The Travel Issue 2009


Fantastic Journeys: India, Africa, Alaska, Egypt, The Caribbean, Japan, New Zealand, Mexico & More Seven Spiritual Sites by Private Jet. Touring Tuscany in Vintage Italian Autos. Navigate Moscow's Super-Clubs. Chartering the Mediterranean's Top Megayachts.

From This Issue

Contributors: On the Road Again

Freelance journalist James Sturz has written for more than 60 magazines and newspapers, and he has authored a novel set in Italy. For his first contribution to Robb Report, he roamed the back roads between Rome and Bologna in three vintage Italian sports cars (“Via Flaminia,” page 94). The eight-day, seven-night trip led him through […]

From the Editors: A Billionaire’s Folly

John Keats observed in men of high achievement an aptitude for “being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” This comfortable acceptance of contradictions, which Keats called negative capability, perfectly encapsulates the personae of the late British-French multibillionaire Sir James Goldsmith, whose Mexican estates appear in this month’s special travel […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Rise and Shine

1937 Spartan 7W Executive In 1937, the Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co. of Duncan, Okla., paid roughly $23,500 for a startlingly overpowered, polished-aluminum monoplane to ferry its top management in high style. This aircraft, a Spartan Executive, cocooned passengers in the kind of stitched-leather comfort typically found in Packard limousines, while rocketing them across the […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Whale of a Tale

A fragment of Darwin’s journey captured in scrimshaw. In April 1834, more than two years into Charles Darwin’s trip around the world aboard HMS Beagle, the ship hit bottom while anchoring at the mouth of the Rio Santa Cruz in Argentina. Damage was slight—Darwin noted in his journal that “one tide was sufficient to repair […]

FrontRunners: Tumi’s Townhouse

David Chu believes that it is not just clothes that make the man, but also what you pack those clothes in. “How you travel is an extension of your personality,” says Chu, the executive creative director for the luggage and accessories company Tumi, “and a good-looking bag—polished and of premium quality—speaks of confidence, power, and […]

FrontRunners: Powder Prints

The upcoming Christie’s Ski Sale (, to be held January 28 at the auction house’s South Kensington location in London, will include some 300 vintage promotional posters that span the first half of the 20th century. The posters depict winter-sports resorts and equipment ranging from the earliest Telemark skis to the first aluminum skis. A […]

FrontRunners: Talk to the Hand

The new Swany G.Cell Bluetooth Glove ( may never be immortalized in a poster, but it could allow you to call in auction bids from the slopes—without exposing your fingers to the cold. Billed as the world’s first cellular ski glove, the G.Cell ($500) connects to your mobile phone via Bluetooth technology and provides as […]

FrontRunners: Along for the Glide

Anton Wilson, the engineer who founded the Bozeman, Mont., company that makes Anton Gliders skis, describes the Total Control Suspension system of the new Carbon Series Anton Gliders ( in automotive terms. “It’s like going from a pickup to a Ferrari,” says Wilson, whose system, like a finely tuned automotive suspension, helps improve handling and […]

FrontRunners: Into the Wilderness

Owners of the 10 new Resort at Paws Up Wilderness Estates ( in Greenough, Mont., can navigate the 37,000-acre property without polluting the Big Sky. Each of the 3,248-square-foot timber vacation homes comes with a Miles Electric Vehicle, a low-speed car that can be charged on a 110-volt wall socket. The houses, priced from $1.675 […]

FrontRunners: Down Time

The Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya ( will take you to new depths—maybe even to the underworld—with its new Submerged in Riviera Maya package. In addition to four nights’ accommodations at the resort—which opened in early 2008 on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, 26 miles south of Cancún—the three-day scuba-diving program includes classroom and in-pool training sessions, two […]

FrontRunners: Exhibitions of Speed

In racing and in sales, German sports-car manufacturers are fierce competitors. So it is not surprising—after Mercedes-Benz opened a new museum in 2006 and BMW debuted one in 2008—that Porsche is opening a new Porsche Museum ( The sharp-angled, aerodynamically shaped structure, which is located next to the Porsche factory in Stuttgart, Germany, was, at […]

FrontRunners: A Fitting Addition

The new IW Club (—a $30 million, 53,000-square-foot, two-story clubhouse at the Indian Wells Golf Resort outside of Palm Springs, Calif.—features one of only nine Callaway Performance Centers in existence. In addition to offering Callaway club fittings, the center includes two high-tech indoor studios with launch monitors that can analyze your swing to determine its […]

FrontRunners: In the Zones

Vogard, a small-scale Swiss watch manufacturer, specializes in custom travel watches built for the demands of, say, Bostonians who recoil from dialing up a time-zone setting marked “New York.” The $32,200 Vogard 18kt Gold Edition ( can be engraved with virtually any set of destinations, and it comes with a certificate guaranteeing that the company […]

Grand Openings: X Game

In many African countries, Land Rovers filled with tourists are more common sights than lions and giraffes. But in Botswana, permits place strict limits on the number of visitors who are allowed in a concession at any given time. Xaranna and Xudum, the newest Botswana camps from safari-lodge company &Beyond, create the illusion that you […]

Grand Openings: Cultivated Quarters

Patrizio Cipollini, general manager of the new Four Seasons Hotel Firenze in Italy, has been hearing the same question since he first visited the property’s site in 2001. “People walked up to me every morning and asked, ‘Can I come in with you to see the garden?’ ” he says. “But not just anyone is […]

Grand Openings: Raising the Bars

After opening in December 2007, the Coburg Bar at London’s Connaught hotel quickly became one of the most popular watering holes in Mayfair. Since September, however, the Coburg (shown) has faced fresh competition from a David Collins–designed nightspot located just a few paces away—at the opposite end of the newly and classically restored Connaught. Several […]

Grand Openings: Maine Stay

Prints and patterns of butterflies and dragonflies decorate the Periwinkle Cottage at Hidden Pond, a 60-acre nature resort that opened in July outside of Kennebunkport, Maine. A different New England designer created each of the property’s 14 cottages, which also include Thank You (an ode to summer camp) and Firefly (a tribute to Maine). Owners […]

Grand Openings: Screen Gems

Intricately carved jali screens once lined the terraces of Mogul palaces, enabling India’s queens and princesses to observe life outside while preventing outsiders from looking in. The latticed stonework now affords privacy to guests in the Lodhi Suites at the Aman New Delhi, a 67-room property that opened in December as the second city hotel […]

Grand Openings: Triumphant Trio

Regent Hotels & Resorts plans to open a total of 10 new properties by 2011. If the new Regents in Florida, France, and the Maldives are any indication, travelers have much to look forward to from the brand. The Regent Bal Harbour, which debuted last March, gives guests a lift—eight lifts, to be precise, that […]

Grand Openings: Class Act

Robert de Niro oversaw nearly every detail of the new hotel he co-owns near the Hudson River in Manhattan, from the tiles (made by a single family in Tuscany) that line the front entrance, to the mirrors (silvered windows recovered from New York’s Flatiron Building) in the drawing room, to the abstract artwork (painted by […]

Grand Openings: Two for Six

Visitors to the new Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay resort in Oman can arrive by boat or Land Rover—or paraglider. The beach retreat, which opened in April 2008 on a secluded inlet 75 miles northeast of downtown Dubai, employs professional paragliders who escort new arrivals to the property from a peak in the al-Hajar mountain […]

Grand Openings: Surreal World

Morgans Hotel Group’s Sunset Strip property just got stranger—and better. In September, the Mondrian Los Angeles in West Hollywood completed a one-year, $40 million renovation led by Manhattan-based designer Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz. The hotel, which first opened in 1996, originally featured a Philippe Starck–designed interior that evoked Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. Noriega-Ortiz enhanced Starck’s otherworldly […]

Grand Openings: Rising Sun

The Pamushana safari lodge in southeastern Zimbabwe has been one of Africa’s best lookouts for spotting big game since the camp opened in 1998. Now, Pamushana—which means “place of sunshine” in the local Shangaan language—shines from the inside as well, thanks to a yearlong renovation led by the South Africa–based safari-lodge operator Singita. Situated on […]

Grand Openings: Texas Three-Step

A cantilevered, fluorescent-blue swimming pool juts from a rooftop deck at the Joule, a Starwood Luxury Collection hotel that opened in downtown Dallas in May. After spotting the pool from 10 stories below on Main Street—and encountering two massive rotating gearwheels in the hotel’s lobby—you might take in stride the round beds and zebra-print carpet in […]

Grand Openings: One for Galle

British colonists introduced the sport of cricket to Sri Lanka in the mid-1800s. Today, the best place to bat and bowl in this cricket-crazed former colony—located 19 miles off the southern coast of India—is the city of Galle, the home of the island’s finest stadium, which was rebuilt following the December 2004 tsunami. Galle is […]

Grand Openings: Mod Couple

Well before the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus opened, engaged socialites were vying to be the first couple to marry on the hotel’s waterside terrace. The inaugural ceremony, which took place two weeks after the property’s July 2008 debut, wedded one of Turkey’s most eligible bachelors and his Brazilian fiancée, as black-tie guests […]

Grand Openings: Block Star

Allied bombing raids during World War II nearly destroyed the city of Dresden in eastern Germany, but the town’s center has been restored over the years and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Set near the über-Baroque Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in the heart of Dresden, the new Hotel Suitess fits right in […]

Via Flaminia

Surrounded by olive trees and grapevines at the open-air trattoria in Vetralla, 40 miles north of Rome, we had eaten Lallo Piergentili’s aged cheeses, cured meats, and pappardelle with wild boar. Now he walked with us from his restaurant to the parking lot, carrying a tin of his own olive oil. “This is a gift,” […]

Via Flaminia: Plotting Your Route and Picking Your Cars

Italy by vintage car’s seven-night Rome-Milan itinerary, which includes four days of driving, costs $14,550 per person, based on two people sharing a room and a car. The prices for all trips include accommodations, admissions to various venues, the services of a mechanic and English-speaking tour guides, and many meals, as well as insurance, gasoline, […]

The Perfect 10

If you had 15 days to travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do? African-travel specialist Will Jones thinks you should spend the time in private game camps, exploring the cultures and wildlife of Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa. Tom Collins of the Burgess yachting company believes you […]

The Perfect 10: The Cairo Connection

What » A journey to Egypt’s highest pyramids, on its longest river, and inside its most private tombs.   Who » “I’m a frustrated Indiana Jones,” says Destinations & Adventures International president James Berkeley. “I love temples, and I love to think about how they were built.” Berkeley explored countless temples firsthand while running Abercrombie […]

The Perfect 10: Yen and Yang

What » An exploration of contrasting cultures in Japan and southern China.   Who » Randy Lynch has traveled regularly to Asia since 1979, when he began working as a sales representative for Korean Air. In 2000 he founded Kipling & Clark, a Chicago-based tour operator that specializes in Asia, and he has since averaged […]

The Perfect 10: Surf and Turf

What » A two-part trip to see the best of Mexico’s coast and colonial core.   Who » Hoteliers Goffredo and Alix Marcaccini moved from Los Angeles to Mexico in 1992. “After the L.A. riots,” says Goffredo, “we decided to stay here.” The couple now owns and operates Hacienda de San Antonio, a hotel in […]

The Perfect 10: Going with the Floe

What » A private yacht charter through Alaska’s Inside Passage and along British Columbia’s coast.   Who » Michael Sawyer, the president of Infinity Yacht Charters, specializes in tracking down superyachts in the Pacific Northwest. “They’re not up here every year,” says Sawyer, who is based near Seattle, “but many of the world’s elite superyachts […]

The Perfect 10: Insider’s Italy

What » The ultimate villa-rental experience in Tuscany.   Who » Claus and Jeanette Thottrup, the Danish owners of Borgo Santo Pietroin southwestern Tuscany, moved in 2001 from their adopted home in London to Italy. While living part-time in Italy’s northern mountains, the couple discovered the 13-acre Borgo Santo Pietro estate in a remote valley, […]

The Perfect 10: King of India

What » A private-plane excursion through the subcontinent, with stops in New Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Ajabgarh, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Mumbai.   Who » The Chicago-based travel outfitter Greaves Tours has been taking clients to the Indian subcontinent—and only the Indian subcontinent—for more than 15 years. “It all began in the U.K., when friends and […]

The Perfect 10: Good Migrations

What » A cultural and ecological journey through South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, and Kenya.   Who » Will Jones moved to London after spending the first 25 years of his life in six African countries. In 1999 he founded Journeys by Design, a travel outfitter that focuses exclusively on the continent he knows best. “The […]

The Perfect 10: Flight Plans

What » Outdoor adventure and cultural immersion on a helicopter trip through New Zealand.   Who » Jean-Michel Jefferson was an aviation strategist before he launched New Zealand–based Ahipara Luxury Travel seven years ago. Not surprisingly, he takes a consultant-style approach to arranging excursions to the country. “We start by building a brief of clients’ […]

The Perfect 10: God Speed

What » A pilgrimage by private jet to explore the origins of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.   Who » TCS Expeditions specializes in themed around-the-world trips by private jet. The Seattle-based company typically charters a Boeing 757 for its approximately 24-day-long journeys, which can accommodate as many as 74 clients at a […]

Bear Essentials

It was 3 am in Moscow, and dawn was a lipstick streak across the horizon as our limo arrived at a drab, warehouselike structure in an outlying district of the city. A crowd had gathered on the sidewalk out front, and the face control, as the Russians call it, was intense: A gaggle of thick-necks […]

Bear Essentials: Enter the Oligarchs

One of the first oligarchs was Boris Berezovsky, who exploited his connections with then Prime Minister Boris Yeltsin to establish a company that sold cars directly from a state-owned factory. Later, Berezovsky took over Sibneft, Russia’s largest oil company, before becoming the main shareholder in the country’s largest television station. In the course of business, Berezovsky […]

The Robb Reader: Geoffrey Kent

Robbb Report spoke with Abercrombie & Kent founder Geoffrey Kent in Los Angeles during a recent promotional tour for the company’s new Abercrombie & Kent Residence Club, which launched this past fall. A tireless traveler 220 days out of the year, he had just returned from a trip to Rio de Janeiro, where, in his […]

Flight Deck

Several years ago, the fractional aviation industry realized that it was grossly underutilizing a costly asset: its aircraft. At that time, fractional fleets flew only 25 to 30 percent of a given year and spent the rest of the time in hangars gathering dust. One of the industry’s solutions to this problem was to offer […]

Mediterranean Marvels

The gray days of winter offer charter-yacht customers ample motivation to plan summer holidays in the Mediterranean. With June fast approaching, these sun worshippers are calling harbormasters from Antibes to Portofino to reserve marina slips—?especially for events such as the Monaco Grand Prix and the Cannes Film Festival. They are confirming launch dates and discussing […]

The Perfect 10: Chart Topper

What » A yacht charter through the eastern Caribbean, with stops in Antigua, Barbuda, St. Barts, St. Martin, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands. Who » The London-based yachting company Burgess manages a fleet of more than 60 charter vessels, which range in size from 100 feet to 312 feet. Tom Collins, who has been […]