Akiva Reich + Tamar Madmoni Reich + Hasbrouck House New York

Estate of the Arts

New York couple Akiva and Tamar Madmoni Reich recently graced Nobu Hotel London with their glamorous presence. They’re no strangers to gorgeous hospitality. It’s two years since they opened their own upscale hotel in Hudson Valley, upstate New York. When Akiva first viewed the colonial mansion, he envisaged it becoming a serene sanctuary less than two hours away from the city. His business partner Eitan Baron fully agreed. That vision is now reality.

“With a property like Hasbrouck House which was built in 1757,” explains Akiva, “the two important components were to pay homage to the history of the buildings and simultaneously being aware we’re living in a time when people admire the past while needing modern living.” His own property development company, Akiva Reich + Co, was responsible for the sensitive restoration. He is also the powerhouse behind Gowanus Hospitality Group which covers stylish venues and prestigious event planning. The hotel has 20 individually designed bedrooms and suites across four buildings plus a “farm to table” restaurant called Butterfield, all surrounded by 50 acres of parkland.

“From a design perspective,” Akiva continues, “the idea was to have a lot of classic elements but also bring in contemporary additions. The rooms, from the furniture to the colours, are very subtle and light and when you’re in them you feel a sense of tranquillity.” Tamar adds, “Hasbrouck House has a chilled laidback vibe. We liked the Shoreditch hipster feel to Nobu Hotel.”

“I am actually currently developing my own music, writing and composing songs,” says Tamar. Mind and soul are clearly important to her. And body too: “The arts are in my blood.” A certified holistic health coach and wellness advocate, she has started hosting exclusive and intimate plant based workshops to encourage more organic conscious eating habits as well as holistic living and healing. Other wellness services at Hasbrouck House include private yoga and Swedish massages. Both husband and wife are committed philanthropists.

Tamar grew up in Israel. She served as a Krav Maga instructor in the Israeli army. “As a dancer,” she explains, “I was already trained to pay attention to my body and react instinctively. I would train male soldiers in Krav Maga as well as at risk youths, because my body was already primed for that kind of mind-body discipline.” Tamar recommends visiting, other than Tel Aviv and Jerusalem of course, the Golan Heights and Makhtesh Ramon in the desert. “You want to go to Masada, catch the sunrise. It’s an ancient fortress overlooking the Dead Sea.” But first, there’s a vegan lunch in New York to be had.

Advertisements
Posted in Hotels, Luxury, People, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christ Church Spitalfields + Lavender’s Blue

A Pale Reflection | Purple Reign | Lavender is Blue 

Arments Pie + Mash, St John at Hackney Brewery and smoothie mixing bicycles: favourite things for an inspired party.

Spitalfields Party © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Posted in Architecture, People | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Boutique Hotel Awards + +

The First Resort | Going Places

Liverpool Street Skyscrapers © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

With Platinum Sponsors as prestigious and diverse as Blacklane (chauffeurs to take you places) via Visoanska (beauty products to get you looking hot) to My Private Villas (destinations of desire) it’s sure to be a grand affair. Partners range from the highest level comms CNN and Milbanke Media to consumables like Doisy + Dam chocolates and Boursot French wine to cruises from Hapag Lloyd. Beach bod readiness is possible thanks to Tidal and Sand Dollar swimwear not forgetting Gassan diamonds. Baobab Collection (luxury homeware) and The Thinking Traveller (more desirable villas) illuminate the exquisite elixir of culture. Longings and belongings. To quote the composer Sir John Tavener, “See everything with the eye of the heart.”

The Boutique Hotel Awards wear their art on their sleeve: the best of the best internationally. There’s the stampede of fashionable feet as 250 leading luxury boutique hotel professionals and influencers from 112 countries around the globe take their seats. The setting: the glorious Merchant Taylors’ Hall in the City of London has been around since 1347 although the bones of the current building date from just after the Great Fire of 1666. It’s a fabulous Tudory Elizabethanist Medievalish fanfare shifting between major and minor modes, to paraphrase the composer Samuel Barber.

The Awards are now in their eighth year and are the only organisation in hospitality where every hotel and villa is actually visited by an experienced hotel judge and specialist in a particular category. The winners are selected from over 300 nominees. Guest experience is examined from six angles: Dining + Entertainment | Design | Facilities | Location | Staff Service | Overall Emotional Impact.

“The Boutique Hotel Awards 2018 Ceremony is an exciting and invigorating night,” enthuses Bianca Revens, Managing Director. “I am so proud to be a part of an organisation that recognises the passion and hard work of our winners and nominees, creating outstanding, unique luxury hotels and villas. Congratulations to everyone involved!” Keynote speaker Robin Sheppard, Cofounder and Chairman of Bespoke Hotels, calls the Awards “star studded” and “an essential date in the world’s perpetual calendar”. He adds, “We see the attention to detail in every stitch of fabric and every morsel of food.” Awarta Nusa Dua Resort + Villas in Bali, Indonesia, achieves a double whammy: top overall prize and World’s Best Culinary Experience. The other international winners are:

A jazzy string trio strikes up in the conservatory. The party has begun. A celebration of pure wanderlust joy is underway. “It’s a wonderful job being a hotelier!” exclaims Heidi Belnap who with her brother Aaron Hunsaker and his wife opened The Harkness in Idaho. “There are only about 850 people in our town. But we’re on the freeway to Yellowstone National Park and just two hours away from Salt Lake City. We restored a 1906 building that was close to being condemned. People are just falling in love with the hotel. It’s just different for that part of the world. It’s very boutique.” Michael S Howard extols the virtues of Thailand. He should know. Michael is Managing Director of Rasa Hospitality, a Bangkok based ground that manages top end resorts and hotels in Thailand. “Our conversation is the highlight of the evening.”

Dinner is served. Starter: salad of Devonshire white crabmeat, lemon and ginger cured Scottish salmon with asparagus and crème fraîche. Main: baked aubergine parmigiana with rainbow chard, toasted almond and French bean salad. Pudding: poached fig in port sauce with mango brûlée and blackcurrant délice. Demitasse and truffles. There’s simply no better way to celebrate the halfway point between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. Sandwiched by a Richard Dhondt Champagne reception and carriage wine from D Vine, to alter the context of a quote from the composer Sir Hamilton Harty, The Boutique Hotel Awards are “better by two bars*”.

*Samuel Henshall, an 18th century Curate of nearby Christ Church Spitalfields, invented the corkscrew

Posted in Hotels, Luxury, People, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boutique Hotel Awards + Elisabeth Visoanska

Carpe Diem 

“Without the connection you have nothing. It’s the people that really make the experience.” The impossibly beautiful Elisabeth Visoanska.

Posted in Fashion, Luxury, People | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Boutique Hotel Awards +

Quite Simply The Universe’s Most Glamorous Hospitality Awards Gala Dinner 

How the great poses? “We do it all the time!”

Posted in Architects, Architecture, Art, Country Houses, Design, Developers, Fashion, Hotels, Luxury, People, Restaurants, Town Houses | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Mary Martin London + Irish Fashion

A Pre Raphaelite Reordering

Posted in Architecture, Country Houses, Fashion, Luxury, People | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Strawberry Hill House London + Horace Walpole

The Royal and Imperial Academy’s Study Leave Part I | Crittal Factor | Found Treasures

Before the quips of Oscar Wilde there were the quotes of Horace Walpole. Take, “The world is a tragedy to those who feel but a comedy to those who think.” Or, “The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well.” His description of Twickenham, “Dowagers as plenty as flounders inhabit all around,” might have come straight from the script of An Ideal Husband. But Horace came a century earlier, destined to be forever ahead of his time.

The man who added a consonant to a style. The man whose house became an architectural genre. The man who loved cats. Horace Walpole was the son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister. He stretched the term ‘polymath’ to its very limit. Strawberry Hill Gothick was his contribution to the lexicon of architecture. Its origin was his summer villa Strawberry Hill which was both a private retreat and a house for show. A maison de plaisance.

Strawberry Hill, created over the latter half of the 18th century, was “The castle of my ancestors”. Or at least the ancestors of his imagination. Aware of his status as landed gentry rather than aristocracy, Horace boldly set out about designing a house with the help of friends such as Robert Adam to elevate his social standing. Medieval revival meets idiosyncratic charm. Carcassonne comes to TW1. Phallic finials, pepperpotted polygonal perpendicular verve, cusped lights, quatrefoils and crenellations, it’s a sugary confection, a castle dipped in wedding cake icing.

Horace desired theatrical effect, nostalgic ambience and what he called “gloomth”, not historical accuracy. He dream that, “Old castles, old pictures, old histories and the babble of old people make one live back into centuries that cannot disappoint one.” To this end, after spending half a century filling Strawberry Hill to the rafters or at least rib vaults, no stranger to self publicity, he published a catalogue A Description of Strawberry Hill. Half a century later, the collection was posthumously dispersed in a 24 day sale. Lost Treasures is an exhibition of some of his collection returned on loan to its original setting. For the first time this century, it is possible to enjoy the vision of the man who put the gee into ogee.

Posted in Architecture, Art, Country Houses, People | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mary Martin London + Cecil the Lion Dress + Ireland

Worn with Pride

MML Cecil the Lion Dress at Lissan House © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“The way we are living, timorous or bold, will have been our life.” Seamus Heaney

When it first appeared on the international runways, the now legendary dress created a media frenzy. The Huff Post and BBC World Service led the reporting. Now a local media storm has been whipped up thanks to the arrival of the Cecil the Lion Dress in Ireland. Fashion sensation Mary Martin London created something so special out of something tragic. “I was so shocked by the story,” recalls Mary, “I went straight to my studio and because he was dead I thought I’d make this black dress.” Layers of tulle around the neck and shoulders represent Cecil’s mane. “The back of the dress has got the silkiness and fineness of the lion’s body.” The dress was exclusively modelled by an animal rights campaigner and Chair of a Northern Irish animal charity at Lissan House near Cookstown.

Posted in Art, Country Houses, Fashion, Luxury, People | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lissan House Cookstown + Autumn

A Tense Presence

The last of the lineage, the late Hazel Dolling née Staples of Lissan House recorded at the beginning of the 21st century, “It is very quiet in the house at night but I know all the creaks. Visiting grandchildren scare themselves with ghost stories. None of them like to sleep in the Heffalump’s old room. My mother said she once had a visitor in the night, an old lady whom she saw clearly. She held a candle in her hand and she was peering at her face as she woke up. Visitors talk of people walking around in the night when no one is astir. I have a friend who has seen Lady Kitty here, Sir Thomas’s widow, who made off with all the Lissan Plates. She said she was wearing a beautiful pink silk dress.”

Posted in Architecture, Art, Country Houses | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dunbrody House Hotel Wexford + Lord Newborough

Searching for a Title

Dunbrody Park Hotel New Ross Wexford © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

By hook or by crook we will dine at Dunbrody House. Oliver Cromwell, ever the joker in the pack, reputedly quipped he would take Ireland “by Hook or by Crook”. That is, start a-raping and a-pillaging in one of the two villages facing each other across the Waterford Channel. Our mission is more refined – in search of the perfect fish ‘n’ chips. Make that beer battered fish and chips with a scoop of tartar sauce and a shot of green pea in a neoclassical reception room overlooking a sun soaked terrace leading onto landscaped gardens in a country estate.

Dunbrody Park Hotel Garden New Ross Wexford © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Dunbrody House was the gaff of an Anglo Irish family right up to 1996. Let us tell you about the very aristocratic. They are different. They have titles. C’m’ere t’us. The last owner was His Grace the 7th Marquess and Earl of Donegall, Earl of Belfast, Viscount Chichester of Ireland, Baron Fisherwick of Fisherwick and Hereditary Lord High Admiral of Lough Neagh. Known to his friends as “Don”. He was once engaged to Sheilah Graham, then a household name, now a footnote in history. Her story was the ultimate top-of-the-bus on the hard shoulder to back-of-the-limo in the fast lane dream come true. From pleb to sleb.

After a lowly start in London’s East End, she became a West End show girl, then a Hollywood celebrity gossip columnist. Before long Sheilah was skating, skiing and skijoring with the likes of Noel Coward, Dorothy Parker (of “don’t put all your eggs in one bastard” notoriety), Jean Harlow and the Mitford brother. At the party to celebrate her engagement to Don, she met Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Sheilah became the writer’s partner for the last four years of his life as recorded in her 1958 autobiography Beloved Infidel. Wha’s the story? They were the toast of Hollywood, before getting burnt. Don went on to marry Lady Josceline Legge, daughter of the 7th Earl of Dartmouth.

Ireland’s most distinguished auctioneer, Fonsie Mealy, with half a century of experience behind him, recalls the late Lord and Lady Donegall complaining about “forever trying to make ends meet”. Fonsie launched a sale of Dunbrody’s contents in May 1985. “It was such a social occasion. The sides of the large marquee were down as the weather was magnificent. The prices were magnificent too! Stair Galleries of New York spent £240,000 on a suite of bookcases.”

Now a hotel run by superchef Kevin Dundon and his wife Catherine, the architecture of this long low lying house hasn’t changed much since it was built 180 years ago. The central tower of the garden front has been removed and dormers added. Otherwise, the Edwardian country house party atmosphere continues betwixt its well preserved walls. Craic’s almighty. “You must drive round to see Hook Head,” exclaims the maître d’hôtel. “Visiting this peninsula without seeing the lighthouse is like going to Paris and missing the Eiffel Tower, so it is!” With less than Cromwellian perseverance, we decline and sail off on the ferry into the sunset.

Back in London, we catch up with another aristocrat – tenuous link, yes – Lord Newborough, for a topping time at Magazine, the restaurant with a gallery attached (The Serpentine) while enjoying the world’s smallest onion rings. Robert is owner of Rhug Estate (pronounced “Reeg”), one of the largest organic farms and certainly the most ethical in the UK, d’y’ know’d we mean?

Rhug is our brand,” explains Robert Newborough. “All we are really are farmers from North Wales. My family can be traced back to the 9th century – not me personally. We were good at pilfering, stealing farmland. Slate fortunes fell into the estates followed by mismanagement, divorce, inheritance tax. Our estates rapidly diminished. Then my family acquired Rhug by marriage. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good dowry! Across three estates, we farm 7,000 acres organically and pride ourselves on animal welfare. Rhug Estate supplies to over 20 Michelin star restaurants here and abroad, and over 20 five star hotels.”

Lord Newborough of Rhug Estate © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Posted in Architecture, Hotels, Luxury | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment