As a brand, the W chain of boutique hotels has practically claimed the concept of luxury to be its own; turning their properties into - must-do destinations for the hip, famous and wealthy. Just the mention of a new W property going under construction creates an immediate buzz that few other international brands could generate.
The latest W, and quite possibly the jewel in W's empire - is the newly opened W Retreat & Spa in Fesdu Island, Maldives. Already critics and patrons seem to agree its as close to paradise as you'll find on earth; a luxury playground whose physical beauty is almost overwhelming, where guests are totally indulged on every level.
The W experience begins even before you even arrive. Male airport boasts a chic W operated transfer lounge, where guests are greeted with all the modern conveniences of a big city airport - drinks, food, magazines, plasma TV and internet. It's here that new arrivals are supplied with a W kit before boarding the seaplane to W'ss private island.
From the moment of arrival its obvious that W is a master of branding. Stepping off the seaplane, I was greeted by a fleet of W golf buggiesì with W styleù number plates - lining the pier waiting to take guests to their villa. Even the luggage trolleys were shaped into a W.
Forget the bi-level Beach Oasis villas, W Maldives is all about the water Ocean Oasis villas, they are truly exceptional, sexy even. It's almost as if they've gone to every other island in the Maldives and taken the best their competitors had to offer and made it better, giving it the unique W twist that makes most W hotels standouts in their cities.
Ocean Oasis villas boast private plunge pools (or hop down the steps and dive into the turquoise lagoon if you'd prefer) and massive daybeds built for serious relaxation. Inside, the villas offer peep through glass sections of flooring in the living rooms so you can check out the marine life swimming below. Flip a switch to illuminate underwater lights for a night-time peek at the fauna. Stay connected while cast away with Samsung Plasma TVs, BOSE gadgets and High-Speed Internet Access (but who comes here to use the internet?). Drift off in the signature W king bed.
Even the names of some of the places have been carefully chosen.
WAVE - Water sports facility
AWAY - Spa which even has a hair salon but only for blow-drying, yep its that kind of resort.
DOWN UNDER - Snorkeling gear provided
SWEAT - Fitness Center
Oh, and you have to just love the Whatever/Whenever Service. They will deliver whatever you want, whenever you want it, just dial whatever/whenever from your room.
All of the restaurants are excellent. The breakfast buffet from the Kitchen restaurant is brilliant (pic above), the Fish restaurant is extraordinary and the seafood BBQ buffet at FIRE was amazing, they've certainly got the food part right.
There's a games space with table tennis, table soccer, billiard table, but not just any table billiard table, and they have the coolest brands of everything.
Which brings me to the guests. This is the serious Jimmy Choo gang, Sex in the City by the beach. I spotted one woman who changed her bikini and outfit three times every day.
If it all sounds too relaxing, you can indulge in a bit of partying at '15 below', the subterranean nightclub which plays host to some of the world's top DJs. As for the spa, we werent sure he would apart from the underground nightclub, 15 Below, the see through Kayak's and the snorkeling) are these mobile kiosks splattered around which have fridges stocked with ice creams - drinks - sun tan lotion - all free to use whenever you feel like it provide more than a few moments indulgence.
Everything about the W Maldives resort is perfect, its the perfect fantasy Island. - Bill Tikos.
BEST TIME TO GO
NOW UNTIL MAY
By far the coolest thing on the island (apart from the underground nightclub, 15 Below, the see through Kayak's and the snorkeling) are these mobile kiosks which have fridges stocked with ice creams - drinks - sun tan lotion - all free to use whenever you feel like it.
Night club and wet pool bar, Infinity edge pool, Watersports including kite surfing, Hobie Cats, water-skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, canoes, jetskis, scuba diving, handline fishing, excellent snorkelling, table tennis, pool tables and table football, Yoga, Fitness centre
Villas from US $735 per night
Sunday - what a terrible day it is. Itís the day before you have to go back to work, and often the day after a big night. Past experience tell you it involves either hours vegging in front of the TV, some banal family occasion, or worse - both. But thankfully Petersham Nurseries are on hand to get you out of this familial mess.
Located in leafy West London among flowers and their oak brethren, this cafe and teahouse is the perfect place to get away from the in-laws. Oh, and the foodís pretty good as well. Sourcing the best local ingredients, and growing most of the fruit and vegetables in the surrounding gardens, it gives off just the right amount of homemade nostalgia without conjuring images of your niece putting mud in the oven.
Potter around the award-winning shrubberies, saunter through the lemon trees, or sample the herbs growing wild in the herb bed. Sundays here are what Sundays should be ñindulgent. And who needs family when your fellow diners may include Mick Jagger, Paul Smith and Madonna. A belly of lamb with mustard and a glass of Merlot, or screaming kids and burnt gravy - need one really ask? - Matthew Hussey
If celebrity patrons are an indicator of a hotel's popularity, the Maldives super-lux Huvafen Fushi is about as hot as it gets. George Clooney popped in for lunch last month, Kate Moss partied in her Ocean Villa, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes booked in a massage during their honeymoon, Alexander McQueen had left when I arrived and when I left the island, Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana and John Galliano were set to arrive (separately).
Trendsetting Huvafen Fushi has been raising the benchmark since its first inception two years ago. Opening its doors to feature the world's first underwater spa, Huvafen Fushi has since earned its spot on the coveted Conde Nast Traveller MagazinesUK and US Hot List.
This discreetly luxurious, contemporary retreat is located on its own lagoon on a tiny island in North Male Atoll. I arrived late into the night direct from Singapore, the flight doesn't get in until 10pm (note: book Emirates instead to arrive during the day).
When I was escorted into my over-water bungalow, I felt like I'd walked into an Apple store/Armani showroom, with a bed in the middle surrounded by all my favorite gadgets. Surround sound Bose indoor/outdoor music system, Plasma TV screens, Bang & Olufsen phones, iPod Nano with an incredible selection of music that had already been installed, a separate massive bath which overlooks the ocean, my own private plunge pool, oversized king size bed, Frette linen, designer furniture (including pieces by Frank Gehry) electronic curtains, waterfall shower, the list goes on and on.
Waking up in the Maldives is something everyone should experience before they die. The view from the bed in my room overlooked the plunge pool which overlooks the Ocean. Itâ€™s an incredible sight, serious postcard material.
The day at Huvafen Fushi starts off with a buffet breakfast in Celcius, luxe-but-laid-back dining on a white sand floored deck branching out over the lagoon. Next it's off snorkeling where you'll see the most amazing colored coral and sea life including sting rays. It takes approximately 3 hours before you realize you have a tan, the sun is extremely bright and even with 30+ sunblock, you tan quite fast and you notice tan lines by the time you've finished breakfast.
My day was busy, yet I did nothing. I snorkeled, I tanned, I read, I snorkeled again, I read more, I walked over to the over-water gym, and walked back out (are you kidding, who can face the gym on holidays) and before I knew it, the sun was already setting. So I headed to Umbar to order a cocktail and sit back in the seriously comfy lounge chairs and watch the sunset while the chill band played, very Cafe Del Mar. The music, the sunset, the people, the atmosphere - it's an amazing vibe. Dinner at Salt restaurant (barefoot) is a highlight. The food was fine dining at its best, as good as anything you'll find in the world's best restaurants.
Famously, the highest point in the Maldives is only four meters above sea level, so perhaps its not surprising that the Huvafen spa is underwater, something totally exclusive to this resort. It's like entering a glamorous fishbowl where you are the main attraction to the fish. It's the perfect environment for a massage. I chose the Maldivian monsoon ritual massage and it defies description. All I can say is that I don't think I will ever be able to top the experience. Incredible is an understatement.
BEST TIME TO GO
NOW UNTIL MAY
The friendly, laid-back staff: guests in pavilion accommodation get a 24-hour butler service, while the rest of the resort gets a FISH (Fast Island Service Host), which amounts to the same thing. The underwater spa is a must.
Three restaurants, a lively bar, a seriously cool well-stocked underground wine cellar, an over-water yoga pavilion and the world's first underwater massage treatment rooms complete the picture.
Bungalows from US$880
This year, Huvafen Fushi is proud to announce three new initiatives. An übercool 70ft luxury yacht, an exclusive compilation with one of the world's most famous DJ and Producer, Ravin from Buddha Bar, Paris as well as an uplift to the world's first underwater spa.
When Huvafen Fushi first opened two years ago, Per Aquum Resorts, Spas & Residences, CEO, Tom McLoughlin, commented, "This is just the beginning. We will continue to refine the original Huvafen Fushi concept, while constantly pushing the boundaries in delivering the ultimate guest experience."
Huvafen Fushi has certainly made this statement its driving force with more amazing concepts on the way. - Billy Tikos
Bathroom, washroom, toilet, powder room, ladies’/men’s room, whatever we call it, it is the one place in any public or semi-public place – including restaurants, hotels, concert halls, clubs or bars – that really tells what the entire establishment is all about.
Gone are the days when surly ice-cream men trawled suburbia with their diesel spitting vans and bags of flakes. Those travelling sweet-sellers forever condemned to the cultural quirks of childhood. Well, almost. Adam Ellis, design director of brand agency Coley Porter Bell (CPB) has rekindled his love affair with ice-cream in a van and hopes you will too. Say hello to Scoop.
- was inspired when, recently, I bought my four-year-old daughter an ice cream, and the whole theatre of my childhood came flooding back. Wouldnít it be great to relive the excitement of getting butterflies when you heard that kitsch music playing from around the corner?
Winning CPB's 'Blue Sky'competition, Ellis took the £2000 (US$ 3900) prize money and put it straight into his winning design. ìI wanted to rekindle the magic with a mantra of style with a smile and the ice creamís not bad eitherî, says Adam.
Playing on that sense of nostalgia, Scoop breathes life into the run down image of selling ice cream on the streets. Taking a blinged out van fitted with chandelier and a host of fancy puddings, Scoop brings boutique eating to the masses. And with flavours including Turkish Delight, organic champagne and traditional marmalade, it's not exactly child's play. Delivering it all in bespoke cutlery, who said Mr Whippy was just for kids?
So far Scoop has only been available in Londonís East End, but Ellis has big plans for the summer. “I'd like to do music festivals, art galleries, weddings, anything with that sense of theatre”.
So kids, I mean adults, what are you waiting for? This is a great business opportunity. Contact us for Adam's e-mail address.
By Matthew Hussey
The boat you see here is a 30-foot concept from designer David Borman. He has designed and developed it to be the efficient future of transport. "That Wally powerboat, which I think is $20 million for the 50 footer, it sucks down something like 2,000 gallons of fuel an hour and it only does 70mph. I'll be using less than a tenth of that amount of fuel going twice as fast."
"My tag line is: helicopter speed at a powerboat price. It's the ultimate status symbol, but it's got a practical side too. I love the Bahamas, love the Tortugas, but they're between 130 and 200 miles from here in Miami. If I were to have a conventional yacht that could only do 25mph and I've got a 3-day weekend with the kids, I might as well forget it. By the time I got there it'd be time to turn around and come back home. Scale up to a 64 footer Sea Phantom and you'd literally be able to cross the Gulf of Mexico with impunity. It would cruise at 150mph, you'd have room for several staterooms, and you could walk around in the wings. It would be fast enough to run from Key West to Cuba in 20 minutes, when Cuba opens up. It would literally take you longer to get out of the harbor at Key West and back into Havana than it would to make the actual passage."
Like a chimera between a stealth bomber and a submarine, the design is sculpted around the central body airfoil. "I was able to draw on NASA research, free over the Internet, from the '60s to integrate into my philosophy", David acknowledges. "I had to put a backbone on it to support the tail, and it just so happened that I had just seen a photograph of a children's model of the late 1920s Bugatti Atlantique, so I lifted it almost directly from there."
Borman has invested some serious time and effort in his dream project ‚Äì thousands of man hours and $1.3 million in the project. But the rewards are potentially massive.
"The ultimate objective is passenger transport. For $2.5 million I'll have maritime transport capabilities similar to a $10-12 million aircraft. Not only at a fraction of the purchase price, but also at a fraction of the operating expense and I'm not encumbered by the FAA's rules. Airports are getting backed up; they've run out of expansion room. Aircraft can hardly get any bigger because the airports can't get any larger. 60% of the world's population live within 300 miles of a coastline; I could envision dozens of these just running up and down
the Florida coast alone. It could scale up to 90 feet if someone wanted to carry 100 passengers at high speed. It's a whole new world of transport."
The first customer Sea Phantoms will be 50 feet long, cost $2.5 million and be capable of cruising at 140mph with 24 people on board. By Wes Siler. Exclusive online extract from Intersection Magazine.
These gravity defying ads for DTACK - Adhesive tape, use extreme examples for the tapes use in hilarious ways. As funny as it may seem, the humor is also very relevant in today's age defying conscious society.
We think perhaps the male version of the ad may have been a little extreme! by Andy G
The days of the designer super gym have arrived. Leading the pack is London's GYMBOX; a new ï¿½5m mega gym located in the old Lumiere Cinema space at the St Martin's Lane hotel. Providing a unique experience is paramount in the new generation of fitness centre and Gymbox succeeds in breaking the old mould, with live nightly DJs and quirky classes such as 'Gladiator Games' - where participants engage in exercises from the eponymous early 90s TV show - and the 'Stiletto Workout, performed in heels.
The St Martins Gymbox is actually the second venue for the fitness center brand, with the first opening in Holborn in 2004. Getting fit has never been so hip.
Is there a super deluxe new gym, sports or fitness centre in your city that we should know about? Let us know as we would like to feature it in a special feature for our print magazine. By Bill T