Friday, May 9, 2008
MY KNIGHT IN A CASTLE
Castles are for royalty, but this guy was just rich. Back in the gilded days of the 1920's, Otto Hermann Kahn built his castle on the highest point in Long Island. It's been known as OHEKA(short for his full name) castle ever since.
For one night, a few weeks back, I got a chance to hang out there. It was a charity event for Lustgarten Foundation and Pancreatic Cancer Research. It was a star-studded night packed with celebrities and some of the city's biggest movers and shakers. Roving magicians, jugglers and stilt walkers mingled with the crowd of a couple hundred. Cablevision owner and HBO founder Charles Dolan was there. So was Vincent (Big Pussy) Pastore from the Sopranos and actor Matthew Modine. Pastore at one point got up to the microphone and complained that his donated auction item, a night on the town with him, had only reached a bid of $150 dollars. But, by the time I could get over to the table and out bid the cheapskate, the auction was closed.
It cost Mr. Kahn 11-million dollars to build the 109-thousand square foot behemoth, the second largest residence ever built in America. It featured 127 room, but Hahn rarely stayed there. He built it solely for entertaining on weekends, which is why the place is now an elegant catering facility and luxury small hotel.
To build the place today would cost 110 million dollars, but renovations that began in 1984 by developer Gary Melius set the guy back about 30-million, three times the original cost of OHEKA. The painstaking renovation followed years of decay and dozens of fires set by vandals. Much of the original copper and marble were either destroyed or stolen.
But, now, you can walk through a grand ballroom, a warm library, a wide and long gallery and take a stroll through the beautifully manicured gardens on 38 acres around the castle. Now, us peasants of society can feel what it's like to be filthy rich. You can get a nice room there for about $300 a night. A suite will set you back a few hundred more, but get a load of this weekend luxury package Oheka is offering up to those who can afford it. This from Oheka's online brochure:
For one unforgettable evening OHEKA Castle is yours exclusively* for you and that special someone. Dine in the Ballroom on our award winning cuisine. Dessert will be served in the Library where you and your loved one can cuddle in front of the fireplace or take a stroll along the grounds.
After wining and dining perhaps take in a game of pool before you retreat to your Luxury Suite to relax and sleep like royalty. Awake to enjoy the lovely views of the estate while an attendant serves your hot-breakfast in your room. The Togetherness Massage for two follows to complete your Ultimate Romantic Evening at OHEKA Castle.
The evening includes:
Round-trip limousine service
(within the five boroughs and Long Island)
Exclusive use of the Ballroom, Formal Dining Room, Library, Billiards Room & the Formal Gardens.* (6 hours)
Seven-course gourmet menu custom designed for your evening
White glove butler service
Dom Perignon Champagne
A string quartet
One night stay in a Luxury Suite
Breakfast served to your room
Togetherness Massage (60 min.)
A Special gift from Tiffany's
Price: The Ultimate Romantic Evening at OHEKA Castle is $15,000 per couple inclusive Monday through Thursday
Now, that's a honeymoon!