Even the rich have to make their holiday villas pay these days – which is why Wayne and Coleen Rooney invite you to stay in their villa in Barbados, writes MARIE-CLAIRE DIGBY
"GUESS WHAT? I’m sleeping in Wayne Rooney’s bed.” When I relate this nugget of information to friends and family, the reactions vary from disbelief to a vaguely unhealthy interest in every detail of the footballer’s sleeping quarters in his €5 million holiday villa in the Caribbean island of Barbados.
Needless to say, the Premiership footballer and wife Coleen are not in residence when I hop into their giant leaba – white Egyptian cotton sheets, pale green satin comforter and six-foot long bolster that has to be hauled off the bed every night, since you ask.
When the Rooneys wake up in the master bedroom of their villa, they look out over a sparkling blue infinity pool and tropical gardens, across the perfectly manicured greens of the Royal Westmoreland championship golf course to the Caribbean sea, glittering in the distance.
The adjacent dressing room has lots of space to store Coleen’s extensive bikini and kaftan collection, though there are surprisingly few hangers. Perhaps she packs her own? In the cream marble bathroom, the corner bath is big enough to qualify as a plunge pool, while the walk-in shower would easily accommodate six (should the need arise). There is, however, no full-length mirror, a discovery that makes me wonder momentarily if this is indeed the Rooney residence.
Downstairs, a private chef is preparing breakfast and serving it at one of two enormous outdoor dining tables on the terrace by the pool. The sun is shining, of course, and a lazy day stretches ahead, filled with sunbathing, swimming, and perhaps a jaunt on a privately hired catamaran to swim with turtles.
In the evening there’s duty-free shopping to be done at the new Limegrove Lifestyle Centre a couple of miles down the road in Holetown, where the glass of Champagne that greets you as you walk into the imposing two-storey Cartier jewellery store is a pleasant prelude to the discounts of at least 20 per cent you’ll enjoy on your purchases. Louis Vuitton, Breitling, Theo Fennell, Chopard, Armani and Ralph Lauren offer further opportunities to snap up bargains.
Back at the Colonial-style clubhouse at Royal Westmoreland, pre-dinner cocktails are enjoyed in the company of some of the neighbours – fellow villa owners and footballers Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and David O’Leary, as well as cricketers Andrew Flintoff, Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick, and golfers Ian Woosnam and Lee Westwood among them.
Dinner will be either a dress-up-and-be-seen outing to one of the platinum coast’s excellent restaurants – CinCin, a contemporary Mediterranean in St James is the hot ticket at the moment – or an informal poolside barbecue at home, with local seafood and prime US rib steaks cooked by one of the Royal Westmoreland estate’s personal chefs.
Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it, and if you have deep enough pockets you, too, can live the Rooney lifestyle by renting their seven-bedroom villa, with guest cottage, from between £1,200 and £3,000 a night. It sleeps 14, so if you brought 13 (close) friends along, it would be almost a bargain.
Next door, No 8 Ocean Drive, belongs to former world champion boxer Joe Calzaghe and is also for rent. It’s a little more affordable at between £925 and £2,100 a night. Peak rental time is mid-December to January 2nd, when the heavy hitters land on the island, with reduced rates applying thereafter.
The Royal Westmoreland estate is a gated community of luxurious villas and apartments dotted around a championship golf course (with a second course in development). There’s a private beach club too, with attended sun loungers – wave your blue flag and someone will bring your choice of refreshments – a spa and a gym.
The Rooney villa is spacious and tastefully furnished in a neutral but discreetly luxurious fashion. There are six bedrooms opening off wide and airy pale marble-floored hallways (and a further guest cottage in the garden).
The massive kitchen has lots of gadgets and appliances and there’s a pool kitchen and wetbar, too. The TV room features the biggest plasma screen I’ve ever seen and the main reception room has a series of doors opening to extensive covered terraces surrounding the infinity pool.
There are few clues to the house’s celebrity ownership. Brigitte Laurayne, resort manager, says Coleen left framed family photographs everywhere, but staff took them away for safekeeping. In a downstairs cupboard there are beach bags stashed in a corner, filled with children’s toys (staff get a list of things they have to buy for baby Kai in advance of the family’s arrival), sunscreen and Kérastase hair masks.
The Rooneys are usually joined by family and have a personal chef prepare breakfast and sometimes dinner for them. “He’s not a fussy eater,” executive chef Nick King says of Rooney. “He likes barbecues – he loves his grillin’. I prepare everything for him and he cooks it.”
Of course not every night is spent at the villa. Gotta show off that bling occasionally, and Barbados has lots of top-class restaurants, bars and nightclubs to visit. Modern Italian food is on the menu Daphne’s, the Barbados sister restaurant of the London celebrity hangout of the same name. Further up the coast, Paul Owens serves an amazing eight-course tasting menu at The Cliff, one of the island’s very best restaurants. At Lonestar, idyllically positioned on a white sand, turquoise water beach, you might bump into local girl Rihanna, regular visitor Mariah Carey or, if you’re less lucky, Michael Winner and Simon Cowell.
For information on Royal Westmoreland, see royalwestmoreland.com, 0044-1524-782503. Rates start at £230 per night for a one-bedroom apartment. Virgin Atlantic has daily flights from London Gatwick to Barbados
Restaurants for celeb spotting
Daphne’s, Payne Bay, St James Reservations: 001 (246) 432 2731, daphnesbarbados.com
The Cliff, Derricks, St James
Reservations: 001 (246) 432 1922, thecliffbarbados.com
Lone Star Restaurant Hotel, St James Reservations: 001 (246) 419 0599, thelonestar.com
MOVES LIKE JAGGER: Celebrity holiday rentals
IF YOU WANT to holiday like Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger, here’s your chance: he rents out his luxury Mustique estate, Stargrove. The Japanese-themed beachfront villa has six bedrooms, a pool, tennis court, billiard table and hot tub, as well as a full staff. Yours for €11,100 a week.
Richard Branson rents out Australia’s Makepeace Island, a 23-acre estate, which is heart-shaped and sits in a river. He bought it in 2003 and initially used it as his own family retreat but has recently thrown open its gates to the paying public for just €6,000 a night. The island comes with its own riverboat, tennis court, theatre, spa, and pool.
You’ll have a hard time finding a James Bond villa, but you can stay in the next best thing. Goldeneye is Ian Fleming’s former estate in Jamaica which was subsequently bought by Bob Marley. Now owned by music mogul Chris Blackwell, rates start at around €4,000 per night.
Frank Sinatra is no longer with us but his desert holiday home, Twin Palms in Palm Springs, lives on. The 4,500 sq ft house has three bedrooms, five bathrooms and a piano-shaped pool and costs approximately €11,300 a week.
Opt for Bing Crosby’s nearby Palm Desert estate, restored to its original 1930s glory including pool and tennis court, from €815 a night.
If you prefer your celebrities alive check out the Residence, Bruce Willis’s oceanfront property at Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos. The five-bedroom, five-bathroom villa sleeps 10 with rentals starting at €4,000 a night.
In Antigua, rock star Eric Clapton’s 45-acre Standfast Point has two pools and accommodation for up to 10 (plus staff). You have to apply directly to get the official rate but it’s reported to be in the region of just over €37,000 a week.
About the most beautiful vessel to grace water is luxury yacht the Vajoliroja, whose owner, Johnny Depp, ain’t bad either. The 1930s-style vessel commands rents of up to €98,000 a week in high season.
Steven Spielberg’s 86-metre mega-yacht, Seven Seas– with infinity pool, helipad and movie theatre – was launched last year and initially made available for private hire for a cool €1 million a week but – before you reach for the credit card – he has since changed his mind. Someone must have spilled tanning oil on his sofa. - SANDRA O'CONNELL