Robb Read: Cashmere In Crisis

The fabric synonymous with luxury is under threat from cross-border bickering, climate change and the global pandemic.

By Mark Ellwood 14/04/2021

Cashmere is an unlikely candidate for controversy. It conjures up images of cosy, expensive scarves, made from the belly hair of goats roaming across the steppes of Mongolia, using techniques and skills honed over the centuries. It’s a luxe treat that has grown more accessible in recent years; check out the availability of cashmere knitwear in various mass-market stores, for example.

Yet even though the price of a cashmere sweater might have dipped, the costs are now higher than ever.

Much like one of the bitter winters, known as dzuds, that menace Mongolia, this age-old industry faces a perfect storm of challenges: rising demand, surging temperatures and plunging prices for raw materials, which should put cashmere into any ethical shopper’s crosshairs.

First, demand. Cashmere forms almost 7 per cent of the approx. $93 billion global luxury industry alone—more a problem than an opportunity when each goat’s yield is a meagre four ounces of finished fibre. Farmers have boosted their flocks to better cater to the new market; some 29 million goats graze the steppes today, almost five times the number 30 years ago. Such an increase in livestock would likely stress even plush pastures thanks to overgrazing, but the land in Mongolia is under its own duress. Ninety percent of the country is drylands and so especially vulnerable to desertification. Mongolia is a hot spot for climate change, where temperatures have risen by 4 degrees since 1940, compared with an average global rise of about 1.5 degrees. Of course, that warming threatens the very ecosystem on which the goats depend—the second major problem.

These two challenges are compounded by the crashing prices for raw cashmere. It was hard enough to ensure fair trade for the herders via the cashmere industry’s rickety supply chain, which yokes family herders to small processing centres and then to foreign mills with little connection to the herders halfway across the world. There’s no way to trace fibres and so make certain that herders received a proper price for the cashmere that is knitted into a $1,000 sweater. Add to that the pressures of the pandemic: after matching all-time highs in 2019, prices for raw cashmere recently plummeted by almost half. Mongolia’s largest processing factory, Gobi Cashmere, has already laid off
10 percent of its staff as a result, and insiders report that many brands have pulled back on purchases, relying on existing stocks rather than buying more wool—and exacerbating the glut.

These are just the issues in Mongolia. Today, there’s an enormous cashmere-producing industry across the border in China, too, and the rival operation there has its own ethical challenges: animal husbandry at the enormous, industrial-style farms, for one thing, as well as the risk of fraud. Two long-term cashmere-industry executives warn of the constant risk of Chinese producers bulking out their fine cashmere with bleached camel hair or extra-fine merino wool. One of the sources calls them “past masters at adulterating fibres”.

Clearly, then, there’s a yearning need for a yarn standard. Think of a Woolmark-style assurance for the cashmere niche guaranteeing a luxury consumer that their ultra-soft sweater hasn’t caused hardship at its source. It’s a conundrum the industry recognises very well. If only businesses were tackling it properly. Instead, rather than companies coordinating efforts, a series of rival programs are jostling for prominence as the de facto soft-gold standard; two are already in operation, and a third is set to launch soon.

The first is run by the UK-based Sustainable Fibre Alliance. Its SFA Cashmere Standard promises adherence to five freedoms, including freedom from discomfort and thirst for the goats. Among its 45 members are Burberry and Johnstons of Elgin, one of Scotland’s foremost mills and supplier to the likes of Brora.

“There’s a code of practice, around grassland management and animal welfare, and herders have to achieve a pass score,” says Simon Cotton, CEO of Johnstons, of the certification, which aims to help improve the quality of the goat hair while allowing grasslands to rebound, among other things. This year, for the first time, 80 tons of raw fibre were produced with SFA certification. Cotton proudly reports that it traded at 10 percent over market price. But the yield is a tiny amount, given that Mongolia’s total annual production capacity is 9,400 tons. It’s not yet possible, either, for a shopper to know whether a given item was made from SFA-verified cashmere, though the group says that member brands will be able to promote certified products—made with a minimum 33 percent of approved fibre—by next year. The nonprofit plans to launch a Woolmark-style hangtag, but for now the program operates only behind the scenes.

Conversely, walk into a Hugo Boss store later this year, and you could pick up a garment touting its production under the Good Cashmere Standard. A separate, rival nonprofit operates this certification—the German-based Aid by Trade Foundation —with a smaller number of partners, including Boss and Lacoste. The process operates at a grassroots level, including sending teams of verifiers into the field firsthand; earlier this year, they quarantined as a precaution during the pandemic so that they could complete their checks on animal-welfare, environmental and social practices in Mongolia.

“Nothing we do is based on charity or donations,” says Tina Stridde, managing director of Aid by Trade. “It’s all about activating the trade or retail sector to raise the bar of sustainable, responsible trade.” Its certification is offered in two tiers, with the premium level including a DNA-tracing system developed with Swiss firm Haelixa. An invisible liquid is sprayed on raw wool at the buying stations, soon after the hair has been combed from the goats; these fibres can then be tracked throughout production.

Yet this system has one major drawback: it operates only among the industrial farms in China, and there are no plans to extend its verification to the countless herders across the border in Mongolia, where cashmere is the top non-mineral export.

To the mêlée add a new, third program, the South Gobi Cashmere Project, or “Goat to Coat”. It’s a team effort from mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, French luxury group Kering and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Kering, the parent company to Gucci, Balenciaga and YSL, among others, has impressive sustainability bona fides, having launched almost a decade ago its EP&L (Environmental Profit & Loss) program to track the eco-impact of its production. In 2016, it even developed an app that shoppers can use to learn the production history of individual items. Initially, Kering pledged to the Sustainable Fibre Alliance but broke away four years ago for what a spokesperson says delicately were “internal strategic reasons”. It found a willing partner for its stand-alone efforts in mining giant Rio Tinto, which helped underwrite the initiative as part of its own program of environmental offsets around its operations, in this case the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia.

Katrina ole-MoiYoi, Kering’s sustainable sourcing specialist, is closely involved with this program, which aims to use high-tech methods to improve the sustainable standards in cashmere, as she explains. Take goat herding, for which it’s harder than ever to find fresh grasslands. The answer, says ole-MoiYoi, lies in part with NASA and Stanford University. The space agency uses satellites to monitor rainfall and weather patterns worldwide; it passes such data on to scientists in California, who can use computer modelling to predict when deluges or droughts might occur. Under the South Gobi initiative, program managers are then equipped with these grazing forecasts and work directly with the herders to move their livestock strategically, keeping the goats fed while also allowing vegetation sufficient time to recover.

But as smart as this program might be, it’s aimed at addressing challenges only in the Mongolian supply chain rather than cashmere as a whole, including China. Kering also says it’s up to the individual brands whether to create customer-facing certifications—say, a “Cashmeremark” —that would guarantee sourcing to a shopper. In the meantime, it’s another corporate scheme to which luxury firms can pledge adherence. As yet, Kering has not confirmed other partners.

Each of these efforts is admirable, of course, but for a consumer, the confusion and challenges are likely to persist.

One luxury executive says that an industry-wide benchmark is almost impossible to establish, owing in part to rivalry between the two main cashmere-producing nations, Mongolia and China, locked in a long-standing tussle to establish primacy. In truth, they are separate but equal: China’s fibres are often white, but can be finer and so less strong, while Mongolia often produces flexible, durable hair that tends to be grey, cream or brown in colour. Chinese authorities, then, would adopt an industry-wide benchmark on one condition: if its parameters skewed so as to establish, permanently, that Chinese cashmere was better.

But locals doubt that even a program aimed only at Mongolia, where the problems are more acute, can easily succeed. Ulziibodijav Jambal, known as Bodio, lives in Ulaanbaatar and owns a knitwear and dehairing facility. He notes that many of the workers in such programs are shipped in from overseas.

“It is nearly impossible to have a clear understanding of this very unique community of people unless you are born and raised among them,” he tells Robb Report. “Most projects usually involve more international marketing expertise than local experts who can relate them to herders’ lives. This leads to a false impression of what they can achieve but without having proper understanding of the root of the problem they need to face.”

Take, for example, asking herders to decrease the number of animals in their flocks and so, in theory, boost the price of cashmere. It won’t work, as China has an effective monopoly on pricing, buying 80 percent of the raw wool from Mongolia to process into yarn in its factories. Put another way, it’s China, rather than the law of supply and demand, that determines what herders earn per gram.

Until there’s a clear, industry-wide solution, then, perhaps it’s best to look elsewhere. Wendy Pieh lives in Bremen, Maine, and runs the Cashmere Goat Association. Her small herd of goats is among the 10,000 or so animals farmed Stateside. They develop their warm, thick coats as a result of the brutal New England winters, and Pieh sells small-batch fibre and yarn to niche customers, both amateur knitters and professional designers, including Jeffrey Monteiro of J.M. Generals. Her product is a guilt-free luxury. It’s local, traceable and sustainably farmed on land that isn’t overgrazed. And it’s very expensive, as she explains, quietly proud. “You can buy Mongolian cashmere online for half what I sell it for.”


This piece is from our new Autumn 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&; $380 per head (including matched wine and sake).

Sushi Oe

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

Kisuke with Yusuke Morita

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


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:; $150 – $210


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


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


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

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.

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·$120 – $150 per head


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.

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.”


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.


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.


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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