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The Girl Next Door


Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes in the lap of luxury

Herald Sun - Australia

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are spending their first night in Melbourne living like royalty, with a private team of butlers, babysitters and VIP assistants.

Hollywood's most famous Scientologists checked into Villa 3918 of the Crown Towers Hotel on Tuesday, a full-floor suite ranked among the world's most extravagant lodgings.

Cruise, wearing trademark aviator sunglasses, walked off his private Gulfstream jet at Essendon Airport just before midday with daughter Suri, 3, sleeping in his arms.

Holmes will begin work on a new horror flick at a Docklands studio on Monday and is expected to stay in Melbourne for up to three months, with husband Cruise making regular visits.

Two black vans filled with family luggage followed the couple's convoy along CityLink and into an underground car park at Crown.

Cruise's long-time mate James Packer, who controls Crown, greeted the couple before introducing them to their newly-refurbished digs.

Mr Packer, a fellow Scientologist, personally inspected the top-floor suite in recent days.

It offers panoramic views of the city and is serviced by more than a dozen staff, including security.

It features a private lift, four bedrooms, spacious marble-lined bathrooms, dining areas, huge walk-in robes, studies, lounges, kitchens, powder rooms, a gym and giant TVs.

The main bedroom is bigger than an average suburban house.

As personal friends of the owner, the Hollywood heavyweights are not expected to cough up the nightly rate of $27,500.

Villa 3918 has previously played host to legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti, and the world's biggest high-roller gambler, mysterious Chinese businessman George Lu.

So rich was Lu that former US president Bill Clinton was downgraded to a villa on the floor below during a visit to Melbourne in 2001.

Mr Clinton - used to occupying the best hotel rooms in the world - was later heard to remark: "I must meet this man, George Lu."

VIP guests in villa 3918 can request a "touch of home", such as a table-tennis table, punching bag and reclining massage chair.

Stuffed toys, a pink Missy bag and Suri's car capsule appeared to be the only hometown items unloaded by staff for the star couple yesterday.

Cruise and Holmes are the first guests in the villa since it was remodelled in a $50 million Crown Towers refit.

Their jet spent about 15 minutes on the tarmac at Essendon as three Customs officials boarded the plane.

It was then guided into a private hangar where the family disembarked into a white Audi four-wheel-drive and black Audi sedan escort.

Holmes will star in a big budget Melbourne remake of the 1973 TV horror movie, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."