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In Transit Blog: A Little Night Snorkeling

Written By wartini cantika on Rabu, 30 April 2014 | 17.35

Scuba divers have long had the opportunity to see nocturnal creatures living among reefs by taking night dive excursions. Now snorkelers can try it too.

Sugar Beach, a Viceroy resort in St. Lucia, is offering night snorkeling to guests of any ability.

A minimum of four snorkelers accompanied by a guide wade in from the resort beach to hover above coral heads just feet offshore where they may spy animals that are normally shy by day, including octopus and eels, as well as colorful parrotfish and phosphorescent microorganisms visible only in darkness that make the water itself seem to glow.

"Night snorkeling has been a huge hit with our guests and has given them the opportunity to explore a whole new world," Vitus Joyeux, Sugar Beach's water sports and dive manager, wrote in an email. "We give everyone an underwater flashlight and lead them on a wonderful voyage of discovery."

For the scuba trained, the resort also offers night diving through its dive center.


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T Magazine: Sign of the Times | Walk, Don’t Run

Travel by foot leaves an imprint on the memory, and slows down time for a precious moment.

To read a book about the pleasures, epiphanies and mettlesome feats someone has accumulated over the course of an incredibly long walk is to be fascinated, jealous and, most of all, incredulous. Who has time to walk, in this overscheduled age? I always seem to be running, not walking, whenever I happen to be at large on two feet, suffused with a cold-sweat adrenaline panic that I'll be late to whatever the next vital thing is, miss the train, the flight, the crucial email, the fateful encounter or just closing time at the grocery store. It's one thing to distractedly click on an Instagram photo or a Facebook note a friend has posted of a breathtaking scene or enviable meal he's scored on a far-flung holiday; that doesn't jolt us from our harried workday routines. We absorb them half-consciously before checking Twitter, then return dutifully to our inboxes. The literature of walking shakes us out of this world set on whir, nudging us into a parallel universe where days are measured not by the messages on the screen, but by the rising and setting of the sun.

Both consolation and inspiration can come from reading the unrushed accounts of observant souls who found a way to live, for a while, in slow motion; on the other hand, those satisfactions are mingled with the mournful recognition that most of us who read these books — and there are so many of them — will never manage to do what their authors did: to slow down and lead a proper, examined human life in the manner of the togaed philosophers, drinking in the natural world and nursing introspective reveries footfall by footfall. Envy kicks in at the thought that anyone, in any era, had the luxury of detaching himself from the daily grind for weeks, months, even years at a time. Are long-distance walkers more antisocial than most people? More enlightened? Or are they just luckier?

In 1988, at the age of 50, the explorer Helen Thayer walked alone (if you don't count her husky dog, Charlie) to the magnetic North Pole, and wrote about it in a book called "Polar Dream." Thirteen years on, not remotely walked-out, she traversed the Mongolian desert, having prepped for the ordeal by trudging across Death Valley (200 miles) and the Sahara (4,000 miles). What induced her to subject herself to this effortful form of hooky? In "Walking the Gobi: A 1,600-Mile Trek Across a Desert of Hope and Despair," she explained, "I yearned to test myself, to push myself to the limit, and to associate with little-known cultures."

There's a more accessible and beguiling charm to be found, I believe, in the variety of walkalogues, written by casual rovers — call them ambulatory amateurs — whose purpose is idiosyncratic, whose rules are loose and who make you feel you could retrace their steps. Ever since Bill Bryson grudgingly trod the Appalachian Trail in 1996 for as long as he could stand it, and wrote about it in "A Walk in the Woods," I've toyed with the idea of bumbling through a bit of that trail, encouraged by the knowledge that giving up is allowed.

But when I read Graham Greene's 1936 book, "Journey Without Maps," about his monthlong walk through the uncharted African country of Liberia, I was so enthralled that I boarded a flight to Ghana and embarked on a walking journey of my own. I published an article or two about it, but never, to my shame, wrote about the most indelible leg of that trip — a detour to track the "Predatory Beast of Penkwasi," whose rampages had occupied the front pages of Ghanaian newspapers during my visit. Even now, when I close my eyes, that expedition, made nearly 20 years ago, unspools in vivid color in my mind. It's as if every step I took had engraved each unfamiliar sight and taste, each interaction with a stranger I'd never see again, onto a reel of memory that cannot be eroded.

Henry David Thoreau, one of the fathers of American nature writing, reproached deskbound people like me in "Walking," one of his thousand exhortations on the virtue of wild rambles, for "sitting with crossed legs" all day long in our workplaces. He marveled that we hadn't "all committed suicide long ago." It's reassuring to know that his untrammeled wanderlust was fed by pies and cookies that his mother and sister cooked for him in their civilized kitchen, a few miles away from his lair in Walden Pond.

Fairly recently, Rory Stewart, a British member of Parliament, made the capricious decision to walk across Afghanistan, from Herat to Kabul, the month after the end of Taliban rule, in the dead of winter. His route, about 600 miles as the convoy rolls, but much longer as the goat walks, would be mountainous, snowy, sparsely populated and mined with dangers. When you read his book, "The Places in Between," you can't help being entertained by the hand-wringing reactions he got from Afghani bureaucrats who clearly wished he would leave them in peace and fly back to England, impressed by his stoicism in the face of armed heavies. On the outset of this journey, Stewart had a walking stick made for himself. As soon as that stick popped up, it was impossible not to think that he must have been emulating Patrick Leigh Fermor, the dashing 20th-century British war hero, famous for kidnapping the Nazi general Heinrich Kreipe on the island of Crete during World War II (and for reciting Horatian odes with his captive the next morning as the sun rose over Mount Ida). In 1933, when Fermor was an 18-year-old ne'er-do-well, unfettered by responsibility, he strolled from the Hook of Holland through Germany and what was then Czechoslovakia, down through Bulgaria and on to Istanbul (which he called Constantinople). Before hopping a steamer to Holland, Fermor had bought a walking stick at a London tobacconist, a "well-balanced ashplant." At each German town he entered, he nailed a different silver badge to this staff, just as in the Cinque Terre today, hikers add a different bead to a necklace to mark each village they've passed. He wrote, "When I lost the stick a month later, already barnacled with 27 of these plaques, it flashed like a silver wand." Seventy years later as Stewart furnished himself with a "well-balanced" broom handle in Herat, onto which, through force of will, he persuaded mystified blacksmiths to weld a metal tip to the bottom and a lead ball at the top, you could envision his heroic forebear. A bemused old man, watching him stride off with his staff, remarked, "You're carrying it for the wolves, I presume."

It took "Paddy" Fermor over 40 years to get around to writing the first volume about his walk, "A Time of Gifts," which followed his "great trudge," as he called it, only as far as the Danube, leaving addicted readers craving the rest of the itinerary. But Fermor could not be rushed: the third and final volume, "The Broken Road: From the Iron Gate to Mount Athos," only emerged last fall, put together posthumously, since Fermor died, at 96, in 2011. The would-be walker who hungrily devours this long-awaited book feels not only gratitude, but wonder. Really, it is proof that any path you break remains yours, no matter how long ago you broke it; the ground you cover on your feet stays with you always, imprinted on your neural pathways. Books like these let us hope that maybe each of us, one day, can take a walk worth remembering.


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In Transit Blog: A Bag in the Overhead Bin? There’s a Charge for That

Looking to save money on a flight? Pack light.

On Monday, Frontier Airlines announced that it would charge for overhead carry-on space on its planes: $25 at the time of booking; $30 during online check-in; $35 during check-in at the airport; and $50 at the gate. (The airline also said it was lowering its fares.)

Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit are among the domestic airlines with fee-based fare structures, with extra charges for amenities like baggage and reserved seating.

Frontier passengers who want to choose their own seat will have to pay a fee of $3 to $8 to claim a standard seat; from $5 to $15 for a select seat, so named for proximity to the front of the plane; and from $15 to $100 for a stretch seat, which offers more legroom; the fee is determined by the plane's route and the time at which the seats were reserved.

Frontier will choose a seat for passengers at no extra cost, but they should not expect to be seated anywhere near the front of the plane, where select and stretch seating options occupy every row through the first exit.

Frontier has been charging customers for checked bags since 2009. Rates now range from $20 to $75, depending on the number of bags checked. In-flight beverages like coffee, tea and bottled water have been $1.99 since last year. Baggage and seating charges will continue to be waived for elite level members of the airline's frequent flier program.

For those who prefer one-stop shopping, an all-inclusive Classic Plus ticket option is available, including a higher, refundable ticket price, one carry-on, one checked bag, a stretch seat and no change fees.

"With an unbundled product, customers can save even more by choosing to pay for only the products that they want, allowing them to customize their flight experience for each and every flight," David Siegel, Frontier's chief executive, said in a press release. "With today's further reduction in Frontier's amazing low fares" — an average of 12 percent less, according to the release — "our customers will find even greater value and our guaranteed lowest fare when they book at FlyFrontier.com."

The airline also has started a travel club called the Frontier Discount Den, which will offer reduced rates on baggage, seating and other deals to members, who must also be part of Frontier's frequent flier program to join. Early enrollment is recommended as the company will eventually be charging applicants a fee to do so.


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T Magazine: By Design | Pop Lighting

Written By wartini cantika on Selasa, 29 April 2014 | 17.35

Trash was the inspiration for Alvaro Catalán de Ocón's vibrant line of pendant lamps, now on display at the Design Museum in London as part of its "Designs of the Year" exhibition. In 2011, while working on a project to combat pollution in Colombia, the Spanish industrial designer came up with the PET collection, its title a playful abbreviation of the polyethylene terephthalate bottles that contain soft drinks and water. He then hired Bogotá artisans to weave colored fibers into the repurposed bottles.

A cluster of them above a dining table, or even just one over a nightstand, adds a welcome punch of color. "When you see the lamp," Catalán de Ocón says, "you can't help but smile."
From $200, petlamp.org.


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T Magazine: Now Booking | A Place for Yoga in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee

A beloved mountainside retreat branches out with a woodsy new spa.

For more than 30 years, Blackberry Farm has been one of Tennessee's best-kept secrets, a tucked-away resort with quaint cottages, delicious farm-to-table meals and majestic views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Come June, it will open Wellhouse, an on-site spa and health center focused around shinrin-yoku, the Japanese belief in a forest's restorative power. In addition to yoga and meditative walks in the woods, Wellhouse will also offer more demanding exercise programs. Spa treatments — from a lemon verbena oil massage to a sheep's milk and honey pedicure — will incorporate a buffet of seasonal fruits and vegetables. And the swinging porch beds in the relaxation room are perfect for an afternoon nap.


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In Transit Blog: A Maine Lighthouse Welcomes Guests

For the first time, the Cuckolds — a pair of granite islands a half mile off the coast of Southport Island, Maine — will be open to guests for overnight stays beginning June 27.

The two-suite luxuriously decorated Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse is inside the 19th-century lighthouse, affording 360-degree ocean views.

A group of local citizens, the Cuckolds Fog Signal and Light Station Council, rescued the property from demolition and restored it over the last decade, restoring the light tower and rebuilding the keeper's house and boathouse to historical specifications, while adding modern materials and building techniques to the inside.

Local and regional businesses donated building materials, design expertise and other resources. The nonprofit Cuckolds Council owns and manages the island.

Guests, who may rent a room or the entire property, will be transported to the Cuckolds in a restored Navy motor whaleboat.

Resident lighthouse keepers will welcome visitors to the island, provide tours of the fully preserved historic Light Tower, serve as concierges and hosts to overnight guests, and help maintain and protect the island and Station.

The innkeepers prepare a full breakfast for guests, and serve afternoon tea each day in the parlor. Lunch and dinner reservations can be made at local restaurants and nearby inns or provided on-island from a selected menu at an additional cost.

Suite rates are $350 to $500 a night with a two-night minimum, while renting the entire private island costs $2,500 to $3,000.


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T Magazine: In Fashion | How Stella Got Her Sheep Back

The designer continues her eco-quest by sourcing wool from animals that lightly graze the Patagonian farmlands.

Earlier this year, Stella McCartney partnered with the Nature Conservancy and Ovis 21, a network of over 160 farmers in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile that aims to undo the effects of more than 100 years of overgrazing due to reckless sheepherding. (Argentina is currently the world's fifth-largest producer of wool.) McCartney sourced much of the wool for the knitwear in her fall collection from these farms, and she hopes to inspire others in the industry to follow suit. "By focusing on a raw material and not a specific fabric, this allows us maximum design flexibility,"she says. "I am proud to be expanding the boundaries of what sustainability can look and feel like."


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T Magazine: In Lagos, the 1% Takes Stock

Written By wartini cantika on Senin, 28 April 2014 | 17.35

A burgeoning wealthy class is settling into one of Africa's fastest-growing cities, attracting designers, world-class architects and a growing creative community that seeks to preserve its culture through art and fashion.

The Land Cruisers and Range Rovers began lining up on a steamy Sunday afternoon outside Tafawa Balewa Square long before sunset. The banking tycoon Otunba Subomi Balogun was hosting his 80th birthday party and nobody wanted to be late, and there was also the matter of inching past the press of beggars living in the square's arcade. Once through a security line, women in gold headdresses and men in white robes disembarked. Balogun lives in a mansion modeled on the White House, furnished entirely in white and gold, and the invitation had asked guests to wear his favorite colors.

Guests sashayed through the tent doors into a scene of surreal opulence. At the far end of the tent, engulfed by servants, courtiers, national politicians and guards with wires in their ears, the celebrant perched beside his wife on a throne covered with white faux fur, his every move broadcast on flat-screens arrayed around the tent walls. From the throne, the founder of the First City Monument Bank (F.C.M.B.) could survey his 1,000 guests, acres of floral arrangements and goldfish ponds brought in for the occasion, and the legion of waiters ferrying Taittinger and Veuve Clicquot and steaming trays of traditional Nigerian stews and rice. Bands and dancers performed in succession, a professional actress emceed and business and blood royalty mingled with state governors and the archbishop of Lagos. Massive cakes, one a replica of Balogun's columned white house, and one designed to match his white Rolls-Royce, were stationed in front of the head table.

Governors began their speeches by acknowledging "the celebrant" and other honored guests whom they referred to as "your royal majesties." The archbishop gave a benediction calling on God's blessings. Another elderly gentleman, a childhood friend of Balogun, croaked out a rendition of "Happy Birthday." In their formality and vocabulary, the speeches came from another era, Victorian perhaps. If a speaker could find a three-syllable word to replace a one-syllable word, he chose it. But nobody paid any attention at all. The younger guests were too busy networking, exchanging business cards and tapping numbers into their phones. Nigerians, I was told, often look like they are partying, but they never stop doing business.

The world may still associate Nigeria with the legendary Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti and online credit card scams, but the nation is now home to one of the wealthiest microcommunities in the world. These global super-elites educate their young in Swiss boarding schools and at Oxford or Princeton, pay cash for luxury homes and cars, and hold major London and New York real estate parcels in their portfolios.

As of last year, Nigeria was the 11th largest oil-producing nation in the world. Otunba Balogun and the men of his generation amassed giant fortunes because they were in the right place and knew the right people when Nigeria began nationalizing its oil in 1971. Home to great petro-fortunes, Lagos is Dallas minus the glittery malls and pedicured blondes – although the shops are starting to come in. It is a city of mind-boggling extremes. The average life expectancy in Nigeria is about 53 years, and citizens rich and poor struggle with hourly power outages and obtain their own potable water, which the poor often carry home on their heads. A small elite live in walled enclaves where palms and bougainvillea shield Porsche collections, new palaces and swimming pools. According to a recent study by New World Wealth, the number of Nigerian millionaires is expected to reach 23,000 by 2017. As in oil-rush Texas, crazy rags to riches stories abound. More than two decades ago, the oil billionaire Folorunsho Alakija, reputedly the second-richest woman in Africa, was a fashion designer with a high-end clientele that included the then-president's wife, Maryam Babangida. The story goes that her connection to Babangida led her to be "dashed," or "gifted" in Nigerian pidgin English, with a license to explore a deep offshore oil block, which was then thought to be too expensive to drill. Today it spews up to 250,000 barrels daily.

The four generations of guests at Balogun's 80th were all as tied to London as to Lagos, but the younger generations have almost no links to the provincial and traditional Nigeria of Balogun's generation. While the "chiefs" – as some of the rich old guys are known, based on Yoruba tradition – still speak Yoruba or one of the many other tribal languages, their kids and grandkids have childhood memories involving blancmange or Yorkshire pudding, not dried plantains. The old chiefs sent their children abroad to be schooled and educated. Now those children are adults and are coming home, lured by business returns and fortunes beyond Wall Street's wildest dreams. The returnees, as they are known, are familiar with the comforts of Western cities, but don't mind generating their own electricity and paying for private water for their homes. They have a toughness their softer counterparts in the global 1 percent lack. One of the returnees who showed up at Balogun's party, Kene Mkparu, 47, earned two advanced degrees in London before coming to Lagos with his wife and small children a few years ago. He co-founded Filmhouse Cinemas, which plans to build 25 theaters in Nigeria in the next six years. His kids don't even notice when the lights flick off. "They just keep on playing," he said. "It's frustrating here, because there isn't a lot of logical thinking. But we are kind of like the Europeans who came here hundreds of years ago. They didn't let the mosquitoes bother them because they were focused on the gold."

Younger Nigerians see uncharted marketing territory and opportunities to link Africa to the West and vice versa. The publicist Ngozi Omambala moved to Lagos in 2007 after working in the music industry in London. Clients she has worked with include the rapper Ice Prince, who won the 2013 BET Award for Best International Act: Africa, and the Nollywood and Hollywood movie star Hakeem Kae-Kazim. The energy and openness of the Nigerian music scene drew her home after years in London. "I kept coming back here on vacations," she said. "And I would go home to London, and began to feel that the music lacked a certain vitality. I found that here. One day I just realized that this is where I belong."

Chinedu Okeke, 29, was born in London and started British boarding school at age 7 (his Nigerian father is a legal advisor for the British government in Abuja). Okeke earned a British law degree and worked in New York, Beijing and Shanghai before moving to Lagos and starting his own branding and production company.

Young producers like Okeke and Omambala have joined the artist and gallery owner Nike Davies Okundaye as part of a small but growing group promoting Nigerian culture within Nigeria. Okundaye, who goes by her first name, Nike, was one of the wives of a polygamous villager when she was discovered by a curator from the American Museum of Natural History for her indigo-batik skills. She eventually left her husband, and has traveled to the United States many times over the years. In 2009, she opened the Nike Centre for Art and Culture on the edge of Lagos, near the sea. Nigerian art covers four stories of walls in the space. She says returnee Nigerians are more likely to collect, filling their offices with indigenous works. "Most Nigerians won't buy art," she said. "They'd rather have a religious icon in their home."

That inclination against art and culture and toward tradition and religion challenges the young, Western-educated returnees, but doesn't deter them all.

"I spent most of my life outside and it's not the best place to live, for many reasons, but it's never going to change if you are not willing to do your own part to create change," Okeke said. "I don't think politics is my thing but I'd rather be involved than complain and be part of the problem." He conceded that the way business is done in Lagos, especially the closed circle of wealth and the official corruption, is discouraging.

Some of the more spectacular incidents of apparent corruption include the late military President Sani Abacha's embezzlement, to the tune of more than $3 billion. He died in 1998, but only in March the United States froze more than $458 million in accounts linked to him. Earlier this year, the Nigerian government said it would audit its petroleum agency after the head of the central bank, who has since been fired, claimed that as much as $20 billion could be missing.

"It's not as easy to come back as people think it is, and it's not for everybody. I have had friends come back who haven't been able to stick it out, there's lots of stress and things don't work the way they should," Okeke said. He recently traveled around Europe and the United States trying to sell a documentary about a Nigerian music festival he produced. For him and some of the younger returnee generation, the lavish spectacles of the old guard are starting to chafe. "The power in Nigeria has remained within the same generation for 40 years. It's not trickling down. Anybody younger who seems to have power is only there because a chief or a general, one of the set, is behind them. We need a lot of development in Nigeria, infrastructure. Nigeria should be feeding itself. But all the technical know-how and the funding needed is international. And those within the continent that have the money don't understand how to develop it."

Still, there are plenty of young people who guiltlessly enjoy the wealth. The chiefs and their wives and children are icons of conspicuous consumption. Nigerian peasants bend on one knee before them. Lagos's billionaires and multimillionaires spend up to $50 million on long-range jets, and Nigeria has one of the fastest-growing markets for private aircraft in the world.

Their children's wild pool parties, drinking binges and $250,000 weekend parties in London are local legend. Precious few from this set would think of walking the streets of Lagos; they cruise through in air-conditioned, locked luxury S.U.V.s, sometimes driven by officers wearing the elephant and red eagle insignia of the national police, who divert traffic if necessary to speed their bosses through snarled traffic. And if Lagos gets too hot, or they can't find a store carrying the Prada bag they want, they fly to Dubai or Cape Town for the weekend.

Luxury companies like Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss and Porsche, noticing this trend, have been opening up shop in Lagos. Since 2008, the Nigerian luxury concept store Temple Muse has sold a variety of African and foreign fashion, home and gift brands, including Givenchy, Emilio Pucci, Saint Laurent, Baccarat and Assouline. The Nigerian designer Reni Folawiyo is soon opening a concept store called Alara, designed by the London-based architect David Adjaye, in a three-story red-pigmented building that encloses a series of suspended platforms and staircases. Alara will showcase Nigerian designers as well as European houses.

"Lagos has always been an important hub in Africa and the world – but it is now emerging as one of the world's foremost metropolitan cities," Adjaye wrote in an email. "The fact that it can sustain a project like Alara, and others like it, is evidence of its growing wealth, recently improved infrastructure and sense of confidence. We are very much looking forward to the project completing and have been doing some feasibility work on other sites in the city. My hope is that we will continue to work there for years to come." Indigenous fashion designers are attracting the same crowd. The growing fashion sector, like Nollywood, is indicative of a nation on the cusp of wider prosperity, explains Omoyemi Akerele, the founder of Style House Files, which organizes Lagos Fashion & Design Week. "Retail is key here," she said. "We need to create opportunities for people to shop. People have nothing. People are returning here, because they see opportunities."

The designer Deola Sagoe has been working in Lagos for more than 20 years. Sagoe, dressed in a royal blue silk wrap blouse and black velvet leggings with a giant aquamarine on one hand, met me in her store, a two-story sleek glass building located in bustling Victoria Island. Even though the district is one of the wealthier areas, many of the streets are rutted and the sidewalks cracked – if they are there at all. She consults with clients in a room with French velvet-upholstered chairs, and then leads them back into her studio, with walls of fabric she designs and has handmade in Nigerian villages on 11th-century looms. The traditional fabrics share wall space with newer pieces she designs, like deep blue indigo-dyed silks, that she uses to create garments with an Afro-Asian-Italian aesthetic.

Sagoe, the daughter of a major Nigerian industrialist, grew up traveling frequently to Italy and Japan and went to college in the United States. She took up fashion against the wishes of her father, who – like all Nigerian parents, she said – wanted his children to go into business and make money. Until quite recently, she noted, fashion was looked down upon as a career in her set. Wealthy Nigerian women only went to Nigerian designers for traditional gowns and headdresses needed for formal affairs.

Sagoe – and other Nigerian designers who've come after her – are changing that culture. "People used to go to Paris and buy, but not buy it here," Sagoe said. "If they did, they would haggle about the price, because there wasn't a tradition of fashion, but of tailors." She employs hand-weavers and dyers in remote villages, but she can't produce clothes on a larger scale inside Nigeria, because the substandard power grid can't support factories. Nonetheless, she brought her three daughters into the business, and is expanding. "Africa is my foundation," she said. "Nigerians are expressive and proud. Looking good is good business."

The designer Amaka Osakwe, 28, caught the attention of the judges of the inaugural LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize this year with her sleek silhouettes that merge traditional symbols and craftsmanship with modern looks. "Each piece has a meaning," she wrote in an email about her line, called Maki Oh, which placed in the competition's semifinals. "Traditionally, the colors, embellishments, motifs, etc. of garments were used to pass messages. For example, a piece of Adire cloth with the traditional Adire motif called 'Mat' (which features hand-drawn lines which to the untrained eye may resemble a checkered pattern) was often presented as a wedding gift." The pattern, she continued, symbolized the hope "that the couple may be blessed with children shortly after they lay on a mat/bed in their home. This notion of passing messages through garments is what we consider when we decide the length of a skirt, the motif, the color of an embellishment. This is why research is key."

Maki Oh, Deola Sagoe and Folake Folarin-Coker, the designer behind Nigeria's thriving Tiffany Amber brand, exist to serve the wives, daughters and girlfriends of the business titans and wealthy returnees like the 49-year-old television talk-show host Mo Abudu, a former oil company human resources executive now known as the "Oprah of Africa." Abudu, who was born in London and educated in Britain, moved to Lagos a few years after she got married. She started her talk show in 2006, and has interviewed the likes of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, but she's chiefly an unabashed Africa-promoter. She recently launched a pan-African television network, EbonyLife TV.

When we met for lunch, Abudu, who calls herself an Afro-politan media entrepreneur, was accessorized in Saint Laurent platforms and a Birkin bag.

Abudu said she's living in Lagos because "it's Africa's time" now. "Westerners are more interested in war, genocide, rape and H.I.V.," she said. "You would think if you listened to Western media that every other person in Africa has H.I.V. For me, that's boring. And there's a business angle. African brands must recognize that if you want to be global, your environment must be considered with respect.

"Everything in Africa is so virgin right now. There is so much interest. Big media are all putting together their Africa strategy. We love American movies, but want to see our stories. Their approach to Africa is like, we want to go to the moon. Don't make us look shallow and all about the money. There's a lot of hard work going on."

Abudu and other Nigerian returnees know their country's reputation isn't getting any better. Polio remains endemic in the northern states, where several vaccination workers were killed in attacks last February that were thought to have been carried out by the extremist sect Boko Haram. The group, whose name means "Western education is forbidden," also claimed responsibility for a bus station bombing that killed dozens last week in the capital city of Abuja, and is suspected in the kidnapping of about 200 schoolgirls from a northeastern town a day later.

"This country has the biggest G.D.P. in Africa," one oil industry expat said at the Lagos Yacht Club, a hangout where British and Nigerian sailors sip gin and tonics. "But no 24-hour power. Where is it? The scale and quantity of what has happened here is tragic. The people are fundamentally peaceful. They just want the basics – water and power."

One young investment banker educated in the United States who had worked on Wall Street traded in his suit for the traditional linen gown and trousers, and now works in his family's investment firm in Lagos. He pointed out that some of Nigeria's problems stem from the newness and insecurity of the private fortunes. "This level of wealth is a generation deep," he said. "You have a Lamborghini. Where do you drive it? The roads are terrible. You take it out on Sundays and carefully drive it to a hotel for lunch, then bring it home."

The culture of philanthropy is growing among Nigerians and the great chiefs do return some of their fortunes to the people. Banker Balogun donated one of the largest pediatric hospitals in Africa to the medical school of the Universtiy of Ibadan. Africa's wealthiest businessman, the billionaire cement mogul Aliko Dangote, has donated significant sums to programs to build Nigerian small businesses, and he gave millions to help Nigerian flood victims.

I asked Balogun whether returning elites might portend improvements in Nigerian infrastructure and social welfare. He said the country's problems stem from a postcolonial backlash against foreign involvement.

"I'm 80, so I can give you my views without fear," he said. "The country needs a thorough transformation. After independence, we used to think the best thing was to get Nigerians into the commanding heights. We started with what I call a morbid dislike for foreign acquisition of what we believed was our own enterprise. It would be good if we could move away from that and allow highly reputed, successful business entrepreneurs to partner with us in developing the whole place."

Chief Sonny Iwedike Odogwu invited me in for an audience at his labyrinthine gated palace with hand-tooled Moroccan filigree ceilings, on the palm-lined but rutted Queen's Drive. On the day we pulled up to the guard house, a water main was broken on the street, and we splashed through a foot of muddy water as we pulled up. Like Balogun, Odogwu is also in his 80s, and made his fortune as the oil and gas industry developed. He founded one of the first Nigerian insurance brokerages (Dyson & Diket), and insured the oil sector's assets. On the day we met, he wore a spotless, starched white linen robe with gold threads, and was perched on a long couch in one of the grand sitting rooms in his mansion (a room in the basement seats 700), considering the pleas of a pair of women from the fashion council, who were proposing that he finance a Brazilian-Nigerian fashion expo they wanted to attend.

Odogwu, like many of the old guard, is a very religious man. He has donated millions to the Catholic Church and is particularly proud of photographs of him and his wife in the Vatican earlier this year, renewing their marriage vows in front of Pope Francis. He believes they are the first African couple to have the Pope officiate at a marriage renewal ceremony.

I asked him whether he thought the vast fortunes he and his friends control would or should trickle down to develop Nigeria. Odogwu suggested that religion – not politics – was the answer to problems with Nigeria's wealth distribution issues. "There are lots of religious organizations here," he said. "They do a lot and we give them a lot of money. Instead of telling people what they don't have, they help them out of their frustration, and make them believe that their way of life is better than in the west." Spiritual balm for the masses, he said, was one good reason for him and his fellow elites to pile the collection plate high on Sundays.


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

T Magazine: In Lagos, the 1% Takes Stock

Written By wartini cantika on Minggu, 27 April 2014 | 17.36

A burgeoning wealthy class is settling into one of Africa's fastest-growing cities, attracting designers, world-class architects and a growing creative community that seeks to preserve its culture through art and fashion.

The Land Cruisers and Range Rovers began lining up on a steamy Sunday afternoon outside Tafawa Balewa Square long before sunset. The banking tycoon Otunba Subomi Balogun was hosting his 80th birthday party and nobody wanted to be late, and there was also the matter of inching past the press of beggars living in the square's arcade. Once through a security line, women in gold headdresses and men in white robes disembarked. Balogun lives in a mansion modeled on the White House, furnished entirely in white and gold, and the invitation had asked guests to wear his favorite colors.

Guests sashayed through the tent doors into a scene of surreal opulence. At the far end of the tent, engulfed by servants, courtiers, national politicians and guards with wires in their ears, the celebrant perched beside his wife on a throne covered with white faux fur, his every move broadcast on flat-screens arrayed around the tent walls. From the throne, the founder of the First City Monument Bank (F.C.M.B.) could survey his 1,000 guests, acres of floral arrangements and goldfish ponds brought in for the occasion, and the legion of waiters ferrying Taittinger and Veuve Clicquot and steaming trays of traditional Nigerian stews and rice. Bands and dancers performed in succession, a professional actress emceed and business and blood royalty mingled with state governors and the archbishop of Lagos. Massive cakes, one a replica of Balogun's columned white house, and one designed to match his white Rolls-Royce, were stationed in front of the head table.

Governors began their speeches by acknowledging "the celebrant" and other honored guests whom they referred to as "your royal majesties." The archbishop gave a benediction calling on God's blessings. Another elderly gentleman, a childhood friend of Balogun, croaked out a rendition of "Happy Birthday." In their formality and vocabulary, the speeches came from another era, Victorian perhaps. If a speaker could find a three-syllable word to replace a one-syllable word, he chose it. But nobody paid any attention at all. The younger guests were too busy networking, exchanging business cards and tapping numbers into their phones. Nigerians, I was told, often look like they are partying, but they never stop doing business.

The world may still associate Nigeria with the legendary Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti and online credit card scams, but the nation is now home to one of the wealthiest microcommunities in the world. These global super-elites educate their young in Swiss boarding schools and at Oxford or Princeton, pay cash for luxury homes and cars, and hold major London and New York real estate parcels in their portfolios.

As of last year, Nigeria was the 11th largest oil-producing nation in the world. Otunba Balogun and the men of his generation amassed giant fortunes because they were in the right place and knew the right people when Nigeria began nationalizing its oil in 1971. Home to great petro-fortunes, Lagos is Dallas minus the glittery malls and pedicured blondes – although the shops are starting to come in. It is a city of mind-boggling extremes. The average life expectancy in Nigeria is about 53 years, and citizens rich and poor struggle with hourly power outages and obtain their own potable water, which the poor often carry home on their heads. A small elite live in walled enclaves where palms and bougainvillea shield Porsche collections, new palaces and swimming pools. According to a recent study by New World Wealth, the number of Nigerian millionaires is expected to reach 23,000 by 2017. As in oil-rush Texas, crazy rags to riches stories abound. More than two decades ago, the oil billionaire Folorunsho Alakija, reputedly the second-richest woman in Africa, was a fashion designer with a high-end clientele that included the then-president's wife, Maryam Babangida. The story goes that her connection to Babangida led her to be "dashed," or "gifted" in Nigerian pidgin English, with a license to explore a deep offshore oil block, which was then thought to be too expensive to drill. Today it spews up to 250,000 barrels daily.

The four generations of guests at Balogun's 80th were all as tied to London as to Lagos, but the younger generations have almost no links to the provincial and traditional Nigeria of Balogun's generation. While the "chiefs" – as some of the rich old guys are known, based on Yoruba tradition – still speak Yoruba or one of the many other tribal languages, their kids and grandkids have childhood memories involving blancmange or Yorkshire pudding, not dried plantains. The old chiefs sent their children abroad to be schooled and educated. Now those children are adults and are coming home, lured by business returns and fortunes beyond Wall Street's wildest dreams. The returnees, as they are known, are familiar with the comforts of Western cities, but don't mind generating their own electricity and paying for private water for their homes. They have a toughness their softer counterparts in the global 1 percent lack. One of the returnees who showed up at Balogun's party, Kene Mkparu, 47, earned two advanced degrees in London before coming to Lagos with his wife and small children a few years ago. He co-founded Filmhouse Cinemas, which plans to build 25 theaters in Nigeria in the next six years. His kids don't even notice when the lights flick off. "They just keep on playing," he said. "It's frustrating here, because there isn't a lot of logical thinking. But we are kind of like the Europeans who came here hundreds of years ago. They didn't let the mosquitoes bother them because they were focused on the gold."

Younger Nigerians see uncharted marketing territory and opportunities to link Africa to the West and vice versa. The publicist Ngozi Omambala moved to Lagos in 2007 after working in the music industry in London. Clients she has worked with include the rapper Ice Prince, who won the 2013 BET Award for Best International Act: Africa, and the Nollywood and Hollywood movie star Hakeem Kae-Kazim. The energy and openness of the Nigerian music scene drew her home after years in London. "I kept coming back here on vacations," she said. "And I would go home to London, and began to feel that the music lacked a certain vitality. I found that here. One day I just realized that this is where I belong."

Chinedu Okeke, 29, was born in London and started British boarding school at age 7 (his Nigerian father is a legal advisor for the British government in Abuja). Okeke earned a British law degree and worked in New York, Beijing and Shanghai before moving to Lagos and starting his own branding and production company.

Young producers like Okeke and Omambala have joined the artist and gallery owner Nike Davies Okundaye as part of a small but growing group promoting Nigerian culture within Nigeria. Okundaye, who goes by her first name, Nike, was one of the wives of a polygamous villager when she was discovered by a curator from the American Museum of Natural History for her indigo-batik skills. She eventually left her husband, and has traveled to the United States many times over the years. In 2009, she opened the Nike Centre for Art and Culture on the edge of Lagos, near the sea. Nigerian art covers four stories of walls in the space. She says returnee Nigerians are more likely to collect, filling their offices with indigenous works. "Most Nigerians won't buy art," she said. "They'd rather have a religious icon in their home."

That inclination against art and culture and toward tradition and religion challenges the young, Western-educated returnees, but doesn't deter them all.

"I spent most of my life outside and it's not the best place to live, for many reasons, but it's never going to change if you are not willing to do your own part to create change," Okeke said. "I don't think politics is my thing but I'd rather be involved than complain and be part of the problem." He conceded that the way business is done in Lagos, especially the closed circle of wealth and the official corruption, is discouraging.

Some of the more spectacular incidents of apparent corruption include the late military President Sani Abacha's embezzlement, to the tune of more than $3 billion. He died in 1998, but only in March the United States froze more than $458 million in accounts linked to him. Earlier this year, the Nigerian government said it would audit its petroleum agency after the head of the central bank, who has since been fired, claimed that as much as $20 billion could be missing.

"It's not as easy to come back as people think it is, and it's not for everybody. I have had friends come back who haven't been able to stick it out, there's lots of stress and things don't work the way they should," Okeke said. He recently traveled around Europe and the United States trying to sell a documentary about a Nigerian music festival he produced. For him and some of the younger returnee generation, the lavish spectacles of the old guard are starting to chafe. "The power in Nigeria has remained within the same generation for 40 years. It's not trickling down. Anybody younger who seems to have power is only there because a chief or a general, one of the set, is behind them. We need a lot of development in Nigeria, infrastructure. Nigeria should be feeding itself. But all the technical know-how and the funding needed is international. And those within the continent that have the money don't understand how to develop it."

Still, there are plenty of young people who guiltlessly enjoy the wealth. The chiefs and their wives and children are icons of conspicuous consumption. Nigerian peasants bend on one knee before them. Lagos's billionaires and multimillionaires spend up to $50 million on long-range jets, and Nigeria has one of the fastest-growing markets for private aircraft in the world.

Their children's wild pool parties, drinking binges and $250,000 weekend parties in London are local legend. Precious few from this set would think of walking the streets of Lagos; they cruise through in air-conditioned, locked luxury S.U.V.s, sometimes driven by officers wearing the elephant and red eagle insignia of the national police, who divert traffic if necessary to speed their bosses through snarled traffic. And if Lagos gets too hot, or they can't find a store carrying the Prada bag they want, they fly to Dubai or Cape Town for the weekend.

Luxury companies like Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss and Porsche, noticing this trend, have been opening up shop in Lagos. Since 2008, the Nigerian luxury concept store Temple Muse has sold a variety of African and foreign fashion, home and gift brands, including Givenchy, Emilio Pucci, Saint Laurent, Baccarat and Assouline. The Nigerian designer Reni Folawiyo is soon opening a concept store called Alara, designed by the London-based architect David Adjaye, in a three-story red-pigmented building that encloses a series of suspended platforms and staircases. Alara will showcase Nigerian designers as well as European houses.

"Lagos has always been an important hub in Africa and the world – but it is now emerging as one of the world's foremost metropolitan cities," Adjaye wrote in an email. "The fact that it can sustain a project like Alara, and others like it, is evidence of its growing wealth, recently improved infrastructure and sense of confidence. We are very much looking forward to the project completing and have been doing some feasibility work on other sites in the city. My hope is that we will continue to work there for years to come." Indigenous fashion designers are attracting the same crowd. The growing fashion sector, like Nollywood, is indicative of a nation on the cusp of wider prosperity, explains Omoyemi Akerele, the founder of Style House Files, which organizes Lagos Fashion & Design Week. "Retail is key here," she said. "We need to create opportunities for people to shop. People have nothing. People are returning here, because they see opportunities."

The designer Deola Sagoe has been working in Lagos for more than 20 years. Sagoe, dressed in a royal blue silk wrap blouse and black velvet leggings with a giant aquamarine on one hand, met me in her store, a two-story sleek glass building located in bustling Victoria Island. Even though the district is one of the wealthier areas, many of the streets are rutted and the sidewalks cracked – if they are there at all. She consults with clients in a room with French velvet-upholstered chairs, and then leads them back into her studio, with walls of fabric she designs and has handmade in Nigerian villages on 11th-century looms. The traditional fabrics share wall space with newer pieces she designs, like deep blue indigo-dyed silks, that she uses to create garments with an Afro-Asian-Italian aesthetic.

Sagoe, the daughter of a major Nigerian industrialist, grew up traveling frequently to Italy and Japan and went to college in the United States. She took up fashion against the wishes of her father, who – like all Nigerian parents, she said – wanted his children to go into business and make money. Until quite recently, she noted, fashion was looked down upon as a career in her set. Wealthy Nigerian women only went to Nigerian designers for traditional gowns and headdresses needed for formal affairs.

Sagoe – and other Nigerian designers who've come after her – are changing that culture. "People used to go to Paris and buy, but not buy it here," Sagoe said. "If they did, they would haggle about the price, because there wasn't a tradition of fashion, but of tailors." She employs hand-weavers and dyers in remote villages, but she can't produce clothes on a larger scale inside Nigeria, because the substandard power grid can't support factories. Nonetheless, she brought her three daughters into the business, and is expanding. "Africa is my foundation," she said. "Nigerians are expressive and proud. Looking good is good business."

The designer Amaka Osakwe, 28, caught the attention of the judges of the inaugural LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize this year with her sleek silhouettes that merge traditional symbols and craftsmanship with modern looks. "Each piece has a meaning," she wrote in an email about her line, called Maki Oh, which placed in the competition's semifinals. "Traditionally, the colors, embellishments, motifs, etc. of garments were used to pass messages. For example, a piece of Adire cloth with the traditional Adire motif called 'Mat' (which features hand-drawn lines which to the untrained eye may resemble a checkered pattern) was often presented as a wedding gift." The pattern, she continued, symbolized the hope "that the couple may be blessed with children shortly after they lay on a mat/bed in their home. This notion of passing messages through garments is what we consider when we decide the length of a skirt, the motif, the color of an embellishment. This is why research is key."

Maki Oh, Deola Sagoe and Folake Folarin-Coker, the designer behind Nigeria's thriving Tiffany Amber brand, exist to serve the wives, daughters and girlfriends of the business titans and wealthy returnees like the 49-year-old television talk-show host Mo Abudu, a former oil company human resources executive now known as the "Oprah of Africa." Abudu, who was born in London and educated in Britain, moved to Lagos a few years after she got married. She started her talk show in 2006, and has interviewed the likes of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, but she's chiefly an unabashed Africa-promoter. She recently launched a pan-African television network, EbonyLife TV.

When we met for lunch, Abudu, who calls herself an Afro-politan media entrepreneur, was accessorized in Saint Laurent platforms and a Birkin bag.

Abudu said she's living in Lagos because "it's Africa's time" now. "Westerners are more interested in war, genocide, rape and H.I.V.," she said. "You would think if you listened to Western media that every other person in Africa has H.I.V. For me, that's boring. And there's a business angle. African brands must recognize that if you want to be global, your environment must be considered with respect.

"Everything in Africa is so virgin right now. There is so much interest. Big media are all putting together their Africa strategy. We love American movies, but want to see our stories. Their approach to Africa is like, we want to go to the moon. Don't make us look shallow and all about the money. There's a lot of hard work going on."

Abudu and other Nigerian returnees know their country's reputation isn't getting any better. Polio remains endemic in the northern states, where several vaccination workers were killed in attacks last February that were thought to have been carried out by the extremist sect Boko Haram. The group, whose name means "Western education is forbidden," also claimed responsibility for a bus station bombing that killed dozens last week in the capital city of Abuja, and is suspected in the kidnapping of about 200 schoolgirls from a northeastern town a day later.

"This country has the biggest G.D.P. in Africa," one oil industry expat said at the Lagos Yacht Club, a hangout where British and Nigerian sailors sip gin and tonics. "But no 24-hour power. Where is it? The scale and quantity of what has happened here is tragic. The people are fundamentally peaceful. They just want the basics – water and power."

One young investment banker educated in the United States who had worked on Wall Street traded in his suit for the traditional linen gown and trousers, and now works in his family's investment firm in Lagos. He pointed out that some of Nigeria's problems stem from the newness and insecurity of the private fortunes. "This level of wealth is a generation deep," he said. "You have a Lamborghini. Where do you drive it? The roads are terrible. You take it out on Sundays and carefully drive it to a hotel for lunch, then bring it home."

The culture of philanthropy is growing among Nigerians and the great chiefs do return some of their fortunes to the people. Banker Balogun donated one of the largest pediatric hospitals in Africa to the medical school of the Universtiy of Ibadan. Africa's wealthiest businessman, the billionaire cement mogul Aliko Dangote, has donated significant sums to programs to build Nigerian small businesses, and he gave millions to help Nigerian flood victims.

I asked Balogun whether returning elites might portend improvements in Nigerian infrastructure and social welfare. He said the country's problems stem from a postcolonial backlash against foreign involvement.

"I'm 80, so I can give you my views without fear," he said. "The country needs a thorough transformation. After independence, we used to think the best thing was to get Nigerians into the commanding heights. We started with what I call a morbid dislike for foreign acquisition of what we believed was our own enterprise. It would be good if we could move away from that and allow highly reputed, successful business entrepreneurs to partner with us in developing the whole place."

Chief Sonny Iwedike Odogwu invited me in for an audience at his labyrinthine gated palace with hand-tooled Moroccan filigree ceilings, on the palm-lined but rutted Queen's Drive. On the day we pulled up to the guard house, a water main was broken on the street, and we splashed through a foot of muddy water as we pulled up. Like Balogun, Odogwu is also in his 80s, and made his fortune as the oil and gas industry developed. He founded one of the first Nigerian insurance brokerages (Dyson & Diket), and insured the oil sector's assets. On the day we met, he wore a spotless, starched white linen robe with gold threads, and was perched on a long couch in one of the grand sitting rooms in his mansion (a room in the basement seats 700), considering the pleas of a pair of women from the fashion council, who were proposing that he finance a Brazilian-Nigerian fashion expo they wanted to attend.

Odogwu, like many of the old guard, is a very religious man. He has donated millions to the Catholic Church and is particularly proud of photographs of him and his wife in the Vatican earlier this year, renewing their marriage vows in front of Pope Francis. He believes they are the first African couple to have the Pope officiate at a marriage renewal ceremony.

I asked him whether he thought the vast fortunes he and his friends control would or should trickle down to develop Nigeria. Odogwu suggested that religion – not politics – was the answer to problems with Nigeria's wealth distribution issues. "There are lots of religious organizations here," he said. "They do a lot and we give them a lot of money. Instead of telling people what they don't have, they help them out of their frustration, and make them believe that their way of life is better than in the west." Spiritual balm for the masses, he said, was one good reason for him and his fellow elites to pile the collection plate high on Sundays.


17.36 | 0 komentar | Read More

T Magazine: In Lagos, the 1% Takes Stock

Written By wartini cantika on Sabtu, 26 April 2014 | 17.35

A burgeoning wealthy class is settling into one of Africa's fastest-growing cities, attracting designers, world-class architects and a growing creative community that seeks to preserve its culture through art and fashion.

The Land Cruisers and Range Rovers began lining up on a steamy Sunday afternoon outside Tafawa Balewa Square long before sunset. The banking tycoon Otunba Subomi Balogun was hosting his 80th birthday party and nobody wanted to be late, and there was also the matter of inching past the press of beggars living in the square's arcade. Once through a security line, women in gold headdresses and men in white robes disembarked. Balogun lives in a mansion modeled on the White House, furnished entirely in white and gold, and the invitation had asked guests to wear his favorite colors.

Guests sashayed through the tent doors into a scene of surreal opulence. At the far end of the tent, engulfed by servants, courtiers, national politicians and guards with wires in their ears, the celebrant perched beside his wife on a throne covered with white faux fur, his every move broadcast on flat-screens arrayed around the tent walls. From the throne, the founder of the First City Monument Bank (F.C.M.B.) could survey his 1,000 guests, acres of floral arrangements and goldfish ponds brought in for the occasion, and the legion of waiters ferrying Taittinger and Veuve Clicquot and steaming trays of traditional Nigerian stews and rice. Bands and dancers performed in succession, a professional actress emceed and business and blood royalty mingled with state governors and the archbishop of Lagos. Massive cakes, one a replica of Balogun's columned white house, and one designed to match his white Rolls-Royce, were stationed in front of the head table.

Governors began their speeches by acknowledging "the celebrant" and other honored guests whom they referred to as "your royal majesties." The archbishop gave a benediction calling on God's blessings. Another elderly gentleman, a childhood friend of Balogun, croaked out a rendition of "Happy Birthday." In their formality and vocabulary, the speeches came from another era, Victorian perhaps. If a speaker could find a three-syllable word to replace a one-syllable word, he chose it. But nobody paid any attention at all. The younger guests were too busy networking, exchanging business cards and tapping numbers into their phones. Nigerians, I was told, often look like they are partying, but they never stop doing business.

The world may still associate Nigeria with the legendary Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti and online credit card scams, but the nation is now home to one of the wealthiest microcommunities in the world. These global super-elites educate their young in Swiss boarding schools and at Oxford or Princeton, pay cash for luxury homes and cars, and hold major London and New York real estate parcels in their portfolios.

As of last year, Nigeria was the 11th largest oil-producing nation in the world. Otunba Balogun and the men of his generation amassed giant fortunes because they were in the right place and knew the right people when Nigeria began nationalizing its oil in 1971. Home to great petro-fortunes, Lagos is Dallas minus the glittery malls and pedicured blondes – although the shops are starting to come in. It is a city of mind-boggling extremes. The average life expectancy in Nigeria is about 53 years, and citizens rich and poor struggle with hourly power outages and obtain their own potable water, which the poor often carry home on their heads. A small elite live in walled enclaves where palms and bougainvillea shield Porsche collections, new palaces and swimming pools. According to a recent study by New World Wealth, the number of Nigerian millionaires is expected to reach 23,000 by 2017. As in oil-rush Texas, crazy rags to riches stories abound. More than two decades ago, the oil billionaire Folorunsho Alakija, reputedly the second-richest woman in Africa, was a fashion designer with a high-end clientele that included the then-president's wife, Maryam Babangida. The story goes that her connection to Babangida led her to be "dashed," or "gifted" in Nigerian pidgin English, with a license to explore a deep offshore oil block, which was then thought to be too expensive to drill. Today it spews up to 250,000 barrels daily.

The four generations of guests at Balogun's 80th were all as tied to London as to Lagos, but the younger generations have almost no links to the provincial and traditional Nigeria of Balogun's generation. While the "chiefs" – as some of the rich old guys are known, based on Yoruba tradition – still speak Yoruba or one of the many other tribal languages, their kids and grandkids have childhood memories involving blancmange or Yorkshire pudding, not dried plantains. The old chiefs sent their children abroad to be schooled and educated. Now those children are adults and are coming home, lured by business returns and fortunes beyond Wall Street's wildest dreams. The returnees, as they are known, are familiar with the comforts of Western cities, but don't mind generating their own electricity and paying for private water for their homes. They have a toughness their softer counterparts in the global 1 percent lack. One of the returnees who showed up at Balogun's party, Kene Mkparu, 47, earned two advanced degrees in London before coming to Lagos with his wife and small children a few years ago. He co-founded Filmhouse Cinemas, which plans to build 25 theaters in Nigeria in the next six years. His kids don't even notice when the lights flick off. "They just keep on playing," he said. "It's frustrating here, because there isn't a lot of logical thinking. But we are kind of like the Europeans who came here hundreds of years ago. They didn't let the mosquitoes bother them because they were focused on the gold."

Younger Nigerians see uncharted marketing territory and opportunities to link Africa to the West and vice versa. The publicist Ngozi Omambala moved to Lagos in 2007 after working in the music industry in London. Clients she has worked with include the rapper Ice Prince, who won the 2013 BET Award for Best International Act: Africa, and the Nollywood and Hollywood movie star Hakeem Kae-Kazim. The energy and openness of the Nigerian music scene drew her home after years in London. "I kept coming back here on vacations," she said. "And I would go home to London, and began to feel that the music lacked a certain vitality. I found that here. One day I just realized that this is where I belong."

Chinedu Okeke, 29, was born in London and started British boarding school at age 7 (his Nigerian father is a legal advisor for the British government in Abuja). Okeke earned a British law degree and worked in New York, Beijing and Shanghai before moving to Lagos and starting his own branding and production company.

Young producers like Okeke and Omambala have joined the artist and gallery owner Nike Davies Okundaye as part of a small but growing group promoting Nigerian culture within Nigeria. Okundaye, who goes by her first name, Nike, was one of the wives of a polygamous villager when she was discovered by a curator from the American Museum of Natural History for her indigo-batik skills. She eventually left her husband, and has traveled to the United States many times over the years. In 2009, she opened the Nike Centre for Art and Culture on the edge of Lagos, near the sea. Nigerian art covers four stories of walls in the space. She says returnee Nigerians are more likely to collect, filling their offices with indigenous works. "Most Nigerians won't buy art," she said. "They'd rather have a religious icon in their home."

That inclination against art and culture and toward tradition and religion challenges the young, Western-educated returnees, but doesn't deter them all.

"I spent most of my life outside and it's not the best place to live, for many reasons, but it's never going to change if you are not willing to do your own part to create change," Okeke said. "I don't think politics is my thing but I'd rather be involved than complain and be part of the problem." He conceded that the way business is done in Lagos, especially the closed circle of wealth and the official corruption, is discouraging.

Some of the more spectacular incidents of apparent corruption include the late military President Sani Abacha's embezzlement, to the tune of more than $3 billion. He died in 1998, but only in March the United States froze more than $458 million in accounts linked to him. Earlier this year, the Nigerian government said it would audit its petroleum agency after the head of the central bank, who has since been fired, claimed that as much as $20 billion could be missing.

"It's not as easy to come back as people think it is, and it's not for everybody. I have had friends come back who haven't been able to stick it out, there's lots of stress and things don't work the way they should," Okeke said. He recently traveled around Europe and the United States trying to sell a documentary about a Nigerian music festival he produced. For him and some of the younger returnee generation, the lavish spectacles of the old guard are starting to chafe. "The power in Nigeria has remained within the same generation for 40 years. It's not trickling down. Anybody younger who seems to have power is only there because a chief or a general, one of the set, is behind them. We need a lot of development in Nigeria, infrastructure. Nigeria should be feeding itself. But all the technical know-how and the funding needed is international. And those within the continent that have the money don't understand how to develop it."

Still, there are plenty of young people who guiltlessly enjoy the wealth. The chiefs and their wives and children are icons of conspicuous consumption. Nigerian peasants bend on one knee before them. Lagos's billionaires and multimillionaires spend up to $50 million on long-range jets, and Nigeria has one of the fastest-growing markets for private aircraft in the world.

Their children's wild pool parties, drinking binges and $250,000 weekend parties in London are local legend. Precious few from this set would think of walking the streets of Lagos; they cruise through in air-conditioned, locked luxury S.U.V.s, sometimes driven by officers wearing the elephant and red eagle insignia of the national police, who divert traffic if necessary to speed their bosses through snarled traffic. And if Lagos gets too hot, or they can't find a store carrying the Prada bag they want, they fly to Dubai or Cape Town for the weekend.

Luxury companies like Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss and Porsche, noticing this trend, have been opening up shop in Lagos. Since 2008, the Nigerian luxury concept store Temple Muse has sold a variety of African and foreign fashion, home and gift brands, including Givenchy, Emilio Pucci, Saint Laurent, Baccarat and Assouline. The Nigerian designer Reni Folawiyo is soon opening a concept store called Alara, designed by the London-based architect David Adjaye, in a three-story red-pigmented building that encloses a series of suspended platforms and staircases. Alara will showcase Nigerian designers as well as European houses.

"Lagos has always been an important hub in Africa and the world – but it is now emerging as one of the world's foremost metropolitan cities," Adjaye wrote in an email. "The fact that it can sustain a project like Alara, and others like it, is evidence of its growing wealth, recently improved infrastructure and sense of confidence. We are very much looking forward to the project completing and have been doing some feasibility work on other sites in the city. My hope is that we will continue to work there for years to come." Indigenous fashion designers are attracting the same crowd. The growing fashion sector, like Nollywood, is indicative of a nation on the cusp of wider prosperity, explains Omoyemi Akerele, the founder of Style House Files, which organizes Lagos Fashion & Design Week. "Retail is key here," she said. "We need to create opportunities for people to shop. People have nothing. People are returning here, because they see opportunities."

The designer Deola Sagoe has been working in Lagos for more than 20 years. Sagoe, dressed in a royal blue silk wrap blouse and black velvet leggings with a giant aquamarine on one hand, met me in her store, a two-story sleek glass building located in bustling Victoria Island. Even though the district is one of the wealthier areas, many of the streets are rutted and the sidewalks cracked – if they are there at all. She consults with clients in a room with French velvet-upholstered chairs, and then leads them back into her studio, with walls of fabric she designs and has handmade in Nigerian villages on 11th-century looms. The traditional fabrics share wall space with newer pieces she designs, like deep blue indigo-dyed silks, that she uses to create garments with an Afro-Asian-Italian aesthetic.

Sagoe, the daughter of a major Nigerian industrialist, grew up traveling frequently to Italy and Japan and went to college in the United States. She took up fashion against the wishes of her father, who – like all Nigerian parents, she said – wanted his children to go into business and make money. Until quite recently, she noted, fashion was looked down upon as a career in her set. Wealthy Nigerian women only went to Nigerian designers for traditional gowns and headdresses needed for formal affairs.

Sagoe – and other Nigerian designers who've come after her – are changing that culture. "People used to go to Paris and buy, but not buy it here," Sagoe said. "If they did, they would haggle about the price, because there wasn't a tradition of fashion, but of tailors." She employs hand-weavers and dyers in remote villages, but she can't produce clothes on a larger scale inside Nigeria, because the substandard power grid can't support factories. Nonetheless, she brought her three daughters into the business, and is expanding. "Africa is my foundation," she said. "Nigerians are expressive and proud. Looking good is good business."

The designer Amaka Osakwe, 28, caught the attention of the judges of the inaugural LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize this year with her sleek silhouettes that merge traditional symbols and craftsmanship with modern looks. "Each piece has a meaning," she wrote in an email about her line, called Maki Oh, which placed in the competition's semifinals. "Traditionally, the colors, embellishments, motifs, etc. of garments were used to pass messages. For example, a piece of Adire cloth with the traditional Adire motif called 'Mat' (which features hand-drawn lines which to the untrained eye may resemble a checkered pattern) was often presented as a wedding gift." The pattern, she continued, symbolized the hope "that the couple may be blessed with children shortly after they lay on a mat/bed in their home. This notion of passing messages through garments is what we consider when we decide the length of a skirt, the motif, the color of an embellishment. This is why research is key."

Maki Oh, Deola Sagoe and Folake Folarin-Coker, the designer behind Nigeria's thriving Tiffany Amber brand, exist to serve the wives, daughters and girlfriends of the business titans and wealthy returnees like the 49-year-old television talk-show host Mo Abudu, a former oil company human resources executive now known as the "Oprah of Africa." Abudu, who was born in London and educated in Britain, moved to Lagos a few years after she got married. She started her talk show in 2006, and has interviewed the likes of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, but she's chiefly an unabashed Africa-promoter. She recently launched a pan-African television network, EbonyLife TV.

When we met for lunch, Abudu, who calls herself an Afro-politan media entrepreneur, was accessorized in Saint Laurent platforms and a Birkin bag.

Abudu said she's living in Lagos because "it's Africa's time" now. "Westerners are more interested in war, genocide, rape and H.I.V.," she said. "You would think if you listened to Western media that every other person in Africa has H.I.V. For me, that's boring. And there's a business angle. African brands must recognize that if you want to be global, your environment must be considered with respect.

"Everything in Africa is so virgin right now. There is so much interest. Big media are all putting together their Africa strategy. We love American movies, but want to see our stories. Their approach to Africa is like, we want to go to the moon. Don't make us look shallow and all about the money. There's a lot of hard work going on."

Abudu and other Nigerian returnees know their country's reputation isn't getting any better. Polio remains endemic in the northern states, where several vaccination workers were killed in attacks last February that were thought to have been carried out by the extremist sect Boko Haram. The group, whose name means "Western education is forbidden," also claimed responsibility for a bus station bombing that killed dozens last week in the capital city of Abuja, and is suspected in the kidnapping of about 200 schoolgirls from a northeastern town a day later.

"This country has the biggest G.D.P. in Africa," one oil industry expat said at the Lagos Yacht Club, a hangout where British and Nigerian sailors sip gin and tonics. "But no 24-hour power. Where is it? The scale and quantity of what has happened here is tragic. The people are fundamentally peaceful. They just want the basics – water and power."

One young investment banker educated in the United States who had worked on Wall Street traded in his suit for the traditional linen gown and trousers, and now works in his family's investment firm in Lagos. He pointed out that some of Nigeria's problems stem from the newness and insecurity of the private fortunes. "This level of wealth is a generation deep," he said. "You have a Lamborghini. Where do you drive it? The roads are terrible. You take it out on Sundays and carefully drive it to a hotel for lunch, then bring it home."

The culture of philanthropy is growing among Nigerians and the great chiefs do return some of their fortunes to the people. Banker Balogun donated one of the largest pediatric hospitals in Africa to the medical school of the Universtiy of Ibadan. Africa's wealthiest businessman, the billionaire cement mogul Aliko Dangote, has donated significant sums to programs to build Nigerian small businesses, and he gave millions to help Nigerian flood victims.

I asked Balogun whether returning elites might portend improvements in Nigerian infrastructure and social welfare. He said the country's problems stem from a postcolonial backlash against foreign involvement.

"I'm 80, so I can give you my views without fear," he said. "The country needs a thorough transformation. After independence, we used to think the best thing was to get Nigerians into the commanding heights. We started with what I call a morbid dislike for foreign acquisition of what we believed was our own enterprise. It would be good if we could move away from that and allow highly reputed, successful business entrepreneurs to partner with us in developing the whole place."

Chief Sonny Iwedike Odogwu invited me in for an audience at his labyrinthine gated palace with hand-tooled Moroccan filigree ceilings, on the palm-lined but rutted Queen's Drive. On the day we pulled up to the guard house, a water main was broken on the street, and we splashed through a foot of muddy water as we pulled up. Like Balogun, Odogwu is also in his 80s, and made his fortune as the oil and gas industry developed. He founded one of the first Nigerian insurance brokerages (Dyson & Diket), and insured the oil sector's assets. On the day we met, he wore a spotless, starched white linen robe with gold threads, and was perched on a long couch in one of the grand sitting rooms in his mansion (a room in the basement seats 700), considering the pleas of a pair of women from the fashion council, who were proposing that he finance a Brazilian-Nigerian fashion expo they wanted to attend.

Odogwu, like many of the old guard, is a very religious man. He has donated millions to the Catholic Church and is particularly proud of photographs of him and his wife in the Vatican earlier this year, renewing their marriage vows in front of Pope Francis. He believes they are the first African couple to have the Pope officiate at a marriage renewal ceremony.

I asked him whether he thought the vast fortunes he and his friends control would or should trickle down to develop Nigeria. Odogwu suggested that religion – not politics – was the answer to problems with Nigeria's wealth distribution issues. "There are lots of religious organizations here," he said. "They do a lot and we give them a lot of money. Instead of telling people what they don't have, they help them out of their frustration, and make them believe that their way of life is better than in the west." Spiritual balm for the masses, he said, was one good reason for him and his fellow elites to pile the collection plate high on Sundays.


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In Transit Blog: A Maine Lighthouse Welcomes Guests

Written By wartini cantika on Jumat, 25 April 2014 | 17.35

For the first time, the Cuckolds — a pair of granite islands a half mile off the coast of Southport Island, Maine — will be open to guests for overnight stays beginning June 27.

The two-suite luxuriously decorated Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse is inside the 19th-century lighthouse, affording 360-degree ocean views.

A group of local citizens, the Cuckolds Fog Signal and Light Station Council, rescued the property from demolition and restored it over the last decade, restoring the light tower and rebuilding the keeper's house and boathouse to historical specifications, while adding modern materials and building techniques to the inside.

Local and regional businesses donated building materials, design expertise and other resources. The nonprofit Cuckolds Council owns and manages the island.

Guests, who may rent a room or the entire property, will be transported to the Cuckolds in a restored Navy motor whaleboat.

Resident lighthouse keepers will welcome visitors to the island, provide tours of the fully preserved historic Light Tower, serve as concierges and hosts to overnight guests, and help maintain and protect the island and Station.

The innkeepers prepare a full breakfast for guests, and serve afternoon tea each day in the parlor. Lunch and dinner reservations can be made at local restaurants and nearby inns or provided on-island from a selected menu at an additional cost.

Suite rates are $350 to $500 a night with a two-night minimum, while renting the entire private island costs $2,500 to $3,000.


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T Magazine: Feeling For | In Madrid, An All-Organic Menu Meets Striking, Surrealist Design

When Manolo Yllera first told me last year that he was opening a market and restaurant in Madrid, I had an inkling that the Spanish interiors photographer would create something worthy of any lens. And of course Mama Campo is the kind of bright, airy and quirky place that could only be brought to life by a set of hands belonging to a person with a good eye for design.

Stepping into the whitewashed space on Trafalgar Street is a truly transportive experience, whisking visitors out of the old, traditional neighborhood of Plaza de Olavide, perched in the center of Madrid, and into what feels like a rural farmers' market and eatery. The organic space — filled with lamps made from recycled and sustainable materials, art crafted with wool and wood, and sconces that look like real birds' nests — feels surreal thanks to its high design. Works from over 40 artists, ranging from international superstars like Tom Dixon and Patricia Urquiola to a slew of local designers, include 20 pieces that were commissioned especially for the space.

But of course the design wonderland is just a backdrop for the savory food. Along with two partners, David Yllera and Nacho Aparicio, Yllera sources seasonal, local flavors from organic producers in the area — even the wine and beer are organic. And the farm-to-table dishes, like stews and paellas laced with a homecooked-by-grandma quality, are served up by Daniel Larios, who studied cuisine under the Michelin-star chef Martín Berastegui. There's even a children's market for tiny shoppers with elevated appetites. But travelers beware: the seven tables on site have been fully booked since the space opened on March 3, so getting in for a casual meal requires some advance planning.

Mama Campo, Trafalgar 22, Madrid, Spain, 91 4474138; mamacampo.es.


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In Transit Blog: Queen’s Day Becomes King’s Day in the Netherlands

Written By wartini cantika on Kamis, 24 April 2014 | 17.35

The Netherlands' biggest celebration has a new date and name this month, when the former Queen's Day, held since 1890, becomes King's Day, or Koningsdag.

The change came after last year's reigning royalty, Queen Beatrix, abdicated her post to her son Willem-Alexander, who now heads the House of Orange. He changed the holiday to his birthdate, April 27 (he turns 47), but because that falls on a Sunday this year, the party was moved  to April 26.

What won't change in this unabashed swelling of Dutch pride, most visible in Amsterdam, are its hallmarks — citywide street sales, open-air concerts and dance parties, family activities, and canals so clogged you could easily boat-hop from side to side.

Perhaps you recall the liberal amount of orange garments sported by Dutch athletes and spectators during Olympic speed skating events earlier this year?

That was a mere warm-up to King's Day, where citizens shower themselves in the national hue, often topping their glowing hair with shiny inflatable crowns.

For most organizers and partygoers (the city's 800,000 population nearly doubles), it's pleasure as usual, though locals have a hard time wrapping their minds, and mouths, around the name change.

"The Dutch people just stumble on the words because we've had only women on the throne since 1890 — Emma, Wilhelmina, Juliana, Beatrix — and now we have a king," said Muriel Stibbe, a board member of the friends' group for Amsterdam's Vondelpark, the hub for G-rated activities. "As usual, we'll continue keeping the park for children to do a performance or to sell things, cupcakes or lollipops, maybe toys and clothes they don't use. And they bring their drums and violins."

Up the street in the Jordaan neighborhood, Daan Steeman, manager of Cafe de Blaffende Vis, is excited to unveil his popular bar's annual April artwork.

"We've been decorating the facade of our building during Queen's Day for the past 18 years, depicting someone from the royal family in a slightly funny way," he said in an email. "I can't tell you what this year's decoration will be, but it definitely has a lot to do with the transition from Queen's Day to King's Day."

The big reveal comes on King's Night, April 25, he said. The next day, the bar, near the crowded Prinsengracht canal, will host three bands on an outside stage.

Another group adjusting to the change is the celebration's vibrant gay contingent, which hosts dance parties on King's Night and Day.

"It did cross my mind that we'll be losing that little wordplay of Queen's Day, so we'll just have to think of something new," said Hans Verhoeven, owner of Gays & Gadgets gift shop and ambassador for Amsterdam Gay Pride. "It's very possible that the name contributed to the success of it becoming such a gay-friendly event," he said.

One little beef all the Dutch seem to have with the inaugural King's Day: Because it falls on a weekend, nobody gets an extra day off work.


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In Transit Blog: Sherpa Guides Abandon Everest Climbing Season

Written By wartini cantika on Rabu, 23 April 2014 | 17.35

Updated, 1:51 p.m. | Following an avalanche on Friday that produced the worst single-day death toll in the history of Mount Everest, a group of Sherpas announced today that they decided to abandon this year's climbing season, disrupting plans of hundreds of climbers, many of them waiting at the mountain's base camp.

The avalanche, which killed at least 13 Sherpas, has put a spotlight on members of this ethnic group who, renowned for their skill at high-altitude climbing, are often guides for such expeditions.

With the ability to earn $3,000 to $5,000 a season — a substantial amount for a region where there is little opportunity for employment other than potato farming — Sherpas put themselves at great risk for affluent clients, fixing ropes, carrying supplies and establishing camps for the climbers waiting below, exposing themselves to the mountains first.

Insurance, however, is often adequate. Sherpas are asking the Nepalese government for $10,000 to be paid to families of the guides killed in the avalanche as well as those who were injured and cannot resume work.

"We had a long meeting this afternoon, and we decided to stop our climbing this year to honour our fallen brothers. All sherpas are united in this," Tulsi Gurung, a local guide, told Agence France-Presse.

The strike comes on the heels of a series of proposals from Nepal's government to cope with the crush of climbers on Mount Everest (on a single day in 2012, 234 climbers reached the peak, with some unable to stand on its highest point because it was so crowded).

With foreigners increasingly bringing their own guides, Nepal this year proposed requiring outsiders to hire a local guide for any ascent above 26,000 feet.

And on March 3 the government announced it would require every climber returning from the summit to bring back at least 18 pounds of garbage, the first concerted effort to eliminate the estimated 50 tons of trash left on the mountain over the past six decades.


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In Transit Blog: A New Zealand Trail Is Open for Cyclists

Written By wartini cantika on Selasa, 22 April 2014 | 17.35

New Zealand's Heaphy Track, the longest of the country's nine famed Great Walks, is now open to cyclists.

In a decision almost 15 years in the making, New Zealand Department of Conservation officials have approved winter mountain biking on the nearly 50-mile trail.

Beginning May 1, cyclists will be allowed to tackle the track, which winds through rugged and remote terrain in Kahurangi National Park, in the northwest corner of the country's South Island.

A longtime Heaphy Track guide, Brian Alder of Helibike Nelson, a guiding outfit, said riders can expect an intermediate-level, single-track journey across an eye-opening wilderness route that descends from alpine forest – with the chance of snow – to subtropical coastline dotted with palm trees.

"You really feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, and it's really quite a unique experience. There's not a lot of places in the world where you can get that," Mr. Alder said.

The trail can be traversed by experienced riders in a day, but most cyclists make a two- to three-day journey of it to take in the scenery, stopping at one of the seven well-equipped huts, Alder said.

"You get the double benefit of an amazing place and wilderness area and the sheer enjoyment of riding," he said. "It's such a fine track and such an iconic thing to do."

Winter cycling is open through Sept. 30, although the conservation department is considering lengthening it an additional three months.

The Department of Conservation also has invested in improvements to the trail to support up to 4,000 mountain bikers per year, including a new hut and four new suspension bridges, and has approved year-round cycling on two other Kahurangi National Park trails, opening the door for increased bike-focused tourism in the area following a three-year trial period.

Hut reservations (32 New Zealand dollars, about $28 U.S.,  per night) can be made online through booking.doc.govt.nz/, by email at nmbookings@doc.govt.nz, or by calling 64-3-546-8210.


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In Transit Blog: Planning a Trip That’s Socially Acceptable

Two new travel apps are harnessing the power of Facebook to help friends spend some time together.

For those with a bit of flexibility and both time and money, TripCommon, a travel software company, recently completed beta testing for Hitlist, which works as a travel agent of sorts, monitoring fares between a home airport and a user's favored destinations.

When those fares drop in price, the app sends an alert, deeming flights "good," "great" or "spectacular," depending on how they measure up to the lowest fares of the previous season. If the price is right, users are directed to Skyscanner.com, a booking website, to make a purchase.

Following the lead of its parent company, which favors social networking technology, the app also uses Facebook to locate the home airports of "friends," for which fare alerts can also be requested. If also in the Hitlist network, friends can view one another's destination wish lists or current bookings or locate friends living in a potential destination.

TripCommon plans to soon expand Hitlist to other social networks, like LinkedIn, said Gillian Morris, the company's chief executive. While other search engines are great for working within specific parameters, she said, the goal of Hitlist is to help leisure travelers who want to register their intent and then sit back and let the app do the work for them.

Momondo, the travel search website, recently released its own social-network-focused app, which also uses Facebook to assist with travel planning. A "Friend Compass" feature on the app displays a virtual compass of the user's Facebook friends, where they live and an estimated cost to fly to each. Search parameters can be narrowed to find people nationally, regionally or globally. And a "City View" option will display a wheel of general destinations worldwide, along with estimated fares to each.

Hitlist and Momondo are available on iOS and Android devices.


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In Transit Blog: A Beer Vacation Is On Tap in Chicago

Lagunitas Brewing Company, the Northern California beer maker with a penchant for live music, has expanded its operations to Chicago, where it will open a  300,000-square-foot facility early next month.

But Lagunitas, one of the five best-selling craft brews in the United States last year, won't just be making beer.

Following in the footsteps of its big brother brewery in Petaluma, Calif., it will also offer tours and tastings to hopheads and will host musical guests in its 300-seat concert venue, the TapRoom, five nights a week.

As a boon to early visitors, the brewery has partnered with the JW Marriott Chicago hotel to offer a Lagunitas "Beercation" package for travel between May 22 and Sept. 1.

Participants will be greeted in their rooms with a selection of craft beers, and later, will receive a complimentary designated driver to and from the brewery (coordinated through Uber, a mobile application that helps find professional cars for hire), where guests will be guided on a tour of the facility, be offered tastings of the brews and be able to check out the TapRoom.

Those in town on May 17 or 18 can get a sneak peek at the brewery during its opening party, a Lagunitas "Beer Circus," the proceeds of which will benefit Rock for Kids, an organization that provides music education to underserved children. Tickets are $40 for those 21 and older and include four tastings.

"Beercation" room rates start at $204 per night, including valet parking at the hotel. Reservations can be made at marriott.com/specials using the code "W36″ or by calling 312-660-8200.


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In Transit Blog: A Beer Vacation Is On Tap in Chicago

Written By wartini cantika on Senin, 21 April 2014 | 17.35

Lagunitas Brewing Company, the Northern California beer maker with a penchant for live music, has expanded its operations to Chicago, where it will open a  300,000-square-foot facility early next month.

But Lagunitas, one of the five best-selling craft brews in the United States last year, won't just be making beer.

Following in the footsteps of its big brother brewery in Petaluma, Calif., it will also offer tours and tastings to hopheads and will host musical guests in its 300-seat concert venue, the Tap Room, five nights a week.

As a boon to early visitors, the brewery has partnered with the JW Marriott Chicago hotel to offer a Lagunitas "Beercation" package for travel between May 22 and Sept. 1.

Participants will be greeted in their rooms with a selection of craft beers, and later, will receive a complimentary designated driver to and from the brewery (coordinated through Uber, a mobile application that helps find professional cars for hire), where guests will be guided on a tour of the facility, be offered tastings of the brews and be able to check out the Tap Room.

Those in town on May 18 or 19 can get a sneak peek at the brewery during its opening party, a Lagunitas "Beer Circus," the proceeds of which will benefit Rock for Kids, an organization that provides music education to underserved children. Tickets are $40 for those 21 and older and include four tastings.

"Beercation" room rates start at $204 per night, including valet parking at the hotel. Reservations can be made at marriott.com/specials using the code "W36″ or by calling 312-660-8200.


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In Transit Blog: A Beer Vacation Is On Tap in Chicago

Written By wartini cantika on Minggu, 20 April 2014 | 17.35

Lagunitas Brewing Company, the Northern California beer maker with a penchant for live music, has expanded its operations to Chicago, where it will open a  300,000-square-foot facility early next month.

But Lagunitas, one of the five best-selling craft brews in the United States last year, won't just be making beer.

Following in the footsteps of its big brother brewery in Petaluma, Calif., it will also offer tours and tastings to hopheads and will host musical guests in its 300-seat concert venue, the Tap Room, five nights a week.

As a boon to early visitors, the brewery has partnered with the JW Marriott Chicago hotel to offer a Lagunitas "Beercation" package for travel between May 22 and Sept. 1.

Participants will be greeted in their rooms with a selection of craft beers, and later, will receive a complimentary designated driver to and from the brewery (coordinated through Uber, a mobile application that helps find professional cars for hire), where guests will be guided on a tour of the facility, be offered tastings of the brews and be able to check out the Tap Room.

Those in town on May 18 or 19 can get a sneak peek at the brewery during its opening party, a Lagunitas "Beer Circus," the proceeds of which will benefit Rock for Kids, an organization that provides music education to underserved children. Tickets are $40 for those 21 and older and include four tastings.

"Beercation" room rates start at $204 per night, including valet parking at the hotel. Reservations can be made at marriott.com/specials using the code "W36″ or by calling 312-660-8200.


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In Transit Blog: A Beer Vacation Is On Tap in Chicago

Written By wartini cantika on Sabtu, 19 April 2014 | 17.35

Lagunitas Brewing Company, the Northern California beer maker with a penchant for live music, has expanded its operations to Chicago, where it will open a  300,000-square-foot facility early next month.

But Lagunitas, one of the five best-selling craft brews in the United States last year, won't just be making beer.

Following in the footsteps of its big brother brewery in Petaluma, Calif., it will also offer tours and tastings to hopheads and will host musical guests in its 300-seat concert venue, the Tap Room, five nights a week.

As a boon to early visitors, the brewery has partnered with the JW Marriott Chicago hotel to offer a Lagunitas "Beercation" package for travel between May 22 and Sept. 1.

Participants will be greeted in their rooms with a selection of craft beers, and later, will receive a complimentary designated driver to and from the brewery (coordinated through Uber, a mobile application that helps find professional cars for hire), where guests will be guided on a tour of the facility, be offered tastings of the brews and be able to check out the Tap Room.

Those in town on May 18 or 19 can get a sneak peek at the brewery during its opening party, a Lagunitas "Beer Circus," the proceeds of which will benefit Rock for Kids, an organization that provides music education to underserved children. Tickets are $40 for those 21 and older and include four tastings.

"Beercation" room rates start at $204 per night, including valet parking at the hotel. Reservations can be made at marriott.com/specials using the code "W36″ or by calling 312-660-8200.


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In Transit Blog: A Geneva Hotel Thinks Younger

Written By wartini cantika on Jumat, 18 April 2014 | 17.35

Some travelers will go to any length for the type of rest and relaxation that makes them feel 10 years younger.

But for those with limited time to do so, a new program from La Réserve Genève Hotel and Spa in Switzerland promises a rejuvenating experience in seven days or less.

La Réserve, which describes itself as a "cleverly concealed reserve of happiness" on Lake Geneva, is now offering a new spa program developed and supervised by Nescens, a company that specializes in anti-aging products and programs, designed with the help of specialists at Genolier, one of Switzerland's largest networks of medical clinics.

The four- or seven-day programs begin with a full medical assessment, including a blood test and other queries into diet, lifestyle and exercise.

The result is a custom treatment program for each guest, created and supervised by a Nescens team, including osteopaths, dieticians, doctors to advise on anti-aging medications, and fitness and lifestyle coaches.

Next comes the best part: the actual treatments, which can include massages, body contouring (a massage performed by an osteopath that focuses on knees, ankles and shoulders), therapeutic baths, wraps, scrubs and three organic meals a day.

Most treatments take place in the spa's 22,000-square-foot facility and are available to locals and hotel guests at a price of 3,200 Swiss francs  (about $3,750) for the four-day program and 4,900 francs ($5,740) for seven days, not including accommodations. Average room rates at the hotel start at 445 francs ($520), double occupancy.

Extra days can be added for those who might want to try to erase a bit more of their past.


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