Beach Babylon: The Outrageous Demands Of The Super-Rich

  1. By IMOGEN EDWARDS-JONES and ANONYMOUS
    First, she lifted the lid on the hotel and fashion industries – now Imogen Edwards-Jones has teamed up with an insider at an exclusive island beach resort to expose the outrageous demands of the super-rich.


    Mr McCann's arrival is nothing if not stylish. Most VIPs take a beautiful 55ft yacht on the final leg of their journey to our six-star tropical island resort.
    Not Mr McCann: he's hired a big, shiny sea plane to whisk himself and his young 'girlfriends' over from the mainland.


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    Imogen Edwards-Jones exposes the outrageous demands of the super-rich at an exclusive island beach resort

    As hotel manager, it's essential that I'm at the jetty to greet them. After all, the last time Mr McCann, the owner of a US TV station, was here his bill came to a quarter of a million pounds.
    You can see why the mega-rich come here. Our South-East Asian island has a six-mile coastline, 15 sandy beaches and 20,000 palm trees. Each detached villa has direct access to the beach and a host to attend to guests 24-hours a day.
    Prices ranging from £750 to £3,000 a night help us turn over more than £30 million but, amazingly, we do not make a profit. It costs a fortune to look after our guests in the style to which most of them have recently become accustomed.
    There are 800 staff – half of them are local, the rest are Indians, Sri Lankans, Thai, Filipinos and a few Brits like me. I've been in the hotel business for 20 years and here for the past 18 months. My girlfriend Kate runs the resort's boutique.


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    Liz Hurley was 'low maintenance' when she stayed on the island during a photoshoot

    In that time, though, I've put up with some of the richest and most demanding guests I've ever seen. With barely a few hours' notice, we've had to find Jimmy Choo shoes, a specific Napoleon brandy, hand-made wedding rings and prostitutes.
    On one occasion we had to fly 650lb of fireworks on a Lear jet at a cost of £22,000. In this bizarre world, I've learned that nothing is impossible.
    Dressed from head to foot in white linen, with a heavy gold watch and chomping on a cigar, all 5ft 2in of Mr McCann walks towards me with a grin.
    "Good evening, Mr McCann," I say. "It's very nice to have you back." By the looks of it, he seems to have brought one, two, three...six of his "daughters' friends" along for the ride. "Ladies," I say, knowing they are anything but. "Welcome."
     
  2. In that time, though, I've put up with some of the richest and most demanding guests I've ever seen. With barely a few hours' notice, we've had to find Jimmy Choo shoes, a specific Napoleon brandy, hand-made wedding rings and prostitutes.
    On one occasion we had to fly 650lb of fireworks on a Lear jet at a cost of £22,000. In this bizarre world, I've learned that nothing is impossible.
    Dressed from head to foot in white linen, with a heavy gold watch and chomping on a cigar, all 5ft 2in of Mr McCann walks towards me with a grin.
    "Good evening, Mr McCann," I say. "It's very nice to have you back." By the looks of it, he seems to have brought one, two, three...six of his "daughters' friends" along for the ride. "Ladies," I say, knowing they are anything but. "Welcome."


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    Roger Federer spurned the chance to sample the resort's finest champagnes and party hard, preferring to drink fruit juice and spend time on the court with a local coach


    "Thank you," says the tallest and darkest in a thick Russian accent. Her long honey-coloured legs disappear into well-cut Ralph Lauren shorts. These girls are the cream of the crop. They must be setting Mr McCann back almost as much as the villa.
    By Tuesday afternoon, McCann's ladies are settling in nicely, staying next to the pool and putting on a bit of a show, dancing to the reggae music pumping out of the beach bar.
    McCann is lying there like a small hairy beach ball, watching the performance as keenly as every other banker and broker around the pool. His girls are doing him proud, their oiled skin glistening in the sun.
    Later they get bored and head for the boutique, some of them wearing only their G-strings.
    "Good afternoon, ladies," says Kate. "Can I help you with anything in particular?"
    "Jewellery," says one of the girls. "Diamonds," adds another.
    Someone's in for an expensive afternoon and he doesn't even know it. McCann is asleep with his mouth wide open, catching flies by the pool.

    One of my staff asks me how such a small, chubby man as McCann can find it in himself to cope with six girls. My answer: Viagra, the gold-digger's nemesis. At one time, poor pretty girls only had to sleep with rich men once in a blue moon, now they must be at it all the time.
    It's a lot more work for a gold necklace. Perhaps I shouldn't dwell too much on this sort of thing. There have already been several crises this week, the first of which was running out of Dom Pérignon rosé.
    Pink champagne is essential for entertaining billionaires – it's a commodity almost as precious on this island as electricity.
    Keeping customers happy is the hardest part of this job and attention to detail is everything. For instance, the steps leading from the sea up to our 140 villas are cleaned every day by a team of 20, removing algae to prevent our esteemed guests from slipping and, of course, suing us.
    Outside each villa is a gilded cage for a pair of lovebirds. Apparently a twittering cage of birds hanging outside the villa is what every jaded executive wants to see when they get off a 20-hour flight.
    However, nobody thought who was going to clean the cages and ensure the birds don't roast alive in the heat, so they've become another headache for staff.
    Celebrities are a pain. Some swan in here and expect us to give them free accommodation, wine and food. Others have ludicrous demands that are simply impossible to fulfil. Recently a man called me on behalf of a billionaire tycoon and asked me for the best villa in the place.
    When I told him it was occupied he asked me if I knew I was dealing with one of the richest men in the world. I apologised again and offered something smaller, but he hung up. A few minutes later he called back and asked how much it would cost to have the other guests removed.
    By contrast, Liz Hurley, who was here for a bikini shoot, is delightfully plummy and rather low-maintenance. I wanted to send her some Dom Pérignon rosé, but, as I said, we've run out.
    Unsurprisingly, Christmas is our busiest time and some guests will do anything to secure rooms during the holiday period. One called to book a duplex with a pool and when I told him they were full, he asked for a normal duplex and told me to build him a pool.
    I said it would cost £100,000 and he told me to go ahead, on condition he could have it every year for Christmas. Sadly, head office rejected his plan.
    Right now is prime season for Eurotrash and they don't come more trashy than Formula One drivers, who have plenty of cash and know how to spend it. Unlike other sportsmen we have had here, such as Roger Federer who drank fruit juices and knocked up every day with our tennis coach, the F1 guys really party.
    Last month a driver spent £15,000 on 15 bottles of Richebourg 1990 for one dinner. It certainly made for one hell of an evening.
    We normally sell wine at three or four times the cost price but with Cristal champagne we can name our price. The 1997 costs us about £30 – we mark it up to £800. Later I head back to my villa for a quick shower before the manager's drinks party. I am walking out of the door to greet guests when Kate calls.
     
  3. They've just gone," she sighs down the phone. "They spent £150,000."

    "That's a lot of kaftans!" I laugh.
    "And diamonds," she adds.
    Before I enter the party, my secretary reminds me a couple of big spenders checked in over the weekend. One is Mr Antonov, a Siberian aluminium magnate who asked us to have a £5,000-a-day yacht waiting for him in the harbour, should he ever need it.
    She adds that Mr McCann is unlikely to come to the party because more of his special friends have arrived.
    The next morning there's trouble – it's raining. All dining areas are open-air and we don't have a wet-weather programme to keep guests amused. There is much talk of Mr Antonov, who hasn't set foot on his yacht. The crew have been sleeping below deck for a couple of days now and I'm considering sending them back to the marina.
    Russians and yachts are nothing new here. Roman Abramovich's 377ft Pelorus – complete with a 65ft Sunseeker yacht and another boat on the back, plus a crane to lift them into the water – dropped by last year. Abramovich himself was nice, though he was flanked most of the time by bodyguards.
    But there is a downside to the superyacht experience. When Pelorus was here, there were more than 100 airlifts off the boat. Every time a chopper took off we got a flood of complaints from other guests.
    We also gave Abramovich's party a sumptuous free meal in the restaurant and barbecue on the beach, which didn't go down well with the other guests either. All billionaires are equal, but some more equal than others.
    At sunset Kate summons me urgently to the boutique – McCann and his gang of pricey diamond-diggers are back. Kate tells me they have brought all the jewellery back.
    "Good to see ya!" says McCann, flicking a large chunk of ash on the floor. "We need to talk about these bits of paper I have been asked to sign. They seem a little expensive to me."
    He hands me a wad of chits for neck- laces, earrings, a bracelet, bikinis, a kaftan and a sarong. "The thing is," he says, taking my elbow, "I was asleep and don't remember buying all this stuff."
    "Of course, sir," I say.
    "I mean, I can afford it," he emphasises. "But it's the principle."
    His group of prostitutes wait in the background. One or two have the decency to look sheepish. Eventually it is decided that he is going to give all the jewellery back but the girls can keep the clothes.
    There are squeals of delight as they all disappear, leaving a cloying smell of cigar smoke and expensive perfume.
    Two days later, with still no interest from Mr Antonov in the yacht, I decide to send it back. But just as that little difficulty is solved, one of my staff drops another bombshell: our Japanese travel agent wants us to take 25 more weddings in February.
    It is important to get the balance of guests right. All it takes is for seven pairs of Japanese newlyweds to decide to take their complimentary candlelit dinner at the same time for the atmosphere in the dining room to be killed stone dead.
    The Japanese are not the most lucrative or exciting guests. And they expect their country to travel with them – they want bento boxes and beer for breakfast, and paper covers on the lavatories.
    Other nationalities have their quirks. The British are rude and tight and can quickly spread dissent in a hotel. The French are arrogant, the Germans bizarre while the Americans have lots of money and little opinion.
    If you take them by the hand and direct them to spend £100 each on an early-morning reef outing, they'll invariably go for it.
    The Russians just want to have fun, while the Arabs, well, they just turn up, go to their rooms and expect everything to arrive – immediately. Hence our use of the phrase "Sheikh attack" to indicate the imminent arrival of extremely rich oil royalty, with all the attendant frenetic polishing, washing and lawn-manicuring that involves.
    One gentleman had me woken up in the middle of the night because he'd run out of condoms – no doubt while entertaining a group of women he'd flown in from Singapore.
    Later on Friday, Kate calls again. "Mrs Antonov was in this morning and spent £1,500 on bikinis and some beaded Matthew Williamson tops. She is a nice woman. She's looking forward to going on the boat later on this afternoon."
    "Yeah," I say, dunking my biscuit into my tea. "Sorry? What did you say?"
    "She's going on the boat this afternoon."
    I scrabble around at my desk, desperately searching for the number of the charter company so that I can get Mr Antonov's yacht turned around. I manage to contact the skipper and, much to my relief, discover he can be back at the resort in about 90 minutes.
    No sooner have I solved this problem than another arrives. As I walk towards Mr McCann's villa, I can see he has a villa host by the scruff of the neck. "Ah, there you are," says McCann. "Look what I have found here." He waves the villa host in front of me, who has a pair of slippers on his hands.
    "This guy here has been sneaking around the place like some sort of special agent," says Mr McCann. "Look at his hands, for Chrissakes. I don't know what the hell he expected to see. Some sort of live sex show."
    "I am terribly sorry, sir," I say. "I shall have him removed immediately."
    By Saturday it is time to see Mr Antonov and his family off. We are standing in reception and I am shaking his hand. He is effusive about his stay. The sunset cruise last night was perfect – nicely topping up his bill to £70,000.
    Then he gets out his briefcase and lays it on the table in reception and takes out a wad of envelopes. He asks for the names of the people who have been looking after him and hands over $500 (£250) for one staff member and $200 (£100) for each of the waiters; he gives his villa host $2,000 (£1,000) and then he gives me an envelope containing $4,000 (£2,000).
    I tell him it is not necessary to be so generous, but he doesn't hear. He then reaches back into his briefcase and gives me a small box. I am beginning to feel embarrassed.
    I have hardly bent over backwards to accommodate the man. The most difficult thing he asked for was a yacht and I nearly messed that up.
    "Honestly, Mr Antonov, I really don't think this is necessary."
    "Please," he says with a dismissive wave of his hand. "If we only ever did things that were necessary, life would be very, very boring."
    I open the box. It is a Patek Philippe watch worth about £5,000.
    "Do you like it?" he asks.
    "Like it?" I ask, my mouth slightly parched with lust. "It's truly beautiful."
    "I am pleased you are pleased," he says, nodding away. "Oh, there is one little thing that I wanted to ask you."
    "Oh yes?" I say, looking down at the watch.
    "My wife, children and I, we want to come back."
    "Great," I smile.
    "At Christmas," he says.
    "Christmas?" My voice goes up at least an octave.
    "This Christmas." "Oh," I smile back breezily, "I am sure we can squeeze you in."
     
  4. All I can say: I'm glad it's not my job to keep the feckless rich entertained. :push::nogood::roflmfao:
     
  5. i need to go there asap...sounds like fun people watching!! thanks Prada
     
  6. wow. and people think us tpfers are spoiled!
    :roflmfao:

    i cant believe how that man deals with all of those frustrating people.
     
  7. This manager must have an extraordinary supply of patience!!!! But it also def pays! :graucho:

    A Patek Philippe AND a £2,000 tip!

    :nuts:
     
  8. Your welcome Princess... I found the article entertaining.
     
  9. This is too funny!!! And I can believe all of it!!! LOL!!!
     
  10. Entertaining article! But that guy.. blech :yucky:
     
  11. Thanks Prada...soounds like someplace in the Maldives.
     
  12. I have a friend who is a manager at a similar place. He has many stories to tell. The thing is, when I visited his resort, yes, I did see yachts, but the guests were pretty tame. I guess they did a good job of keeping wild happenings private from the other guests.
     
  13. I just don't like that sort of thing :shrugs:
    I prefer to spend my time gardening.

    Why do people think it's fun to boss other people around?