C H I N E S E L U X U R Y A N D L I F E S T Y L E
SUMMER ISSUE 2014
MING DAOSOARING UP AND ABOVE
FINE DINING ON THE
LAS VEGAS STRIP
ESCAPE TO PARADISE
35PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL • FALL 2013
of By David Christopher Lee with additional reporting by Setorii Pond
奢 華 紀 事
3534 PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL • SUMMER 2014PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL • SUMMER 2014
with the Aston Martin Racing Experience, we played polo at the
Empire Polo Club in Indio. So, what is it like to play polo? Imagine
galloping on a horse while balancing and carrying a mallet across
a field. It was exhilarating!
After being instructed by our knowledgeable coach Ebe Sievwright,
we enjoyed a decadent spread of food and champagne amongst
the lush rolling polo greens organized by Katty Wong. We stayed
until the stars came out and it was a spectacular ending to an en-
thralling weekend filled with fashion, luxury, speed, and friends. We
are definitely hooked on polo now; I have already signed up for a
season of polo classes at the California Polo Club.
A Majestic Estate in Bel-Air
Just west of Beverly Hills, Bel-Air is the wealthiest and most exclusive
neighborhood in all of Los Angeles. Home to presidents, billionaires,
and celebrities, Bel-Air’s residents include tech billionaire Elon Musk,
former First Lady Nancy Reagan, musician Kanye West and wife
Kim Kardashian, and countless other household names.
With ocean views from the hills, and an oasis of green trees, plants
and gardens nestled in its canyons, Bel-Air is a breath of fresh air for
LA’s residents who want to live away from the traffic and chaos of the
city. But, living in such an oasis comes at a price – a very high price.
Recently, the Fleur de Lys estate in Bel-Air sold for $104 million – a
record for the city of Los Angeles!
I recently had the pleasure of touring the Falconview Estate (www.
FalconviewBelAir.com), the ultimate entertainment compound. Arriv-
ing at the lower gates of Falconview, it felt like I was about to enter a
very private and exclusive world – a world that many aspire to have,
yet few attain. The gates, nearly 15 feet tall of magnificent yet impos-
ing iron, somehow seem to deter and welcome me at the same time.
Once approved for entry I began my ascent on a third of a mile long
driveway, up and around and up some more. I passed a beautiful
expanse of green and realized that what looks like a park is actually
just that, but it’s a private park, nearly one acre and complete with a
two-story playhouse and putting greens. Onward as the ascent con-
tinued, I caught a glimpse of the city below. Through the trees – and
there were literally hundreds of trees – I saw the villa towering above
and the anticipation continued to build. As I approached the highest
point of the 3.5-acre property, the sheer majesty of the Falconview
Estate presented itself and it was obvious how it attained its name.
The views from the top of the hillside are unsurpassed by any estate
in Bel-Air. Canopies of green erupt all around, eventually pointing to
the city below and out to the ocean and Catalina Island beyond. At
the top of the estate, a second set of iron gates awaited and pass-
ing through, a cobblestone courtyard welcomed me with a stunning
fountain at its center.
Overlooking the courtyard and looking down to the front entrance of
the home was a large, red heart formed by an array of vibrant flow-
ers. Even on such a grand scale, this 8,770 square foot, 7-bedroom
and 8-bath Mediterranean villa was a warm and loving home. The
Falconview Estate proved perfect for a business executive or celeb-
rity to be at home high above the prying eyes of the paparazzi and
ADVENTURES IN LUXURY
Voyage to the Jungles of Puerto Rico
I ventured off to El Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico to the Ritz
Carlton Reserve for the MINI Cooper International Press Launch. As
one of the two Ritz Carlton Reserves (the other is in Thailand), it is
home to the original Rockefeller Estate. The 1,200-acre property
includes a golf course, water park, a Jose Andres Restaurant, and
gorgeous beach. The property is only about a year old, but it has al-
ready hosted a number of A-list celebrities, including Mariah Carey
Before taking the car out for a drive, MINI hosted a fabulous break-
fast by the beach with a breathtaking show. MINIs were strategically
displayed on the sand in front of the ocean with a gorgeous rainbow
backdrop over the Caribbean Sea. After breakfast we were sent out
on a wild scavenger hunt to take pictures of landmarks throughout
Puerto Rico. The jungle roads were windy and so narrow at times
that only one MINI could drive through at a time! The driving experi-
ence was incredible. The car accelerates extremely fast and can turn
on a dime. Despite its compact size, the interior was surprisingly very
spacious and comfortable. The MINI Cooper is the perfect car if you
live in the big city; It’s small enough to find parking anywhere and
powerful enough to zoom through traffic.
An Action Packed Weekend in Palm Desert, California
I took a trip to the desert for an action packed weekend of Aston
Martin Racing, glamorous fashion shows, and a day of polo! The
festivities were centered in the Palm Desert just two and a half hours
outside of Los Angeles. Palm Springs Life Magazine presented an
exciting evening with six Project Runway designers including break-
out star Michael Costello. I’ve known Michael Costello for more than
seven years now; we’ve kept in touch since I directed his first fashion
video. I’m so proud of him for designing Beyonce’s Grammy dress
and finally getting the notoriety he truly deserves (drop dead sexy
evening gowns have always been his staple). The event took place
under a posh tent in El Paseo, Palm Desert; the evening opened with
Costello’s MT Costello line. The show was followed by a fashion
show featuring Project Runway All Stars: Uli Herzner, Viktor Luna, Ari
for Andy South, Irina Shabayeva and Helen Castillo.
Guests sipped on cocktails by Double Cross Vodka, Campari, Wild
Turkey, and wine by Cambria. El Paseo is the epicenter of luxury
retail in the greater Palm Springs area. Fashion Week is a consum-
er/industry driven event for shoppers who are looking to purchase
gowns after viewing them live on the runway. The seven-day fashion,
beauty, and lifestyle extravaganza is a celebration of art, talent,
and the latest creations by some of the best designers in the world.
Malaysian designer Zang Toi premiered an Emerald City inspired
collection while JM Couture premiered its first major collection filled
with evening gowns, bikinis, and cocktail dresses.
Following the fashion show, Setorii Pond and I attended a dinner at
Flemings in Rancho Mirage hosted by Aston Martin of Beverly Hills.
No luxurious meal would be complete without Louis XIII and I was
definitely impressed to see the bottle when it was presented to our
table! O’Gara Coach (Aston Martin Dealership) invited their clients
out to a weekend of racing lessons to test out the stunning new V12
Vantage S, the V8 Vantage, DB9, Rapide S, and of course the flag-
ship Vanquish Coupe and Volante. Setorii was the perfect teammate
since she is an avid car collector and loves driving cars ranging from
classic to modern. We raced the cars at the Thermal Club located
in the city of Thermal which is known for being the premiere private
motorsports facility in the world. The 4.5 miles of members-only race-
track has views of the desert mountains and gleaming blue skies,
and houses some of the fastest cars in the world.
Our first exercise was putting the pedal to the metal on the V12
Vantage S. This was my first time on the racetrack so I was a bit
nervous since I had no idea what to expect. I was instructed to floor
the pedal and crush the brake at the first orange cone. OK, well,
simple enough, that’s exactly what I did. In 3.7 seconds, I went from
0 mph to 60 mph and eventually, got up to 90 mph. When I crushed
the brake, I could smell the brake pads--those are some great brakes!
We tested the V8 Vantage on a smaller track with swerving turns and
narrow paths. Now, that was intense! After my first run, let’s just say
I had the wind knocked out of me. I now know that being a race-car
driver is definitely a lot of hard work. While we were driving, we
were given instructions by the team at O’Gara Coach via walkie-
talkie. It was like having your own personal driving coach next to
you. My favorite track experience was learning how to swerve the
car over a wet track. We were instructed to tap the accelerator to the
floor, turn the car all the way to the left, and then brake. You could
really feel the power of the vehicle; this was definitely something on
my bucket list that I could check off.
The Thermal Club is located strategically next to the Thermal Airport.
While many sports car owners have drop-dead gorgeous, speedy,
sexy cars, they rarely get to drive them to their full potential. Private
villas are currently being built around the track so that owners will
eventually be able to fly into the Thermal airport, race their Aston
Martins and Ferraris, hang out at their homes, and when they are
finished, they won’t have to travel far to fly out. Throw in some amaz-
ing amenities, jet chartering, and personal assistant services and
you’re all set!
I’ve been to many polo matches and I love everything about them
-- the glitz, the glam, the people, the champagne— it doesn’t get any
better than that...or can it? Usually, I’m a spectator but this time, I
was the one on the horse and in the game. After our wild adventure
38 PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL • SUMMER 2014
THE CHRONICLES OF LUXURY