From Billionaire Playground to Accessible Adventure?One traditional, yet still exclusive, playground for Francophiliac billionaires is the ski resort town of Courchevel, where the new Russian tycoons congregate for lavish winter parties. As the Washington Post reported, “For the Russian visitors, Courchevel’s attractions are the privacy it offers and its fabulously expensive hotels, bars and fashion boutiques. It is also one of the few Alpine resorts with a private airfield for executive jets and it is a short trip across the border to the Swiss banks where many rich Russians bank their millions.”
While the charms of France and the Bahamas are undeniable, some corporate moguls prefer their playgrounds to be on American soil. Billionaire businessman George Soros has a manse in laid-back Ketchum, Idaho, adjacent to Sun Valley. He and other famously wealthy types appreciate the area’s laid-back atmosphere and the easygoing neighbors. “People here are much more interested in how your skiing was that day, or if you caught a fish, than who you are,” explains Bronwyn Patterson of the Sun Valley/Ketchum CVB. Developer Steve Wynn, John and Theresa Heinz Kerry and Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner also keep residences here.One billionaire who’s long appreciated America’s playground potential is Ted Turner, the larger-than-life media man—and the largest private landowner in North America. An outspoken preservationist, Turner continues expanding his super-sized ranches on the great American plains. The largest now spreads across seven states, including Nebraska, Montana, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota and New Mexico. He hopes to own two million acres before he dies; he’s not far from his goal.
But owning everything isn’t everything. Billionaires are also known to seek out singular experiences that play into their other hobbies or interests. With deep enough pockets, it’s now possible to scuba dive with Jean-Michel Cousteau, cook with renowned chef Eric Ripert and improve your backhand with coach Nick Bollettieri, who trained Andre Agassi and the Williams sisters.