Private Membership Clubs: yesterday, today, tomorrow….

How did these Clubs come about?

In the middle of the 17th century, the fashion for coffee came from France to England, and English gentlemen got into the habit of meeting and discussing important political and economic news over a cup of coffee. Places for such appointments began to be called closed Private Clubs. Later cigars and stronger drinks were added to the options.

In 1762, the first Club appeared, which was funded by its Members. The first such institution was the Club or Bar Boodle’s, in which its founder – Mr. Boodle first starts a register its Members, obliging them to pay a fee and observe certain rules of conduct.

The familiar to us decor of Sherlock Holmes films appeared later on. Carpets, fireplaces, and upholstered chairs were needed to give an atmosphere of comfort and coziness.

A closed private Club as a cultural phenomenon arises for a fairly simple reason – the local aristocrats wanted to have a place where people of “their circle”would spend their leisure time.

The mansion of the London Club White’s, which was established in 1693, has no sign, but only an inconspicuous door and a mysterious staircase and to keep its authenticity White’s still doesn’t have an Internet website. The Club is surprisingly elegant inside and just as past times has gentlemen reading newspapers in high back leather chairs, with a tiny bar that even offers sausages from a silver platter, and a Bartender who is willing to regale visitors with stories about the members of the Club.

It is actually the Bartender who performs the most important role – to connect Members. One Member of the Club turns to him when he wants to meet another Member with whom he has not yet had the honor of being personally acquainted, and the Bartender finds the right time to arrange this meeting unobtrusively and elegantly. 

Clubs Emerged founded by representatives of the intellectual elite: The Royal Society (its backbone was Engineers) and in 1824 – the Athenaeum (Scientists and Artists), which from the very beginning could boast the best library in the city. Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday were its first Chairman and Secretary, fifty-one Nobel Laureates have been Members thus far! 

The famous Brook’s club, which was opened in 1778. Its first 27 founders were very young at the time – rich and extravagant London Dandies, the average age of which did not exceed 25 years!

Becoming a Member of Brook’s became paramount for the status of any socially aware gentlemen. Being a Member of this Club meant belonging to a respected closed private Club that promoted its values and cared about the reputation of its Members. The very intention of joining the Club helped many young and hot-headed people to significantly change their behavior, because the stakes were high. Membership was an official recognition into high society for any young man.

In the first English Clubs, white and black balls were used when voting for a Candidate for membership. Members of the Club could agree with the Candidate (white ball) or refuse (black ball). The term “blackballed” (a Candidate who received a black ball) meant a lot: often, in addition to the refusal of admission to the Club, this person would also, unfortunately, lose a number of business partners, sometimes status and influence, and as a result – also his fortune! 

Closed Private Clubs: current trends

In the 1980s, in the UK, the emancipation revolution brought a new wave to the Club culture. In 1985, as an” antidote “to the traditional (male) closed private Clubs in the Soho area, the” electrifying ” club The Groucho, named after Groucho Marx, appeared.

During the Club’s heyday, its Members “openly snorted cocaine,” and some liked to talk about nowadays, the exotic behavior that made the Club so spectacular disappeared. Today, membership in Groucho is a privilege of the art and media elite. The Club’s admission committee receives thousands of applications every month.

Closed private Clubs are not always similar to each other, otherwise, they would lose their exclusivity. But most support the same idea – they are difficult to get into, and . For example, the modern closed private Club  protects the privacy of its Members so much that the Club does not even give an approximate indication of the cost of its membership. 

For this privacy, the Club is valued by George and Amal Clooney, Mick Jagger, Leonardo DiCaprio, Prince William, and Princess Eugenie Victoria Elena of York.

To join the already mentioned and well-known London club White’s, you will need a recommendation from 35 Club Members!

People want to plunge into the atmosphere of relaxation and intellectual freedom, leaving for a while” overboard ” all the charms of the world of the era of digital social networks.

A closed private Club for its Members is not only a place closed from casual visitors, but also a place where it is difficult to get too, where the best friends and people of their circle are invited.

Wine Treasures of Malta

“Wine is bottled poetry”
– Robert Luis Stevenson

Malta might not come to the top of your mind when discussing famous wine destinations, but the little island has started to get attention because of its wide selection of wines for any taste and preference, and some quite unique experiences for real connoisseurs. 

To dig deeper in the topic, we have met Fabien Etienne, a professional sommelier and wine consultant of international scale. 

– Fabien, working with wine has been your life long journey. How did you start yours?

– I got first inspired by wine when I was 16. My uncle and aunt were in love with white wines, especially from the Alsace region. As you may know, Alsace wines tend to be little more aromatic than dry, so it was easier to taste. Later, when studying hospitality business, I took some wine lessons and got really excited by wine. So I went to Saumur wine region for a whole year to become a Sommelier. At that time my background with wine was very limited, but I absolutely loved it, and the more I was studying, the more passionate I got. I soon realised it was my true calling. 

– So, what’s about the wine industry in Malta?

– Being a tiny geographical area compared to the famous wine regions, Maltese wine industry is quite remarkable. The variety of wines you are able to experience on the island is impressive. For the sake of statistics, if you were to measure the number of wines in relation to the size of the population, you would get a number out of all proportions. While for you as a wine lover, it means that Malta can satisfy all tastes and preferences. 

What is the difference between wines from Maltese wineries compared to other regions?

– All winemakers from around the world have their own personal touch and knowledge. While France has always been recognised for producing very good quality wines due to extended skills and knowledge, other countries such as Italy, Spain, Australia, California etc also produce some excellent wines. 

Maltese wine tradition goes back more than 2000 years, and in my humble opinion, today is really stepping up and marking its place in the global industry by producing delicious wines. There are some of the more famous local wineries as for example Marsovin, Meridiana Estate, Delicata winery, and some small boutique wineries who are doing an excellent job like Markus Divinus, Ta’ Betta Estate, Mar Cassar, San Niklaw. Boutique wines are produced in very small quantities that, together with their quality, makes them into real gems.

With such a wide selection of wines on the island, what would you recommend to those who are yet to discover the local Maltese treasures?

– Discovering wine is a bit like discovering new territory – you can either plan it all knowing what you like and go for something specific, or let an experienced guide take you on a journey, showing you the best spots and letting you experience something completely new. With my over 15 years of experience as a professional sommelier, I like to create unique experiences for wine lovers. Be it a food and wine pairing dinner on a rooftop terrace overlooking Valletta, or a master class analysing wines from different regions in Europe and the new world, arranged in a beautiful wine cellar or a traditional Maltese house – all boasting an exciting theme and wine selection carefully chosen for the occasion. 

That sounds exciting. As you mentioned food and wine pairing, would you give some recommendations for the typical dishes of the Maltese cuisine?

– The traditional Maltese stewed rabbit, better known as ‘Stuffat tal-Fenek’, is considered to be Malta’s national dish. It’s been around the Maltese Islands since the Knights of St John, which makes it a cultural delicacy that contributes to Malta’s rich heritage. The dish is internationally famed, popular among locals and foreigners alike and is definitely one of the top Maltese foods. To pair with it I would recommend a Valpolicella Classico from Zymé of Veneto in Italy. This wine has a medium ruby red colour, tending towards garnet with ageing. The nose is ripe with hints of cherry, morello cherry, and semi-dried plum. The palate is smooth, seductive, with an appealing sapidity and impressions of ripe fruit and spices. And if you would like to have an all-Maltese taste experience, here are two local options to pair the famous rabbit with:

Markus Divinus, Adon, Ġellewża-Syrah

A dry, medium bodied, complex red wine, showing a youthful ruby colour of red fruit with aromas of strawberry, sour cherry and plum, oak maturation of smoke, toast, sweet spices of vanilla and coconut, and a stony mineral finish. This wine has signs of leather, making it complex to change to a meaty style with age. The medium levels of acidity are in combination with the levels of tannin giving a long aftertaste buttery finish on the palate.  

Ta’ Betta Wine Estates, Antonio Manoel

This opulent wine is a  blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It shows intense hints of cassis, strawberry and other red forest-fruit as well as a touch of earthiness. The palate has a great structure and complexity, confirming the fruits aromas of the nose with undertones of chocolate and caramel. Very well balanced and with a long after taste.  

How about some inspiration for the festive season?

– During the festive season we love to gather around the table with families and friends. While it is time full of cherished traditions, including our favourite food, I like to look at the festive season as an opportunity to excite our senses with high quality food and wine. A celebration of exciting tastes gives a wonderful festive feeling that ensures that your family and friends will enjoy not just a bottle of wine, but a complete experience when combined with sweet and savoury delicacies. 

If there is one wine I will never be tired of, it would be champagne. For many, champagne is kept for those special occasions, like wedding, birth of a child, or a graduation. But I find champagne so unique and complex that it can shine at any time of year and for any occasion whether to celebrate an evening with friends or to see in the New Year. 

If you are not a fan of bubbles, there are many options of high quality wines to choose from, take for example Barolo from Piedmont, Amarone della Valpolicella from Veneto, well-known Château from Bordeaux, rich and complex Syrah from Rhône Valley or even some full-bodied Shiraz from Australia. A festive season is also a great opportunity to choose something you have never tried before – giving or receiving wine as a present, or opening up a special bottle to make your dinner party extra special. 

No matter what wine you choose – take the time to enjoy it this festive season.

Feel like discovering the wine treasures of Malta? An exclusive experience is just one call away – let us know what you have in mind.

How has Covid effected the Luxury Real Estate Market?

The year 2020. Who could have predicted the upheaval? Covid-19 struck and effected each and every person on our planet. Every element of lives has been disrupted. Each business and industry has had to take a step back and reassess their survival and livelihood.

According to JP Morgan, before Social distancing made real estate viewings more difficult, the countries with increased high end buyers activity were the South of France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany. Luxury Lifestyle Magazine stated in October 2019 that the best luxury overseas property were in Spain, Portugal and Dubai.

But how have things changed in post Covid time? 

Andrew Amoils, author of a New Report from New World Health, states that High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) globally were 14% worse off in the first part of 2020 compared to last year. He confirms that this is predominately due to the decline in real estate value.

Knight Frank’s Prime City Index, compiled in July 2020, gives some data to support this. The index, which looked at data for 3 months in 45 of the best high-end real estate concluded that the luxury housing market had had its lowest annual growth rate in just under a decade. Luxury Real Estate prices only moved up 0.9% in the year. The slowest reported growth since 2009. 

Which countries in particular have been effected the most? 

Knight Frank again studied 45 countries to forecast how Covid-19 is likely to effect global prime real estate markets. They identified that 9 were in Europe, 7 in Asia, 2 in Australia, 1 in the Middle East and 1 in Africa. 20 countries saw a decline in the Q2 of 2020 were then categorised into four price bands. A breakdown of these listings can be seen in the diagram below. It concluded that none are expected to grow more than 5%.


According to the November 2020 Forbes report, which also included data from Knight Frank, the top 5% of luxury homes in the most desirable cities in the world have dropped, these included London, New York and Dublin. 

London’s luxury real estate prices fell by 3.7%. Although, not all blame can put on Covid, in this case, Brexit has had its part to play and pushed the central London workers straight into the neighbouring arms of Paris for example. 

Further a field, Bangkok had a dramatic fall of 5.8% and Singapore has seen the biggest decline in price in the luxury real estate with a drop of 6.1% in the last year. Leonard Tay head of research from Knight Frank claims that this is largely due to travel restrictions during Covid, which has slightly reduced the number of foreign buyers during the period. Dubai, had a 3.7% fall in high end property sales. The government attempted to impose new measures to counteract the leaving of expats by relaxing their residential laws, although these results are still yet to be correlated.

Where is real estate increasing?

On the flip-side, some places, are actually becoming more desirable in luxury real estate. During Covid, affluent buyers are shifting their tastes and essentially looking for outdoor space and an abundance of fresh air.  After lockdown, people are running from the confinements of their prison cities and looking for property by water, near lakes and the ocean. Countries with Iush green countryside or an inviting coastline are favoured. One example of this is Auckland, New Zealand, where with its idyllic countryside lifestyle, according to Knight Frank, luxury real estate has risen by 12% (October 2019 to October 2020). This theory can be evidenced again with the 3.7% increase in Cape Town, and Vancouvers’ 3.2%.This also explains why European cities with lot of parks and green spaces are becoming increasing popular. Worldwide, Sydney, Miami, San Fransisco and Los Angeles were the most resilient in the second quarter of the year. Plus Tokyo had a rise of 8.6% and Stockholm 4.4%.  

Surprisingly, the most significant incline was actually in Manila, the capital of the The Philippines, it saw the largest growth of 14%! More specifically in a new spacious development in the Batangas area, south of Manila. Its new properties have an ocean view and have increased by 20-46% (according to Leechiu Property Consultants).

But where for the future? 

According to Savills Global Prime Index, compiled in July 2020, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Seoul and Moscow will see the strongest increase in price during 2020. And over the next 5 years, Lisbon and Amsterdam are expected to remain the top performers joined by Berlin, Paris, Miami and San Francisco. And surprisingly, despite Brexit, London prices expected to gain 20% (JP Morgan).

Will the housing market crash?

It is good news, investments seems strong, but will Covid-19 cause the housing market to crash in 2021? Some in the real estate industry are nervous that there will be a repeat of the housing market crash in 2008.

Sophie Chick head of Department at Savills World research states “Looking forward, we have to remember that this in not like the 2008 financial crisis, and we are not expecting the same falls that were during this period”. 

Greg McBride, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate also agrees “Due to the increased standards of underwriting and capitalisation, I don’t believe the pandemic will cause the same housing market crash and liquidity crisis banks experienced in 2008. Banks and institutional investors have been predicting and getting ready for a decline in real estate prices for the last few years. Although no one anticipated COVID-19 would come along to do the dirty work, most analysts anticipated a large price drop as real estate hit record high levels year-over-year”.

The National Association of Retailers (NAR) reported that in America the demand for housing has increased by 9.4% in September, a 21% increase over the year and prices have continued to rise.

Experts believe it all depends on the balance of supply and demand. With mortgage rates at an all time low, buyers are back in the market and demand is higher than supply.  In order for the housing market to crash, supply needs to increase whilst demand drops.  

“There will be particular markets that experience price softness as people move out of the high-cost, high-tax city centres for more budget friendly and spacious confinement’s elsewhere. But most markets will continue to be hampered by lack of supply to meet the housing demand”. McBride

To draw a conclusion, the general consensus from those in the field, is that whilst Covid 19 has impacted luxury real estate, no housing crash will occur and that Luxury Real Estate will in prominent countries continue to thrive as it always has.