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The Billionaire Buyout: Publicity Stunt or Ultimate Luxury Travel Triumph?

When Cameron Jensen checked into the 79-suite Grand Velas Boutique Los Cabos Resort in Mexico in January, he felt like the luckiest guy on earth (or at least like Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth). The Instagram influencer, who works under the handle @freedom_hustler, had come to the resort to do what he does best: Post. But to Jensen’s surprise, he wasn’t just a guest; he was the only guest in the entire resort.

“If anyone wants the place to yourself, come now,” he said on TikTok. “Bingo starts soon. Some of these games aren’t 2 player #freedom #abandoned #resort #blackmirror #vacation.”

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The video got over seven million views.

Grand Velas Boutique Los Cabos Resort in Mexico
The entire 79-suite Grand Velas Boutique Los Cabos Resort is available to one couple for $600,000.

While the “influencer finds himself in an empty resort” gag may smell of publicity stunt, the newly opened resort denies orchestrating the event.

“It happened organically,” said Juan Vela Ruiz, vice president of Velas Resorts. “When we saw and heard what he was saying about having it all for yourself, we were thrilled. They didn’t know they would be alone. We had just opened, and there happened to be no other guests.”

Even if it hadn’t masterminded the event, the resort was quick to capitalize on it. Soon after, it began advertising a Billionaire Buyout, where you can have the entire resort to yourself for three nights for $600,000.

The buyout puts the all-inclusive hotel’s staff of 180 at your service—that includes two-star Michelin chef Sidney Schutte. The spa and pool are all yours. You’ll arrive from the airport via helicopter and enjoy a sunset tour on the resort’s private yacht. There’s personal training sessions and after, all the Dom Pérignon you can drink.

Moreover Ruiz notes this is not a wedding buyout package nor is it for groups—it’s aimed at (and priced for) couples.

“The price would be double for a group,” he said. “This is a unique experience for couples, geared to your needs. All the attention is on you. Many of our guests appreciate that.”

Of course, private buyouts like this are nothing new. Masters of the universe routinely buy or rent out entire islands and small luxury camps. In fact, most small isles from the Maldives to Bora Bora offer some kind of buyout. (For instance, the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort’s buyout runs from $390,000 per night to $2.73 million per week.) But if the point of buying out a private island was maximal privacy, then what Grand Velas and its ilk are offering couldn’t be more different.

With designed-for-social-media gimmicks like a $25,000 taco, at Grand Velas, being noticed is the point. It’s privacy as ultra-conspicuous consumption. Not only does the resort get a more than half-million dollar payday, but it catches the attention of millions of eyes on social media. Double win.

In real estate, sensational pricing is a common marketing tool. A $45 million mansion in Manhattan may not win headlines, while a $100 million mansion will. So why not price the spread at $100 million, scoop up those headlines and then sell it for whatever you can?

Is a $600,000 buyout in Los Cabos anything different? (We’re talking about it now, aren’t we?) And perhaps that’s why, the number of highly priced, non-island, non-wedding resort buyouts is booming around the world right now.

The exterior of the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
Islands, like the St. Regis Maldives, routinely offer full resort buyouts for privacy conscious guests.

For example, the 33-room, Relais & Chateaux-endorsed Weekapaug Inn in Watch Hill, R.I., has long been a quiet, weekend escape for New Yorkers. Now, its owners—Weekapaug resident and investment tycoon Lang Wheeler and Watch Hill resident and hedge fund head Chuck Royce—are offering the entire resort as a two-night buyout for $125,000. Dubbed the Milestone Getaway, the deal commemorates the Inn’s 125th anniversary this year.

“We are naturally romantic,” Weekapaug Inn’s general manager Daniel Abrashoff tells Robb Report. “We call ourselves barefoot elegance.”

Friends and family are also welcome to join the barefoot romance. They’ll be cared for by the resort’s 130-strong staff, along with its chefs and in-house naturalist (who leads guided walks, kayak trips, and stargazing).

Equally understated is Naviva, the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, where you can now cough up $195,000 for three nights and all 15 luxury tents on its 48-acres of jungle.

Still, if the point is to go viral, one of the best places to do that is Mykonos. There, the 40 luxury suite and villa Cali Mykonos, opened in 2022, has hit the market for $61,788 per night.

Wilburton Destination Resort in Vermont
Billionaires like to book out the Wilburton Destination Resort in Vermont, but you don’t need to a 10-figure bank account to have a solo experience here.

Sure, big numbers make a splash, but further evidence of the buyout’s reinvention as a marketing tool is demonstrated by attempts at relative democratization. After all, why limit your customer base to the world’s roughly 2,640 billionaires?

In the mountains in Costa Rica, the Hacienda AltaGracia from Auberge Resorts is now advertising the All-About-You buyout, which takes you out into nature with an “experience designer” to tailor your stay. You might call it “baby’s first buyout,” as it gives a taste of the real thing for just $1,500 a night. And at the Wilburton Destination Resort in Vermont, an early 20th-century mansion in the Taconics you can play billionaire for only $5,000.

“JP Morgan’s family stays every Christmas,” said Melissa Levis, whose family owns and runs the resort. “A certain billionaire who made a fortune in electric cars, not Elon Musk,” she noted, “rented the 15 bedroom mansion and only used three rooms: one for his friends, one for his wife, and one for him because he snores!”

Levis says the buyout allows them to offer guests private ski lessons at Stratton, massages, and fireside dinners.

So is the buyout still about buying absolute privacy? Or is it about social media infamy? A crass attempt at guerrilla marketing? All of the above?

The Point Resort in the Adirondacks is getting back to the origins of the private buyout by focusing on family and friends.
The Point Resort in the Adirondacks is getting back to the origins of the private buyout by focusing on family and friends.

Back in 1933, banking scion William Avery Rockefeller built the Point Resort as a private retreat for his family in the Adirondacks in Upstate New York. Today, the 11-room, 22-guest all-inclusive is getting back to those roots. It’s offering a $37,600 per night buyout for families or groups of friends.

The means under 21s are welcome at the normally adults only hideaway—pooch are welcome, too. It means 75-acres of private hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing trails, and the exclusive use of its vintage motorboats on beautiful Upper Saranac Lake. Skinny dipping? Who’s to know? Just put away your phone.

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