One of Luxique’s fabulously luxurious hotels in Miami – the Ritz-Carlton on South Beach – leaves nothing to chance when catering for the satisfaction of its guests … even down to what’s called a ‘tanning butler.’
Judges (L-R) Jenni Greenspan, Michelle Payer, Meredith Mulligan and Chris Lopez flank Vivica A. Fox at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach Tanning Butler casting.
Dressed in nothing more than a pair of swim shorts, he spends his day by the pool dispensing sun lotion, cleaning sunglasses or spritzing guests with a little fine water spray if things get too hot. Completely frivolous and over-the-top, but hey, you’re in Florida.
Being probably the only tanning butler in the world, Malcolm Vincent has become something of a celebrity: he’s even appeared on Good Morning America.
Now, though, he’s given up the $30 an hour gig and auditions have been held for his successor. Actress Vivica A Fox – hardly dressed for the pool with jewels, Versace shoes and handbag - was on hand to help with the interviews.
Vivica Fox & Tanning Butler™ Leo de la Hoz
Malcolm Vincent’s advice to the waiters, valet parkers, part-time models and students who showed up for the casting call was: “Have a great personality, be a ‘people person’ and stay energetic. Try to embody the mystique of South Beach.”
And the guy who did all that to win the prize was 22-year-old model Leo de la Hoz, who’s studying to become a paramedic.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique’s city guide to the German capital, Berlin, promises that little bits of the Berlin Wall can still be found “to offer reminders of how its people were forcibly and ideologically separated.”
Finding those remnants has, up to now, been time-consuming and tiring, but the exercise is about to go high-tech with an officially-sanctioned multimedia guide to accompany individual walking tours.
A hand-sized mini-computer, to be introduced on May 1st, is linked to a satellite navigation system that maps the wall’s former path of 103 miles. With a headset and touch screen, it features a colourful map of the city that can zoom in and out, showing the users where they are. The route of the former barrier between East and West Berlin is marked in red, while a yellow line guides the visitor around and calculates the distances.
As well as leading tourists from one wall memorial to the next – among them the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the mural-covered East Side Gallery – the digital assistant will give information about 22 historically significant spots along the wall’s route.
The city government commissioned the guide as part of a bigger project to improve existing memorials to the wall. The project is scheduled to be completed by August 13th 2011, the 50th anniversary of the wall’s construction.
Audio files and video documentaries will give an overview of the wall’s dramatic Cold War history. Most poignant will be the memorial for the people who were killed while trying to flee to freedom. For instance, visitors will be able to hear Jurgen Litfin talk about the death of his brother Gunter, said to be the first of at least 125 people to be shot by border guards while trying to make the perilous crossing.
• From May 1st, the wall guides can be rented from five booths throughout the city. They cost between £5 ($9.50) and £12 ($24) depending on how long visitors want to use them.
by Andy Moreton
Fans of the Beatles can now book into the first hotel entirely dedicated to the Fab Four.
The Hard Day’s Night Hotel has 110 rooms and is situated in what might be called the ‘Beatles Quarter’ in their home city, Liverpool in north-west England. It’s a short distance from the Cavern Club where their phenomenal success story began.
The four-star boutique hotel has two luxury suites. The Lennon room is all in white, featuring a baby grand piano and giant pictures of John. The McCartney suite contains no leather in recognition of Sir Paul’s celebrity vegetarian status and has a suit of armour on display, a nod to his knighthood.
And if you want to ask your partner to ‘Love Me Do,’ you can even get married in the hotel’s wedding chapel.
“The phones haven’t stopped ringing,” said hotel spokesman, Johnny Lockwood. “Interest has come from the States, obviously, but also from Russia, Japan and even Brazil.”
Day-trippers are not excluded from the Beatles experience, as Blakes restaurant will be open to non-residents. But you’d better be a real fan, as it will play nothing but Beatles hits every evening.
by Andy Moreton
Having a hard time finding accommodations at this hotel. Luxique offers other unique Liverpool hotels on its website.
News reaches me that a German company, Dasell Interiors, has come up with an idea that will cut those queues for the lavatory on airliners – urinals.
The one-man units could be set up in cubicles alongside the conventional lavatories and could even lead to separate ladies’ and gents’ facilities. Urinals have already been used on some military aircraft, but this would be an innovation for commercial airline passengers.
According to Norbert Runn, the head of business development at Dasell, the urinals could be in use by next year. However, he declined to say which airline was ready to take up the new technology.
The units are seen as having several advantages. “They are smaller and take up less room than conventional toilets,” said Mr Runn. “They would also save water, because they would not need to be flushed after every visit.”
Unsurprisingly, there’s been a lively internet reaction to the proposal, of which I’ll offer you just this contribution: “Can’t see it working. Just check out your local bar. Guys can’t hit the spot even when they are on a level floor that’s not moving.”
by Andy Moreton
China is home to about 350 million smokers, so getting a complete ban on people lighting up in public was always going to be a challenge.
Following the lead of western countries - and with an eye on the Beijing Olympics - the Chinese have announced that, from May 1st, smoking will be outlawed in public places including government offices, sports venues, hospitals, schools and museums.
However, plans to extend this to restaurants, bars and internet cafes have been abandoned after widespread protests from both customers and proprietors. Instead, these venues will have to provide separate smoking and no-smoking areas.
Zhang Peili, the official given the task of implementing the regulations, said it was difficult for the authorities to control smoking in bars. “There is a Chinese saying that tobacco and alcohol always go together. It’s part of the culture.”
There was an early warning of public disquiet last October when a restaurant chain tried to implement a ban. Customers at one branch locked themselves in the dining rooms and refused to let staff enter until they’d finished their cigarettes.
Underpinning the efforts to discourage smoking is a serious health problem. China, which holds 20 per cent of the world’s population, has the highest number of smoking-related deaths worldwide.
A 2001 study in the British Medical Journal found that around 2,000 people were dying every day in China from smoking-related diseases. The researchers estimated that this figure could rise to 8,000 a day by 2050 if the issue wasn’t tackled.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique offers a unique selection of award-winning Beijing hotels
The cricket season has just begun here in the UK – usually a sign for people to emerge from winter hibernation and bask in a deckchair in the sun watching a gentle and civilised sporting match, which can go on for four days (and still end in a draw).
But oh dear, die-hard cricket fans are having to huddle together with their overcoats, gloves and hot drinks as we experience the coldest opening to the season for many a year. Groundsmen have had to scrape ice off the covers, which protect the pitches overnight.
Not as bad as April 1999, though, when snow stopped play across the country. And in 1975, snow fell on June 2nd!
Yes, the weather in the UK can certainly be unpredictable. There’s a saying here: “Summer must be coming – the rain’s getting warmer.”
by Andy Moreton
The Luxique website offers unique UK luxury hotels and a comprehensive London guide.
If you happened to have been relaxing in your room on the 40th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong the other day, you might have had something of a shock – a man at the window waving to you.
It would have been none other than Alain Robert, the urban climber dubbed ‘the French Spiderman.’ In a stunt to highlight global warming, Robert – watched by fascinated office workers - reached the top of the 46-storey luxury hotel before being detained by police and security guards.
He was in Hong Kong to promote his book ‘With Bare Hands,’ which details some of his climbing feats, including scaling the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Sydney Opera House and many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers.
Robert has declared his guerrilla climbing activity his ‘philosophy.’ Last year, he was deported from China for illegally conquering its tallest building, only to have Chinese officials invite him back to climb legitimately a mountain in the centre of the country as a tourist attraction.
It’s said that Robert’s extraordinary career began at the age of 12 when he forgot his keys and was locked out of his parents’ eighth-floor apartment. Instead of waiting for them to return home, he simply scaled the outside wall.
by Andy Moreton
The Four Seasons Hotel Hong Hong as well other award-winning Hong Kong Hotels are available on the Luxique website. Luxique also offer comprehensive Hong Kong guide.
A renegade group of Gibraltar’s Barbary apes has annoyed residents so much that the authorities have announced plans to kill them.
A colony of about 200 apes inhabit the high ground of Gibraltar, the British colony off the southern tip of Spain. I can say from experience that they’re generally harmless but can be a little frightening, especially to children, because they’re inclined to snatch anything edible from your hand or bag.
But this breakaway cluster of 25 moved to a popular beach area called Catalan Bay some months ago and they’ve been stealing food, entering rooms through open windows and harassing tourists.
The territory’s tourism minister, Ernest Britto, has decided to kill the beach-dwelling group. “The decision was not taken lightly – it’s a last resort,” Britto told the Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper. He said the monkeys posed a danger to public health. The newspaper said two animals had already been captured and given lethal injections.
The decision has, however, been condemned by animal protection groups including the International Primate Protection League (IPPL) in the UK, who say they are willing to work alongside the government to manage the apes. The IPPL also said it would consider calling on UK citizens to boycott Gibraltar’s tourist industry until the culling method was stopped.
by Andy Moreton
You have to admire the optimism of the police in Mumbai in declaring a ‘No Honking Day’ for drivers in the city’s bustling streets.
Although fourteen-hundred people were stopped and fined, the experiment was not considered a success, as a cacophony of blares, toots and honks continued to disturb the peace.
India’s financial capital is transforming rapidly, with crumbling colonial buildings and textile mills making way for skyscrapers and shopping malls. This was the latest in a series of sporadic campaigns to tame some of the more anti-social habits of Indian life – others have cracked down on spitting and urinating in public and jaywalking.
The problem with ‘No Honking Day’ was that many drivers on the city’s frequently jammed streets see the horn as a fundamental component of their vehicles, as important as the steering wheel and accelerator. Indeed, some drivers invite others to honk at them. The slogan ‘horn please’ is painted on the back of many Indian trucks. With rear-view mirrors often folded in or simply unused, the notice encourages other drivers to make themselves heard when they can’t be seen.
But the Mumbai police think ‘horn-dependency’ encourages rash driving, harms people’s hearing and frays their nerves.
Aliser Khan, a 40-year-old taxi driver, said that, on the contrary, honking could actually save lives. “Pedestrians never look,” he said. “Crossings are not always conveniently placed in Mumbai and many find that a mad dash is the surest way to cross the road. All the time people come from the left, people come from the right.”
In honour of ‘No Honking Day,’ he agreed to give a passenger a ride without using his horn, but a few minutes after setting off, honked at a cyclist who’d swerved across his lane. He apologised, but said his thumb had reached for the horn without his even thinking about it.
by Andy Moreton
A new survey among British people has established Big Ben as the country’s best loved landmark.
The poll, of more than 2,000 people, was conducted by the construction company, Faithful and Gould, to commemorate the 202nd anniversary of the birth of the engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
The company’s Donald Lawson said: “Like Brunel, people in Britain are extremely passionate about the buildings and structures around them. The poll really brings home the impact that the built environment has on our nation’s consciousness; buildings at their best can leave a legacy for generations to come.”
Second to Big Ben was Stonehenge, the ancient stone circle in Wiltshire, then came the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye. Blackpool Tower and Edinburgh Castle also appeared in the Top 10.
Brunel is best known for building a number of steamships, bridges and tunnels. Although none of his structures came in the top 10, the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the west of England proved a popular choice for people in that region.
The name Big Ben does not actually refer to the iconic clock tower itself, but to the thirteen-ton bell hung inside. The tower is not open to the general public but British residents can arrange special visits through their local Member of Parliament.
by Andy Moreton
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