Chrissie McClatchie

Chrissie McClatchie is one of the region’s most established freelancer journalist. FromWine Enthusiast to easyJet Traveller, and from Business Insider to Superyacht Digest, the Australian from the Northern Beaches of Sydney demonstrates her lexical versatility in wine, travel and yachting, subjects often associated with life on the Côte d’Azur.

It was in 1993 when Chrissie first came to France to visit one of her sisters (she has four much older siblings) living in Lyon. She was accompanied by her geologist dad and mom, who was born in Vietnam to French parents. “I still remember that flight with the now-defunct airline UTA,” Chrissie recalls. “It had started in New Caledonia before stopping in Sydney, Jakarta and maybe Melbourne, and was full of returning compulsory conscripts who spent the whole flight smoking. As soon as we landed at CDG, they all cheered and kissed the tarmac. It was pretty impressionable to a 12-year-old who had never left New South Wales before.”

She returned to France a few years later with her mom to spend Christmas with her sister, who by then was working with her husband as villa guardians in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. “That is the moment when my love affair with the South of France started,” she says.

Chrissie has had Australian-French dual nationality since she was eight and even though her mom never spoke French at home, she did emphasise her European roots to the family.

“My mom and I used to follow my dad on his geological trips to the bush and we’d often visit a town called Mudgee, where mom would take me to cellar doors while he was working. I remember deciding, much to her delight , that I wanted to be a winemaker.”

Both wine and France would niggle in her brain for years to come.

By the time she graduated high school, her sister, who was now living in Nice and had just had a baby, suggested that Chrissie come over for a gap year to improve her French. “I spent nine months studying in the morning at the Alliance Française on rue de Paris and quickly found an international friendship circle. I loved the global vibe, beach picnics, ease of travel, and sense of history, although I may have spent too much time in Vieux Nice, particularly at Chez Wayne’s and Thor!”

Post-immersion, she returned to Australia to study Medieval History and language at the University of Sydney and in 2002 vended up back in France as part of a six-month exchange in La Rochelle, in the southwest of the country.

Clearly cut out for the jet-set life, as soon as her exams were done, she took a “trip of a lifetime,” travelling through the Middle East – Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia and Iran (“It was incredible to visit places like Palmyra that have suffered at the hands of IS”) – and then spent some time in Washington DC as another sister had moved to the US. “I volunteered at the Smithsonian, which was incredible, but as I couldn’t get a work visa I booked a cheap flight to Nice and gave myself six months to find a job.”

When in wine country

Within the first week of arriving in the Mediterranean city, she got a job at Vins sans Frontieres (VSF), fine wine and spirits provisioning for yachts.

“There is actually a thriving local wine community here, with four Masters of Wine – the highest qualification in the wine world – living in and or around Nice, plus plenty of other interesting characters.”

She worked at VSF from 2007 to 2014, and was mentored by Rod Smith, a Master of Wine, and Helen Brotherton, a WSET diploma graduate. “We all had a crash course in the superyacht world, though.”

She wouldn’t realise at the time, but she had really fallen into a niche segment of the market. “The wine yachts order for their owners or charters is really top end – the best chateaux, the best vintages – but the flip side is that ‘no’ isn’t an answer.”

As Chrissie points out, acclaimed wines may be produced in finite quantities but as a yacht supplier you have to make sure you can find what your clients want, when they want (“yesterday”). “It is definitely more competitive now than it was when I first started. I remember a client calling at 2 pm on a Friday afternoon and by 4 pm we were delivering €80,000 of wine to his yacht in the port of Nice. I think now quotes and management company approvals would be required.”

The job was demanding but there were some incredible perks. “I will never forget a three-day trip to Champagne as guests of LVMH. We had dinner at Veuve Clicquot and Krug and a tour and tasting with the Dom Perignon winemaker,” she describes.

Chrissie started to share her local wine discoveries on her blog Riviera Grapevine, which became “the catalyst for everything that has happened in my career since.” It led her to the Bellet vineyards, behind Nice, doing cellar door tours of both Château de Bellet and Château de Crémat but, most importantly, led to regular writing work. “I have had great opportunities come my way from people discovering the blog, starting with a column for the Riviera Reporter. It all helped me build a portfolio that took me to The CEO Magazine, a global business publication that profiles high-level executives from around the world.” By this point, she was back in Australia.

The CEO

Chrissie and her Irish husband, whom she met though friends in Nice, decided to move to Australia in 2016 for a year. “We just had our first child and it seemed like the best time to head back home. The CEO Magazine was my first in-house writing role. I learnt so much about the magazine production process in the ten months I was physically there but while it was great to be near family, there were lots I missed about Europe.”

In 2017, the family moved back to France, swapping Nice for Villefranche, where they have very much embraced French village life, playing football with the local club and sending the kids to public school. “Even though I have spent the best part of my adult life here, I still feel like an Australian in France. And I think I always will.”

Bilingual Chrissie has been working remotely for The CEO Magazine since June 2019. “Last week I interviewed the CEO of La Monnaie de Paris, the French Mint, as well as the CEO and Founder of a Swiss electric vehicle company. No profile is ever the same, which keeps the role exciting and challenging.”

The magazine has five editions (ANZ/EMEA/North America/India/Asia) and Chrissie writes across them all. “The cover story on Calin Rovinescu, CEO of Air Canada, was a particular favourite as it was just when Covid hit and air travel ground to a halt. A tricky, topical subject and the client loved the story!” she enthuses.

Chrissie also writes travel and lifestyle features for the monthly magazine. “Last year’s Norway trip was a definite highlight. A five-day cruise with Viking from London to Tromsø in search of the Northern Lights – although the story is still on hold because no one can leave Australia to travel.”

She has tapped into her base in Nice to become a local expert on the French Riviera and her travel stories have appeared in easyJet Traveller and The Culture Trip. “For Atlas Obscura, I really enjoyed tracking down Philippe Arnello, the man behind Nice’s midday cannon, and witnessing him light the cannon at noon.”

Hands down, her proudest publication moment was in easyJet Traveller. “I love the magazine’s fun spirit and it has always been the goal publication for me. I pitched a behind-the-scenes Nice carnival story for the February issue and found the perfect angle – a new, high-tech piece of equipment that the carnavaliers were using to sculpt the floats. I’d sent numerous pitches for other stories before with no bites but this one in late December was commissioned two hours after my email – and I filed it five days later. I was actually flying on easyJet the day the issue was released and it was cool to see my name in print, fresh off the press.”

Thanks to a year as a content editor for Relevance in Monaco and some freelance content marketing for yachting companies, Chrissie has also penned for industry publications like Dockwalk and Superyacht Digest. “I love having the chance to tell unique stories, like digging into the world of designing crew quarters on yachts and speaking to Espen Oeino, Zaniz and Winch Design.”

Covid when you’re already working from home

As a freelancer, Covid lockdowns fortunately haven’t affected Chrissie’s writing routine. “Since I already work from home, I’ve been able to continue to do so since the pandemic hit, even when schools were closed. I’m lucky to have the backing of a supportive employer at CEO mag,” she admits.

She wrote a piece “A postcard from the future: Living in lockdown in France” for The CEO Magazine, an insider’s view on how one of the world’s toughest confinements touched the community of Villefranche, including Foccacaria Mei, the local cold cuts and cheese shop where Alessandro (above) lives across the border in San Remo, Italy.

Chrissie had just cracked the airline magazine market when Covid brought travel to its knees. “I had four stories –Turkish Airlines, Hemispheres for United, easyJet and N by Norwegian – that I doubt will see the light of day. Yet at the same time, there was a wealth of more news features and I started writing about real estate and yachting pandemic angles for Business Insider. The work has been there, it’s just about taking a different approach.”

Chrissie can imagine much worse circumstances than her household of four (she has a 5- and 3-year-old), which has some outdoor space. “As a mom, I’m rarely out in the evening and with the French schools open and the 6 pm curfew like there is now, things don’t feel too different. I am looking forward, though, to having a meal at some of my favourite restaurants when they re-open.”

Like many other working moms, Chrissie, says her biggest accomplishment is being able to juggle young children and a career. “To have landed a dream in-house journalist role at a global publication when my first child was 12-months-old and to be able to continue to acquire career skills while having another is something I am immensely proud of.”

All photos courtesy of Chrissie McClatchie.

A Cantina

David and Jeanne Rossi of A Cantina. Photo: Nancy Heslin

From a young age, David Rossi has been passionate about cooking and so it was no surprise that he studied four years at the Lycée Technique et Hôtelier de Monaco (where you can lunch at the Cordon d’Or restaurant for €21) to focus on becoming a chef. “My interest in food is thanks to my Italian grandmother for whom I have nothing but culinary memories.”

The Monegasque opened A Cantina on October 26, 2020, having spent 12 years working in kitchens across the Principality, including the now-demolished Piedra Del Sol Mexican restaurant on rue du Portier and Pasta Palace in Galerie Park Palace, which became Valentin in 2013 and is now A Cantina.

“We seized an opportunity and after a long battle we were successful in opening A Cantina,” David explains, adding that they have a different clientele than Valentin, ranging from those working in the area to friends he grew up with to tourists passing by.

The 38-year-old had been trying to open his own restaurant for 13 years, a dream he has shared with his wife Jeanne, whom he met when they worked together way back at Pasta Palace.

“My first day of work at Pasta Palace in 2007 I saw David working in the kitchen and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him,” reminisces Jeanne, who grew up in Vallée de la Roya. “Eight months later we were together and we have now been married nine years.”

Above and beyond offering great service and bringing together friends and family over a meal, Jeanne says they hope the passion David channels into his dishes will evoke a childhood memory for their customers, a link to a wonderful emotion or convivial moment of yesteryear.

A Cantina’s menu is seasonal so changes every three months. “Our menu is simple but all of our products are fresh and seasonal so you won’t find tomatoes in December,” David assures. In addition to the 8 or 9 rotating dishes for the weekly menu (they are closed weekends), there is a plat du jour for €16, including a non-alcoholic beverage and coffee, or €20 if you want dessert also.

They also prepare tasty Apèro boxes (€18) which include hot (say, barbajuans) and cold (charcuterie) dishes that you can order before 4 pm (+377 93 50 60 00) for pick-up before 6.

In normal times, A Cantina will be open Monday to Friday from 7 am to 5 pm, with tapas evenings and wine tastings on Thursday and Friday. Currently with Covid, they can only serve lunch only from 11 am to 3 pm but by the end of the month they will be offering takeaway and delivery.

As the restaurant industry has suffered immeasurably from Covid restrictions over the past year, David Rossi says “it was now or never” in taking the leap to open A Cantina. “Covid teaches us to question ourselves and to push ourselves beyond our limits. There are six of us working here – including Sophie and Claire who we worked together with when it was Pasta Palace – and we are a true family, same boat, same fight!”

A Cantina
27 ave de la Costa
Galerie Park Palace

Food images courtesy of A Cantina.

During Covid and confinement, let’s make an effort to support local businesses and services. Do you have a business or service to recommend for I ❤︎  MONACO? Email: GoodNewsMonaco

Mairead Molloy

Yasmine Ackram with Mairead Molloy for RTÉ2’s Irish in Wonderland. Photo RTÉ2 Press Center.

In another life, or some 20 years ago, relationship psychologist Mairead Molloy decided to put her degree in hotel management to good use and bought a small hotel in Cannes. She had “great fun” running it for seven years despite the occasional culture clashes between the Irish and the French.

“Sure, it was hard but there are cultural differences between neighbouring villages in both countries so you have a choice – get on with it or bury your head in the sand,” says Mairead, who hails from Wexford. “I did struggle at the beginning but I learned French, which definitely helps, and have gotten used to how the locals think and behave.”

Part of her language improvement came from her partner. “Marrying a French man was indeed challenging but divorcing him was even more challenging,” she remarks with a smile.

She sold the hotel and moved to the UK and picked up a Psychology BSc and then a Masters in International Law at Birkbeck, University of London. It was then that she stumbled upon Berkeley International, a specialist elite dating agency and international introduction agency offering an exclusive matchmaking service to find perfect partners and soul mates for discerning and affluent members.

“I have been the Global Director of Berkeley International for 17 years and I still actively run it day-to-day. As a global operation, we have never been so busy. Covid has really made people see what is valuable in life,” she shares.

It’s Valentine’s Day and who better to ask about love than Mairead? “There are songs and books and films about this but for me, love is finding that one person that you are totally yourself with, and you can’t imagine what your life was like before they came along.” She points out, “Relationships depend, though, on what each party brings to the table and people tend to want love all wrapped up under the umbrella of Keepers-Friends-Laughter-Fun.”

One true love is not her philosophy but Mairead, who says “it only took me 52 years to find love,” does believe that it is rare to find that someone that fits perfectly to you. “We make mistakes in our early years and so hindsight is a great friend so follow your instincts I say … you can’t go wrong.”

For Mairead, the biggest mistakes super-wealthy clients make when looking for that perfect partner are being too fussy with lengthy wish lists and not managing themselves and their expectations properly. Also, thinking sometimes they know better than the professionals.

“Dating agencies offer a sense of security as everyone you meet is vetted and we take the stress out of dating someone, clients never face online rejection,” explains Mairead, who was featured in RTÉ2’s “Irish in Wonderland” program on Monaco in 2017.

“Our membership has increased over 200% since coronavirus began and couples are getting together quicker – our success rate has gone up by nearly 80%. That’s not to say people are settling but they have become less picky realising what their real priorities are now,” she conveys.

“We even had an engagement over lockdown, a man in Brazil met one of our members in Milan and after a few zoom calls and they decided to meet up in Paris, where they are now living an planning their wedding and futured together.”

Mairead reveals that her psychology background “comes in very useful in the dating business,” but as a qualified relationship psychologist and eating disorder specialist she also concurrently runs her own consulting company, Mairead Molloy, which focuses more on specialist disciplines, from nutritional interventions for eating disorders and psychological approaches for dealing with obesity to marriage mediation and coping with being single.

“I have noticed over the years that food and weight are big factors in relationships,” she states. “How we feel about our bodies and how we look have a massive impact on our self-confidence, which has a roll-on effect as to how we manage or harm our relationships, even preventing us from having one altogether.”

Monaco and the South of France can be pretty tough for people who struggle with body image. “Most eating disorders are triggered by someone deciding to go on a diet. It becomes no sugar, no fat, or whole food groups could be eliminated. It really depends on what you believe, what piece of information you take to an extreme: I’m not going to eat any bread, or I’m not going to eat anything with salt on it, for example.”

She says irregular appearance or disappearance of food in the household can indicate an eating disorder, as can a new anxiety around particular foods. “Look for whether a person has changed their thinking around food – talking constantly about food, weight or calories if they never really talked about those subjects before. Or if a person who was once not picky becomes inflexible about the type or amount of food they eat.”

Overexercising is one sign that gets overlooked in this culture. “Rapid or extreme weight loss or gain is another sign of an eating disorder. As is when people start eating because of emotions rather than for hunger or appetite.”

She implores, “Talk to someone. Early detection, initial evaluation and effective treatment are important steps that can help an eating disorder sufferer move into recovery more quickly, preventing the disorder from progressing to a more severe or chronic state.”

The Covid pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. Mairead says last year Covid gave her time to sit back and breathe for a while. “Now it is a very frustrating time indeed but I take the good with the bad and am grateful for what I have. Business wise, building personal relationships is vital and person-to-person has become screen-to-screen taking away that personalisation of how we work.”

Mairead has not seen her family face-to-face for over a year now. “That really hurts but the pandemic has also shown me how resilient we all are.”

Her advice this Valentine’s Day? “Be kind and do something thoughtful for someone,” encourages Mairead Molloy.

More From Good News, Monaco’s Valentine’s Special Edition

Johanna Houdrouge

Johanna Houdrouge is VP of a major import-export company in Monaco and as president of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Monaco, she wants to pass on the message that women, like men, are responsible and competent leaders who keep the human factor at the heart of their concerns.

Gavin Sharpe

“I felt trapped in my corporate success,” says Gavin Sharpe. “However corporate life had seduced me, it controlled me rather than the other way around.”

His recruitment company, SSQ, was independently ranked by The Sunday Times as one of the best companies to work for and was placed as the most profitable in its sector. “I was losing my identity. Something was missing and that something was me,” he states.

Having grown up in a small village in Hertfordshire and studied in London, once Gavin sold his company he yearned for a different lifestyle and kinder climate. “My parents had lived in Monaco and it felt familiar. It was one of those defining moments and the start of an adventure that began some six years ago and which feels like it is just unfolding,” he describes about relocating to one of the safest countries in the world.

Gavin jumped off the corporate bus and into a career that “allowed me to be authentic and congruent. I had enjoyed my own therapy and developed a passion for the field of psychotherapy.”

As a counsellor, coach and therapist, he is now on his true life path. “The calling had always been there. When I was ready to listen, it spoke to me. I wish it was less of a cliché but it is true,” he admits.

Comparing the amount of time and money we spend on our physical wellbeing (yoga, Pilates, breathing, healthy eating) versus our mental wellbeing, Gavin observes, “I bet we are more comfortable telling the boss that we are leaving the office early for a Pilates class than for a therapy appointment. Men are certainly more likely to say they have a personal trainer to lose weight rather than a therapist to help with their erectile dysfunction!”

He believes the taboo arises from a lack of awareness and education about mental illness. “Sadly, some people do not seek out treatment due to the self-perceived stigma. Perhaps one good thing to emerge from the Covid pandemic is that there seems to be a willingness to talk about the cost on our mental health. Who knew that when you lock up humankind and hide the key, it impacts our emotional wellbeing?”

Gavin wants to make mental health more accessible and is excited by a new partnership with Rivera Radio. “Wellbeing Window” will be an hour on the first Wednesday of each month at 9 am CET addressing a topic on mental health and inviting listeners to write in with their questions.

“It was brave of Rob Harrison and Sarah Lycett to have me on the Full English Breakfast Show back in 2019. We broke new ground. I think there was a fear that people would be drowning in their cornflakes, and as a result, listeners would tune out. Instead, we found them tuning in. When I appeared last on New Year’s Eve, I ended up staying for longer than scheduled as the number of listeners writing in rocketed. Rob and Sarah have an amazing talent in being able to discuss deep and meaningful subjects that touch us all and seconds later they have us roaring with laughter over something meaningless and mundane.”

For Gavin, there is another dimension to wellbeing that has been forgotten. In his upcoming book on how we can follow our true life path rather than the one we find ourselves on, he has dedicated a chapter to Financial Wellbeing. “We all have money scripts, a set of beliefs or values about money. Do I deserve money? Is money good or bad? What does money represent to me?” he asks. “When a couple argues about money, it is never about the money per se. It is about what the money represents. I have studied financial disorders and run money intensives with individuals and couples to help them explore these deep-rooted issues.”

On Covid
Gavin’s appointment calendar was already pretty busy before a pandemic forced us to face unprecedented issues as couples. “You could have been the most solid couple in the world but if you are in lockdown in a small apartment with three children and home schooling, your relationship will likely have felt the strain. Couples who were struggling before the pandemic have unsurprisingly felt the cracks widen.”

He adds, “I think it is unhealthy for couples to be living and working together with this level of intensity. Relationships need to breathe and need spontaneity and creativity to fuel ongoing desire. The pandemic has the potential to kill desire – unless you are single in which case, you might not know what to do with your desire! There is usually hope for struggling couples. The key is to seek help before contempt sets in.”

For Gavin, the popular media is full of titillating stories informing us that the divorce rate will spiral while others indicate the opposite. “The truth is probably somewhere in between. What we do know from studies of past pandemics, such as SARS and Ebola, is that psychological reactions such as panic, depression, loneliness, anxiety, stress, grief, anxiety and PTSD are common. This obviously has entered into our relationships during the Covid pandemic.”

On Expats
A study released this year showed that US expats were two and a half times more likely to experience anxiety and depression than their US-based counterparts. “I am sure it is the same for expats based in Monaco and the South of France,” Gavin insists.

“Expats sometimes tell me they feel trapped and long for their roots. Many have moved around in childhood and coming to the Riviera is just one more notch in their portable bedpost. When we move around, we experience loss. We leave behind family, friendships, rituals and routines. I think the wellbeing litmus test for expats is the extent to which we allow ourselves to grieve those losses or do we just move on?”

For Gavin, expats can also suffer from “I should” syndrome. I should be happy. Look where I live. I have no right to be miserable. (He once replied, “If I was married to your husband, I’d be miserable, too.”) “The point is that we have to allow ourselves to experience our emotions wherever we live. Living by the sea is not a passport to happiness. We still have to work at it.”

In this part of the world, he sees men and women facing different challenges. “There is a power dynamic which troubles me. Many women move to join their breadwinner husbands. The men carry on largely as before while the women often find themselves dependent and isolated. That sometimes leaves the door open to control and abuse. Even without this dynamic, I think Monaco can be an intimidating place for women to integrate.”

He advises that if you are going to live in or around Monaco, it is helpful to know your relationship with money. “This is not the place to compete. There will always be someone out there with more. More money. More cars. More wives. I’ve worked with many successful business people who are trying to heal a childhood wound with the purchase of a larger yacht. It’s not going to happen. Heal the wound first and then think about the yacht.”

On Group Therapy
Gavin works with individuals and couples who are looking to make profound changes in their relationships and lives. “As a therapist, I wear many hats. Alongside my Masters in Integrative Psychotherapy, I am also trained in addiction, trauma and relationship and sex therapy. My services and workshops reflect this.”

He currently runs three weekly online groups – one exclusively for men, one for women and, as he is the only certified sex addiction therapist in the Riviera, the third is for male sex and love addicts.

He also holds intensive weekends throughout the year for people coming to terms with addiction. “One of my most popular workshops is my two-day couple’s wellbeing intensive. I love this workshop. It’s not so much about resolving problems – although it can be – but more about rediscovering love and building deeper intimacy and connection. We are all craving connection, pandemic or not.”

Connection is also part of what makes a good therapist. “I could have a hundred initials after my name but if we don’t have chemistry and click, I am likely to be the wrong therapist for you. Only work with me if you connect with me. That’s my mantra. The relationship is key.”

A good therapist will most likely have trained at a reputable educational establishment, ideally up to or beyond a Masters level. Therapy is an unregulated profession in the UK, so Gavin choose to be a member of several professional associations to ensure he is held accountable to the highest standards.

He underlines that a client also needs to feel that therapy offers a safe and confidential space, offline or online. “And comfortable chairs help!”

Attending a group is usually less expensive than attending one-to-one therapy which can be why some people chose only group sessions. “Let me say at the outset, I am passionate about groups. There is a lot of research which has tested the efficacy of groups. They can be transformational. Sometimes what we seek is an acknowledgment from others who have walked in our shoes and groups provide this collective empathy. Participants are able to see their pain in others and vice versa,” he emphasises.

“I don’t see group therapy as better but more as a therapy tool in the whole wellbeing toolkit. Many people find it helpful to participate in both group therapy and individual psychotherapy.”

Being a therapist on the French Riviera is unique. “I can go out for dinner and see three or four clients. My clients know that I will ignore them and respect their privacy. Sometimes we laugh about it in session.”

ON GAVIN
Like many of us, Gavin learned to mask his inward lack of confidence. “Growing up, we all experience attachment wounds – for example abuse, neglect, betrayal, loss or abandonment – and those wounds impact how loveable and worthy we believe ourselves to be. For a long time, I didn’t feel worthy and for a while, I disguised my wounds even from myself. I became what I thought others expected of me. It led to my success in the corporate world that I mentioned earlier but left a sense of emptiness inside,” he relates.

His upcoming show on Riviera Radio on March 3rd will address that inner critic and voice inside our head that often undermines our accomplishments leaving us feeling guilt and/or shame.

“I’ve learned to silence my inner critic. Of course, it crops up every now and then but like my clients, I, too, am always evolving,” says Gavin Sharpe. 

Remember to post your Pink Ribbon Monaco photos holding
a sign with a message of support this Sunday, February 14.
#seinvalentin #Pinkribbonmonaco

Marketa Häkkinen

Marketa Häkkinen. Photos Danny Meier Photography.

It was at a 2007 golf tournament in Cologne when Markéta Remešová met her future husband, Mika Häkkinen. It wasn’t long after that the two-time F1 World Champion invited her to move to Monaco.

“Monaco was overwhelming at first,” Marketa confesses. Born in the western Czech Republic countryside, the Pilsen native spoke only Czech and German, later learning English and some basic French. “I have always been very low-key and worked hard for everything I have so it was not easy to step into Monaco society. Over time, though, I have developed a real appreciation for living here.”

A former dancer, Marketa graduated as a fashion designer in 1996 in her home country and at her winter wonderland wedding in Rovaniemi to Mika in January 2017, she designed her wedding dress. That same year, she started her own label Nordic Angels and showcased at Monte Carlo Fashion Week.

Now Marketa has launched Love Fertility Coaching in Monaco. “Trying to have a baby with my husband was not so easy,” the mom of three shares. “In school, they only teach you about not getting pregnant – “if you stop the pill, you’re going to get pregnant” – but no one speaks about what happens if you can’t get pregnant.”

She and Mika decided to see a doctor, did the necessary tests and were told that everything was in working order. “The doctor’s message was to keep trying but after a year and no pregnancy, IVF treatment was suggested and that failed. All those doctors just kept sending us for test after test without ever finding anything and then when IVF didn’t work, they didn’t know what to say.”

Marketa decided to take matters into her own hands. She signed up to online university to study a holistic and medical approach to infertility, to research and study how the human body works. ‘I was able to understand what was going on with me and was truly sad that not one of those doctors was able to help me,” she admits.

Creating her own holistic fertility program to follow with her Finnish husband, she got pregnant after four months. “I was overwhelmed with happiness and today my lovely Ella is ten,” Marketa radiates.

Two year later, her “beautiful twins” Lynn and Daniel arrived. (They are now seven). “When I became pregnant, my friends and their friends struggling with the same infertility problems came to me, and I was so pleased to help them with my holistic fertility approach. All of them got pregnant naturally or I helped prepare them for IVF treatment,” she explains.

This was the beginning of her business idea. “Infertility is mentally and physically painful and I would like to help every woman who is going through this, to give them information that can spare them from pain and frustration. There are many environmental reasons as to why the world is getting more and more infertile coupled with, unfortunately, little knowledge of women’s general health.”

During spring lockdown last year, Marketa used the time to finish her studies and create her company Love Fertility Coaching. “With my ten years of infertility experience along with many happy pregnancies, my business had an easy start. I hope many other future couples will also get pregnant with a healthy baby.”

Love Fertility Coaching offers a one-on-one three-month program – to get your body balanced and ready for conception naturally or for those undergoing IVF treatment – as well as an intensive 8-week Wake-Up Fertility group coaching program for up to four women. She also just added new pre-menopause and menopause programs.

Working mostly online from home, Marketa has been able to connect with women around the world. “Every nationality is different and you can see how each country educates women on general health, mostly missing out on quality information concerning infertility. I hope over the years we can bring a more holistic fertility approach to Europe because it would be easier for different cultures to accept the issue. Some countries, like the US, are so advanced with fertility education so it is easier to communicate with women about how they are feeling.”

Marketa says that women are still really shy about talking infertility. “They are hiding behind the pain and waiting for a miracle to happen but if they know that I understand what they are feeling, they start to open up and are ready to take the next steps. There is no shame in being infertile; the shame is not finding the root of the fertility problem.”

Does she have any advice for couples who are struggling with infertility? “Don’t give up and don’t be ashamed to ask for help if your pregnancy is not happening after six months of trying, especially as the quality of your eggs decreases massively after age 35. Trust a holistic approach, we are able to find the root of your fertility issue whereas doctors can only treat your symptoms,” she emphasises.

Covid hasn’t really impacted Marketa’s new business as she works remotely for the most part but she has noticed an increase of interest from clients in group fertility over private coaching. As a result, she has decided to launch “One Go,” a personalised plan but without follow-up. “My goal is to make fertility programs affordable for everyone,” says Marketa Häkkinen.

Photos by Danny Meier Photography courtesy of Marketa Häkkinen.

Remember to post your Pink Ribbon Monaco photos holding
a sign with a message of support this Sunday, February 14.
#seinvalentin #Pinkribbonmonaco

Kaitlin Kraemer

American Kaitlin Kraemer grew up playing a variety of instruments, taking dance lessons, and trying her hand at painting courses.

“While I’ve not descended from a family of creatives per say, my parents have a great appreciation for the arts,” she says. “I suppose my folks recognized my passion for the arts at a young age and did everything they could to foster that.”

A full-time artist whose solo exhibit “Confessions Intimes” is at the Monaco Yacht Club this week, Kaitlin originally decided to major in Anthropology and minor in Studio Fine Arts. “This stemmed from this innate passion for creating, as well as my desire to understand human behaviour – why we do what we do, think how we think, love what we love – and how many of these traits and evolutions are quite similar cross-culturally,” she explains.

An opportunity to study in Aix-en-Provence came at the recommendation of her undergraduate arts professor and mentor, Walter Hatke, who believed she was an ideal candidate for this immersive painting program. “He strongly encouraged me to apply to the summer semester course at The Marchutz School of Fine Arts. The experience honed my French language skills and really legitimised my own ability to see myself as an artist,” she recounts.

That summer of 2007 she fell in love with painting, as well as with the South of France, which influenced her permanent move back to France in early 2018. “I decided to return to a part of the world that I love, to continue to do what I love – in the sunshine, with a glass of rosé. As a full-time as an artist, you have the unique ability to live and work from anywhere.”

The move, she says, definitely wasn’t a seamless or easy transition although being proficient in French helped, as does being an extrovert. “There have been many ups and downs, but that is par for the course when you’re an expat. I wouldn’t change any of it – except, perhaps, having my family closer. Being so geographically distant from them has been the only downside.”

Kaitlin has been painting regularly for 15 years now, but didn’t become a full-time artist until 2017. “The decision was one part mind-numbingly terrifying, the other part, an absolute necessity. I woke up one morning and realised how stuck and unhappy I felt in my seemingly ‘perfect’ life – I had a good job, a husband, lived in a nice apartment, but was fundamentally unhappy and unsatisfied. So I did something about it.”

Within six months, she changed everything about her life: she gave notice at work, filed for divorce, left London where she had been living for four years and moved back into her parents’ house in the US, and enrolled on a year-long rigorous graduate arts program at Tufts University.

“I look back at that time now and it both shocks and thrills me. I kind of can’t believe I had the courage to do it, but am incredibly grateful that I followed my instinct and made it happen. It’s not been an easy journey, but the fact that I’ve done it – that I wake up every morning passionate about and proud of what I do – is definitely my greatest achievement to date,” she admits.

Kaitlin, who has had shown her work in Boston, London and on the Riviera, was given the opportunity to exhibit in the IQOS Showroom at the Yacht Club through the Monaco-based consulting agency, Highlights. “I was put in contact with them through a mutual friend, and worked with their team over many months and pandemic-related setbacks to organise this exhibit.”

In normal times, Kaitlin would have held a vernissage but obviously this was not possible under the Covid guidelines. However, she emphasises that everyone is welcome to visit her exhibit this week (up to four people at a time, with a terrace to accommodate those waiting) at IQOS, just steps from the Wine Palace. “There are only four days left so please pop by this week to have a look, up close and in person,” she encourages.

Kaitlin wants to inspire others with her art and her story – to show people that almost anything is possible if you want it badly enough – and “that through chaos, there is beauty.” But finding beauty in the last twelve months of Covid have been incredibly difficult for her.

“I am an eternal optimist, and have tried to keep as busy and productive as possible, but I’ve found it more challenging than ever this past year. My younger sister, whom I was very close with, passed away in a tragic accident in July. I still find it incredibly hard to talk about.

“My family and I have experienced a loss that no family should ever experience, during a time when gathering and consoling one another has been nearly impossible. It has been horrific and heart-breaking, to say the very least.

“I’m still not a point where I can share these emotions in my art but I carry my sister in my head and heart each and every day, now more so than ever, and am trying to live my life stronger and bolder and better, for both of us.”

Visit Kaitlin Kraemer’s “Confessions Intimes” exhibition at the Monaco Yacht Club’s IQOS showroom until February 6, from 10 am to 7 pm.

Natasha Frost

Natasha Frost, founder Pink Ribbon Monaco.

Natasha Frost was born in London to an American film producer dad and British mom with a passion for writing screen plays and playing the piano and cello.

“At the time he met my mother, my dad was working with United Artists on the Beatles films when he came to London and was involved in the signing off on the first Bond film with Sean Connery, initially to be in black and white,” recounts Natasha Frost. “In 1970, he was also the first American to produce a film for the National Theatre, Anton Chekov’s Three Sisters, starring Laurence Olivier, Alan Bates, Joan Plowright.” 

Flawlessly bilingual, Natasha, along with her brother and sister, learned French attending the Lycée Français in South Kensington. When her parents separated, her mom, who was re-writing a screenplay commissioned for TV, brought the kids to Beaulieu-sur-Mer so they could improve their French on holiday while her dad went to LA to produce two films. “My father ended up staying in LA and re-marrying a wonderful lady. Mom loved living in Beaulieu, where she put us into the local maternelle because she saw what a difference it was to bring up three children down here rather than in the centre of London.”

Natasha later became, literally, a kid in a candy store, when her mom remarried a Frenchman who owned (still owns) the family-run candy factory Nice Bonbon.

“While my bio-dad would send us cool things from movie sets and photos of our favourite stars that we would show off at school – a photo of him as VP of Universal Studios with my idol, David Bowie, when he sold the rights to Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, is still my prize possession! Needless to say, we also were quite popular thanks to our step-dad and the silly amounts of candy we would give out!”

Natasha admits she was an “unrepentant book worm who read voraciously,” devouring most of Zola and all Maupassant by the time she was thirteen. “I figured out how to speed read diagonally around 12, but I’m not sure I absorbed the meaning at that age! My sister and brother thought I was a real geek, back in the day when it was not cool to be a geek, but later on in life, especially when I went to LA to finish high school, I found myself quite comfortable with the curriculum. When I read Jules Verne’s Voyage au Centre de la Terre, I decided I needed to become an archaeologist-explorer.”

She was passionate about history and, in the early days of college at Humboldt State University in Northern California, “obsessed” with medieval manuscripts. “The idea had evolved to become a parchment-velum restorer,” she laughs. “Life clearly had another plan for me.”

After getting her degree in 1995, Natasha returned to France for the summer to visit her mom, step-dad and siblings for the summer. “I got a summer job at Stars’n’Bars in Monaco … and never left. I was having way too much fun to go back to school.”

Her plans certainly did change. These days, Natasha is widely known as founder and tireless campaigner of Pink Ribbon Monaco, a non-profit association to support cancer awareness. “I set it up for two reasons. Firstly, I felt there were too many cases of breast cancer that were going undetected for too long. I had family members and friends affected and I can easily say that most of the worst cases would have been easier to cure if detected earlier. I figured, let’s start doing something about it.

“Secondly, I had been to many Pink Ribbon awareness walks in LA, which were way more than a pretty stroll in pink clothes – it was a day of women’s empowerment, women supporting women and joyful sisterhood. I felt that Monaco needed some of that vibe. I thought I could bring something positive to my beloved Principality.”

Natasha was invited to speak at the United Nations in New York representing Monaco for a Breast Cancer event in march 2018. “I am still so proud to have represented Monaco in such a prestigious place,” she understates.

Over the past ten years, Pink Ribbon Monaco has gone from a small and relatively unknown local entity to a calendar event with their annual 5-km port-palace-port walk supported by the Palace (Prince Albert opened the walk last year), the government and Minister of Health and Social Services, Didier Gamerdinger, as well as the President of the National Council, Stéphane Valeri and the Commisson de Protection et Promotion des droits de la Femme (Natasha is a committee member).

“Our main events are the walk, sadly cancelled this year due to Covid, and our Pink October illuminations held on the first Thursday or Friday of October, when we ask key local landmarks to light up in pink in support of breast cancer awareness and the patients fighting the fight. We had to cancel last October, but in 2019 it was under the High Patronage of Prince Albert and attended by our special guest, Oscar winner Jodie Foster, who was awarded the Pink Ribbon Award for her positive impact on women.”

This year, the walk was scheduled to take place on Valentine’s Day, but was cancelled for obvious reasons. Instead, Pink Ribbon Monaco came up with the idea of a virtual support event on social media –#seinvalentin, a play on words as Saint-Valentin in French is pronounced the same as sein, the French word for breast.

“We are simply asking people to show their support on Sunday, February 14, by posting a photo of themselves in pink, holding a sign with a message of support, using the hashtags #seinvalentin and #Pinkribbonmonaco. We will repost everything in our story and hope to get loads of posts. This will show our support to our loved ones and remind everyone to get checked.”

Natasha does not mince her words. “Covid has had a terrible impact on our association, not only because our te10-year anniversary events have been cancelled, but, more importantly as we have been made aware of massively lower numbers of breast cancer screenings. Princess Grace Hospital reminds everyone that these screening appointments are maintained and there is no health risk in going to the hospital to get your mammogram.”

Her message is clear in reminding women that the Covid pandemic should NOT prevent testing. “Pink Ribbon in Monaco and its life-saving message is hugely important to me and I have full admiration for the devoted people at Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace doing everything they can to fight and cure breast cancer. It is safe and essential to continue testing and ensure family members do so.”

Natasha at theUN in New York.

Family is clearly a priority for Natasha, who gushes how proud she is of “my large, recomposed family and they are all part of the cool things in my life.” Her brother, Matthew Frost, is a double Clio winner (the Oscars of Advertising) and fashion photographer who has shot some of the biggest celebrities (Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Karl Lagerfeld, Cate Blanchet, Damian Hirst to name a few…) for Vogue, L’Officiel, Jalouse and others. Her step-brother, Noah Wyle, played Dr Carter in the American TV drama ER “for ages.”

Her fashion-designer sister Allegria of Balenciaga and ACNE fame is “an amazingly talented designer who also works tirelessly as an activist for the preservation of the planet.” Her youngest sister Victoria is a business entrepreneur while “my eldest, crazy sister Tabitha has amazing artistic and interior architecture talent which has influenced us all.”

Her siblings on the Wyle side are equally accomplished. “My sister Alex is one of the foremost equine vets in the US with three clinics to her name in California and my brother Aaron is a top executive at HEB in Texas.”

Natasha is currently helping her step-dad rebrand and develop his 75-year-old family-owned candy business. The confectioner has just signed a partnership with the Petit Prince-Saint Exupéry Foundation and has been granted exclusivity for a Petit Prince range of nostalgic, delicious and all-natural range of caramel sweets.

“This is a big deal for me as I have always been passionate about Le Petit Prince, and it was sort of serendipitous to have this opportunity as, since his birth, my son Magnus has reminded me physically of the main character. Way before this happened, I was reading him the pop-up child-friendly version.”

Using local butter and sticks are made of wood, the exclusive Petit Prince range by Nice Bonbon – whose old-school website relaunches the first week of February – should be available in the early spring.

Natasha and Roberto at Blue Coast Brewing launch. Photo: Nancy Heslin

It was nearly nine years ago when Natasha was flying home from a holiday at her step-dad’s place in St Barts when Swede Roberto Savio popped on the flight at the Curacao layover. “He was seated next to me. It was a fun flight to Amsterdam,” Natasha laughs. They married and has Magnus five years ago.

The couple are also business partners. In 2017, the dynamic duo launched  Blue Coast Brewing Company, an idea that came to them after a trip to a friend’s brewery in San Diego the year before. “We shared the idea with some friends and investors – including 2018 Monaco Grand Prix champ Daniel Ricciardo, 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button and founding partner Shane Heminway, amongst others – without whom the project would not have taken off financially. Our plan was that should things go well and become successful, we would pass the show so to speak after a certain amount of time to a new team because we are entrepreneurs at heart.”

Natasha is still the CEO of the French company but is happily passing the torch in the coming month while CEO Predrag Krupez, a “young and super dynamic guy” who was one of the first investors, continues to take the Nice-based brewery to a whole new level. “Thanks to Predrag and the talent of our brewer Robert Bush, we have a great new collaboration beer with a UK brewery and, despite Covid, great things are coming.” The couple is still amongst the top five Blue Coast shareholders.

Meanwhile Natasha is in the process of setting up a communication company, High Octane Communication. “I’ve had so many requests to share my branding and marketing skills,” she says modestly. “And Roberto and I are working together on some exciting new projects together, too. We are a team.”

Post your Pink Ribbon Monaco photos on Sunday, February 14.
Remember to hold a sign with a message of support and hashtag #seinvalentin #Pinkribbonmonaco

Natalia Langsdale

Natalia Langsdale. Costi Moiceanu Photography.

Natalia Langsdale’s connection to Monaco goes way back – be it with yacht brokerages Fraser Yachts and Camper & Nicholsons or private jet resellers Hawker Beechcraft and Boutsen Aviation.

“My professional career spanning the likes of London, Dublin, Auckland and Monaco has always been affiliated with event planning in one capacity or another, working in and for companies targeting a UHNWI clientele,” says Natalia. “It must be in my nature – being a Capricorn – and upbringing to be organised, disciplined and a people’s person.”

Born in England, to a British father and Polish mother who met in Sweden, Natalia grew up in Sweden until the age of ten and then for health reasons related to her mother, moved to the South of France, which she called home for 28 good years, in and out of studying and working abroad too.

In 2015 she launched Bright Creativity, a marketing, PR and events agency in France. “I have been fortunate with my upbringing and family to be fluent in six languages. Having learned French at a young age even before coming to France any bumps in the road that people encounter with not speaking the language were eradicated.”

The Villefranche-sur-Mer resident advises, “Regardless of language though, the bureaucracy of setting up a business is the most difficult if you do not have the right advisor. Your number one priority is having an excellent accountant and in the South, it is extremely hard to find a good one who speaks English and can help you. For most it is understanding under which form to open your company under, for example, if it should be auto entrepreneur, EURL, SARL, or another entity.”

Through a friend, Natalia was encouraged to try her hand at high-end wedding planning. She had organised her own nuptials – a civil ceremony and a church wedding in two different countries – and “was looking for more of a human contact, and loving all that surrounds weddings, bringing the best vendors, allowing my creativity and fine eye for detail together.”

Under the umbrella of Bright Creativity, she added My Riviera Weddings catering to an international clientele to deliver a stress-free and impeccable service. “The website is a testament to who I am reaching out to and what makes me different, existing in the languages I speak and additionally to include Japanese and Chinese.” The business took off through word of mouth.

Jeremie Bertrand Photography.

“Most couples forget that their wedding is THEIR day to be enjoyed and so My Riviera Weddings puts couples at the forefront,” explains Natalia. “The concept itself was born out of years of event organising in the luxury industry, where bespoke events such as ‘Dinners in the Sky’ 50 metres above ground level overlooking the port of Monaco or golf with biodegradable golf balls and floating targets at sea with the backdrop of the Principality while on a 70-metre superyacht are just some of the specialities that I have proven to my discerning clientele.”

Then along came Covid. Immediately Natalia’s phone started ringing with cancelations and postponements, with the next wedding not even taking place until … 2022. “The pandemic has an immediate impact on My Riviera Weddings and other conferences and events that I had in my books for 2020 and 2021 as my clientele is all international, either coming from abroad, or residing in Monaco and the French Riviera, with the intentions of having friends and family from abroad come to the wedding here.

“Many of my favourite vendors I had lined up, began showing signs of closing their businesses or moving away from the coast to start a new life and forced to pivot. Some of the top-end hotel choices closed for the year and unable to plan so far ahead could not commit to the new dates. It has caused a lot of extra work on top of what currently was a lot of work shall we say, with the reduction of the size of weddings allowed down to only 6 from big events of 100-plus sized groups.”

Natalia, who has a M.A. Hons with distinction in European Union Studies with German and Scandinavian Studies from Edinburgh University, shares that intimate elopements are now more on the cards in the safe havens of renting a private villa and enquiries from small, private affairs “trickling in if at all that.”

She has been approached to speak this week on TF1 on behalf of UPSE – L’Union des Professionnels Solidaires de l’Evénementiel – which represents the events and wedding industry to share her personal account on how the pandemic has affected the industry.

Christophe-Serrano Photography.

Like so many others in lockdown last year, Natalia found herself from one day to the next wondering how to keep herself going. “The first confinement made me understand what I truly believed in, who my trusted entourage were and that I was ready to turn a page to follow values I believed in. Coupling my love for the finer things in life with my ingenuity, I was able to see promise during the pandemic and not give in or up to the hardship that was threatening.”

Scraps of cord lying around the house with washed up driftwood from the beach made her realise she could create sustainable beauty for the home and soul while the world was trying to come to grips with a new reality.

“I need nature around me to thrive and remain charged creatively and I found raw beauty in simplicity and wanted to share my values and express my personality by creating something handmade, durable and above all sustainable. A circular brand was thus born – Made with Love by Natalia – a nod to circularity and putting the planet first, one knot at a time.”

Natalia says a positive thing to come out of the Covid crisis is her Collection and the community of like-minded people and supporters that she has built up. In addition to selling her crafts online, she also passes on her knowledge by connecting and sharing with people around the world though online Zoom masterclasses. ”It’s my way of saying my thanks to those who have followed me since the outset, who wish to learn a new craft and gain the same confidence to trust what they’re good at and just go for it! A kind of booster to the morale while actually learning.”

In just one year, the Made with Love by Natalia Collection with its photo shoots and media coverage has allowed Natalia “to be the person I truly am. I have empowered women with my eclectic designs, captivating people, who appreciate quality yet want to look their best or feature handmade in their homes, to stand out, be bold in a new sustainably-minded society.

“It allowed me to combine all my skillsets and produce something that today proudly sits in homes, on yachts and are worn matching the positive ethos that makes me, me,” Natalia Langsdale beams.

Véronique Liesse

Véronique Liesse is a French-speaking Belgian who came to Monaco five years ago with her husband who was developing his business in the Principality.  

Véronique, who also speaks fluent Dutch and English, splits her time between consultations in nutrition and micronutrients at Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, teaching nutrition to health professionals and providing in-house training for companies to improve wellbeing and quality of life at work. Even with 20 years of professional experience and a company in Belgium, she admits, “It was a new challenge to start my work here in Monaco.”

She understates her credibility. Véronique is also an accomplished writer, having penned four books tackling health – on weight-loss mistakes, hormonal issues, energy foods and immunity boosters – all published by Broché and available on Amazon.fr. Her fifth release “Ma bible pour perdre du poids sans régimes” (My Bible For Losing Weight Without Dieting) is scheduled for release on March 16.

“The book is a summary of all the factors that can lead to becoming overweight – and it is not a question of calories. The plate is key but it is much more a qualitative aspect than a quantitative one. Other things that can block a weight loss program include hormones, microbiota, chrono-nutrition, way of life, stress, sleep … and I offer concrete steps to take along with a hundred recipes.”

Growing up, Véronique says that nutrition didn’t play a big role in her life although her mother paid attention to what the family ate. “Nutrition has been a reconversion for me,” she says. “Once I finished my studies as a dietician, I quickly felt that I was missing something and so I trained more in depth in micronutrients, nutrition for athletes, children and adolescents, and in gut microbiota.”

Véronique points out the different nutritional requirements for kids. “They are not just little men and women. Today we know the importance of adopting good habits from a young age because it increases the chances of success and good health in adulthood.”

She says the same goes for elite athletes. “There are so many different sports, with different constraints and objectives, and it is important to know what we are talking about.” 

Photo: Bettina D.

In Monaco and the French Riviera, people are fortunate to have access to a Mediterranean-style diet, which is synonymous with health and quality and with an abundance of choice in local produce. “Marrying health and the art of living is the ultimate goal for Monegasques who are very aware of their health and that precious link that exists between them and their plate,” she describes.

In fact, it is the plate that Véronique examines during consultations. She looks at what people are eating to determine any missing nutrients that could help reduce inflammation and provide the immune system with what it needs to function at its best. “I also have clients who realise that diets simply do not work and in order to lose weight permanently, or for other reasons, they need to be supervised.”

She adds, “Of course, maintaining immune system health at an optimal level is a key element in dealing with this Covid crisis. This can even help to b the effectiveness of the vaccine. Fortunately, specialists are starting to talk about the importance of taking vitamin D. It really could save lives and even for children who are not at risk of Covid, vitamin D is important.”

Véronique, who has her own YouTube channel L’Healthentiel, is adamant that the impact of Covid is largely underestimated. “Beyond the direct link with immunity, our mental and emotional health has also been strongly affected. I am afraid that the damage will not be noticeable until we come out of it all. Not to mention the people who have stopped exercising or who have gained weight …

“Since the pandemic began, doing sports has seemed normal, partly because we have had more time, and partly because we were locked up. But the majority of the population doesn’t see it useful to eat better, mostly due of a lack of information.”

Like everyone, Véronique’s consultations and training came to a complete halt during the first confinement. “We are lucky in Monaco to be supported by the government. Little by little, things have been put in place, even if the situation remains complicated. Obviously, face-to-face training is impossible and has to be done at a distance but learning to adapt and bounce back is always good,” says Véronique Liesse.

Anissa Mediouni

Anissa Mediouni. Photo: Carin Verbruggen

Anissa Mediouni began her career with Engel & Völkers Residential in 2007, where she played a crucial role in developing the franchising system and supported the expansion of over 20 offices. In 2013, she was approached to develop the yachting division in Monaco, and together with an expert with experience in the top five yachting brokerage houses, they developed a network of “unparalleled synergies to provide an extensive portfolio of luxury services all under one brand name.” Three years later, she was appointed CEO Engel & Völkers Yachting, located on boulevard Albert 1er.

“Engel & Völkers has been extremely successful for over 40 years and has built not only a wonderful brand reputation but an extensive database of international clients,” says Anissa Mediouni, who speaks English, French, Italian and Lithuanian. “And thanks to the opening of our head office opening, I had the opportunity to move to Monaco. There is no better place in the world to offer yachting services to clients than Monaco, the Yachting Capital, and we see that there is a lot of interest in yachting services coming from within our network.”

Yachting is the fourth largest sector in Monaco, according to the national statistics office, IMSEE, with 1,561 offshore employees and 252 companies generating 5% of revenue – €753 million. In fact, a quarter of the world’s 100 largest superyachts fly the Monaco Yacht Club flag. 

For Anissa, Monaco is not only the capital of yachting but represents an international community in the heart of the Côte d’Azur, with the Monaco Yacht Show – aka “the event of the year” – bringing together all of the industry’s high-end players, clients, shipyards, and brokerage houses to the Principality.

“Many superyacht owners worldwide have memberships to the Yacht Club de Monaco and enjoy the social climate the Principality has to offer. Unfortunately, the pandemic has put a hold on things. However, it has not taken away the optimistic spirit of the lively capital and the feeling of security.”

Photo and feature photo: Arsi Sebastien.

Despite Covid, the yachting industry remains resilient. “It has affected primarily the charter sector,” explains Anissa. “At the start of the pandemic, we received many charter requests as clients were eager to spend their holidays onboard a private yacht in complete security rather than a busy hotel or resort. However, as the situation developed, most of the ports closed and, due to the travel restrictions put in place, we saw clients postponing their charter escapes and then, unfortunately, cancelling.”

On the sales side, Anissa relays that buyers postponed their purchase projects as their businesses were affected by the pandemic and, without a clear picture of when things would get back to normal, they were more reluctant to jump into sizeable financial commitments. “On a positive note,” she adds, “we have continued to close sales transactions throughout the year, even with the challenge of dealing with travel restrictions for visits, surveys and sea trials.”

Looking to the future, she sees that clients are already planning their next holiday onboard a yacht. “Chartering a yacht is for many clients a safe way to spend their holidays in the current situation. Those looking to buy might speed up the buying process to have the yacht ready for summer 2021 and spend their holidays on board.”

On the personal side, Anissa admits that she misses “the travelling side of the job” but Covid has allowed her to spend more time with her family, as well as to discover that virtual meetings could be as efficient as meetings in person. “I believe that a good balance for the future will be essential,” she remarks.

Anissa, who has a 4-year Language Interpretation and Translation degree from the VLEKHO Business School in Brussels, agrees that the yachting industry is “still known as a male-driven industry” but she believes in “a good balance between male and female presence,” as both have an added value to bring in personal and professional relationships.

“Men and women tend to view things from different angles. I also believe we still attach too much attention to gender and age – if somebody is good at their job, neither age or gender should matter. I have always focused on the added value I can bring to a company and always stay true to my values, which has brought me where I am today. I hope this will encourage more women to take a leading role in the Yachting industry,” encourages Anissa Mediouni.

Riva in the Movie 

The top floor lounge at the Yacht Club de Monaco – Riva Aquarama – is named after one of its original members, the inimitable Lia Riva. When the Monaco resident first joined the yacht club, it was a tiny unassuming cubbyhole along Quai Antoine 1er, just down from Monaco Boat Service, the business her father Carlo Riva opened in 1959.

Carlo was a pioneer in the development of Monaco’s boating and yachting industry. He helped transform Port Hercules with pontoons and it was his idea to build a 100-meter tunnel under the palace to store his iconic mahogany motorboats, like one would store wine in a temperature-appropriate cellar. He shared his vision with his friend Prince Rainier and when workers started blowing up the rock, “the palace windows trembled.”

Stars like Bardot, Loren and Clooney fell in love with the iconic motorboats with white and turquoise interiors while directors used Riva boats in over 60 films, from Nikita to Men in Black and from franchises like James Bond to Agatha Christie.

A new coffee table book, Riva in the Movie, gives behind-the-scene snapshots of the classic boats acting out their roles, along with photos, original film posters and stories told by the starts who drove them.