HOTELS THAT RAISE THE BAR

Not excited about staying in the Marriott Hotel again, where the only option for an after work drink is in the lobby bar that hasn’t had a facelift since the 1970’s.

While we know everyone is limited by corporate hotel selection, you can still venture to these hotel bars, if only for a drink and to impress!

Here are some of the hotel bars that have been named as the best (based in cities).

Connaught Bar at the Connaught, London
What recession? Opulence at its finest. Signature drink – juleps laced with herbal Fernet-Branca

Hemingway Bar, Ritz Carlton, Paris
Decadent and full of history. Signature drink – Bloody Mary. Where it was invented for Hemingway, to disguise the smell of alcohol on his breath.

Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore
Armchairs, big ceiling fans and throwing peanut shells on the ground. Old school colonial at its finest. Signature drink – The Singapore Sling. Invented in 1915 and still going strong – the bar sells 2,000 Singapore Slings daily.

Martini Bar at the Raleigh, Miami
Keeps things art deco and classy in Miami . Signature drink – martini

Redwood Room at Clift, San Francisco
Where the in-crowd of Silicon Valley can be seen. The room is filled with digital art to keep you entertained. Signature drink – Lavender martini

New York Bar at the Park Hyatt, Tokyo
Yes made famous in Lost in Translation, this cool bar is 52 floors up with stunning views. Signature drink – Yamazaki whiskey

Bar 1200 at Sunset Marquis Hotel, West Hollywood
Celebrity spotting of the music variety is rife – so look sharp or arrive early to get in. A recording studio is on-hand near by. Signature drink – Marquis-tini

Sky Lounge at Upper House, Hong Kong
49 floors up and you will find huge windows, an amazing view and an oasis above the bustling street of Central. Signature drink – Soul Happiness

The Drawing Room at the Greenwich Hotel, New York City
Cosy and warm in Tribeca you will feel like you are in your fantasy living room. Signature drink – Manhattan

What is your favourite hotel bar for an after work drink?

ARE YOU RICH?

The definition of “Rich”: having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds.

So what does that exactly mean in 2012?

In a recent survey by Gallup, you’re rich if you have $1 million in assets, or $150k in annual income per person (as answered by people surveyed in the USA). The government usually says it’s a salary of $250k (which only accounts for 1% of Americans).

In China, Super Rich is defined as a person who holds assets worth at least 100 million yuan (USD$15mill). The China Daily estimates there are 8,200 of these individuals currently residing in Shanghai. 75% are business owners and 25% are made up of investors (mostly real estate) But the super-rich club of Shanghai is only the third largest in China though. Beijing holds the pole position, while Shenzhen is second.

Author Nassim Taleb explores the whole concept in his book “Fooled by Randomness” where he uses a great antidote about some fictional (?) neighbours. Was it just plain luck that one guy was richer than the other? We will never know if hard work really pays off.

CAN YOU SAY MY NAME?

Time to brush up on your linguistics. There is nothing worse than meeting business colleagues and having no idea of how to pronounce their name, or seeing other people fumble through it. Do your research people, as it can be a sign of disrespect in a lot of countries.

More than a billion people now share just 100 surnames in China, with Wang, which literally means “king”, being the most popular, followed by Li and Zhang (which has risen by 4,718% in popularity in just 13 years ). So I would take the time to know how to say these!

Presently only about 300 Chinese surnames are used. The Chinese generally address each other by family name and an appropriate title or by both family and full given name together, with the family name first. The obvious reason for this custom is that it helps distinguish all the Zhangs, Wangs etc from one another.

The most popular Western surnames are – Smith, Jones, Brown, Johnson and Williams.

Over the last 100 years, the number of people named Ahmed, Singh and Ali, has increased by more than 1000% each.

Other widely used names include – Singh, Patel, Sato, Suzuki, Takahashi, Rodriguez, Martin, Muller, Murphy, Hansen and Gonzalez.

For some fun on a Friday – see what your Chinese name would be… http://www.mandarintools.com/chinesename.html

HOST WITH THE MOST

I am the first to admit I am much better at attending dinner parties than giving them – my strength is eating and drinking rather than cooking and hosting!

Dinner parties aren’t a recent fad from the 70’s, the earliest one has been traced back to a 12,000-year-old site in Israel where the remains of two cows and 71 tortoises, plus fire pits and shaman bones were found – definitely more than two courses worth. Romans were also great at dinner parties, lots of sitting around in togas and eating peeled grapes – a dinner party anyone would like to get invited to.

Attending or hosting one this weekend? Here are some golden rules to guide you through the next dinner party –

As a host you must provide alcohol, and as a guest you must bring it. And the host should always serve guests’ wine immediately.

People know how much Yellow Tail wine costs – always buy a good bottle of wine to take. It costs a small fortune to put on a dinner party so bringing cheap wine is just rude.

Smoking cigarettes without asking permission is unacceptable.

Brush up on your table manners – slurping/eating noises, eating with your mouth open, picking your teeth and blowing your nose on napkins should just not happen.

What ever happened to the cheese course at dinner parties? Hosts, don’t be scared to bring back the cheese!!!

Get some white wine on ice – it is the most popular alcoholic drink for that special meal, being served at 82% of dinner parties.

Guests lists are just as important and here are the popular must have’s and no thank you’s!

NO’s – Hitler, Charles Manson, OJ Simpson, Sarah Palin and Kim Jong II.
YES’s – Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley.

And remember lunch can sometimes be better than dinner as you have a whole afternoon and evening ahead!

TRAVEL SAFE

To insure or not to insure?

The whole area of travel insurance is extremely confusing so hopefully this will help make your decision a little less so, next time you head overseas.

There are three main categories: trip investment (which covers trip cancellation or interruption), personal health (which fills in gaps in your normal health insurance), and personal belongings (which covers baggage loss and car rental damage). You should always have at least the first two. And make sure the personal health coverage includes both “medical evacuation,” which is the cost of getting you to an appropriate local hospital or clinic, and “repatriation,” which covers the cost of getting back home.

Top Tip – most people fail to recognise that most credit cards and health insurance packages already have some form of travel insurance coverage so you don’t need to buy more.

Credit card travel insurance usually covers everything, and of course platinum and higher level cards provide the best coverage. BUT most of the time you’ll only be covered if you paid for some, or all, of the international air tickets on the credit card, which is considered a trigger for the “activation” of the travel insurance. This means credit card travel insurance policies are useless for business trips (usually paid for by your company). So hopefully your company has something that covers you for work trips – it’s worthwhile asking as I have been caught out several times.

Luggage and personal items are covered well on credit cards, sometimes up to $15,000 per person, with a total of $30,000 for all family members. Standalone travel insurance policies quite often have limits as low as $2,000 for your baggage, so don’t assume you need an additional policy to cover this.

Of course, all the usual conditions apply – you may only get reimbursed for lost or stolen items if you have filed police reports within 24 hours, and only if you can provide original purchase receipts to prove ownership.

If you purchase the ticket for plane, train, bus or ferry on your credit card you will generally be insured against death or debilitating injury for a very high amount, such as $1,000,000 for the death of a cardholder. Regular travel insurance generally only pays out normal accidental death benefits of around $25,000 – $50,000.

And if you are lucky enough to have time off and are going on a long trip, choose your card carefully. Credit card insurance is often only valid for three to six months maximum, and unlike stand-alone travel insurance policies, can’t be extended.

HOLIDAY RUN

Sight see and stay fit… now there’s an idea! As the northern hemisphere plans their summer vacations, why not take another approach and think of including a destination run in there too. There is something for everyone’s taste and here are my top picks that may just get you motivated to pack your running shoes.

If drinking is your thing head towards California or Oregon and combine wine tasting with running through the vineyards – http://destinationraces.com

Want to take in some ruins then the Rome Marathon is perfect. Starting and finishing at the Colosseum, it goes past the Vatican City and through Piazza Navona. http://www.maratonadiroma.it

Give back to the local community and have a once in a lifetime experience – the beautiful Angkor Wat half marathon in Cambodia does just that. Proceeds go to the Cambodian children and disabled, while runners get to have this amazing temple all to themselves (and the children in local villages cheering you on is a special treat) http://www.angkormarathon.org

Head north for the Glitnir Reykjavik Marathon in Iceland. The northernmost capital in the world, has some of the cleanest air on earth, along with ideal running temperatures in August. But just watch your pre-race diet as don’t be surprised to come across unique menu options such as Hrútspungar (ram testicles), Svi (half a sheep’s head) and Hákarl (raw, putrefied Greenlandic shark). http://www.marathon.is/reykjavikurmaraton

Don’t expect to set any personal bests at the Great Wall Marathon due to the tough course. But what an amazing experience running on part of a wall that was over 6,000km long and was built in 7th Century BC! http://www.great-wall-marathon.com

And of course, it would be remiss of me not to include the New York Marathon. An iconic run that draws more than 100,000 applicants a year and 315 million worldwide television viewers. http://www.nycmarathon.org

Get running!

SHOES CAN SAVE YOUR JOB!

Can you dress to save your job? Apparently so according to some experts. And before you say it, this does not mean low cut tops and mini-skirts for females!

The key to being retrenchment proof is looking the part all the time. Staying modern and relevant is key. This simply means updating your wardrobe with a few new pieces each season and guys not wearing the 1980’s cartoon character ties, and ladies avoiding that big shoulder-padded shirt or jacket (despite trying, they still have not been made fashionable again)

For men – a well cut suit, trousers or shirt; clean shaven and a decent haircut (not a number 3 all over!). Grey hair works to your advantage too. Wearing a tie that is too short is not a good thing!

Women – not too much make-up; nicely cut dress, trousers or skirt and heels. Grey hair or bad hair roots are not a favourite with employers, and flat ballet shoes or sandals should be saved for the weekend.

You can still show your personality through dressing, but do it in a more subtle way – shoes, socks, belt, a piece of jewelry all work.

A few basic things that can get you on your way –
1. Grooming costs very little, there are no excuses!
2. Don’t go too heavy on the aftershave or perfume
3. Dryclean your suits and iron your clothes (rule 101 people!)
4. Invest in a few pairs of good shoes
5. look at how your CEO dresses and take the cue from there

And remember… perception is everything!