Published January 27, 2006
Do you spend your days staring longingly at glossy shots of celebrities lounging poolside?
Well, it's not too hard to join them.
Travel experts say there are a lot of tropical destinations you can go to that aren't very expensive, but let you vacation like a movie star nonetheless.
Florianapolis, an island off the coast of Southern Brazil, is the next "it" destination for celebrities, and it's still affordable for the rest of us, according to Jason Harper, editor at concierge.com, the companion Web site to Conde Nast Traveler.
“It’s the kind of spot where a lot of supermodels end up going,” Harper said, adding that Gisele Bundchen and her current surfer beau Kelly Slater have frequented Floripa, as it’s more commonly called. “It’s a hot surfing spot, so a lot of those people hang at the local bars.”
Harper also said the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Brazilian real makes the area a particularly attractive vacation destination.
“South America is totally affordable,” Harper said. “So where you might have gone to St. Tropez, you can recreate that feeling in South America.”
More and more boldfaced names are also showing up in Miami. So far this winter, Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, Matt Damon, Leonard DiCaprio, Mischa Barton, Ricky Martin and Shakira have all hit the Latin-infused hot spot. And the city is noticing, said Teen People editor Shirley Halperin.
“I know they’re making an effort, the city of Miami, to draw more celebs around the year,” Halperin said. “There’s a lot of construction going on and I think people will buy condos there. That place is really exploding with development.”
Dorothy Robinson, an entertainment editor at a daily newspaper in Philadelphia, is planning a trip to Miami next month. However, Robinson, 25, said celebrities weren't a factor in her holiday planning.
"I am going to Miami, not to watch the celebs, but just do things I would do here — eat, drink, and party. But just in warmer weather."
Halperin said Mexican resort getaway Cabo San Lucas has also become a staple for the celebrity jet set.
“It was really the hot spot for the last two or three years and now the rest of the world has caught on. People are flocking by the droves.”
Among the reasons celebs like Jessica Simpson, Brad Pitt, John Travolta and Oprah Winfrey have all recently visited Cabo: it's very close to L.A., it wasn't hit by any hurricanes last year and it has plently of luxury resorts that cater to a star's every want and need.
Simpson chose the One & Only Pamilla, with its fully equipped spa and infinity pools.
But for the rest of us, another attractive part of Cabo is its range in prices.
“If you want to stay in the city, it’s much more affordable. And you can drive from California, so you can do it the budget way if you want to,” Halperin said. Even the pricey One & Only Pamilla offers some reasonable prices, she added.
Another home away from Hollywood for many stars is the Caribbean island of St. Bart's. While many a star has vacationed there in the last few years, they're now investing in the area, Halperin said.
“More and more are buying property. And I think that’s a trend right now,” she said, adding that Shania Twain bought a place in the Caribbean and that music mogul Clive Davis brings his artists to his estate in St. Bart's every year.
However, the British Virgin Islands are an affordable alternative to St. Bart’s, which has recently been visited by Martha Stewart and David Letterman and is “astronomically expensive,” according to Concierge.com's Harper.
Another locale popular with celebrities is Kauai, Hawaii. Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz have both retreated to the island, and Michelle Branch was there for Christmas, according to Halperin.
And because it’s still part of the United States, currency and language issues that arise in other countries are never a problem.
But Trish Del Grosso, a 26-year-old analyst from Philadelphia, said her upcoming trip to the Grand Caymans islands in the Caribbean wasn't much influenced by celebrities, but rather the ease of procuring a place to stay.
"My friend's parents own a place there, so it's not only beautiful and warm, but it's free, too."
However, if star-gazing is your thing, she did have a celebrity sighting last year in Las Vegas.
"I was there for a bachelorette party and we saw Tiger Woods on the dance floor, surrounded by women."