Thursday, November 16, 2017

Christmas Gifts for the Rich: The Orient Express!

In September I mentioned a few items that might be great gifts for the super rich. It's really hard to buy for them, you know? Considering they already have everything under the sun, right?

But thanks to our Twitter pal Jim Kendall (luxury real-estate mogul in Boston) it occurs to me that the gift of travel could be entirely unique and well received by our rich friends - if presented carefully and in the right way. Who doesn't love to get out of town and do something different, right?

For example, how about open tickets (meaning 'at your convenience' ) for a ten-day holiday on a luxury Mediterranean cruise ship? (Which is generally under $50,000 per couple.)

And then, how about open reservations for a six-day revitalization visit to the luxury spa Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland? Who wouldn't appreciate that? (About $33,000 per person, or $66,000 per couple.)

Or perhaps open tickets for the three-room apartments on the UAE's luxury airline Ethiad Air -complete with a private shower before landing? (A round-trip ticket from New York to Mumbai, for example, would be roughly $76,000 per couple.)

But Jim was talking about something new altogether. It seems the renowned Orient Express, serving the rich and famous since 1883, is upgrading some cars to accommodate the current new breed of super rich - who are always looking for new thrills and adventures. In it's long 135 year history the train has not only been known for luxury but also mystery and intrigue - as in Agatha Christie's book and film Murder On the Orient Express.

Like many other children, my father bought me a miniature train set when I was a child and I've been hooked on train travel ever since. As a family we took trains all across America and Canada, with sleeping cars, an observation car, and a dining room with linens and crystal wine glasses on the table. All so awesome! And then in later years as a poor back-packing student traveling in Europe, cheap passenger trains were always the transportation of choice. Not just for the scenic beauty but also the wonderful people you meet along the journey.

One summer in Istanbul I went to the train station to check out the Destination Board, trying to decide where to go to next. To my excitement the Orient Express was pulling into the station at that very same time! At least twice I walked the entire length of the train on the platform, peering into windows and watching the well-heeled passengers depart - summonsing porters to pick up their Louis Vuitton luggage and steamer trunks. Just so elegant and mind boggling!

But now getting back to the subject, here's a link to the newly added suites for the super rich on the Orient Express. At a mere $7,000 per night per person, you can easily see why this would be a great gift for your best rich friends. That's only about $200,000 for a couple to have a two-week trip, right? Perfect for a honeymoon or anniversary celebration, as well as other such reckless events.  Conde Nast Traveler

I hope this has been somewhat helpful in making gift decisions this year?  Or what?

As always, thanks for dropping in this evening,

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Terrified Rich!

"I've been rich been rich and I've been poor, but rich is better!" -  Sophie Tucker, Gertrude Stein, Mae West

During these times of worldwide chaos I've been somewhat amused by business and financial publications like Forbes, The Atlantic, and Business Insider describing the whining and fears of the well-heeled rich. While many of us scramble to come up with rent money or the electric bill, it's true that the rich and super rich have their own set of headaches that keep them awake at night - as inconceivable as that may sound.

In no particular order, here's a list of some of their self-imposed anxieties:

- HANGING ON TO THEIR MONEY: Once they've busted their butts and accumulated a pile of cash, "How on earth do we hang onto it?"

- DECLINING MARKETS: Could their fortunes evaporate overnight with rumors of a recession or an actual collapse? (Even those in the middle class with 401K's have this worry, right?)

- THE IRS: Rich people know all too well that the Internal Revenue Service is breathing down their necks, watching every move they make and ready to pounce. Which requires teams of accountants and lawyers to help them find all the loopholes.

- LAWSUITS: Everyone wants to sue the rich and they're always being dragged into court for some reason or other, which is why they keep lawyers on retainer. (My employer even has a special cheap suit from Walmart and a $25 butt-ugly watch from Walgreen's that he wears to court, so he won't look too rich.)

- CAR WRECKS: At any given moment on any given day, a simple car crash could cost them millions once the injured party and their lawyers find out they have deep pockets! Which is why many of them take taxis, limos, or hired car services when they go out and about.

- POLITICAL CONCERNS: Who is currently in the White House or Congress that might help or hinder them for getting a tax cut or eliminating corporate regulations? (And therefore huge contributions to political campaigns!)

- DIVORCE: No doubt about it, this is decidedly the easiest and quickest way to lose HALF your fortune overnight! (Especially when the wife knows the best attorneys who can break a prenuptial agreement.)

- SEXUAL IMPROPRIETY: As we all know, anyone with money or power is at risk of blackmail, public exposure, or lawsuits for inappropriate behavior. It's all over the news all the time, and I needn't explain more.

- CHARITIES: The rich are under constant siege from a long list of charities seeking donations. Which is why most of them assuage their guilt by aligning themselves with a favorite few, attend their glitzy (if not boring) Charity Balls, then scribble out a check and be done with it. (Around the holidays we literally gets stacks of charity requests in the mail!)

- SECURITY: The multiple homes of the rich are always targets for professional thieves and cat burglars who are after their million-dollar art works, jewels and silver. Even worse, some rich people need to hire body guards to protect against more sinister situations like kidnapping, ransom, or worse.

There's other disquieting stuff, like fear of gold-digging friends, corporate embezzlement, or worrying that their kids will bump them off for the inheritance - but I'll stop here. Many of us daydream about being rich. (Or at least having enough to make ends meet every month.) But as with anything else, there are consequences and responsibilities involved.

As Oscar Wilde said: "When the Gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers."

Thanks for dropping in this evening,