The ultimate Caribbean spring break destinations

While your home country offers a long list of Spring Break destinations that can definitely make the best time of your college year unforgettable, the Caribbean promises you a vacation of a lifetime that can easily be summarized in two words: paradise and fun.

If you’re still looking for the ultimate getaway itinerary for your Spring Break vacation, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the best Caribbean destinations that you should consider:

Nassau, the Bahamas

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Aside from being a popular cruise-ship stop and a major offshore investments center, Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas offers long lines of crystal clear beaches and a rich underwater paradise of offshore coral reefs. In fact, it’s a famous diving destination for Western tourists seeking the ocean life adventure. The city’s downtown area is also lined with chic hotels, restaurants, and boutiques. If your idea of fun is partying, it has a vibrant nightlife hosted by several local clubs and casinos.


Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands

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The British Overseas Territory is known as a primary cruise-ship destination because of its rich colonial-era ruins and attractions. In addition, the island’s beaches and colorful coral reefs also make the region of one the most preferred spring break destinations for those who want to experience both culture and underwater adventure.  The Grand Cayman is the best location where you can interact with nature, thanks to its calm waters in its beaches and shady trees around its old-growth forest.


Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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One of the emerging travel destinations for spring breakers is Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana. While it still can’t compete with other Caribbean locations in terms of popularity, the island’s all-inclusive resorts offer the ultimate and overall fun-travel-party experience. The adventure does not stop there. The neighboring tropical rainforest offers the best outdoor activities from hiking, ATV adventure, and zip-line rides.

REPOST: Steel and aluminum tariffs trigger sharp stock market sell-off in US and Asia

While China only accounts for a small portion of US steel imports, its massive industry expansion has helped produce an excessive supply of steel that has pulled down prices. Read more on The Guardian:


World stock markets have tumbled after Donald Trump said the United States would impose tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on imported aluminum next week.

The threat of a trade war with China and higher goods prices led to a sharp sell-off in Wall Street on Thursday, causing Asian markets to take fright on Friday.

The Nikkei index in Japan fell 2.4%, Hong Kong and South Korea were down 1.6%, and the ASX200 in Sydney was off 1% in early afternoon trading. Asian steelmakers bore the brunt. South Korea’s Posco fell 3% and Japan’s Nippon Steel 4%.

Michael McCarthy of CMC Markets in Sydney said it was a “sharp reminder of the initial negative reaction to the election of Mr Trump … An explanation may come, but the initial market interpretation of the move is rank populism. The lack of structure makes anticipating further measures and possible responses to retaliatory moves difficult to predict.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had initially fallen more than 570 points, with heavy losses for manufacturers like Caterpillar and Boeing. The index closed down 420 points and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both dropped on the day.

Trump campaigned on the promise of protecting the US steel industry but until now has done little to make good on those promises.

At a meeting with US industry officials at the White House, he vowed to rebuild American steel and aluminum industries, saying they had been treated unfairly by other countries for decades. The move is likely to increase tensions with China, whose top trade official, Lui He, is in Washington for trade talks.

“People have no idea how badly our country has been treated by other countries, by people representing us that didn’t have a clue,” Trump said at a White House press conference attended by executives from the steel and aluminum industries.

“Or if they did, then they should be ashamed of themselves because they’ve destroyed the steel industry, they’ve destroyed the aluminum industry, and other industries, frankly, when you look at all the plants, the car plants, automobile plants that moved down to Mexico for no reason whatsoever, except we didn’t know what we were doing. So we’re bringing it all back.”

His comments followed an early-morning tweet that said the steel and aluminum sectors needed protecting from unfair trade, which drove shares in domestic industries sharply higher.

Continue reading HERE.

REPOST: Does Real Estate Belong In Your Investment Portfolio?

Real estate is a tricky investment. As a whole, the market is still not very reliable but on the micro level, it can actually provide investors some decent and relatively secure return. More insights from Forbes:

In the ideal world, the perfect investment is one that has a high rate of return year after year coupled with a low risk of losing money. Here in the real world, perfect investments don’t exist.

Investments that generate the highest returns, like stocks, also carry the highest risk that you’ll lose the principle you invest. Those that carry the lowest risk, like government bonds, pay the lowest rates of return.

Year-after-year stellar performance also doesn’t exist. The investments that skyrocket one year can plunge the next. We can all look back and say a single asset type did really well in a single year, as stocks have lately. But, it’s impossible to say with certainty which asset class is going to pay the best returns next year.

In short, there’s no one ideal investment. The key to investing success is to spread your investments over a range of assets. Over long periods of time, a portfolio of mixed investments will typically out-earn an investment in any single asset type.

The most common tactic investors use to create a balanced investment portfolio is to spread their money across three classes of assets:

1. Stocks: Rise and fall in value rapidly, offer high returns coupled with high risk.

2. Bonds: U.S. Treasury bonds, notes and bills are low-risk and low-yield, while corporate bonds and private debt funds offer higher yields at higher risk levels.

3. Real estate: Low-risk, high-return investment when held long-term. Real estate hedges against inflation but has a high entry cost and can’t be sold quickly.

Each of those assets plays a different part in balancing an investment portfolio. Stocks can deliver quick bursts of gains or losses — you can make a bundle or lose it all. Bonds deliver steady income and are prized by older investors who don’t have decades to recoup investment losses, as younger investors do. Real estate can be the most challenging investment and for that reason, it’s sometimes overlooked by investors, even though it’s a useful portfolio diversification tool. Real estate offers a slow, predictable rate of return over the long run and can be a great way to build long-term wealth.

Investors who have the money, expertise and time to deal with property maintenance and tenant selection and the capital to cover acquisition costs will find direct investment in real estate makes a great hedge against inflation that can deliver steady income once the mortgage is paid off. A 20-something who buys a rental property with a 30-year mortgage sets up a nice retirement income stream that starts at age 50.

Continue reading HERE.

Advantages of choosing the franchising business model

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A good business model offers the advantages that do not only help a company sustain itself but also promote ways to generate enough revenue to succeed even in the most competitive environment. Franchising business model is one of the most popular methods that have helped many companies conquer the global market. The likes of McDonalds, 7-Eleven, and Starbucks are just some of the planet’s most popular franchises. They have grown so big that became public companies and staples to many offshore investments.

Basically, a franchise is an official agreement between two parties: the franchisor (owner of an established brand with an already proven business format) and the franchisee (pays the rights and license to use the brand and its related operations), where both enjoy the benefit of this proven and tested business model.

There are several reasons why entrepreneurs and business owners prefer this particular business model. Here are some of them:

  1. Business growth and brand expansion

Entrepreneurs who have already succeeded in establishing a brand and an effective business format can further grow their ventures through franchising—and the good thing about this option is they don’t have to spend their own money in order to do so. This is probably the most cost-effective way to build “branches.”

  1. Reduce risks and possible failure

Since the franchisee is the one who provides the initial capital, franchisors don’t have to be afraid of possible failures in the first stages of the business since it’s now the former’s job to make sure that they generate reasonable revenue? The franchisee’s success is also the franchisor’s, and the other way around.

  1. Offers beginner-friendly business ventures

Franchisees don’t have to obtain a business degree nor an extensive business experience to run a franchise. All they have to do is to consult the franchisor’s fail-proof and already-tested business model as their guide. Depending on the type of business, trainings can last from a few weeks to a few months.

  1. Provides several business options for franchisees

The franchising business model is applicable to almost every type of business venture. With this, you can choose from a variety of options of products and services depending on preferred business interest. Brands can range from small booth-type food stalls to internationally known hotel chains.

REPOST: Architecture in 2018: Look to the streets, not the sky

This year, how will contemporary living influence architectural styles? Will the importance of public spaces be more emphasized? Here’s an interesting read from The Conversation:

In Los Angeles, the architecture firm KTGY is repurposing shipping containers to build a transitional apartment complex for the homeless. KTGY

A decade after the global economic collapse, urban development is booming.

This is good news for architects. Indeed, 2018 promises to be a favorable year for the profession: A spectacular array of sleek museums, posh hotels and some of the world’s tallest towers are slated for completion.

But income inequality is on the rise in the United States, with many city dwellers reaping few benefits from the current economic upturn.

The same could be said for the colossal scale and visual theatrics of high-profile buildings. Residential towers for the super rich are transforming the skylines of cities and public spaces are increasingly being privatized. As a result, cities are being shaped according to the desires of the elite.

This is particularly troublesome as many cities are also grappling with the ongoing politics of austerity – less and less investment in public services, infrastructure and public housing. Yet some architects have dedicated themselves to addressing these very problems.

The architecture of social engagement – the idea that buildings should address inequality and improve the lives of all dwellers – first started gaining steam during the Great Recession. It’s important to continue moving this work out from under the shadows of the glossier buildings that tend to receive the most media attention.

Three projects to be built in 2018 – a library in Brooklyn, a low-income housing project in Chicago and transitional housing for the homeless in Los Angeles – demonstrate architecture’s unique power to build, sustain and forge communities.

Read more HERE.

REPOST: 2017’s best music videos for architecture lovers

Architecture is an art form that is also a business that anchors the real estate industry. However, its function transcends borders and is now a beautiful aspect of other projects such as concept restaurants, films, and increasingly, music videos. Here is a compilation from The Space of the best MVs of 2017 for architecture enthusiasts:

Music videos are a canny way to see buildings in fresh light, or better still – get inside little-seen spaces. This year they took us behind the scenes of a well-loved London landmark, and inside an LA mansion with a shady past…

Here are 7 of the best music videos for architecture lovers this year.

The Weeknd – ‘Secrets’

Raymond Moriyama’s striking Toronto Reference Library is the star of the show in the video for The Weeknd’s breezy, 80s-tinged synth-pop hit. Director Pedro Martín-Calero made full use of Moriyama’s vast tiered atrium, reportedly inspired by the Hanging Gardens Of Babylon.

The XX – ‘I Dare You’

The pyramid façade of Lloyd Wright’ Sowden House is an oppressive presence for the young cast in this video for The XX. The band seem unfazed as they perform poolside at the 1920s Mayan-Revival house, which was originally designed for artist Raymond Sowden. The ‘cultic’ structure gained notoriety again in the early 2000s when it was linked to the Black Dahlia’s alleged killer…

Jessie Ware – ‘Alone’

Jessie Ware looks resplendent in the Art Deco entrance hall to Eltham Palace in South London, designed by Rolf Engströmer in 1936. While parts of the house date back to the 1300s, its interiors are hailed as a ‘masterpiece of modern design,’ and the dining room – designed by Peter Malacrida – also stars in the video.

See the full list HERE.

Most economically important architectural wonders

There are several factors that drive a nation’s economic development and one of the most important but rarely recognized are the contributions of architecture to a country’s wealth and future growth.

In fact, spending millions and even billions to build mega projects and engineering wonders has been a daring economic strategy for many countries around the world.

Let’s take a look at some of the most economically important megaprojects today.

  1. Millau Viaduct

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With a mast reaching over 343 meters, Millau Viaduct is considered as the tallest bridge in the world. It was designed by the famed architect, Norman Foster and brought into life by renowned engineer Michel Virlogeux.

The cable-stayed bridge is located in southern France and even during the early months after its completion, it immediately became an architectural icon. To accommodate the growing number of tourists, several shops and hotels have been built around the site.

Surrounding attractions have also benefited from the bridge’s popularity, even helping reopen a local glove factory because of the renewed interest in the nearby towns.


  1. Sydney Opera House

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The famous Sydney Opera House in Australia is one of the world’s most favorite tourist attractions. Its construction began in 1957 but it was only after 16 when it was finally completed. Today, the attraction continues to fascinate millions of visitors every year.

According to a Deloitte report released during the Sydney Opera House’s 40th anniversary, the architecture is one of the country’s major economic assets, raking in $775 million to the nation’s economy annually. In fact, its cultural and iconic value have reached an outstanding $4.6 billion.


  1. Petronas Towers

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Located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the 88-floor Petronas Towers are the tallest twin architectures in the world. It’s also one of the most recognized megaprojects because of its impressive use of the “paneling technique”, from 55000 glass panels and 33000 stainless steel.

The twin towers have been a part of Malaysia’s economic growth, attracting both tourists and investors worldwide, and helping improve the country’s GDP to be one of the most competitive in Asia.

The most expensive private houses in the world

If you had all the money in the world, what would your dream home look like? If you ask the same question to the real-life billionaires out there, you’re in for an astonishing—and luxurious—answer.

Let’s take a look at the most extravagant and insanely expensive private houses owned by the wealthiest people on earth:


Villa Les Cèdres, France

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This mansion is located in the southern region of France, and it is set to become the world’s most expensive house listing in history, with an expected price of $410 million, according to a report.

The property was once an olive tree farm, built in the 1800s, sitting on 35 acres of land. Its elaborate decoration include 14,000 different species of plants, a lovely man-made pond adorned with lily pads, and an astonishing statue of the Greek goddess, Athena.

It was known to be a royal holiday home for King Leopold II of Belgium, after he acquired the land in 1904.


Bel Air Spec Manor, Los Angeles

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The 38,000-square-foot Bel-Air manor is currently the most expensive property for sale in the American real estate market with a price reaching $250 million. Included in the said listing is a helicopter, an art and automobile collection and a group of full-time staff. The property is a four-story building, with 12 bedrooms, 3 kitchens and 21 bathrooms.

According to its real-estate developer, the home is designed for billionaire buyers and it has already attracted offers since it was introduced in public.


Antilia, Mumbai

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Unlike the private houses mentioned in the article, the Antilia is actually a personal skyscraper. Located in Mumbai, this 27-story property is owned by Mukesh Ambani, one of the wealthiest man in India. Currently, Antilia is valued at $1 billion.

While public response to the residential property was mostly negative (socially insensitive, to some extent), it is arguably an impressive architectural masterpiece. The home is named after a mythical island in the Atlantic Ocean, Antillia.

These three airports are considered to be the world’s best

A long-haul flight to international destinations can be both exciting and—most of the time—very exhausting. Being able to relax and unwind before the take-off is necessary for most passengers—especially those on business trips who will need that energy to face clients or manage projects. Thankfully, there are now airports around the world that have gone the extra mile to ensure that passengers are comfortable and entertained. Many such luxurious and world-class facilities provide high-end amenities that will definitely redefine people’s travel experience. Let’s take a look at the ones considered the best:


Singapore Changi International Airport

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Changi airport has been voted by travelers as the World’s Best Airport for five consecutive years. Known as the best airport for leisure and a paragon of modernity, Changi features themed gardens, a free movie theater, and a wide selection of dining and shopping options, allowing passengers to enjoy their travel experience.

Back in 1981, Changi Airport was the largest airfield in Asia with a passenger volume of 8 million a year. However, as they revamped the airport’s infrastructure, Changi is now serving more than 100 airlines flying to 380 cities in about 90 countries around the world. Recently, it was recognized as the 16th busiest airport in the world with over 55 million passengers passing through the airport a year.


Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)

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The biggest airport in Japan, Haneda Airport, is the principal base of Japan’s two major domestic airlines that serves the Greater Tokyo area. Due to a rise in foreign visitors, the International airport was expanded in 2014.

Recently, Haneda is considered as the fifth busiest airport worldwide catering 79.6 million people per year based on Skytrax rankings. Tokyo International Airport was also named as the Cleanest Airport and ranked 2nd in World’s Best Airport Awards for 2017.

Haneda has an impressive variety of services and facilities for travelers such as Edo Marketplace which feature fast food restaurants serving traditional Japanese cuisine, the Tokyo Pop Town which sells anime figures and pop-culture items, and Health & Wellbeing section that offers massage therapy, salon, medical services, and more.


Incheon International Airport

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Incheon airport is the largest and primary airport serving the Seoul Capital Area. It has accumulated 49 million passengers throughout each year, making it the 24th busiest airport in the world.

Having been rated as the world’s best airport with a good quality of service for several years, Incheon airport is the main hub of South Korean people, where even foreigners can personally experience the country’s traditional culture right inside the airfield.

There’s a lot to explore around the hustle of the airport, particularly during your spare time before departing. Passengers may utilize and enjoy various facilities like its golf club, casino, ice skating rink, and indoor themed gardens.


REPOST: How Architecture Should Adapt to Climate Change

With the planet’s climate rapidly changing, architects must begin designing homes and buildings with deeper understanding about weather patterns. This article published on TIME has interesting insights on this issue:

Ever since humans left their caves, providing shelter has been the focus of their architectural endeavors. Perfecting the art over time, we have come to think of buildings as permanent. When we build, we do it for eternity. Still, whenever disaster strikes, buildings invariably burn, flood or collapse. We have seen a lot of that in the news lately. Grenfell Tower, hurricanes Harvey and Irma and Maria, the Mexican earthquakes, to name a few. Confronted with the fragility of our structures — and the ever-growing power of the elements they face — we start asking questions, search for solutions and, inevitably, turn to architects for answers.

It can give one hope to see the hands-on interventions that architects have provided in the immediate aftermath of disasters. Some have turned shipping containers into shelter for evacuees and refugees. Others have transformed otherwise-disposable paper tubes into partitions in relief shelters and repurposed gymnasiums, into entire concert halls and churches. Several have built structures halfway so their future residents can complete them according to local needs. Still more have provided indoor play spaces for young children after nuclear plants melted down.

Architects have also been engaged in optimistic longer-term solutions. On the hurricane-exposed coast of the Atlantic, a group of architects has developed catastrophe-mitigation strategies that seek to work with the environment, rather than against it. (One team is led by OMA, the firm where I work.) Instead of reinforcing protection against flooding, they accept the reality of sea level rise and incorporate it into the design. Building is confined to safe areas, while vulnerable areas become buffer zones.

Though useful as they might be, the real effect of such ideas remains an open question. Certainly, they raise awareness of global catastrophic risk. But how are they to be applied in existing, densely populated urban areas — the way that now more than half of the world’s population lives? In the end, such projects mainly expose the deficiencies in the way cities have been planned, from a time when responding to climate change was not an issue. It will take more to address these issues than clever solutions devised by architects and other specialists. What is at stake is not so much how to find solutions in our struggle against the elements, but why we are at war with the elements in the first place.

Read more HERE.