Eat, Stay, Pay

Photographs: Contributed

If American Crime Story wasn’t enough of a peek into the over-the-top lifestyle of Gianni Versace, book a stay at his Villa. Breakfast with Donatella not included.


For the guest who wants bragging rights and the ultimate Instagram, look for hotels with exclusive partnerships. Versace’s former villa in Miami Beach (yes, that one) has been transformed into a tony boutique hotel with only ten rooms—THE VILLA CASA CASUARINA. Touring the gold-gilded mansion is strictly off limits to the public, except for Villa guests and guests of The Setai (the hotel that owns the Villa) who dine at Gianni’s at the Villa. The Villa was originally built in 1930 by an heir of the Standard Oil fortune but found infamy when the designer was gunned down on the steps in 1997. Now those stone steps provide the backdrop for dozens of fan photos, which, thanks to the recent American Crime Story miniseries, has increased immensely. But only a privileged few can take a selfie in front of the mosaic swimming pool, designed with 24-karat gold mosaic tiles imported from Italy. Rates at the Villa range from $550 to $1,400 per night and start at $575 per night, at The Setai; the private tour is included with a dinner at Gianni’s.,

Go behind the scenes of the pomp and circumstance at the Vatican. Photograph:©palinchakjr


Anyone can book an after-hours tour of the Vatican. As Greenwich-based travel advisor Sandy Grodsky points out: “Vatican tours are a dime a dozen, but a tour with the SWISS GUARD, that’s something special.” Swiss soldiers have been protecting the Pontiff at all costs for over 500 years, and Sandy can set you up with an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at not only the Vatican, but also the Swiss Guard’s living and training quarters (starts at 2500 euros). Sandy has also created magic for clients by arranging dinners in China with top Chinese economists. (Can you say “trade war debate?”) Another client favorite is premier access at the GRAND PRIX IN MONACO. She can arrange a viewing from a private terrace or yacht and even get you in the pit (ranges from €8,000 to €15,000 depending on the package chosen).;

The fast and the furious: Get the best seat in the house at Monaco’s Grand Prix.


There are plenty of luxury concierge businesses that promise once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Membership can run six figures and results are not guaranteed. Steve Sims of The Bluefish Company does things a little differently. Membership is only $5,000 per year, but you can only become a member after being personally vetted (basically, they need to like you). Once you gain access to the inner circle, the magic happens.

Recently, Steve relayed a few of his favorite client stories. One member wanted a very exclusive dinner in Florence, but Florence is not known for swanky exclusivity. So Sims created an over-the-top meal by setting a table for six at the feet of Michelangelo’s David; and for the evening’s entertainment, Andrea Bocelli serenaded the dinner guests. Oh, he also got a couple married—by the Pope. (Dinner with David will cost you in the ballpark of $275,000 and the Pope, well, he’s upwards of $350,000, if you can get him.)

But perhaps the best story is about a guy who loved the band Journey. He used to play in a cover band when he was young but always dreamed of playing onstage with the actual band. Sims got him onstage with his Fender guitar for four songs with the original members of the band. (When pushed for price, he says that replicating a similar experience would cost around $350,000, but for members only.)

A private dinner under David? Why not?
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