Be the First to Visit the New Six Senses Kyoto, Catch the F1 Japanese Grand Prix 2024, and Other Things to Bookmark this April
Our jet-setting columnist explores the latest in luxury living and travel.
BY Mary Gostelow  |  April 5, 2024
4 Minute Read

Image courtesy of Six Senses

First up, fashion with a twist. Our latest hero is Patrizio Bertelli. He understands luxury well, and he should, as he’s the chairman of Prada, and doing pretty nicely, thank you. Prada’s 2023 revenues, released this past March, were 17 per cent up on the previous year. (In Japan, Prada performed even better—sales were up 44 per cent over 2022).

Bertelli, who’s married to Miuccia Prada, creative director of the brand, is a strong believer in experiential retail. Forget shops—replace them with spaces that host events and sell food, perhaps from Prada’s own Marchesi 1824 pâtisseries. Oh yes, they also have clothes to buy, of course. Prada has already trialled such spaces; there’s one in Tokyo, which adds film screenings to its offerings, and now Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, Milan, and Paris are all on the Prada want-list. All of this fits into the Bertelli belief that luxury nowadays is quality of life, with a focus on what we eat and drink, how we travel, the art and culture we have access to, and what we wear.

In all fairness, this lifestyle approach to shopping is not a Prada invention. In Osaka 40 years ago, an innovator named Masuda Muneaki launched the first Tsutaya bookshop. Now, there are hundreds of them, all around Japan and Southeast Asia. From the start, Tsutaya has always sold books in several languages, plus CDs, electronics, and coffee. Some branches open at 7 am, handy for browsing a biography while breakfasting off cappuccino and croissants. Masuda’s smart. His owning company, Culture Convenience Club, has a loyalty programme with over 70 million members.

Three-Bedroom Penthouse Suite at Six Senses Kyoto.
Image courtesy of Six Senses

Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs says that the fledgling Six Senses Place members’ clubs will start small, with no cross-membership at the beginning. The company’s next hotel opening is the 81-room Blink-designed Six Senses Kyoto—take the three-bedroom Penthouse Suite. As well as the usual brand offerings, say an alchemy bar, a biohacking station, and an earth lab, those staying at Six Senses Kyoto can study Buddhist mindfulness and learn how to make dashi, the bonito and kelp broth at the heart of Japanese cuisine.

Some foodies have come across Chong Li’s cooking at Park Hyatt Hangzhou or Park Hyatt Shanghai. Now, aficionados who crave his signature mapo tofu lobster or sweet and sour squirrel fish with pine nuts can head to InterContinental Chiang Mai The Mae Ping—to its 168-seat dinner-only Hong’s Chinese Restaurant & Sky Bar.

Mapo tofu lobster at Hong’s Chinese Restaurant.
Image courtesy of InterContinental Chiang Mai The Mae Ping

Some of the dishes deserve a good red, and if you go Aussie, little beats a Penfolds Grange. Wine investment platform reminds wine buffs that Penfolds 2004 Block 42, a 12-bottle limited edition, saw each bottle entirely encased in glass—but for a spend of HK$ 856,410, you probably wouldn’t want to break the glass, anyway. Much better value is a 1952 Penfolds Grange Bin 95 at a mere HK$55,900. If you don’t want to break the bank, a bottle of 2008 Penfolds Grange Bin 95 Vertical Collection will set you back HK$14,440.

Petrolheads, meanwhile, may well be more interested in the Formula 1 MSC Cruises Japanese Grand Prix 2024, which runs from 5 to 7 April at the Suzuka International Racing Course. It’s interesting that MSC, started in 1970 by Gianluigi Aponte, so heavily sponsors this event. Known primarily for MSC shipping containers, its passenger shipping division is now primarily respected for its fledgling Explorer Journeys expedition yachts. Explorer I, captained by Serena Melani, made waves from the day of its inaugural sailing 17 July 2023.

But—and a big but—Suzuka is five hours’ drive from Tokyo. Experience says that an alternative to being there, in the stands or in the pit, is to stay in Suite 2110 at Grand Hyatt Tokyo. It gives you most of the 21st-floor Presidential Suite, some 2,600 square feet in all, including an 18-foot outdoor pool, so lap up and down while watching television, out of a corner of your eye, as the automobiles make laps at Suzuka.