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.





The HRH mantra is ‘undeniable excess at every turn’ and the pioneers of excess loom large here. Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, 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 reminded us why this place is called Hard Rock.



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.




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.

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!


To follow: Secrets Maroma Beach reviewed…

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.”

Dmg Events SA Acquisitions



S.AFRICA: Dmg events Middle East, Asia & Africa has announced the acquisition of five exhibitions and an associated publication, focused on the construction and transport infrastructure sectors from South African media company, Hypenica. Chris Page

The leading international events company and wholly-owned subsidiary of the Daily Mail and General Trust already has activity on the continent including Big 5 branded construction events in Kenya, Morocco and Egypt and SAITEX, AB7 and Coatings for Africa held in Johannesburg.

 “We know Africa is a key geography for the future growth of our business, as well as those of our exhibitors and visitors,” said Matt Denton, president – dmg events Middle East, Asia & Africa. “Adding these five events and the accompanying respected trade media to our portfolio is an excellent way to expand our regional reach, enabling us to leverage our sector expertise in new markets.”

The acquisition of African Construction Expo, Cape Construction Expo and KZN Construction Expo form a natural progression within dmg events’ existing construction portfolio. African Ports Evolution Forum and African Ports Evolution Forum – West Africa add a complementary transport element to the company’s existing customer base across industries such as construction, mining, power and logistics. 

The event support is augmented by Concrete Trends and its digital platform www.concrete.tv.

“Africa is a hugely important market to us so it’s only natural that we will continue to look for ways to invest across the continent, either by geo-adapting existing brands, or making astute acquisitions from capable, successful businesses just like Hypenica,” said Denton.

“It is great that we have the opportunity to see the brands we’ve worked so hard to create get taken to the next level by a great operator like dmg events,” said Devi Paulsen-Abbott, CEO of Hypenica. “The company’s approach to doing business suits our own company culture and the obvious synergy between our events will have a huge impact on the benefits the events offer to exhibitors and visitors alike.”

Time Flies At IWC 150th Anniversary



GENEVA: IWC Schaffhausen celebrated its 150th birthday and the launch of its Jubilee watch collection with a glittering gala night. Abigail Parkin


The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva saw some 800 guests join the party last night.They included IWC brand ambassadors and global stars such as actors Cate Blanchett, Dev Patel, Bradley Cooper and James Marsden, as well as sports personalities Valtteri Bottas and David Coulthard.


Cate Blanchett on the press carpet


IWC took the opportunity to show off its Jubilee collection comprising a total of 27 limited-edition watches from the Portugieser, Portofino, Pilot’s Watches and Da Vinci families.



The event was hosted by TV presenter Tess Daly with performances by Aloe Blacc, jazz drummer Eric Harland and singer Ronan Keating (headline pic) met with rousing applause. Brit Award winner Paloma Faith (above)  joined the musical throng fresh from the UK number one success of her album “The Architect”.    


John Helliwell of Supertramp and Aloe Blacc visit the IWC booth


A specially designed industrial booth at the SIHH paid homage to IWC’s since 1868 while presenting its Jubilee collection for viewing.


Blogging sensation and writer Kristina Bazan


The highlight feature of the trade fair booth was a gigantic time machine with digital display discs inspired by timepieces such as a Pallweber watch.


Model Adriana Lima 


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