22nd Annual Best of the Best

Overview

2010 Luxury Portfolio: Aston Martin, Audemars Piguet, Bugatti, Chopard, Hawker Beechcraft, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Mercedes-Benz,  Patek  Philippe, Perini Navi, Ritz-Carlton and Rolls-Royce. Also, 100+ new autos, watches, hotels and more.

From This Issue

Wings & Water: Business Aircraft

Peter V. Agur Jr. Managing Director and Founder, The VanAllen Group 770.507.5001 http://www.vanallen.com Peter V. Agur Jr. has been a management consultant since 1985. His firm provides consulting services for large public and private corporations, high-net-worth individuals, and royal families, among other clients. Peter began his career as an Army aviator and went on to […]

Home of Vision

When Colt and Jackie Melby went looking for a seaside home, they decided to investigate Newport Beach, Calif. Upon entering the front courtyard of a 12,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style villa in the coastal town, they noticed it was “dead quiet, peaceful, and serene,” says Jackie. “Then we got the view of the Pacific. When it’s clear out, […]

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

A car equipped with four turbochargers strapped to a massive 16-cylinder engine may sound, at first, as though it might be overqualified to win the Best of the Best blue ribbon for our convertible category, but the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport offers drivers much more than performance figures that would give even a NASA […]

Aston Martin DBS Volante

Those who imagined that the Aston Martin DBS was as good as it could ever be in anyone’s lifetime should take a look at the Aston Martin DBS Volante (www.astonmartin.com). This convertible version of that admirable vehicle is a great deal more than a decapitated coupe. The DBS’ 6-liter, 503 hp engine is also deployed […]

Maserati GranTurismo Convertible

The new Maserati GranTurismo Convertible (www.maserati.us)—the first four-seat convertible in the company’s nearly 100-year history—is a brilliant adaptation of the GranTurismo coupe, sacrificing nothing in translation but the hard top. In fact, its canvas top, which may be the most elegantly integrated of any convertible, preserves the glorious Pininfarina profile of the GT while offering […]

Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet

Although, at first glance, the 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet (www.porsche.com/usa) exhibits no visible improvements over last year’s model, this latest iteration does feature some significant upgrades. Several automakers (namely Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus) now rely on retractable-hardtop offerings for their flagship convertibles, but performance-minded Porsche wisely decided to keep the car’s overall weight down […]

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

When asked to list the world’s most desirable sports cars, most auto enthusiasts will quickly recite a handful of European marques whose various crests are adorned with equines, bovines, and avian appendages. Few would have imagined that Mercedes-Benz, the Stuttgart stalwart known for its capable Autobahn cruisers, would shake the car world in 2010 with […]

Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni

Like most Italian-bred sports cars, the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni (www.lamborghini.com) is designed to satisfy the deepest desires of serious performance enthusiasts. Yet its name represents something very special to the brand as well: Valentino Balboni, the company’s recently retired chief test-driver, wanted his namesake car to match his personal driving preferences, and […]

Lexus LFA

When the Lexus LS400 sedan arrived in the United States in 1989, it was faintly praised but generally damned for being luxurious yet too conservative, adequately powered but utterly boring. What a difference two decades make. This latest Lexus, the 2011 Lexus LFA (www.lexus.com), debuts as a diametric opposite of its progenitor—a brute force, luxury […]

Lotus Evora

Juxtaposed to the sports-car offerings of Lamborghini, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz, the Lotus Evora (www.lotuscars.com) may appear to be a small fish in a tank of great whites. But those looking for a serious sports car should not discount this petite performer. Equipped with a modest 276 hp naturally aspirated V-6 engine, the Evora may not […]

Roadster: Allard J2X MkII

This jewellike roadster is just the ticket for jaded, I’ve-driven-everything types who long for something off the hoof-beaten path of Italian supercars, popular Porsches, and common Corvettes. Much admired by collectors and vintage racers, the original Allard J2X was one of the first Anglo-American hybrids—British designs powered by big American engines—and a track legend throughout […]

Multipassenger Vehicle: Becker JetVan

At first glance, the Becker JetVan is as unremarkable as your run-of-the-mill delivery truck, but one serious look into its interior cabin reveals the extraordinary degree of custom tailoring that is hidden beneath the vehicle’s Mercedes-Benz Sprinter shell. Not a single piece of the JetVan’s finished rear-compartment cabin is carried over from the original car. […]

Off-Road Vehicle: Icon CJ3B

Among the ranks of vintage and classic off-road vehicles, less than a handful of models deserve to be labeled iconic. The Willys CJ is one of these, which is why Jonathan Ward, owner and designer of California-based Icon, chose to build his own interpretation of that 1950s-era Jeep, the Icon CJ3B. Although Icon established its […]

Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography

The Range Rover is not only archetypically British but also unchallenged as the world’s first and most proficient luxury sport-utility vehicle. Always square of shoulder and tougher than Harris Tweed, this stalwart SUV has not lost its boxy figure in four decades; it still evokes associations with county pubs and military clubs; and it pulls […]

Audi Q7 TD

The clean-diesel technology derived from the Audi R10 TDI Le Mans–series racecar is finally making its way into the German automaker’s U.S. production line. The Audi Q7 TDI (www.audiusa.com) was the first diesel-powered model to arrive stateside last year. Though a 3-liter turbocharged V-6 engine that produces only 225 hp may seem a bit lackluster […]

BMW X5 M

Based on performance figures alone, the BMW X5 M (www.bmwusa.com) could easily be mistaken for a sports car. Boasting the same 4.5-second sprint to 60 mph as BMW’s much smaller M3, the X5 M proves that a family-size SUV, albeit practical, does not have to be boring. A 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8 engine produces more horsepower […]

Cadillac SRX

Priced at $34,155, the Cadillac SRX (www.cadillac.com) demonstrates General Motors’ ability to cut the fat and create a car that drivers actually want to buy and drive. For the 2010 model year, the SRX receives a much-needed makeover that includes sleek body panels and a swanky interior. The fit and finish of the leather and […]

Rolls-Royce Ghost

Its many silver parts and flawless showing in a nearly 15,000-mile time trial over crumbled roads made the first-born Rolls-Royce Ghost both excessive and successful. Today, 103 years later, its successor, the 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost, can lay claim to the same levels of craftsmanship and high performance—only now, honed by a century of refinement. More […]

Aston Martin Rapide

The elegantly dressed and exceptionally sporty Aston Martin Rapide (www.astonmartin.com), which made its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September, is one of the most beautiful sedans of this century. Surprisingly, the British automaker found a way to add two additional doors to its coupe, retain the brand’s signature good looks, and lose […]

Jaguar XFR

A supercharged version of the well-accepted Jaguar XF was the candy-apple-red sweetheart of Robb Report’s long-term test fleet for more than a year and over 20,000 miles. Its mechanicals, however, were somewhat on the puny side and definitely from a previous generation. Happily, this deficiency is remedied in the 2010 Jaguar XFR (www.jaguar.com), which marries […]

Porsche Panamera Turbo

Porsche purists scoffed at the Cayenne when initial production began in 2002, but the five-passenger SUV quickly became the German automaker’s best-selling model in the U.S. market. Porsche is once again mixing it up in the style department with its all-new, range-topping four-door, the 2010 Porsche Panamera Turbo (www.porsche.com/usa). The $132,600 sports sedan—which derives its […]

Bentley Continental Supersports

High horsepower, heavy hips, and huge performance are not characteristics typically associated with the greening of luxury cars. Yet the generally recyclable, relatively fuel-efficient Bentley Continental Supersports manages to stake out its own middle ground between the usually distinct worlds of environmentally friendly engineering and serious motoring. The result is a genuine automotive achievement that […]

Audi TTS

After years of being thought of as too cute or bubbly by serious sports-coupe enthusiasts, Audi’s TT model line finally received the shot of testosterone it needed to compete with the likes of the Porsche Cayman and BMW 135i. The 2010 Audi TTS (www.audiusa.com), which starts at $45,900 and features a more aggressive design than […]

Maserati GranTurismo S Automatic

The best-kept secret in the coupe/GT category has got to be the Maserati GranTurismo S Automatic (www.maserati.us), a pumped-up version of the company’s elegant four-seat GT that needed nothing but got more of everything. A larger, Ferrari-engineered 4.7-liter V-8 replaces Maserati’s 4.2-?liter standard offering and sets the stage for performance with 427 hp and added […]

Mercedes-Benz E550 Coupe

The old Mercedes-Benz CLK coupe may be officially retired, but the German automaker had no intention of leaving a gap in its 2010 model line. Enter the Mercedes-Benz E550 Coupe (www.mbusa.com). Essentially a two-door version of the brand’s best-selling E-class sedan, the $54,650 E550 Coupe features vast improvements over Mercedes-Benz’s former midsize two-door in the […]

Cruiser: Harley-Davidson CVO Fat Bob

  These may be lean times for the motorcycle industry, but the unrestrained enthusiasm inherent in the Harley-Davidson CVO Fat Bob earns it the distinction of being selected as our favorite cruiser this year. Exuberantly constructed with handcrafted details that could only come from Harley’s Milwaukee-based Custom Vehicle Operations division, the Fat Bob—which has a […]

Sportbike: BMW S 1000 RR

BMW S 1000 RR is perhaps the greatest motorcycle-branding success story of the last 10 years. From the moment that the S 1000 RR made the leap from the drafting board to the showroom floor, the sportbike transformed existing perceptions of the Bavarian brand, winning over a new generation of enthusiasts. Interestingly, no single innovation, system, or […]

Multipurpose: Ducati Multistrada 1200

Because the Ducati brand is synonymous with track-ready superbikes, the concept of a multipurpose Ducati met with early skepticism from enthusiasts. Yet the Bolognese manufacturer has fulfilled its unlikely mission in the overachieving 2010 Multistrada 1200. Bearing virtually no resemblance to its air-cooled predecessor, the new $14,995 Multistrada incorporates a superbike-sourced powerplant that actually produces […]

Christensen Shipyards Odessa

With its stunning black hull and silver superstructure, Christensen Shipyards’ 160-foot Odessa immediately commands attention in marinas filled with large, white yachts. The July 2009 launch also stands out among Christensen boats, boasting sleeker lines than its sisters from the Vancouver, Wash.–based yard. Her striking exterior, however, was not the driving force behind Odessa’s design. […]

Blind Date

The owners of Trinity Yachts’ 161-foot Blind Date (228.?276.1000, http://www.trinityyachts.com; available for charter through Peter Insull, +33.493.34.22.42, http://www.insull.com) met on, yes, a blind date 20 years ago. After chartering yachts for 10 years, the couple knew exactly what they wanted in a boat, including a wide-open sundeck for sunning and lounging. To accommodate such a […]

Northern Star

Lürssen’s 248-foot exploration yacht Northern Star (+49.421.6604.166, http://www.lurssen.com; available for charter through Moran Yacht & Ship, 954.768.0707, http://www.moranyachts.com) has been described as an English country house on water. A manor is more like it. This rugged (she is certified for light ice) yet genteel yacht, which Lürssen launched last October, has seemingly endless exterior deck […]

Riela

The prime example of Perini Navi’s 56-meter aluminum-hull series, the 184-foot Riela (401.683.5600, http://www.perininavi.it; available for charter through Camper & Nicholsons International, +377.97.97.77.00, http://www.cnyachts.com) is a ketch-rigged sailing yacht with a distinct style that is the result of a collaboration between naval architect Ron Holland and designer Rémi Tessier. The boat’s serene interior features Macassar […]

Elandess

The owner who commissioned Elandess (+49.421.6733.0, http://www.abeking.com) from German builder Abeking & Rasmussen wanted a family-friendly boat, but one that would “push the boundaries even further than his first yacht,” says Dickie Bannenberg, of interiors firm Bannenberg & Rowell Design. Bannenberg’s edgy yet inviting interior—which displays the owner’s whimsical artwork and furniture gathered from his […]

Trident

Built at Feadship’s Royal Van Lent Shipyard in Holland, the 214-foot Trident (954.761.1830, http://www.feadship.com; available for charter through Feadship Charter, 954.761.1830, http://www.feadshipcharter.com) is the chameleon of the charter world. “Trident has the ability to adapt itself to the people on board and the occasion rather than the other way around,” says Francois van Well, former […]

Beechcraft King Air 350i

The King Air 350i is a contemporary interpretation of the classic King Air, which Beechcraft introduced in 1964. Its economical performance and abundant cabin space continue to attract turboprop and light-jet owners alike. The 350i accommodates eight passengers in a cabin that helps modernize the timeless King Air concept for the 21st-century traveler. “Any work […]

Piper Matrix

When introduced in 2007, the Piper Matrix (772.567.4361, http://www.newpiper.com) seemed an unlikely candidate to become the company’s best-selling model. The design is basically the same as that of Piper’s Malibu Mirage, which was first built in the late 1980s, but the Matrix has an unpressurized cabin and a smaller price tag. This combination, however, turned […]

Diamond Air­craft DA42

Last year, Diamond Aircraft reintroduced its twin-engine Diamond Aircraft DA42 (519.457.4000, http://www.diamondaircraft.com) with new power options. Dual fuel-efficient Thielert diesels powered the initial version of the four-seater, which hit the U.S. market in 2005. That airplane garnered significant attention, but engine maintenance proved to be difficult and expensive. In 2008, Thielert declared bankruptcy, forcing Diamond […]

Cirrus SR22

For the last eight out of nine years since its introduction, the Cirrus SR22 (218.529.7292, http://www.cirrusaircraft.com) has dominated every other single-piston aircraft on the market in terms of sales. An aircraft of such acclaim does not rise to this level of popularity without continually incorporating new trends and technology. The SR22—with its optional Turbo, X […]

Furniture: Magni Home Collection

Since he founded the Magni Home Collection 14 years ago, James Magni has had ambitious designs for his furnishings. The Los Angeles–based interior designer–cum–furniture maker likens his company’s craftsmanship to the early work of such famed Italian design houses as Gucci and Prada, whose first goods were handmade by small groups of artisans. Magni’s newest […]

Bathroom: Agape Memory Collection

In 1998, the Italian bathroom manufacturer Agape introduced designer Giampaolo Benedini’s avant-garde Spoon tub, which elevated the basic bathtub to a piece of functional art. In 2004, the company added architect and designer Patricia Urquiola’s Pear line of tubs, washbasins, toilets, and bidets—all items distinctive for their curvy-yet-modern aesthetic. Now, after years of making highly […]

Kitchen: Anvil Motion

When Randy Deem, owner of Brigham City, Utah–based Anvil Construction, was building spec houses in 1997, he became disenchanted with the standardized cabinets and hardware that kitchen suppliers were presenting to him. Believing he could do better, he created a kitchen design that emphasizeddovetail construction, handcarved details, and high-grade finishes. “From there, we just kept […]

Chopard

When marking a significant anniversary, a venerable luxury house often pays homage to its illustrious past with a celebratory collection influenced by its archives. But for its 150th anniversary this year, Swiss jeweler and watchmaker Chopard took a daringly different approach, creating 150 whimsical animal-themed jewelry designs executed in a variety of precious and semiprecious […]

Quesada 35th Anniversary

With few exceptions, most smokers are more familiar with the names of their cigars than they are with the names of the cigar makers. Some good examples are Fonseca, Licenciado, and Jose Benito—popular brands all made by a quiet, unassuming fourth-generation Cuban expatriate named Manuel “Manolo” Quesada. In 1974, Quesada became the first cigar manufacturer […]

Montecristo 75th Aniversario

In 1935, Montecristo, one of the world’s most iconic cigar brands, was born in Havana. But with the Cuban embargo the “Monte” disappeared from American humidors. However, between 1993 and 1994 a new Montecristo emerged in the United States, this time from the Dominican Republic. It has since been made in various offerings, but the […]

Arturo Fuente King T

For some cigar manufacturers, packaging is everything. For others, it is the quality of the cigar that counts. In the case of Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia in the Dominican Republic, it is both, as exemplified by one of the brand’s first new offerings in years, the Arturo Fuente King T (www.cigarfamily.com, $10), the T […]

Nestor Miranda Danno

In 1989, Nestor Miranda of Miami Cigar & Company launched Don Lino, which became one of the most sought-after brands of the cigar boom in the 1990s. Last year, after a series of ebbs and flows in the business, he created another superstar, the Nestor Miranda Danno (www.nestormirandacigars.com, $9), named after his late son, Daniel. […]

Camacho Room 101

Camacho is known for making full-bodied Honduran cigars. But when Camacho’s president, Christian Eiroa, met silversmith and jewelry designer Matt Booth, of Hollywood, Calif., and saw his line of Room 101 smoker’s accessories, the two men discovered a common bond. “I liked the way he thought,” says Eiroa. “It was different, but agreeable. So I […]

La Escepción

Just as the original Cuban La Escepción was an offshoot of Havana’s Hoyo de Monterrey cigar, this Honduran version of La Escepción (www.cigarworld.com; $5.99–$6.39 depending on shape) is an extension of the meaty Honduran Hoyo de Monterrey, but with a hint of pepper and leather. This is the first cigar to feature a binder from […]

Berger & Argenti Classico

It is unusual for a new cigar brand to garner praise from virtually every individual who smokes it, but that is what seems to have happened with the Berger & Argenti Classico (www.bergerargenti.com; $4.50–$7.50 depending on shape), a joint venture between brothers Albert and Michael Argenti of Miami-based Cuban Imports and Enrique “Kiki” Berger of […]

Alec Bradley Prensado

Prensado is Spanish for “pressed” and a fitting name for this well-constructed Honduran powerhouse, which is Alec Bradley’s second box-pressed cigar. The Alec Bradley Prensado (www.alecbradley.com; $8.95–$11.75 depending on shape) is also the company’s most full-bodied smoke to date. Rolled with a new Corojo 2006 Honduran wrapper from Trojes, near the Nicaraguan border, the cigar […]

Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Chronometer

Wheh the possible exception of a power-reserve indicator, the Jules Audemars Chronometer has no complications whatsoever,” says Giulio Papi, the watch’s technical designer. His assertion, though accurate, is also a gross understatement. Audemars Piguet’s Jules Audemars Chronometer with Audemars Piguet Escapement is indeed a straightforward watch; but its combination of complex, evocative design and stunning […]

Christophe Claret DualTow

One of the most impressive features of the Christophe Claret DualTow (954.610.2234, http://www.dualtow.ch) is the watch’s pedigree—a fact that may strike one as unusual, given that Christophe Claret is not a brand in the conventional sense. Yet the watchmaker has built his reputation as one of the most skillful behind-the-scenes complication specialists of the modern […]

A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk

For years, A. Lange & Söhne has sought to define a uniquely German style of building fine watches—one that reflects the suitably Teutonic qualities of masculinity, utility, and, of course, precision. The A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk (800.408.8147, http://www.alange-soehne.com), priced at $54,500, seems to embody all three attributes. While the watch indicates the time by […]

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique

Watchmakers Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey probably did not intend for their latest Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique (www.greubelforsey.com; available through Westime, 310.470.1388) to overshadow the signature technical development and finishing of their earlier watches. Yet despite the fact that it introduces no new major technical innovations, this particular model remains the most accessible and […]

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie

Jaeger-LeCoultre has recently built what is unquestionably the most technically sophisticated musical watch in the world. But there is a catch: One cannot buy the watch on its own. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie (800.552.8463, http://www.jaegerlecoultre.com) is sold with the company’s other two most complicated watches, the Gyrotourbillon and Reverso a Triptyque, as a […]

Ulysse Nardin Moonstruck

Of all the aspects of watchmaking, astronomic complications—those that render the movements of the sun, stars, and planets on a watch dial—are the most obscure and hard to decipher for the average consumer. Yet this is precisely the area in which Ludwig Oechslin—the eccentric and independent horological genius who often collaborates with Ulysse Nardin—most excels. […]

Harry Winston Opus 9

Since the introduction of its Opus 1 watch in 2001, Harry Winston has done what few jewelry houses have been able to do: capture the imaginations of serious collectors. Limited to six pieces for each of three movements—a tourbillion, a five-day automatic, and a resonance chronometer—the Opus 1 series, produced in collaboration with master horologist […]

Dior Christal Tourbillon Rubies

Remarkable in itself, Dior’s decision to execute a million-dollar-plus jeweled tourbillon is made all the more puzzling by the company’s choice to base its new watch on the Christal design, which is not normally an expensive timepiece. Yet this playful contrast serves to enhance the watch’s charm. “The Dior Christal Tourbillon was a nice exercise, […]

Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon Lady

For years, chopard has been an oddly bifurcated company: Copresident Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele designs the glamorous, high-octane jewelry and jewelry watches, while her brother and copresident Karl-Friedrich has built the L.U.C (Louis-Ulysse Chopard) movement manufacture into something that serious collectors can respect. Under the assumption that men and women want different things on their wrists, the […]

Patek Philippe Ladies First Chronograph

Some male watch collectors have long wondered how to introduce the women in their lives to the mysteries of horologic appreciation. Patek Philippe seems to have found a cure for feminine indifference to mechanical watches with its ref. 7071 Patek Philippe Ladies First Chronograph (212.218.1240, http://www.patek.com), a $79,800 sugar-coated lozenge with a balanced shape and […]

Vacheron Constantin Kalla Flame

Three years ago, Vacheron Constantin’s jewelry-watch efforts came to a crossroads. Its Kalla family of watches—designs seemingly composed of nothing but emerald-cut diamonds—had begun to look slightly dated. Virtually nothing about the line had changed since the 1970s, when Kallista reigned as the world’s most expensive watch, and the designers were at a loss as […]

Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

The fantasy that is Phulay Bay begins when you first set foot in the resort, where gigantic-scale architecture and a storybook color palette may have you thinking you have fallen down the rabbit hole with Alice. Opened in December on the Thai island of Krabi—where massive jagged limestone formations rise from the Andaman Sea just […]

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles

The steep, winding pathways that connect the 67 tree-house villas at the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (+248.393.000, http://www.fourseasons.com) are not especially convenient for casual strolls. Fortunately, the views from the villas—and just about every other location at the resort—ensure that you are always happy staying put. Opened in February 2009, the Four Seasons sits in […]

Amangiri

The second U.S. property from Singapore-based Amanresorts, Amangiri (435.675.3999, http://www.amanresorts.com) is a serene desert retreat that opened last October within a 600-acre private nature reserve near Utah’s Lake Powell. The resort’s 34 suites put the surrounding wilderness on constant display, with floor-to-ceiling windows and private courtyards that offer views of towering plateaus, pastel bluffs, and […]

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Wollemi pine, one of the rarest and oldest tree species on Earth, grows naturally at the Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa (+61.29.290.9733, http://www.emirateshotelsresorts.com) and throughout the surrounding conservation areas in Australia’s Blue Mountains. Botanists first discovered the 90-million-year-old species in 1994, after gaining access to a remote canyon of Wollemi National Park by helicopter. Last […]

The St. Regis Deer Crest Resort

One can reach The St. Regis Deer Crest Resort (435.940.5700, http://www.stregis.com), situated on 12 acres in an exclusive gated community in Utah’s Deer Valley, by chauffeured vehicle; but to choose this mode of conveyance would be to deny oneself the panoramic pleasures of arriving aboard the resort’s leather-upholstered, climate-controlled funicular, which affords sweeping views of […]

Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe

Ski-in/ski-out has never been so simple as it is at the new Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe (530.562.3000, http://www.ritzcarlton.com) in Northern California. Opened in December, the 170-room property sits atop a rise overlooking the Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort’s mid-mountain chairlifts, a location from which it would be easy enough to hit the slopes on your own. The […]

The Aman Spa at the Connaught

Beneath the ornate Edwardian lobby of London’s Connaught hotel lies a portal from England to the East. The Aman Spa at the Connaught—located in the basement of the freshly renovated property—is the first Amanresorts-branded facility built outside of one of the company’s own hotels. And yet, upon entering the spa, guests will feel as though […]

Castle Stuart Golf Links

As far as Auld Country golf destinations go, the Scottish Highlands town of Inverness has always played second fiddle to St. Andrews. The debut of Castle Stuart Golf Links goes a long way toward changing that. Opened last July just outside of Inverness—within an hour and a half’s drive of Royal Dornoch, Brora, and other […]

One&Only Cape Town

To hear International hotelier Sol Kerzner tell it, the new One&Only Cape Town is an island in the middle of South Africa’s most visited city. “The feeling here is just as relaxed as if you were sitting on the beach in the Caribbean,” says Kerzner as he sips a cappucino under a beach umbrella on […]

Elysian

Chicago’s boutique-size Elysian (312.646.1300, http://www.elysianhotels.com) hotel and residential tower is named after the final resting place of the gods in Greek mythology—a lofty billing that just might be appropriate for this Windy City newcomer. The 188-room property—owned by three Chicago-area entrepreneurs, one of whom is a nephew of American culinary pioneer Alice Waters—was modeled after […]

Il Salviatino

Following two years of meticulous restorations and an investment of nearly $60 million, Il Salviatino (+39.055.904. 1111, http://www.salviatino.com) has reclaimed its place as a gathering spot for the cognoscenti. The 15th-century villa—set on a cypress-covered hillside in Fiesole, Italy, overlooking Florence’s Il Duomo—was once the domain of the Salviati family, who hosted high-society functions at […]

The Jefferson, Washington, D.C.

The building at 1200 16th Street in Washington, D.C., that proudly bears the surname of the third president of the United States never, of course, hosted that august personage. But on entering the graceful edifice, which was built in 1923 as an upscale apartment house, one can easily imagine the author of the Declaration of […]

The Peninsula Shanghai

On the first Saturday of each month at The Peninsula Shanghai (+86.21.2327.2888, http://www.peninsula.com), 87-year-old musician Zheng Deren plays with his 18-piece jazz band and fills the hotel’s triple-height lobby with the booming sound of the double bass. The music harks back to Shanghai’s heyday during the 1930s and ’40s, when Zheng would perform for a […]

Thoumieux

The recently revived Paris institution Thoumieux (+33.1.47.05.49.75) is steeped in history, yet it marks a noteworthy first for famed restaurateur Thierry Costes. In 1923, the Thoumieux family purchased the property—the second “bouillon Parisian,” or precursor to the brasserie—and promptly turned it into a legendary dining spot. Decades later, the beloved eatery had fallen on hard […]

Twist

It is no trifling matter that Pierre Gagnaire, arguably France’s greatest living culinary hero, has finally graced the United States with his presence. Twist (888.881.9367, http://www.mandarinoriental.com) is as unique as any of the chef’s seven overseas establishments, and a reflection of its playful, larger-than-life Las Vegas setting. “People told me that in Las Vegas everyone […]

Marea

A year ago, manhattan’s luxury dining scene was in bad shape. Many of the stalwart establishments had closed, while the survivors felt dusty and dated. Decadent, sauce-heavy French cuisine had fallen out of favor. Casual-chic trattorias were taking over downtown, where the culinary life force had re-established itself. Nevertheless, people still craved an exceptional experience […]

Quince

When, after six years, chef Michael Tusk and his wife, Lindsay, realized their successful San Francisco establishment had outgrown its original location, they decided to find a more suitable space. Now the couple’s new and improved Quince (415.775.8500, http://www.quincerestaurant.com) is more glamorous, more accessible, and more spacious. Where once there were 40 seats at Quince, […]

Parker’s Heritage Collection Golden Anniversary Bourbon

Even the late, legendary Jim Beam—founder of the international spirits conglomerate that bears his name—might have been a bit jealous of his grandnephew Parker Beam. This sixth-generation master distiller for Heaven Hill has access to the world’s second-largest supply of bourbon aging in barrels, and more than half of these are over eight years old. […]

Armagnac Réserve de la Famille

Compared with its more popular, double-distilled younger brother Cognac, Armagnac has always stood timidly in the shadows. But now Armagnac Réserve de la Famille (www.domaineselect.com, $89)—a continuous distillation from Mauléon d’ Armagnac in Gascony, just 125 miles south of the Cognac region—has stepped into the spotlight in the guise of a 20-year-old XO made by […]

The Dalmore King Alexander III

Dalmore master distiller Richard Paterson is an alchemist when it comes to blending single malts that have matured in different barrels in the distillery’s warehouses. His past accomplishments include the 12 Year Old and the Gran Reserva, both created with carefully crafted combinations of whiskies aged in ex-bourbon barrels and Spanish sherry casks. But Paterson […]

Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario

On November 2, 1758, Don José Antonio de Cuervo obtained a plot of land to grow agaves in the Tequila region of Mexico. Little did he suspect that 10 generations later his family would commemorate that event by creating one of the world’s finest extra añejos. This limited edition, the Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario (www.josecuervo.com, […]

Lagavulin 1993 Distillers Edition

Lagavulin 16 Year Old is one of the smokiest Islay single malts—a dram coveted by those who sip their whisky straight. Now, even this powerful spirit has been improved upon with the latest limited release of Lagavulin 1993 Distillers Edition (www.malts.com, $110). After aging for 16 years in ex-bourbon barrels, the Distillers Edition received six […]

Oxley Classic English Dry Gin

With its pungent, peppery-juniper-herbal bouquet and its smooth, elegant flavor, Oxley Classic English Dry Gin (www.oxleygin.com, $50) stands out among the world’s best gins. Its aroma is the product of 14 different botanicals, including English Meadowsweet and peels of fresh lemon, grapefruit, and orange. The gin is macerated in a neutral grain spirit for more […]

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Seasoned Oak Finish

A few years ago, master distiller Chris Morris decided to pay tribute to the master distillers who had come before him. Thus was born the Master’s Collection: occasional limited releases of triple-pot-distilled Woodford Reserve that, paradoxically, go against tradition. “We take the five sources of flavor—grain, water, fermentation, distillation, and wood aging—and we change one […]

Château Haut-Brion 2007 Blanc Pessac-Léognan

Good fortune has attended Château Haut-Brion since 1525, when Jean de Pontac became its owner upon his marriage to Jeanne de Bellon. A member of parliament and by all accounts a man of boundless energy, Pontac, who lived to be 100 years old, built his château on the least favorable site for growing grapes and—either […]

Bouchard Père & Fils 2007 Corton-Charlemagne

It was not the père but the fils at the firm of Bouchard who spearheaded the family’s foray into the realm of wine. The first member of the family to sell wine through his father’s textile business, Joseph Bou­chard soon took the process a step further when he began to acquire vineyards throughout Burgundy. Now […]

Dom Pérignon 1990 Oenothèque Rosé

“There is no greatness without risk,” says chef de cave Richard Geoffroy of the Dom Pérignon 1990 Oenothèque Rosé (www.domperignon.com, $800). He refers to the challenges involved in making vintage rather than nonvintage Champagne, but his words could as easily apply to the riskiness of including a 20-year-old sparkling wine made with red grapes in […]

Domaine Jean-Louis Chave 2006 Hermitage Blanc

Having cultivated its vineyards in the Rhône Valley for well over 500 years, the Chave family has amassed sizable holdings in Hermitage, where the oldest vines yield small quantities of superb fruit that give the finished wines their complexity. The Hermitage reds are rich and saturated, and the whites are invariably concentrated and lush. The […]

Domaine Leflaive 2007 Bâtard-Montrachet

Frequently cited by collectors as being among the world’s preeminent producers of white wines, Domaine Leflaive was established in the town of Puligny near Beaune by Claude Leflaive in 1717. The family’s property in this Chardonnay-dominated region of Burgundy was gradually divided over the generations, but in the early 20th century, Joseph Leflaive, Claude’s descendant, […]

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia 2006 Masseto Toscana

If the histories of the two Flor­entine families associated with Tenuta dell’Ornellaia are long and convoluted, the Tuscan estate’s own saga is convoluted but brief. Though the Frescobaldi and the Antinori both launched their winemaking enterprises in the 14th century, this celebrated property in Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast did not enter the annals of […]

Louis Jadot 2006 Chambertin Clos de Bèze

Certainly one of the most prolific négociants in Burgundy—as the ubiquity of its village wines on supermarket shelves attests—Maison Louis Jadot also happens to be one of the finest. Although the firm traces its origins to Belgian Louis Henry Denis Jadot’s 1826 purchase of a premier cru vineyard, Clos des Ursules, in the Côte de […]

M. Chapoutier 2006 Ermitage L’Ermite

Adherence to tradition does not necessarily yield quality. Despite the rich oenological heritage of the Rhône Valley, during the postwar decades many of its vintners placed greater emphasis on the quantity of wine produced than on the quality. During the so-called Rhône winemaking renaissance of the 1980s and 1990s, these vintners began to recognize that […]

Penfolds 2004 Grange

Many examples of Shiraz from Australia are so dense and liquor-like that one might mistake them for fortified wines, which were very much a part of Australian viticulture’s early exploits. In fact, the country’s most prestigious red wine, Penfolds Grange, comes from the wine label that emerged from the medical ministrations of Christopher Rawson Penfold, […]

Colgin 2006 IX Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Ann Colgin has a talent for making happy discoveries. “My first love was art,” Colgin recalls, “but it was through the auction world that I came to the wine world. I went to work for Christie’s in New York, and my mentor there was one of the guest auctioneers for the Napa Valley Wine Auction […]

EnRoute 2007 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Les Pommiers

When Dirk Hampson joined Far Niente Winery in 1982 as assistant winemaker, he and owner Gil Nickel made a small quantity of Pinot Noir from some of the vines at Chateau Chevalier, a historic property in Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain District that Nickel had purchased. Ultimately, they abandoned the project, feeling that it compromised the […]

Hourglass 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Jeff Smith’s father, Ned, originally planted the humble Zinfandel vine on what turned out to be one of the more remarkable tracts of land in St. Helena, Calif.—a place not lacking in viticultural wonders. When tragedy and misfortune befell the family—Ned Smith passed away, and phylloxera infected his vines shortly thereafter—Jeff’s mother wanted to sell […]

Saxum 2007 James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles

Practice, as they say, makes perfect, and certainly Justin Smith, proprietor of Saxum Vineyards, is well tutored in the artful cultivation of those Rhône varietals that the climate and soils of California’s Paso Robles region so favor. Only a very few other producers in the area can achieve a level of quality in their wines […]