Burning Question: Is a star's vacation really all that different from ours. I mean they swim and shop just like everyone else, right? — Tamar A.
Sweetie, no. No, stars do not vacate like the rest of us. Not even a little bit. Not unless you, too, get access to VIP tunnels and passages at your local airport; fly via private planes; enjoy door-to-door transport from your airport via Escalade; employ assistants who do your packing for you; and routinely field special discounts and upgrades just for being you.
How do I know all this? I asked around on your behalf and got the scoop. The result, this Burning Q&A, co-starring celebrity travel agent Lyndsey Green and Robert Garcia, director of resort sales at the exclusive Mexican resort community Villas Del Mar, which has hosted George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Stiller, Chris Pine, and other stars.
How do stars get around airports?
Depends on how smart their agents and managers are. Ill-prepared stars can get trapped and papped inside airport security. But better-connected ones know about services such as Airport Assistance Worldwide, which meets clients curbside, whisks them through security and — depending on the airline or gate — escorts them through little-known tunnels or passages to avoid prying eyes.
And, "yes," Green tells me, there are such tunnels and hallways at LAX. Those conspiracy-theorist friends of yours are correct. Other airports have more comprehensive VIP services, such as the personal lounge and limo service at London's Heathrow.
All that said, most stars who arrive at luxe destinations arrive via private plane, Garcia tells me.
Do they do their own packing?
Sometimes, Green tells me. Other times, the assistant does it.
Do they pay the same airfare and hotel rates as the rest of us?
No. Celebrities routinely get perks just for being famous.
"Those discounts might be 20 to 30 percent off," Green tells me. Free amenities might include, early check in, late check out, daily breakfast for two, a $100 food or beverage credit, or sometimes $100 spa credit." As for privately owned rental villas, like the ones at Villas Del Mar, it depends on the homeowner, who helps set the rental rate, Garcia says.
Do stars travel using their real names?
Oftentimes not. "I'd say about 60 percent use a fake name," Garcia tells me.
Beckinsale has employed the less-than-covert name Sigourney Beaver. "It was a spur of the moment thing," she told the Daily Telegraph. "When I was first asked my name it just came out. I guess it was because I admire the American actress Sigourney Weaver." Another reason she likes the name? Becksinsale says her husband, director Len Wiseman, hates it when staff refers to him as Mr. Beaver.
"Friends" star Matthew Perry blew Justin Bieber's cover on "Ellen" by revealing the pop star's pseudonym was, yes, Chandler Bing. (Despite the fact that the show went off the air when the Biebs was 10.)
Johnny Depp has registered under the names Mr. Stench, Mr. Drip Noolde and Mr. Donkey A--. "You'd start your day off with a smile, just to get that wake-up call at 6 in the morning, saying, 'It's time to wake up, Mr. Stench,'" he told "Extra." “And when you hear it in foreign accents as well, it makes it sound even better. Monsieur Stench – and I've also been Monsieur Poopy."
As for Clooney? "I always used to check in under the name 'Arnold Schwarzenegger', which to me is the funniest idea in the world," he told Entertainment Weekly. "Because they know I'm not Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I know I'm not, but they'll go: 'Uh, Mr Schwarzenegger, um, would you like turndown service?' 'Yes, I would!'"
How else do stars protect their privacy?
You're assuming they want privacy. Before one visit, a reality star and her NBA-player husband tried to get the folks at Villas Del Mar to sign non-disclosure agreements, presumably to protect the couples privacy. The couple then proceeded to Tweet their entire vacation.
Then again, other stars really do want privacy, and they get it...often by simply staying put behind multiple gates. At Villas Del Mar, the rental fees cover butler and chef service, a golf cart for transport around the community, plus access to a private beach club. So, no need for stars to venture out among the wee people unless they want to.
Are there special hotels or beaches that only celebrities know about?
This may be one answer that gives you comfort: No. There is no secret handbook of the stars filled with such occult knowledge of secret places.
They do prefer exclusive resorts and exotic locales where they're less likely to run into autograph hounds. Some current favorite destinations include the Maldives, Anguilla, Los Cabos and Nevis. Some will charter a yacht and park it off shore, out of the range of paparazzi long lenses. Hawaii, Europe and Costa Rica are always popular, too.
"Nothing," however, says Green, "that's not available to the public."
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