Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Are You Affluent"

So, are you?If you have $1 million in liquid assets -- not including your home -- you, my friend are rich. At least according to most wealth-management firms.
Before you break out the champagne and caviar, you might want to check the guest list. With about a million millionaires, that's hardly an exclusive club these days. (Try running
a quick calculation. You may be closer to membership than you think.)
The truly rich dwell in places like Rolling Hills, Calif. (where the average household income is $305,700) and Munsey Park, N.Y. (average household income $117,600). Heck, even residents of Montville, N.J., No. 300 on the list of richest communities, aren't doing too bad, with the average household income in the $100,000-plus range.Feeling a little like a pauper? Pshaw. Most organizations define the "upper class" as those with an annual income figure of $70,000. The next tier consists of more than 47 million households that earn at least $50,000. Depending on where you live, your 2,200-sq. ft. four-bedroom single-family home is either workaday or a manse. When Coldwell Banker compared home prices in more than 300 markets, it found a $1.2 million difference for the same-size home in La Jolla, Calif. and Binghamton, N.Y.
While there may be a million-dollar difference in how our homes are priced, there doesn't appear to be a wide gulf dividing the haves and have-nots when it comes to filling our home entertainment armoires, walk-in closets, and heated garages.
Lately it seems that Richie Rich and the rest of us are buying the same stoves, cars, video cameras, and cigars. When our parents upgraded the cabinets, counters, and appliances in their 1950s ramblers, they spent just $9,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Today, the average cost of a kitchen remodel is more than $50,000.
Lifestyles of the rich and famous? We're living it. What do you think??

Sunday, November 29, 2009


The craze for miniature dogs isn't limited to American celebrities. The petite pets are popular in both Australia and Japan, although in Japan, the intensity of the interest in the trend is pushing breeders to try to meet Japanese desire for ever-smaller and ever-cuter puppies. And that is leading to some real problems for the animals. Inbreeding has led to crippled or deformed animals and puppy mills are producing more animals than the public can handle.
The most popular breeds at the moment are ones that are naturally small, such as chihuahuas. It is especially popular to get them in exotic colors, like the blue-grey puppy pictured. These unusual colors are recessive traits and repeatedly breeding for them, often using the same couple of dogs and their offspring because they are known to have the genes, is what causes the dogs to have unfortunate genetic defects. Many are killed at birth, but others lack limbs or are prone to deafness, eye problems and nervous disorders.
A prized puppy can go for as much as $10,000, making it worthwhile for some breeders to pursue these dogs in spite of the risks to the dogs themselves. Breeders are left to self-regulate, but as long as the demand is high, so will the temptation for unscrupulous breeders.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

World's Most Luxurious Spas

It wasn't so long ago that luxury hotels were racing to add spas, realizing they weren't competitive without one. Today, luxury spas are racing one another. The pressure is on--and we're not talking about your massage.As spa-goers become more sophisticated and better-traveled, they expect more from a spa experience than ever before, and they're willing to pay for it. The industry generates about $40 billion globally, according to SpaFinder, a New York City-based spa marketing and media company. So spas worldwide are adding private suites, Japanese baths, rain showers and an ever-more-exotic array of treatments, therapies and fitness programs, influenced by everything from the traditions of far-flung cultures to cutting-edge medical technology, in order to stand out, cash in and attract new customers.Sure, you can still get a basic Swedish massage at any spa worth its bath salts. But some spas, like the Six Senses Spa at Soneva Gili in the Maldives, are now offering Abhayanga, a full-body massage derived from Indian ayurvedic medicine that is performed by two therapists. And forget the traditional facial. At the Terme di Saturnia Spa Resort in Tuscany, you can have a rejuvenating salicylic acid mask, which exfoliates away skin problems like wrinkles or acne and leaves the skin looking fresher and younger.Even the traditional mud bath is passé. Terme di Saturnia now offers three varieties of mud: anti-fatigue mud, specifically formulated for swollen legs; toning body mud, which is laced with essential oils; and anti-cellulite mud, a mix of thermal mud and unspecified additives that promise to fight cellulite. And the cost for each one of these muddy luxuries? $70 a pop.It's not just the treatments and facilities that are changing at modern spas, either. To ensure a ready supply of clients, spas are reaching out to new groups of potential guests. "The industry is finding niches and catering the experience directly to them," says Lynne Walker McNees, president of the Lexington, Ky.-based International Spa Association (ISPA). "For men, they are changing the titles on the spa menu, changing the oils and making the experience less girly."See ten of the most luxurious spas in the world. Video: World's Most Luxurious SpasThe demographic of spa visitors has shifted dramatically as a result. Men now constitute more than 31% of spa visitors, up from 24% in 2004, according to ISPA.Click on the links for more slideshows• Slide show: World's Sexiest IslandsSlide show: Most Expensive BikinisSlide show: Most Luxurious Spas In The USSlide show: World’s Most Expensive HotelsSlide show: Summer's Hottest Fitness Trends"Throughout the world, spas are really catering to men with special menus, treatments, facilities, mens' clubs, scotch on the rocks--all the trappings you associate as typically masculine--to put men at ease," agrees Ann Abel, executive editor of Luxury SpaFinder, a publication of SpaFinder. "They need to take care of their skin, and they enjoy massage as much as women do," Abel adds. And now, there are more places than ever for them to do it.The Island Experience, a 100-square-mile private island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, is one example. The resort, which bills itself as an adventure spa, will introduce an "Alpha Adventures" program next winter, encouraging men to buff and beautify themselves in the most masculine way possible. Alpha Adventures will feature testosterone-filled activities like jungle hikes, sea kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, fishing and two nights of camping. (Lest that sound too much like roughing it, yoga and massage are available as well.)And at Chiva Som, an exclusive destination spa in Hua Hin, Thailand, men get a spa menu of their very own, which includes specialties like the Volcanic Pumice Polish, a body buffing treatment done with Italian pumice, or the Executive Hand Treatment, which tends to the cuticles and nails (which are shaped, but not polished), and ends with a hand and arm massage.Now that's pressure we can handle.Story posted on MSN.COM & FORBES.COM

Panasonic Home Theater Heaven

Panasonic's newest evolutions in home theater Projection.
Panasonic has recently introduced two new projectors, PT-AE1000U and PT-AX100U. Whichever way you look at it, the perfect home theater projector is a Panasonic. Choose the industry's highest rated home theater projector, the AX100 - with Panasonic's Light Harmonizer Technology for amazing picture quality, even in well-lit rooms. Or choose Panasonic's full HD AE1000 projector for brilliant in-home cinematic viewing. Both projectors were developed with leading Hollywood colorists to deliver cinema-picture quality the way the director intended. Either way, you'll be immersed in an awe-inspiring viewing experience. Visit http://twx.doubleclick.net/click;h=v8/34d0/3/0/*/f;57313269;0-0;0;12295590;4307-300/250;19121903/19139798/1;;~aopt=2/1/248d/0;~sscs=?http://www.panasonic.com/projectors or call 888.411.1996 to get the perfect holiday gift. *Based on popularity ratings for 720p projectors appearing on ProjectorCentral.com as of October 22, 2007.


Since today is the fifth anniversary of 9/11 I decided to look at one of the most fantastic places on the market in New York City. This 14-room home in a prewar coop located on the river front in the East 50s in Midtown Manhattan. The home has views overlooking the East River. The home has recently been renovated by famed decorator Tony Ingrao in an amazingly ornate style. The home is listed at $29 million. After the jump, a bathroom worthy of Marie Antoinette. Tell me how do you rate this estate? Post a response!

Another Million Dollar Cell Phone

Another million-dollar cell phone is set to hit the market. This one, designed by accessories maker Peter Aloisson doesn't just have diamonds it also has encryption technology from Russian comapny JSC Ancort. This isn't Aloisson's first million dollar cell phone and he has festooned this one with rose gold and white and blue diamonds. It has 29 preset ringtones and has SMS, MMS, E-mail, Internet, WAP, JAVA support and a media player. The phone sells for $1.3 million.

The Pink Palace, Estate of the Day

This pink palace in Naples Florida, has a prime spot on the beach and is located in the exclusive Port Royal neighborhood. Port Royal is considered one of the finest neighborhoods in Naples and Port Royal home owners are eligible for membership in the exclusive Port Royal Club.The Port Royal Club is comparable to the most distinguished private clubs in the United States and offers fine dining, tennis courts, a heated swimming pool and numerous other luxurious amenities. This home is on 1.9 acres and has five bedrooms in the main house. There are also two guesthouses and a pool with a view. The decor is all sherbet tones and white trim with plenty of French doors ready to be popped open at a moment's notice to catch an ocean breeze. This expansive Florida estate is listed at $24.9 million. After the jump, but isn't she pretty in pink?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Djibouti. A luxury military choke point.

Western soldiers are a common sight in Djibouti. There are Western troops all over the place. The hotel in Djibouti’s nondescript capital was filled with German soldiers – the first I have ever encountered. Near the airport, a gaggle of French troops wearing camouflage fatigues and absurdly short shorts were marching along the road. A Mirage jet from the French air force screamed overhead.
French warships regularly visit the harbour a few miles away. France seized Djibouti in the 19th century and kept the tiny country as a colony until as recently as 1977. Paris ensured that Djibouti’s independence treaty enshrined its right to keep a military presence here in perpetuity. An old French base, known as Camp Lemonier, is now home to about 2,300 Americans from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa.
Djibouti is Africa’s smallest countries, with only 500,000 people, resembles a camp for European and Americanarmies. Why? The Red Sea joins the Indian Ocean alongside Djibouti, making it one of the most strategically important locations on earth. This strategic location at the mouth of the Red Sea makes Djibouti an important port for goods entering and leaving the east African highlands. It makes an interesting and exotic yachting destination, and the city is laid out on a grid, making it very easy to explore in an afternoon.

Djibouti is a blend of colonial French and modern Arabic, and visitors are treated with traditional African hospitality. The Central Market just south of town is worth seeing, and is the best place to go if you’re hungry. Spicy, oven-baked or barbecued fish is a local specialty that you shouldn’t miss. The Aquarium Tropical de Djibouti is one of the town’s main attractions, open daily from 4 to 6:30pm, except during Ramadan. The best beaches are near the city of Dorale, and you can boat to the islands of Maskalii and Moucha in the Gulf of Tadjoura. Swimming, diving and snorkeling are excellent in the Red Sea coral reefs not far from the city of Djibouti. The climate here is mostly hot and humid, with the best time to visit being November to mid-April when it is less hot. Rainfall is less than five inches per year and vegetation is sparse or non-existent.

Here, Africa and Arabia are only 17 miles apart, separated by the Bab-El-Mandeb straits (which translates, appropriately enough, as the “Gates of Tears”). Giant tankers carry 3.3 million barrels of oil through this natural corridor every day. Last year, about 17,000 ships entered the “Gates of Tears”. This is what military planners call a “choke-point”. If terrorists were able to disable or destroy a super-tanker here, they could block the Bab-El-Mandeb and cause huge damage to the world economy. This explains the Western presence. But what do ordinary Djiboutians make of it? Post what you think today!

(Note:This Story was origionally posted by david.blair@telegraph.co.uk at 20 Oct 06 18:18)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

World's Most Expensive Jeans

Forbes has the scoop on the most expensive jeans. They cite trends towards custom-fitted denim and lots of added detailing, including embroidery and crystals, as major reasons that prices were driven upwards, but not every pair on their list has these features. The single most expensive pair was 115-year old Vintage Levis sold on eBay for $60,000, followed by the significantly newer Ernest Sewn custom jeans, which cost up to $1,000 per pair.
Other pairs we liked this year included Levis iPod Jeans and Denim for Immortality Jeans, though we also liked the opportunity to make our own from Denim Design Lab.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Pamper Yourself. BringThe Spa Home!

Any day is the right day to pamper yourself. Cozy loungewear and luxurious products help you relax and unwind. Plus, these products are “mental health investments,” since, unlike a single spa visit, these last and last and last. A cotton sateen sheet set is perfect for breakfast in bed. Splurge on the highest quality you can afford, to give you the feeling of staying in a four-star hotel. Loungewear creates a perfect excuse to relax all day and forget about your usual hectic schedule. Soft cotton separates, such as yoga pants or casual tops can also be combined with jeans and trousers for fashionable, yet comfortable looks on more “real world” days. What’s a spa without beauty treatments? Give yourself the full spa experience with a plush cotton robe and stock the bathroom with cotton-centric products like cotton-scented candles, cleansers and bath mitts. Keeping your spa pantry stocked means that you have a relaxing escape at your fingertips when you need it most. Luxurious cotton sheets, comfy loungewear and cotton beauty products are not just a special treat for you, keeping yourself relaxed and happy benefits the entire family.

PRATIMA Ayurvedic Spa

At PRATIMA Ayurvedic Skin Care Clinic and Spa, a creation of Dr. Raichur, we have taken the traditional principles and formulas of Ayurveda and created a unique array of services to restore balance to your whole being, address problem skin, counter the effects of stress and aging, and cultivate a genuine, lasting beauty.
Each of our luxurious treatments are customized to complement your individual dosha (body type) - nourishing your skin with what it wants and what it needs. The products we use are Dr. Raichur's exclusive formulations, based on decades of research in Ayurveda, botany, and biochemistry, and are made with only all-natural ingredients and the purest herbs, roots, flowers, minerals and essential oils, with no chemicals or preservatives whatsoever.
From exotic facials and massages to traditional Ayurvedic therapies incorporating elements including milk, rose, sandalwood and pure oils mixed with herbs; each treatment and consultation is customized to complement your individual dosha (body type) leaving you with a revitalized, radiant beauty that emanates from deep within.

Are you Vata, Pitta or Kapha? Take this quick Dosha Test to help determine your own Ayurvedic constitution/skin type to learn more about the wonderful science and beauty of Ayurveda.

Head down to SoHo for your favoritePratima Ayurvedic Skincare Clinic and Spa servicesand products!As of April 19th, 2006, we are excited to announceour new address as: 110 Greene StreetSuite 701New York, NY 10012(between Prince and Spring Street

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Medical Pedicure

I come not to praise your bunions, but to bury them!Or at least that's the thinking behind the medical pedicure -- a new trend in high-end beauty treatments. According to an article in the New York Times, medical pedicures refer to a treatment involving "extensive cleaning, sanding, buffing and shaping."Unlike the pedicures most of us have come to love, which typically involve strip malls, special foot-bath chairs and conversations amongst pedicurists in languages you do not understand, the medical pedicure takes foot cosmetics to a whole new level. The actual services involved in a medical pedicure can vary. If the service is provided by a medical spa, customers can expect to have their calluses, corns and ingrown toe-nails cut out with specialized tools. Some tend to be less involved and invasive -- offering customers a thorough cleaning and shaping that still trumps what you would get in your neighborhood nail parlor. And what is the explanation for this trend? My guess is over-exposed feet. With springtime shoes that are going from bare to hardly there, it's no surprise that women have started to feel self-conscious about the appearance of their feet. The beauty industry has tapped into a new lucrative market with this treatment, since the average medical pedicures range from $100-$300.


Because, apparently, there are enough My Super Sweet Sixteen types out there, gadget companies seemingly can't find enough reasons to bling up their wares, and Samsung is surely no exception. To commemorate the 1 millionth Yepp YP-Z5 unit sold, the company and interface designer Paul Mercer (he also designed the iPod's 'face) are auctioning off 10 of these 18k gold bars, which are predicted to net over $1,000 each. Go for it, if you're in Korea.

Wine Auctions

Don't turn to Trader Joe's for a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck if you're looking for a good price on wine. The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports that more and more wine lovers are heading to auction houses like Christie's to shop - not for the ultra-expensive or rare bottles of wine, but for bargains. Many lots of good, ready-to-drink wines, perhaps "from overzealous collectors, who bought more than they [could] drink," sell for well under $100 per bottle.
When people consign their collections to the auction block, they almost always have several lower-ticket items in addition to the really expensive bottles of Chateau Petrus that the auction houses take one either because they must, or because they're hoping to attract new bidders. Whatever their reason for offering the wines, the budget bottles are a boon to wine fans who find cases of their favorite vintages for less than retail. The self-described "bottom feeders" say that it just takes a little research on the catalogue listings to sniff out the best deals, but to come home with some good wines at even better prices, it is worth the effort.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Sure, you could pick up your own seashells on the beach but they won't come pre-gilded. Ruzzetti and Gow sells a variety of gilded seashells that are far better than anything you could put in your pocket while beachcombing. The shells range from the exotic murex to the iconic sand dollar and are priced from $50 to $225. They also offer shells and coral dipped in silver.