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These Are The Best Presidents Day Shopping Deals You'll Find

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Macys

On February 18th, millions of shoppers will flood retail stores in hopes of making their material dreams come true at a bargain. Along with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Labor Day and the day after Christmas, Presidents Day has gradually made its way into the big leagues as a shopping holiday for saving money – but is the hoopla deserved or can you find better deals later in the year?

Are Presidents Day Sales Worthwhile?

This depends on what you are buying, and where you’re looking for it. For example, Go Banking Rates found that many retailers were offering online-only sales during Presidents Day 2012. The following stores offered Presidents Day sales in 2012:

  • Bloomingdale’s: 20 to 40 percent of select merchandise.
  • Macys: 15 percent off, plus free shipping.
  • Kohl’s: Early Bird specials on over 100 items.
  • Bluefly.com: Major brands discounted an additional 30 percent.
  • Calvin Klein: 40 percent off all online purchases.
  • Victoria’s Secret: Take an additional 30 percent off clearance.

Best Buy is also known to have great deals on this holiday.

So, there are some good deals out there, but it’s nothing like Black Friday. That’s why you won’t come home with shoe prints on your face after shopping on Presidents Day!

Confirmed Deals for Presidents Day Sales 2013

Luckily, some good Presidents Day deals are already scheduled for Presidents Day 2013. This year, Presidents Day sales are trending towards snow gear, apparel, home goods and items for children and babies — and offer the best rewards to online shoppers. Some of the Presidents Day 2013 sales to look for include:

Kohl’s: Save up to 50 percent on baby items through February 24th, and save on men’s apparel with Kohl’s Men’s Semi-Annual Essentials Sale.

Macy’s: Save 15 percent and get free shipping with the promo code Pres for online orders over $99. Additional savings on select styles of shoes, home products, denim and jewelry. Valid through February 18th.

Sears: $20 off online orders of $200 or more with promo code FEBRUARY20 through February 2oth.

J. CrewExtra 30 percent off final sale items with code STYLE30. Online only, February 11th-18th.

Express: 30 percent off entire stock through February 18th, as well as free shipping on online orders over $125.

Old Navy: All kids, baby and maternity apparel on sale up to 40% off. Sale ends February 20th.

Gap: For the Red, Bright & Blue Event, receive 30 percent off an online purchase with the code GAPBRIGHT. Or shop in-store to receive up to 40 percent off select styles. Valid through February 18th.

Sport Chalet: 30-40 percent off snowboards, boots, bindings, skis, clothing and accessories. In-store only.

Dick’s Sporting Goods: An extra 40 percent off select brands of winter jackets and pants, including Columbia and The North Face.

Cabela’s: Free shipping on orders over $99 with code 23GEAR, through February 18th. 50 percent off select men’s winter wear.

JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts: Thirty to 50 percent off on select items. Offer valid February 17th-20th.

Lowe’s: 10 percent off major appliances priced $399 or more, through February 19th.

Overstock.com: Extra 10 to 15 percent off select styles of furniture, area rugs, mattresses, bedding and bath, and kitchen and dining.

Best Time to Buy

While you won’t see mass sales during most of the year, certain items generally go on sale during specific periods. The best time to buy select items include the following:

Appliances

Air conditioners and grills are typically at their cheapest during the colder months for obvious reasons.

For other appliances, look for deals in September and October. This is when new models hit the showroom — and last year’s models go on sale.

Cookware

Cookware goes on sale in April and May to coincide with graduation and wedding season. It also goes on sale in October and November for the holidays.

Furniture

If you don’t find any good Presidents Day furniture sales, fear not. New furniture models reach stores in February and August. With this in mind, stores run sales in January and July to clear room for new inventory.

Outdoor Gear

The newest models of various outdoor items typically come out in February and March. Now’s the best time to snag a deal on “outdated” models.

Televisions

The newest televisions usually hit the shelves in late summer and early fall. As with a lot of other items, if you don’t need the latest model, you can get older models on sale at this time. So unless you find a great deal, skip the Presidents Day TV sales and head out to the store later this year.

Toys

Toys are typically cheapest during October and November. This is the high season for retailers and toys are popular as holiday gifts, so you’ll see quite a few sales.

Vehicles

Presidents Day car sales aren’t much to brag about. Hit the car lot in early fall — that’s when new models are released and dealers are looking to get rid of excess inventory.

Video Games and Consoles

According to Digital Trends, video games are typically discounted six to eight weeks after release.

As for consoles, wait until a newer model is released to buy the current edition. The latest PlayStation model has been confirmed and will likely be released around Christmas 2013, according to Tech Radar. Look for PS3 prices to fall around that time.

Presidents Day sales are noteworthy, but won’t pad your bottom line much in most cases. Take advantage of the mentioned sales and remember that certain items go on sale at other times, as well.

Save as much as possible, but don’t worry if you miss a big sale this Presidents Day. There will be others during the year!

SEE ALSO: The 10 cheapest places to live in the US >

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The Favorite Drinks Of 11 Iconic People

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ernest hemingway cuba 1946When these celebrities and iconic characters want to knock one back, these are the drinks they choose.



1. Madeira – Ben Franklin

If there are two things Big Ben Franklin will always be remembered for, it’s drinking and syphilis.

Or is it persuading the French to join in with the colonists to fight the British and the key-on-the-kite electricity experiment?

Either or, the point is, when Franklin wasn’t changing the world he was refilling his glass.

His drink of choice? Madeira, an oxidized and fortified wine.



2. Mojito – Ernest Hemingway

You’d think Hemingway, the man’s man, would go for something like whiskey, straight up.

But no, Bumby liked his rum and mint.

If you’ve never been one for the Cuban cocktail, give Ernie’s recipe a try:

6 fresh mint leaves
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp light brown sugar
1-1/2 oz. white rum, 3 oz. champagne
Sprig of fresh mint, for garnish



3. Gin Rickey – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Rickey’s resurgence in the last decade has made it cool again, especially within the D.C. Beltway.

But for F. Scott Fitzgerald, it was always cool. In the roaring '20s, he was known for being more than just a great writer—Fitzgerald’s low tolerance and tendency for tomfoolery gave him a reputation as a prankster.

So, when he disclosed he loved gin because it wasn’t easy to detect on his breath, his friends were probably left biting their tongue.

He made no secret of his love affair with drinking, once saying, "First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you."

The gin rickey took him and was forever immortalized in The Great Gatsby.



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Tailor Explains Everything Men Need To Know About Buying A Dress Shirt

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hall & madden men's dress shirt and tie

Dress shirts are one of the most important wardrobe investments men can make. 

McGregor Madden is a tailor who founded HallMadden.coman e-commerce company that uses personal stylists to sell men better-fitting dress shirts. 

Madden told us everything men need to know when making this investment.  

How the shirt should fit: 

The first and most important consideration is fit, Madden told us. 

"A shirt should be roomy but fitted in the chest and tapered down the torso toward your waist so that the shirt doesn't mushroom over your belt," Madden told us. "If the sleeves are too long, that's ok, you can get them altered for $10-$15." 

What colors are best: 

Stick to the basics for a polished look. 

"You can never go wrong with the basics, like white, light blues, or light pinks, no matter your skin tone or hair color," Madden said. 

Pay attention to the collar: 

A medium-sized spread collar (one without buttons) is "best for the first-time shirt buyer" and great for all suits and occasions, Madden told us. 

 
Button-down collars are better for casual wear. Consider buying this collar if you can wear khakis or jeans to work. 
 
Flatter your face shape: 
 
If you have a long neck, a higher collar is better. If you have a short neck, go with a short collar to create the illusion of length. 
 
If you have a round face, go with a more fitted collar to elongate your face shape. 
 
Watch out for the warning signs of a bad shirt:
 
When buying a shirt, avoid polyester and nylon blends that can restrict mobility, Madden said. 
 
It's also important to study the shirt after two washes, Madden said. 
 
"Do the buttons fall off after a wash? After two dry-cleans, is the cuff and collar fabric bubbling?" Madden asked. "These are dead giveaways of bad quality." 

SEE ALSO: Two Tailors Are Changing The Way Men Buy Dress Shirts >

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The 9 Most Expensive Cities For Divorcees

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couple walkingThe rate of couples backpedaling down the aisle in the U.S. is growing so quickly, states across the map are searching for new ways to ease the process for consumers.

Even with a rise in do-it-yourself divorce cases, the  average divorce still costs about $20,000. And not all states – or even cities – are created equally when it comes to legal fees.

We tapped AttorneyFee.com, a new legal fee-tracking site, for help compiling the average rate for divorce attorneys in cities across the country. 

Using their data and insight gleaned from a host of family law experts, we've put together a list of nine cities where calling it quits will cost you the most. 

9. Dallas

Average: $291/hr

Fees are so high in the Lone Star state that in 2010, the state's Supreme Court created a task force to handle consumers looking to file without legal assistance.

There's also a reason celebrities like Sandra Bullock filed for divorce there. It's one of the least friendly states in the spousal support arena and tends to divvy up property rather than cash.

"They still won't order (alimony) unless it's a marriage of 10 years," says Spencer Williams of Cordell and Cordell, P.C. "Then they max it out at $5,000 (per month)." 



8. Philadelphia

Average: $297/hr

The real cost associated with divorce trials has much to do with how long the state takes to process cases. If you ask Williams, that makes Pennsylvania one of the worst in the country, with average process periods of three years in some cities. 

"I would not want to get divorced in Pennsylvania, to put it that way," he says. "That's a real burden both emotionally and financially.



7. San Diego

Average: $300/hr

Fees are so high in California that nearly 80 percent of individuals filing for dissolution of marriage in San Diego opt to skip lawyers altogether, according to family law attorney Michele Sacks Lowenstein

"It's a huge problem (because) they don't know what they're doing in court," she says. "Ultimately, divorce is just another civil case. It'd be like representing yourself in a car accident. Would you really know what to do?"  




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YACHT OF THE WEEK: For $33.75 Million, Own The Luxurious, Speedy 'Harmony'

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harmony charter luxury yacht

Most luxury yachts are pretty slow, with top speeds under 20 mph. For those who want to spend a relaxing vacation while also getting somewhere on time, there's Harmony.

The luxury yacht has room for 12 guests in 6 staterooms, and is staffed by a crew of 12, with accommodations below deck.

All the decks are accessible via an elevator, and there's a lot of room on the 164-foot yacht to relax.

Unlike many high-end yachts, there's nothing tacky about the Harmony: The decorations are luxurious, but elegant.

Harmony is listed for sale by Moran Yachts, for $33.75 million.

Harmony is powered by a MTU 16V 4000 series engine.



It can reach a top speed of 23 knots (26.47 mph) and cruise at 20 knots (23 mph), pretty speedy for such a large boat.



And her draft is only 8 feet, so she can sail in shallow waters.



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19 Chateau-Style Mansions That Will Make You Feel Like You Live In France

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French Chateau

Chateaus are not only found in France. 

Thanks to our friends at Estately.com, we bring to you some stunning French-inspired chateaus that are currently on the market in America.

They include wine cellars, manicured gardens, and even an indoor basketball court.

Florida's Versailles is largest home in the country.

Situated on more than 10 acres in Windermere, Fl., Versailles is a 90,000-square-foot mansion and largest home currently under construction in the U.S.

Price: $65,000,000



Le Palais is a 48,000-square-foot chateau in Beverly Hills.

Le Palais, in Beverly Hills, Calif., has seven bedrooms and 11 bathrooms.

Other amenities include a walk-in glass refrigerator, a 5,000-bottle wine cellar, an indoor/outdoor pool, and a garage with room for up to 12 cars.

Price: $58,000,000



Palm Beach is home to this $74,000,000 estate.

This exclusive waterfront estate in Palm Beach, Florida is located on Billionaire's Row and has its own dock.

Price: $74,000,000



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20 Gorgeous Art Hotels Around The World

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Thompson LES

For busy vacationers who want to do it all, it can be hard to pack in tours, museums, landmarks, restaurants, nightlife, and shopping.

Sometimes you have to give one up. But why not cut some corners by combining your museums and hotels?

Some hotels have art worthy of museums, and some museums are works of art themselves. Here are 20 hotels around the world that double as museums.

21c Museum Hotel, Louisville, Ky.

The 21c hotel is named for the 21st century, despite the fact that it consists of former 19th century tobacco and bourbon warehouses.

21c is home to a $10 million dollar collection of contemporary art owned which includes works by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, who is known for creating multimedia pieces from materials like chocolate syrup or garbage and taking pictures of them.

When guests check in, they receive preloaded iPods with a narrated tour of the collection.



The Anse Chastanet Resort, St. Lucia

The gallery at the Anse Chastanet Resort features paintings, sculptures, and other handmade pieces by local St. Lucian artists. Some visiting artists also contribute St. Lucia-inspired works to the small collection, and stay on the island while they complete it.

The art at the Anse Chastanet is intended “to highlight the eco-luxury resort’s commitment to preserving the island’s culture and shunning invasive technology,” according to Oyster.com.



The Bellagio, Las Vegas, Nev.

The Bellagio routinely features works by various artists; some of whose pieces that have lived in the hotel include Roy Lichtenstein, Edouard Monet, Andy Warhol, and Frank Stella. 

Warhol's work is on display again starting February 8 and admission to the gallery is very reasonable: $13 for Nevada residents, $16 for non-residents, $11 for students, teachers, and members of the military.

The Bellagio also houses the restaurant Picasso, which has its own original Picasso paintings.



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Good Luck Finding Out If The Cruise Ship You're Traveling On Is Safe

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triumph carnival cruise ship engine room fire damage

MIAMI (AP) — A byzantine maze of maritime rules and regulations, fragmented oversight and a patchwork quilt of nations that do business with cruise lines make it tough for consumers to assess the health and safety record of the ship they are about to board in what for many is the vacation of a lifetime.

Want to know about a ship's track record for being clean? Want to assess how sanitary the food is? It's not that easy to find, in part because there's no one entity or country that oversees or regulates the industry with its fleet of ships that are like mini cities floating at sea.

In the case of Carnival Cruise Lines, the owner of the Carnival Triumph that spent days in the Gulf of Mexico disabled after an engine fire, the company is incorporated in Panama, its offices are based in Miami and its ships fly under the Bahamian flag — a matrix that is not unusual in the cruise line industry.

For potential passengers seeking ship information, there's no central database that can be viewed to determine a track record of safety or health inspections. No one agency regulates everything from the cruise line's mechanical worthiness to the sanitation of its kitchens.

The U.S. Coast Guard inspects each cruise ship that docks in the U.S. every year for a range of issues, from operation of backup generators to the lifeboats. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a database of recent disease outbreaks and other health inspection information for cruise ships. Had Triumph vacationers looked up information about the cruise ship through those two agencies before boarding, they would have found mostly clean marks and few red flags.

And when something goes wrong, as it did on Triumph, there are limits to how much the Coast Guard can investigate.

These are not new issues — they had been raised by members of Congress before the Triumph incident.

"This horrible situation involving the Carnival Triumph is just the latest example in a long string of serious and troubling incidents involving cruise ships," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who led a committee hearing on cruise safety last year.

Last year, after the Costa Concordia, also owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp., ran aground off the coast of Giglio, Italy, Rockefeller held a Commerce Committee hearing to examine deficiencies in the cruise line industry's compliance with federal safety, security, and environmental standards and review industry regulations.

"As I remarked then, they seem to have two lives: One is at port, where the Coast Guard can monitor their operations; the other is at sea where, it appears once they are beyond three nautical miles from shore, the world is theirs," Rockefeller said in letter he wrote this week to Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., the commandant of the Coast Guard. "The Carnival Triumph incident only serves to further validate this view."

The Triumph left Galveston, Texas, on Feb. 7 for a four-day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. An engine-room fire paralyzed the ship early Sunday, leaving it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. Passengers described nightmarish conditions on board: overflowing toilets, long lines for a short supply of food, foul odors, and tent cities where vacationers slept on deck. Tugboats slowly towed the 14-story vessel to Mobile, Alabama. It arrived there late Thursday.

Before a ship like the Triumph sets sail, it's possible — but not easy — to find information about past incidents and safety or health issues. The CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program is viewable online. The database shows recent disease outbreaks aboard cruise ships and how they were addressed.

Records for the Triumph show it was last inspected July 7, 2012. It scored 96 out of 100. The CDC considers scores of 85 or lower unsatisfactory. The lowest score the ship received was an 88, in 2009.

The Coast Guard also has a database, known as the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Information Exchange, with inspections and any deficiencies found aboard ships, dating to when the vessels entered service. A search on the exchange's website for the Triumph turns up its certifications for things like passenger safety and pollution prevention as well as inspections. No violations or red flags are immediately evident. Searching a little deeper, the most recent report shows a propulsion issue from a Jan. 28 incident involving a short in a connection box of one of the ship's generators.

Bud Darr, the Cruise Lines International Association's senior vice president for technical and regulatory affairs, said the industry is "very heavily regulated," from the way ships are designed to how crews train for emergencies. He said standards are set by the United Nations' International Maritime Organization.

But Jim Walker, a Miami maritime attorney and author of the www.cruiselaw.com blog, said, "the IMO guidelines are not law and there is no consequence if the cruise lines ignore the guidelines and recommendations. Customers have no way of knowing whether they are well maintained safely. There is no federal oversight with real teeth."

Fires — though not all as major as the Triumph's — happen virtually every year on cruise ships. There were 79 onboard blazes from 1990 to 2011, according to a list compiled by Ross Klein, a professor who specializes in cruise industry issues at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada.

In 2010, the IMO adopted rules that require any large cruise ship built after July 1 of that year to have a separate, redundant system able to maintain the ship's propulsion, steering and so forth in case one engine is disabled by fire. The rules also mandate that ships be capable of maintaining basic services such as sanitation, water, food and lights in such circumstances.

The Triumph was built in 1999 and isn't covered by the rules, as is the case for most ships among major cruise lines. Experts say the Triumph might have been able to limp into port more quickly if it had the newer systems, but retrofitting is costly and time-consuming.

"Provided the emergency generators worked and had enough power, they would have been able to return to port under their own power, but much slower," said Andrew O. Coggins, Jr., a Pace University management professor who focuses on hospitality and tourism industries.

"Once Carnival has evaluated the full cost of this incident," he added, "it might be cost effective to retrofit their older ships."

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Associated Press writers Connie Cass in Washington and Bruce Smith in Charleston, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

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On the Internet:

Coast Guard cruise ship inspections database: http://cgmix.uscg.mil/PSIX/PSIXSearch.aspx

CDC Vessel Sanitation Program: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/

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Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://Twitter.com/Miamicurt.

YACHT OF THE WEEK: For $33.75 Million, Own The Luxurious, Speedy 'Harmony'

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The Plaza Hotel Hosted Its First Gay Wedding In 106 Years

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gay marriage maryland

Back in June, The Plaza, whose neoclassical Grand Ballroom is one of the most expensive, lavish, and coveted hotel wedding venues in all the land, hosted its first-ever-in-106-years gay wedding.

Now, you can witness Jay & Tony's ceremony for yourself in all its fabulous — and in many ways, quite traditional glory (heck, it is The Plaza!).

Here's the recently released wedding video, shot by John Armendariz of NewYorkFilmworks. We love how it starts off with a chuckle as the priest awkwardly stutters, "Well, it's a little unusual for me to be the only one in white at one of these things!"

But we warn you, have a tissue in hand —this one's a tearjerker!

Also check out the storybook images by "NYC's most sought-after" wedding photog, Brian Hatton. Not only did the couples' garden-themed reception look like a blast, but that cake (baked up by Food Network star Ron Ben Israel) is to-die-for gorgeous!

Check out the video below.

DON'T MISS:  Eight New York City Wedding Venues That Will Be Tough To Book Now That Gay Marriage Is Legal

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Richard Branson Pledges To Give Half Of His Billions To Charity

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Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson is one of the latest batch of billionaires to pledge to donate at least half their wealth to philanthropic causes.

Twelve new signatories have added their names to the Giving Pledge initiative started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates.

Under the pledge, wealthy individuals commit to donating at least half their wealth to philanthropy and Tuesday's signatories mark the first time billionaires from outside the US have joined the initiative.

Sir Richard, the founder of Virgin Group, said his family will invest in “entrepreneurial approaches to help make a difference in the world,” when they take their wealth out of Virgin’s airline, media and other holdings.

“‘Stuff’ really is not what brings happiness. Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters," said Sir Richard and his wife Joan in a letter .

"Happily our children, who will be our principal heirs, agree with me on this."

The couple added: "We want the value created by the Virgin Group to be used to invest in new collaborative approaches to addressing issues, where business, governments and not-for-profits join forces to create a healthy, equitable and peaceful world for future generations to enjoy."

Members of the Giving Pledge commit to give away at least half their wealth to charitable organisations and philanthropic causes.

The pledge was established three years ago by Mr Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, his wife Melinda and Mr Buffett. Speaking to The Telegraph last year about his philanthropic work, Mr Gates said: “Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organisation and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.”

Co-founder Mr Buffett is the fourth richest person on the planet with a reported worth of $53.5bn while Mr Gates has a fortune of $66.2bn. According to Forbes, Sir Richard has a net worth of $4.2bn.

Other billionaires to sign up to the pledge on Tuesday include Russian nickel and media mogul Vladimir Potanin and India’s software magnate Azim Premji. A total of 105 families from nine countries have now signed the pledge.

“I am excited about the conversations and ideas that will happen thanks to this impressive group of international philanthropists,” said Mr Gates.

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Step Aside, Staten Island: Dubai Is Building The World's Largest Ferris Wheel

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Dubai, UAE skylinePlans to build the world’s biggest Ferris wheel as part of new major tourist complex have been approved in Dubai.

The 201-metre Dubai Eye will surpass the 165-meter Singapore Flyer, currently the current world’s tallest Ferris wheel, and offer panoramic views of the Dubai coast and attractions including the Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and Burj Khalifa.

The wheel forms part of the Bluewaters Island project, which was approved yesterday. Developers hope it will attract more three million visitors a year. The project will include retail and entertainment areas, with an array of shops, restaurants and a souq along a promenade. It will also include a five-star luxury hotel and private residential buildings.

The £1.1 billion island complex will be set near Jumeirah Beach Residence, connected to the beachfront by a pedestrian bridge and to the mainland by a bridge from Sheikh Zayed Road, with a monorail system and cable car planned to transport visitors in between sites.

Construction on the Bluewaters complex will begin this April and expected to be completed within three years.

Last year, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans for a 190-metre high ferris wheel to be built near the Staten Island Ferry, the city’s third most popular tourist attraction, with construction to begin in 2014.

Last summer, Las Vegas also unveiled building plans for a 167-metre observation wheel, The High Roller, as part of The Linq, a new dining and entertainment complex to be constructed this year.

SEE ALSO: The World's Tallest Ferris Wheels

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Bentley's New Colognes Make You Smell Like The Inside Of A Fancy Car

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 bentley cologne collection

Wealthy drivers who love their luxury vehicles will soon be able to smell like them, thanks to Bentley.

The British automaker announced the launch of its first luxury fragrance range today, starting with three colognes.

The "Lalique Bentley Crystal Edition" is a collaboration with French crystal maker Lalique, which created a crystal bottle topped with the Bentley "Flying B."

It will hold an eau de parfum created by Mylène Alran from perfume house Robertet. Bentley describes the scent as "a fitting elixir of fine woody notes and exquisite leather to complement the epicentres of excellence within Bentley's craftsmanship."

Meaning, it smells like the wood and leather-filled interior of a Bentley.

The two other fragrances are "Bentley for Men" and "Bentley for Men Intense" (the "high-impact" version). Both are created by French perfumer Nathalie Lorson at Firmenich, and also feature "fine wood and leather notes."

The "Bentley for Men" product range also includes shave balm, and hair and body shampoo.

The fragrances will go on sale in April 2013. A 40 ml bottle of the "Lalique" costs £3,000 ($4,656).

The much more affordable 60 ml bottle of "Bentley for Men" runs for £43 ($66.74); the "Intense" for £69.50 ($107.87).

bentley cologne collection

TEST DRIVE: Here's Why The 2013 Bentley Mulsanne Is Worth $347,000

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A Texan Investor Is Selling His Awesome Chateau For $8 Million

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David Hull House

David Hull is a managing partner at Centennial Ventures, a Texas-based venture capital firm.

Hull and his wife, Stormy, bought a classically French manor surrounded by around an acre of land for $4.4 million in 2002. And now they want to sell after putting about $2 million into the home. (h/t WSJ)

The nearly 8,200-square-foot chateau has four bedroom, 6 full bathrooms and 2 half-baths, according to the listing.

Originally listed at $10 million in September 2009, the house is currently listed at $8 million with Claire Wilkins of John Daugherty Realtors.

Foyer



Formal living room



Formal dining room



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Adultery Site Ashley Madison Could Team Up With A Company That Offers Hourly Rates At Boutique Hotels

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Flatiron Hotel DayUse

DayUse, the website that allows you to rent a room for a few hours in a boutique hotel, may soon be partnering with infamous affair site Ashley Madison according to The New York Post.

The site, which launched in 2010 in France and emphasizes reduced-rate hotel rooms for "work, rest, and rendezvous," would seem to be a natural partner with Ashley Madison.

It has expanded to Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Ireland, Great Britain, Italy, and the U.S., and gained a reputation as a tool for extramarital affairs.

The DayUse website says it chooses its boutique hotels for their design, location, and the quality of their services, and currently has 17 New York City hotels among its offerings with the average price set at $100 for three hours. Most of these are close to airports, but a few — such as The MAve NYC, The Sohotel, Blue Moon Hotel, and TriBeCa Blu— are nicer hotels in Manhattan.

But with all the recent press surrounding the pay-by-the-hour hotel rooms and the possible Ashley Madison team-up, some hoteliers may soon be putting an end to their relationship with the company.

According to The Post, Trust Hospitality, which owns the MAve NYC, will be terminating its contract with DayUse at the end of February.

And it may not be the only one  given that DayUse marketed itself in the U.S. as a business tool instead of a rendezvous planner, as it did in Europe, according to Reuters. Partnering with Ashley Madison could compromise that marketing technique, and potentially its relationship with U.S. hotels as a result.

SEE ALSO: We Went Inside New York's Most Dangerous And Disgusting Sex Hotel

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British Airways Is Using Cheaper Fares To Compete With Budget Airlines

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british airways plane boeing 747

British Airways is to offer cheaper fares on selected routes to passengers who travel without checked luggage.

The airline says the fares – which will initially be offered on flights from Gatwick to Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Jersey, Tunis and Turin – will give its passengers “more choice”, and is likely to be viewed as an attempt to compete with low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet.

“The surprise is not so much that BA has made this move, but that it has taken so long to do so,” said Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s Consumer Editor. “It appears to be a reaction to commercial pressure from its no-frills rivals, which quote lower headline fares because they don't include the cost of checked bags. This can make BA's fares look expensive and so less attractive by contrast.

“BA says that the new fares are about giving it customers ‘more freedom to choose the kind of flying they want’, but they are also about giving British Airways the freedom to make its fares look cheaper.”

He added that those passengers who do check a bag into the hold could eventually end up paying more.

“Airfares are so variable that, within a few weeks, it will be impossible to know whether BA passengers without hold luggage are getting a better deal, or whether those who check in their bags are being charged extra,” he said.

But Peter Simpson, director of Gatwick for British Airways, claimed that passengers who check in a bag will not be expected to pay extra to make up for those who choose the cheaper fares.

"It is all about giving our customers more freedom to choose the kind of flying they want," he said. “Many British Airways customers at Gatwick choose not to check in a bag as they’re already taking advantage of our generous two-bag hand luggage policy. Those who still want to check in a bag will simply pay the same price they do now.”

The new “hand baggage only fares” go on sale next Tuesday (February 26), with starting prices ranging from £39 (one-way to Amsterdam) to £69 (one-way to Turin). BA said that, depending on the route, the fares are between £9 and £15 cheaper than usual.

The announcement by BA — which axed free meals on some flights in 2009 in a bid to cut costs — follows KLM's decision to begin charging customers who check in luggage on short-haul flights. KLM's policy will be effective from April 22.

SEE ALSO: I Flew On The Plane That's The Unbelievable 'New Face' Of American Airlines

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7 Ways To Save On The Perfect Engagement Ring

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brit dave morin engagedFor most guys, the thought of buying a pair of pants is daunting enough, let alone picking out the ring that could make or break their engagement.

"It's an uncomfortable purchase for guys," says Josh Holland, spokesperson for online jeweler BlueNile.com. "They go to a jewelry store and they're overwhelmed and confused." 

It was BlueNile's founder's awkward experience shopping for a ring that inspired him to launch the company in the first place. 

"(The company) is based on product education," Holland says. "No one here works on commission. We empower customers with information." In today's economy, that often means helping consumers track down a ring that not only suits their mate but their budget as well. 

Here are seven smart ways to save on your engagement ring: 

Forget the 3-month rule. The old adage that men should budget three month's salary for the perfect engagement ring is basically a load of bull. "That's a myth. There are no real rules. Men should make a budget and try to stick to it," Holland says.

Don't skimp on the cut. There are Four C's in diamond-shopping: cut, color, clarity and carat. "A diamond's cut is the most critical because it determines a diamond's brilliance (sparkle)," Holland says. "We really counsel people on not worrying about size so much as cut. If you have a really sparkly and brilliant ring it'll appear bigger than a bigger, lower-cut quality diamond.

Think outside the 'big box'. More than $1 billion of the $9.64 billion spent on engagement and wedding rings in 2010 came from online purchases. That's because online retailers like BlueNile offer prices anywhere from 20 to 40 percent lower than bricks-and-mortar shops. "A traditional retailer would buy ring for $1,000 and sell it for $2,000. We'll buy that and sell it for $1,300," Holland says.

Don't be afraid to go down a half-carat. You can save hundreds of dollars but knowing how the pricing system works for carat. "Diamond prices jump disproportionately at the carat and half-carat marks," according to Holland, so you'll want to buy just shy of those levels. "For example, instead of a 1 carat diamond, look for a .95. You'll save a significant amount of money, and the slight size difference will never be noticed."

Trust your eyes. Ask for an 'eye-clean' diamond, rather than 'flawless'. Most so-called "flaws" occur naturally in diamonds and can't be viewed by the human eye–no one will see what it is you're paying so much for. "To achieve the best value consider a near-colorless (graded G-H) instead of a colorless diamond (graded D-F) or a VS2 (Very Slightly Included) clarity grade as opposed to a Flawless clarity grade," he advises. 

Check the return policy. So, the worst has happened and your fiancee girlfriend hates the ring–what if it's too late to return it? That's the case at many high-end jewelers, which either have 24-hour policies or none at all. The good news is many have loosened up a little on returns and offer 30-day policies, including BlueNile. 

Buy Certified. "All diamonds are not created equal," Holland says. Don't pull out your credit card until you've seen certification by at least one independent grading agency–such as the Gemological Institute of America or the American Gem Society. "If your diamond has been graded by the jeweler behind the counter, it's a bit like the fox guarding the hen house," he says." 

SEE ALSO: The 10 cheapest cities in the US >

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The Hottest Places To Party In NYC This Spring

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darby nyc

There's no denying that the official draw of New York Fashion Week is getting to see the new collections and shows, but unofficially, we know that no Fashion Week would be complete without the parties.

The past seven days proved to be no exception, as our favorite designers and A-listers celebrated everywhere from Bow to No. 8.

Click through to see where else the fashion set partied this week. These hot spots are sure to be your go-to venues this spring.

Finale

Overview: Located just above Bow is another EMM Group hot spot, Finale. Being that Finale is the joint brainchild of EMM Group and Pacha, it comes as no surprise that it has fast become one of the top electronic music clubs in the city since opening in November of last year.

Location: 199 Bowery

Team: EMM Group, Pacha

Insider's Scorecard: The buzz began when Heidi Klum held her annual Halloween party at Finale last year, which featured a set by DJ Questlove. Finale has since featured a roster of impressive DJs, including pop-duo Icona Pop, who brought down the house last week. Also, to kick off this season's fashion week, Finale hosted Ape, an international party night, with Ben Watts and Milk Studios. DJ Carl Kennedy and Chelsea Leyland, who provided the music for the night, were joined by Adrien Grenier and Erin Fetherston.



Bow

Overview: The aptly named Bow, located in the bunker of Finale on Bowery, is the new venture from EMM Group and nightlife impresario Travis Bass. The exclusive bunker club has been drawing in fashion's elite since it opened at the end of 2012.

Location: 199 Bowery

Team: EMM Group, Travis Bass

Insider's Scorecard: The low ceilings of the dimly-lit club provide an intimate setting for club-goers. Bass even notes that, "If you stand on your tiptoes on the dance floor, you can touch the ceiling." Since opening in November, the exclusive hot spot has drawn in some of the industry's biggest names, including Prabal Gurung and Rag & Bone's David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, who all held their Fall 2013 after parties there this fashion week. The buzzed about VFILES NYFW celebration was also held at Bow, which included guests Alison Mosshart, Theophilus London, Nikki Hilton, Derek Blasberg, Mia Moretti, Hannah Bronfman, Genevieve Jones and Hanna Gabbe, among others.



The Standard, East Village

Overview: Since Andre Balazs took over the former Cooper Square Hotel for his latest Standard Hotel location last year, it gained immediate industry popularity. But this should come as no surprise when you consider all of Balazs' other well-received establishments. Balazs has also enlisted famed chef John Fraser for a still unnamed restaurant, set to open this fall at The Standard, East Village.

Location: 25 Cooper Square

Team: Andre Balazs (The Standard Hotels, The Mercer Hotel, Chateau Marmont)

Insider's Scorecard: The space may have opened last year, but its popularity shows no signs of slowing down. Prabal Gurung jumped on the bandwagon early, holding his Fall 2012 show after party at The Standard East Village's Chez André pop up last year. This fashion week, the Mulleavy sisters kept it going by gathering at the hotel to celebrate their Rodarte Fall 2013 collection. Chloe Sevigny, Lindsey Wixson, and Emily Weiss were among the famous guests in attendance.



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This Pen-Sized Scanner Will Make You Feel Like James Bond

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This is the Pen Sized Scanner from Hammacher Schlemmer.

Why We Love It: This ballpoint pen/laser scanner slash recording device is as cool as you think. It has a high-precision auto-focus lens and a 5-megapixel sensor built into the pen that can scan images at 2048 x 1536 pixels. The pictures are then stored on the pen's 1 GB built-in flash memory that can hold 1,000 photos, and can be transferred to a computer via a built-in USB plug accessed by twisting the pen apart.

It can also record conversations with a microphone, and switches from a scanning device to a writing tool by turning a dial. It's compatible with Mac OSX, Window 8, 7, Vista, and XP, and charges by plugging into your computer.

Scanner pen microphone

 

Scanner pen microphone

Where To Buy: Available through Hammacher Schlemmer.

Cost: $124.95.

Want to nominate a cool product for Stuff We Love? Send an email to Megan Willett at mwillett@businessinsider.com with "Stuff We Love" in the subject line.

SEE ALSO: Aerate A Full Bottle Of Wine In Seconds With Aero

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Amazon's Star Engineer Has A Sweet Life, Lives On A Boat And Works From Hawaii

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Amazon James Hamilton

Meet James Hamiltona distinguished engineer who is responsible for keeping Amazon's $4.5 billion tech infrastructure business running while inventing new ways to make its data centers more efficient.

He's responsible for keeping a giant portion of the Internet up and running. Sites like Netflix, Pinterest, Reddit and Airbnb all rely on Amazon's web services.

Hamilton is one of only a handful of people allowed to talk and blog about Amazon's Web Services publicly, reports Wired's Robert McMillanHe's been at Amazon for just over four years and came to fame at Microsoft where he led a secretive group called the "Data Center Futures" team. Microsoft poached him from IBM.

But the coolest thing about Hamilton may be that he lives on a boat, the Dirona.

We're not talking a stationary Seattle houseboat, either. He often sails the Dirona to Hawaii and works remotely from there.

McMillan describes Hamilton's unique lifestyle:

About four years ago, James and Jennifer Hamilton sold their house and their car and most of their worldly possessions, and they moved onto the Dirona. Now, when he’s berthed in Seattle, Hamilton bikes to Amazon headquarters, does his shopping via Amazon Prime, and picks up his mail at the local UPS store. But he’s untethered. Sometimes, he takes the boat to Hawaii — and works from there.

In short, he hacked his life. He rethought it and turned it into something new. He’s the sort of person who’s willing to hack anything, and that’s why Amazon wants him.

Now Watch: How To Get The Amazon Appstore on Your Phone

 

SEE ALSO: 25 Enterprise Startups To Bet Your Career On

SEE ALSO: Sorry Apple Fans, Your iPad Can't Do This

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How Danny Meyer Built His Global Restaurant Empire

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Danny MeyerDanny Meyer has built one of the most successful and respected restaurant groups in the world. The New York Timescalls him "the greatest restaurateur Manhattan has ever seen." His Union Square Hospitality Group runs everything from fine dining restaurants like the Gramercy Tavern to the enormously popular and rapidly-expanding Shake Shack.

He built his empire by focusing intensely on the diner's experience and hospitality. For example, stiff formality is not particularly enjoyable, Meyer found. So even his fine dining restaurants are about the food and being hospitable, not decor or grandiosity. That friendly experience is just as intensely managed and thought out as a stiff and choreographed classic service might be.

Both that attitude, and the frozen custard at Shake Shack, were inspired by Meyer's St. Louis upbringing. "While I was growing up, wherever there was genuine, warm hospitality, there was not cutting-edge food. And wherever there was cutting-edge food, there was not the warm hospitality," Meyer said in an interview with the St. Louis Beacon. "So I think I was in a unique situation to marry those two things for New Yorkers. Maybe that is what one of my contributions has been."

His father owned hotels, and taught him those notions of hospitality, and introduced him to the food world. "My dad gave me the gene to enjoy cooking, and to enjoy consuming good food and wine,” Meyer told The New York Times.

However, his father overextended himself in his own business life, expanding to own two hotels overseas, and ended up going bankrupt at the age of 42. 

Meyer has tried to never make that mistake, putting an incredible amount of time into each restaurant to make sure it would meet his high standards, and that the business side of things was always on rock-solid ground. He opened his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe, in 1985 with his own savings, and took four years to open his next one, Gramercy Tavern. He's made sure every restaurant is completely unique, and part of its community.

He's also had to realize his own limitations. Meyer spent one night trying to work the line at his first restaurant, and the night went just about as badly as it possibly could. 

He told Business Insider that he had given the chef the night off the night before Thanksgiving, expecting a slow night. It ended up being the busiest night the restaurant ever had, so Meyer put on chef's whites over his suit, without having eaten all day. It was the worst night of service we ever had," Meyer said, "the tickets were backed up in the kitchen, my red tie was bleeding all over the shirt, I was about to faint."

He ended up getting into a confrontation with a drunk customer, having a punch thrown at him, and punching back. "That was the last night I cooked on the line," Meyer said.

Since then, he's stuck to his area of expertise, managing the experience and growth of his empire. The focus and measured growth remained constant as Union Square Hospitality Group grew into an organization with thousands of employees and more than 20 restaurants. 

But he's encountered some resistance. Meyer had to close Tabla, a fine dining Indian restaurant, which he described as "excruciatingly hard." He avoided the decision as long as possible, holding off for years when he probably should have already closed it, and laid people off for the first time.

But he's still proud of the restaurant, and learned from his mistakes with it. He told Business Insider that the real story of the restaurant, which he "still misses and loves," was that they were able to to keep an "improbable restaurant" alive for 12 years.

"It was too big. If there was any one lesson, I would not in the future take a concept which is the most narrowly focused and give it the biggest stage," Meyer said. "It was our biggest restaurant in terms of seats and Indian food is not the most expansive and accessible concept. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I'd do it in a smaller space."  

Since then, Meyer's strategy has paid off. He did not open a second Shake Shack location for over five years after the first one opened, despite the incredible popularity of the first branch, which routinely saw hour-long waits. That's glacial growth for a fast food chain.

That's because Meyer and his company insist that everything is right before expanding, and that even though it's a place to get a burger in fries, that every Shake Shack is unique to its community, and firmly set up for success. 

The expansion's more rapid now, but that doesn't mean it's any less thoughtful. A new Shake Shack will only open if these three criteria are met, Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti told us:

  • "We believe all the other shacks will be better in the process of opening another one. If there is ever a moment when we say because we're opening more the other ones will get worse, that just won't happen"
  • "When we have communities that are excited and are asking for a Shake Shack."
  • "We have developed the leadership that can continue to grow and run that restaurant as well as every other Shake Shack. So we don't want growth to out pace out ability to get better every day."

Garutti says the lessons Meyer he learned from his father and his early struggles are embedded in the whole organization. "You know what quote I use when I talk to our team, that's a good one for us? 'The bigger we get, the smaller we need to act,'" he explains."What that means is, you know, a lot of companies when they grow and keep growing they just act bigger and they forget how they used to act when they had one restaurant. Now for us, the bigger we get, the smaller we need to act. So when we make a decision we ask ourselves: 'Okay, that's a good decision. But would we make the same one if we only had one restaurant?' And we challenge every growth decision by that."

SEE ALSO: The 25 Most Innovative Businesses In New York City

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