Need a touch of Hollywood elegance for your wedding? For couples willing to travel to fabulous Palm Springs, Villa Loretta, a property actress Loretta Young owned from 1993 until her death in Los Angeles in 2000, is a classy retreat for a destination wedding or a honeymoon getaway.
Villa Loretta, a 37,000-square-foot gated estate, is now available for parties and stays. The stylish property, which sits on a quarter-acre, features a chef's galley kitchen, a Travertine floor living room with a domed 14-foot ceiling, a cozy fireplace, and grand piano. The back yard has a saltwater pool, a Jacuzzi, and a stunning view of the mountains.
Windy City Times spoke with owner/proprietor Chris Bannett about Villa Loretta via Skype, and got a virtual tour of the property. Bannett, an Illinois native ( and California transplant ) also co-created "Everybody Has the Right" a pro-Marriage Equality anthem, that is also suitable for same-sex weddings.
Windy City Times: How did you find Villa Loretta?
Chris Bennett: I discovered this place in Palm Springs in December 2013. During the season [November-April], about 500,000 people live here, and over the last twenty years, the gay population has grown. Finding Villa Loretta was one of those serendipitous moments. My divorce was final. I sold my property and I started looking for a place in Los Angeles. My angels said go to Palm Springs. I saw this houseI had to see it anywayand I walked in and it felt like "home."
It has never been open to the public before, so as an entertainer, I'm going to use it for concerts, or rentals. This is a glamorous Hollywood movie star home, not country club. It has complete privacy and it's paradise here.
WCT: You are a singer/performer. What prompted you to create a gay-marriage anthem?
Chris Bennett: I've been in the entertainment business forever. When the first George Bush tried to pass a constitutional amendment [against marriage equality], my friend Michael Thurber, who was an advocate for marriage equality, talked about doing a song. I happened to be in the room, and my songwriting partner and I came up with "Everybody Has a Right."
We like to write anthems for causes. I was interested in gay marriagebecause I performed for gay audience and have many gay best friends. Marriage is a civil rightif you can't visit your partner in the hospital that's not right. It's ignorance and fear that people don't get that. Everyone has the right, as the song goes. The new generation wonders, "What's the big deal?" So I'm happy marriage equality going to eventually happen nationwide.
WCT: What plans do you have for couples that want to get married at Villa Loretta?
Chris Bennett: Palm Springs is a great gay wedding destination. If you are in cold, snowy, Chicagoa wedding in Palm Springs sounds good, doesn't it? [Laughs] I'm connected through my friends here to help couples navigate arrangements for florists and music, etc. to help folks find what they need. And I'll work with them up with a budget. Villa Loretta can accommodate sit down dinners for 100 or mingle parties for 250.
WCT: As a musician, you must prefer a band over a DJ. What are your thoughts on wedding music?
Chris Bennett: I'm old-school. There is nothing like live music; it's my personal preference. Some folks don't want a big band or a jazz combo or a string orchestra. There are some good, talented musicians out here. But a great DJ can do that too. The house is equipped throughout with a Bang and Olufsen system.
WCT: Villa Loretta also sounds like a good honeymoon destination, even if couples decide to tie the knot elsewhere.
Chris Bennett: It's an exotic house. You can rent it and cook, or get concierge servicesa chef, masseuse, yoga teacherwhatever you want. There are palm trees, sun, a warm saltwater pool, and a Jacuzzi. When the master bath was remodeled, they put in a waterfall and outdoor shower. It can be clothing optional!
WCT: What gossip can you provide about Loretta Young?
Chris Bennett: She had a few happy years here. Her early scandal was having Clark Gable's child, Judy Lewis [Gable]. She never made that public, and went to great lengths to hide it, but she confessed this to her [daughter]. Loretta went through Catholic guilt over that. She once said, "Exercise for her was not swimming in the pool, but walking across her living room." The previous owners left me all the old photos, so there are still images of her hanging in the media room. I should have a Loretta party, and have ladies dress up in flowing gowns and the men come as Clark Gable!
Interested in Villa Loretta? Contact Chris Bannett at 310-869-3465 or visit www.lavillaloretta.com for calendars and rates.
©2014 Gary M. Kramer