17 reasons the Caribbean should be at the top of your travel itinerary

Here’s your cheat sheet for everything new to know about our favourite cluster of islands.

By Sandra Ramani 20/11/2018

The promise of sunshine and sandy shores draws travelers to the Caribbean every winter, but this year there is a host of new and renovated properties launching just in time for the holidays.

While 70 per cent of the Caribbean islands were unaffected by 2018’s Hurricanes Maria and Irma, others were hit hard—and many of their hotels have spent the past year renovating. Properties that were older or already had updates in the works have taken the opportunity to fine-tune their offerings (read: to make them over-the-top). “Not only have hotels in the Caribbean recovered, but forced closings allowed for some major enhancements to many properties,” says Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Vacations, a Virtuoso agency. Virtuoso, which serves as a network for some of the top luxury-travel agencies in the world, estimates that 90 percent of the inventory in the impacted regions has reopened. By the end of next year, “luxury resorts will have spent over US$250 million to refurbish,” adds Ezon. “Some (existing ones) will be essentially brand new.”

All of this is good news both for the region’s economic and social well-being and, of course, for fans of eye-catching design, gourmet cuisine, and stellar service. From revived classics in Puerto Rico and a stylish rebranding in Anguilla to a reborn private-island hideaway from Sir Richard Branson, here are 17 Caribbean standouts that will be calling you to our favourite island getaways this season.

Anguilla

Belmond Cap Juluca
Opening: December 15


Ionic Moorish architecture at Belmond Cap Juluca
Photo: Courtesy of Belmond Cap Juluca

Acquired by Belmond in mid-2017, the iconic Cap Juluca on secluded Maundays Bay cove has spent the past year undergoing a top-to-toe redesign that is in keeping with Belmond’s recently revamped brand-wide art direction. The design firm Rottet Studio has infused the property’s spaces with beach-chic glamour and strengthened their connection to the natural environment. The Main House, for example, has been reimagined to better showcase the views (though its breezy white Moorish-style architecture remains untouched), and new additions include a sea-view infinity pool bordered by a botanical garden. Located just steps from the beach, all 108 guest rooms and suites boast large private balconies or verandas that frame the views. The focus on nature also extends to other aspects, from the kitchens—where executive chef Andrew Gaskin is introducing more vegan and healthy options, a nine-course Chef’s Table dinner, and a Chef’s Lab menu highlighting local ingredients—to the revamped Arawak Spa, which offers Anguillan-inspired treatments in three garden-set, ocean-view villas.

Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection
Opening: December


A whimsical guest room at Malliohana, Auberge Collection Resorts
Photo: Leila Brewster

Overlooking the powdery white-sand beaches of Meads Bay and Turtle Cove, Malliouhana, a three-decades-old favourite, will soon welcome guests to a completely refreshed experience. In December, following nearly a year of work, the sophisticated 46-room resort will introduce a transformed restaurant and Sunset Bar (both with beach views), new amenities and experiences, and a restored two-tiered infinity pool—one of the property’s signature attractions. And in early 2019, additional debuts at the property will include 11 new beachfront suites, four garden-set suites, and a two-bedroom villa set right on Turtle Cove Beach, as well as a new Auberge Spa with six treatment rooms and a new ocean-view pool, ensuring there’s plenty to look forward to all winter.

Belize

Itz’ana Resort & Residences
Opening: Spring 2019


Itz’ana’s Great House and negative-edge pool.
Photo: Courtesy Itz’ana Resort & Residences

The first phase of the highly anticipated Itz’ana Resort & Residences—located in the breezy beach town of Placencia—launched in 2017 with a collection of deluxe suites, beachfront villas, and extras like a negative-edge pool and dedicated Rum Room. But next season, things will get kicked up a notch at the boutique property with the introduction of 50 more suites and 46 waterfront residences (the latter of which will be available for sale). Like the existing accommodations, the new options will feature bright, tropical-chic interiors by the New York–based designer Samuel Amoia, along with private outdoor space where guests can soak up the Caribbean views; the residences also have multiple bedrooms, plunge pools, and other posh perks. Guests enjoy resort amenities like the reef-to-table Limilia restaurant and the refreshing Ceviche Bar (or private meals can be arranged elsewhere on the scenic property) and adventures such as horseback riding, fly-fishing, or a sunset cruise to the otherworldly Blue Hole.

Grenada

Silversands
Opening: December 1


A peek inside a villa at Silversands.
Photo: Courtesy of Silversands Grenada/Magda Biernat

Just as the Itz’ana Resort is helping to put Belize on the luxury map, the opening of the design-forward Silversands—a new member of the Leading Hotels of the World—promises to make the under-the-radar destination of Grenada a little more high-profile. The first major resort to launch on lovely Grand Anse Beach in more than 25 years, Silversands features 44 rooms and suites and nine residential villas set around a 100-metre infinity pool—thought to be the longest in the Caribbean. The architecture and design firm AW², led by Reda Amalou and Stéphanie Ledoux, has created striking minimalist interiors that put the landscape center stage but still feature all the requisite perks (including deep-soaking tubs) and lots of standout art, much of it from the owner’s private collection. Enjoy fresh seafood and an excellent wine list at the Grenadian Grill, Asian-influenced dinners (and cooking classes) at Asiatique, a global selection of cigars and rum at Puro, and live music from local musicians nearly everywhere you look. The serene spa has a private pool, a hammam, a well-stocked gym, and four treatment rooms.

Saint Martin

Belmond La Samanna
Opening: December 10


The beach at Belmond La Semanna
Photo: Courtesy of Belmond La Semanna/Joe Vaughn

Nestled on Saint Martin’s French side and overlooking the 1.6-kilometre beach at Baie Longue, the sophisticated Belmond La Samanna will reemerge from a post-hurricane closure with a refreshed look courtesy of the interior design firm Muza Lab, of London. Pastel blues, pinks, and greens, vibrant botanical prints, and furnishings adorned with shells and corals brighten the 83 rooms and public spaces, which include a reinvigorated Beach Bar and French-accented gourmet Trellis Restaurant. (The latter’s historic La Cave Wine Cellar remains the largest private wine cellar in the Caribbean, and it is available to host wine-pairing dinners.) And though you could spend all day lounging on that powdery white-sand beach, we suggest heading out for a scuba excursion, shopping the boutiques of Marigot, taking a tennis lesson with one of the resident pros, or venturing up to the hilltop La Samanna Spa for treatments that incorporate products by the French brands Sisley and Pure Altitude.

St. Barts

Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa
Opened: October 28


A new villa at Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa
Photo: Courtesy of Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa/Laurent Benoit

Two years to the day from its original opening, the sleek Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa relaunched post-Irma with completely restored and renovated spaces—and a few new surprises. Along with the 44 serene guest rooms, all of which have been brought back to their former glory, guests will now also find new facilities like the WTF Rooftop Bar (it stands for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), serving late-night drinks and DJ-spun tunes; an all-day beachside grill; and two luxury oceanfront villas, each with a 17-metre lap pool. The resort has also rededicated itself to celebrating wellness and well-being, so take advantage of beachside yoga sessions, the state-of-the-art fitness center, and the expanded Le Spa, featuring hydrotherapy areas, a tea salon, and La Mer treatments.

Christopher Hotel
Opened: October 17


The beachfront pool at Christopher Hotel
Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Hotel

Surrounded by the upscale residences of the scenic Pointe Milou neighborhood, the Christopher Hotel—long an insider’s favourite—reopened in October following extensive post-hurricane renovations. The property, with its idyllic sunset views over St. Jean Bay, offers 23 rooms and 19 suites that have been restored with an understated elegance. The refreshed, organic-focused Christo restaurant reopened in time to participate in November’s annual Gourmet Festival, and the five-room, ocean-view Sisley Spa is launching new services (including a lomilomi massage designed to mimic the ocean’s waves). In January, the resort will roll out three new guest villas ideal for families.

Hotel Le Toiny
Opened: October 15


Hotel Le Toiny’s Spirit Suites
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Le Toiny

One year and US$2 million after Hurricane Irma, Hotel Le Toiny has reopened with a complete redo—and its first major expansion since opening in 1992. The original 14 stand-alone villa suites—each fully restored and updated with breezy-chic decor—are now joined by eight new freestanding villas, which include seven one- and two-story Spirit Suites with views of Toiny Bay, and the top-level La Villa, now the resort’s largest accommodation. All have goodies like soaking tubs, outdoor living spaces, and private infinity pools, as well as kitchens, high-end bedding, and Bamford bath products. A fresh aesthetic, accented by bright pops of colour, pervades the villas and public spaces, including the expanded Case Punch Bar (with its pink swivel chairs framing the oyster shell bar) and the Toiny Restaurant, where whimsical prints and mirrored accents set the scene for gastronomic menus by executive chef Jarad McCarroll, who recently earned a Michelin star in London.

Le Sereno
Opening: December 1


Breezy villas at Le Sereno
Photo: Courtesy of Le Sereno

Following Hurricane Irma, the family that owns the stylish Le Sereno decided to demolish and completely rebuild a large part of the property—and to do so, they reassembled the same team that originally envisioned the place. The group has maintained the signature, design-driven look and spirit of the resort while redoing more than half of the rooms and all of the public spaces. The 39 accommodations include all-new Bungalow Piscine rooms (including an added Family Suite with private pool) and waterfront Grand Suite Plage Sud options—now complete with private gardens and outdoors tubs. For indulgences, there’s the new spa offering Valmont and Sothys treatments, and the redesigned restaurant with a new bar and beachfront extension. The hotel’s location on secluded Grand Cul-de-Sac, with its protected coral reef, remains ideal for those looking to embark on snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking excursions directly from the white-sand beach.

Puerto Rico

Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Opened: October 1


Restored foliage and sparkling pools at Dorado Beach
Photo: Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton

For its next chapter, the beloved Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, has reemerged stronger than ever. All 114 beachfront rooms and suites have been redone with a fresh and thoughtful design, and they are surrounded by grounds that have been replanted with 300,000 new plant species to re-create the pre-hurricane landscape. Food has always been a big draw here, and that continues: Some dining outlets have new menus and highlights—the beachside Positivo Sandbar, for example, now has an Omakase & Ceviche Bar—while December will see the arrival of the hotly anticipated COA signature restaurant. (The stand-alone five-bedroom Su Casa villa will also reopen in December.) Spa junkies won’t be disappointed in the revitalized Spa Botanica, which has supplemented its menu with some new treatments and spa-cuisine offerings.

The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
Opening: December 11

Every inch of the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort—from its 139 rooms and suites to its Casa Grande main house and seaside pool—has been refreshed, thanks to a US$60 million post-hurricane renovation. The Puerto Rican designer Nono Maldonado and the San Francisco–based design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates have taken inspiration from the tropical setting for the accommodations’ new contemporary, residential-influenced decor. In the two-story main building, guests can gather in the new Paros restaurant for refined, contemporary Greek dining, and the St. Regis Bar for live music and the nightly Champagne sabering ritual. Soak up the sun at the redone pool deck, which now has a pizza oven, or along the two-mile stretch of private beach dotted with serviced cabanas. The resort’s 483 acres are also home to biking and running trails, water sports areas, and lots of lush foliage. An additional US$30 million resort expansion—with 60 more rooms—and a new US$85 million beachfront real estate component also have been announced.

Serafina Beach Hotel

Opened: March 2018


The slick Serafina Beach Hotel
Photo: Courtesy of Serafina Beach Hotel

The Serafina Beach Hotel—the first hotel from the owners of the New York–based Serafina Restaurant Group—made its splashy debut earlier this year, and already it has attracted a vibrant, design-savvy clientele. Located just five minutes from Old Town in San Juan’s Condado neighborhood, the waterside spot features contemporary-beach-style interiors; unique fare at Amare restaurant, where Italian seafood meets Puerto Rican flavours; and a lively scene around the infinity pool, which is ringed by oversize cabanas, a bar, and ocean views. Make use of the hotel’s “Experience the Island” concierge to set up island adventures, then retreat to one of the 96 rooms, each of which has floor-to-ceiling windows framing ocean or lagoon vistas.

El San Juan Hotel

Opening: December 14


The pool and beach at El San Juan Hotel
Photo: Courtesy of El San Juan Hotel

Originally opened in 1958—and once a hub for the island’s live music scene—the iconic El San Juan Hotel had completed a multimillion-dollar renovation just before the 2017 hurricane struck. Now, following an additional refresh and redesign, the Curio Collection property is ready for its next 60 years, with 388 bright guestrooms, two miles of pristine-again beach, four pools, and 16 restaurants and bars. Entertainment is still a signature attraction—there’s a cabaret spot for live music and a nightclub—and serenity-seekers can head to the Well & Being Spa for custom-designed treatments.

British Virgin Islands

Necker Island
Opened: October 2018


Richard Branson’s Necker Island from above.
Photo: Courtesy of Necker Island

Richard Branson’s Caribbean hideaway has taken its fair share of beatings in recent years, from a 2011 fire (which Branson and others escaped in the middle of the night) to a pounding from 2017’s Hurricane Irma (which Branson rode out on the property). But Necker Island has always reemerged, spirit intact. The 30-hectare private island, located not far from Virgin Gorda, welcomed guests back in October to the renovated and expanded Great House with 11 bedrooms (up from the previous nine), an extended pool and outdoor lounge at the Bali Hai complex, and watersports and dining outlets. More accommodations will open in 2019, including the individual Bali Houses, which are being rebuilt to include private plunge pools.

Riviera Maya

Chablé Maroma
Opened: September 2018


Chablé Maroma’s earthy lobby.
Photo: Courtesy of Chablé Maroma

One of the newest members of the Leading Hotels of the World consortium, Chablé Maroma, sister property to the wellness-focused Chablé Resort in the Yucatán, injected a dose of “healing hospitality” to the Riviera Maya when it opened this fall. Spread out between tropical jungle and powdery beach are 70 luxe casitas that pay homage to Mayan history and the surrounding environment with retractable glass walls, private pools, indoor/outdoor showers, and decor featuring natural woods, stones, and artisan designs. As with the original outpost, the main anchors are the spa—here, a 1580-square-metre haven integrating ancient remedies with modern technology—and the three eateries, all overseen by chef Jorge Vallejo, of Mexico City’s famed Quintonil. Choose between a casual poolside spot, a raw bar showcasing fresh seafood, and the signature Bu’ul for contemporary Mexican fare. A 200-metre private beach, sea-view pool, yoga/meditation pavilion, and a wealth of outdoor activities provide further diversions.

Turks & Caicos

Beach Enclave Long Bay
Opened: November 1


One of Beach Enclave’s new Long Bay Villas
Photo: Courtesy of Beach Enclave Long Bay Villas

Following the successful 2016 opening of its nine villas on the island’s North Shore, the luxury rental/ownership company Beach Enclave launched phase two in November: a collection of three stunning rental villas overlooking Long Bay’s five kilometres of white sand beach. Two more villas in this area are also in the works, while a third phase of 10 villas on Grace Bay will open in 2019. Set on the protected east side of the bay, the new residences are spread out over nearly nearly 0.5 hectares of lush land each and range in size from five to seven bedrooms. Each has a beach deck, fire pits, summer kitchen, and outdoor shower, along with an infinity pool and lounging areas. Enjoy activities like kiteboarding, yoga, and paddleboarding, or relax at your rental under the care of a private chef, housekeeper, and butler/concierge.

Dominica

Secret Bay
Opened: November 1


The eco-chic Secret Bay resort
Photo: Courtesy of Secret Bay

Reopened this northern autumn on one of the hardest-hit Caribbean islands, the eco-luxe Secret Bay resort—tucked within a cliff-top rain forest—has emerged better than ever, with a host of new offerings. The resort’s existing six villas, each envisioned and sustainably built by noted architect Fruto Vivas, have been kicked up a notch with a new option: the two-story, treehouse-inspired Ti-Fey Villa, featuring a private pool and deck, gourmet kitchen, and al fresco dining area. Also new are the open-air, ocean-view Zing Zine restaurant, where the “no menu” format translates to an array of fresh, chef-prepared delights, and the Gommier Spa, a hideaway offering therapies using locally blended oils. As one of the Caribbean’s “hidden secrets,” Dominica has a lot to offer—chiefly its unspoiled nature, from forest reserves and sea caves to near-empty white sand beaches—and this lovely resort is the perfect base from which to explore it all, whether by car, foot, or kayak.

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Everybody Loves Naomi 

Fashion fans adore her. And so do we. Lucky, then, that a new exhibition is paying homage to four decades of snake-hipped catwalking.

By Joseph Tenni 22/06/2024

Naomi Campbell contains multitudes. Since emerging on the scene in 1986, modelling for British designer Jasper Conran, the statuesque stunner has used the runway for takeoff. She has ventured into all aspects of the culture, from Vogue to Playboy and reality TV. In the business arena, she has dabbled in publishing and the two F&Bs (fragrance and beauty, and food and beverage). Her philanthropic efforts are legion.

Naomi is better known than any of her peers and, aged 54, remains more relevant than ever. As a testament to her pervading influence, a new exhibition, Naomi: In Fashion, is opening at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Celebrating her 40 years in the spotlight, the show includes clothes from the model’s closet and some of the designer fashion she has helped to immortalise.

We all know her snake-hipped walk, her glowing skin, her famous paramours, and—yes—her many tantrums and tiaras. But how much do we love her exactly? Let’s count some of the ways. 

1. She Was Born to Be Famous

Many people know Naomi for her appearances in music videos for Michael Jackson’s In the Closet and George Michael’s Freedom! ’90—the latter also featuring fellow supermodels Linda, Cindy and Christy. But Naomi has been in front of the camera since she was a child, and her prolific music-video career predates her modelling. At 8, she appeared in the official video for Bob Marley’s 1978 hit Is This Love. At 13, Culture Club cast her as a tap-dancing teen in I’ll Tumble 4 Ya. It would be another two years before she was discovered by model scout Beth Boldt, while shopping in London’s Covent Garden.

Courtesy Off-White. Photo Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

2. She Hits All the Right Notes

As anyone who has ever seen Unzipped, the 1995 cult fashion documentary by Douglas Keeve, Naomi always has a song in her heart. She put her mouth where her money was in 1994 and recorded an album, Babywoman. The cover art featured Naomi, photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth, shaving her legs while sitting on the toilet. Fittingly, the album was canned—despite assistance from contributors like Donna Summer and PM Dawn. 

3. She’s Always Ready for Her Close-Up
Hollywood’s history is full of models who went on to become successful actors. Naomi is not one of them. But not for want of trying. Her turn as a nightclub singer in Vanilla Ice’s 1991 movie Cool as Ice flies under the radar but doesn’t deserve to. Nor does her scene-stealing cameo as a French cheese shopper in The Night We Never Met, alongside Matthew Broderick and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Or her playing a sexy telephone operator in Spike Lee’s Girl 6. Who else has that kind of range? 

4. She Tells It Like It Is

We’d be remiss not to mention her 1994 novel Swan. A roman a clef about a young girl breaking into the modelling industry, flanked by her four besties who are also divas in training heels, it certainly played with genres. A murder-mystery-cum-sexy-romance-cum-vocational-advice page-turner, or something like that, this guilty pleasure was cruelly overlooked and relegated to the annals of bargain bins everywhere. 

5. She’s Got a Mind for Business

Naomi has been vocal over the years about making less money than her white peers and was not going to wait for the industry to catch up. Instead, she has ventured into businesses ranging from her former stake in the Fashion Cafe in New York to her signature fragrances, first released in 1999. What does Naomi smell like? Subtle yet complicated, consisting of top notes of peach, coconut and bergamot with a deep, woody base of cedar and sandalwood—apparently.

6. She Gives Until It Hurts

For a so-called narcissist, Naomi has often put her fame to philanthropic use. She has galvanised black models in fashion with the Black Girls Coalition and has raised money for Africa, Haiti and disaster relief worldwide, including after the Mumbai terrorist attacks. When she was dating the Russian billionaire and Aman Resorts owner Vladislav Doronin, she became committed to saving the tiger. Is there anything this overachiever can’t do?

7. She Can Make Hay From Anything

When she was sentenced to community service following allegations by a former employer that Naomi had attacked her with a mobile phone, the model emerged from her punishment dressed in couture and trailed by a photo crew who were shooting a fashion layout of her for W magazine. And when she was summoned in 2010 to appear in a war crimes trial against former Liberian president Charles Taylor—in relation to an uncut blood diamond he’d allegedly given her—our girl showed up in an Azzedine Alaïa twin-set and wearing a silver “evil eye” necklace, turning the courtroom into a photo opportunity.

8. She’ll Be on Your Side for Evermore
The fashion industry is hardly known for its loyalty or congeniality, but Naomi has maintained decades-long friendships with not only her supermodel sisters like Christy Turlington but also some of the most powerful and difficult players, including John Galliano and Marc Jacobs. That she has remained tight with so many of her friends is not lost on her adoring public. She must be a loyal person and in return, fans everywhere remain loyal to her.

Naomi: In Fashion runs from June 22, 2024, until April 16, 2025, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; vam.ac.uk

Courtesy Vivienne Westwood. Photo Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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The Sapphire Dinner 2024 Raises Support for Ocean Conservation

This year’s boldfaced bash raised funds for our critically under-supported national treasures. 

By Horacio Silva 22/06/2024

The big fish of Sydney society came out Thursday night for the third annual Sapphire Dinner to raise much-needed money for ocean conservation. Held in conjunction with the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the boldfaced bash was the first sit-down dinner held at the Tank, a repurposed World War II fuel container that sits beneath the Art Gallery’s new wing. 

Set against a backdrop of immersive ocean-inspired video projections by South Korean digital creators d’strict, and with a dress code that inspired guests to recycle their most fabulous fashions, the zero-waste dinner supports The Sapphire Project’s mission to galvanise the community to take action to protect our oceans and the Great Barrier Reef.

Deep-pocketed VIPs who walked the evening’s blue carpet included  Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull, real estate maven Monika Tu, Penelope Seidler, Anna Marsden (Managing Director of Great Barrier Reef Foundation), Michael and Tina Brand, Andrew Cameron, MCA Chair Lorraine Tarabay, Myer boss Olivia Wirth, benefactors Paris Neilsen and Beau Neilson, and Paul Howes and Olivia Wirth, the power couple known as ‘Paulivia’. 

Retired swimmer Giaan Rooney MC’d the event, hosted by Sapphire Committee co-chairs Hayley Baillie and Ryan Gollan and committee members Ian Thorpe AM, Luke Hepworth, Clare Herschell, Susan Wynne, Brioney Prier, Bianca Rinehart, Doris Ma, Kate Champion, Ellie Aitken, and Chong Chua. 

A troupe of former Australian Ballet dancers and a musical performance by the Fijian-Australian singer and actress Paulini entertained the revellers.   

Among the auctioned items was an original work by Del Kathryn Barton, which raised more than $200,000 in a high-spirited bidding war led by Four Pillars Gin founder Stu Gregor, whose expletive-laden entreaties were suitably salty. 

Nobody minded, given that more than a million dollars were raised to support the criminally underfunded ocean conservation (it’s estimated that only about 2 percent of philanthropy in Australia goes towards the preservation of our precious national treasures), with funds going to support important initiatives such as The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the University of Sydney’s One Tree Island Research Station, the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station, the Australian Sea Lion Recovery Foundation and Biopixel Oceans Foundation’s Project Hammerhead

The Sapphire Project Dinner 2024
Clare Herschell, Kate Champion, Bianca Rinehart & Hayley Baillie
The tablescapes at the Sapphire Project Dinner
Ian Thorpe
Adrian and Beck Buchan
Monika Tu
The Sapphire Project Dinnner 2024
Lucy & Malcolm Turnbull
Sapphire Committee co-chairs Hayley Baillie & Ryan Gollan

For further information, visit SapphireProject.com.au

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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 Tod’s SS25 Men’s Collection in Milan Was a Showcase of “Artisanal Intelligence”

It was also the debut men’s collection by creative director Matteo Tamburini.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

Earlier this week, Tod’s presented its SS25 men’s collection at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) for Milan Fashion Week, where all eyes were fixed on Matteo Tamburini and his debut menswear collection as Tod’s newest creative director.

Striking “a balance between tradition and modernity”, was the former Bottega Veneta designer’s intention, and indeed his showcase offerered a spotlight on the quality, materials, and detailing that are central to the Tod’s wardrobe.

“The collection is more about subtraction rather than addition, highlighting the very elevated, timeless and relaxed materials,” says Tamburini via a statement.

Tod’s

In line with Tod’s restrained design codes, the garments presented were characterised by timelessness, unmistakable Italian flair, yet a casualness appropriate for everyday wear. Only the best leathers were used in the collection—thanks to the Pashmy project, which Tod’s unveiled in January to champion high-end Italian materials—used in creating garments like the Tod’s Bomber, the Gio Jacket, the Shirt Jacket, the Di Bag sack, as well as footwear staples, like the Tod’s T-Riviera.

Of course, the iconic Gommino driving shoe wasn’t without an update, too: you’ll find a new sabot interpretation, as well as the Bubble Gommino introduced in a new boat model with the T-bar accessory.

“Craftsmanship” was at the forefront of messaging, with chairman and chief executive officer of the Tod’s Group, Diego Della Valle, reiterating the message of honouring artisanal arts in an increasingly digital-first world.”[It’s] important to uphold artisanal intelligence, keeping under control artificial intelligence as it is now developing rapidly and powerfully,” he said via a statement.

“Individuals and artisanal intelligence at the centre, with its traditions and values, will contribute to keep artificial intelligence in check. Our Italian craftsmanship and supply chain can be an example of the combination of tradition and the new speed of artificial intelligence.”

tods.com

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Pitti Uomo’s Best-Dressed Men Cut Through the Noise With Personal Style

From vintage gems to tasteful tailoring, attendees of Florence’s biannual tradeshow brought their best sartorial selves.

By Naomi Rougeau, Lorenzo Sodi 20/06/2024

Whether or not you’re well versed in the ins and outs of Pitti Uomo, the biannual menswear tradeshow in Florence that brings together buyers, press—and, naturally, a vast ostentation of peacocks—the chances are that photos from the gathering are still making their way into your newsfeed. You might even smirk at the mention of it. To be sure, you’ll encounter plenty of “overdressing” strolling through the main venues but by and large, great personal style manages to cut through the noise.

Part of what makes the Pitti scene so exciting is that menswear moves relatively slowly. It’s less about seeing something earth shatteringly new but rather gradual shifts and discovering fresh ways to put things together. Menswear regulars such as Alessandro Squarzi, owner of a considerable vintage archive that influences his Milanese boutique Fortela, can be relied upon to provide inspiration on how to make tried and true staples and silhouettes feel modern.

Speaking of new old things, vintage fashions made their way into the chat in a big way this June, whether in terms of rare finds or sustainable efforts via upcycling, fabric development and natural dyes (Paris-based De Bonne Facture achieved an ideal medium brown using coffee, for instance). At the heart of the conversation was another bona fide vintage guru Maurizio Donadi who made a case for the timelessness and democratic nature of indigo with his centuries-spanning exhibit of antique garments from around the globe.

Below you’ll find a dozen of our favorite looks from Pitti Uomo 106, lensed by our eagle-eyed street-style photographer Lorenzo Sodi. We hope they inspire.

Lorenzo Sodi

A lesson in simplicity and the power of a classic palette—good quality vintage accents such as a turquoise embellished belt buckle add interest to timeless workwear. Ray-Ban’s universally-flattering Wayfarer sunglasses are the perfect finishing touch.

Lorenzo Sodi

Sans suit and shirt, the neckerchief (of which there were many at Pitti), adds a welcome dose of colour to a white tee and relaxed jacket and proves that sometimes one choice detail is all it takes. A well-loved, slightly-too-long belt and canvas Vans contribute to the casual harmony.

Lorenzo Sodi

Whatever the weather, you’ll find Douglas Cordeaux, from Fox Brothers, looking immaculate in shirt and tie… and a suit made of one of Fox’s many fabrics. British elegance, embodied.

Lorenzo Sodi

Relaxed elegance is the foundation of the Brunello Cuccinelli brand. Here, the maestro himself shows us how it’s done in a double-breasted linen ensemble featuring a few personal flourishes.

Lorenzo Sodi

Designer Alessandro Pirounis of Pirounis offers a masterclass on the rule of three with a contemporary twist, subbing the usual jacket with an overshirt of his own design.

Lorenzo Sodi

A renaissance man takes Florence. True to his roots, US Marine veteran, Savile Row-trained tailor and photographer Robert Spangle blazes a sartorial trail that’s all his own.

Lorenzo Sodi

Cream trousers are an essential element of elegant Italian summer style. Designer Nicola Radano of Spacca Neapolis channels one of the greats (Marcello Mastroianni) in a dark polo of his own design, collar spread wide across his jacket’s lapel for a welcome retro lean.

Lorenzo Sodi

Proof of the power of tonal dressing, that can create an impactful outfit just by sticking to the same colour family. A chic ensemble and in some ways an elevated version of the double-denim look, every element is working hard in service to the whole.

Lorenzo Sodi

UK-based stylist Tom Stubbs has long been a proponent of blousy pleats, lengthy db jackets, and statement-making neck scarves and here, in vintage Armani, he embodies the louche, oversize look that many designers are just now catching up on.

Lorenzo Sodi

A tailor splitting his time between Berlin and Cologne, Maximilian Mogg is known for his strong-shouldered, architectural suiting. Yet in Mogg’s hands, particularly with this non-traditional colour scheme, the effect is always modern and youthful.

Lorenzo Sodi

If Max Poglia’s relaxed Hawaiian shirt and suit combo is any indication, summer has truly arrived. But it’s an excellent example of how to wearing tailoring in more casual fashion. This cream db would look perfect with shirt and tie at a wedding in August and just as chic here with slippers and a laid-back shirt.

Lorenzo Sodi

Another example of how tailoring can be laid-back and breezy for summer, from a dude who looks no stranger to enjoying the best of the warmer months. Jaunty pocket square, sandals, untucked linen shirt…go forth and emulate.

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