Winter Sun Escapes for Orlebar Brown!

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Don’t forget to head over to Orlebar Brown and OB APPROVED to read my “It List” of Winter Sun Escapes Australia.

Like we say, it’s always Summer somewhere!

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Sailing in Style!

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AUDI HAMILTON ISLAND RACE WEEK

I told you how fab my week was on Hamilton Island for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

I think this video also sums it up perfectly!

Ham Yard Hotel!

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Ham Yard Hotel Library

HAM YARD HOTEL

As I pack my bags for London again, I’m getting excited at the thought of checking into Firmdale’s Haymarket Hotel and their über groovy Soho Hotel for three nights on my way to Cannes to attend ILTM (the International Luxury Travel Market is THE invitation-only luxury travel-trade event).

In the mean time though, take a look at their latest addition to the luxury London hotel scene… the Ham Yard Hotel which is quite possibly Tim and Kit Kemp’s ultimate triumph. I checked in for three nights on my home from Italy recently and it was WOW!

Ham Yard HotelOne Ham Yard is a completely new luxury lifestyle precinct including the chic Ham Yard Hotel, Bar and Restaurant and this time around (a first for Firmdale) a collection of high-end retailers such as the cult Brazilian swimwear label Frescabol Carioca, Bloomsbury Flowers and our very own Dinosaur Designs among others.

Tony Cragg bronze sculptureLocated just moments from Mayfair and the centre of Soho… Ham Yard Hotel dazzles with its chic urban design centred around a tree filled garden complete with a commissioned bronze sculpture centre piece by Tony Cragg – this will stop you in your tracks … it’s highly instagramable!

Bedroom Ham Yard HotelOf course as always, I loved all of the individually designed bedrooms and suites (Kit has done it again!) and the hotel even has its own 1950’s style bowling alley, a theatre where the walls are lined in electric blue wool, the Soholistic Body & Beauty retreat and a Rooftop Garden complete with a fabulous rooftop vista.

Take a peek at what is destined to be this year’s hottest hotel opening… it’s truly wonderful.

For bookings including Where’s Brent Been preferred rates and luxury amenities… contact me today.

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and twitter as I visit London, Amsterdam, Cannes and Stockholm over the next two weeks!

A Surfer’s Life!

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Luke Stedman - Mr Porter

MR PORTER.COM – THE JOURNAL

Local pro surfer Luke Stedman lets the secret out on his five favourite surf spots around the globe in this week’s MR PORTER.COM on-line edition of The Journal (my go-to style bible). The interview captures interesting insight into his past … his family invented the iconic UGG boot!

Luke Stedman - Mr Porter

 Here are Mr Stedman’s five favourite surf spots around the world.

 MONA VALE BASIN, SYDNEY

“My first surf haunt. I’d run down from home every day and only come back when Dad signalled with a towel inthe window. This break is where I dedicated my life to being a surfer.”

PIPELINE, O’AHU, HAWAII

“I’ve had wipeout moments here where I thought it was all over. You’re basically surfing a volcano – it’s a rawand heavy place. But this is where I learnt what was important. It’s a life-changing place.”

MENTAWAI ISLANDS, SUMATRA, INDONESIA

“Some of my purest, most enjoyable surfs have been here, with friends, on boats, amid perfect waves andsetting suns and stunning conditions.”

LA COTE ES BASQUES, BIARRITZ

“From a creative point of view the south of France has inspired me above all other places. Not only are the beaches beautiful, but so is the architecture and the language.”

CRESCENT HEAD, NORTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES

“The first 15 summers of my life were spent holidaying here. It’s where my Dad was born and raised, and he’dtake us to the back beaches he surfed as a boy. It’s almost unchanged to this day.”

Images courtesy of MR PORTER.COM

Barrier Reef Bound!

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Poolside at qualia

qualia – HAMILTON ISLAND

It was back to qualia last week for me as a guest of Hamilton Island and the ultra luxe qualia resort as they swept me away with so much style and chic, I found it hard to leave. As you may recall I was on the island a few weeks ago covering Hamilton island Audi Race Week so was thrilled to be invited back to paradise again so soon!

Pebble Beach, Hamilton Islandqualia is Australia’s number one luxury resort and deservedly so, the Oatley family who own Hamilton Island have maintained the resort beautifully (I first visited qualia seven years ago when it first opened and met the then GM Jason Friedman who is now the GM of the ultra chic Siam urban resort in Bangkok) and the exotic gardens are a study of lush perfection peppered with the occasional wallaby sighting! Luxurious and private pavilions with stunning Whitsunday views relax and calm instantly and with the ever flowing Charles Heidsieck Champagne… why would you ever want to leave? Take a Windward Pavilion if your own private pool is essential (a late night private plunge anyone?) but I do find the Leeward Pavilions equally as fabulous.

Charles Heidsieck on arrivalAt qualia, making dreams come true is a specialty so make sure you take a Hamilton Island Air chopper over to the Great Barrier Reef where you’ll have a birds’ eye view of the famous “Heart Reef” and afterwards they will land you directly on Whitehaven Beach… easily one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Take a dip in that pristine aqua blue sea, it will take your breath away. Promise.

Room for two, poolside at qualiaPoolside is discreet and luxurious. Chic black and white sun beds smartly line the pool and there are private cabanas where you can hide away the days (yes they will deliver Charles Heidsieck to you here!).

If you can only take two days out of your life to experience such authentic Aussie luxury then so be it, personally, five days would suit me just fine… you’ll find me poolside.

PACK the Orlebar Brown’s, some navy t-shirts and your two-tone Riviera’s, the look is sharp and fresh up here in paradise.

Contact me directly to assist your very own stay in paradise and access to all the Where’s Brent Been exclusive privileges!

 

Italian Allure in Sicily & Puglia!

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Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea

ROME, SICILY & PUGLIA

What a whirlwind of year this has been, first I launched my Mexico Riche tours with my tour partner Annette Zubani to great success… then we quickly followed up with this extravaganza to southern Italy with a small, equally fab crowd.

Nettie and I do things a little differently to most tour companies as we take you to places off the beaten path and present experiences that are far too fabulous to find out about any other way, this is “insider intel” at its chic-est!

In Italy it was all about Sicily, Puglia and Rome… and who knew that it would still be super sunny and busy mid September?

ROME – ALDROVANDI VILLA BORGHESE

This is where we start at the luxe Aldrovandi Villa Borghese (part of the exclusive Leading Hotels of the World), this classic Rome hotel has a private pool and stately Italianate gardens – it was the perfect place to meet the group, chill out and prepare for the adventures ahead.

SICILY – BORGO ALVERIA & BELMOND VILLA SANT’ANDREA

A whirl through Noto and day trip to the Agrigento make this a very special part of our private tour… we experience the Valley of the Temples and include lunch with a prime view of these Roman wonders. Then it’s two nights spent luxuriating in Taormina Mare at the ultra fabulous Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea where days slip by at their exclusive beach club and nights are spent in some of the best restaurants in Taormina – we’ll even order for you if you like?

PUGLIA – BORGO EGNAZIA

After Sicily we jetted to Bari in Puglia and onto the exquisite Borgo Egnazia in Fasano, the perfect base to explore this very fabulous region of Italy (and it comes with its very own exclusive beach club). We’ll show you gorgeous hilltop towns way off the tourist map (Lecce, Alberobello, Locorotondo are a few) and share food experiences you won’t forget in a hurry.

In Puglia you’ll experience a sun-bleached countryside, agriturismo, farm kitchen goodness, lemony scented evenings and rustic, olive groves for days and pastoral views. This is relaxed and chilled Italy!

After Puglia we all jetted back to Rome and checked into the sleek JK Place Roma (read my JK Place Roma blog post here) for some last-minute shopping and a whirl around the Vatican … privately of course! Seeing the Sistine Chapel with your own eyes before the crowds descend is a once in a lifetime experience.

Come experience Italy with us… our 2015 departure is July 27, but be quick as this small exclusive tour will fill fast. Contact me for details.

My Home in Rome!

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JK Place RomaJK PLACE ROMA

Ok, here I’m serving up one of my favourite hotels ever. You’ve heard me recommend JK Place Capri and the original JK Place in Florence before, well now their latest property JK Place Roma might just take the title of most glamorous city hotel .. Ever!

JK Place RomaStylish 50’s interiors with a handsome twist by Michele Bonan help this glam city-slicker rise above the rest in Rome. Beds you never want to climb out of and a complimentary mini bar also help to win this boy over!

Rome has its beautiful classic hotels of course, but if contemporary chic is your scene, reside at JK Place Roma. It is officially my “Home in Rome” where I check-in and don’t move, though if you are in need an instant shopping fix, Via Condotti is right round the corner and you’ll never have to stray far from home to experience everything the Eternal City has to offer.

JK Place Roma

Book with me to receive exclusive luxury amenities such as upgrade on arrival, lunch or dinner in the hotel restaurant (best burgers in Rome by the way!), breakfast daily and late check-out /early check-in.

HOT TIP – Book yourself in for a shave around at the new Acqua di Parma Boutique on arrival and clean up Italian style with master barber Pierpaolo, contact me for all the details.

Mykonos Now!

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MYKONOS

As I wing my way back to Sydney, above the clouds aboard Etihad Airlines (one of my very favourite airlines), I finally have the chance to catch you up on the last four weeks spent in Europe… so I’ll start with Mykonos.

Sunset from Rochari

What is left to say about this iconic Aegean jewel that hasn’t been said? White beaches, great food, superb hotels and locals that embrace you with open arms… Mykonos doesn’t disappoint and here’s why.

Elia BeachBEACHES

Head straight to Elia beach and do not pass go, I find this my favourite place to retreat on the island with comfy beach chairs and smiling beach boys. With just the right amount of sassy in the crowd it attracts, there’s something for everyone here. Grab your sunbeds for the week and don’t move, except when you head up to the beachside, Elia Restaurant for lunch… I recommend the Calamari Fritti and a green salad. Crystal clear water and a sexy crowd to match, Elia is my number one choice.

Jackie O Beach ClubYou could also try Jackie O’ Beach Club on Super Paradise Beach if you really want to glam it up. Come after 6pm if you like sunsets and drag queens… it’s the best show in town with a jaw dropping backdrop. The bar tenders here are a bit of fun too.

RESTAURANTS

The KitchenThe Kitchen is my fave… it’s a place only the locals will tell you about, and is run by two handsome brothers whose food comes fresh from their farm daily. Try the Lemon Chicken, I would eat if every night if I could. For a sushi scene, you can’t beat Matsuhisa at the Belvedere Hotel. Here sushi is served up ultra-glam style – with prices to match. For an equally fab Japanese dinner at half the price… head down to Sakura located in Mykonos town.

HOTELS

RochariMykonos has something for everyone, take a room at the Belvedere Hotel if seeing and being seen is your thing, or the Rochari next door which delivers honest family hospitality with a decidedly entertaining gay and lesbian clientele (it also has the deepest pool with the best view in Mykonos). Don’t take anything less than a room with sea view and balcony to capture those quintessential Mykonian sunsets.

*INSIDER TIP: Book well in advance for next season, I prefer early July when it’s not so busy… although being there for the closing of the season this September lent a nice buzz to this stay I hadn’t experienced before… and the weather was perfect!

NET-A-PORTER Poolside!

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NET-A-PORTER PARADE COCKTAIL SOIREE & RUNWAY SHOW

So the last event of the week for me (and definitely the most glamorous) at Audi Hamilton island Race Week was the NET-A-PORTER runway show held poolside at qualia.

This must be the chicest fashion event held in Australia. It really was sensational, awash with the most fabulous Australians all enjoying a world-class fashion show… discreet luxury and the jaw dropping beauty of poolside qualia at sunset. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

In the crowd… members of the ever stylish Paspaley family (their gorgeous Paspaley pop up boutique at the yacht club had all the girls in a whirl), super models Zac and Jordan Stenmark spent the evening charming the crowd with their handsome, laid-back effortless style and posed for a million photos. I met the inspirational Amanda Shadforth – creator of the trend forecasting style blog Oracle Fox and spotted über stylist Penny McCarthy who was on hand to style the show (and looking as fabulous as ever!). Chatting to Aussie photog expat Angie Silvie who is now based in San Francisco and Los Angeles was another of my highlights.

Brent with Jordan & Zac Stenmark

Brent & Shelly Horton

Brent & Shelly Horton

Penny McCarthy & Brent

I’d have to say I was most impressed with the entire week’s events on Hamilton Island for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and kudos to the island’s Corporate Communications Director Sophie Baker who, with the help of her team (and assorted others) pulled off one of the most glamorous social events in Australia.

Say no more… get yourself up there next year. I’ll be there with the all the usual funsters… come join us!

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Hamilton Island Audi Style!

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AUDI  HAMILTON  ISLAND  RACE  WEEK

Hamilton Island for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week (or #AHIRW in hashtag land), where everyone who’s anyone converged this week… is Audi’s premier sailing event on the Great Barrier Reef and has become one of the highlights of the Aussie luxe social calendar. From beachfront lunches at qualia hosted by Charles Heidsieck and MR PORTER, to the poolside fashion show by NET-A-PORTER  this event attracts the leaders of fashion & design… and of course Australia’s sailing elite.

AUDI  KYLIE  KWONG  DINNER – PEBBLE  BEACH  RESTAURANT  QUALIA

It was off to Pebble Beach restaurant at qualia the first night and the scene was set… one long, chic table for the Audi Kylie Kwong dinner. Kylie happens to be an Audi Ambassador – along with Collette Dinnigan and her dashing husband Bradley Cocks who were also at the dinner. I had the good fortune of sitting next to in-demand Sydney architect Nick Tobias who was giving me insider tips for my up coming trip to Puglia, (Nick is also a member of the Style Council for MR PORTER) and global-roaming journalist, author and editor Mitchell Oakley Smith impressed who me with his sartorial elegance (I voted Mitchell as best dressed at this event!). Opposite were seated the Stenmark twins, Zac and Jordan who are now jet-setting around the world modeling for the likes of Tom Ford. The boys impressed me with their down to earth honesty and subtle Aussie humour. Not only are they blessed with perfect faces and charismatic smiles, they are the nicest guys you could meet… the perfect role models for young Australia.

Needless to say Kylie’s dinner was delicious with her dim sum starters my favourite and I washed it all down with a delicious Oatley Sauvignon Blanc… naturally!

CHARLES  HEIDSIECK / MR PORTER.COM  CHAMPAGNE  LUNCH – LONG PAVILION  QUALIA

The next day I fronted up to Long Pavilion at qualia for the hottest ticket of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week – The Charles Heidsieck / MR PORTER lunch. They were all there – television darling Melissa Doyle, Australian fashion icon Collette Dinnigan, Hotel Insider Bradley Cocks and my new bestie Thomas Staunton – he of the chic concierge company Managing Luxury. I was perfectly seated front and centre at Actor Tim Draxl’s table (he MC’d the event) and we enjoyed a delicious three course lunch all washed down with three very special Charles Heidsieck vintages. My favourite was the silky smooth Blanc des Millenaires 1995.

Lunch effortlessly turned into drinks poolside, down beside Pebble Beach Restaurant where I enjoyed the view… perfectly poised beside the pop-up champagne bar (Charles Heidsieck of course) with Georgina Safe, National Fashion Editor at the Sydney Morning Herald along with other assorted funsters and the ever stylish Oatley family (and owners of Hamilton island) who generously opened the bar and picked up the tab!

We lined up for our special MR PORTER gift, a pair of Riviera boat shoes (very fitting – I chose navy and red of course!) and afterwards we mingled with fun fashionistas and models till the sun went down. I called it a night after a deliciously funny dinner at coca chu. (And thank you to Audi who supplied chic E-tron taxis to get us home every night!)

CRUISE  ON  ANDIAMO

Thursday I was up early for a whirl through the Whitsundays to watch the start of one of the races on Sandy Oatley’s luxury cruiser Andiamo. I chatted NET-A-PORTER style tips with Kei Chen, head of marketing for NET-A-PORTER Asia-Pacific who had flown in for that evening’s NET-A-PORTER runway show, Channel Seven’s Sunrise Executive Producer Michael Pell and I swapped grooming tips and Shelly Horton… Chief Columnist of Life & Style and Channel 7 Morning Show regular, kept everyone entertained with her infectious wit. We were even lucky enough (as if on queue) to spot a whale from our luxury posi while we sipped Mimosas (topped up with Charles Heidsieck of course).

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Next up on the blog the NET-A-PORTER runway show!

* Some photos from the Charles Heidsieck lunch credited to photographer Belinda Rolland

 

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