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First Impression Information Luxury Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Grand Hyatt Hotel

Yesterday I got a tour of the new Grand Hyatt Hotel that’s opening as part of the new 360 Mall extension. I have to admit, I went unprepared. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting the hotel to be anything special but I went out of curiosity. I even left my camera in the car because I didn’t think I needed it and I quickly regretted that as soon as I walked into the hotel.

The best way to describe Grand Hyatt is that it’s the hotel we’ve always wanted Kuwait to have.

Grand Hyatt is massive and there is so much to talk about and cover that I’ve decided to do it over multiple posts, a sort of a “Grand Journey”. For this initial post, I’m going to just quickly go through some of the main areas of the hotel which are the lobby, restaurants, spa, and a peek at one of the rooms. But over the next month or so, I’ll delve deeper into the various spaces and share more specific areas like the corporate meeting rooms or the VIP suites at The Arena which will be managed by Grand Hyatt. In a future post I will also go through the different rooms including the Presidential Suite which is so large it took me 45 seconds walking at a fast pace to get from one end to the other. If there is anything specific you guys want to see or know about, I could also put together a post covering those questions.

The Lobby
The hotel will have two three entrances, a small one at the mall side in the new extension of 360 next to the pond, and a main entrance from the street side that leads straight into the lobby (*Was just told there is a third entrance next to Table Otto in 360 Wadi). I came in from the mall side which is one level above the lobby so we had to take the stairs down. It’s a luxury hotel and so you get that premium feeling as soon as you walk in. The decoration isn’t very busy with lots of large empty spaces, the ceiling is very high, there is a striking large sculpture in the middle, and expensive artwork and pieces spread throughout the floor. It feels like walking into a luxury hotel in Dubai which is something we’ve lacked in Kuwait.

Saheel Lounge
The Saheel Lounge is on the same floor as the lobby and is composed of different styled seating spaces. It’s a social space where you can come have a drink or a small bite with a friend or someone you’re meeting.

Liberté
There are three restaurants at the hotel and Liberté is the one most people will see and likely visit since it’s located partially inside the hotel, and partially inside the mall. It’s a modern brasserie and is located adjacent to the hotel’s mall entrance.

’Stambul
This is going to be the main hotel restaurant, it’s where hotel guests will come for breakfast but also where people would come for lunch. It’s the largest restaurant at the hotel and is described as a theatrical Turkish dining experience.

MEI LI
This is the restaurant I’m anticipating the most. It’s a fine dining Chinese restaurant that is really beautifully designed. It’s the area of the hotel I took the most photos of but it sadly won’t be ready in time for the hotel opening. The tentative opening date of MEI LI is currently October but that can change.

The Rooms
The hotel will have over 300 rooms including 21 that will have their own garden terraces, 35 Grand Club Suites, eight Junior Suites, and one Presidential Suite. From what I saw on the website while trying to book a room, prices will start at around 150KD a night without breakfast.

Noor Spa
This was also one of the most photogenic spaces in the hotel and will definitely be the most instagrammable area by fashionistas. The spa is split into half with a stream splitting the men’s and womens areas both of which have gyms, treatment rooms, and features like steam and sauna rooms. At both ends of the pool is a pathway that leads you to an outdoor area where you can tan and chill under the sun surrounded by water and greenery. The spa will be available to use by hotel guests as well as have a limited number of yearly memberships.

So that’s pretty much a quick rundown of the main areas of the hotel. As I said I’ll go into more details in future posts but for now I just wanted to give a general overview to start with. It really is a beautiful hotel and after finishing the tour and initially taking photos with my phone, I ended up going to my car and getting my camera and coming back to shoot a few more photos.

The hotel is set to open on August 15th which is less than a month from now. Booking is already open on their website which you can check out by clicking here or you can check them out on Instagram @grandhyattkuwait

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Fashion Luxury Shopping

Maria Tash Now Open

The very popular luxury piercing studio Maria Tash opened in the Prestige section of Avenues right next door to Harvey Nichols. They opened a few months ago but I only just noticed since their location isn’t in a part of Avenues I frequent a lot. This is now probably the best place in Kuwait to get your piercings since they’re always pioneering techniques and have nearly 30 years of experience. They don’t have a dedicated Kuwait Instagram account but their main account is @mariatash

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50s to 90s Luxury Shopping

Vintage Breitling & Heuer Watches

I wasn’t planning on posting about this until I bought a watch for myself, but I don’t need another watch so I need people to go buy everything and not leave anything for me to impulse buy.

Al-Batel is an old watch store that was established back in 1959. Back then they used to carry a number of watch brands including Breitling, Heuer (before they were purchased by TAG), Nivada, and Zodiac. Incredibly, they still have unsold watches available for sale (New Old Stock) dating back to the 60s and 70s. They have some of them listed up on their website but they have more on display in their shop in Mubarakia next to AlFares (Google Maps).

If you’re into vintage watches then definitely check them out ASAP. Their prices are pretty much the same compared to online prices for used versions of these watches except the ones they have are all new. Link

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Fashion Luxury

Maria Tash Opening in Kuwait

The very popular luxury piercing studio Maria Tash is going to be opening in Kuwait soon. Maria Tash posted on their instagram account that they will be opening up in the Avenues and also updated their profile description with “Coming Soon: Kuwait”.

No opening date was mentioned but they do mention this will be a new permanent store and that’s because they’ve previously had pop-ups in Kuwait. Maria Tash has locations in New York, London, Rome, Dublin and Dubai and if you want to be notified on any updates you can sign up to their mailing list.

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Luxury Travel

Rimowa Opening in Avenues

I recently joined the Rimowa world by purchasing my first Rimowa suitcase last month and I loved it so much I ended up buying a second bag when I visited the Rimowa store in Dubai. Their stores are pretty cool (for a suitcase store) with lots of different accessories you can buy from limited edition stickers to customizable parts. Now Kuwait is getting it’s first store and it will be opening up in Avenues Phase 4, right next to the VOX Cinema escalators.

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Luxury

Richard Mille Opening in Salhiya

Horologists in Kuwait (all 4 of you) will be interested to know that we’re finally getting a Richard Mille store. While in Salhiya recently I noticed a hoarding up for Richard Mille in place of where the Vertu store used to be located.

Vertu used to be a luxury mobile phone brand but the company shut down a couple of years ago so makes sense that they finally closed the local location as well. I don’t think I had ever seen a single customer inside the store, like ever.

Richard Mille on the other hand is a high end luxury watchmaker with their most affordable watch starting at around KD15,000 (give or take) and can hit a few hundred thousand dinars easily. I was lucky enough to see two Richard Mille models being put together when I visited watchmakers Renaud & Papi in Switzerland a few years ago. Good times.

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Luxury

Breitling now open

Last year Breitling got a new owner in Kuwait and last week they opened their first flagship store at Al Hamra Tower. I’ve got a personal attachment to the brand since I had one in high school and later got another one after graduating from university. The new store is located right next to Panerai on the ground floor.

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Luxury Sneak Peek

Inside Radisson Blu

Last week when I passed by the new revamped Peacock restaurant at Radisson Blu I also got a tour of the hotel. I didn’t check out the rooms since they didn’t interest me but I did check out the lobby area and the new Sky Lounge.

The lobby area is a lot brighter than before with a lot more daylight coming in and a brighter color palette. They’ve removed their famous floating 4-ton marble sphere from the entrance and moved it outside. They also expanded the little cafe that used to be there and they kept Peacock in the same location with just the entrance now moved to the main side.

The Sky Lounge is a new addition to the hotel that didn’t exist before. It was still under heavy construction when I passed by but I found the rendering above of how it will eventually look like. The Sky Lounge has a panoramic view of the sea and they want it to be the “it” place to hangout at night. Once the sun sets the whole place dims down and mood lights come on. They’ll have a DJ playing house music and they’ll also have a bar that serves non-alcoholic cocktails. They want the place to be a chill-out lounge and I’m personally curious to see how that works out.

Categories
Luxury Reviews Travel

Four Seasons Hotel – Beirut

I was in Beirut over the weekend and on this trip I ended up staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Downtown Beirut. The hotel is located in what I think is one of the nicest looking towers in Beirut, right in front of the very popular Zaituna Bay and so I was really looking forward to staying there.

Right from the moment I stepped out of my rental I knew I was going to be enjoying my stay at the hotel. The customer service at the hotel was just better then any other I had previously stayed in before and I’ve stayed at many. The feeling I kept getting is that every single employee wanted to help make your stay better, and by every single employee I don’t mean just the reception staff or managers, I mean everyone from the valet guys, to the housekeepers to the waiters. I think its the words they use but you just get this feeling that you can ask them for whatever you want and they’d love to do it and that made me super comfortable in asking them for stuff which I tend not to do.

Other than the excellent service my room was also very comfortable. I had overpacked on this trip but there was more than enough closest space and drawers to accomodate all my stuff. The room wasn’t that big but the bathroom was with a large sink area, tub, shower room, toilet room and a makeup table. The room had a balcony that was big enough to fit a table and two chairs and finally there was free wifi in the room and the whole hotel. My favorite part of the hotel though would have to be the roof. During the day the roof is a cool place to swim and tan but at night it’s an open air lounge overlooking the Mediterranean sea and Beirut.

I do have two minor complaints though. The first issue the hotel really can’t do much about but the view from my room could have been better if there wasn’t a large sand lot right outside. I live in Kuwait so I would rather not see sand lots when I travel. Even though the hotel is right in front of Zaituna Bay, my room was more on the side and I could only see the marina if I was on the balcony looking left which was disappointing. The other issue I had was with their breakfast. It’s not a breakfast buffet and one of the things I look forward to the most in hotels is their breakfast buffets. At the Four Seasons they have a dried fruit, fresh fruit and cereal buffet but if you want any hot dishes you have to order them. The advantage obviously is your breakfast is made for you and so is fresh, but the disadvantage is it takes time to make and you also can’t just fill up your plate with whatever looks good like you would do at a regular buffet.

In the end though I had a really good time at the hotel. I generally don’t tend to spend much time at hotels but on this trip I was having all my friends come over so we could just chill out on the roof. The incredibly friendly service and the lounge on the roof made me really love my stay. I’d most likely stay there again once I’m done reviewing other hotels in Beirut.

Here is the link to their [Website]

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Luxury

My favorites from BaselWorld 2013

Early in the month I was sent to Basel World, the largest watch expo in the world by Trafalgar so that I could cover the event for my blog. I was there for 3 days and I think by the last day I had managed to check out the whole expo since it was just so ridiculously huge. I managed to get access to a few brands I wanted to see except for two which were Rolex and Breitling. Rolex had the new anniversary edition Daytona I wanted to check out while Breitling had the new Emergency. If you don’t have access to a brand you basically only get to check out their displays outside their booth. With access you get taken inside the booth where you get to see the watches in person. Below are my favorite watches from the expo.

Categories
Luxury Travel

Basel World 2013

A few months back I was sitting with the owner of Tag Heur and Patek Philippe in Kuwait and we were discussing watches when he asked me if I would be interested to cover Basel World for my blog. Basel World is the worlds largest watch expo which takes place every year and this year was going to be a bit more special since it would be the first Basel World held in the newly renovated exhibition building. I was also told I could cover any watch brand and not just their own brands so here I am at Basel World.

This is easily the largest expo I have ever been to. The exhibition building is huge and the booths, they’re not even booths they’re gigantic structures, like mini buildings inside a bigger building. I am not sure my pictures below do justice to the place since you really have to be here to see how huge these booths are. The exhibition building is three floors and each floor has a super high ceiling with super high brand booths occupying a ridiculous amount of space. I spent all day yesterday just walking around quickly trying to at least see everything quickly and I thought I had until after I left I was checking the Basel World App on my phone and I realized I missed two exhibition halls completely.

To be able to enter the booths you need to be invited in (like if you’re a watch collector or a VIP) or you need to be one of their dealers. Since I am in good contact with the dealers in Kuwait I am getting access to most of the brands I want to see except for a couple. Below is the list, if you can help get me access to the ones I am having trouble with let me know.

Hublot – Have access
Tag Heur – Have access
Patek Philippe – Have access
Chopard – Have access
Rolex – Working on access
Brietling – Working on access
Casio – No access (help needed)
Harry Winston – Have access
Omega – Working on access
Citizen – No access (help needed)

Categories
Blog Info Luxury

Panerai in the For Sale section

The Forum’s For Sale section always has interesting items for sale and usually for very good deals. Right now someone is selling the limited Kuwait edition Panerai with the Al Hamra engraving on the back for what could be a good price. If you’re interested you can check it out [Here]

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Luxury

Panerai – Kuwait Edition

The first dedicated Panerai Boutique is opening in Al Hamra next month and on that occasion Panerai have released a special edition watch that features an engraving of Al Hamra Tower on the back along with the word “Kuwait”. The Kuwait edition Panerai will be limited to just 80 pieces and they’re pretty much selling out as soon as they arrive. The one I spotted at the Panerai dealer in Salhiya (Behbehani luxury store) was already reserved for a customer. I don’t post prices of watches online but I thought the asking price on this model was fairly reasonable for a limited edition PAM.

Categories
Luxury Personal Travel

Inside Audemars Piguet

For my last post on my trip to Audemars Piguet I’m going to take you inside their facilities and show you their environment and some of the people behind the watches. By looking at some of the pictures you could easily mistake it for a scientific laboratory since all the watchmakers wear white coats and majority of them are looking through magnifiers and even microscopes.

For some parts of the tour we were required to enter a sterilized room, put on coats and even wear plastic bags over our shoes so that we wouldn’t bring any external contamination inside their sterile work spaces. The watchmakers are all very talented and experienced craftsman and not just random people sitting at an assembly line slapping parts together. There is no assembly line, each watch is hand built and decorated by professionals.


A watchmaker at work. [YouTube]

A lot of time goes into every watch and into every single part that is inside the watch. To give you an idea of how extreme their craftsmanship is we spotted one guy working on a part so small I couldn’t take a picture of it. It was part literally the size of a pixel and it turned out it was an extremely tiny screw and he was busy polishing it. Imagine a part so tiny you could barely see it and yet he was polishing it. Keep in mind that’s also a part no one other than him would probably every see again since it will be hidden inside the watch. That’s extreme detailing and really lets you appreciate the amount of work and crafting that goes into every watch.


Video showing how the Royal Oak face dial is made. [YouTube]

We were mostly allowed to take pictures of whatever we wanted except for the area where they make the carbon forged watch cases. They’re the only watchmaker that makes carbon forged watches and I guess they didn’t want us snapping shots of secretive information like oven temperatures or specific machinery. But you can watch a video of the process on YouTube if you’re interested [Here]

After visiting the main AP building the following day we headed to their other division called Renaud & Papi located around 2 hours from Geneva by car. That’s where majority of their extremely complicated movements get developed and built. Those guys are ridiculously smart and talented which is why they’re considered the best in the industry and work on complicated movements for other high end brands like Richard Mille and Harry Winstone. I saw one girl who was working on a Tourbillon using a microscope and I still don’t understand how they can do it. The Tourbillon is smaller than a 1 fils coin and is a very complicated movement to build with lots of different parts and layers that go into making it and here she was building it using just tiny tweezers and very, very steady hands. Amazing talent.

I spotted two Richard Mille watches while we were there that were being built, the Jackie Chan Dragon edition which costs over a million bucks and my favorite the skull watch which costs around $700,000. I love it because the watch has a huge skull in the middle with a Tourbillon hidden in the mouth and also because it costs seven hundred freakin’ thousand dollars. That’s so in your face I have billions and billions of dollars that I can afford to buy a watch with a skull head inside that costs nearly a million bucks so I could wear it with my cool ripped jeans and nike sneakers on weekends. Unfair and unbalanced world? Most likely, but that doesn’t bother me.

One last thing I need to mention. When we were done with the tour of their facilities we were taken into this large conference room with cabinets stretching from one side to the other and filled with rows and rows of all their watches. We got to check them all out and try them on and my favorite from the bunch has to be the new Sebastien Buemi watch (pictured above). We were also given a sneak peek at the new Schumacher watch thats going to launch at the end of the year but I’m not allowed to describe it or say anything about it. Maybe I can mention one tidbit and say that it’s going to be a 44mm but that’s all I can say.

It was a great trip and it was something that was on my things to do before I die list so I now get to cross it off. I’m really grateful to AP for inviting me on this trip. All the AP employees and watchmakers were very profesional and patient with us. Their work environment is a very tranquil and peaceful place and we were definitely not a quiet group yet they were all very friendly and focused even though at some points I had my camera very rudely close to their heads trying to get my shots. Great people, beautiful country and a wonderful experience.

Categories
Information Luxury Travel

Audemars Piguet Museum and Restoration Department

I have a lot of information to share about my trip to Audemars Piguet and I’m going to try and keep it interesting and informative since I know not everyone is into watches like I am.

First just a bit of history on how that Swiss valley where AP is located became such a hotspot for all the watchmakers. The Audemars Piguet facilities are located in Vallée de Joux which is considered to be “the heart of Swiss watchmaking”. In the early 1800’s a watchmaker moved into the valley and started producing watches and when his business started booming he needed to hire help. The valley was full of farmers who spent the summers busy outdoors farming but the winters indoor not doing much. So, the farmers got into watchmaking since the basic tools to get started didn’t cost much and even their children started learning and working with watches at a young age. In other parts of Switzerland farmers were making music boxes during the winter months but they were making watches.

Once we arrived to Vallée de Joux which is just over an hour drive from Geneva, we were taken to the AP Restoration Department followed by the Museum. The restoration department is where they work to restore old watches back to working condition while trying to preserve all their original parts. A lot of the watch parts aren’t available anymore so if anything is missing or needs replacing not only do they have to hand make the parts but they always try to remake them using the same technique they were originally made with. While we were there we were lucky that the head of the department was working on a vintage pocket watch that contained a Grand Complication movement dating back to 1899 (pictured above). A simple watch movement is a watch that indicates the hours, minutes and seconds. On the other hand a calendar is a complicated movement, a moon phase, an alarm, a minute repeater (tells time using chimes) are all complicated movements. A Grand Complication is a movement that contains a whole bunch of complicated movements all together in one watch. I’ll try to list everything the watch above does so here it goes: It has clock watch with grand and small strike, minute-repeater, split seconds chronograph with minutes counter, alarm, jumping seconds, flying seconds and perpetual calendar. Yeah that’s a lot of things and this is a watch that was created back in 1899. It’s currently valued at around 3 million Euros.

After leaving the restoration department we headed to the museum. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but I did manage to take the one below of a poster that I saw hanging on the wall (I want it). The museum is housed in the original AP building from the late 1800’s. Although it’s full of interesting pieces, this was probably the most boring part of the whole trip for me because I couldn’t wait to get out and head over to their main production facility. If anyone knows where I can find the Ali with Arnold poster please let me know.