Don’t Miss Sights in Copenhagen

Small boats pepper Copenhagen's canals.

Small boats pepper Copenhagen’s canals.

Need to escape the summer heat? Northern Europe is a perfect place for a luxe city vacation. Team Max recently visited Copenhagen to scope out the Danish capital’s best offerings. Here are some postcards from Copenhagen.

Dinner at Restaurant Bror, where the menu changes daily.

Dinner at Restaurant Bror, where the menu changes daily.

Food
With Noma named the world’s top restaurant several years running, it’s no secret that Copenhagen is one of the best cities for dining out. It’s tough to get reservations at Noma, but the restaurant’s alumni chefs have spun out their own network of eateries throughout Scandinavia, many of which are right here. (Noma helpfully lists them on its own website).

One such place, Restaurant Bror, is the brainchild of Samuel Nutter and Victor Wagman, former sous chefs at Noma. The menu, which features the sort of hyper-local, ingredient-centric, carefully-sourced New Nordic cuisine that lures foodies to town, changes every night. Every table gets the tasting menu (there’s a vegetarian option available), and diners can add on extra courses or wine pairings at will, in addition to a short a la carte wine list.

A sign for the Street Food market on Papiroen island.

A sign for the Street Food market on Papiroen island.

On a recent summer night, the menu at Bror featured a garden’s worth of vegetables and herbs; wild mushrooms; minted new potatoes; grilled plaice with spring onions and garlic; and homemade lavender ice cream with berries. The fresh butter for the bread came with either pine salt or smoked bone marrow mixed in. The bright, art-filled space on a quiet street in the center of town was bustling and casual, with diners in jeans and even families in attendance.

In addition to restaurant dining, food trucks and market stalls have become the harbingers of food trends worldwide, and in Copenhagen these are some of the best places to sample chefs’ experiments. Check out the Copenhagen Street Food market, an assortment of carts and stalls in a giant hangar-like space on tiny Papiroen island in the canal-laced neighborhood of Christianshavn. Lunch could consist of cod and chips, tacos of all descriptions, or Thai noodles, all washed down with beer and eaten at picnic tables by the water’s edge. Or visit the Torvehallerne market for a less ad-hoc experience, with permanent stalls selling produce, fine ingredients, and chefs’ tools as well as restaurants serving sushi, tapas, and moules frites.

Outdoor art with a view across the Oresund to Sweden at the Louisiana Museum.

Outdoor art with a view across the Oresund to Sweden at the Louisiana Museum.

Art
If contemporary art is your passion, you’ll want to hop 40 km north of Copenhagen to the Louisiana museum, which boasts a world-class collection of both indoor works and outdoor sculpture set in a beautiful villa and gardens. The museum, designed by noted Danish architects Jørgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert, opened in 1958 in the coastal town of Humlebaek. Overlooking the Oresund, the sound between Denmark and Sweden, the museum features greatest-hits artists (Giacometti, Moore, Calder, Johns) as well as a series of sweeping spaces for traveling exhibitions (a comprehensive retrospective of Emil Nolde and a look at Philip Guston’s work were both up in the summer of 2014). On the grounds, site-specific works stud the gardens and woods, many of which are designed for visitors to climb.

The courtyard at the Queen's palace, Amalienborg.

The courtyard at the Queen’s palace, Amalienborg.

Tourist Fun
Copenhagen’s best-known tourist attraction, Tivoli Gardens, is the original theme park experience. Go at night, when the whole park lights up, and stay for the 10:45PM illumination show on the lake.

Anyone interested in architecture, royalty, or European history will want to visit Amalienborg Palace , where the Queen and her family live. Visitors can tour one wing of the palace, which showcases not only the rooms and objects associated with past monarchs, but also the intertwined family tree of European royalty, virtually all of whom call Queen Margarethe II cousin.

Shopping is less of a draw now that many of the best Danish brands are easily available in New York or London, but there are some uniquely Danish design stores like Illium Bolighus and Hay along the Stroget pedestrian shopping street.

Because Copenhagen is a canal city, a boat tour – ubiquitous on the waterways – is the best way to see landmarks like the old stock exchange building with its entwined dragon-tail tower. Visitors can also rent kayaks (Kayak Republic offers this service) or bikes for a more authentically local experience.

The Max Luxe Blog is purely editorial, not advertising. We showcase products, destinations, and solutions we think Max members will find useful. Max does not receive compensation for mentions on the Max Luxe blog.

Street Art: Stephen Powers Paints the Walls

Harajuku — the chic Tokyo neighborhood that spawned a worldwide obsession with cute Japanese clothes and accessories — has been graffitied. A long wall in the hip shopping district now bears the painted legend “NOW IS FOREVER,” in massive block letters.

Celebrated Brooklyn artist Stephen Powers, who started in the 1980s as the graffiti artist ESPO and has been painting walls and canvases ever since, flew to Tokyo in April on a commission from Marc Jacobs. The international fashion powerhouse brought in Powers to sign his new book, “A Love Letter to the City,” at Bookmarc, its high-end bookstore.

Powers took out his spray paints and paint brushes and started transforming the walls nearby. As he worked, sometimes wearing a gas mask to ward off paint fumes, residents and bystanders stared or posed for pictures, holding up peace signs.

It’s a routine he’s followed in other cities, where he and his crew turn swaths of urban landscape into dramatic murals. The words used depend on the location. In Charleroi, Belgium, Powers recently inscribed “Bisous m’chou” (“Kisses, darling”) across the facade of the Charleroi Expo, echoing the endearment that local grandmothers whisper to their grandchildren, he wrote on his blog. In Baltimore this spring, Powers painted  “FOREVER TOGETHER” and “I AM HERE BECAUSE IT’S HOME” on a block of vacant houses scheduled to be demolished.

Street art has gained a following among serious collectors, spawning a movement from cinderblock walls into galleries. Artists like the anonymous British graffiti impresario Banksy now command hefty price tags when their works go up for sale. At the intersection of gentrification and urban grittiness, the street-art-chic trend has plenty of runway.

The Max Luxe Blog is purely editorial, not advertising. We showcase products, destinations, and solutions we think Max members will find useful. Max does not receive compensation for mentions on the Max Luxe blog.

5 Ways to Manage Finances as an Expat

MaxMyInterest makes it easy to manage your finances

MaxMyInterest makes it easy to manage your finances

Accepting a post in a foreign country? Living and working abroad is an exciting experience, but it can wreak havoc on your finances. Taxes become more complicated when expats are earning income and managing their finances overseas, from the J1 visa tax systems in the United States to all others around the globe. To do something as simple as access your accounts, you may need to move your banking relationships online, since your neighborhood bank may not have a branch in the country where you’re moving.

From my years of living abroad, I developed a few simple tricks to make it easier to manage our family’s finances. Here are 5 ways to keep your finances in order as an expatriate:

1. Sign up for electronic financial statements and payments.

Request that your banks, credit cards, and vendors of all sorts send you account statements and bills in electronic form instead of through the regular mail. It can take too long for mail to reach you overseas, and you could miss payment deadlines or fail to notice red flags in your accounts if you don’t see them in time. Keep the statements organized on your computer and backup the files to the cloud, using a service like DropBox. When it’s time to pay your credit card bills or other invoices, pay electronically, not by mailed check. Your bank’s website will typically let you do this online. In cases where a paper check is required, leading banks like Citibank will allow you to fill out a form on their website and they’ll mail a physical check for you, at no charge.

2. Ask if your bank offers foreign-currency-denominated accounts.

If your home bank has branches in your new country, inquire about what’s involved in using your account once you arrive. Ask if you need to get a new account denominated in your new country’s currency, tied to your existing home account. If this isn’t possible, research local banks by asking other expats based there. Make sure you’ll be able to conduct business with your local bank in English if you don’t speak the local language.

3. Choose your credit cards wisely.

If you don’t want to pay steep fees when you use your credit card in a foreign country, make sure your card allows for free currency translation. One such card is the Platinum Card, from American Express; other cards from Capital One, Citibank, Chase and Barclays offer this service as well. Also check that you’ll be able to redeem whatever loyalty points your main credit card offers — frequent-flyer miles, cash-back points, or hotel nights — while living in your new country.

4. Understand your insurance policy and coverages.

Evaluate your insurance coverage. Your employer will likely provide you with health coverage. Just make certain it has the benefits you need when living and traveling overseas. Check that your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover you while living abroad in a house you’ll likely be renting. If not, or if you’ll be selling your home in the U.S., arrange for renter’s insurance or make sure your employer is covering this for you. This is also a good time to check on your life insurance policy, as certain countries may require a rider or be excluded from coverage.

Many frequent travelers and expats choose to carry medevac insurance, which will fly you to a hospital or even all the way back to the U.S. in the event of a serious medical emergency. Some credit cards offer this benefit to cardholders. Be sure to check the fine print on your card’s policy. It may be worthwhile to arrange for your own private medevac insurance.

5. Use MaxMyInterest.com to manage your cash from overseas.

Expats often keep a lot of cash back in the U.S., with little need for it on a day-to-day basis. Our service, MaxMyInterest.com, works well for expats who want to maximize the interest they earn on this cash while keeping within the FDIC deposit-insurance limits. (In fact, I came up with the idea for Max while living in Asia, trying to manage our finances.)

Once you set up Max by linking online bank accounts to your regular brick-and-mortar checking account, the system works automatically to rebalance your cash as interest rates change, sending it to the banks that pay the highest interest rates. You can access Max from anywhere in the world. All you need to set up a Max account is a U.S. mailing address and tax ID number. Max members are currently earning 0.76% more than the national savings average. The extra interest income earned via Max could translate into an extra sightseeing trip to explore your new home country, or to travel back to the U.S. to visit friends and family.

Gary Zimmerman is the founder of MaxMyInterest.com.

A New Rum for Summer: Copacabana 1940 Añejo

Copacabana 1940 and rum-glazed shrimp at the launch party

Copacabana 1940 and rum-glazed shrimp at the launch party

There’s nothing like a new rum for summer sipping.

Beautiful people gathered on July 8 at New York’s Copacabana night club to celebrate the launch of a new rum, Copacabana 1940 Añejo. Celebrity chef Alex Garcia partnered with restaurateur Spencer Rothschild to develop this new rum, which they served in handcrafted cocktails and in hors d’oeuvres like rum-glazed shrimp. Guests looked out onto the Times Square crowds from the lounge’s glass atrium. Hundreds of invited guests sipped their drinks as DJ Miguelito performed and dancers from Melanie Torres’ Dance on Two Studio twirled.

“We wanted to pay homage to 1940’s New York City, a time when the Big Apple was becoming the capital of commerce, and fashion and music ruled the night,” Rothschild told Max Luxe.
The new spirits brand, produced by Barrio Spirits and based in New York, takes its name from the pair’s celebrated nightclub, as celebrated in the song (“At the Copa, Copacabana…”).

The rum itself, which Garcia helped design, is made in Panama at the noted Las Cabras distillery in Herrera. It’s now on sale exclusively in New York State. Rothschild described his new añejo, or aged rum, as a “rich, balanced, sensual rum with strong hints of citrus and a light caramel and almond finish.”

This is the first beverage brand for Barrio, which owns a list of popular and chic restaurants across New York City (A.G. Kitchen, Good Enough to Eat, Oval Cafe, Ramen.Co, Amigos Mexican Bar & Restaurant, as well as the Copacabana). Garcia, who is Cuban, is a celebrity chef on the Food Network’s “Melting Pot.” Diners have been flocking to his interpretation of Latin cuisine for many years at New York restaurants like Patria, Erizo Latino, and Babalu. Rothschild similarly has a long history of owning popular restaurants in New York, including Union Pacific, Rain, Main Street, Django and BLT Prime.

The concept of a chef-centered rum plays to diners’ growing interest in chefs and their culinary personalities and their ability to pair food and drinks. Restauranteurs and other hospitality buyers are laser-focused on taste when it comes to rum, but they are beginning to develop an interest in rum as an ingredient, Rothschild said. As they sample his new rum, buyers typically ask to try it both as a drink and as part of a dish. If the crowd’s reaction at Tuesday’s launch party is any indication, there may be a new contender in the market for premium rum.

The Max Luxe Blog is purely editorial, not advertising. We showcase products, destinations, and solutions we think Max members will find useful. Max does not receive compensation for mentions on the Max Luxe blog.

Bespoke Jewelry from Jyoti New York

The Hidden Scroll ring hides messages of love.

The Hidden Scroll ring hides messages of love.

Looking for the perfect gift to complement a very special occasion? Why not order bespoke jewelry?

That’s the question more people are asking. One couple recently worked with New York marque Jyoti New York to design an engagement ring featuring a pink diamond with side scrolls concealing engraved messages of love. The “Hidden Scroll” ring memorialized their time in Rome and included a snap-off pave diamond cover that the bride, a physician, could take off for hospital work.

Another woman worked with Jyoti to design a “Windows of Perception” necklace of diamonds in a stark rectangular setting that works both as a pendant and as a clasp for a lush three-strand pearl ensemble.

The creative mind behind the brand is Jyoti Singhvi, 36, a seventh-generation jeweler whose family once crafted gems for the Indian nobility in Delhi. After growing up surrounded by beautiful, custom-designed jewelry in India and then in Ohio, Singhvi began designing her own pieces as a young teen. She went to MIT and Harvard, then worked for jewelers such as Cartier before founding her own brand. Her work is available online.

Jyoti’s custom-designed “storytelling” jewelry starts with a meeting, she says: “It’s one-of-a-kind, designed to tell your personal story about all the important things that have happened to you.”

The Windows of Perception necklace can be worn either with massed strands of pearls or as a pendant.

The Windows of Perception necklace can be worn either with massed strands of pearls or as a pendant.

The brand’s ready-to-wear collections focus on “mindfulness,” she says. A “Bubbles” range brings together the joy and laughter of champagne, baths, and popping bubbles. The “Coeur” line includes a center diamond surrounded by diamond petals evoking your connection to those you love and what you value. These values are a part of what make such precious gems and jewelry so captivating, and show the kind of mind that can take This knowledge about the stones and turn them into something beyond their original form.

The collections are designed for a woman who moves seamlessly between galas and boardrooms. The “Cherry Blossoms in Snow” necklace, a fountain of diamonds and pink tourmaline set in white gold ($112,250), seems destined for the red carpet. The necklace would pair well with the “Palace of Versailles” cuff ($63,600), a delicately filigreed bracelet with 4 carats of diamonds set into white and yellow gold.

“The modern-day woman is very busy, running on all cylinders,” says Singhvi, who could be describing her own life. “She’s a woman, a mother, a philanthropist, with a successful career.”

The Max Luxe Blog is purely editorial, not advertising. We showcase products, destinations, and solutions we think Max members will find useful. Max does not receive compensation for mentions on the Max Luxe blog.

 

How can U.S. depositors protect their cash against earning negative interest?

Protect your cash against earning negative interest.

Protect your cash against earning negative interest.

The European Central Bank’s announcement that it will lower interest rates in the Eurozone and charge banks to park their funds in Frankfurt overnight brings renewed attention to the problem of bank depositors earning little interest on their savings accounts.

The ECB’s move is designed to spur banks to lend out more in the form of loans to European companies and individuals. By cutting its deposit rate to negative 0.1%, the central bank aims to boost economic growth in the region, which has struggled to overcome a sovereign-debt crisis that followed the global financial crisis and sparked a deep recession.

As the world emerges from the financial troubles of the last half-decade, central banks are signalling that low interest rates will continue. The U.S. Federal Reserve is ending its own quantitative-easing program, which pumped extra money into the economy, but rates are only expected to rise slowly for the next few years, unless inflation spikes sharply.

While more bank loans could have a positive effect on European businesses and encourage companies in the region to invest more, this is not good news for bank depositors. They are already suffering from ultra-low interest rates on savings accounts. Many people are fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of having to pay to keep their money in the bank. With today’s near-zero interest rates on offer from most banks, the real return on cash is often negative, even in the U.S.

Fortunately, depositors have options. In the U.S., online banks have lower operating costs than traditional brick-and-mortar banks and are thus able to pay higher interest rates to their depositors.

With Max (MaxMyInterest.com), we have built an automated system that helps depositors benefit from the higher rates on offer from FDIC-insured online banks. Today, our members are earning a weighted average 0.87% on their cash, or 0.79% net of fees, which compares favorably to most bank accounts or money market funds that offer little to no yield.

The effects of compounding are important to an investor’s portfolio. Earning an extra 0.70% to 0.80% on deposits, year after year, can have a profound impact. Most Max members can expect to earn tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in incremental interest over their investment horizons, simply by using Max to help continuously optimize their cash allocation across multiple online bank accounts.

Periodically reviewing one’s portfolio and ensuring that cash is working as hard as possible — while spread across enough banks to be adequately covered by FDIC insurance — is one way to enhance returns without taking on more risk. Many depositors, however, are too busy to focus on how they manage their cash. In a time of low interest rates, it’s crucial to keep on top of which online banks are offering the best rates and move deposits accordingly — or let Max handle it for you, automatically.

Gary Zimmerman is the Founder of MaxMyInterest.com.

Amanzoe: Ultimate Beach Vacation

A serene colonnade at Amanzoe.

A serene colonnade at Amanzoe.

The height of the European sovereign-debt crisis wasn’t the most logical time to open an ultra-luxury resort in hard-hit Greece. But the Greek coastline remains stunningly beautiful, and in 2012 Aman Resorts debuted Amanzoe in Porto Heli. It’s the first Greek property for the global Aman brand.

Guests report that the resort provides what one expects from Aman: exclusivity, tranquility, and uniqueness. Although Amans can be found around the world, Amanzoe goes for the wraparound Greek experience, as pictured in Greece-based fashion brand Folli Follie’s most recent ad campaigns, shot on the property.

When you arrive, multilingual staffers bring you glasses of sparkling water with lime, fresh basil, and local honey collected by hand nearby. You may want to order some loukoumades, Greek puffed pastry with honey, which the hotel says is the recipe most often requested. Or just nibble on local flavors — pasteli, lemon juice, pistachios, chips, chocolate and fruit — from the platters brought up to the rooms each day. The resort will soon be pressing grown-on-the-property olives for oil.

Amanzoe's beach club.

Amanzoe’s beach club.

Amanzoe, with stately colonnades and reflecting pools, has been attracting visitors from all over the world. Most guests are from the U.K., U.S., and Germany, with others from throughout Europe as well as Asia and Latin America. The target visitor: international jetsetters seeking new experiences. Amanzoe’s most popular rooms are the Deluxe Sea View pavilions, each of which has a 12-meter pool, for 1,600 Euros per night. About one-third of guests arrive by helicopter.

The area, on the eastern Peloponnese with views of the Aegean Sea, has long been a weekend and vacation retreat for yachting Europeans, says Katerina Katopis, a director of Dolphin Capital Partners, which built and owns the resort. To capitalize on this, Amanzoe is the first Aman in Europe to include villas, for sale or rent. So far, the resort has sold 10 villas, with 4 already built. 2 bedroom villas start at about €3 million and 4 bedrooms at around €6 million, Katopis says.

Athens-based Dolphin put $135 million into building the resort, designed by serial Aman architect Ed Tuttle. The investment firm is now building another Aman in the Dominican Republic.

The Max Luxe Blog is purely editorial, not advertising. We showcase products, destinations, and solutions we think Max members will find useful. Max does not receive compensation for mentions on the Max Luxe blog.

4 Ways to Keep Your Cash Safe

Watch your cash grow with Max

Sitting on a lot of cash?  Make sure it’s fully insured.

Banks are the safest place to keep your money — until they’re not. It’s a remote risk, but bank failures do occasionally happen.  It’s important to ensure your cash is adequately protected, before it’s too late.

That’s why deposit insurance exists. In the U.S., the government’s FDIC insurance program guarantees the first $250,000 of a depositor’s cash in each insured bank. But many depositors hold much more than the FDIC limit in cash, leaving a portion of their cash at risk in the unlikely event of a bank failure. Investors keep a portion of their financial assets in cash precisely because they don’t want to take risk, so it makes sense to ensure that as much of your cash as possible is protected by FDIC insurance.

Here are 4 ways to keep your cash safe:

1. Open multiple account types

FDIC insurance tops out at $250,000 per depositor, per account type, and per bank. If you set up an account for yourself, one for your spouse, and one held as a joint account in both of your names, together you now have $1 million in FDIC coverage at that bank: $250,000 for each of your individual accounts, plus another $250,000 for each of you for the joint account.

2. Ask if your bank has multiple bank charters

The largest national banks often have more than one bank charter. This means they can offer their account holders the ability to have accounts at what’s technically more than one bank. Because FDIC coverage applies per bank, this can increase the deposit insurance that account holders can receive. If you hold $750,000 at a bank that has three bank charters, you may be insured under FDIC rules for the entire balance. Ask your bank if this applies to your accounts and read the fine print to ensure you are adequately protected.

3. Open accounts at different banks

To make sure your cash in the bank is insured, you can open accounts at a variety of banks. That way, even if one bank fails, you’ll still have access to your accounts at the other banks.  Be sure to keep your accounts below the $250,000 FDIC coverage limit at each bank.

As you spread your accounts among different banks, consider online banks as well as traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Savings accounts at online banks often pay considerably more in interest, because they don’t have to support the same level of expenses for branches or tellers. Just be sure to monitor the rates your banks are paying, so you can make certain you’re getting the most interest you can. Banks change their rates frequently.

4. Use MaxMyInterest.com to manage accounts held at multiple banks to keep you within the FDIC limits while earning more in interest

If you’d like a solution to help you manage your existing brick-and-mortar checking account along with online savings accounts, while optimizing the amount of interest you earn, try our service, called Max, at MaxMyInterest.com. Max uses the links between your brick-and-mortar checking account and your online savings accounts to optimize the amount you earn in interest on your cash in the bank, while respecting FDIC limits. That means that your money automatically moves between your own accounts to stay within the FDIC limits at each bank, while helping you earn as much interest as possible, even as rates change.

As an alternative to bank accounts, many investors choose to keep cash in money market funds.  This is especially prevalent within brokerage accounts.  However, shares of these funds aren’t insured, which means they could potentially lose value. During the global financial crisis, one such fund, the Reserve Primary Fund, dipped below $1 per share in value, sparking an exodus from this class of investments. Since then, Americans’ investments in money market funds have fallen from $4 trillion to $2.7 trillion today.

One downside of money market funds: many of these funds currently yield as little as 0.01% annually. By contrast, bank accounts typically pay 10 times that much in interest and online savings accounts managed through the MaxMyInterest.com system are yielding approximately 80 times more, even after taking fees into account.  Max members are currently earning a weighted average of 0.87%, or 0.79% net of fees, all via FDIC-insured savings accounts at leading online banks including American Express, Barclays, GE Capital, Ally Bank and Capital One 360.

Gary Zimmerman is the Founder of MaxMyInterest.com.

Welcome to the New Max Blog

Here at Max, we like to optimize everything. So while we’re focused on helping you earn as much as possible on your cash, we also think about how to make the most out of life (and invest or spend the incremental interest income that Max generates.)

Today, we’re launching a new blog, focused on optimizing your finances and your lifestyle. Much like Max itself, the content of our blog is all editorially independent — Max does not accept compensation to feature companies or services on our blog. We’re simply looking out for your best interest.

If there’s something you’d like to see on the blog, please contact us. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our personal finance blog, Basis Points, and our lifestyle blog, Max Luxe.

Best,

Team Max