Luxury hotels can help illustrate my point further. The whole experience of staying in a luxury hotel should really be all about grandeur and opulence. There are only very few hotels/ hotel chains that truly provide unparalleled levels of service. The Four Seasons Hotels and the Oberoi Group of hotels have set the benchmark of luxury hotel experience. Then you have got the palaces of the Raj and Maharajas in the state of Rajasthan and restored havelis that are frequented by those seeking something unique and personalized. You really want to have a rare experience that gives you utmost joy comparable to none. You want to be extravagantly lavished upon. Well, that’s the whole point of luxury anyway. Don’t you think? You wouldn’t want your moment to be for everyone. You would like to believe it’s for you and only you.
And the power of luxury today in the midst of a painful economic slowdown still doesn’t seem to have mellowed. The rich as you know are only getting richer. The expectations are only growing leaps and bounds. There is no limit set for the ultimate in luxury, as what you are expecting is really the ultimate. And you get that. The French Riviera has definitely seen no signs of recession. Affluent travellers from around the world check into its extensive selection of luxury hotels or stay at their own villas and splurge on luxury yachts. Another place that is hard to ignore during these troubled financial times is India, the country of the erstwhile Maharajas. It truly captures the essence of opulence in the form of palace hotels. The Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur lives up to the image of a luxurious setting fit for a Queen. Or a King. Don’t worry if you are neither. The Maharani Suite dominated by a Stefan Norblin mural of the Goddess Kali etched on shining black glass, a private dining area, a bath carved out of a single piece of pink Italian marble, will make you feel like one. The Atholl in Scotland has taken a step further. You have your own personal chef and in-room wine cellar (featuring some of the greatest wines of the world) if you stay in one of their plush suites. A lavish abode for its discerning guests!
This reminds me of another luxury haven, the playground of the rich and famous and in a country with the most expensive real estate in the world. Monte Carlo. The place is really popular with luxury yachts galore. Indulge in a well-needed break and some private socializing in your very own or hired grand vehicle. Or better still; enjoy the Formula 1 from your magnificent abode. Ah! The joys of expensiveness! In fact, London most recently saw a fair share of the world’s ritziest during the Olympics. And talk about luxury yachts, the world’s largest could be found moored at the Royal Docks! By large, I mean they come with their very own nightclubs, submarines, cinemas, spas and there is one with its own missile defence system. Well, yes. You name it and they have got it. Ultra luxe is the name of the game! And, boy, do we have one winner? There seems to be no dearth of the uber-rich.
I have heard of one wine aficionado who on one of his birthdays threw a party in Napa. His birthday invitations were sent in wine boxes and instead of a bottle of wine; the box had a wine blending kit inside. His friends were flown in a chartered Boeing business jet and the final dinner was in a private winery where a Michelin star chef and his team personally cooked a sumptuous meal for the guests. Its really not just about spending a lot of money (Actually, it is!) these days but the fact that luxury is becoming more and more bespoke. And talking about bespoke, what really does the quintessential couture client expect from a high-end fashion designer? One of the very best ensembles that a fashion house can create you’d think. But that’s not the case. What that client wants is a collection of bespoke outfits every season to go from day to night. The whole idea behind ‘haute couture’ really is tailoring exactly to the shape of the client else its not haute. It has to be impeccable.
Luxe or no luxe. I choose the former in its various forms and will continue my clandestine love affair with it wherever I go. Now, let me tell you about my second love.