The Bon Savant Diaries: Celebrity secrets to luxury vacations
The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin is an Irish legend — built in the 18th century, it has been a playground of the stars for decades. Its celebrity roster is of the highest pedigree: from Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and John F. Kennedy to Luciano Pavarotti, Liam Neeson, Bill Clinton and Bono. While statesman, rockstars and business honchos through the centuries have nursed a fine whiskey at the dinky Horseshoe Bar or closed deals over high tea at The Mayor’s Lounge, it is actor Peter O’Toole who took the cake… and the bubbly. The charismatic thespian was known to bathe in champagne at his suite in this hotel!
Urban legend or not, celebrity guests put an indelible stamp on some of the most luxurious and discreet hotels in the world. Unlike the iconic Le Meurice in Paris — where the eccentric and sumptuous interiors are inspired by former patron Salvador Dali, who once asked the concierge there to bring a herd of sheep to his room — the world’s finest hotels and resorts today are a little more discreet while serving their famous guests. Still, one thing is certain: superstar lifestyles need superstar service. The world’s busiest and most powerful men still expect that little bit extra, as they romance the pause. And here’s what their luxury homes-away-from-home offer, to help rise to the occasion.
Caption: Le Meurice, Paris
ROOM TO WORK THE ENTOURAGE
While travelling with a minimum of 10 persons may be infra dig for a younger generation of celebrities (actor-filmmaker Ben Affleck is famously entourage-free, as are most of his contemporaries), certain requirements can’t be avoided. Especially when you’re the ‘Leader of the Free World’! For the G20 Summit in Brisbane last year, US President Barack Obama stormed the Brisbane Marriott and two other hotels with an official delegation that took up a grand total of 4,000 rooms. This included advance teams for security and logistical arrangements and a posse of negotiators and government officials for the meetings. For lesser celebrities, a manager and business associate may be de rigueur — even if they aren’t travelling professionally.
Caption: JW Marriot, Brisbane
PRIVACY AND SECLUSION
While Brad Pitt may have no qualms about walking with his brood on the streets of Los Angeles, even the most gregarious superstar needs to get away from the maddening crowd — to a place where he is free from the burden of shaking hands with strangers and posing for pictures with fans. Discreet luxury is the name of the game. Take for instance Mexico’s Las Ventanas, a favourite celebrity holiday spot. Along with Pitt, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Sandler and Arnold Schwarzenegger are regulars at this remote and private resort, where milky white beaches stretch on for miles. There’s no sign, and no reception desk either! Stars simply breeze into their suites where Jacuzzis peek out of balconies and Mini Coopers are parked at close quarters.
Caption: Las Ventanas, Mexico
Following suit, Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands allows no cars on its 1,000 acre property — making sure that Ashton Kutcher and Bruce Willis get all the peace and quiet that they wouldn’t at a ritzy hotel in New York or London. Like Parrot Cay, Fregate in Seychelles is simply housed on an entire private island to ensure the utmost seclusion. No wonder Bill Gates is a regular!
THE ‘C’ WORD
They say the work of a concierge begins where God’s work ends. The best concierges across the world are armed to make the impossible, possible. Celebrity requests may not always be eccentric and outrageous, but they often are!
Take for instance Kanye West, who demands all-white rooms with ‘ironed’ carpets wherever he travels or the less absurd request of Justin Timberlake, who insists that all elevators be emptied of other guests before he sets foot in them. At London’s Stafford Hotel, whispers hark back to the Nineties, when a guest from Hawaii (a doctor of some repute) was on a ‘dream’ world tour, aiming to fulfil his bucket list — to see all 36 masterpieces by 16th century Dutch artist Johan Vermeer. It just so happened that one of these paintings was ensconced in Buckingham Palace! Not to let such minor impediments stop them, the hotel concierge arranged for a discreet 15-minute audience of the Royal Collection, right inside the royal residence.
For those who can afford the very best of service, most requests hinge on making personal moments memorable. Hotels have been asked to cover entire beaches in white carpet (so the lady won’t get sand in her shoes) and booking off entire floors for a midnight proposal with scarcely any preparation time. It’s no wonder then that A-listers have top concierges across the globe on their speed-dial.
Caption: Stafford Hotel, London
A PLACE TO WORK, IF WORK YOU MUST!
The Setai at South Beach in Miami is a regular haunt for stars like Jay-Z and Tom Brady. The property is a sight to behold — ornate bricks from Shanghai line the lobby, spilling out into the courtyard with soaring columns, pergolas and ponds. The four-bedroom penthouse on the 40th floor with a private rooftop infinity pool, Steinway piano and two gem-encrusted Jacuzzi tubs is where most A-listers shack up. But the hotel’s best-kept secret is a 2,500 square-foot recording studio, designed by American singer and producer Lenny Kravitz. Musicians like Timbaland are known to have spent an ideal work-vacation at this ocean-facing extravagance. Indeed, to bring work to a blissfully secluded vacation is bespoke luxury of the highest order!
Caption: The Setai, Miami
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