Ha Thanh Phong
Beyond traditional pursuits of the wealthy such as golf, polo or private jets, the super-rich are indulging in new and even more elaborate hobbies.
Of course, traveling is not exclusive to the wealthy, as almost anyone can load up a backpack and hit the road. However, on list of luxury pursuits, the concept of travel has been redefined in the most expensive way: flying by private jet, staying in the Presidential Suite at a 5-star hotel or resort, using special spa services such as mud baths with 24-carat gold leaf facials or enjoying private meals served by Michelin three-star chefs. Such a full-course vacation can easily run into the millions dollars.
You may think that a “staycation” is meant for those looking to save money. But for the ultra-rich, a home vacation means buying a resort or an island and making it their own temporary home. Many smaller islands in the lovely Bahamas, which is warm and sunny all year round, are in fact owned by celebrities and prominent figures, from Johnny Depp to singer Shakira to US billionaire John Malone. Bill Gates is also said to have secretly owned a private island called Grand Bogue Caye, while Canadian nightingale Celine Dion publicly purchased a beautiful island in Canada, on which she had a splendid French-style grand mansion built.
Of course, football is loved by billions fans around the world, regardless of their social status. But wealthy football fans have redefined fandom. For instance, oil tycoon Roman Abramovich is so fond of football that he bought Chelsea FC and invested hundreds of millions of dollars into this legendary English Premier League club. At this level of passion, Abramovich is clearly expressing his own football fanaticism. He even goes to the locker room to visit the players after every game, whether they win or lose.
Enjoying a bottle of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir is far from a novel pursuit, but making your own wine is a trend among wealthy connoisseurs. Celebrities such as famous golfer Arnold Palmer, actor Brad Pitt or American director Francis Ford Coppola are a few of the faces of a new generation of winemakers.
Finally, a growing “hobby” among the ultrarich is sharing what they have to help the less privileged. Bill Gates and his wife top the list with donations exceeding USD4.6 billion. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and his wife ranked second with their total donation value of USD1.9 billion, while the computer tycoon of Dell and his wife have also doled out USD1 billion on charity. Perhaps this is the unique passion that not only brings joy to the participants but can also serve to inspire countless other people around the globe.