Special Issue: The 2009 Luxury Preview


The 2009 luxury preview, Bugatti's new 253-mph $2.2 million convertible, & Boeing's ultra-opulent 787 VIP jet unveiled. Plus, Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black series, Armani hotels & resorts, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Carbon Concept, Perini Navi Vitruvius Explorer, Dubai's Dynamic Tower, Las Vegas' CityCenter, Lexus LF-1, Girard-Perregaux Rattrapante Chronograph & more.

From This Issue

Contributors: New & Noteworthy

Keeping track of thousands of the world’s top hotels and resorts is part of the daily routine for Robb Report associate editor Jennifer Hall. In this issue’s Luxury Preview special section, Hall turns her critical eye to the $600 million, 2,500-acre Christophe Harbour development on St. Kitts (see “Caribbean Haven,” page 166). “What makes this […]

Aviation: Just for Fun

Kirk Hawkins is no stranger to taking risks. He has flown F-16s in the U.S. Air Force, raced motocross, and logged almost 1,000 skydives. Now the 41-year-old resident of Los Angeles is taking what may be the biggest risk of his life: In 2005 he and his business partner, Steen Strand, 42, launched Icon Aircraft, […]

Spirits: Singular Sensation

In the worlds of cars, cigars, and wine, the word vintage is often bandied about. But it is rarely applied to Cognac, as this double-distilled brandy is usually a carefully constructed blend of many eaux-de-vie produced in various years. There are occasions, however, when a single-vintage Cognac exhibits refinement that allows it to stand on […]

Smoke: Pride and Prejudice

When asked about the origins of the gorgeous, ebony-shaded maduro wrapper on his company’s latest cigar, the marketing director hesitantly answers, “San Andrés.” “Oh, it’s Mexican,” the reporter responds. “We prefer to call it San Andrés,” the marketing director insists. This exchange will surprise no one in the cigar industry. The San Andrés Valley in […]

Sport: Sprucing Up Stowe

During the great depression, when downhill skiing was in its infancy in North America and the sport’s enthusiasts were mostly considered daft, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) sponsored a make-work effort to create ski trails on Vermont’s highest peak. Led by highway engineer (and skier) Charlie Lord—and using axes, crosscut saws, and oxen to clear […]

Spas: All Dressed Up

My authentic moor mud massage did not begin as I envisioned it would. The itinerary I received when I checked in to Zurich’s Dolder Grand resort stated that my scheduled treatment was “by Kerstin Florian,” which, to a novice spa-goer, naturally meant that a blue-eyed masseuse with a Nordic accent would soon be lathering me […]

Boating: Victory at Sea

Burger Boat has struck solid gold with its latest launch, Ingot. The 153-foot trideck yacht, the largest in Burger’s century-plus history, also represents an aesthetic triumph for the United States’ oldest shipyard, which is located in Manitowoc, Wis. Designed by Burger and the Dutch naval-architecture firm Vripack, Ingot has a classic-looking yacht exterior, but its […]

Vacation Homes: The Comeback Club

To hear Geoffrey Kent tell it, little has changed with the safari-outfitting company Abercrombie & Kent since he and his parents, John and Valerie Kent, founded it in 1962. “We’ve always been about delivering above expectation,” he says. Indeed, the company was, and still is, the gold standard for exotic travel, best known for its […]

Wardrobe: Perfect Scale

Italy’s Tardini family has a long-held passion for cold-blooded creatures—or, at least, for the hides of one in particular: Alligator mississippiensis. Yet Giuseppe Tardini’s pursuit of perfect skins used to lead him only to frustration. The specimens of alligator that he had been obtaining from American traders were coarse and frequently blemished—hardly suitable materials from […]

Jewelry: A Cabinet of Curiosities

Parisian Lydia Courteille’s career as a jewelry designer began with the purchase of a temperamental antique watch that would frequently stop, requiring her to return repeatedly to the dealer to have it repaired. On these visits, she often strolled among the shop’s displays of antique jewelry, running her fingers lightly over various items that caught […]

Art: Poster Boy

From 1924 to 1928, moviegoers in Rochester, N.Y., enjoyed a rare and magnificent sight: seven or eight new hand-painted movie posters every week, created by local artist Batiste Madalena for Kodak founder George Eastman’s movie theater. “Eastman decided to build the greatest movie palace ever,” says retired documentary filmmaker Steven Katten, who brought Madalena’s work […]

Home: Hip to Be Square

When the silver fund gallery left its longtime San Francisco space near Union Square last February, it relocated to the only neighborhood that seemed right for the world’s foremost source of Georg Jensen estate silver. “With its wealth of knowledgeable dealers and its historic setting,” says the Silver Fund’s manager, Rachel Prater, “Jackson Square was […]

2009 Luxury Preview: Dynamic Tower

The idea for a rotating skyscraper came to architect David Fisher one evening while he enjoyed the sunset from a high-rise building in New York City. “I could see both the Hudson and East rivers, and I thought, ‘Why can’t we rotate the floor so everyone could see?’ “ Raised in Tel Aviv and educated […]

2009 Luxury Preview: Canyon Ranch Living and Miraval

Long before a certain slice of Central American beach was discovered by Columbus and dubbed Costa Rica, that same verdant expanse served as a haven for birds, monkeys, and orchids. Today the country is a de facto wildlife sanctuary, providing a home for nearly 4 percent of Earth’s known species. Soon, humans also will be […]

2009 Luxury Preview: Aetna Springs

In a mining project in Napa County’s Pope Valley struck pay dirt of another kind: a natural hot spring. The owners rewrote their business plan, constructing a lodge on the 700-plus-acre property over the next several years. Soon, well- heeled San Franciscans began to make the 80-mile journey to the Aetna Springs Resort to enjoy […]

2009 Luxury Preview: CityCenter

  Las Vegas caters as much to the gourmet as it does to the gambler. Since 1992, with the success of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant at Caesars Palace, superstar chefs have flocked to Sin City, creating one of the most impressive and diverse selections of fine-dining establishments on the planet. And the debut late next […]

Roomy with a View

After designing five homes for one family over the course of a 25-year working relationship, Chicago-based interior designer Cheri Friedman of Cheri Lynn Designs has come to know her clients very well. So well, in fact, that when an 8,000-square-foot penthouse on the 18th floor of a Lake Shore Drive building became available, the couple […]

Hang Time: The Next Adventure

Zero Gravity Corp. currently holds a monopoly on the market for weightless flight, but various companies have been preparing to offer suborbital flights, which will involve vehicles soaring 62 miles above Earth to provide three to five minutes of weightlessness. In the August 2006 article “The New Space Race,” Robb Report profiled companies in the […]

Leisure: Eternal Flame

Cigar-making has changed little in the past 150 years. It remains, for the most part, a conservative industry. But even the more staid brands seem as fast-moving as Silicon Valley startups when compared with Padrón Cigars. While most cigar manufacturers introduce at least a couple of fresh formulations each year, new Padrón blends arrive about […]

The Robb Reader: Wolfgang Puck

Last year, wolfgang puck celebrated the 25th anniversary of his famed restaurant, Spago, which recently received two Michelin stars; he opened a new restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, in Colorado; and he married handbag designer Gelila Assefa, the mother of his two small children, in Italy. We caught up with the Austrian chef on […]

Autos: Eight Is Enough

As I short-shift out of the Porsche Curves toward the start-finish straight at Le Mans, I uncork a lifelong fantasy: to drive under the Dunlop Tire bridge—the most famous photo prop in motorsports—with spectators in the stands. I realize this dream while piloting the 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage on the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe, […]

Watches: Fashionably On Time

Fashion powerhouse Chanel, in an attempt to elevate its standing among watch collectors, approached Swiss watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet in recent years to collaborate on a movement. In September, after two years in development, the first timepiece from this high-powered union was scheduled to debut.The J12 Calibre 3125, a striking model of black ceramic and […]

Wine: An Oenophile’s Escape

“I am a frustrated hotelier,” declares John Jordan, CEO of Jordan Vineyard & Winery, as he pilots our boat toward a small oak-enshrouded island at the center of the lake. We are on his Alexander Valley estate in Sonoma County, Calif. As the boat glides alongside the railings of a dock projecting from the island’s […]

Dining: Carne Cum Laude

Serious practitioners of the art may cite endless rules for successful barbecuing, but Steven Raichlen grills by just three: “Keep it hot, keep it clean, and keep it lubricated.” On a particularly warm summer day, he stands before some 50 barbecue enthusiasts on an outdoor patio at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colo. He […]

Travel: Colca and a Smile

Though unsure of my exact altitude, I am certain—based on my surroundings and shortness of breath—that I am nowhere near sea level. Of course, my gasping also might owe to the precipitous drop directly in front of me, a sheer cliff that plunges into one of Earth’s deepest valleys. Snowcapped volcanic mountains rise above me, […]

Collectibles: The Island State

“I discovered antique maps on a ski trip to Taos, where I stumbled into a shop selling them and instantly fell in love,” says Barry Lawrence Ruderman, whose eponymous gallery overlooks the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, Calif. “That day changed my life: Being an obsessive-compulsive young lawyer with disposable income and no bad habits […]

2009 Luxury Preview: Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Though the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport will not officially be available until March, the first convertible supercar in the series of 150 was sold at the Gooding & Company auction in Monterey, Calif., in August. Bugatti donated the proceeds to charity, but there is nothing altruistic about the car itself: The Veyron remains a […]

2009 Luxury Preview: Boeing 787 VIP

When the first 787 VIP rolls off the assembly line in Everett, Wash., in a few years, Boeing will send the new aircraft to a completion center of the purchaser’s choice for custom-designed interior work. in anticipation of such a project, Magnus Aspegren, creative director of BMW Group DesignworksUSA, has produced a design concept for […]

2009 Luxury Preview: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Carbon Concept

Superstrong and ultralight, carbon fiber has long been the preferred material for high-performance applications that demand sturdiness. Formula 1 racecars, America’s Cup yachts, and even aerospace vehicles have fully leveraged the material’s technical properties. Until recently, however, many watch designers used the matte-black, swirl-textured composite primarily for decorative accents. Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet, however, pioneered […]

2009 Luxury Preview: Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

Call it stealth marketing. Over this past summer, Mercedes-Benz leaked a few photos depicting a camouflaged Speedster version of the SLR McLaren onto the Internet. Shortly thereafter, YouTube buzzed with video footage of the undercover supercar lapping Germany’s Nürburgring test track. The Speedster—which is reportedly capable of a 220 mph top speed—represents the SLR McLaren’s […]

2009 Luxury Preview: Cartier High Jewelry and Chanel Fine Jewelry

Fascinated by the chimera of Greek mythology, Louis Cartier—a scion of the French jewelry house—commissioned in 1922 a jeweled bangle carved from coral in the shape of a two-headed version of the imaginary beast. Several more pieces on the same theme followed. These contemporary depictions of ancient, exotic figures helped to lay the foundation for […]

2009 Luxury Preview: Armani Hotels & Resorts

Whenever I build a new home, I try to respect the indigenous architecture of the place and its natural surroundings,” says Italian fashion grand master Giorgio Armani, who is taking a similar approach as a hotelier. The designer’s first hotel is expected to open next year inside the tallest building in the world, a structure that […]

2009 Luxury Preview: Pagani Sound System

At the top Marques Monaco auto show in April, Pagani—the Italian automaker whose elusive Zonda Roadster is banned on American streets—unveiled the prototype for a high-fidelity audio system that embodies the company’s philosophy of merging technology and art. The distinctively styled Pagani Sound System, which includes speakers, amplifiers, a turntable, and a CD player, delivers […]

The New Ocean Explorers

Roger Allard, his wife, Joan, and their 10-year-old daughter, Kimberly, have spent the last two years cruising leisurely around the South Pacific aboard New Paige, a Nordhavn 55 expedition yacht. “Every day is different, and every day offers challenges,” says Roger, speaking from Tahiti. “But what we like best about this lifestyle is that it’s […]

The New Ocean Explorers: Smooth Operator

Before spending tens of millions of dollars on a new expedition yacht, Alex Dreyfoos, an MIT-educated engineer from Westchester County, N.Y., went to exceptional lengths to test a particular hull design. Boarding a pilot boat out of Cuxhaven, Germany, Dreyfoos headed into 12-to-15-foot breakers in the North Sea, one of the world’s most treacherous stretches […]

The Man Who Fell from the Sky

“You know what i would like to do?” begins Alain Ducasse, the peripatetic French chef. “I would like to build a restaurant on Mars.” His visitor, an American, nods appreciatively at this notion. If anyone is capable of establishing a restaurant on Mars—one worth the trip, not some greasy spoon or mass-market theme place—it would […]

Time: Objets in Motion

Throughout his life, Swiss engineer Jean-Léon Reutter was fascinated by the idea of a clock that could keep time for centuries without a winding mechanism or an external power source. In 1928, upon testing the first prototype of his visionary perpetual clock, Reutter—who was a graduate of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich—determined that […]

Wings & Water: Aloft on Less

When shopping for personal aircraft, potential buyers often consider such factors as size, range, payload, and speed, among others. Verne Murray of Diablo, Calif., had something else in mind: fuel efficiency. “My new Diamond DA40 XL burns less than 10 gallons per hour,” he says. “I compared this rate to those of similar Cessna and […]

Journeys: Hang Time

When the plane, a Boeing 727-?200, reaches an altitude of 22,000 feet above the Nevada desert, the uniformed, perky flight attendants give the all-clear sign. The other 34 passengers and I unbuckle our belts, leave our seats at the back of the plane—the only seats in the cabin—and gather at the designated spots toward the […]