Contributors: Where to Go and How to Get There

<< Back to Robb Report, January 2008

Exclusive resorts, one of the companies featured in this month’s Icons & Innovators special section, has emerged as the leader of the nascent destination-club industry. Contributing writers Patricia Harris and David Lyon, who chronicle the company’s rise and its plans for the future in "Club Rules", suggest that good timing has played a pivotal role in Exclusive Resorts’ success, but that the company has benefited mostly from its principals’ strong and purposeful vision. "They made all the right steps," says Lyon. "They may not have known they were the right steps when they made them, but it’s grown into the industry model. They had the right idea with the right bankroll at the right time. But they deserve a lot of credit for moving very fast and very surely."

Throughout its growth, Harris notes, Exclusive Resorts has not made the mistake of neglecting its clients. "They invite members in on every level of the procedure," she says. "They ask the big-picture questions like ‘Where do you want to go that we don’t have properties?’ "

In the mid-1990s, bankruptcy seemed imminent for Brazilian jet manufacturer Embraer, another company featured in Icons & Innovators. But by making the right personnel moves and by being receptive to advice from a potential customer, the company rebounded and moved toward the front of the aviation industry. For senior editor Michael Schulze, who writes about the company’s rejuvenation in "The Boys from Brazil", the most fascinating aspect of the story involved the countrywide pursuit of aviation excellence. "This was entirely self-willed on the part of the people of Brazil," he says. "Alberto Santos-Dumont [the first Brazilian to achieve flight, in 1898, in a hydrogen airship] got a plane in the air just a few years after the Wright brothers. I think it really inspired the people of Brazil to identify with aviation as something they could learn and something they could excel at.

"It’s especially impressive when you see the decades of work, the decades of striving, and the decades of failure that precede the success of Embraer," Schulze continues. "They’ve gone from nothing to $17 billion in orders in 13 years. They’re sold out for eternity. Now they just need to deliver the planes."

British-built luxury cars always have displayed a certain style, says senior correspondent Paul Dean, who has high hopes for Aston Martin now that it is back in the hands of a Briton. "The British are historic and retrospective, elegant and a little haughty," says Dean, who writes about the latest Aston Martin, the DBS, in "Rolling Over and Onward". That the brand did not excel under Ford’s ownership is no surprise, he says. "Ford doesn’t understand the desire for heritage of the European buyer," says Dean. "It doesn’t understand the mystique of these luxury cars."

The car itself is a bit of a departure for the brand, says Dean, though he believes its exotic appearance will find a following. "The DBS is probably the most beautiful GT on the road, bar none," he gushes. "It’s got the Aston look—the low, sweeping profile that goes from front grille to rear diffuser. But this is a very exotic car for the Brits. In a way, it’s more a reflection of Ulrich Bez [Aston Martin’s chairman and CEO]. He’s a very hard-driving man from the managerial point of view and from the automotive racetrack point of view. You get the idea that he’s built this car for himself. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to introduce people to the new marque, the non-Ford Aston Martin."

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