The Robb Report Holiday Gift Guide

14 of the most exclusive and decadent gifts money can buy.

By Robb Report Staff 10/12/2019

Put something ultra-exclusive under the tree this year – from a supercar romp through France and Monaco, to an island takeover in Tanzania and the rarest of Japanese beef, we’ve got you covered. 


1. Drive Every Supercar Imaginable Across Europe

 

As a car fan, if you’d asked your teenage self to describe his perfect adult holiday, it would undoubtedly have sounded like the brochure for one of the unfeasibly wondrous trips created and coordinated by the Australian-based company, Ultimate Driving Tours.

“So, I’d get all the supercars in the world – Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, Porsches, McLarens – probably a few of each, and then some of my best friends, and then we’d race them across the best roads in the world.”

Much as the teenager you were, or perhaps the teenager you might now have in your house, seems to be describing an impossible-dream scenario, all this can be yours thanks to the work of the Ultimate Driving Tours team.

European Supercar Tour

The company runs various supercar driving trips all over the world, but the jewel in the crown has to be the annual European Supercar Tour, which has been running for more than a decade and starts with three unforgettable days on a superyacht in Monaco, watching the world’s oldest, most storied and dangerous of Formula One races.

The unlimited food and drink on your enormous, triple-decker luxury cruiser is of the elevated quality you’ll come to expect across the coming week, as you slide into a selection of more than a dozen of the world’s fastest and, in some cases, least-obtainable cars for a cracking, high-speed blast across France, Italy and Switzerland, each night spent in the most impressive chateaux, eating at only the most exclusive restaurants.

There are options to extend your trip – with a tour of the champagne region – or yourself, with a one-day race-track session that ends behind the wheel of an F1 car.

In short, what Ultimate Driving Tours offers are once-in-a-lifetime experiences – dreams made real.

Robb Report readers are offered an accommodation / dining upgrade from Gold to Platinum, or an equivalent discount off the Platinum and Black packages. ultimatedrivingtours.com

 

2. Take over a Private island off Tanzania

 

Sometimes luxury means total seclusion. On the tiny private island of Thanda, off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa, the only sights and sounds are white sand, blue ocean and the clink of ice in your cocktail. Heavy waves are kept at bay by the surrounding coral reefs, while
noisy power boats are completely banned from the marine reserve that encircles the island.

The previously uninhabited 20-acre islet was acquired and transformed into a private resort by Swedish philanthropists Christin and Dan Olofsson, who run HIV-prevention programs in southern Africa. Nine guest suites and a spa look out over the Indian Ocean, and meals are served on the beach in local Swahili and Arabic style.

Activities on offer include sailing, snorkelling, diving, deep-sea fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, tennis, yoga and a sunset cocktail cruise, while you can also swim with whale sharks and learn about Thanda’s conservation of sea turtles and dugongs with an in-house marine biologist.

As a special experience for Robb Report readers, a five-night buyout of the entire island – up to 10 adults and nine children – will include a helicopter day trip for seven people to the neighbouring spice island of Zanzibar. Thanda’s chef will take you on a foodie mission to the markets of Stone Town and a nearby spice farm.

Back on Thanda, the chef will host a cooking class using the local catch of the day and your freshly bought coconuts, spices, vanilla pods and vegetables. – Lucy Alexander

Approx. $184,000, including activities, helicopter transfers from Dar es Salaam and food and drink. +27 32586 0149, reservations@thandaisland.com

 

3. Journey to the Japanese island with the most rarefied beef in the world

 

On the verdant Japanese island of Shodoshima, ranchers for centuries have raised some of the country’s finest cattle, and for the past hundred years, farmers have grown some of its best olives. But it wasn’t until 2006 that someone tried combining the two.

Rancher Masaki Ishii noticed that after the olives were pressed for oil, the leftover pulp was thrown out. He fed it to the cattle, making an already exceptional type of beef even better.

In one stroke, the umami flavour profile of the marbled fat was boosted even further by the use of the olives, says Joe Heitzeberg, owner of online steak purveyor Crowd Cow. 

Rare Wagyu Experience

Many times, getting Olive Wagyu requires knowing someone who knows someone. Fortunately for you, Heitzeberg can be that guy. He’s inviting one Robb Report reader and a guest to join him as he guides you from Tokyo to Shodoshima and back.

Along the way you’ll meet the rancher who raises some of the world’s best beef and try the Olive Wagyu. Heitzeberg will get you access to a special private dinner at Ichigo steak house, and, back in Tokyo, a members-only restaurant for a sumptuous tasting menu. It’s a beef connoisseur’s dream. – J.R.

Approx $44,225, including meals, accommodation and travel in Japan. Round-trip airfare to Tokyo not included. crowdcow.com/olive-wagyu-experience

 

4. Take over a wellness retreat in China

 

Electrifying, frenetic Shanghai is not normally associated with relaxation. But weary travellers jaded by the bright lights of one of the world’s largest cities can now seek respite at Sangha Retreat, a new lakeside wellness resort an hour and a half’s drive west from The Bund.

Sangha occupies a 19-hectare peninsula on Yangcheng Lake, near the historic town of Suzhou, known as the Venice of the East owing to its ancient canals and bridges (it’s China, so there are skyscrapers too). The resort gives the waterside aesthetic a deeply contemporary spin: the design, by New York firm Tsao & McKown, has won numerous international awards.

Shang Retreat

Sangha’s entire At One hotel is available for 66 people to buy out for a week’s immersive retreat, complete with spa, fitness centre and Michelin-starred cuisine. Unique to Robb Report readers is a bespoke wellness program that embraces Eastern and Western philosophies, led personally (schedule permitting) by Fred Tsao, Sangha’s founder. The retreat offers ancient Chinese practices, such as tai chi and meditation, and new traditions, like sailing across the lake to receive blessings from 300 Buddhist monks.

You can also add on three nights at the Four Seasons Shanghai Pudong, with evening entertainment in the French Concession area, a boat ride on the Huangpu River and more. – L.A.

Approx. $2.5 million for hotel buyout; and approx. $228,000 for Shanghai trip. Prices based on 66 people. Jamie Waring: jamiewaring@octave
institute.com. Martha Morningstar: +1 443 570 2252

 

5. Drive the perfect Porsche reimagined by Singer

 

We’ve taken the guesswork out of what to get your favourite car collector – with the help of Los Angeles–based Singer Vehicle Design. The boutique design-and-restoration house is offering one Robb Report reader the opportunity to own a Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer through the latest results of its Dynamics and Lightweighting Study (DLS), and to partake in exclusive driving experiences with the Singer team.

Singer founder Rob Dickinson has teamed with Robb Report on a unique interpretation of the German marque’s air-cooled 911 variant, the 964 (built from 1989 through 1994), one of only 75 examples to receive DLS services.

“The Dynamics and Lightweighting Study represents a pursuit of the most advanced air-cooled 911 in the world,” says Dickinson.

“In our 10th-anniversary year, I’m delighted that we’re able to offer one Robb Report enthusiast the opportunity to collaborate in reimagining their personal vision
for this iconic sports car.”

Developed from a customer-supplied donor car, the vehicle will comprise full carbon-fibre bodywork featuring visible carbon fibre for the exterior; a 500 hp, 4.0-litre, air-cooled flat-six engine mated to a six-speed gearbox with magnesium casing; and advanced aerodynamics that include an optimised rear ducktail and ram-air induction system.

As for the aniline-leather interior, think polished nickel for the trim, a titanium gear shifter and an 18-carat-gold tachometer, among other accents. Specifications will be further outlined during the recipient’s in-house consultation and dinner with Dickinson himself. (A number of bespoke special wishes can be accommodated at additional cost.)

Singer’s Robb Report present also includes a private track experience with its test driver Marino Franchitti, complete with a keepsake open-faced helmet and race suit, as well as VIP access to the always-hair-raising 2020 Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England, in July. As a bonus, you’ll receive an invitation to ride shotgun with Singer during the event’s famed Hillclimb competition.

Did we mention the nearly six-figure Track 1 DLS Edition carbon-fibre chronograph? It will match the car and make the gift, you know, even more timely. – Viju Mathew

Starting at approx. $4.04 million, the gift offer expires February 15, 2020.
Deb Pollack: deb@singervehicledesign.com

 

6. Don an F. P. Journe Chronomètre Bleu and tour the manufacture

 

When F. P. Journe introduced the Chronomètre Bleu in 2009, it was considered the brand’s entry-level watch. Even so, Journe lived up to its reputation for discernment by refusing to use steel – instead using tantalum, a rare metal known for its blue-grey sheen and the headaches it gives watchmakers trying
to machine it.

Getting hold of one has also been known to cause headaches – it can take a personal connection at Journe,
a bit of vetting, and, well, time.

Allow Robb Report to ease that introduction: Journe is offering one reader a Chronomètre Bleu, along with a tour of the manufacture in Geneva, and a chance to meet the watchmaker who assembled the timepiece by hand. You’ll also meet the master himself, François-Paul Journe.

There could hardly be a better entrée to collecting in the big leagues: demand for the watch has been so strong the company no longer bothers to keep a waiting list. You should also know that great care was taken in creating the vivid blue dial, fashioned by applying layers of blue lacquer by hand and polishing each to a mirror finish. It’s said to be one of the most complicated dials to produce in
F. P. Journe’s collection.

The calibre 1304 movement is made of solid pink gold with a barleycorn guilloche pattern and, on the bridges, Geneva stripes and polished, bevelled angles. All further illustrating that, no matter the piece, F. P. Journe spares no detail. – Paige Reddinger

Approx $88,000 (with accommodation for two). paddle8.com/robbreport

 

7. Acquire sculpted bookends.

Bookends

Yes, bookends can sometimes tell as compelling a story as the tomes they shelve; that’s designer Vincent Pocsik’s thinking, anyway. His sculptural stands chronicle a tale of fiery destruction, depicting the exact moment melting bronze solidifies once again. It’s par for the course for Pocsik, who has a history of twisting conventional materials into fluid shapes. Here, the aesthetic serves as a thrilling beginning and end to your library’s narrative. For Robb Report readers, Pocsik will also sign his molten creations. — H.M.

Approx. $1025. sarah@lawsonfenning.com

 

8. Take a helicopter tour of Tasmania

 

Australia’s smallest state and long overlooked as a sleepy backwater, Tasmania has become the country’s hottest under-the-radar destination for discerning visitors drawn to its foodie culture, contemporary art scene, world-class vineyards and breathtaking landscapes.

The island, compact in size with dramatic scenery, lends itself to helicopter tours. A bespoke trip created for Robb Report readers starts off with two nights in the penthouse at the Macq 01 Hotel in Hobart. From here, take a flight west along the spectacular coastline to the Southwest National Park. Watch out for rare parrots, and explore Aboriginal culture at remote Melaleuca, accessible only by air, boat or an eight-day walk.

On the way home, stop off for a tour of the Fat Pig Farm in the Huon Valley, as well as a private lunch straight from the garden, with specially matched Tasmanian beer, wine and cider.

The following day, take a helicopter to the Barilla Bay Oyster Farm to taste oysters plucked straight from the sea, accompanied by a glass of Tasmania’s finest sparkling wine.

Next, on to the Southern Wild Distillery on the island’s north coast, home to some of the country’s best gin. Enjoy a private lunch with the owner and have a bottle of gin made according to your taste. After lunch, see wombats and kangaroos in the wild on Maria Island. Spend the next two nights at Saffire, a small, exclusive resort within Freycinet National Park.

No trip to Tassie is complete without a visit to the largest private museum in Australia: MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. Take a private tour before you leave Hobart. – L.A.

From about $15,000 per couple.
Greg Ross: gkross@tasairtours.com.au, 0428 252 081

 

9. Help reforest Guatemala

 

Gifts can take many forms, and volunteering your time on a fulfilling project is one of the most rewarding. Especially when it’s combined with a fabulous adventure vacation.

Guatemala is famous for its natural beauty, but its fast-growing population has led to deforestation as ancient jungle is cleared to make way for farmland.

Global Visionaries is a non-profit that promotes reforestation in Guatemala – and luxury travel agency Scott Dunn is inviting Robb Report readers to spend two days restocking woodlands, working alongside local communities during planting season (May to October), and reforesting land to reduce the risk of forest fires and ensure new trees are in the best condition to survive.

You’ll be based for three nights at the boutique San Rafael Hotel in the city of Antigua, filled with crumbling Spanish Baroque churches and set against a backdrop of volcanoes. After your reforestation experience, take a helicopter tour of Chichicastenango market before moving on to Lake Atitlán, where you’ll stay at bright hotel Casa Palopó. Finally, you’ll head into the jungle to see the Mayan ruins of Tikal, with the chance to watch the sunrise from a temple-top before enjoying a private tour of the ruins.

Shuttershock

After two nights, you’ll cross into Belize to stay at Blancaneaux Lodge, and the chance for horseback treks through the forest. A final helicopter and boat trip will take you to Cayo Espanto, an ultra-luxury Caribbean island with just seven cabanas. For four days, enjoy world-class scuba diving and sail to nearby deserted beaches for dinner on the sand. – L.A.

Approx. $18,400 per person, based on double occupancy, for a two-week trip that includes accommodation and breakfast, plus full board and most activities at Cayo Espanto, and all tours and transfers. Return airfare to Guatemala not included. Scott Dunn: 02 8608 8621.

 

10. Join a round-the-world performing arts tour on VistaJet

 

For dedicated opera and ballet lovers, long-haul travel to the world’s best concert halls can sap a little joy from what should be a sublime experience, even when flying by private jet. But what if you could enjoy a private performance on the flight itself?

In an exclusive gift for Robb Report readers, VistaJet will fly you to the world’s finest opera houses and music venues, with a few actors on board
to perform your favourite scenes above the clouds.

VistaJet will help you design your ideal itinerary, which could see you experience the extraordinary Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow; or, in Vienna, choose from the world’s largest repertoire at the Wiener Staatsoper, which has featured productions by all the greats, from Verdi to Puccini.

Other venues include London’s Royal Albert Hall, Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall and Harpa in Reykjavik, one of Iceland’s most distinguished
modern landmarks.

At each location, watch from a private box, enjoy backstage access, meet cast members and stay at the city’s best hotels. – L.A.

From approx. $383,000 for two people, increasing up to a maximum of 10. Theatre seating contingent on availability. Book through VistaJet’s Private Office: privateoffice@vistajet.com

 

11. Commission a custom cocktail cabinet

 

For the fine-drinks lover it really doesn’t get more sophisticated than a bespoke Zelouf & Bell cabinet, designed by Susan Zelouf and Michael Bell. The pair’s process usually involves a visit to the client’s house to look at the artwork and books, learn about his or her interests and study the all-important spirits collection, before creating a mood board for the unique piece and crafting it in Ireland.

They have commissioned glass artists to create custom barware for their cabinets and used materials ranging from shagreen and rose quartz to amethyst and malachite. One recent brief was inspired by the client’s favourite Fabergé cigar case – the result was a cocktail cabinet crafted in a silvery-blue rippled sycamore.

If spirits aren’t your thing, Zelouf & Bell have made cabinets for collections of everything from Hermès Gavroche scarves to toy soldiers. They’ve also created pieces for musician Paul Simon and ambassadorial residences.

Just remember, patience is a virtue: pieces can take up to 24 weeks to complete. – Jemima Sissons

Approx. $37,000. zeloufandbell.com

 

12. Visit Penfolds’ vineyard and dine with Peter Gago

 

Make a pilgrimage to Australia’s most lauded vineyard, Penfolds, led by one of the world’s top winemakers, the affable Peter Gago. Penfolds is inviting one Robb Report reader and three guests on a special visit.

Fly from Penfolds Magill Estate via luxury helicopter to the Barossa Valley where you’ll soar over the region with a guide. Afterwards you and a winemaker will walk Block 42, the oldest still-producing Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Australia. Then you’ll have lunch at the Kalimna Homestead, where you’ll meet Gago for a tour of the cellars and a flight of rare Penfolds wines.

Later, over a dinner hosted by Gago at the award-winning Magill Estate Restaurant, taste rare vintages of Grange. You’ll leave with a parting gift of a magnum of the estate’s 100-point-winning 2015 Grange. – J.O.

Approx $73,650. Accommodation, if desired, can be arranged for additional cost. Contact renee.jeffrey@tweglobal.com

 

13. Take over a villa on Lake Como

 

“This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty… But the finest scenery is that of the Villa Pliniana,” wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley to his friend and fellow poet Thomas Love Peacock during a tour of Italy in 1818.

The Pliniana remains one of Lake Como’s most storied, beguiling and beautiful waterside villas, today run by the nearby Il Sereno luxury hotel, which is as contemporary as Villa Pliniana is historic.

Named after Pliny the Younger, the Roman writer and senator of the first century AD, who grew up on the shores of the lake, Villa Pliniana was built in 1573. By the time Shelley tried to rent it nearly 250 years later, it had fallen into disrepair.

“The scene from the colonnade is the most extraordinary, at once, and the most lovely that eye ever beheld,” he wrote, adding that he was “endeavouring to procure” the house, “which was once a magnificent palace and is now half in ruins.”

Today, the villa is fully refurbished as a luxury residence, with 17 bedrooms and interiors by acclaimed designer Patricia Urquiola. It is set in a 7-hectare park, and all guest suites overlook the lake, as do the spa and infinity pool.

Shelley may have failed to “procure” the villa, but Robb Report readers can rent out the entire complex for up to 34 guests, arriving via private helipad or boat dock. Il Sereno’s executive chef, Raffaele Lenzi, will conduct private cooking classes, demonstrating the techniques, presentation and recipes that he has honed working in Michelin-starred kitchens. – L.A.

Approx. $210,000 per week for full buyout, including daily breakfast. Cooking classes from approx. $1,000 per person. Marta Camps, Sereno Hotels: sales@serenohotels.com,
+39 031 5477 800

 

14. Slip on a unique Van Cleef & Arpels Secret Watch and tour the atelier

 

Secret watches – jewelled bracelets that conceal watches – were created so a woman could discreetly check the time without appearing rude. Today, the approach is more over-the-top than under-the-radar. Case in point: Van Cleef & Arpels’s new piece from its inaugural Romeo & Juliet collection, which comes adorned with diamonds, rubies, onyx, sapphires and more.

There are four artist tableaux inside the bracelet: two hearts encrusted in sapphires and rubies, and two profiles of Romeo and Juliet in lapis lazuli, all set in onyx and revealed by activating a pusher on the side.

Van Cleef Arpels

The client who purchases the piece can choose to have his or her profile, along with a partner’s, customised on the interior. In addition, for the Robb Report reader who acquires the watch, Van Cleef & Arpels will provide a rare tour of its atelier in Paris – another secretive space that’s certainly something to brag about. – P.R.

Approx $2.4 million. vancleefarpels.com

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