Can You Afford To Stay At A Celebrity-Owned Hotel?

Tennis star Andy Murray, one of the U.K.’s most famous athletes and the reigning Olympic gold medalist, recently purchased the Cromlix House Hotel near his hometown of Dunblane, Scotland. Now closed for renovations, the country manor is expected to reopen in the spring, in time for the 2014 Ryder Cup golf tournament.

Perhaps more than any other sport, tennis requires its stars to become globetrotters. The biggest tournaments take place in the world’s most cosmopolitan locales – Dubai, Paris, Madrid, Miami, Shanghai, Monte Carlo – and as much, a multimillionaire star like Murray should know what constitutes a fine hotel.

Still, he’s the rare athlete that has made a foray into hospitality, a hobby (or investment) favored by Hollywood celebs. There’s no shortage of A-listers in the hotel game. And – surprise – staying under their roofs isn’t always a big-budget proposition.

Actor John Malkovich offers the cheapest access to star style. He’s a (reportedly hands-on) investor in The Big Sleep, a chain of budget hotels in England. Basic but contemporary, they advertise rates starting at £29, and reviews commonly cite rates around £50. In Dublin, U2’s Bono and The Edge revamped The Clarence, and rates at the historic property starts at a modest £109.

Director Francis Ford Coppola owns five hotels in Belize, Guatemala, Argentina, and Italy. Both of his top-rated resorts in Belize, Turtle Inn (pictured, top) and Blancaneaux Lodge, ring in under $300 in the offseason (and start upwards of $350 in high season). But La Lancha, his Guatemalan lakefront rainforest lodge, offers rooms in the low season for $125.

Stateside, there aren’t many deals to be had. Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort in Utah is hard to book for less than $250 per night. Doris Day’s longtime pet-haven coastal hotel, Cypress Inn in Carmel, California, has online rates starting at $185 (plus $30 per pet – a small price for getting to frolic on the beach off-leash and accompany owners to all 12 restaurants). Cooking-show royalty Paula Deen rents her two-bedroom beach house on Georgia’s Tybee Island, named Y’all Come Inn, for around $295 per night.

Yet those rates don’t come close to the prices that Richard Gere and Robert DeNiro command at their New York properties. Gere co-owns Westchester County’s luxurious Bedford Post Inn, where getaways start at $400 per night. DeNiro’s posh pad in downtown Manhattan, The Greenwich Hotel, runs $525 and up – topping even Donatella Versace’s resort on Australia’s Gold Coast, the grand Palazzo Versace (pictured), which starts in the $300 to $400 range per night.

[Photo credits: top, Turtle Inn by Coppola Resorts]

The World Of The Great Gatsby: Long Island’s Gold Coast

the great gatsby long island

The official trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s new film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” was released this week, inciting nostalgia across the Internet for the passion, parties and Prohibition-fueled recklessness of 1920s-era New York City. The film doesn’t come out until Christmas but if you’re hankering for a preview, try visiting Long Island‘s Gold Coast, where F. Scott Fitzgerald lived, wrote and based his famous novel.

Geographically located on the North Shore of Long Island, the Gold Coast’s grand mansions and landscaped gardens beckon visitors to explore the lives of the magnates and tycoons that called them home. Former inhabitants include familiar names like the Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, Whitneys and Pratts, and nearly all of the estates are open to the public throughout the summer.

%Gallery-156019%


One Gold Coast must-see is Old Westbury Gardens, a traditional English manor home that you’ll recognize from films like “The Age of Innocence” and “Cruel Intentions.” Built in 1906, the estate was once inhabited by financier John S. Phipps, who outfitted it with lavish furnishings and artwork. Guests are welcome to tour the home’s interior or stroll around the estate’s rose gardens, walled gardens and pond.

The Gold Coast’s residents weren’t all as traditional as the Phipps. A trip to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum reveals the eclectic nature of former inhabitant William K. Vanderbilt II. The 43-acre complex includes a marine museum, seaplane hangar, natural history habitats and a wide array of quirky ethnographic objects. The on-site planetarium is currently under construction, but it is expected to be one of the most advanced in the country once it is completed.

And if you’re a true literature geek, you can’t miss the Hempstead House or Falaise Mansion in Sands Point, a part of Long Island that Fitzgerald referred to as the “East Egg” in “The Great Gatsby.” Both homes are surrounded by wildlife, nature trails and picturesque spots that are perfect for setting out a picnic blanket and giving the classic novel a re-read.

Live like your favorite ‘Downton Abbey’ character with this chic hotel package

downton abbeyFans of the Masterpiece Classic PBS program ‘Downton Abbey‘ have even more reason to be excited. Not only did the cult fave show return to television in the states for its second season last night, but now you don’t even have to escape to the UK to live like your favorite characters.

New York‘s Oheka Castle, located on the historic Gold Coast, is offering a special “Aristocratic Escape Package,” that includes overnight accommodations, afternoon tea, a bottle of Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries in your room, continental breakfast and a copy of Season I of the show on DVD. The overnight package $695 and includes an optional $100 upgrade per room category.

Here’s the real question – have you already managed to sneak a peek at the rest of the season online?

Australia’s tallest external building walk opens January in the Gold Coast

skypoint climb Adventurous visitors to Australia‘s Gold Coast will be happy to hear about the area’s newest thrill: the SkyPoint Climb. Participants will walk the 298 external stairs of the residential Q1 tower and make their ascent 886 feet above sea level.

The SkyPoint Climb will be Australia’s highest external building walk and will feature the country’s only beachside Observation Deck. With 360 degree views of the city, beaches, and nearby mountains, this is one beautiful adventure.

Afraid of heights? Don’t worry, as climbers are equipped with a harness and static fall arrest line. There is also an inner hand rail and specially trained staff to help deal with any cases of Acrophobia.

Right now, you can purchase tickets for the SkyPoint Climb through their website for January 15, 2012, and on. An adult ticket is $21 while a children’s ticket is $12.50. Family tickets can also be purchased at $54.50.

Photo Gallery: Queensland, Australia

queensland australiaUsually we’re uncomfortable posting direct press pitches, but these pictures are too good to resist. Queensland, Australia, is often regarded as one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Home to various UNESCO World Heritage Sites, beautiful beaches, breathtaking city skylines, a tropical climate, and wildlife that you can experience up-close, it is no wonder that 2.1 million people visit the region each year.

Interested in visiting the region yourself? Here are some suggested itineraries on how to make the most of your time in Queensland:

  • Go whale watching at Hervey Bay. Right now, the area is seeing a drastic increase in the amount of whales migrating along the coast. In fact, there are more whales at Hervey Bay now than there have been in the last 25 years. For more information or to book a whale watching tour, click here.
  • Scuba Dive the Great Barrier Reef. This is the ideal way to see this UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the aquatic life that inhabits it, up-close. For more information, click here.
  • Spend some time on the beaches of Surfer’s Paradise. Learn to surf, explore beachfront markets, ride a jet ski, or just layout and relax. And when the sun goes down, the area has plenty to offer in terms of dining, entertainment, and nightlife.
  • Get adventurous in Cairns. From skydiving to bungee jumping at AJ Hackett Tower to white water rafting on the Tully River, there are plenty of activities here for thrill seekers.

%Gallery-136322%