How Not To Become The Victim Of A $50M Hotel Heist

spencer77, Flickr

In a plot that plays out like a Hollywood movie, an armed thief who raided an exclusive hotel along the French Riviera got away with an estimated bounty of $50 million. Amusingly, the stolen jewels were lifted out of the very hotel where Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly was filmed in the 1950s. The haul didn’t come from hotel guests, but instead from a diamond exhibition on site — and it happened just days after a member of the notorious “Pink Panther” gang of jewel thieves escaped from a Swiss prison just 10 miles from the French border.

Hotels in France seem to be a hotbed for jewelry theft lately. This past May, a $2.5 million diamond necklace was stolen from a gala at a hotel during the Cannes Film Festival, just a week after $1 million of jewels was stolen from the hotel room of a Chopard employee when he was out to dinner.

Although Gadling readers might not be traveling with millions in jewels, it’s likely that there is something of value in each of our bags. Here are some tips for keeping your valuables safe:

  • Do Travel Inconspicuously: avoid being targeted by criminals by wearing little or no jewelry while traveling. If you must wear a ring, turn it around so the gemstones aren’t showing.
  • Don’t Check It: in the event of a lost bag (or airport employees with sticky fingers) keep anything of value in your carry-on.
  • Don’t Let Your Guard Down: criminals patiently wait for the moment when travelers aren’t paying attention to grab their bags. Be especially careful in ticket lines, near restrooms and at restaurants.
  • Don’t Keep Jewelry Out in the Hotel Room: while easily breached by professional thieves, a hotel safe is your best bet. Leaving anything out in the open not only makes things tempting for hotel personnel, but also for professional criminals walking by (how many times have you seen a room wide open while the cleaning crew is inside?).
  • Don’t Leave Home With It: this is the best advice of all. If there’s something you can’t afford to lose while traveling, your best bet is to just leave it at home.

Need more royal wedding buzz? Visit Monaco.

monaco harborCome April 30, legions of devoted Royal Wedding Watchers will suffer the disease known as RWW, or Royal Wedding Withdrawal*.

Never fear, RWW sufferers – help has arrived, in the form of one of the world’s richest countries, Monaco. On July 1 2011, the principality will celebrate the nuptials of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II and elegant South African Olympic swimmer Miss Charlene Wittstock. Okay, so it’s not *quite* the same. He’s the son of Grace Kelley and Prince Rainier III, but the once devoted bachelor prince is in his 50s and has two illegitmate children, neither of whom can inherit the title as per Monaco’s inheritance laws. At present, Prince Albert’s sister, Princess Caroline, is the heir presumptive to the title.

Still. It’s a ROYAL. WEDDING.

On July 1, 2011, the civil wedding ceremony will take place in the Throne Room of the Prince’s Palace. Later that evening, a large concert will be offered by the newly-wedded couple at the Port for all residents and visitors. On July 2, 2011, the religious wedding ceremony will take place in the Main Courtyard of the Prince’s Palace.

To be celebrated by Monseigneur Bernard Barsi, Archbishop of Monaco, more than 3,500 invited guests will witness the wedding on giant screens in the vicinity of the Palace and screens will also be set up at prime locations throughout the Principality to enable residents and visitors to watch the proceedings.

The couple will take a special procession route in a Lexus luxury hybrid vehicle, underscoring Prince Albert’s commitment to environmental conservation, to the Church of Sainte Devote where the bride will lay down her bouquet. The official dinner and a gala ball will be held at the Salle Garnier and the Terraces of the Casino later that evening followed by fireworks for all of Monaco to enjoy.

[Flickr via davharuk]Never visited Monaco? Here are a few things to do:

Royal Houses Exhibition at Grimaldi Forum
This summer the Grimaldi Forum will showcase important pieces from four centuries of historic European monarchies with The Magnificence and Grandeur of Royal Houses in Europe exhibition. Open July 11 through September 11, 2011, 600-plus artifacts will provide visitors with a unique glimpse into the imperial homes and lives of Europe’s most powerful and respected leaders and couples.

Musical Legends Headline Sporting Summer Music Festival
This year’s Monte-Carlo Sporting Summer Music Festival, from July 8 through August 27 at Salle des Etoiles, offers, yet again, a list of legendary musicians as key performers. Janet Jackson will open the festival on July 8 and 9, Stevie Wonder will return after his acclaimed performance last year and Sting will perform on July 25.

New National Museum
Monaco’s recently opened Nouveau Musee National de Monaco (NMNM) is located in two venues – the stunning Villa Paloma and Villa Sauber. The newly re-designed venues focus on modern contemporary works of art and will feature two exhibitions annually that will spotlight the cultural, historic and artistic virtues of Monaco.

Spectacular Dining
In addition to the five restaurants that boast a combined eight Michelin stars, fine food connoisseurs will appreciate the Principality’s many new culinary offerings including a transformed Le Vistamar at the Hotel Hermitage, which recently re-opened its doors under the direction of Chef Joel Garault. The Horizon at The Fairmont Monte Carlo has proposed a new menu featuring a “chic and ethical” concept, demonstrating Executive Chef Maryan Gandon’s commitment to sustainable development and the planet. YOSHI at the Metropole Monte-Carlo – Chef Joel Robuchon’s only Japanese inspired eatery – recently received a Michelin star.

Relax and Rejuvenate
Monaco has a distinct advantage: a combination of climate, sunshine and abundant natural resources drawn directly from the Mediterranean Sea. This summer the Monte-Carlo Beach Spa will re-open, highlighting its sleek makeover and unique location, nestled in the pool area overlooking the sea.

Monte-Carlo Casino and Opera House

Among one of the world’s most famous cultural landmarks, the Monte-Carlo Casino and Opera House continues to be a “must-see” attraction in Monaco. Travelers from around the world can try their hand at the Casino’s gaming tables and witness operatic performances in the Salle Garnier, where 45 world premieres have been held and Matisse and Picasso designed sets and costumes in the not-so-distant past.

*This fake disease was made up by the author, whose only claim to medical knowledge is that her father is a doctor.

Gading Take FIVE: August 1–August 8

This was a week of a wide range of travel news that captured the essence of variety in the entertainment world.

  • On the classy end of life, Josh posted on a museum exhibit about Finding Grace Kelly in Paris.
  • On the opposite end, Iva gave us the scoop on a character actor who hit a flight attendant and a police officer.
  • Also, on the bad behavior side, Aaron offered details about a flight attendant suing televangelist Joel Osteen’s wife.
  • If you want to see for yourself how celebrities behave, Grant told us about celeb spotting in Ann Arbor.
  • To see what a famous person’s private jet looks like, check out Sir Richard Branson’s sweet number.

There was also a wide range of details about how air travel can make you or break you.

So, that’s more than 5, but I saw patterns. Have a wonderful weekend!

Finding Grace Kelly in Paris

Those looking for a taste of the glamorous side of the 1950s can find it in Paris. The City of Lights and snobby waiters was a hot spot for the Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolies of yesteryear.

Grace Kelly is probably the ultimate example of 50s fame. An exhibit at the Hotel de Ville showcases the life and times of the American movie star who the French embraced after she married Prince Rainier of Monaco and became Princess Grace.

The exhibit is no mere collection of black and white snapshots. Kelly’s Oscar is on display alongside ball gowns and other articles of clothing. Also of interest are a collection of Kelly’s letters. I suppose it might be interesting to learn that people actually wrote letters once upon a time, but Kelly’s letters where to the who’s who of the day. The collection includes correspondences with Alfred Hitchcock and Jackie Kennedy.

So this exhibit might be a bit over the top, but perhaps a bit refreshing. After all, Grace Kelly defined glamor before glamor became all silicone and botox. I doubt there will be a similar exhibit featuring any of today’s starlets in 50 years.

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