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By Marie Scott

With the cold drawing in, it’s not hard to see why so many are jetting off in chase of some winter sun. However, in this increasingly globalised world it’s getting harder for the discerning traveller to choose between locations. Once industry darlings, many places have suffered at the hands of plasticising commercialisation. Today’s jetsetters want a destination that blends authentic charm, private beach life and refined luxury. They also never seem to find themselves far from an investment opportunity. Enter Mauritius.

While traditional winter gems such as Goa lose their sparkle to over-development and resorts, Mauritius’s strong heritage shines through. A cultural melting point of almost half a millennia of colonial rule, expect charming period houses rubbing shoulders with boutique luxury hotels. Another welcome by-product of its rich and varied history is its local cuisine. A French colony for just under a century, Mauritius’s stylised offerings also benefit from a unique set of influences, from Chinese traders and Indian migrant workers. Think mouth-watering creole curries and fresh seafood prepared by renowned chefs. And, with some of the best beaches in the world, it comes as no surprise that it’s seen a 100% rise in tourism in the past 16 years alone.

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From a business perspective, the modern traveller increasingly wants more from their trips abroad. Starting life as a trading port, it’s apt that Mauritius has seen itself develop into a modern day financial portal, facilitating and easing investment into notoriously difficult African, Asian and Indian markets.

A combination of advantageous legislation, fantastic business relations and a strong knowledge base makes investment in these relatively untapped regions not only possible, but also attractive. As emerging economies, such speculation offers an opportunity to get in on the ground floor – something that’s difficult to come by in the rest of the world.

Indeed, over the last few decades Mauritius has been quietly positioning itself as Africa’s Hong Kong or Singapore. For instance, it has concluded over 40 Double Taxation Avoidance (DTA) agreements with countries on the African continent, the UK and India. You only have to look to the historical precedence of India and China to understand the importance of this. In the late nineties, the world’s two largest countries rushed to increase their number of DTA and investor protection agreements with other countries as they moved towards a significant rise in foreign investment. The rest is very recent history.

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With favourable taxation rates, investors can look to holding companies in Mauritius to manage and ease investment into the continent. Take Mozambique for example. Here, returns on investment taken out of the country are taxed at 20% and sales of investments see a capital gains tax of up to 32%. However, as Deloitte points out, going through a Mauritian firm sees the former withholding tax reduced to 8% and the capital gains tax completely wiped. Back on the island, companies can benefit from a flat corporate tax of 15% (with financial tax credits available to reduce this to 3%), no tax on interests paid to non-resident shareholders and several other tax sparing provisions.

But as Antony Withers, chief executive of the Mauritius Central Bank, (MCB) finds – it’s not just favourable legislation that brings business to Mauritius. ‘Mauritius is where Singapore was 20-odd years ago before it established itself as an investment and financing destination for south-east Asia,’ he says before continuing “Mauritius has the same opportunity to really become an offshore jurisdiction for structuring investment into Africa.” He goes on to cite that there are “more than 120 active correspondent bank relationships in 34 countries in Africa” owned by the MCB.

It is these relationships that have ensured Mauritius’s continued success abroad. The World Bank ranks Mauritius first in Africa for ease of doing business as individuals and companies are increasingly taking advantage of the services supplied by Mauritian companies, such as Rogers Capital. Other than realising the legislative benefits for your investment detailed above, these bodies provide a springboard to efficient trade in Africa. As CEO of the Rogers Group Mr Philippe Espitalier-Noël states, “Our strategy is oriented towards business areas where we can offer services to clients beyond our borders.” For instance, with struggling infrastructure on continental Africa, multinational Mauritian companies, such as Velogic, the logistics arm of Rogers Group, offer integrated platforms to meet demanding logistical requirements.

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With Africa’s emergent economies and political instabilities, it’s not going to feature as a core investment. However, it is a very attractive means of portfolio diversification, with higher risk being balanced with higher returns. While Africa is not immune to global pressures, the spread that it brings to your investments can be an enormous help in difficult situations. During the recent economic downturn that saw China hit particularly badly, African markets remained relatively buoyant while shares in the UK were also hit. Africa, far from monolithic, presents a multitude of countries and investment areas each with their own qualities, meaning diverse opportunities in a variety of high-growth sectors. However, with this comes a risk – just compare the stability of South Africa to the political volatility of small dictatorships. As such, individuals and companies are turning to the historic expertise Mauritius has to offer to manage investments and, in doing so, minimise risk and ease trading difficulties.

But Mauritius doesn’t just look west. Between April 2000 and 2011, Mauritian companies invested over £36.5 billion in India, accounting for more than 40% of foreign direct investment in the country. The majority of these investments came in textiles, logistics and banking. Here again companies benefit from DTA treaties but it’s in Indian business culture where Mauritian expertise is best realised. In 2012, a report by the Hong Kong based Political and

Economic Risk Consultancy ranked India’s bureaucracy as ‘the worst in Asia’, scoring it at 9.21 out of 10. The report found that the ‘terrific powers’ of Indian bureaucrats was ‘one of the main reasons why average Indians as well as existing and would-be foreign investors perceive India’s bureaucrats as negatively as they do.’ Think forms signed in quadruplicate and disseminated across institutions for multiple approvals. That’s where the expertise of Mauritian companies like Rogers Capital and its 20 years of negotiating the legislative minefield that is India’s bureaucratic system come in.

Indeed, investment in India has never been more attractive. With a new Prime Minister there is an optimistic mood in the Bombay Stock Exchange as the Sensex index is up 65% in 2015 compared to 2011. If its economy continues a growth rate of 7.5% next year (the Indian government predicts a rise of 8%), it will overtake China in the next couple of years. Esteemed financial analysts, Bretton Woods, has it second only to China as an emerging market to invest in. Crucially, India is a country in a state of change. This means that there are multiple investment opportunities in a diverse range of industries. A growing middle class also brings new money and new markets to a country where the pound goes a long way.

To come full circle, Mauritius itself also presents an interesting investment prospective for the very reason you might find yourself there – the hospitality sector. Over a million tourists a year come to dive and snorkel in the world’s third largest coral reef, take boat trips to uninhabited islands and enjoy beach butler service in five star luxury resorts. To put the figures into perspective: India, a country with a population 1,200 times larger than Mauritius gets just seven times as many tourists. As a result, Mauritius (only 45 km in width) supports a burgeoning holiday trade that rivals that of much larger nations and whose tourist spends £800m per annum. What’s more interesting is that with only 109 registered hotels, over 90 miles of white sandy beaches and a myriad of islands and islets, there’s still plenty of room for investment. Supported by a well-established infrastructure best seen in the island’s efficient seaport, road network and modern international airport, Mauritius makes a compelling case when compared to other emerging destinations. Mo Peersaib, of Mo Consultancy states: ‘This is an exciting time in a business context for Mauritius, many are aware of our island’s beauty, but the prevalence of strong investment conditions in the economy, is turning heads, and seeing more international trade year on year.’

Francois Eynaud, CEO of Heritage and Veranda Resorts Hotels added, ‘Mauritius has much more to offer than sun, beautiful beaches and lagoons. The natural hospitality of Mauritians, the rich history and cultural diversity, the variety of activities, the fascinating tropical nature, all contribute to make Mauritius a unique place: ‘the key and star of the Indian Ocean.”’ “Mauritius, then, is poised for the future. To understand this, a strong comparison can be made with Thailand. The Southeast Asian golden-child had its start in the tourism trade when it played host to American soldiers on leave from the Vietnam War. Similarly, Mauritius has a long history of catering for trade and travellers from around the world. However, unlike Thailand, which has long since established itself on the well-worn travel routes that criss-cross the globe, there are still large opportunities in Mauritius. Look to growth sectors in hospitality, property and real estate or look to it as a means of facilitating business in Africa and India – high-reward areas that, with Mauritian expertise, can have their associated costs and difficulties minimised. Or simply see it as a million others do, as a refined paradise with some of the best beaches around. As Mark Twain once opined, “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius”. He may just be right.

Heritage-Telfair-050515-HD1080 3 from Savile Row Style on Vimeo.

By Marie Scott With the cold drawing in,

Welcome to Savile Row TV which showcases a range of videos and
interviews from our partner brands, Savile Row tailors, high profile customers
of the Row and events focusing on Men’s style.

Intelligent Details: Behind The Scenes

Intelligent Details: The Bespoke Driving Jacket is the second documentary film commissioned by Bentley Motors in the Intelligent Details series. The film features four houses from Savile Row, the internationally renowned home of bespoke tailoring, as they each create a Bespoke Driving Jacket, commissioned by Bentley Motors to mark the occasion of the Savile Row Bespoke exhibition in Washington, D.C.

Welcome to Savile Row TV which showcases

By Robin Dutt and Milly Lee

Stephen Webster is one of the bright stars of the jewellery firmament.  In the wake of today’s easily appraised and expensive jewellery pieces (often for little reason) with prized nomenclatures, he has created a glittering universe of his own.

That is not to say that his name is not, of course, recognised as a brand.  But…it is to say that the efficacy of his design always comes first.  His pieces are memorable and magnetic and so his ‘label’ as such, effects confidence in the buyer – knowing she and indeed, he is purchasing the distinctly unusual.  But it is also, so much more.  These are sculptures to wear.  Unsurprisingly, he has won British Luxury Jeweller of the Year Award 3 times and many others too.

webster_WebWebster’s early creativity found outlets at art school and there was a point when he might have been a fashion designer.  Thank goodness he didn’t, for adornment of the body is his natural forte.  In fact, he says, ‘I was offered many times to do clothing but  that process was not for me.  But people often say, if I wore that necklace…I wouldn’t need to wear anything else..’  Quite.Stephen Webster’s jewellery is hugely eclectic but whatever the inspiration for an individual piece or whole collection, the identity of the creator is evident. – the items cross reference over time. His female jewellery is delicate and lavish and embraces hints of the siren and temptress. His male jewellery features sprites, skulls, crosses and mini shark jaw shapes ‘biting’ into jelly-coloured gems.  Pendants, rings, cufflinks and bracelets make up the range.All of these provide perfect foils to judiciously chosen shirting and fine suiting. Most of the time, the wearer or observer won’t be immediately aware of them. But he knows they are there – luxurious last details.And a pair of gargoyle masks on the cuffs of a fine evening shirt? Makes a change from the ubiquitous gold oval.

He alludes to how things in general have changed, especially for men when it comes to adornment. In relatively recent times, male jewellery wearers might have been considered ostentatious, especially when a signet ring and a watch were really the only adornments deemed permissible.  Wearing jewellery, Webster maintains (of a certain water of course)  makes the person look more ‘lively.’ This sentiment is shared by Vivienne Westwood who once said ‘ If you wear interesting clothes, you will have a more interesting life.’

tiepin_WebTypically, for an artist of his calibre, one might expect a panoply of inspirations..  In Webster’s case,he adores brilliant madcap nudist poet William Blake, David Bowie whose song ‘Lady Stardust’ became the theme of one jewellery collection and so many more.But his enduring obsession is the sea and its curious  lifeforms.  He collects blown glass fish table  sculptures, typical of the 1950s and 60s in rainbow swirls or plain hues and points to a vast metal yellow fin tuna he created for Selfridges to highlight the plight of this endangered creature.  Never happier than by the sea, he records that he once lived in the middle of Canada which he found unbearable, and moved to somewhere quite the opposite.  The name started with a ‘C’ too.  California.

The room where we are sitting, enjoying Webster time is atop royal jewellers, Garrard, just off Bond Street.  That room is bristling with books and images and filled with light.  It is not the beautiful chaos one might expect of an artist’s think-tank bureau but it suits him.  There is method in his sanity.

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Jewellery, he feels today in general, is more of a commodity than ever, where the luxury market has taken over the empire of gems in a way that is unprecedented.  He alludes to a time when jewellery giving and owning was very different.  An engagement ring, a wedding ring – and, as controversial as it may sound now, the ‘things bought by the husband.’ Archaic yes.  But true.

Naturally, he is well established on the celebrity scene.  He has made stunning pieces for amongst others, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Pink and a host of the rock and roll tribe. Discerning male collectors include Elton John, Johnny Depp and Mickey Rourke.  But he cites his first stellar client as Hollywood legend, Elizabeth Taylor.

Always  conscious of the way jewellery holds stories for the generation which purchases it or inherits it, he selects names for his themed collections to tempt and beguile.

But always, it’s back to water and the surprisingly real mythology of the sea.

 

By Robin Dutt and Milly Lee Stephen Webster

By Tom Corby

The gentlemen’s clubs of London are among the most hallowed institutions in town, and although a degree of modernisation has crept in through their portals, they unashamedly remain, in these days of fashionable inclusivity, almost exclusively the preserve of men.

They have, some for 300 years, been the haunt of kings, princes, prime ministers, bishops, the famous, and the infamous. The history of England is enshrined in what would seem to many to be anachronistic enclaves of privilege. Conspiracies have, inside their discreet walls, been hatched to topple governments, broker mega financial deals, change the course of politics, and plot espionage.

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It has been claimed that the recruitment and movements of the traitor spies Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, and Anthony Blunt were orchestrated from the bar of White’s, the origins of which date back to 1693 when it was founded as a hot chocolate house by an Italian choclateer Francesco Bianco. His name translated into Francis White ñ and thus White’s soon graduated to more intoxicating practices, notably heavy drinking and gambling.

Gambling became part of it’s fabric, and in the 18th century, William Hogarth’s series of cautionary paintings The Rake’s Progress, the Rake is driven mad by losing his fortune at the gaming tables of White’s. Regency dandy Beau Brummel helped seal the reputation of the club for high stakes gambling. At other times he would sit, surrounded by his cronies, at it’s bow window watching the world of fashion pass by, and no doubt making unflattering remarks about the style of someone’s coat or the fold of their cravat.

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While cultivating its raffish elements, White’s has always seen itself as a distinctly political club, although now there are fewer Tory MPs among the membership. The drinking is less wild than in the 18th century, but the bar remains open at all hours of the day and night. Previous members include the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo, George lV, William IV, and Edward VIl, who was probably one of our most clubable and pleasure seeking sovereigns.

Prince Charles is a member and held his champagne-fuelled stag night at the club before his wedding to Lady Diana Spencer. Then there are the Prime Ministers, every single one from Robert Walpole in the early 18th century to Robert Peel, in the mid nineteenth.

Queen Victoria’s favourite, the flamboyant Benjamin Disraeli remarked that there were only two things that an Englishman couldn’t command – being made a Knight of the Garter, England’s oldest order of chivalry, or being a member of White’s. Both were equally distinguished and virtually unattainable. In more pragmatic times, David Cameron tactically resigned his membership when Leader of the Opposition because the men only club didn’t fit with his vision of modern Conservatism.

All the London clubs have their own particular character. The Garrick, for instance, was founded in 1831 for men from the arts, especially the theatre, and even today has its fair share of thespians as members. A visitor there once remarked that he felt that he was about to witness “curtain up.” But the club also attracts men of letters. Charles Dickens, HG Wells, and the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rosstti are among it’s alumini.

It was named after David Garrick, the great actor-manager who dominated the London stage in the 18th century. It’s members love the Garrick passionately, and when the actor Sir Donald Sinden died he was buried in a coffin painted with the colours of the club’s tie, salmon and cucumber. When the former Labour MP. Bob Marshall-Andrews proposed that women should be allowed to join earlier this year, the vote was 172 against and 156 in favour. Among those supporting the motion were the actors Stephen Fry and Hugh Bonneville.

At the Reform, the atmosphere is in line with it’s progressive heritage, and, in 1981, was the first of it’s kind to admit women as members. The only requirements for membership are character, talent and achievement. The Carlton was founded by Tory peers and MPs, and it still has a Conservative political alignment.

Clubland has it’s own word when members decide whether, or not, they like the cut of another fellow’s jib. This word is “blackball.” The story goes that Jeremy Paxman was blackballed from joining the Garrick on the grounds that he was “rather full of himself.

Members of the Athenaeum were horrified when Jimmy Savile was elected, and this long before whispers were current about his posthumous reputation. They expressed the view that the tracksuit wearing DJ would not be a natural habitue of a club that had counted Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Curzon, one of the last Viceroys of India and a Foreign Secretary, as members. But the only reason they didn’t veto him was because he was nominated by Cardinal Basil Hume, then Archbishop of Westminster. It was too embarassing by far, as in accordance with the rules, Cardinal Hume would have had to relinquish his membership if his nominee was blackballed.

Gentlemen’s clubs defined the man, and offered an escape from domesticity. They provided an all male environment, something members were used to from their school days, and the food was probably not much different either! But I doubt that the present generation of club wives, would calmly accept, as their forebears had done over the centuries, the explanation from their husbands that: ‘I’m dining at the club tonight. Please tell cook’.

By Tom Corby The gentlemen's clubs of London

By George Chamier

If you had been a man about town in the Regency period you would probably have bumped into Lord Byron, in a club or a gambling den, or at a society party. You would certainly have known his name, for after the publication of his poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage he became an overnight celebrity – the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography calls him ‘the most brilliant star in the dazzling world of Regency London’.

Handsome, dashing, talented and witty, Byron appeared to have the world at his feet, but he was addicted to gambling, and without an income to fund the extravagant lifestyle expected of a man of fashion, he ran up huge debts. Hard pressed by creditors, the obvious answer was marriage to an heiress, and in 1815 Byron married, at Seaham Hall in Northumberland, Lady Annabella Millbanke.

George_Gordon_Byron,_6th_Baron_Byron_by_Richard_Westall_WebThe marriage did not last but it did give rise to a fascinating legacy. Byron’s mother was a Scot, a Gordon from Aberdeenshire, and the poet spent his childhood there. At the wedding, in recognition of his Scottish ancestry, Byron offered his guests SPEY whisky from Harvey’s of Edinburgh. ‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’ he may have been, as his lover Lady Caroline Lamb said, but the poet certainly appreciated his dram – and he generously sent casks of the spirit to friends who could not attend, including King George III, then resident at Kew Palace, where a replica cask still stands. Two hundred years later, the Speyside Distillery is commemorating this royal gift by launching Byron’s Choice, a limited edition single malt ‒ just 1,200 bottles will be available this Christmas. Speyside is one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries, and certainly its prettiest, a traditional stone building set in woodland on the banks of the River Tromie – from where the distillery draws its water ‒ at the foot of the Cairngorm Mountains near the village of Kingussie. Fans of the TV series Monarch of the Glen might recognise it, since this is where scenes set at the fictional distillery of ‘Lagganmore’ were shot. I was lucky enough to visit Speyside recently and taste many of their whiskies under the watchful and experienced eye of distillery manager Sandy Jamieson, ‘the man behind the magic’. Sandy spent much of his career working for big distillers, but there was ‘too much button-pushing and computers’ he says. He describes himself as feeling rejuvenated now that he has returned to the roots of distilling in this small hands-on operation.

Speyside Distillery is very much a family affair, with links going back to that Byron wedding. Harvey’s of Edinburgh, who supplied the whisky, now own Speyside, and its CEO is John Harvey McDonough, the eleventh generation in the family business. In another intriguing connection, Alec Harvey, John’s grandfather, in the 1920s was based at Seaham Hall, where the wedding took place. He exported whisky across the Atlantic, its ultimate destination the USA, then suffering under Prohibition – and among his customers was Al Capone.

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So, about the whisky? All SPEY malts are pretty special. Chairman’s Choice reflects a tradition dating back to 1787, when John Harvey, then chairman of the company, selected a batch on Christmas Day to be drunk exclusively by the family. Today, his tenth generation descendant, John McDonough (the CEO’s father), makes that choice, now available to rather more lucky drinkers. Then there’s Royal Choice, only available in the shops attached to Historic Royal Palaces, such as the Tower of London and Hampton Court. I particularly enjoyed the SPEY 18-year-old, matured in vintage sherry butts, sweet and velvety smooth.

But the most intriguing of the lot is the new offering, Byron’s Choice. All SPEY whiskies look good ‒ their distinctive tall bottles come from a French maker specialising in perfume containers ‒ but Byron’s Choice has an extra touch of elegance because of its unusual colour.

Held up to the light (as one should always do with a fine malt), it has a pinkish tone, something like a rosé wine or the colour of a salmon after a week or two in the River Spey. The colour comes from the spirit’s ageing in port casks and the taste is sweet, fresh and fruity, a perfect introduction for the malt whisky novice but interesting for old hands too. One feels that Byron himself would have approved.

Byron’s Choice will be released in early December, priced at £95 a bottle. For stockists contact the distillery on info@speysidedistillery.co.uk

By George Chamier If you had been