Between hosting for 20 and trying to appease toddlers and grandparents and everyone in between, there’s the joy of gift giving. And actually, that is fun. There’s nothing like seeing the face of the ones you love turn from excitement and curiosity to thrill and delight once they uncover the perfectly chosen gift you have thoughtfully acquired—something they never knew they wanted and would never buy for themselves. At least, that’s the plan.
When I was editing the British edition of Robb Report, we asked notable critic and author Stephen Bayley for his take on the whole present business, because it can be a vexatious subject.
His response was that he once bought his wife a chain saw because he hoped it “cleverly advertised my sophisticated and revolutionary approach to sex-based clichés while also acknowledging her keen interest in outdoor pursuits.” You can probably guess what happened.
So this issue, in an attempt to save you from trips to the hardware store, we scoured the globe to find the finest gifts imaginable. And probably a few that aren’t. I mean, who writes on their Christmas list: “111-day global safari taking in 18 endangered species in 12 countries, visiting both ends of the earth, and donating considerable sums to conservation charities and philanthropic causes as we go”? Well, that’s one of the inspirational ideas we have for you in our 25-page gift guide, which also includes one-off opportunities you’ll find nowhere else, such as a ski trip with Olympic champion Bode Miller as your personal guide, or a life story written by the same guy who penned the official biographies of Meryl Streep and Al Pacino. Or a portrait (yours or someone else’s) crafted in one sitting by the great Italian artist Francesco Clemente.
Plus, there’s the chance to own a number of custom pieces, from beautiful bikes and boats to a bespoke arcade machine and an entire custom wardrobe made by Japan’s finest tailors and shoemakers, and curated by Robb Report columnist and menswear oracle Mark Cho. That’s one I’m definitely going to be making hints about at home, in case anyone’s stuck for ideas.
Alternatively, you might get some illumination from another of our columnists, Annie Duke, this issue. Her doctoral work in psychology was put to excellent use during her career as a professional poker player for nearly 20 years. She writes on the psychology of gift giving on page 131 and reveals what your present says about you. Be warned.
If I had to choose a car to unwrap over the holidays (what an arduous few hours that would be), I might surprise a few readers and not go straight to the supercar section of my mind’s forecourt. Instead, I’d probably think of something a little taller than an
Aston Martin: an SUV.
I know, I know, but the ones I’ve been fortunate to experience have finally solved my singular conundrum: How can I enjoy driving with a bad back that makes getting into anything lower than a tractor excruciating?
I’m not alone. The rise in popularity of the SUV has been marked over recent years, but what delights the CEOs of the marques we speak to is who is buying them. It’s not just wellheeled families with multiple bikes and bags that need stowing, but couples young and old seeking comfort and space along with exhilarating performance and luxurious interiors. Indeed, when I first got behind the wheel of the Bentayga, Bentley’s addition to the canon, in Monaco a few years ago, it quickly took the breath away. Say what you want about its looks and profile, but you can’t quibble about the in-car experience. And a weekend in a Range Rover Autobiography touring the English south coast was more relaxing and comfortable than if I’d been at home on the sofa.
All of which got me thinking: How well do these vehicles maintain that superior experience once the going gets tough and uneven? That thought prompted us to review eight of the best beasts in the category in one of the most sensational landscapes in this country: the road to the Grand Canyon. We thought it was such a good idea that we invited some of our RR1 members— readers who live the life they see on these pages—to join the fun. You can read about our Dream Machines event on page 206. If you fancy being at the next one, drop me a line. Or let me know what you make of the magazine’s new redesign, or anything else, at feed[email protected]breport.com.