The Ultimate Home 2009


Grand Openings: New hotels in Boston, Las Vegas, Arizona & Andalusia. Plus, Mercedes' AMG driving academy, taking on the world's most challenging track. Also, Cadillac's new CTS-V, the fastest production sedan on the street.

From This Issue

From the Editors: Architects of Fate

A house inevitably expresses the personality of its owner—for better or worse. This year’s Ultimate Home (see “Taking Shapes,” page 78), a dramatic yet welcoming space flooded with natural light, makes a case for the congenial character of its occupants. However, another ultimate Southern California address, 905 Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills, casts rather a […]

Robb Design Portfolio: ’Ring Master

1937 BMW 328 Roadster The Nürburgring racetrack in the leafy woodlands of western Germany’s Eifel Mountains is where all serious high-performance sports cars go to prove their mettle. A good lap time around the ’Ring’s notorious Nordschleife loop confers instant credibility on modern models and manufacturers alike. In 1936, German driver Ernst Henne won his […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Big Shot

A rifle with a hefty provenance. Winchester’s Model 1886, designed by firearms pioneer John Browning, was the epitome of Victorian function and elegance. With its butter-smooth action, the rifle was a favorite of many sportsmen—including Theodore Roosevelt—and remained in production until 1935. This .33-caliber takedown version was commissioned for the American automotive titan John F. […]

FrontRunners: Poggenpohl

The German kitchen-design company Poggenpohl further blurs the line between workplace and home—specifically the kitchen—with its new Dining Desk ( Press a button, and a sleeve slides out from the middle of the unit, expanding the desk’s width by 18 inches and exposing a section that can hold serving trays, chopping boards, and cutlery trays. […]

FrontRunners: Four Score

Following more than two years of rendered images from Porsche and speculation on the Internet, the four-door Porsche Panamera ( will make its official debut in late April at the 2009 Shanghai Auto Show, and will arrive in U.S. showrooms in the fall. The sports sedan, which derives its name from the Mexican road race […]

FrontRunners: Cutting Edge

To produce its $30,000 Damascene Straight Razor (, Hommage, a Paris-based grooming-products company, adapted a steelmaking method that dates as far back as 300 B.C. The technique gained prominence in the Middle East during the Crusades, when its product became known as Damascene steel, a material from which sword makers could forge durable, razor-sharp weapons. […]

FrontRunners: Case Closed

Richard Mille seldom makes compromises with his designs, so it is not surprising that the basic form of his new RM025 (—the most technically complex diving watch ever from Switzerland—is his sole nod to convention. This concession came only because Mille had to house the watch in an almost normal-looking case to make it water-resistant […]

FrontRunners: Raw Power

With its minimal body paneling, which leaves its inner workings exposed, the 2009 Ducati Streetfighter ( represents the Italian company’s latest take on the naked motorcycle body style that it pioneered in the 1990s. The bike’s most noticeable change from previous naked models is its seat position, which has been pushed back on the frame […]

FrontRunners: Playing with Fire

More than 50 years ago, the Lladró brothers of Spain—Juan, José, and Vicente—debuted an innovative process for finishing porcelain that required only a single layer of firing. The technique enabled them to create porcelain figurines with finer finishes and truer colors than those created using multiple-firing methods. The brothers have passed on, but the Lladró […]

FrontRunners: Staying in Shape

Hawker Beechcraft’s update of its 400XP business jet, the $8 million Hawker 450XP (, features new engines, but the cabin shape remains unchanged. “The 400XP has a unique fuselage design, with a squarish-oval kind of cross section, that provides a flat floor and plenty of shoulder and headroom in the cabin,” says Dennis Hildreth, senior […]

FrontRunners: Above-Par Pairings

The secret is out—sort of. A previously unadvertised Founders’ Dinner is included among the 53 activities listed on the itinerary for the Second Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine event ( But to learn the dinner’s location, you have to acquire one of only 22 available tickets, priced at $3,000 apiece. The dinner, to be […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Sports teams have their mascots, but few wines do. One exception is Howell at the Moon, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon whose name alludes punningly to an activity of Tysie, the Jack Russell terrier on its label. This canine crooner belongs to Marc Cohen, a former physician who, in 1999, retired from his position of 27 […]

Grand Openings: Wynn Streak

Before Steve Wynn opened Encore in December, interior designer Roger Thomas described the resort as “Wynn Las Vegas’ little sister who went to Macao and came back to Las Vegas a little more grown-up.” It was, in fact, Thomas who went back and forth to China while designing interiors for a Wynn-owned resort in Macao. […]

Grand Openings: Arrival by Camelback

Intercontinental’s first resort in the United States brings a bit of Andalusia to the Arizona desert. Modeled after villages in southern Spain, the InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley is a patchwork of villas, fountains, courtyards, walkways, and arched entryways at the foot of Camelback Mountain. The resort’s dining options, including a tapas […]

Grand Openings: Spanish Sol

Like Arizona’s InterContinental Montelucia (see “Arrival by Camelback,” page 46), the new Finca Cortesin resort incorporates Andalusian architectural elements. The latter property, however, has an authentic edge over the former: Finca Cortesin is actually in Andalusia. Set on the outskirts of Casares, a village between Marbella and Sotogrande on Spain’s Costa del Sol, Finca Cortesin […]

Grand Openings: Asian Fusion

Thirteen years in the making—nine of them under construction—the Mandarin Oriental, Boston, finally opened in the city’s Back Bay last October. The 148-room property, Mandarin Oriental’s fifth hotel in the United States, is unlike any of the Hong Kong–based group’s existing establishments—and unlike anything else in Boston. The hotel’s traditional New England facade blends in […]

Jewelry: Music to the Eyes

“Jewelry should be like a melody,” says classical-cellist-turned-designer Anna Hu. “It should move gracefully with curvatures, dangling drops, and a beautiful finish.” That the 32-year-old’s two passions should inform one another is natural; yet Hu never deliberately chose to transfer her talents from string and bow to stone and precious metal. Rather, the career change […]

Dining: Amused Bouches

Standing at the edge of Tivoli Gardens—the 19th-century amusement park in Copenhagen that inspired Disneyland—one begins to understand why a recent U.S. study named Denmark the happiest country in the world. Happier still are those fortunate few who have the pleasure of being guests at the Gardens’ 13-suite Nimb hotel: Directly below them, on the […]

Spas: Making Sense

Every visit to a Sense spa begins with tea. At Rosewood Mayakobá, on Mexico’s Riviera Maya coast, arriving guests drink chaya tea with lemon juice. Attendants at the Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel in Manhattan, offer spa-goers a strawberry-and-mint-infused concoction. And at CordeValle, a Rose­wood Resort in Northern California, a self-serve bar in the tea lounge […]

Travel: Floridian Flourish

As she hurries through pecky cypress–encased hallways at the Brazilian Court hotel, Leslie Schlesinger rattles off orders and queries to Leticia Bilotta: “Get that drape fixed!” “That cushion needs to be regraphed!” “Is it cold in here?” Bilotta, the hotel’s general manager, nods in agreement with Schlesinger, who owns the fabled property in Palm Beach, […]

Golf: Swinging to the Oldies

Without the bam of a Big Bertha behind it, my drive on the 602-yard, par-5 seventh hole at the Fairmont Banff Springs golf course falls 70 yards shorter than it normally would. My ball lands on the fairway, but it takes me two more strokes—one with the Spoon and the other with the Jigger—to get […]

Wine: Message in a Bottle

At an early age, Michael Mondavi learned from his grandfather Cesare to listen to vineyards. He recalls that he was about 12 years old when Cesare—who, with his sons Robert and Peter, purchased Napa Valley’s Charles Krug winery in 1943—stopped him during a walk through one of the vineyards, reached down to take up a […]

Boating: American Beauty

It would be easy to mistake a Lazzara express yacht for a European import. Beyond the Italian name, these boats have the same sleek hull lines, curvilinear superstructures, and aggressive bows as the latest offerings from European manufacturers like Riva, Azimut, and Sunseeker. “When customers hear our boats are designed in Florida, they don’t believe […]

Autos: V for Vendetta

Know your enemy. The age-old warfare strategy defined the development of Cadillac’s all-new CTS-V sport sedan. “The team that worked on this particular V-series model stayed focused on the BMW M5,” says Chris Berube, lead development engineer for the CTS-V. “We really wanted to make a car that put up better numbers than the M5.” […]

Home Electronics: Wizard if Aahs

When William Phelps’ rear-projection TV broke in the late 1970s, he figured he could fix it as well as anyone could, if not better. “The picture didn’t look as good as it did when the set was new,” recalls Phelps, who worked as a systems programmer for IBM for 30 years. “I asked the manufacturer […]

Art: Horse Sense

Born on the day of the 75th Kentucky Derby (the winning Thoroughbred was called Ponder), artist Deborah Butterfield has turned a love of horses into an artistic obsession. “That’s my formal excuse—the Kentucky Derby,” she says. “But truly, the first thing I saw that mattered to me was a horse. Suddenly there was something really […]

Antiques: You Must Remember This

Can Los Angeles—a youth-obsessed metropolis where erasing the signs of aging is a full-time job for many—love what is old? Judging from the past success of the Los Angeles Antiques Show, an annual Wednesday-through-Sunday event held at Santa Monica Airport’s Barker Hangar, the answer is an unequivocal yes. “Los Angeles is a city of creative […]

Taking Shapes

Open Architecture | From the beginning of the 32-month design-and-build process for this 32,000-square-foot home in Palm Desert, Calif., the primary goal of the homeowners—a couple in their 70s who divide their time between Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and California’s Coachella Valley—was to create a structure that would meld into its mountainous surroundings. Prominently situated on […]

Lord of the ’Ring

Armco barriers, tarmac, candy cane–colored rumble strips, and towering oak trees rushed at me as I plunged the Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG into the Fuchsröhre, or Foxhole. I squeezed the gas pedal, and the car bellowed as it approached 130 mph. Gravity and a 518 hp V-8 engine combined to slingshot the car toward the […]

Underground Movements

In late 2002, the Swiss watch industry buzzed with rumors that ETA, a division of the Swatch Group and the supplier of movements to a host of companies, would soon restrict deliveries. Swatch chairman Nicolas Hayek publicly declared that such a move would encourage creativity and independence in the industry. At that time, however, executives […]

Men of the Cloth

Somewhere in the Altai Mountains of Outer Mongolia, Pier Luigi Loro Piana and an army of rifle-toting security guards have reached their destination. Their caravan of jeeps has traveled for 15 hours along dirt roads from the village of Dadal, just north of the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. It is an arduous drive, but Loro Piana, […]

Men of the Cloth: Custom Comfort

Loro Piana now offers the world’s first 100 percent cashmere carpeting. Called One Step to Heaven and priced at approximately $178 per square foot, it is part of the new Loro Piana Interiors collection. The carpet—produced from cashmere fleece that comes from the soft underbelly of the Hyrcus goat—is available in three standard earth tones, […]

Style: Case Study

Although the popular image of the briefcase may be a bit staid and conventional, the briefcase itself remains as essential a part of any executive’s accoutrements as the latest model of BlackBerry or iPhone. And just as these indispensable digital appurtenances can be programmed and configured to meet the specific demands of their owners, the […]

Time: Enamel Magnetism

With the bang of a gavel at a 2002 Antiquorum sale in Geneva, a Patek Philippe platinum World Time watch sold for $4,026,524—the highest price paid for a vintage (pre-1990) wristwatch at auction. The model, which displays the times of 24 time zones, is distinguished by its bezel engraved with world locations. In the late […]

Time: Enamel Magnetism: The Art of Cloisonné

The earliest known examples of cloisonné are six gold rings dating to the 13th century B.C. that were discovered in a Mycenaean tomb in Cyprus in 1952. The technique, which further evolved in the Byzantine Empire between the 6th and 12th centuries A.D., spread to Western Europe and Asia, where the Chinese famously expanded the […]

Home Entertainment: Central Intelligence

If it is not the valedictorian of the latest class of smart phones, then Apple’s iPhone is at least the most popular, and, accordingly, its capabilities are well publicized and well ?documented. Essentially, with its Internet and e-mail functions, the device enables you to remain connected to the world when you are away from your […]

Home Entertainment: Central Intelligence: It’s Easy Being Green

One might assume that home-automation systems consume large amounts of energy. However, the systems themselves require relatively little power, and the energy-conservation benefits they offer are considerable. Most touchpanel systems make it easy to see if lights have been left on and to shut them off. In homes that employ multizone climate-control systems, an automation […]

The Robb Reader: David Linley

In 1985, when Viscount David Linley founded the London-based furniture-design firm that bears his name, he wanted to rattle some cages. “At that time, the industry was making things that could be thrown away; I wanted to make things that would be lasting,” he recently told Robb Report. Today, in addition to overseeing his firm, […]