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EDITOR'S CHOICE: September Inspiration
What's the word on the style street this September? This month the inspiration comes from Sydney,   where luxury-lovers recently gathered at Luxperience, the largest luxury travel show in the Southern Hemisphere. www.luxperience.com.au
 
EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT...
Aqua Mekong
Sleek and charcoal grey, with polished decking and interiors that have more in common with a boutique hotel than traditional river boats the new Aqua Mekong, due to set sail at the end of September, is style incarnate. A bit like its owner and founder of Aqua Expeditions, the elegant and well-travelled Francesco Galli Zugaro. Who also looks pretty good in a charcoal grey suit. The boutique cruise line operates two other luxury riverships, Aqua Amazon and Aria Amazon, on the Peruvian Amazon. Zugaro relocated his family to Singapore two years ago to oversee every aspect of his new boutique-hotel-afloat. The attention to detail has been worth it.  Floor to ceiling windows, a private movie show screening room and an infinity pool mean this is no ordinary offering. Upping the cool rating still further is a menu from Michelin-starred chef David Thompson (Nahm, Bangkok), uniforms designed by Yves Saint Laurent trained local designer Eric Raisina and cocktails created by award winning barman Joe Alessandroni.  The ship sails from Ho Chi Min Vietnam to Siem Reap Cambodia and the itinerary is packed with unusual stops along the way. There is also the opportunity to hire the whole ship for private explorations, searching for the rare Irrawaddy dolphins for example. www.aquaexpeditions.com/
Airstream Adventures
This new company set up by travel writer Kate Ayrton transports the airstream experience to Australia. Kate's shiny cigar tube of a trailer was the most photographed exhibits at the recent Luxperience show in Sydney.  Originally designed to look like an airplane fuselage the Airstreams have changed little since they were first created by Wally Byram back on the 1920s. The Silver road surfers epitomise retro chic. Just the look of them says, "I'm unfettered, I'm free, and the open road beckons" - and that's even if you only hire one for the weekend.  Just being seen with one makes you seem cool by association. Airstream Adventures'   trailers have the added advantage of having very stylish interiors too - so 21st century glamour meet RV royalty. The company can customise an itinerary for you or suggest particular road trip or tours, alternatively they'll set you up on a private site to enjoy you fresh Airstream without moving at all. www.airstreamadventures.com.au

Soneva in Aqua
Luxury aficionados have long been fans of Sonu Shivdasani and his wife Eva's stylish brand of eco-luxury. Since Shivdasani pared back his interests to concentrate once again on the highest of high end Soneva brand (selling Six Senses Resorts and Evason in 2012) we've be interested to see what he'd do next. Now we have the answer - the Soneva in Aqua yacht will launch at the flagship resort, Soneva Fushi in the Maldives in February or March 2015 (latest information). Dubbed a 'boat villa' the 19.25 metre yacht will have all the benefits of this resort's considerable services and amenities with the freedom and exclusivity associated with a private boat charter.
The boat has a maximum occupancy of four guests in two cabins. We're partial to the look of the master suite with it sunken glass bath. Other features include a sun and dining deck and a Jacuzzi. The design features natural materials such as rich brown leathers, woods and organic cottons. As you'd expect from Soneva it has been built with environmentally zero-emission materials and fuel saving efficiency. www.soneva.com

Sofitel Darling Harbour
This one is causing a stir, not least because of plans to build a heli-pad on its super glitzy roof. The building, owned by cosmetic surgeon and billionaire hotelier Jerry Schwartz, will be an extravagant palace of glass and glitter when it opens in the newly fashioned Darling Harbour in 2017. The 35 storey, 616 room hotel will be a flagship in the region for Sofitel. "Australia is becoming a hot spot for international luxury brands and an increasing number of ultra-high net-worth individuals. [there is], huge potential in the Australian luxury market." says Accor Pacific Chief Operating Officer, Simon McGrath.  We're just looking forward to the infinity pool with Sydney city views. www.sofitel.com
Also trending in the Land of Oz; the new InterContinental Bondi opening in November this year and W Brisbane slated for 2018
Amano'i
The first fortunate few jumped into the Amano'i infinity pool on September 1 .This brand new resort on the coast of Nui Chua National Park, overlooking Vinh Hy Bay  in Vietnam is about as different from the recently opened Aman Canal Grande in the Palazzo Papadopoli in Venice as you can get. Designed once again by Jean-Michel Gathy, an Aman favourite.  There are 31 pavilions and 5 villas. Expect elegant but open spaces with geometric shapes and windows that frame the views. The Central Pavilion includes the Main Lodge restaurant, an outdoor terrace, and that pool.  Centuries-old antiques mix with contemporary furnishing and the vibe is private and personal. Next up for Aman, a departure in the form of a city hotel on the upper floors of the Otemachi Tower building Tokyo. Watch this space. www.amanresorts.com

Minaret Station Tented Lodge
Everyone knows that New Zealand is a cut above when it comes to eco-luxury and this one certainly caught our eye. It is not new but it does tick all the right boxes.   Private. Tick. Only accessible by helicopter. Tick. Pristine wilderness. Tick. If you are looking for the meaning of that buzzword 'experiential' - this is it.  Minaret says' the tented lodge treats those fortunate enough to experience the wilderness escape to a level of comfort and style never before seen in the New Zealand Mountains. " We couldn't have put it better ourselves.
www.minaretstation.com

SwissSkiSafari
We love a bit of bespoke and you don't get much more bespoke than the tours offered by owner Danielle Stynes and her team of expert guides. Stynes ran away to the snow from sunny Australia a while back and her contacts in the region are unparalleled. Her tours are off-piste and off the radar but all luxury.  We especially like the idea of skiing over the mountains between Italy and Switzerland to a hidden monastery where the monks of San Bernaud are snowed in much of the year. This is where the St Bernard dogs come from, although sadly we're told they don't actually arrive with mini brandy barrels around their necks. SwissSkiSafaris can also put you up in a romantic tree house lodge in the mountains complete with fur rugs and champagne - what more could any self-respecting honeymooner want? www.swissskisafari.com
 
Hilary Doling 5/9/14
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