Aston Martin announced at the Monaco Yacht Show last week that it has formed a creative collaboration with Triton Submarines, the Florida-based manufacturer of state–of-the-art submersibles. Codenamed Project Neptune, the venture enables Aston Martin to further enhance and grow the brand into new aspects of the luxury world, with all the performance, beauty and elegance one has come to expect from the British marque, the company said.
Triton has unparalleled expertise in the design, manufacture and operation of submersibles for researchers, explorers and superyacht owners. Founded in the US by L. Bruce Jones and Patrick Lahey, the team at Triton produce what they claim to be the safest and best performing, deep-diving submersibles in the world.
Project Neptune marries Triton’s diving and operational expertise with Aston Martin’s design, materials, and craftsmanship. Overseen by Aston Martin Consulting, the partnership has shaped a unique concept that will lead to an exclusive, strictly-limited edition vehicle. Project Neptune has taken Triton’s Low Profile (LP) three-person platform as the basis for the vessel.
Aston Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman and his team have transformed Triton’s compact LP platform, creating a vehicle with inherently beautiful proportions. “Project Neptune is defined by its sleek, elegant exterior,” says Reichman. “We have used forms and proportions that express the same devotion to design, engineering and beauty that shape our cars, such as the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar project.
“Those superyacht people, what they want to experience is changing. It’s no longer about just having a launch or having your tender. It’s about having some other way of entertaining your guests,” he said.
Patrick Lahey, President of Triton Submarines said: “We have always admired Aston Martin. The marque represents a deeply held passion for technology, engineering and timeless, elegant design. From our first interaction, it was apparent that Triton and Aston Martin were natural partners and our complimentary values will be realised in this truly exciting project.”
Project Neptune has a length of only 1.8 metres and weighs 3,991 kg, it has a capacity of 3 persons and will reach speeds of up to three knots. The production target is at least 10 per year, each selling for around $4 million.
Monacair is one of three regional helicopter companies to have its services taken over by US group Blade Air Mobility, which has begun operations with a seven-minute Nice to Monaco transfer for this week’s GP.
In an interview with Monaco Life after his Historic GP race, Esteban Gutierrez opened up about the strong, often contrasting emotions that driving an iconic single-seater around the streets of Monte-Carlo elicits.
Two spectacular events are coming to the Grimaldi Forum in June featuring music, dance, acrobatics and magic.
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[caption id="attachment_3540" align="alignleft" width="450"] Sonia Irvine, founder of F1's Amber Lounge and the new Amber Summer at the Meridien Beach Plaza[/caption]
Starbucks is not the kind of place you’d expect to find Sonia Irvine, head of the multi-million dollar Amber Lounge, Formula One’s most exclusive party for racers, supermodels and A-Listers, like Jennifer Lawrence. Dressed in flowing cottons, she sips her decaf, briefly glancing apologetically at her phone that dings as often as the barista calls out the name of the next order (Sonia’s cup is nameless).
“We didn’t have a lot of money growing up,” the single mother of two from Newtownards in Northern Ireland tells me. “Our clothes came from Oxfam. One Christmas Eddie would have a good Christmas and the next year, I’d have a good one, but my parents could never afford for both of us to have a really good Christmas. It taught us to respect money, and my brother and I never waste money.”
Sonia and her younger brother Edmund “Eddie” Irvine, Jr., a Formula One driver from 1993 to 2002, have come a long way since the days of Santa’s visits, but they have kept their feet planted on the ground and kept family close by.
“We had an amazing childhood, we were happy. Mom was always a bit eccentric in a lovely way. She just let us live, there were no constraints. We wanted to learn how to paint. She found gloss paint in the back of the shed, we painted everything – including ourselves – which was impossible to get off.”
Sports always played a part in the siblings’ upbringing. They both competed in swimming at the national level, Sonia from the age of 12 until she went to university, although she admits that “I hated swimming in the end, getting out of the water and being sick because you trained so hard.” These days Sonia rarely uses the pool at her house.
Sonia agrees that the training had a massive impact on her, and her brother.
“Eddie and I are, right or wrong, quite direct. When we don’t like something, we’ll say it, but we go and get things. We both started with nothing. When Michael Schumacher would get equipment, Eddie understood that he was the best in the world. ‘There’s Michael Schumacher and then the rest of us.’ That was his psychology. And I guess that’s why we are both able to turn things around.”
Sonia became a physiotherapist and had her own private practice in Ireland treating sports injuries, where she would work before and after going “to my NHS day job”, where she ran a physio department for stroke and Alzheimer patients. “I loved elderly care and gerontology. Nothing is as satisfying as getting a stroke patient to stand or take a step for the first time.”
In 1996, Eddie was racing for Ferrari and, as the story has been told many times before, asked Sonia to be his personal physiotherapist. She wound up working for the whole Ferrari team.
“This was a total different world. It was quite intimidating; my brother didn’t really introduce me or help me fit in. I just got on with it - I suppose I used my Irish ways. I learned so much but it wasn’t enough for me being a physio, there was a lot of just sitting around all the time.”
When Eddie left to join Jaguar in 2000, Sonia stayed in the F1 world, “working for a sponsorship agency that serviced all the teams along the paddock”.
“As my parents taught me, you’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got, there’s no point in moping. You are in control of your own life and no one owes you anything.” So in 2002, she launched Amber Lounge – the word Amber was randomly picked from a dictionary – which was never a long-term plan. It was only three years after Sonia first put on the now-legendary pop-up Formula One after-party in Monaco that she considered expanding the hospitality venture within the F1 circuit. “I never see a reason not to do anything. If I want to do it, I do it,” she maintains. Today, in addition to the signature Monaco Grand Prix, Amber Lounge is at the Singapore, Mexico City and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix races.
The Amber Lounge team is made up of 12 to 14 people, and there are hundreds of others involved on the events side. “My work in principle is don’t come to me with a problem, I’m not interested. Come to me with a problem and a solution, tell me what you can do.” What’s it like to have Sonia as a boss? “I think very determined, very hard but fair, and I push everyone,” the soft-spoken blond reflects. “If people give me 100%, I’ll give them 150% back.”
Sonia balances her intense workload with her family life. It’s not difficult to be a single mom, she remarks bluntly. She doesn’t have a nanny to help with her 6 and 14 year old girls, she’s involved in the school runs and homework. “I want to spend as much time as possible with my kids. I’m at home for dinner and on the weekends, this is my choice.”
Currently her schedule is a little more stretched than usual as, for the first time in its 14-year history, Amber Lounge will morph into the “Amber Summer” the week following Monaco Grand Prix weekend. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a few years,” she explains, “and all the pieces fell into place, so it was time. I’m very excited to be doing something new.”
Open daily from 5pm, Amber Summer will take over 350sqm at the Meridien Beach Plaza serving an Asian-style night menu, a late night menu and, for revellers, breakfast from 5am to 7am. Unlike Amber Lounge and its wild nightlife though, Amber Summer is a place to relax: “You can come in your beachwear and have a casual drink, or bite to eat before heading out at midnight to the clubs and then come back to Amber Summer for breakfast.”
Meanwhile, this year’s Amber Lounge charity fashion show, which supports a different organisation nearly every year, is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Friday May 27. This edition it has chosen the Amber Foundation (a coincidental name and unrelated to Amber Lounge), which helps disadvantaged street kids, and was suggested to Sonia by her friend Eddie Jordan, the Irishman behind the Jordan Grand Prix.
“On Friday the fashion show will have nine of the drivers – including Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat from Red Bull, Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr from Sauber and Nico Hülkenberg from Sahara Force India, Esteban Gutierrez, Rio Haryanto, Pascal Wehrlein and Jolyon Palmer from Renault. The teams are incredible for giving their time. They are super busy and I’m super lucky.”
Over the last decade, the Friday night Fashion and charity auctions have raised more than €4 million in donations for organisations such as the Special Olympics, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. “This year, we will have some fabulous auctions lots including a unique piece designed by Yanush Gioelli, a Private Pilot's license at White Waltham Airfield and a lunch with one of the actors of Game of Thrones.”
Saturday night, there’s an Extravaganza with different acts, including Jasmine “Sun Goes Down” Thompson, who will open the fashion show on Friday.
Each night there’s a three-course sit-down dinner for 250 people, wine and champagne included. Individual tickets for the legendary after-party start at €350, while a VIP table for 8 people (all you can drink) will set you back €8,950.
“I want people to walk away from Amber Lounge and say ‘That was the best experience I’ve ever had and I have to come back next year’. If they don’t walk away happy, I take it very personally.” By Nancy Heslin
READ ALSO: MonacoIreland hits Amber Summer
[caption id="attachment_10463" align="alignnone" width="709"] From left to right: Francesco Grosoli, CEO, Wealth and Investment Management EMEA & Monaco Branch, Barclays; James Caan CBE, Philanthropist, Investor & Entrepreneur; Urs Wietlisbach, Co-Founder and Partner of Partners Group; Frans van Eersel, CEO & Founder of Dopay and Henk Potts, Chief EMEA Economist, Barclays.[/caption]
Barclays hosted its annual client lunch on Tuesday 13, December 2016 and welcomed 150 guests at the Salle Empire at the Belle Époque Hotel de Paris. With the theme “Monte-Carlo Outlook 2017 Direct Investments: Finding Value during Uncertain Times”, Henk Potts, Director of Global Research & Investments at Barclays, moderated the two and a half hour event that focused on Private Equity and Entrepreneurship, and their importance both for the Principality and world economies during a time of political uncertainty.
Francesco Grosoli, CEO, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management EMEA & Monaco Branch, delivered the official welcome to the investment conference and told audiences that while we may be living in uncertain times the reality is that global economy and financial markets are incredibly resilient.
Mr Grosoli added: “Barclays Monaco opened in 1923, there’s been the Second World War, an industrial revolution, and financial crisis but we have been here for our clients, shown resilience and are as solid as the Rock.”
Fabio Fois, Senior European Economist, Barclays Investment Bank, provided a Global Economic Outlook, predicting global growth at 3.6 or 3.7 percent next year. Regarding the UK, which had a 2% growth rate in 2016, Barclays envisions only a +0.7 percent for 2017, and says the weak pound will generate inflation although he added, “The pound is still a safe currency compared to the euro.”
Jean Castellini, Monaco Minister of Finance and Economy, spoke on the subject of “The Principality of Monaco for Start-Ups and Private Equity”. Looking at the topics of credibility and consistency, which are the most important for investors in the field of private equity he referred to Monaco’s virtuous circle and unique economy, which has no debt and no deficit. As a result, he believes there is trust to invest in the country and confidence in the long-term vision of the Prince.
The Minister added that Monaco doesn’t need to compete with financial centres in Europe or elsewhere but rather for people to embrace the experts that “sit here, live here, deal here”, who may consider using investment structures they are familiar with in other jurisdictions.
He concluded that the creation of value, creation of jobs and creation of the Principality’s new image and position in the world will have more to do in the future with the incubation and acceleration of start-ups. He cited Monaco Venture Capital Association as an example, but emphasised: “We’ve decided to set up our own incubator and accelerator, a facility that will open in 2017 in Fontvieille, and will team up Monaco Telecom with the current owner Xavier Niel, who will help us select successful start-ups, whether they already exist in the Principality, or are identified using the incubation process he’s already started up in Paris. We hope that this will be a starting point of a new venture for the Principality.”
The “Story of a Philanthropist, Investor & Entrepreneur” presentation was given by Dragon’s Den James Caan (CBE). Mr Caan’s message was clear: invest in something you know, and understand what that business does, and what you can bring to the table, other than capital. He reminded the audience that businesses by themselves do not create wealth; people create wealth and drive businesses.
Deddy Gan, Head of the Barclays Accelerator Program, went on to talk about the Accelerator program which is currently live in four cities -Tel Aviv, London, New York and Cape Town.
The Monte Carlo Outlook 2017 conference closed with a reminder from the Barclays team that private equity should be considered part of a balanced investment portfolio and wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2017.
READ MORE: Barclays Monaco: an active commitment to children