Road Trip!

As most of you know, high profile estate management is 24/7/365 job. My most recent contract project included complete renovations of a 33,000 sqft historic property and a total redesign of service delivery and SOPs in another nearby 22,000 sqft property. I was up daily by 6am to answer the questions of contractors, then over to the main house to let in maintenance and housekeeping crews, have meetings with staff to get the day started, and answer the dozens of emails that had mysteriously appeared in the hours since I last checked them at 6; all of this before my morning coffee. Often, days ended after midnight as the owners held private events and dinner parties.

When I was finally able to hand over the keys to the new property, and happy with the management plans in-place and new staff hired and trained, I eagerly hit the road to have some much needed time off. Being the workaholic that I am, I used my coast-to-coast adventure to begin expanding the Celebrity Estate Management Network and meet with some the Estate professionals who have been contributing thus far.

My trip started with a month in South Beach, enjoying the sun and pristine beaches along with Michael Bay, Just Bieber, Christian Slater, Iron Chef Morimoto, and too many reality TV and print models to count- and that was the off-season! I was surprised at the huge inventory of $10-$30M homes and the lack of professional Estate Management services. If any of you know of good agencies or resources there, please let us know so we can share them with the network.

I then took off on a cross-country adventure through Texas, Arizona, and California. In Austin we caught the Austin City Limits Music Festival where we checked out how the VIPs and Talent are cared for. We also ran into ‘Boyhood’ producer, Richard Linklater, and started to understand a bit about why he chooses Austin over Hollywood. In LA we chatted with Personal Assistants Kelly Wade and Madeline Chaen, both members of the Association of Celebrity Personal Assistants who gave us their take on working with the A-List of Hollywood. A side-trip to Venice included an interview with Alexander Westgarth, a high value wine broker, who filled us in on the basics of investing in the wine market, and a stop into Alexandra Balahoutis’ perfumery Strange Invisible Perfumes. (Alex is the daughter of prolific producer Jerry Bruckheimer). Back in Beverly Hills, our newest PA hit Rodeo Drive in search of tips for working with personal shoppers.

We took a gorgeous coastal drive up the 101 through Santa Barbara and mid-CA wine country up to Mountain View in time for Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit. While the whole show was amazing, we were wowed by the impressive Tom Jones. At 74 he’s still got it and had the crowd up on their feet for his whole set. The business part of that excursion led us to Palo Alto and the Luxurious Rosewood Sand Hill where we had a chance to catch up with Executive Protection Agent Josh Kaufman. He shared his perspective on the industry in Silicon Valley and what estate managers should look for in an agency.

Next stop – Napa Valley. We were so excited to be able to catch Estate Manager Stella Martins just in time for her olive orchard harvest. The estate she manages produces an award-winning olive oil, which we were able to see from tree to bottle. Sonoma’s The Olive Press was fascinating as we watched the day’s harvest go through the process of cold pressing and received a lesson on the process from Master Miller Chris Gilmore. Stella invited us back to a mountaintop summer house on the property to share some of her experience and insight into rural high profile estate management, and a taste of Blue Skies Olive Oil.

Our final stop placed us smack dap in the middle of World Series fever in San Francisco. Amidst the chaotic enthusiasm, we managed to sneak into the soft opening of the Mission District’s hippest private event venue. It’s a collaboration between the Chris Lim Gallery and Dalat Gardens, an exterior design firm lead by Dat Pham. The space is a convergence of gallery, meeting and event space, and pop-up garden shop. It was a gorgeous evening and the space is sure to be booked solid for small gatherings this holiday season. We also caught up with Atelier Gabriella Daher shooting her winter collection- and it is fantastic!

We have great photos and video of our trip and invite you to check back in coming months to meet the newest members of the Celebrity Estate Management Network. If you’d like to be profiled, drop us a line. We’d be happy to chat!

Laura Carney

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