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Archive - Lusso
Sizzling in Sicily
If you want a laid-back week, search no further. Alternatively if you’re keen to go with a group of friends to party and chill somewhere rural, simple and charming, this is it. Or if you simply hanker after a beach-and-countryside holiday, book this now. Welcome to Il Vignale, a traditional 1860s villa near S. Stefano di Camastra on the north coast of Sicily. It sleeps 15 in seven bedrooms, big enough to get lost in happily for days – and is one of many fantastic villas offered by soloSicily.
Sicily hot list: the super-8
There’s something extra fab about Sicily. Everything is just that bit hotter (or cooler), more beautiful, and more intense. As Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman has written, ‘Oranges are more orange in Sicily.’ Whichever way you look at it, this once-prosperous island, the biggest in the Med and the meeting point between East and West, Africa and Europe, is magical. Go for its global class gastronomy that knocks the socks off almost anything you’ve eaten before. Tip up for its beautiful beaches. Go to marvel at its Byzantine, Baroque and Corinthian architecture and cliff-top villages. And to chill in stylish and super romantic hotels and villas.
Super-jumbo aviation arrived this summer in the UK with the delivery to Heathrow of British Airways’ first A380. The arrival of an all-new, swings and bells airliner is a bigger event than things from Outer Space hitting earth, (unless you’re talking the 650kg Chelyabinsk meteor that hit Russia in February). Small meteorites hit earth daily; whereas it was as long ago as 1970 when the last aerial megastar - the then Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747 - first landed.
Christmas? Pah! It’s hard to forget the childhood memories of my mother getting up in the night to baste the eight-hour-shrivelled turkey. And those moments of sipping festively hot diesel – otherwise known as cherry brandy. Things are little different these days. Have you ever tried following Delia's culinary countdown, particularly on the day itself? I’d rather eat my own spleen. Even a boil-in-the-bag kipper tastes better than the fifteenth turkey serving of the month. And find me someone who says he likes Brussels sprouts, and I'll show you a liar.
Picasso, Caviar and Mojitos
Sometimes you find a place so good you don’t want to tell people about it. The Samling is one such. But its restaurant has just won a Michelin star, so it’s too late to keep schtumm…. The hotel can accommodate 24 lucky guests – in rooms and six cottages – in a gabled 1780s house in Windermere, the Lake District. All set on a steep hill and in 67 acres of gardens with giant genera, lavender and hemp. You may inadvertently walk past ‘reception’ – simply a bureau desk in the hall – but soon enough you’ll encounter the young, smiley, ever-solicitous staff. They’re doing great things. Since changing hands in 2011, The Samling has been snapping up awards. (‘Best boutique dining hotel in the world’ type monikers.)
F is for fantastic
The iconic E -Type Jag was the most beautiful car ever made. Or so said Enzo Ferrari. Jaguar hasn’t made a sports car since. So it’s a tough act for the F -Type to follow. Will it succeed? We’re given the entry-level V6 model. You can hear us coming – which is great. We set off with a ROAR from its centre-mounted twin exhaust pipes. It causes stirs of excitement and ripples of attention – especially from men. After all, it’s the most talked-about British sports car of the moment.
Want to learn to skipper a super yacht? Or have an intimate week-long stag party with a difference? Perhaps you’re looking to entertain your business associates with real panache? Or have a memorable off-site meeting? Or do you just feel like throwing everything in a weekend bag and jetting off to Greece for some last-minute sun and sailing? And perhaps doing some water-skiing, wakeboarding and fishing too?
Secret address book – the insider’s guide
Extracting secrets about services used by the ultra wealthy is like pulling teeth – although the latter will be easy now with the cosmetic dentistry clinic recommendation below. So how has journalist Caroline Phillips managed to compile a Secret Address Book of the country’s 20 leading practitioners in the arts of everything from hair colouring to curtain cleaning?
I was a Four Seasons virgin
After just a day off booze or cigarettes – or even after a serious detox – there can be few better places for a retox than the Four Seasons in Koh Samui, Thailand. It’s a luxury resort that deserves a squillion stars (and stripes.) They offer torpedo-sized cigars, burgers so big and fresh that they almost moo, and chips to love more than life itself. And the place is full of Eastern promise and Asiatic charm with an American twist – a perfect retox ambience.
You can get into intensive detoxes
It’s time for me to rejuvenate a body more burnt-out than an old firework. Maybe have the opportunity to live on air alone. Or perhaps do the sort of intensive detox that leads, above all, to dreams of meringues and ice cream. You know, a kind of Victoria Beckham diet.
The iPad restaurant
The Sukhotai may be surrounded by the noisy concrete jungle of Bangkok. Yet it’s that rare thing – a resort hotel in the centre of the city. It boasts landscaped gardens with water features and even an Olympic-sized pool. The décor is stylish and contemporary Thai, with miles of sage and copper silks, vases of lotus flowers and jasmine-garlanded statues of Buddha and friends. But there are other details that are more Silicone Valley than Siam: bedrooms with adaptor sockets to fit iAnything; and iPad restaurant menus.
Mistress of the wardrobe
Once the Brits thought that professional style advice was best left to Desperate Housewives and Mad Men. Americans, in other words. Women in the UK ran a mile from beauty consultants wearing concrete-mix makeup and men legged it at the idea of skin care, moob jobs or a personal stylist. We women preferred instead to be amateurish in our clothes purchases – going for the DIY approach – or, in the case of men, electing to be, well, man-ish. But now that’s all changed and the stylish and wannabe cool are hiring Annabel Hodin, erstwhile model (talent spotted by US Vogue’s Anna Wintour) and the fashion editors’ favourite. She is the ne plus ultra of stylists.
High in the sky
I’ll be jumping off a mountain to dangle in the air. As if I were in a cable car – but without being in one. I must be certifiable. I sleep fitfully in a cold sweat of anticipation – thinking about this, my first paragliding flight. Will I bump into a bird or electric cable? Who but a lunatic flies with just a parachute and Swiss instructor for company? Then dawn breaks and the snow-peaked mountains opposite my bedroom window change hues of blues obligingly, like an al fresco cinema show.
The grandest of grand tourers
This is the story of the Marquess, the Old Masters and the Bentley. The tale of my bravely blazing the trail for masterpieces by Van Dyck, Rubens and Murillo to be returned from Russia to Norfolk 234 years after Catherine the Great bought them in a sale that caused national outcry in Britain.
Islands in the sun
There’s an area so desirable that the masters of the universe are snapping up islands and peninsulas there. The new, must-buy or must-visit place for the richest men on earth is the Ionian. So it’s bye-bye to St Trop, Tuscany and the Hamptons and hello to Meganisi – an Ionian island where there’s no tourist infrastructure and which only even got mains water and electricity in the Eighties. Are you surprised that that’s where the super-wealthy are going?
An exclusively Club Class flight to new York? It's not big or clever. Actually, it really is.
When the pilot lands the plane and says in a jolly voice that the ground temperature is minus anything, it's enough to send me back to my bed in thermals and with a steaming cup of ginger tea. Like now. I hate the cold. Worse than that, whoever does the early March web weather forecast has had a laugh and put a positive spin on Swedish thermometer readings - so I am not now prepared for Stockholm's sub Arctic temperatures.
It's just one of those things that has to be done. Perhaps as a sort of joke or once in a lifetime experience - once in a lifetime in the sense that you won't want to experience it a second time. Not unless you're one golf club short of a set or a sandwich short of a picnic.
Join the club
The brochure for Castiglion del Bosco is printed on paper so thick, you could make a sturdy bench out of it. The owners feature themselves, with a sepia photograph of 15 of the Ferragamo family in chinos and white shirts, a study of stylish insouciance, flanked by their coterie of horses and dogs. Other images show rooms with billowing curtains, antiques and casually strewn cashmere throws. Forty minutes by car from Florence, this private estate belongs to Massimo Ferragamo.
Pucker lips now
Our tuk-tuk driver goes the wrong way down streets, against the oncoming traffic of entire families on motorbikes and cycle rickshaws taking ladies to work. "Quicker?," he grins. Our first stop is the 19th-century Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. "Must wear," insists the guide, handing me a sarong to cover my bare legs. And it's worth the sortorial indignity to see the ochre palace with turquoise roof, silver floor tiles and Emerald Buddha. Welcome to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
“Caroline Phillips is a tenacious and skilful writer with a flair for high quality interviewing and a knack for making things work.”
“Caroline's abilities, press releases and pitches to editors are excellent, and her contacts are exceptional.”