The Quest for Platinum

By staff August 1, 2008

The creation of this Platinum edition of Sarasota Magazine is a great once-a-year adventure. Our writers and photographers are given carte blanche to indulge in creative flights of fancy that culminate in this keepsake issue—the ultimate spectrum of luxury products and services discovered in our shops and galleries, connoisseurship from food and wine to travel and a glimpse of the best that money can buy at home and abroad.

But luxury is as much about experiences as acquisitions. To some, just living in Sarasota is the Platinum experience of a lifetime. To others, luxury is the wherewithal to follow a lifelong dream. To prove that point, we interviewed five passionate Sarasota “dreamers” who are all living their fantasies, from actually flying into outer space to test-driving the world’s finest automobiles in an exclusive Robb Report event judging the Car of the Year.

We shopped the world, from Laos and Bhutan to Paris and Milan—not on our own, but with four of Sarasota’s most sophisticated travelers. Their generously shared itineraries are the stuff dreams are made of; follow them from your armchair or literally walk in their footsteps to share the essence and treasures of their incredible journeys.

This year more than ever before, consumers have rendered the definition of luxury as fluid as it is personal. The uncertain economy, rising fuel prices and environmental concerns are affecting luxury marketing and consumption by the nanosecond. Oversized cars and homes are less alluring than they were five years ago. Green building has a new cachet.

Even showy labels or designer names have lost much of their appeal. Discriminating consumers are more interested in originality and impeccable quality. An exclusive name no longer guarantees absolute luxury, because so many once expensive brands have reached out to a mass audience with lower prices. It happened at Tiffany and it happened at Dior.

The “massification” of luxury brands has triggered the trend to unique and custom products, which in Sarasota is especially evident at fine jewelry stores. An amazing number of talented jewelers showed us beautiful new pieces of extraordinary one-off design. A tour around town uncovered stunning examples photographed exclusively for this issue.

But custom jewelry is just one of the Platinum shopping experiences Sarasota has to offer. From St. Armands Circle to Main Street, from Venice to the barrier islands, we found luxury shops and treasures on par with the most sophisticated cities in the world. It’s all compiled and reviewed in our Platinum 100, a guide to the city’s top 100 luxury retailers. Fashion, home furnishings, jewelry, antiques, cars and yachts, the list goes on. Every store or dealership has been visited by editors to ensure it measures up to world-class luxury standards.

We hope you have as much fun testing them out as we did, and that this issue adds to the experience of exploring our city's wonderful arts, beaches, shopping and lifestyle. Together, they're what make Sarasota a Platinum town.

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