Sleep with Your Favorite Celebrity at These Star-Owned Hotels
When they stay at celeb-helmed hotels, ordinary Joes and Janes feel like they can experience something of the lifestyle of their beloved stars.
Just how intensely involved the bolded-name owner is, though, varies from property to property. At some places, the investment represents another stage in a star’s deep connection with a particular community—Clint Eastwood, who was once the mayor of Carmel, California, now owns a hotel there. For others, backing a property is mostly a way to diversify an investment portfolio or experiment with translating their personal appeal into the realm of hospitality.
But even when the celeb’s involvement is more tangential, usually the aesthetic of the places they own or co-own will be in keeping with that particular luminary’s brand.
What follows are stories of 11 stars who are putting their own stamp on the hotel industry.
(Pictured above: The Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize, owned by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola)
The Goodtime Hotel, Miami
At this hotel, there are no rooms without roofs, as the song goes, but the lighthearted décor does seem designed to make guests, yes, happy. Co-owned with Miami nightlife entrepreneur David Grutman, most of this 226-room property is awash in cheery pink and mint green to evoke the Art Deco–era style of Miami Beach, with pops of animal prints, handsome rattan furniture, and whimsical touches like hallway carpets embossed with the faux wet footprints of guests coming from the pool. Guest rooms are tiny, but so are the prices, at least compared with surrounding places—which Williams should be applauded for.
The 30,000-square-foot pool club (pictured above) and its attached restaurant, Strawberry Moon, were built for dancing. In fact, Grutman told People magazine, "We will constantly change the music at the pool, and with Pharrell and my contacts, don't be surprised to see big-time performers out there."
It’s been a rollicking party scene since the hotel opened in April 2021—maybe too much of one. The property was hit with 30 noise complaints in its first six months of operation.
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Gold Coast, Australia
Hugh Jackman holds the Guinness World Record for the "longest career as a live action Marvel superhero." Perhaps as impressively, he also still has a 10-inch difference between the span of his shoulders and waist, even though he’s over 50, when those numbers tend to change (the waist is the smaller measurement, of course). So it should come as no surprise that Wolverine is co-owner of a health resort.Jackman bought a stake in the place after he made his first visit there, and he reportedly still wears a name tag when he's on property (a friendly requirement for all guests and staff).
Rolling over 495 acres, Gwinganna's collection of custom-built and historic buildings (relocated from all over Australia) are all outfitted with special roofs that collect rain for use on the grounds—it’s an ecotourism-certified enterprise.
Buildings share space with organic gardens, palm glades, fresh springs, and lots of critters ranging from kangaroos to a troupe of koalas resettled here by the non-profit Wildcare Australia program. Guests spend their days detoxing and rejuvenating, which might involve long rainforest walks, spa visits, yoga, Pilates, cooking demos, tennis, or classes on resetting one's personal relationship with the "3 S’s" (sugar, sleep, and stress).
Hotel Rival, Stockholm
Hotel Rival celebrates two artistic heritages: owner Andersson’s time in the pop band ABBA (photos and a drum set are displayed in the café, and CDs are in the rooms) and the building’s history as a 1930s Art Deco cinema.
Large photos of movie greats preside over each guest room (pictured above) and there are dramatic touches throughout the property, such as vibrantly colored carpeting and drapes and unusual lighting fixtures. The Rival sits on the island of Södermalm, one of Stockholm’s top neighborhoods for nightlife, which is appropriate since the hotel also hosts concerts and events in its 700-seat auditorium.
Blancaneaux Lodge, Coral Caye, & The Turtle Inn, Belize
Palazzo Margherita, Italy
La Lancha, Guatemala
Jardin Escondido, Argentina
When you’re a film director, you have a lot of experience creating make-believe worlds. And that gift makes Coppola’s hotels unusually evocative environments in which to stay. In fact, the famed director approaches hospitality in the same way that he approaches filmmaking. As he told Condé Nast Traveler, "A hotel is a show. Without a doubt the guests are the audience, the servers are the cast, and the people behind the scenes making the garden look beautiful, they are the crew. And when you expose it to the public and what the press thinks, it is the reviews."
Each of Coppola's six properties has a backstory. Blancaneaux Lodge (pictured above), situated in the 7,000-acre Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in the Cayo Region of Belize, was a family retreat for a decade—the filmmaker liked to write while sitting under the waterfalls onsite, strange as that may sound. When he decided to turn the property into a hotel, he brought in Mexican designer Manolo Mestre, asking him to base the look of the place on the indigenous designs of the Philippines that Coppola had fallen in love with while filming Apocalypse Now.
Coppola's Italian property, the Palazzo Margherita, was built in 1892 by a noble family in Bernalda, which is Coppola’s grandfather’s hometown in the province of Basilicata.
The hotel's Francis suite (pictured above) honors the director's Tunisian-born grandmother, Maria Zas, through tile work and other design elements. Some suites pay homage to Coppola's children and grandchildren with hand-painted frescoes meant to evoke their personalities, plus luxury touches such as clawfoot bathtubs, elaborate chandeliers, and other Italianate flourishes.
At the Guatemalan property, La Lancha, the Coppola family personally chose many of the local hand-woven fabrics, antiques (such as dugout canoes), and carvings, many of which are by local artisans.
For more information, visit TheFamilyCoppolaHideaways.com.
Kate’s Lazy Meadow, Woodstock, New York
You get your own three-bedroom love shack when you stay at the cottage owned by Kate Pierson of The B-52s.
Yes, really. Pierson turned to Phillip Maberry and Scott Walker, the design team (and couple) whose home was used as the background for that party band's iconic video. They helped her create a cohesive look using the "to-die-for tchotchkes from shopping sprees all around America" that Pierson says fill this vivacious, 1950s-inspired lodging.
Guests are greeted by dozens of delightfully kitschy elf sculptures, bulbous Mad Men-era lamps, ceramic bubble art and more, all on 9 bucolic acres. This Catskills home is, appropriately, near the legendary music fest town of Woodstock.
Did young Gloria Estefan dream of becoming a pop star? Not according to the website of the Cordozo Hotel, which posits that what she really wanted was to be a hotelier. "While sitting on a bench with her grandfather," it reads, "young Gloria pointed across the street at the Cardozo Hotel and said, ‘I am going to buy that hotel one day.'"
And so she did, helping to bring this 1939 oceanfront classic back to life. Estefan kept the original name, which is a nod to Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, who served in the 1930s. The property's design was by architect Henry Hohauser, one of the principal creators of the South Beach Art Deco style. The hotel has appeared in a number of Miami-set films over the years, including The Birdcage and There's Something About Mary.
Emilio and Gloria Estefan reportedly poured $15 million into the Cardozo's renovation, reopening the hotel in 2019. Pictured above is the hipster haven that is the hotel's penthouse suite.
The couple knows quite a bit about the hotel biz, having also owned the Costa d’Este in Vero Beach since 2008. At both hotels, guests are greeted with a complimentary mojito, and the soundtrack in the public areas will get your hips swaying.
Mission Ranch Hotel and Restaurant, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Eastwood became the owner of this historic hotel in 1993, but his history with the place (and the town) goes back much further. In 1951, while doing basic training at nearby Fort Ord, he visited the ranch, which was one of the first dairy farms in the region, and had his first legal beer at the bar. Author Robert Louis Stevenson is also known to have visited the ranch, although there’s no intel on what he ordered.
"The first time I saw the place, I thought it was terrific," Eastwood told Architectural Digest. "Visually it was something else, and I thought it was the place I'd like to call home. So I kind of adopted Carmel."
And for him, adoption meant taking over. He served as mayor of the city from 1986 to 1988, and he rescued the old ranch from developers who wanted to level it and replace it with condos. Instead, he rehabbed the property, keeping most of its structures historically accurate and adding furnishings from the sets of several of his films and custom-made furniture from North Carolina.Alas, you likely won’t see Eastwood when you're there. “I’m not the jolly host type,” he told Architectural Digest.
Vermejo Reserve, New Mexico
Ladder Reserve, New Mexico
Armendaris Reserve, New Mexico
Sierra Grande Reserve, New Mexico
Does CNN's founder own the entire state of New Mexico? It can feel like it—and conservationists might say that’s a good thing.
Turner used his billions to buy more than a million acres in four parcels across the state and preserve them by reintroducing wolves, fostering a herd of “genetically unique” wild bison, reintroducing a species of trout, thinning forests to pre-colonization levels, and working to control invasive species.
On each tract of land, Turner built different types of lodgings, from super-luxury cottages to fishing lodges to a spa resort with a natural hot springs.
Pictured above is the Casa Grande Estate at the Vermejo Reserve in northern New Mexico, one of the pricier options. Guests at Vermejo are on all-inclusive packages that cover all three meals, drinks, and two activities daily. Those diversions are fairly high-end, including archery, horseback riding, fishing (in 19 on-property lakes), sport shooting, mountain biking, guided hiking, geocaching, and disc golf.
For more information, visit TedTurnerReserves.com.
DreamMore Resort and Spa, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Although Dollywood has been in business since 1986, its resort wasn’t a reality until 2015, mostly because of owner Dolly Parton’s community concerns.
"We’ve been trying to build the resort ever since we started Dollywood 30 years ago,” Parton told CNBC when the hotel opened. "I’ve been wanting to have a resort. But there are great places in this area that have great rooms an’ all, and we didn’t want to compete with them either, so we tried not to be hoggish about it. We want everybody, but it was time. It was time we had our own place."
The hotel took two years and $30 million to complete. It’s a big place, with 307 rooms, two pools, a full-service spa and salon (pictured above), several dining options, a family game room, and lots and lots of rocking chairs for taking in the Great Smoky Mountains air.
And here she comes again: A second, similarly sprawling property, Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge and Resort, is expected to open in the fall of 2023.
For more information, visit Dollywood.com/resort.
The Bedford Post Inn, Bedford, New York
It seems like half of the paparazzi photos taken of Richard Gere are taken at this combination inn-and-restaurant, which makes him, perhaps, one of the most hands-on hotel owners on this list.
He certainly invested a lot of sweat equity into the place, which his former wife, actress Carey Lowell, described to Vogue as a set of buildings they’d first seen "crumbling by the side of the road" when they rode by on horseback.
They painstakingly restored the 1860 Dutch Colonial main building and the 1732 barn structure, adding eight elegant guest rooms (each with a working fireplace), a yoga loft, and two restaurants to the parklike 14-acre site. Then, when Gere and Lowell split in 2014, he battled her in bitter divorce proceedings for ownership of the property.
Today, the luxury inn is a popular wedding venue and its restaurants are among the best-reviewed and most beloved in Westchester County.
Nobu Hotels (13 properties around the world, with 7 more in the works)
The Greenwich Hotel, New York City
Name a major city, and major movie star Robert De Niro probably has a hotel there.
The most prolific hospitality entrepreneur on this list, De Niro co-owns hotels with chef Nobu Matsuhisa (and others) in Europe, the U.S., South America, the Middle East, and Oceania. The hotels all share one trait in common: They attract a very different type of clientele from the working-class characters De Niro became famous for in such films as Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, and Raging Bull.
But that may be because this superb actor has never been very similar in background or temperament to the characters he plays. The son of two artists, De Niro had a bohemian childhood, attending the arts-centric LaGuardia High School in New York and meeting the likes of Jackson Pollack, Tennessee Williams, Anais Nin, and Henry Miller at his father's loft.
Of his Greenwich Hotel, De Niro told Travel + Leisure in 2009, "This is the way I would do my house. Comfort has been behind the choices I’ve made about this hotel. ... I was telling Ira [his business partner] how much I identified with the craftsmen and artisans—we made a point of hiring the best we could find in New York. I related to the way they worked to get that ... specialness to something. I totally respect that way of working: taking something very basic and making something quite rare out of it."
His properties in the Nobu Hotel group are Asian-inspired in design and are anchored by fine restaurants, but, like the Greenwich, they have every luxury.