Wednesday, 29 June 2011

After emerging as the most eligible member of the Royal Family following Prince William's marriage to Kate Middleton, Prince Harry appears no longer to be a bachelor.
The Prince is believed to have spent time in private with Florence, 25, a lingerie and swimwear model.
She is a descendant of the seventh Earl of Cardigan, Lieutenant General James Thomas Brudenell, who famously led the Charge of the Light Brigade against Russian forces during the Crimean War.
Florence and Prince Harry have reportedly known each other for years.
Friends told The Sun that Prince Harry, 26, had visited Florence at her £2.5 million home in Notting Hill, West London after admitting his long-running on-off affair with Chelsy Davy was over.

A Royal source told the newspaper: "It’s very early days but Harry and Florence are an item. Harry really likes her."
Florence, the daughter of Old Etonian wine merchant Andrew and his wife Sophie, went to Stowe School in Buckinghamshire before reading history of art at Bristol University.
She has previously talked of her love of art, having studied the subject also taken by Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Her father was a collector, Florence said, and she had become "obsessed" with art.
"I get more pleasure out of collecting art than buying clothes - that’s how I justify it," she once said.
The model was already beginning to make her name by fronting campaigns for John Lewis when she met racing driver Button in 2006. They separated in 2008.
When asked about her relationship with the Prince yesterday, Florence said: "There's not much to say."
Prince Harry had been linked to Pippa Middleton after displaying a close rapport during their siblings' wedding.


Friday, 24 June 2011

It comes after the criticisms following the first date of her European tour in Belgrade last weekend, when fans effectively booed her off stage, and after first cancelling only a week of future concerts her manager has now cancelled the entire tour ‘until she recovers from her health problems’.

The 27 year old singer’s press representative has said ‘Everyone close to her is trying to do everything possible to help her recover and she will take the time necessary for this to happen’.

Last Tour International, the organiser of the Basque festival, says they are already looking for a substitute act for July 8, but have warned that there is not much time to do so.

Already a favourite for local dignatories and visiting celebrities - including flamenco star Joaquin Cortes – it has managed to capture the imagination of the Marbella dining scene.
This is perhaps no surprise, its owner being the very capable Guy Sirre, who came to Marbella, via a career straddling Michelin-starred restaurants in France, London and San Francisco, not to mention a decade working as the Sultan of Brunei’s interior designer.
A fascinating career, the Belgian chef has turned this brilliant corner spot into one of the hippest new restaurants on the coast.
“The truth is I wasn’t looking to open a new restaurant in Marbella, but when I saw this location become available I jumped at the chance,” explains Sirre, 45.
On a south-facing corner just yards from the town’s famous Piruli roundabout, it turns out to be a rather infamous address, a previous chef being killed here, before the place burnt down.
“But I am not worried about that,” insists Guy. “It has just the right dimensions and outdoor space.  I knew it would work perfectly for us,” he says.
There is no doubt, that the Brussels-born businessman has a classic eye for business, not to mention detail: Casamono – meaning ‘monkey house’ is an intriguing mix of colonial and tropical style.

Full of wooden furniture and lush ferns (described as a ‘jungle garden’), its decor is light and airy and it has a warm and welcoming feel.
“Everything has to be right,” says Sirre. “We don’t first think about money. You first have to think about how it can work and look.
There is the style, music, service, food, lighting and more. Everything is important.”
Bathed in sunlight by day, at night the place comes alive with the arrival of squadrons of candles, and the roof carefully sliding across to shut out the elements.
Romantic for some, the place also becomes a hangout for the area’s fashionistas and party-goers later in the evening, particularly on Saturday nights.
But most of you will be here for the food, which is easily as good as its sister restaurant Casanis, over in the heart of the old town.
Head chef Alex changes the menu by the week and spends hours every morning scouting around the local markets for ingredients.
Doffing his hat to true Gallic flair, expect to find vol au vents, parmesan souffles, bouillabaisse soup.
Starters include Kenya green beans, white veal sweetbreads and a great duck terrine, served with crisp biscuits and fresh bread.
There are always a number of specials on the board and for my starter I tried the scallops with green chopped asparagus, beans, morel and trumpet mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, served in a lobster sauce with cod roe.
It was a real delight with a rich caramel flavour and, above all, a generous serving of four scallops.
For the main I went for the beautifully fresh turbot that came with new potatoes, watercress and fresh peas.
With a good wine, including some great French chestnuts, such as Gevrey Chambertin, you are in for a treat.
There is even a cocktail list and a pudding menu that included profiteroles with raspberries, guarantees that Casamono is here to stay.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Demand for art, watches, rare wines, vintage cars and other offbeat investments that set pulses racing expanded in 2010 as wealth levels of the world's super-rich rebounded from the financial crisis, a report said.

"The value of many categories of investments of passion rose and HNWIs (high net-worth individuals) made acquisitions for the aesthetic and emotional appeal and their potential to return value," Capgemini and Merrill Lynch said in the World Wealth Report 2011 published on Wednesday.

Growing wealth in emerging economies, especially in Asia -- which surpassed Europe in millionaires and wealth last year -- helped spur a revival in markets for these aptly named investments, the authors of the report said.

In times of low interest rates and volatile stock markets, alternative investments allow investors to diversify by buying assets with little correlation to global financial markets, thus offering potential shelter from market turbulence.

Luxury collectibles such as fancy cars, boats and jets accounted for almost a third of these investments in 2010. Chinese demand for expensive cars made by Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari (part of Fiat) jumped last year, the report said.

Individual tastes tend to determine whether a millionaire prefers investing in cars, watches or wine, while artworks are more likely to be acquired for their potential to gain value, the authors wrote.

"Newly wealthy Chinese buyers are widely reported to be keen bidders and buyers at galleries and auction houses, especially to acquire the fast-diminishing supply of works from native artists," the authors of the report said.

Art aficionados seemed willing to pay high prices at Art Basel, the world's top fair for modern and contemporary art, last week, suggesting the art market is returning to pre-crisis peaks.

Meanwhile demand for diamonds as well as gold jewelry and coins benefited from rising prices for these raw materials.

"Record prices for diamonds at international auctions in 2010 exemplified the growing trend among the world's HNWIs to see large diamonds as a safe and high-growth investment alternative," the report said, adding Russian and Middle Eastern investors were particularly keen on the expensive gems.


CAN signed Kerry, 30, in March 2010 when she was at rock bottom and Claire insisted she give up drugs, ease up on the boozing and stay away from her ex Mark Croft, 40.

But Kerry went on a massive alcohol binge while in Marbella recently with Mel B's sister Danielle Brown.

‘Her speech was slurred and she was gurning,' says a fellow partygoer.

‘I know she has bipolar disorder, but I haven't seen her look this bad for a long time.'

The final straw appears to have occurred when Kerry was expected to attend a 21st birthday bash for fellow CAN client Amy Childs.

Instead, she went on a six-hour bender and ended up sat in a luggage trolley in the lobby of London's posh May Fair hotel at 2am with her head in a bag.

‘She staggered into the hotel bar already hammered but she still carried on drinking,' reveals Now's eyewitness.

‘She was swearing loudly and making a real show of herself.'

Kerry has denied she was dumped by CAN and that she was 'bladdered' on the night of Amy's party.

'I was out with my therapist...I only had a few glasses of champagne,' she says.

'With my head in my bag it looked like I was being sick, but I was honestly just looking for my ticket.'

Monday, 20 June 2011

It was meant to be a dating website exclusively for the use of "beautiful men and women", where members ruthlessly selected and excluded those who did not match their definitions of good looks.

But last month when was attacked by a computer virus, some claim standards slipped and around 30,000 new members gained admittance. Now, in a move which has made those rejected "apoplectic" with rage, they have been unceremoniously booted off at a financial cost of more than $100,000 (£62,000) to the site's operators.

The virus was quickly named Shrek – after the animated film about how looks should not matter – as it attacked the software used to screen potential members. A helpline has now been set up with counsellors on hand to help the distressed rejects from the site.

"We have to stick to our founding principles of only accepting beautiful people – that's what our members have paid for," said Greg Hodge, managing director of "We can't just sweep 30,000 ugly people under the carpet."

Hodge reckoned the Shrek virus – which may have been posted by a disgruntled former employee – had affected the software that existing members use to rate prospective new entrants, allowing anyone to join. The website boasts that "beauty lies in the eyes of the voter" who are able to rank aspiring members on a type of traffic light scale where red is "absolutely not" and bright green is "beautiful". The site posts applicants' photographs alongside information about their weight and height and ask candidates to describe their "body type" as well as whether they own a car or home along with their zodiac sign.

"We got suspicious when tens of thousands of new members were accepted over a six-week period, many of whom were no oil painting," Hodge told the Guardian.

The brutal axing of the 30,000 hopefuls is not the site's first brush with controversy. Last year, about 5,000 members were removed from the site after they had appeared to put on weight during the Christmas period.

This month, the website triggered anger in Ireland when it said that Irish men were among the ugliest in the world. This was based on the reasoning that only 9% of male Irish applicants to the site were accepted. Only 20% of Irish women are accepted, compared with nearly 70% of Swedish women who sign up.

The prospects are even worse for British men, as according to Hodge, they are the most likely be rejected. "It's a bit of a sting as I'm a Brit," said Hodge, who is based at the site's head office in Los Angeles. On average one in seven people are rejected from the site which has around 700,000 members in 190 countries.

He said Norwegian women and Swedish men have the greatest chance of being accepted into the club, while Brazilian and Danish men are also popular – along with women from Sweden and Iceland.

Conceding that the latest set back was a "very embarrassing day", Hodge said he felt "very sorry" for the "unfortunate people who were wrongly admitted to the site and believed, albeit for a short time, that they were beautiful".

He attempted to placate the rejects. "I sent them all a very carefully worded email, trying to be as sensitive as possibly," he said. "But naturally many of them are finding it a bit of a sting to have been rated beautiful by their peers only to lose the accolade overnight." The company has paid out $112,500 in refunds to 4,500 of the 30,000 who had paid $25 a month for membership of the site. The others were still on a free trial period.

Hodge said the site, which started life in Denmark in 2002, was investigating the origins of the virus but said it appeared to have been planted by a disgruntled member of staff.

"At first it looked like one of the 5.5 million BeautifulPeople rejects planted the virus, but further investigations point towards a former employee planting the virus like an evil Easter egg last month," he said.

Rachel Godfrey, a 31-year-old Australian nanny living in LA, said she received an email telling her she was rejected two weeks after being accepted. "I was getting on really well with this American guy and we were going to go on a date and then they said I'd been chucked off and they locked me out of the site," she said. "Now I can't get in touch with him."

Godfrey said she is planning to have a makeover and professional photo shoot before reapplying to the website. "What if he's the one? This is only way I'll be able to get in touch with him," she said. "If that doesn't work I'll see what I can do with Photoshop."


Sunday, 19 June 2011

I am still not sure why El Bulli made me cry. Or at least how it magicked a hot tear to my eye. It wasn't the intensity of taste, with shifting textures and notes that lasted longer than Pavarotti's C. It wasn't that I felt I had to close my eyes in a crowded room to savour and surf every wave of flavour. It wasn't even that "peas 2011" tasted more like my first peas than in any dish I've eaten since I was seven. Nor was it, honestly, the toasty flow of Dom Pérignon 1973. It was simply, in the end, I think, the deliciousness that undid me.

Not all the dishes were sublime, of course – I am not sure chef Ferran Adrià is interested in that. He wants to make you think and to feel food, to orchestrate your mood, mess with your idea of what it could and should be. More flavour theatre than restaurant. We ate a Felliniesque, insane 50 dishes culled from Adrià's "greatest hits", the oldest from more than 20 years before, the newest only finalised that morning (the menu was revised six times). Plus endless choices from a giant chocolate box that looked like a flashing organ coming out of the floor. But if we pass over the Japanese-style tiramisu (a sleight of hand with miso that was plain unpleasant), the disappointing trademark carbonara tagliatelle, and the "challenging" frozen gorgonzola balloon, El Bulli's 50 cooks still sent out close to 50 plates of food for 50 people that no other restaurant may ever match. As Ferran Adrià's heir apparent and current number one cook in the world, René Redzepi of Copenhagen's Noma, tells me: "Ferran and his team are culinary freedom fighters. They helped free me."

Our superluxe Spanish food trip started, surreally, in Luton, in an anonymous single-storey airport building where celebrities and top business people avoid civilians and waiting for flights. We had just missed Ozzy Osbourne shuffling though the lounge, and then Simon le Bon suddenly couldn't come. But 30 minutes before takeoff on our private jet – like a top-end Lexus limo with wings – actress Rosamund Pike has heroically stepped in for the year's hot meal ticket: an El Bulli supper, pitch perfect for a selection of rare champagne, devised by Adrià with Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon's effervescent chef de cave.

Later that day, over dinner in a private Catalan castle, I am sitting opposite Hollywood's Heather Graham and Jason Silva, her film-producer boyfriend, who have also flown in for the feast, watching as the star of Boogie Nights and The Hangover delicately transfers her food from her plate to her partner's. While the rest of us gorge on octopus, Iberico ham and vintage fizz, she is saved from starvation by a strawberry kebab.

But the star everyone is here to see is Ferran Adrià, the "best cook on the planet", according to Joël Robuchon, and he should know, with his world-record 26 Michelin stars.

"I never said I wouldn't feed people," Adrià smiles when I ask what he will miss when he closes his door at the end of this, his last season. "After July, El Bulli won't be a restaurant, not open every day. But I will still need feedback." Adrià's plan is for a nonprofit centre for "culinary creativity" opening in 2014, with a stream of new recipes posted on the internet. "We are excited," he says through an interpreter (Adrià doesn't trust his English to be precise enough for our purposes). "Bulli has always been about change. Why does Madonna with all her money need to earn more? She could share, not her money but her creativity. The young share, and we at the top should, too.

"When we started there were eight of us, all bachelors; now we have families, kids. I don't have children but I am very happily married, with a wonderful wife. With the foundation I can give something back – my talent, my luck. I have created 1,846 dishes – 80 per cent of new cookery techniques come from here – but no one can be number one for ever. Even those that love us get tired" – though this may be news to the two million people who desperately tried to book when the news of El Bulli's closure was announced.

"I will be 50 soon, with maybe 25-30 years left," he laughs. "I want to be happy like I have always been, and I can do this  by taking away the things I don't like. Do what I want, when I want, for who I want."

I head into the El Bulli kitchen in time to catch the team troop in at 1pm, seven hours before service: heads bowed, hushed, intent. More like medieval novices come to mass than chefs about to prepare perhaps the greatest avant-garde meal ever seen.

Mateu Casañas, who has been with Adrià for 12 years, talks me through the preparation. Quietly, the chefs split into smaller teams. Ten start by teasing the germ from pine kernels, another six grade peas and skin them; 12 extract translucent filaments from sea cucumber to be intricately, delicately, lined into squares; four more sort papery yellow roses for perfect petals to be stuffed and steamed like dim sum. Seamlessly and almost silently, they shift between jobs, splitting young almonds to extract a jelly, making "parmesan frozen air".

I talk to Francesca, a Canadian of Asian heritage. On the day the call came from El Bulli she had been offered a staff position at Thomas Keller's three-star Per Se in New York. "So did I take a paid job in New York," she smiles, "or another 'stage' in Spain where I didn't speak the language?" And yet here she is in her second unpaid season, frothing and freezing buckets of cheese foam with a large grin on her face.

Jason Atherton also worked a stage at El Bulli, in 1998 when he was 27 – the year Adrià created his first foam. Before my trip to El Bulli we talk in the bar at Pollen Street Social, the British chef's celebrated new place in Mayfair. "I had worked with great chefs before," he says, "Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis, Pierre Koffmann, but it was from Ferran I learnt to question everything."

It took a full three years, says Atherton, before he realised how much his time at El Bulli had changed him: "There were 40 of us at the start of the season and at the end there were only 20 left. It takes a lot out of you, but the principles of how to run a great restaurant stay: the system, the time clock, the attention to detail. If I hadn't learn that, I wouldn't be here today.

"The sangria foam I serve at Pollen Street is the exact recipe I learnt, 12 years on. It is the lightest, airiest sangria you will ever taste. Why would I need to mess around with that? Chefs aren't geniuses, we are cooks," he says, "but Ferran deserves the mantle. A place like El Bulli will never happen again. It is impossible. One man's vision of what you could do with food."

Back in Spain, Adrià's relentless assault on my taste buds has driven me from the table overwhelmed, succumbed, surrendered, my hands and legs shaking, and we are "only" around 30 courses in. I have licked my plate of "gazpacho" and "ajo blanco", oblivious to my more reserved, more refined companions. I have tasted five of Geoffroy's dazzling Dom Pérignons, but I need respite before the two hare dishes, the "game meat cappuccino", the "blood", the "pond", the donuts, the other desserts and the "box".

I wander into the kitchen, where Observer photographer Howard Sooley is seven hours into his shoot – the first time Adrià has let anyone photograph behind the scenes during service.

Sooley used to work for US Vogue, and I watch as he slides between the chefs as they change direction like a shoal of silvery fish. And it strikes me: this is almost cooking as couture, backstage behind the catwalk as fantastical creations are pinned and primped into shape. I take in the dozens of tiny saucepans, the syringe-spiked dishes, a group of six young chefs intently plating up. All the cooks appear choreographed like a beautiful, complicated machine. Nothing is taken for granted, nothing is unconsidered.

There is true art in the artifice here, an underlying integrity to every technique. But somehow my celebrity-spiked supper has conjured up memories and emotions as much as the expected exquisite tastes. The plate-licked gazpacho is saturated with Spanish holidays. The peas take me back to podding on the porch with my mother in her yellow summer dress. The smell of the hare stock I will carry with me for ever.

At the perimeter of the kitchen, Ferran Adrià paces in silence, quietly observing. The general, seemingly unemotional, almost uninvolved. But watching. His eye seeing everything, like an eagle hanging high in the sky to catch the movement of every blade of grass.

He turns, sees me, too, standing there with lost eyes, and comes over. "Magic," he smiles softly, and he is right. As Jason Atherton says: "The guy is a legend, simple as that. We won't see his like again in our lifetime."


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Former porn star Ginger Lee said at a press conference in New York today that New York Rep. Anthony Weiner sent her sexually suggesting messages, then asked her to lie about their communication when his Twitter scandal erupted.

Pictures: Anthony Weiner's alleged porn star pen pal Ginger Lee

While Lee said she did not initiate sexual talk with Weiner, she did say the congressman's messages were often sexually suggestive.

"I have wardrobe demands too, I need to highlight my package," Weiner allegedly wrote in an email read by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, Lee's press representative.

"We did communicate on a fairly regular basis," said Lee. "However, I did not sext Anthony Weiner. I did not send photos to him or receive any from him," reports CBS station WCBS.

Lee said that Weiner contacted her in March after she began following him on Twitter.

Allred said that several times Weiner tried to take the conversation to another level, always referencing his "package." Lee and the congressman spoke on the phone once, Allred said, when he gave her advice a couple weeks ago on how to handle the crush of media inquiries.

Lee said it was on Thursday, June 2, that Weiner called her and told her to avoid the media.

"He asked me to lie" at the beginning of the scandal, Lee said. "I refused to lie, so I went into hiding."

Entertainment website TMZ published messages it says Weiner sent to Lee about how to mislead the press about their relationship.

Weiner has acknowledged that he had sent lewd photos and texts to women after a photo of his crotch was posted on Twitter. In an interview two weeks ago, he acknowledged that he had exchanged messages with Lee but didn't elaborate.

Lee said she thinks Weiner should resign for lying to the public about the sexting scandal, saying "It might have never turned into this if he told the truth."

Weiner has taken leave from the House and is said to be seeking treatment. President Barack Obama and House Democratic leaders have pressed him to resign.

The Chelsea footballer met TV presenter Christine at the Daily Mirror's Pride of Britain Awards in October 2009.

Love blossomed, and the pair returned to the Awards last year as a couple.

Christine told us: "Tonight is particularly special for Frank and I as it's here where it all began for us, this time last year. They hold fantastic memories for us."

After that first meeting, Frank and Christine went on a string of dates in the months that followed, with Christine also spotted in the stands at Chelsea games.

In January 2010 the couple were photographed together for the first time, after a romantic lunch in Belfast, where Christine's parents live.

She confirmed they were dating later that month as she prepared to cross the English channel on water skis for Sport Relief.

She admitted: "It is early days, so we are trying to be low key. But I am very happy."

And Frank joined her on media outings as she promoted the challenge in March, although he kept to the background.

By May she was one of the team, joining Chelsea's Premier League and FA Cup celebrations, first on the dance floor in Whisky Mist, then complete with Blues cap and scarf on the open-top bus parade.

And their romance meant reuniting with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid was not an option for Frank, as he told friends he felt the relationship was too important to risk.

Spain's Inditex, the world's largest fashion retailer and owner of the Zara brand, Wednesday posted bumper profits for the first quarter as it pursued an ambitious programme of international expansion.
Profits for the February-to-April period totalled 332 million euros ($447 million), up 10.3 percent from last year.
Sales leapt 11 percent to 2.96 billion euros, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, or EBIDTA, was up 7.0 percent at 601 million euros.
The group said it opened 110 stores in 29 different countries during the quarter, bringing the total to 5,154 as of April 30, 2011, "providing a snapshot of the global growth potential of the Inditex Group?s retail concepts."
They included the opening of Zara?s first store in Australia, which increased the number of countries where Inditex sells its products to 78.
Inditex, whose other brands include youth label Bershka and the upmarket Massimo Dutti, also plans its first stores in South Africa, Taiwan and Peru before the end of the year.
It said e-commerce operations of Zara, currently present in 16 European countries, will begin in the United States from September 7, 2011.
In the financial year ending January 31, Inditex reported a 33 percent jump in profits to 1.73 billion euros. Asia was the fastest growing revenue source during the year, expanding its share to 15 percent from 12 percent


Monday, 13 June 2011

Greatest Hits of AllThe jazz legend, who enjoys a strong fan base on the coast, will play a one-off show at the Puente Romano Hotel in Marbella on June 25.
“I love Marbella, it’s such a beautiful place with so many great memories for me and I can’t believe that it’s nearly six years since I last performed there,” the triple-platinum artist said. “Time flies I guess.”
The former child prodigy, best known for his 1976 hit album Breezin’, is famous for never having a set list.
“I play it by ear, it all depends on the audience,” the 68-year-old said.

“You gotta give them what they want. Some want to sit and listen, some want to dance but knowing how Marbella loves to party I’ve got a pretty good idea which one it’ll be,” he joked.
Benson was discovered at an early age by jazz great Wes Montgomery and has an eclectic musical style including soul, jazz and R&B.
The American’s hits include On Broadway, Turn Your Love Around and Never Gonna Give Up On a Good Thing.
MASSIVE golf development has moved a step forward in the Guadalhorce Valley after a group of Russian investors expressed an interest in the project.
The 60-hectare site in Coin would include a golf course, hotel and 250 villas according to the town´s recently-ousted mayor, Gabriel Clavijo.
The site, designated in the regional development plan as being for ‘tourism use’, would also provide a professional training facility for top Russian players.
With the recent change of mayor it is not known if the project will now be shelved.
Cocky: The Rise & Fall of Curtis Warren, Britain's Biggest Drug Baron
Five of the UK’s Top Ten criminals – estimated to be worth around 920 million euros between them – have made large chunks of their fortune out of drug smuggling through Spain.
The majority also have a string of properties on the Iberian peninsula, as well as yachts and luxury cars.
In the case of one, Mickey Green he is said to have buried his millions in a series of safe deposits in the hills above Marbella.
Green who has been on the run for 20 years is still believed to live in Andalucia.

Known as ‘the Pimpernel’ for his amazing ability to evade capture, he has been trailed by police through Morocco, France and America.
But detectives now believe he is currently living in Malaga province, ‘probably near Marbella’.
Three of the top five in the News of the World poll have particularly strong connections to Spain.
Mickey Green, 69, 85m
Still on the loose after evading capture for more than 20 years and thought to be living near Marbella. The authorities believe he has buried some of his millions in the hills there.
Brian Wright, 64, 115m
Known as the Milkman because he always delivered, Wright is currently serving a 30 year sentence for drug dealing after being arrested in Spain, where he had been living since 2005.
Curtis Warren, 47, 350m
The only drugs trafficker to appear in the Sunday Times Rich List, ‘Cocky’ is locked up in Belmarsh top-security prison but is known to have a vast property portfolio including a string of Spanish casinos.
John Palmer, 60, 350m
The fake timeshare tycoon and ex-market trader is understood to be living on his £6 million yacht off the coast of Tenerife. He was banged up for selling non-existent holiday homes to 17,000 tourists and is also suspected of masterminding a criminal gang in Tenerife.
Brian Charrington, 55, 23m
Charrington built up a vast international drugs empire and subsequently spent time in jail for drug smuggling but is now a free man with a home in Calpe, Costa Blanca.

 you can imagine is a fair dedicated to the luxury in which they have jewelry, mansions, yachts, clothes, and what interests us most, cars.

The truth is I was very excited in spite of not being able to drive the wonders he would see. It was the first time I approached the McLaren MP4 -12C and as for the Pagani Huayra could see it in the Geneva Motor Show a few minutes but this time I could see it under natural light and contemplate it for several hours.

The Guarnieri Group is responsible for distributing the exclusive vehicles of these two brands. We could keep an interesting conversation with several product managers and its CEO, Mario Guarneri that told us his impressions of both cars.

The stand was at the end of the port. To get there we leave stores like Cartier and Armani, the truth, we are not interested. Instead, they do look at various Ferrari, Lamborghini and especially struck us find several units of Rolls-Royce Phantom and Bentley Continental GTC enrolled in a variety of countries.

McLaren MP4 -12C
You know almost all the technical details of this car after the presentation in Madrid at which my companion went Sergio Alvarez , therefore, I will concentrate on my impressions to see it live and discuss some peculiarities of the English sports car.

The McLaren MP4 -12C is the next street model that launched the brand after the F1 of the 90's but the concept is totally different. The McLaren F1 was a race car fitted out for use on the road and 100 units were manufactured. The MP4 -12C is a performance car for use every day , 1000 units will be built in the first year reaching more than 3,000 units year with the new factory in Woking.

When I saw the first pictures of the McLaren MP4 -12C , its design seemed simple, low risk. Seeing him in reality, I thought it's still a spectacular car and that the silver gray color is the one that best suits him. This unit came to be exhibited in the paddock at Montmelo and Monaco may be the reason to be painted in color similar to the cars of the brand.

The side view is perhaps the most attractive. Has a profile similar to the McLaren F1 and adds a huge gills cool the motor. The black rims and carbon fiber mirrors create a pleasant contrast to the body. In the rear highlights the twin exhaust pipes on the bumper and spoiler mobile.

And raise the door open to get inside. Openness is not a handle but with a modern touch. I settle into the driver's bucket and watch. The interior is simply designed in full accordance with the exterior, for example, the steering wheel is sporty with carbon fiber inserts but does not have a button. It uses small levers behind the hoop.

The dashboard is covered in Alcantara and leather center console is dominated by a rectangular screen located along, not as wide as usual. If we find the buttons down only enough to change the various parameters of the driver, then look no air conditioning controls are located on the side of each door.

After detailed analysis within, Fernando García-Herreros , Sales Executive of the mark, start the engine by pressing a red button on the attractive center console. The 3.8 biturbo V8 comes to life and noticeable vibration at idle on my back. The impressive sound emanating from the exhaust makes me take the wheel, put your foot on the pedal that handles 600 hp and want to reach the red zone on the tachometer that begins in the 8,500 rpm

No, I could not drive it all was that, in a desire to feel its benefits in circuit or Autobahn . Hopefully one day have that opportunity. From then on I loved standing quietly and sporting appearance. For the € 223,100 it costs, is a tough rival for the Ferrari 458 Italy , the Lamborghini Gallardo LP570 Superleggera -4 , and the Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS .

Pagani Huayra
In autumn last year I went to Circuit Ascari a co-pilot the Pagani Zonda R , a laboratory car where they put to test some innovations by that time called Pagani C9. After hearing the words of Horacio Pagani , the expectations on the new model were very high, but still without having taken I dare say she has passed.

The result is the Huayra Pagani , a radical-looking sports car, a real racing car with which to enjoy or road circuit . From outside, the interior looks like the cockpit of an airplane game that sits on a body with original design features as the shape of mirrors, tires, rear lights and the quadruple exhaust outlet.

Fit inside, the perceived uniqueness is even greater than the outside . The dashboard is lined in leather and all buttons are polished aluminum, but what is most surprising in a car of this type, mix design technology with a retro . Many functions are operated by switches, the odometer is analog and some actions such as regulation of the steering wheel are mechanically by a lever.

But here there are not only exquisite design and perfect materials, let us not forget that this is a true driving machine. The engine cover is opened by releasing two leather straps with signed buckle brand and exposes the V12 Biturbo to 700 hp with the proper signature of the engineer of AMG who oversaw its production.

Actually, the Pagani Huayra more than a supercar, is a work of art made ​​car . The artist is Horacio Pagani , and his disciples in San Cesario sul Panaro in Modena are the hand made ​​it perfectly with every detail chosen by the lucky buyer, you can drive it or consider it as if in a museum.

Only manufacture 20 units per year at the price of a work of art in Spain talking about something more than a million euros - approximately € 1,072,000 - Taxes already included. Currently, the waiting list is two and a half years so that each client, plus a lot of money, you will need lot of patience to enjoy the power gem.

I invite you to be careful to observe in detail the full gallery of photos that I leave and then opinéis on these two cars have their place in the history of the motor. For my part, I have two more members in the garage of my dreams.

Pagani Huayra and McLaren MP4 -12C, two gems together in Marbella

Friday, 10 June 2011

Ricky Hatton - Union Jack Flag Boxing Canvas Art Canvas Print Picture print Size: (44" x 30")MORE than 300 people attended a gala dinner event with former boxing champion Ricki ‘the Hitman’ Hatton as the star guest in Marbella on Friday. The event which was held at the gardens of Hotel Gran Melia Don Pepe included many celebrity guests, including those from the world of football, was a sell-out.

Appearing with Ricky was Big Joe Egan, a former sparring partner of Mike Tyson and Jimmy Bright, one of the UK’s favourite comedians.

The music was supplied by the Rat Pack.

Dermot Craven, the organiser, said that he was overwhelmed with the generosity and the efforts that the guests had made to attend the function, many of them came from the UK especially.

He said that they supplied hundreds of gifts for the Cuidad de los Niños orphanage in Malaga and the balance of the proceeds will help refurbish and equip the sports hall there.
Ci Li FlowerRENOWNED violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou performed using a €10m violin at the Inauguration of the Marbella Luxury Weekend. She also performed for the presentation of Guarnieri luxury car dealership’s new McLaren MP4-12C car which has a starting price of €158,500 (plus taxes and extras).

Hou is the first ever violinist in history to capture three Gold Medals with unanimous decisions at three International Violin Competitions.

At 17, Hou performed the most challenging pieces ever written for the violin: Paganini's Twenty-four Caprices for Solo Violin, in live recitals in Toronto and Aspen.

Both her mother and father are violinists, and at the age of 4, Hou began studying violin with her father. Less than a year later, she gave her first public performance and was received with a standing ovation.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

SPANISH fashion juggernaut Inditex will shake up Melbourne's retail scene with the opening of its second Australian Zara store in the Bourke Street Mall next week.

Mall matriarchs including Myer, David Jones, Cue, Portmans and Sportsgirl, already struggling in a severely depressed retail market, will have their brand mix, trend choices, garment quality and prices compared to the affordable, good-quality, bull's-eye fashions for which the 1900-store chain Zara, once described as ''the most innovative and devastating retailer in the world'', is famous.

Zara's first Australian store opened in Sydney seven weeks ago and it's rumoured 80 per cent, or $1.2 million worth, of stock sold out that day.

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Amid chaos, customers queued for hours then swarmed into the store, grabbing garments out of the arms of staff attempting to restock shelves and racks. The Westfield store is still averaging 14,000 customers a day, according to reports, and they're still queuing at peak times.

Yesterday in Melbourne, Zara's chief communications officer, Jesus Echevarria, attributed the chain's mind-boggling success to a fast-fashion strategy that is the ''complete opposite'' to traditional manufacturing and retail models. ''It's a matter of customer feedback,'' he said. ''They decide what they want, what they don't want; we're pretty quick to react.'' Speed and accuracy are key to Zara's success, not original or innovative fashion design.

Zara's stores, Mr Echevarria said, could be replenished with small-batch fashion choices twice a week. Customers learn to be quick, or miss out.

The constant churn of stock also keeps their interest piqued, and the likelihood of several friends buying the same frock or men's suit is reduced. ''We get inside the skin of the customer,'' Mr Echevarria said.

Zara also has a reputation for getting ''inside the skin'' of designer brands it has long been accused of copying. However, Mr Echevarria emphatically denies this. ''No, no. It's not like that; it never happens like that,'' he said. ''We are quick in answering what the customer is doing, not translating fashions from anything outside.''

He described the Zara model as more organic, cyclic and season-less, based on feedback and reactive manufacturing. ''You cannot fake this,'' he said. ''It is a very honest process.''

Zara can convert customer feedback and daily sales analysis from its 1900-odd stores into manufacturing plans within 48 hours, convey these to 1500 factories in Asia, Spain, Brazil and other countries, and truck or fly the bull's-eye response fashions back to stores in less than three weeks.

Yesterday, Mr Echevarria showed the edited, Melbourne-bound collection, including military belted jackets, vivid knitwear and slim trousers for men, and slouchy silk kimono dresses, tops and tailored casual jackets in fuchsia pink and black for women. ''It's very elegant,'' he said. ''We are very proud, very excited for our store here.''

Zara's gargantuan holding company, Inditex, employs more than 100,000 in about 5200 stores in 78 countries, roughly 1900 of which are branded Zara outlets.

Reclusive billionaire Armancio Ortega, among the world's 10 richest men, founded Inditex in Spain in 1963 as a garment manufacturing business. He opened the first Zara store in La Coruna in 1975. He has never spoken to the media.


Monday, 6 June 2011

Puerto Banús attracts up to five million visitors each year and simply oozes wealth and glamour.  With 915 berths, the marina provides an address for some of the most elite boats, bars and boutiques on the whole of the southern Spanish Costa.  However, Puerto Banús is set to face some serious competition from none-too-distant neighbour – Marbella. 

Just 8km to the east, La Bajadilla marina has played a nondescript second fiddle to Puerto Banús attracting neither celebrities nor millionaires.  Yet thanks to a consortium led by Qatari Sheikh Abdullah ben Nasser Al-Thani, current owner of Málaga Football Club, the fishing port has been rubber stamped for a 400 million euro makeover. 

Plans for an additional 500 berths arranged on a spectacular circular pier, 200m quay for cruise liners, a waterfront five-star hotel as well as a raft of bars, restaurants and shops will catapult La Bajadilla into the spotlight.  With the Marbella Town Hall holding a 3% stake in the project, the marina is obliged to be ‘emblematic’ in order to attract elite clientele and is being billed as the most important urban development in Marbella’s history.  Puerto Banús has every reason to worry that one day it will be outshone by one of its own.

Hadleigh Bolt, Director of creating elite bespoke homes in La Zagaleta  country estate just 20km from Marbella, comments, “I am a huge fan of Marbella and believe that it’s symbolic of this prestigious coastline.  Marbella’s Golden Mile is where it all began back in the 1950s when the five-star Marbella Club Hotel first opened its doors and today the area needs to up the ante to once more compete with the best resorts on the Côte d’Azur and Amalfi coastline.  This new marina is a great initiative and I believe it’s a correct decision to create a fresh new landmark for Marbella rather than to simply remodel near-neighbour Puerto Banús.  With the old industrial estate set to be demolished and the AVE high speed rail link destined to stretch to Marbella in the not too distant future – Port Al Thani will undoubtedly change the face of Marbella.”

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Marbella Club Hotel, whose guests have included Audrey Hepburn and Laurence Olivier. Found on the Golden Mile – a prime piece of Marbella real estate flanked by the mansions of millionaires – it was originally built as a private residence by the legendary Marbella playboy and founder Príncipe Alfonso von Hohenlohe.

With Beverly Hills-style villa accommodation and an on-site Thalasso spa, it's hardly surprising that the guestbook has held its own despite a deluge of bad press tarnishing Marbella's shine (political scandals have plagued the town since its mayor, Jesús Gil, was imprisoned for embezzlement, and a tasteless show following the lives of bored housewives did it no favours either).

Yet Marbella still keeps the A-list rubbing shoulders with the D-list. Michelle Obama flew in for a four-day visit in 2010. Her stay of choice? The five-star Villa Padierna, another prestigious place to slip between high-threadcount sheets at night and look out towards Morocco in the morning.

A classic reservation is Villa Tiberio, where Dame Shirley Bassey, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sean Connery have chowed down on Italian cuisine against a backdrop of scented botanical gardens.

The hottest table now is La Sala, recently opened but already famed for its wooden decking that is more people-watching perch than terrace. The food? Who knows. The stick-thin socialites who flock there in barely-there Carolina Herrera creations come to see and be seen, eschewing solids for sustenance of the liquid variety.

While Marbella's new generation of "slebs" head to beachside drinking dens such as Nikki Beach and, more recently, Buddha Beach, the A-list still prefers the more elegant environs of the quayside playpen that is Puerto Banús (or "Port of Abuse", as insiders call it).

Here size is everything, and super-yachts, supercars and supermodels jostle for space in a marina crammed with designer labels. Thankfully, the young 'uns stick to one end while the older crowd enjoys more sophisticated tipples at Sinatra's at the other.

Nightclub queen Olivia Valere retains its crown as the chic-est place to mingle when you're single (just ask Mariah Carey and Naomi Campbell, who love the paparazzi-free secrecy of its 1,001 Arabian Nights-inspired courtyards).

Those gorgeous places to sleep, eat, drink and dance, those white-sand beaches and a cobbled Old Town juxtaposed against a super-sleek marina – all are still there for the taking. Trashy flash in the pan it ain't.

Friday, 3 June 2011

THE ‘On Echegaray’ performances will get a taste of something different tomorrow (Friday) night with a local trio called L’Avalanche which perform ‘melancholic rock’ music, in French. The group, which claims to have many different influences, is currently preparing their next album in Marseille with French musicians.


IVANA TRUMP, considered to be the richest woman in the world, is following in the footsteps of Michel Obama and will be staying in the same suite as the First Lady at the Villa Padierna Hotel. She has been invited by Countess Alicia de Villapadierna, and her husband, the President of Urbanizadores de España, Ricardo Arranza, and will be followed by a small army of the US press.

Ivana Trump and a group of celebrities will be dining and partying with the Marbella jet-set, as well as shopping in Marbella town centre, and lunching with Rudolph Schonburg and his wife, Princess Maria Luisa of Prussia (cousin to Queen Sofia of Spain), before attending the ‘Children for Peace’ Gala at the Villa Padierna, sponsored by the owner of La Cañada Shopping Centre, Tomas Olivo, on June 4.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

KNOWN for the soulful voice behind 1990s' pop sensation the 'M People', Heather Small is visiting Spain for a concert in Marbella next month. She tells EWN reporter Nicole Hallett about stage fright and her favourite dance as a contestant in 2008 Strictly Come Dancing.

Born and raised on a West London council estate, Heather Small joined her first group, Hot House, as a teenager in 1987. She later moved to Manchester after a chance meeting with Hacienda DJ Mike Pickering and shot to fame in the 1990s as the lead vocalist of  M People with hit songs including ‘One Night in Heaven’, ‘Search for the Hero’, and ‘Moving on Up’.

In 2000, she released her debut solo album ‘Proud’, a critically acclaimed collection of self-penned soul and gospel anthems, followed by her second album ‘Close to a Miracle’ in 2006. Heather has visited Spain on several occasions:  “I have been to Barcelona and done the Gaudi thing; I took my son to see the big games in Madrid, La Manga, and I spent New Year’s Eve 2010 in Palma de Mallorca with my son. 

“We stayed in the old part, which I loved and we spent New Year’s Day walking around the harbour.  I love looking at the water and the boats. I do not like actually going in the water, but the water from a distance is very nice.”

After decades in the spotlight, Heather admits she still gets stage fright. “It is terrible. I know that the best thing for me to do is to know my steps and to know what I am doing inside out. To get on that stage and do well I have to be confident that I know my song well. 

“As the years go by I have realised that what an audience will forgive is a bad note; but that ain’t gonna happen. What they want is 100 per cent commitment. 

“They want you to go for it and I have always gone for  it, you know, and with experience you learn how to do that night after night without damaging your voice. You look after yourself.

“I actually have this little ritual I do to learn my songs. I am a bit superstitious ... I have this really old Walkman where the back has fallen off. I have to cover the backwith paper. When I go to the gym people look at me like they are thinking "that poor girl, she cannot even afford an iPhone."

"I do have an iPhone, my son puts stuff on the re for me, but I just feel more comfortable doing it the old way. When at home i just put my CD on.

"I drink herbal tea before going on stage. I do breathing techniques and relaxation."

But, once on stage, her stage fright disappears: "I love it", Heather says.

"When you get out there and you say the first few words and the sound is good, especially when you go out there with a band, it's amazing.

"There is no experience like it. It is well documented that I do not smoke, drink or do drugs. I understand the life you lead as a musician, the highs are so high and then you come off the road it is hard to come down from touring.

"I can understand how sometimes people can get into bad habits, but I have got a really solid family."

When asked which of her songs contain the most important message to her personally she is quick to answer. "'Proud', because I wrote it to myself. I have been able to put a roof over my head and I have been happy through singing. For me that is success.

“People think you can just measure it from what is in your bank account. I do not want to be known as a rich woman, but as a singer.” 

She admits she has always admired Gladys Knight,  Mavis Stapels, and Nina Simone.  

“I like heartfelt singers that have that element of something...” Heather was a contestant in the British television show Strictly Come Dancing in 2008. 

“The dancing and the training were absolutely wonderful. Getting up in front of the judges and being on TV was nerve-racking, she recalls. 

“I am glad I did it because I met some people who are now friends for life. 

“The waltz was my favourite dance. I didn’t have a least favourite but the judges might have done!”  Heather laughs.



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