Whether it’s outstanding service, impeccable artistry or exquisite manufacture, excellence can take many forms. But what a person defines as excellent also depends on his or her own individual taste. In the Editor’s Picks series, Worth staff members share their favorite products, services and experiences for you to look into this year.
01. FOWL CAY RESORT
A laid-back private island oasis in the Exumas.
Getting to Fowl Cay Resort in the Exumas chain of the Bahamas isn’t easy—it requires a one- to two-hour chartered flight from Ft. Lauderdale or Nassau and a 30-minute boat ride from the Staniel Cay Airport to the island—but in this case, the destination is worth the journey. The Exumas are favored among celebrity clientele (Johnny Depp owns a nearby island) precisely because they offer a level of privacy uncommon in the Caribbean. Fowl Cay is a small, six-villa private island resort that marries isolation with all the amenities of a larger property. Each villa ranges in size from one to three bedrooms, and comes with a fully stocked kitchen. There’s also a restaurant on the property, and food and drinks are included in the base price. At 50 acres, the island is small enough to be walkable—though you’ll be given a golf cart—but large enough that the villas feel remarkably private. The real luxury is the ability to explore the Exumas on your own terms, with your own transportation. Fowl Cay provides a boat for each villa, which is yours to use during your stay. If you’re an inexperienced boater (like me), you’ll have a half-day driving lesson with a member of the resort’s staff. After that, you’re free to take your boat out on your own to explore nearby islands, beaches and snorkeling spots. Some, such as a nearby island populated by pigs that swim to tourists’ boats, are kitschy. But others, such as Thunderball Grotto (famous for its appearance in Bond films Thunderball and Never Say Never Again), and the unspoiled sand bars a short ride away, remind you why the Exumas are worth the trip. —Jessica Thomas, Associate Editor
Rates: $1,514 to $1,900 per villa per night, 877.845.5275, owlcay.com
02. BEAUTY LIFT FACIAL
GUERLAIN SPA AT THE WALDORF ASTORIA
An atypical facial at the Guerlain Spa leaves skin glowing.
Regular facials can do wonders for your skin. With the right aesthetician and products, the treatment makes your skin clearer and brighter. But the payoff has a price, and facials (including the sometimes painful extractions that come with them) can leave skin inflamed for hours afterward. The Guerlain Spa’s Beauty Lift Facial at the Waldorf Astoria in New York is different. Instead of using extractions to clear your skin, the aesthetician performs a deep tissue massage of sorts on your face. He or she uses rhythmic massage techniques designed to draw blood to the surface of your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, making skin appear firmer. I imagine you would see real results if you go at least once a month, because after one treatment, my skin was brighter, and the forehead lines that I hate practically disappeared. It’s the ideal treatment for a day you have a night out planned, because you’ll avoid the telltale red skin that usually comes with a facial. And, there are worse ways to spend a morning than in the 19th-floor oasis that is the Guerlain Spa. —Jessica Thomas
Price: $250, 212.872.7299, guerlainspas.com
03. CA’ DEL BOSCO CUVÉE ANNAMARIA CLEMENTI ROSÉ
A sparkling rosé from a well-known Italian producer.
Ca’ Del Bosco founder Maurizio Zanella is something of a mascot of the Franciacorta region—he’s one of the top producers of the Italian sparkling wine, and he is president of the 100-member Franciacorta consortium. Zanella is on a mission to bring real recognition to the wine-growing region, which is attempting to be what Champagne is for France. Ca’ Del Bosco produces eight types of Franciacorta, but this sparkling rosé, which is named after Zanella’s mother (who originally purchased the land that became Ca’ Del Bosco), is among the best. The wine is 100 percent pinot nero grapes and matures for a minimum of seven years, so it has a surprising complexity. Its hue is darker than the typical rosé, and the bubbles are subtle, making it an unexpected special occasion choice. —Jessica Thomas
Price: $120, buy here, cadelbosco.com
04. IMAGINE AIR
A personalized travel experience that cuts all the delays.
Flying can be a tedious experience filled with long lines, delays and security concerns. So I looked forward to seeing if there was any relief in taking air taxi service Imagine Air’s five-seat Cirrus SR-22 on a recent trip from Westchester to East Hampton. Offering many of the amenities of a private jet, including ground transportation, in-flight catering, no security lines and personal assistance from the pilot, this service takes advantage of underutilized airports throughout the Eastern United States to provide an expedient travel option. Depending on the distance, air taxis compete with both driving and commercial flights. My flight, which took a cool 28 minutes from takeoff to landing, far exceeds the experience of driving three hours to the same destination. Yet the real luxury lies in the fact that you choose your own airport and departure time, which is bookable online up to three hours before your desired takeoff. This means that a day filled with meetings—even in several locations—is entirely manageable. Your assigned plane and pilot will remain on location with you, ready for your next stop. The Cirrus SR-22, also known as Generation 5, is great not only for its size—it has a larger cabin than other aircrafts of its likeness—but also its ability to carry an increased gross weight of 200 pounds, meaning luggage for a long weekend away with the kids is not a problem. Furthermore, if you’re up for taste of adventure, you can sit right next to the pilot him or herself, enjoying panoramic views and a much more involved flight experience than commercial could ever provide. —Holly Johnston, Head of Digital
A return trip from Westchester to East Hampton starts at approximately $2,500. Visit imagineair.com for exact fares.
05. PATRON EN LALIQUE SERIE 1
An exquisite collaboration celebrating taste, fine design and craftmanship.
I’ve never been a massive tequila enthusiast, but I’ll admit my interest was piqued when I spied the Patron En Lalique Serie 1 collaboration. The decanter, created by iconic French crystal designer Lalique, showcases the kind of thought and treatment usually preserved for a fine aged scotch. While maintaining much of the traditional Patron tequila bottle, Lalique drew inspiration from the look and texture of Mexico’s indigenous weber blue agave plant to embellish the shape.The amber stopper is carved to mirror the heart of the agave, the pina, while weber blue agave-shaped leaves trace their way down the sides and back of the frosted crystal decanter, deepening the amber hue of the contents inside. As to the liquor itself, its caramel aroma and long-lasting buttery aftertaste make for a delectable experience. I first tried this exclusive batch with Patron’s master distiller, Francisco Alcaraz, who sat and watched intently as I picked up notes of oak, honey, vanilla and dried fruit. Matured at the Hacienda Patron distillery in the hills of Jalisco, Mexico, for a minimum of four years in new American oak as well as old and new French oak barrels, the tequila is complex and smooth—characteristics which, Alcaraz is quick to claim, make this blend his favorite yet. —Holly Johnston
The Patron En Lalique Serie 1 is limited to 500 bottles worldwide and retails for $7,500. More information here.