Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2004 - Mar-a-Lago Club
OK, so you aren't on television risking imminent unemployment at the hands of real estate mogul Donald Trump on The Apprentice. That doesn't mean you can't hobnob with "The Donald." If you're willing to put out, that is, and we mean big bucks -- really big bucks. For just getting into Mar-a-Lago, Trump's oh-so-exclusive private club in Palm Beach, you'll put out 150 grand. And that doesn't even include the $9,200 annual dues. Trump snapped up the nearly 20 acres that were formerly home to cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and her second husband, E.F. Hutton, in 1985, paying a mere $7 million for the 110,000-square-foot, 118-room estate and its contents. Locals feared he might do something vulgar, like divvying it up into smaller parcels or turning it into a casino. Instead, he plunked down another $2 million for a beach and created a haven for the ultrarich (and got an award last year from the Historical Society of Palm Beach County for restoring the property). If you're among them, you'll have access to an expanse of beach, tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a spa. You'll also be expected to live up to the image of a contemporary Palm Beach aristocrat, as in driving the right vehicle (better yet, being driven in it), wearing the right clothes, eating the right food, shelling out for the right charities. The costs? Incalculable. The benefits? Priceless.