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?