Homes

Saturday 26 July 2014

€80,000 per month...the real price of disappearing

Mark Keenan

Published 14/03/2014|02:30

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Luggala Lodge, Co Wicklow
One of the sitting rooms at Luggala, Co Wicklow

The Rolling Stones partied in this Co Wicklow hideaway and it's where the prince of pop, Michael Jackson, hid for three months from the world's media

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IF you're an international superstar and you want to vanish completely off this planet then €80,000 per month is the price – and the place is Luggala Lodge in CoWicklow.

Luggala, with just under 6,000 acres attached on the shores of Lough Dan, is Ireland's largest privately owned country estate and is estimated to be worth somewhere between €15m and €20m. The main house is also Ireland's most expensive private residential rental – at €20,000 per week, non negotiable.

The price includes the services of two private cooks schooled in traditional Irish dishes, the use of a Rolls Royce and a Mercedes and the services of a butler/chauffeur named Eugene.

Luggala's custodian, Doctor, The Honourable Garech Browne, the founder of Claddagh Records and a member of the Guinness family has long mixed with famous friends in the world of entertainment since the 1960's (the Rolling Stones are among those to have partied here) and the Beatles song "A Day In The Life" was written about his late brother Tara Browne, a good friend of Lennon and McCartney's who died in a car crash in 1966.

Upon travelling more frequently abroad Garech began letting the property out quietly eight years ago as a super private retreat for big names in world entertainment to continue a family tradition of hospitality there.

The property has been constantly in use and the rent has not budged from €20,000 per week despite the recession. It hit the world headlines when it emerged that Michael Jackson stayed there for three months in 2006 – but only long after the Prince of Pop had left Ireland.

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Such is the strength of the client privacy agreement at Luggala Lodge that silence and respect is maintained in accordance with the property's strict confidentiality agreement – even after the client's death – as proven twice in the last twelve months when two international film companies were separately turned down on their lucrative requests to rent Luggala for the going rate.

A source adds: "Both film companies – one from the US and another from the UK – wanted to film paranormal reality TV shows in the property and to search it for signs of Michael Jackson's ghost."

The requests followed a spate of bizarre media stories in the USA that Jackson was haunting a range of properties including the Jackson family home (his sister reported his ghost tap dancing there), Neverland (allegedly his ghost was caught on a big channel news reel in the corridor there), the home/studio of Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas who claims he no longer makes his music at home as a result and most unusually, the stage of Cirque Du Soleil's show at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.

However Garech Browne's management, judged both film projects to be disrespectful to a former tenant and therefore both crews were politely turned down. Thus far however there have been no nocturnal moonwalkings reported at Luggala which tops the charts for Ireland's most expensive short let property.

Previous projects to have used the private beach and the property include 'The Vikings' TV series which turned the beach into a Viking port while Gerard Depardieu was here filming the 'Asterix' movie.

"World names have jetted into Ireland and stayed at Luggala and have flown out again and no one has been any the wiser," says letting agent Nick Crawford of Crawford Properties who has been placed in charge of finding clients to rent the 18th Century hunting Lodge.

"The sort of people who stay here tend to move in the same circles and spread the news about it by word of mouth. If you want to disappear off the planet for a couple of relaxing weeks amidst some of the best scenery in the world then Luggala is the place.

"Consider of all the sort of people who stay here more usually stay at suites in the world's top hotels where the rates are as high when you add it up over a week or two. Second, even those hotels become samey after a time so Luggala is somewhere completely different for the type of net worth individuals who value their privacy and their security above all else. For these reasons, it's pretty much recession proof."

For that sort of money tenants get a sumptuously decorated seven-bedroom castellated home. It was originally built as an exotic hunting lodge for the LaTouche family in the 18th Century and acquired by the Guinness family in 1937 as a wedding present for Oonagh Guinness, Garech's mother.

Aside from the butler, chauffeur and cook services, guests can also order entertainment from Irish musicians and singers.

The Gothic Revival house has twin bathrooms which open into one another, a magnificent and plush drawingroom, a plasma TV room, full office facilities and a formal diningroom. There's also the plush olde worlde four poster bed favoured by Michael Jackson during his visit.

The international promotional literature states: "Hospitality at Luggala is legendary. Here you will experience what has been enjoyed by royalty and inspired musicians, poets and artists."

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