Coffee

Via: Times Online:

It might have been the golf tee that swung it for President Obama as he looked for a summer holiday retreat — but the 28 acres on Martha’s Vineyard, the swimming pool, private beach and basketball court may just have clinched it too.

Mr Obama and the First Family are planning to spend their summer break on a $20 million retreat on the wealthy playground island off Cape Cod and even seem undeterred that the property is owned by a Republican.

The choice of such an exclusive location will inevitably be fodder for the President’s Republican critics who decried his recent “date night” to New York with his wife, Michelle — an excursion that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars at a time of deep recession and soaring unemployment.

According to the Vineyard Gazette, the resort island’s journal of record since 1864, the Obamas have chosen Blue Heron Farm, in Chilmark, recorded as America’s most expensive small town in 2007.

The farm features a swimming pool, golf practice facilities — Mr Obama plays regularly — a basketball court, access to a private beach and a rental price tag of up to $50,000 (£30,000) a week.

No deal has yet been struck on the property, but the rental agreement being negotiated has reportedly been split into three separate leases: one to be held by the Obamas — and paid for out of their own pockets — one by the Secret Service, and a third by the White House, which will be sending a large entourage to Martha’s Vineyard to accompany the President.

The farm holds a five-bedroom white Victorian-style farmhouse and three other dwellings, including a reconstructed Pennsylvania hay barn and Vermont shed. It has ocean views, private access to a stretch of Squibnocket Beach, and a private dock with kayaks and a yacht.

Mr Obama is due to take his holiday on Martha’s Vineyard during the last week in August. Mrs Obama and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, could arrive earlier and stay with friends elsewhere on the island. Bo, the new dog, is also reportedly going.

Blue Heron Farm belongs to William and Mollie Van Devender, Republicans who bought the property for $20.35 million in 2005.

Mr Van Devender, a Mississippi timber mogul, gave the maximum financial donation allowed under election laws to John McCain in last year’s White House race, and both the Van Devenders contributed to Fred Thompson during his unsuccessful run in the Republican primary.