What’s your definition of luxe?
According to Grant Thatcher, “Luxe is the meeting of quality, precision and desirability.”
Thatcher is the publisher of Luxe City Guides, a collection of pocket-sized, fold-out travel guides to cities around the world. Published in Hong Kong, these guides have already covered major cities throughout Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands, as well as Europe.
Now, Thatcher is looking to enter the U.S. market with a guide to Luxe New York, featuring dozens of hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, and spas throughout the city. You’ll find a few made-up words peppered throughout, as “glamvenient,” and sometimes even a little snark sneaks its way in (“Lilliputian rooms costing more than a Goldman Sachs bonus are the norm in NY”).
Does that mean that being “luxe” is all about the attitude?
According to the British-born Thatcher, “luxe” doesn’t necessarily mean luxury. “In England, ‘luxy’ means ‘You’ve got style.’ These books are for people who are financially solvent enough to travel, meaning that they can afford to get on a plane or a train. But it’s but not necessarily for the wealthy or the rich. Style for dollar is what we really like.”
The series of guidebooks began almost by accident. Thatcher moved to Hong Kong from England in 1996, and then to Bangkok three years later. “In Bangkok, you can anything you want made for you,” he says. “When moved back to Hong Kong, people kept asking me, ‘Where did you get that?’”
Thatcher began writing down the details of places to shop, where to eat, and where to stay in Bangkok. That list grew and began circulating the ex-pat community, until it made its way back into his hands from a well-intentioned friend. “So really, it all started so people could stop bugging me about where I got my drapes.”
Due to their size, these guides aren’t the most comprehensive that you’ll find in the guide book shelves, but choosing the entries requires an extensive vetting process.
“We have a local from that city collect hundreds of clippings about hotels, bars, restaurants and the like. That editor gets ideas from about 25 contributors who also live in that city. We send out an extensive questionnaire…what they love, what they hate about the city. We can have anywhere between 300-350 entries, and then our edit team from Hong Kong flies into the city to try it all out and further edit it down.”
When it comes to obtaining style for dollar, Thatcher has this advice for travelers: “Drive yourself around rather than hiring a car or taking a cab. If you’re staying in a city for a while, look into renting an apartment instead of staying in a hotel. Go out and walk and always go down that little alley. Leave no stone unturned.”
The Luxe New York Guide is available for $9 through Amazon. And you can find this guide and more at http://luxecityguides.com.
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