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Luxury Mayfair Restaurant to Sell Ultimate Food Gift

High-end London eatery Novikov, owned by Russian restaurateur Arkady Novikov, has begun retailing its own ultra-exclusive caviar.

The Mayfair restaurant has responded to soaring demand from its well-heeled clientele by making the sought-after delicacy available to purchase over the counter, in addition to appearing on the in-house menus.

Two versions of caviar will be for sale at Novikov. The first is Selected Caviar, commonly referred to as Russian sturgeon, and is sourced from the Baltic Sea river estuaries, east of Rostock in Germany.

The second, Hybrid Caviar is produced through the cross-breeding of two sturgeons, both found in the Amur River basin that straddles the border between north-eastern China and the Russian Far East.

Novikov’s caviar undergoes a stringent quality control process after being flown to London for inspection Out of a recent shipment of 100kg, only 17kg was deemed to be good enough.

The Hybrid Caviar currently sells at Novikov for £2,400 per kilogram. A 120g retail pack will be priced at £300

After opening its doors in 2011, Novikov quickly became one of London’s most prestigious restaurants. Its owner’s second London venture, Rextail, opened late last year.


JW Marriott Debuts First Resort in India, JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

Luxury Hospitality Brand Opens 115-Room Resort in The Heart Of The Himalayas

JW Marriott Debuts First Resort in India, JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

JW Marriott Debuts First Resort in India, JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

JW Marriott® Hotels & Resorts (by Marriott)

JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts continues to expand its luxury portfolio with the opening of its first resort in India, the JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa.The hotel is located in the hill station of Mussoorie, at the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayan ranges, also known as the Queen of the Hills. The hotel boasts a sophisticated elegant and chic style, amidst a surreal ambience of lush mountains and historic walnut plantations.

“JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove & Spa is a beautiful addition to our growing India portfolio and overall global presence,” said Mitzi Gaskins, Vice President and Global Brand Manager for JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts. “Each year, thousands of travelers pass through the picturesque hill station of Mussoorie to experience its temples, gardens, hiking trails and natural falls and we are thrilled to celebrate that rich history and culture with our guests.”

JW Marriott MussoorieThe hotel’s interior and exterior design was inspired by its natural surroundings – the stunning Himalayan Mountains. All guestrooms feature private balconies, inviting guests to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding hills and gardens and breathe the fresh mountain air from the privacy of their own room. The new 115-room luxury resort is located just 290 kilometers (approx. 180 miles) from New Delhi and 60 kilometers (approx.40 miles) from the nearest airport in Dehradun.

“The opening of the first JW Marriott resort in India is undoubtedly a milestone for theJW Marriott brand and Marriott International at large,” said Mr. Rajeev Menon, Area Vice President of South-Asia for Marriott International. “JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa reflects the sophistication, style and exceptional service, attributes that have grown synonymous with the JW Marriott brand worldwide.”

Guests will be invited to explore five specialty restaurants on property. All-day dining JW Cafe serves fresh local and international favorites from its lively open kitchen such as popular North Indian black lentil dish Kali Dal, lamb dish Nalli ki Nihari and the signature JW Burger and JW Club sandwich; Teppan is the contemporary, upscale restaurant serving Asian cuisine; Wisteria Deck is a cozy outdoor Italian trattoria serving wood fired pizzas, wines and sangria; Perch is a tea lounge offering some of the best single estate teas and coffees and Trout House Grill & Bar opens each evening to grill up the local catch of the day and offer a selection of exclusive cocktails including fresh fruit martini’s and frozen cocktails.

The resort also houses the Cedar Spa by L’Occitane, which features five lavish treatment rooms and an array of invigorating treatments inspired by the indigenous cedar trees of the region. Treatments include the Signature Cedarwood Body Massage, the repairing Shea Ultra Rich Softening Body Wrap and the Almond Silhouette Reshape to restore firmness. Salon by Warren Tricomi, a state-of-the-art fitness center will boast an indoor heated swimming pool to complete the well-being experience at the hotel.

The resort was specially designed with families in mind and features The Den – an entertainment center and kid’s club that spans over 12,000 square feet and includes a two-lane bowling alley, billiard and pool tables, gaming consoles, library, nap areas and a Market with fresh food and beverages.

The hotel also holds one of the largest meeting spaces in the city with 3,300 total square feet across the Grand Orchard Ballroom, three break-out rooms and a spacious pre-function area. An on-site events team will ensure flawless coordination and execution, be it a lavish wedding or social event.

“The JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa, marks a major milestone for Mussoorie, one of the most stunning and serene parts of the Himalayas,” said Mr. Chandrashekhar Joshi, General Manager, JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa. “Our hotel has the distinction of catering to the entire family with a plethora of entertainment, dining and relaxation amenities that showcase the best of local ingredients, all in the lap of international luxury.”

The JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa offers the tranquility of nature, perfectly blended with the warmth of luxury hospitality, and will be the brand’s sixth property in India. Currently there are five other JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts properties in India, which are located in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Pune and Bengaluru.


InterContinental Muscat to Debut with New Features Following Extensive Refurbishment

InterContinental Muscat to Debut with New Features Following Extensive Refurbishment

InterContinental Muscat to Debut with New Features Following Extensive Refurbishment

Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has signed a multi-year contract extension with leading tourism-related investment, development and management company Omran for InterContinental Muscat. The 258-room hotel will undergo extensive refurbishment, providing guests more amenities and facilities upon completion in 2017.

Bringing to life an InterContinental brand hallmark – the Concierge Programme, one of the main new features of InterContinental Muscat will be a purpose-builtInterContinental Concierge Lounge. The Concierge Lounge has been designed to enable guests to discover the city where the hotel is located through authentic local experiences and will incorporate a travel desk, business centre and concierge. Catering for meetings and events, the hotel’s function space will also undergo reconfiguration to provide better access and more options for event planners and hosts.

Guests and customers can look forward to great dining experiences with the hotel’s all day dining restaurant, which will be enhanced with a destination bar, terrace and garden, or relax in new dining and drinks venues. In addition to the spa and fitness centre, guests can enjoy some down time at the new floodlit tennis courts and new lap pool whilst young InterContinental guests are engaged at the new Kid’s Play Area.

Pascal Gauvin, Chief Operating Officer, India, Middle East & Africa, IHG said: “Omran is a valued partner of ours and we are delighted to renew our contract with them. We were one of the first international hotel companies to enter the Middle East with the InterContinental brand more than 50 years ago and guests recognise us as one of the leading luxury hotel brands in the world today. The refurbishment ofInterContinental Muscat will bring the hotel to new levels and we are confident it will deliver greater luxury experiences for our guests when the works complete.”

Omran currently has 3 IHG properties in its portfolio across Oman, including Crowne Plaza Duqm and the upcoming Crowne Plaza Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre which will open in 2016.

Wael Ahmed Al Lawati, CEO, Omran, said: “InterContinental Muscat has been a preferred choice amongst guests who enjoy luxury travel in Muscat. With a major refurbishment plan in place, we wanted to have a trusted partner who understands the hotel and guests manage the project with us. We have enjoyed a strong relationship with IHG over the past 37 years and are very pleased to continue our longstanding relationship with them. The new and enhanced features in InterContinental Muscat will definitely help draw more guests through our doors and we look forward to the completion of the refurbishment in the coming years.”

IHG currently has six hotels in Oman across three brands: InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, and another two hotels in the development pipeline. There are 66 InterContinental hotels and resorts across Asia, Middle East and Africa and a further 23 hotels due to open in the next three to five years.


Grinding Grain Makes the Best Bread

In a quest for healthier, tastier eating, many folks have returned to the art of baking bread. What they don’t realize is that they go to all that trouble to get good flavor with flour that may be a bit short on nutrients when compared with the wheat it’s been milled from. That’s right — depending on the type, flour can lose up to 45 percent of its nutrients through oxidation within the first 24 hours of milling, and 90 percent within the first three days.

So what’s a home baker to do for best flavor and nutrition? Grind your own grain fresh, of course. With a hand-powered mill you can grind the wheat (and other grains) needed for a pound-sized loaf of whole-wheat in less than 5 minutes — and you’ll burn a few calories in the process.

Where did the Nutrition go?

Of the 44 known nutrients essential for good health, only four are not found in wheat: vitamins A, B12 and C, and the mineral iodine. Commercial wheat milling to create white flour removes bran and germ, resulting in flour that is missing up to 80 percent of its nutrients. Manufacturers do enrich commercially made flour, but with only four nutrients. So what about the other 40? And the fiber?

Maybe you think all those nutrients would be destroyed in a 350-degree oven anyway, but not so, according to Sue Becker, founder and owner of BreadBeckers Inc. and former industrial food scientist. First, even though we bake bread at 350 degrees or hotter, bread is done when its internal temperature reaches 185 degrees. In a recent interview, Becker explains that the enzymes in the grains make the nutrients more bio-available when they are heated. Some nutritional value may be lost, but some is enhanced by this design. She also points out that the vitamin E found in whole wheat is not destroyed by cooking. Convinced? Let’s get started grinding grain at home.

The Equipment

Before you go shopping for wheat, you need a mill to grind it. Grain mills come in two types: the electric impact mill that bursts the grain open, and the burr mill, which rubs the grain between two wheels of stone or stainless steel. Neither type of mill is better than the other; you simply need to know how you’ll use it before buying. If all you want is whole-wheat flour, any mill on the market can deliver. But if you want to crack your grains for grits, mill oily grains, seeds or beans, a burr mill might prove more useful. Generally, burr mills are hand cranked. Don’t let that deter you, though. Many come with motor and bicycle kits. With a little do-it-yourself spirit, most folks can handle this adaptation with no problem. The advantage of the impact mill is speed. It can mill enough flour for a batch of muffins in less than a minute — but it produces only flour.

The Wheat

You don’t have to grow your own wheat to grind your own flour. If you want a local product, ask around at your local farm store to see if anyone knows a wheat grower in the area. If you can’t find a local farmer, check out the nearest bulk food supplier. I buy Wheat Montana wheat from a grocer that stocks bulk foods. A 50-pound bag costs $28 to $42 depending on the variety.

To make bread, or any kind of yeast dough, use a hard white spring wheat or hard red wheat. The red has a stronger flavor and darker color than the white. Some folks prefer stronger flavor in their daily loaf; but for something like pizza crust, where you want a milder flavor, use the white. Spring wheat has a higher protein content, which gives you a lighter loaf. To make pastries, cakes, pancakes, or any product using baking soda or baking powder, use soft white wheat. The hard wheat will work here, but the soft wheat will give your product a lighter texture.

You don’t have to mix store-bought white flour with your whole wheat. The secret to light, soft bread is to make it immediately after grinding your grain. If baking with whole wheat is new to you, and your bread is not light enough for your palate, try adding egg, honey or lecithin to your recipe. Some folks will start with a half-and-half recipe and slowly replace the white flour with whole grain until they are used to the flavor and texture of 100-percent whole wheat.

If you want to adapt a recipe you’re already comfortable with, just replace all flour products in it (flour, germ, gluten) with freshly ground flour. Measure the flour after milling, as you will get more than 1 cup of flour from 1 cup of wheat — how much more will depend on the variety and the coarseness of the grind. In my experience, whole wheat tends to be drier than white flour, so your dough will not be as sticky and you will probably not add as much in the kneading process. Baking times should be comparable.

If you want the health benefits of grinding your own grain, don’t be tempted to add gluten to your recipe. According to the Whole Grains Council (WGC), “If the grain has been processed, the food product should deliver approximately the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed.” Becker says adding the additional gluten to the whole wheat upsets that balance that the WGC refers to, thus rendering the bread no longer “whole grain.”


Since I buy my wheat in 50-pound bags, I have to store it somewhere. If kept in an environment free of pests and moisture, wheat will keep indefinitely. In fact, legend holds that wheat kernels found in Egyptian pyramids have sprouted. When I bring my wheat home from the store, I pop the bag into the freezer for three or four days to kill any unwanted pests that may have made it home from wherever the bag has been. I then take it out and bring it up to room temperature — this may take a day — before transferring it into a food-grade, 5-gallon bucket, preferably one with a lid that screws off easily and has a rubber gasket to keep out any moisture. If you put the grain in the bucket right out of the freezer, it will produce moisture inside from the change in temperature. Likewise, if you choose to store your wheat in the freezer, you will need to bring it up to room temperature before milling.

Who can resist the smell of bread, fresh from the oven? Or whole-wheat pancakes heavy with home-churned butter and maple syrup? What about tortillas, soft and warm, right off the griddle? Someone once asked me how my whole-wheat bread turns out so light and soft. Now you know my secrets. And it’s not only healthier, it tastes better, too.


Moxy Milan Celebrates Inspiring Artistic Talent in Hunt to Find Next Best Artist

Live ‘Blank Canvas’ challenge puts three finalists under intense pressure to produce incredible art in only 60 minutes.

Moxy Milan Celebrates Inspiring Artistic Talent in Hunt to Find Next Best Artist

Moxy Milan Celebrates Inspiring Artistic Talent in Hunt to Find Next Best Artist

Moxy Hotels

Moxy Milan, the new economy design hotel in Milan, Italy, announced Nune D’Amico Kerobyan as the winner of its artist-in-residence competition – Blank Canvas #atthemoxy – which was held at a spectacular opening party that brought together media, hotel guests, art enthusiasts and the Milanese social scene on 30 October.

In a thrilling climax to the competition, three finalists created an artwork in just 60 minutes, in front of a live audience, using only a black blank canvas and pink, white and black paint pens. A tattoo artist, Leonardo Giacomo Borges, courtesy of MarriottRewards, painted semi-permanent tattoos on guests whilst they sipped on Nespresso cocktails including iced raspberry macchiatos and mojito coffee cocktails with Havana Club and a selection of Red Bull drinks, Sugarfree and Red Bull Red Edition. The electric music set, by Red Bull DJ Stefi Oyadi, kept the party dancing well into the night.

Moxy Milan – artists at work during competitionThe three finalists were selected from 300 submissions to global creative community, Talent House, for the first round of the challenge which required artists to submit artwork with a bold, vibrantly coloured design, capturing the character of Milan and displaying a Moxy attitude: spirited, fun and thoughtful.

Moxy Milan – Laura Hayden MC and Red Bull DJ Stefi Oyadi Ramesh Jackson, Vice President, Franchise Brand Operation, Marriott International and member of the judging panel said: “Watching the artists get to work in such a pressurised environment for the Blank Canvas challenge made for a thrilling evening — and one that immediately set the vibe we are so proud to nourish in the Moxy brand: daring, creative and fun. Celebrating raw creative design and vibrant urban energy is at the heart of Moxy’s core values and the response from the artist community for Blank Canvas #atthemoxy has been so exciting. This is just the start of a long creative partnership as we continue to support artistic talent at our hotels”

The three finalists, Ana Androska, Hector Darcos, and Nune D’Amico Kerobyan, were shortlisted because their work displayed the individuality and artistic energy thatMoxy’s expert art judges* were looking for:

Winner Nune D’Amico Kerobyan is a designer and painter from Rome, Italy. Judges admired her painting, Passion, for its decorative richness. This portrait is of a thoroughly modern, 21st-century woman, but Nune’s palette and approach is sensual with a nod to Art Deco style.

Runner upHector Darcos is a graffiti artist from the Canary Islands, who was raised in London and Barcelona. His abstract painting, Urban Flow, impressed the judges for its finely controlled line, and fluid, organic, almost other-worldly atmosphere that simultaneously feels very urban and contemporary.

Runner up Ana Androska is an artist from Skopje, in Macedonia. Her painting, Liberty, immediately caught the judges’ eyes. Liberty is, says Ana, about “celebrating the joy and passion of life — a bottle of wine shared with dear friends, with laughter, music and food”. Moxy’s art judges praised Ana’s charming, whimsical and figurative style.

As the proud winner, Nune was awarded a cash prize and her artwork will be displayed in the hotel’s Living Room. When receiving her prize from the judging panel, Nune explained “My artwork was inspired by the energy of cities around the world, fast free and always evolving and by the carefree Moxy way of life. I am so pleased and excited to win this prize and to be a part of the Moxy experience”

The Moxy Milan is located within walking distance of Terminal Two at Milan Malpensa Airport. Complimentary 24-hour shuttle service is available from Terminal One.


The Cronut Guy’s Top 10 Pastry Tools

As home cooks, we rely on our instincts, our knowledge, and our curiosities — but we also have to rely on our tools. Which is why we’re asking the experts about the essential tools we need to make our favorite foods attainable in our own kitchens.

Today: How does Dominique Ansel, whose new book is available for pre-order, make pastry creations that spark mass hysteria in New York City? He starts by stocking his kitchen with these 10 tools.

I always say that when it comes to baking, you need to buy a lot of toys. A dash of this and a pinch of that sounds romantic, but it’s a pastry chef’s nightmare. Real baking relies on precise science and an investment in a few tools that will dramatically improve the quality of your work. The more equipment you invest in, the less intimidating baking becomes. If you’re a passionate cook, don’t be scared to load up your kitchen with a proper baking section. You won’t regret it!

Here what you’ll need to get started:

1. Digital scale
There’s a strange stigma about buying a scale, but if you’re serious about baking, this is perhaps the one tool to invest in. Measurements are so much more accurate with a digital scale, and you don’t have to worry about how densely you packed your measuring cups and spoons. Scales are small, relatively cheap, easy to use, and much more efficient than a collection of cups and spoons.

2. Stand mixer
I’ve whipped creams and meringues with only a whisk and a sturdy forearm before, but after a while, it gets a bit painful. While you can make cookie batter with a bowl and a spatula, a stand mixer allows you to really dive into more serious recipes (and it saves you from a muscle ache).

3. Probe thermometer
Temperature makes a big difference the minute you start to work with sugar, as its texture changes so much depending on how much you heat it. Can you make a good meringue or caramel without a thermometer? Yes. But to consistently make a great one, this is one piece of equipment that’s worth it.

4. Chopsticks
A few years ago, I started realizing how convenient chopsticks are as tools for finishing desserts with those last few precise touches. They don’t look as fancy as a pair of tweezers, but you can also regularly replace them and you can use them while frying.

5. Vegetable peeler
You go through a lot of fruit when you’re baking — I remember peeling baskets of apples when I was an intern. At a certain point, a peeler is a good investment. For an added trick, you can use a peeler to lightly level off the sides of your tart shells to make them even.

6. Piping bag and tips
Piping can be intimidating when you’re embellishing a cake with fancy calligraphy. But piping isn’t just for decoration — it’s also for filling things. Plus, a piping bag allows you to work with one of my favorite doughs — pâte à choux — the eggy and light dough you find in éclairs and cream puffs.

7. Silicon mat
You work with a lot of tricky consistencies in baking. Not only does a silicon mat help sticky marshmallow or fragile mousse to set, but it also makes certain cake batters easier to unmold. It also keeps more delicate doughs moist and prevents them from drying out or over-baking. Of course, silicon mats also make washing the dishes a lot easier.

8. Dough scraper
This tool is for more than just scraping dough off the bottom of your mixing bowl. The curved side can serve as a scoop, and it is also useful for mixing lighter batters and meringues. Flip it over to the straight edge, and it can be used to spread batter evenly on a sheet pan before baking, to ice a cake, or to level off your tart filling so it’s clean and neat.

9. Microplane
You never realize how often you could use a microplane until you get one. In pastry, it’s crucial for zesting fruits and grating fresh spices.

10. Torch
In the past, people would assume you only use a torch for making crème brûlée, but a torch can be a very handy tool for adding caramelized crunch to a variety of treats. Sprinkle sugar onto fruits and torch them briefly. Or use a torch to brown meringues and — my favorite — to toast up marshmallows. It can also help you quickly heat up the sides of your mold to make unmolding easier.


Standard Textile Launches Two New Products to Hotels

At this year’s International Hotel/Motel and Restaurant Show, Standard Textile, an international leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and distribution of engineered textiles for the hospitality market, will announce the launch of two new offerings to hoteliers: Vidori™ luxury sheeting and a new, stylish robe collection by fashion designer Heidi Weisel.

Both innovations reflect Standard Textile’s ongoing commitment to providing the hospitality industry with products that deliver superior performance to the hotelier and a luxurious experience to guests.

Standard Textile
Standard Textile’s latest products are poised to create tremendous value for the hospitality industry. Vidori, an entirely new, patented sheeting fabric is generating extraordinary interest among luxury properties who previously believed that 100 percent cotton was their only option.

According to Corporate Vice President of Product Development and Sustainability, Richard Stewart, “We recognize that many hotel guests desire the experience of 100 percent cotton sheeting. We, and the industry, also recognize the high operational costs associated with cotton linen. That’s why we engineered Vidori specifically for the hospitality market. Vidori is like nothing ever seen before in the hospitality market. It is an engineering breakthrough that will change the industry going forward. In a blind touch test, many customers could not differentiate between high thread-count luxury 100 percent cotton sheeting and Vidori.”

In Vidori, long-staple combed cotton yarn encapsulates synthetic microfilament bundles. As a result, the face of the sheet is comprised almost entirely of yarns that are 100 percent cotton.

“Essentially, the sleep surface and the guest experience of the Vidori™ sheet is that of all cotton. However, the hotelier will experience significantly higher tensile strength and product service life,” said Stewart.

In addition to luxury sheeting, Standard Textile collaborated with renowned fashion designer Heidi Weisel to design an exciting new collection of robes that will establish a new benchmark in the industry for both comfort and sophisticated style.

“I recognized a need for hotel and spa robes that offer great fit and style, with a touch of glamour. Many hotels provide robes for their guests, but they’re often oversized, and lack style and comfort,” said Weisel. “My vision was to reinvent what is currently available by creating a collection of robes that are fashion conscious, fit well, and feel fabulous. When you are staying at a hotel or relaxing at a spa, robes should feel cozy, comfortable and help create a memorable experience. A luxurious robe should be part of the overall sensual experience a hotel provides to its guests.”

Stewart added, “This collection will provide hotels, resorts and spas with a new opportunity to provide distinguishing guest experiences, while at the same time ensuring that the products will withstand the rigors of hotel and industrial laundering.”


The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts Celebrates Spice with Chefs from around the World in New Assouline Book, Epicurean Journeys

The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts Celebrates Spice with Chefs from around the World in New Assouline Book, Epicurean Journeys

The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts Celebrates Spice with Chefs from around the World in New Assouline Book, Epicurean Journeys

Starwood Luxury Collection

The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE:HOT), unveils its latest collaboration with Assouline: Epicurean Journeys, a hardcover collection of original recipes by renowned chefs, including: Chef Jose Andres, Geoffrey Zakarian, Stephanie Le Quellec, Daniele Turco, Manjit Gill and more. Available for Holiday 2014, the limited edition book will retail with set of five exclusive spices created by Lior Lev Sercarz, owner of La Boîte in New York City, and inspired by the brand’s destinations around the world.

“Like The Luxury Collection, spice blending is all about storytelling; so I was thrilled to create a collection of custom spices that bring treasured travel memories to life for global travelers, without having to leave the kitchen,” says Lior Lev Sercarz. “Each of the blends is inspired by the explorers that played a pivotal role in the history of the spice trade – transporting new flavors to curious palates and paving the way for travelers to dream of faraway places.”

The five spice blends, developed exclusively for Epicurean Journeys, celebrate travel and are inspired by great global explorers of the past, including: ‘Marco’, a blend inspired by Marco Polo’s voyage through the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean; ‘Magellan’, a blend inspired by the varied curries of Asia and the explorer who first opened these flavors up to the western world; ‘Colombo,’ a tribute to one of world history’s most fortuitous accidents, a versatile blend of fragrant wild herbs including oregano, and thyme, with red chilis, to conjure the marinated meats and the stews and sauces of the region; ‘Vasco’ celebrates Vasco da Gama’s monumental voyage which opened the wealth of India, bringing together allspice, Ginger, and cinnamon, marrying sweet and savory in intricate and mysterious ways; and ‘Veneti’ is a tribute to Venice, the crossroads of the Eastern spice trade, blending the high-quality gray salt harvested around Europe with the orange citrus of the south and the heat of the Basque Espelette pepper.

“The Luxury Collection has always celebrated exceptional culinary experiences as a way to transport travellers and bring a location to life,” says Paul James, Global Brand Leader, The Luxury Collection, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts and W Hotels Worldwide. “We are excited to introduce Epicurean Journeys to our guests, who we know have an insatiable appetite to travel, explore and discover.”

In addition to vibrant recipes from The Luxury Collection’s acclaimed roster of chefs, Epicurean Journeys is punctuated by passages from a group of high-profile global explorers, including revered food critic Ruth Reichl, who opines on the flavors that define her home city of New York; Elettra Wiedemann, who shares her most memorable meal from an unforgettable trip to Peru with her husband; acclaimed author and model, Sophie Dahl, who shares her love of Indonesian cuisine; Helena Christensen, who recollects her love affair with Italian food; and acclaimed singer and songwriter, Jamie Cullum, who explains the way two of his passions – music and food – intersect in London.

With inspiring recipes, culinary tips, and captivating stories, The Luxury Collection’s Epicurean Journeys brings to life the brand’s Mantra, “Life is a collection of experiences. Let us be your guide. Exclusively offered at Assouline boutiques around the world and, Epicurean Journeys will retail for usd $150 beginning in October 2014.


Hotel Search Engine for Pro Sports Teams and Agents

Sports - equipement_1Pro Sports Hotels was designed to increase hotel revenue by generating new quote requests from sports teams, associations and agents. Pro Sports Hotel’s powerful search engine uses a range of sports filters to quickly search multiple destinations to find a comprehensive list of sports hotels that best meet a team’s needs.

There are no hidden costs, no commissions on bookings, and no hotel pricing is required. The company has a long term view and will not introduce a fee for membership until the system generates revenue for the hotel.

The benefits of Pro Sports Hotels are:

  • Hotel added to any sports category it can offer training camps for.  (Football/Soccer, Rugby, Athletics, Golf, Tennis & Swimming)
  • 2 Special Offer entries per yearly membership. The special offers will be posted on the special offers page for a month. The link for each special offer posted will appear on all Pro Sports Hotel’s social media platforms.
  • Events Page (to help find opponents for friendly games)
  • Comment Feature (feedback from teams that have stayed in the hotels)
  • Facilitates contact with sports team decision makers and sports agents that represents some of the biggest teams in the world.

Membership Approval is based on these requirements:

  • The hotel must have sports facilities on site or close by of a high standard suitable for professional training camps.
  • Once the hotel receives a quote request from a sports teams, association or agent they must provide a package offer that includes training and accommodation costs. If you do not have a package offer in place, but have suitable sports facilities, you can get a quote template after registration by contacting

Pro Sports Hotels is driven by founder and CEO Kevin Marry who is a qualified commercial pilot with a passion for the travel business. Kevin and his team have extensive experience of chartering aircraft and organising accommodation in many countries for governments, sports teams and businesses.

To register, visit, Once you receive your user name and password you can login and add your hotel (details and photos).


Do You View Hotel Marketing as a Cost or an Investment?

I am often asked, “What is the most important factor in a good hotel marketing strategy?” One of the top factors (that no one likes to talk about) is how a hotel’s owners and management view their marketing budget.

Those who treat hotel marketing as an investment will be able to maximize their online revenue potential. They will keep spending investing online, as that is where their audience lives, breathes, researches and books their trips.

Those who view it as a cost will treat it like any other cost; they strive to keep costs down. This group is the one that gives away revenue and market share to the OTAs and their competitors.

Here is a detailed review of the two approaches.

Approach #1: Treating Online Marketing as a Cost

If you are treating online marketing as an expense in your budget that needs to be kept under control, you are very likely on the losing side of the marketing battle. When you apply the cost reduction approach, it puts tremendous pressure on your already limited budget to perform quickly, while limiting your ability to test and optimize your marketing efforts.

No testing or expansion of marketing => Stagnation and decay in your online presence and decline in direct revenue

(Let’s be clear: Your OTA-contributed revenue continues to increase. That’s because they never hold back, while you agonize over every cent you spend.)

Cutting costs might work when it comes to laundry, lotions and soaps that you use in your hotel, but it can hurt you badly when applied to digital marketing.

Here are some specifics on why your revenue will suffer in the long term:

Online travel is huge and getting bigger.

Yes, online travel is like the Beatles in the 60s or yoga pants today. In numbers, it’s going to be hitting $830 billion in 2017. The pace of growth in the Asia Pacific region is enough to make you dizzy. When it comes time for you to sit down and plan your hotel marketing budget for the year ahead, you have to know that online is where all the action is happening. Deciding to sit this one out because you are keeping marketing “expenses” in check is a recipe for disaster that has cost the hotel industry billions in direct revenue.

ROI is a deathtrap.

I have written in detail about this and have personally seen this tragic scenario unfurl like a bad dream. It’s like my own personal Groundhog Day. “ROI” is notoriously hard to track in this multi-device, constantly connected world. For many hotels, especially the ones struggling to meet their overall objectives, any unquantifiable expense can seem like the perfect candidate for a budget cut. So, hotels keep doing online cost-cutting and “vendor hopping” because they are “not seeing the ROI” (cringe). Agencies who try to win your business based on 5700% ROI promises are always a bad choice. You’ll pay them a small fee, helping you balance this year’s budget; but when the contract is over, you’ll just limp into the arms of the next vendor. The big picture: your direct revenue continually declines, your brand suffers, and you have to start all over again every year. Meanwhile, your online competitors (particularly the OTAs) keep building their long-term strategy and converting the traffic that should be yours.

Google is still King, and it wants more money.

Google is still the king of travel marketing, and looks like it will be sitting on the throne for some time. The beauty of Google is that it has all the phases of the booking cycle covered: Discovery, Research, Rate Shopping, Getting to and From a Destination… all the way to the drive back to your home after the vacation. Google has it all. The SEO Bubble burst in 2013, so now you have a clear choice: pay to play.

Google will be your best friend as long as you are willing to pay for it. Hotel pay per click is one of the cornerstones for generating direct revenue. You want to reduce your marketing costs? Sure, go ahead. Google will be happy to sell its ads to willing and highly motivated online travel agents who make millions billions bidding on your name, location and destination. It’s great for them when you are not there to compete, especially on your brand name searches.

Cliché Alert: It takes money to make money.

It might seem easy to cut back on marketing expenses to save money, but you have to consider what else you’re losing. Example: Reducing your Google PPC budget from $10,000 to $3000 a month saves you $7000 a month. But at the same time, your ads don’t run, your revenue starts to decline, and your leads have been cut way back. No new leads and no new conversions are a lethal hit on your profitability and direct revenue. It used to take months, but now you will feel the revenue hit in a matter of weeks. That sinking feeling? Yes, it’s your revenue tanking because you stopped spending. Welcome to the reality of doing business in 2014.

Approach #2: Treating Online Marketing as an Investment

This is the winner’s circle. Online marketing really is an investment in your present and in your future. It cannot be thought of as an optional expenditure. Think of it as a paying career and a retirement fund rolled into one. Effective marketing pays your bills in the short term and sets the foundation for the long-term profitability of your hotel. The hotels who are doing it right will exponentially increase their profitability over time.

Here is how it’s done right:

Target the entire travel funnel.

The smartest hotel ownership companies and individual asset owners understand the dynamics of the entire sales funnel. Their investment in hotel marketing is targeted toward prospects in every part of the funnel (research, planning, booking). Efforts include:

  • Investing at the top of the funnel to attract prospective new guests (ie, Boston Vacation, Boston Hotels, Boston Things To Do)
  • Investing at the bottom of the funnel to convert prospects into guests (ie, Your Hotel Name)

Push the limits.

The most dramatic successes that my partners and I have achieved for hotel clients had one thing in common: We were asked to investigate and give them the dollar amount needed for total market domination. Whether they were rebranding, opening a new hotel, revitalizing a faltering asset, or preparing to sell the asset… they knew that the striking results they wanted required proper investment. Instead of racing down to the bottom, the owners were looking to make a lot of money. There was no room for light or smooth jazz online marketing. Done right, with revenue as the supreme goal, we’re talking hard core Spinal Tap style marketing, cranked way up to 11!


Hotels who treat online marketing as a scalable cost are seeing a decline in their direct revenue and losing market share to their competitors and online travel agencies. A cost-based approach hampers your growth today, and prevents you from being able to build your brand online. Vendor-hopping toward low profitability and automated marketing platforms is a sure shot way to lose revenue. Let’s face the facts: Print media is not making a comeback anytime soon. Nor are carrier pigeons going to bring you your future reservations. If not online, where else should you be investing? If revenue is important to you… wake up, and put your money where your revenue is!