Ten VIP jet-setters
Sunday 15 January 2006
Where do the rich and famous go to wind down? Well, if they haven't got round to buying a private island or a super-yacht, they can always settle for a slice of St Tropez or a deep-sea submarine, says Lena Corner
1 Claudia Schiffer
The island of Mallorca has become something of a celeb magnet since Michael Douglas courted the young Catherine Zeta-Jones there all those years ago. Supermodel Claudia Schiffer bought a £6m luxury holiday home on the south west coast but such is her fear of stalkers it's reputed to be built like a fortress. Fortifications proved ineffective however when a love-struck fan smashed his way in through the patio doors with a crowbar.
2 Richard Branson
When celebs want to holiday away from the prying lens of the paparazzi, Sir Richard Branson is often the first person they call. He started collecting luxury resorts 25 years ago when he snapped up the Caribbean island of Necker. Others he owns include Ulusaba in South Africa and Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco. Meanwhile Branson's space-flight company Virgin Galactic (see page 33) promises that for the super-rich the skies are not the limit. Now Branson is talking about taking it even further and building a hotel in space.
3 Roman Abramovich
Buying Chelsea FC was just small change to the Russian billionaire. He already owns three of the biggest yachts ever made and now he's said to be the buyer of a new super-yacht that will be bigger than anything the world has ever seen. The project, codenamed M-147, will be fitted with a pool, cinema, and heli-pad (chopper pictured above) as standard. It also comes with the latest must-have for the filthy rich - a private submarine - for joyrides to the ocean bed.
4 The Blairs
The Blairs demonstrated money was no object, indeed not even entirely necessary, when they set off on a roll of freebies. First they decamped to Cliff Richard's Caribbean villa - a perk worth in excess of £40,000. Blair said he had made a donation to charity in lieu of the cost. Then there was the sojourn with the Sardinian fast set as guests of the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Recently, the premier and his family have returned from Christmas in Sharm el-Sheikh. Critics said it another blag but No 10 refused to disclose details, citing security reasons.
5 The Beckhams
There's a high price to pay for keeping up the public face of "brand Beckham", but it's one that clearly pays dividends: £33,000 was the amount they shelled out to book a chalet in the French ski resort of Courchevel for a choreographed display of affection following news of David's alleged affair. Last year, as rumours of a rift continued to circulate, they hit the romantic cities of Europe for a series of high-profile holidays. First he whisked her to a £3,000-a-night Ritz hotel suite in Paris. Then she flew him to Venice for shopping and photo opportunities aplenty. Later in the summer they hit St Tropez where they threw themselves down on a busy beach for an "impromptu" clinch. It made one of the weirdest pap pictures of last year but no doubt kept the brand strong.
6 Elton John
When Elton John goes CD shopping he famously has to get duplicate copies for his various holiday homes. "It can make life complicated," he says, "but it also keeps it interesting." His portfolio includes a property in Atlanta - home to a vast collection of photographic masterpieces including works by Henri Cartier-Bresson. His places in France, Las Vegas and Venice all cost a small fortune to keep in fresh flower arrangements. Elton is said to go nowhere without more than a dozen staff.
7 Liz Hurley
So accustomed is she to flashing her bikini-buffed body on the white sands of just about anywhere in the world, the 40-year-old beach babe has now brought out her own range of swimwear. Liz names Macaroni Beach on Mustique and Nikki Beach in St Tropez as the best places in the world to show off her wares but, even so, not all publicity is good publicity. "I'm sick of holidaymakers or resort staff who can't resist taking a few snaps which they then flog," she says.
8 Mel Gibson
Mel snapped up the 5,400-acre South Pacific island of Mago for £8.5m in 2004 with the proceeds from his controversial film The Passion of the Christ. Whether he's been able to enjoy its turquoise lagoons or natural abundance of mandarin and papaya is unclear as, last year, members of the Yavusa Vuaniivi tribe challenged him for ownership.
9 Kimora Lee Simmons
Since promising to take her record-company mogul husband Russell Simmons "for richer or richer" in their beachside wedding in St Barth's, super-rich spendaholic Kimora Lee Simmons has declared herself virtual ruler of the island. "We're like the mayors of St Barth's," she says. "We've been coming here for, like, 12 years." Russell proposed to her as she lay on the beach in nothing but a pair of Armani sunglasses and Gucci bikini bottoms. These days, Kimora apparently won't leave her dog, so if she's off to St Barths she pops it on the Gulfstream too.
10 Britney Spears
Turtle Island on Fiji is where Britney chose to spend her honeymoon. The owner, eccentric American Richard Evanson, runs it like an upmarket holiday camp and presides over communal dining most evenings. Guests have been known to make gushing after-dinner speeches that easily run to 10 minutes. It caters to couples, of which only 14 are allowed on the island at one time. Four-posters come strewn with petals and staff are on hand to serenade at sunset.
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