Best of the Best


300 plus new autos, watches, resorts and more.

From This Issue

Best of the Best 2007: Bath: Sicis

Sicis Sicis founder Maurizio Placuzzi keeps his eye on the small as well as the big picture. “We consider ourselves mosaic makers, not tile makers,” says the former professional soccer player, who in 1987 opened a factory in his hometown of Ravenna, Italy, part of a region renowned for its mosaics since the Byzantine era. […]

Best of the Best 2007: Art: Fischbach Gallery

Fischbach Gallery New York artist Colin Brown had become frustrated with his charcoal nightscapes. The blacks, he decided, were not sufficiently dark, and the white streetlights appeared as a feeble gray. “It looked terrible,” Brown says. “It was very labor-intensive, it took forever, and the results were poor.” To address these problems, he invented a […]

Best of the Best 2007: Furnishings: Dedon

Dedon Bobby Dekeyser, a former German soccer star, kicked outdoor furniture design into the 21st century seven years ago, when his company, Dedon, released its Daydream collection of furnishings. Richard Frinier designed the pieces, which were made from Hularo, a high-density polyurethane fiber that the company had invented in the early 1990s. Before Dedon transformed […]

Best of the Best 2007: Art

The little girl wears a serious expression and a sumptuous lace-trimmed gown, which the green parrot perched at her right nearly upstages. “She’s three weeks old,” says Catherine Weiss, referring to when she and her husband, Mark, founder of London’s Weiss Gallery (+44.20.7409.0035,, discovered the 17th-century painting. “We know she’s a princess of some […]

Best of the Best 2007: Antiques

Robert and Cheska Vallois’ fondness for Jean-Michel Frank’s Art Deco furnishings began more than two decades ago, when the couple acquired 15 of his sofas, low tables, and lamps for their Paris apartment. While living with the furnishings, the pair became captivated by the French decorator’s designs. Last fall, the dealers’ gallery, Galerie Vallois (+,, […]

Best of the Best 2007: Resorts: Grumeti Reserves, Sasakwa Lodge

Grumeti Reserves, Sasakwa Lodge Tracking big cats on the hunt is a highlight of almost any African safari. With cheetahs—which can accelerate to a top speed of 70 mph and chase their prey for more than three miles—the act unfolds most dramatically during the winter-month migration on Tanzania’s Serengeti Plain. At Grumeti Reserves, a private […]

Contributors: Experience Required

Anthony Dias Blue has spent the last 30 years covering the wine and spirits industries, sampling about 7,000 wines a year, so he knows what to expect from most vineyards. Nevertheless, he says, he is often surprised at tastings. “You get an image in your mind, and all of a sudden you realize the wine […]

Best of the Best 2007: Spas

The healing power of mineral-rich deep-sea water is harnessed at Algotherm’s Deep Ocean Spa Bora Bora ( in the new Inter-Continental resort that opened last year in the French Polynesian islands. The property, built on a narrow, sandy motu (little island) separating Bora Bora’s  turquoise lagoon from the deep blue South Pacific, uses frigid seawater […]

Best of the Best 2007: Destination Clubs: Solstice

Solstice   In what went down as the year of the great shake-up in the destination club industry, one major player, Tanner & Haley, filed for bankruptcy, while other top clubs scrambled to consolidate their holdings. Solstice was no exception: Last year, the three-year-old company merged with newcomer Parallel to bolster its property portfolio and […]

Best of the Best 2007: Hotel Residences: Mandarin Oriental Tower, Chicago

Mandarin Oriental Tower, Chicago For nearly a decade, Palladian Development operated its one-acre parcel of land between Chicago’s East Lake and East Wacker streets as a parking lot. With the 2004 opening of Millennium Park—home to a Frank Gehry–designed outdoor concert venue, landscaped gardens, and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture—the surrounding neighborhood, south of the […]

Best of the Best 2007: International White Wines

The Trimbach family has owned Clos Sainte-Hune in the Alsace region of France for more than 200 years, but the Trimbachs did not produce a single-vineyard wine from its yields until 1919. Today, the vineyard is the source of one of the world’s greatest Rieslings. Alsace regulations forbid the use of the Grand Cru designation […]

Best of the Best 2007: Domestic Red Wines

The high-tension sport of racecar driving would seem to have little to do with the art of transforming humble grapes into wine sufficiently tantalizing to seduce the nose and palate of even the most jaded connoisseur. In both cases, however, the slightest miscalculation makes the difference between success and failure, and no one is more […]

Best of the Best 2007: Domestic White Wines

Sir Peter Michael’s California adventure began quite by accident. A technology guru, pioneer in digital graphics, and founder of United Engineering Industries, Sir Peter is also a connoisseur of art and music, as well as of wine. He and his wife, Lady Michael, had always planned to indulge this latter enthusiasm by purchasing vineyards in […]

Best of the Best 2007: International Red Wines

Le Corton—a lieu-dit near the top of the grand cru slope of the mountain of Corton, at the northern end of the Côte de Beaune—produces some of the most supple, complex red wines in Burgundy, and they generally need extended time in the bottle to show well. This is especially true in exceptional vintages such […]

Best of the Best 2007: Spirits

Delamain Cognac Extra (, $320) is a blend of Grande Champagne Cognacs sourced from grower-distillers with whom the company has established close relationships. Although many of these relationships began several generations ago, Delamain declines to sign binding contracts with the distillers. Instead, it purchases eaux-de-vie only after tasting each spirit. Smooth yet powerful, with deep […]

Best of the Best 2007: Dessert Wines

In 1989, British wine writer Hugh Johnson and friends formed the Royal Tokaji Wine Company to revive and restore to glory the Hungarian wine once revered by Louis XIV, Catherine the Great, and other European monarchs. Royal Tokaji 1999 Essencia (, $536) is the rarest and most exquisite of their company’s many excellent wines. It […]

Best of the Best 2007: Liqueurs, Cordials & Aperitifs

The Pagès Distillery has been making the heady, verbena-flavored Pagès Verveine du Velay Verte (, $47) since 1859 in the sizable town of Le Puy-en-Velay, in France’s Auvergne region. The recipe—devised in the 19th century by a local apothecary and kept secret by the company—is said to contain more than 30 ingredients derived from plants […]

Best of the Best 2007: Cigars

The Davidoff Aniversario Robusto 100 (800.232.8436, was the third and final cigar that Davidoff produced in 2006 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the late Zino Davidoff’s birth. The 5 x 50 robusto’s blend includes the same well-aged rare tobaccos found in the two limited-edition perfectos that Davidoff released earlier, the 6 3/4 x […]

Best of the Best 2007: Dining

Ad Hoc (707.944.2487), as its name suggests, was conceived by Thomas Keller for a very specific purpose: to generate some cash flow from the former Wine Garden restaurant in Yountville, Calif., while the French Laundry owner grappled with the challenge of transforming the building into his then-latest culinary brainchild, Burgers and Half Bottles. When Ad […]

From The Editors: Best of the Good, Worst of the Bad

“Jesus saves,” declared a bumper-sticker slogan for the Big Bad Boston Bruins of the early 1970s, “and Espo scores on the rebound.” (“Espo” is Phil Esposito, the former Bruins’ center who held the league’s single-season goal-scoring record prior to the Wayne Gretzky era.) Now, Santa Claus saves, and Lucifer, Vlad the Impaler, and Caligula are […]

Best of the Best 2007: Golf: Punta Espada

Punta Espada No golf course can be all things to all players, but Punta Espada, which opened last fall on the Dominican Republic’s eastern shore, comes remarkably close. The first of three courses Jack Nicklaus is building at the massive Cap Cana resort, Punta Espada sits atop a spectacular landform defined by high bluffs and […]

Best of the Best 2007: Golf

In February, the Fairmont Mayakoba resort’s new El Camaleón Mayakoba (888.252.5020, hosted the first-ever PGA Tour event in Mexico. Perhaps it was appropriate that, on a golf course filled with one delightful quirk after another, the tournament victor was named Funk. Fred Funk triumphed in a playoff at El Camaleón, despite a final-round drive […]

Best of the Best 2007: Menswear Collections: Luciano Barbera

Luciano Barbera Two labels are sewn inside each suit in Luciano Barbera’s fall tailored clothing collection; one bears Barbera’s name, and the other displays the signature of the tailor who made that particular garment. “Each one of our suits is produced by a single tailor,” says Barbera, explaining that he includes the name of that […]

Best of the Best 2007: Old School Watches: Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet Octavio Garcia, senior designer at Audemars Piguet, summarizes the design directives he and his colleagues received for the company’s latest watches in two words: “blue sky,” meaning unlimited possibilities. Garcia and colleagues Philip Vaptzarof and Rebecca Yeager represent a new generation of designers at the company: young professionals with experience in watches, but […]

Best of the Best 2007: New-School Watches: Richard Mille

Richard Mille After completing what they believed were the final touches on Richard Mille’s latest RM014 tourbillon in the winter of 2006, the engineers who build his complicated movements at Swiss specialty house Renaud & Papi called for a bottle of Champagne. But instead of offering his congratulations, Mille scrutinized the piece and then expressed […]

Best of the Best 2007: New-School Watches

Harry Winston Rare Timepieces (800.988.4110,, an 18-year-old company, may lack the heritage and movement-making capability of its rivals, but it continually enlists the best specialists in Switzerland and pairs their mechanical expertise with stunning design. This aptitude is particularly evident in the third installment of the company’s Project Z, an automatic tourbillon developed by […]

Best of the Best 2007: Women’s Watches: Parmigiani Fleurier

Parmigiani Fleurier Who better to design a women’s watch collection than a woman? So concluded Jean-Marc Jacot, president of Parmigiani Fleurier, a brand known for its complicated men’s pieces. After Jacot assigned her the task of conceiving the collection, designer Carol Vallat adapted the company’s Kalpa men’s model, the brand’s most identifiable design, to appeal […]

Best of the Best 2007: Wardrobe Essentials: Elements of Style

SUITS Oxxford Clothes Isaia * Kiton If your perception of Oxxford Clothes involves images of grandfatherly types in beautifully tailored yet old-fashioned suits, it is time to revisit the nonagenarian Chicago brand. Mike Cohen, Oxxford’s 41-year-old chief executive, has ushered in feathery superwool and cashmere fabrics, lighter constructions, and a more modern, streamlined model called the Mason, […]

Best of the Best 2007: Custom Clothing: Bespoke Apparel

SUITS and TOPCOATS Cesare Attolini Bespoke David Chu *  Ravazzolo Major brands have expanded the proportions of their suits to allow for greater ease of movement, but Cesare Attolini holds to the theory that the closer the cloth is to the body, the more elegant, and comfortable, the fit. Therefore, for fall, he further narrowed the […]

Best of the Best 2007: Pens: Loiminchay Nine Dragons

Loiminchay Nine Dragons In Chinese art and folklore, dragons often symbolize power and prosperity. Loiminchay’s all-jade Nine Dragons pen conveys a similar message, but not necessarily because it depicts nine of the creatures coiling around its barrel. If you own one of the 10 examples of this $250,000 writing instrument, you have enjoyed some prosperity […]

Best of the Best 2007: Diamonds: Graff

Graff Using only magnifying loupes and their intuition, diamond mogul Laurence Graff and his top gemologists spent two hours assessing the value of a newly discovered 603-carat rough diamond last October in Antwerp. Graff was one of 10 prominent diamond dealers who came to Belgium to evaluate and bid on the stone, the 15th-largest diamond […]

Best of the Best 2007: Pens

Some 34,000 years ago, people carved artworks from the ivory tusks of the mammoths that roamed the region now known as Siberia. More recently, the German writing instrument manufacturer Faber-Castell utilized the mammoth ivory, which is found in the Siberian ice as it breaks apart during the summer months, for the Graf von Faber-Castell Pen […]

Best of the Best 2007: Pearls: Les Perles de Chanel

Les Perles de Chanel While she was dancing the Charleston one night in 1925, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel broke her opera-length strand of pearls, scattering the gems across the dance floor. According to the often-recounted tale, she looked on unconcerned, even amused, as formally clad men dropped to their knees and crawled around to retrieve her […]

Best of the Best 2007: Colored Gems: Hemmerle

Hemmerle Once he had what he wanted, Stefan Hemmerle abruptly left the convention center hosting February’s annual Tucson Gem & Mineral Show and jumped into the back seat of his rental car. There, while being driven through the streets of the Arizona city to his hotel, the 60-year-old patriarch of the family who operates the […]

Best of the Best 2007: Pearls

Golden South Sea pearls are prized for their extreme rarity; no more than 2 percent of the pearls produced by gold-lipped oysters near Indonesia and the Philippines exhibit the rich yellow color classified as golden. Mikimoto—whose founder, Kokichi Mikimoto, introduced pearl cultivation in 1905—spent two years amassing the 173 golden South Sea pearls for its […]

Best of the Best 2007: Sports Cars

The $59,890 Lotus Exige S ( may look like a bantamweight in this company of heavy hitters, but make no mistake: This mid-engine racer swings a mighty punch. Key to its phenomenal pace is its weight—or lack thereof. Beneath those composite curves sits Lotus’ advanced bonded aluminum chassis. Incredibly stiff and light—the Exige weighs an […]

Best of the Best 2007: Sedans

First came the Maybach 62, introduced four years ago as an 18-footer for elderly businessmen and their chauffeurs. Next was the smaller Maybach 57, designed more for those who prefer to do their own driving. Both hammered out 550 hp from biturbo V-12s. Then Maybach took its 57 to the back room, reinvented its V-12, […]

Best of the Best 2007: GTs, Coupes & Convertibles

The Audi R8 ( may lack a long history, but it already has experienced plenty of racing success: The prototype that dominated sports car competitions for the past seven years went by the same name. And despite Audi’s humble claim that the $109,000 R8 is the company’s first attempt to build a mid-engine street car, […]

Best of the Best 2007: Sports Cars: Koenigsegg CCX

Koenigsegg CCX The latest top model from Scandinavia—the Koenigsegg CCX—could have taken the Best of the Best sports car award based solely on its sex appeal. Its lightweight carbon-fiber dihedral doors swing simultaneously up, out, and over, rendering gullwing and scissor doors passé. Those doors also exemplify the CCX’s depth of engineering, and therein lies […]

Best of the Best 2007: Sport-Utility Vehicles: Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne The original porsche Cayenne was an astonishingly good car. It possessed solid SUV bona fides, and it established the class benchmark for on-road performance with its searing acceleration and exceptional handling. Following a light mechanical and aesthetic makeover, the Cayenne retains its status as the standard-bearer for performance-oriented SUVs. Porsche has dropped the […]

Best of the Best 2007: Sportbikes: Ducati 1098 S

Ducati 1098 S The ducatisti who were put off by the styling of the previous 999 model should agree that the new Ducati 1098 S superbike displays the Italian brand’s trademark charisma and glamour. The 1098 S’s elegant bodywork represents a strengthened version of Ducati’s traditional steel-tube trellis frame, and, as with the trendsetting 916 […]

Best of the Best 2007: Sport Utility Vehicles

The first BMW X5 ( introduced drivers to the concept of an SUV that behaved like a sports sedan. (BMW calls the X5 an SAV—for Sport Activity Vehicle.) Redesigned for 2007, the X5 remains true to BMW’s driver-oriented ethos. It offers ample power, precise handling, and a controlled ride. The $54,500 X5 4.8i, fitted with […]

Best of the Best 2007: Sportbikes

Kawasaki has been building big, 4-cylinder bikes for a long time, and all that experience and knowledge is apparent in the manufacturer’s latest flagship. The $11,899 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 ( is the most powerful motorcycle the company has ever made, but that is only part of its appeal. It is also easy to ride, flexible, […]

Best of the Best 2007: Aftermarket

Even among Ferrari F430s and Porsche Turbos, a Brabus K8 ( will stand out like a rabid canine at the Westminster Kennel Club show. The reworked Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG strikes a mean profile, and every modification to the body has a functional, aerodynamic purpose. Brabus massages an additional 81 hp from the 5.5-liter V-8, for […]

Best of the Best 2007: Cruisers & Roadsters: American IronHorse Slammer

American IronHorse Slammer Navigating the custom cruiser market can be more of a challenge than riding San Francisco’s Lombard Street on a high-neck chopper. At one end of the spectrum are extreme one-off machines that rarely meet legal standards for street use, and at the other end are mass-produced motorcycles that inevitably lack the panache […]

Best of the Best 2007: Cruisers & Roadsters

Big Dog, another company in America’s heartland—Wichita, Kan., in this case—also straddles the fence between pure custom and mass production. Within its dramatic, 9-foot-long profile, the Big Dog K-9 ( fits a 117 cu in, 45-degree V-twin motor, along with a mold-breaking Baker 6-speed transmission with a right-side final belt drive. The transmission’s configuration helps […]

Best of the Best 2007: Touring & Adventure

Don’t be deceived by its color-coordinated saddlebags or upright riding position: The $15,599 Yamaha FJR1300AE ( is a supersport bike trapped in the sharply styled body of a sport tourer. Yamaha has combined old-fashioned muscle with lightweight chassis construction to create a bike that is exceptionally responsive and begs for spirited riding. Standard antilock brakes […]

Best of the Best 2007: Personal Aircraft: Mooney Acclaim

Mooney Acclaim The first thing you will notice about any Mooney aircraft is its tail. Slanted forward instead of backward, as most planes’ tails are, it conveys the impression that the plane is moving at a tremendous speed whether it is flying or sitting on the tarmac. The new Mooney Acclaim offers more than just […]

Best of the Best 2007: Sailing Yachts: Perini Navi Maltese Falcon

Perini Navi Maltese Falcon With her nearly 200-foot-tall masts, the 289-foot Perini Navi Maltese Falcon calls to mind a skyscraper sprung loose on the sea. Most sailors who step aboard experience an unsettling moment when they realize that not one line lies on the sprawling teak decks. By the time visitors make their way to […]

Best of the Best 2007: Sailing Yachts

The 105-foot Royal Huisman Gliss (207.646.9504,, designed by Philippe Briand, is a sleek, modern sailing yacht with an eye-catching aquamarine hull. Highlights of the interior, created by Pieter Beeldsnijder Design, are the floor-to-ceiling windows that, when lowered automatically, link the indoor main saloon with the open main cockpit. The $19 million yacht’s mast, boom, […]

Best of the Best 2007: Custom Megayachts: Benetti Ambrosia III

Benetti Ambrosia III The 213-foot Ambrosia III, completed last May, is the most technologically sophisticated Benetti ever and perhaps the most advanced yacht delivered by any yard in the past year. The six-deck, steel-and-aluminum vessel, built by the Benetti Darsena shipyard in Viareggio, Italy, is the company’s third-largest craft, behind the 282-foot Kingdom and the […]

Best of the Best 2007: Custom Megayachts

The 220-foot Nobiskrug Triple Seven (+49.4331.207.221, is an astonishing boat, especially considering that the German commercial builder had completed only one other custom yacht and one refit before delivering it. But the yard encountered the owner of a 180-foot Oceanfast who was looking to step up and step out—into the sun—and Nobiskrug accommodated his […]

Best of the Best 2007: Semicustom Megayachts: Westport 164 Vango

Westport 164 Vango Westport shipyard’s Vangois the first of its 164-foot series and the first composite production yacht of its size ever built. With its lightweight construction, the $34.5 million vessel achieves more than 29 mph at half load despite a generous beam and a draft suitable for the shallow waters of such destinations as […]

Best of the Best 2007: Production Yachts: Pershing 90

Pershing 90 With these boats,” Tilli Antonelli says of the sport craft from Pershing, the company he cofounded in the mid-1980s, “one must show off a little.” Indeed, the boats show off Antonelli’s distinct styling—most notably the eye-shaped windows and silver livery—and his engineering expertise. (He was among the first sport-boat builders in Europe to […]

Best of the Best 2007: Semicustom Megayachts

After Christensen Shipyards introduced its Custom Series in 2001 with a 155-foot motor yacht, customers responded with requests for grander spaces and more amenities, and last year the company obliged. The Christensen 157 Marathon (360.695.3238, exhibits all the features that make the series so appealing, including well-engineered systems, flawless woodwork, and shortened delivery time. […]

Best of the Best 2007: Production Yachts

Considerable out-of-the-box thinking went into the Lazzara 75 LSX Quad (813.835.5300, In a unique configuration, four Volvo Penta IPS 600 engines, aligned across the stern, deliver 2,400 hp to eight counterrotating, forward-facing propellers. Using a joystick, you operate the propulsion units in unison, experiencing a degree of maneuverability that no other shallow-draft vessel offers. […]

Best of the Best 2007: Charter Yachts

As impressive as helicopter pads might look in brochures, charter guests seldom require them. Therefore, when the owners of the 234-foot Feadship Utopia refit their yacht, they made better use of the space that used to accommodate their aircraft. De Voogt Yacht Services connected the former helipad to the aft portion of the bridge deck […]

Best of the Best 2007: Charter Yachts: Kogo

Kogo Luxury yachts, though custom-built, often are decorated with neutral tones and designed with similar layouts that will encourage charter bookings and future brokerage sales. It can be difficult, then, to find one that is truly distinct—and harder still to locate such a yacht that is available for charter and well suited for guest use. […]

Best of the Best 2007: Personal Aircraft

According to Dale Klapmeier, cofounder and vice chairman of Cirrus Design, customers are lining up to place $100,000 deposits on the company’s recently announced $1 million jet. Cirrus, which began selling kit planes in 1984 and introduced its first certified plane 10 years later, continually has incorporated innovative technology in small piston aircraft, including parachutes […]

Best of the Best 2007: Fractional-Ownership Programs: NetJets

NetJets Since 1986, when richard Santulli, a Goldman Sachs executive at the time, decided that he wanted to enjoy the convenience and flexibility of owning a jet without actually purchasing it, the company that he founded—NetJets—has led the industry that he invented. More than 6,500 people worldwide have purchased a fractional share in a private […]

Best of the Best 2007: Business Jets: HondaJet

HondaJet With its long, narrow nose and two jet engines perched on pylons above its wings, the HondaJet looks like no other aircraft. And as the first airplane ever built by car and motorcycle maker Honda, it has generated keen interest. While novel, however, the plane is much more than a novelty. With its combination […]

Best of the Best 2007: Flight-Card Programs: Charter: Sentient Jet

Sentient Jet In the past year, Sentient Jet has joined the ranks of the largest flight-services operations. A deal between Sentient and the Pennsylvania-based aircraft management firm JetDirect, characterized by different sources either as a merger or as an acquisition by JetDirect, was scheduled to be finalized in April, just after this issue of Robb […]

Best of the Best 2007: Business Jets

As the number in its alphanumerical designation indicates, the Cessna Citation CJ4 (800. 423.7762, represents an upgrade from the CJ3, its predecessor. The new plane, which Cessna announced that it would add to its lineup last October, will carry as many as eight passengers (two more than the CJ3), and the cabin will be […]

Best of the Best 2007: Flight-Card Programs: Charter

Delta AirElite Business Jets, the jet charter operation owned by Delta Air Lines, continues to enhance its flight-card operation, which it launched in 2003. Most recently, the Delta AirElite Fleet Membership (800.927.0927, program introduced the Efficiency Bonus feature, which rewards you for taking round-trip flights (thereby enabling the company to avoid flying dead-head ones) […]

Best of the Best 2007: Flight-Card Programs: Fractional: Marquis Jet

Marquis Jet Marquis Jet cofounder and CEO Kenny Dichter provides a succinct reason why Marquis once again is appearing in Best of the Best: “Choosing your aviation partner is like choosing your doctor: You consider trust, service, and safety.” Certainly Marquis has the resources to meet expectations in all three areas. Through its alliance with […]

Best of the Best 2007: Charter Companies: Jet Aviation

Jet Aviation A Jet Aviation client from the United States ran into a problem recently while attempting to travel from Germany to the United Kingdom. To be more precise, on its way to Germany, the plane he had chartered flew into a bird or birds that damaged the plane enough to ground it. Jet Aviation […]

Best of the Best 2007: Charter Companies

Executive Jet Management (513. 979.6700,, the jet charter and management company owned by the leading fractional operator NetJets (see here), continues to add aircraft to its fleet, which is based in more than 50 locations around the country. It racks up over 35,000 flight hours and 15 million miles flown per year. Customers have […]

Best of the Best 2007: Resorts

When the U.S. military closed its supply base on the South Pacific island of Bora Bora after World War II, many American personnel reportedly were hesitant to leave, and some had to be removed by force. “We are in one of the most beautiful places on the planet,” says Milton Sgarbi, general manager of the […]