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From St. Barts to Safaris, How Hollywood Spent Its Holiday Vacation

Where Haim Saban, Leslie Moonves, Dana Walden, Simon Cowell and other industry elites stayed and played during the December respite.
From left: Leslie Moonves, Dana Walden and Simon Cowell
Getty Images

This story first appeared in the Jan. 11, 2013, issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Every year during the last few weeks of December, Hollywood becomes a virtual ghost town. Agencies shut their doors until after the new year; studio execs take their families on much-deserved vacations; and cars on the 101 actually move. It's a rarefied pause in an industry known for its round-the-clock mentality. Some embrace the city's temporary vacancy. "I love the holidays in L.A. There are so few people out on the streets," says producer Gavin Polone. "Every Christmas and New Year's, I drive around enjoying the sparse traffic and available parking." For others craving a change of scenery, it's the ideal time for a getaway. "My family and I are going to do a London Christmas since it's sort of where Christmas was really invented," said producer Todd Lieberman. "We're going to go to Hyde Park and go ice skating and do a Christmas lunch."

PHOTOS: Where Hollywood Vacations in Winter: The New Chic Getaways

VERMONT

Norman Lear stayed in his house, which was once owned by Robert Frost

LONDON

Producer Todd Lieberman
Robert Pattinson
Gwen Stefani
and Gavin Rossdale

PARIS

APA president and CEO Jim Gosnell
Hilary Swank
Halle Berry

ARIZONA

Glee's Becca Tobin (Scottsdale):

"I traveled from Los Angeles with my dog Sophie to Scottsdale, Ariz., to meet up with my parents, sister, uncles/aunts and my new 8-month-old nephew, Jack. We started a family tradition two years ago to all meet in Scottsdale every year for Christmas and New Year's as a family. While there, I enjoyed my time just relaxing and doing some family hiking with everyone. I also took some time over the holidays to connect with both DJ Ashba (of Guns N' Roses) and James McGibney to talk about our plans for the website BullyVille.com that I am the female spokesperson of, to come up with programs to create awareness and help put an end to bullying in 2013."

COLORADO

Producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy (Telluride)
Stylist Elizabeth Stewart (Aspen):

"I am going to Aspen -- but more importantly am attempting to go 'off the grid.' "

Jami Gertz (Aspen)
Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M (Aspen)
Jerry Seinfeld (Telluride)
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Kyle Richards and Taylor Armstrong (Vail)
Designer Kelly Wearstler (Aspen):

"Spending the holidays in Aspen has become a family ritual, and I look forward to the trip each year. It truly feels like an escape -- the snowy mountain setting is just so peaceful and relaxing. I love to spend my mornings at Arjuna for Bikram Yoga to clear my head. My boys and I go snowboarding at Snowmass every day and then head to the Aspen Rec Center for swimming and water volleyball. I tried ice skating this year, too, which was a blast. By the end of the day, we're all beat and like to unwind with dinner out at our favorite spots in town -- Su Casa, Matsuhisa or Wild Fig -- followed by movies and snuggling before bedtime. Then we do it all over again the next day!"

Kate Hudson (Aspen)

HAWAII

APA's Barry McPherson (Waikiki)
20th TV chairman Dana Walden (Kona)

MEXICO

Nigel Lythgoe
WME partner Richard Weitz (Cabo)
Terry Semel and family (Cabo)
Les Moonves (Cabo)
Producer Greg Berlanti (Punta Mita)
Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston (Cabo): The couple hosted friends John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Jimmy Kimmel and Molly McNearney in Cabo. Also spotted: ID-PR’s Mara Buxbaum and Ray Romano at One&Only Palmilla.
Charlie Sheen (Cabo)
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Cabo)
Music manager Scooter Braun (Cancun)
Director Phil Lord (Yucatan)

CALIFORNIA

Adam Levine, Chris Brown and Rihanna hit the Lakers game Dec. 25 in Los Angeles
Showtime entertainment chief David Nevins (Montecito)
Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth (Palm Springs)
Logan Mulvey, CEO of GoDigital (Del Mar)
Tom Sherak (Los Angeles):

"For the last 35 years I've gone to my backyard for the holidays. I've chosen never to go away this time of year. It's very peaceful. Everybody else goes away. When I worked at a studio, it was the only time I could go into everybody's desk when they were gone. I was the only one that stayed around. I don't have that to do anymore but it's more fun to stay around. We used to take the kids to their friends' parents, pay for their vacation, and we'd stay home. So I'm staying home. I'm not breaking tradition. We're just hanging out and trying to enjoy -- corny as it sounds -- peace and goodwill to everybody. Even to the people who don't like you."

Producer Mike Medavoy (Palm Springs):

"My son is playing in a basketball tournament in Palm Springs, and my wife and I are going to stay in a friend's house and watch him for four days. He plays center. He's 6-foot-8 at 14 and he's varsity. I'm 5-foot-8-and a half."

Producer Gavin Polone (Los Angeles):

"I love the holidays. There are so few people out on the streets. Like every Christmas and New Year's, I will drive around, enjoying the sparse traffic and available parking, fantasizing that there has been a terrible plague (preferably meat-borne, since I'm a vegetarian) that killed enough people to make this city more pleasant and livable."

Donna Langley, co-chair Universal Pictures (Ojai)

"The whole family goes to the place we have in Ojai. It’s an hour and 15 minutes away, though it feels like you're 10 hours away. It’s incredibly idyllic."

Producer Ron Yerxa (Santa Cruz):

"We drive to Santa Cruz.  It’s heaven. It’s the center of culture in California. It has surf, redwoods, a university, music clubs and more happening people who think they’re in the 60s than any other town."

James Brolin and Barbra Streisand (Los Angeles)
Lionel Richie (Los Angeles):

"When all of Hollywood goes away, I stay home. I travel all year, so a hotel is not a fantasy; it's a reality. I can't wait to just be home by the pool with my family."

Sherry Lansing (Los Angeles)
Haim Saban (Los Angeles):

"My wife has been in New York for four months and I have been going back and forth. [For the holidays], we will not move an inch from our Beverly Park home."

Suburgatory creator Emily Kapnek (San Francisco):

"I have tons of homework to do this holiday season. Rewriting scripts and outlines, watching cuts, doing notes -- so there will be no vacation in the classic sense. No lounging on the beach or visiting exotic locales.  No 'relaxing' per se. But I wanted to do something fun. Something rad. So I decided to get my first tattoo. I picked an artist that I liked in San Francisco, and I bribed my 13-year-old son, Oszkar, to come with me by promising to take him sneaker shopping on the trip. Yesterday, we flew up and did it. He got some new Air Force 180s, and I got some new ink. It was fun and terrifying and painful. After the day's events, we had dinner together and walked around the city a little. Everything looked really festive for Christmas. And then we flew home."

Katy Perry and John Mayer (Santa Barbara)

ATLANTA

Chris Tucker

SOUTH AMERICA

CAA's Michael Kives and Mosaic's Michael Lasker (Peru and Brazil)

UTAH

Showtime's Trisha Cardoso (Deer Valley)

RHODE ISLAND

President of entertainment and media, A+E Networks Nancy Dubuc (Bristol)

ISRAEL

Producer Noa Tishby (Tel Aviv)
Dick Clark Productions' Assaf Blecher (Tel Aviv)

ALASKA

Sarah Palin:

"We have the whole family over to skate on the frozen lake, eat and read two traditional favorites -- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and O Little Town of Bethlehem. I make chili, and my sisters and all the kids decorate cookies; then everyone drives or snow machines over to Grandma and Grandpa Heath's house for more food and to open some gifts; then we go to a midnight candlelight service where we squeeze into as many pews as possible to sing and hear the story of Jesus' birth; then everyone goes to their own homes because Santa comes that night. On Christmas day, we wake up early and enjoy lots of coffee, lots of rowdiness and the wonderful clutter of Christmas; then we go up to our local hockey rink where we help at the annual Wasilla Community Christmas Dinner. It's all heavenly. Boring and tackily traditional for some, I'm sure, but heavenly to us, and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

CARRIBEAN

Stylist Leslie Fremar (St. Martin)
Simon Cowell (Barbados)

“I hang out with Lucian Grainge, who runs Universal and now EMI; he’s one of my close friends. Lots of people from the music business are there."

Denzel Washington (St. Barts)
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi (St. Barts)
Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum (St. Barts)
Tim Blake Nelson (Barbados):

"We go to a tiny former retirement community in Barbados with small villas in a horseshoe right on the beach where British families come with their kids. My three boys love it."

CAYMAN ISLANDS

Liz Claman, anchor of Fox Business Network:

"We're decamping to Grand Cayman for some serious detoxing from an unbelievably busy year, what with the primaries, conventions, the Presidential election, Hurricane Sandy and all the huge news stories of 2012. This will be our second year at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman. The resort is nestled on Seven Mile Beach; it has more than half a dozen restaurants on site so we can leisurely eat at different places every night. Last year we did a cabana beachside dinner, where they set up a private table right on the beach with candles and tiki torches and served the most amazing spiny lobster, fresh vegetables and key lime pie. The hotel surprised us with our own private fireworks show, and they even set up a s'mores pit in the sand for the kids so the grown-ups could relax and have an adult conversation! During the day, you just dream the hours away on the beach. They have a poolside restaurant called Bar Jack that'll make you Oreo cookie milkshakes or protein smoothies. All the New Yorkers gather around the huge flat screen to watch the Giants in the playoffs."

NEW YORK

Stylist Kate Young (Woodstock)

CHINA

Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev

AUSTRALIA

Mariah Carey
Leonardo DiCaprio

BAHAMAS

Mandate Pictures president Nathan Kahane
Jackie Collins

AFRICA

Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks Animation (Botswana/Zambia/Tanzania): Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn, were accompanied by their children, David and Laura, and their son-in-law, Mark Sudack, on an African safari. The group camped in the Serengeti, went on a night safari in Zambia and then headed to Botswana.

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