Our annual Luxury Index is out, featuring some of the most coveted products and brands around the world. From style, food, travel, beauty, machines and timepieces to visionary personalities, this special A-Z guide is sure to inspire one to reimagine possibilities. To start, the Options team reminisces about luxury experiences enjoyed in the line of duty this year.
The idea of luxury for me is, essentially, to experience something precious and the essence therein lies in the sentence itself: an experience. I like believing that the best things in life are never things, so for this year, I’d have to say the opportunity to visit the beautiful Baltic city of St Petersburg — and during White Nights, no less — was luxury made real. I have been obsessed with imperial Russian history for as long as I can remember and a summer’s day in Tsarskoe Selo, touring the Rococo-esque Catherine Palace, almost overwhelmed me. To really amplify the tsarist experience of opulence, I decided to treat myself to dinner thereafter at the celebrated Caviar Bar of the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, the grande dame of Petersburg hospitality for over 140 years. I have to tell you, dining on Oscietra caviar paired with pine nut-infused vodka after a day spent awestruck by the beauty of the palace’s famed Amber Room is a story I hope to tell my grandchildren one day — partially in the hope that they will come to love history as much as I do but also to remind them that the world is indeed a vast, beautiful place. I hope that they will explore and experience it with the same sense of wonder as I did.
Paying homage to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art had been a dream for most of my adult life and it was fulfilled this year. But I never could have anticipated the utter luxury of touring the museum in delicious privacy, a true joy afforded to guests privileged enough to have been part of Patek Philippe’s fantastic Big Apple experience. I could bask in what is called the EmptyMet Tour where an experienced guide takes you through the museum before it opens to the public, which allows you to appreciate the treasures of the museum in silence and solitude. It has been six months since the tour but the memory remains fresh in my mind, of being able to wander through the hallowed hallways of The Met, accompanied by nothing but the early morning light and the pleasure of my own company.
Tan Siok Hoon
Time, people and good relationships are the true luxuries of life and a truism I am inclined to hold on to as I grow older. I am happy to count many wonderful moments spent sharing simple meals, laughing over humorous incidents and kicking back to just revel in the company of family and friends this year — this is the richness of life that one can receive, with or without money, as the sages would say. Working at Options, however, has helped me cross paths with luxury in a more physical sense. My most unforgettable moment of luxury this year would be a trip to the jet-setters’ playground of Bodrum in Turkey where I stayed in a luxurious villa overlooking the Aegean Sea at the world-class Paramount Hotel & Resort. Being able to enjoy a few days of living the high life of the affluent while indulging in Turkey’s divine cuisine and early summer weather indeed made for one of 2017’s most memorable affairs.
Tan Gim Ean
Being on holiday is always a fun and memorable treat, but visiting Australia with my family counts as my luxe experience of the year. Three generations spent three wonderful weeks eating, and exploring Sydney. I remember how wonderful it felt lying on an airbed surrounded by those dearest to me, watching them slumber and knowing they were safe and happy. Perhaps all’s well with the world best sums up that feeling.
Kong Wai Yeng
Senior Digital Writer
A lavish hotel stay does not always have to involve a stunning vista of the city skyline or a direct view of a famous landmark. To me, it’s the opposite — it should be about how far away from it all can you possibly get while still feeling pampered. This year, I attended the press launch of the extravagant Bulgari Festa collection held at the no less opulent Bulgari Resort Bali in Uluwatu. Perched on a cliff by the Indian Ocean, the constellation of 59 villas was intimately entwined with the island’s landscape. But the highlight of my stay was taking the on-site funicular down to the beach where I could bask in the cool sea breeze and let the everyday stress of life melt away. Did I mention I also had a massage while overlooking the same sapphire sea?
The definition of luxury, as with most things, is subjective. Living in this fast-paced day and age, I find that conversations and exchanges with people are often dictated by our schedules and that genuine and fulfilling human interactions do not come by very often. So, I consider it a luxury, every now and then, to be accorded the opportunity to speak with some incredibly inspiring people in the course of my work, a recent example being the CEO of Make-A-Wish Malaysia, Irene Tan, and royal patron HRH Tengku Zatashah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, both of whom embody the objectives of the organisation through their passion and commitment to serve children with life-threatening illnesses.
Being able to attend Baselworld — truly the greatest watch and jewellery fair in the world — this year was a memorable and eye-opening experience for me and one that will definitely help in my career as a luxury and lifestyle journalist. Earlier this month, I was also in a beautiful, postcard-perfect wintry valley for the opening of Club Med’s latest four-trident mountain resort in France — the Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon — where I had the opportunity to snowboard surrounded by 360° vistas of the magnificent French Alps. Talk about ending the year on a high!
Graduating college was definitely the highlight of the year for me but in terms of luxury, it would have to be my graduation ball. Making my way to the venue, a hotel in Glasgow, dressed in a gorgeous saree and surrounded by my closest friends and loved ones was a treat indeed. We indulged in a wonderful meal, which was made all the more special by revelling in the sheer fact that we had made it. An exhilarating ceilidh as well as more than a few wee drams of fine Scottish whisky made the night my most wonderful this year.
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