Shambala Zulu Camp South Africa

Shambala Zulu Lodge is owned by the same family that has the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg.

Lodge Zulu Camp


Shambala is a Tibetan word meaning “peace on earth”. The Camp is built in Zulu Style- undaluting thatched huts. Huts that are very specious and comfortable with tall ceilings, and beautiful bathrooms. Attention to detail, down to crisp linen sheets, is delightful. It is a small place – 9 chalets. It welcomes a lot of heads of states and security is top notch. We can helicopter from Johannesburg or take a two and half hour drive up into the Waterberg Mountains- north of Johannesburg. A Malaria free zone, Shambala las 12,000 acres of private game reserve.
I found the staff to be completely warm and welcoming. My butler, Norman, anticipated every wish. I never had to repeat a request. Always there with a smile. The food was outstanding, by chef Tshepo. Probably the most inventive, beautifully presented and just great tasting meals I have ever experienced on Safari. I will dream about his homemade bread. Teamed with his wife, Elizabeth, the manager, the operation of the camp spins like a top.

Saxon Hotel

Superb attention to detail. Saxon Hotel

Saxon Hotel – Top Choice in Johannesburg

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The Saxon Hotel- Top Choice in Johannesburg.
The Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg never fails to please. Impeccable service and an a superb decor- tastefully furnished with African artifacts throughout the hotel.

Lobby of the Saxon Hotel.


Guests experience a great sense of place. Located in the tranquil, tree-lined suburb of Sandhurst, within minutes of Johannesburg’s world-class shopping and business hub, the Saxon the Saxon treats you to personalised, discreet service and unparalleled South African hospitality. Room categories are all suites, either in the hotel or in the adjacent villas.  Butler service is provided for all.

The Saxon is a luxurious private retreat, set on ten acres of landscaped gardens. The Saxon entrance exudes an air of quiet majesty with its sweeping feature staircase and spectacular ostrich egg chandelier. The neutral shades of the interior reflect the tones and textures of Africa. Nelson Mandela wrote much of his memoir at the Saxon.

Round Hill -Jewel in the Caribbean Crown

Sumptuous gardens in Round Hill

Sumptuous gardens in Round Hill


Created in 1953 by Jamaica-born entrepreneur John Pringle,Round Hill been a favorite of celebrities for years. JFK and Jackie honeymooned in Villa 10. Oscar Hammerstein was the first owner of Villa 12. Alfred Hitchcock, Bing Crosby, and Adele Astaire were regulars—as were Bill and Babe Paley. Beyond that, Noël Coward, who was a frequent visitor, stayed in Villa 3.
Cottage owner, Ralph Lauren did a major renovation on the ocean front rooms.
RH is located on a 100-acre peninsula that was originally a sugar plantation. The cottages are built on the round hills, sloping down to the water . The British claimed Jamaica in 1629, the infuluence of their best traditions still remain.
With a year round temperate climate and nonstop access from most east coast airports, Jamaica is a perfect destination.
Unique to Round Hill, 27 private cottages combined with 37 sumptuous guest rooms offer a wide range of accommodation options. For weddings,the RH cottages, allow families and friends easy access for private celebrations, mingling with hotel rooms for group gatherings. It’s Old World Glamour affords one a delightful Colonial Caribbean sense of place.
At Round Hill the words past and present coexist not merely peacefully, but joyfully.

Walk way along the ocean Round Hill

dsc04552Round Hill Sunset

Hotels We Loved in Morocco

So many divine, exotic, stunning hotels, in Morocco. Marrakech alone has 6 prime properties: Royal Mansour, La Mamounia, Villa des Orangers, Amanjena, Four Seasons Marrakech, and Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. My absolute favorites are Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, then Villa des Orangers, then La Mamounia.

Enormous Pool Villa Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. Absolutely stunning. They even have a heated tub!

Enormous Pool Villa Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. Absolutely stunning. They even have a heated tub!

Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

Royal Mansour is the ultimate resort in Marrakech.

Royal Mansour is the ultimate resort in Marrakech.


Interior Courtyard at charming Palais Amani in  Fes a Relais & Chateaux property.

Interior Courtyard at charming Palais Amani in Fes -a Relais & Chateaux property.

Fes boasts Riad Fes and Palais Amani, the grand Dame, Palais Jamais is under extensive renovation till end of 2017. Another must stay is near the desert, Dar Ahlam. Incredibly beautiful and the food is out of this world!

Dar Ahlam – Luxurious Setting Next To The Sahara

Formaly a Sultan’s hunting ground, the 19th Century Kasbah, Dar Ahlam, is stunning.
A Relais Chateaux property, Dar Ahlam is as famous for it’s comfort as well as it’s food.
You need at least 3 nights here to fully enjoy the place.
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Stairwell view Dar Ahlam

Stairwell view Dar Ahlam

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Moroccan Desert

Our intrepid group on top of a dune

Our intrepid group on top of a dune

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Our camel guide

Our camel guide

A Foray into the Moroccan Desert

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I can check camel riding off my list

I can check camel riding off my list

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Heritage Camp in the Moroccan Desert

What an adventure! The utter silence! The serenity of the sand. Luxurious tented camps that had all possible comforts. I can check camel riding off the list. We hiked up to the highest dune on our vicinity. We watched a sunset and then the next morning rode to watch the sunrise. We had dinner in the main tent, entertained by a group of local musicians. Fun to listen to indigenous music. The fabulous food that comes from an isolated kitchen always amazes me. Wine was flowing- couldn’t have asked for more.

Le Souk Fes

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The markets of Fes are thriving pulsing, filled with energy. Every possible craft, clothing, fruit, flower, meat, vegetable, spice, sweet, one can imagine, is there. Always interesting. image

Lindblad Expeditions- Cruising on a Different Level.

Lindblad Sea Bird

Lindblad Sea Bird

Intrepid explorers getting ready for an interesting hike.

Intrepid explorers getting ready for an interesting hike.

Tricia -Tree hugging Pacific NW Style

Tricia -Tree hugging Pacific NW Style


Amazing Sea Lions encounter!

Amazing Sea Lions encounter!

Returning from an exciting adventure

Returning from another exciting adventure

Linblad is not about the hardware on board the ship. They want their guests to have the most amazing experience possible. They do not expect for you to stay in your room, they want you out and seeing all the destination has to offer.
Their staff is considered the top in their respective fields- the cream of the crop. Even better, they don’t take themselves seriously. They are very earnest in being sure you see, taste, smell and absorb the world around you. When you experience a cruise on Lindblad, you are going to get the best possible information, service, attention and experience. And the food is incredible too! I found the cruise exciting, extremely informative and most importantly tons of fun.

A Day in Seattle

Spectacular Chihuly Exhibit

Spectacular Chihuly Exhibit

Chihuly  Exhibit

Chihuly Exhibit

Space Needle - a must

Space Needle – a must

Flowers at Pike Place Market

Flowers at Pike Place Market


I started with lunch at Pigalle Place in Pike Place Market. Wonderful French restaurant, highly recommended and worth every bite. Divine. Gwen Hoover at the Four a Seasons Seattle strongly recommended the Chihuly exhibit – a world renowned glass artist and resident of Seattle. I am SO glad I took her suggestion. Anyone that visits Seattle should make it number 1 on their experience list. Other musts are Pike Place Market, the monorail to the Needle- the Chuhuly exhibit is next door and a walk back to the Four Seasons by way of first street. Couldn’t ask for a better day!
Tomorrow I board the Lindblad Sunbird for an excursion to the San Jean Islands. Can’t wait!

Four Seasons Seattle Top Choice for Travelers

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Located on the Seattle Waterfront, one block from Pike a Place Market Four Seasons Seattle is My top choice. Across from the Seattle Museum, in the thick of happening downtown, Four

Pike Place Market Seattle

Pike Place Market Seattle

Seasons is the place! It’s resturant, Goldfinch Tavern was packed. I had the Dungeness Crab with golden beets, and braised Rabbit. Both superb.

London’s Hotels are Spectacular!

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image Doormen at the Amazing Corinthia

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image Top of the heap- the legendary Goring.

I had the privilege of staying at the Stafford, Milestone, Cliveden, Corinthia, and Goring. All these hotels were outstanding. Particular characteristics will suit different clients.
Can’t wait to book them. London is all and all one of the best city experiences I have had in a long time.

Noteworthy- DMC Extraodinaire

Noteworthy -Destination Management Company Extraordinaire!
Blessed with unparalleled access to all things British, Susie Worthy and Nicola Butler can plan and execute almost anything a client could dream- with the exception of a private wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral or Tea with Queen Elizabeth. We had the most spectacular experience with Noteworthy this past week, surprise after delightful surprise. From our private visit to Highclere Castle, walking on the rooftop of Hampton Court, a pre opening visit to Winston Churchill’s War Rooms- even sitting in the great man’s chair, a walk up the back staircase in St. Paul’s to see the camera view for Diana and Charles wedding of the century, to a private visit to Prince Charles garden at Highgrove. The topper was our own personal dinner at the Tower of London – ending with the ceremony of the Keys.

Highgrove

Highgrove

Magnificent table in the Tower of London

Magnificent table in the Tower of London

Tower of London Dinner

Tower of London Dinner

Back staircase at St. Paul's Cathedral

Back staircase at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Highclere Castle - our own personal visit

Highclere Castle – our own personal visit

View from the rooftop of Hampton Court

View from the rooftop of Hampton Court

Rooftop of Hampton Court

Rooftop of Hampton Court

Cliveden House -Tarlow England

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Always considered a house for entertaining, Cliveden was built in 1666 by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham. He built the house as a hunting lodge and a place to entertain his friends and mistress. Set on 376 acres of glorius parks, the House is part of the National Trust. Cliveden has hosted every British Monarch since George I. Three Dukes and an Earl lived there. Queen Victoria was a frequent guest, and one of the notable later owners was American William Randolph Astor. The 1960’s scandal, the Profumo affair began at Cliveden. The affair helped topple the Conservative Party Government in Parliament.
A Relais & Chateaux member, Cliveden’s Andre Garrett oversees the award winning dining room.
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Milestone Hotel- British to the Bone

Swan at Kensington Palace

Swan at Kensington Palace


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Situated across from Kensington Palace, the Milestone is a delightful surprise. British to the hilt the general feeling is warm and cozy. The staff is the most genuine I have encountered- from the doorman to the butler to the very charming GM, Andrew Pike. One feels quite at home at the Milestone.

Stafford London

Tucked away in the heart of historic St James’s, and just minutes from London’s iconic landmarks and vibrant West End, the Stafford London never disappoints. The solicitous staff ensures that guests always insist on returning. The Staffird has an incredible loyal following. Recently renovated, it is a number of townhouses put together. It is the most quiet hotel I have ever experienced. We stayed in the Mews section, on the courtyard. The rooms have a more clean, contemporary feel. Beds were heaven! I slept to 10A the first morning and almost missed breakfast.
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Top hotel in Ngorongoro Crater- hands down is AndBeyond Crater Lodge

Champagne welcome AndBeyond Crater Lodge

Champagne welcome AndBeyond Crater Lodge

Cozy main Lounge AndBeyond Crater Lodge

Cozy main Lounge AndBeyond Crater Lodge

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North Lodge bathroom seen thru a cut hole

North Lodge bathroom seen thru a cut hole

I rarely add picture of interiors of resorts or lodges, but this lodge is so stunning and completely unique, I felt I had to share it. A visit should be on anyone’s bucket list.

Parting shots : Galapagos

imageGalapagos Marine Iguanaimage
Marine Iguanas can dive to 30 feet.

Alvatross

Alvatross

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Amazing, spectacular, indescribable, the Galapagos never dissapoint.

Viewings of Galapagos from Silver Sea

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Frigatebird flapping for attention

Frigatebird flapping for attention

Passing Scenery - Galapagos

Passing Scenery – Galapagos

Silver Sea Galapagos – Home for the Next 8 Days

Silver Sea Galapagos

Silver Sea Galapagos


Silver Sea Galapagos is a relatively new introduction to options for a Galapagos Journey. It is a 50 cabin luxury expedition ship. With two restaurants, the food options are delightful. Of course Silver Sea has the usual unparalleled Butler service. Any wish – within limits- is their command. The staff has been outstanding, another Silver Sea standard. Cabins are large for an expedition ship, the only thing missing are bathtubs. They use zodiacs for forays into the islands and the guides are top notch. The daily schedule is jam packed. You will not miss one bird, iguana or anything that moves. This is NOT roughing it.

Sightings on Rapida Island Galapagos

Galapagos Grey Herron

Galapagos Grey Herron

one of the striking birds we saw on Rapida Island was the Galapagos Grey Heron. We also saw Penguins, and Pelicans that rest in the mangroves. We continue to marvel at the plenthora of exotic birds and animals that are indigenous to the Islands of the Galapagos.

Galapagos Land Iguana

Galapagos Land Iguana

Galapagos Land Iguana


Galapagos Land Iquanas often reach 3 feet in length. North Seymour Island also has Sea Iguanas, but smaller in size.

Magnificent Frigatebird on North Seymour Island

Magnificent Frigatebird trying attract attention

Magnificent Frigatebird trying attract attention


Found on North Seymour Island, Galapagos. Stunning birds, we see thousands of them on this island.

Baby Sea Lion -Darwin Bay, Galapagos

Baby Sea Lion -Darwin Bay, Galapagos

Crab at Darwin Bay

Crab at Darwin Bay

Galapagos: Genovesa Island

Red Footed Booby

Red Footed Booby


Genovesa island -our first stop on the Galapagos itinerary, is a protected haven for birds. One sees hundreds if not thousands of birds flying all over the volcanic island. Many are nesting and completely unafraid of humans. There are no predators of any sort, so they are completely habituated.

Galapagos: One of a Kind Archipelago

Red Footed Booby

Red Footed Booby

Nasca Booby- Genovese Island, Galapagos

Nasca Booby- Genovese Island, Galapagos

Galapagos is must experience for any Intrepid Traveler!
I had the privilege of sailing with Silver Sea Galapagos, a new expedition ship sailing the Galápagos Islands. We traveled to a different island- sometimes two, each day. Each island has it’s own marvels. Our first Island to explore was Genovese in the northern part of the group. It is aptly named bird island.

Insider Tips: Canyon Ranch

Flowers in abundance at the desert resort.
Some insider tips:
1.Prebook some of your treatments. They fill up fast.
2.Be sure to start your experience on the first morning with a program advisor.
They can help you plan what you want to accomplish, be it rehabilitate an injury, physical therapy, develop photography skills, target stress, fat loss, good nutrition plan for life, the list goes on…
3.Transfers are included but most guests don’t realize they can check in as late as midnight, so you can start your day early the next morning. To avoid the nightly rate- stay at the airport and they will pick you up early the next morning.
4.Be sure to request a boxed meal on you return transfer- it is included.
5.At this writing, treatments included for 4N are $670. For 7nights – $1200
6.Low season, when rates are the best, is June thru August.
6.Best room location – near the spa center and main building are casitas in the 100s-especially 101-104, and 163-178

Canyon Ranch – health and wellness focus

Typical salad Canyon Ranch
Surpringly sumptuous food is always on the menu. Canyon Ranch includes all meals and a long list of interesting activities. Portions are smaller than a normal restaurant – typically the meat or fish is 3 Ounces. Alcohol is not offered and I did not miss it.

Canyon Ranch : a special gift to yourself

Canyon Ranch

It has been 10 years since I attended Canyon Ranch. I thought I would forget all the procedures, but it was like getting back on a bike. Devoted to health – both mental and physical, Canyon Ranch is a beacon for anyone who wants to improve their life. A place to regroup your body and mind- de stress, lose weight, improve your health, de stress, increase your spirituality, detox, did I mention de stress(?) – the list of how to move toward lifetime wellness is completely covered.

&Beyond Phinda – South African Private Game Reserve

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View from the deck of &Beyond Phinda Vlei Lodge
Phinda Vlei cottage Phinda Vlei cottage
&Beyond Phinda’s private game reserve measures 56,800 acres. It has 7 different habitats, and 6 vastly different lodges: Vlei, Forest, and Homestead on the upper part of the property and Zuka, Rock and Mountain in the more mountainous, western part of the reserve Phinda is know for it’s abundant wildlife- especially their pride of Lion and coalition of Cheetah.
What I recognized immediately was the heartfelt care of the staff. Katherine, Grateful, Happiness, Madu, Baby Jake, Mr M, France, and Essence embody what makes African service unforgettable. They mean it from their heart.

Phinda Lion

Phinda Lion

Travel is more than a destination in mind…

It is discovering a place in your heart you’ve never been before.
Anon.
Giraffe at Phinda

Four Seasons Westcliff – Johannesburg South Africa

Brand new pool at the Four Seasons Joberg

Brand new pool at the Four Seasons Joberg

Fabulous new rooftop bar.

Fabulous new rooftop bar.

Four Seasons fans will not be disappointed with the newly renovated Four Seasons Johannesburg, formerly the Orient Express Westcliff. 20-30 minutes from OR Tambo international airport, the Four Seasons displayed it’s usual outstanding service. I can attest to that personally. After coming off safari with “safari” hair, I emailed to see if I could get a simple wash and blow dry. The Spa manager, Julanda Marais responded by arranging for a beautician to come to my room! That was with one day’s notice!
Offering a spectacular new spa, five outstanding new restaurants, bars and lounges – the View restaurant opening with 1 Michelin star- the Four Seasons has a fun and lively buzz.

Usual Four Seasons Fab Flowers

Usual Four Seasons Fab Flowers

Tswalu Kalahari -South Africa

Top notch guide Warren and out tracker, Jackson

Top notch guide Warren and our tracker, Jackson

A few of the details that make Tswalu Kalahari so special are the shuttle flights: private jets like the Pilatus PC-12, the lounge for your transfer -Fireblade – is in a class all it’s own with day rooms a massage therapist, and private chef on call. Offering a small number of cottages on property, the resort suits both families and honeymooners. Most especially the best offering is the private vehicle , guide and tracker for each set of guests. If you booked singly or came with 4 friends, you get you own land rover, guide and tracker. That is the height of luxury on safari! They dedicate up to 9 vehicles, guides and trackers for their guests. The reserve is so large, you never seem to see more than one other vehicle when one is out on a game drive. Our guide, Warren, knew that reserve like the back of his hand. He even found a pack of wild dogs in a impossible to find location!! Wild dogs!! What a thrill!!! My first sighting in all my years of safari tracking.
Guides and trackers focus on what a guest wants to see, ie birds or predators- or both!! You see it all!!!

ultimate  luxury - private vehicle, guide and tracker

ultimate luxury – private vehicle, guide and tracker

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Tswalu Kalahari – Motse Lodge

Part of the villa - Motse Lodge , Tswalu

Part of the villa – Motse Lodge , Tswalu

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The Iconic Mount Nelson Hotel- Cape Town

The iconic Mount Nelson Hotel- Cape Town


I stayed in the Mount Nelson and the Cape Grace, both fabulous properties where personal service is top notch.

Day 4 Hike Atacama Luna Valley – best one!

imageTowering sand dunes and a straight up ascent. A 5K hike with stunning panoramic vistas that seemed to go forever. The best hike of all. Ending with a slide down a 200 foot dune

A gentle start that took a sharp turn upwards.

A gentle start that took a sharp turn upwards.


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On the cliff edge - looking straight down into the Luna Valkey

On the cliff edge – looking straight down into the Luna Valkey

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Day 3 – Afternoon hike – Punta del Inca

imageCactus fields and a flowing river in the desert- novel experience.
The hike is climbing over the boulders beside the river, down a canyon and climbing out to a marvelous panoramic view of the mountain range.
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Explorer – Atacama Desert, Chile

Volcano - it's not a painting View of the Volcano from Explorer Atacama  Lobby
Volcanos seen from the explorer lobby.

High contemporary decor- lots of whites. Explorer’s service is impeccable. Equate Explorer with activity: hiking, biking, and the only resort with horseback riding. Easy to extreme!

Rooftop Pool Ritz Carlton Santiago

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Poolside at the Ritz Carlton Santiago

Ritz Carlton Santiago – traditional luxury

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The usual tip top service, Ritz Carlton Santiago has lived up to it’s considerable reputation. Rooms are impeccable, beds are like sleeping on a cloud.

Off to Chile -flying the Divine Dreamliner on LAN

Probably the most comfortable sleep on a plane in a long while. LAN offers a comforter inside a sheet- sort of like a sleeping bag. So you lie on the comforter under the sheet. The lighting is unusual prevelant pinks and blues and i am told the humidity is pumped up so one sleeps more comfortably. I did not wake up till 20 minutes before we landed in Santiago. We hardly felt the take off and landing. Huge plane! image

image We are guests of LAN Airlines, Ritz Carlton, A&K Chile and Explora Atacama. It is such a privilege to learn about new travel options.

Finest hotel in China – Peninsula Shanghai

Flowers at Peninsula Shanghai
Spectacular flowers everywhere is just one small detail in the scheme of things at the formidable Peninsula Shanghai. Situated on the Bund, this hotel aims to please. They offer an airport pickup in their fabulous Rolls Royce, and the service just gets better from there. Large, spacious, comfortable rooms face the river and the colorful Pudong area across the street. The bathroom has a button the dims the lights slowly as soft music comes up and water fills the bathtub. Just incredible. Returning to the Peninsula Shanghai is a must.

Premier Room – Rosewood Beijing

Images courtesy of Rosewood Beijing

Images courtesy of Rosewood Beijing

I had the privilege of serving on the Virtuoso Preview Board of Advisors for Rosewood Beijing, so I was well briefed with the passion of the staff. They left no stone unturned in their focus on making all guests feel welcome. When I visited Beijing and saw the hotel in actuality, I was blown away. I met the GM Marc Brugger, and Head of Sales David Campbell. William Liu, Beijing head of Sales and Lori Zhang kindly showed me around. An exciting project, I caught the passion of the staff and loved the decor. Completely pleasant, the rooms evoke a wonderful sense of place and relaxation. Can’t wait to get back and sample the Peking Duck specialty in one of the restaurants, A Country Kitchen. You can read about the hotel in this issue of Virtuoso Life.

Now Open: The Fabulous Rosewood Beijing

Rosewood Beijing Exterior

Sleek, glamorous, exciting are first three words that jump to mind after my visit to the brand new Rosewood Beijing.
The exterior is all hard edged and glossy, while the interior is soft and relaxed.
It incorporates a residential feel.
A Virtuoso property, it has jaw dropping views of Beijing out the floor to ceiling windows.