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Monday, January 30, 2017

Tiffany’s ‘Priceless’ Super Bowl Trophy


Since the first Super Bowl in 1967, even before it was known as the Super Bowl, Tiffany & Co. has designed and created the trophy that represents American professional football’s highest honor.

The design is simple, sleek and timeless. A regulation-size football sits angled on a stylized elongated and concaved three-sided kicking tee. The trophy stands 22 inches high and is made entirely of seven pounds of silver. This design has remained consistent during that the 51-year history of the game.

The trophy’s intrinsic value based on the spot price of sterling silver is approximately $1,617. However, Tiffany values the trophy as “priceless.” When you consider that the Super Bowl is the number one sporting event in the U.S. and the NFL is the number one sports league in the U.S., it would seem that Tiffany’s valuation is highly accurate.

As the legend goes Oscar Riedener, former Tiffany & Co. VP and head of design, sketched the trophy’s basic design on a napkin during a 1966 meeting with then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. The trophy was first presented January 15, 1967, to the Green Bay Packers in what was then referred as the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game,” retroactively named Super Bowl I. It was inscribed with the words, “World Professional Football Championship.”


The Super Bowl name wasn’t officially used until Super Bowl III in 1969. The game, played on January 12 marked the first time the championship team from the American Football League (an upstart league that competed with the NFL) defeated the champion from the NFL in what is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in American sports history. The New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts 16–7. A year later the two leagues finalized their merger first announced in 1966 and launched the NFL into the modern era.

In 1970 the trophy was renamed the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the death of legendary Green Bay Packers coach, the winner of the first two Super Bowls.

While the design is the same, unlike many sports trophies it is created each year, currently at Tiffany’s workshop in Cumberland, R.I., according to the luxury jeweler. Master artisans employ age-old silversmithing techniques—which include spinning, chasing, hand engraving and polishing—requiring 72 man hours to complete.


After the field ceremony, the trophy will be returned to Tiffany’s workshop where the name of the winning team will be hand engraved.

Tiffany & Co. also creates the Pete Rozelle Trophy, which is presented annually to the Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl by the National Football League; The Lamar Hunt Trophy, presented to the champion of the American Football Conference; and The George S. Halas Trophy, presented to the champion of the National Football Conference.  

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Ritani Names Deborah Fine As New CEO

Ritani, a designer and manufacturer of engagement rings and fine jewelry with a vertically integrated, omnichannel sales model, has hired Deborah Fine as its chief executive officer. Fine, a veteran omnichannel executive, begins immediately and will split her time between Ritani’s Seattle and New York operation centers.

Fine replaces Brian Watkins who left Ritani in July, 2016, for what was reportedly described as personal reasons. 

Omnichannel relates to a type of retail that integrates different methods of shopping available to consumers, such as online and through a physical store.

Fine’s career transcends several industries, including consumer retail, fashion and beauty, lifestyle and media. She was previously the CEO of Direct Brands, the largest member- based retailer of media products in the U.S. president of iVillage, an NBC Universal company that was the first and largest media company dedicated to women online, CEO of Victoria’s Secret PINK, founder and president of Avon Mark Cosmetics, VP and publisher of Glamour magazine and publisher of Brides magazine.

“Deborah has demonstrated an impressive track record of leading best in class retail and media businesses and delivering significant results. Her experience and vision will help propel the growth strategy of the Ritani brand, as it seeks to gain market share in the omnichannel fine jewelry market,” said Henrique de Castro, head of Cantor Ventures, an investor in Ritani.

“I’m excited to join Ritani and lead the business in its next stage of development,” Fine said. “Ritani was the first to launch a true ‘clicks and bricks’ model in the category … Ritani’s legacy of craftsmanship, business model innovation, and the ability for consumers to design their own merchandise are strong pillars for growth. I look forward to working with the team here to continue to innovate and increase our market share across all relevant categories.”

Ritani designs and manufacturers bridal and fine jewelry and distributes its product through a network of 250 independent retailers through a “clicks-and-bricks” approach, where consumers can design their own engagement ring online and then have the ring shipped to a nearby jewelry store to preview in person. 

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New Distributor Named For Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo and Versus Versace Watches

Paolo Marai, president and CEO of the Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division

Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division (part of the Timex Group) has appointed MadaLuxe Group as the exclusive US distributor for its luxury brand name watches, which include Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Versus Versace timepieces.

Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division markets designer label brand name watches in more than 65 countries worldwide through department stores, independent specialty retailers and boutiques, as well as primary digital e-commerce retail outlets. At the core of the division are Versace and Salvatore Ferragamo watches, both based in Switzerland. Together, these two iconic brand names represent the group’s unique position in the marketplace, delivering Italian style and design with traditional Swiss watch-making. The Group also distributes Versus Versace and other contemporary fashion brands targeting younger consumers with modern collections that feature current fashion looks and seasonal trends.


Paolo Marai, president and CEO of the Timex Group Luxury Division, said “We are confident that the team at MadaLuxe will represent a unique opportunity to strengthen our position in the USA market allowing us a further step in our growth plans.”


Marai, who oversees the Timex luxury Division worldwide, stated that the division has experienced strong growth since 2004 delivering fashionable styles and assurances that every watch is backed by the “Swiss Made” label. The growth of the division has been driven by increased distribution and sales in the Middle East and Asia, as well as a solid performance in Europe and the USA over the last several years, he said.

“The relationship with the Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division is an exciting opportunity for us, and we are honored to represent such iconic luxury timepieces and recognized brands,” said Sandy Sholl, CEO of MadaLuxe Group. 

MadaLuxe Group distributes men’s and women’s luxury brands from the most notable European fashion houses. This is the group’s first assignment in the watch category and reflects its ongoing expansion into the luxury brand sector.

Adam Freede, president of MadaLuxe Group, indicated that it will aggressively support the brand portfolio in the United States by focusing on a marketing-communication strategy that positions the brands as the most distinctive yet affordable luxury fashion timepieces available. 

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Illustrated History Of High Jeweler Oscar Heyman To Be Released In April


The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) will publish the first illustrated history of Oscar Heyman & Brothers, a U.S. high jewelry firm that has designed and crafted pieces for some of the world's most prestigious jewelry brands since 1912.

Oscar Heyman: The Jewelers’ Jeweler contains new photography of vintage and contemporary pieces created by the New York jewelry house, as well as design drawings from the firm’s archives. The book reveals Oscar Heyman’s important role in the story of high-style American jewelry.

The book is authored by Yvonne J. Markowitz, Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan, curator emerita of Jewelry at the MFA, and Elizabeth Hamilton, an independent writer and researcher. It is produced by MFA Publications, the publishing division of the museum. It will be available April 1 in the MFA Shops, retail bookstores and online. It is one of several titles dedicated to jewelry that have been produced by MFA Publications in recent years.

Oscar Heyman is known within the jewelry industry for creating pieces for some of the most prestigious jewelry brands in world, including Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, Shreve, Crump & Low and Black, Starr & Frost. 

“For more than a century, Oscar Heyman & Brothers … has maintained a national reputation for outstanding ornaments set with superior gemstones,” Markowitz said. “Until recently, the Oscar Heyman name was unknown outside the jewelry world, as the company preferred anonymity and discretion, but today the brand is synonymous with dazzling, high-style jewels.”

Oscar Heyman & Brothers has been a family business since its establishment, now in its third generation. The company’s founding brothers, Oscar and Nathan, apprenticed at a workshop that produced high-style ornaments for the Russian court jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé before leaving Eastern Europe for New York. Within a few years, they established their own firm, distinctive for dynamic and contemporary designs, fine craftsmenship, technological sophistication and high-quality materials. Eventually, the other Heyman brothers joined the growing business, which remains entirely autonomous—maintaining in-house production of jewelry from inception through completion—to this day.

“It’s inspiring to see how far Oscar Heyman has come since my grandfather and great uncles started the business,” said Tom Heyman, partner at Oscar Heyman & Brothers. “Readers will come to appreciate our rich history and unique combination of engineering capabilities, technical skill and artistic style, which enable us to continue to create one-of-a-kind pieces.”

The publication tells the firm’s history from its beginnings at the turn of the 20th Century and traces its growth and innovation decade by decade. Nearly 70 ornaments are highlighted, demonstrating how the business adapted new aesthetics in response to the changing desires of consumers. The earliest examples include a 1929 platinum, diamond and emerald brooch from the MFA’s collection. Originally owned and frequently worn by the heiress and art collector Marjorie Merriweather Post, the brooch fuses design elements of Art Deco and the Edwardian era.

Major milestones detailed in the book include the firm’s participation in two New York World’s Fairs. In 1939, Oscar Heyman & Brothers manufactured ornaments for four prominent retailers on display at the “House of Jewels,” one of the most extravagant exhibition pavilions. Although unknown to the public, the firm’s involvement in the exhibition solidified its reputation among clients, as many retailers recognized the signature floral designs, exquisite craftsmanship and superior gems. The next New York World’s Fair, held in 1964, did not have a dedicated jewelry pavilion but Oscar Heyman & Brothers designed the official commemorative necklace in partnership with the Linde Star Company.

The publication also contains 15 design drawings from the Oscar Heyman Archive. These include designs for patriotic World War II ornaments, such as brooches featuring the American eagle, as well as for a diamond and emerald necklace that was made in 1956 and gifted decades later to Elizabeth Taylor by Michael Jackson. 

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Richard Mille Unveils The World’s Lightest Chronograph


The Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Split-Seconds Tourbillon Chronograph weighs 40 grams (1.41 ounces), which the watchmaker says makes it the world’s lightest mechanical chronograph ever on the market. Its weight achievement is due to the use of ultra-light and high-strength materials for the case and the movement.

For this timepiece, Richard Mille teamed with McLaren-Honda, one of the best-known builders of racing cars and a company known for its work with ultra-lightweight and high-strength alloys. The watch had its first full public showing at the recently concluded Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH).


The bezel and caseback feature Graph TPT, a Carbon TPT material whose physical properties have been improved by the injection of graphene, a nanomaterial six times lighter than steel but 200 times more resistant, according to the watchmaker. 

Richard Mille collaborated with The University of Manchester (where graphene was first isolated by Professor Andre Geim in 2004 who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for its discovery), McLaren Applied Technologies and North Thin Ply Technology, to produce a watch case machined with what it calls an improved form of Carbon TPT. 


The RM50-03 caliber has a “record-breaking” weight of just seven grams, according to the watch brand, achieved through the combination of high-tech materials and skeletonization. The baseplate and bridges are made of corrosion resistant and rigid grade 5 titanium. Some of the bridges of the split-seconds chronograph are made of Carbon TPT, as is the transverse carriage that supports the caliber with the barrel and tourbillon bridges. Attached to the caseback, this carriage circumvents the need for a casing ring, allowing the movement to be integrated into the case. The company says the caliber, despite its ultra-light-weight, was tested to be resistant to shocks of 5,000 Gs and has a 70-hour power reserve. 


The split-seconds mechanism features a new Richard Mille column wheel that now has six columns, as opposed to eight in previous versions. The watch brand says this optimizes simultaneous movement, maximal function locking and greater adjustment durability. The helical spring was replaced by a blade on the split seconds wheel of the RM 50-03.

The pusher at 8 o'clock starts or stops the seconds hand of the chronograph. The pusher at 4 o'clock stops the split seconds hand and allows an intermediary time to be read off while the chronograph is engaged. When this pusher is pressed again, the split-seconds hand catches up with the chronograph hand and simultaneously continues its course. The pusher at 10 o'clock resets the hands.


A torque indicator displays the tension of the mainspring and makes it possible to optimize the winding of the watch. A function indicator displays winding, hand setting or the neutral position—similar to the gearbox on a car—when the watch crown is pulled out. A hand at 4 o'clock displays the selected mode: W (Winding) – N (Neutral) – H (Hand Setting).

Outside of its light weight and new advancements, RM 50-03 retains all of the codes of a Richard Mille watch, including the signature Tourneau-shaped case. In addition to the fabric strap, it is available in a rubber strap injected with graphene.


The watch will be available as early as June in a limited edition of 75 pieces and a price of $980,000.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

$1M Swiss Watch Made Of Swiss Cheese And That’s No Bull


Specialist Swiss watchmaker H. Moser & Cie. used Swiss cheese to create a watch made in protest of the recently updated “Swiss made” requirement. 

Called the “Swiss Mad Watch” it doesn’t refer to Mad Cow Disease but to being mad at the new updated requirement that 60 percent of the watch components must be of Swiss origin in order to be considered eligible for the Swiss Made label—a 10 percent increase over the previous requirement. Edouard Meylan, CEO of the independent watchmaker based in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, uses more than 95 percent of Swiss-origin components to make its watches. He strongly feels the Swiss Made standard is inadequate and his company should not be held to the same standard as those who barely meet the requirement. The company said it will remove the Swiss Made label from all of its new watches starting this year.

"Our Swiss Mad Watch sends a clear message to the Swiss watchmaking industry, the authorities and watch enthusiasts: the Swiss Made label is meaningless,” Meylan said in a statement. “Worse than this, it gives credibility to the worst abuses in our industry. Our response to this lax and insufficient label is derision. At H. Moser & Cie. we produce watches that are truly Swiss, watches that are steeped in watchmaking tradition and centuries of experience. The quality of these pieces speaks for itself and dispenses with the need for a label. We are no longer ‘Swiss Made,’ but we are Swiss—100 precent Swiss in the case of the Swiss Mad Watch and over 95 percent Swiss for all of our other models.”


While there is satire mixed in with this protest it is as serious the price of this one-of-a-kind watch, 1,081,291 Swiss francs. The cost refers to the signing of the Swiss Federal Charter on August 1, 1291. All proceeds from its sale will be used to create a fund to support independent Swiss watchmaking suppliers that the company says are “currently suffering under the difficult economic situation and outsourcing to Asia. These are the very artisans who keep traditional Swiss watchmaking alive and who help it to continually evolve.”

The 42mm case of the Swiss Mad Watch is created from real Swiss cheese as a base material, specifically a Vacherin Mont d’Or médaille d’or, mixed with itr2, a composite material. It is then machined and polished with H. Moser signature finishes. For the strap, Swiss cowhide (the obvious choice) is used. The watch is finished with a red fumé dial and doubled indices at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock, subtly reminiscent of the Swiss flag. It is powered by an in-house, hand-wound, mechanical HMC 327 caliber.


“Created in Switzerland, by Swiss watchmakers and using Swiss materials, the Swiss Mad Watch has symbolic value, tackling Swiss Made debate head on to reveal the truth behind this label,” Meylan said. “With this unique watch, H. Moser & Cie. demonstrates the importance and urgency of returning Swiss Made to its former heights. Echoing the absurdity and the ridiculous change to the Swiss Made legislation, H. Moser & Cie.'s satirical comment on the issue highlights an alternative resource, 100 percent natural and entirely Swiss, one of the most precious Swiss resources that exists: cows. 

To go with the watch and protest, the company created the hashtag, #MakeSwissMadeGreatAgain.

Below is a tongue-in-cheek video about the watch.




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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Casual Luxury Of Amsterdam


The city of Amsterdam has come a long way in recent years. Well known as a place for legal marijuana and legal prostitution, the city is undergoing a transformation as a luxury destination with new and renovated hotels, a restaurant renaissance and luxury shopping to go along with world-class museums, live theater and even more active endeavors like ice skating. 

Many in Amsterdam’s hospitality industry talk about “casual luxury,” which is attentive, comfortable and democratic. They proudly say that dignitaries and celebrities near and far are treated to the same level of hospitality as anyone would receive. It’s a compact city that can easily be managed by foot or its excellent public transportation system. It is tailored made for couples looking for a short respite from daily life while enjoying the stimulation of being in large, dynamic city.

The lobby of the Pulitzer Hotel

A great starting off point for a luxury adventure is the Pulitzer Amsterdam hotel (Prinsengracht 323, 1016 GZ), a complex of 25 canal houses in a quaint centrally located neighborhood. If you remember the hotel from the 2004 film, “Ocean’s Twelve,” you won’t recognize it as it underwent a full renovation completed in August, 2016, with central grounds, two new restaurants and a comfortable bar specializing in craft cocktails. If you’re willing to splurge a bit you can get one of the “Extraordinary Suites,” on the ground floor, most with their own private entrances. Each one has a design theme, music, art, books, antiques and the Pulitzer Suite for lovers.

The Arts Suite at the Pulitzer Hotel

Amsterdam’s flat landscape and scenic canals make it an ideal place for strolling year round. In the wintertime the shadows of quickly vanishing daylight and the reflection of lights off the water during the long nights adds a bit of romance and mystery to the canal-lined streets.

After a quick café latte and croissant at Pause, the Pulitzer’s bright and airy lobby café that extends into the hotel gardens, it’s time to head out to one of the best, though lesser-known, areas for shopping, the Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes). Nine little streets divided by four canals make up a neighborhood of boutique shops, comfortable restaurants and simple bars and coffee houses, almost all of the businesses are locally owned, ranging from the highly refined and luxurious to the quaint and quirky.

The interactive displays at Otentic Perfumes

One of the first stores you’ll come upon is Otentic Perfumes (Keizersgracht 233, 1016EA), which specializes in women and men fragrances. The corner store contains a collection of 65 fragrances divided into eight “families” or “moods.” The idea is to determine your favorite fragrance based on individual scents. You can do this yourself through a grouping of eight interactive displays or guided by trained employees until you find the combination of scents that suits you. The concept was founded by Jean-Denis Saisse, an eighth-generation perfumer from Grasse, France (the center of the country’s perfume industry), whose family formulates perfumes for some of the world’s best-known brands.

A window display at the Amsterdam Watch Company

A block north is the Amsterdam Watch Company, which specializes in collectible timepieces. It is a seemingly small store but has an inventory of more than 40 watch brands, from Audemars Piguet to Zenith. 

One of the many locally owned stores at the Nine Streets

Keep walking north along the shops dodging the cyclists who quietly speed past in all directions and you’ll come to two very different looking buildings across the street from each other joined by a giant “W” on each. It is the W Amsterdam hotel (Spuistraat 175, 1012 VN). The one building was a former telephone exchange building and the other a former bank. On the ground floor of the bank building is the X Bank concept design store. The Dutch are known for minimalistic, experimental, innovative and even humorous designs. The retail space features the breadth of Dutch design, ranging from high-end furnishings and artworks to apparel and accessories. Prices at the store range from 8 to 80,000 euro. 

The X Bank design concept store

One jeweler whose work I recognized immediately is Bibi van der Velden, whom I met in the U.S. a few years ago. She produces hand-crafted fine jewels by combining traditional precious materials with ostrich eggs, scarab wings, 40,000 year-old mammoth tusk and other unusual materials. The jewels are precious, colorful and organic. 

Bibi van der Velden jewels in the X Bank store

Another jewelry collection of note is The Amsterdam Collection by Statement Jewels, which normally specializes in antique pieces. The collection is conceived and crafted by hand in Amsterdam. This effort is led by Mart van Drunen, the founder of Statement Jewels, and goldsmith Frederik Bakker. It mixes precious gems with wood, amethyst and other organic material to create one-of-a-kind pieces, which are signed and numbered and hand-engraved with a vertical triple-x; the symbol of Amsterdam.

The bar at The Duchess restaurant in the W Amsterdam hotel

Take a break at The Duchess restaurant inside the W Amsterdam. Open all day, the grand room with high ceilings, big, round chandeliers and dark marble was once where the vault of the bank was located. In addition to three full meal services per day it serves tea in the afternoon and features a large and wide dark marble bar with personable bartenders who are specialists at craft drinks. Try one of the three specialty punches with some light fare before continuing your journey. 

Bijenkorf luxury department store on Dam Square

The W Amsterdam is located on the edge of Dam Square, the historical center of Amsterdam and still the center of activity for residents and tourists. The Royal Palace is there as well as world-class hotels and stores. Outside of the palace, one the most impressive buildings on the square is the flagship Bijenkorf luxury department store. The name of the store means beehive, which is apt as it is constantly buzzing with activity. The multi-story retail building has all the international brands one would expect to find, plus brands well known within the Netherlands.

The Cartier boutique inside Bijenhorf

As the day turns to night, it’s time to relax by taking a canal boat cruise. It’s a touristy thing to do but it’s also a great way to see the city while sipping on a Jenever, the local liquor served in a distinct tulip-shaped shot glass. Opt for the flavorful oude (old) jenever as opposed to the Jonge (young) if possible. The designation has no relationship to the age of the product but relates to the brewing method. If you leave now you will still be able to experience the Amsterdam Light Festival (till January 22). Artists from around the world build large light-infused sculptures throughout the city, with many of the best and brightest along the canals. 

The "Lace" artwork, part of the Amsterdam Light Festival

Have the boat dock at the Grand Amsterdam hotel for dinner at Bridges restaurant. The transformation of Amsterdam to a culinary destination has been dramatic. In 1982, Amsterdam had only one restaurant with a Michelin star; today, there are four restaurants with two stars and eleven with one star. Bridges is an example of this boom retaining its Michelin star with an internationally inspired menu that includes roe-deer (a Eurasian species of deer), grilled oxtail and charred kohlrabi paired with Asian ingredients. 

The Grand Amsterdam hotel

The Grand Amsterdam is in historic building that once was a convent and served as Amsterdam's city hall. It recently underwent a renovation, without losing its old world charm and legendary service. If you’re nice they may allow you to view The Marriage Chamber, with its Egyptian themed depiction of the circle of life that surrounds the room on stained glass windows, wallpapers and doors. It was created by artist Chris Lebeau (completed in 1926) in an Art Deco style that would make Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, feel at home. The room is used for weddings, including royal weddings, and other private events. 

The Marriage Chamber at the Grand Amsterdam hotel

After dinner it’s time to return to the Pulitzer, on foot of course. Before returning to the room, stop at the comfortable and casual Pulitzer Bar for a nightcap. 

Beurspassage

The next morning skip breakfast at the hotel and take the tram (or walk) to Beurspassage (Damrak 1012 LW). It’s basically an underpass between buildings that connects Damrak Avenue and Nieuwendijk street. It is a popular pedestrian passageway for locals and tourists. The space has been transformed into a block-long piece of site-specific art. Colorful mosaic glass covers the wall the ceiling and marble covers the floor, all of it designed with nautical themed images. Glass light scones depict fantastical animal designs. One of the focal points of the space is chandeliers made of used bicycle parts. Eat breakfast like the locals, grab a pastry at the Banketbakkerij van der Linde bakery (better known for its soft and creamy vanilla ice cream) and the coffee at liquid, which claims to have the largest coffee bar in Amsterdam, or the Netherlands, or Europe, or the world, or the galaxy.... It is long. 

The Marilyn Monroe exhibit at the Nieuwe Kerk

From there it’s a short walk to the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) (Gravenstraat 17, 1012 NL), a former church now used for exhibitions and church organ recitals. The church with its stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings is still used for Dutch royal installation ceremonies and royal weddings. There is currently an exhibition about the life of movie heartthrob Marilyn Monroe (90 years Ms Monroe) that runs till February 5. Pictures and artifacts are used to trace the rise and tragic death of one the world’s biggest stars.  

Inside the Royal Waiting Room at Centraal Station

The next stop is Centraal Station. Walk to the end of one of the platforms where there’s an unassuming brick building with a guilt wrought iron fence. This is the Royal Waiting Room (Koninklijke Wachtkamer) and it is now available for public tours when reserved in advance. The upstairs waiting room has parquet floors, oak paneling and painted representations of Aesop's Fables. The furniture, marble fireplace, lamps and rugs and bronze hinges and locks are all original. The room is still used a few times a year as the royal family occasionally travels by train to neighboring countries or to receive dignitaries who arrive to Amsterdam by train. 

The Butcher Social Club & Terrace in the Sir Adam Hotel

It should be lunch time and just past the Centraal Station is a free ferry to Amsterdam Noord (North). At the end of the quick water ride is the brand new Sir Adam Hotel (Overhoeksplein 7, 1031KS), which occupies first eight floors of the black A’DAM Tower. The large lower lobby with window walls and an outside terrace is where the Butcher Social Club & Terrace is located. This is a modern hotel created for Millennials with retro taste. Old fashion pinball and Pacman machines are located near the long bar area. Comfortable chairs are scattered about and at night a DJ works the room. Window walls provide views of the water and Central Amsterdam. The guest rooms are “rock ‘n’ roll” themed from different periods with Gibson and Fender guitars as wall decorations, portable record players and memorabilia from bygone musical eras. If you feel inclined you can order a guitar to play through room service. At the Butcher you can order a quick burger (I’d go with the Truffle Burger) with a beer and a view before heading back on the ferry. 

Inside the Van Loon Museum

Certainly Amsterdam is known for its world class museums but there is one little gem that is often overlooked: Museum Van Loon. It’s a 17th Century canal house with 18th Century furnishings and has been occupied by the Van Loon family since the latter part of the 19th Century. Family members still live in the upper floors of the house. The first two floors are open to the public and contain a history of the family. Their wealth was acquired when Willem van Loon co-founded the incredibly successful Dutch East-India Company in 1602.

The rooms contain paintings, fine furniture, silver and porcelain from different centuries. Behind the house is a garden, laid out in formal style, and is bordered on the far side by the classical façade of the coach house. The basement contains a replica of an 18th Century kitchen. The museum claims that it is the canal house that has survived with its garden and coach house in tact. 

In the gardens you can treat yourself to apple cake and coffee or tea. It’s where the locals go for a quick escape.

From there it’s a quick walk to the Rijksmuseum. The palatial building has undergone a full renovation and is well worth an hour or two to look at the collection of more than a half-million paintings and other works of art from Netherland-based artists. You can’t possibly see it all at one time so it pays to focus on a part of the collection that interests you, such as works by students of Rembrandt. You can explore the museum’s website to help set up your own personal tour.

The ICE* Amsterdam skating rink with the Rijksmuseum in the background.

Right outside the museum is the ICE* Amsterdam ice rink where you spend time skating or watching the skaters with a hot chocolate from the comfortable restaurant. Children just learning use chairs to keep their balance. At night the skating area glows in colorful lights with the Rijksmuseum as a palatial backdrop.

Restaurant Swych in the Amsterdam Doelen hotel

From there it’s a quick tram ride for a light meal at Restaurant Swych in the Amsterdam Doelen hotel (Doelenstraat 26, 1012 CP). The hotel is billed as the oldest in Amsterdam but you would never guess it when entering the hotel with its light-colored walls and carpeting and clean, crisp lines. The same is true for the restaurant with its bright color palette and large windows bringing natural light during the day and the lights from across the canal at night. The cuisine is modern serving what executive chef Rudolf Brand describes as “Flexitarian,” where proteins play second fiddle to vegetables that are the centerpiece of the meal. The Butter lettuce soup, Beetroots and spelt, Roasted cauliflower, and Jerusalem artichoke and truffle are all recommended—with a “side” of halibut. 

From there it’s another quick tram ride to the theater. There are two major theaters in the city and they are adjacent. The DeLaMar Theater (Marnixstraat 402, 1017 PL), is the larger and more modern of the two. Its stage is about twice as large as a normal stage and goes into the seating area. It’s designed to be open and flexible so it can accommodates a number of stage setting settings, particularly for modern plays. 

The Stadsschouwburg

With just one night to see a play, I would opt for the historic and more traditional setting of the Stadsschouwburg (Leidseplein 26, 1017 PT). It is an official national monument and is known to be one of the most beautifully preserved historic theaters in the Netherlands. I would try to purchase tickets in the box normally reserved for the royal family at the center- back of the center of the first balcony. It provides a perfect view of the performance. They obviously don’t use it every night and when it’s not in use the seats are sold to the public. There’s also a private waiting area for the royal family during intermissions. However, it’s not included with the seats. 

Both theaters accommodate a diverse offering of classic and modern plays, ballets and other types of live performances. 

Afterwards it’s time for a nice stroll back to the Pulitzer where you’ve earned a long well-deserved rest before heading home the next afternoon. 

Don’t forget the “do not disturb” sign. 

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