When "James Bond" creator Ian Fleming first visited Jamaica as a British soldier in WWII, he knew that this was the place he wanted to call home. Subsequently, the author purchased a home he named Goldeneye. Since then, the estate on Jamaica’s north shore has changed hands multiple times — most notably to reggae legend Bob Marley and, then, his producer Chris Blackwell — and grown into a full-service resort still bearing the original home’s name. Blackwell still owns Goldeneye, as well as his family’s namesake dark rum, so prepare to listen to some island beats and sip something fruity during your stay.
Catching sight of one of the famous Vanderbilt family members may be as easy as tuning into an episode of “Anderson Cooper 360,” but even that doesn’t beat experiencing their opulent family mansion in North Carolina’s breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains. The Biltmore, which is still owned by the descendants of its builder George Washington Vanderbilt II, is America’s largest family-owned residence and offers tours of the mansion, gardens, and winery to the public and accommodations are available on the estate at the Biltmore’s Inn.
Inspired by the genius of its former owner, restaurateur Barton G. Weiss has taken Miami’s Versace mansion and turned it into The Villa by Barton G., a 10-room luxury boutique hotel and premiere dining destination in the heart of South Beach. The 19,000 square foot gated property features private lounges by the “Thousand Mosaic Pool,” a full-service spa, and sumptuous décor. Brag about sampling the whole Dover sole, poached Maine lobster, and black cherry caviar to acquaintances you meet beyond the estate’s gates.
Built by Frank and Nancy Sinatra in 1947, Twin Palms is the ultimate in mid-century cool as dreamt up by its inventor, Old Blue Eyes himself. The four bedroom, seven bath desert haunt was the site of some of Sinatra’s recordings — with the sound equipment still there to prove it — and is now open to vacation renters and public tours. The home and its kitchen have been appointed with fully modern amenities, so the chef in you won’t need to take a back seat to your hepcat persona, they can both tag along.
When rock legend Eric Clapton wants to get away, he heads to his personal estate, Standfast Point, on the island of Antigua. There are four buildings on the estate, nestled on 45 rustic seaside acres, which can be yours and up to thirteen of your closest friends’ for a mere $50,000 a week. But if you think that sounds steep, don’t worry: a full staff, including a cook, comes as part of the deal.
Being one of the richest people in the world requires effort. So when Sir Richard Branson is too busy making billion dollar business deals or creating the next Coca-Cola to take time off and relax on his private island, does it just go to waste? Of course not. He rents it! Necker Island, in the British Virgin Islands, is available for your private getaway (as long as Richy isn’t using it) or wedding. We recommend you rent in an off-peak month if you’re on a budget, though, since the price plummets from the peak rate of $56,000 per night to only $54,500.
When Francis Ford Coppola entered the wine biz, he ended up introducing many Americans to types and qualities of wine they might never have experienced otherwise. In the same vein, his venture into the tourism industry looks to make the wild concept of ecotourism a little more accessible. With properties Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn in Belize and La Lancha in Guatemala, Coppola offers moderately-priced accommodations in some of the world’s most beautiful and far-flung settings.
Located between rustic mountains and the blue waters of the Pacific in picturesque Carmel, Calif., Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch offers a taste of old California with all the amenities of new. Eastwood purchased the property to stop developers from turning the land into condominiums and has since built it up into a resort to suit many tastes, with cottages, lofts, and even barns to stay in. The Restaurant at Mission Ranch offers sweeping views and contemporary American fare, a jazz brunch, and piano bar.
Where can you go to live like a rock star, clothing designer, super model, or actor just by dropping $24,000 a night? Well, probably anywhere for that price, but in the Turks and Caicos that’s the cost of renting the vacation homes of Keith Richards, Donna Karan, Christie Brinkley, or Bruce Willis. Complete with celebrity-approved amenities like infinity pools, 360 degree ocean views, Balinese furniture, and yoga mats available on request, it’ll be hard-hitting when you have to go back to your Balinese-furniture-less reality.
Near Aylesbury, England, Hartwell House is a centuries-old mansion with royal roots that now houses over 30 rooms for the enjoyment of visiting guests. Between 1809 and 1814, Hartwell House played host to the exiled royal court of France as presided over by King Louis XVIII. It also called home by much of the French royal family at the time, including Queen Marie-Joséphine de Savoie, Duchesse D’Angoulême (whose parents were Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette), Charles X, and another exiled king, Gustavus IV of Sweden. Though the current cuisine served at Hartwell House’s award-winning restaurant is sourced from elsewhere, the infamous royals of yore were fed, in part, with rabbits, birds, and vegetables actually grown on the roof of the mansion.