Contributors: Hot Tubs Flying and Ice Driving

    Senior Editor Michael Schulze knows what you’re missing when you fly into Cibolo Creek Ranch; he made the four-hour drive from Midland International Airport, the less convenient means of reaching this resort in southwest Texas. "Oil rigs and vast expanses of nothing," says Schulze, describing the view along Interstate 20. The ranch is one of the five properties with on-site or nearby landing strips that we spotlight in "Private Landings".

    Also as part of this month’s special section on private travel, "Arriving in Style," Schulze writes about the world’s top completion centers for jet interiors, in "Haute and Heavy". It is amazing, he says, what these firms can accomplish, especially given the FAA requirements that the completed planes must meet before they are certified to fly in the United States. Horse stables and car garages are among the amenities that have been built into jumbo jets, and Edése Doret, the designer working on the interior of the first privately owned Airbus A380 superjumbo jet, plans to include a whirlpool tub. "I’m interested to see what the FAA will have to say about that," says Schulze.

    While driving a Bentley Continental GT on the frozen surface of Finland’s Lake Kuusamo, Robb Report automotive editor Gregory Anderson became accustomed to landing in snowbanks. The lake was the setting earlier this year for Bentley’s ice-driving program, Power on Ice, which Anderson writes about in "Continental Drifting" . "It’s this weird winter wonderland where you crash this car and they just come and dig you out," he says of the program. "You’ve got all these big cars out there flailing, and suddenly you see this big poof of white snow and you realize, ‘Oh, they just lost one.’ "

    Anderson also wrote our cover story on the new Mercedes-Benz Ocean Drive concept car ("Testing the Waters"). He treated the Mercedes prototype more gingerly—on the roads of Laguna Beach, Calif.—than he did the Continental GT on the ice in Finland. "I never drove a Bentley like that before," he says. "Most people who own them don’t drive them like that; they don’t push them to the limits. It’s kind of cool to say that you’ve taken the car to its limits. And what’s nice is, Bentley provides the cars."

    The photographs for "Testing the Waters" and this month’s cover are the work of Robert Kerian, who shot the Mercedes Ocean Drive and the Bentley Continental GTC in Laguna Beach. "I wanted to mount a camera on [the Mercedes] to take a rig shot," he remembers, explaining that such a shot involves attaching a camera to the end of a boom that is mounted on the car. Using this setup and a slow shutter speed, a photographer can produce a crisp image of the car against a blurred background. "Because [the Ocean Drive] was a complete prototype, I couldn’t touch the car," Kerian says. "The German engineers were there with the car, and after they thought about my plan, they declined it."

    Brussels is boring, or so Robb Report staff member Karen Cakebread had heard from acquaintances who had been there recently. Undeterred, she visited earlier this year and, as she notes in "Capital Venture", found a city that revels in its eccentricities. "Around many corners, you run into surprises or delightful little things that you don’t encounter in any other places," she says. "It’s very medieval and historic, but at times you’re almost slapped in the face with these comic-strip murals painted on the side of a building that has some historic relevance. There’s a real irreverence for what they have."

    Cakebread’s last visit to Belgium did not make much of an impression on her. "The first time I was there I was a kid backpacking through Europe," she says. "The only thing I remember about Belgium was staying in a hostel outside of Brussels and watching Bonanza dubbed in Flemish."

    Photo by James Lipman
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