Perfect Gems for Spring 2013

EXPERIENCE LIFE’S LITTLE LUXURIES.

BY DONALD CHARLES RICHARDSON

 A STROLL THROUGH HOTEL LA MAMOUNIA

Marrakech has a fascinating history, exotic markets, exciting nightlife and a delightfully opulent hotel. La Mamounia, a former palace celebrated for its mixture of traditional Moroccan and modern French styles, offers intriguing experiences from great art to ice cream. Take a walk through the reception room, lobby and tearoom, where Moroccan paintings and statues inspire. Stop at the Italian Bar to view the latest photography exhibition while sipping a Le Grand Dame Champagne cocktail made with citrus essence. Next, wander outside into the serene 17-acre garden filled with olive and citrus trees, magnificent roses and an extensive kitchen garden (you might chat with the chef as he gathers vegetables for dinner). At the center of the garden is Le Menzeh, an ice cream pavilion that offers pastries and freshly made ice creams. Finally, to recover from your exertions, complete your tour with a Royal Hammam treatment at the lavish spa.

THE NIGHT SPOT

It’s no secret that Broadway singers and actors hate when the curtain comes down and they have to leave the stage. So on Tuesday nights, after the shows are out, performers and the fans who love them gather for Backstage at 54 Below (located in the basement of legendary Studio 54) to keep the music and jokes going over drinks and supper. Led by musical director Brad Simmons and host Susie Mosher, gypsies, Broadway and cabaret stars (and occasionally an audience member) sing or do their routines in this intimate and fashionable 144-seat space created by Tony-winning set designers. The wine list and food are good, the service excellent, the crowd always fun. And you never know who might turn up to perform. End your evening on a high note.

SPIRIT OF THE PAST

Built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman de Burgos family, Ashford Castle is set on 350 acres with a spectacular backdrop of Irish woodlands, lake and mountains. Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness purchased the estate in 1855 as the family’s country residence. Since becoming a hotel in 1939, the castle has welcomed dignitaries and celebrities including Prince Edward, King George V, Ted Kennedy, Sharon Stone, Brad Pitt and Barbra Streisand. The castle offers contemporary comforts and conveniences, but naturally, oldworld traditions still thrive. There’s Ireland’s first school of falconry, a decanter of sherry in each room, and tea served in the drawing room. And in keeping with conventional castle ambiance, there’s also a ghost, reportedly from the 19th century when the Guinnesses were in residence. Not to worry: guests who’ve seen the young female apparition say she’s friendly.

LIGHT FOOTED

This spring, let your feet shine with bright bejeweled footwear by Ivy Kirzhner, featuring cloisonné metal work and exotic leathers. The 2013 collection includes the Ark, a dress wedge with crystals and snake leather inlays on an 18K gold-plated heel. The Taj Mahal gladiator sandal features gold silk metallic leather with crystals. Nefertiti is an ornamental high wedge with 18K gold-plated hardware and hand enameled cloisonné treatment. Pictured above are the Montezuma Deco-bejeweled slippers in royal blue and hot coral kid suede and gold silk metallic, and the Tresor, a Deco ballet flat in gold silk metallic and opal, both with crystals on an 18K gold-plated hardware ornament. Step into a brilliant summer.

CONCERT GRAND

Steinway Lyngdorf is a collaboration between Steinway & Sons, makers of the world’s finest pianos, and audio innovator Peter Lyngdorf. Their speaker systems range from the invisible to the compact to the giant. Currently, the state-of-theart choice is the Model LS Concert. Combined with the SP-1 Stereo Processor or P-1 Surround Sound Processor and Steinway Lyngdorf’s fully digital amplifiers, it’s perfect for luxurious home theaters. The open-baffle design makes the speaker interact with the room much as a musical instrument would, resulting in extremely open and life-like musicality. There’s also a remarkable remote that weighs nearly 2.2 pounds, with a rotating wheel crafted from solid, gold-plated brass and mounted on precision-machined Swiss bearings, providing intuitive and total command of the system.

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