The Ultimate Escape: 21 Luxury Domestic Destinations

It’s time to explore well beyond the obvious with our heady guide to luxury domestic travel.

By Natasha Dragun And Richard Clune 02/10/2020

There’s an air of positivity across New South Wales and Queensland this afternoon following the announcement that border restrictions between the two states will be lifted on November 1 (community transmission rates dependent).

Elsewhere, Tasmania will open to SA, Queensland, WA, NT and the ACT from October 26 (NSW “pending”), while there’s also confirmed plans for a trans-Tasman travel bubble and what is initial one-way movement into NSW and NT for New Zealanders coming from unaffected areas.

Time, then, to finalise that future luxury escape – easily done with this alluring set of heightened holidays and experiences from across ANZ.

Island Idyll

A wild and wonderful slip of land in Tasmania’s D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Satellite Island can only be reached by boat from neighbouring Bruny Island or helicopter from Hobart. On arrival, discover the only companions are your butler and resident deer, sea eagles and free-range chickens. Daily diversions emphasise the outdoors: kayaking, fishing, snorkelling, plus foraging for oysters and sea urchins. Such a bounty is best enjoyed fireside on the jetty, home to two nautical-chic bedrooms that open to the ocean. The main Summer House has three additional accommodations, designed with covetable objects and items salvaged among the island’s 30 hectares.

satelliteisland.com.au

Dinner With MONA’s David Walsh

Millionaire philanthropist and self-proclaimed “maths nerd”, David Walsh is credited with putting Tasmania back on the travel map. Since his drama-filled Hobart gallery, MONA, opened in 2011, it has become one of the most visited art institutions in the country, and one of the most discussed in the world. Walsh is a difficult man to get hold of. Unless, that is, you book the ‘Dinner With David’ offering from Cultural Attractions of Australia. The $50,000 per person price tag gets you private jet transfers to Hobart; when you touch down, Walsh welcomes you with a lavish meal shared at MONA’s Source restaurant. You’ll sleep soundly in one of the property’s riverside Pavilions and wake to a packed day of exclusive experiences: a curator-led tour of the gallery, lunch in new dining room Faro, a behind-the-scenes glimpse into winemaking at on-site Moorilla Estate, and perhaps even a hit of tennis with Walsh himself.

culturalattractionsofaustralia.com; jacadatravel.com

COMO The Treasury, WA

We’re going to drop this and walk away—COMO The Treasury is the best metropolitan hotel in Australia. Sure, it’s in Perth and that’s arguably to its detriment, though also know that this far-flung capital has found a sense of itself, and elevated luxe, in the last five years, with more to offer than ever before—especially its dining scene. Regardless, if staying at The Treasury you don’t actually need to leave this property of incredible allure—an elegant architectural wonder that delivers individual, light-filled designer rooms, Shambhala spa, impeccable pool and gym, and award-winning fine dining at Wildflower restaurant. In the State Buildings that The Treasury forms part of, there’s also Thai heat at David Thompson’s
Long Chim and leathery (in a good way) basement bar Halford.

comohotels.com

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, NSW

 The appeal here is far-reaching—a nature escape that doesn’t skimp on the luxury, a valley steeped in incredible natural history (Darwin made a stop here to study things in the early 1800s) and the fact that there’s no phone reception. Joyous. The famed award-winning eco-retreat offers a chance to truly escape (hello 2,800 hectares to explore) without ever forgoing necessities such as fine dining, private pools, fireplaces, spa, yoga, and tightly held guest numbers.

oneandonlyresorts.com

Matakauri Lodge, NZ

If you haven’t, you really should—Matakauri is one of the world’s great ‘lodges’, held in the cradle of New Zealand’s impressive The Remarkables ranges on the gentle shores of Lake Wakatipu. It’s located just 10 minutes from Queenstown and not far from the region’s best slopes—though given the levels of service, accommodation and in-house spa, it’s sometimes too difficult to hit the piste, even on a bluebird day.

robertsonlodges.com

Exclusive Robb Report Offer: Stay four nights, pay for three, and enjoy a suite category upgrade when you mention Robb Report on booking.*

Flights Of Fancy

From rock to reef, rainforest to outback, Australia stands as one of the world’s most diverse countries. Get a taste with the Great Australian Air Tour, a 12-day private plane excursion with Bill Peach Journeys. The sky-high survey is Australia in a snapshot, taking guests from Kakadu to Uluru, with Broome and Birdsville in between. When not airborne, the intimate group cruises through gorges, dines under the stars, bathes in remote waterfalls and sips champagne as the sun sets.

billpeachjourneys.com.au

Dovecote, NSW

A 60-hectare working farm in Gerringong might not be the most likely location for two high-drama, architect-designed lodges. But here, on NSW’s South Coast, you’ll find The Headland and The Range, a pair of gasp-inducing villas casting shadows over Werri Beach. Together known as Dovecote, the accommodations—replete with designer fireplaces and outdoor cinemas—are best accessed via helicopter from Sydney. When you land, organise multi-course meals and spa treatments, or take a coastal walk into the sleepy town of Kiama.

dovecote.com.au

Exclusive Robb Report Offer: Receive a $50 spa credit, per guest, to use during the course of a stay by mentioning Robb Report on booking.*

Pretty Beach House, NSW

A short meander north from Sydney—and proof the Central Coast means more than tradies and Jennifer Hawkins. This hilltop guest house is a wonderful weekend indulgence — a  place of easy warmth built around inclusive (impressive) meals, just four ‘rooms’ (we’d suggest the two-storey Retreat), incredible views and a chance to explore the area’s magical beaches or trek Bouddi Peninsula. Also… free mini-bar! Grab a seaplane transfer and enjoy.

prettybeachhouse.com.au

Rowley Shoals, WA

The kaleidoscopic reefs of the Rowley Shoals—a necklace of coral atolls 300 kilometres west of Broome—are home to giant purple-lipped clams, iridescent starfish, humpback whales and schools of tropical fish. Your chariot here? The 36-passenger True North, an expedition ship as intimate as it is immaculate. And when not below water, take to the skies in the craft’s private helicopter.

truenorth.com.au

Southern Exposure

A private enclave collocated with historic Mount Lofty Estate, newcomer Sequoia (opening this September) promises to inject the Adelaide Hills with an acute sense of contemporary Australian style. Here, 14 exclusive villas include sandstone fireplaces, sunken lounges, cantilevered balconies and private pools. Stroll to the original homestead and hotel where the three-hatted restaurant and spa await.

sequoialodge.com.au

Exclusive Robb Report Offer: Stay four nights and only pay for three by mentioning Robb Report on booking*

Luxury Train Travel

Let the rails rock you to sleep in the Chairman’s Carriage, a private charter addition to either The Ghan or Indian Pacific trains. Whether you’re traversing Australia from east to west or north to south, these outback explorations are completely beguiling—even more so in your plush moving cocoon, all leather and quartzite, polished wood and brass. The carriage has space to sleep eight, with a personal attendant on-call to mix cocktails in the lounge, organise dining experiences and facilitate off-train excursions.

journeybeyondrail.com.au

Byron’s Best

Sure, opt for a private rental up the hill… or enjoy the direct beach access and relaxed sense of luxury that continues to cloak this Byron standout. Legend has it that the grounds of the ’60s Spanish mission-style property were designed by Salvador Dalí. While we’ve never quite been convinced, what we do know is that Raes remains a byword for heightened levels of North Coast cool—an experience that’s as easy as it is chic, built around seven unique rooms (villa, two penthouses and four luxury suites), impressive spa, pool, fresh in-house dining menus, deep cellar and easy-going service that’s always on-point.

raes.com.au

Hermes Estate, Gleniffer, NSW

Prefer to holiday and socially distance at the same time? Freshly minted Hermes Estate is available for exclusive rental only, with all four guests given free run of the entire two-hectare property on the banks of northern NSW’s Never Never River. The only other companions here are the staff: butler, chef, spa therapist, chauffeur. The lush country setting is the perfect complement to the lodging’s French-inspired décor—think opulent antiques, chandeliers, first-edition tomes in the library and original artwork. It’s a 45-minute drive from Coffs Harbour, though we recommend making the most of the private helipad to transfer in style.

hermesestate.com

Sleep Under The Outback Stars

The Flinders Ranges—450km north of Adelaide—is all red peaks, gorges and valleys, a place where striated rock formations create an enormous natural amphitheatre. It’s exclusively yours on a Helivista Heli-Swag expedition, created in partnership with Rawnsley Park Station. Your chopper zips to the top of the Chace Range, leaving you to enjoy a camp-fire dinner amid the sunset. Then it’s time to snuggle into swags and ogle an outback sky so dazzling it appears doused with glitter.

helivista.com.au; rawnsleypark.com.au

A Need For Speed

Fancy revving up a Ferrari 488 GTB? Or a Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4? These are among the supercars in the Prancing Horse portfolio, and you’ll drive them both (and others) on the scenic 200-kilometre journey north from Sydney to the Hunter Valley. NSW’s premier wine region is known for its bold chardonnay, sémillon and shiraz varietals, which you’ll sip over lunch at the applauded Muse Restaurant, on the estate of Hungerford Hill. The experience will re-launch in 2021, though if you can’t wait, supercar food-and-wine tours around the Yarra Valley are available in November.

prancinghorse.com.au

Huka Lodge, NZ

House parties are encouraged in Huka Lodge’s Alan Pye Cottage, a four-person retreat on the Waikato River. But you’ll want this space all to yourself. Neighbouring Huka Falls on New Zealand’s North Island, the accommodation features a palette of cedar, stone, teal and turquoise. Your private enclave includes indoor and outdoor fireplaces, an infinity pool and spa, all within seven hectares of manicured gardens that also host the main lodge and eight-person Owner’s Cottage.

hukalodge.co.nz

Exclusive Robb Report Offer: Receive a free lunch for two, replete with a bottle of exclusive sparkling New Zealand wine, when you mention Robb Report on booking.

Lizard Island Resort, QLD

Australia’s northernmost island beach hotel, Lizard Island Resort, is as enchanting as Great Barrier Reef retreats get. The high point—quite literally—is The Pavilion, a stilted glass-and-steel villa clinging to a ridge overlooking the Coral Sea. You’ll want to linger on the wraparound deck, just steps from a private pool. Tear yourself away to charter the resort’s yacht for dive excursions, strap in for helicopter rides to ogle remote rock art, or simply stroll to the sand for an intimate beachside barbecue.

lizardisland.com.au

A Feast Fit For Cleopatra

It’s not every day you get the chance to dine metres from a priceless work of art. But for $39,000, you and seven friends can do just that, in a room housing the National Gallery of Victoria’s most sought-after painting. Italian artist Giambattista Tiepolo’s The Banquet of Cleopatra draws thousands to this Melbourne institution every year. But only 16 eyes will scrutinise the masterpiece while your party enjoys live music and a memorable meal.

culturalattractionsofaustralia.com

West Side Story

This WA gem is held tight by locals —Injidup Spa Retreat a relatively secluded and somewhat unknown luxury property of private villas framed by scrubby national park and the deep blues of the Indian Ocean. The setting and views are both entrée and main here—a stay cloaked in a sense of ease where life doesn’t move far beyond gazing across the immediate and expansive water. Plunge pool, BBQ, fireplace, private deck and the area’s best spa (note, there are just two treatment rooms) are all on offer—so too the unique vineyards and powerful surf of the Margaret River region.

injidupsparetreat.com.au

Capella Lodge, Lord Howe Island

A crescent-shaped drop of basalt in the Tasman Sea, 600 kilometres east of Sydney, UNESCO-listed Lord Howe is as remote as it is ravishing. The island’s Jurassic landscapes of soaring sea cliffs and tangled jungle are among Australia’s most important bird habitats, while the lagoon and reef are home to bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead turtles, Galapagos sharks and humpback whales. Make your base the newly renovated Capella Lodge, where rooms overlook unspoiled beaches backdropped by the jagged crest of Mount Gower. There’s no phone reception, limited wi-fi and a cap on visitor numbers. The only thing to do is switch off and enjoy paradise to yourself.

lordhowe.com

Spanish Flare

Head to the hills, specifically Coopers Shoot outside Byron Bay, and a unique property that brings a sense of Spain (without being naff) to the region. From the husband and wife team who delivered agritourism hotspot The Farm, Tom and Emma Lane, this luxurious retreat comprises three main buildings available for exclusive rental. Interiors and exteriors ooze rustic European designer charm—replete with pool, 48 tranquil hectares
and more.

therangebyronbay.com.au

*Offer valid until June 30, 2021.

Upgrade dependant on availability.

 

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The Finer Things

Shimmering with gold, diamonds and precious stones, these women’s watches represent the pinnacle of haute horology. Just look at them…

By Belinda Aucott-christie And Josh Bozin 16/07/2024

Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chanel, Piaget, Chopard and Cartier were among the prestige brands to unveil women’s novelties at this year’s Watches and Wonders fair in Geneva. Here we review some of our favourites, including a new style from Bulgari who impressed via an artistic collaboration with architect Tadao Ando and Chanel whose latest bobbin cuff was inspired by a spool of thread.

BULGARI

Tadao Ando Serpenti

The brand’s collaboration with lauded Japanese architect Tadao Ando artfully remixes the enduring Serpenti Tubogas model. The collection celebrates the four seasons; pictured here is the Summer (natsu) with a two-tone, yellow-gold-and-steel bracelet and a green aventurine dial. $27,600. Availability on request; Bulgari.com

VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

Lady Arpels Brise d’Été 

The maison’s Poetic Complications novelties ensure that telling the time becomes a spectacle. On this occasion, the flowers on the dial blossom and close in a randomised pattern at the touch of a button. Van Cleef & Arpels’ latest lesson in horological theatre was four years in development, with the dial alone taking 40 hours to master. Price and availability on request; vancleefandarpels.com

CHANEL

Bobbin Cuff Couture

Playing on the vintage “secret” watches of the 1920s, the Bobbin Cuff Couture was inspired aesthetically by a spool of thread. The idiosyncratic jewellery-watch is crafted entirely in 18-karat yellow gold, set with rows of brilliant-cut diamond “threads” and a 17-carat emerald-cut sapphire that hides the watch face. Price and availability on request. Chanel.com

PIAGET 

Limelight Gala Precious 

At 26 mm, a timepiece that captures the poise and elegance that has come to define Piaget’s jewellery watches. Now, with the inclusion of 38 brilliant-cut diamonds, the 18-karat rose gold “Decor Palace” dial and matching bracelet, this Limelight Gala is arguably the best of a collection that interweaves art, design and jewellery, with an emphasis on beauty. Around $118,500. Availability on request; Piaget.com

CHOPARD 

L’Heure  Du Diamant Round 

Chopard showcases its smarts in the art of diamond setting. Here, the maison’s artisans have orchestrated an amalgamation of contemporary design and alluring precious stones. The green malachite dial is a standout feature, as is the Chopard MD29 hand-wound mechanical movement. Price and availability on request; Chopard.com

CARTIER 

La Panthère de Cartier

From one of the brand’s most symbolic collections, this iteration of the Panthère de Cartier watch is designed in a rhodium-finish white gold case set with 136 brilliant-cut diamonds, and a rhodium-finish white gold panther head set with 297 brilliant-cut diamonds. The striking, pear-shaped eyes are crafted from emerald. Price and availability on request; cartier.com

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Marc Newson Has Designed Everything from Pens to Superyachts … Now He Wants to Go to Space

On the heels of a new career-spanning book, the industrial designer and Apple alum shares his ultimate design project.

By Lee Carter 16/07/2024

Sporting shades, Marc Newson reclines on a sunny terrace of his Greek island retreat. If he appears exultant, he has every reason to be. Devoting his life’s work to elevating everyday objects into items we covet, Newson has become one of the most sought-after industrial designers in the world.

Case in point, Newson has just returned from Salone del Mobile, the sprawling design fair in Milan, where he launched a colossal book about his equally colossal career, signing copies for devoted fans barely able to lift it.

Over 400 pages, the monograph chronicles Newson’s nearly four decades in design from his start as a jewelry major at Sydney College of the Arts to producing avant-garde furnishings to now crafting luxury speed boats for Riva and even a concept plane in an art project for the Fondation Cartier. All told, Marc Newson: Works 84–24 (Taschen) is a testament to his tireless pursuit of perfection.

Asked to reflect on 40 years of soaring success, the Australian designer all but blushes—or perhaps it’s the Mediterranean sun. “When I look at my own work,” he says, “particularly in the context of a document that begins and ends, it almost feels like I’m reading about someone else.” After all, he demurs, he’s only doing his job. “The core of my occupation is troubleshooting [and] problem-solving. I apply the same rigor, process, and rules to every project, whether it’s a pen or a mega-yacht.”

Marc Newson’s Horizon luggage, designed for Louis Vuitton, and his Orgone chair demonstrate the importance he puts on curves. Taschen

The Newson look is aesthetically niche, but touches almost every sector, from fashion to household goods. It’s bold yet pragmatic, sumptuous yet futuristic, reverential yet iconoclastic. A transparent timepiece for Jaeger-LeCoultre, a sensuously curved cognac bottle for Hennessy, and a sleek aluminum luggage collaboration with Louis Vuitton (the latest of which just appeared in Pharrell Williams’s spring 2025 collection) all point to a singular, forward-looking vision. Or how about the katana sword he created in 2019 with a ninth-generation master swordsmith in Japan? He calls the tradition and sophistication required to execute that work “unfathomable, almost alchemical, practically spiritual.”

Two decades ago, in 2004, he created the Zvezdochka sneaker for Nike. Modelled entirely on a computer and made from a single piece of injection-molded resin, the footwear—named after the 1961 rocket-riding Russian dog—was intended for astronauts to wear during their daily exercises in zero gravity. As Newson notes, “Where else would you need the perfect sneakers but running on a treadmill in space?”

Newson’s groundbreaking Lockheed Martin Chaise.
Taschen

From the beginning, Newson—who helped lead Apple’s design department, and the development of key products such as the Apple Watch, for five years—has always possessed the unusual ability to bend ideas about design to his will. His Lockheed Lounge, a shapely chaise pieced together from curved aluminum panels, became an instant phenomenon with its 1988 introduction. Named for its resemblance to the early aeronautical stylings of Lockheed Martin, the furniture piece bucked the reductive ethos of modern design at the time. In 2006, it broke the record for the highest price paid at auction for the work of a living designer, topping that price 11 years later in 2015, going for $3.7 million at Phillips London.

Around the turn of the millennium, Newson—a vintage sports car enthusiast who once flew to the U.S. to purchase a 1959 Aston Martin DB4 with the entirety of a paycheck—shifted gears to focus his energies on the transportation sector. Asked by Ford to jot down some concepts, he came up with the 021C in 1999. A radically simplified three-box configuration, the model had a main cabin, hood, and trunk; the latter two sections were mirror images.

The Ford 021C, which Newson claimed caused “a lot of head-scratching” at the American car company.
Taschen

“It was utterly ridiculous and childlike,” Newson says of the design with a laugh. “There was a lot of head-scratching [at Ford], but I reasoned that since I’m not an automotive designer, I don’t want to and can’t play the typical automotive games.” Thanks to the support of Ford’s “brilliantly curious and open” top brass, the cartoon of a car became a drivable reality and a beloved Newson fan favorite. Soon after the release of the 021C, the Australian airline Qantas came knocking, seeking Newson’s design eye for a variety of projects, including the interiors of its airport lounges and, more challengingly, the invention of a fully horizontal bed for its premier passengers on long-haul flights. No small feat of imagination, this triumph led to his appointment as the company’s creative director.

The Qantas Skybed, designed for the Australian airline’s long-haul flights. Qantas

As Newson’s fame ascended, so did the demand for his work—in the design industry and beyond. New York gallerist Larry Gagosian was quick to add the maverick designer to his roster of art stars, such as Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, and Michael Heizer, and in 2007, he mounted Newson’s first solo exhibition in the U.S., featuring a limited-edition, experimental furniture series. “The stuff I do with Gagosian is not exactly mainstream design,” Newson says. “They’re these sort of rarefied follies [or] crazy experiments that I concoct. I don’t have to answer to anyone except myself—and perhaps Larry.” One object in the exhibition was a nickel surfboard with a storied lineage. “I wanted the prototype to be tested by [professional big wave surfer] Garrett McNamara,” Newson recalls. “He took the board to a Pacific island notorious for its huge swells on top of a coral reef. He actually lost the board in the waves and was driving back to his hotel when he saw a local with this tangled mass of metal under his arm. The story goes that the Mir space station had plummeted into the ocean the day before, and this guy thought he had found pieces from the crash. He had no idea it was a crushed surfboard.”

Is there a project he has yet to tackle? “Every time I think I’m at the end of the list,” he says, smiling, “I think of something new.” Space, for instance. “I would love to work more extensively in the area of space exploration. That is something I continue to find compelling and fascinating. It ticks all the boxes for me in terms of engaging with technology, incredible processes, and modern materials. And, of course, I would love to go to space. That’s the end game.”

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Piaget Just Dropped a Colourful High-Jewellery Line with 1970s Style

“Essence of Extraleganza,” a fusion of the words extravagance and elegance, is a tour de force of haute joaillerie that celebrates Piaget’s 150th year.

By Victoria Gomelsky 16/07/2024

Long before Piaget was a jeweller, it was a watchmaker. The luxury brand traces its roots to La Côte-aux-Fées, a village in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel where Georges-Édouard Piaget founded a movement-making company in 1874.

In 1959, the maison introduced jewellery for the first time, showcasing its creations at the new Salon Piaget in Geneva. Almost immediately, the brand established itself as a trendsetter across both realms.

Piaget

Proof that the watchmaker-turned-jeweller continues to occupy the most rarefied precincts of the luxury trade arrived last month, when Piaget unveiled its “Essence of Extraleganza” high jewellery collection. The third and arguably most spectacular of the brand’s 150th anniversary product introductions (following the reboot in February of its Piaget Polo 79 timepiece and the April unveiling of the thinner-than-thou Altiplano Ultimate Concept Flying Tourbillon), the collection of 96 jewels and bejewelled timepieces is a tour de force of craftsmanship and gem-setting that bears an explicit connection to Piaget’s roots in jewellery.

“Of our three major launches this year to date, none of them have just been a launch — each and every one of them has hinged on a product, a story, a saga bringing the past and present together,” Benjamin Comar, CEO of Piaget, tells Robb Report.

Piaget

“So of course, this high jewellery collection had to bring more density than a regular collection. And this is why it’s called ‘Essence of Extraleganza’ — because through these 96 pieces, Piaget’s artistic director, Stéphanie Sivrière, went back to the Piaget DNA, to the moment when Piaget evolved from watchmaker to jeweller, to the decisive moment where this Swiss maison decided to revolutionise the watch world by imagining a new avant-garde vocabulary, filled with colours, textures and gold: the 21st Century Collection.”

That collection, introduced in 1969, included an array of jewellery watches that reimagined how to wear time. From metal bracelets with a fabric-like texture to swinging sautoirs, the pieces were bold, colourful and utterly of the moment.

Piaget

Three years ago, when Sivrière began working on what would become Essence of Extraleganza, she took her inspiration from those heritage designs of the 1960s and ’70s. The result is a stunning lineup of bold, cheerful and wildly original jewels, including highlights such as a necklace featuring a fiery cascade of trapezoid-cut carnelians set in rose gold and centered on a 21.23-carat cushion-cut spessartite garnet; a cuff watch loaded with 26.11 carats of baguette-cut Colombian emeralds; and a suite of blue-on-blue designs including a V-shaped necklace set with sapphires, tourmalines, and marquise-cut aquamarines surrounded by opals, turquoise and diamonds, along with a matching ring and pair of mismatched earrings.

Piaget

“Stephanie chose to highlight the couture inspiration of Piaget and paid homage to our chainmaker skills as a golden thread throughout the collection,” Comar says. “This was very impressive to witness unravelling in front of our eyes week after week. The carnelian necklace, for instance, was created like a never-ending puzzle: first the mesh structure completely hand-woven, then every hue and piece identified by a number and patiently assembled to create this mix-and-match yet balanced effect.”

The throughline that connects the 2024 collection to the one introduced 55 years earlier is, undoubtedly, Piaget’s willingness to embrace modernity while employing traditional techniques in service of timeless designs.

“Piaget’s jewellery style is still coherent and that’s the beauty of it,” Comar says. “When Valentin Piaget asked his Swiss designers in the early Sixties to go to Paris in order to attend a couture show and get inspired by this fashion revolution (think Cardin, Courrèges, Twiggy) this was so incredibly new for the time. And today, when we look at their past gouaches where they would create the swinging sautoirs directly on the glossy pages of the fashion magazines to really picture what this woman would be wearing today, it’s so modern. And still has the same effect today: timeless yet modern. That is the Piaget paradox.”

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Bay Watch 

After losing its lustre for decades, Sydney’s Double Bay is undergoing a renaissance. And with harbour views, lush parks and a friendly village feel, it’s no wonder luxury developments are flourishing.

By Horacio Silva 16/07/2024

The boarded storefronts on the strip of New South Head Road in Double Bay currently under construction near Cross Street are plastered with archival images of the harbourside suburb in its 1960s and 1970s heyday. In the grainy black-and-white images, passers-by dressed in their imported European finery inhabit the bustling streets and fashionable shopping destinations of the time, including Mark Foy’s department store on Knox Street and the chic boutiques of Claire Handler, Maria Finlay and Nellie Vida—three Hungarian expats who sourced the latest trends from the Continent for style-starved locals. 

The images serve as a reminder of an era when European designers dictated the style for modish Australians. They’re also a document of how much this prestigious enclave, located 11 minutes’ drive from the CBD and a snow-cone’s throw from some of Sydney’s best beaches, has changed.

The area’s once-thriving boutiques are a thing of the past, replaced by all manner of beauty-focused establishments. Gone too are the open-air dances in Steyne Park, the old Hoyts Theatre (an Art Deco gem of a building on the main drag that was the nexus of the community) and the illegal casino a few doors down from it called the Double Bay Bridge Club.

Which is not to say that this once-sleepy hollow, whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed in the last 50 years, has become the profligate relic that detractors, who pilloried it as “Double Pay”, predicted it would become after it fell from favour over the past few decades. Far from it. “There’s only one Double Bay,” says Angela Belle McSweeney, director of Australian Turf Club and a former public relations maven whose office was located for years on Knox Street, above the famed 21 restaurant.  “In terms of Australian glamour, it’s always been the benchmark and now more than ever.”

Joseph Hkeik, the owner of All Saint Clinic, which caters to the taut skin of the city’s high society, concurs. “There really is something palpable in the air,” says Hkeik, who is in as good a position as any to talk about the changing face of the place.

“A lot is happening, and everyone wants to be seen in Double Bay. It’s the hotspot of Sydney.”

All Saint Clinic

If Double Bay is once again the talk of the town, it’s in no small part due to chef and restaurateur Neil Perry. After stepping away in early 2020 as founder of the Rockpool Group, through which he created legendary restaurants such as Rockpool and Spice Temple, Perry resurfaced a few months later with plans to start anew on the prized willow-festooned corner of Bay Street and Guilfoyle Avenue. In June 2021, he opened his award-winning seafood restaurant Margaret, and soon after, the adjacent bar Next Door and the Baker Bleu bakery two premises along.

He has not looked back. The fat cats today may be younger than the potentates who used to frequent the area’s old stamping grounds like George’s and the Hunter’s Lodge, and the ladies who lunch are more “wind-swept” than their pre-Botox predecessors, but the Lamborghinis and Ferraris parked nearby suggest that this is once again where the elite meet to eat.

“It is definitely going through a renaissance,” says Perry of his new domain, “but I honestly think it’ll be more than a passing moment. Double Bay has the beautiful parks and waterfront, and for all the glitz it also has that village atmosphere close to the city that everyone wants. And there is so much investment in the place.” That’s somewhat of an understatement.

Originally earmarked to be the site of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens when it was settled in the 1820s, the suburb remains as green as ever, but these days it’s hard to see the trees for all the construction cranes. 

On Bay Street alone, real estate powerhouse Fortis has broken ground on mixed-use properties that are among the city’s most hotly anticipated new addresses. Of the new developments, perhaps the most eagerly awaited is Ruby House, a luxury five-storey strata office block on the corner of New South Head Road and Bay Street, due for completion in early 2025. A collaboration of luminaries, including Lawton Hurley as lead architects and interiors by Woods Bagot, Ruby House will offer a range of sun- dappled office spaces, ranging from 60–550 m², with starting prices around $3 million. The ground floor will feature retail spaces, as well as three best-in-class restaurants, adding more culinary heft to a street that already includes Bibo, Matteo and Tanuki.

Ruby House

“Our vision for Double Bay is to bring life back into this once-great suburb,” says Charles Mellick, director of Fortis, “and to create a vibrant precinct that is seen as the most sought-after neighbourhood in Sydney, if not all of Australia.” Big call, indeed. And yet take a stroll along the suburb’s verdant paths and suddenly Mellick’s words do not feel so hyperbolic. A few doors down from Ruby House, 24 Bay St is slated to open this August in the heritage- listed modernist masterpiece, Gaden House, designed by Neville Gruzman, a former Mayor of Woollahra and one of Sydney’s most influential 20th-century architects. Fortis is also teaming with architects Lawton Hurley on the building, which will house Song Bird, Neil Perry’s (does this man ever sleep?) new three-storey, 230-seat Cantonese restaurant. Underground will be the speakeasy Bobbie’s, helmed by Linden Pride of Caffe Dante in New York, voted best bar in the world in 2019. 

“Double Bay used to have two of the best Chinese restaurants in the city,” says Perry, referring to the defunct Cleveland and Imperial Peking. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel with Song Bird so it’s going to be great to continue that tradition.”

Across the street at 19-27 Bay Street, the first flagship RH Gallery, formerly Restoration Hardware, is also under construction. A five-level commercial building, opening in late 2025, it will house bespoke luxury home furnishings and a rooftop restaurant not unlike the company’s jumping location in New York’s Meatpacking District. Meanwhile, a few blocks over on Cross Street, Ode—a luxury tower developed by Top Spring Australia—is slated to open in 2025 next to the InterContinental Hotel (itself recently sold and being reimagined to include top-floor apartments and retail). Designed by Luigi Rosselli Architects, Ode’s 15 spacious residences and penthouses, with shimmering harbour views, are being eagerly contested by the one percent, with two of the three penthouses already being bought off-plan for $21.5 and $24.9 million.

Ode, Double Bay

For all the positivity, and dollars, swirling around the suburb, there is no cast-iron guarantee that these new commercial opportunities will help rekindle the moribund boutique scene and return Double Bay to its former fashionable standing. It’s been a while since Claire Handler and her Hungarian cohorts made cash registers sing.

As such, not everyone is convinced about the suburb’s supposed rebirth. “The rents in this area are astronomical as it is,” says Tony Yeldham, the legendary menswear impresario who opened his Squire Shop for discerning gentlemen as a teenager in 1956. “It’s going to be near impossible for smaller players to stay alive, but I’ve seen this area go through so many ups and downs so I’m hopeful if sceptical.” For the most part, the locals remain sanguine about the area’s potential, with one proviso. As Joseph Hkeik explains, “We just need these lovely builders to finish up so we can all get some peace and quiet.”

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Parmigiani Fleurier Just Dropped 3 New Perfectly Sized Tonda Watches

The growing demand for smaller watches isn’t slowing down, and these new models from Parmigiani are on trend.

By Cait Bazemore 16/07/2024

For the past several years, we’ve seen a growing trend of smaller watches. According to veteran dealer Matthew Bain, 36 mm to 38 mm is the ideal watch size, and it seems many collectors agree as the demand for smaller watches continues to grow. The trend goes beyond proportions and is part of a bigger movement toward more accessible and inclusive watches for all wrists, regardless of gender. This push reflects a growing prominence of female watch collectors like Lung Lung Thun who told Robb Report this week that she desires more watches in the 34 to 37 mm range. In response, countless brands have been reimagining some of their most iconic models with smaller proportions, from Chopard’s 36 mm Alpine Eagle to Breitling’s 36 mm Navitimer. At this year’s Watches & Wonders, it was even a tiny Cartier Tank measuring just 24 mm x 16.5 mm that stole the show.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF 36 mm in Rose Gold with Sand Gold Dial and Diamond Accents. Parmigiani Fleurier.

Parmigiani Fleurier is a brand who is no stranger to creating more modestly sized timepieces with consideration for all wrists and all genders. The brand first launched its Tonda PF collection in 2021 with a larger 42 mm model. A year later, they updated the line with a 36 mm Tonda PF, which went on to win the Women’s Watch Prize at the GPHG. This smaller version was so successful, Parmigiani added a 36 mm two-tone variation for the first time just last year. Now, we get three new 36 mm versions of the Tonda PF Automatic in new dial and metal combinations and with the addition of gem setting.

Tonda PF 36 mm in three new distinct styles.
Today, Parmigiani has unveiled three new takes on it’s perfectly proportioned Tonda PF: one in rose gold with a sand gold dial and diamond accents priced at $125.400, one in rose gold with a warm grey dial and diamond accents priced at $101,471, and one in two-tone stainless steel and rose gold with a white citrine dial and a more subtle touch of diamonds just on the hour markers priced at $50,662.
Tonda PF 36 mm in Two-Tone with White Citrine Dial and Diamond Accents
Parmigiani Fleurier

For each version, you get the classic curves of the Tonda PF you know and love with sweet-spot 36 mm sizing, and it’s loaded with Parmigiani’s automatic PF770 manufacture movement with a 60-hour power reserve. For the rose gold iterations, there’s a bit more bling with diamonds on the indices, bezel, and bracelet for the sand gold dial and diamonds on the indices and bezel of the warm gray dial. With each of the new 36 mm Tonda PF watches, the brand has used fully traceable and ethically sourced gold and diamonds.

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