From island paradises to lush rainforests, Tabby Wilson explores the celebrity hideaways beloved by the rich and famous.
We all like to believe the rich and famous are just like us and, in one respect, they are: the celebrities and royals who grace our magazine covers also need a little R&R from time to time. Although, when the entire world knows your face, privacy is usually a top priority, meaning that unearthing the secret stomping grounds of the stars has often been close to impossible. Fortunately (for us), the dawn of social media has made to easier to uncover these hush hush haunts. If the phrase “fit for royalty” sounds like your dream vacation, then these celebrity hideaways are perfect for you.
St. Barths, Caribbean
The scene: The French-speaking Saint Barthélemy is tucked away in the Caribbean beside St. Maarten and Anguilla, enticing visitors with a unique blend of European sophistication and the relaxed vibe that is so quintessentially Caribbean. The only town on the island is Gustavia, a hotspot for high-end shopping, private yachts and resort spas, and the home of St. Barts’ vibrant social scene, from the effortlessly cool Eden Rock to the chic Bonito. Home to several white-sand beaches, Nikki Beach remains a firm favourite, people watchers and party-goers enjoy St. Jean, and serene Plage Saline and Plage de Colombier are popular among those seeking seclusion and the freedom to sunbathe topless.
Famous visitors: Miranda Kerr, Jon Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin, Gisele Bundchen
Celebrity-endorsed accommodation: Though Hurricane Irma did some serious damage in 2017, many of the hotels on the island took the opportunity to renovate and update their properties. Hotel Le Toiny has hosted Brad Pitt and the 22 private villa suites all have ocean views and a private pool. Cheval Blanc provides some hefty competition with a Palace distinction and exquisite cuisine. However, the primary accommodation for famous visitors is superyachts, which flock to Gustavia’s harbour in droves during the Christmas period to await the legendary fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
Los Cabos, Mexico
The scene: Although just a short two-hour flight from Los Angeles, Los Cabos seems like worlds away. Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are the neighbouring towns that make up this part of Baja California Sur and while it may once have been a place for a wild spring break, Hurricane Odile in 2015 and the subsequent rebuild of the area have changed it dramatically. Now, new and upscale hotels are making their mark on the region and travellers can expect a deeper appreciation and preservation of the local culture compared to times gone by. Outside of stunning resorts, Los Cabos offers many beaches that rise out of the ever-sparkling Sea of Cortez, the most famous of which border the iconic El Arco at Land’s End. Playfully named Lovers Beach and Divorce Beach, they are the obvious choice for sunning oneself with relative anonymity. The impressive repertoire of eateries across the area is yet another drawcard for visitors: El Fallaron is difficult to get a reservation at, and for good reason, with an elegant champagne terrace carved into the cliffside and exquisite ocean-to-table fare; while Flora Farms at the base of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains is perfect for a late afternoon trip. Of course, there are a number of tequila bars offering an impressive range of mezcals, reposados and anejos, and while the best tacos in the area are an ongoing hot debate, La Lupita Taco & Mezcal are said to be the favourite of Gwyneth Paltrow herself.
Famous visitors: Jennifer Anniston, Cindy Crawford, Gwyneth Paltrow
Celebrity-endorsed accommodation: There are a plethora of options for those visiting this part of the world but there are some staples among celebrities. Remote and perched on a photogenic clifftop, The Cape is sure hit, with all rooms facing the ocean, infinity pools and a panoramic rooftop. Privacy is a key characteristic of Esperanza, where ocean view casitas and penthouse suites offer plenty of space, butler services and private elevators. One&Only Palmilla is situated closer to San Jose del Cabo and is the only resort in the area with its own swimmable beach, in addition to one of the region’s most well-known spas.
Papagayo Peninsula, Costa Rica
The scene: Hidden away in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, this isolated peninsula sits Pacific side, just two hours away from the Nicaraguan border. The peninsula is privately owned and its latest proprietor has invested $100 million in developing luxury properties across the region, with the agreement to keep 70 per cent of the land conserved as green space. The area is home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites and rich diversity of wildlife; the white-faced Capuchin monkey is an easy spot, but toucans or the beloved sloth prove to be far more elusive. Papagayo lends itself to exploration and adventure, with many of the typically Costa Rican experiences on offer but with the added bonus of seclusion. Ziplining and water sports are common, and the gentle waves are a big drawcard for beginner surfers. The town of Playa del Coco is the place to get a taste of the local life but otherwise, the region is quiet and peaceful – think near-empty beaches and unspoilt natural landscapes.
Famous visitors: Zac Efron, Margot Robbie, Beyonce and Justin Bieber
Celebrity-endorsed accommodation: The Four Seasons Costa Rica boasts an award-winning 18-hole golf course and ocean-to-table dining. Neighbouring Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo Resort by Hyatt offers a great alternative, while Villa Manzu offers the ultimate in sumptuous isolation – as featured on a recent season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Four Seasons Costa Rica © Christian Horan
The scene: The beauty of Bali has captivated travellers for years, including the celebrity variety. This Indonesian island has it all, from colossal volcanoes and mountains to great surf and idyllic shorelines. And, of course, a reputation for being one of the best wellness and spiritual health destinations in the world. Wellness seekers have long travelled to this island paradise to escape the anxieties of the modern day, turning to its extensive directory of wellness and detox retreats, yoga studios, meditation practices, energy work and spiritual healing. As the industry started to pick up, so did the luxury market, and now Bali boasts a long list of ‘sanctuaries’ that guarantee peace and privacy. The chic beach clubs that line the sprawling stretches of sand are another big pull, with swim-up pool bars, enviable VIP sections and front row seats to spectacular sunsets over the North Pacific aplenty.
Famous visitors: The Kardashians, The Obamas, John Legend, Shay Mitchell, Milly Bobby Brown
Celebrity-endorsed accommodation: There is no shortage of stunning villas, retreats and hotels in Bali, particularly for those looking for privacy. However, The Mulia has attracted an A-list clientele, as has beachside Soori Bali and the COMO Shambhala Estate not far from Ubud.
© COMO Shambhala Estate
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The scene: Unexpectedly glamorous, the little town of Jackson has attracted tech industry billionaires, ex-politicians and some of the biggest names in Hollywood, whether they choose to escape in the form of a five-star resort or a second home. The town sits in a picturesque valley alongside the Snake River, sandwiched between two mountain ranges that turn into popular A-list ski resorts in the winter, offering up ‘cowboy powder’, rugged backcountry terrain and challenging downhill runs. The town harks back to the Wild West and has been used as a location in many old Westerns, including Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and John Wayne’s debut film, The Big Trail. Ranch lifestyle is still huge in Jackson Hole and it goes hand in hand with slow country living, which is perhaps the biggest attraction to residents of fast-paced Los Angeles and New York.
Famous visitors: Kanye West, Pippa Middleton, Tiger Woods, Matthew McConaughy, Bill Gates
Celebrity-endorsed accommodation: The Amangani is allegedly the first choice for Justin Timberlake and its hilltop location combined with five-star amenities make it easy to see why. For the cosy atmosphere of a ski retreat with plenty of luxe accents, travellers head to Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole
The scene: The dreamy waters of the Mediterranean are home to gem after gem, but none are so loved by the rich and famous as the tiny island of Capri. The first true celebrity clientele to visit the island was Roman Emperor, Tiberius, building 12 spectacular villas among the dramatic cliffs and crescent beaches that mark out the island. Years on, his holiday spot has been frequented by old-school glamour like Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot, as well as Hollywood favourite Leonardo Dicaprio. It’s unsurprising that the Italian idyll has been a hotspot for centuries, given its proximity to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, as well as the picture-perfect bougainvillea blooms and sweet-smelling lemon groves that make the island so Instagrammable. The fresh and delicious Caprese salad for which Capri is known is an added bonus for guests of the island, which when combined with an Aperol spritz makes for a delicious pause in exploring the slow-moving Mediterranean paradise.
Famous visitors: Hugh Jackman, Leonardo Dicaprio, Jennifer Lopez
Celebrity-endorsed accommodation: Hotel Punta Tragara is oft regarded as the place to relax, wedged into the cliffside well out of the way of prying eyes. In addition to captivating vistas and talk-of-the-town breakfast options, the hotel is allegedly the favourite of Hugh Jackman. With its much-anticipated reopening fast approaching, Capri Palace, Jumeirah is another beautiful option, holding three of the island’s Michelin stars across its restaurant and beach club.
Capri Palace, Jumeirah