Postcard from Stockholm: What Not To Miss in Sweden’s Capital

Photo credit: Fatima Holmgren

Photo credit: Fatima Holmgren

Stockholm – a walkable, genteel city featuring royalty, cutting-edge design, and a fever-pitch foodie scene — is gaining attention as a luxury destination. Team Max visited some years ago, and we asked some friends of Max who are Stockholm natives to help us shape an itinerary for a trip to Sweden’s capital.

 

– Eating

 Where to start in a city with 8 Michelin stars? Celebrity chef Mathias Dahlgren has two restaurants in the renowned Grand Hotel: Matsalen, which boasts 2 stars and a new-every-day menu of seasonal New Scandinavian dishes, and one-star Matbaren, a more casual gastro-bar. Also try two-starred Frantzén, the brainchild of chef Bjorn Frantzén,  which boats what the Guide Michelin called a “particularly interesting wine list.”

Locals point in the direction of Gastrologik, run by Jacob Holmström and Anton Bjuhr with a produce-first philosophy: “The potato is worth exactly as much as the truffle. It is not nature that decides what´s good or bad, it’s you and me,” reads the manifesto on the restaurant’s website.

 

Photo credit: Fatima Holmgren

Photo credit: Fatima Holmgren

– Excursions

Start by walking around Gamla stan, the old town center, which is lined with coffee bars and small boutiques. Head down Strandvägen to Djurgården, a leafy island bound by bridges to the rest of the city. There’s enough to do for a whole day: the Grona Lund amusement park; Skansen, an outdoor museum dotted with historic houses moved from all around the country; and the iconic Vasa Museum, which boasts a preserved Viking ship.

 Elsewhere in the city, locals recommend the Hallwyl Museum, in a former Victorian-era castle, and the Modern Museum in Skeppsholmen. Once you’ve taken in the quaint blocks and arching bridges, hop on a ferry to one of the outer islands for a trip to the country.

 

– Shopping

 Looking for Swedish-born design? Stop in at Svensk Tenn, the venerable home-decor house known for its colorful prints and seen in chic homes around the world. Another destination is Design Torget, which features high-design items from a variety of famous and undiscovered designers, often for a limited time.

If you’d like to take home some of the crystal for which Sweden is famous, try the grand old department store NK, which stocks local favorites Orrefors and Kosta Boda. They have a range of crystal goblet sizes not found elsewhere.

 

 

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.