The Good Life

Lifestyle Concierge Services: Broadening the Bridge to Luxury

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By Venus Quintana

 

If you have more money in the bank than time on your hands and are juggling a successful career with family and personal life, you may want to consider hiring a concierge. The line of work once specific to the hotel industry has, over the years, evolved into hyper-individualized services in industries ranging from property management and domestic staffing to pets and pregnancy.

As over-the-top as such expenditures are, fans of hiring concierges consider them somewhat practical purchases: in the long run, people argue that through concierges, they’re saving time and work and even bettering their overall health and well-being. As we move towards a more service-oriented world, it is more important than ever to understand consumer needs and values. People now value services more than products. The growing focus on lifestyle has enabled lifestyle management companies to administer certain aspects of an individual’s or family’s lifestyles with the objective of making their lives easier.

Photo courtesy of  Ryan O'Hara - tower isle spa jamacia

Photo courtesy of Ryan O’Hara – Tower Isle Spa jamacia

Melissa Psitos

Melissa Psitos

Melissa Psitos knows the business better than most. As founder and president of Lilypond Services LLC, based in New York City, Melissa has experienced the industry from all ends. “After working a decade in luxury hospitality as a governess/personal assistant to high-profile and celebrity families,” she explains, “I grew to know and understand the unique needs and wants of private families. It became clear at that point that the next logical move for me was to begin to cater to them on a whole new level.”

While the majority of these companies offer standard services, some have expanded to offer clients a “tailor-made service” accounting for their individual needs and objectives. Boutique agencies, who strive to have a deeper understanding of their clients, cap the number of clients and limit them so that they offer a truly personalized and impeccable service 365 days a year. They are small in terms of their size, but their services can stretch to all corners of the globe. “I work closely with my team to design each client’s engagement while craftily bringing together our collective and extensive experience in the high-end luxury service market,” Melissa says. “If we weren’t referral-based or ‘boutique’, I wouldn’t be able to bring my knowledge and expertise to the services offered through the company, but more importantly, I couldn’t channel out my passion for serving the needs of this revolutionary market.”

Photo by James Adamson

Photo by James Adamson

For a monthly or annual fee, lifestyle concierge experts step into the lives of people who need things done but do not have the time to spare. Based in the heart of the Hamptons, the Hamptonite Club is the premier members-only luxury lifestyle management company. “What makes us unique is in the way that we only serve The Hamptons. This limits us to a geographical area but also opens the opportunity of being the market expert and leader in our field,” states founder Therese Lindstrom-Kamaras. “All our staff members are local, and we know everything Hamptons. 17771871_ml

We have personal relationships with our business vendors also, which makes the quality control easier when we book services and order goods for our clients.” Therese’s clients sign up for memberships for the summer or the year, while the office manages all transportation, event planning, reservations, personal assistant services and anything else their client’s need while in the Hamptons.

For the one percent of the world, the fees associated with these concierge services might seem like a bargain. In fact, some pay for memberships with more than one concierge service, to increase chances that a request will be completed. At their core, concierge services guarantee VIP treatment anywhere in the world. Founded in London in 2010 by Lorraine Hall, Changing Expectations LLC is on the international scene. Founded on the British private hospitality industry code of ethics, blending California cool and New York trade, Lorraine describes her clientele as “globe-trotters by default.” Correspondence, extensive itineraries and Zen luxury retreats across all time zones, languages and exotic cultures play a key role. “We are branching out to Switzerland and Cambodia, and that is just scratching the surface,” Lorraine reports.

Lorraine Hall

Lorraine Hall

With these services comes a new mentality toward the help. They aren’t just following orders anymore. They’re taking the lead, sometimes guiding their employers’ most important life decisions — even something as personal as raising a child.

Clients are willing to have less power over certain aspects of their lives, because it’s easier than doing it themselves. Manhattan-based company Society Staffing specializes in sourcing and selecting the best individuals for domestic and corporate positions.

CEO Robert Wynne Parry understands the intimacy of what he does. “I’ve always felt that we are an extension of our clients — their homes, businesses, properties, family — and the quality of our service is reflective of that.”

Robert Wynne Parry

Robert Wynne Parry

Keeping up on industry trends and changes in the emerging markets is vital to the future of this private client culture. “There is a boom in luxury real estate right now. As there continues to be this growth, with more families owning multiple homes and properties, this industry is a real necessity,” Robert explains. Robert makes sure he actively follows the needs of the homes and the individuals working in them. “Whether it’s Smart Homes, new design trends or changes in the household management infrastructure, we stay tuned to any industry fluctuations.”

As the saying goes, “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time.” In this day and age, time is our most valuable commodity. Let’s invest it wisely.

 

 

Gurney’s Inn & Seawater Spa: A Sanctuary of Wellness and Luxury

ThalassotherapyApproached by winding country lanes that meander throughout the bucolic town of Montauk, Gurney’s Inn and Seawater Spa commands one of the most spectacular panoramic views on Long Island. Perched high on windswept bluffs, this idyllic destination overlooks a world-renowned private ocean beach, offering the majestic Atlantic to all who visit. It is a space for personal discovery, solace and healing; a refuge from the everyday world and a place to restore and reflect.
Founded over 30 years ago by Nick Monte, who purchased the original Gurney’s Inn in the late 1950’s, the spa was built in a European tradition, and is the only true Thalasso Center in the continental United States. Monte, also known as ‘Keeper of the Inn,’ believed in the healing and restorative properties of the sea so much that he drank a shot of seawater every day. His dream of creating a spa environment that encompassed the sea’s finest qualities became a reality in 1979 with the opening of the International Sea Water Health Spa and Fitness Center at Gurney’s Inn.
Thalasso Therapy comes from the Greek word for “sea,” and refers to a variety of treatments that use seawater and seaweed, each designed to tone, moisturize and revitalize the body and skin, and in many cases to improve circulation. “Our facilities are renowned throughout the International Spa Communities as one of the principal healing spas, using the latest and purist natural products,” explains Spa director Candice Monte. “The spa includes a heated indoor seawater pool overlooking the Atlantic, seawater Roman baths, finish rock saunas, Russian steam rooms and Swiss showers.”
Beach setup kellyA Thalasso program at Gurney’s includes hydro massage in specially designed hydrotherapy tubs filled with filtered sea water, exercise in heated seawater pools, body treatments, massage, relaxation and good nutrition. “The effect of Thalasso Therapy is profound,” says Candice. “Our treatments have a beneficial effect on the skin, cellular exchanges, the respiratory system and the body as a whole with a better oxygenation, an increased elimination of toxins and a revitalization of the mind and body.” After a long, hard week in the office, people are stressed and off-balance. Taking a day at the spa to reconnect and rebalance is a wonderful way to boost your bodies’ natural defenses and immunity.
The spa pumps in genuine ocean water and then heats it. “Heated seawater allows minerals and trace elements to pass through the barrier of the skin,” describes Candice. “The ions that penetrate into the body will selectively wander and fix themselves in the organs where they are most needed. The body recharges itself with minerals and trace elements, therefore detoxifying and rebalancing all body functions.” Seaweed offers an even greater concentration of sea water minerals and beneficial elements. Candice explains the important benefits offered: “Seaweed products used in our spa are created by Spa Technologies, using the rich seaweeds harvested off the coast of Brittany in France. The special properties of seaweed help elasticize the skin tissue, increase circulation, stimulate metabolism, and promote detoxification.” The spa offers a multitude of customized treatments- one of their signature therapies is the Brush and Tone Seaweed Wrap, combining gentle dry exfoliation with a nourishing wrap and lotion. “A soft natural brush is used to promote circulation and to exfoliate the skin, followed by an application of our pre-warmed seaweed gel,” says Candice. “The wrap facilitates the absorption of all the rich minerals and bio-trace elements from the seaweed and helps to tone and detoxify the body. This treatment finishes with an application of our signature seaweed body cream.” What bliss!
It is no wonder that for over 3 decades the spa has been frequented by celebrities and dignitaries who flock from far and wide in search of spiritual and physiological healing that is unrivaled in the U.S. Many people come for the day on the Hampton Jitney, enjoy a treatment, take a walk on the beach, stay for dinner, and then head back home. Full week or day spa plans are available and the resort offers reasonably priced rooms with stunning views, in which to relax and vacation for a week or more. “Many of our guests return season after season to benefit from the abundant use of our natural therapeutic products and the healing hands of our professional therapists,” Candice reports.
logo_and_beach_shot-540x360_450_300also features two of Montauk’s finest restaurants, where you can experience classic oceanfront dining in a superb setting. The Sea Grille offers fresh seafood and locally-grown produce, while Café Monte serves up casual Italian fare and is open for breakfast daily. The al fresco lounge is the perfect spot for an after dinner drink or morning coffee, allowing you to admire the splendor of the vast ocean.
Luxury and wellness is not only reserved for the rich and famous- we must all seek out our own healing, no matter the cost. Rest assured, a day at Gurney’s is priceless in every sense, and well worth the trip.
Gurney’s Inn and Seawater Spa
290 Old Montauk Highway, Montauk NY 11954
631-668-2345
www.gurneysinn.com

Long Island’s ‘Green’ Vineyards: The Future of Agriculture

The fundamentals involved in the ancient art of winemaking haven’t changed a great deal throughout the centuries, but one of the most exciting developments in recent years is the rapidly growing area of organic wine. Since grapes are among the most pesticide-laden produce, it is no wonder we are reaching more often for organic wines to fill our glasses. There is a global movement to promote ‘green’ practices in all walks of life, including the use of sustainable methods in agriculture; in the raising of farm animals, produce or viticulture. Long Island’s wineries have been using these methods for years and continue to make strides in their organic farming practices.

Framed by sandy beaches, bustling fishing villages and rolling farmland, Long Island wine country is unlike any other region in America. The North and South Forks of the island, collectively known as the East End, extend into the Atlantic Ocean like a two-prong fork. Just a two-hour drive from Manhattan, the area is a unique fusion of metropolitan influences and a core of deep-rooted, agricultural tradition. Family-owned farms, artisanal food producers and small-production winemakers share the wealth of the region’s land, sea and vines.

Macari Vineyards,Macari Vineyards, located on the North Fork in Mattituck, is owned and operated by the Macari Family. What were once potato fields has been transformed into a 200-acre vine garden with additional fields of compost and fallow farmland. The biodiversity of the Macari family farm provides an extraordinary grape growing environment that yields some of the finest fruit on the East Coast. At the helm of the winery is Alexandra Macari, “We believe in bio-dynamics because it promotes biodiversity on our farm. We have four children that work with us on the vineyard and in our cellars. The organic approach to farming was the only option for us. We didn’t want our children exposed to harmful pesticides or chemicals” she explains.

MacariAs part of the vineyard’s biodynamic farming methods, Macari has a herd of 25 longhorn cattle who provide manure and a horn additive to the soil. “The biodynamic approach to farming has helped us create a very diverse ecosystem where grapevines can thrive” says Alexandra. The Macari family is proud to showcase a collection of world-class wines from the emerging North Fork region. “We are well known for our red blends. Bergen Road is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot. We have been sold out of this wine for several years as we only make it in the best vintages,” reports Alexandra.

Wolffer Estates VineyardSequestered on the South Fork of Long Island, where vineyards are less abundant, is the bucolic Wölffer Estate Vineyard. Located in Sagaponack, this 55-acre winery has recently succeeded in meeting all 200 requirements of the Long Island Sustainable Winegrowers (LISW) program and obtained its certification for sustainable winegrowing. LISW provides education and certification for Long Island vineyards in terms of sustainable practices – the first such program in the eastern United States. Roman Roth, winemaker/partner and Richard Pisacano, vineyard manager are the team that together produces some of the best Long Island wines. “Since the first vines were planted here, we have had a close eye on organic approaches to farming” Richard explains.  “We have carefully implemented many effective organic practices that we’ve learned can be included in our sustainable program. The results of this shift have been remarkably successful and rewarding.”

imageWhatever approach one takes in farming, it is filled with fierce challenges. Timing of decision making is critical to any agricultural success. “There is a belief that organic farming somehow leads you to become one with nature in a harmonious way. This can’t be further from the truth” says Richard. “Nature, as we know, is so often not kind to herself so being in a protective posture at all times is the first line of defense in ensuring a healthy crop.” Along with its wide range of varietal wines, Roman has his favorites – the Christian Wolffer Cuvee 2010 Merlot. “This is our flagship Red wine from our oldest Merlot plantings. It is a perfect expression of our terroir, with its moderating ocean breeze and the special Bridgehampton Loam,” describes Roman. “The Perle Chardonnay 2010 is fermented and aged for 7.5 month in French barrels with wonderful structure, minerality and great longevity.”

Though only just created and compiled last year, many of LISW’s guidelines are not new concepts. Practices for maintaining healthy vineyards, while producing quality fruit, have constantly been developed throughout Long Island’s 40-year history. Still, the rapid growth of this program provides a glimpse into the future of Long Island winemaking.

 

Click here for further information on The Long Island Sustainable Winegrowers Program

“The Man Cave” Exclusively presented by Steiner Sports

brandon_steiner_headshot

Brandon Steiner
CEO Steiner Sports

Shipped From The Outfield To Your Cave

Shipped From The Outfield
To Your Cave

Once upon a time, there were two brothers. We’ll call them Harrison and William to protect their identities. Harrison and William grew up together in Connecticut, and after attending different colleges, they started their own internet marketing company – which they sold to Google last year, instantly turning them both into millionaires.

The brothers, who also both recently married, used some of the Google windfall to buy neighboring mansions in Greenwich. Harrison and William are also die-hard New York Yankees and Giants fans, and each made a point of setting aside one room in his new home as a decked-out man cave. Naturally, Harrison and William are pretty competitive with each other, and as each brother adorned his man cave with a fancy new appliance or piece of furniture, the other would have to one-up him.

Harrison mounted a 60” Samsung LED flat screen on his wall; William went with a 65”. After William spent a mint on a leather wrap-around banquette facing the TV in his cave, Harrison installed 10 movie theater style seats – complete with cup holders – in his. On and on this went, until both brothers had festooned their man caves with, essentially, the same products and fixtures. Then, when it came time to host a Super Bowl party for their friends, neither of them could claim a legitimate reason to host the gala over the other one.

They had spent a fortune making the “perfect” man caves, but in the end, neither brother felt their cave was particularly special. Like many Americans, Harrison and William suffered a bit from the Midas touch. In case you have forgotten the central tenet of the Greek myth, the Midas touch is not a magical gift, but a terrible affliction. Sure, everything Kind Midas touched turned to gold, but that included food and drink, and even his daughter. In other words, everything he laid hands on lost its actual value.

Keith Hernandez's Locker

Keith Hernandez’s Locker

We have a bit of this problem today because our things have become so impressive – so golden – that they no longer really wow us. It used to be that you could impress a man with a giant flat-screen TV, some Bose surround-sound speakers, and a mini-fridge stocked with his favorite microbrew. But now all of those things are commonplace – even the microbrew. More than ever, we need experience in our lives – things that emotionally resonate.

Manning Football

Manning Football

This is something that Harrison discovered when, one night, he came home from the office and his wife presented him with an Eli Manning-signed Giants helmet, neatly encased in a glass box, which she had purchased from Steiner Sports, a New Rochelle-based collectibles company.

“This is fantastic,” Harrison yelped, practically jumping up and down. “I’m going to put this on a pedestal right by the entrance of the man cave. Giants fans can touch it for good luck on game day, like the Notre Dame players touching that “Play Like a Champion” sign as they leave the locker room.

Indeed, the Manning helmet became the tie-breaker that placed the aforementioned Super Bowl party squarely at Harrison’s house. Even William, despite his envy, couldn’t help rubbing that glass cube every time he visited his brother. “The magic flows from Eli to us!” he loved to say.

For his part, William, looking forward to baseball season, went to the Steiner website and purchased a Derek Jeter-signed, game-used bat, which he mounted above the flat screen.
“You’ve got your Eli good luck totem,” he told Harrison. “But I’m setting up more of a Jeter shrine.” There was little question of where they’d watch the World Series that fall.

Steiner Man Cave

Steiner Man Cave

Harrison and William can serve as a lesson to all men – and women – looking to appoint their new man caves; there should be less of a premium placed on appliances and furniture than on memorabilia and other charms for residents and their guests to enjoy. To put it another way – technically, anyone can buy a Samsung 60” LED flat screen, and anyone can buy a leather banquette.

But not everyone can have genuine artifacts signed by their sports heroes.

“Derek Jeter is not going to sign 1,000 bats,” says Brandon Steiner, CEO of the eponymous company. “Sometimes I wish he would, but on the other hand, that would make each bat less special. Derek signs about 50 bats for us per season – so each one is really priceless.”

Steiner Sports not only offers autographed memorabilia, but also the athletes themselves; the company represents its clients for paid appearances. Eli Manning doesn’t typically have a lot of free time but Steiner can often book him – and other stars – for corporate functions and private events.

By Colby Brin

By Colby Brin

“Hopefully he’ll be busy during the Super Bowl next year,” Harrison said to me over the phone recently, during our interview for this article. “But if not, you never know. Can you imagine walking into a Super Bowl party, and Eli Manning is there? My brother would flip out!”

Call Eric Schwager at Steiner Sports  For  Information On Setting up Your Personal Cave
914-307-1009 eschwager@steinersports.com

Follow Steiner Sports On Twitter!
Brandon’s Blog
Visit The Steiner Sport Website

Bring a World-Class Chef into your Home with ‘Kitchit’

004_kitchit maggiemargueriteNew York City is home to some of the finest restaurants in the world. With over 3500 restaurants in a 468 square mile radius, it is no wonder that New Yorkers have become so accustomed to dining out on a whim. Nothing beats a great meal shared with great company, but so often this vision is thwarted by the hassle of restaurants or the challenges and stress of do-it-yourself hosting.  Instead, how about bringing the experience of eating out into your own home? Imagine a dinner party for 12 cooked by a world-class chef in your own kitchen.  Now THAT sounds interesting! Your dreams have just come true!

kitchit logoKitchit, a service that was launched in San Francisco in December of 2011 and in New York last year, has successfully turned this dream into a reality. This breakthrough innovation has fast become a front-runner in the culinary world of fine-dining. Kitchit is the creation of three entrepreneurs- Brendan Marshall, Ian Ferguson and George Tang. The three met at Stanford, where two were in business school and one was studying computer science. They developed the idea through the university’s business accelerator program, and did test runs of dinner parties to prove its value. Together they have pioneered the concept of ‘bespoke dining’, connecting discerning diners with top professional chefs who curate private events, from casual dinner parties to world-class gastronomic adventures. “We have an incredible group of chefs who are ready to take your dinner party to the next level, including our newest advisors, Chefs Dan Kluger and Christopher Kostow,” explained Marshall.

169_kitchit maggiemargueriteThe idea is simple: log into the site and sign up for a free membership, then choose your chef. An all-star line-up includes some of New York’s greatest chefs such as Dan Kluger (ABC Kitchen), Floyd Cardoz (North End Grill) and Harold Dieterle ( Perilla and Kin Shop). Founder Brendan Marshall said that he “wants to give chefs a platform to go beyond the four walls of a restaurant.” Next, book one of the packages to suit your needs; whether an informal cocktail party, intimate dinner for six or a family feast for 20, there is a package for every whim. Depending on your dinner, you can assign waiters, bartenders, floral arrangements and more with prices ranging between $40 and $200 per person. Each package description includes a full menu, a detailed overview of the service style, a summary from the chef, detailed pricing information and a full chef bio. Narrow down the choices by price range, date, number of guests, and cuisine. Once you’ve locked in a selection, you can correspond with the chef to request specific ingredients and dishes. Co-founder Ferguson, the website’s creative designer, explains “New Yorker’s love to dine out, but we are giving them a reason to dine-in, in the comfort of their own home, while still having an incredible meal prepared by one of New York City’s best chefs.”

075_kitchit maggiemargueriteKitchit chefs also do pre-planned signature events such as parties with hors d’oeuvres, and some even give private cooking lessons. After the meal is finalized, you can go to Kitchit’s event dashboard to manage your guest invites as well as track RSVP’s. Hand-picked chefs will take care of everything from shopping to clean up and for most events, the chef handles renting equipment, hiring wait staff, and as many of the other details as you want . “Dining is all about spending time with the people you love and our members deserve to be stress-free” said Marshall. “Our mission at Kitchit is to create distinctive and delicious dining experiences that are as memorable as they are effortless.” Another nice feature Kitchit offers is a way to split the check in advance and even sell tickets. “It doesn’t take much work for people to find a rental space, even with something like Airbnb,” said Marshall. “So, if you wanted to, you could basically create your own restaurant and hire the chef.”

So, go ahead and think outside the box; dining-in is the new dining-out. Sit back and let Kitchit create memories to last a lifetime. To meet the chefs and plan your next event, visit www.kitchit.com.  In addition to New York City, Kitchit chefs are available to curate private events on Long Island, including the Hamptons.