Social Commentary

Everything You Need to Know About Your Child’s Education & Success by Malcolm Gladwell

For those of you who have already read Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’, then you already know everything you need to know about your child’s education and future success. If you haven’t, this is a snap picture of what he has found out about the patterns and behaviours of ‘Outliers,’ people out of the norm based on intelligence, success and physical prowess, based on extensive research and some lateral thinking.

1. Being the oldest in the class is a Good Thing.

A study done by two economists found that an older child who was tested against a younger child in the same class with comparable intellect would score higher than the younger child, which can make a huge difference in getting into gifted programs. Therefore, the oldest child will be put in an ‘advanced program’ which  will in turn encourage his/her skills and they will do better than the younger child. Over time, these differences will become big differences which will have a big impact. He uses the example of Junior League Hockey in Canada and the physical superiority January children have over later born children to illustrate that a whole year matters and when you are born matters. (Many NHYMs I know already have the birthdate of their child planned before pregnancy so they are well ahead of me;

2. Hard Work and the 10,000 hour rule.

Most of us have heard of the 10,000 rule already, but it re-enforces that hard work will get you ahead. The best chess players and the best musical prodigies are the ones who put in more time in their art than anyone else. Gladwell looked at a study that showed that once a musician has the talent to get into a top music school, what distinguished the world famous musician versus the rest is the amount of time dedicated to his music. Studies done all show that 10,000 hours of practice are needed to achieve ‘expert’ level at any one complex task, which equates to years of hard work. It takes this amount of time for the brain to process and assimilate expertise and mastery. I clearly remember a friend who was an All American sports player whose parents told me that he would spend hours kicking his ball, all day and every day, which is how he became so good. So get practicing.

3. Opportunity.

Gladwell uses the example of Bill Gates who as a teenager was lucky enough to have a computer in his high school in the 60s. This was considered ‘amazing.’ Most universities didn’t have computers yet, so here he was given an opportunity to play with computers and start programming before any of his peers were able to. This was his opportunity, which enabled him to get ahead of the rest of the world. It was his obsession and he used the 10,000 hour rule to become a world expert. Gladwell states that all outliers benefit from some kind of extraordinary opportunity. So, this is what you can give your children: opportunities. Then it is up to them to take these opportunities or not.

4. Oxbridge and the Ivy Leagues are not the answer to everything.

I hear all around me mothers who are obsessed with their children going to Oxbridge or an Ivy League University. To them, this is their definition of educational success. Yes, the Ivys and Oxbridge open a lot of doors, but they are not going to predict where your child will end up in life. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard, he clearly did not need a university degree to succeed. To most, universities will help them succeed, but a good university is good enough. Gladwell takes the last 25 Americans to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and in Medicine and many did not go to the ‘best’ universities, but to ‘good enough’ universities. Many I had never even heard of. The argument is that you would rather have your child at the top of his class at a ‘good’ university, rather than bottom of the class at ‘Oxbridge/Ivy.’ Similarly to point one, the person at the ‘lesser’ university may get more opportunities.

5. Luck Matters.

Being at the right place at the right time is something we can’t predict. Some opportunities are based on luck. Nothing else. And there is nothing you can do about that apart from teaching your child about Good Karma.

6. A Genius IQ won’t guarantee anything. 

Studies have shown that an IQ of 115 is necessary to get into a competitive graduate program and to succeed at it. This is probably what most of my peers are hoping for their children. But much above this IQ won’t guarantee very much. An IQ above 120 doesn’t correlate with personal success. It shows that intelligence has a threshold. For example, a scientist with an IQ of 130 is just as likely to win a Nobel Prize as one with an IQ of 180. It is like the Money and Happiness threshold. After a certain threshold, the amount of money you have does not have an impact on your happiness. Success is more than just to do with IQ, it also requires a lot of ‘Practical Intelligence.’ Practical Intelligence can be described as ‘knowing what to say to who, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it with maximum impact.’

7. What you do as a parent has an impact. 

Practical intelligence has a lot to do with what kind of family you were raised in. A study looking at different kinds of families found that two sets of parenting ‘philosophies’ emerged, which were separated by class lines; the wealthy families and the poorer families. Middle class and wealthier parents talked things through and taught their children how to reason. They allowed their children to challenge them, negotiate with them, and question them. They called the middle class style of parenting as ‘concerted cultivation’ which actively ‘fosters and assess a child’s talents, opinions and skills.’ Lower class parents let their children develop on their own, and had less involvement in their schooling and extra-curricular activities. (Of course over-parenting, as I’ve mentioned before, can turn your child into a stress and anxiety ridden child, which is not a good thing either!

8. Supportive Parents Lead their Children. 

What you do and what environment you provide your child affects everything she/he will do in the future. I remember growing up and seeing my father surrounded by books and encyclopedias. This taught me that books were interesting and how to be curious. My mother listened to classical music and painted. Even though back then, these were not my chosen subjects or tastes, they were indelibly inscribed in my brain, and I have come to love books, Wikipedia, Tschostakovich, and Art. Middle and upper middle class children’s homes are filled with books, their parents have college educations, they present themselves well and dress appropriately. This is teaching your child practical intelligence; how to interact appropriately with the real world. How to assess and address problems, how to speak up when necessary, and how to learn to manage other people appropriately.

9. Be Aware of Your Cultural Background. 

This comes nicely to the next point that culture matters. Your cultural background matters. Gladwell looked at Airplane accidents from a Korean airline and found that 1st Officers wouldn’t assert themselves against their Captains, which caused a number of airplane crashes. (It did however show that American culture is an affirmative one, as many flight officers would be intimidated by the JFK air controllers. New York is one of the most affirmative cities in the world in my opinion). I have already opined about Jews and their cultural impact in another post and we have all heard about ‘Tiger Moms’ of American Chinese descent, so think about your culture’s pros and cons and address them if possible when raising your child.

10. Perseverance Counts. 

This theme is weaved throughout the book, ‘Outliers.’ Working hard, and working at what you do takes time and perseverance to succeed. It is about using failures as a lesson towards success. Entrepreneurs’s personality traits always include ‘perseverance.’ It is a ‘constant personal evolution (Huffington Post).’ Learning to fail is just as important as succeeding. So whatever your child puts their mind to, be there to support them and let them fail along the way.




Top 10, Travel

Top 10 Tips on Surviving Flights with Kids


Nightmare definition: Flying with Kids

Having just returned from a hellish flight with my 1 year old and 4 year old, I thought to myself, why did I do that? And then a few months later, I will forget and do it all over again as if that experience weren’t bad enough to scar me for life (There must be a hormone that is released, like during pregnancy, that makes you forget the pain you must go through to travel with kids). Now, this isn’t about a 1 hour or 2 hour flight I am talking about, I am talking about a 7 to 12 hour+ transatlantic/transcontinental flight with a topping of jet lag, which pushes me over the edge.


Baby Flying

I am now quite an expert in airports, doing some juggling at the Xray machine, immediately locating soft plays/kids areas at airports, and my eldest loves flying because she knows she will get uninterrupted hours of Mickey Mouse/Charlie & Lola/Peppa Pig. But it is my little one who is trouble. After the 2nd hour of plane travel and trying to entertain her in a very small contained area, I think to myself, when is this torture ever going to end?? Every 5 minutes feels like an hour. And her attention span is like a hamster on speed in its hamster wheel.

Some people swear by night flights, boasting that their children just fall asleep and wake up at the landing. Who are these kids and what medication have you doped them with??! My children have no interest in sleeping during night flights. Especially the little one who finds planes the most fascinating of places. I can read her mind ‘Let’s pull at the earphones, press all the buttons (including the air hostess button), and see what happens. The plane description card looks appetising, let’s lick it. The window looks like it wants a kiss. Smooch! Oh, and that floor looks really clean, let’s crawl up and down the aisle twenty times and taste all the airplane food that’s been dropped on it.’


Older Children

Older children are easier to manage now that we have the Power of Apple: IPads, IPhones, ITouch, and now that you can leave them on during take-off and landing, it keeps them entertained the moment they sit to landing time. Once children reach the age of being entertained by electronics, you can finally sigh and start traveling ‘en toute tranquilite.’ Babies are just trickier, especially between 12 months to 2.5 years when they have learned to walk but are not focussed enough to watch a TV show. Their brains are on speed, creating 2 million synapses per second. That is a lot of synapses. This is the height of their learning ability as humans, this is the time which determines whether they will become Einstein or not, so there is no way they are going to sit quietly while you read the FT/Vogue/Grazia or BA High Life.

Some flights are dreams, some are war zones, with flying food missiles, toy bombings and deathly screams. Apart from what you already know, and for those times when nothing goes according to plan, here are my Top 10 Tips for Flying with Children:

Top 10 Tips of Travelling with Babies/Toddlers

1. Treats

For every half an hour they behave, give them a reward. Food is always a winner, otherwise be prepared in advance and use old toys that they have forgotten about and wrap them up as a present to be given every half hour. That will keep them busy for 5 minutes. Children’s magazines you can buy at the airport with toys attached are also a cheap and cheerful option.

2. Food

A friend of mine once said she kept her children happy through a LA-London flight by just feeding them constantly. Obviously, try to choose low fat/healthy snacks. If you becomes slightly desperate, try using one lollipop at the end of the flight as a reward. If all else fails, use whatever you have at hand. They may end up being obese and hating you for it, but at that precise moment, it doesn’t really matter.

3. IPads/IPhones/Computer games

As I mentioned above, the amount of Apps/Videos you can get these days is unimaginable. Download at least 1 app for every 15 minute of the flight. For the little ones, the Bubbles App is great for hand-eye coordination and can keep them entertained for another 5 minutes. I don’t care what you do in your own home, electronic babysitters are the best friend you can have on a plane, especially if your child isn’t usually allowed gadgets at home, they will want to fly just for that reason.

4. A Bag of Earplugs

Not for you or the baby, but to give to all the passengers around you who start giving you dirty looks. If they can’t take a joke, make sure your baby screams right in their ear. (We once sat next to a lady in Business who complained for half an hour even before we took off about being next to our 2 year old toddler, even though our toddler is a seasoned, traveling poster child ie. she knows where to stash her toys in the drawer by her feet, plug in the earphones and scroll through the menu to the kids shows using the touch screen menu. Soon she will recite the entire steward monologue to keep your seatbelt fastened when the seatbelt light is on. We should have slipped some sleeping pills in that lady’s champagne when she wasn’t looking).

5. A Sedative or equivalent.

Valium or Ambien will do just fine for your baby. Just kidding. That’s just for the parents and for the above, grumpy, unfriendly passengers next to you. Benadryl night time for babies if you are teetering on the brink.

6. Sanitizing wipes

Small babies love wipes. Teach them how to clean their armrest/folding tray/window with the wipes. You don’t want to know how dirty those airplane seats are and it’s never too early to start teaching them hygiene.

7. Bribes

Bribe the airplane stewardess with Cash/Alcohol/Drugs for a five minute breather if you are traveling alone. Bribe the old granny next to you for 5 minutes babysitting in exchange for that Duty Free bottle of whiskey. Bribe anyone that is willing to help.

8. Yu Yee Oil

It is a peppermint oil concoction which is apparently used to calm babies with colic. Give them a palm/sole/tummy massage to try to soothe them to sleep with it. Even if this Chinese medicine mumbo jumbo doesn’t work or isn’t your thing, that’s another 15 minutes well spent and the passengers around you will reward you for your efforts. And it is good to cover up vomit/poop/fart smells quite well.

9. Learn to Meditate

As you watch the clock every 15 minutes, visualise where you are going. If you are lucky enough to be going somewhere warm, sunny and happy, this will lower your blood pressure, calm you down, and make you smile. If you are visiting your family/in-laws that you can’t stand, don’t use this trick.

10. Just Remember: This too shall pass

It is just a period of time that will pass. No one died (or hopefully they didn’t). Just like those terrible nights when your baby just won’t sleep or the witching hour, it is just a matter of survival. And as any parent of small children knows, this is our mantra: ‘This too shall pass’.





Review: Bob Bob Ricard Restaurant and Bar (aka. Bob Bob Ricard and The Time Machine)

‘Press For Champagne’ 


1 Upper James Street, London W1F 9DF

0203 145 1000

Food: 4 stars

Service: 4.5 stars

Design: 4.5 stars

Value: 3 stars

Overall: 4 stars

A restaurant that boasts a button that lures you to ‘Press for Champagne’ is one that I needed to try for myself.  An even better button would be ‘Press for Time,’ as having time these days is as precious as a Cristal bottle. Being in the Generation X, which means we are stressed and time-poor, friendships are often left behind in the cold. As a mother of two young ones, my life has been upstaged by other obligations.


I remember those days fondly when all I had to think of was 1) What I was going to wear for dinner 2) Where I was going for dinner and 3) Who was going to accompany me to said dinner. ‘Once you have children’, a SuperCareerWoman I know once explained to me ‘There are only so many hours in a day to do everything. We have six priorities that we try to fulfil in a set amount of hours. Something has to give eventually.’ The six priorities are: 1. Spending time with the children 2. Having a career 3. Keeping a close and connected relationship with a husband or partner 4. Staying and being Healthy, including working out or zumba-ing 5. A social life of some sort and finally, 6. ‘Me’ Time’ (the latter which really doesn’t count as a priority, as it doesn’t actually exist).


Well, Bob Bob Ricard seemed like a good place to take care of number 5, for a while at least. I invited 10 friends and waited to see who would show up. The answers were as follows: ‘Sorry. In Copenhagen/Dubai/Paris on work trip.’ ‘Sorry I am renovating/moving houses. No time.’ ‘Sorry I had a crying baby/husband all night, exhausted and can’t get away.’ Finally, 4 out of the 10 showed up, which these days, is a relative success (there was a moment there that I thought I would be sitting on my own pressing the button non-stop to drown my depressing lack of friends).


Bob Bob is a ‘spectacular’ restaurant from a Russian and English collaboration. It famously was given ‘no stars’ by AA Gill who described it as ‘Liberace’s bathroom dropped into a Texan diner,’ while winning the Global Design Award and Best New Design at the Wallpaper and TimeOut Restaurant Awards, respectively. TimeOut said it seemed loosely based on the Orient Express meeting an American diner. Marina O’Loughlin and the bald guy from Masterchef loved it. It is a theatrical, mirrored, all-booth restaurant that you have to see with your own eyes to judge clearly.


Our dinner and menu were as controversial and golden as the interiors, really not to be taken too seriously. I had a Seabass ceviche as a starter (which was good but a Size 0 if it had a waist size), while the Lobster Mac & Cheese was a good Size 10, yummy but I should have had it as a side rather than a main. The desserts were the highlight with a wonderful soufflé and a chocolate bomb that was chocolatey and a spectacle in its own right: a golden globe melted open by hot warm chocolate lava (see below).

chocolate globe 1NHYM



As an experiment, we pressed the Champagne button to see how long it would take for our wish to be granted. Someone arrived in 18 seconds. Definitely beating the Airline stewardess’ time. Sadly, a tray of Dom Perignon/Moet&Chandon/Veuve Cliquot/Cristal didn’t appear as I had hoped for, but a waitress with a Champagne Menu. From it, we were able to order our £18 glass of Tattingers. All in all, it was an enjoyable, fun, girly, evening out, which reminded me of the days when my time was spent on my girly gossip sessions, drinking endless amounts of cocktails and champagne, without worrying about how many times I would have to wake up in the night, while discussing our latest dates and boy troubles. Its prices are fit for a Tsar, its food as whimsical and playful as Russian dolls and it takes us back in time, to a time where Liberace meets the Orient Express, or even to those carefree days when all I had to think about was myself.




Bob Bob Ricard on Urbanspoon

Photos, Reviews, Social Commentary, Travel

‘I Like Big Boats… And I Cannot Lie’

‘I like Big Boats And I cannot Lie, You Other Sisters Can’t Deny…I’m hooked and I can’t stop staring… But Boats make me so Happy, So Ladies (yeah!), Ladies (yeah!), Do you love  your Boats? Hell yeah!’

– adapted from ‘Baby got Back’ by Sir Mix a Lot, 1992


Van Dutch (Photos all taken by NHYM Copyright 2014)

Boats vs. Cars

Boats win hands down. When I hop on a privately owned boat of any size (over 10meters long that is), I get a certain frisson that gets me going, which I know is inexcusable and I should have higher morals, how superficial, but I just can’t help it. I just love boats. I don’t give a tits ass about cars. Cars to me are just dull and predictable; the Porsche Boxter is the poor man’s Porsche that an Associate at a big bank has finally been able to afford to show off his peers from B-school, the Ferrari is the ‘mid-life-crisis’ car that divorced men rush out to buy to snap up a younger version of their ex-wives, and let’s not talk about the branded keychain men love to leave around the restaurant dinner table to show off their bling. I once knew an Italian wannabe playboy who cruised down Fulham Road in his Porsche/Ferrari/Aston Martin to pick up chicks and it apparently worked! When these men (kids) get married and have children, they become the 4×4 crowd, the Range Rover vs. the BMW X5. (And you already know how I feel about private jets: Just as men have their toys or gadgets, boats are my ‘thing.’ I can stare at them all day. Not only can they take you from A to B like a car or plane, you can party on them, sleep on them, drink cocktails on them while watching the sun set over Formentera with some vodka infused watermelons, cruise from Capri to Ischia overnight on them and do whatever else your imagination takes you.


Sunseeker Superhawk 48

My love of boats started years ago, when as a 20 year old party girl I made friends with an Italian playboy who happened to be friends with a very wealthy 26 year old New Yorker, owner of a Sunseeker Superhawk (this owner of the Sunseeker by the way, drove us to his boat in a Porsche 911). We spent the summers on his boat, the wealthy owner made cooler by the Italian playboy, and I was the token, cool, fun and clever girl that had an open invitation, while they invited different ‘potentials’ each weekend, one which inspired my favourite line in history: ‘You are like a lobster, not a lot of meat, but very expensive.’ Thus started my love affair with boats. There is nothing like the feeling I get when I am on the water, being rocked by mother nature, inducing a release of endorphins that makes me so deliriously happy, surrounded by water and away from all our ‘problems’ for the day, or for a week. It reminds me that we are just small fish in a huge ocean. Mix that with a Mojito cocktail or Glass of Domaine Ott Rose, and a Cafe Del Mar CD, and there is not much more that makes me so happy.


The Size of a Boat Matters: Bigger is not always Better

There is a good size to a boat, like Goldilocks’ bed, not too big, not too small. My ideal is between 10m and 40m, but it also depends on the boat. Under 10m is acceptable for a lake boat or for a Riva, Aquarama or a Ligurian day boat. Over 50m and they become like cruise-liners, which is not my thing, I’ll leave the cruises to the over 60s and to those Orange EasyCruisers. I want to be able to feel the water rocking the boat underneath me, and not feel like a floating hotel. A good boat should have plenty of space for sunbathing, drinking and eating. Then there are day boats and overnight boats to choose from. My favourite day boat is the Sunseeker Superhawk 48, as I have already mentioned before. Overnight boats need to be a certain length, so that I don’t turn green and start wretching – really not an attractive look – and to have enough space for a proper cabin and proper toilets that don’t start smelling of piss after 3 days at sea.

There is the real urban tale of the Legal Head of a major American Private Equity Firm who proudly rents a 33m sailing boat in the Caribbean for him and his family. He is feeling rather pleased with himself that he has one of the biggest boats in the bay and his teenage sons are well impressed. Until, that is, the Billionaire founder of his Private Equity Firm accosts him with his personal 62m super yacht, with helicopter and sailboat on the main deck, and his teenagers desert him in a flash for the jet skis on the super yacht.


Invictus and Lady Joy

Sailboats vs. Superyachts

The question of Sailboat vs. Motor yachts is rather self explanatory. Sailboats are unquestionably the more beautiful and classy boat, while the Superyachts are the cool boats to have, to really show off in the land of the SuperRich. Some would say a penis extension. But whatever. They are just so cool. The FT recently covered boats as the ultimate SuperRich playthings. First comes the house, then comes the car, then the plane and finally the Superyacht. So, are you cool or are you classy?


Boyfriends and Boats

All of my serious boyfriends understood very quickly that I loved boats and used this to their advantage. It is my weak spot! Everyone has one, don’t they?  My first serious boyfriend took me on a sailing trip from St. Martin to St. Barth’s on our third date, good effort I thought, but after three days I couldn’t wait to check-into a hotel. My second serious boyfriend took me on a friend’s Sunseeker Superhawk every summer to go from Ibiza to Formentera for the day, and managed to get me on an America’s Cup Winner Oyster during Les Voiles de St. Tropez. Not Bad. My third serious boyfriend decided to propose to me on a boat, unfortunately he didn’t receive the memo, it wasn’t on a Sunseeker or an Oyster Sailboat as I was hoping for, but a small, tin boat on a freezing cold, rainy lake. Needless to say, I still said ‘yes’. So, after all, it’s not the size of the boat that really matters.


A ‘pizza’ boat.



Twitter: @NHyummymummy


Social Commentary, Top 10, Travel

Review: The Splendido Hotel, Portofino, Italy

Quote of the Day: ‘Why Don’t I Have Prices on my Menu?’

Splendido Hotel

Salita Baratta 16, 16034 Portofino, Italy

+ 390185267801


(All Photos Courtesy of NHYM Copyright 2014.)

Overall: 4.75 stars

The restaurant: 4.5 (5 stars for the Truffle Tagliatelle, 4 for the rest).

The Room: 4.75 stars (5 stars for the Balcony of Room 101, 4.5 stars for the room)

The view: 5 Stars

The Service: 4.5 Stars

The people-watching: 4.75 stars

The ‘most expensive hotel in Europe’


When I told my Italian friend that I was going to Portofino and staying at the Splendido for a few nights, he smiled broadly and replied; ‘Ah, the most expensive hotel in Europe!’ I cringed. This was the most expensive hotel room I was ever paying for out of my own pocket (doesn’t count when work/business/clients take you somewhere, like the time I was taken to the Byblos in St. Tropez with similar prices for a Suite). It makes the Maldives look like a good deal in comparison. One night here was equivalent to one month’s pay check at my first job after grad school. There was no way it was going to be worth it. I could probably build a whole village in Africa for this kind of money. But, it was decided, we were going to go to the Splendido for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to celebrate our wedding anniversary and make up for the honeymoon we never really had.

Splendid Splendido


The Splendido was originally a Benedictine monastery where ascetic monks gave up all worldly desires in the name of God, until it was bought by a rich Italian family who carved its future in becoming the home of the Dolce Vita, the sweet pleasures of life. It then became a world famous hotel that welcomed the biggest stars in Hollywood; Clark Gable, Charlton Heston, Liza Minelli, and other international stars like Alain Delon, Maggie Smith and Michael Caine, all who have black and white photographs hung in the corridors of the hotel. The hotel is surrounded by a gorgeous garden of rows and rows of agapanthus, rows of hydrangeas, lemon trees, 100 year old olive trees, palm trees, cacti, bougainvillaea, daisies, jasmine and all the other flowers you could think of. It is a small garden of Eden in Italy.

Inside, the hotel is decorated in a kitschy way that only Italians can pull off, with painted frescoes on the walls, my grandmother’s curtains hanging from the windows, and gold framed paintings of flowers on the walls. The hotel could use a lift, but in some ways, you are living a part of history past. The paintings and black and white photographs on the walls are all crookedly hung, but no one has fixed almost intentionally. The view is to-die-for. Watching the view for a few hours is as good as meditating for the day. It quietens the soul and instantly lifts you up. The view is of the bay in front of Portofino, inhabited by Superyachts changing daily, Invictus, Lady Joy, Elisa and Virginian (all of which can be rented for 250-500,000 Euros per week), fuelling my FOMO despite being in one of the nicest hotel I have dreamt about.

The Restaurant


After check-in, we went straight to the hotel restaurant, La Terrazza, on a beautiful terrace with a picture perfect view of Portofino. We crossed paths with a short 65 year old man, smiling from ear to ear, accompanied by a young girl, 35 years younger and 35 cm taller. I did a double take. They looked familiar. Had I seen the same couple at the One & Only in the Maldives just a few years ago? Probably not, but it certainly set the scene of the hotel’s clientele.

Our lunch at the Terrazza was one of the best lunches we’d had in a while. It was also probably because it was 3pm and we were starving – everything tastes better when you are starving. We ordered the truffle tagliatelle, which was worthy of 5 stars. Mr. C then had the sesame crusted seared tuna, which was perfectly seared and seasoned. Next to us, we could hear an older American couple whom had probably been saving their whole life for this trip talking to another American couple. The woman asked: ‘Why don’t I have prices on my menu?’ Amateurs. (For those who don’t know, women’s menus don’t have prices in the South of France or in Italy, it is the land of machismo after all.) Two tables down, I saw Arun Nayer (50 y.o.), Elizabeth Hurley’s ex husband, with his new younger girlfriend, the model Kim Johnson (29 y.o.). This was starting to be a recurring theme.


The dinner we had on a Saturday night was good, but by all means not spectacular. The service was slow but the view and the people watching was stupendous. An older, seasoned American couple next to us discussed their love of Business Class Flying; ‘I could never imagine flying to Europe any other way.’

The Characters


Watching the clientele of the hotel was a theatrical show of its own, showcasing the world’s current financial and social structural hierarchy. Next to us at the pool were four Russians who wouldn’t stop talking, not the bling and brash ones seen at Les Caves in St. Tropez or Courchevel, just wealthy, upper middle class Russians. The Americans were the really loud ones, whose conversations seemed to be projected over loudspeakers and followed us everywhere. There were London Hedge Funders also in the mix, one of them that sold his fund for a cool £100 (million that is), with his original wife that needed some style tips. There were a slew of younger, more beautiful women (often Eastern European/Russians) with Gerard Depardieu look-alike boyfriends/husbands. The women were clearly with them NFHL (not for his looks) and more FHM (for his money). Although, I have to say that these couples looked happy, these women were being given lavish lifestyles and never lacked anything, whereas these older men could feel young and studly with their beautiful younger girlfriends/wives. It was an economical transaction that benefited everyone. A Japanese couple sitting at lunch read their IPad/Iphone/Samsung the entire lunch without a word exchanged. Finally, there were a few Italian and French head of industries, welcoming each other: ‘Bienvenue a Portofino!’ The only ones missing were the Chinese.

The Wedding


We happened to be staying there the same weekend of a wedding. As we saw the guests fill up the terraces, I tried to guess what kind of wedding it was. I guessed ‘second wedding, older man with younger Eastern European/Russian wife’. There were Americans, English, and Russian guests in addition to the occasional Indian and Asian guest. I guessed they were from London, since there is no other city in the world that would mix these nationalities so easily, specifically Chelsea or Knightsbridge. They must be in finance with their Blackberrys ringing and potbellies bouncing. I saw three sexy Eastern European girls with fake boobs, frolicking around each other during cocktail hour, probably the only friends of the bride. (We happened to have the best terrace of the whole hotel, Room 101, which was front row seats to this spectacle). Later that night, all my guesses were confirmed, as I saw the 50 year old groom accompanying his 6 year old flower girl daughter from his first marriage back to her room, while his beautiful, billowy, blond, bride spoke Russian to her friends and I confirmed the London location as I saw Arun Nayer and his girlfriend leaving the wedding.

Room With A View


Can I just suggest Room 101 if at all possible? It is a corner Suite with the ‘best terrace in the hotel’, best to watch the sunrise, the sunset, the ‘flora and fauna’ of the hotel (and the flowers and gardens as well). There is a safe behind one the flower paintings hung on the wall, very Italian Job.


One of the nicest hotel bathroom views

The Verdict: So, is it worth it? 


This hotel is a place where prices and currencies are best forgotten. The prices should stay off both the men and women’s menus to prevent spoiling the experience. The experience is priceless, indeed, and my expectations where thankfully met (the worse is when you spend a fortune on a hotel-letdown). This is a place to fall in love, to meditate, to forget yourself and who you are, and to be happy in. It has the best view of Portofino, even better than from the Virginian or Invictus yachts, proven by the yachties who come to the hotel for the food, the view and the atmosphere. The stunning scenery and hotel are enough to wash away any worries, even if momentarily for a few days. Places like this are what dreams are made of.

Other tips:

* There is a Kids Club! Really, an actual, real kids club below the pool. Pizza and Gelato making today!

* The pianist is world famous, dressed in a blue or green sequinned jacket, singing Sinatra and Italian songs and gets those old feet moving and stomping, from 18 to 88 year old.