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Archive for March 2018

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March 29, 2018 Posted by admin in Venues

Regal Viewing at The Albert Hall

VIP takes on a different light with the news that a twelve-seat Grand Tier Box is for sale at the Royal Albert Hall, London priced at over £3 million pounds. Lucy Reid

The Grand Tier Box is offered to the market by Harrods Estates with a key selling point that it’s an emerald’s throw from The Royal Box, and offers enviable views of the world’s most anticipated music concerts and events. Events have ranged from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s The Music Of Bond to the European premiere of Star Wars’ ’The Last Jedi’.

The future owner and their lucky invited guests will have the opportunity to see Cirque Du Soliel’s Ovo, Morrissey and Art Garfunkel, among others in 2018.

The Grand Tier shares the same level as the Queen’s Box and the Hall’s royal ancestry hails  back to its opening in 1871 by Queen Victoria. Upon the Hall’s opening, Queen Victoria acquired 20 boxes on this tier.                                         

The new owner will automatically receive a membership to the Corporation of the Halls of Arts and Science. The membership was granted to individuals who helped fund the building of the hall in the 1860s, and who then acquired seats in return for governing the Hall for the nation’s benefit.

The owner will also be responsible for such duties as electing the Council and the Hall’s President, approving the level of the annual contribution, and ensuring that the purposes and traditions of the Corporation are upheld.

Jake Irwin-Brown, sales negotiator, Harrods Estates commented: “Grand Tier Boxes at The Royal Albert Hall rarely come to market, this is only the second in nearly a decade that Harrods Estates has been instructed on and this particular Box is located only two boxes away from The Royal Box: perhaps Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be part of the audience at future events, post their wedding next month."

Aside from entertainment value, Harrods points out the expected monetary appreciation of the Grand Tier Box and its hereditary potential for successive generations, given that the £3 million asking price is for a lease of 848 years. 

                                                                                                                                            

Contact Jake Irwin-Brown on 020 3650 4600

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Hola, Cancun! Part 2: Secrets Maroma Beach

MEXICO: After a week of Hard Rock hotel hedonism the Secrets Maroma Beach resort offered a luxurious and private escape just 45 minutes away in Riviera Cancun. Sat Bal

 

Theme

Much more compact than the sprawling Hard Rock complex the award-winning Maroma Beach is an adults-only enclave of refinement. Its powdery beach is private and well-serviced by staff who cheerily ferry along trays of Mudslides and Mimosas along with food favourites. Just as well since the February sun nudged 30 degrees!

The beach provision falls under the all-inclusive service. Where things do cost, such as spa treatments, complimentary resort credits will offer discounts.

 

Rooms

Presidential suite balcony view  (Pic- Sat Bal) 

 

Rooms start from the Junior Suites (circa $230 pp, pn) and progress to the Preferred Club suites (circa $270 pp,pn) stepping up to the Preferred Club Honeymoon Suite (around $440 pp,pn). They variously feature ocean views or swim , on the ground-floor suites, which allow you to fling open the doors and step inside the cut-down pool adjoined to suite.

 

Presidential dining space (Pic- Sat Bal)

 

The Presidential Suite comes in at a spacious 1,873 sq ft cost around $1,100 pp,pn. For this you get a separate living area with a large sofa and TV and a dining area that accommodates eight. The spacious bedroom also includes a break-out lounge area and a king bed. The views are magnificent, offering a panoramic view of sand and sea.

All rooms are well-appointed with hydro spa tubs, a private balcony/terrace with hammocks and complimentary wi-fi throughout.

 

Out and About

As expected, water-bound activities abound: kayaks, sailing, scuba diving and plenty more. Golfers get complimentary greens fees at the Grand Coral Riviera Maya which skirts the Caribbean Sea. The 18-hole, 7,000-plus yards course was designed by PGA champion Nick Price.

Archery, dance lessons and an outdoor theatre featuring live shows gives a small idea of the big variety at Secrets.

 

Beaches & Pools

The private beach at Secrets is powdery and expansive at least in length (rather than width) at this time of year. Not that losing the sand to the tide led to loss of privacy; there was still plenty to go around. If the beach is your priority then we’d suggest spending more time at Secrets Maroma Beach than HRH.

 

Restaurants & Bars

 

An array of restaurants includes French dining at Bordeaux, Asian cuisine at Himitsu and Italian at Portofino. All are lavishly presented and exude their unique cultural themes in decor and dishes. Additional venues include sea food and munches at the 24-hour cafe. Informal grab-and-go food comes courtesy of the Barefoot Grill.

Bars are omnipresent with top-shelf, all-inclusive drinks. Try the plush lobby Rendezvous bar for a bubbly start to the day and swim up to Bar Manatees in the afternoon sun for cocktails and shorts.  Elsewhere, the on-site Desires music lounge club keeps up the tempo until 1am.

 

Cautionary note…

Secrets rather let down its image with a surge of salesmen intent on selling customers long-term, six-figure packages to the Secrets global network of destinations. We spoke to holidaymakers who were holed up with the high-pressure sales team for over three hours for meetings that were supposed to last an hour.

Although a ‘romantic meal on the beach’ for two was granted for those who stayed the course, such blatant and sustained money-grabbing is not something we’ve ever experienced in other luxury resorts.  Management: rein it in!

A blot on the otherwise flawless service and staff energy that made the place special.  

 

 Check out our review week at Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun:

 

 

 

 

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Hola, Cancun!

 

MEXICO: February-March means it’s time to escape the British freeze and cast out for warm climes. But where in the world would blend white-beach luxury in blue-sea tropical surrounds and syncopate hard play with a soft chill? Cancun met our party-relaxation brief with ease. Sat Bal

 

The Brief

Week one of our geographic was to be filled with solar-powered parties in a playful but luxury setting. The Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya answered the call like a natural, living up to its rock credentials.

Week two in Cancun required a change in tempo: privacy, peace and a reclaiming of the soul. Where better than the AAA Five Diamond awarded Secrets Maroma Beach in Riviera Cancun? A blissful recovery on a gold platter - around 45 minutes from the Hard Rock.

 

Hard Rock Hotel (HRH)

A 45-50 minute transfer from Cancun International airport, HRH played to our strengths with its ‘resort within a resort’ concept. The family-friendly Hacienda setting offered a hard-play edge of live music shows and beach frolics while the Heaven complex embraced a more refined adults-only isolation. Combined, the 1,264-room hotel feels vast as evidenced by the scurrying of transfer buggys across the lush palm-lined site.

Adult guests at either resort can wander across to use facilities at either Heaven or Hacienda. Stop press: HRH has announced that from the end of March 2018 Heaven will be managed as a family hotel so it’ll no longer be kids-free.

 

Themes

 

 

The HRH mantra is ‘undeniable excess at every turn’ and the pioneers of excess loom large here. Jimi Hendrix, Bowie, Prince and other legends added a supernatural tinge to the stay, looking down from huge monochrome portraits. Jim Morrison (above) held court in the Hacienda’s Sun Bar, his hair a montage of vinyl records. Elsewhere, Aerosmith’s drum kit and all manner of artist personal effects in display cabinets, persistent  reminders of why this place is called Hard Rock.

 

All-inclusive

It really is - even down to ordering room service. So enjoy the indulgence of ordering up tea and coffee first thing, despite having a perfectly good coffee machine in your suite. The array of restaurants form part of the package too. Neither will you need to pack your favourite duty-free tipple; all top shelf drinks are complimentary as is the mini bar. Where things do cost, such as spa treatments, your complimentary resort credits will offer discounts.

 

Rooms

 

The Bret Michael's Rock Star Suite

 

All rooms are well-appointed with hydro spa tubs, a private balcony/terrace with hammocks and complimentary wi-fi throughout. Views range from garden to the panorama of the Caribbean sea with first-quarter prices starting from circa $300 a night to $2,000 a night for the apex experience.

Upgrade to Rock Royalty status and the fun really starts with VIP pool area and your own personal assistant.

The two-bedroom Rock Star Suite (4991 sq ft) and the Rock Suite Platinum Rooftop Lounge (5,166 sq ft) raise the pinnacles of luxury to levels that bona fide A-listers would surely approve of.

Service is willing and warm, on a par with Asian service, across the board.

 

Beaches & Pools

HRH claims a private white sand beach and invites snorkel and kayak fans alike.

If the beach is your priority we’d suggest spending more time at Secrets Maroma Beach which was more expansive and less busy. At HRH we just missed the 'Spring Break' when hordes of N. Americans fly over to boost the fun.

For adults only, the Central Pool at Heaven is just the ticket for sun, lounge, or cool off with an abundance of cocktails. There’s also a semi Olympic pool, cross current rhythm pool - and, of course, the crystalline Caribbean!

  

Restaurants & Bars

 

 

Hacienda offers seven restaurants including à la carte Asian dishes at Zen, Brazil’s best at Ipanema and hot Mexican at Frida. Caffeto is great for an early pastry breakfast or a late baguette grab. Over at Heaven head to Toro for a rich steak, Le Petit Cochon for French à la carte and Ciao for Italian among the five dining areas.   

For drinks, settle down at Heaven’s Martini Bar or the Sun Bar at Hacienda while Float bar invites the pool. At nightclub Club Heaven, live DJs starts the party around 11pm and take it into the early hours.   

 

Rock Spa

 

 

HRH boasts the largest spa in the Caribbean with 75 treatment rooms. On offer is everything from steam rooms to hydrotherapy current pools. The surroundings are among the most lavish we’ve seen and the view from the pools is inspirational. There’s even a yoga temple!

 

Weather

What's to say? The odd peppering of rainfall in the early hours but every day blazing with sun and skirting 30 degrees. Autumn tends to see the rain.

 

Out and about

Popular excursions range from the Mayan history site of Chichén Itzá to water park fun at Xcaret. Nightclubbers, make  your way to Coco Bongo though the in-house club at Heaven got full and fun too.  Amstar is the local excursion agency of choice but bookings can also be made via the hotel concierge. 

Flying out

UK operators British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook will get you out there in around 11 hours non-stop.

 

See our next week at Secrets Maroma Beach…

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Gray & Farrar Appoints New MD

 

Mayfair-based matchmaking consultancy Gray & Farrar has announced the appointment of Kalina Boyadjiew as its first managing director.

 

The consultancy leads with a policy of “No apps, algorithms or data matches” instead opting for a more personal bespoke service to its wealthy clients.

In a bid to boost global expansion of the family-owned British brand Kalina Boyadjiew brings a background of real estate and lifestyle industry experience to the role from luxury operators including the Four Seasons Hotel, Residences and Private Members Club and renowned developer Candy & Candy where she oversaw the sales programme and service delivery of One Hyde Park.

She also makes a debut as the first non-family member to join the business at managerial level from its discreet headquarters in a Mayfair townhouse in London.

Gray & Farrar was established by Virginia Sweetingham in 2005 and boasts over 40 years of collective expertise under the Sweetinghams.

Kalina Boyadjiew said: “Matchmaking is undergoing a seismic evolution as society falls out of love with the impersonal, random and casual nature of dating websites and apps, and further embraces the concierge culture which dictates that one must appoint an expert to ensure that every facet of life runs seamlessly. Gray & Farrar is leading that charge, combining a global outlook with bespoke client service, tailored to fulfil the needs and demands of the most discerning HNWIs.

“My experience in international luxury offers the ultimate background to guide Gray & Farrar through its next period of expansion, both domestically and across the globe, identifying strategically selected opportunities and partnerships along the way.”

Virginia Sweetingham added: “It is fantastic to have Kalina on board at Gray & Farrar. Her global experience is just what the business needs to build on its incredibly strong foundations, and to realise its global potential. We are looking forward to applying the knowledge and experience Kalina brings with her which, together with our unrivalled knowledge of matchmaking, will ensure that Gray & Farrar continues to offer the best possible service to its clients whilst becoming recognised as the world leader in its field.”

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Neptunus Production Win

Temporary structure supplier Neptunus has been named the UK’s Best Temporary Structure Supplier at the Event Production Awards 2018.

Neptunus scooped the award in one of the most fiercely contested categories for their role at live events including The National Eisteddfod of Wales and Belgium’s electronic music dance festival Tomorrowland.

Judges said: “This was an excellent presentation, well thought out and creative and showed such diversity in the work they undertake.”

Neptunus reached its 80th anniversary last year and marked the occasion by launching an innovative new structure, Salacia. The circular Salacia was designed especially for Tomorrowland after the festival’s organisers challenged Neptunus to come up with a new and dynamic creation for their event.

The innovastructure was a key element of Neptunus’ Event Production Award entry which saw the company beat off opposition from eight other industry rivals to take the prestigious title in London.

April Trasler, MD of Northamptonshire-based Neptunus received the award on behalf of the company and said afterwards: “We are really thrilled to be named Best Temporary Structure Supplier in recognition of our performance at live events last year at a time when we were celebrating our 80th anniversary.

“Awards such as this recognise the efforts of everyone at Neptunus while our new Salacia structure also demonstrates just how creative our design team are. They are constantly coming up with really innovative bespoke solutions for our customers, pushing the boundaries to ensure that our customers’ visions can be turned into reality – and this is so important to enable us to keep ahead in such a competitive industry.”

 

April Trasler (pictured 3rd right) accepts the award on behalf of Neptunus with project manager Richard Treml (2nd right) and project director Ben Keast (far left).