POP THE CORK!

champAfter a wonderful afternoon of champagne, lobster and even better conversation yesterday, I was asked why I had never featured such an important topic as Sunday brunch on WTF. After all, in some countries (most located in Asia) it is now an institution.

What constitutes a good one? In my mind quality – food, champagne, service and ambience.

So here it is… the world’s best Sunday champagne brunches (according to me and in no particular order)

Singapore
New comers to the island are generally surprised to learn of a great Sunday tradition – hotel brunches. Free flow French champagne, a buffet of lobsters, Wagu steak, amazing cheese platters and a chocolate fountain are stock standard at most of them. And don’t be afraid to bring the kids as the good brunches have an amazing Kid’s Room filled with jumping castles, face painting, special children’s menus and arts and crafts.
WTF Picks – The Four Seasons and Shangri-La (both amazing with kids), Grand Hyatt and St Regis (for adults)

Hong Kong
Not quite to the extent of Singapore, but there is still a good brunch to be found.
WTF Picks – The Ritz Carlton Kowloon for a view, Mandarin Oriental for old school style, Zuma for free-flow extended hours

Dubai
Brunch is held on a Friday in Dubai (Sunday is a weekday for anyone who lives in the UAE) and they do them bigger and better than almost anywhere in the world! But just remember to observe the local laws and don’t get too crazy once you leave the safety net of the hotel as others have been known to end up behind prison bars after too many drinks!
WTF Picks – Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah for over the top madness (a map is supplied when you are seated!), Spectrum On One Fairmont for a party, Planet Hollywood for families

New York
Not so much focused on the free flow of lobster and French champagne, NYC brunches are better known for serving Mimosas or Bloody Marys alongside your eggs benedict… and there is nothing wrong with that approach either.
WTF Picks – The Standard Hotel for fun and funky (loved this first-hand on Christmas Day), The Plaza Hotel for old school, Brasserie Beaumarchais to be seen

Shanghai
China has quickly followed their Asian neighbours and embraced the art of Sunday champagne brunches.
WTF Picks – The Westin has something for the whole family and the Hyatt and Shangri-La for style and service

Of course a brunch experience is always influenced by the company too, so choose your guests carefully!

Where do you think the best champagne brunch is?

OUTSOURCE ME!

Child-cleaningI am the first person to admit I am a HUGE advocate of outsourcing whatever I can.

I have been known to be somewhat of a control freak (I can hear my family screaming yes at this point!) but over the years I have managed to let go of the need to make sure everything is 100% perfect and give way to someone else having a go at it.

The fact is, we have been outsourcing personal tasks forever, it just didn’t have a label.

When I was growing up it was called working for your pocket money. And if you have ever had the opportunity to have a personal assistant I would put money on the fact that they have carried out some “non-business related” outsourcing task for you at some point, whether it be booking personal travel or paying a phone bill.

Generally the most popular tasks to outsource are – housecleaning, laundry and ironing, grocery shopping, dog walking (not sure what the point is having a dog if you don’t have time to take it outside), car washing and good old lawn mowing. But more and more people are slowly trusting others to pay their bills, or to buy a gift for their loved one.

So how do you get on-board the express train to “easy life”?

The 4 Hour Workweek is really the original how-to guide for ideas on better managing your personal tasks

But if you want to jump straight in you can try some of the following sites (sadly these are not available in all countries).

My favourite one – www.fiverr.com
Basically a list of offerings from people who will do “X” for $5. There are real some gems on offer!

www.taskrabbit.com
One of the better known (and tested) sites

www.elance.com
A great resource for small business with everything from logo design to building your website

www.fancyhands.com
For $25 a month your personal admin issues are solved

Now all this free time now means more time to relax. I am off to order a bottle of wine online that will be delivered chilled to my door in under an hour… now that is service!

THE TOP 10 – WHAT NOT TO WEAR ON YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY

barefoot-in-publicI think I have a pretty good formula for packing when going on holidays, no matter what the climate. Being respectful of local cultures and having items that are practical while still looking decent are key on my list, but I often wonder what goes through other people’s minds when they pack their bags for a holiday.

Clearly a lot of people think that the usual rule of wearing appropriate clothing goes out the window, and anything goes. But then maybe it’s me who missed the memo saying if you are in another country go for it and wear something that usually a 16 year old does, even though you are 50 years old and not in good shape. Sitting on a beach in Thailand, Hawaii or Fiji, or even being at an airport for that matter, can be like seeing a real-life parade from one of those “People of Walmart” emails that gets sent around (www.peopleofwalmart.com).

So what are the top 10 must-not-do’s to keep you looking decent when you head overseas on a holiday.

1. Always wear shoes at an airport, even if you are there just to pick up someone. There is no excuse not to wear them, even just for health and safety reasons.

2. Bum bags, fanny packs whatever you choose to call them went out in the 1980’s so let’s leave them there (along with ra-ra skirts and large shoulder-padded jackets)

3. Socks and sandals. Do I really need to explain this one any further?

4. A g-string swimsuit. Unless your name is Giselle, avoid the embarrassment and leave it at home.

5. Hawaiian shirts. Guys – no one wears these any more with the exception of going to a fancy dress party.

6. Cut-out lycra dresses. If you are under 21 years age then ok, but over that it should be illegal to sell you one, let alone wear one. Think age appropriate dressing.

7. A matching Juicy Couture tracksuit. I totally get the comfort bit, and by all means pack a pair of track pants to change into once you are on the plane (I do), but wearing a bright pink matching towelling or velour tracksuit with the word “Juicy” on your butt is so 1990’s and best left for Paris Hilton.

8. Denim shorts that are too short. Ladies there is no need to see your butt sticking out from under your shorts no matter what your age. At no point is this is a good look. Gents… knee length denim cut-off shorts with frayed hems should come with a fine or jail time.

9. Beer branded fake singlets/tank tops. I have seen enough “Singha”, “Tiger” and “Bintang” tank tops to last me ten lifetimes. Every football team (of any code) on their end-of-season trip can be seen wearing them, purchased from the local street vendor. Which leads me into the final one…

10. Football shirts. The only exception to wearing one of these is travelling to play football or travelling to support your team.

With British women spending over $200 on clothing in preparation for their holiday and women in the US on average $380, I am hoping this isn’t going on any of the above items.

What is the worst outfit you have witnessed on holiday?

I BUY IT FOR THE ARTICLES

magA few recent flights, and the luxury of having some more downtime, has meant I have actually been able to read a magazine cover to cover within the published month for the first time all year. I am a bit of a magazine “snob” and will only ever spend my hard-earned cash on an issue of Vanity Fair or US Vogue (but I openly admit to happily reading complimentary copies when on a plane – usually Time, a myriad of travel magazines and the odd health one). But Vanity Fair hands down for me is the best magazine published – and yes I buy it for the articles!

So do other people share my preferences? I decided to do some research and see what most people read around the world, and chances are you have never heard of the top 5!

Coming in at number one is “The Watchtower” with a circulation of almost 45million copies. It sounds like a magazine that might focus on online gaming, but that couldn’t be further from the subject matter. The Watchtower is an illustrated religious magazine, published monthly in 209 languages by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Watchtower is closely followed by “Awake” which has a circulation of over 43million and is also published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Awake is distributed by the door-to-door ministry and published in 99 languages.

The next two most read magazines are by the same publisher – “AARP The Magazine” and “AARP Bulletin”, both with a whopping circulation of over 22million each. Unless you live in the US and are over 50, you may not have seen these. AARP is the American Association of Retired Persons and the publications focus on products and services for a mature audience.

Number five spot is held by a German Magazine – “ADAC Motorwelt” which is published by Germany and Europe’s largest automobile club (ADAC), reaching 13million people.

So where do the magazines rank that you buy from your local newsstand?

In the UK Glamour reaches 500k people and OK! 470k.

The US sees Game Informer hit 7.8 million and Better Homes and Gardens 7.6 million

Russians like to read Cosmopolitan with a circulation of 980k.

And 470k Australian’s stick to the traditional Australian Women’s Weekly.

And how about my favourite Vanity Fair? 1.2 million people a month share my love of the articles!

PARTY OF 1

como1Last week I treated myself and headed off to Bali for 5 days of cleansing, yoga, walks and massages. I left family and friends at home, and went on this adventure solo on the promise that I would come back a nicer person. And the result…. I feel amazing.

I am used to travelling so much for business on my own I had no issue eating (or in my case drinking juices and soup) by myself, exploring the amazing local rainforest as a party of one, or just reading by the pool. I actually like my own company, well for 5 days at least.

I realise it is a luxury to be able to do this from both a time and money point of view, but if you can afford both, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

So where are the best places to go to have a fabulous healthy experience? Here are my top 5.

Como Shambhala Estate, Bali
This is where I spent last week. My visits to Bali are well and truly in the double digits and I have to vote Como Shambhala as the most special place I have stayed on the island, and certainly one of the best places in Asia I have visited (big wraps I know!). If you want to detox in luxury, this is the place to do it no question. But if detoxing is too hard core, don’t worry, as most guests were just there to enjoy all the wonderful amenities, fresh food and out of this world service. It is a place where “everyone knows your name”, as all the staff know who you are and the only thing I was asked to sign was the final bill.
http://www.comohotels.com/comoshambhalaestate

Chiva Som, Hua Hin
A two hour drive from Bangkok, Chiva Som is consistently voted as one of the best health resorts around. It lets you combine being pampered with embarking on changing a part of your life be it diet, fitness, stress or too much partying. It is located on the beach, as opposed to being in a remote location, so if you do want to escape you always have the option to go into the local town.
http://www.chivasom.com

Rancho La Puerta, Mexico
Started in 1940, this property is one of the original destination spas. Rancho La Puerta offers everything from mountain hikes, pilates, dream interpretation to make you sleep better, through to a cooking school using produce from its own organic farm.
http://www.rancholapuerta.com

Longevity Wellness Resort, Portugal
An eco-friendly resort located it Algarve, it provides spectacular views of the sea and mountains. On offer is state of the art detox treatments, fitness facilities that would rival the best gyms and Turkish baths to recover in. There are even medical “treatments” for people who want more than a facial peel.
http://www.longevitywellnessresort.com

The Farm at San Benito, Philippines
A holistic sanctuary that aims to rejuvenate through detoxification, working towards healing the body of any illnesses or problems. Set in the heart of the Philippine jungle it certainly still holds a luxury title as you can choose to have your massage in your poolside villa or on a secret garden terrace. The Farm is also one of the few health retreats that has a children’s program which includes arts and crafts, cooking lessons and forest walks.
http://www.thefarm.com.ph

So to answer the original question… am I a nicer person? Impossible to be some would say, but I think yes!

PROFESSOR OR TAILOR?

fishCareer change time and wondering if your resume has too many or too few jobs listed on it?

Well if you happen to have held eleven jobs and are over 46 years old, don’t panic, as you are an average worker according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (USA). If you have a tertiary degree chances are that you have had more jobs than someone without one, and men also have moved roles more than women.

And where to work? The countries where you have the best chance of earning the highest average wage – Australia , Luxemborg, Japan, United States, Switzerland, Monaco, New Zealand, Belgium and the Netherlands. The worst… Sierra Leone.

So should you start thinking about a career change? If you answer yes to one of these, chances are you should.
1. You keep promising yourself you’ll quit but never do
2. You have no interest in getting your boss’s job
3. The politics are too tricky, there aren’t enough resources, or you don’t have any excitement on the bigger picture front

But be warned, switching jobs can also be detrimental to your health.

Nearly half of America workers have put on weight at their current job – 28% have gained more than 4kgs, and 13% have gained more than 9kgs. You don’t want that to happen every time you opt for a career move.

In Japan 10,000 workers per year drop dead at their desks as a result of 60- to 70-hour work weeks. The phenomenon is known as “karoshi” (death from overwork)

So in your next role you may want to consider being a university professor as apparently that is viewed as the least stressful job, just ahead of being a tailor/seamstress!

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.

car2