Every winter Wellington Florida attracts some of the wealthiest people in the world. From Bill Gates, Arab sheikhs, and to South American billionaires. Many other famous families such as the Springsteens, Bloombergs, Steve Jobs, and the Campbells all make Wellington their winter equestrian home.
The small town of Wellington attracts these seasonal residents coming for winter equestrian events including: The Winter Equestrian Festival, The Global Dressage Festival, International Polo events and more. WEF: the Winter Equestrian Festival, which takes place every year from January to April at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The 12-week WEF has been the longest equestrian event of its kind for several years running, and it attracts riders at all levels of the sport.
As WEF has grown over the years, it has turned Wellington into a winter oasis for the upper crust, who come to ride, mingle, and bask in the warm weather. Wellington, Florida, is a community of about 60,000 people in southeast Florida, about 15 miles west of West Palm Beach. And without a doubt, horses rule in Wellington.
Bill Gates owns several properties in the area, and in 2016 he reportedly completed a $38 million purchase of an entire Wellington street, totaling six properties and about 20 acres. His daughter Jennifer is a seasoned WEF competitor. In a fitting continuation of the rivalry between Gates of Microsoft and the late Steve Jobs of Apple, Laurene Powell Jobs reportedly purchased a 3.5-acre ranch on Wellington’s Quarter Horse Trail for $15 million in July 2016. Her daughter Eve is also an accomplished rider and has competed against Jennifer Gates.
Jeremy Jacobs, billionaire owner of the Boston Bruins and chairman of Delaware North, used to effectively rule the Wellington scene from his 21,000-square-foot mansion on the sprawling Deeridge Farm.
In 2006, a wealthy Boston developer named Mark Bellissimo arrived on the scene and bought the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center for $135 million. He’s still the owner and has expanded the festival into the grand event it is today. Mark Bellissimo is also the newest own of the International Polo Club which hosts polo events.
Fancy boutiques can be found along the horse paths that connect competition rings and practice areas on the show grounds. Events at WEF are often sponsored by luxury brands. Hermes’ line of horse products includes saddles that cost around $8,000.
The horse show grounds are not the only place to host high-profile guests in Wellington. Prince Harry has been known to play in polo matches at the nearby International Polo Club. President-elect Donald Trump has tried to get in on the action. In recent years, he has hosted the Trump Invitational show jumping event at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach property that’s located within a few miles of the Wellington community.
Wellington Florida continues to grow as a world class equestrian town. The winter of 2017-2018 is expected to have record breaking numbers when it comes to equestrian events.