The New Cultural Calendar

Sundance Film Festival



When it started in 1978, the Sundance Film Festival was given an almighty boost by the involvement of inaugural chairman Robert Redford. Not only did the name come from his most famous role as the Sundance Kid, but the Utah resident wanted to encourage U.S.-made independent movies. Now it’s the single most serious film festival in the world.


Who goes: directors, film buffs, the merely curious and the painfully serious.
Stand-out moment: the awards ceremony at the end of each festival – if you’re not there, you haven’t really Sundanced.


Your address: The St. Regis Deer Valley

Jaipur Literature Festival



There’s a certain grandeur to Jaipur Literature Festival. It’s been held in the glorious “Pink City” since 2006 at the city’s historic Diggi Palace Hotel, originally steered by writer William Dalrymple, and is now the biggest lit fest on the Asian continent. The five-day festival is a great ticket, partly because of its location in the capital of Rajasthan, and also because for its five days it is free.


Who goes: India’s see-and-be-seen crowd, drawn
from Delhi, Mumbai and Rajasthan, as well as literary greats from J. M. Coetzee and Donna Tartt to Salman Rushdie.
Stand-out moment: the biggest draw in recent years has been Chetan Bhagat, a former investment banker turned bestselling author of six blockbuster novels who is hated by critics, but revered by young India.


South by Southwest



As Texas’s alternative hub, Austin is special, and one of its biggest calling cards is the South by Southwest festival. With a name inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s film North by Northwest, and often known as SXSW, it started in 1987 and has since flourished, held each March as a concatenation of hipster events: films, music, talks and tech startups in several venues. You’ll watch a band one minute – SXSW Music is the largest music festival in the world – and attend a talk on education the next.


Who goes: dressed-down Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and alt-music fans, avant-garde artists, assorted geeks and visionaries.
Stand-out moment: Bruce Springsteen’s keynote
speech to launch 2012’s festival.





It’s Woodstock for Generation X: the biggest arts and music festival in California. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has taken place near the desert city of Indio since 1999, when acts included Beck and Morrissey. Since then it has moved from mosh pit to maturity, with a visual arts and lecture programme alongside the music. Pack sunscreen – and if it’s not quite out-there enough, then head to Burning Man in Nevada, which specializes in “radical self-expression.”


Who goes: music and new-media fans of all ages, plus Generation Ys with young children in tow.
Stand-out moment: in 2011, during their song Wake Up, Arcade Fire let loose thousands of beach balls on to the crowd, each one illuminated and synched with the music. 

Hay Festival



Hay-on-Wye is a market town on the England/Wales border and while quaint, it wouldn’t be famous if not for Hay Festival, held here each summer. Founded in 1987, the festival has grown into what former President Bill Clinton called “the Woodstock of the mind”. It hosts global luminaries ranging from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Sir Paul McCartney and lures more than 200,000 visitors whom director Peter Florence describes as “argumentative, curious, skeptical and free-thinking”. Hay has also spawned numerous festivals worldwide, from Mexico to the Maldives.

Who goes: writers, readers, bohemians of a certain age and intellectual politicians seeking cultural heat.
Stand-out moment: last year’s talk between Carl Bernstein and Peter Florence about the journalist’s role in the downfall of Richard Nixon.


Venice Biennale

June - November


In recent years there’s been a surfeit of art festivals all over the world, but one name sticks out: Venice Biennale. Dating back to 1895, it started as an elegant showcase for decorative art, then became the world’s greatest platform for innovative visual arts after WW1, hosting national pavilions, mostly in the gorgeous Giardini park. Since then it has maintained its lead as the world’s premier showcase for artistic talent, helped by its extraordinarily beautiful location.


Who goes: the fashion world always tags along with the art world at Venice; the city is the perfect stage, after all.
Stand-out moment: a model of a museum called The Encyclopedic Palace of the World at last year’s festival, in which visitors could find all the world’s knowledge.
Also key: Riva boat rides.


Edinburgh International Festival



Each summer, the capital city of Scotland welcomes a seething crowd to the biggest arts festival in the world. It has theatre at its core, but you’ll also find everything else, including visual arts, music and comedy. Founded in 1947 to boost postwar morale, the festival expanded so quickly that it began to subdivide, with the main festival spawning the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Edinburgh’s claim to be “one of the most important cultural celebrations in the world” is, if anything, understated.


Who goes: the Festival attracts a seasoned crowd from around the world, but the Fringe has been catnip to generation after generation of fun-seeking students in search of cultural thrills.
Stand-out moment: a haunting performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth on tiny Inchcolm Island, off the Scottish coast, in 2012.


Frieze Art Fair



Such is Frieze Art Fair’s importance in London that a week in mid-October is now known as “Frieze Week.” When it started in 2003, Frieze was the missing ingredient that propelled the UK’s capital towards becoming a world art centre. So significant has it become that other art fairs have joined the October fray – most notably the Pavilion of Art and Design (PAD). Now the fair is in export mode, with Frieze New York, in May, now entering its third year.


Who goes: all the power players from the international art world, hedge-funders and oligarchs wearing dark clothes and dramatic spectacles.
Stand-out moment: in 2007 artists Jake and Dinos Chapman set up a table in front of the White Cube gallery’s stand and offered to draw on visitors’ £20 or £50 notes for no charge.


Your address: The St. Regis New York


Istanbul Biennial



Istanbul’s Biennial is one of the most challenging in the world. Since it began in 1987, it has mirrored the city’s development into a world hub. In the meantime the Turkish capital has welcomed the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (2004) and a rash of gallery openings that have brought Istanbul into the big league. As well as a stunning setting, the Biennial also has a sense of political meaning: here, art reflects the transformation of Istanbul itself. Returns in 2015.


Who goes: a heady mix of radical artists, the glamorati, as well as urbanists and policy-makers who wish to see a city in flux.
Stand-out moment: in 2013 the Biennial took down its public artworks because of protests in Gezi Park. This gave the Biennial, already politically inquisitive, a real feeling of lived history.


Your address: The St. Regis Istanbul


Art Miami



Everyone wants an excuse to go to the Sunshine State, and Art Miami is a good one. Located in Miami’s gallery-rich Wynwood Arts District, it’s one of the most venerable U.S. art fairs, luring legions of art lovers in early December and kicking off what is now known as Art Week. Alongside Art Miami, you’ll find CONTEXT (up-and-coming artists), Aqua Art Miami (performance, new media, installations) and of course, Art Basel Miami Beach, the U.S. wing of huge-hitting art show Art Basel.


Who goes: the international art crowd and celebrities from the worlds of film and music.
Stand-out moment: last year an unauthenticated piece by street artist Banksy, depicting a heart-shaped balloon, went on sale – complete with the wall it was painted on.


Your address: The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort


Images by: Hindustan Times via Getty Images, Gallery Stock, Getty Images, Dafydd Jones

Jewels in The Desert

State of the Art

Doha vs Abu Dhabi


Doha has been transformed into a key arts hub with film festivals, innovative architecture and a thriving art market. The I. M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art, above, has become a feature of the skyline, with numerous other museums being built, including Jean Nouvel’s National Museum of Qatar.


Although it’s some way from completion you can still visit the Saadiyat Cultural District, an astonishingly ambitious zone where you’ll find the future home of the Louvre Abu Dhabi (Jean Nouvel, 2015, above) and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (Frank Gehry, 2017).

Sporting Life

Doha vs Abu Dhabi


Just outside the city is Doha’s camel-racing track, which makes for an entertaining morning’s tour. Even with no racing on, it’s great fun to see the camels taking their exercise, wobbling along the track. Curiously, this ancient sport has embraced the latest in technology, with robot jockeys now sitting in the saddles.


Yas Links, on man-made Yas Island, also home to the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit, is the Middle East’s only true links golf course. Set among rolling hills and mangrove plantations, it was devised by Kyle Phillips, and has been hailed by Golf Digest as the best golf course in the Middle East.

Power Lunch

Doha vs Abu Dhabi


If there’s one place that delivers the perfect lunch, it’s Opal by Gordon Ramsay at The St. Regis Doha. It has perfectly-judged informality, great views of the lagoon, and street-food-inspired dishes such as tamarind chicken wings and short-rib burgers. The perfect start to an afternoon’s sightseeing – or siesta.


Sontaya, the Southeast Asian restaurant at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi has a serene ambiance and offers classic dishes from Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. The outdoor terrace is the ideal place to linger a while and savor the views of the shimmering Persian Gulf.

The Cool Quarter

Doha vs Abu Dhabi


Katara cultural village is home to attractions such as the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, the Qatar Photographic Society and events such as the Doha Tribeca Film Festival – a mix leavened by the beach, the glittering Corniche and several restaurants serving the cuisines of the world.


When in Abu Dhabi you’ll inevitably head to the island of Saadiyat, 500 yards away from the coast. There’s so much going on in its seven distinct districts: art galleries, business hubs, sports and of course, a proper, five-mile-long beach. Try the Monte-Carlo Beach Club for wellbeing and dining options.

Retail Therapy

Doha vs Abu Dhabi


Souq Waqif is Doha’s spiritual heart and an old trading zone. It’s now one of the few traditional locations in Doha: a cluster of shady lanes that host hundreds of stores selling spices and handicrafts. Try Al Adhamiyah for lunch, which serves tasty Iraqi food.


Abu Dhabi’s best mall is generally considered to be the Galleria on Al Marayah Island, a luxury destination housing all the world’s top brands, from Gucci to Cartier to Louis Vuitton. Shopped out? Then head to Almaz by Momo for Moroccan food on the waterfront terrace.

Seafront Stroll

Doha vs Abu Dhabi


Doha’s most glittering walk is along the Corniche, the sea-hugging promenade. It’s perfect for an evening’s constitutional when the heat of the day has ebbed. Old fishing dhows cruise against a backdrop of spectacular skyscrapers, all the more striking for the fact that this city barely existed 50 years ago.


Abu Dhabi’s five-mile-long Corniche is a riposte to Doha’s, with a frieze of skyscrapers and waterfront fringed by a Blue Flag beach. Shade yourself with a rented umbrella, and take odd forays into the water, which is usually so
warm that it’s like jumping into a bath.

Fun with Kids

Doha vs Abu Dhabi


The Sheikh Faisal Museum is one of those great random museums, housing cars, furniture, weaponry, furniture and fossils – anything that the Sheikh likes, really. Adding value is the Al-Samariyah Equestrian Academy next door, with riding lessons for children as young as four.


Ferrari World Abu Dhabi has more than 20 Ferrari-inspired attractions, including Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, which reaches 150 mph. You’ll find it on Yas Island, and while you’re there, check out Yas Waterworld,
Abu Dhabi’s top water park.

A Life in Seven Journeys

P. J. O’Rourke

1. Across America in a ’56 Buick, 1977
I hadn’t traveled much until I was 30 and drove a very used car from Florida to California. It couldn’t go fast enough for Interstates so there was lots of scenery. I got stranded in most of it. The car broke every day: fuel-pump failure between a New Mexico cattle roundup and the only liquor store for miles; Mid-Mojave, a radiator leak. The transmission locked itself in reverse on Santa Monica Boulevard. I had to drive the last two miles backwards. There’s something to be said for staying home.


2. Into the Beqa’a Valley, 1984
During Lebanon’s Civil War I went with journalist Charlie Glass to Ba’albek to interview the ferocious leader of an extremist Shiite militia. I was terrified. After a day spent largely being held at gunpoint we went to the magnificent, if bedraggled, Palmyra Hotel, where we were the only guests. Charlie bribed a waiter to bring us a bottle of arak, which we hid under 
the table. Over surreptitious swigs we managed to piece together from memory the whole of Yeats’ The Second Coming. Poetry is great solace, if you’ve got something to drink.


3. The Baja Peninsula, 1984
Later that year a pal and I took our girlfriends on a Jeep ride down Mexico’s Baja peninsula, off-road, sleeping in tents. The only flat place in the Baja is where you land after rolling off something steep. Every living thing has a prickle, a thorn, a fang or a stinger. The temperature was 110F. The food was… “Sea turtle is like beef,” said the poacher/cook, “except for the smell.” By La Paz the women insisted on a hotel. The Jeep’s undercarriage collapsed at the door. The women flew home. Some journeys are for couples. Neither couple is together today.


4. Driving Around in South Africa, 1986
Apartheid was still in ugly force. I visited English suburbs, Soweto, Boer settlements and various “homelands”. An American seemed welcome any-where; I don’t know why. I especially enjoyed the KwaZulu capital, Ulundi: world’s smallest Holiday Inn with maybe five rooms. No television reception but a VCR at front desk, wired to bar-room TV. Just two tapes: Zulu and Zulu Dawn. Many patrons had been extras in the latter. I brought an illustrated history of the Zulu War to the bar. All were fascinated. Let us not discount journeys taken on barstools.


5. Through the Gulf War into Kuwait, 1991
When the ground war began I was in Saudi Arabia with a convoy of reporters. Our plan was to stay behind the front line as troops advanced. But in modern warfare there is no front line. It was midnight. The oil wells were aflame. Iraqi tanks littered the road. Explosions could be heard. The only map we had was in a Fodor’s guide for businessmen. Buildings began to loom. Was there another city between the Saudi border and Kuwait City? There wasn’t. At dawn we were in liberated Kuwait, greeting the troops liberating it. Nothing wrong with getting ahead of yourself.


6. The Trans-Siberian Railroad, 1996
My wife asked, “Will the trip be fun?” The lady behind the counter said, with Russian poker face, “It will be long remembered.” The train was filthy, stuffy, slow. No hot water in the bathroom. Dining-car fare inedible. But amazing sightseeing. Mountains to awe Sir Edmund Hillary. Forests to daunt Paul Bunyan. We stopped at Lake Baikal. Gorgeous. Empty. I stuck a toe in the July water: 32F. Because a place is beautiful doesn’t mean you have to go there.


7. From Islamabad to Calcutta, 1998
Land Rover sent two vehicles around the world promoting its Discovery II. I joined the leg across the Indian subcontinent. The Grand Trunk Road was a combination of highway, front parlor, playground, factory floor, barnyard and emergency room for one billion Indians. India’s trucks seemed to lack brakes, lights, speed limits or anyone awake at the wheel. We bet on how many fatal accidents we’d see each day. The top score was more than 25. It’s wrong to say, of certain places, that life there is cheap. But it can be brief.
P. J. O’Rourke’s latest book, The Baby Boom, is published by Grove Atlantic

High Society - Dining

High Society

There are plenty of places you might expect to see a roaring fireplace: a cozy bar in Aspen, a Renaissance palace in Florence, even a welcoming living room in Lhasa. The last place you’d think to discover one is at 39,000 feet. But times, and flying, are changing.
It’s 9AM on a soggy November Thursday in London and Elisabeth Harvey, a designer of interiors for private jets, is showing me sketches of the fireplace she will soon be installing in a Falcon 7X. A fireplace? Surely that’s against aircraft safety regulations? Not so, she says. “The technology to install a fireplace is available today, and we have customers.”
Orders for sky-high fireplaces can only mean one thing: the world’s high-fliers are flying private again. The turnaround from the slump of 2008, when many private jet firms went bust, is remarkable.
Bombardier, one of the world’s major private aviation companies, has just received the largest order in its history: more than 245 business jets worth up to $7.5 billion. The firm says that one of the fastest growing segments of the market is the one for large aircraft. These can cover more than 5,000 nautical miles non-stop, have up to 3,000 cubic feet of cabin space and cost around $50-70 million.
These most technologically advanced aircraft are being snapped up by a new breed of plutocrat, as well as by firms that offer fractional ownership or a jet card that allows prepaid, fixed hours of airtime. As demand rises, so have levels of comfort, speed and technology. In particular, some buyers want their jets to look, feel and even smell like their homes – and their yachts, too, while they’re at it.
“For the fireplace, we took inspiration from the domestic environment. Clients want a habitat similar to those they already own and feel comfortable in,” says Harvey, who is head of the design studio at Jet Aviation, a Swiss-based private aircraft specialist with around 4,500 employees across the globe.
A fireplace isn’t the only new must-have for the private jet set. Take a look above your head at the latest accessory offered in larger Boeing private jets that cost from $200m. No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That really is an Italian chandelier. But don’t worry about it swaying wildly at takeoff. It retracts into the ceiling, before dangling down again when the plane reaches its cruising altitude.
Furnishing expensive private jets with fancy lights, bedroom suites and stylish showers has always been an obsession among celebrities, sports stars and old-money billionaires. But thanks to globalization, new private-jet customers are emerging, and they have new ideas and new tastes.
A study by Citi Private Bank shows that 64 percent of Indian millionaires plan to increase their spending on private jets. Spending in Africa, whose economy is growing at the fastest rate in its history, is also at record levels. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, has two private jets, one for short-haul trips and the other for long-haul journeys.
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family, owns the grandest private jet of all – a $400m double-decker Airbus A380. The “flying palace” has a garage for the Prince’s Rolls-Royce, a concert hall, a Turkish bath, and even a revolving prayer room that always faces Mecca.

Mexican billionaire Jorge Vergara owns an Embraer Lineage 1000: a jet that comes with a bedroom with a queen-sized bed, en-suite bathroom and a walk-in shower, a mini spa, meeting rooms for work and even a private bathroom for the crew.
India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, presented his wife with a $40m Airbus 319 Corporate Jet for her 44th birthday. It is furnished with entertainment cabins fitted with games consoles and music systems, a master bedroom and a bathroom with a range of showers. Ambani also owns a Boeing Business Jet 2 akin to a flying business hotel, equipped with an executive lounge, conference rooms, private offices and bedrooms.
Personalization of a jet’s interior is key, says Harvey. “We have fitted gold and other precious metals, rare woods, marquetry, marble, mother-of-pearl. We install buffet areas rather than galleys, use real glass mirrors and custom-designed lamps – whatever the clients find beautiful and luxurious. I recently designed a bespoke horsehair mattress for a client because they were used to sleeping on one at home.”
Prices for customized private jets are as stratospheric as their cruising altitudes. One of the most popular is the Falcon 7X made by Dassault, which costs about $50m and has a range of almost 6,000 nautical miles. Its innovative soundproofing and insulation make it one of the quietest jets in the sky – noise levels are believed to be one of the most tiring aspects of jet travel – and the ride of choice for former U.S. president Bill Clinton and movie mogul Steven Spielberg.
Other new technological innovations include computerized fly-by-wire systems that save weight and thus reduce fuel bills. And there are new radar systems by Honeywell that allow pilots to detect hazardous weather at distances of up to 300 miles, so that they can comfortably reroute to avoid turbulence.
These days, of course, luxury in the air does not begin and end with plush interiors and high-tech tricks. Those who can fly in style also want to wine and dine in style. Private aviation companies now offer personalized meals to their high-end clients, whether it’s authentic pizza from Italy or a special lunch flown in from an exclusive restaurant in the United States for around $700. Private-jet owners and operators have even started hiring special catering companies who employ the services 
of chefs based all over the world. Renowned cake artist Duff Goldman and sushi master Nobu Matsuhisa offer global menus with ingredients specially chosen to retain their flavor in the dry atmosphere of a jet cabin.
Antony Rivolta has been in the private jet aviation business for the past 30 years and knows all the tricks of the trade. His company, JetPartner, specialises in bespoke catering. “We build up a portfolio of what a client likes, so we can produce whatever they wish,” he says. Eastern European clients, says Rivolta, are the fussiest eaters. Western clients are “quite happy with what is available on our usual menus.”
For VistaJet, one of the fastest-growing companies in private aviation, food is supplied by London department store Harvey Nichols. As well as made-to-order confectionary, chocolate and savoury snacks, its 30 brand-new aircraft have rich wood furnishings, lavish carpeting, designer glassware and silverware and red-striped livery and soft furnishings.
When the sky’s the limit, what’s next for the future of private aviation? “Business aviation tends to be ahead of the airlines in terms of technology,” says Rivolta. “The customers demand more than your average airline passenger. So we provide the most up-to-date hi-fi systems and Wi-fi as standard, and we’re on the verge of being able to use mobile phones freely.”
Rivolta predicts that the greatest advances will be in speed and fuel efficiency. “We will see supersonic private jets in the next five years. That means New York to London in three hours, faster than the old Concorde. New technology means we can reduce the sonic boom [which until now has prevented supersonic aircraft from travelling over land]. The whole concept of business aviation is to save time, so supersonic is the final frontier. Supersonic jets will become the ultimate travel status symbol.”
High-end couture designers are also keen to exert their influence on jet interiors. Every year, hundreds make their way to the Business Jet Interiors World Expo at London Farnborough airport in the hope of bagging a deal to develop concepts ranging from showers to dining tables. Donatella Versace has already created custom private jet interiors: seats come in white leather with the fashion house’s distinctive logo.
And just when you thought you had heard it all, there is a new frontier. No, not for you and me. Not for the crew. Not even for the engineers struggling to contain the sonic boom. Pet cabins and catering for pets at 39,000 feet are the latest perk on buyers’ wishlists. Because after all, no fireplace is complete without a cat or dog curled lazily in front of it.


Amenities on today’s high-tech private jets
range from cocktail bars, above, to classic living rooms, below


Gary Rhodes: British Classic - Portrait

British Classic

Gary Rhodes, OBE, made a name for himself in the early Nineties, bringing traditional British classics such as braised oxtail, fish cakes and bread and butter pudding into the realm of fine dining. He earned his first Michelin star as head chef at the Greenhouse restaurant in London’s Mayfair in 1996, and opened his own restaurants, City Rhodes and Rhodes in the Square, a year later. He has since launched an array of restaurants around the world, and traveled far and wide to present such TV shows as Masterchef USA and Rhodes Across China. His newest venture is Rhodes 44 at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi.
What’s your earliest food memory?
I’ll always remember the first dessert I made when I was about 13. It was a steamed lemon sponge with lemon sauce, and I’ll never forget turning it out in front of everyone at Sunday lunch. I just sat there admiring the faces around the table as this lovely thick lemon sauce dribbled down the sponge. I thought to myself then, “I want to be a cook.”
Who taught you to cook?
My mother was really accomplished in the kitchen, and I was one of those children who wanted to help out a lot. Even today I still don’t believe I can match her lasagne. Peter Barratt, one of my tutors at catering college, was a genius, though – anyone who was taught by that man would say he was an amazing chef.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten?
Guy Savoy in Paris makes an incredibly creamy globe artichoke soup, with shavings of black truffle and Parmesan cheese, served with truffle brioche buns that are lightly toasted and spread with melted truffle butter. It makes me go weak at the knees. I’ve been to his restaurant six times to eat it.
What do you like to cook at home?
When I’m working in a restaurant I taste all the time, so by the time I get home I’m sick of the sight of the stove. People come over to our house expecting a big Michelin-star meal, but I’m not that kind of guy. I’ll just do a bit of fish, a bit of risotto and a big platter of cheese. Fish is the only thing I insist on cooking at home because I am fussy. Otherwise my wife, who I met at catering college, does most of the cooking. Try as I might I cannot match her roast. She manages to do the meat and all the trimmings such as cauliflower cheese, runner beans, carrots, gravy and lovely Yorkshire puddings all by herself – I’d need four other cooks with me.

What do you find most rewarding about being a chef?
You never stop learning. If people give me advice on our Arabic dishes, for example, for which there will be any number of recipes from all over the Middle East, and I think that those comments will improve things, I will definitely make that change. I never, ever want to stop cooking – it’s a continuing education and it keeps your mind alive.
What’s your favourite food?
I’ve always loved cheese, especially gorgonzola or a really runny brie de Meaux with truffles running through it. Years ago my wife Jennie wouldn’t touch cheese, and now we’ll both sit there together, munching into cheeses and tucking into a good bottle of wine. I find that quite romantic sometimes, just sitting, eating and chatting, without any pressure.
What style of food are you serving at Rhodes 44?
I wanted to do great British classics – my braised oxtail with mashed potato has been unbelievably well received – but at the same time venture into some local Arabic dishes, too. For afternoon tea we’re doing little pecan pies, Victoria sponges, scones with clotted cream and jam, and tiny quail’s-egg sandwiches. I’ve also done my own interpretation of a mezze platter, which has been very popular. We’ve made our own baba ghanoush, our own falafel with a tiny bit of melting feta cheese in the middle… Just as my scallops with a devilled sauce were on the menu in London for ten years, I’d like to think that our mezze platter would last a lifetime with us here.
Is there anything you would never put on the menu?
Tripe. I cannot abide it.
How do you find inspiration for your new dishes?
Sometimes I just wake up in the middle of the night and there’s a new creation in my mind. I’ll tell my wife, and she usually says, “Give it a go.” But she’ll also tell me if it sounds awful.
Who would be at your last supper?
Marilyn Monroe – she was stunning. Bill Clinton is a man I’ve always wanted to meet, too, and Martin Luther King would have to be there. Also Stevie Wonder. Oh, and I’m a massive Manchester United fan, so Sir Alex Ferguson [the legendary former manager] should definitely be invited.
Your address: The St. Regis Abu Dhabi

A corner of England in the Middle East 
The tea lounge at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi,
where guests can indulge in anything from quail’s-egg
sandwiches to Rhodes’s interpretation of a mezze platter


Walls Of Fame - Old King Cole 2

Walls of Fame

On a chilly November night last year, about 120 people squeezed into the King Cole Bar and Salon at The St. Regis New York. The co-host of the evening, fashion designer Jason Wu, wore a dark suit and a slim black tie and stood in the center of the wood-paneled room, welcoming friends and colleagues to a party to celebrate the reopening of the bar after a months-long refurbishment. A DJ played jazz, and models in Wu dresses and celebrities including Emily Mortimer and Uma Thurman dotted the crowd. But the star of the night was a brilliantly-colored painting, just back from a $100,000 restoration and rehung in its place of honor above the bar where it has presided over similarly chic events for almost eight decades.
One hundred and ten years ago, John Jacob Astor IV asked a young artist named Maxfield Parrish if he would like to paint a mural to hang in the bar-room of The Knickerbocker Hotel, Astor’s glamorous new flagship on 42nd Street and Broadway in New York City. The fee was $5,000, extremely generous for the time, but it came with caveats.
First, the subject of the painting had to be Old King Cole, and second, while Parrish would have complete artistic freedom in how he depicted the nursery-rhyme character, he had to use Astor as the model for King Cole’s face.
“At first, Parrish wasn’t sure he wanted the job,” explains Laurence Cutler, chairman of the National Museum of American Illustration and an expert on the artist. “He didn’t like being told he had to do anything.” Parrish had other concerns as well: he came from a conservative Quaker family that frowned on alcohol and wasn’t thrilled that his work would hang in a bar. Plus, he had already painted a version of King Cole for the Mask and Wig Club, a private theater club in Philadelphia.
But Parrish’s father, an established artist with connections in Philadelphia and New York society, encouraged him to reconsider. “Basically, he explained how unadvisable it would be for somebody just starting their career to say no to somebody like Astor.”
Parrish had recently moved from Philadelphia to Plainfield, New Hampshire, where he and his wife, Lydia, were expanding a small estate they had built called The Oaks, which they would live in for the rest of their lives. He realized that the fee, the equivalent of $130,000 today, would set them up well and accepted the commission. He began work on Old King Cole in a studio that was too small to hold the whole mural, so he painted the three 8 feet x 10 feet panels one at a time. He placed the king in the center, flanked by jesters and guards. It was a more dramatic, less cartoon-like depiction than his first version of Cole for the Mask and Wig Club and, when it was installed at the hotel in 1906, it instantly became part of the fabric of a city and a culture hurtling toward the excitement and excesses of the Roaring Twenties. “The Knickerbocker Bar, beamed upon by Maxfield Parrish’s jovial, colorful Old King Cole was well crowded,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald in This Side of Paradise.
Parrish picked a good time to accept a mural commission. At the turn of the century, wealthy industrialists like Astor were building mansions as quickly as they could and hiring artists to adorn the walls. “It was the golden age of American mural painting,” says Glenn Palmer-Smith, a painter and author of Murals of New York City. “There was competition to see who you got.”


Master of the golden age
The Lantern Bearers, an illustration painted by Maxfield Parrish
in 1908 for Collier’s magazine

Established artists were able to command huge fees, but the appeal was more than just financial. The country had recently glimpsed the nuance and complexity of mural painting at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, which featured frescos and murals by some of the US and Europe’s most prominent painters. American architects and artists were eager to embrace the medium.
Not long after the fair, ten of the country’s best-known illustrators and painters, including Henry Siddons Mowbray and Robert Lewis Reid, collaborated on a mural depicting the history of law for the lobby of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division building on Madison Avenue, which opened in 1900. “Can you imagine ten top artists collaborating on anything today?” says Palmer-Smith.
Dozens of similar projects began around the country. In the beginning, many of these works were commissioned and paid for by some of America’s wealthiest families. Along with his contribution to the Supreme Court Building, Mowbray painted a mural on the ceiling of the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, New York and one at John Pierpont Morgan’s library in New York City, which is now a museum. Another popular turn-of-the-century artist, William de Leftwich Dodge, spent most of his career painting murals for private homes and public buildings, including four for the lobby of the Astor Hotel in Times Square around 1900, titled Ancient and Modern New York. In the 1930s, William Randolph Hearst commissioned Dean Cornwell to paint a mural in the Raleigh Room restaurant at the Warwick Hotel. (After a disagreement over the fee, Cornwell added less-than-heroic scenes, including a man urinating on Sir Walter Raleigh.)
Towards the middle of the 20th century more and more murals were commissioned by businesses, local governments and, starting in 1939, by the Works Progress Administration as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. The largest of these latter was James Brooks’s 235ft circular mural, Flight, at the Marine Terminal at LaGuardia Airport, which depicts man’s dream of conquering the skies, from ancient mythology through to modern-day reality.
Parrish went on to paint eight additional murals over the course of his long and influential career, including The Pied Piper in 1909 for the bar at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. But Old King Cole is arguably his most famous. It has all the hallmarks of his later illustrations and prints, including bold, luminous colors, classical architectural forms, and an impish sense of humor. “It launched his career,” says Laurence Cutler. “Immediately afterwards he received a commission to illustrate a cover for Harper’s Magazine, and from then on he worked non-stop for the next 40 years.”
When the Knickerbocker closed in 1920, Old King Cole went into storage, then briefly hung in a museum in Chicago, and was finally installed at The St. Regis, an Astor-owned hotel, in 1932. There, at the heart of Millionaires’ Alley, as 55th Street was called at the time, it made the transition from artwork to icon.
Longevity alone might explain the King Cole Bar’s popularity – New York City has been torn down and rebuilt so many times that its residents develop emotional attachments to places and things that survive the constant reinvention. But it is Parrish’s painting that patrons love and return to see over and over again.

James Brooks’s 235ft circular mural, Flight, completed in 1942,
at the Marine Terminal at LaGuardia Airport

Murals have adorned some of the city’s most famous eating and drinking establishments, and Old King Cole is just one of a long list of favorites. In the early 1930s, the restaurant Café des Artistes on West 67th Street fell on hard times as the city struggled with the effects of the Great Depression. Located on the ground floor of Hotel des Artistes, an artists’ cooperative apartment building, the café served the tenants who lived upstairs, as well as the general public. Howard Chandler Christy, a prominent painter and illustrator who resided at the hotel, offered to paint a mural that would, according to Palmer-Smith, bring in “crowds of new customers”. For a fee of $2,000, he composed a series of nudes in bucolic settings – frolicking in water, playing on swings, posing with parrots.
The work has a dreamy, salacious quality that shocked and, as Christy anticipated, enticed the public. Café des Artistes became a crossroads for the art and business communities. Generations of New York’s top editors and gallery owners, bankers and stockbrokers met there for quiet lunches and dinners, or a drink at the bar, which The New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton describes as having been, “one of Manhattan’s great dark-and-quiet cuckolding spots”. In 2009, after more than 90 years in business, the café went bankrupt and closed. When a new management team moved into the space in 2011, they changed everything about the room, but kept the murals in place. Now called The Leopard at des Artistes, the restaurant and its nudes have garnered excellent reviews and host a new generation of New York power brokers.
New York’s tradition of murals enjoys constant reinvention. In the late Nineties Sol Lewitt was commissioned by Christie’s to create a mural three-storeys high for the entrance to 20 Rockefeller Plaza. The artist submitted four designs, and the auction house plumped for Wall Drawing No 896, Colors/Curves, a voluptuous collage of bold undulations in red, blue, yellow, green, lavender, orange and black.
In 2006, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and three partners purchased Ye Waverly Inn, an historic Greenwich Village pub that had for years offered an old-world New York dining experience. Carter and his partners dropped the “Ye” and transformed the inn into one of the most popular and celebrity-filled restaurants in the city. During the redesign, they kept many original fixtures but commissioned illustrator Edward Sorel to create a mural that celebrated notable residents of Greenwich Village. He painted an outdoor scene filled with 43 caricatures in illuminating, sometimes hilarious poses. Norman Mailer lies naked and staring, Narcissus-like, at his reflection in a pond. Dylan Thomas sits on a rock looking unremarkable with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, except that his lower half is drawn with a satyr’s legs.
Back at The St. Regis New York, an early evening crowd is enjoying cocktail hour. A wide and shallow room adjacent to a more formal white marble lounge and dining area, the King Cole Bar has a polished wood ceiling and walls and is furnished with low cocktail tables and chairs. Twin mirrors flanking the black granite-topped bar scatter glimmers of Parrish’s brilliant palette around the room. The bar is far enough removed from the rest of the hotel to feel like its own entity, but close enough to serve as easy landing spot for newly arrived travelers seeking respite from Midtown New York’s hustle. The range of famous people who have enjoyed drinks in the bar over the decades (Salvador Dalí, Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway, to name just a few) is well documented, but it also hosts neighborhood regulars, out-of-town shoppers, and a chic slice of New York nightlife.
Old King Cole has a secret that any Parrish expert, St. Regis bartender, or knowledgeable 14-year-old boy will happily share. “He is called the Flatulent Monarch,” says Cutler. “If you look carefully you can see that the king is raised off his seat and that the jesters and guards are reacting to him passing gas.” Although Parrish publicly denied it, the story of his revenge on Astor for having insisted on being included in the painting became part of the mythology surrounding the artist. “Parrish had a bet with his friends that he could paint absolutely anything,” said Palmer-Smith. “Old King Cole proved it.”
Your address: The St. Regis New York

The 1999 three-storey mural created for Christie’s
at the Rockefeller Plaza by Sol Lewitt

The kids are allright

The Kids Are All Right

Walking into the New York office of social media company Mediabend, the first things one notices are its energy and its interiors. Beyond its buzzing staff, creating such luxury shopping sites as Lifestyle Mirror and Elizabeth Street, are an American flag owned by John F. Kennedy and a massive photograph by the late Dennis Hopper, and after them a series of four enormous expressionist paintings – forged not by some famous abstract painter, but by the owner’s young daughter.
Family bonds, clearly, are key to the success of Emanuele Della Valle – if not financially, then emotionally. “My family was equally happy when we had very little,” he says, noting that his family’s wealth, stemming from the Tod’s empire of which his father is CEO, only became a vast fortune in the past couple of decades. “I got the lesson of humility and hard work from an early age from my grandfather. At one point, he lived in immense poverty, surviving on a piece of bread a day. From him, we learned it’s about what you do, not about your last name.”


Sam Branson, son of Virgin founder Richard, with his
actress wife Isabella Calthorpe (left) and sister Holly.
Sam is the chairman of film production company Sundog Pictures


Della Valle isn’t the only modern-day heir to abandon a facile trust-fund life and strike out on his own. Although many of the young rich may have brand surnames so powerful that they’re virtually synonymous with their homelands (take the royal David Linley in London, or the American newspaper heiress Amanda Hearst), these days it simply isn’t chic – in fact, it’s frowned upon – to live the life solely of a socialite or playboy.
While this younger generation is clearly aware of how they appear in the media, it is not just social approval that appears to drive them. A streak of entrepreneurial endeavor seems to have evolved, a goal to get their hands dirty, and to have their company or cause become a self-earning business entity.
This is true all over the globe. At the age of just 28, for instance, Carnival Cruiselines heiress Sarah Arison is becoming one of the most important arts philanthropists in the United States. Charlotte Dellal, granddaughter of the notorious gambler “Black Jack” Dellal, spearheads the accessories brand Charlotte Olympia. Sam Branson, son of Virgin founder Richard, runs a film company specializing in ethical content. Camilla Al Fayed, whose father once owned Harrods, is attempting to overhaul the fashion label Issa.

Tamara Mellon, who grew up in Beverly Hills
next door to Nancy Sinatra, co-founded
the Jimmy Choo shoe company

“There is no such thing as ‘society’ today,” observes the social arbiter David Patrick Columbia, editor and co-founder of “Society is driven by money and the ability to make it.”
Columbia rightly notes that the jetset days documented by photographer Slim Aarons, culminating in the heady excesses of the 1980s, are long past. The vanishing of café society has pervaded the consciousness of a new generation. It is no longer just about buying a $10,000 ticket to some charity function, but turning their cause into a self-financing business entity that earns them both legitimacy in the outside world and the satisfaction of having done it themselves.

Charlotte Dellal’s father was property
tycoon “Black Jack” Dellal. She steers
accessories brand Charlotte Olympia

Many parents spurred their offspring on towards independence. “I didn’t have the choice of doing nothing,” says the young Chinese jeweler Bao Bao Wan, the granddaughter of Wan Li, former Chairman of the National People’s Congress, who grew up within China’s presidential compound. The former Paris debutante has since seen her luxe jewelry represented around the world – no mean achievement with “Made in China” stamped on it. “But then, one of my missions is to solve that misunderstanding and to open that knot,” she says.
Jaisal Singh, descendent of one of India’s most illustrious families, says he was always expected to forge his own identity. “My parents were very, very tough on me to do something,” he says. Today he and his wife own Suján, the preservation-minded luxury hospitality brand responsible for Jawai, the country’s latest luxury leopard camp. “It wasn’t like I had an open checkbook from my family, either. I had access to the family legacy, but it was sink or swim. We had nothing in the bank.”

Bao Bao Wan called China’s presidential compound
home and is now a sought-after designer of jewelry

Many others who were never expected to own a business have excelled. Tamara Mellon, the brains behind Jimmy Choo, recalls her English headmistress telling her and her fellow female students, “Don’t worry about the education. You’re all going to get married, and it’s going to be absolutely fine.”
Often, when the scions of successful families do get there, they don’t always get the credit they deserve, Mellon says. People tend to forget all the nameless jobs, such as working at fashion boutique Browns, that she undertook prior to her great shoe success. Instead they dwell on the fact that she is now one of the wealthiest women in England. “They forget what it took to get where I am,” she says, adding that the gender discrimination she encountered along the way “rots the ground underneath you. I fought for what I earned. Even after all that, you still get derided and questioned as to whether you really have ability.”

Emanuele Della Valle, whose family owns
the luxury shoe brand Tod’s, helms online style magazines

No matter their disparate backgrounds, successes such as Mellon or Singh stress that motivation stems from their families. How that is communicated, though, varies. “If a parent is looking for their child to fulfill the parent’s dream, then of course that’s unhealthy,” says the rock ’n’ roll jewelry designer Ann Dexter-Jones ( “You’ve got to nurture them to feel good about their own strengths.”
Dexter-Jones’s five offspring, from her marriages to Laurence Ronson of Heron International and the rocker Mick Jones, are a case study in pursuing their private passions. Mark Ronson, Samantha Ronson and Alexander Dexter-Jones are flourishing musicians, songwriters and composers; Charlotte Ronson is an accomplished fashion designer; and Annabelle Dexter-Jones is a rising actress.
Their mother’s rule, she says, was to not treat her children like hand-puppets. “I impressed upon them that success is not about fame, money, or status. It just may happen to be a result.” And although they mingled with the likes of Mick Jagger, Michael Douglas, John McEnroe and Joan Didion, being surrounded by fame was never allowed to go to their heads. “None of my kids believe in any sort of nepotism,” says Dexter-Jones. “They do it their way with pride.”

Charlotte and Samantha Ronson, with links
to the Heron property empire,
are stars of fashion and music

Although connections do, of course, help. And why not? Plum Le-Tan’s introduction of her daughter Olympia to Gilles Dufour, for instance, helped her to get an internship and subsequently become his muse at Chanel. “I’m quite happy to assist in any way I can to help young kids get a foot on the ladder,” says Le-Tan. “Connections help.”


Amanda Hearst, the 30-year-old great-granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, admits that her background does carry weight. “If my last name helps get me access to something I care about, then I say, ‘Let’s go for it’,” she says, with particular reference to Friends of Finn, the charity she founded to raise money to eradicate inhumane puppy mills. Alongside friends such as Georgina Bloomberg, Kick Kennedy and Kimberly Ovitz, the young socialite has helped to ensure the closure of several deplorable puppy farms. “Whatever you do, it’s got to feel visceral,” she says.


Her passion is much admired by John Kluge, whose late father was once the richest man in America. Kluge co-founded Toilet Hackers to try to provide better sanitation facilities around the world (one child, he says, dies every 17 seconds due to a lack of clean water and poor hygiene).

Amanda Hearst, scion of the Hearst newspaper dynasty,
is a crusader against inhumane puppy farming

His father, also John Kluge, donated the vast majority of his multibillion-dollar estate to philanthropic causes – something his son doesn’t begrudge. “It’s a blessing,” he says. “I don’t have the luxury of not being able to work for a living, and I get to go out and create my own personhood and achievements.”
Although having the same name as his father can have its disadvantages, too. “Often people assume that if you come from a family with means, then you have the same resources, and that can be a hurdle when raising money.”
Hard work, and bits of luck perhaps, will determine whether this new generation achieves its destiny. Not everyone can be Tory Burch, the laser-focused former socialite turned fashion mogul. They readily concede their good fortune, but point to their parents for their inspiration.
“If you come from a family of clear personalities, no matter if it is a tycoon or someone who runs a café in a small town, it is perhaps not as easy to do what you want to do,” says Della Valle. “But they have lived a life, so why not try to learn the treasures of their experiences? I always listen to my father’s advice. I may do something different afterwards, but he’s a no-nonsense guy and he respects me for it.”
“No matter what your background,” he adds, “the integrity of a human being comes from the family and the work you do.”

Camilla Al Fayed’s father
used to own Harrods in London.
She runs the fashion label Issa, a royal favorite

California Dreamer - Andy Linsky

California Dreamer

During the week, Andy Linsky can invariably be found behind the wheel of a conventional, modern car as he drives between some of the most prestigious properties in and around Palm Springs, going about his business as one of the region's leading real estate agents. But in his spare time, Linsky is more likely to be spotted wafting along Palm Canyon Drive in a time-warp classic from the large and impressive collection which he keeps fully maintained and ready-to-roll in an 8,000 sq. ft. warehouse near his home.


“I’ve been interested in cars since the age of 4,” says 63-year-old Linsky, “but I didn’t get around to owning a classic automobile until the early 1990s when I bought a 1971 Lincoln Continental. It proved to be a false start. I found I wasn’t ready to deal with the foibles of an old car, so I sold it on.”
Linsky, who is also a passionate collector of contemporary art and wristwatches, revisited classic car ownership in 2000 with the purchase of a 1966 Rolls-Royce with drophead coupé coachwork by Mulliner Park Ward. “I sold that, too, and have regretted it ever since, but then I began buying more cars and, at one point, owned 25. That is now down to 18, two thirds of which are British or European, with the other third being American. I tend to buy those that were around when I first had a driving licence but couldn’t afford to own – although I have managed to buy an almost exact duplicate of my first new car, a 1972 BMW 2002tii in Inca orange.
Linsky purchases mainly from specialist auction houses and, more occasionally, from dealers or private sellers. “I try to buy the very best cars I can find, usually ones which have been restored to exceptionally high standards,” says Linsky, who counts among his stable a 1967 
Rolls-Royce and a 1963 Cadillac that were previously part of the renowned, multi-award-winning Nethercutt Collection in California.
“I think that’s a better way of doing it than buying a car in poor condition and having it rebuilt,” he continues. “It’s also very important not to simply park them up and forget about them. They need to be used. For that reason I employ someone to manage the collection, servicing and maintaining the cars, as well as driving them on a regular basis.”
Like most collectors, however, there are still one or two cars that Linsky longs to own. “I would very much like a Bentley Continental Flying Spur with Mulliner coachwork, and an Aston Martin DB6,” he says. “But these two particular cars have become very expensive. So now, I’m on the lookout for a 1968 Ford Torino GT Fastback in Lime Gold. That was the first car I ever owned, and I’d like to have another, but it’s proving very difficult to find one in that exact same color.”


Spoken like a true perfectionist.

Issue 3 - Carnival Of Colours - Image 5

Carnival of Color

Once seen, a Beatriz Milhazes canvas is never forgotten. The 54-year-old Brazilian’s palette races through tangy citrus, raspberry, blueberry, coral, mint, scarlet and sky-blue. Sharpened here and there by linear shapes, the leitmotif is the sphere, often figured as a tropical flower. But she explodes the curves into fragmented arabesques that swirl and spiral across the canvas.
Rather than working directly on canvas, Milhazes paints on sheets of plastic which she then lays on to her surface and peels away. From a distance, her paintings possess flawless, graphic sheen; close up, subtle shifts of tone and texture inject a vigorous, carnal vitality.
Today, her oeuvre has garnered worldwide recognition, with works residing in New York’s Guggenheim Museum and MoMA. In 2012, her painting My Lemon sold at Sotheby’s for $2.1 million, making her Brazil’s most expensive living artist at the time.
Last year the Paço Imperial cultural center hosted her first retrospective for ten years in Rio de Janeiro, her native city. For Milhazes, the experience was thrilling. “The pulse of this city is incredible right now,” she tells me at her studio in Rio. But it was nerve-racking, too. “People say, ‘I love your work’, but many have only ever seen it in books.
”This year, her sights are set on her first major U.S. retrospective, at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Milhazes is keen to make her mark on a city she views as “a bridge between North and South America.” She is also enthused by the museum’s spectacular new building, whose glass walls are framed by a pergola of hanging gardens.
“I love the way that nature is integrated with the space,” she says, adding that the rapport with flora mirrors the tension in her own work, which thrives on the clash of landscapes. “I love to be surrounded by the city and yet also by nature. That’s why I love Rio and Miami.”
Your address: The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort