Where to book your own private island for your birthday
These luxury retreats are sure to make turning a year older memorable.
Remember when a cake and a clown were enough to keep you happy on your birthday? Chances are your idea of a good time will have evolved quite a lot since then. For one thing, it will probably involve less face paint.
If you happen to find yourself with one of those milestone adult birthdays ending in a “0” looming before you, and you’re looking to celebrate with something a little more imaginative than a dinner out, we’ve got some stellar suggestions.
Book your own private movie house
The Rio (left) and Ambler theaters are both available for party rentals. (Photo: Rio: Eugene Kiim/Flickr/Ambler: Montgomery County Planning Commission/Flickr)
During the heyday of Hollywood’s Golden Age, when going to see a film was was a big event, movie theaters sprung up all around the U.S. And these weren’t your run-of-the-mill modern-day multiplex. The lavish design and interiors of these buildings – think plush velvet seats, ceiling murals and chandeliers – reflected the glamour of the Hollywood scene. Though cinema outings are sadly on the decline, a few vestiges from the good old movie-going days remain, with many offering themselves out for private party rentals.
The Ambler Theater in Philadelphia, a Spanish-Colonial style venue dating back to 1928, is available for private screenings, birthday parties and cocktail receptions. Looking for somewhere further south? Try the Prytania Theatre in New Orleans, which dates to 1914 and is said to be the oldest still-operating single-screen cinema in Louisiana and oozes old-school atmosphere. Out west in California, meanwhile, you’ve got the marginally more modern Rio Theater in Monte Rio. Established in 1949, this quirky theater – occupying a semicircular corrugated steel hut – has long been an integral part of the local community. You can rent out its 220-seat auditorium for private screenings and arrange for a cocktail party, barbecue or other catered event in the café or on the lawn.
Book your own private spa
New decade, new you? If you want to start a new decade in a better state than you ended it, skip the bar and opt for a spa session with your friends instead. The Ghattas Bath in the Israeli port city of Acre is a painstakingly restored Turkish bath house in an original Ottoman building. It's a prime candidate for intimate birthday celebrations, capable of hosting parties of up to 20. You can hire out the spa for your own exclusive use, relaxing as you move leisurely between the hot marble beds, the steam room, the dry sauna and the jacuzzi. You can nibble on fresh fruit and sip complimentary drinks, enjoy an olive oil foam skin scrub or a stress-relieving massage. If you want to make a day out of it, book the group in for a post-spa meal at the famous Uri Buri seafood restaurant, which is just a stone’s throw away.
Looking for something closer to home? A quick Google search will reveal lots of spas that host birthday parties – including the Grand Beauty Spa in Florida, the Pearl in Maryland, and Haven in New York.
Book your own private island
If you want to go big for your next big birthday, you could always plan a celebratory private island break for you and your nearest and dearest. There are few more dreamy destinations than the Urraca Island Private Island Eco-Lodge, located in Bocos del Toro, a string of paradisiacal islands off Panama’s Caribbean coast. If you book the coral reef-surrounded mangrove island for exclusive use, here's how you can expect to spend your days: dozing in bright stilted pink cabanas over fish-filled water, swimming in the ocean, hanging about with the owners’ troupe of pet monkeys and lounging away afternoons in the hammock on the second-floor ocean-view terrace. Tours – including excursions to meet native Ngobe, indigenous people of Panama, and traveling by boat to some of the other islands in the postcard-perfect archipelago – can be arranged should you and your friends or family want to explore further.
If you are looking for an island escape on U.S. soil, you and up to six of your loved ones could hole away on Quiet Cove Key in the Florida Keys. Your base will be a 38-foot houseboat, which is moored to a private island – complete with grills, picnic tables, docks and outdoor furniture – that you and your guests will have all to yourselves. Should you need to reconnect with civilization at some point, the island community of Marathon is just a five-minute boat ride away.
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