Robb Read: Porsche’s Best-Kept Secret

Have you heard about Zuffenhausen’s program to build the 911 or Cayenne of your dreams?

By Jason H. Harper 23/11/2020

Jorge Carnicero is a blue man. Many of the numerous cars he owns are blue. His daily uniform is a blue button-up Ralph Lauren shirt, blue jeans and a blue baseball cap. And in June of 2018, as he was sitting in the Porsche Experience Centre in Atlanta, surrounded by colour samples, he was about to order yet another blue car.

“Jorge, your friend just ordered a car in that shade,” Yana Perros told him gently. “Let me play devil’s advocate.” The Porsche manager laid a new sample next to the brown interior leather that Carnicero liked. The painted tile, shaped like a 911 Carrera, was a vibrant green.

Carnicero, 68, is a horse breeder who divides his time between Kentucky and Florida, and he cheerily admits that his love of Porsche—the marque and the cars—borders on obsession. He has owned more than he remembers and will happily go on about the subject for hours.

This visit to Atlanta was special: In conjunction with a little-known individualisation and customising entity at Porsche called Exclusive Manufaktur—which the company doesn’t even advertise—Carnicero was bent on creating the Porsche of his dreams.

Perros is one of three Exclusive Manufaktur managers charged with travelling around North America to help in-the-know clients navigate the process, guiding them both literally and spiritually. It’s her job to figure out what delights a customer, and decide how and when to push them to create a car that gives them a singular experience.

Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur custom

Carnicero’s 911 GT2 RS, the second car made for his thematic trifecta. Courtesy of Porsche

“Many customers say, ‘I want to build the most perfect Porsche for me,’ but don’t know how to get there,” says Perros. “I ask questions like, ‘What do you do in your daily life? What are your passions?’ ”

Carnicero says he is conservative when it comes to design. He had worked with Exclusive Man​-u-faktur on previous vehicles but describes those builds as opportunities to “stick my toe in creatively”. Perros suspected that nudging him beyond his tried-and-true blue might be the key to unlocking his ultimate 911.

And Porsche had recently released its millionth 911 in sparkling Irish Green, a fact that had not escaped Carnicero. Now his eyes swept from the blue paint sample on one side to the brown leather in the centre and then to the British Racing Green. “Huh,” he murmured. “Interesting.”

Two years later, in late-June of 2020, Carnicero is back yet again in Atlanta, this time to take delivery of a 911 Speedster in British Racing Green and tarpan-brown leather with silver stitching. Super-sport-oriented “GT” cars like the Speedster are traditionally offered only with black interiors, so Carnicero’s version will instantly stand apart.

But it won’t be lonely in his garage. Because on that June day two years earlier, he had an idea that would eventually evolve into a much bigger project. He didn’t want just one perfect Porsche. He was actually planning to assemble a triad of ideal 911s. All would share certain elements—like the exterior paint colour—but each would also have its own raison d’être. After he ordered a GT3 Touring and began the process of customisation, he soon signed for the second, a GT2 RS. As those builds progressed, he pulled the trigger on the Speedster. “I wanted three different and unique GT cars,” Carnicero says with glee.

Porsche Exclusive Customisation
Carnicero takes delivery of it at the Porsche Experience Centre in Atlanta. Photo by Ryan Hayslip

Relatively few customers are aware of Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur. Porsche has done some level of customisation since the advent of the 356 model in the mid-20th century, but the process became more formalised in the late-1980s. EM innovations, which include everything from engine upgrades to painted wheels, became part of the actual configuration process in the mid-2000s. Today, as many as 50 per cent of the vehicles that Porsche builds have some special component from the entity.

If you order a sports-exhaust system on your Cayenne, say, or red stitching on your 911’s seat belts, those components have been developed and installed by EM’s technicians, either on or off the production line, at the brand’s storied factory in Zuffenhausen, Germany. Go into the online car configurator and scroll through options, and you’ll find some 700 choices with EM badging, from special leathers to aero body kits.

But there are two other levels of EM customisation that Porsche doesn’t overtly publicise. Each requires that a design manager such as Perros consults with the customer, who usually hears about the process through word of mouth.

What we’ll call a moderate custom build typically takes an extra two and a half hours on the production line. About three cars a day fall into that range—or 660 annually.

But then there are the serious builds, for customers like Carnicero. Only 30 to 50 vehicles a year get such treatment, and the extra time on the line may add up to 20 hours or more on top of the standard 30 hours. Carnicero’s GT3 Touring, with some 48 bespoke touches, took an extra 38 hours.

“You can go far beyond what you find in the car configurator,” says Boris Apenbrink, the Zuffenhausen-based director of Exclusive Manufaktur Vehicles. He says that some customers (often those

with long relationships with Porsche) “come to us and ask if something unique is possible. For instance, ‘Can I have my family crest embossed in the head restraints?’ Our philosophy is that on first contact we never say no—we evaluate.”

The average additional cost for a special build is between approx. $21,200  and approx. $28,300 he says, but the most elaborate builds can add as much as approx. $210,000 to the car’s price. The entire process may take six months or longer from the time a customer reaches out to the dealership. The first step is sitting down with Perros in Atlanta or at your local dealership. (Consultants will travel to customers.) Then EM engineers evaluate if and how they can execute the plan.

For instance, Carnicero wanted a novel detail included on all three of his special GT cars. When he was 19, he owned a 1971 911 that had a sticker on the window that read “Porsche Markenweltmeister 69, 70, 71,” denoting the company’s three-year string of wins at the World Sportscar Championship. He wanted to reproduce that sticker—but with 15, 16, 17 in celebration of the recent threepeat at 24 Hours of Le Mans—as an embossed detail in the leather of the central console. “This sounds pretty easy,” says Apenbrink, “but first we need to make the graphics, create the embossing, figure out how thin the logo and lines need to be, create the font and make sure we don’t cut too deep into the leather but deep enough to read it.”

Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur custom

The interior is upholstered in special tarpan-brown leather. Photo by Ryan Hayslip

Every customised element must follow the same stringent tests as the regularly manufactured parts, and if it doesn’t pass muster with the designers or engineers, Perros and the other facilitators are there to manage the client’s expectations. But when an idea works, the result can thrill even Apenbrink and his team. “We are all car nuts here, and if a customer shakes us with a brilliant idea, we get as excited as if we were building our own car,” he says.

As the car develops, the EM team and the customer often forge a deep connection. “The Speedster is not a car that we built for Jorge. We created the car together,” Apenbrink says. “Going into the process, these customers must be highly dedicated. They become part-time designers and engineers. It is very important to underline that they have very precise and specific ideas. It is not, ‘Hey, I’m willing to pay a lot of money, so send me ideas.’ We are simply caretakers to try and birth a dream car.”

Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur custom

The gear-shifter is made from carbon fibre. Photo by Ryan Hayslip

Jorge Carnicero’s Porsche obsession began when he was 15. On a trip to the South of France with his parents in the late ’60s, he saw a 911 appear over the brow of a hill. “That I fell in love at that moment would be an understatement,” he says. “It came by very fast, and the noise of the air-cooled 911 was like nothing I ever heard before, shifting in the high-rev range. Oh, the emotions…”

Asked about the colour of that car, he pauses, then says, “Green, actually!”

Each of the three GT cars he special-ordered serves a different purpose. The first, delivered in February of last year, is a 911 GT3 Touring. “It is a gentleman tourer, what we used to call a sleeper,” says Carnicero. “It doesn’t have a giant wing or fender flares. You can enjoy it every day.”

Three months later, the 911 GT2 RS arrived. He describes it as a track car that can be driven on the street. “It shows Porsche in terms of high-performance capability,” he says. “It’s on the edge.” And the latest car? “My wife is in love with the Speedster. You still have the performance capability, but something about open-air motoring harks back to my youth.”

As for the Exclusive Manufaktur process, Carnicero speaks of it rapturously. “It was such a pleasurable experience,” he says. “It becomes like an addiction.” He estimates he has talked to Perros for more than 1000 hours over the whole process.

Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur custom

Carnicero’s new 911 Speedster. Photo by Ryan Hayslip

Says Carnicero, “It’s about people, being able to share these feelings. Without Boris and Yana, I couldn’t have done this. They are passionate about what they do. They get emotionally involved.”

Perros says that as soon as they had decided on a gentleman tourer for the first of Carnicero’s GT cars, everything flowed from there. “My goal isn’t to do a ‘stuffed’ car or the most expensive car,” she explains. “Sometimes it’s just one little thing that makes it special. Something that puts a smile on the customer’s face every time they unlock the door. That something special is something different for everyone.”

She notes the influence goes both ways. One day Perros arrived for a consultation with Carnicero wearing a blue-and-white Ralph Lauren button-up and blue suit. When they saw they’d twinned, both chuckled.

As for her relationship with Carnicero, the delivery of the Speedster did not mark their final conversation. “We’re already speccing his next car,” she says with a laugh.

 

This piece is from our new Summer Issue – on sale now. Get your copy or subscribe here, or stay up to speed with the Robb Report weekly newsletter.

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The 10 Best Omakase in Sydney

Sydney’s best Japanese chef’s-table dining experiences.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 06/06/2024

In Japan, where food is a cultural art form, omakase stands for traditional Japanese foods made with seasonal ingredients. A good omakase meal, prepared with purity and mindfulness, can make an unforgettable imprint on the culinary memory. Yet in a land defined by seasonal traditions, omakase is a relatively new concept.

Omakase originated in Japan in the 1970s as affluent Japanese began to dine more regularly at first-rate sushi counters. Bowing to the expertise of the sushi master, omakase loosely translates to “I’ll leave it to you.” In a setting where money is no object, letting the chef decide was designed as a chic way to take the awkwardness out of ordering.

In Australia where there’s an abundance of fresh seafood, omakase menus have experienced a recent rise in popularity. Today omakase is any series of small dishes served directly by the chef to the diner. Each part of the meal is presented on beautiful ceramics and lacquer wear, with a great —and somewhat— intimidating reverence for elegant details. It’s a chance to see a chef’s knife skills up close and get a feel for their cooking style.

Omakase menus are based on whatever is freshest at the market and can be influenced by the chef’s mood, expertise, and response to the guest. They can be slowly paced like a ceremony—hushed and reverential—but they can also be rowdy, humorous, and personal.
Here we give you 10 of the best to try in Sydney.

Yoshi’s Omakase at Nobu Crown Sydney

Crown Sydney, Level 2/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo. Open: 12–3 pm, 5:30–9:30 pm Phone: 02 8871 7188 Reservations: F&B-SYD-Nobu@crownresorts.com.au; $380 per head (including matched wine and sake). Crownsydney.com.au

Sushi Oe

16/450 Miller St, Cammeray; Tue – Sat. SMS only 0451 9709 84 E: jizakana16@gmail.com Phone: 0426 233 984 $230 per head. jizakana.com.au

Kisuke with Yusuke Morita

50 Llankelly Place, Potts Point; Tuesday – Saturday: 17:30 – 10.45 (closed Sunday/ Monday) $185-200 per head Kisukepottspoint.com

Haco 

102/21 Alberta St, Sydney. Lunch, Friday to Saturday 12 -2:00 pm Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday 5:45 pm – 8:1 5pm (closed Sunday & Mondays) P: 0408 866 285                                     E: haco@hacosydney.com.au; $150 – $210 Hacosydney.com.au

Kuon

Shop 04 2/58 Little Hay St, Sydney, Lunch: Fri-Sun 12:30 pm. Dinner  Tue-Sun 5:15 pm or 7:45 pm sittings.  Reservation via SMS at 0488 688 252; $220 per head @kuon.omakase

Sokyo 

The Darling, Level G, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont. Open dinner Monday to Thursday from 5:45 pm P: 1800 700 700 $300 per head Sokyo.com.au

Kuro

368 Kent St, Sydney; Open Tue – Wed – Thur: 6 pm Fri & Sat: 5:30 pm P: 02 9262 1580, reservations@kurosydney.com $220 per head. Kurosydney.com;

Choji Omakase

Level 2, 228 Victoria Ave, Chatswood —upstairs from Choji Yakiniku. Every Monday to Wednesday at 6.30 pm. One seating per day only. $295 per head. Chojiomakase.com.au

Gold Class Daruma

The Grace Hotel, Level 1/77 York St, Sydney; 12–2:30 pm, 5:30–9.00 pm Phone: (02) 9262 1190 M: 0424 553 611 booking@goldclassdaruma.com.au·$120 – $150 per head Goldclassdaruma.com.au

Besuto

Besuto Omakase, Sydney Place precinct, 3 Underwood Street, Circular Quay. Omakase is available to book for dinner – Tuesday to Saturday. 5:30 pm & 8pm sittings. From $250. Besuto.com.au

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is no soy and wasabi offered during my omakase meal?
Even though sushi and sashimi are being served, the chef is serving each piece of sushi so quickly and directly that the chef is applying the wasabi and soy to the sushi themselves. Watch as they brush the top of the fish with soy and dab a tiny amount of wasabi on the rice, under the fish. You should not need to add extra, and in fact, it can be insulting to the chef to add more. Bathing the bottom of the rice of your sushi in soy sauce is considered bad manners, as it is seen as detracting from the flavour of the fish.

Nobu, Sydney

Can an omakase experience accommodate my dietary needs?
Although there is often little variation once the chef has set the daily menu, some customisation is possible. Advise the restaurant when you book and remind them of allergies or aversions again as you sit down. They will let you know when you book if your allergy is possible for the chef. Japanese menus feature a lot of seafood and dashi so accommodating a no seafood request can be genuinely tricky.

What are the golden rules for chopstick etiquette?
Use your chopstick holder in between eating, rather than putting chopsticks on your plate. Don’t use your chopsticks to gesticulate or point; if offering food to someone to try, never pass food directly from your chopsticks to theirs. Rather place the food onto a small plate and let them pick it up.
Never touch communal or shared food with your chopsticks. The longer, slightly larger chopsticks are like sharing cutlery, never put these in your mouth.

Without a menu, how can I know what I am eating during omakase?
Omakase is often a no-menu situation, and you are expected to try new things. Attending an omakase experience with an open, trusting mind yields the best results.
There are Wagyu and tempura omakase that reflect the chef’s personal predilections and training, but in a standard luxury omakase, the format will include a lot of freshly caught seafood and will usually kick off with a delicate appetiser. This will be followed by a sashimi and sushi course, a savoury egg custard (chawanmushi) with meat and seafood, a cooked or blow-torched market fish, a soup course, and dessert.

Can I talk to the chef during omakase? What is the protocol?
Guests at an omakase experience are welcome to ask questions of the chef; in fact, interacting with the chef is part of the experience. It is considered polite to ask questions or inquire about the food so they can explain.

What is best to pair with omakase  in terms of drinks?
In general, wine and sake are a perfect match for omakase. Aged fish and vinegar have strong umami flavours so depending on which course you enjoy, different wine and sake will pair well. Dry chilled sake is a great choice. Amazing sakes are imported into Australia, so trust the restaurant to advise you and take you on a sake journey at the same time.  If you don’t like sake, drinking chardonnay, a crisp young riesling, or even a dry complex Riesling is also totally acceptable. All three styles help bring out the flavour of the fish. Champagne can also be good. Try a blanc de blancs— 100% chardonnay —for a great way to start the meal. As you progress, remember that sake is good for dishes with a strong taste, such as uni and eel.

Nobu, Sydney

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The Sonos Ace Headphones Are Music to the Ears

The audio giant has (finally) revealed its foray in the personal listening category.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

In the ever competitive market for premium headphones, few brands have captured the hearts (and ears) of audiophiles, professionals and enthusiasts alike. Bowers & Wilkins, Bose, Sony, and even Apple come to mind when debating great audio brands in 2024. Then there’s Sonos.

For over 20 years, the American audio manufacturer has been lauded for its high-end capabilities, particularly in a home setting; Sonos changed the game for the integration of home entertainment. But it had yet to venture into the realm of headphones.

Until now. Earlier this month, the company marked its long-awaited entry into the personal-listening category, with the launch of its highly anticipated Sonos Ace over-ear headphones.

“Fans have asked us for years to bring the Sonos experience to headphones,”says Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos, “and we knew our first foray into the category needed to champion the type of innovation and sound experience Sonos has become synonymous with.”

Sonos

On paper, the Sonos Ace is an enticing proposition: a premium over-ear headphone featuring lossless and spatial audio, intuitive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and Aware Mode. Most appealing, however, might be its new immersive home theatre offering; the Sonos Ace can pair to compatible Sonos soundbars with just a tap of a button. The new TrueCinema technology, which arrives later this year, will precisely map your entertainment space and then render a complete surround sound system for an unparalleled listening experience.

Sonos

Retailing at $699, they aren’t exactly cheap, and there more affordable headphones that compete with Sonos in terms of audio output and high-fidelity sound. But where Sonos thrives is in the details. Available in  stealthy black and pure white, the Sonos Ace are sleek and stylish right out of the box. Sure, there is some resemblance to the Apple Air Max Pro—arguably its greatest rival in the over-ear headphone segment—but Sonos has also added its own design touches, and it’s clear the Ace was made to look and feel as good as it sounds.

Its distinctive, slim profile elegantly blends metal accents with a sleek matte finish, and thanks to the use of lightweight, premium materials like memory foam and vegan leather, you get an airy fit that isn’t overbearing, even after extensive use. The design of the Sonos Ace is also intuitive; tactile buttons make controlling the headset a cinch, and pairing with Apple or Android devices is also straightforward. The dedicated Sonos App is also helpful for customising (somewhat) your listening experience, from altering EQ to turning on certain capabilities, like Head Tracking.

Sonos

It does fall short on a couple of key fronts.  I was expecting more from the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) for over-ear headphones of this price point; there’s no way the ANC as it stands will filter out the sounds of a plane engine, for example. I also found the Sonos Ace has an issue, albeit subtle, with the mid-bass, which can sound muddy and lack punch at times.

But these are small nits. The Sonos Ace only adds to the company’s impressive standing as an unimpeachable innovator in the audio industry.

For more information, visit Sonos.

 

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Wake Up To World Martini Day 19 June

Cocktail legend Dale de Groff talks Grey Goose, World Martini Day and getting wet.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 18/06/2024

Dale de Groff knows his way around a bar. Back when late nights and heavy drinking were a badge of honour, he presided over one of New York City’s most legendary venues, The Rainbow Room, and is credited with reviving the classic cocktail across Northern America.

To promote World Martini Day on June 19 he’s teamed up with vodka company Grey Goose, for which he has served as a brand ambassador since 1997, to make a winning case for the classic Martini everywhere. He is even lending a hand at the opening of Le Martini bar at Crown Melbourne. 

We asked de Groff about his time serving stars like Michale Douglas, Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood and, of course, how he likes his martini.

Dale for the uninitiated, please describe the Rainbow Room.

In the 1980s Rainbow Room was situated high atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York. Back then, it was just the pinnacle of glamour.

It has stunning views of the city from way up on the 65th floor. Being situated in the same building as NBC Entertainment, still pretty synonymous with late night TV,  it was and still is the home of Saturday Night Live. You can imagine the kinds of people we’d be getting in each week—from celebrities, musicians, even governors, you name it. 

Robb Report ANZ: What was one of your favourite memories from that time?

Dale de Groff: In ‘88 we held the 30th anniversary Grammys afterparty at the Rainbow Room which I’ll never forget. The event took place over multiple floors, but in the bar itself, the three tiers that go up from the dance floor were taken over by the who’s who of the time. I remember roping off a zone just for music legends like Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, and Madonna—who was no stranger to the bar during those times. Not bad for a Wednesday night.

RR: What role do cocktails play in making a good venue truly great?

DD: A venue’s popularity ultimately comes down to the bartender or team behind the bar. How they interact with people, size them up as they walk through the door, talk to them over that three feet of mahogany, I mean, it’s everything.

RR: What’s the trick to becoming a great bartender, one who can easily impress guests, friends and family?

DD: Knowledge behind the craft. Let’s face it, understanding how to create a really high degree of deliciousness is required, but getting deep into how beverages are made is a massive skill in drink making. The research and innovation behind it is just mind-blowing.

RR:What three cocktails should every sophisticate know how to make?

DD: Well, a martini obviously! I personally like mine 50/50—equal parts vodka and vermouth. I used to drink my martinis for the power, but now I prefer a wet martini. Then I think a classic spritz is a must—always effervescent, lower in alcohol, really it’s the preprandial libation. Then thirdly, it’s gotta be an Old Fashioned.

RR: How do you make a solid martini at home?

DD: If I’m making a classic martini at home, I’m adding Grey Goose, vermouth and bitters to a mixing glass with ice, stirring then straining into a chilled glass. Garnished with lemon twist of course.

Le Martini, the world’s first standalone Grey Goose bar, is now open and will welcome guests in time for World Martini Day on 19 June. You can follow:  @LeMartiniBar 

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Can Italy’s Lake Garda Finally Compete With Como—or Will It Become a Victim of Its Own Success?

Crowded, cacophonous Lake Como is overflowing, filling its nearby villages and lakes with new luxury hotels and savvy, in-the-know travellers.

By Jake Emen 17/06/2024

The sun is shining down and your wooden Riva Aquarama boat is slicing through the lake. The crowd is beautiful, well-tanned and they like their spritzes. Sound like Lake Como? Almost. You’re about 150 kilometres southeast on the larger, yet less frequented, Lake Garda.

As the popularity of Lake Como has grown thanks to non-stop celebrity endorsements filtered down via social media, an in-crowd is discovering that Garda offers the same glitzy perks of its neighbour with far fewer headaches.

“Giorgio Clooney is to Como what Tom Hanks is to Garda,” says Katie Parla, author of “Food of the Italian Islands” and a tour leader across Italy. “Sure, Como is beautiful and charming, but Garda is equally talented, and some would say, more versatile and well-rounded.”

Grand Hotel Fasano, which turned 135th anniversary, is welcoming a new crowd.
Grand Hotel Fasano,

Long the preferred destination for Italians and other continental families, the secret of Garda has now well and truly been leaked. Investment is pouring in at Ferrari speeds.

On the hotel front, historic, legendary properties such as Grand Hotel Fasano (from USD$470)—which celebrated its 135th anniversary in 2023— are joined by a flock of newcomers. There is the new family-owned spa hotel Cape of Senses, a Small Luxury Hotels of the World member (from USD$628). Conti Thun (from USD$225) debuted as an on-vineyard wine resort last year. And this spring, Borgo Tre (from USD$640) opened a small collection of luxury apartment suites in a converted 18th-century farmhouse. (If you haven’t noticed already, a stay here is still considerably cheaper than say, Lake Como’s Passalacqua at USD$2,660 a night).

The region’s established properties are doing their best to stay ahead of the new arrivals, too. The mountain-top wellness haven Lefay Resort & Spa (from USD$460) is famous for encouraging its guests to wear their plush robes across the grounds from morning to night, as the saunter from treatment to treatment. It’s just unveiled a new, elevated room category dubbed Sky Suites that will speak to Como expats. These top-floor units are 1,500 square feet and come with a terrace hot tub, a private in-suite sauna and, of course, unimpeded views of the lake, mountains, and valleys beyond.

Lefay Resort & Spa is drawing wellness activists to the region.
Lefay Resorts

But change like this always comes at a cost. Locals and long-time visitors worry that the region’s newfound popularity puts it in danger of losing its distinctive atmosfera. Ironically, even the new guard hotels are concerned.

“We don’t want that, we’re not a mass tourism product,” says Cape of Senses general manager Alina Deutsch of any attempt to clone Como at Garda. “What is luxury today? It’s what people are missing from their lives, and that’s space and time.”

“Locals, like me, really hope that our beautiful destination will remain as authentic as it is now, even if international tourism is booming and new luxury properties are going to continue opening in the next couple of years,” added Alice Lancini, Grand Hotel Fasano’s sales and marketing manager.

But the scene in Lake Garda’s is already shifting. Lancini says that in the last three to four years, U.S. travellers have made the lake hotel the brand’s second strongest market after Germany. “Lake Garda is becoming more popular in the States as it’s much cheaper than Como, less crowded—still, for now—and it’s a completely different experience than Lake Como.”

Parla adds that the 50 kilometre-long Lake Garda has a natural protection from “becoming a Disneyland” overnight: its massive size makes it feel more like a sea than a lake at times.

“Como the town, Bellagio, and all the fancy hotels are beyond overcrowded and have become the playground of influencers generating their FOMO-inducing content,” she says. “I don’t see a way to enjoy the lake if you stick to those two towns, which most do…Lake Garda is so much bigger.”

Its other protection? Garda isn’t a first stop for first timers. After all, would you tell someone to skip the Eiffel Tower on their first trip to Paris, or forgo the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco? Icons are icons and that includes Lake Como.

The new family-owned spa hotel Cape of Senses just opened on Lake Garda.
Cape of Senses

“Lake Como is for romance and honeymoons, and lounging around on a boat and never leaving the confines of a luxury hotel,” adds Parla, noting that other lakes and villages attract a more active, creative and adventurous crowd.

So will Garda ever become Como? Lancini thinks it’s likely, and that’s why you should get there sooner rather than later. “Lake Garda is going to boom as a destination in the next three to five years,” she says. “Now is the time to take advantage and come to this beautiful destination before it becomes too crowded.”

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Kyoto Has the Most Michelin Restaurants per Capita: Report

There are 100 Michelin-starred spots in the Japanese city, serving some 1.5 million people.

By Tori Latham 17/06/2024

The residents of Kyoto, Japan, are positively swimming among Michelin-starred restaurants.

The Japanese city is home to the highest density of eateries ranked by the French tire company, including five three-starred restaurants, according to a new report from website Chef’s Pencil. With 100 Michelin-ranked spots and a population of almost 1.5 million, Kyoto has one restaurant for every 14,637 people.

Coming in a close second is—unsurprisingly—Paris: The city’s 122 Michelin-starred restaurants serve 2.1 million residents, resulting in one spot for every 17,235 people. (Paris also has the second-highest absolute number of Michelin-starred restaurants, behind Tokyo.) Third place may come as a shock: Washington, D.C., has ranked highly, with 25 restaurants for 690,000 residents, or one for every 27,582 people.

Of course, there are some caveats for the Chef’s Pencil report. The website looked only at cities with 500,000 or more residents. And the restaurants had to be located within the city limits, rather than the larger metropolitan area. The Michelin Guide itself often includes eateries in a broader region, so this list may be slightly more abbreviated than the official selection.

To address some of that disparity, Chef’s Pencil has also released a ranking of Michelin density in midsize cities, those with 100,000 to 500,000 residents. At the top of that list is Nara, Japan, which has 23 starred restaurants for a population of just 367,000 (one restaurant for every 15,972 residents). That’s followed by Maastricht, Netherlands (six Michelin-starred restaurants and 120,000 residents, or one restaurant for every 20,038 people), and Geneva, Switzerland (eight starred eateries and a population of 204,000, or one spot for every 25,494 residents).

And while France is the country with the most Michelin-starred establishments, Switzerland actually has the most starred spots per capita. The country’s 134 Michelin-starred restaurants serve a population of almost 9 million, or one for every 66,872 residents. The much smaller Luxembourg, with just 672,500 residents, comes in second for this metric: With 10 Michelin-starred restaurants, there’s one for every 67,250 people.

While many people travel to the areas with the most Michelin-starred restaurants, they may be better served by going to the areas where they’re the densest. Neither Kyoto nor D.C. may be called its respective country’s culinary capital, but both are teeming with Michelin-ranked spots relative to their size.

 

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