Introducing The New Noosa

Avoid the crowds and uncover another side to the famed holiday town.

By Craig Tansley 28/12/2021

This afternoon Hastings Street is offering the usual brigade of carefully curated holidaymakers. Former Queensland rugby
league star Wally Lewis typifies things, mock-perusing the window of a garish fashion boutique as his girlfriend browses inside.

Elsewhere, families drift like the tide along the leafy beachside street, blocking the paths of executives on weekend escapes from the capitals.

Since the early ’80s, Noosa has been the destination for a fast and fancy retreat from the office. While Byron Bay might’ve blown Noosa out of the water in the celebrity stakes—cue the Hemsworths and seemingly half of Hollywood—Noosa’s the spot to see those TV types you can’t quite place. Here, it’s still ageing morning-show hosts in short shorts and tight tees, celebrity chefs who came from the small screen and those aforementioned sports stars who once achieved greatness and remain on their descent to Earth.

Hastings Street, Noosa Heads’ main retail and restaurant precinct, is where they gather—al fresco, in flattering dappled sunlight. A few metres beyond rests Main Beach, where they frolic in the sea or tan on the sand. If people-watching is your holiday hobby then this is a place to settle in and get comfortable—a human kaleidoscope on offer and one that prompts a few smiles.

There is, however, a different version of Noosa. An escape that avoids the crowds, aimed at those eager not to be seen but who still want to be wrapped by the warmth and general splendour of the Sunshine Coast.

The perfect base to access such is, ironically, on the sands of Noosa. First Point Apartments avoids the town’s theatre yet you couldn’t be closer to the beach (in fact, you’d struggle to stay closer to the sea anywhere on Australia’s east coast). Built above the white sands of Noosa Heads’ Little Cove, a narrow driveway runs from the road to a garage where you’re advised to park and forget that your car exists for the remainder of your stay. In this town, it’s about avoiding the obvious, letting Noosa come to you.

Built within the 2883-hectare Noosa National Park, a 20-metre walk from the back gate lands you in the water at Little Cove—a tiny, horseshoe-shaped bay framed by volcanic rock and pandanus trees. A swimming pool is there for your convenience on the lower timber deck, metres above the beach, though the ocean proves a greater allure—older surfers on longboards weaving the slow-breaking waves, a solitary yacht bobbing at anchor and migrating humpbacks surfacing with a puff of air you can hear from the deck.

Facing north, there’s views across the sea to the high coastal mountains of the 50,000-hectare Great Sandy National Park and boats negotiating the mouth of the Noosa River as the tide surges.

There’s no better spot to experience the new Noosa, especially when a first visitor arrives by sea. Tropicsurf’s owner/founder Ross Phillips is a true pioneer of the luxury surfing industry, and was voted by Conde Nast Traveller as one of the world’s most influential people in travel.

Conveniently, he lives just around the corner. Phillips started teaching people to surf on Noosa’s Main Beach three decades ago and now
runs luxury surf experiences everywhere from the Maldives to Mexico.

But Noosa is the place he knows best. He arrives at First Point by jet-ski, straight onto the sand at Little Cove. Through the breaking waves and “out the back” we go on a luxury, fully air-conditioned motor boat to look for rideable lumps of water across the Noosa National Park—one of the world’s most famous surf locations. “There’s no limit to what people can do here,” offers Phillips. “There’s no point giving people
an experience they can do themselves, it’s about what they can’t do.” This charter isn’t exclusively reserved for surfers—any client is able to opt for deep-sea fishing or some snorkelling around the secret coves of Noosa’s enormous headland, with gourmet lunch supplied.

Tropicsurf can also organise private jet pick-ups and drop-offs from Sydney and Melbourne, and helicopter charters to remote locations nearby. Phillips knows of multiple spots otherwise impossible to get to—having accumulated a lifetime of wisdom from surfing the region.

One of his favourite locations is a wave rarely ridden, on the outer north-eastern reaches of Brisbane’s Moreton Bay,
where only sailors venture. “Anything is possible,” he says. “I’ve had clients here who surf all day with access by helicopter, then take a private jet to Uluru for sunset cocktails. Others surf, then go diving on the Great Barrier Reef.”

One of his most popular tours takes guests by private 4WD across the Noosa River via car ferry to Noosa’s unheralded North Shore. From there it’s a one-hour drive along the sand (note the 80km/h speed limit) to Double Island Point. It’s one of Queensland’s best-kept secrets: a wide, sandy bay where soldier crabs dig in deep as you pass by and yachts shelter just off the beach. It’s here, in an alluring blue lagoon that some of the best waves in Australia break alongside a tall, rocky headland. Chris Hemsworth camps here each year to surf these waves, while Angelina Jolie visits the offshore dive site, Wolf Rock, which is also home to one of the largest grey nurse shark colonies in the world.

You don’t need to surf to enjoy these locations. It’s only a short helicopter ride from Noosa to Fraser Island for a tour of the world’s largest sand island. And it’s a 20-minute flight from Noosa to the fishing town of Rainbow Beach, where it’s a further 20-minute 4WD drive along the beach to Double Island Point, to enjoy private gourmet lunches and sea kayak adventures among migrating humpback whales.

Back at First Point Apartments, while the restaurants on Hastings Street and Main Beach are an easy five-minute meander, there’s no better dinner location than your deck. Watch the sun sink into the Noosa Everglades (one of the world’s two everglade systems and part of Queensland’s first UNESCO Biosphere) while chef Ryan Fitzpatrick (The Ohana Group) provides a sumptuous four-course meal with paired wines. Fitzpatrick has worked the burners at some of Australia’s most prestigious restaurants, including the Noosa institution that was Berardo’s (before it shut its doors in 2015), as well as providing nourishment to various celebrity clients in the French Alps and the Mediterranean.

Served by candlelight to the sound of the ocean, Fitzpatrick prepares Fraser Island spanner crab on a crumpet with apple, before an entrée of heightened “surf and turf”—local grass-fed porterhouse steak with Moreton Bay bug. The main course is fresh-caught mahi-mahi with corn veloute, confit potato, finger lime and fennel.

A light breakfast next morning comes delivered by a yoga instructor who conducts a private session on the oceanside deck. But it’s worth the walk into Hastings Street for a coffee—if only to see Noosa come to life and appreciate the appealing seclusion. Elderly swimmers do slow laps across the beach, while it seems the whole town jogs, walks or sips chai tea on the sand. There are iconic eateries here (like Season Restaurant,
a known post of Sir Richard Branson), but it’s best knowing you can bid a quick retreat to First Point when the crowds arrive.

It’s possible to virtually avoid humanity by heading west to the Noosa Hinterland. It’s just a 20-minute ride by helicopter to one of Queensland’s newest private retreats and what is an appealing new perspective on the region.

Asgard House rests besides the Glass House Mountains, part of a heritage-listed national park where mountains 500-plus-metres high shoot up at right angles from the flat coastal plains—plugs of trachyte and rhyolite from a 27 million-year-old volcano. At $7,500 per night, the five-bedroom, four-bathroom mansion is the first property launched as part of the Private Collection by Spicers, a notable ascent in luxury for the Queensland-based company. “For us, it’s not about the house, it’s about the environment,” chimes Spicers Retreats founder Jude Turner.

A floor-to-ceiling window runs the length of the mansion’s expansive kitchen-diner and lounge, holding and presenting views across the park’s 13 dramatic mountains. Chef Fitzpatrick is available to prepare meals here—with Spicers also offering two other retreats easily reached
by helicopter within five minutes.

Spicers Clovelly Estate houses one of regional Queensland’s top-rated restaurants, the two-hatted The Long Apron. Meals can be served within
a French provincial garden beneath jacaranda and fig trees, beside groves of magnolia and lavender, overlooking a croquet and pétanque pitch. Head chef Andrew Birse—who came from Brisbane’s highly rated Arc Dining—presents a menu drawn from French and Japanese cuisine, including Parisienne gnocchi with chestnut, greens and egg, as well as beef tartare with sunflower and pickled gooseberry.

Just across the valley near the village of Maleny, Spicers Tamarind Retreat lives within a rainforest and beside a running stream. It’s a different offering to The Long Apron—plates here are made within a modern Asian framework. Head chef Dan Jarrett has earned the restaurant a chef’s hat, with dishes using the freshest local ingredients—think crispy Mooloolaba prawns, snake beans and Thai basil with roasted chilli jam, or fresh-caught tuna sashimi with citrus wasabi dressing, furikake, yuzu and bonito cream.

The Flame Hill Vineyards are also a five-minute helicopter journey from Asgard House. Sat high on the Hinterland hills, it’s a perfect long-lunch location, meals accompanied by impressive views and some estate-grown wines to match.

See, while Noosa’s main squabble of sand and sun means the town is one of the country’s most romanticised holiday locations, there’s more here. You just have to let it come to you.

nicheholidaysnoosa.com; tropicsurf.com; theohanagroup.com.au; zenkoyoga.com.au; privatecollectionbyspicers.com; visitnoosa.com.au

 

This piece is from our new Car Of The Year 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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