Sports

BACK IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT

Santiago Sports December 5, 2016

by Hiroshi Hamaguchi

Japanese pilot Hiroshi Hamaguchi is no ordinary motorsports driver. He has consistently astounded most racing pundits throughout his career by outperforming in a variety of racing series both at home and abroad.

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Heads started to turn when he won the Porsche Carrera Cup championship gentlemen’s class in 2008 in Japan. It was his very first year of racing. He won six races out of the eleven, achieving pole position in all six.  Somehow calling him a “late starter” doesn’t quite convey the astounding fact that Hiroshi only started racing at the age
of 31.

Since 2008, Hiroshi has won races in Super GT in Japan, achieved the Malaysian Merdekker 12 Hour overall win, and has won races in the GT Asia series in 2014 and 2015 driving for McLaren. From this year, Hiroshi is looking to prove himself in Europe by competing in the inaugural season of the GT3 Le Mans Cup. It is the year that Michelin and the ACO launched the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, although little overall fanfare, the series has turned out to be a fantastic concept that produces thrilling races. The series includes some top level drivers and a few surprise names such as ex-Moto GP driver Marco Melandri.

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Hiroshi is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to racing. His younger years were spent in other sports and he was actually a top level athlete in College in the US. He played NCAA basketball for Chapman University and was one of the first Japanese kids, directly from a Japanese high school, to play in the championship. It does not end with top level sports, Hiroshi is also the founder of Hamaguchi Asset Management (HAM) which consult on M&A, PE investment and the real estate asset management businesses in Japan. Hiroshi specialises in helping overseas investors who are interested in purchasing Japanese companies and real estate.

What many people do not know about Hiroshi is that he also happens to be a direct descendant of the founder of the Yamasa Corporation (Japan). Founded in 1645, Yamasa is a billion dollar company and one of the most established food related conglomerates in Japan. The company is still run by his family and was established way back during the time of the Shogun era of Japan. It was even appointed as the best grade soy sauce by the Shogunate for its quality.

His family is the stuff of legends in Japan with many mysteries untold. One such example, around the end of the 19th century, a popular legend sprung up about a man in a village who saw a huge tide coming in and burned his rice field to warn the villages of the coming tsunami. Such tales emphasise the importance of warning systems when earthquakes hit and are often re-told in textbooks or schools all over Japan. This particular legend is in fact based on an actual event in the life of Goryo Hamaguchi, Hiroshi’s great great grandfather. There was indeed an earthquake and Tsunami in the area where Goryo lived in 1854. Goryo was only 35 at the time and lived in town. By setting his rice fields on fire, he was able to warn the people in the area of the coming tsunami. But what he did after the earthquake was in many ways even more courageous than the warning fires. Goryo spent his own savings, 4665 ryo or gold coins, which was a huge sum at the time (a family of four could live comfortably on 10 ryo a year) to make the area around his village more secure and able to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis.

2616-15-152It was very surprising when Hiroshi decided to get involved in finance and race car driving, rather than enter the family business. Hiroshi has ensured that just as much determination and effort has gone into building Hamaguchi Asset Management as his racing career.  Today, HAM is a top private consulting firm providing its clients with a wide range of investment banking and consulting services regarding investment opportunities and strategic partnerships in the Japanese market.

So, whether you want to talk about Yen currency levels, the ramifications of negative interest rates or what is the ideal driving line at LeMans, Hiroshi is the man to seek out!

A GREAT POLO WEEKEND IN DUBAI

Santiago Sports December 2, 2016

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by Diana de Souza Leão Jensen

Dubai is synonymous with progress, innovation and luxury and the new
Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club fits that description perfectly.

Like a mirage in the desert, but impressively real, this all-encompassing equestrian haven in the heart of Dubai Land boasts the best grass polo fields in the region, surrounding a 5-star 136 rooms St Regis Resort and villa community, which is due to open in January 2017.

The upmarket gated community includes 120 luxury rental villas ranging from 3 to 5 bedrooms in a stunning contemporary setting alongside a cluster of St. Regis-branded villas. Each villa has a unique view of exquisitely landscaped development devoted to all aspects of equestrian life. The impressive collection of opulent villas is designed with the horse lover in mind. Tastefully decorated throughout with natural hues, these elegantly designed homes are full of character and charm.

A world-class polo club with exceptional facilities in the Polo Academy and Riding School, offers equestrians in all disciplines the opportunity to learn to ride or further their skills. With 520 stables, 4 polo fields, exercise tracks, a trail ride track and 2 international standard arenas for show jumping and dressage, the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club is the largest equestrian facility in the UAE.

“Horses have been a big part of my life for many years, playing polo is one of my biggest passions,” says Mohammed Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club, “My vision for the Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is to create something unique for all equestrians, not just about polo. It is an equestrian haven, which incorporates multiple disciplines including polo, dressage and show jumping and traditional horseback riding.”

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A Busy Polo Season

The local community will be able to enjoy a jam-packed calendar of international polo events including the highly-acclaimed Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series, an 18 Goal Handicap tournament, entering in its eighth year under the Patronage of HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai.  The tournament series are the highest ranked tournaments in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, ranking it also amongst the best polo tournaments worldwide and played under the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA). This coming Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series will be from 20thof January until 14th of April 2017.

Passion, tradition and sporting elegance… a unique lifestyle symbolized and reflected in the Julius Baer Gold Cup. Every year, this tournament gathers together royalty, celebrities, VIPs from the Dubai social scene and fans of the ‘sport of kings’ to a spectacular performance by the world’s best polo players competing for the Gold Cup trophy, an intense battle to the top, to be the best team in the Middle East and Asia.

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Polo: the sport of kings and the king of sports

Polo has been played for over 2000 years and is thus recognized as one of the oldest team sports in the world. The game is played on horseback with 2-4 players on each team depending on the type of polo turf (beach, arena, grass, snow), a chukker is a period of 7,5 minutes of play, the clock stops when a foul is committed. A foul is when a player makes an unsafe maneuver. Most of the rules in polo are for the safety of the horse and rider. Polo matches last between 4 to 8 chukkers depending on the level and type of polo and players must change their mount after
every chukker.

The polo season started in October and on November 4th the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club had the pleasure of welcoming the Monte Carlo Polo Team for a cup in their honor, named the Monte Carlo Polo Cup Dubai.

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Reuniting through polo

Rashid Al Habtoor, co-founder of the Habtoor Polo Organization, and Rommy Gianni, patron of the Monte Carlo Polo Team, have known each other for many years and meet up in different countries for events and polo tournaments. They had played polo together before, but not against each other. This summer in Monaco the two agreed that the Monte Carlo Polo Team was due for a visit to the city of wonders, Dubai, for a polo cup at the new Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club.

“I love the way polo unites people from all over the world. During my travels I always meet interesting people and it is a pleasure to be able to welcome them in my home country and play the sport we love. I am excited to show Rommy the new Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club and the great facilities. I am so proud of my brother Mohammed (Al Habtoor) for carrying out his vision on this project under the Habtoor Group and creating a truly spectacular equestrian oasis”

The quartet travelled from Monaco to Dubai for a week of polo culminating in the final day on Friday the 4th of November under the beaming Arabian sun.

Spectators and supporters came from near and far to witness the polo match between the Habtoor Polo Team (Mohammed Al Habtoor 0, Rashid Al Habtoor 0, Justo Cuitino 3 and Alejandro Gowland 3) and Monte Carlo Polo Team (Rommy Gianni 1, Giles Greenwood 0, Andrea Moretti 0, Martin Espain 6).

Four chukkers of intense polo were played, with Rommy Gianni from the Monte Carlo Polo Team opening up the score board in the first chukker. Followed by a goal from Mohammed Al Habtoor to even out the score. The two teams followed each other throughout the game, with very good defense plays and some fast attacks. Rommy Gianni scored all the goals for his team.

In the final chukker the two teams were even at 3 goals each. As often happens in this exciting game, just as we thought they would go in to overtime, Alejandro Gowland swiftly took the ball and passed it on to his team mate and patron Rashid K Al Habtoor who hit an “under-the-neck” shot and scored with only seconds left on the clock.

Rommy Gianni enjoyed his day: “It was a tough match, the fields here are amazing, one of the best I have played on. I think the home team, Habtoor Polo, had an advantage of being acclimatized to the weather, it is a bit warm still for us guys from Europe. I look forward to the re-match, maybe we should play on snow and see who has an advantage then.” Gianni said with a grin on his face, since his team won the 2016 Snow Polo World Cup St Moritz. “I am grateful to our host Rashid and the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club for welcoming us here and taking very good care of us, we already look forward to coming back.”

St.Moritz SNOW POLO

Santiago Sports May 6, 2015

Snow, St. Moritz and horses are a tradition that started as early as 1907 when, organisers hit on the idea of staging a series of horse races which the called the White Turf. The jockeys called skijors rode behind their horses on skis. Then the inventive and adventurous community hit on another spectacular idea. Why not winter polo as well as horse racing?

The idea took off.  Since 1985 St. Moritz has staged an annual snow polo event. This makes 2015, the 30th anniversary year. And, by now, the locals and organizers have got things down to a fine art.  But it was not always so. 

Just as the world community had difficulty comprehending how football could be played in the soaring temperatures of a Qatari summer without players swooning in the heat, so people struggled with how to play polo in the winter. However, because of its uniqueness, St. Moritz is has become one of the best venues to watch polo live.

Solutions had to be found and over the year these solutions have gained in sophistication. Thirty years ago the Swiss used a little Bombardier machine to help turn the frozen lake into a suitable field. Whereas today, they confidently mix the right proportions of ice with layers of prepared snow to get prevent the field becoming an ice rink.

Safety is not just a necessity, but the basis of ensuring smooth play. To stop the horses slipping and crashing, modern snow polo horseshoes have a lip at the toe, coupled with cleats at the heel. The orange ball is also larger, lighter than the ball used in grass tournaments.

Snowstorms cannot however be stopped.  That, however, just adds to the event’s allure. In 1999, for example, the snowstorm and cold were so bad that the horses had to take shelter in the VIP tent.

The play this year was particularly exciting. Cartier dominated the game, gaining an impressive 5-1.5 lead by the start of the third chukker and finalizing their win against BMW by 10 goals 2.5.  Chris Hyde, one of the best snow polo players scored five out of the ten goals for Cartier. DSC_6106

Rashid Al Habtoor DUBAI GOLD CUP

Santiago Sports May 6, 2015

How did you become a rider?

All of us learned to ride in childhood. Personally,  I started playing polo after I finished college. That means I’ve now been playing Polo for almost twenty-four years.

How did you start to play polo? Did your parents play?

My parents were not players.  My inspiration came from Ali Al Bawardi. He owns supermarkets in Dubai and he also owns Desert Palm Polo Club. He has always been a very good close friend of our family.

One day, he saw me and told me: “Listen, you have to learn to play polo.” So that very afternoon I went out riding. From that time on, for the last 24 years, I’ve been living and breathing the world of polo.   

Your brother also plays polo, doesn’t he?

My brother; my two sons,  the two sons of my brothers all do. So in total that makes six of us in the family who play polo.

The name of your Polo team is Mahra. That’s also the name you’ve given your daughter. Is there any other meaning behind the name?

My daughter’s name in Arabic means baby horse. My brother also owns a team which he has named after our family name, Habtoor. So we have two teams.

How did you choose players for your team?

It depends on the tournament, because in polo you decided the composition of a team on the basis of the size of handicap.

Depending on where you are in the world, you go from either minus 2 to ten, or zero to 10. Now for example the president Cup, Silver Cup, Gold Cup in Dubai is 18 goals.

For my team I choose one 7 goal, 6 goal and 5 goal.

As a patron, my goal is zero.

My brother team has the combination 6,6,6.

Another team may field players whose combined scores are 10, 4,4. Another maybe 9, 4, 5 and so on. 

Basically that’s the way it works.

This year handicap level is 18 goals, which is pretty high. Does this mean that interest for this sport is growing in U.A.E.

In Dubai, January, February, March are the months when the biggest polo tournaments are held. The interest in Polo is becoming very important. Now we are bigger than Desert Palm and our handicap is going to be increased to 22.

The problem in Dubai is that we simply don’t have enough fields. We have only 5 fields and out of these 2 are private and therefore can’t be used for tournaments. 

In Ghantoot Abu Dhabi they have 8 fields all of which happen to be private. However, next year we are going to have 3 more fields, since we’re building new areas next to Dubai polo club and St. Regis Hotel.

Is your lifestyle affected by the fact that you play polo?

Of course, my lifestyle is affected by polo. We have a lot of friends from polo. Because of polo I know friends from Brunei to Buenos Aires, to London, to Paris to Benign, to Singapore to Malaise.

May it be called a luxury lifestyle?

It’s a costly lifestyle. For me polo is a passion. For example I don’t like yachts, but some people love yachts. So you spend money on yachts or you spend money on polo.

Do you like art?

Yes, I have a small collection and I’ve started looking for more Middle East Islamic Art, Arabic art, Iranian art, Turkish art. I’ll soon be going to London for Christies  Auction because of this interest of mine.

Will you come for polo to England this year? What are your plans?

No, there’s too much rain in England. I will play in Spain in Sottogrande. I have a house nearby, in Marbella, so I’m going to spend couple of months this summer there.

AEROMOBIL III It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. No, it’s a Flying Car…

Santiago Sports May 6, 2015

    AeroMobil 3 car configuration front mask in hangar  

“Aeromobile 3 is not the end of a challenging project, it is the beginning of a whole new adventure which may change  how we look at personal transport in the future…We are set to reinvent the flying car without constraints and deliver excitement through unique technical solution and design…”

AeroMobil 3 airplane configuration front in hangar

Icarus, Leonardo da Vinci, the Wright Brothers. Throughout time man has struggled conquer the elements – to expand his control of his environment. For an earthbound hominid like man, flight has always been the ultimate challenge.

Finally, almost out of nowhere, an extraordinary machine, part H.G Wells, part Rupert Bear, is being previewed at motor shows around the world – the AeroMobile 3, a car that  flies!

The magnificent men with their flying machine are Juraj Vaculik, founder of the company, and Stefan Klein, Chief Technical Officer.  Modesty is not their style. Nor should it be. This extraordinary hybrid, produced by a company with staff of only twelve people located in Bratislava, is as beautiful as it is novel. It has been in development since its conception in 1989. The final prototype, building on the experience of three previous incarnations, took only ten months to get Certification by The Slovac Federation of Ultra-Light Flying. (Granted in 2010.)

The size of a limousine or a large sedan, the Aeromobile is capable of speeds up to 120 miles per hour. For lightness and strength, the most advanced composite materials have been used for the wings, wheels and body shell. The wings also have a variable angle of attack  enabling a shorter take off. Fuel is gasoline, not kerosine, so refuelling can be done at ordinary gas stations.

AeroMobil 3 airplane configuration team 2014

Vaculik, the founder of the company and the brains behind the original project, seems to  come trailing all the attributes of a latter day renaissance man. He first surfaced as one of the student leaders of the Velvet Revolution which eventually won Slovakia’s release from communism. His professional life began as a theatre director. From there he moved  to being a creative director for major global ad agencies. In 1996 he founded the agency Made By Vaculic, one of the leading agencies in the CEE region. Under his leadership the company has won more than 200 awards for creativity and campaign efficiency including EPICA, Festival, Cresta and EFFIE, among others.

AeroMobil 3 first flight over the horizon clouds

MONACO Sporting Highlights

Santiago Sports May 6, 2015

Prestige, Glamour, Excitement…

Nothing quite encapsulates the extravagant culture of the Côte d’Azur more than the annual selection of events that takes place along its glittering coastline – from small-scale local and nationwide celebrations to international ceremonies, competitions and exhibitions.

The first signs of spring have begun to appear in the French Riviera and with it comes a non-stop programme of exciting sport events.

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TENNIS 

Tires coming off the rim of the 1954 Aston Martin DB3S

Mme Charlotte Casiraghi, M. Karl Lagerfeld, S.A.R. la Princesse Caroline de Hanovre, S.A.S. le Prince Albert II, Mme Paola Marzotto, M. Pierre Casiraghi et Mlle Béatrice Borromeo

   

Take the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. This spectacular event offers superlative tennis with the bonus of breath-taking views along the coast.

For a long time, Rafael Nadal, was the acknowledged king of tennis here. He won the title here eight times in a row.  Since 2013, however, the crown has evaded him passing instead to Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic. Fans of the Spanish player were hoping he’d stage a comeback this year, but the trophy went again to the seemingly unstoppable Novak Djokovic.

This year’s event also saw the renaming of the central court to Court Rainier III Prince of Monaco. After the doubles match on April 6th, the twenty-two carabineers of the Prince’s troop entered the central court to the rhythm of drums to commemorate what was the tenth anniversary of his death.

CIRCUIT OF SPEED

Hemingway once declared “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games”.

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Historic Grand Prix.

The iconography of Monaco’s love affair with cars has been formed in part by the racing posters that each year adorn the streets of Monaco.

Held on the 9-11th May, the Historic Grand Prix is the best place in the world to see vintage racing cars relive their glory days by battling it out with one another. You even get to see pre-war racing cars take their turn. The race follows the same course as the Formula 1 Grand Prix, along roads that haven’t been altered since the 1929 .

Grand Prix F1.

Regardless of what kind of sport you look at, there is a particular dramaturgy involved when racers speed around Monaco: good guys and villains, tragedies and successes, outrageous moments.

A split second’s loss of concentration carries more consequences than anywhere else in the world. Patrick Tambay, winner of two Grand Prix, commented on Radio Monte Carlo that the Monaco Grand Prix was, “The highlight of the season,” while Lewis Hamilton states there is nowhere else you can experience anything like it.

What could be more elite than viewing the race from your own boat in the harbour. Privacy and exclusivity are guaranteed.   

And don’t forget, if you crave to see the sleek beauty of racing cars and supercars then don’t miss Top Marques. The champagne is already on ice to celebrate breathtaking, trail-blazing supercars.

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JUNE LONGINES –

Global Champions Tour

The best international riders and horses will descend on the Principality to face challenging technical courses in one of the smallest arenas on the tour.

The magical back-drop of Port d’Hercule and the Prince’s Palace in Monaco sets the stage for the three-day spectacle of world-class show jumping. The Royal Family pays particular attention to the event as Princess Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi, is becoming one of the best young riders in the world.

Last year, the Monégasque royal was victorious in the Longines Pro-Am Cup with her team mate Edwina Tops-Alexander.

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YACHTING

The Beauty and Power of Water

Hemingway’s admiration for motor racing is understandable; his neglect of yacht racing is less easy to comprehend. Events in Monaco set the record straight where yacht one-upmanship is pretty well the order of the day.

Recent additions include the Palermo-Montecarlo Race, the Winter Series in Five Acts and the first solar yachting event – namely the Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup (10th – 12th July), is one of the highlights of the yachting calendar.

Given Monaco’s geographical situation and relationship to the sea, it’s not surprising that the Principality’ Annual Yacht Show is the world’s largest showcase for super yachts (yachts of over 30 metres) and mega yachts (100 metres).

All the above events are arranged under the auspices of Monaco’s yacht club which boasts 1300 members from sixty countries.

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Mme Charlotte Casiraghi, M. Karl Lagerfeld, S.A.R. la Princesse Caroline de Hanovre, S.A.S. le Prince Albert II, Mme Paola Marzotto, M. Pierre Casiraghi et Mlle Béatrice Borromeoob_79e576_hagelredaa9r8784Le_bal_de_la_Rose_2015_Lily_Allen_1

Bal de la Rose

In the past few years, the Ball has succeeded in raising over 3 million euros for the children’s hospital in Monaco. 

Monaco has always cast a spell on both insiders and outsiders. At the Rose Ball, titled aristocrats from Europe and Asia, diplomats from far and wide, along with the grandees and upcoming stars from the world of film, design and art, arrive in their finery to whirl the night away.

The standards of attire are forever linked in the minds of celebrity watchers and revellers alike with Princess Grace’s quiet elegance. It is as though the elite of today are determined to maintain the standards she set for them. This can be seen year after year, as the revellers seek to bring to life whatever theme has been decreed. Last year it was Constructivism; this year it was Art Deco.

The decorators and the organisers worked overtime to turn Karl Lagerfeld’s sketches into material reality. They put together a series of tableaux made up of 9000 roses, 100 square metres of hand-painted trompe l’oeil and 20 sculpted pilaster columns. Retro photographs were also used to summon up the spirit of the past.

Even the men get in on the act. The most flamboyant dressers normally wear an accessory to match the evening’s theme, as did the French culture minister did one year with a pocket handkerchief in the colours of Jamaica, to honour the ‘Soul Music’ theme. Conviviality and festivity follow the formality of the dinner. This year the star performer was Lily Allen. She rose to the occasion by wearing a shocking pink velour coat which was topped by a collar stacked full of 3D rose appliqués. As she sung, royals including Charlotte Casiraghi, Beatrice Borromeo and Pierre Casiraghi took to the floor.

The tombola, too, was exceptional. In a town famed for its gambling,  every guest hoped Lady Luck might tap their shoulder. The prizes included a set of 12 champagne bottles, designer bags, a whole Chanel outfit,  jewellery and the offer of being put up for three at some of Monaco’s most famous hotels.

Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo(lobby)

The Louis XV dining room at the Hotel de Paris is aptly named. Indeed, the setting has an almost royal ambiance: soaring marble columns burnished with gold, a six meter high ceilings hung with glittering chandeliers, and satin drapes whose ornate flounces and brocade reflect light from the glittering scene.

This room is the centerpiece of what is probably the most famous hotel in the world. There is certainly something of Versailles itself about the whole building, with its ornate façade and grand salons. Like the famous palace of Louis XIV and XV, it has always been a place to which the rich and famous come to see and be seen. The list of illustrious guests at the hotel is long and impressive: Cary Grant, Salvador Dali, Charlie Chaplin, the Prince of Wales, Winston Churchill, Richard Burton, Sir Roger Moore and many others. It is therefore no surprise that the auction of all this famous hotel’s fixtures and fittings prior to a total recreation of the hotel’s interior would arouse considerable interest.

So, between 25th and 30th January  2015, 3400 lots containing 10,000 items went under the hammer. The money raised was €3.7 million, about three times the sum originally estimated. Given the number of items on sale and prestige and luxury of the hotel in question, it seems surprisingly little.

Two marble pedestals fetched the auctions highest price at €101,000, a pedestal table in the style of Louis XV sold at €51400, and an impressive Iranian silk carpet raised €41,600. However, most other items went for prices well below that. But there was at least one surprising sale: a photo of Winston Churchill beside his swimming pool at Chartwell – expected to fetch between €100 and €150 and finally bought for no less than €9100!

To put it bluntly, this furniture (much of it 19th century copies in the style of  Louis XV) matters less for its intrinsic worth, but rather because of the number of world famous bottoms that have sat on it.  Ever since its ceation in 1864 the Hotel de Paris has been one of the key places where  prime movers in European politics have met to balance national interests, apportion territorial acquisitions – or losses – and plot the future of Europe. In many ways it was from the gaming rooms, spas and chic hotels in Hamburg, Wiesbaden, Baden Baden and Monte Carlo that these European aristocrats ran the world.

But their concerns were different from their modern day equivalents. In most cases they already had money, and in many instances had had it for generations: unlike the ‘beau monde’ of today, wealth and its acquisition was not their primary concern. These men (and sometimes even their wives and mistresses) were people concerned above all with politics. And this was possible because their world was one of national boundaries and of governments operating within them – whether effectively or not..

So, as the sound of the auctioneer’s hammer fades away and the furnishings and fixtures of the world’s most iconic hotel disappears into private hands, we seem to be witnessing, in a small way, what Francis Fukeyama famously referred to as the ‘end of history’. The importance of these items is much less the monetary value they raised in the sale; much more the extraordinary events to which they have been attached over the last 150 years. This is a history that has gone forever. Gone also are the values that were attached to it.

As politics of the new global world increasingly slips out of the hands of those elected to control it, we enter a world where the individual is increasingly the uncrowned king. The opportunities in a world without borders, for those lucky enough or clever enough to profit from it, are exponential. Whether this situation will continue, and if it does, who the main beneficiaries will be, are the great, unanswered questions of our time.

One thing we can be sure about. The Hotel de Paris, in its magnificent Monegasque setting, will continue to welcome the ‘haute monde’ of the new era.

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Bal de la Croix Rouge

Lotus eaters, sybarites and sun-seekers descend on Monaco in the summer in anticipation of plenty of wine,  sun and song. For them, the Bal de la Croix Rouge is a chance to be seen and preen with the added pleasure of knowing that this particular party is one of the highest fund-raising events in Europe.

For this the Red Cross has the star appeal of Princess Grace to thank.   During her lifetime she was the President of Monaco’s Red Cross. Now her children have assumed the role.

Here’s what one curator had to say about her impact on the Monaco social scene.

“It is the elegance of Technicolor Hollywood glamour; the elegance of a woman in love who freely chose to alter the course of her existence, of a princess of one of Europe’s oldest dynasties, of a devoted mother and monarch who dedicated herself efficiently and unsparingly to her family and people; it is the elegance of her smiling reserve that so fascinated the media, her immensely sensitive and poetic lifestyle that retained its share of mystery, and her beauty preserved by its perpetually youthful charm. It is the elegance of the era that was hers and for which we all feel nostalgic.”

The Bal de la Croix Rouge is part of this inheritance. It is rightly seen as one of the great charity galas of the year. A place to have fun, and to make spectacular donations at the same time. Like its sister ball, years of practice and precedent have resulted in an event which purrs with efficiency and glamour.

Every year the efforts of the florists and decorators transform the Salle des Etoiles into a wonderland of flowers. For example, in 2014 one of the first surprises that greeted the revellers was to find that mirrors had replaced the customary linen tablecloths. This gave rise to a sensation of an endless display of rose and geraniums reflected throughout the venue.

Protocol and ritual rule. Once everyone has arrived and had their photo taken at the top of the stairs, the tombola is drawn. The meal that follows must titillate a guest-list used to the many Michelin chefs who practice in Monaco.  Finally the real revelry begins. Dancing and a firework spectacular… This is always started by Prince Albert taking to the floor.

The opulence of the occasion, the jewels on display is only matched by the quality of the performers. The list of famous stars invited to strut on stage is like reading an almanac of fame. Julio Iglesias, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Josephine Baker, Elton John have all played at the gala. 

Last year was as glamour-fuelled as ever. The Zhang Zhang Band had everybody roaring with approval as they performed a wide repertoire of classic, jazz, swing, flamenco, bossa nova and tzigane.

The money raised last year was sent to help rebuild the Philippines and to support a variety of food programmes. The committee also approved a project aimed to improve the lives of miners on the Ivory Coast – the suggestion for which came from Dominque Ouattara, the wife of former Ivorian Prime Minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara.

SYLVIA SERMENGHI

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Restaurants

I use HOTEL METROPOLE as my “office” and “canteen”. 4, Av de la Madone 98 000 MONACO / Tel 00 377 93 15 15 15

I love the Michelin starred Robuchon restaurant. The  cuisine is exceptional.  Last time I bought my Chinese clients to YOSHI (The Japanese restaurant of Metropole Hôtel) as well. Try the black cod. Tel : 00 377 93 15 13 13.

Shopping

I happen to be mad about shoes so I always glance at the window front of Louboutin.  1-3-5- Av De Grande Bretagne Les Floralies Monaco. Tel : 00 377 97 98 7812 or MERCEDEH  au Métropole 17, Avenue des Spélugues 00 377 93 50 57 70 . However if you want comfort and great value,  then I recommend Stuart Weizmann (Métropole 17 Av Des Spélugues 00 377 97 70 53) as well. Because Monaco is small, it’s easy to know every good shop. You can find dream dresses in PRETTY YOU, 5 Av Princesse Alice Monaco /Tel00377 97 70 48 08;  I always ask  my friend Evelyne from the boutique Celine Place du Casino / Tel 00 377 93 30 92 78 to help me make the right choice. I love the elegance of Valentino’s gowns 7, Av de Monte Carlo Tel / 00 377 93 25 12 63.

Partying

On the 28th of March, I attended the Bal de la Rose with my family and friends, as I have my table here every year. Karl Lagerfeld has done a great work for the decoration and the staging. Altogether, it was a wonderful evening: the only disappointment came from the fact that Charlene was not there. (Bal de la Rose SBM 00 377 98 06 63 41). I like also the Yacht show in Monaco as it is the most beautiful yacht show of the world: one can stand and dream of owning one of the super mega Yachts – even if for me it is an unrealizable ambition . (September 23/26 2015 Tel 00 377 93 10 41 70)

JULIA LAKSCHIN

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Jack Nicholson, said to me one day ” Julia you live in a Golden Alcatraz” and I replied “ Yes it’s true but with a lot of advantages! ”

Here are the restaurants that I particularly love to eat out at.

1. CIPRIANI s a wonderful venue for dinner. It also is a good place to have a brunch with family and friends on Sundays.

2. Maya Bay is excellent, it’s where you get brilliant Thai and Japanese food. I’d say the best in Monaco. The ambiance is also fantastic. The décor is chic, yet intimate. Good for lunch and worth a lovely place for a leisurely dinner.

3. Sass Cafe the food is understated but good. I think the vibe is fantastic. If you like music then there is always a DJ on hand and live music. It’s a brilliant way to boost endorphins and to recharge. Many of Monaco’s elite come here – although it’s also a place where tourists come. Expect the party to run on well into the morning.

4. NOBU at Fairmont and Joseph from Saint Tropez are relatively new to Monaco. They are both good. Each has a strong personality and excellent cuisine.

Down in the Port, I suggest you go to Joseph is in the Port. They have a lot of live acts and currently it’s considered to be one of  the best places to party the whole night away.

5. If you are a brunch person, then I recommend Monte Carlo Bay. They provide a huge buffet with an incredible range of desserts. It’s also brilliant for kids because of the all year round pool.

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