The Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament: Celebrity, Philanthropy, and the Allure of Shadow Creek
The Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament hosted by Aria Resort And Casino, was recently held at the Shadow Creek Golf Course in North Las Vegas. Luxist attended the event this past weekend and experienced first-hand the unique blend of celebrity and philanthropy. However, this year the event took place at one of the most alluring, mythic, elite golf courses in the U.S., Tom Fazio's Shadow Creek. And for the first time, the course opened to the general public.
A little more on this golf course: unlike many famous courses, this one is hard to imagine, out in the middle of the Nevada desert, and even harder to find. From the Las Vegas strip, it's about a half hour away -- north on I-15 to Craig Road, then go west, then north again, and finally, through some imposing guard gates. And then, there it is, beyond the gates -- the 350-acre, $60 million plus, exceptionally private, painfully green, Tom Fazio course looking more like courses at Pinehurst, or Kiawah, or Augusta. Anywhere, almost, but Nevada.
Shadow Creek boasts quiet streams, rushing brooks, weeping willows, waterfalls, ducks, pheasants, rabbits, and stone bridges that look eerily like the old Swilken bridge at St. Andrews. Indeed, Shadow Creek, has an untouched, impossibly perfect, movie-set look, as if few mortals would ever dare to actually play the course.
For many years, adding to this ineffable allure, is fact: for years, and even now, ONLY MGM Resort guests are permitted to play Shadow Creek. Green fees are listed at $500.00 -- with limo service to and from the course. And the players must schedule tee times at least an hour apart, giving the impression that golfers are on the course by themselves. All of this plays into an image of ultimate elitism combined with escapism, creating a course intrigue that involves rarity, mystery, and sanctuary.
The course's route runs mostly north and south so the sun's glare would miss the golfer's eyes, and Fazio with his builders, dug 50 feet into the low desert to provide for elevation changes and enough dirt to build hills around the entire property to provide another dimension of privacy. One of the stories heard, perhaps apocryphal, was that many who live close to the golf course don't know of its existence.
Lifestyle Asset Group, a new fractional ownership company, described as the "next generation of luxury vacation ownership," has launched.
This group has created a novel hybrid residence collection, based on the investment fund/equity-based club model. Lifestyle Asset Group allows 100 participants to collectively own 12 residences. The residence's average value is $2.5 million. With a one-time capital contribution of $300,000, each equity owner enjoys seven years of residence access booked on a first-come, first-served basis. Equity owners have the option to transfer their interests at any time without penalties or fees. As part of the Collective Asset Ownership (CAO) model, Lifestyle Asset Group says it operates in a debt-free mode, as it sells interests in the club structure as a means to create collective ownership of multiple real estate assets.
The Russian billionaire, Yuri Milner, has paid $100 million for a second home in California's Silicon Valley, in Los Altos Hills. According to the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch, March 30th, it is the highest known amount paid for a home in the United States.
This home is 25,500 square feet of living area, and was inspired by 18th-century French chateaux (see above). It has 25,000+ square feet of living space with five bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a central entry court, ballroom, home theater, wine cellar, spa/gym, a tennis court, car wash, swimming pool and formal gardens. The living areas are all located on the second floor to take advantage of the dramatic San Francisco Bay Bay view. It was designed by the prestigious Hablinski + Manion Architectural & Planning Group.
Mr. Milner's primary residence is in Moscow, where he lives with his wife and two daughters, but he is a frequent visitor to the high-tech enclave in northern California.
The 47-year-old Internet tycoon appeared on the cover of the most recent issue of Forbes magazine and has invested heavily in Facebook, Zynga and Groupon through his investment firm DST Global. His company is said to control about 10 percent, or $5 billion worth, of Facebook's shares. He also has had positive dealings with the Russian online company Mail.ru.
The home was bought from another tycoon, Fred Chan, founder of ESS Technology, who has reportedly decided to live in Hawaii after building the Silicon Valley mansion.
Mr Milner reportedly made the transaction through a limited liability company called La Paloma Property. After years of relative market flatness, this sale has been seen as a sign that the market in high-end properties on the West Coast are becoming more, well, effervescent.
Gallery: $100 Million Home in Silicon Valley
Since 1927, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel has been the local meeting place of bygone luminaries, including Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. Monroe stayed when her career was just emerging, while Monty stayed during some of the filming of From Here to Eternity.
The hotel itself was named after Theodore Roosevelt, who provided some of the initial funding for the star-studded spot. It was also the first place where the Academy Awards were held.
Within our century, this was the hotel where Prince stayed in 2007, where Michelle Pfeiffer sang on a piano in the film, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and where one of the last episodes of Entourage was filmed.
And as for location, it is right in the middle of classic Hollywood: located on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, across from Grauman's Chinese Theater.
Yet, like any 80-year-old Hollywood star, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, now owned by Thompson Hotels, needed to refresh and renew -- and recently, after a reported $35 million facelift, this process is complete. The 300-room hotel is again ready for the spotlight, with the redesign of the Cabana Rooms as well as the debut of three unique entertainment venues: Public Kitchen & Bar, The Spare Room and Beacher's Madhouse.
Napa Valley is an environment committed to preservation, populated with those who perfect the essence of multi-layered taste -- be it food, wine or both.
French Laundry and Bouchon are in Yountville, also known as nirvana for Thomas Keller pilgrims. Exceptional wineries are tucked away, often from highway view, in Rutherford, Saint Helena, Oakville, and Calistoga. Resorts are also hidden: The Inn at Carneros (up a side road, behind a garden wall), Calistoga Ranch (in a private canyon), Meadowood (at the end of Meadowood Lane and near the base of Howell Mountain) all removed from plain sight, all worthy of joyous discovery.
Those who retreat to Napa that often engage in wine tastings also discover trends. On a recent journey, I uncovered the emergence of late harvest wines that are becoming increasingly well-known and more appreciated than ever before. Swanson Vineyards makes three exceptional late harvest wines, and has evolved into one of the leaders in this field.
Playing Well, Doing Good: The Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament at Shadow Creek, Las Vegas
"I'm truly excited about bringing my tournament to Las Vegas. Shadow Creek is one of my favorite courses and ARIA is a spectacular resort. I love seeing old friends, playing golf and having fun, but the most gratifying aspect of hosting the event is what we've been able to give back." said Michael Jordan in a recent interview.
Significant wealth and great philanthropy are often interconnected, as philanthropic giving among the uber-wealthy is a common occurrence. Bill Gates, Steve Case, Warren Buffett and others have donated billions to help others and have started their own foundations to do it. Certainly, to whom much is given, much is required, is an oft-quoted line from the New Testament in the Bible. This sense of a returning a cosmic favor also lives among significant celebrities, with Michael Jordan as a prime example.
New York Botanical Garden
The nation's largest and only curated orchid exhibition opened on Saturday, March 5th at the New York Botanical Garden, showcasing more than 5,000 orchid plants in a Broadway-style setting. "The Orchid Show: On Broadway" runs through April 25 and features more than 300 species and hybrid orchids from around the world.
For the first time, the setting of the exhibition is designed as a Broadway theater, in order to present the compelling nature of orchids, that includes an orchid stage, highlighting the astonishing variety of these plants in all colors, shapes and sizes.
"It is exciting to me to design this space in a theatrical way. The flowers are like actors on the stage. I provide the framework for the beauty of them," said the garden's Tony award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask. He and image maker Drew Hodges showcased thousands of orchids with theater-inspired set pieces at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. There, the proscenium arch of the Walter Kerr Theater and the promenade of the New Amsterdam Theater have been re-created. It is a rare display of the theater of horticulture, starring the divas of the plant world.
The question is, after knowing something about orchids and their cultivation, having actually seen some in the Amazon wild, and some in my mother's wild backyard, what is it about orchids that create passion? Why indeed are they often called the Divas of the plant world? Possible answers emerge if their history is contemplated. The earliest known orchids were from the Mediterranean region, and were named Orchis -- a reference to the Greek word for testicle, because of the flower's twin oval tubers. These and other orchids have been considered useful in medicine, but the only orchid of Epicurean value is Vanilla planifolia, the source of vanilla flavoring. This orchid was used by the Aztecs and became known in Europe shortly after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
The Cuvée Residence, Lanai
Cuvée Ventures and Cuvée Escapes appears to have lived, since 2005, a well-funded, quiet, under-the-radar yet lively existence within ultra high net worth and wealth management communities.
"One third of our investors are private wealth or money managers. Our rental clients are celebrities, internet and retail executives and sports figures." said Larry Mueller, founder and CEO of Cuvée Ventures and Cuvée Escapes in a recent interview, "they really understand money and investment. But they are also at a place in their lives where they want to enjoy, in addition to substantial ROI (return on investment), what I call ROL -- a return on life investment-- as well."
"My idea to create this high-end, travel community began in 2005, where we could start a fund, create a community of accredited investors, and buy high end properties in cash. We would have great leveraging ability because of this, and after we bought them, either we could enjoy them when we wanted, or rent them out through our other company, Cuvée Escapes. We provide all of the extras -- a concierge on property, private chefs, cleaning services, whatever was wanted and needed by the investor family or the renter. That's the ROL of it!"
Both ideas, as both companies, compliment and supplement each other. Cuvée Ventures is a private equity fund /real estate investment group, whose investors enjoy the $5-8 million Cuvée residences purchased by their fund. When not being used by their investors, Cuvée Escapes also rents the homes, for between $3-8,000 per night.
Unlike the basic destination club model, either equity or non-equity based, Cuvée Ventures is a fund-based equity investment group, and rents the properties it owns, when the investor-families are not using them. It is also, according to Larry, 100% debt-free on its investment in real estate.
A few facts and stats: There have been two funds since 2005 that have purchased exceptional residences -- see next page. The investors pay $750,000 for a 1/2 share investment allowing 15 nights per year, and the full share investment, $1,500,000, allowing for 30 nights per year. The investors may stay at any of the residences available. Each accredited investor owns his or her share of the limited partnership that owns the real estate, so all of the investor money is tied directly to the hard asset. In Fund I, there were 17.5 shares and about 20 investors, and
in Fund II, there were 12 shares and about 14 investors.
Hacienda Santa Ines is an unusual combination of high end resort/sanctuary and working ranch. Set on 300 acres of farmland, it is hidden in the Tres Rios Mountains that loom 6,000 feet high over Cartago, Costa Rica's old capital city. The Hacienda is new, as it just opened for business in February.
Available for one family or small group to rent exclusively at a time, there are 11 guest rooms, with a staff of 25. iPad and iPod docks as well as wi-fi, allow the guests to remain connected to the outside world, if they want to. The theater room has a Blu-Ray library, and the game room offers pool, table tennis, and more. The spa's two masseuses specialize in four-handed treatments. The fully-equipped gym has mountain and valley views with state-of-the-art equipment. Cigars can be smoked in the paneled cigar room. The view from the indoor pool and Jacuzzi is of gardens and mountains.
The chef makes good use of the farm's fresh eggs and vast organic kitchen garden and greenhouse. Rustic lunches are served in the woods, by the lagoon, or at a variety of barbecue spots dotted throughout the ranch. Modern stables house Fresian horses, ideally suited for gentle walks or energetic adventures. A fleet of ATVs are at guests' disposal, perfect for traveling through the estate's private lands and its three micro-climates. There is an elaborate 100,000-square-foot paint-ball field. There are 300 cows. milked twice daily. Children can feed lambs, calves, rabbits, chicks and piglets at the Petting Zoo.
Located an hour from San Jose's international airport, Hacienda Santa Inés is a unique locale for a family gathering, reunion, corporate retreat, or small wedding. Costa Rica's Pacific beaches are 20 minutes away from the Hacienda's helipad. And the Hacienda is ideally located for car or helicopter excursions to San Jose, the capital, as well as rain forests, waterfalls and volcanoes, in Costa Rica's interior. Pricing ranges from $12,000 to $18,500 per day. There is an added price for children and other guests, depending on the ages, ranging from $200 to $500 per day.
More images are on the next page.
Villazzo VillaHotels is one component of Villazzo, the boutique villa company well-known in the US and Europe, partly because it is one of the most expensive, and luxurious, and also because it is modeled on a unique hybrid, combining the boutique hotel and villa models into one. The Villazzo VillaHotel serves celebrities and their entourages, diplomats and their families and extended families, and the like. According to President and CEO Christian Jagodzinski, those who also use Villazzo VillaHotel services are large families, or smaller families who plan multi-family reunions.
The Villazzo VillaHotel are large villas, with multiple bedrooms, ususally also with game rooms, workout facilities, pools, home theatre rooms, with boutique hotel staffs to serve the needs of each Villa guest. The VillaHotel staff includes a resort manager, personal butler, a bellboy, chefs and servers, bartenders, child care specialists and masseuses. None of the staff actually sleeps at the property; so guests have complete privacy.
Two years ago, I stayed at one of the smaller Villazzo VillaHotels in Florida and found it an exceptional experience. The food prepared by the chef was great, the peace of the villas was outstanding, and the limo driver was always ready to take me wherever I needed to go. It was on par and often above the best destination clubs and private residences clubs I have ever sampled.
Miami and Saint Tropez, are two high end destinations where Villazzo VillaHotels can be experienced, and recently Aspen, Colorado has been added to the list. Last month, Villazzo opened three new Villazzo VillaHotels, as well as an office to serve clients and their needs in a personal, high-touch way. There are three new VillaHotels, listed below. More images of the three VillaHotels are on page two of this post.
The first is VillaHotel Natasha, pictured above.
Located just 10 minutes from Aspen, the 11,000 square foot VillaHotel Natasha offers a private luxury ski resort, in a mountain contemporary style. It is a 5 bedroom, 8 bathroom lodge-inspired Aspen luxury villa, featuring a large heated deck on the second level accessible to all of the bedrooms and looks out onto the 4.5 acres of private land. Inside, VillaHotel Natasha offers large living and dining areas with vaulted ceilings, roaring fireplaces, and panoramic windows, as well as a home theatre, billiard room, gourmet kitchen and wine cellar. There is also a heated indoor pool and elevator to all floors. VillaHotel Natasha sleeps 12. Pricing ranges from $10,200 to $19,700 per night, depending on season.