As punishing summer temperatures transform Manhattan into a barbecue grill, the usual suspects who populate local events—fair-weather socials and peripatetic Hollywood stars—migrate to luxurious hotels and resorts around the globe. (We know because they frequently post images snapped poolside on Instagram.) But at which hotel retreats do they stay? My epic journey to find out included galas for New Yorkers For Children, DKMS, and the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, as well as the Museum of Modern Art’s screening of Farewell, My Queen.
Dennis Quaid recently checked into the spectacular $4,000-per-night overwater Presidential Suite at the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa with his wife Kimberly Buffington-Quaid. Amenities at the two-story villa-on-stilts include a 40-minute daily massage for each guest, pareos and leis upon arrival, and shell leis when you leave (if you ever do). Christina Applegate, Rob Lowe, and Jacques Chirac have all stayed there.
Meanwhile, Frédéric de Narp, the debonair, French-born CEO of Harry Winston, and two dozen of his elegant friends traveled by seaplane to the Sunset Beach hotel on Shelter Island, touching down on the picturesque bay out front. Nearby, in a tiny hillside vineyard, de Narp had a long, narrow white table set for 80. And at dusk, as the heavens turned deep orange, he made a toast in which he noted that, in his opinion, Sunset Beach was one of the most glamorous hotels anywhere.
During cocktails back at the restaurant, Anne Vyalitsyna, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, suggested the Eden Rock in St. Barts. “It’s on this huge rock that juts out into the ocean. And they even have a Rockstar suite, which has its own recording studio.”
Later, I trekked back to the broiling city to attend MoMA’s screening of Farewell, My Queen, a period film about Marie Antoinette—another person who knew a thing or two about getting away from the city—and the events leading to the French Revolution. “The one that sticks out in my mind,” designer Behnaz Sarafpour said, “is the Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur, India, where they filmed the James Bond movie Octopussy. It is a white marble palace with a man-made lake built around it.”
“Tawaraya Ryokan in Kyoto,” answered designer Olivier Theyskens, also in attendance. “It looks like a traditional, old Japanese house with paper walls. Very, very old and beautiful.”
“A hotel in Italy called La Suvera,” said Joshua Jackson, there to support his girlfriend Diane Kruger, who portrays the queen. “It’s 45 minutes outside of Siena on top of a hot springs and was built as a papal mansion. The restaurant is set in the midst of an olive grove.”
“The most stunning hotel—which I’ve only seen in photos—is the Amangiri in Utah,” chimed in Kruger. “I’ve tried to book a reservation there three times and it was full every time.”
At the New Yorkers for Children event, Erin Heatherton, the altitudinous Victoria’s Secret model said to be dating Leonardo DiCaprio, also named the Amangiri in Canyon Point, which straddles an enormous rock formation and is a 25-minute drive from the nearest town. “You’re just completely isolated by nature,” she said. “It really made me feel humble. You are just on a different planet.”
“The Mandarin Oriental in Paris,” answered supermodel Coco Rocha, on designer Zac Posen’s arm. “It’s not super-European, where they’ve kept it like an old château. I can actually stay there and not think I’m going to break something. And I like that they know my name, although when there are ten of them saying, ‘Hi, Coco,’ at the same time, it gets a little creepy.”
Brazilian-born jewelry heir Luigi Tadini, meanwhile, pointed out a hotel further off the beaten path. “The Txai Resort in Itacaré, Brazil,” he said. “They have one of the most beautiful spas, where every fourth wall is missing, so you’re just looking out at virgin beach.”
“The Grand Hotel at Villa Feltrinelli on Lake Garda in Italy,” stated Vie Luxe founder and candle purveyor Marjorie Gubelmann with confidence at the Met for Sloan-Kettering. “It was restored by Bob Burns, the founder of the Four Seasons, as a personal project with all the modern conveniences. So it’s extremely small but well appointed.”
“The Grand Hotel Quisisana in Capri,” said actor Mark Consuelos, also at the Met. “We went there on our honeymoon,” explained his wife, the plucky television host Kelly Ripa. “I’m not sure they will let us back,” added Consuelos. “We had a very good time.”
Later that night, at the just-opened IWC flagship boutique in midtown, the Inquisitive Guest encountered Channing Tatum and his beautiful wife, actress Jenna Dewan. “It’s in Bali. Baby, where did we go?” Dewan asked Tatum. “The Aman in Ubud,” answered Tatum. “Those are the best resorts,” said Dewan, nodding.
Upstairs on a low couch, Adriana Lima named yet another Aman resort. “The Amangani in Jackson Hole,” she said. “It’s very romantic. Google it!”
At the DKMS gala at Cipriani Wall Street, model Julie Henderson, on the arm of her boyfriend, Alejandro Santo Domingo, said that her favorite getaway was just a series of huts on a private island in the Seychelles. “The Desroches Island Resort was amazing,” said Henderson. “You get your own little hut and your own little pool in the back. I didn’t want to leave.”
Texan-born Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s sister, performing that night, gave a nod to the Thunderbird hotel in Marfa, Texas. “It’s such a chic hotel, but in a very laid-back, cool way.”
On his way into the same event with Ashanti, the rapper Nelly answered with swagger and charisma: “The [Palazzo] Versace on the Gold Coast of Australia. It’s real private and so Versace. Dope.”
And on the eve of the debut of The Dark Knight Rises, with paparazzi keen to learn her whereabouts, Anne Hathaway sidestepped the question demurely. “I’m not sure I’ve been to it yet,” she offered.