By Stacy Jenel Smith
For the entertainment world's biggest names, the ultimate in dreamy romantic honeymoons are easily within reach - and choosing the appropriate latitude and longitude are simply a matter of one's taste and mood. The more exclusive, the more desirable, of course - and if it's incredibly expensive, well, all the better to keep out the riff-raff.
As Britney watchers are well aware, the pop songstress and her groom Kevin Federline jetted off to exotic, pristine Turtle Island Resort after their September wedding. This couples-only Fijian retreat - setting for the Brooke Shields movie "Blue Lagoon" -- has 14 waterfront thatched cottages, each with saunas, 'fridges stocked with gourmet items, and 14 private beaches where champagne picnic lunches are delivered at your bidding. Newlyweds can go horseback riding, fishing, sailing, swimming, wind-surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, mountain bike riding, hiking, sunset cruising and, of course, romantically frolicking. The cost is a mere $1,728 per night.
TV's Bachelorette, Trista Rehn, also honeymooned with Ryan Sutter there. Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz vacationed there. And Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey honeymooned in this little patch of heaven as well. But all is not perfection, evidently, even in paradise. Nick and Jessica complained on their "Newlyweds" show that they found giant roaches there.
You may recall that Tiger Woods and his bride, Elin Nordegren
, found an even bigger surprise on their recent honeymoon -- when armed officers of the U.S. Coast Guard boarded their mega-yacht, Privacy, while they were honeymooning in the Caribbean in October. (That little misunderstanding came about because the yacht docked in Puerto Rico's San Juan Harbor without advance notification.)
Still, Tiger's and Elin's honeymoon fits right in with the hottest trend in vacationing among the rich and famous. Chartering luxurious yachts has always been a favorite celebrity activity, but perhaps never more than during this past year or so - despite price tags as high as $350,000 a week for floating 5-Stars that boast accoutrements from saunas to helipads, and staff including gourmet chefs who are on call around the clock.
Beyonce and Jay-Z reportedly chartered the $200,000-a-week Mia Elise for an Indian Ocean vacation last summer (a practice honeymoon?), for instance. Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey (them again!) were photographed by paparazzi holidaying aboard the $3,100-a-day Felina off the coast of Mexico last Spring. And Giorgio Armani not only created the wedding attire for Mira Sorvino and her groom, Chris Backus, but the famed designer also provided a romantic getaway on his private yacht for the couple after their wedding on the Mediterranean Isle of Capri last summer.
Woods reportedly hired the $57 million, 150-ft. Privacy for two weeks as a wedding present - after he'd already chipped in around $2 million for his and Elin's Barbados wedding.
Other celebrities prefer to get their island views from the beach. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills opted for rainforest splendor for their 2002 honeymoon. Following their wedding in Ireland, they journeyed to the ultra-exclusive private Fregate Island resort - just 16 luxurious bungalows, and it prides itself on being eco-friendly. The isle is located in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of southeastern Africa.
Among the celeb brides and grooms who've been lured by Hawaii's blend of natural beauty and sumptuous resort accommodations are Matt LeBlanc and Melissa McKnight; Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor; Clint Eastwood and Dina Ruiz, and The Dixie Chicks' Martie Seidel and actor Gareth Maguire (who wed in Hawaii, honeymooned there, then went to Ireland and had another wedding and honeymooned there as well). In September, "Baywatch's" Michael Bergin tied the knot with makeup artist Joy Tilk, his longtime girlfriend, at the Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville, Kauai. The now-divorced Nic Cage and Lisa Marie Presley are among the notables who've done their nuptials at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on Kona.
The Mauna Lani, a favorite of stars, boasts five beachfront bungalows offering the epitome of luxury, with private pools, butlers, maids and chefs. There's even a landing strip for private planes. The famous folk who get away from it all there are prepared to spend around $4,000 a day for the privilege.
'Course, some folks don't want to get too far away from it all. "Friends" star Courteney Cox and actor David Arquette did a two-part honeymoon - Part 1, relaxing in the Caribbean, Part 2, goofing around at DisneyWorld in Orlando.
The balmy beauty of the Caribbean has attracted many other well-known couples besides the Arquettes, of course. For Taye Diggs amd Idina Menzel, Jamaica was the ideal honeymoon locale. Solange Knowles and Daniel Smith wed this year at Old Bahama Bay resort on Grand Bahama Island, then stayed for their honeymoon. (The breathtakingly beautiful resort has recently been under renovation following this year's disastrous hurricanes. For awhile, help operations were being run from it.)
Europe holds the key to romance for other celebrity couples. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick wed in New York, then headed to Ireland for their honeymoon. Kevin Costner and new bride Christine Baumgartner - avid golfers who met on the links - began their honeymoon in Scotland at the world famous Royal and Ancient Course in Saint Andrews. After that, they traveled to Italy, to Viareggio, one of the most beautiful seaside resorts of Tuscany. Tori Spelling and Charlie Shanian, who married one day before the Costners, last July 3, went to Italy as well, to honeymoon at the Villa d'Este in Cernobbio on Lake Como. Venice's Hotel Cipriani was the honeymoon spot for the now-divorced Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
One of the finest hotels in the world, the Cipriani boasts an ultra-attentive staff trained to memorize your face and name, even if you're not a star. It's situated amid beautiful gardens at the end of the island of Giudecca, just four minutes, by the hotel's private launch, to the Piazza San Marco. Suites (around $3,000 a night) overlook the lagoon, with its gondolas and view of St. Mark's square.
With their crammed schedules, oftentimes time is more precious than money for superstar types. That's one reason some stick closer to home. With the California beach community of Santa Barbara being touted as the Riviera of the West, it comes as no surprise that celebrities turn up there often. Mira Sorvino and Chris Backus wed in Santa Barbara -- before their second wedding on the Isle of Capri. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin tied the knot there, Holly Marie Combs and David Donoho married at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara. "Will & Grace" star Debra Messing and screenwriter Daniel Zelman wed at a private estate near Santa Barbara in 2000, then spent their first night as husband and wife at Santa Barbara's Bacara Resort. With suites featuring everything from fireplaces to multi-line phones, the Bacara, situated on 78 beachfront acres between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez mountains offers one, three and four-story villas scattered among lush gardens.
Santa Barbara's Four Seasons Hotel and the sumptuous Bacara were both reported as sites for the "Bennifer" wedding that never was.