Tourists ‘heart’ Hearst es­tate

Wil­liam ran­dolph Hearst is quite a le­gend for many rea­sons. So it’s no sur­prise that a tour of his huge 165-room es­tate is bring­ing in the vis­i­tors.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TRAVEL - By KATHY MATHE­SON > TURN TO PAGE 7

THE coast­line that par­al­lels Route 1 in cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia, the United States, is so breath­tak­ing that you might be for­given for miss­ing the ze­bras on the op­po­site side of the road.

And that huge chateau perched far off on the hill­side in San Simeon? Al­most un­no­tice­able at high­way speeds.

Both be­long to the legacy of larger-thanlife news­pa­per pub­lisher Wil­liam Ran­dolph Hearst, who chose this sur­pris­ingly un­ob­tru­sive spot along the Pa­cific Coast High­way to build his 165-room es­tate.

Now over­seen by the state park sys­tem, the site known as the Hearst Cas­tle is worth a side trip if you’re driv­ing be­tween San Francisco and Los An­ge­les.

An ar­ray of tours of­fers a glimpse into the life­style of the rich and fa­mous that, while not quick or cheap, is not some­thing you’ll soon for­get.

The Mediter­ranean Re­vival-style prop­erty de­signed by ar­chi­tect Julia Mor­gan oc­cu­pies land in San Simeon that had been in Hearst’s fam­ily for decades.

The orig­i­nal acreage had few ameni­ties, though, and the pub­lisher re­port­edly told Mor­gan in 1919: “We are tired of camp­ing out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a lit­tle some­thing.”

That “lit­tle some­thing” was un­der con­struc­tion for the next 28 years, fi­nally com­pleted in 1947.

The es­tate in­cludes in­door and out­door pools, lush landscaping and a soar­ing 115room main house sur­rounded by three smaller guest homes.

Hearst called his pala­tial manor La Cuesta En­can­tada (“The En­chanted Hill”).

It also once boasted the world’s largest pri­vate zoo, hold­ing ex­otic an­i­mals from po­lar bears to – you guessed it – ze­bras. The striped crea­tures roam­ing the fam­ily’s ranch along the coastal high­way are de­scen­dants of the orig­i­nals, though the zoo it­self no longer ex­ists.

Most tours fo­cus on the cen­tral build­ing known as Casa Grande (“Big House”), which looks more like a church be­cause of its twin bell tow­ers.

Flanked by tow­er­ing palms, it’s filled with price­less art and ar­ti­facts, from cen­turies-old mar­ble stat­ues and ex­otic rugs to Tif­fany lamps and an­tique ceil­ings.

The Grand Rooms tour shows off the main com­mon ar­eas.

In the huge assem­bly room, guests so­cialised be­neath high walls cov­ered by valu­able ta­pes­tries and oil paint­ings; in the flag­draped din­ing room, they ate on fine dishes and sil­ver­ware but sea­soned their food with off-the-shelf ketchup and mus­tard bot­tles (lest you think the host was too for­mal).

A plush movie theatre – il­lu­mi­nated by or­nately carved, volup­tuous fe­male fig­ures hold­ing light fix­tures – plays an old news- reel of var­i­ous guests at the es­tate, in­clud­ing Char­lie Chap­lin on the ten­nis court.

The star of the Up­stairs Suites tour is prob­a­bly the sump­tu­ous Doge’s Suite, in­spired by the palace of the Vene­tian ruler.

A pair of well-ap­pointed guest bed­rooms boasts pre­cious im­ported fur­nish­ings; the or­nate door of one bath­room came from a sac­risty in Europe.

The suite’s lux­u­ri­ous sit­ting area has walls draped in blue fab­ric and a ceil­ing www.hearst­cas­ > Lo­cated about 235 miles (378km) from Los an­ge­les and 245 miles (395km) from San Francisco. > tours daily ex­cept thanks­giv­ing, christ­mas and New year’s day. reser­va­tions strongly sug­gested, book­able on­line up to 56 days in ad­vance. tick­ets start at uS$25 (rm80) for adults and uS$12 (rm39) for chil­dren, with dis­counts for mul­ti­ple tours on the same day. the three ba­sic tours are about 40 min­utes each; spe­cial­ity tours are longer and more ex­pen­sive.

Old-world charm: the ex­te­rior of Hearst cas­tle, the 165-room es­tate of news­pa­per pub­lisher Wil­liam ran­dolph Hearst, in San Simeon, cal­i­for­nia, the united States.

Vis­i­tors tour­ing the lux­u­ri­ous of­fice. (in­set) Old news­pa­pers out­side the of­fice.

another light­ing fix­ture in the cas­tle.

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