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The World's Coolest Tree House Hotels


Playa Viva

Want to go out on a limb for your next vacation—literally?

Once the sole province of young boys and Ewoks, tree houses offer adventurous travelers (read: unafraid of heights) a unique travel experience in an age of roadside motel chains and globe-stretching hotel corporations.

See These Unbelievable Tree Houses >

Building a hotel in the treetops is hardly a new idea: Brazil’s Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel has been inviting guests to explore the jungle canopy from its rooms since the mid-1980’s. But the concept has blossomed; today you’ll find them everywhere from Massachusetts to China.

Better yet, this new breed is more than just planks of wood nailed to an old oak. The Costa RicaTree House Lodge, in Limón, for example, has a full kitchen and luxurious bathroom built around a gnarled 100-year-old Sangrillo tree. Head to South Africa’s Tsala Treetop Lodge, in Plettenberg Bay, and you’ll find infinity pools and fireplaces.

“A lot of people had good experiences with tree houses when they were growing up,” explains Michael Garnier, a builder who has constructed tree-based dwellings around the globe and also operates the Out’n’About Treehouse Treesort, a sprawling 36-acre wonderland in Oregon. “It draws an adventurous type of person,” he says. “The kid comes out in them.”

Sometimes, it’s the solitude and seclusion afforded by sleeping in nature that attracts people to high-flying hotels. Take northern Sweden’s eerily beautiful Treehotel, whose mirrored cubic exterior reflects the forest on all sides.

It’s the vibrant cacophony of the rainforest, by contrast, that’s on display at Tranquil Resort, a working coffee and vanilla plantation in southern India. Chances are high that guests might find themselves in a not-so-tranquil situation: nose-to-nose with howler monkeys, who reportedly dance on the roof at night and have even startled guests by bursting into bathrooms. “I’ve found nowhere else like it in the world,” says former (unshaken) guest Haley Spurway.

Modern tree houses present a rare opportunity to drive past the McResort and break free of travel’s predicable stops and well-traveled routes. Up in the leaves, you’ll find something unique and exceptional—surely the reward of any good journey.

See These Unbelievable Tree Houses >

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Treehotel, Harads, Sweden

Why It’s Unique: Leading Swedish architects gave the backyard staple a strange futuristic makeover at the Treehotel outside Harads village (population: 600).

Perched four to six meters above the ground, each of five treetop suites has its own look, whether resembling a bird’s nest, a flying saucer, or a construction of Lego blocks. The most ingenious suite has a mirrored exterior, reflecting the forest on all six sides.

Access: Ramp, bridge, or (if you’re lucky) electric stairs.

What to Do: Pursue the Northern Lights by dog-sled ride or snowshoe hike through the Lule River Vally in winter, or go fishing and kayaking in summer.

Adam McCulloch

Playa Viva, Juluchuca, Mexico

Why It’s Unique: The eco-friendly Playa Viva is north of Acapulco on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

Three tree-house casitas completely built with sustainable materials; each have a bedroom and full porch for dining and lounging, and the master development plan calls for a beach club, lounge, and 40-room boutique hotel, plus solar-generated electricity and hot water.

Access: Series of stairs, ramps, and bridges.

What to Do: Tour the resort’s 200 acres, 80 percent of which is a private nature preserve.

—Damon Tabor

The Aviary, Lenox, Massachusetts

Why It’s Unique: Located on 22 acres of parkland designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the two-story Aviary tree-house in the Berkshire Mountains features a limestone wet room with an antique soaking tub, circular stairs leading to the second-floor sleeping quarters, and a Bang & Olufsen entertainment system.

Access: Ground-floor entrance.

What to Do: Sample the season’s bounty in Wheatleigh’s elegant Dining Room restaurant, or poke around the historic area’s local galleries, antique shops, and museums.

—Damon Tabor

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Elite English Schools Are Frantically Setting Up Campuses Across Asia


eton school boys england

CRICKET, boarding-house names reminiscent of Harry Potter's Hogwarts and ancient and peculiar customs are among the hallmarks of Britain's leading private schools.

Now they can be found in Singapore and Kazakhstan. As the domestic market softens, some of the most famous names in British education are building far-flung outposts.

Harrow led the way in 1998 by setting up a school in Bangkok, where its straw boaters greatly amused the locals. It now has schools in Beijing and Hong Kong too. Sherborne, a private school in Dorset, has opened a branch in Qatar.

From next year Wellington, a boarding school in Berkshire, will compete for Shanghai's pupils with Dulwich, a south London day school, which already has a franchise there.

At home, private schools are criticised for perpetuating privilege. Overseas, that may be precisely the appeal. ISC, a research company, estimates that some 6,300 "English-style" schools were operating overseas by 2012, up from 2,600 a decade earlier (that category includes many commercial and stand-alone outfits, some of which have been around for decades). The market grows by 6% a year.

Overseas expansion creates an extra revenue stream for private schools--handy at a time of domestic austerity and falling admissions. Schools also tout their foreign branches to British parents, who increasingly want their offspring to learn about fast-growing bits of the world and, particularly, to pick up some Chinese (though in practice some offshoots of British private schools in China are so rigidly Anglophone that pupils are told off for speaking the language).

The first international schools were set up in the 19th century in countries like Japan, Turkey and Switzerland, for the families of diplomats and business travellers. British private schools were set up in India with a rather different purpose: to educate the local elite to be British gentlemen. The new rash of British schools abroad combines something of both objectives. They are designed to appeal to a mixture of globetrotting parents and ambitious locals with an eye to a university education in Europe or America for their children. Pupils tend to sit the international GCSE, which some consider tougher than the standard British test, and often the International Baccalaureate.

Tiger trouble

The schools also offer a respite from traditional Asian rote learning and promote a more questioning outlook. Still, local aspirations die hard. One teacher in Hong Kong says it can be tough to persuade pupils to go home at night: some even try to sleep under their desks. In schools with a mixture of locals and foreigners, the Chinese pupils tend to dominate orchestras and maths competitions.

So far demand has been so strong that the main strategic question for private schools is how quickly to expand. Dulwich is the nippiest, with schools in China, Korea and one opening in 2014 in Singapore. It also runs sponsored A-level programmes for Chinese students in Zhuhai in Guangdong province and at the elite Suzhou High School in Jiangsu province.

The latter arrangement solves an irksome problem for educational expeditionaries. In theory, Chinese pupils are supposed to be schooled in the domestic system. Yet the rich and ingenious have found ways around this. Some parents seek passports from countries such as a few Balkan states and Cyprus, which offer them to big investors, so that their children can attend foreign-sponsored schools.

The new schools sometimes look spookily like the ancient English ones to which they are linked. And they strive for a close fit with the native institution. They hold speech days and house competitions, sing Latin songs and occasionally exchange teachers. But in many cases this masks an arm's-length business relationship. "Legally it's a franchise partnership and what we are selling is the name," explains Christopher Parsons of Dulwich College.

Most of the new breed of schools are run by local management companies. Some are even considering franchising entire regions to education providers, including American chains. At that point the link to the playing fields of England becomes rather tenuous. But Simon Lucas of EC Harris, a consultancy, advocates even looser ties. "A lot of schools are jostling for position in the upper quartile," he says. Creating partnerships with ambitious local schools, rather than franchises, would allow English-style schools to appeal to parents who cannot afford high fees for the best-known names.

Trade-offs with the host culture can be tricky. Dulwich, despite a strong Christian tradition, accepts that it cannot teach religion in its Chinese schools. But the King's School in Canterbury recently pulled out of a partnership there, concluding that the constraint was inappropriate given its association with the cathedral, the historic seat of the Church of England. It is trying instead to form a partnership with a chain of Indian schools. Bureaucratic hassles have generally made India less attractive than other Asian countries.

Other traps abound. Dulwich ran a boarding school in Phuket, but had to withdraw from the deal in 2005 after a local Thai investor sought more control. Mr Lucas warns that too many schools are lax about ensuring their contractual arrangements will remain secure if political moods or power hierarchies change. He thinks the most promising new markets are in South America, notably Chile and Mexico. As the market for secondary education becomes crowded, some chains like Knightsbridge Schools International are specialising in primary schools instead. It is heading for destinations like Turkey and Montenegro. Haileybury school has set up in Almaty, in Kazakhstan.

The Dubai-based GEMS school chain, meanwhile, has cheekily reversed the trend. The outfit, run by Sunny Varkey, an Indian entrepreneur, is busy setting up new schools in Switzerland and Uganda. It is also opening a clutch of private schools in England, at cheaper prices than the established competition.

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5 Ways To Save On Prom Without Looking Cheap


Prom in the UKFrom tickets to dresses and tuxedos to shoes, hair appointments, a limo, and dinner, the costs of prom continue to rise.

new study by Visa reveals that American families are paying an average of $1,139 per prom-goer in 2013, up from $1,078 in 2012. Costs for the big night vary widely by region. Those in the Midwest will pay an average of $722, families in the West will pay approximately $1,079, attendees in the Southern states will pay just over $1,200, and those in the Northeast will pay a whopping $1,528.

The survey also found that households earning less than $50,000 a year will spend over $100 more on prom than families whose income was higher. But an even more surprising contrast is between single parents and married ones: Single-parent households expect to lay out $1,563, nearly twice the $770 that married parents say they'll spend.

Cut costs without killing the fun.

The price tag for prom can quickly get out of control. A beautiful dress that's too expensive, friends with extravagant plans, or a desire to compete for attention with the expected prom king and queen can turn planning for a prom into a nightmare.

The Visa survey found parents will cover 59 percent of prom costs, and suggests that teens might behave more responsibly about their prom budgets if they were expected to pay for more of the expense themselves. (Visa's free prom app can help with budgeting and tracking prom spending.)

While the cost of the ticket is often set in stone, everything else -– dress, hair, nails, transportation –- offers options for frugality that don't have to make the evening any less magical.

The people at Visa offered some helpful ideas on keeping your prom budget under control. But we came up with some additional tips to whittle down the costs, so both parents and prom-goers can enjoy the night without waking up the next day with a debt hangover.

Get a loaner frock.

The dress can be one of the largest expenses of prom, but buying new isn't the only option. Becca's Closet, a nonprofit started by 20 high school students in Freehold, N.J., has collected 400 dresses from its Monmouth County community to lend, free of charge, to girls in need. T

The organization offers confidential consultations, and fellow prom-goers will be none the wiser. Similar programs are run throughout the country, including in Illinois, Virginia, California, and Oregon. Search for similar programs in your area at DonateMyDress.org.

3. Go old school.

Vintage is back in style, and secondhand shops have a wide variety of dresses, many of which have been worn only a few times. Bridesmaids dresses — worn only for a few hours! — can be easily altered to be worthy of the most discerning dancing queens. Trade last year's dresses with friends from other schools, and dye shoes from a previous occasion to match.

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Take A Tour Of JetSuite, The High-Tech Private Jet That Silicon Valley Bigshots Love


JetSuite planes

JetSuite is the private plane for hire that has become  popular with the Silicon Valley's most powerful players.

Its planes are super high tech. Every plane in the fleet has WiFi.

They also feature state-of-the-art avionics from Garmin and they are smaller than the typical private jet, which makes them (relatively) more affordable.

A JetSuite flight for up to 2,000 miles can be had for under $11,000 each way, which the company says is, "less than any other branded charter operator."

But here's the clincher: JetSuite also offers bargain flights that start as low as $500 each way for the whole Jet to yourself. On Friday, JetSuite was offering a flight from Houston to West Palm Beach for $999 for up to six passengers.

There are two models of JetSuite planes, the four-passenger Embraer Phenom 100 and the six-passenger Citation CJ3s.

Both of them are small planes compared to, say, a typical Learjet.

Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh invested a reported $7 million in JetSuite in 2011 and joined the board.

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Mouse Study May Hold Key To Preventing Human Obesity


ALMOST EVERYONE HAS a friend with a hollow leg. You know, that guy or girl who eats tons, never exercises, and somehow (infuriatingly) stays thinner than a clean eater, a vegan, or a paleo fiend? A new study on mice says it’s all about the (skinny) genes.

What’s the Deal?

Scientists from the University of Sydney were playing around with Kruppel-Like Factor 3 (aka KLF3), a protein that turns various genes off and on, when they made an interesting discovery [1]. As part of the experiment, the researchers bred mutant micethat could not produce KLF3. They were surprised to find that regardless of food intake, these lab animals didn’t pack on the pounds (or, in this case, ounces).

Why were the mice able to stay so skinny, even when put on a high-fat diet? After looking more closely at KLF3 and its effects, researchers noticed the mutant mice had much higher levels of adipolin, a hormone produced by fat cells which regulates blood glucose. In general, higher adipolin levels mean less fat, because the body is able to better regulate its blood glucose level and prevent all that extra glucose from turning to blubber [2].

KLF3’s main role is to turn genes off and on — in the mutant mice, production of adipolin skyrocketed when there was nothing telling the body to stop producing it. Basically, the extra adipolin acted as a glucose moderator, enabling the mutant KLF-less mice to chow down on more food without getting more fat.

Is it Legit?

Maybe. While this study is fascinating, it’s hard to make any grand sweeping statements without first duplicating the experiment on Homo sapiens. We know that mice can make lousy human substitutes for drug testing, but previous experiments on obesity and genetics have indicated that the gap between mice and men might not be so huge.

The research is still in the very earliest stages — scientists need to fully understand how KLF3 and adipolin affect humans before we start touting adipolin as the new anti-obesity wonder drug. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

If increased adipolin levels can prevent mice from becoming overweight, it’s very possible that it can do the same in humans.

- Sophia Breen

Cold vs allergies: How can you tell?>
Can video games count as exercise?>
Is it okay to work in bed?>

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Now Americans Are Hunting Wild Pigs And Eating Them


wild pig, boar

ON THE downside, America's 6m or so feral pigs are dangerous pests armed with sharp tusks, short tempers and large appetites.

A single herd, or "sounder", can wreck a corn crop or leave a meadow looking like a moonscape. They like to wallow in cool water and have fouled fishing rivers and swimming holes in dozens of states since an explosion in their numbers over the past 20 years.

The hogs, descendants of colonial-era livestock and, more recently, European wild boars introduced for sport, spread diseases such as brucellosis, can breed twice a year and, when hungry enough, will eat lambs. On the upside, being clever and lean, they make for good hunting and--when cooked with skill--they are tasty.

That dual nature, as pests with some value, makes crafting hog-control policies hard. In Michigan and Pennsylvania moves to ban the private rearing of feral pigs have seen fierce rows between wildlife officials and game-ranch owners, who dispute claims that soaring hog numbers are linked to escapes from shooting reserves. Missouri authorities allow pigs to be shot when they are stumbled on, but warn those sportsmen looking for dedicated hog-hunts to "do so in another state".

Texas, home to America's largest feral-pig population, at around 2m, has a distinctive approach that takes account of a deep-seated hunting culture and the fact that around 95% of land is privately owned, making it hard for government to impose solutions. That is a challenge and an advantage, says John Davis of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Nobody cares more deeply about land than a private owner, he notes. And there are two types of Texan landowner: those who have feral hogs already, and those who will.

Texas urges landowners to control hogs with a range of measures, including trapping, culling from helicopters (legal since 2011 under what is known as the "pork chopper" law), and shooting with rifles, handguns and bows and arrows. Hunting hogs with dogs can be "very exciting", wildlife authorities advise, while the department's official YouTube channel carries a video on making "feral hog tacos".

Technology is also being brought to bear. In Lockhart State Park, a country park south of Austin (and close to a new 85mph toll road that recently saw a spectacular hog-caused car crash), the superintendent, James Hess, shows off a large solar-powered corral trap. Anything moving in it is photographed, with images zipped to Mr Hess's mobile telephone, which can close the trap with a keystroke. To date he has been mostly woken at night by infrared snaps of raccoons, but the device will work, he thinks: simpler traps have already caught many pigs. The trick will be to catch whole sounders, because hogs are clever and learn from their mistakes. People too. The fight is on.

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Take A Hike Around A Pristine Reservoir In The Corner Of England


Burrator Resevoir

Last month, Pernod Ricard flew Business Insider out to England to check out their two gin brands, Plymouth and Beefeater.

It's a journalist trip/teach-in they do to educate writers about their liquor and cocktail culture in general.

To see where Plymouth Gin comes from, we took the train out to Devon County in southern England. It's a sleepy stretch of country and seaside that isn't on the typical tourist agenda.

After a tour of Plymouth's small distillery, Master Distiller Sean Harrison lead us to what he considers the secret ingredient in his gin, the county water source, called the Burrator Reservoir.

Built in 1898, it's now a part of Dartmoor National Park and the water is kept absolutely, strictly pristine, as are the surroundings.

To get to Burrator, we drove about 20 to 30 minutes outside of Plymouth.

As per usual the weather was gray, but the Reservoir is so massive and impressive it didn't matter.

Plus, the sun constantly made attempts to peak through so the clouds were interesting to watch.

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There's A New Generation Of Young People Hopping America's Trains [PHOTOS]


007_mikebrodie 1Mike Brodie began train-hopping in 2002 at the age of 17 when he left his house unannounced with a few belongings.

"Two weeks later I was gone — this was it, I was riding my very first freight train."

From 2004 to 2009 Brodie rode more than 50,000 miles through 46 states, documenting who and what he encountered along the way with a Polaroid camera before switching to 35mm film in 2006.

The Polaroid Kid showcased his pictures in the book "A Period of Juvenile Prosperity," depicting a gritty youth subculture of freight train hoppers and squatters.

“I know almost everyone I shoot,” Brodie says, “Three of the women in the book are ex-girlfriends and a couple of the guys … are best friends.”

© Mike Brodie

From the series A Period of Juvenile Prosperity

#0915, 2006-2009


Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

© Mike Brodie  

From the series A Period of Juvenile Prosperity

#0924, 2006-2009


Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

© Mike Brodie

From the series A Period of Juvenile Prosperity

#1027, 2006-2009


Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

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The World's Top Models Describe What Their First Apartments Were Like


karlie kloss vsThe mere mention of the words “model’s apartment” could set a young man’s heart racing.

Aesthetically speaking, though, an interior designer might consider the first big-city flat of most budding supermodels a crime scene. Having discussed the subject with professional beauties for months—I know, tough job—the Inquisitive Guest discovered that the stereotype often rings true: Nearly every model admits her first apartment was little more than a closet and that she barely had time to unpack let alone take a trip to IKEA.

By the end of their careers, though, many successful models develop rarefied sensibilities and accumulate elegant artifacts from their epic sojourns.

To investigate the development of their home interiors over the years, we interviewed the models at the debut of HBO’s documentary About Face: Supermodels Then and Now, backstage at the Victoria’s Secret show, at the launch of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and, of course, at Fashion Week.

Stephanie Seymour's first apartment was a loft in the same building as Keith Richards.

On the morning of Fashion Week’s great blizzard, Stephanie Seymour, seen here with Jason Wu, had managed to take her seat in the front row of the designer’s fashion show. 

“My first apartment was a big loft, actually. Keith Richards lived upstairs. And that’s why I took the apartment. I had no furniture. I had a mattress on the floor. And, um, we drew all over the walls—I had a bunch of friends who were artists. My landlady wasn’t happy about it. We had a little table, a couple of chairs. And then just clothes everywhere.”

And her taste for interior design today? “I love to mix in modern art. I love William Morris wallpaper. My loft is more modern, more French ’50s. And then my house in Connecticut is a big mix of everything from a Jean-Michel Frank room to a big library, which is all English turn of the century. So I guess I like a little bit of everything.”

Chrissy Teigen had five roommates.

While hosting the Resolution Project’s Resolve 2012 gala at the Harvard Club, model Chrissy Teigen, seen here with her fiancé, John Legend, recalled her first model apartment. “Two bedrooms with six women in them,” she said. “I decided to take the couch, because I didn’t want to share a room with somebody. I had the pullout bed and the TV.”

And today? “I love darkness. We have an apartment down in SoHo: dark, woody, earthy, with big comfy couches, and a very comfortable open kitchen looking into the living room. It’s amazing!

Click here to see John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s chic L.A. home.

Karlie Kloss lived in a "white box."

Backstage at Victoria’s Secret, Karlie Kloss owned up to the white-box model apartment when she was starting out.

“It was white walls, super-boring,” she said. And now Kloss plans to start over with her recently purchased two-bedroom in Manhattan, beginning with a 20-foot stretch of closets. “I want to do something really warm and very, very chic, almost like a Parisian apartment,” she told AD.

Check Out: Celebrities' Most Prized Possessions >

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Here's The Hypocrisy-Laden History Of Plus-Size Models


h&m plus size model beachwearThis week, H&M featured plus size model Jennie Runk wearing the new swimsuit collection on its homepage, seamlessly integrating her presence with that of her other, rail-thin counterparts.

While it's no longer unheard of to see plus-size models in fashion shoots and spreads — three even appeared on the June 2011 cover of Vogue Italia— it is often done in a very loud, "we're trying to make a message" way.

Even in Vogue Italia, the models only made the cover when posed seductively (and symbolically) over big bowls of pasta. Rather than appearing side-by-side with "straight size" models sans fuss, plus-size models usually appear in the "curvy" or "love your body" issue or special spread. Furthermore, American Apparel's "Next Big Thing" plus-size model contest was a testament to the flippant puns often associated with, as the retailer put it, "booty-ful" models with "full-size fannies."

Runk is no longer on H&M's homepage, just the beachwear section. Websites need to stay fresh with new content. Now, voluptuous post-baby spokesperson Beyonce has center stage on the site. This normalization of a more substantial —normal — bodies shows a potential shift in the fashion world.

But it is a long, controversy-laden road with plus-size segregation, difficulties breaking into couture, and even stylists quitting over a designer's decision to use plus-size models in runway shows.

Lane Bryant was one of the first retailers to specialize in plus-size clothing. The "Expectant Mothers and Newborn" line turned into the "For Stout Women" category in 1926. Its mantra? "Calling all chubbies!"

Until the mid-1950's, Lane Bryant used illustrations to market its "stout" line. But even here, the women look slim.

The early 20th century has the reputation of embracing curvier women, yet the supposed "American Venus" based on Miss America 1926's silhouette measured 34, 26.5, 37.5.

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Incredible Photos Show Hong Kong's Skyline Like You've Never Seen It Before


hong kong from the ground

Hong Kong is said to have the best skyline in the world.

French photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze shows us the city's skyline from an entirely new perspective in Vertical Horizon (published by Asia One, 160 pages), a collection of images of Hong Kong shot looking up to the sky and down to the ground.

The results show a juxtaposition of old and new, peace and chaos.

Jacquet-Lagrèze shared some of his photos with you. You can find out more about the book here.

Choi Hung, a public housing estate

A commercial district in Hong Kong

Tai Hang, a residential district

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Vegas Casino Bosses Have Transformed Sin City Into Club City


HAZE club vegasIn quest for new revenue, casino bosses turn Sin City into Club City

LAS VEGAS (AP) — To step into club XS at the Wynn Las Vegas is to enter the dreamscape of a modern artist with fetishes for gold and bronze and bodies in motion.

A golden-plated frieze made from casts of nude women sits atop a shimmering staircase. Waves of electronic dance music grow louder with each downward step toward a pulsating, football field-sized club where lasers cut the air above thousands of dancers.

The revelers take their cues from the famous DJs onstage who are known to surf the crowd in inflatable rafts, throw sheet cakes at clubbers' faces and spray vintage champagne into their mouths.

In Sin City, where over-the-top is always the sales pitch, lavish nightclubs featuring a heart-pounding party have become the backbone of a billion-dollar industry that is soaring while gambling revenue slips.

"We learned a long time ago that in order to continue to attract people from around the world, we have to provide things that are hard to find anywhere else," said Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International, which operates nine Strip hotel-casinos boasting their own dance scenes. "These clubs, if done correctly, are tremendous magnets."

A $100 million temple to revelry, XS is the top-earning nightclub in the country, joining six other Vegas venues in the top 10. Its estimated annual revenue hovers somewhere near $90 million, according to the trade publication Nightclub & Bar.

The city now boasts more than 50 such clubs. New additions are coming all the time, including the five-story Hakkasan at the MGM Grand, which debuted last month, and Light at Mandalay Bay, Cirque du Soleil's first foray into the disco business, opening Memorial Day weekend.

The rise of the Vegas super-club coincides with the decline of the town's gambling supremacy. The tiny Chinese enclave of Macau surpassed the desert oasis as the world's top gambling destination in 2006. Singapore is on track to claim the No. 2 spot.

During the heart of the recession, when overall Strip revenues tumbled by 16 percent, nightclubs saw more profit than ever. By 2011, Las Vegas was clubbing all the way to the bank, with Strip beverage departments earning more than $1 billion, and casino tycoons began remaking the Strip into the club capital of the world.

With extravagantly paid DJs, larger-than-life venues and billboard ads that stretch beyond the Strip to Hollywood Boulevard and Miami, casinos are trying to pull off a tricky balancing act: keeping the kitschy core that draws older generations while finding a way to make the city hip enough to attract a younger, big-spending set — emphasis on big-spending.

"We're not interested in competing against everyone to get the 21-year-olds that are going to spend little to no money and are going to clog up the hallways," Murren said.

The 10-minute taxi ride from the airport to the Strip takes visitors past dozens of billboards promoting top DJs from Holland and beyond. Celine Dion and Elton John now take their place on marquees alongside names that recall Internet handles, such as "deadmau5" and "Kaskade."

surrender club vegas

Las Vegas, long known for catching performers on the downswing of their careers, finally appears to have embraced a musical trend at the height of its popularity. Globe-trotting Dutch DJ Afrojack, 25, said he has come to consider the Strip his home because it's the one place he believes is as dance-music-focused as he is.

"When you exit the airport, you see (the face of President Barack) Obama — and then you see me," said Afrojack, a Wynn casino favorite.

Perhaps no place exemplifies the new culture on the glittery Strip better than XS. And for most wannabe Vegas party people, the night at XS starts in line.

Casinos snake these queues past well-traveled areas — entrances, slot banks and restaurant corridors — turning the gussied-up partiers into one more piece of visual spectacle. At XS, clubbers line up in a central hallway near the luxury stores Hermes and Chanel.

Women pay $25 and men pay $55 just to get in, but pretty girls who out-dress the dress code are admitted for free. The door charge is mostly there to weed out people who won't spend on drinks, said nightlife baron Sean Christie, managing parner of another Wynn club, Surrender.

When it first opened in 2008, XS was lucky to be filled halfway to its 5,000-person capacity, even when featuring an act such as Tiesto, the world's highest-paid DJ, according to Forbes, pulling down $250,000 a set and making $22 million a year.

Now, the club may see 8,000 people come and go over the course of a night. That's nearly half of the capacity of Madison Square Garden.

As the clock edged toward 2 a.m. on a Saturday earlier this spring, superstar DJ David Guetta stood at the control board like a mad king, commanding his people.

A wiry, hollow-faced Frenchman with a curtain of blond hair, Guetta has been churning out electronic music since the genre's infancy in the world of underground raves 25 years ago. Now, at 45, he makes hits for pop music stars including Rihanna, Usher and Nicki Minaj — and conducts the crowd at XS.

At the flick of his upraised palms, Guetta had thousands of revelers whooping, jumping and punching their fists in the air. When he added a drumbeat into a chorus, metallic streamers dropped from the ceiling and a fog machine churned.

"Nothing compares with this," said 23-year-old Katie Kelly, a student in San Louis Obispo, Calif., as she bobbed her index fingers skyward. "You just release and don't care about anything."

XS boasts that its layout is modeled on "the sexy curves of the human body." In practice, the design steers people to the bars on a back wall.

Female bartenders, their long hair draped over sequined black corsets, serve $15 shots of Jack Daniels whiskey, coordinating their pouring to the skull-rattling bass and synthetic blares vibrating around them. A supermarket a few miles away sells a bottle of Jack containing 17 shots for $16.

When newbies push through the swaying crowd to grab a table, they find that Vegas has monetized sitting, too. Patrons pay a $10,000 beverage minimum upfront to claim any of the dozen plush banquettes nearest the dance floor.

By the time Guetta hit his stride on this night, all of the club's 95 tables were full, including the cheaper seats away from the action and one uber-VIP table on stage. Near the bigger-than-your-apartment, 1,100-square-foot dance floor, four scantily clad girls gyrated in front of three men wearing suits and skinny ties.

One of them, Thomas Park, had filled the table with 2004 vintage Perrier-Jouet champagne and Gray Goose magnums — for $700 and $1,300 a pop.

"We have a lot to spend," said Park, who is in his mid-30s and works as a relator in Canada. "That's why we have all the girls."

Casinos learned long ago that some VIPs don't see the point of being VIPs unless everyone can see them being VIPs, so clubs oblige big spenders with spotlights and velvet ropes cordoning off their mini-empires.

But not everyone at a table is a high roller. Some are splurging, or sharing the cost with their friends. Superstar DJ Kaskade, a Vegas regular, said he hears from fans who saved for months to pay for a table and a weekend of fun in Vegas.

"It's because they see videos of this stuff and they say: 'This is nuts.'"

Today, the club craze is moving beyond the dance floor.

XS opens into an open-air adult playground complete with table games, food and a huge circular pool. Around 3 a.m. on this particular night — still several hours from closing time — women in bachelorette sashes waded toward floating white platforms as crescendos drifted over the water.

Beckoning from the other side of the pool, past clumps of partiers, is the upscale "vibe-dining" restaurant Andrea's, where DJs spin lounge music. Hakkasan is taking the vibe-dining concept further, importing a London-based, Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant to serve as the foundation for its five-story complex.

Most casinos have also incorporated nightclubs during the day — a way to infuse the dance scene into an otherwise typical summer pool party.

At Andrea's, while taking in a production he helped create, Christie confessed he worries about what might happen to Vegas now that it's banking so heavily on an indulgent club scene — especially if 20- and 30-somethings develop a taste for a new indulgence.

But then he quickly corrected himself, saying he'd be just as happy to lure patrons with country western stars.

"Whatever they want, I just serve up. Hopefully, I serve it up the best," he said. "I'm not one to care about that kind of stuff. I'm just here to make money and throw great parties."


Hannah Dreier can be reached at http://twitter.com/hannahdreier

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The Fabulous Lives Of Wall Street Offspring


Paul Tudor Jones

Just like you and me, Wall Streeters from all parts of the  industry get the itch to settle down and start a family at some point.

That means they have kids who share their fabulous lives. We decided to track down a bunch of them and see what they've done with them.

All in all these young men and women are pretty remarkable.

Some of them are singer-songwriters, while others are going into the family business. We found a journalist and a computer game developer, too.  

Now let's meet this next generation. 

Laura Dimon, the daughter of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon

Age: 26 to 27 (est.)

About: Laura is the middle child of Jamie Dimon's three daughters. She has an older sister, Julia, and a younger sister, Kara.

Laura recently got a lot of attention for a Daily Beast article that went viral.  The piece was about women avoiding getting caught going No. 2 in the office.

She's a master's student at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Her articles have been published in The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post and Morocco World News. You can check out her blog here

In the past, she worked as a program analyst for the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Pretoria, South Africa.  She has also interned at The Council on Foreign Relations. 

Matt Dalio, the son of billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio

Age: 29 (est.)

About: Matt lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the CEO and chief of product of Endless Mobile, a company that builds smartphone software for the needs of the developing world.

At age 16, after spending a summer working in a Chinese orphanage, Matt founded the China Care Foundation. The organization raises funds to help Chinese orphans with special needs. ABC News named him "Person Of The Week" in 2004.  

Matt graduated from Harvard in 2006 with degrees in economics and psychology.  He also holds an MBA from Stanford.

Source: EndlessM.com

Mike Swieca, the son of billionaire hedge fund manager Henry Swieca

Age: 27 (est.)

About: Mike Swieca works at his father's hedge fund, Talpion Fund Management, according to his LinkedIn profile.

It looks like he previously did internships at Goldman, Highbridge, Barclays and Antheus Capital. 

He graduated with degrees in history and economics from Northwestern University.  He completed a study abroad program at the City University of Hong Kong.  He is currently pursuing his MBA from Columbia. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Tom Brady Went Nuts After Reportedly Winning $23,500 At The Kentucky Derby


Tom Brady is always at the Kentucky Derby, usually in full derby-style. According to football writer Chris B. Brown who was at the tracks, it was rumored Brady put $4,700 on Orb this year. Since Orb won, this would leave Brady with about $23,500 in winnings.

There's video of Brady screaming in celebration after Orb won, so we're guessing he definitely won a bunch of money. Brady starts screaming at the 20 second mark (via Big Lead Sports):

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There's A Much Better Way To Eat Apples


The way most people eat apples wastes a lot of the fruit. 

This according to Elie Ayrouth at Foodbeast, who says a coworker tipped him off to a better way to approach the food. 

Most people eat apples from the side like this: 

how to eat apples

Eating the apple from the top down ensures that you get some of the soft, desirable fruit in every bite. Just rip out the stem: 

how to eat apples

Ayrouth estimates that you get 15 to 30% more of the apple by eating it this way. 

how to eat apples

Here's a video Foodbeast made explaining the method: 

SEE ALSO: People Need To Stop Discriminating Against Beer In Cans >

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Celebrities Wore Ridiculous Outfits To The Kentucky Derby


Miranda Lambert Kentucky Derby

Celebrities flew into Louisville this weekend to attend Saturday's 139th running of the Kentucky Derby.

Miranda Lambert attended with girlfriends, Lauren Conrad posed with an astronaut, and many couples made it a date.

See who went to this year's Kentucky Derby and more importantly, how big their hat was.

Lauren Conrad posed with the AXE astronaut before the race.

Miranda Lambert signed a Moet & Chandon bottle to benefit the Churchill Downs Foundation.

Country singer Luke Bryan and wife Caroline Boyer wore their hats to the Grey Goose red carpet lounge.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Celebrities Don't Know How To Dress For This Year's Punk-Themed Met Gala


met gala 2012The pressure is on when it comes to dressing for the Met Gala — perhaps no other red carpet is as closely scrutinized by fashion's harshest critics.

It's one of the rare events where best-dressed lists are truly based on style, not just celebrity, and a great outfit is often well within the reach of already well-seasoned fashion types with enough spare cash to afford a $25,000 ticket and a great stylist.

But when the theme is "Punk: Chaos to Couture," things get tricky. 

Various boutique owners and high-end vintage purveyors told The New York Times that they're getting frantic requests from a variety of clients looking for something that looks on-theme but will still earn them an approving nod from Anna Wintour, who we're guessing will probably disregard the theme entirely — and she wouldn't be alone.

One of the Times' sources, Gill Linton of Byronesque, says most guests will probably play it very safe, maybe throw a couple of safety pin accessories on for good measure. The problem, according to Los Angeles boutique owner Cameron Silver, is that “rich women don’t want to look punk, or grunge.”

Frankly, we'll have our eyes peeled for any edgy, grunge-y, even slightly un-precious getups, but we won't get our hopes up. 

That said, there certainly are some designers whose recent collections could serve up the appropriate fare to interested parties. The talent list is long and more varied than ever, with a variety of distinctly non-Anna-Wintour-approved parties set to descend on the much-watched event.

But, as Eric Wilson notes, even if a few Liz-Hurley-esque punk outfits do make an appearance, does it mean anything? Can anyone at this level of protected, managed, glammed-up talent actually get punk right? (NY Times)

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Thomas Jefferson And Abigail Adams Took Totally Different Approaches To Parenting


President Thomas Jefferson

In 1783, Thomas Jefferson was in Annapolis, Maryland, serving as a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress.

At the time, he was still grieving the death of his wife Martha, who had died soon after giving birth to their sixth child a year before.

When duty called, Jefferson reluctantly left Monticello and his three living children -- Martha (whom he called Patsy), Mary, and Lucy -- in the care of a family friend.

Forced to perform his fatherly duties from a distance, he wrote frequently to Patsy, who at the time of the following letterwas 11 years old:

My Dear Patsy,

After four days' journey, I arrived here without any accident, and in as good health as when I left Philadelphia. The conviction that you would be more improved in the situation I have placed you than if still with me, has solaced me on my parting with you, which my love for you had rendered a difficult thing. The acquirements which I hope you will make under the tutors I have provided for you will render you more worthy of my love; and if they cannot increase it, they will prevent its diminution....

I have placed my happiness on seeing you good and accomplished, and no distress which this world can now bring on me could equal that of your disappointing my hopes. If you love me then, strive to be good under every situation and to all living creatures, and to acquire those accomplishments which I have put in your power, and which will go far towards ensuring you the warmest love of your affectionate father.

A few years earlier, in the midst of the colonies' struggle for independence, 11-year-old John Quincy Adams had accompanied his father on a mission to Paris to convince France to join in the war against Britain.

His mother, Abigail, was said to have missed her eldest son dearly, and wrote to him frequently. When she wrote the following letter in 1778, he had just completed the arduous Atlantic crossing:

My Dear Son,

Tis almost four months since you left your native land and embarked upon the mighty waters in quest of a foreign country. Altho [sic] I have not perticuliarly [sic] wrote to you since yet you may be assured you have constantly been upon my heart and mind.

... remember that you are accountable to your maker for all your words and actions. Let me injoin [sic] it upon you to attend constantly and steadfastly to the precepts and instructions of your father as you value the happiness of your mother and your own welfare. ..., for dear as you are to me, I had much rather you should have found your grave in the ocean you have crossed, or any untimely death crop you in your infant years, rather than see you an immoral profligate or a graceless child.

Yet you must keep a strict guard upon yourself, or the odious monster [i.e., vice] will soon loose its terror, by becoming familiar to you.

Upon first reading, it is immediately striking how remarkably frank eighteenth-century Americans were with their 11-year-olds. Beyond that similarity, these two individuals were clearly parenting their children in very different ways, and psychologists have spent the last twenty years studying and understanding the impact of these differences on the adults we eventually become.

Let's begin with Jefferson's parenting. Notice how in his letter, he speaks frequently of his hopes for Patsy, and of his desire for her to be accomplished -- to fulfill her potential. He expresses his deep love for her, while also threatening in no uncertain terms to withhold that love should she disappoint his hopes. When parents think about their child mainly in terms of how they would ideally like the child to be, as Jefferson did, they often shape their child's behavior through providing (and withholding) positive experiences. So when the child behaves well, he is showered with praise, affection, or attention. But when he misbehaves, he gets the cold shoulder, and his happiness is replaced by feelings of emptiness and dejection.

We now know that children who are raised this way come to see their goals, at work and in life, as ways to obtain those same positive experiences -- in other words, as opportunities for gain, accomplishment, or advancement. They "play to win," and have what's called a promotion focus. Many studies, most of which have been conducted at Columbia University's Motivation Science Center, show that promotion-focused adults tend to be optimists, are more likely to take chances and seize opportunities, and excel at creativity and innovation. On the other hand, all that chance-taking and positive thinking makes them more prone to error, less likely to completely think things through, and usually unprepared with a Plan B in case things go wrong. But despite the risks, a promotion-focused person would rather say Yes! and have it all blow up in his face than feel like he let Opportunity's knock go unanswered.

Another example of Jefferson's promotion-focused parenting can be found in Senator Edward Kennedy's memoir True Compass, and the recollection of words his father, Joseph Kennedy Sr., spoke to him when he was a boy.

You can have a serious life or a nonserious life, Teddy. I'll still love you whichever choice you make. But if you decide to have a nonserious life, I won't have much time for you. You make up your own mind. There are too many children here who are doing things that are interesting for me to do much with you.

Again, if Teddy does something "interesting" (i.e., living up to his father's ideals for him), then he will be rewarded with attention -- attention that all of Joe Sr.'s many children very much wanted. If he failed to be interesting, then Father would withdraw that attention -- and Teddy was fairly warned. It's not surprising, then, that so many of Joe Sr.'s children evidenced such strong signs of promotion focus in their adulthood: ambitiousness, confidence, creativity, an eagerness to tackle new challenges, and a degree of recklessness, too.

Now, look again at Abigail's letter to young John Quincy. She doesn't promise her love as a reward for his accomplishments, nor does she entreat him to live up to his potential. Instead, she emphasizes the importance of being accountable, following instructions, adhering to moral rules, and avoiding the danger of sin and vice. In other words, she reminds her son of what he should be, and of the dire consequences of failing to live up to those expectations.

Parents, like Adams, who think of their child more in terms of who they believe the child ought to be -- in terms of the child's duties and obligations -- are more likely to influence their child through the providing of (and protecting from) negativeexperiences. When he does something that violates his mother's rules, he is criticized or punished (e.g. extra chores); but when he obeys the rules and makes no mistakes, life is peaceful.

Children raised this way become adults who often see their goals in life as opportunities to meet their responsibilities and stay safe. They don't really play to win; they play to not lose, and have what we call a prevention focus. In our studies, we find the prevention-focused to be defensive pessimists -- more driven by criticism and the looming possibility of failure than by applause and a sunny outlook. Prevention-focused people are often more cautious and don't like to take chances, but their work is also more thorough, accurate, and carefully-planned. They are also more analytical, better able to delay gratification and follow rules, better organized, and more conscientious. Their biggest regrets are the mistakes they might have avoided, if only they had been more vigilant.

No wonder, then, that young John Quincy Adams grew to become a successful life-long public servant, and a man of great personal reserve and austerity, whom the historian Paul C. Nagel described as "inordinately vexed by his own blunders and inadequacies."

So is it better to parent like Jefferson or Adams? It's worth pointing out that the difference between Jefferson's promotion parenting and Adams' prevention parenting isn't necessarily about the kinds of values you want to give your child. Two sets of parents may seek to instill the same goals and values in their children -- let's say, wanting them to do well in school, share generously with others, and be polite -- but they can go about sending the message very differently. ("If you do well in school, I'll be so proud of you!" versus "If you don't do well in school, you'll be in big trouble.") It's this difference in delivery, rather than in content, that shapes a child's dominant focus.

Which focus is better? The answer is, neither. Promotion and prevention focus have different strengths and weaknesses, and they can both lead to the enjoyment of successful, satisfying lives. Really, all good parenting has trade-offs. There is no particular kind of parenting that yields for children "all the benefits, and nothing but the benefits."

Of course, it is possible for child to be both promotion and prevention-focused, allowing them to be creative andanalytical, good at seizing opportunities and careful planning. Taking a page from both Jefferson and Adams is probably the best approach, though you might want to lighten it up a little. The watery grave part seems, in retrospect, a bit much.

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An Up-Close Look At Roman Abramovich's $1 Billion Superyacht


Roman Abramovich Yacht Eclipse There's rich, and then there's the superyacht rich.

And yachts don't get any more super than Roman Abramovich's 553-foot long $1 billion plus flagship the Eclipse. 

The Eclipse is currently docked at Manhattan's Pier 90.

The following photos show a bit of what more than $1 billion plus buys in a personal motor yacht these days.

Just south of this public parking lot on the roof of the Pier 90 terminal sits Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's flagship yacht, the "Eclipse."

The Coast Guard referred us to this website where we pinpointed the ship's position and confirmed it hadn't sailed.

536-feet long and styled after military vessels, we simply had to take a look.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Shy Guys Can Now Buy Viagra Directly From Its Website


viagra fake Blockbuster erectile dysfunction drug Viagra is about to become a lot easier for men to pick up on the down low.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced Monday that it will become the first in the industry to peddle its infamous little blue pills directly from its website.

The company's new e-commerce site, called Viagra Home Delivery, gives prescription holders a way to bypass the usual middlemen to buy and refill their prescriptions, with the added bonus of knowing that they're ordering the real deal.

It's a wonder it's taken the company this long to launch this kind of service.

Viagra is one of the most counterfeited drugs in the world, and Pfizer has poured billions of dollars into anti-counterfeiting measures around the globe. In 2011, Pfizer's Global Security arm found that out of 22 websites appearing in the top search results for the phrase “buy Viagra," 80% of the pills were counterfeit.

“We have seen counterfeit medicines manufactured in filthy and deplorable conditions, yet some people do not realize the risks that this poses to their health and safety, our top priority,” said Matthew Bassiur, vice president, Global Security.

What it costs: A single dose of Viagra (one pill) goes for a steep $25, though Pfizer is offering three free pills for first-time orders and free delivery for everyone.

Cost is the main reason counterfeit drugs have seen such a boom, as customers are drawn to advertisements for $1 to $3 "generic" Viagra pills.

The reality is that there is no generic version of the pill on the market yet. What customers get instead is usually a pretty convincing fake. 

Fraudsters pack everything but the kitchen sink into fake Viagra –– using commercial-grade paint to mimic the erectile dysfunction drug's trademark blue color and sometimes packing the pills with toxins like boric acid, speed, and even rat poison. 

As consumers continue to turn to the Web to save on prescription drugs, it's always important to screen them first: The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy keeps detailed lists of online sites that sell legitimate pharmaceuticals.

SEE ALSO: These shocking facts will make you think twice about buying drugs online >

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