Tag: splurge

The ultimate gooey splurge: Eating in a retro ski gondola at a luxury R.I. hotel this winter

Imagine this: you’re sitting on the lawn of Ocean House, the most luxurious (and most expensive) hotel in Rhode Island. The breeze comes off the water that surrounds Watch Hill as the waves crash on the shore. You’re just taking in the scene, sipping champagne and nibbling on cheese.

Only it’s the middle of winter.

Ocean House’s Fondue Village is an exercise in decadence, but one that, once you’ve experienced it, feels like a necessary pleasure. It’s four courses of champagne, cheese, and chocolate designed to make you feel like you’ve just skied down the French Alps and into a cozy little chalet. It also just so happens to be designed for social distancing.

The Fondue Village is an outdoor dining experience that takes place inside vintage ski gondolas, one party per structure, on the lawn next to the hotel. The spot has prime views of Ocean House’s private beach and the Watch Hill marina on the other side of the peninsula, which is the southernmost point in the state. (And while you have a clear view of Taylor Swift’s house from the other side of the hotel, you will almost definitely not see her there.)

For this self-styled “apres-ski” lunch or dinner, you sit with your pod in one of three gondolas — one holds four people and two hold six — that has been outfitted to look like a tiny piece of Europe in New England. Cushions and blankets in all manner of cozy winter fabric fill the benches around the table, made to look like a chic Alpine getaway. There’s an antler chandelier hanging above you, a cuckoo clock on the wall, and joyful oom-pah Volksmusik piping out of the corners.

What’s different this year (other than everything being different this year) is that Ocean House has started the Fondue Village in the fall. Demand for the experience has increased every year, and the space is very limited, so the only way to accommodate is to start earlier in the season. Through late November, there’s a fall harvest menu, and then the winter menu will start in December and run through March.

Right now, the four-course meal is a Swiss-inspired feast that includes a Schwizer Fleischplättli (Swiss meat plate), followed by a salad or Broccolicremesuppe (Swiss broccoli cream soup). Then, either everyone shares a classic Swiss cheese fondue or — new this year — chooses entrees like Zuri-Gschnatzlets mit Rösti veal medallions in white wine mushroom sauce) or Schweineschnitzel (pork schnitzel). In past years, the cheese has been the only option for a main course. Then, Fellenberger Pflaumen mit Zimt Eis Fellenberger (a Swiss plum tart with cinnamon ice cream) and chocolates to take home.

In the winter, Ocean House starts offering raclette, the cheese that’s melted under a salamander (oven) to create a golden crust, then scraped onto a plate of potatoes and crudite, as an alternative to the fondue. Swiss Christmas cookies (Weihnachtsplätzchen) end the meal. The experience for a four-person gondola is $400 ($560

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On Alibaba’s Singles Day, Chinese shoppers are set to splurge on foreign brands as fewer travel overseas

  • Foreign imported products will be a big hit with Chinese consumers during the massive annual Singles Day shopping event, a senior Alibaba executive told CNBC.
  • Chinese shoppers who would have bought foreign brands while outside the country are turning to online purchases since many will not be traveling this year.
  • The Chinese e-commerce giant is gearing up for Singles Day, the annual 24-hour shopping event that takes place on Nov. 11 where billions of dollars are spent snapping up items on Alibaba’s platform.

Chinese demand for U.S. brands is still huge: Alibaba’s Tmall Global

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HANGZHOU, China — Foreign imported products will be a big hit with Chinese consumers during the massive annual Singles Day shopping event this year given the majority will not be traveling outside mainland China due to the coronavirus pandemic, a senior Alibaba executive told CNBC.

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Chinese shoppers who would have usually bought foreign brands during their holidays abroad are turning to online purchases, according to Alvin Liu, the president of Alibaba’s Tmall import and export business.

Tmall is Alibaba’s main platform in China where shoppers can buy imported items. The Chinese e-commerce giant is gearing up for Singles Day, the annual 24-hour shopping event that takes place on Nov. 11 where billions of dollars of items are purchased on Alibaba’s platform.

“I think the import product will have … big business this year for Singles Day,” Liu told CNBC in an interview which aired Friday.

“As you know there is no global travel, so Chinese people stay within mainland China but they still prefer to buy all kinds of the high-quality products overseas. I think Singles Day is the best timing for them to buy a lot of things.”

Singles Day, also referred to as Double 11, sees Chinese e-commerce companies from Alibaba to JD.com push heavy discounts over a 24-hour window. Gross merchandise value, a figure that shows sales across Alibaba’s shopping platforms, stood at 268.4 billion yuan (nearly $40 billion) last year.

This year, Alibaba is trying to increase the number of foreign brands participating. Tmall will bring more than 2,600 new overseas brands to China for the first time, Alibaba said.

Patriotic buying?

But even with the push toward boosting the number of foreign brands, Chinese consumers may be looking to domestic items instead. A recent survey from AlixPartners showed 66% of Chinese consumers said that they’ll be shopping for domestic brands instead of foreign labels. Nearly a third cited “patriotism” as their reason for buying local.



A screen displays the transaction volume of the 24-hour Alibaba Singles' Day global shopping festival at the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, China, November 12, 2019.


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A screen displays the transaction volume of the 24-hour Alibaba Singles’ Day global shopping festival at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China, November 12, 2019.

Tensions between China and a few other countries such as the U.S. and Australia have been on the rise.

Fifty-seven percent of Chinese consumers plan to spend less money on American products this year, AlixPartners’ survey showed.

But Liu dismissed those findings, and said this is unlikely to happen. He

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