of orange shades add mid-century modern. The top floor with a double height ceiling is lined with giant windows across a continuous balcony. Iron finishing and columns that stretch over several floors resemble intricate Parisian architecture from the industrial age.
Travelers are greeted by a colorful assemblage at the lobby. The large shelve and mannequins dressed in half finished tuxedos atop is a classic visual. The lobby, with a white ceiling and moldings, is decked with tiered red lamps, velvet green chairs, and classic French tiling. Giant tassels dangle from the wall lamps lighting the lobby. And a spiral iron staircase twists its way to the second floor at the Café. The lobby is already a whimsical play on colors, shapes and textiles.
Hotel de la Coupole’s pool is a remake of an 18th-century bathhouse. Under a double height ceiling, travelers can gently glide through the pool under its red chandeliers. A handful of reclining chairs behind leafy patterned curtains can allow plenty of time to relax after exploring the hills and valleys of Sapa. The town’s timeless charm is reflected in every corner of the hotel. The Absinthe Bar hosts a spectacular view above the clouds. An open fireplace and a rotunda seating establish an intimate evening for guests to watch the clouds of Sapa move by, while we can confirm that it is not a hallucinogenic effect.
Surrounded by misty mountains and rice terraces, half of the rooms at Hotel de la Coupole open to this spectacular view through their balconies. The rooms are painted in different shades: standard rooms in mustard, deluxe rooms in dark green while suites in red. The bold colors and the intoxicating use of velvet furniture and flamboyant lamps speak French style design. To add, traditional folklore fabrics and textiles dominate the bed linens and cushions. All rooms come with a free-standing bathtub cemented on some intricate tiling work.
As the new icon of Vietnam’s mountainous north, Hotel de la Coupole is there to tell the forgotten story of Sapa.