Contributors: On the Road Again

<< Back to Robb Report, January 2009
  • The Editors

Freelance journalist James Sturz has written for more than 60 magazines and newspapers, and he has authored a novel set in Italy. For his first contribution to Robb Report, he roamed the back roads between Rome and Bologna in three vintage Italian sports cars (“Via Flaminia,” page 94). The eight-day, seven-night trip led him through picturesque stretches of landscape dotted with vineyards, ancient farmhouses, olive groves, castles, and chestnut and oak forests. “There were definitely lots of opportunities to stop for a picnic, sightsee, or take a guided tour,” Sturz says, “but a big part of the experience was just being in these great cars.” He confesses to some initial difficulty in piloting the classic machines. “I live in the United States, and I’m used to driving an automatic,” he says. “Thankfully, the tour operator gave me a chance to get acquainted with the stick before we set out on the road.”

In “Bear Essentials” (page 138), senior correspondent Jack Smith reports on Moscow’s milieu of image, status, and sex appeal, which the citizens of New Russia refer to as face control. “It’s very much a VIP culture,” he says. “There is little that is understated in Moscow. Even the buildings, many of which are very old, are draped in neon lights. They reminded me of elderly women wearing bright shawls.” Smith also reports on Russia’s growing taste for international cuisine. “Sushi is very fashionable, if for no other reason than that it’s extremely expensive,” he says. “If people see you eating it, they know you’ve spent a lot for dinner.”

This was not Smith’s first experience with Russians. In 1988, while on assignment for a magazine in Philadelphia, he wrote a story about a group of dignitaries visiting from Moscow. “This was just before the total collapse of the U.S.S.R,” he says. “The magazine asked me to write the story from a unique perspective, so I told them that I was going to get one of the dignitaries drunk and kidnap him. They said, ‘Fine, just don’t get into trouble.’ So that’s just what I did. It was all done in good-natured fun, but the problem was, I planned to take my victim to several parties around town and he ended up passing out drunk at my house instead. When he sobered up, I toured him around my neighborhood before I took him back to his hotel.”

As president of Aviation Management Systems, a consulting firm based in Portsmouth, N.H., Lee Rohde fields many questions from clients about jet cards, an increasingly popular alternative to fractional or outright ownership of an aircraft (“Flight Deck,” page 165). “With a jet card, you’re essentially purchasing time in the air in somebody else’s aircraft,” says Rohde. “It’s not buying an asset as you would in a fractional jet program.” He notes that many of his clients who actually own planes also buy jet cards: “This works well when you need to fly your plane to two different destinations at the same time.”

Rohde also advises executive travelers to consider carefully how they plan to use a plane before buying one outright or fractionally. “If it’s all personal travel, you cannot deduct the depreciation on your taxes, so it may make more sense to go with a jet card,” he says. Similarly, he recommends thoroughly researching all jet card options before committing to a specific plan. “Just impulsively acting on the recommendation of your golf partner probably won’t deliver the best deal.”

Correction: Allen-Edmonds is the correct name of the Wisconsin-based footwear brand that is mentioned in the November 2008 issue’s Wardrobe gallery (“Clothes Session,” page 116).

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