By  on April 6, 2007

Escape by Vivre opened its first store last week, a 1,400-square-foot unit in The Cove Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

The store is a partnership between Kerzner International, operator of The Cove Atlantis and other resorts and casinos, and Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti, founder and chief executive officer of the Vivre luxury lifestyle catalogue and Web site.

Jeanbart-Lorenzotti sees Escape by Vivre as a unique retail concept primarily for resort destinations. "Vivre is very much about traveling, experiences, and looking at new things through a different perspective. It's not so much about the act of shopping. It's more about the experience of collecting."

She prides herself on traveling to exotic locations to find products to fill the Vivre catalogue and Web site. Vivre mails 1.5 million catalogues a year, and averages $650 per transaction for the catalogue and $450 online, or $525 on average. Last year, it was reported that Vivre generated volume of about $50 million. Jeanbart-Lorenzotti said the store is tracking at $2,500 in sales per square foot, or double what she expected. It's the only store in the resort, and that's a factor behind repeat visits. "Some guests have come back to the store four or five times." However, the Cove is adjacent to Kerzner's much bigger and flamboyant Atlantis resort, which has several stores — including Gucci, Bulgari and Façonnable — as well as a water park, a casino and a marine habitat, and other retail nearby.

Jeanbart-Lorenzotti is already thinking about an Escape rollout, but not on every street corner. "We are definitely discussing Dubai," where Kerzner is putting up another resort, said Jeanbart-Lorenzotti. She's also considering a flagship on a high-profile urban avenue, in Europe or the U.S., but the Escape concept is best suited for resort destinations.

"A lot of people know the catalogue, but touching and feeling merchandise is such an important factor," Jeanbart-Lorenzotti said. "Many items [at Escape by Vivre] are not necessarily in the catalogue. The store has a lot more swimwear, caftans, lots of accessories and handbags."

There is also precious and signature jewelry, handcrafted handbags and belts from around the world, woven scarves, shawls and pareos, leather goods, candles and creams, and sculptures, photographs, and hand-sketched books from emerging artists, all displayed in glass cases and across oversized tables. Twice a year, Jeanbart-Lorenzotti will highlight what she considers the perfect beach and getaway bag. There is also some ready-to-wear for women, beach items from Nepal, Egypt, Italy and Sardinia, and items for men and children.The store, designed by Jeffrey Beers and situated within open-air walkways facing the ocean, has 14-foot high ceilings, a floor-to-ceiling bookcase filled with objects and a staircase to get to the shelves. It's decorated in Vivre's signature copper and orange colors and with a big V on the front door.

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