The Ultimate Home


Special Issue: The Ultimate Home. Also, Alfa Romeo returns, test-driving the new 8C Competizione. Plus, custom clothes and helicopters by Hermès, contemporary Caribbean villas and exotic Asian jewelry.

From This Issue

Horse Powered: Joint Tenancy

When Hermès decided, at the end of the 1990s, to upgrade its men’s watch offerings, the resources to do so were surprisingly close at hand. Around the same time, the Hermès family had leased a Paris apartment to another family with an interest in the luxury business, the Sandozes. The family, founders of the Sandoz […]

Horse Powered

When Thierry Hermès opened his saddle shop in 1837, in Paris, the cobblestoned streets rang with the clip-clop of horses’ hooves. Today, the window of the brand’s recently opened Broad Street store, located across the street from the New York Stock Exchange, showcases an example of 21st-century horsepower: a customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The one-of-a-kind bike, […]

Horse Powered: The Silk Route

After his parents were killed in 1997, during a civil war, a then-14-year-old Sudanese boy named Sefedin found his way to a base camp for Doctors Without Borders, which placed him in a school for orphans. While there, he drew colorful chalk sketches of African landscapes, which eventually landed on the desk of Jean-Louis Dumas, […]

Reentry Rocket

“You can disable ESP,” Alfa Romeo engineer Domenico Martino says of the 8C Competizione’s electronic stability system, “but we don’t recommend.” Especially not in these conditions. It is a rainy, winter afternoon at Circuito di Balocco, the test track near Turin, Italy, home of Alfa Romeo’s parent company, Fiat, and Martino is providing a crash […]

Modern Revolution

For the past several decades, Caribbean design has been as predictable as the northeast trade winds: Georgian columns, vine-covered pergolas, vaulted ceilings. But suddenly it is taking a turn for the contemporary. On Dellis Cay, a 560-acre private island in the Turks and Caicos archipelago, for instance, seven top architects are bringing their sophisticated, up-to-date […]

Modern Revolution: Island Fever

The new design paradigm is catching on all across the Caribbean. On the western end of Anguilla, the residences at St. Regis Temenos (Greek for “sanctuary”)—bright white oceanfront homes and villas that afford views of nearby Saint Martin—seem to have been transported directly from Santorini. Prickly Bay Waterside on Grenada features marine houses, which resemble […]

One Last Thing…

THE ITEM This rock crystal snuff bottle from China dates to the late 18th or early 19th century, when its owner would have used it to hold powdered tobacco. One craftsman roughed out the shape of the bottle, which is slightly more than 2 inches tall, before another hollowed it out with a drill that […]

FrontRunners: Kaufmann House

Admirers of the Kaufmann house consider it a work of art, and Christie’s ( evidently concurs. The auction house will include the Palm Springs, Calif., vacation residence, which modernist architect Richard Joseph Neutra designed for department store magnate Edgar Kaufmann in the mid-1940s, alongside Rothkos and de Koonings in its May 13 sale of postwar […]

FrontRunners: A la Moto

The styling of the new Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport (, a 95 hp street bike that exceeds 130 mph, recalls the Italian manufacturer’s 1950s-era race bikes. But its engineering is up-to-the-minute. Among the $13,590 bike’s technologies are a wave-shaped brake rotor that increases the front brake’s surface area and thus its efficiency; adjustable, titanium-treated […]

FrontRunners: Bay Watch

Restaurateur Pat Kuleto has an original take on surf and turf. He recently opened Waterbar, a seafood restaurant, and the Epic Roasthouse (, a steak house, side by side in San Francisco. Waterbar features two 1,000-gallon aquariums and four live-catch tanks, while Epic uses a pair of wood-fired ovens to cook its bone-in cuts. . […]

FrontRunners: Nice Twists

When selecting items for their exhibit on rococo design, curator Gail Davidson and her colleagues employed the SOS method: “Our choices,” she says, “had to be sinuous, organic, and sensuous.” More than 300 pieces of furniture, porcelain, silverware, jewelry, and decorative art appear in Rococo: The Continuing Curve, 1730–2008, on display at Manhattan’s Cooper-Hewitt National […]

FrontRunners: Chest Fabulous

The French Cognac house Hennessy has produced 100 examples of the $220,000, melted aluminum and mirrored glass Beauté du Siècle (Beauty of the Century) liqueur chest ( and stocked it with a decanter of the chest’s namesake Cognac. The limited-edition blend of aged eaux-de-vie from the Hennessy reserves comes in a Baccarat crystal decanter. In […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Thanks in large part to the success of Napa Valley’s red wines at the famous 1976 Paris blind tasting, other regions in California with serious viticultural ambitions, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, sought to produce Cabernet Sauvignons on a par with those that had overcome the prejudices of French critics. However, a handful of pioneers […]

FrontRunners: Longue Vacation

On the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, one of the most pleasantly deserted beaches lies on the Baie Longue. Since 1973, the La Samanna resort ( has occupied 55 acres overlooking this beach. Resembling a Greek seaside village, the property features a whitewashed main building and 15 smaller ones that contain a total of 81 […]

FrontRunners: Class Acts

Cathay Pacific Airways ( has made a trip from the United States to China much more comfortable—dare we say, even enjoyable. On a first-class flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Hong Kong (priced at about $24,000), the seats fold down to create a bed more than 6.5 feet long and 3 […]

FrontRunners: Stiff Resistance

The skiwear company Spyder ( has introduced body armor for bicyclists. The fabric used to make the Spyder Freeryde d30 Armored Top ($350) and Ultimate Chamois Short ($270) contains molecules that flow when you move but lock together on impact, providing some protection in a wipeout or collision. Once the pressure is lifted, the fabric […]

FrontRunners: Select Smoke

Ligero tobacco comes from the top leaves of a tobacco plant, which have the strongest flavor. Just a bit of this tobacco adds considerable power to any blend, so a cigar labeled “double ligero” might seem intimidating. Rest assured, though, that the La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero “A” tames its substantial quantity of ligero with […]

Wardrobe: Creative Vision

Nader Zadi, a manhattan optician who owns the bespoke eyewear company CustomEyes, used to notice fellow subway passengers and restaurant diners tugging at their reading glasses as they looked up from their newspapers or menus to view more distant objects. “Their glasses never seemed low enough,” says Zadi. “They would pull them down but, even […]

Watches: Mountain Time

When Colorado businessman (and avid fly fisherman) Kip Dellinger glances at his watch, he sees not only the time, but also a trout leaping from a stream to chase a mayfly. The scene’s backdrop, the sunlit San Juan Mountains scalloping the horizon, re-creates the view from Dellinger’s backyard. From a photograph of Dellinger’s mountain vista […]

Boating: Home at Last

Amid the cluster of boats at the marina on the Greek island of Poros, Aello is a standout, though not in a way that makes her a magnet for charter. The circa-1921, 125-foot sailing yacht lacks king-size beds, big hot tubs, and zero-speed stabilizers. But she has character. Corinne Demougin, charter manager in the Monaco […]

Aviation: Sonic Truth

Would anyone pay $80 million for a private jet that can reach 1,220 mph but is prohibited by government regulators from flying even close to that speed while over land? That question has dogged Aerion Corp. of Reno, Nev., since 2002, when, with backing from Texas billionaire Robert Bass, the company began its endeavor to […]

Travel: Peace Dividend

Lucky remembers running behind American soldiers as they dropped candy for children onto the streets of Da Nang during the Vietnam War. The U.S. military built a large base in Da Nang, but this city in central Vietnam was never a combat zone. In fact, the stretch of coast between Da Nang and Hoi An, […]

Spirits: Dram and Quartered

Ardmore, the single malt that lends Teacher’s Highland Cream blended Scotch its buttery and slightly smoky qualities, has gone solo again, this time as Ardmore Traditional Cask. Ten years ago, to celebrate the brand’s centenary, Ardmore presented 200 bottles of a 21-year-old version of its single malt to various VIPs. Also to mark the occasion, […]

Golf: Fit for a King

I have seen my swing on video before, and it is not a pretty sight. However, the view is far more palatable when I am recast as Mr. Mercury, a slim and silvery simulacrum that can be analyzed from every conceivable angle. It also is easier to stomach when the reward for my embarrassment is […]

Vacation Homes: Quintessential Cabo

The pool terrace at Cielos Palmillas’ No. 77 sits just above the seventh fairway of the Ocean Course in Los Cabos, Mexico. Beyond the strip of grass and a palm-lined road, a sea of rooftops and stucco facades stretches nearly the length of a crescent beach. The clustered resorts and communities attest to the popularity […]

Home: How Suite It Is

The latest furniture line from Studio Workshops, the San Francisco- and Los Angeles–based sister company of antiques dealer Therien & Co., is intended to evoke New York’s golden age of hotels, when, early in the last century, high society frequented a flurry of new, posh establishments boasting the luxuries (electric lights and air-conditioning among them) […]

Music: Pipe Fitter

The cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, Bayard Sharp Hall at the University of Delaware, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia all found their voices in Lake City, Iowa, at Dobson Pipe Organ Builders. The company has fashioned an organ for each of these three venues and […]

Art: Unreal

Evan Penny’s portrait sculptures can be painstakingly realistic and at the same time completely absurd. The Toronto artist pockmarks their silicone skins with pores, fashions faces and necks with tiny wrinkles and folds that are too minor for most cameras to record, and roots tens of thousands of hairs into heads, eyebrows, and beards one […]

Jewelry: Golden Boys

Much the same way that haute couture clients can meet with fashion designers to review the latest collections and customize their selections, patrons of Manhattan jeweler Faraone Mennella are welcome to visit its 57th Street salon to review sketches, select gems, and have pieces custom-fit. “We’re a modern-day jewelry couturier,” says Amedeo Scognamiglio, who started […]

Spas: Vitality Signs

In the medical center at Clinique La Prairie in Clarens-Montreux, Switzerland, examination rooms are equipped with latest-generation machines: an MRI, a 64-slice CT scanner, and digitalized equipment for bone X-rays and abdominal ultrasounds. A calorimeter calculates your metabolic rate by determining how much oxygen you inspire and how much carbon dioxide you expire. In the […]

Antiques: Raising Canes

The featured items in Henry Taron’s next auction of antique walking sticks (the British term for “canes”) might make you wonder why the accessory ever went out of style. The handle of a Tiffany & Co. cane from the turn of the last century bears a swallow made of diamonds; a Japanese example from the […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Solar System

Long before he established his watch company in 2001, Richard Mille ( encountered an astrolabe made by the Paris clock-making company Hour-Lavigne. In 1998, he convinced Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey of Greubel Forsey to oversee the design of a modern variation of this instrument, which is used to determine the positions of the sun, […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Seeing the Light

The 8C 2900B has been described as the cultured son of a champion athlete. It descended directly from the 8C 2900A, with which Alfa Romeo claimed the first three spots in the 1936 Mille Miglia and then won the race again in 1937. On the heels of that second victory, Alfa produced the first of […]

Time: White Hot

At nearly 3,300 feet underground, the air in shaft number 10 at South Africa’s Impala mine is warm, humid, and acrid. The smell is a mix of rotting timber from support beams and ammonia from the explosives used to mine the shaft. Single file, the members of our group—journalists and executives from the Geneva watchmaker […]

Wings & Water: Smooth Sailing

It is 9:30 am, and Johnny Danger is running out of tobacco—or whatever pungent substance fills his hand-rolled cigarette. But it appears that the substance has achieved its desired effect: The burly fellow grins blearily but beatifically. “Nothing better than to start the day with a smoke,” he says. “Or two.” Johnny Danger—a nickname—splits his […]

Contributors: The Ultimate Home and Inspired Houses

In past years, Robb Report’s Ultimate Homes have been compilations of extraordinary rooms selected from residences throughout the world. This year, in “Belle of Bel Air”, our Ultimate Home feature, we once again spotlight a collection of remarkable rooms and other spaces. However, all of them are contained within a single home, in the hills […]

Ultimate Home 2008: Belle of Bel Air

A 15,000-square-foot residence in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, overlooking a country club, presents countless opportunities for over-the-top, garish embellishments. But instead of succumbing to those temptations, this home’s new owner, a fortysomething media entrepreneur, and his design team exercised uncommon and laudable restraint when reconceiving the circa-1926 house. The team comprised interior […]

Rising from the East

Jacques Cartier, of the cartier jewelry house, and Jacques Arpels, of Van Cleef & Arpels, both traveled throughout Asia in the early 20th century, journeying from Paris to destinations as diverse as Bombay and Bahrain. Each returned with a bounty of vibrant gems and new ideas about jewelry design. The flamboyant pieces that followed were […]

Dining: Return Engagement

Chef Michael Voltaggio is back where his career began. He has returned to the Greenbrier, in the West Virginia mountains, to run its new restaurant, Hemisphere, and elevate the reputation of the resort’s food. The Greenbrier’s executive chef, Peter Timmins, offered Voltaggio the Hemisphere job without interviewing any other candidates; he was that sure of […]