It’s a large world out there, with thousands of beaches. It’s a theory worth considering that vitamin D from the sun emotionally and psychologically counteracts the glare of paparazzi camera flashes, because otherwise, so many remote areas of the world wouldn’t be making a name for themselves as expensive celebrity getaways. Or maybe it’s just good business practice. But the next time you find yourself hot-footing it out of the continent to escape the heat of the limelight, making like Brangelina, perhaps you’ll find inspiration in the following gorgeous destinations.
Immortalized in songs by everyone from Barry Manilow to Joao Gilberto, Rio de Janeiro has been entertaining celebrities from the Golden Age of Hollywood up to even now. It’s no surprise: the gorgeous soft white sand beaches, colorful art deco architecture and majestic 2300-foot Corcovado Peak and 1300-foot Sugar Loaf Mountain rising up from the harbor make Rio de Janeiro a sight to behold. Soccer fans can check in at Maracanã stadium and heavy betters at the Jockey Club; while art aficionados have the entire city in their bounds.
Unmissable is the Copacabana Palace, a celebrity hot spot since Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire Flew Down to Rio and danced across the ballroom floor, featuring 216 decadently appointed rooms, a semi-olympic swimming pool, a penthouse swimming pool for VIP guests, 3-story spa, two bars, a nightclub and two fine dining restaurants.
For a meal fit for a celebrity, Aprazíval is as much a delight on the eyes as it is for the stomach: imagine peering out from a designer tree-house high up in the cliffs all the way across the mountains and the sea, dining on hearts of palm and kicking back Caiparinhas in flavors like starfruit, passionfruit, rosemary and ginger. So hit Brazil and pretend you’re the Girl from Ipanema – just don’t forget to bring a floppy hat.
If it’s good enough for Jay-Z and Beyonce, it’s probably good enough for you. St. Barths, a French volcanic island in the northwest Caribbean Sea. has all the tropical glamor of the exclusive part of the Caribbean kissed by the European elegance of France. The beaches are pristine – visitors to St. Barths spend a lot of money for a lot of attractions, but all 14 beaches on the island are replete with white sand and totally open to the public. Shell Beach is just a short walk from Gustavia and the site of tons of weekend festivals and activities. Kids will love collecting shells to commemorate the trip while parents soak up the sun as well as the warm water.
The crème de la crème of French luxury lives in Eden Rock, built literally in a rock that juts out into the shores of Baie de Saint Jean. They offer beach houses and rooms that look out onto Eden Rock’s sand beach, but the rock star way to go would to book a luxury villa – Villa Nina and Rock Star each have private 24-hour butlers, swimming pools and spa pools, private entrances from the house to the beach, a fully stocked Glen Affric whiskey bar and a choice of cars.
Popularized post-war through the French New Wave artists and yé yé musicians, St. Tropez is best known as a French seaside resort for the French upper crust and the American jet set. High-brow art aficionados all flock to St. Trop for its bustling art scene, where the styles of pointillism and Fauvism emerged, but most of its tourism comes from the glowing sand beaches and beach clubs where clothing is optional but champagne-intoxication is not. Like all of these luxury coastal getaways, the preferred way to get in is by yacht, and while there’s no airport in Saint-Tropez, there’s easy access by helicopter to the beaches. To complete a true Brigitte Bardot French Riviera experience (not to mention the skin tone), the Pampelonne Beach is a long 5-km strip of light sand broken up into sub-beaches that are home to exotic beach clubs and just as many paparazzi as actual celebrities.
For a stylish nights’ stay, Château de la Messardière is a 19th-century palace with 18 rooms, a spa, restaurants, bars, an art gallery all on its 25-acre hillside premise overlooking the surrounding mountains, pinewood forests, Pampelonne beaches and the Ramatuelle vineyards. It offers complimentary 24-hour shuttles to the town center just fifteen minutes away, as well as to its own private beach. The spa at the château is not to be missed, a sumptuous 4,850-square-foot space decorated with mosaics, carved stone vaults and columns.
Cabo San Lucas is a mere two-hour flight from Los Angeles, which makes it an ideal spot to casually notice the flocks of celebrities who find themselves lounging over a margarita on the beach. Mexico is so beautiful, there are other things to gawk at, anyway. The newest and fastest-growing resort destination in the country, there are tons of modern and luxurious attractions to hit, but those who travel to actually travel will find just as many historic buildings and natural activities to explore. The exquisitely shaped terrain offers perfect rock canyons and Baja outback to hike, bike, and gallop along. Visitors can hop on a water taxi and ride to the Cabo Arch, a keyhole in the rocks that serves as an entryway into the Pacific Ocean, and scope out all the magnificent rock formations along the way.
However, high-flying guests who prefer the sun, the land, and the water but only as a luxury amenity can check-in at the Capella Pedregal Cabo and unwind in the private infinity pool in every room and suite. The entire resort is a 24-acre facility nestled in the foothills of the legendary Land’s End rock formations facing the ocean, accessible only through a privately owned tunnel.
For an unforgettable meal, walk along the cliffs of the resort and find El Farallón, a romantic and scenic Pacific Ocean-bound restaurant, inspired by a traditional seafood market with outdoor table and the daily catches displayed over ice right by the entrance. All of the guest selections are cooked swiftly over an open char grill and what is left on the plate is a delicious, always-fresh and perfectly charred ocean offerings.
Hawaii has long been known as a seaside getaway, and for a reason: it’s breathtaking. With the laid-back surfer attitude and a service industry centered around catering to wealthy travelers, daily-caught seafood, the #blessed landscape and water as clear as a Swarovski crystal, Maui is a clear winner when it comes to luxury beach-coasting.
Ballers everywhere stay at the Four Seasons, but the ones in Maui rent an adults-only Serenity poolside cabana in 4S’s giant resort palace at Wailea. For a mere $1000 a day, loungers get a Missoni-designed open-air beach house with a mini-fridge stocked with two bottles of Veuve, a Nespresso machine, fresh fruit, Evian spritzers and a large flat-panel HD TV with wireless headphones.
A low-key and utterly Hawaiian lunch overlooking the pristine coast can be found at ultra-festive Mama’s Fish House in colorful Paia. The daily-changing specials entirely dependent on who caught what that day, exquisitely crafted by Mama’s talented chefs end up looking like an artist’s palette and tasting like the flavorful sea. Don’t miss the Opakapaka Ceviche when they have it, seasoned with Tahitian lime, chili pepper, kaffir lime leaf, cilantro and mango, or their famous Mahi Mahi stuffed with lobster and crab, baked in a macadamia nut crust.
The best accompaniment to ocean-fresh fish is with a bright and fruity cocktail garnished with a festive umbrella – the passion fruit daiquiri, lilikoi, does just fine for just auspicious meals. And next? Maybe back to the Four Seasons Grand Wailea to scope out Paris Hilton’s newest beau, a round of golf with the Biebs (violent drug-induced meltdown not guaranteed but certainly probable), or maybe a drive and a hike to Haleakala Crater, a massive volcano well inland to admire the view of the mountains and the surrounding wildlife.
Greece is certainly exotic, but only the most creative celebrities have secret houses there. Leonard Cohen had his private villa on Hydra off the Saronic Gulf during his hard-partying-hard-poetry ‘60s, while these days Madonna lives her secret hard-partying-hard-paparazzi-darting 50s in her house in Antiparos. But everyone else just parties in Mykonos, from the Kardashians to Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar. Spotted with charming white and blue Cycladic buildings backdropped by crystal clear waters, the islands of Greece are one of the last few celebrity destinations that aren’t lurking with cameras and nosy reporters.
Visitors who are avoiding the pap need only book a room at the Vencia Boutique Hotel, a simple yet luxurious white paradise with a sparkling infinity pool with luxurious day beds and a pool bar and airy guestrooms with verandas overlooking the Mediterranean.
One really cool attraction in the Mykonos is the Delos archaeological site, a miniscule island about five kilometres long, famous for being the birthplace of Apollo, the Greek god of music. Visitors can discover the myths of ancient Greece, follow the history from which it stems, and walk around the ruins that have been systematically unearthed since 1872.
Located between the fashion capitals of Milan and Switzerland, Lake Como has always been a winter retreat for the young and wealthy, but it’s only been in recent years people have talked openly about it. Scaled with scenic mountains and forests, with a placid lake and timeless Italian architecture that dates back as far as the 1500s, Lake Como is a must-see for the decadent traveler.
Jet-setters who don’t get invited to stay at George Clooney’s villa certainly have options for amply luxurious accommodations at the Villa d’Este. It’s not the Nespresso poster boy’s Italian villa, it’s better. This world-famous resort destination is a gilded red and gold neo-classical palazzo from the outside and looks to be just about carved out marble from the inside. However, not only is it dramatic at first, second, and breath-retrieving third glance, it’s dramatic in history – built as a Renaissance patrician residence in 1568, the villa was a sleepy hideaway for the upper-tier Italian aristocrats, nestled between the mountains of its eponymous park and the shimmering coastline of Lake Como, it saw fresh life in early cinematic history. Villa d’Este was iconized in Alfred Hitchcock’s first film, The Pleasure Garden (1925), but has seen enough actors, artists, poets, royalty, sultans and fashion powerhouses floating through its 152 ultra-opulent rooms to last several lifetimes.
For a convenient and scenic ride, the Como-Brunate Funicular connects the city of Como with the village of Brunate in Lombardy, Italy. Opened in 1894, the funicular rides all the way up to the center of the Brunate located 2300 feet above sea level, a mountaintop town with narrow streets of historic houses and a cathedral, surrounded by arresting views of Lake Como and Cernobbio.
We all know that Will Smith spent the better years of his ‘90s "going to Miami" (bienvenido a Miami), but these days if you find yourself in South Beach, you might catch a glimpse of such beach babes as Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and the Kardashians. With the bonkers nightlife, tons of fresh seafood restaurants attached to celebrity chef names like Michael Schwartz and Michael Mina, endless stretches of party-ready beaches, and the annual Art Basel Miami art festival, celebrities and star-chasers don’t need to worry about racking up the mileage on their private jets to escape to a prime beach getaway.
Celebs stay at Fontainebleau – its poolside bar, hoppin’ Liv nightclub, restaurants care of Michael Mina and Scott Conant, and large, decked out accommodations more resemble the super-resorts of Las Vegas than Miami, but the stunning array of palms and coastline is unique only to the hottest part of Florida.
Off the beach and out of the resort, visitors will find a perfect day excursion in the historic Miami Beach Architectural District. The neighborhood is a living gallery of jaw-dropping architecture constructed in the ‘20s and ‘30s in the styles of Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco and Miami Modern. Streets of angular, cotton candy-colored buildings with defined lines accented by protruding balconies evoke the gilded glamor of classic Hollywood (and in fact, their hotels were filled with the likes of Clark Gable and Rita Hayworth in their heyday) but the quaint boutiques and hot restaurants update the experience.
Rumour has it that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie first started feeling the sparks on the Amalfi Coast in Positano while filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith. That comes as absolutely no surprise, as between the rugged mountains, nestled medieval architecture and the sun-kissed beaches, the Amalfi Coast simply bathes its visitors in love. That’s why the Italians are so good at dramatic romance films.
Of course, there is no hotel more romantic than Le Sirenuse – almost all of the rooms and suites look out over the bay of Positano and most have a private terrace. The rooms are impeccable with whitewashed walls, flowing curtains, handpainted tiles, antique furniture and ornaments accented in bright, rich colors. Checking into the hotel is like entering the set of a Fellini film, only Fellini never included flat-panel plasmas, minibars and iPod docking stations in his set pieces.
Follow the soft floral aromas of the gardens of Villa Cimbrone during the day, a network of lush rolling greens and manicured vines creeping over archways, courtyards, terraces and cloisters in a mishmash of Gothic, Moorish and Venetian architectural styles. Blue wisteria dripping over stone palisades, seasonal flower beds of French and English roses, an assortment of trees including holm oaks, alder trees, chestnuts and more opening up to blue, blue skies was what inspired Gore Vidal to write this of Villa Cimbrone: "Twenty five years ago I was asked by an American magazine what was the most beautiful place that I had ever seen in all my travels and I said the view from the belvedere of the Villa Cimbrone on a bright winter’s day when the sky and the sea were each so vividly blue that it was not possible to tell one from the other."
Even the name Bora Bora instantly conjures up the image of thatch-roofed bungalows rising up over clear turquoise water, branched together by teak walkways. The Four Seasons Bora Bora is likely its most unique one, with a hundred of their suites supported by stilts over a lagoon, stretched along a private white sand beach that is backdropped by the stunning Mount Otemanu. Located in the South Pacific islands of French Polynesia, it takes two flights from LAX to land in Bora Bora. As a major tourist destination for the international upper crust, it’s not only remote but also tremendously expensive (the average accommodation that isn’t the Four Seasons costs slightly over $1,000 US per night) – that being said, it’s also a very ideal place to drop off the universe for a few weeks, dodge the pap and hide from the government during that sweet and brief period after one has knowingly committed insider trading and before getting arrested.
Of course, visitors to Bora Bora don’t just eat and hang out on the beach – they must dive into the warm waters and check out the gems in the sand. Known for the unspoiled inlets blooming with coral gardens and an incredible barrier reef, Bora Bora offers snorkelling tours to explore under the sea.