20th Annual Best of the Best

Overview

200+ new autos, watches resorts & more.

From This Issue

Best of the Best 2008: Sports Cars: Ferrari 430 Scuderia

Ferrari is engaged in some dark alchemy these days. How else could the 430 Scuderia be both quicker and more drivable than the car on which it is based, the F430? Perhaps Ferrari’s engineers did not intend to make the 430 Scuderia a great street car. If not, then that is a happy consequence of […]

Best of the Best 2008: Sports Cars

Most Porsches, even the steroid-enhanced 911 GT2, display an air of Teutonic reserve—not sterility, but a certain degree of rationality. The Porsche 911 GT3 RS (www.porsche.com/usa), on the other hand, appears on edge, the one Porsche that will fly off the handle, grab you by the shirt, and throw you against the wall at the […]

Best of the Best 2008: Coupes & GTs: Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

Oh, to be among the fortunate 500, those quick-witted souls (fewer than one-fifth of whom are Americans) sharp enough to acquire one of Alfa Romeo’s 8C Competizione coupes. This is the first Alfa to cross the Atlantic in a decade, and the first with rear-wheel drive since 1992. And after the 500th car rolls off […]

Best of the Best 2008: Coupes & GTs

Huge and heavy, and about as green as offshore drilling, the $341,000 Bentley Brooklands (www.bentleymotors.com) is nothing that any car should be these days. Yet producing three-ton vehicles capable of triple-digit speeds has long been the Bentley way. Size is a form of majesty, and power—in this case, twin turbochargers persuading a vintage V-8 to […]

Best of the Best 2008: Sedans: Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG

Mercedes-Benz’s new and mighty 6.3-liter V-8, built by performance division AMG, has slipped fully into the company’s product mainstream, seemingly powering everything Mercedes has to offer, from the SLK Roadster to factory forklifts. With 518 hp and 465 ft lbs of torque to speed one’s travels, the 6.3 (which actually displaces 6,208 cc, but Mercedes […]

Best of the Best 2008: Sedans

Finally, a Jaguar that embraces the purity of its past and just might rekindle devotion to a brand following a decade of confusion and disappointments. What elevates the Jaguar XF (www.jaguarusa.com) are the 300 hp V-8 engine borrowed from the far heavier, more ponderous XJ8; charming gadgets better than most anything from Sharper Image; and […]

Best of the Best 2008: Sport-Utility Vehicles: Lexus LX 570

At the Lexus LX 570 assembly plant in Yoshiwara, Japan, master craftsmen oversee final fitting and balance procedures. For quality control, robots shoot 1,300 photos as the vehicles proceed down the assembly line. But human hands sand the paint covering the body panels; human ears conduct sound-quality checks on door-closing noises; and, unlike most new […]

Best of the Best 2008: Sport Utility Vehicles

The leather-trimmed cabin of the Acura MDX (www.acura.com) is a beautiful place to be, even more so when the world outside becomes ugly. Swiss-watch reliable, and laden with advanced safety features including the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, Acura’s $40,910 crossover may be the most stylish, comfortable, and confidence-inspiring means to move seven passengers. The […]

Best of the Best 2008: Speciality Vehicles: Custom Classic: Classic Recreations Eleanor Mustang

When Gone in Sixty Seconds—a splashy remake of a low-budget 1974 gear-grinder flick of the same name—premiered in 2000, the film reanimated one of Hollywood’s great movie cars: an overachieving Ford Mustang named Eleanor. Denice Halicki, the film’s producer, trademarked the name, and now, after a false start with the troubled Dallas-based specialty automaker Unique […]

Best of the Best 2008: Speciality Vehicles: Multipassenger Vehicle: Becker JetVan

Among business-class conveyances, the old-fashioned van is hardly the stuff of CEO daydreams. It is more likely to evoke queasy experiences in airport parking shuttles and sightseeing tour buses. This, however, is no old-fashioned van. With lavish interior appointments and a full contingent of cutting-edge technology, the Becker JetVan lies somewhere between Air Force One […]

Best of the Best 2008: Speciality Vehicles: Off-Road Vehicle: TLC Icon

Each TLC Icon originates as the bare chassis of a 1958–1983-era Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser, a Japanese SUV with legendary off-roadworthiness. But the Icon is much more than just a rebodied throwback; it is a thoroughly reengineered mountaineering machine with customizable specifications that include two distinct body styles—one modern and one decidedly more retro, featuring […]

Best of the Best 2008: Speciality Vehicles: Performance Tuner: Renntech Mercedes-Benz 65-series

To imply that the stock twin-turbo V-12 engines in the current Mercedes-Benz CL65, S65, and SL65 AMG performance models are sufficiently powered would be like saying Johann Sebastian Bach was just a decent musician. But to satisfy power-hungry customers, Renntech, the Florida-based Mercedes-Benz tuner, recently announced upgrades for the 2008 65-series AMG sedans, coupes, and […]

Best of the Best 2008: Motorcycles: Sport Bike: Ducati Desmosedici RR

Ducati first tantalized the faithful in 1964 with the Apollo prototype, a virtual Holy Grail for Ducatisti due to its 4-cylinder desmodromic powerplant. After an agonizingly long wait, the MotoGP-inspired Desmosedici RR—?featuring its race-bred, liquid-cooled, 90-degree L-4, 16-valve powerplant and tubular-steel-and-carbon-fiber hybrid Trellis frame—has made its way into the grip of a few passionate, performance-pursuing […]

Best of the Best 2008: Motorcycles: Cruiser: Big Dog Pitbull

There is a constant battle of sensibilities when creating a custom motorcycle. Appearance considerations are pitted against practical riding concerns, and each builder makes his own determinations. Big Dog Motorcycles straddles the line between the pure custom builder and the mass-produced cruisers with its S&S-powered, canine-inspired lineup. The newest addition to the pack is the […]

Best of the Best 2008: Motorcycles: Touring: Kawasaki Concours 14

It may be something of an understatement when Kawasaki describes its all-new sport-touring machine, the Concours 14, as a “Transcontinental Supersport.” Able to reach near-hypersonic speeds, thanks to a motor based on the Ninja ZX-14’s powerplant, the motorcycle feels as if it is designed to circumnavigate the globe—?quickly. Were it able to avoid the ?inconveniences […]

Best of the Best 2008: Motorcycles: Roadster: Suzuki B-King

Like the Ducati Desmosedici RR, the Suzuki B-King debuted as a prototype long before it became a production motorcycle; it originated as the Boost-King concept bike at the prestigious Tokyo Motor Show in 2001. Few expected the machine with startling anime-inspired styling to make it to the showroom floor without losing its radical essence. For […]

Best of the Best 2008: Motorcycles: Adventure: Triumph Tiger 1050

A street-only adventure motorcycle, the $11,000 Triumph Tiger 1050 is an intoxicating blend of tourer and street fighter. Not coincidentally, the Tiger shares its spectacular triple-cylinder motor—precisely retuned for its torque-demanding application—with the Triumph Sprint ST sport-touring bike and Speed Triple back-alley brawler. The Tiger’s tall perch presents to the rider a panoramic view of […]

Best of the Best 2008: Menswear: Tom Ford

When Tom Ford returned to fashion last year after a three-year hiatus, he did so in a way that was completely unexpected to those who had followed his 14-year career at Gucci. Rather than spotlight the same skinny suits and shiny, sex-charged sportswear that made him a fashion icon throughout the 1990s, Ford revisited menswear […]

Best of the Best 2008: Menswear

If soft, natural shoulders, unusually high-notched lapels, and suppressed waists do not make suits and sport coats from Cesare Attolini (www.cesareattolini.com; available through Ellegi, 212.246.7034) immediately recognizable, it takes only a peek inside the garments to see how the Neapolitan tailor cuts a jacket like no one else in the world. Attolini’s interior pockets are […]

Best of the Best 2008: Men’s Watches

Since its launch, Breguet’s open-works La Tradition model has stood as a paean to the original mechanical style of Abraham-Louis Breguet—from its frosted finish to revisited constructions such as the parachute antishock device. The most recent Breguet La Tradition Tourbillon Fusee (212.288.4014, http://www.breguet.com), priced at $146,800, is the best possible sequel in this style of […]

Best of the Best 2008: Women’s Watches: Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Féerie

In 2005, Parisian jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels presented its Midsummer Night’s Dream high-jewelry collection depicting impish fairies rendered in sparkling gems. Last year, the brand combined the fairy motif with a complicated retrograde movement and created the $96,000 Lady Arpels Féerie watch. Designers referenced a museum piece, the 1927 “Bonze” fob watch, for […]

Best of the Best 2008: Women’s Watches

Cristina Wendt-Thévenaz, CEO of Delaneau in Geneva, brings a feminine perspective to Swiss mechanical watchmaking, an otherwise male-dominated field. For years she has mixed traditional arts—such as miniature enamel painting, engraving, and jeweling—with high horology for women. In 2007 she unveiled the Delaneau Luckee Lotus (+41.22.318. 80.40, http://www.delaneauwatch.com), an homage to the revered flower of […]

Best of the Best 2008: Jewelry: Viren Bhagat

When, in 2005, jeweler Viren Bhagat acquired an exceptional 17th-??century, 70-?carat carved emerald, he envisioned the Mughal-era jewel as the centerpiece of an emerald-bead necklace. Over the course of the next three years he completed the design by obtaining 28 emerald beads that match the center stone in hue, quality, and shape. “I love older […]

Best of the Best 2008: Jewelry

Known for his collection of rarefied estate jewelry, Lee Siegelson of Siegelson (212.?832.?2666, http://www.siegelson.com) is not concerned with a jewel’s provenance, signature, or commercial appeal; he selects pieces solely for their beauty and rarity. His collection ranges from 19th-century jewelry to pieces from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras to contemporary designs from Daniel […]

Best of the Best 2008: Pens: Montblanc Mystery Masterpiece

Pen maker Montblanc was founded in Hamburg, Germany, in 1906, the same year that jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels opened in Paris’ Place Vendôme. In December 2006, the two brands celebrated their combined two centuries of creating luxury accessories by introducing the Mystery Masterpiece pen. The white-gold fountain pen features a heavily jeweled overlay, designed […]

Best of the Best 2008: Pens

Every detail of the Caran d’Ache 1010 (718.482.7500, http://www.carandache?.com)—from the tiny screw at the top of the clip to the multidimensional gold overlay of gear wheels and bridges—is intended to evoke a timepiece and thus Switzerland, the pen-making brand’s homeland. The pen, made of 18-karat gold and limited to 10 pieces, is priced at $120,000. […]

Best of the Best 2008: Hotels: The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow

From the guest rooms at the Ritz-Carlton, Moscow, visitors can gaze across Red Square to the Kremlin, the city’s iconic onion domes, and other architectural remnants of this nation’s turbulent past. But inside the hotel itself, guests experience an extravagance unique to modern-day Moscow. A $350 million renovation has transformed a drab, Soviet-era auberge into […]

Best of the Best 2008: Hotels

Visitors arrive at the Peninsula Tokyo (+81.3.6270.2888, http://www.peninsula.com) in green Rolls-Royce Phantoms, the Hong Kong–based hotel group’s signature cars. Managers then usher their guests into the hotel’s cavernous lobby, where Japanese businessmen from the neighboring Marunouchi financial district and women in high heels drink cocktails beneath a transfixing concave light fixture that sparkles with 1,313 […]

Best of the Best 2008: Resorts: Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya

Robb Report first covered the Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya in an October 2004 story that previewed the property’s “fall 2005” grand opening. This February, two-and-a-half years behind schedule, the Mexican beach resort finally welcomed its initial guests. The Mandarin’s first significant delay came in October 2005, when Hurricane Wilma destroyed much of Cancún and other […]

Best of the Best 2008: Resorts

The Carlton Hotel (+41.81.836. 70.00, http://www.carlton-stmoritz.ch), a nearly century-old institution in St. Moritz, Switzerland, reopened in December after a $65 million, 18-month renovation that might have the resort’s grande-dame neighbors considering face-lifts themselves. The Tschuggen Hotel Group reconfigured the formerly 100-plus-room property into a boutique resort with 60 suites, all with views of Lake St. […]

Best of the Best 2008: Golf Courses: Chambers Bay

A former gravel quarry near Tacoma, Wash., is not the first place one would expect to find the world’s top new golf course. But then, Robert Trent Jones Jr., designer of Chambers Bay, believes it is his business to exceed expectations. “If someone says to me, ‘It’s a nice course,’ we will have failed,” he […]

Best of the Best 2008: Golf Courses

Canadian designer Doug Carrick took both the high road and the low road when building the Carrick at Cameron House (+44.1389.755.565, http://www.devere.co.uk), which plays along the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland. The front nine of the 7,086-yard course follows the lake’s level shoreline and incorporates several links-style features, such as sod-walled fairway bunkers […]

Best of the Best 2008: Midsize Destination Clubs: Quintess

Since its august 2006 merger with DreamCatcher Retreats and its acquisition of Leading Residences of the World four months later, Quintess has grown from 280 members and 49 homes to more than 425 members and over 80 homes. Its recent growth has placed Quintess in a position to provide both the services of a larger […]

Best of the Best 2008: Boutique Destination Clubs: Solstice

At this time last year, Solstice confirmed plans to add two new homes to its eight-property portfolio. Instead, the Scottsdale, Ariz.–based destination club acquired six: a four-bedroom ski chalet in Verbier, Switzerland; a four-bedroom hacienda fronting the Sea of Cortés in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; two West Village apartments in New York City; and, as […]

Best of the Best 2008: Vacation Properties

Nestled on the eastern shore of Lake Keowee in the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina is the Cliffs at Keowee Springs (866.435.5127, http://www.cliffscommunities.com), a vacation-property development with an unusual value proposition: Membership includes a commitment to the wellness of all members. Here, not far from Clemson University, Lake Residences (from $1.5 million to $5 […]

Best of the Best 2008: International Red Wines

By the time I returned from two weeks in Argentina in March of this year, I had become firmly convinced that this country on the east side of the Andes is currently the best place on the planet for winegrowing. I had tasted nearly 150 releases, and more than half of them received scores of 90 […]

Best of the Best 2008: International White Wines

The estate that would become Villa Russiz was Italy’s most forward-looking when it was built in 1869 by French count Théodore de La Tour. De La Tour invested his Italian dream estate in the rolling Collio hills with the latest in French technology, built a vaulted underground cellar, and introduced French grape varieties. Sauvignon Blanc, […]

Best of the Best 2008: International Sparkling & Dessert Wines

The legendary Dom Pérignon thought he was drinking stars when he first tasted sparkling wine, and Champagne lovers have echoed his joy with each new release of Moët & Chandon’s prestige cuvée. The Moët & Chandon 1999 Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon (www.domperignon?.com, $155) is elegant and complex on its own, but also superb with food: […]

Best of the Best 2008: Domestic Red Wines: Bond 2004 Melbury Napa Valley

If intelligence is the unique ability to recognize in seeming randomness meaningful patterns not readily apparent to others—relationships, connections between objects and ideas—then Bill Harlan is certainly a man of uncommon gifts. Early on in his career he saw in what other entrepreneurs regarded as an abandoned building the opportunity to establish his first enterprise, […]

Best of the Best 2008: Domestic Red Wines

Art, as much as agriculture, furnished the inspiration for Amuse Bouche, a Pomerol-style wine from Napa Valley produced by legendary winemaker Heidi Barrett, formerly of Screaming Eagle. When Barrett and a longtime friend, restaurateur John Schwartz, began to discuss making a wine together, they decided to incorporate their mutual love of fine art into the […]

Best of the Best 2008: Domestic White Wines

Fine winemaking in Washington State began in earnest with Chateau Ste. Michelle, which owns the oldest vineyards in the Columbia Valley, now a significant wine destination. Like many of California’s older wineries, this venerable producer was established in the wake of Prohibition to slake the thirst of a parched nation. Originally known as the Pomerelle […]

Best of the Best 2008: Spirits: Le Voyage de Delamain Cognac

The protestant Delamain family fled the Huguenot persecution in 17th-century France and began an illustrious career of public service in the British Isles, chiefly in Ireland, under the protection of the royal family. In 1759, the young James Delamain, whose father, William, had been marshal of Dublin, journeyed back to the family’s original home in […]

Best of the Best 2008: Spirits

Absolut vodka has become a modern classic, thanks not only to its famous and relentlessly inventive ad campaign but also to its smooth, clean, all-natural flavors. However, even an icon as absolute as Absolut cannot rest on its reputation. Parent company Vin & Sprit (which Pernod Ricard purchased from the Swedish government for $8.34 billion […]

Best of the Best 2008: Liqueurs, Cordials & Aperitifs

  Drinking grappa used to be a harsh and caustic exercise—at least until the Nonino family came to prominence. The Noninos have been distilling grappa since 1897 in Friuli, Italy, and the current generation of this glamorous family has refined and changed the nature of this pomace-based brandy. In 1984 the Noninos also created a […]

Best of the Best 2008: Cigars

Although zino cigars are typically made in Honduras, the Platinum Scepter Series is handcrafted by Davidoff master blender Hendrik Kelner in his Tabadom factory in the Dominican Republic. The new, limited Zino Platinum Scepter Series Master Edition 2007 (www.zinoplatinum.com, $13 each) has a flavor that is at once spicy and aromatic, the result of a […]

Best of the Best 2008: Dining: Le Jules Verne

From certain tables in Le Jules Verne, if you are seated facing the right direction and the weather is clear, you can spot the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Les Invalides (with Napoléon’s tomb), the Tuileries gardens, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. Such a stirring vista could compensate for mediocre food and service. But French chef Alain […]

Best of the Best 2008: Dining

Mathias Dahlgren (+46.8.679.35.84, http://www.mdghs.com), which opened in May 2007 in Stockholm’s Grand Hotel, is in fact two restaurants. Matsalen (“the dining room” in Swedish) seats 37 for dinner in a salon that combines velvet banquettes with green-gray walls and gleaming brass chandeliers. At Matbaren (“the food bar”), patrons are encouraged to order one small plate […]

Best of the Best 2008: Home Entertainment: Meridian-Ferrari F80 Music System

An all-in-one tabletop system’s sound might be relatively feeble, but its simplicity can be preferable to the complexity of separate audio components. The Meridian-Ferrari F80 strikes a welcome and overdue compromise. It offers the simplicity of a one-piece system while delivering performance robust enough to satisfy all but the most demanding of audiophiles. Into the […]

Best of the Best 2008: Decor: Kitchen: Poggenpohl

When German cabinetmaker Poggenpohl entered the U.S. market more than 30 years ago, Americans did not immediately embrace its contemporary European kitchen designs. “If you look at the auto industry, there are a lot of parallels,” says New Jersey–based Ted Chappell, president of Poggenpohl U.S. “In the 1970s it was unusual to see a BMW […]

Best of the Best 2008: Decor: Closet Systems: Thomas Riley Artisans’ Guild

Although custom cabinetry for kitchens, libraries, and living rooms is still the primary business of the family-owned Thomas Riley Artisans’ Guild, growing demand for quality closets prompted the Naples, Fla.–based company to introduce a new line of closet systems this year. Traditionally, the design and installation process for a Thomas Riley closet system might take […]

Best of the Best 2008: Decor: Appliances: Miele

The secret behind German appliance brand Miele’s Honeycomb Care “super large capacity” washer and dryer is a pair of patented stainless-steel drums, each resembling a bee’s honeycomb. According to Miele, these drums reduce snagging, and consequently extend the life of fabrics by a factor of four. The washing machine, introduced last year, contains eco-friendly microprocessors […]

Best of the Best 2008: Decor: Outdoor Furniture: Sutherland by Starck

“There’s nothing I hate more than a gorgeous country home with a beautiful yard that someone has ruined with plastic furniture,” says renowned designer Philippe Starck. “It should look organic, like it belongs in nature.” That Starck—known for creating shockingly minimal, avant-garde interiors that border on the surreal—would offer a debut line of outdoor furniture specifically […]

Best of the Best 2008: Decor: Bedding: Sferra

When the time came to select a name for his company’s newest and most luxurious bedding collection, Paul Hooker, president and owner of Sferra, a 116-?year-old Italian linen company, forwent the typical practice of conjuring up romantic titles. Instead, he opted to call it Sferra Giza 45, after the material from which the collection is […]

Best of the Best 2008: Decor: Paint: Benjamin Moore

Few consider paint a luxury, but Aura, Benjamin Moore’s new line of high-performance interior paint, may change a few minds—and turn a few heads. “In our own factory, we formulated a special, patent-pending acrylic latex to make a durable product that could last indefinitely,” explains Carl Minchew, director of color technology for Benjamin Moore. The […]

Best of the Best 2008: Decor: Indoor Furniture: Poltrona Frau

Ferrari drivers have long enjoyed the craftsmanship and comfort of Poltrona Frau, the Tolentino, Italy–based company whose supple leather lines the interiors of the iconic Italian automobiles. In recent years, Poltrona Frau has gained the attention of a wider clientele by opening more than 80 stores and collaborating with some of the most internationally recognized […]

Best of the Best 2008: Decor: Tile: Bisazza

Long known for its opulent and contemporary twists on the ancient art of mosaics, Bisazza is now expanding its product line beyond kitchens and bathrooms. The Italian company is opening showrooms in the United States and Europe to better demonstrate its signature wallpaperlike application in nontraditional settings, such as the dining room or study. “There […]

Best fo the Best 2008: Decor: Textiles: Maya Romanoff

Maya Romanoff created his first custom mural in 2003, when architect David Rockwell asked him to make a glass-beaded geisha on the walls of New York’s Geisha restaurant. Romanoff has since designed breathtaking custom murals from family photos, artistic fabrics, and personal mementos for both commercial and residential clients. “The process involves taking a computerized […]

Best of the Best 2008: Sailing Yachts: Perini Navi Selene

One of the details that distinguishes the 184-foot sailing yacht Selene is fairly invisible—intentionally so. The experienced yachting couple who commissioned the $40 million Perini Navi ketch enjoy their privacy, so they asked the Italian builder to create a corridor that runs along the vessel’s port side. Window blinds along a wall of the main […]

Best of the Best 2008: Sailing Yachts

The Royal Huisman Meteor (+31.?527.24.3131, http://www.royalhuisman?.com), a 169-foot gaff schooner, features classic design inside and out. Naval architects Gerard Dijkstra and John G. Alden worked with interior designer John Munford to create a vessel that is as elegant as any of the best boats from eras past. From her Edwardian-influenced interior to her wide teak […]

Best of the Best 2008: Custom Megayachts

The proprietors of the 125-foot Hakvoort Perle Bleue (+31.299.651403, http://www.hakvoort.com) previously owned the 148-foot Hakvoort Campbell Bay. Although the owners downsized, they did not have to sacrifice the bigger-boat features to which they had become accustomed. Designer Donald Starkey worked with the yacht’s owners to create Perle Bleue’s interior, which is much more intriguing than […]

Best of the Best 2008: Semicustom Megayachts: Amels 171 Limited Editions

The 171-foot Deniki is the first yacht in the new 171 Limited Editions series from Holland’s Amels yard. In keeping with the relatively speedy construction possible with a semicustom build, the vessel took just 14 months to deliver. As of March, at least three other owners reportedly had signed contracts for the next yachts in […]

Best of the Best 2008: Semicustom Megayachts

The 141-foot, $33 million Emerald Star is hull number one in the CRN 43-Meter Series (+39.71. 5011.111, http://www.crn-yacht.com), which is already backlogged well into 2012. CRN, part of the Ferretti Group, reportedly sold six of the designs before Emerald Star launched late last year. Among several rare features on this yacht, the one drawing the […]

Best of the Best 2008: Charter Yachts: Trinity Mine Games

The 164-foot Trinity motor yacht Mine Games is making a splash in more ways than one in the Mediterranean this summer. As the yacht impresses viewers along the Côte d’Azur, its captain, J.D. Ducanes, and his guests are exploring the sea in a Triton 1000/2, the first personal submersible ever carried on a charter vessel. […]

Best of the Best 2008: Charter Yachts

Go-anywhere, do-anything, expedition-style motor yachts are available for charter, but few cruise beyond the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas. An exception is the 111-foot Alloy VvS1 (Fraser Yachts Worldwide, 954.463.0600, http://www.fraser?yachts.com), which you can charter in South Pacific locales such as Tahiti, Tonga, and New Zealand. The vessel, named for the diamond-industry term meaning “nearly flawless,” […]

Best of the Best 2008: Series Yachts: Riva 63′ Vertigo

With its shiny silver hull and space-age helm chair, the Riva 63′ Vertigo is a sleek creature indeed. The $3.5 million vessel, which occupies the middle of the Italian builder’s line of 15- to 115-foot motor yachts, made its U.S. debut in February. When it flies across the water at its top speed of 46 […]

Best of the Best 2008: Series Yachts

When boatbuilders use the term semicustom, they generally refer to a choice of interior decor options and possibly some predetermined layouts. A new 116-foot yacht from Lazzara takes this concept a significant step forward by offering custom features to accommodate a wheelchair. The $10.8 million Serenity, the first vessel in the Lazzara 116 series (813.835.5300, […]

Best of the Best 2008: Personal Aircraft: Pilatus PC-12 Next Generation

The Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12 turboprop is made to tackle hard work in the world’s more remote places. Since its first delivery in 1994, the aircraft has proved its ability to operate reliably, carry heavy loads, and take off and land on short, rough runways. Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service uses the plane to provide emergency […]

Best of the Best 2008: Personal Aircraft

The “S” in the name of the new Acclaim from Mooney Airplane refers to the craft’s most distinguishing attribute: speed. The Mooney Acclaim Type S (830.896.6000, www?.mooney?.com) reaches 278 mph, which is 6 mph faster than the previous Acclaim and unquestionably faster than any other piston-powered, single-engine airplane on the market. (By comparison, the Columbia […]

Best of the Best 2008: Business Jets: Embraer Phenom 100

Embraer’s Phenom 100 is often called a very light jet. But if this classification is correct, then the company has produced the most spacious VLJ yet. The cabin is significantly longer and wider than are those of the Eclipse 500, the Cessna Citation Mustang, and other VLJs, and extra-large windows make the Phenom 100 seem […]

Best of the Best 2008: Business Jets

The XLS jet, Cessna’s best-selling model, has received an impressive update. The company is offering the Cessna Citation XLS+ (316.517.6056, http://www.cessna.com) for about $12 million, an excellent price for a midsize jet. The upgrades include an advanced avionics system and digital engine control, both of which help reduce the pilot’s workload, especially during takeoffs and […]

Best of the Best 2008: Recently Delivered Aircraft: Hawker 4000

The Hawker 4000 is Hawker Beechcraft’s biggest, fastest jet yet. With two powerful Pratt & Whitney engines and a range of 3,775 miles, the aircraft flies effortlessly between continents and hops over oceans without stopping for fuel. Had it entered the market several years ago, as planned, the 4000 would have led the growing super-midsize […]

Best of the Best 2008: Flight Services: NetJets

In the past 24 years, Richard Santulli has built the world’s second-largest airline, after American—and it consists entirely of private jets. Like a traditional airline, Santulli’s NetJets owns its aircraft, can fly anywhere in the world, adheres to rigorous safety and maintenance standards, and uses a high-tech operations center to keep an eye on every […]

From the Editors: Judgments of Taste

Beauty. A recent dinner party at a private home in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood brought me to a mildly disturbing observation on this subject. Magazine editors and academics tend to so settle into their interests (and their opinions) that, even when spirited debate is called for, their arguments spill forth by rote. Having […]

Best of the Best 2008: Custom Megayachts: Lürssen Kismet

The 223-foot motor yacht Kismet, from the Lürssen Yachts shipyard in Germany, holds far more than the standard main salon and guest-cabin layout: Her spaces include a disco, a steam room, a massage room, a cinema, and private terraces on the port and starboard sides of the master suite. Exterior designer Espen Øino of Norway […]

Best of the Best 2008: Convertibles

When Sean Connery tore up a few European switchbacks in a DB5 in 1964’s Goldfinger, the Aston Martin brand became synonymous with style. This is as true today as it was four decades ago, now that the current fare, including the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster (www.astonmartin.com), has banished the images of the marque’s lumbering […]

Best of the Best 2008: International White Wines: Vincent Girardin 2005 Corton Charlemagne

Vincent Girardin’s $2.8 million, 67,000-square-foot winemaking facility in Meursault, completed just six years ago, is one of the most contemporary in Burgundy. With its Romanesque arches and square tower, this postmodern take on classic Côte d’Or architecture combines the best of tradition with the refinements of the present. The same might be said of Girardin’s […]

Best of the Best 2008: Flight Services: CitationShares

Since 1911, when Kansas farmer Clyde Cessna built a wood-and-fabric airplane and flew it from the Mississippi River to the Rockies—an aviation first—the company that he founded has built some of the world’s most popular private planes. The Citations, a series of light and midsize business jets, have become the most favored Cessnas among upscale […]

Best of the Best 2008: Flight Services: Marquis Jet

Kenny Dichter estimates that he and his partner, Jesse Itzler, were kicked out of Richard Santulli’s office five or six times before the NetJets CEO agreed to let them sell hourly access to his fleet. Santulli’s decision, which he reached seven years ago, has proven beneficial for everyone involved, because Dichter and Itzler’s proposal has […]

Best of the Best 2008: Flight Services: Bombardier Flexjet and Skyjet

  FFor two years now, many of the aviation consultants who assist Robb Report (see page 369) have reported that the fast-growing fractional operator Bombardier Flexjet provides perhaps the best, most consistent service in the business. According to Flexjet president Michael McQuay, the company has no secret recipe for this success: “It’s a matter of […]

Best of the Best 2008: Cruise Ships: Queen Victoria

The British monarch who ruled the largest empire in history would no doubt be pleased by the new $522 million ocean liner that the fabled Cunard Line recently christened after her. By any standard, Queen Victoria, known simply as “the QV,” is an imposing vessel. With 16 decks, four 2,000-square-foot grand suites, and more than […]