The Rich and Famous
By Lead Travel Writer, Renee Fontaine
“It is better to live rich than to die rich”
— Samuel Johnson
Living rich — what a fantastic concept! Everyone dreams of such a privilege. In Greenwich, CT “living rich” is the way of life. In 2005, Money Magazine named Greenwich number one of the 100 Best Places to Live and ranked it in the “Biggest Earner” category. In fact, according to Forbes’ 2011 list of the world’s billionaires, eight live in Greenwich. Moreover, Greenwich is home to many other high-profile people such as actor/director Mel Gibson, TV personality KathieLee Gifford, NBA player Rolando Blackman, and US Senator Richard Blumenthal. Havingbecome a trendy vacation destination, Greenwich’s reputation continues to grow.
Intrigued about what sets this historic city apart from other wealthy communities, I set out on my journey for an answer.
Easy Commute to NYC
Grand Central Station is where my journey to Greenwich began. I arrived on the 150th anniversary of this historic New York City rail station. Grand Central is still today a major arriving and departing spot for travelers and commuters alike. Elegant marble walls and floors with an arched sky blue ceiling emanate a feeling of grandeur in the Main Concourse. Wide grand staircases on opposite sides lead to raised balconies: one with an Apple store and one with two restaurants. Each staircase is a perfect location to watch for an arriving friend.
Cipriani Dolci, an Italian restaurant on the west balcony, is where I waited that day for my boyfriend’s arrival. A diverse mix of people passed by in the crowded concourse below — some waiting at ticket counters while others crossed quickly to platforms to catch a departing train. In my mind’s-eye, I imagined what this scene would have been 150 years prior — women in long dresses wearing elaborate hats and men in tightly tailored suits with top hats. My mind fast forwarded to the 1960s to think about how opposite this panorama would have looked — women with mini dresses and bouffant hairdos and men with long hair wearing wide lapel coats. How this image has changed through the years!
Coming back to present day reality, I paid my bill and strolled through the various shops located within the station’s passage ways. Finding a quaint wine shop, I browsed through the broad selections and chose a bottle of Spanish wine. When I returned to the Main Concourse, my boyfriend was standing by the information booth looking through the crowd for me. As I approached, he only noticed me when I was right in front of him. The location and greeting was like something out of an old romantic movie.
We grabbed our suitcases and boarded the train to Greenwich, Connecticut. The rhythm of the train was a soothing complement to our conversation during the short forty minute ride. The proximity of Greenwich to New York City makes Greenwich the perfect destination for families or couples seeking a sophisticated small-town feel with the convenience of Manhattan at the doorstep.
Arriving at the Greenwich Station, a taxi was waiting to escort us to our vacation home. Driving through this well-known town, we immediately observed that Greenwich’s wealthy reputation justified. Every street is lined with large lavish homes and estates — architectural wonders with finely manicured gardens.
Situated on an acre of land, this charming New England style home came into view shortly after passing the Greenwich County Club. Large mature trees, flowering bushes, and a babbling brook create a magical fairytale setting.
Entering this luxury home, we were mesmerized by the charming early twentieth century interior design blended with modern day elegance. Following the antique style black and white checkered entry floor, we were drawn by the soft natural lighting in the main living area to the right. All the fine details one would expect given the home’s prestigious location are combined in artistic symmetry. Large white leather sofas and chaise lounge grace the center of the living room. A double-sided marble fireplace enhances the elegance and provides a warm glow on cool winter evenings. French doors on the far wall lead to park-like backyard with rolling hills, mature trees, and the alluring brook.
French doors on the opposite wall lead to a cozy stylish den with a plush white leather sectional and a flat screen television. Just past the den, we spotted the large country kitchen with black granite countertops. Soft natural light from the large picture windows provides a calming ambience and magnificent views of the gardens. A spacious dining table at the center invites memorable family dinners.
Returning to the opposite side of the main entry, we discovered the spacious sleeping quarters which included two bathrooms and three spacious bedrooms. The master suite is an oasis with a luxurious king-size bed and large his and her closets. On the far wall, French doors open to the back patio and gardens — a picture perfect view! Equally elegant is the en-suite bathroom with an antique style appeal and bay window. Across the hall, the two guest bedrooms provide spacious elegant retreats — each with two queen size beds and generous closet space.
A feeling of “living rich” reverberated through each day of our stay. The fine details such as the soft fine bedding, aromatic flower arrangements, and amply stocked kitchen made us feel as if we had arrived home. Each morning we lingered over a breakfast of fresh fruit and eggs in the soft natural light illuminated through the large kitchen windows. Afternoons, we snuggled up on the plush living room sofas in the glow of the fire to converse about our day’s exploration in Greenwich. Each night we slept like a dream in the cloud-like bed.
As one would expect in a community of the rich and famous, the available amenities are as numerous and appealing as the beautiful homes. The Country’s most prestigious golf course, the Greenwich Country Club is located just a short stroll down the road. Founded in 1892, this first class, family-oriented club offers a full range of services including an 18-hole golf course, driving range, racquet courts, swimming pool, and dining/social facilities. Visitors may play on the course, but new memberships are allowed to a select few. Seven additional courses within Greenwich and many more in the surrounding towns, make this location truly a golf lover’s dream.
Bordering Greenwich on the east side is the infamous Long Island Sound. This serene shoreline with small inlets and coves makes for a nature lover’s haven. Immaculately maintained parks, trails and public beaches offer several ways to enjoy the seaside beauty. Massive oceanfront estates and yacht clubs dot the remaining areas of the coastline. Greenwich Harbor is located near the center of town providing ample docking for majestic yachts of Greenwich’s elite. The harbor-side restaurants are a trendy meeting place for the rich and famous during the warm summer months.
Often we enjoyed strolling down Greenwich Avenue — the main shopping thoroughfare. Lined with an abundance of fine restaurants and shops, each day brought new discoveries. One bright and sunny afternoon, we stumbled across Meli-Melo including. This bright and lively creperie style café has more kinds of crepes that one can eat in a year, fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juices and a variety of health-hardy lunch choices.
One day, friends from New Caanan drove down to meet us for lunch at Terra on Greenwich Avenue. In the ambience of the afternoon light, we reminisced about times spent together the years in the Caribbean.
While strolling past the shops along Greenwich Avenue one evening, we got caught in the rain and took cover under an awning of a nearby building. A woman with her children who had also taken cover heard us discussing restaurant choices for dinner. Kindly, she recommended , Mediterraneo which was just across the street. Dashing through the rain and through the door, we arrived a bit wet. The soft lighting and stylish chic furnishings provided the perfect ambience for a romantic dinner. Finding a cozy table for two, we ordered two glasses of red wine and toasted to the beauty and splendor of this amazing town.
The service provided by owner and host Lauren Berger makes her guests feel like they are living the life of a billionaire. In fact, the impeccable service she provides to her guests far exceeds the service provided by even the finest hotels. She personally caters to her guests to assure they feel at home the moment they arrive at one of her properties. Orchestrating the small details from the flower arrangements, to the fine bedding, to helping her guests become familiar with the area, makes guests feel as if they are home. Her stunning yacht is offered for rent in conjunction with luxurious home providing the full seaside experience.
She has plans to enlarge the home by adding an indoor lap pool, outdoor pool, and second story making this home even more inviting for large families and sport’s enthusiasts.
Sunset Over Greenwich Cove
The day before we left, we took the scenic winding road past Old Greenwich to Greenwich Point Park. Driving past the stately beachfront homes, the sun lowered in the sky. We arrived just as the sun was setting over the calm waters of Greenwich Cove.
As we sat in the cool evening air in awe of the beauty and serenity of the pink sky over the calm gray water, my mind wondered back to the idea of “living rich.” I had discovered what sets Greenwich apart from other wealthy communities. The tranquil landscape, family neighborhoods, small town setting, proximity to NYC, fine amenities, and welcoming residents unite to create a “living rich” feeling unmatched by any other town. The rich, and famous of Greenwich understand that “richness” goes beyond material wealth to encompass the characteristics that bring true happiness and fulfillment to life. For availability and reservations at Lauren Berger Collection you may call her at (888) 522-1099, (239) 671-2920 or (646) 629-9669.
This property was selected for the Ultra Luxurious category due to the size and comfort of this luxurious home and the atmosphere of Greenwich. This property is suitable for the categories of Vacation Rentals for the Sports Enthusiast, Super Romantic, Beach Area.
Comments Welcome: Make a comment below (our writers work hard…give them some love!) on any of our Live Reviews by Travel Writer Cindy White, Liz Manduca, Emily Yurcheshen, Deborah Nelson, or Renee Fontaine, and get a FREE Digital version of The Vacation Rental Travel Guide when it is hot off the press!