FOR most Sydney residents, Palm Beach is a simple day trip with the family. But from this week, as private schools break up for the year, “Palmy” is undergoing its annual transformation from a Sunday drive to the summer holiday home to the rich and famous.
Palm Beach is bracing for its busiest summer since the GFC — spurred by the Aussie dollar
sitting near long-term lows, and the low-key seclusion of the insular peninsula’s north.
As Matthew Fleming, who heads up Contemporary Hotels, one of Palmy’s leading luxury home letting operators, puts it: “We had the ‘full house’ sign put up for this summer by winter.”
Celebrities, Aussie expats and captains of industry have this week converged on Sydney’s answer to the Hamptons. John Bryant, head of Northern Beaches Holidays, says the dollar’s fall has made Palmy attractive again: “If they’re locals, they’re staying here because the low dollar does not have the same buying power overseas this year. And if they’re living overseas, Palm Beach seems cheap.”
Over the years, everyone from James Packer to Mick Jagger, Nicole Kidman, Elle Macpherson, John Cleese, Rachel Griffiths and the Murdochs have taken beachy summer time out in Palmy.
Packer won’t be present this year, as his global lifestyle drags him to Aspen.
But he will be there in spirit through his right-hand man, Crown chairman Rob Rankin — whose December 29 bash at his stunning Pacific Place property (complete with lifeguards and magicians) will be one of two big parties this season.
The other will be Rich Lister Charles Curran’s bash, a Palmy institution, which skews older but no less exclusive, with Packer’s mother Ros a regular. She is also likely to be at Rankin’s bash.
Matthew Fleming, managing director of Contemporary Hotels, at a property in Palm Beach that rents for up to $35,000 per week.
Others set to hit Palmy include celeb chef Guillaume Brahimi, pub baron John Ryan, fashion godfather Peter Weiss, Rupert Murdoch’s eldest daughter Prudence, Rebel Penfold Russell, and ex-car dealing mogul Laurie Sutton: who owns Palmy’s most famous property, Kalua. There is also word “a global movie star” is on the way.
While some own Palm Beach pads, many have to rent. Fleming is charging $10,000-$35,000 a week. For this, they get a concierge, beautifully-prepared home, champagne on ice and Aesop toiletries. For a bit extra, he will provide a Ferrari, CBD helicopter service, or a seaplane.