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Monday, December 27, 2010

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner engaged

Story photo: Hugh Hefner, 84, Engaged to Playmate, 24Brian To/FilmMagicUs Magazine

Hugh Hefner's Christmas was extra, extra jolly this year: He's engaged again!

The Playboy founder, 84, is engaged to Crystal Harris, his 24-year-old girlfriend and Playmate, a Playboy rep confirms to

PHOTOS: See Hugh and Crystal's Christmas card!

Hefner first Tweeted about it on Sunday. "When I gave Crystal the ring, she burst into tears," the Girls Next Door star wrote. "This is the happiest Christmas weekend in memory...I got what I was hoping for for Christmas...Crystal's love."

PHOTOS: The year's biggest engagements

To make his news absolutely clear, the mogul then added: "Yes, the ring I gave Crystal is an engagement ring. I didn't mean to make a mystery out of it. A very merry Christmas to all."

PHOTOS: Can you believe these couples' age differences?

It will be the third marriage for famous bachelor Hefner. He wed first wife Mildred in 1949 (they have grown children Christie, 58, and David, 55) before divorcing in 1959. In 1989, he walked down the aisle with Playmate of the Year Kimberley Conrad, and they went on to have sons Marston, 10, and Cooper, 9. The duo's divorce was finalized last year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

World's Best New Boutique Hotels

We scoured the globe for the 20 best new boutique hotels. You'll meet the owners; you'll kick back on your own private balcony; you'll eat homemade granola each morning; you'll never want to leave.

Acapulco, Mexico

Hotel Boca Chica

Long before Cancún or Cabo, Acapulco was the king of Mexican resort towns—and the Hotel Boca Chica was its crown jewel, drawing everyone from Elvis to the Rat Pack. Now, after a three-year remodel, the Boca Chica has regained its former sparkle. The 36 rooms are lacquered white and flooded with light, and all have private balconies. Meanwhile, old Hollywood touches throughout—like lamps made from conch shells and latticed brickwork—serve as ever-present reminders of its storied past., from $95.

Adams, Massachusetts

Topia Inn

When owners Nana Simopoulos and Caryn Heilman set out to restore a 19th-century brick boardinghouse in the Berkshires, they didn't just strive for eco-conscious design—it was more like eco-perfection. Nearly everything in the eight-room Topia Inn is organic, from the breakfast of banana bread, spinach quiche, and fair-trade coffee to the plush mattresses made of chemical-free cotton. Even the walls are plastered with bright, earth-friendly clay, which makes them cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and inviting all year long., from $125.

Uvita, Costa Rica

Oxygen Jungle Villas

The 12 cabins at Oxygen Jungle Villas were constructed with a singular goal: to make you feel like you're the only person for miles. Blissfully isolated among barriers of tropical plants and vines, the one-bedroom villas come off like Swiss Family Robinson tree houses. Each has a private sun-deck, a sharply angled roof, and glass walls to maximize views of the Pacific Ocean a mile away. And considering the adults-only hotel never takes more than 24 guests at a time, it's hardly a stretch to believe the jungle is yours and yours alone., from $139.

Brussels, Belgium

The Pantone Hotel

What's so weird about this pint-size property in Sweden? At first glance, the one-room hotel appears to be a cheery red house in the middle of the lake—yes, it's in the middle of a body of water but how strange is that, really? Don't be fooled: The room isn't actually in the house; it's 10 feet underwater. It's also the only functioning underwater hotel that started out as an art installation. Designed by artist Mikael Genberg, the 10-year-old inn's sole room consists of two twin beds with panoramic windows on all sides. There is no electricity, but there is lighting and a portable gas heater. When ready to come up for air, guests can relax on the deck or take the dinghy out to one of the nearby uninhabited islands.

Prague, Czech Republic

The Mosaic House

Part stylish hotel, part traditional hostel, the Mosaic House is an experience all its own. Inside the six-story 1935 building, guests can opt for one of 64 private rooms (from $26) or one of 30 shared spaces—for nearly half the cost (from $15). While the atmosphere skews toward the casual (think board games and beanbag chairs in the lounge), the decor is more upscale: Each room is done up in chocolate brown, burgundy, and gold, and is accented with quirky touches like closet rods made of tree branches and tables fashioned from salvaged-wood beams., from $15.

Cornwall, U.K.

The Nearwater

Cornwall's rugged cliffs, manicured gardens, and 300-plus public beaches have drawn British vacationers since the 1800s. Now the seaside retreat, four and a half hours west of London, has one more draw to add to the list: the Nearwater. At this whitewashed B&B in the town of St. Mawes, owners Tim and Amelia Whitaker have transformed a simple home into one of the area's sweetest small hotels. Bamboo floors, Danish teak furniture, and a mirror made from driftwood give Nearwater a light, nautical look, while the three rooms' beds are covered in sailor-striped wool blankets. Added to that, Amelia's homemade granola and pancakes are the perfect start to a day spent taking one of Tim's famous guided walks along the coast., from $131 with breakfast.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ma Maison

The last thing you'd expect to find in Vietnam's hyper-kinetic capital is a tranquil French retreat, but such is the pleasant surprise of Ma Maison. Run by Natasha Long, a Saigon local, the inn is housed in a 70-year-old colonial villa remodeled to evoke French country life. Walls are painted in soft yellows and greens, while the 12 rooms have blond-wood beds and desks with gold-leaf details. The hotel's bistro completes the vibe, with a menu full of French fare such as braised chicken with mushrooms. Add to that thoughtful touches like the complimentary mobile phones with free local service and an affable cat, Mr. Sushi, and you'll be feeling like family in no time., from $70 with breakfast. 20. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Sojourn Boutique Villas

TThe Sojourn Boutique Villas is the rare resort that soothes your body and soul all at once. The 10 red-and-white bungalows are just a few miles from the iconic temples of Angkor, so guests can spend their days wandering among 12th-century Buddhist ruins and their evenings soaking in the palm-tree-fringed saltwater pool. All that relaxing comes with the peace of mind that Sojourn donates a portion of its proceeds to clean-water initiatives and English lessons for residents of the nearby Treak Village., from $100 with breakfast.

Granada, Nicaragua

Hotel Spa Granada

It's one thing to stay in the heart of a Spanish colonial city—and quite another to stay in a Spanish-colonial mansion. Located smack in the middle of Granada's historic district, the sprawling 19th-century Hotel Spa Granada has five garden courtyards, a lagoon-like swimming pool in the center, and 15 expansive guest rooms (some with ceilings as high as 18 feet) that are decorated with handicrafts from a local artisan. A free spa treatment is included with every night of your stay, but the rates are so shockingly affordable—a 60-minute massage is $20, an aloe facial is $10—that a full day of pampering hardly qualifies as a splurge., from $49 with breakfast.

Abu Dhabi hotel regrets $11M Christmas 'overload'

A Christmas tree which has been decked out with US$11 million U.S. (euro14.3 million) worth of gold and precious stones, stands at the lobby of the Em AP – A Christmas tree which has been decked out with US$11 million U.S. (euro14.3 million) worth of gold and …

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – An Abu Dhabi luxury hotel that boasted an $11 million Christmas tree decorated with gold and gems admitted Sunday it may have taken the holiday spirit a bit too far.

A statement from the Emirates Palace hotel said it regretted "attempts to overload" the Christmas tree tradition by adorning it with premium bling including gold, rubies, diamonds and other precious stones from a hotel jeweler.

[Closer to home: Local guides to the best holiday lights near you]

The statement was a rare bit of reflection on the Gulf's ethos of excess. The tree was unveiled last week with full fanfare in a hotel that features its own gold bar vending machine and a one-week $1 million package that includes private jet jaunts around the Middle East.

But the hotel management apparently had second thoughts after questions arose about whether the opulent tree was innocent good cheer or unfortunate bad taste.

The hotel regrets "attempts to overload the tradition followed by most hotels in the country with meanings and connotations that do not fall in line with the (hotel's) professional standards," said a statement carried on the state-run news agency WAM.

The hotel even tried to distance itself from the 43-foot (13-meter) faux fir in one of its rotundas, saying a hotel-based jeweler was solely responsible for creating and decorating the tree.

"The hotel is just a venue for exhibiting the tree," the statement said.

The hotel also claimed the tree was not a stunt, but rather an effort to boost the holiday mood for its guests based on the United Arab Emirates' "values of openness and tolerance."

Although officially Muslim, the UAE features many signs of Christmas for its huge foreign population. Lights, carolers and Santas are fixtures in nearly every mall.

Kanye, Diddy, Lil Wayne, Pharrell's Multi-Million-Dollar Homes

If you had a $14 million budget for a real estate purchase, how would you spend it? If you live a hip-hop lifestyle, you might first consider how rap luminaries Pharrell Williams, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West have spent their riches.

This week's photos of Williams' Miami high-rise prompted Curbed National to do a wrap-up of some of the year's news making hip-hop cribs.

IT PAYS TO BE A N.E.R.D. Considering N.E.R.D. frontman Pharrell Williams is known for his colorful Ice Cream brand outfits, it makes sense that his Miami penthouse also has a playful decor. He has a painting of "Family Guy" character Stewie, as well as oversized cartoon figures and a Perspective chair (which he designed) with human-like legs, toes, and all. But these are just the accessories. The massive $14 million abode, photographed by Todd Selby, has an arrowhead-shaped pool, spiral staircase, and view of the coastal shore. It is definitely fit for the head of an entity called the Billionaire Boys Club. (See more pictures at The Selby.)

KANYE'S BEAUTIFUL FANTASY COMES TRUE Kanye West also displayed cartoon elements in the decorations of a Hollywood apartment he put up for sale last spring for $4 million, New York Magazine reported. The room photographed is lined with Jetsons art, and, like the futuristic cartoon, is heavy on the remote-controlled features. But West did not let the designers finish the place without adorning the dining room ceiling with a depiction of himself as an angel.

WHEN DIDDY'S NOT ON THE LAST TRAIN TO PARIS Sean "Diddy" Combs opted for a sleeker and more serious feel for a lounging area of his newest New York City property. Designed by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, the clean, modern look relied on neutral colors -- silver, smoke, cream, and glass -- mirrored tables and vases.

LIL WAYNE'S YOUNG MONEY GOES A LONG WAY Surprisingly, animated hip-hop superstar Lil Wayne has the most conservative design for his home. Like Diddy, Wayne used a light palette in one of the rooms. One of the most striking features of the $14 million home located in La Gorce Island, Miami Beach is a wall lined with floor-to-ceiling windows. Click here to see more photos in Business Insider.

AN APARTMENT FOR THE COMMON MAN If you live in Chicago and aspire to live like a rapper but don't quite have the budget, you might one day be able to rent one of Common's high-rise apartments. One of the Coldwell Banker listings, a two-bedroom, 1,200 square foot home, was recently available for rent for $2,200 per month. That's a good deal, considering that it comes with granite countertops in the kitchen, stainless steel appliances, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a view of a museum.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How much money a model really makes

Polish supermodel Anna Jagodzinska claims her former agency, Next, owes her $320,000. Photo: David Yurman

Polish supermodel Anna Jagodzinska claims her former agency, Next, owes her $320,000. Photo: David Yurman

This week Jezebel ran an article about three models who are suing Next management for stealing their money. Anna Jagodzinska, Karmen Pedaru, and Anna Cywinska, claim their agency owes them a collective $750,000, and though they left Next back in April, the company has refused to pay the models the money they are owed. Each of them are seeking these back payments plus $1 million in damages.

While we empathize with anyone who's been ripped off, we were truly fascinated by Jagodzinska's April 23 account statement, which shows exactly how much she was supposed to earn for each of her modeling jobs. For any of you who have ever wondered just how much a model makes for striking a pose, prepare to be amazed:

  • French Vogue shoot - $125
  • Vogue shoot - $250
  • J.Crew campaign - $15,000
  • H&M campaign - $60,000
  • Laird & Partners productions - $35,000 (they produce ads for luxury companies like Donna Karan and Bottega Veneta)
  • Grey Paris productions - $172,500 (they also produce ad campaigns)

Anna Jagodzinska's April 23 account statement from Next modeling agency. Photo courtesy of Jezebel

Anna Jagodzinska's April 23 account statement from Next modeling agency. Photo courtesy of Jezebel

Check out the full invoice on the right.

So while appearing in Vogue may boost a model's status or seem really fancy, the big bucks clearly come from mainstream ad campaigns. And while this statement shows Jagodzinska raking in $231,372, Next took $56,675 of her pay as commission. What's leftover for standing around looking pretty sure isn't bad, but it's chump change when compared with the 10 highest earning models, according to Forbes. Below, the most gorgeous ladies with the fattest paychecks this year:

1. Gisele Bündchen- $25 million
2. Heidi Klum - $16 million
3. Kate Moss - $9 million-
4. Adriana Lima - $7.5 million
5. Doutzen Kroes - $6 million
6. Alessandra Ambrosio - $5.5 million
7. Natalia Vodianova - $5.5 million
8. Daria Werbowy - $4.5 Million
9. Miranda Kerr - $4 million
10. Carolyn Murphy - $3.5 million

Don't hate them because they're beautiful. Hate them because they get paid so much to be beautiful.