The house on my right was a colossal affair by any standard–it was a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion.
– “Nick Carraway” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
These are the words that strolled through my head when I came across the Destination Guide entry for the current build at One More Light’s home region in Second Life. Even before reading the accompanying text, the image for the entry had me leaping to thoughts of the palatial West Egg home of the enigmatic Jay Gatsby in Long Island and the focal point for much of what occurs in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s enduring novel.
So you can imagine my pleasure when on arriving in the region I found the primary building within it – a grand hotel – named for Fitzgerald’s ultimately tragic character. However, this is not a further take (for there have been several in SL) on the novel or any of the films it has inspired, but rather a vacation and events venue established to offer visitors a taste of the roaring 1920s and the opportunity to help raise funds for RFL of SL’s 2022 season.
As a Relay for Life of Second Life (RFL of SL) team, One More Light were the recipients of the 2021 Spirit of Relay award, and Gatsby’s is their latest themed fund-raiser for RFL.
Within the setting, you can not only be transported back to the 1920s in style, but you can also book a room at the hotel during its main fund-raising period (which opens on May 5th and runs through until May 15th, 2022), and be free to make use of the hotel’s facilities and attend the various events being held throughout that period (and which are also open to the public at large – as is the the hotel and its grounds, outside of the rooms and suites for guests).
Wearing 1920s regalia is not a stated requirement for visitors, I would suggest those opting to stay at the hotel might be advised to do so, and period costume can also help immerse casual visitors to the setting – something that is helped by the novel approach to getting to the hotel.
Rather than dropping people in front of or within the hotel, the landing point delivers visitors to a road tunnel below the hotel. Here, a period car can be rezzed and used to drive up to the hotel. The car may be a British MG Roadster dating from the 1950s, but it suits the mood of the setting and offers a nice touch.
Emerging from the tunnel, the road presents itself as a cobbled coastal way running along the shore of Long Island beneath a bright summer sky. It would have perhaps have been nice to see the “weather-beaten cardboard bungalow” Carraway stayed in as one sweeps around the long curve of road that ends at the entrance to the hotel, but again: this isn’t intended to be a take on the book itself; Gatsby is simply a title by which to evoke the period – although that didn’t stop me looking for possible links (real or imagined!) to Fitzgerald’s novel.
Cars can be parked in the walled and fountained courtyard below the hotel proper, where a trio of period vehicles already sit. Note that one of these is a prize in a raffle to help with the hotel’s goal of raising funds for One More light and RFL, and has been donated by Surplus Motors.
Up the steps from the car park sits the hotel’s main building. Whilst not a great stone-built edifice in the style of Gatsby’s mansion, this wood-face giant shares some common elements with its namesake; the frontage either side of the entrance has what appears to be relatively young ivy climbing the walls, intended to evoke a feeling of age, for example. The grounds sit as a mix of formal and informal gardens and lawns, whilst the rear wings of the main building embrace a terrace suitable for hosting the overspill of a grand party such as Gatsby was renowned for throwing – even if he rarely participated.
The ground floor of the hotel holds the majority of the public spaces: the reception, lounge, restaurant, bar, coffee house, gentleman’s billiard room and indoor pool. The floors above offer as range of rooms and suites that can be reserved via the booking form noted above. At the time of my visit, an art gallery looked to be in the process of being set-up, the doors from which providing a means to access a terrace on the north side of the hotel that spans the gap between it and a grand galleried theatre, complete with stage and ideal for hosting events.
For me, a further touch of Fitzgerald’s story can be found towards the rear of the hotel. Below the winged terrace, and reached via twin stairs, said a lido and swimming pool. While an inviting and charming setting, it carries with it faint echoes of (particularly) of the climatic scene with Robert Redford’s Gatsby in Jack Clayton’s 1974 film. This is made all the more poignant for those looking for elements of the book (again, I would emphasise, such are not the focus of the setting, but rather nice-to-find hints – whether intentional or otherwise – for those who do enjoy the story) is the little pier extending away from the grass and beach below the pool. Looking at it, I could almost imagine Gatsby standing there, wistfully looking out to where the green lit of the Buchanan‘s dock light blinks.
But whether or not you are a fan of the book (and / or its multiple film versions), the Gatsby Hotel makes for photo a worthwhile visit for photography and for helping to raise funds for RFL of SL. Congrats to Lily, Abigail and the One More Light team for their hard work.
- One more Light: Gatsby Hotel (Magical Garden, rated Moderate)