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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Private Islands
Posted: November 11, 2019 at 3:44 am
LANSING Michigan researchers recently created a series of steps to show people how to rid Great Lakes islands of plants and animals that invade their ecosystems.
Pamela Grassmick started a grassroots educational campaign to treat invasive species on northern Lake Michigans Beaver Island, where she was born and raised. She targeted Phragmites, a non-native plant that grows in wetlands, along roadsides and shorelines.
We always felt that the state wasnt going to ride in on a white horse and solve all of our problems because we are in the middle of Lake Michigan, Grassmick said.
The program told Beaver Islanders how Phragmites devastated the shoreline and how to remove the invasive plant. About 30 acres of the islands shoreline was affected by Phragmites at the time.
Grassmicks work inspired researchers at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, a group of scientists who conduct fee-for-service and grant-funded projects for public, nonprofit and private clients. They maintain the most comprehensive database on rare species and natural communities in the state.
I used to think invasive species work was too overwhelming and that there was nothing I could do about it, said Phyllis Higman, a senior conservation scientist with the group and co-leader of the invasive species prevention effort.
After I saw Pam and her team on Beaver Island bring down 30 acres of Phragmites to two acres in their first year, I was inspired to do similar work, she said. The work these folks are doing is so extraordinary and proactive.
Higman and the research team developed a series of questions to diagnose invasive species problems and solutions: What are you trying to protect? Is the invader a real threat? Do we know how to control it? Where is it? How much of it is there?
Oftentimes, when people learn about invasive species, they just want to go out and kill things, Higman said. That is almost never an effective approach. You need to see where those species actually occur and where you can be effective at addressing them.
The research team saw how invasive species directly affected ecosystems by travelling to Great Lakes islands. Michigan has 1,709 islands, but 14 comprise 90% of the states entire island area.
The research team recorded rare animals, plants and high-quality communities on each island. They comprise about 10% of the organizations database, but they are only 1% of the area of Michigan. More than 90 percent of the colonial waterbirds in the Great Lakes were observed on islands.
The Great Lakes has the largest group of freshwater islands in the world, and its a really critical resource, said Daria Hyde, a co-leader of the research team. I feel that because we live in Michigan and a Great Lakes state, its upon us to make sure that were taking care of and providing stewardship for that important resource.
Higman and Hyde were asked to spearhead the invasive species project by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy because of a lack of attention to Michigans islands.
The diversity and number of islands in the Great Lakes goes unrecognized, said Matt Preisser, the lake coordinator for the state agencys Water Resources Division. While the islands across the different lakes have different needs by virtue of their geographies, all are vulnerable to invasive species, colonization and establishment.
The team accumulated data over a year on where invasive species are located on the islands. They want to ensure the beauty of the islands and that invasive species do not squash their dynamic ecosystems, Hyde said.
Invasive species are literally marching across landscapes, including islands, and theyre simplifying ecosystems, Higman said. Theyre taking species out systematically by displacing them and that crashes food webs. The more species are taken out by invasion, the less resilient the islands and Michigan will be.
The developed invasive species proactivity guide is available online at Michigan State University's Michigan Natural Features Inventory website.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 3:44 am
Lelepa island in Vanuatu boasts pristine white sand beaches and swaying palm trees with limited access to fresh water and power. It is remote, stunning and almost stands still in time. But not for long.
Lelepa is home to a number of traditional island villagers with a long and beautiful ancestry and is one of 83 islands in the Republic of Vanuatu, a stunning archipelago of natural reefs and volcanos known as the ring of fire including one extinct volcano in the distance on the island of Nguna.
But fast forward exactly two years to October 2022, and Lelepa is forecast to look vastly different. The Royal Caribbean day club is proposed to open for passengers up to 4,500 of them per day to begin with offering the opportunity to experience a Perfect Day on a tropical island.
Pristine Lelepa island is about to be transformed
Ever since the announcement that the worlds second biggest cruise ship company had negotiated a lease with the Vanuatu Government, speculation has been rife about what that would mean.
In an exclusive interview with the Australian architects behind Royal Caribbeans new private waterpark island in Vanuatu, we discover what a Perfect Day at Lelepa is going to look like. According to head designer David Holm, of Cox Architects, its going to be all about chill and thrill.
A look at Coco Cay in the Bahamas RCCLs existing island
There will be huge water slides, some of the worlds longest and fastest zip lines, kids water parks, swimming pools, numerous dining options, a wave pool, hot air balloon rides, private beach clubs for adults, family designated beach areas, possible over water bungalows and of course, a pier large enough to receive the cruise ships.
Perfect Day at Coco Cay under construction earlier in 2019
The difference between this island design and existing RCCL private islands such as Coco Cay in the Bahamas is that Cox Architects say they will be attempting to integrate as much of the local Vanuatu design and culture as possible, to give it a more aesthetically sensitive look and feel.
So what exactly does this mean?
The main pavilion areas will be based on traditional Vanuatu meeting place designs called Nakamals, with large open-air roofs, woven natural materials, bamboo, local wild cane, and naturally sourced timbers and furniture sourced in the South Pacific, says Mr Holm.
A traditional open air nakamal meeting place
This will be a fully carbon neutral island, with a sustainable energy and waste management system, and we aim to immerse ourselves in the local culture and design to achieve an authenticity and calibre of thoughtfulness, Mr Holm says.
Vanuatus culture and style will be integrated into Perfect Day
Think of Indiana Jones, with a bit of Mad Max mixed in, Mr Holm says, when describing how the island is going to feel for passengers when they arrive. We want to leave a light footprint with no pipes in and no pipes out and we want the guests to feel like they are explorers.
We will collaborate with local builders, businesses and villagers to blend the indigenous culture into the island experience. We want this Perfect Day to be grown and crafted in-keeping with the Vanuatu style, Mr Holm added.
Ni Vanuatu locals are hoping to be consulted on the plans
So the chill and thrill? It will have something for everyone catering to a large density of guests, but people who also do not want to queue. It will be fun, with escape areas too, says Mr Holm.
Over water bungalows are on the cards for a more chilled zone
Community consultation meetings are being held with local residents in the coming weeks, with detailed designs promised to be made public by April next year.
Save up to $31.40 when you subscribe to Cruise Passenger magazine and go into the draw to win a Samsonite Cosmolite 3 luggage set worth $1,378.
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Posted: at 3:44 am
Elizabeth Warren at a town hall event in Norfolk, Virginia.
Three billionaires donated $2,800 each to Elizabeth Warrens campaign, federal filings show, in what may prove to be the worst financial investment of all time. If Warren gets elected and can implement her controversial wealth tax plan, the three tycoonsCraigslist founder Craig Newmark, venture capitalist Chris Sacca and cofounder of industrial conglomerate Danaher Steven Raleswould owe a collective $430 million a year.
Warren has a lot of plansoffering universal child care, student debt forgiveness and Medicare for alland she wants to pay for them, in part, by taxing billionaires. After initially proposing a 3% tax on all fortunes over $1 billion, she doubled the proposed levy to 6% last week, explaining that the additional tax revenue would go toward expanding Medicare. Under the plan, billionaires would pay nothing on their first $50 million, 2% on their next $950 million and 6% on everything over a billion.
On Thursday, after inviting Bill Gates via Twitter to an explainer on her tax plan, Warrens campaign shared a calculator for the billionaires showing just how much people like Gates would pay. The online calculator displays how much Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Walmart heir Jim Walton and hedge fund titan Leon Cooperman, who has called Warrens tax plans morally and socially bankrupt, would pay annually.
Since it does not explain how much her own donors would pay, Forbes crunched the numbers. For Sacca, who is worth an estimated $1.1 billion, the new tax would take an extra $25 millionor about as much as it costs to buy a couple of private islands in the Caribbean. For Newmark, worth $1.3 billion or so, the annual bill would hit $37 million, about the price of a used Gulfstream G650 jet. And for Rales, who is worth roughly $6.8 billion, the tally would reach $367 million, more than the value of the presidents interest in Trump Tower.
Still, the billionaires may not mind. Very lucky guy here (who got rich in part thanks to public schools, access to health care, etc.), Sacca tweeted about himself in January, when Warren first announced her plan to create a wealth tax. Weighing in to say that [Warrens] proposal to put a 2-3% annual tax on wealth over $50 million is extremely and radically reasonable.
Details will be everything, he added. Not everyone who is rich is liquid and able to pay cash. Asset valuation is hard. Ownership can be murky. There will be workarounds. And so on. But, the idea of a very modest tax (below expected yields) on accumulating assets, is interesting. Rales and Newmark did not respond to requests for comment.
Posted: at 3:44 am
The 439-acre Casteel Creek Retreat near Vail, Colorado is currently listed for sale with LIV Sothebys International Realty for $78 million.
LIV Sotheby's International Realty
In our last survey of over-the-top real estate for Maxim,we noted that $100 million listings, almost unheard of until a few years ago, had become the new benchmark for the ultra rich buyer. Now in the space of less than a year that figure seems to have doubled. In August one of the most expensive estates ever listed for sale, the historic Villa Les Cdres in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera, once owned by King Leopold II of Belgium, sold to an undisclosed, but undoubtedly extremely well off, buyer for about $221 million. And that was after a 43% price drop.
Nor is the picturesque property, surrounded by a 34 acre botanical garden on a peninsula perched between Nice and Monaco, alone in that realm. A similarly well heeled house hunter can now write a check for $279 million for a 26,000+ square foot Colorado compound (see below) owned by Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks that comes complete with a car museum. Not to mention an airstrip, airplane hangar, helipad, horse stables, and private observatory, all on a total of 8,700 acres. And in January billionaire Citadel hedge fund founder Ken Griffin set a new record for the highest priced house ever sold in the United States when he paid $238 million for a New York City penthouse. With an unbelievable 24,000 square feet, its owner was immediately crowned the new king of Gotham.
Discovery Channel founder John Hendrickss Colorado compound is on the market for $279 million via LIV Sothebys International Realty.
LIV Sotheby's International Realty
If billionaire real estate deals are anything to go by, this has certainly been a banner year. In January private equity mogul Henry Kravis listed his White River Valley Colorado ranch on 4,600 acres for $46 million. The property comes with five miles of private fly fishing on both forks of the White River, as well as a Greg Norman designed four hole golf course; the famous golf champion has a place nearby. That same month banking billionaire Nurzhan Subkhanberdin closed on the sale of a pair of penthouses atop Manhattans Time Warner Center for about $20 million. They span a total of 4,743 square feet and could easily be combine to create a grand home, as the listing noted.
Speaking of grand homes, in February the billionaire investor,hedge fund manager and philanthropist Steve Cohen listed his 9,600 square foot Manhattan triplex for a not inconsiderable $33.5 million, then sold it just over a month later for close to the asking price at $30 million. In May Russian oligarch Andrey Borodin paid $23 million for an enormous equestrian compound near Palm Beach that was once home to the Lechuza Caracas polo team, to add to his real estate portfolio that includes the one-time most expensive home in England. And in June in Bridgehampton, natural gas billionaire Michael Smith sold a beachfront compound for close to its $42.5 million asking price; not to worry, he still has a $110 million spread in East Hampton as well as a another estate in Malibu worth the same eye-popping amount.
Casteel Creek Retreat features a 32,000-square-foot main residence as well as an indoor sports arena, five-story rock climbing wall, Olympic size lap pool, a shooting range and a fully-stocked trout pond.
LIV Sotheby's International Realty
At times multiple properties have changed hands in a single megabucks deal. Also in May Howard Marks, the billionaire co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, spent $35 million to buy four properties in Amagansett from Barbara Zuckerberg, the ex-wife of former Goldman Sachs executive Roy Zuckerberg, according to the New York Post. He already owned a neighboring $30 million property, making his combined compound worth $65 million. That was dwarfed however by the news that billionaire WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton had quietly amassed a portfolio of adjacent propertiesmore than half a dozen of them on a single residential blockin Palo Alto, California worth a combined $86 million.
The summer was equally sizzling. In June billionaire British inventor and entrepreneur Sir James Dyson made headlines when he bought Singapores most expensive penthouse for a reported $54.2 million. It was actually something of a bargain considering the three story aerie complete with a private pool was once valued as high as $100 million. And in July an unnamed Chinese billionaire reportedly paid $75 millioncashfor a 24,000 square foot mega mansion in Bel Air that he stumbled across one day while idly browsing Zillow, the online real estate database.
Casteel Creek Retreat features stunning views of the Rocky mountains.
LIV Sotheby's International Realty
So what do these extremely wealthy gentleman intend to do with such awe-inspiring properties? We may not find out for several years, but considering these are some of the most accomplished and successful men in the world, its reasonable to assume theres a profit to be made somewhere down the line. In 2013 when Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev paid somewhere around $150 million for the private Greek island of Skorpios which was once owned by Aristotle Onassis, it was reported to be an investment for his daughter. This past summer his vision for the property was finally revealed.
Billion-dollar views from Hendricks' West Creek Ranch.
LIV Sotheby's International Realty
The investment project, expected to be completed in two to three years, includes a luxury resort complex with spa, restaurants, and marina, as he told Wealth Management. In addition, there will be showrooms, an amphitheater, a helipad, a farm, and recreation areas. It will, he promises, be unique in the Mediterranean.
Having first sailed by on his yacht, I remember being captivated by this earthly paradise with its enchanting natural beauty, Rybolovlev, owner of the AS Monaco Football Club among other assets, recounted. After buying it and spending a lot of vacation there, Skorpios means so much to me. He describes it as a private shelter that helps me relax, recharge my batteries and return to my responsibilities.
Toys on offer atHendricks' West Creek Ranch.
LIV Sotheby's International Realty
Want to acquire a private Greek island of your own? Private Islands Inc. has several listed for sale, ranging from 26 acres to over 1,300 acres, most of them uninhabited and ripe for development on a comparable scale to the Skorpios project. Of course if you just decided to live there quietly untroubled by nosy paparazzi, troublesome ex-wives or autograph seekers, we would hardly blame you.
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Posted: at 3:44 am
Tucked away in North Queenslands Airlie Beach is a luxurious little haven thats full of unexpected surprises.
From the moment you roll up along the driveway to Freedom Shores named after The Doors song Waiting for the Sun you feel like you could be at any luxe tropical holiday destination, but without the hefty price tag.
For about $300 a night you can stay in your own little boat bungalow with a private deck overlooking the picturesque Airlie ocean.
The popular tourist town, which provides easy access to the Whitsundays Islands and the Great Barrier Reef, has certainly recovered from Cyclone Debbie which ravaged the region in 2017.
And it was her aftermath that inspired Freedom Shores itself.
The nautical focus for the resort originated when the business acquired the old Shute Harbour jetty poles.
The marine facility at Shute Harbour was damaged extensively during the cyclone but Freedom Shores believed the poles had character and beauty worthy of being saved.
The timber inspired an entire resort built around reclaimed boats to create a truly special place that now sees the poles make up the entry ways to the boat cabins.
And those arent the only unwanted items that have been salvaged and given a new life some of the palm trees within the grounds came from the set of the The Pirates of the Caribbean.
The trees were used when the movie was shot in the Whitsundays, but Freedom Shores scooped them up and planted them within the hidden valley.
But the showpiece of the resort is the salvaged Shangri-La boat which has been given pride of place at its entrance.
The vessel was part of General MacArthurs fleet during World War II.
It was part of a small fleet that helped land soldiers, ammunition and stores at Milne Bay, Port Moresby, where the allied forces defeated a Japanese invasion of about 2400 soldiers.
It was the first defeat on land for the Japanese during the war, however they continued to bomb Port Moresby.
The boat was later used as a tourist vessel across the reef in the 1960s and now works as a deck and a place to relax with a drink alongside the resorts pool.
While the resort is a bit out of town, its Northerlies Beach Bar and Grill provides a shuttle service making it easy to get about.
From town you can get out to the islands and the reef. We were lucky enough to head out for Cruise Whitsundays amazing Reef Sleep experience where you sleep in a swag under the stars on board their Heart Pontoon.
Back from the reef, Freedom Shores provides the perfect place to unwind with a cocktail kicking back at Northerlies.
And the best part is, youd never tell from your insta-worthy pics that you didnt fork out a fortune to take advantage of one of the worlds greatest wonders.
The writer was a guest of Freedom Shores
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Posted: October 20, 2019 at 10:13 pm
A Dubai resident has won the prize of a lifetime, bagging an entire private island along the Atlantic coast of Canada, despite never having set foot in the country.
Brendan Lopez, 27, a Portuguese-Indian DJ brought up in Dubai, became the owner of a 2.42-hectare island in Nova Scotia this week.
I still cant believe itpeople like Richard Branson own islands, not me, he told The National.
On Monday, Mr Lopez was named the winner of the "Win a Private Island" competition, launched in April by Liv, an online bank run by Emirates NBD.
Along with his own island estate, the former newspaper photographer also scooped a Dh100,000 cash prize.
"The competition was actually launched on April 1, so I just thought it was a cracking April fools day prank.
"I mean, who gives away an island...apparently Liv Bank do, and to me of all people," he said.
Sharing a small two-bed flat in Karama, Dubai with his family, Mr Lopez lost his job three years ago after the company he was working for shut down.
Ive been freelancing ever since.
Some months I earn zero money and other months I can earn up to Dh10,000.
"It would take me 10 years, if not more, to save this kind of money or afford my own piece of landnow I own an island, its crazy, he said.
Hollpoint Island also known as Hurricane Island is the size of five football fields. Located in Guysborough County it is surrounded by an array of coves and natural beaches. At low-tide, the island is connected to a nearby mainland, but when the tide is high a short boat ride will get you on and off the island.
"When they announced I won, I actually jokingly asked them where I could buy a boat," Mr Lopez said.
While its exact price tag is unknown, figures online show private islands in the area can be bought for as little as $60,000 (Dh220,400) or as much as $2 million.
Still digesting the news, Mr Lopez said he does not know what he is going to do with the island, but toyed with the idea of turning it into a quirky holiday rental spot.
My family have already been joking with me about using it for family weddings.
Indian weddings are always so big, so where better to host it than your own island, he said. He even joked about what he would call it.
I have no idea about the legalities around renaming an island but Id probably put Dubai in the titleor maybe Karak Chai Island.
Once the "dust settles" he is planning to make a trip to the island, which in all would include a 14 hour flight from Dubai to Toronto, a two-hour flight from Toronto to Halifax, followed by a two-and-a-half-hour drive to the island.
Mr Lopez was among 20 finalists who were whittled down from hundreds in the running for the prize.
Qualifying for the top 20 spot by earning a number of loyalty points using the Liv mobile banking app, which he downloaded just 10 months ago, Mr Lopez then participated in a human version of snakes and ladders before being crowned the winner.
It was literally as easy as thatwe were given some dice and the person who moved six steps forward first, won.
Since the win, friends have left suggestions on social media as to how Mr Lopez can make the most of his "slice of heaven", with many calling for it to be turned into a party island.
Updated: October 17, 2019 06:19 PM
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Posted: at 10:13 pm
The small red building on Nichols Street that has housed a vast array of businesses is now home to a midwifery: the Greenbank Birth Center.
We have been seeing San Juan County women for a long time, said Diane Miller, a licensed and certified professional midwife.
The center originally opened in 1991 on Whidbey Island, had an office briefly on Orcas and has maintained a space in Anacortes for the past 25 years. Now, the midwives come to Friday Harbor every other Wednesday.
The response has been overwhelming since its opening at the beginning of September, according to Miller. Women have come from all the islands to visit the new location. Should that trend continue, Miller and licensed midwife Cynthia Jaffe may consider expanding the hours to once a week.
Island women are strong, resilient and highly independent. They often opt for a natural birth, therefore midwifery is a good fit, Miller said.
Having not only lived on Shaw Island but also given birth to four of her children during that time, Miller knows first hand the unique situation of island mothers. She noted that the Whidbey location often resonates with San Juan County mothers due to its rural nature. Greenbanks headquarters is located on a secluded 5-acre property.
Jaffe does recommend going to Whidbey as the birth date approaches and staying as long as necessary. The midwives realize that isnt always an option, however, due to finances and the general unexpected nature of pregnancies.
Things dont always go according to plan, Jaffe said, but ideally, that is what we would like to have happen.
Some of the benefits of a midwife are that they provide more control over the birthing situation and allow mothers to make more of their own choices.
Some things are not totally up to them, Miller said, adding that what Greenbank does is provide information and education so parents can understand the array of options and make informed decisions.
Hospitals, she noted, often treat every pregnancy as a high risk. She said they dont usually give families the flexibility they require, and hospital doctors often arent as personal as the small private midwifery.
We are there with the mothers throughout the whole pregnancy, Miller said. We really get to know the women and their families personally.
One popular option at Greenbank is a waterbirth, wherein the baby is born while the mother is resting in warm water.
Warm water is relaxing and often acts as a pain reliever, Jaffe explained. We often jokingly call it the midwife epidural.
Once a mother has tried a water birth, she usually opts for it during her next pregnancy, she said.
Regardless of the decisions made by the expecting mom, Miller said she carries a soft spot in her heart for islanders and hopes they choose to come to Greenbank.
I really understand the moms living out there and their unique needs, Miller said. I love taking care of them. They are so special to me.
Greenbank offers a no-cost meet-and-greet for mothers and families wishing to explore their alternatives. For more information about Greenbank Birthing Center, visit https://greenbankbirthcenter.com.
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Posted: at 10:13 pm
Mario Testino / Art Partner
Among Britain's upper crust, five years can mean the difference between spending your childhood with your sibling or only seeing them on weekends and holidays from boarding school.
Kate Middleton liked school so muchthat, at the age of 9, she asked her parents if she could become a weekly boarder at St. Andrew's Prepwhich gave them pause because the family of five, Michael and Carole Middleton and their three children, Kate, 8-year-old Pippa and 4-year-old James, were such a tight-knit bunch.
"The Middletons were an exceptionally close family," royal biographer Katie Nicholl wrote in her 2013 bookKate: The Future Queen, "and Carole and Mike enjoyed the vibrancy of their children, the stories and noise and laughter."
They ate dinner together every weeknight, with the kids helping to set and clear the table. When the children were little they usually stayed close to home for vacation, sailing in Norfolk, hiking and picnicking in the Berkshire countryside, or renting an old cottage in the Lake District where the active family would rough it with no electricity or running water. (Later, skiing in the French Alps and trips to tropical islands were more like it.)
But Kate did indeed join the live-in crowd at school, as did Pippa, so they were both spending at least five days away from the family homestead, leavinglittle James the master of the house.
Dave M. Benett/Getty Images
The sisters couldn't help but flock together more oftenthey had been in the same St. Andrew's Brownie troop, and at school they both played sports and learned piano and flute. Even when Pippa proved the more accomplished athlete and student, Kate was her biggest fan.
"They had such drive and were very competitive, particularly Pippa, but never against each other," Denise Allford, who coached the girls in sports, told Nicholl. "They were very much a team."
And though Kate much preferred field hockey to anything taking place in the classroom, both she and her sister got along well with their teachers.
James followed at St. Andrew's, and all three siblings were in school plays and attended summer drama camp together.
Meanwhile, the competitive fire ran through the whole family, whichPrince William later learnedloved to play games and tease each other during holidays together. On Christmas morning, after Kate, Pippa and James had upended their stockings, the family always started on a puzzle, an annual tradition.
"The whole family are mad about tennis and they hate losing,"a family friend told British GQ in 2012. "Carole's brother, Gary, lost to James once, and didn't play for years afterwards."
Feeling uneasy about her new environs, when a 13-year-old Katestarted attheDowne House School, a prestigious all girls' academy, she chose tonot be a boarder, unlike most of the girls in her year, who'd known each other since they had started at Downe when they were 11. Kate never ended up settling in and transferred to Marlborough College, once again a boarder.
Pippa ended up at Marlborough too, on a full sports scholarship, so the sisters were together once again, playing hockey and studying music. Then, when he was finished with St. Andrew's Prep, Jamesmoved on to Marlborough aswellbut Kate had graduated by then.
Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images
Thesiblings' pathsdiverged more thoroughlywhenKate, after taking a gap year, headed to St. Andrews University in Scotland, where, as it turned out, her prince awaited.
The sisters talkedat least every other day,so by Christmas of 2003, Pippa was well aware that Kate's relationship with William was more than a friendshipenough so that Kate gave her mom the go-ahead to tell Michael, James and Carole's own brother, Gary, over the holiday break. The next year, Pippa and James were regular visitors at Balmoral, the queen's beloved home in Scotland, when Will and Kate would go there for weekends.
Meanwhile, Pippa, after her own year off, enrolledat the University of Edinburgh, as did James a few years later; but while Pippa graduated with a degree in English literature, James left after a year.
The youngest of the Middleton siblings, who like Pippa unwittingly found himself on an international stage when their sister married the future king of England in 2011, opened up earlier this year about his struggles with dyslexia, which made school fairly unbearable for him, and his ongoing battle with depression. He was inspired to speak out, he wrote in a column for the Daily Mail, because Kate, William and Prince Harry had made mental health awareness one of their central causes with their Heads Together campaign.
Even though having Pippa around at Marlborough was a comfort, James recalled, he "didn't fit in." He did just well enough to get into university, but once he was there, "A month in, I thought: 'What am I doing here?' I couldn't cope with independent studying and wanted to quitand after a year I did."
In 2007, Kate danced semi-discreetly with her sister and brothera few rowsbehind William and Harry at the Concert for Diana, the world not yet knowing that she and William were back together after a brief, but widely publicized, breakup.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
While Kate didn't face the very worst the media had to offer when she was dating William (that had been reserved for her late mother-in-law and future sister-in-law), the headlines were constant and, at times, mercilesssuch as when she was dubbed "Waity Katie" for hanging in there for years without a ring or, in their rougher spots, William's full attention.
Kate'sjourney, however, was leading to somethingand when that something occurred, all eyes suddenly turned just enough to spy Pippa and James Middleton off to the side.
Because of who Kate's boyfriend was, for instance, there was public interest in the fact that, on his 21st birthday in April 2008 he needed to be practically poured into the car after he and his family got the VIP treatment at London nightspot Raffles. According to Nicholl, a mortified Kate had left through a back entrance. Paparazzi saw but, warned by Prince Charles' office to leave Kate and her family alone as they were still technically private citizens, the British papers didn't run with it. Australian tabloids, however, enjoyed the scoop.
When Kate was about to get married,the still-single James and his baking businessesone providing do-it-yourself cake kits for home bakers (Kate helped himestablish his website) and the other making personalized cakesnever faced as much speculative fascination as the still-single Pippa, her fashion choices (including her formfitting bridesmaid dress at the royal wedding) and her forays into event-planning, writing and TV presenting.
Old photos of him messing around with his mates in school and stories of his drunken partyingmade for salacious headlines, but on the flip side his average-dude behavior drew comparisons to Prince Harry's schoolboy (and young-adult) antics.
But just because he was less scrutinized than his sisters didn't mean James, who was also starting a new business at the timehis still-chugging personalized gifts company, Boomfdidn't feel as ifhe too was on display to an uncomfortable degree.
"Suddenly, and very publicly, I was being judged about whether I was a success or a failure," he recalled to Tatler this year. "That does put pressure on you. Because in my mind I'm doing this irrespective of my family and events that have happened."(And both he and Pippa were accused of using their connections to publicize themselvesthough it's hard to see how they could have tried to advance their careers in any way and not be accused of trading on the Middleton name. Either way, it's said that they were both advised to keep more demure profiles, with William happy to offer guidance on the subject.)
James, who's been sporting a beard now for years, was a clean-shaven lad of 24 when he gave a reading of Romans 12 at his sister's wedding, which was only watched by about 2 billion people around the globe, in 2011. His impressive showing, which for many outside the U.K. was the first time they had really noticed Kate's handsome brother, was considered a refreshing new start for him in the eyes of the U.K. media.
Though shecalled seeing the throngs of people outside Westminster Abbey on Kate's wedding day "surreal," Pippasaid onToday in 2014,"It sounds funny to say, but we saw it as just a family wedding. And actually, I didn't realize, perhaps, the scale of it until afterwards."
The attention paid to her dress, and the shape of her in it, that day was "flattering" but "embarrassing," she added, because the simple design was meant to make the overall look "insignificant" in comparison to the bride's Sarah Burton gown.
"It has been difficult, I suppose, going from a very normal life to sort of managing everything that happened after the wedding," Pippa also said about what started out as fame-by-association but had since evolved into her own public profile.
"I've had amazing opportunities," she added. "I feel very fortunate to have opportunities and sort of access to things that maybe I wouldn't necessarily." At the same time, however, "It's hard sometimes, but I have felt publicly bullied a little bit just by, you know, when I read things that clearly aren't true or that, whichever way someone looks at it, it's a negative side. It is quite difficult. Because eventually I'm just paving my way and trying to live a life like any 30-year-old."
James, meanwhile, felt caught between a rock and a hard place, in that he didn't like the scrutiny from the fame-by-association, or, simultaneously, the fact that his sisters had always cast a long shadow and it hadn't been easy to carve out his own individual space apart from them, even when the Middleton name wasn't famous.
"It's always been, whether at school or now, that I am Pippa and Catherine's little brother," he told the Daily Mail in 2015. "It's probably going to be the story of my life. [But] I am James Middleton. I am very proud to be 'the little brother of,' but, equally, they are proud that I amwho I am."
There were hangers-on and others with nefarious motives who might try to latch on because his name is Middleton, but "when somebody is interested in me for other reasons, I can spot it a mile off," he added. "All I want to do in my life is be known as me and for what I do."
And youthful faux pas aside, James was loyal toKate and Pippa and protective of their privacy, explaining toBritish GQ in 2012 that he was happy to chata media presence was important to run a successful businessbut he would never betray his family's confidence.
John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association via AP Images
When she got engaged to Prince William and then joined the royal family,Kate's life was automatically swallowed up by the traditionspracticed by her in-laws, but she has stayed close to her family, needing that BFF support from Pippa and gladly taking her parents up on babysitting offers once she became a mum.Most years, William and Kate (and now all the kids)vacation in Mustique with Carole and Michael to relax on the private island's picture-perfect beaches, and theyspent two weeks there in June.
The Middleton siblings haven't missed a christening, either, the family reliably gatheringfor the baptisms ofPrince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and overall the family has spent plenty of time over the years rubbing elbows with VIP guests at Buckingham Palace and other spots where the House of Windsor might be entertaining.
The most noticeable difference in Kate, Pippa and James' relationship is that Kate rarely gets to beright next to her siblings or parentsanymore, at least as far as press and formal portraits released to the public go. But we're guessingthat there's acloud full of snapshots taken at holidays and other private family gatherings to fill in those gaps in the album.
Karwai Tang/Getty Images
Pippa and James, however, regularly arrive atweddings and other outings together, andthey kept up their sporting ways, paddleboarding and playing tennis on vacation and competing ineventssuch as the TILL Swimrun World Championship6.1 miles of swimming and 40 miles of running, split between teammatesand a London-to-Brighton bike ride for the British Heart Foundation in 2015.
The whole lot of them are also regulars at Wimbledon every summer, with Pippa going on different days this year, once with her husband, brother and parents, and again to sit in the royal box with Kate and Meghan Markle.
Not that there haven't been rumors of a rift between James and Kate, since they're rarely seen spending time together outside of milestone events, unlike Kate and Pippa. But reminiscent of the concerns that Harry and William were feuding because Harry wanted to have his own foundation with his wife instead of his brother, it's mainly only because James is a grown man who is out doing his own thing.
"I lead a separate life to them," he told Tatler. "If there's interest in me, great. If there's interest in me because of them, that's different."
Moreover, James has been on a very different journey than eitherof his sisters, and though he was doing the usual stuffwork, dating, royal weddings, etc.he had a lot to grapple with, and for a time he was keeping it all to himself.
Also in the Daily Mailin January, James revealed that he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in late 2016, brought on by stress and anxiety.
"The best part of 2017 passed in a fog," he wrote. "I barely functioned, stopped talking to my friends, went through the motions of living and working but achieved nothing at all."
Similar to how Prince Harry talked in 2017 about pushing his issues to the side for years andrefusing repeated offers of help from William until, one day, he was ready to seek treatment, James told Tatlerthat when his depression and anxiety was at its worst, "I shut myself off, I didn't communicate with my family at all. But there's only so long you can hold your breath."
"You may wonder why I didn't confide in them," he wrote for the Mail, "but those who are closest to you are the hardest to speak to. It was impossible to let my loved ones know about the torture in my mind. Equally, anything they'd have said would have been rebuffed.
"That's why I withdrew from them, repelled their well-intentioned advice and finally stopped answering their calls and texts."
Jameseventually started therapy and in the beginning of 2018 he took a break from his business and went to stay at Glen Affric, the Scottish estate belonging to the family of Pippa's husband, James Matthewsalsoa longtime friend of herJames Middleton's(and his partner in the 2015 Swimrun). Pippa and Matthews had married in May 2017 with the whole family, including myriad royals, in attendance.
While James was there he occasionally played host, prompting reports that he was working as a "hotel tour guide," which understandably annoyed him. "I don't stand around with a little flag pointing out where William Wallace was last seen," he cracked toTatler.
The now 32-year-old entrepreneur also recently shared with theTelegraph that his whole family came to some of his therapy sessions, including Kate.
"The fact is, no matter what experience someone has, your family members are the hardest people [to talk to about it]," he said.
James also has five dogs nowhis Cocker SpanielElla, who's been with him the longest and is the mother of Kate and William's dog, Lupo, as well asInca, Luna, Zulu and Mabeland he has credited them extensively forhelping him get through that dark time, when he could barely eat or sleep and couldn't even concentrate enough to watch a movie or read a book.
Listening to Harry Potter audiobooks read by Stephen Frywasa comfort, he said.
Even more of a sign that he's healthier and happier than ever: James confirmed this month that he was engaged toAlizee Thevenet, a French financial analyst who he met in a bar. The couple vacationed with his parents, Pippa's family, and Matthews' brother Spencer and his wife in St. Barts in January. Alizee was also James' date to Lady Gabriella Windsor's wedding in May.
Instagram / James Middleton
"I have two lovely sons-in-law and I hope I'll have a lovely daughter-in-law," Carole Middleton said in a rarer-than-rare interview with theTelegraph last December, though at the time James and Alizee hadn't taken their romance fully public.
In his post for the Mail, James also acknowledged that he had the platform he did thanks to his sister, William's future queen,and he wanted to use that visibility to draw attention to the causes that mattered to him.
"People have asked me, too, if my public profile has made it harder for me," he wrote. "Would I have become so depressed if I hadn't been subject to the pressure of public scrutiny that comes with my association with the Royal Family?
"The answer is, I believe I would. But I wouldn't have found a voice or an outlet for my story if it hadn't been for the people I'm related to."
18 Jaw-Dropping Private Villas Around the World Where You Can Book Your Next Vacation – TownandCountrymag.com
Posted: at 10:13 pm
Let's call this story what it is: Villa Porn. After all, it's the ultimate travel fantasy: to call home, if only for a week, a to-die-for house in a legendary place. Fully staffed, of course. Here are some suggestions:
Arise in the master suite at Villa Astor (pictured above) and you will see, through three double doors, Mount Vesuvius, Sorrento, and the island of Ischiasurely how William Waldorf Astor used to start his day. He bought the clifftop estate from an Italian noble-man in 1905, when he was the American ambassador in Rome, and he filled it with classical and Renaissance objets. When todays owners, Russian migrs who are art collectors themselves, acquired the mansion in 2012, they restored-every marble wall and Neapolitan fresco to its original splendor. So though it is now a rentable villa, its really a sixbedroom private museum, with a chef from Don Alfonsos, the legendary local restaurant. Check your e-mail in the villas Libreriaif you can ignore the collection of priceless ancient artifacts. Youll find more bits and-pieces of Magna Graeciacolumns, statues, fountains, urns, pottery shards, fragments of sarcophagiin the enclosed Roman gardens. And your plunge pool is a seafront grotto consecrated to the nymphs in ancient times. Scroll down for booking information.
Bent on preserving Italys artistic legacy, the owners of the villas Astor and Balbiano have just completed refurbishing another faded landmark: Villa Clara, an abandoned four-bedroom mansion near Romes Villa Borghese.
Courtesy Homebase Abroad
Interior designer Jacques Garcia has reimagined it in sumptuous Art Deco style, and it is dazzling. Its 9,500 square feet of marble and semiprecious stone surfaces, including amethyst on the walls and Siena yellow marble around the indoor pool, hold antique columns and statues and an art collection that includes a Klimt. It is available to rent for the first time this month. Scroll down for booking information.
Courtesy Homebase Abroad
Ideally, a villa here should come with one of those beautiful Venetian water taxis for exploring the lakeside villages. You can get one at Villa Balbiano, plus a footpath for quick walks into town. Fair warning: You may find it hard to leave the six-bedroom villa, filled as it is with artworks and precious 18th- and 19th-century books. Cardinal Durini, a man of arts and letters who lived here in the late 1700s, embellished it with an art collection and a library, and -hosted literary salons and concerts. You may be tempted to do the same: The villa has a Steinway concert grand.
How to Book: Italy
Contact Mara Solomon of Homebase Abroad, which specializes in fine houses in Italy (email@example.com, 781-639-4040, homebaseabroad.com). For a pre- or post-villa hotel stay in Rome, the Eden is in an excellent location, a short stroll from the Spanish Steps and the Villa Borghese.
The precise location of the property known as Peninsular Estate is a closely guarded secret. But we love it, and heres what we do know: Its owned by a shipping family, it was built in 1960, Jackie and Aristotle Onassis were guests, and three generations of the same family have run it. Which means the staff will ensure that you find the classic Greek island life the house was designed for: breakfast -under ancient olive trees, and a sail on your yacht (but of course), a classic 40-foot wooden schooner with a captain who will guide it into hidden coves for swimming and water sports.
DEA / ARCHIVIO J. LANGEGetty Images
He might go snorkeling for sea urchins to use in the picnic he whips up in the galley, then deposit you in a village where youll find coffee and ice creamand no touristsbefore getting you back to the villa for siesta. Cocktails are at 8 on one of the terraces, dinner is by candlelight, and the staff goes home at 10, leaving the house all yours: family portraits, shipping insignia, old photos of ships, bookshelves with tomes in five languages, Dufys and Dubuffets on the walls, and a guestbook filled with the names of CEOs and international celebrities. Scroll down for booking information.
This glamorous 10-bedroom villa, Aleomandra, was designed by Lebanese architect Patrick Helou, and it stands out even on an island full of fabulous villas. Its terraces and pools, jacuzzis and daybeds, cover 9,000 square feet, and the pools are strikingly lit at nightjust the thing to inspire a pre-sunrise dip if youve been dancing on tables in Mykonoss clubs all night. The kicker for us is the sea and sunset views from everywhere. Scroll down for booking information.
GEORGE FAKAROS "UNIQUE IMAGING
Villa Olympia, high above the water but just a minutes walk from it, was built for a prominent Greek politician, so it was meant for entertaining, with a palatial reception area, vast terraces, and a helicopter pad (naturally). The new owner added a gym, a thalassotherapy spa, a hammam, and a jacuzzi big enough for 14. Scroll down for booking information.
Courtesy Five Star Greece
Porto Heli is the Hamptons of Greece, where Athenians have their weekend homes. The sprawling compound called Porto Heli CF sleeps up to 18 and is located on a private headland with its own harbor, beach, marina, and waterfront pavilion for shade. The sea is calm, so you can swim or paddleboard from the house or take your speedboat out for waterskiing. For nightlife, the chic island of Spetses is just a hop away on the boat.
How to Book: Greece
Contact Ileana von Hirsch of Five Star Greece, which specializes in Greek villa vacations (Ileana@fivestargreece.com, fivestargreece.com). For a pre- or post-villa hotel stay in Athens, we love the Grande Bretagne, the classic on Syntagma Square.
Luckily, for those of us without-noble pedigrees, Lismore Castle, the Duke of Devonshires home near Waterford, is available for rent. It dates from 1170 (both King John and Sir Walter Raleigh owned it at some point), and the dukes family has had it since 1753. Your Irish breakfast is served in the same dining room where JFK (whose sister Kathleen married the heir to the 10th duke), Fred Astaire (whose sister Adele married the son of the ninth duke), Cecil Beaton, Lucian Freud, and Dominic West have eaten. The staff has been here for decades, and their knowledge will enhance your stay. The head butler will set you up with archery, falconry, riding, hikes on the moors, golf, or salmon fishing (for which Lismore is legendary). And, yes, you can make a party of itthe castle sleeps 27. Scroll down for booking information.
Borthwick Castle, near Edinburgh, is a true 15th-century fortress, with holes from cannonballs fired by -Oliver Cromwell to prove it; Mary Queen of Scots took refuge here during another battle. While it may be the medieval castle of romantic imaginationgiant stone fireplaces, lofty ceilings, and steep stone spiral staircasesBorthwick, which sleeps 24, is also thoroughly state-of-the-art, with modern appliances hidden within the solid oak Renaissance furniture. Scroll down for booking information.
Courtesy Loyd & Townsend Rose
Courtesy Loyd & Townsend Rose
For the ultimate modern take on a Scottish castle, theres Corrour Lodge, which has pyramidal glass towers built in 2003 that look out at 57,000 acres of remote Highlands wilderness (the closest airport is Inverness, a two-hour drive). Designed by Moshe Safdie, its a rare example of world class 21st-century architecture in Scotland. It features a sauna overlooking a loch and a rooftop hot tub. It sleeps 14 adults, and 14 children in a bunk room. Scroll down for booking information.
When a castle seems a bit much for your holidayand a mere manor will dolook to England. Cowdray House, built in 1874 and owned by the eponymous viscount, is set on 110 acres of parkland in West Sussex; it has its own polo and cricket fields, a bowling alley, and indoor and outdoor pools. It sleeps up to 44. Scroll down for booking information.
Courtesy Loyd & Townsend Rose
Cornwell Manor, a 17thcentury estate in the Cotswoldswith an entire private village, a croquet lawn, 12 bedrooms, and a ballroom that holds 70is the childhood home of the actress and director Rachel Ward (granddaughter of the third Earl of Dudley). Its straight out of a Jane Austen -novelas long as you ignore the heated outdoor pool. Scroll down for booking information.
Courtesy Loyd & Townsend Rose
How to Book: British Isles
Contact Andrew Loyd of Loyd & Townsend Rose, which specializes in castle vacations in the UK and Ireland (Andrew@ltrcastles.com, ltrcastles.com, 011-44-1835-824642). For a pre- or post-castle stay, try the Goring, steps from Buckingham Palace, or Dukes, for its traditional top-notch service and famous bar.
Once you experience the food markets of this part of the Dordogne, you may never get to its cultural sights (the prehistoric caves, the Roman ruins). Especially if you put yourself in the hands of Angle, the cook at the Chteau de la Bourlie. The truffle market alone is a religious experience. As is the 13th-century, six-suite chteau, the property of Cyril de Commarque, a sculptor, and Ortensia Visconti, a writer and cinematographer. It has both a farm and an artist-in-residence program and, naturally, countless poetic spots to eat. Breakfast? The rose tree garden, because of how the early sun lights it. Dinner? The candlelit courtyard, where tapers adorn even the lime treesas beautiful as Angles lime flowerblossom ice cream. Scroll down for booking information.
The Chteau des Anges, a 10-bedroom estate built in the 17th century among the idyllic villages of the Luberon, produces its own superb wine and olive oil, and youre welcome to get your hands dirty, if that sort of thing (or the intense flavor of the first-press oil) moves you. If not, chef Lorenzo can take you shopping, and your butler, Thierry, will make sure each meal is set against dreamy table decordifferent plate patterns, napkins, flowerswhether youre dining in the lavender field, by the 18th-century pool pavilion, or on the small island in the lake filled with swans. Scroll down for booking information.
Courtesy Unique Properties and Events
The Domaine de Soulias, a recently renovated 13,000- square-foot farmhouse on an island in the Rhne, will be available in 2020 for groups who want to eat off the land and learn to prepare macrobiotic organic cuisine in the huge professional kitchen. No worries if you get other cravings: There are three twoMichelin-star restaurants (and 16 one-stars) within an hours drive of the house.
Courtesy Unique Properties and Events
How to Book: France
Contact Cdric Reversade and Paul-Maxime Koskas of Unique Properties and Events, which specializes in luxury villa vacations in Europe (firstname.lastname@example.org, 44-20-7788-7815, uniquepropertiesandevents.com). For a pre- or post-villa night in Paris, we love Le Bristol: the food! The service!
Five hundred miles from Rio, Trancoso is Brazils hottest seashore town, a laid-back fishing village with unspoiled white sand beaches, art galleries, and rustic-chic restaurants where multimillionaires go to pretend theyre fishermen. Sure, international celebrities come for the New Years parties, but otherwise everyone goes barefoot and dines in their swimwear.
Its the ideal place to experience Brazils beach life, and the best way to do it is at your own villa. You could rent Anderson Coopers, in the towns historic center, but Trancoso Villa 17 (five bedrooms, staff of eight) has it all, including a larger-than-life owner, Flvio Marelim, a former restaurateur and bon vivant who designs beach houses for Brazils rich and famous and can connect you with everyone whos anyone in town. The villas 24/7 concierge can double as a babysitter, and as you stroll to a party hell treat your offspring to make-your-own pizza in the outdoor oven and a nightclub in the sand, featuring the villas state-of-the-art sound and lighting system. Scroll down for booking information.
A remote take on the billionaire boating life can be had in Angra dos Reis, a bay with more than 100 car-free islands about a half-hour by helicopter from Rio or So Paulo. Youll find virgin forest, hidden coves, and the weekend homes of Brazils top money managers. Villa 16, on an -island with plenty of trails through primeval nature, is a unique over-water bungalow that sleeps 10 and has a staff of four. Its see-through floor is best admired with a caipi-rinha in hand.
The weekend destination of Rios elite, Bzios has white sandbeaches ideal forwater sports and winds perfect for sailing. It also has a 400,000-square-foot beachfront estate with a 12bedroom horizontal-plan villa, RW, that has a pedigree unmatched by any rental home in Brazil.
Designed by two of the countrys top architects, Thiago Bernardes and Paulo Jacobsen, it is made entirely of eucalyptus from reforestation areas, it has ocean views from every room, and its filled with works by such famous Brazilian artists as Vik Muniz and Adriana Varejo. When youre not in the -water, have lunch at the beach gazebo or hit the massage room and dream of retiring here somedaythat was the plan of the Rio-based art collector who built the property.
How to Book: Brazil
Contact Martin Frankenberg of Matuet, which specializes in luxury villa vacations in Brazil (Martin@matuete.com; matuete.com; 011-55-11-3071-4515). For pre- and post-villa hotel stays, he recommends Hotel Fasano in Rio de Janeiro for its Ipanema Beach location and the best service in Rio.
This story appears in the October 2019 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW
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