BACK SEAT DRIVER

car3On Monday while I was in my car heading home from meeting a friend for coffee, I passed three Ferrari’s in a period of a five minute drive (unfortunately I was not in one of them!). In many other countries that may be a rarity, but in Singapore it is a an everyday occurrence of being parked at traffic lights in between an Austin Martin and a Rolls Royce. And it isn’t because cars are a “bargain” here, in fact, it is one of the most expensive places in the world to own one.

So it got me thinking where is the best place to own a super-luxury car and who buys them?

Ferrari was named the most powerful brand in the world this year, which is judged on qualitative measures such as brand affection and loyalty (not to be confused with brand value – which Apple wins due to revenue size). So clearly while gold prices come crashing down, sales of the car that bears a prancing horse logo, are on the rise.

And most of the big ticket items are heading to China… of the eight Bentley Mulsanne Grand Tourers produced this year, six are going to China. Rolls Royce’s business is on the up there too, with 30 per cent of its business coming from China and an increase of 23 per cent in sales.

Not to be left out, Lamborghini had a 150 per cent surge in year-on-year in sales in 2010, and a 70 per cent rise in growth in 2011 in China.

While the USA still wins the prize for the most super luxury cars bought each year, China is expected to overtake them in the next year or so (a 1,550 percent growth between 2001 to 2012 sets a good base)

And if you just want a bargain and are looking to “down grade” to Porsche’s iconic 911 sports car the best place to buy it is the USA where you can pick it up for $77,200. In Australia it’s $223,000; Japan $134,000; and Britain $107,000.

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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY… VERSION 2.0

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International Women’s Day (IWD) has come and gone for another year with celebrations around the world on March 8 focusing primarily on achievements by women in the areas of politics, economics and social activities. And let me preface this post by saying I think IWD is a powerful platform for women’s issues and the people behind it do amazing work. This year’s theme was Violence Against Women – a hugely impactful topic for any woman.

But what I really can’t say is that I feel the same passion for the IWD corporate celebrations. Lunches are held at work/in offices, emails are sent from diversity teams and CEO’s praise women in the organization, and then on March 9… all goes back to normal. To be honest most people are too busy to even notice it has happened.

So in light of this, I have penned my thoughts on what might be a more appropriate International Women’s Day celebration in the corporate world (and women who work by staying at home and raising their child/children you are of course more than welcome to join in too)

There is no need to send emails telling us how great we are, we know this already. And by the way, women tell each other all the time. (Except if you are Marissa Mayer using your power for evil, not good)

Let’s not waste time with a token lunch of sandwiches and juice in the office, if you really want us to “network” and talk about women’s issues, put the money on a tab at the local wine bar and give us the afternoon off.

At the next “bring the kids to work day” the men will look after the kids all day (while we are at the wine bar).

And finally, let’s just be done with it. The best way to celebrate IWD would be to buy us all a new Prada bag (aka “computer bag” for tax purposes). I am sure that would guarantee employee loyalty at least for another twelve months.

Ideas are welcome as I start to put together my list of requests for International Women’s Day 2014.

COMING HOME

SkyWhether you are a property magnate or just want somewhere nice to live, apartments aka condos aka units (depending on where you are from) now come in all shapes and sizes. Gone are the days when all you got were bare walls, a few windows and a door, today’s buildings offer nothing short of buying a “lifestyle”.

Where are these amazing lifestyles to be found? Here are a few that may take your fancy.

If you have US$58.7mill then Hong Kong is for you. There are twelve apartments to choose from located on The Peak, and are designed by Frank Gehry. It would take a person earning HK’s average wage roughly three thousand years of savings to afford one of the apartments. http://opushongkong.com

But don’t worry if you would rather rent than buy, there is another Gehry building in New York City that offers the highest residences in North America at 870 feet. Penthouses rent for $45,000 a month while the four bedroom apartments are $70,000 a month. Amenities include a pool, gym, Pilates studio and screening room. http://www.newyorkbygehry.com

Not upmarket enough for you? The penthouse apartment at One Hyde Park sold for $221 million, making it the world’s most expensive apartment (bought by Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov). http://www.onehydepark.com

Back down to earth now and for US$1mill you can get into a 1 bedroom apartment in Singapore in a new building that offers some amazing facilities. Built as two 38-storey towers, Sky Habitat has three sky bridges on the 14th, 26th and 38th floors – the bridge on the 38th floor also acts as a lap pool! In addition to that there is a 50m pool, leisure and children’s pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, karaoke rooms, gym and BBQ pits.

So maybe it’s time to sell up and move to be part of a lifestyle!

HAPPY NEW YEAR… AGAIN!

snakeAbout 6 weeks too late you say! Well this isn’t the case for over a billion and a half of the world’s population as Chinese New Year is celebrated this weekend to welcome in the Year of the Snake.

So where are the best places to experience this celebration? Of course China, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and more recently in the Philippines and Indonesia. And there are plenty of places outside of Asia too – a Sydney claims to have one of the largest celebrations and you can also try LA, San Francisco, NYC, Boston, Toronto and London. For the more obscure locations Mauritius and Butte, Montana also host parades.

And instead of nursing a hangover on New Year’s Day post-partying, you should consider doing the following to ensure a successful year ahead.

- On the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year to go out.
- All debts have to paid by this time. Nothing should be lent on this day, as anyone who does so will be lending all the year.
- Everyone should refrain from using foul language and bad or unlucky words. Death and dying are never mentioned and ghost stories are totally taboo. References to the past year are also avoided as everything should be turned toward the New Year and a new beginning.
- If you cry on New Year’s day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not spanked, no matter what..
- Wear red… as it is considered a bright, happy color, sure to bring the wearer a sunny and bright future.
- Do not wash your hair because it would mean you would have washed away good luck for the New Year.
- Do not use knives or scissors on New Year’s Day as this may cut off fortune.

So don’t be surprised next week when anyone in Asia doesn’t respond to your email… we are all out setting off firecrackers and eating!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

FEELING OLD?

hungover-womanWe all know the population is aging everywhere, and to put it into perspective one third of babies born in 2012 are expected to celebrate their 100th birthday! (there were only 316,600 centurions in 2011)

So if you want to feel young by hanging out with older people where should you go?

The number one place is Monaco, where the median age is 50, and on the upside most likely everyone there is wealthy and retired so not a bad place to be.

Following suit are –

Japan 45.4; Germany 45.3; Italy 43.8; Austria 43.4; Greece 42.8; San Marino 42.8; Slovenia 42.8; Finland 42.7; Belgium 42.6

The UK comes in at 22 (40.2); Australia 34 (37.9); USA at 38 (37.1), and outside of Japan, China is the next highest Asia country at 41st spot (35.9).

At the other end of the scale Uganda is the youngest (15.1) followed by Niger, Mali and Zambia, all under 17.

And age aside, if you are a working female chances are you are going to look your oldest (and worst) at 3.30pm on a Wednesday afternoon. This is when the effects of any alcohol consumed over the weekend hit home, stress levels are at their highest, and the body is most tired…. It really is hump day!

Knowing this, I say book in for a massage or facial every week at this time and the problem is easily solved!

BORN WITH A SILVER SPOON

baby-globe-rexI find when you are living overseas a topic of constant conversation generally revolves around – what nationality is your child, what passport/s should they carry and can or should you make them a residence of where you are currently living.

To answer that question, The Economist ran a study looking at the economic future of 80 countries in 2030 (when babies born in 2013 will be adults).

So which countries are the best to be born in? Money of course counts, but it isn’t the only measure. Others are good health, safety, quality of public institutions, quality of life, levels of employment, government policies and those countries with the most opportunity.

And the winner is…

Switzerland – it proves boring sometimes wins out!
Australia – the lucky country
Norway, Sweden & Denmark – go the Nordic countries! Maybe temperature or amount of daylight wasn’t taken into account?
Singapore – shows that compulsory National Service is no deterrent
New Zealand – lovely place to be born, just a long way from anywhere
Netherlands – pre-requisite is that you must wear orange!
Canada – perfect if you want to be a professional skier
Hong Kong – the gateway to China

The USA comes in at number 16 (tied with Germany), Britain is at 27 and the worst place to be born is Nigeria at number 80.

It looks like the smaller nations are the places to be setting up home, as bigger isn’t always better!

GOODBYE HOLIDAYS, HELLO BUSINESS TRIPS

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Happy New Year everyone!

Well it may be happy at the moment as most people are refreshed from a break and settling back into work. But it won’t be long until the euphoria of holidays wears off and the first business trip of the year is thrust upon you (if it hasn’t already been).

So what are the most stressful things about business travel? CWT recently conducted a global survey to find out what they were.

1. Lost or Delayed Baggage – this rated 4 points higher for women too, and I can whole heartedly agree having been a victim of this one too many times
2. Poor/No Internet Connection – on the upside maybe a blessing in disguise and a good excuse to hit the hotel bar instead of working 
3. Flying Economy on Med/Long Haul – this was cited as it reduces the possibility to work for a suitable length of time or to rest properly
4. Delays – obviously this is far worse on the return leg of the journey when you just want to get home
5. Inconvenient Dep./Arr. Times – having to skip time with family was the biggest reason
6. Low Hotel Category – less likely to be able to sleep or be comfortable or in a safe area
7. Inconvenient Hotel Location – added stress of finding transportation to the office, lack of local places to eat
8. Last-Minute Requested Trips – puts a strain on existing routines at home (especially if they involve children’s routines)
9. Not Able to Eat Healthily – hard to find healthy options in meetings and at hotels
10. Traveling during Week-ends – heavily affects work, life balance and family
11. Length of Journey to Reach Destination – impact on health, jetlag and ability to function
12. Flying Indirect versus Direct – similar to the above, you want to limit travel time

One NY blogger had a different view and suggested it was the scarcity of power outlets in airports, seats that don’t recline very far and that must be upright on landing, excessive in-flight announcements, check-in procedure, inconsistent lounge rules, and policies forbidding him to bring alcohol onto planes.

Now that would be far more interesting if it was unlimited duty-free alcohol on flights. Just ask this guy in the photo who consumed all of his within one hour of taking off on a flight this week!