Rich People Problems: Touchiest Travel Questions Answered
THR's advice columnist Victoria Klein Wainscott solves the top three awkward scenarios that can rain on otherwise perfect vacation plans.
This story first appeared in the July 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
IT'S NO SECRET THAT I'M WORTH A BILLION. MY WIFE AND I ARE STAYING WITH FRIENDS IN THE HAMPTONS, AND WE WANT TO GET A GIFT THAT DOESN'T GO OVERBOARD BUT DOESN'T LOOK CHEAP, EITHER. SUGGESTIONS?
Barring handing them a blank check, you're smart to assume middle range is the way to go. Two things to consider with the Hamptons: preppie pervasiveness and outdoor parties. An Hermes blanket is always coveted, and they range in price from $1,375 (for summer weight) to $2,800. On the other hand, L.L.Bean has a chic multicolor striped blanket for $379. For $30 to $230, Missoni beach towels are one of the great wonders of the world -- and you will be invited back. Or surprise your hosts with a stylish Jonathan Adler brass tic-tac-toe board ($195) or retro-charming backgammon set ($295), a Trina Turk Pucci-slash-Palm Springs print ice bucket ($58) or the Kate Spade 1950s picnic basket ($134), which you should go ahead and fill with a few bottles of Domaines Ott. If you give them that, I want to be invited. As for the age-old dilemma of whether to arrive with the gift, send it later or bequeath it at the end of the trip, consider this: You'll have a much nicer time if you give it the minute you walk through the door.
MY HUSBAND AND I ARE STAYING AT THE FOUR SEASONS MAUI, WHERE WE ALWAYS RUN INTO OTHER INDUSTRY COUPLES WHO WANT TO DINE WITH US. HOW CAN WE DECLINE WITHOUT BEING RUDE?
Darling, the Four Seasons Maui is hardly an escape from Hollywood. It's like Sundance with no snow: Tout le monde of Hollywood is there, only year-round! That said, if you choose to invoke the great Greta Garbo and plead privacy, there are only two real excuses: romance and tragedy. Go with the happier route: Say you and your husband are on your second honeymoon (even if your first divorce is right around the corner). No one wants to get in the way of a little action -- that would be utterly anti-Hollywood. We consulted etiquette colleague Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, and she adds: "I would say, 'We have plans tonight and a lot to discuss -- but let's set up an alternate date.' And it wouldn't be rude at all if that date were after your return." Now let's hope you don't get in a huge public spat like Charles and Nigella and blow your cover.
I'M STAYING AT A FRIEND'S VILLA AT LAKE COMO. HE HIRED AN AMAZING ITALIAN CHEF, BUT I'M ON A STRICT VEGAN DIET. CAN I BRING MY OWN CHEF?
Oh, honey, NO ONE diets in Italy! You are denying yourself one of life's great pleasures. When I go there, I eat everything I want, walk everywhere (particularly to designer stores), then go full-throttle ascetic when I get home. If you insist, indulge your denial (but remember, most Italians will think you're from the moon, not L.A.) and take the advice of Lulu Powers, superstar chef to the A-list, who says: "Yes, bring your own chef, if you are that concerned. But to avoid insulting him, your chef should assist his chef after cooking your meals." Another idea from Beth Ginsberg, a private chef to wealthy clients: "Why not just ask the chef to stock Gianluca Mech, an Italian company specializing in dairy-free food? The protein pasta is fabulous, I use it in L.A., and it has to go through customs, but it's worth it." Mangia!
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