Best of the Best


The best autos, boats, golf, travel, timepieces, jewelry, home design, fashion, wine, spirits, and more.  Also, special luxury portfolio: Lamborghini, Bentley, Patek Phillippe, Cartier, and Boing Business Jets.

From This Issue

Best of the Best: Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect A secondary system that is first rate.   Fashion, technical innovation, and performance may be equally important considerations when selecting an entertainment system for an office, a bedroom, or any space that serves more than one function. With the rapid evolution and adoption rate of Apple’s iPod and its myriad rivals, wireless connectivity, […]

Best of the Best: Sound Decisions

Sound Decisions Components that will make your music collection sing true.   An audio system is only as good as the music’s source, and in the minds and ears of many audio purists, the best sound comes from vinyl. The component best suited for making contact with the LP is the Lyra Titan moving-coil cartridge […]

Back Page: Approaching Convergence

Home theater enthusiasts who read the American Film Institute’s (AFI) 1998 list of the 100 greatest movies ever made may be struck by how few of these films could exploit the capabilities of a top-notch system. Sam Runco, founder of the home theater projector manufacturer Runco International, was not surprised. He acknowledges the divide between […]

Best of the Best: Architects

Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen The art and craft of architecture.   There is a certain spirit to the Pacific Northwest—a reverence for the natural environment, an appreciation of light that shades from white to gray—that has inspired a handful of architects to produce some exquisitely understated, site-specific homes. Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen has flourished by […]

Best of the Best: Furniture

Edelman Leather and Herman Miller A match made in modern heaven.   It was designer Charles Eames who best articulated Herman Miller’s vision when he said, “It was never my design objective that the furniture be different or novel; only that it be good to sit in, good to use, good to look at, and […]

Best of the Best: Fractional Ownership Clubs

Ritz-Carlton Club, Aspen Highlands The peak experience in fractional ownership.   Visions of the ideal secondary residence often prove elusive: The reality of vacation-home ownership frequently entails more paperwork and maintenance costs than fresh-powder runs and hot toddies by the fire. One alternative to this quagmire is fractional ownership, and no program in this category […]

Best of the Best: Kitchen Appliances

Waldorf Island Cooking Suite Bringing the commercial range home.   Over the past 30 years, Jade’s commercial appliances have been used in the kitchens of such acclaimed restaurants as Le Bernardin in New York, Emeril’s Atlanta, and Le Cirque in Las Vegas. Since its acquisition six years ago by Maytag, Jade has been quietly transferring […]

Best of the Best: Bathroom Appliances

Vitraform Coppa Pedestal A revolution in glass.   In the late 1980s, Jerry and Sheila Fein’s OEM glass business faced stiff competition from Asia, so the couple decided to combine their talents (he is an artist and industrial designer; she an interior designer) to create a brand-new product. The glass basin they fashioned for the […]

Best of the Best: Home Theater

Happy Medium A theater with bespoke quality and off-the-rack convenience.   At one end of the home theater spectrum are the all-in-one packages that offer simple, instant solutions to your entertainment needs. At the other end are the massive, custom-designed and custom-installed surrogate cinemas. The home theater we have assembled falls somewhere between the two […]

Best Things First: Limousine Service

While his fleet of Mercedes-Benz S500s and Lincoln Town Cars blends unassumingly into Bay Area traffic, the same cannot be said of Malcolm Johns’ latest acquisition. Johns, owner of Kent Limousines in San Rafael, Calif., offers what may be the only Maybach 62 in use in the United States as a for-hire limo. According to […]

Best of the Best: Hotels

The Mansion at MGM Grand Las Vegas Just off the Strip in Sin City is a little corner of heaven.   In a city that blends a Manhattan skyline and an Eiffel Tower, an 18th-century Tuscan palazzo is more of an anomaly than one would suspect. Influenced by a vacation in Italy a decade ago, […]

Best of the Best: Resorts

North Island A natural state of mind in the Seychelles.   As your chopper descends onto North Island, it is hard to imagine that this sanctuary in the Seychelles was, until quite recently, abandoned and overrun with feral cats and rats. But it was not until 1998 that the property’s new owner, Johannesburg-based outfitter Wilderness […]

Best of the Best: Residence Clubs

Exclusive Resorts Homes sweet homes.   Exclusive Resorts’ raison d’être is simple: Instead of settling for a single vacation home or a cookie-cutter hotel suite, members of this leading residence club have access to villas and estates throughout the world. Exclusive Resorts boasts a portfolio of more than 60 opulent, family-friendly residences (with new properties […]

Best of the Best: Private Resort Communities

Yellowstone Club Powder, privacy, and a pristine setting in Montana’s mountain wilderness.   Above the Montana town of Big Sky, several miles up a nondescript road that winds past farms and occasional housing developments, stands a stone-and-beam guard gate. No iron bars span its dual arches, and the only apparent impediment to entry is the […]

Best of the Best 2004: Airlines

Cathay Pacific Airways The acclaimed airline returns to its routes.   Legend has it that American entrepreneur Roy Farrell and a group of foreign correspondents, doubtless inspired by Marco Polo’s 13th-century adventures in the land he called Cathay and we now know as China, cooked up the name Cathay Pacific in a bar somewhere in […]

From the Editors: An Apology for Luxury

Decadence. It is a term not uncommonly—and always critically—applied by the uninitiated to our collective efforts here, and doubly so to this annual tome, Best of the Best, the principal goal of which appears to such individuals to be an unabashed seduction of the hapless reader (however financially equipped for the ordeal) into reckless excess. […]

Best Things First: Chess Sets

When you are ready to invest in an heirloom chess set for you and your family, Elizabeth Gann is the specialty dealer to see. Chess-lover Gann offers antique chess sets from acknowledged master artisans as well as unusual, finely crafted modern sets destined to become heirlooms.   Among the latter are Piero Benzoni’s Renaissance set […]

Best Things First: Antique Frames

Just as clothes can make the man, frames have the power to enhance a painting. The Julius Lowy Frame and Restoring Co., a 97-year-old Manhattan firm, understands this. It stocks antique frames from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and its entire collection has been scanned into a comJust as clothes can make the man, […]

Best Things First: Coffee Beans

For nearly 170 years, farmers have climbed the steep slopes of the Ospina coffee plantation in Colombia’s volcanic highlands of Antioquia. Here, under the canopy of a tropical mountain forest, the estate’s Arabica typica trees flourish from afternoon rains, filtered sun, and fertile soil. But it is the meticulous attention extended to the trees’ beans […]

Best Things First: Rocking Horses

A staple of the nursery receives the traditional treatment at Windmill Antiques in North Yorkshire, England, where proprietors Brian and Jean Tildesley replicate Victorian and Edwardian rocking horses, as well as rejuvenate steeds that have been ridden long and hard over the decades. The Tildesleys, who for years had owned an antique furniture shop, became specialists […]

Best Things First: Porterhouse Steak

In the cult of sybaritic excess, three vices take precedence over all others and, among the initiated, excite the most effusive debate. They are Scotch malt whisky, cigars, and the steak. In the latter instance, a few may argue in favor of the filet mignon or the bone-in rib eye as the choicest cut. But […]

Best Things First: Sunday Brunch

Sunday brunch at the Breakers hotel and resort in Palm Beach, Fla., delivers the requisite platters laden with Brobdingnagian shrimp and yards of tempting desserts. It also has caviar, sushi, and eggs Benedict topped with black truffle shavings. Diners flit among several freestanding stations, each serving different fare—sizzling meats here, fruit and cheese there, made-to-order […]

Best Things First: Corkscrew

Selecting a wine opener is a task that illustrates a universal dilemma: too many choices. Does one opt for a Rabbit, a screwpull, prongs, wings, or a table-mounted or pneumatic model? Does a corkscrew that resembles a car jack work better than one that looks like a fish? In this case, however, the wider the […]

Best Things First: Tobacconist

Georgetown Tobacco, located, as its name suggests, in the Colonial neighborhood of Washington, D.C., has changed little since David Berkebile opened the shop 40 years ago. Its antique decor—transported by Berkebile from a circa 1870 apothecary—is warm and inviting. Tobacco leaves hang from the ceiling, and cases and shelves are packed with accessories, gifts, and […]

Best of the Best: Spas

Como Shambhala Retreat, Cocoa Island A wholehearted approach to health. Hotelier Christina Ong does not want people to think of her newest venture, Como Shambhala Retreat, Cocoa Island, as a spa—at least not in the traditional fluff-and-buff sense. Modeled after its flagship spa on Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos, Como Hotels and Resorts’ […]

Best of the Best: Dining

Bradley Ogden Upping the ante for dining in Las Vegas. After establishing a California restaurant empire that includes the celebrated Bay Area destinations Lark Creek Inn, Yankee Pier, and One Market, chef and restaurateur Bradley Ogden entered Las Vegas in March 2003 and raised New American Cuisine to unprecedented levels. Located at Caesars Palace, Bradley […]

Best of the Best: Domestic Red Wines

Colgin Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Tychson Hill Vineyard 2000 A legacy of enduring taste and beauty. The pioneer spirit takes many forms, and pioneers themselves have many faces. One of Napa Valley’s most intrepid trailblazers bore rather delicate, refined features; yet these incidentals belied the determined heart that beat beneath. Josephine Marlin was a […]

Best of the Best: Domestic White Wines

Aubert Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Ritchie Vineyard 2001 A virtuoso of the vine.   We strive in the very difficult task of selecting wines for these lists to be as ecumenical as possible. We attempt to compose a balanced list that takes into account varying tastes and the diverse characters of different regions. The mission is […]

Best of the Best: International Red Wines

Gagliole Pecchia, Toscana 1999 A rarity among reds. Persistence pays off. Twenty years ago, Thomas Bär, a Zurich banker and attorney, and his wife, Monika, succumbed to the multiple charms of this hidden 110-acre estate just outside Castellina in Chianti. Their attachment to the place began with its history, with records dating to the 10th […]

Best of the Best: International White Wines

Jadot Le Montrachet 2000 From the rocky heart of Burgundy, an unrivaled Chardonnay. No Burgundophile, even a novice, requires an introduction to Louis Jadot. One of the oldest and largest firms in the Côte d’Or, Jadot nestles at the heart of Beaune. The founder, Louis Henri Denis Jadot, established the firm in 1859 with a […]

Best of the Best: Spirits

Bowmore 25 Year Old Single Malt A magnanimous malt from the oldest distillery on Islay. Scotch lovers tend to gravitate toward Islay the way Ferrari enthusiasts are drawn to Maranello, or ardent surfers make the pilgrimage to Oahu’s North Shore. Islay (pronounced “eye-lah”) malts are entirely individualistic, sometimes difficult, and always as rewarding to drink […]

Best of the Best: Cigars

Graycliff Espresso The Bahamian company takes a shot, scores. It stands to reason that Graycliff owner Enrico Garzaroli would create a cigar worthy of the acclaimed cuisine and wine cellar at his Nassau, Bahamas, resort. The Graycliff Espresso is the ultimate power smoke in more ways than one. While stronger-tasting cigars have become increasingly popular […]

Best of the Best: Art Galleries

David Tunick A Manhattan dealer who gives prints and drawings the utmost respect. With millions of dollars’ worth of art and furnishings in tow, the most respected art and antiques dealers from around the world arrive in the Netherlands town of Maastricht each spring for the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF). And among the hundreds […]

Best of the Best: Antiques Dealers

Kenneth W. Rendell Gallery Bringing history to life, one page at a time.   Leaning over a table covered with sheets of paper, Kennneth Rendell explains how he determined that a supposedly rare and valuable Elvis document was as legitimate as an Elvis sighting. Four years ago, Rendell, the 61-year-old owner of the Kenneth W. […]

Best Things First: Golf Shop

PGA member Roger Maxwell’s standing as one of the most powerful and influential figures in golf has more to do with his business than his short game. Maxwell, the former golf director for Marriott hotels, owns In Celebration of Golf, a 15,000-square-foot emporium offering a wide selection of fine golfwear and equipment, as well as […]

Best of the Best: Golf Courses

The Grove A modern classic at England’s finest new resort. Kyle Phillips’ work at Kingsbarns, neighbor to hallowed St. Andrews, has been universally hailed as an almost perfect modern example of the Scottish links course. Now the American architect has created his version of an English parkland course at the Grove, a quirky yet fabulous […]

Best Things First: Watch Winder

The one thing they never tell you when you purchase an ultralong power reserve watch is how infernally long it takes to wind it. Until now, owners of such manual-wind timepieces could only look wistfully at the automatic pieces in their collection, blissfully turning in their winding boxes—no hands required. For those who have trouble […]

Best Things First: Pet Groomer

If you bring your dog or cat for a grooming at Karen’s for People + Pets in Manhattan, don’t be surprised if he comes back to you sporting airs: While he was having his hair washed, clipped, and combed, he may have been hobnobbing with the pets of some very important people. In business now […]

Best Things First: Mobile Phone

The follow-up to the Signature, the $20,000 platinum-finish mobile phone introduced two years ago, the Vertu Ascent is a sporty leather-and-liquid-metal mobile phone priced at $3,850. While the Signature suggests the elegance of a Bentley, says Vertu Creative Director Frank Nuovo, the Ascent references the kinetic nature of a Porsche. “If you look at the […]

Best Things First: Jewelry Liquidator

When a young woman’s wedding engagement was recently called off, rather than wallowing in sorrow, she brought her 6-carat fancy yellow diamond engagement ring, worth about $125,000, to SellJewelry in midtown Manhattan and sold it on the spot for an undisclosed sum. If a treasure has become unwanted—because of a broken engagement, a divorce, or […]

Best of the Best: Top-Notch Tailored

Top-Notch Tailored For dressing to the nines, these selections score perfect 10s.   Bespoke Suits Best bale wools are the grand crus of the fiber world, with length, strength, and fineness that is comparable to vicuña, the world’s softest commercial fiber. Loro Piana has held a virtual monopoly on the cloth since 1997 by continually […]

Best of the Best: Sportswear

Good Sports Brunello Cucinelli cashmere stadium jacket, $1,755, cashmere argyle vest, $710, cotton knit shirt, $255, and cotton drill trousers, $495. Casual does not have to mean compromise.   Collection It literally takes a village to create Brunello Cucinelli’s sporty cashmere knits and impressively detailed collection of sportswear. Cucinelli employs nearly the entire adult population […]

Best of the Best: Furnishings

A-List Accoutrements Exceptional embellishments lend style to every wardrobe.   Dress Shirts Each Kiton ultrafine dress shirt, made from the finest thread-count cotton, requires six hours of labor and more than 100 sewing operations. Embroidered buttonholes and handkerchief-rolled and -stitched edges are only a few of Kiton’s 14 distinctive hand-sewn applications. The collar on the […]

Best of the Best: Fashion Retailers

Bergdorf Goodman Men Forward-thinking fashion.   Impressive size and selection are only part of the formula that gives Bergdorf Goodman Men its leading edge in menswear retailing. The Manhattan store’s most distinguishing strength is its ability to identify and stock the top international collections before they hit it big. What’s more, Bergdorf’s is one of […]

Best of the Best: Jewelry

Collection Panthère de Cartier  Cartier’s latest panthers exude irresistible animal magnetism. When Cartier created its first jeweled panther brooch in 1923, the Parisian jeweler had no idea that the sleek cat would evolve into an enduring icon. Over the ensuing decades, the Duchess of Windsor, Barbara Hutton, and other fashionable figures adorned themselves with Cartier’s […]

Best of the Best: Watches

Patek Philippe Reference 5101P 10-Day Tourbillon The spin doctor is in.   There is certainly no shortage of superlatives in the highest echelons of Swiss watchmaking. So what makes one piece stand above all others? Innovation is a pat answer, but in a field where the basic technology is more than two centuries old, the […]

Best of the Best: Watch Dealers

Cellini New York’s horological smorgasbord. Instant gratification is not generally associated with buying an exceptional watch. If you are in the market for a high-end complicated timepiece or one of the latest top-of-the-line models, you can expect to wait for delivery. To address this common frustration, New York City’s Cellini carries nearly every model and […]

Best of the Best: Pens

David Oscarson Harvest Collection Collectors reap what this artisan penmaker has sown.   With designs that address function and aesthetics in equal measure, David Oscarson’s eponymous company stands out among the new wave of artisan pen manufacturers.  Oscarson’s fourth series is the Harvest Collection, which, unlike so many pen collections, was inspired by neither event […]

Best Things First: Auto Mall

The Scottsdale 101 Auto Collection, covering 41 acres in Scottsdale, Ariz., is home to showrooms for 11 different marques, including Porsche, BMW, Mini, Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Audi. Prospective buyers take test-drives on a quarter-mile-long track that rings an off-road test track with hills, railroad ties, and a waterfall—ideal terrain for putting a new Land […]

Best of the Best: Sports Cars

Lamborghini Gallardo The 10-cylinder rocket scores a perfect 10.   It was just a matter of time until the other Italian supermarque hit a home run. Lamborghini’s new sports car is extreme but friendly, uncompromising but comfortable, and an absolutely effortless blast to drive. There is no contradiction of terms here: The Gallardo blends seemingly […]

Best of the Best: Coupes

Bentley Continental GT The British heavyweight has earned its worldwide acclaim. “It may be the best Bentley ever,” declared John Davis, host and executive producer of public television’s MotorWeek. Then he gave the Continental GT his program’s Dream Machine 2004 award. “L’automobile più bella del mondo,” voted journalists, designers, and stylists at Italy’s 2004 Design […]

Best of the Best: Sedans

Maserati Quattroporte The four-door cruiser represents the final phase of Maserati’s return to dominance. First into the fray was the 2002 Maserati Spyder, a cute little guy that drove and rode well and brought its sense of mischief to the roadster scene. Then for those into well-arranged hair and more conservative cars came a Maserati […]

Best of the Best 2004: Sport-Utility Vehicles

Cadillac SRX The American crossover undercuts the competition. About a year ago, I joined a group of automotive journalists in Arizona to test-drive Cadillac’s revamped CTS sedan, its XLR convertible, and its SRX sport-utility vehicle, and uncovered a surprise: From a driver’s perspective, there is not much difference between the latter two autos. On the […]

Best of the Best: Aftermarket

Lorinser GS03 The SL55 undergoes a stunning makeover.   When I was growing up in the late 1970s, I had a crush on singer Debby Boone, who was—and still is—attractive, vivacious, and in possession of the perfect smile. But it was not her rendition of “You Light Up My Life” that really set this young […]

Best of the Best: Sportbikes

Aprilia RSV 1000R Factory An advanced Italian exotic exhibits slender sexiness. Ironically, for all the innovations aboard the Aprilia RSV 1000R Factory that aid and abet the fast-forward progress of the $18,000 Italian motorcycle, it is the mechanism that brings the bike to a halt that best reveals its essence of pure speed. Aprilia fitted […]

Best of the Best: Cruisers

Honda Rune Tradition takes a backseat on this retro cruiser.   Honda, from its four-wheel Civic to its two-wheel 919, has always stood for economy, reliability, and reserve. Yet this staid Japanese manufacturer produced the Rune, an outrageous concept machine disguised as a production motorcycle that is an utter aberration among the rest of Honda’s […]

Best of the Best: Megayachts

Lürssen Capri  The 192-footer defines avant-garde classicism.   Capri, christened after the Italian island and the Capri Palace Hotel & Spa, where the owners finalized the boat’s details, is an elegant, sweeping, five-deck motor yacht that captures the essence of its owners’ contradictory vision: a contemporary vessel with traditional overtones. Modern amenities include a recording […]

Best of the Best: Sailboats

Vosper Thornycroft Mirabella V A graceful yacht smashes all records. Passion and curiosity can often be a potent combination and, in the case of the recently launched Mirabella V, the catalyst for a journey into uncharted waters. The 247-foot yacht, brainchild of former Avis Chairman and CEO Joe Vittoria, overcame a number of technical hurdles […]

Best of the Best: Production Yachts

Tiara 4200 Open Sexy details give the flagship more appeal than its predecessor.   When Tiara Yachts introduced its new Open series flagship last year, emotions were somewhat mixed. The debut of the 4200 Open was exciting, but it meant the retirement of the 4100 Open—a design that attracted approximately 150 owners during its seven […]

Best of the Best: Charter Yachts

Feadship Paraffin A polished crew and exquisite details make the Dutch yacht sparkle.   Every prospective charter client should consider five elements when hunting for the perfect yacht: quality of the build, accommodations and amenities, crew experience, chef’s expertise, and destination. Should a handful of yachts meet a given vacation criteria, the choice is often […]

Best of the Best: Speedboats

Outerlimits 47 GTX The V-bottom rocket surpasses all expectations.   Although the 47 GTX had yet to be completed, Paul Fiore, Outerlimits’ vice president of sales, issued a bold declaration for the boat last year. “It will run faster than the 42,” Fiore said at the time. “It will run in the 150 mph range.” […]

Best of the Best: Business Jets

Multiflight Boeing Business Jet 2 The megayacht of the skies takes flight.   When David Hood, chairman of Multiflight, a British company that sells, charters, and maintains aircraft, set out to create the ultimate private jet, the last thing he wanted was a conventional cabin. So he turned to an unconventional source: Andrew Winch, a […]

Best of the Best: Personal Aircraft

Diamond DA42 Twin Star Twin engines double the fun of flying this four-seater.   When you are flying in an unheated preproduction aircraft, the midwinter skies 7,500 feet above Austria are hardly hospitable. Yet the thrill of gripping the floor-mounted stick and piloting Diamond Aircraft’s revolutionary DA42 Twin Star is enough to temper the cockpit’s […]

Best of the Best: Fractional Providers

NetJets In tough times, the pioneer strengthens its lead.   Although there has been a slight rebound in fractional ownership that corresponds with the upswing in the stock market, the past year has not been the kindest for this segment of the private aviation market. Potential new clients are exploring other options such as 25-hour […]

Best of the Best: 25-Hour Fractional Provider

Marquis Jet Promotions and partnerships elevate the membership program above the rest.   Marquis Jet’s clients enjoy numerous benefits, including after-hour visits to Ermenegildo Zegna boutiques around the country, discounts on Exclusive Resorts memberships, preferred scheduling on physical exams at the Mayo Clinic, and, when scheduling a one-day rental through Avis, five days of complimentary […]

Best of the Best: National Charter Services

Sentient Jet Innovation leads the way to customer satisfaction.   Over the past year, Sentient Jet CEO Mark Stone has been taking phone calls that he never expected to receive. Individuals and corporations have been approaching Sentient not to inquire about flying aboard the charter jets in its network, but to propose a unique transaction: […]

Best of the Best: Interior Designers

Greg Jordan The designer as evangelist.   His mother worked for an architect, and his grandfather had owned a construction company, so Greg Jordan grew up drafting room plans and visiting job sites. But a career as an interior designer was the last thing on his mind; his ambition was to be president. “It wasn’t […]