CELEBRITY HOLIDAY HAUNTS
Celebrity Holiday Haunts - Luxury Travel Magazine
Celebrity Holiday Haunts
|By: Pam Grout, Issue 47 - Winter 11|
|(Oberoi Rajvilas – India, Hotel Sube, Hotel Byblos –St. Tropez, Bali Cliff guesthouse – Necker Island, Greenwich Hotel - New York, Post Ranch Inn - California, St Regis Bora Bora)|
|KEEPING CELEBRITY HOLIDAY CHOICES A SECRET IS NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE THESE DAYS AS TWEETERS BROADCAST EVERY SIGHTING. PAM GROUT HAS TRACKED DOWN SIX DESTINATIONS TRIED AND TESTED BY THE A-LIST.|
|OBEROI RAJVILAS |
|Readers of Travel + Leisure recently picked Rajvilas near Jaipur, India as one of the best resorts in the world, something Julia Roberts could have told them years ago. |
In fact, the “Pretty Woman” took her kids to this five-star hotel long before she was in India filming Eat Pray Love. And while she could have chosen the resort’s US$4,000 (about A$3,784) a night Kohinoor Suite, that has its own 60-foot swimming pool and garden and provided lodging for Bill Clinton and Brangelina, she opted for one of the hotel’s 14 tents.
Not that the Roberts clan actually roughed it. Rajvilas’ tents have four-poster beds, dressing rooms with walk in closets, teak floors, Victorian claw-tooth bathtubs, embroidered canopies and such luxury that Giorgio Armani raved about his.
Once an orchard owned by an Indian aristocrat, the resort has a 250-year-old temple (complete with priest) and a mansion that serves as the pool pavilion. The 32-acre garden with its flame trees, jacaranda, fountains, shaded courtyards and requisite peacocks creates a gorgeous oasis set on the edge of the Rajasthan desert. Local craftspeople used tiles and earth-colored bricks to build a library, two restaurants and the spa and other locals are employed to do nothing but clean brass or drive around in a horse and cart to carry guests from their rooms to their yoga classes and ayurvedic treatments.
Although the resort, located five miles from the famous Pink City, is a destination unto itself (just viewing all the marble and stone carvings and handmade brass doors can keep you busy for an afternoon), there is plenty to do in the area. Julia and kids rode elephants and camels, gawked at Jaipur’s City Palace and toured the Amber Fort where a single candle lights up the entire Hall of Mirrors with its intricate well-placed mirrors.
|Figaro, a French newspaper, once said that the French Riveria’s Saint-Tropez has more “famous faces per square mile” than anywhere else on the planet. Ever since the 50s when paparazzi began trailing the just-discovered Brigitte Bardot, this provincial maritime village has been pulling in the yachts, the Ferraris, the private planes and the flesh and blood versions of the faces we see on the magazine covers. |
Beyonce and Jay Z recently pulled into the Cote d’Azur paradise in their 180-foot Italian yacht and were spotted all over the town: on its narrow, cobblestone streets, on its dazzling beaches and even in its decadent discos.
A breathtaking coastal footpath winds from the original fishing harbour to the hard-partying beaches and their non-stop nightclubs and yet another winds back through pines and eucalyptus to the famous Place des Lices shops selling Armani, Prada, Dior, Pucci and the SuperdryStore where David Beckham and Formula One racing champs hone their hunky images. If it’s a Tuesday or Saturday before noon, the open-air Marche de Saint-Tropez sells baguettes, Provencal olives and linens, cheeses, herbs and silk brocades.
Hotel Sube, overlooking the famous port, is the town’s oldest hotel and has long been a hangout for artists, writers and other bohemians. Back in the 20s, for example, French author Collette fell in love with the sunsets, the Muscat grapes and the rustic wisteria-covered pastel houses.
Or there’s Hotel Byblos, where in 1971 Mick Jagger proposed to Bianca (in room 401, if you must know). They later tied the knot at the Chapel of Saint Anne with scads of paparazzi-snapping away. Jagger and Bardot sightings have tapered off (she still lives here, but mainly in seclusion), but this mythic playground is still good for a glimpse of Puff Daddy, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Naomi Campbell, Bruce Willis and Ivana Trump. Just remember, the real stars are the beaches.
|NECKER ISLAND |
|When he was 28, with just six years of Virgin entrepreneurship under his belt, Richard Branson bought a deserted island in the Virgin Islands (where else?) and turned it into a private family retreat. Using local stone, Brazilian hardwoods, antiques, fabrics and bamboo furniture from Bali, his design staff with a US$10 million (about A$9.5million) budget built a 10-bedroom Balinese villa (every room has a 360-degree view) and five guesthouses which were built in Bali, shipped to Tortola and reassembled on the private resort. |
Branson’s kids are grown now and while he still uses his beloved Necker Island (in March 2008, for example, he hosted former British Prime Minster Tony Blair, Google’s Larry Page and Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales for a summit on global warming), he also rents it out to private groups and individuals who don’t balk at the US$53,000 (about A$50,150) nightly rate. As you can imagine, that tends to keep out riffraff.
Necker Island (named after the 17th century Dutch squadron commander Johannes de Neckere who discovered it) sleeps 28, has 14 private beaches, a staff of 60, its own spa (where guests like Mariah Carey, Elizabeth Hurley, Pamela Anderson and Oprah Winfrey get caviar facials) and fleets of Hobie cats, windsurfers and boogie boards. If you rent the Bali Cliff guesthouse, one of five spread around the 74-acre island, you can even zipline from your front porch to the beach.
A Balinese drum gongs three times, calling guests to meals which can either be held in the Crocodile Pavilion where you’ll gather around a giant table carved in the shape of a crocodile or in the bar where James Bond movies play in the background. There’s a floating sushi bar during Happy Hour, plenty of tree houses (Branson calls them love shacks) and pickup games of beach volleyball played with a coconut.
Steven Spielberg, Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Robert DeNiro and Kate Moss are just a few who have stayed at this exclusive island. Whether or not they donned the island’s signature pirate costumes, we can’t say.
|GREENWICH HOTEL |
|Two months after their elaborate Indian wedding, Russell Brand and Katy Perry checked into the Greenwich Hotel, owned by Robert De Niro. Known for his obsessive attention to detail in movie roles (he gained 30 pounds to play boxer Jake LaMotta, for example, and paid US$5,000 (about A$4,733) to have his teeth ground down for his role as a convicted rapist in Cape Fear), De Niro spent six years perfecting the Greenwich. Built on the site of a former parking garage, De Niro’s masterpiece makes great use of hand-cut terracotta tiles from Italy, hundreds of thousands of specially-commissioned bricks and massive oak beams from defunct factories. |
No two rooms of this boutique jewel are alike. Each room is individually decorated with such touches as antique silk rugs, Siberian oak floors (the suites have American pine) and bathrooms with elaborate Moroccan tile mosaics.
The Shibui spa, located in the basement, was brought over piece by piece from Japan. The 18th century bamboo and wooden structure, constructed without benefit of nails or screws, was reassembled by 13 artisan craftsmen, flown 16,000 miles from Japan. The spa’s zen-like pool is lit by lanterns and spa therapists use jasmine freshly-pounded for each treatment.
Jennifer Aniston, Jude Law and Rhianna have also enjoyed the 88-room Greenwich. The hotel is located on De Niro’s monopoly piece of Manhattan, next to his Tribeca Movie Studio and his Italian bistro, Locanda Verde.
|POST RANCH INN |
Just weeks before their much-publicised breakup, Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal had one last romantic interlude at Post Ranch Inn, the serene, seductive getaway atop the cliffs of Big Sur, California. Not only does this one-of-a-kind eco-inn with an endless view of the Pacific sing harmony with nature, but it has daily yoga classes, nightly star-gazing sessions and outdoor pools and hot tubs from which guests can watch migrating whales. The spiraling suites with their floor-to-ceiling windows offer stars like Swift and Gyllenhaal commanding views without forsaking privacy.
Post Ranch Inn’s acclaimed Sierra Mar restaurant has one of North America’s most extensive wine cellars with bottles from both well-known wine producers and rare boutique vineyards. Executive Chef Craig von Foerster’s four-course, prix fixe organic menu changes daily depending on what’s in season.
All 40 guest rooms at Post Ranch Inn, panelled with redwood salvaged from old wine barrels, come with king-size beds, wood-burning fireplaces, either indoor or outdoor hot tubs and free mini-bar. As for Taylor, who tends to write songs that reflect her life, she’s busy looking for words that rhyme with Gyllenhaal.
|ST. REGIS BORA BORA|
|Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban honeymooned at this five-star resort, famed for protecting the privacy of celeb guests, in 2006. Located on Motu Ome, one of the small Pacific islands that make up Bora Bora, this tropical paradise (also featured in Vince Vaughn’s recent groaner, Couples Retreat) has 30 bungalows and 70 giant villas spread out over the lagoon where octopi, tropical fish and turtles swim. Nicole and Keith stayed in the Royal Estate, a three-bedroom private villa spread over three separate pavilions with a private pool and private spa with sauna, hammam and Jacuzzi. Activities at this private resort include jeep safaris, diving, hiking, sailing and shark and ray feeding. |