Black Knight and Five Star Release Study on CFPB Consumer Complaints in Daily Dose, Data, Featured Share Since it first began reporting mortgage complaints in its Consumer Complaint Database, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has received feedback of concern that the complaints do not provide a full picture of mortgage servicing activity. Late last month, industry concern heightened when the CFPB went live with its expanded Consumer Complaint Database, allowing consumers for the first time to include the narrative details of their complaint.In an open letter to the CFPB regarding the disclosure of consumer complaint narrative data, Senior Research Fellow Hester Peirce and Research Assistant Vera Soliman of George Mason University state that “other than verifying that the customer has a relationship with the company that is the subject of the complaint, the Bureau makes no attempt to assess the veracity of facts, let alone whether the financial institution named in the complaint has violated a law.”Now, in a report to be released today titled “Analysis and Study of CFPB Consumer Complaint Data Related to Mortgage Servicing Activities,” Black Knight Financial Services (BKFS) and the Five Star Institute (FSI) seek to provide context and insight to complaints received by the CFPB by comparing the CFPB’s two predominant mortgage complaint categories, servicing and default, with loan trends. The report includes publicly available data from both the CFPB and mortgage servicers, as reported from the CFPB databaseAccording to the report, mortgage-related complaints received by the CFPB are on the decline after an initial ramp-up period, and delinquent loans and foreclosures have also decreased. The report seeks to address of the question of whether these two stats are falling at the same rate and if there is a correlation between the two.”The information contained in this report plays an important role in measuring the scope of volume related to CFPB inquiries made, in juxtaposition to the total number of mortgage holders in the U.S. market,” Five Star President and CEO Ed Delgado said. “Through the data lens, we can clearly examine operational efficiency and defect while measuring progress in providing quality service to homeowners.”Delgado, who initially proposed the need for such a report, conferred with Black Knight as the report findings were gathered.“Delgado was instrumental in the concept of the paper and contributed throughout the data analysis to consult on the design and scope of this initiative on consumer complaint reporting,” Black Knight said.The CFPB’s mortgage-related complaints are grouped into six categories that loosely correspond to action/decision stages in the mortgage lifecycle.”Servicer actions or decisions directly related to the complaints might be the best basis of comparison for complaint volumes – for example, the number of loans that were not approved for modification versus the number of complaints about loan modifications,” Dori Daganhardt, VP of Product Marketing, Data & Analytics Division with Black Knight, wrote in the report. “However, this is not feasible because of the level of aggregation of the complaint categories.”The CFPB began accepting complaints about credit cards when it opened its doors in July 2011. The Bureau later expanded its complaint handling to include other areas of finance; mortgages were added early in 2013. That year, about 37 percent (59,000 out of 163,700) of the complaints the Bureau received were mortgage-related, according to CFPB. The Bureau received nearly 8,000 fewer mortgage-related complaints in 2014 (51,200 out of 250,700) but the percentage of total complaints received that were mortgage-related fell by nearly half (from 37 percent down to 20 percent). For the first three years of the Bureau’s existence (2011 to 2013), mortgage was the top category for consumer complaints; that changed in 2014 when debt collection complaints grabbed a 35 percent share compared to 20 percent for mortgages.For the comparison of complaint trends and loan trends in the white paper, Black Knight focused on the two year-period of 2013 and 2014. The complaints were summed by category by calendar quarter, and loan inventories were averaged by calendar quarter – and the rate of complaints was shown as the total number of complaints against the average inventory for the quarter.The comparison revealed that complaints in the category of “loan modification, collection, and foreclosure” declined by more than 50 percent on an absolute basis and by 35 percent on a relative basis versus non-current loan inventory. This translates to a rate of about 13 complaints per 10,000 non-current loans as of Q4 2014. Meanwhile, the rate of complaints received in the “loan servicing, payments, and escrow account” was reported to be only one for every 10,000 current loans in Q4, which calculated to just 0.77 basis points.“When the data presents that there are 13 complaints per 10,000 non-current mortgage loans, we need to ask the question if the criticism mortgage servicers are receiving is warranted, and if these numbers instead align more closely with the normal course and expectations of doing business,” Delgado said.Daganhardt said the report would allow servicers to benchmark their management performance relative to the rest of the mortgage industry, standardize the reporting to the CFPB to facilitate an improvised and unbiased understanding of all the complaints the CFPB receives.Editor’s note: Ed Delgado is president and CEO of the Five Star Institute, parent company of DS News and MReport. April 3, 2015 438 Views BlackKnight Financial CFPB complaint database Ed Delgado The Five Star Institute 2015-04-03 Seth Welborn
August 19, 2015 549 Views FHFA Issues Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Final Affordable Housing Goals Rule Share Affordable Housing Goals Rule Fannie Mae Federal Housing Finance Agency Freddie Mac 2015-08-19 Seth Welborn The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced the adoption of a final rule establishing the housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for both single-family and multifamily housing for the years 2015 through 2017.The proposed housing goals rule for the GSEs was first issued in August 2014. More than 144 comments were made on the proposed rule, all of which were considered by the FHFA in the development of the final rule. According to the FHFA, the final rule sets identical benchmarks in all categories for both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”The single-family goals advance the Enterprises’ statutory missions to provide access to credit for creditworthy borrowers and provide liquidity to the U.S. housing market while operating in a safe and sound manner,” FHFA Director Melvin L. Watt said. “The multifamily goals will create rental opportunities for those who need affordable housing. Together, these goals establish a solid foundation for affordable and sustainable homeownership and rental opportunities in this country.”FHFA Director Melvin L. WattThe final rule establishes the following single-family housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for each of the three years from 2015 to 2017:A low-income home purchase goal of 24 percent, which is a slight increase from the proposed benchmark for each year of 23 percent, which was also 2014’s benchmark goal;A very-low income home purchase subgoal of 6 percent, which is down 7 percent from the subgoal in the proposed rule and down 1 percentage point from 2014’s benchmark goal;A low-income areas home purchase subgoal of 14 percent, the same as what was in the proposed rule and 3 percentage points higher than 2014’s benchmark goal;A low-income refinance goal of 21 percent, down 27 percent from what was in the proposed rule and 1 percentage point higher than 2014’s benchmark goal.”The single-family goals advance the Enterprises’ statutory missions to provide access to credit for creditworthy borrowers and provide liquidity to the U.S. housing market while operating in a safe and sound manner.”The final rule establishes goals for the first time for rental units affordable to low-income families in multi-family properties with five to 50 units. According to the final rule, both GSEs’ multifamily low-income goal for each year from 2015 to 2017 is 300,000 units, an increase from the proposed number of 250,000 units for each year for Fannie Mae and the proposed number of 210,000 for 2015, 220,000 for 2016, and 230,ooo for 2017 for Freddie Mac.FHFA is required to establish housing goals annually for mortgages purchased by the GSEs under the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, which was amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery of 2008.The final rule will become effective 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register, according to FHFA.Click here to see the chart summaries for the GSEs’ housing goals.Click here to see the complete final rule that was sent to be published in the Federal Register. in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News
HOUSING Hurricane harvey mortgage 2017-08-25 Nicole Casperson Texas Governor Greg Abbott has extended his state disaster declaration to include 20 additional Texas counties in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, effective August 26. To view Governor Abbott’s updated proclamation, click here.”The addition of these counties to the state disaster declaration will continue to allow Texas to quickly deploy all available resources to those affected by this devastating storm,” said Governor Abbott. “Hurricane Harvey has had a catastrophic impact on Texans and their property, and this declaration will help them rebuild and recover. The state will continue to provide as much aid as possible to these communities that have already lost so much.”View the updated county ZIP code list by clicking here.Please note that this declaration is independent of any FEMA Declared Disaster.Once the storm comes to its end CoreLogic, a global property information provider, estimates that Harvey will cost between $1 billion and $2 billion worth of insured property losses for both residential and commercial properties.In response, Fannie Mae is reminding homeowners that mortgage assistant options for the Gulf Coast area will be an option. Under Fannie Mae’s single-family mortgages, servicers have the ability to grant an initial period of forbearance to any borrower they believe has been affected by this natural disaster.“At this time it is important for those in the path of the storm to focus on their safety as they deal with the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey,” said Carlos Perez, SVP and Chief Credit Officer at Fannie Mae.Freddie Mac’s disaster relief options will also be available to borrowers with homes in presidentially declared Major Disaster Areas where federal Individual Assistance programs are made available to affected individuals and households. Until then, servicers may leverage Freddie Mac’s forbearance programs to provide immediate mortgage relief to borrowers affected by the storm.”We strongly encourage the many American families whose homes or businesses are being impacted by Hurricane Harvey to call their mortgage servicer if the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s declaration is announced,” said Yvette Gilmore, Freddie Mac’s Vice President of Single-Family Servicer Performance Management. “Relief—including forbearance on mortgage payments for up to one year—may be available if their mortgage is owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac.”FEMA issued an update on August 27 to a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for areas in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey beginning August 23 and continuing.Click here to view the updated ZIP Code List from FEMA Declared Disaster for Texas.FEMA.gov has also updated its list of safety procedures:Continue to listen to local officials.Only call 911 for immediate medical attention or evacuation assistance. If you can’t get through to 911 on the first try, keep calling.If in a high-rise building and need to shelter in place, go to the first or second-floor hallways or interior rooms. Stay on floors above floodwater or storm surge, but do not go to the highest floors due to wind impacts.If under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately in the center of a small interior room (closet, interior hallway) on the lowest level of a sturdy building. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.HUD is also keeping updates via Twitter.com (@HUDgov) urging residents to continue to follow directions from local officials FEMA safety guidelines.It’s critical residents in #Harveys path follow directions from local officials. Learn more from @FEMA https://t.co/6dICSAGtNd. pic.twitter.com/HMMQoi2hmJ— HUDgov (@HUDgov) August 25, 2017 August 25, 2017 581 Views in Featured, Headlines, News UPDATE: Harvey Property Destruction Expands Further Share
The most recent member to join the The Magellan Travel Group, CPE Travel in Brisbane, has boosted member numbers to 130 at 1 May, 2017, and the Group says it is a continued commitment to transparency, like-minded business partners and profit for members that is the key to its growth. Further, “… interest in the Group continues to be strong across both our Corporate and Leisure divisions,” says Andrew Macfarlane, CEO of The Magellan Travel Group, noting that “… the current growth pattern is set to continue on this trajectory over the coming months as incoming members serve their notice periods with existing consortia.”CPE Travel was established in 2004 as a joint venture between Lorenzo Boccabella and Michelle La Franchi, and as an adjunct to Lorenzo’s successful Conference & Seminar business which had been established in 1996. CPE has grown through various iterations to have emerged as a successful TMC in the area focused on delivering global CPD conferences for the Legal & Medical Professions and offering boutique, high-end, luxury travel product to repeat and referred clients. The company is now owned outright by Lorenzo with Michelle, as General Manager, leading ‘an amazing team’ of ten creative, talented travel and event professionals.“We see a significant advantage with the value proposition that Magellan represents and delivers to our business. The transparent model and like-minded business operators make me very pleased to be a part of the Magellan Group,” said La Franchi.The Magellan Travel Group has also welcomed new members Travel Avenue, Pie in The Sky, Encore Journeys, Surrey Travel & Cruise, Alpha Travel Armadale, where2travel Glen Waverley, Hampton Travel & Cruise and Platinum Travel Corporation Albury in the past six months.Some of Magellan’s newest members attending the Magellan Corporate Forum earlier in the yearL-R: Scott Darlow (Magellan Trave Group), Michelle Lafranchi (CPE Travel), Emmily Strong (CPE Travel), Chris Goddard (Maxims Travel), David Hummerston (Encore Journeys), Andrew Macfarlane (Magellan Travel Group), Kathy Gambell (Encore Journeys) The Magellan Group
conservationPeru Rainforest Expeditions has announced that they will be renewing their successful partnership with the native community of Infierno for 11 more years in the Tambopata region of Peru.Since establishing the partnership in 1996, the indigenous community has owned and co-managed Posada Amazonas lodge with the assistance of Rainforest Expeditions.Local ownership ensures that the community benefits directly from tourism and enables local people to shape the kind of tourism they want to see into the future. It also empowers them to practice and share their cultural heritage with visitors.At any given time, over 50 families are involved in operations, including lodge management, marketing, guiding and more. They also participate in the Management Committee which is made up of 10 elected community members.The partnership has also had a significant impact on the conservation of threatened species and habitats since 60% of profits from the Posada Amazonas Lodge are given back to the community in exchange for preserving the environment. One such example is how they have revived populations of endangered Giant Otters through the protection of the oxbow lakes.This initiative has been recognised as one of the earliest examples of community-based eco-tourism through awards such as Conservation International’s Ecotourism Excellence Award and Best Ecotourism Tour Operator Award for Condé Nast Traveler Magazine in 2000.Both parties will continue to work together to provide unique Amazon experiences whilst conserving the environment and supporting local people. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.orgIMAGE: Local guides, Posada Amazonas Lodge
Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) and industry partners have lobbied successfully to change the regulations governing the restrictive measures for foreign minors travelling to South Africa, citing the law hampering tourism.“The requirement of carrying an unabridged birth certificate has been a hurdle that damages our competitiveness as a destination. It creates a barrier to entry with financial and/or opportunity cost that a prospective tourist needs to overcome in order to travel to South Africa,” says David Frost, CEO SATSA.President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “Within the next few months, amendments will be made to the regulations on the travel of minors; the list of countries requiring visas for South Africa will be reviewed and an e-visa pilot will be implemented. The visa requirements for highly skilled foreigners will be revised. “These measures have a huge potential to boost tourism and to make business travel into our country more conducive. Tourism continues to be a great job creator. Through these measures, we are confident that many more tourists will visit South Africa and South Africa opens its arms to welcome the millions of tourists who will be streaming our way following this architectural reconstruction.”Frost welcomed Cabinet’s decision to ease onerous visa requirements for certain markets. “We have already seen the positive impact that removing visa requirements has on inbound tourism, with the removal of visa regulation requirements for Russia. We have seen a 47% increase in arrivals for that market just in the second quarter of 2018, one of the only growing overseas market, albeit off a low base.” Government, he says, should introduce visa waivers for key markets immediately. “We need decisive action and an easing or abolishment of visa requirements for source markets like China, India, New Zealand and the UAE immediately. We can’t wait another six months to implement visa waivers, we must act now.”Says Frost: “I want to personally thank Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom and the Cabinet for their foresight in finally considering progressive changes to South Africa’s immigration regulations, which will have an overwhelmingly positive impact on our efforts to position South Africa as an attractive tourism destination.“This is an indication of how seriously this Cabinet takes its mission to drive South Africa’s inclusive economic growth, and the long-awaited recognition of tourism’s role as a critical sector in helping them achieve their ambitions goals.” childrenSATSASouth Africa
We’re about a month into the “Peyton Manning to (fill inthe blank)” rumors, and since we’re over a month away fromManning’s fate with the Colts becoming a known quantity,they’re not going away any time soon.Manning’s future was a hot topic in Peter King’s MondayMorning QB column on SI.com.Writes King:Manning might be fine and ready to playfootball in 2012, and maybe even a year or two beyondthat. Or he might wake up on March 1 and not feel fitenough, and get his release from the Colts, and then spendmore time rehabbing, trying to get fit enough and strongenough in the neck and arm to play this year. Or he mightsay, with new twins in the house, it’s all not worth therisk.King also referenced longtime NFL executive Gil Brandt,who said, “my gut feeling is that we’ve probably seen thelast of Peyton.” Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation Wow.Another layer of speculation was heaped on Sunday nightduring NBC’s coverage of the Pro Bowl, when Manning’sformer head coach Tony Dungy dropped his thoughts on thefuture of #18.“I do not think he’s going to play for another team,”Dungy said. “If he’s healthy enough, he’ll play for theColts. If he’s not healthy enough, he’ll retire.”Pretty strong words from a man who spent seven seasonswith Manning as his quarterback.Dungy’s statement came just hours after Colts owner JimIrsay took to Twitter to refute an NFL Network claim thatthe decision to waive Manning was made weeks ago. Comments Share Top Stories
The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Top Stories Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact It is safe to say the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks are going in opposite directions.The Cardinals have lost their last eight games while the Seahawks have won three of their last four. After pulling him two weeks ago for rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley, head coach Ken Whisenhunt has named John Skelton his starting quarterback once again.All the while, the Seahawks have been thriving with rookie sensation Russell Wilson under center. So on paper, you would think the Seahawks have this in the bag, right?Brock Huard, co-host of the Brock and Salk Show on 710 ESPN Seattle and former NFL quarterback, doesn’t think that’s the case, and the reason is Skelton.“I don’t like the fact as a Seahawk rooting desperately for the Seahawks on Sunday to keep this thing going. I don’t like the fact that Skelton is getting another lease on life,” Huard said on Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo.Huard mentioned that Skelton has already started and won two games against the Seahawks in his career and feels that Sunday’s game might be the quarterback’s last chance to establish himself.“If you are in his shoes, you have got to feel like, and his significant other and his agent and his family have got to be making sure he knows what an opportunity he has,” Huard said. “You don’t know if you are ever going to get one of these again if you’re John Skelton.”Huard said that he “would feel better if it was Lindley quarterbacking” and that he was “surprised” that the Cardinals ever started him.“To me, from a far in studying him collegiately and everything else, he was a nice player in college but he had a long ways to go before he started,” Huard said. “I thought that was a move of desperation by [Ken] Whisenhunt.” Comments Share
Go back to the e-newsletterOn 13 July 2016 an elevated standard of grand European river travel debuts as Crystal Mozart, the first of five intimate all-suite river yachts in Crystal River Cruises’ fleet, journeys roundtrip to Vienna on a 10-night inaugural voyage of the Danube River and scenic Wachau Valley. Guests will relish overnight stays in destinations such as Passau, Budapest and Vienna, and a choice of complimentary Crystal Adventures shore excursions in every port of call.Danube’s Capitals & Wachau ValleyRoundtrip Vienna, 10 Nights23 Jul, 13 and 23 Aug, 2 Sep, 13 and 23 Oct, 2 and 12 Nov 2016Fares from US$3895 (Cat s4)Countries of the Eastern DanubeRoundtrip Vienna, 11 Nights2 Aug and 2 Oct 2016Fares from US$5,235 (Cat S3)2017 itineraries for Crystal Mozart, Crystal Debussy, Crystal Bach, Crystal Mahler and Crystal Ravel are published and are open for reservation.Go back to the e-newsletter
Go back to the e-newsletterScenic has launched its South America programme for 2017 which features three new tours, new Enrich experiences, Freechoice activities and dining, plus a new hotel in the Sacred Valley.Guests can now discover even more of South America with three new tours. The 19 Day Peru Discovery is a round trip from Lima which as well as taking in the Peruvian highlights of Sacred Valley, Cuzco and Lake Titicaca also visits the emerging destinations of the country’s cultural capital Trujillo and the World Heritage-listed Chan Chan ruins; the colonial city of Arequipa; and the incredible Colca Canyon – home to the rare Andean condor. The 16 Day Peru Adventure & Galapagos Cruise showcases the very best of Peru and Ecuador from the extraordinary wildlife to the ancient treasures.The 25 Day South American Adventure with Rio Carnival, travels from Lima to Rio de Janeiro taking in the world famous Carnival. This is the first time Scenic is offering guests the chance to attend the Champions Parade in the purpose-built parade ground, the Sambadrome. Over 25 days guests enjoy the highlights of the Amazon and Peru plus vibrant Buenos Aires, the spectacular Iguazú Falls and Rio de Janeiro.The 2017 programme sees the launch of a new Enrich experience in Cuba: a visit to a family run paladar restaurant to enjoy local Cuban specialities. Plus new Freechoice activities in Cuzco, including a Chinchero village tour and a cooking class; and Bariloche where guests can choose from ziplining, a cable car ride to the top of Cerro Campanario or a cruise across Nahuel Huapi Lake.Also new for 2017 are two new Scenic Special Stay hotels: the explora Valle Sagrado in the Sacred Valley, located in one of the region’s most remote ancient corn plantations, and Luciano K, a small boutique hotel in Santiago.Louise Hill, Journey Designer South America, commented: “The enhancements to this years’ South America programme have largely stemmed from guest surveys and feedback at our Ever Wondered sessions which is hugely valuable in allowing us to continue to improve the programme offering.“There is usually a blackout period for hotel rooms during Carnival but the strength of our relationship with our hotel partner in Rio has allowed us to allocate rooms during this busy time which is fantastic for our guests. There has also been strong demand from our more active guests for soft adventure so we have now been able to introduce trekking and cycling in the Sacred Valley now we have the right hotel partner there in the form of luxury mountain lodge, explora Valle Sagrado.”Scenic is offering fantastic Earlybird offers on bookings made by 30 September 2016. Guests can fly from $995, including taxes of up to $195 per person on all journeys to South America of 19 days or longer – this is a saving of up to $3720 per couple.Business class flights are also available on these journeys from $4995 per person. Guests that book journeys of 12 to 18 days can fly from $1395 including taxes of up to $195 per person, a saving of up to $2470 per couple.Go back to the e-newsletter
Go back to the e-newsletterA group of lucky travel agents were recently treated to an all-inclusive river cruise in Europe courtesy of APT, experiencing for themselves why the luxury travel operator is Australia’s leading river cruise line.The seven-day cruise between Budapest and Nuremberg featured two of APT’s exclusive Royal Invitations.At Vienna’s City Palace the agents enjoyed their first Royal Invitation – a private recital which included a cocktail reception and an evening of culture and captivating entertainment featuring a performance by members of the Mozart Boy’s Choir.In Linz the group experienced their second Royal Invitation, boarding the Majestic Imperator. Taking in the breathtaking scenery of Austria’s famous Salzkammergut region, the group of travel agents enjoyed morning tea aboard the train before disembarking in Salzburg for a tour, which touched on some of the sights from the classic ‘Sound of Music’ and the chance to explore Mirabell Gardens. They then reboarded, enjoying drinks, canapés and music en route to Passau, where they rejoined their river cruise.The agents also sampled APT’s all inclusive lifestyle on board their luxury river cruise ship; dining at the Chef’s Table Restaurant, enjoying complimentary beverages and relaxing in their Twin Balcony suites, all of which featured butler services and complimentary Wi-Fi.APT is offering a special Business Class flight deal for bookings on its 2016 Magnificent Europe itineraries. For example the 4 November 2016 15-day Magnificent Europe river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam is available from $7,795 per person, twin share with the option of flying Business Class for just $1,995 per person. This offer is valid until 15 May 2016 and is subject to terms and conditions.Go back to the e-newsletter
Corinthia Hotel London is staging a year-long Neuroscience in Residence, a first for any hotel, to study the human brain.Running between November 2016 and December 2017, the five-star luxury hotel in central London’s Whitehall Place has teamed up with neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart. She will research the mental resilience of a selection of hotel staff and loyal business guests of the hotel. An analysis of how they cope with stress will generate a special Brain Power Study at the end of the residency.All participants will be given brain-boosting advice on how to maximise their potential, at work and at home covering sleep, hydration, diet, exercise and mindfulness.Tara will also give four talks throughout the year, explaining how the science of the brain can be applied to topics such as politics, technology and business. One will tackle why psychopaths, narcissists and sociopaths often occupy company boardrooms.Neuroscience is in the vanguard of research into how the brain affects behaviour and cognitive function; it is fundamentally changing our understanding of how the brain works and why people behave the way they do. Tara’s cutting-edge work helps leaders of some of the world’s most successful companies get a competitive edge by understanding and improving the physical condition of their brains, thus achieving mental resilience and peak brain performance.Guests and visitors to Corinthia Hotel London during the 13-month residency can optimise their brain power performance by sampling a specially-created Brain Power Package. The package nourishes the brain with a menu of essential nutrients that help create, protect and repair brain cells; hydrates the brain with a selection of Brain Power Drinks to help mental functioning; and indulges the five senses with a two-hour Mindful Massage with Yoga Nidra at the hotel’s ESPA Life spa. This is designed to help reduce stress and enhance focus through breathing and visualisation techniques; and helps the brain’s glymphatic system – the waste clearance system of the brain – do its essential night-time work by creating conditions in guest bedrooms for undisturbed sleep.Dr Tara Swart is a neuroscientist, leadership coach, award-winning author, Senior Lecturer at MIT Boston and medical doctor. She is the only top-tier leadership coach with both a PhD in neuroscience and a medical career as a psychiatrist.
From half term breaks to summer escapes, Virgin Limited Edition has hand-picked a selection of incredible offers and unforgettable adventures for the family holiday of a lifetime.Located in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Reserve, families visiting Ulusaba will have the chance to spot lions, leopards, elephants and many more species on twice-daily game drives led by an expert team of rangers and trackers. The Cubs Club offers amazing activities for kids of all ages including treasure hunts and traditional arts and crafts. There’s even more reason to get the family together in this stunning safari setting as on selected dates throughout 2017, up to two cubs stay for free with one or more adults.At Mahali Mzuri, children are known as “Little Warriors” in recognition of Kenya’s rich Maasai traditions. Alongside twice-daily game drives, families can enjoy fun, tailored activities including Maasai jumping competitions and visits to the local community. For the ultimate summer holiday adventure, families can experience one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, the Great Wildebeest Migration which takes place between July and September. For for an extra slice of half-term fun in May and October, up to two kids stay free when sharing a tent with at least one adult.Families looking for tailored service in a beautiful Balearic setting will love Son Bunyola. Located on Mallorca’s North West coast, there are three villas available for rental; three-bedroom Son Balagueret, four-bedroom Sa Terra Rotja and five-bedroom Sa Punta de S’Aguila. Each property has a private pool, a chef and concierge service and on selected dates in 2017, guests staying 7 nights or more will receive their final night for free.Ulusaba kids go free offerUp to two kids aged from zero to 11 years can stay at Ulusaba Rock Lodge for free in 2017, a saving of ZAR 2200 per child per night. Children must be aged six years and above to participate in game drivesOffer available for limited dates and rooms during this periodOffer can be combined with other packages and offersAll other normal terms and conditions applyMahali Mzuri kids go free offerUp to two children aged between six and 15 can share a family tent with at least one adult for no extra charge, saving up to US$600 per child, per night.This offer is subject to room availability. Valid year-round until 21 December 2017 excluding 1 July to 31 August 2017Mahali Mzuri reserves the right to change the rates at any time and supplements and minimum stays may apply during peak periodsCannot be combined with any other offersAll other normal terms and conditions applySon Bunyola free night offerGuests booking a stay at Sa Punta de S’Aguila, Sa Terra Rotja and Son Balagueret at Son Bunyola for seven nights or more this summer will receive the final night freeThis offer is valid for stays throughout April, May and October 2017 at Sa Terra Rotja and Sa Punta de S’Aguila and from April to October 2017 at Son BalagueretThis offer is for new bookings only with a minimum seven-night stayOffer only applicable for Saturday arrivalsAll other normal terms and conditions applyOffer cannot be combined with any other offer or packages
Go back to the e-newsletterSignature Media was delighted to have dinner with Donna Duggan during her latest visit to Sydney and was inspired by her story of making a difference to communities.Australian-born Donna is the CEO of a portfolio of high-end tented camps in Tanzania, Nasikia Camps, as well as Africa destination management specialist, Maasai Wanderings. Having met her husband-to-be in a town at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro, she settled in Tanzania, using her skills as a nurse to engage in humanitarian work. This remains a core aspect of Maasai Wanderings, which supports a number of community projects (particularly schools) in the Arusha region.Together with her husband, Naseeb Mfinanga, Donna started Maasai Wanderings, curating eco-conscious safaris across Africa. Today Maasai Wanderings operates tours in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Ethiopia. Signature Photo Safaris are also on offer, accompanied by professional wildlife photographers.The Nasikia Camps portfolio is also expanding from four to six mobile and semi-permanent tented camps in 2018. Ehlane Plains Camp opened in a far-eastern pocket of the Serengeti mid-January with eight tented suites, including two ‘stargazer’ tents and one family tent; Donna has a young family of her own and Ehlane Plains Camp welcomes guests aged five and up. Later in the year, Kusini Kopjes Kambi will make its debut atop the ancient kopjes of the southern Serengeti. The new camp will feature 12 tented suites.Tragically, Naseeb was killed in a plane crash over Ngorongoro Crater in November 2017. Donna is determined to grow the legacy of Maasai Wanderings, Nasikia Camps and their community projects in her husband’s memory.Keep an eye out for our in-depth interview with Donna in April.Lead image: Kusini Kopjes Kambi. All images © Nasikia CampsGo back to the e-newsletterKusini Kopjes KambiEhlane Plains Camp
Paris, France – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazineWith cigar smoking and humidors right back in vogue, it’s no surprise that the ever-chic Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris is opening a private cigar lounge this autumn: Le Club Viñales.Deeply comfortable, with bespoke leather club armchairs, art books and international magazines, this jewel-like retreat is dedicated to the delights of the Havana and the Montecristo. A sanctuary for the happy few, where they can while away the hours with like-minded aficionados. A place where serious issues of the day are discussed, the world is put to rights and smoke-wreathed moments of calm are savored. For sunny days, there is a members-only private terrace, accessible directly from Le Club Viñales.Membership will be strictly restricted. When they join, each member will be given a key for their own private humidor where their cigar collection will be stored and preserved. Over the first few months of their membership, members will be given exclusive gifts: accessories from the iconic French company ST Dupont, famed for its lighters and leather goods, as well fine cognac and whiskies.Other advantages include an exclusive concièrge service, made-to-order cocktails behind closed doors and invitations, with a guest, to private tastings, conducted by such great names as Dom Perignon, Hennessy, Louis XIII and Glenfiddich. Members will also be entitled to additional benefits when using the hotel’s restaurants and guestrooms. www.raffles.com/paris
London, United Kingdom – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazineThis September, the world’s very first Jaguar Suite will be unveiled at 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites & Residences, just steps away from Buckingham Palace. A collaboration between two TATA-owned companies—Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces and Jaguar—the residential two-bedroom luxury suite promises a sleek design that references classic and contemporary Jaguar models, from the legendary 1960s E-type to the state-of-the art C-X75.Overseen by Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum and his in-house design team, the 1,832-square-foot suite features specially commissioned auto-inspired artwork and displays. Using materials taken from the cars, such as leather, metal and high gloss veneer, Taj’s boutique London hotel now pays homage to the legacy and future vision of Jaguar’s timeless style.Sleek wood paneling greets guests upon arrival, and Jaguar damask lines the bedroom walls. The minimalistic clean-fuel fireplace references the shape of the brand’s hallmark rear window. A careful selection of themed collector’s items adorn the suite, making lovers of the master marque feel right at home.Naturally, residents of the Jaguar Suite will also enjoy the services of a chauffeur-driven Jaguar for airport transfers and transportation in London, not to mention 24-hour butler service and daily breakfast.www.51-buckinghamgate.com
Cunard Line is proud to announce a new partnership with The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) onboard its trio of famed luxury ocean liners, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and QE2. Poised to become a highlight of Cunard Insights, the Line’s award-winning enrichment programme, the RAS partnership begins this summer with RAS Fellows joining 15 voyages on such popular itineraries as Queen Mary 2’s Transatlantic Crossings and Caribbean voyages and Queen Victoria’s Mediterranean sailings. RAS will offer custom night sky displays of constellations and star navigation instruction, and highlight astronomical points of interest using the SkyScan software in the only planetarium at sea onboard Queen Mary 2. Nighttime “Star Parties” on deck, informal discussion groups and formal lectures with leading astronomers, will also be distinguishing features of this first-at-sea programme.“At Cunard, we are committed to offering our guests a dynamic and diverse range of enrichment opportunities,” said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line. “Our new partnership with The Royal Astronomical Society brings another new and innovative learning experience to our guests, allowing unprecedented access to one of the U.K.’s most renowned and historic scientific institutions.”RAS Fellows scheduled to sail in upcoming months include:Alan Fitzsimmons – Professor of Astronomy at Queen’s University Belfast. Fitzsimmons is an expert on the solar system with a particular interest in killer asteroids. On board, Fitzsimmons’ lecture topics will include “The Path of the Dinosaurs” and “The Life of Stars.” He will sail on QE2’s July 20 Mediterranean Mosaic voyage.Paul Murdin – Fellow, Institute of Astronomy and member of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge and Visiting Professor, John Moores University, Liverpool. Murdin has worked in five countries studying exploding stars and black holes. His topics include a discussion of the cosmic history of water, climate change and the universe’s composition. He sails on QE2’s August 27 Mediterranean Sojourn voyage.Dr. Alastair Gunn – Professional Astrophysicist, musician and author. Gunn’s professional research relates to the extended atmospheres of highly active binary stars. He will sail on Queen Mary 2’s November 15 westbound Transatlantic Crossing.Dr. Roberto Trotta – Lecturer at Imperial College, London, and former Lockyer Fellow of RAS at the Astrophysics Dept. of Oxford University and Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford. Trotta will tackle topics ranging from the “observable universe” highlighting the history of discoveries in the past five centuries, to the “invisible universe” and “implausible universe.” He sails on Queen Mary 2’s November 21 Caribbean Adventure voyage.Ian Ritpath – Astronomer, author and former Council member of the RAS. Ritpath is the editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy and author of The Monthly Star Guide and Star Tales, in which he explores his particular interest in Greek myths of the constellations, the subject of one of his onboard discussions. He will sail on Queen Mary 2’s November 29 Southern Caribbean Calypso voyage.Dr. Simon Mitton – Astrophysicist, Fellow of St. Edmund’s College at the University of Cambridge and member of the Department for the History and Philosophy of Science, and Jacqueline Mitton, Astronomer, author and media spokesperson for RAS. Simon Mitton will share his 35 years of experience researching the origin and evolution of the universe, black holes and the highest energy objects in the universe. He also authored a biography of British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle. His wife is an award-winning author of children’s books on astronomy and a frequent lecturer. The Mittons will sail on Queen Mary 2’s December 9 Southern Caribbean Calypso voyage.Cunard Insights/RAS programmes in conjunction with The Royal Astronomical Society are featured on the following voyages:Queen Mary 2: Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing to Germany (July 22) Westbound Transatlantic Crossing from Germany (July 30) Westbound Transatlantic Crossing (Aug. 13) Westbound Transatlantic Crossing (Nov. 15) Caribbean Adventure (Nov. 21) Southern Caribbean Calypso (Nov. 29) Southern Caribbean Calypso (Dec. 9) Caribbean Celebration (Dec. 19)Queen Victoria: Legends of the Mediterranean (Aug. 25) Connoisseur’s Mediterranean (Nov. 29) QE2:Land of the Midnight Sun (June 2) Mediterranean Mosaic (July 20) Taste of Mediterranean (Aug 12) Mediterranean Sojourn (Aug. 27)Cunard has long been synonymous with providing engaging onboard enrichment programmes. Delving deeply into a variety of compelling and relevant topics, Cunard Insights introduces guests to stimulating experts and accomplished visionaries who reflect the line’s heritage of adventure and prestige. Through a series of lectures, Q&A’s, debates, social gatherings, and workshops, guests connect with personalities who have achieved notable distinction in areas including history, world affairs, science, politics, arts and literature. The Insights programmes underscore Cunard’s longstanding view that onboard entertainment should afford guests a provocative and rewarding cerebral experience.For information about a Cunard voyage and to make reservations contact your travel professional, call 1-800-7-CUNARD or browse www.cunard.com.About Cunard Line Cunard Line, operator of the luxury ocean liners Queen Mary 2, QE2 and Queen Victoria has long been synonymous with the quest for new discoveries and the epitome of British refinement since the company’s first paddle-wheeled steamer, Britannia, crossed the Atlantic in 1840. Cunard voyages bring together like-minded travelers who relish the Cunard hallmarks of impeccable White Star ServiceTM, fine dining, sophisticated adventure, the legacy of historic voyages and transatlantic travel. Cunard Line is a proud member of World’s Leading Cruise Lines. The exclusive alliance also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises and The Yachts of Seabourn. Sharing a passion to please each guest, and a commitment to quality and value, member lines appeal to a wide range of lifestyles and budgets. Together they offer exciting and enriching cruise vacations to the world’s most desirable destinations.
by Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press Posted Mar 19, 2018 9:59 pm PDT Last Updated Mar 20, 2018 at 1:40 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Cash-strapped museum urges judge to OK contentious art sale In a Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 file photo, people opposed to the selling of The Berkshire Museum’s art to fund an expansion and endowment, protest in front of museum in Pittsfield, Mass. A judge on Massachusetts’ highest court is stepping into a fight over the proposed sale of works of art by the cash-strapped museum. A hearing before a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court is set for Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in Boston. (Gillian Jones/The Berkshire Eagle via AP, File) BOSTON – A cash-strapped Massachusetts museum urged a judge on the state’s highest court Tuesday to quickly sign off on a contentious plan to sell dozens of pieces of art, including works by Norman Rockwell.An attorney for the Berkshire Museum told Justice David Lowy that it is nearing an April deadline to sell some of the works this spring — otherwise it will have to wait until the fall. The museum is in dire financial straits and losing money with each delay, attorney William Lee said.“This is a situation where a museum that serves an enormous community purpose — that provides a window on the world to a group of folks who otherwise might not have it — is in dire circumstances and looking for a way to fulfil its mission,” Lee said.The museum and Massachusetts’ attorney general are asking Lowy to approve an agreement they reached last month to allow the museum to sell up to 40 pieces of artwork.Under the agreement, an unnamed U.S. museum would buy Rockwell’s “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” and loan the work to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge for a period of time before lending it to other museums in the state.The museum says it will sell the rest of the artwork until it reaches $55 million in proceeds. The museum says it may not have to sell all 39 other pieces, which include Rockwell’s “Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop” and works by Alexander Calder, Albert Bierstadt and George Henry Durrie.The judge didn’t immediately rule on the matter on Tuesday.Rockwell’s sons, who went to court in October to halt the sale, dropped their challenge last month after the museum and attorney general announced that their agreement would keep “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” in public view.The museum says the sale is the only option it has to keep its doors open. The museum has been running an operating deficit that in the past 10 years has averaged more than $1 million annually, and will close within eight years without an infusion of cash, it says.An attorney for a group of museum members fighting the sale said Rockwell specifically chose the Berkshire Museum for his pieces because he wanted local residents to enjoy them. While the agreement ensures “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” can be viewed by the public, the other works may never be seen again, he said.“Make no mistake, the art market is watching,” Nicholas O’Donnell said.Michael Keating, a lawyer for other museum members, said if the sale goes forward, Lowy should appoint a special person to oversee the process and ensure the money raised by the museum is used appropriately. The attorney general’s office says it will supervise the sale, but Keating said that’s not enough.“For the court to approve that, your honour … would be extraordinary under circumstances like that,” he told the judge.___Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at http://twitter.com/aedurkinricher . Read more of her work at http://bit.ly/2hIhzDb .
Piers Handling’s memorable moments running the Toronto film festival TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling is photographed at TIFF’s 2018 Canadian Press Conference, in Toronto on Wednesday, August 1, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov by Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press Posted Sep 3, 2018 7:00 am PDT Last Updated Sep 3, 2018 at 8:20 am PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – The lights will dim on Piers Handling’s career as director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival after this year’s instalment.Here are some of his most memorable moments from his career at TIFF, which began in 1982 and saw him appointed CEO and director in 1994:Casual Encounters with the Stars“There are relaxed moments, what I call festival moments, that just surprise you: you walk into a restaurant or you walk into a bar and it’s relaxed and informal,” Handling says.“You’ve caught them away from the red carpet and you sort of know them.”Many of those moments happened at the now-closed restaurant Bistro 990, where stars often dined.“You’d find Brian de Palma huddled off in a corner having lunch,” Handling recalls.“Then later on you’d go upstairs and there would be late-night parties in the Bistro … where you’d hear Steven Soderbergh here and Stellan Skarsgard there and everyone is having a drink and it’s very relaxed.”Then there was the late-night festival hospitality hotel suite, where talent including Julie Christie and Fernando Birri would gather after screenings in the earlier days of TIFF.“You had a little jukebox and a little radio and then you’d put some music,” Handling says.“You’re talking about cinema, you’re talking about politics, you’re talking about life experiences, and those of course are the moments you remember the most — those intimate moments.”The Formal Yet Sometimes Surprising Moments“You meet people behind the stage, in the screening room — some crazy incredible stories in the green room,” Handling says.He recalls one French filmmaker’s strange behaviour at a gala, where “he actually ran around the green room and bounced off the walls and off the couches. I’d never seen this experience ever.”Handling later learned that was a ritual for the filmmaker, who “was completely professional” when he went onstage.“He does this every time before his premiere,” he says. “It’s his way of letting off steam.”Technical Difficulties“I’ve had screenings break down, films burn in the gate,” Handling says.“I remember when we opened Perspective Canada one year with a film called ‘A Winter Tan.’ Five filmmakers, it was jointly signed — Jackie Burroughs, John Walker, a few other people — and the film went on upside down.“I remember I was in the foyer of the cinema and Jackie coming out just incensed, enraged. We had to stop the screening and the whole bit, pounding on the door of the projection booth. Poor projectionist.”
This cover image released by Warner Bros. Records shows “Piano & A Microphone 1983,” a 35-year-old cassette Prince recorded of himself playing piano and singing at his home studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The album comes out on CD, vinyl and digital formats on Friday. (Warner Bros. Records via AP) MINNEAPOLIS – Fans of Prince expecting his usual pyrotechnic guitar work will be surprised that one of the first official albums released from his fabled vault since his death more than two years ago showcases his jazzy piano playing.“Piano & A Microphone 1983” is just Prince noodling at a piano and singing “Purple Rain” and eight other songs in a one-take recording made at his home studio 35 years ago. Warner Bros. Records releases the album on CD, vinyl and digital formats Friday.Recorded on a simple cassette, the 35-minute worktape brings the music of Prince full circle, said Troy Carter, adviser to the Prince estate. Prince was on his solo “Piano & A Microphone” tour when, at age 57, he collapsed and died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in his Paisley Park home and recording complex in suburban Minneapolis on April 21, 2016, a week after a concert in Atlanta.“It was just mind-blowing listening to this raw, simplistic performance,” Carter recalled. “It just felt like the right next move to let the world hear this version of it.” He calls it “a jam session” intended for music lovers, not super fans.Except for a few gaps, the tape sounds clean and is presented start to finish as Prince recorded it in his now-demolished home in Chanhassen, Minnesota, the year before his 1984 hit movie and soundtrack “Purple Rain.” Prince runs through “17 Days,” the B-side to his hit single “When Doves Cry,” a quick “Purple Rain” — later to become his signature guitar anthem — Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” ”International Lover” from his 1982 album “1999” and “Strange Relationship,” not officially released until his 1987 album “Sign ‘O’ the Times.” Prince pounds out chords and breaks into improvisational riffs, running up and down the keyboard while singing in a strong, clear voice.A highlight is Prince’s passionate singing of “Mary Don’t You Weep,” an African-American spiritual featured over the closing credits of Spike Lee’s new movie “BlacKkKlansman,” about a black Colorado policeman who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. Carter said he played the song for Lee when the director invited him to an early edit of the movie.“He said, ‘I think this is perfect for the movie,’” Carter recalled Lee saying. The song, also covered by Aretha Franklin and the Swan Silvertones, follows the conclusion of the movie, which brings events up to date with footage of the torch-bearing white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a car ramming counter-protesters and killing a woman last summer.Prince also sounds playful on “Cold Coffee & Cocaine,” lowering his voice into a Miles Davis growl. A real treat is the album’s closer, “Why the Butterflies,” with Prince’s delicate piano and yearning, breathy vocals.The tape had been heavily bootlegged for years, but with substandard sound. Michael Howe, Prince’s final artists-and-repertoire person at Warner Bros. Records while the musician was alive, was a fan of the tape and wanted to find the master copy. He found it in Prince’s vault, home to thousands of unreleased Prince recordings and live performances.“It was in remarkably good condition,” Howe said of the consumer-grade cassette. The tape is presented as it was recorded, with Prince stomping his feet, coughing and asking someone to flip the cassette over.“Piano & A Microphone 1983” presents Prince fresh off the success of his double-album “1999” but before his Grammy- and Oscar-winning “Purple Rain,” Howe said.Prince “had not yet become the sort of globe-trotting arena-filling superstar that he was destined to become a year later,” Howe said. “You can hear him strapping the rocket engine on that would propel him to superstardom.”Keyboardist and singer Lisa Coleman, who backed Prince as part of The Revolution, said Prince would spend time exploring songs “until he felt he could really do them justice.”“This particular cassette of Prince is such a great little slice of history,” said Coleman, who wrote liner notes to “Piano & A Microphone 1983.” She calls the tape “invaluable to the scholarship approach” to Prince’s music.“You could literally teach a class from this tape if you went into it and deconstructed it,” Coleman said.Since Prince’s death, his estate has been selective in releasing new material. NPG Records and Warner Bros. Records released an expanded edition of “Purple Rain” last year. Prince’s recording of his song “Nothing Compares 2 U” — a hit for Sinead O’Connor in 1990 — was released this year, and Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, released 23 Prince catalogue titles and the 37-track “Prince Anthology: 1995-2010” to streaming services and digital service providers last month.Carter and Howe are mum on future releases from Prince’s vault.“He has a ton of unreleased materials,” Carter said. “We’re being thoughtful on how much we release to the world when we release it.”___Follow Jeff Baenen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jeffbaenen . Find more of his work at https://apnews.com/search/jeff%20baenen . Prince’s new basement tape: Just him singing, playing piano by Jeff Baenen, The Associated Press Posted Sep 18, 2018 9:00 am PDT Last Updated Sep 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email