happy birthday, barack!

August 4th, 2010

Political Glamour

Celebrity sightings are all the rage these days, but let’s not forget about government’s royalty. In honor of Obama’s birthday, we’ve rounded up a few locales where you’re likely to run into an off-duty lawmaker or two. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get the chance to bend their ears about your political views over cocktails…


Bern, Switzerland

Bellevue Palace, in the capital city of Bern and right next to the Swiss Parliament, has long been a meeting place for politicians, royals, and dignitaries the world over. As the only 5-star hotel in Bern, the hotel’s luxury is renowned, as is its statesmanlike discretion, making it a natural host for world leaders. During WWII, Bellevue Palace was the picture of political neutrality, as was its famed restaurant, La Terasse, serving guests from Axis nations meeting in one half of the restaurant, and those from the Allied Powers in the other.

Queen Elizabeth and Fidel Castro have stayed, to name but a few. It’s said that more planning happens over cigars on La Terrasse than in the Parliament. 

Rates start at $303/night


Nantucket, Massachusetts

The Obamas may favor Martha’s Vineyard, but Vice President Joe Biden has spent several Thanksgivings vacationing on Nantucket. Follow his lead and check out this charming island in the fall, which is actually the best time to visit. The summer crowds have dispersed, hotels aren’t expensive, the shops have sales, and all the restaurants are still open. Beach weather lasts into early fall, then later, a weekend in Nantucket becomes much cozier as hotels make use of in-room fireplaces. Explore the island by bike and stop for a hot ginger rum tea at The Brotherhood. You also may run into John Kerry and wife Teresa Heinz, who have a home on Brant Point.

Stay at the White Elephant, which is the perfect Nantucket inn and home base for a relaxing weekend right in town and just minutes from miles of beaches.

Rates in September start as low as $265.


Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Tucked away deep in the heart of the Liwa Desert 90 minutes outside of Abu Dhabi International Airport stands the formidable Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara.  Built to resemble the traditional Emirati forts found in this expansive desert, this “Mirage Palace” as it translates, is an explorer’s paradise and this secluded escape is fit for royalty.  The Liwa is part of the world’s largest uninterrupted desert known as the “Empty Quarter,” spanning across four Arab states.  Some of the world’s oldest trade routes can be found in this great expanse, along with towering sand dunes as tall as the Eiffel Tower, and ancient cities buried in sand.

Arabian ritual and tradition are the inspiration for the design of the resort and Emirati sheikhs are known to stay in the resort’s sumptuous villas, whose private entrances and personal butlers are ideal for those in need of a little discretion. And for guests who prefer to arrive by their own helicopter, Qasr Al Sarab boasts its own helipad. 

Qasr Al Sarab is offering a Villa Essence Special Package for stays from now until October 29, which includes accommodations in a suite or villa, villa butler service, bottle of Champagne, and daily breakfast. Rates start at $980 for a suite and $1,252 for a one-bedroom villa.


Toronto, Ontario

The Park Hyatt Toronto is a chic hotel in the Yorkville district and sits directly across from the spectacular Royal Ontario Museum and the Michael Lee Chin Crystal. On a landmark corner, guests get the most spectacular views of the city at its only hotel rooftop bar, the legendary Roof Lounge, which is a favorite among local and visiting celebrities. The Roof Lounge boasts Tony Blair and Arnold Schwarzenegger as regulars, and many former Canadian Prime Ministers, including Lester B. Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, and John Turner.

Rates start at $252 this Fall for a Park King


Oracabessa, Jamaica

Miles away from Washington, the iconic Jamaican resort, GoldenEye, was originally home to Ian Fleming and the location where he penned the James Bond Novels. For decades it has been known as THE glamorous hideaway for everyone from Truman Capote to Kate Moss, as well as President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton.  This November, the new GoldenEye opens after being closed for two years, featuring a compound of luxurious private villas, suites and cottages with amenities sure to please any president and his first lady.  Politicians can take a break from campaigning and participate in the unique and inspirational activity program led by Iona Wynter, Jamaica’s Olympic tri-athlete with experiences ranging from stretch and snorkel to moonlit yoga. Ideal for those looking to avoid media scrutiny, the property features private beaches, secret lagoons and secluded coves. With a $1,000 donation, guests can plant a tree on property (just like Hillary and Bill!) and support the Oracabessa Foundation which encourages and educates sustainable development in the local community.

Special opening introductory rates start at $448/night.

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