Where did Bill Gates, Ann Winblad meet every year? Idyllic North Carolina beach home was secret weekend retreat
Newly surfaced photos have now revealed the romantic beach-side cabin in North Carolina where Gates and Winblad had their annual "arranged" meetups
Bill and Melinda Gates grabbed headlines when they announced earlier this week they were getting divorced after 27 years. Shortly after, it emerged how the Microsoft founder had an arrangement with his wife to meet his ex, Ann Winblad, once a year despite being married.
Newly surfaced photos have now revealed the romantic beach-side cabin in North Carolina where Gates and Winblad had their annual "arranged" meetups. According to the New York Post, the cabin retreat is where the pair would secretly meet every year.
The images show a large and secluded beach house opening up to an oceanfront view in the Outer Banks. According to The Post, the home belongs to Winblad but has been on the rental market since 2016. The home, known as Castle Sween, is billed on Airbnb as a "royal retreat for beach lovers."
Following Gates' split with his wife of 27 years, a 1997 Time Magazine article detailing his close friendship with Winblad resurfaced. According to the article, Gates had an "arrangement" with his wife, Melinda, that allowed him to spend time with Winblad at the beach hideaway for one weekend each spring.
And while the tech mogul and his programmer ex broke up in 1987, the year he met his future wife, the erstwhile pair remained close. Gates allegedly even sought Winblad's blessing before taking the holy vows with Melinda. "When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda," Gates said in the Time interview, "I called Ann and asked for her approval." Winblad reportedly approved of Melinda. She told the magazine that she thought Melinda would be "a good match for him because she had intellectual stamina."
Gates told the outlet that he and Winblad would "play putt-putt while discussing biotechnology" during their yearly getaways. Winblad agreed, recalling how they would "share our thoughts about the world and ourselves," and "marvel about how, as two young overachievers, we began a great adventure on the fringes of a little-known industry and it landed us at the center of an amazing universe." It's unclear how long the annual trips lasted following this interview.
Gates and Winblad first met at a Ben Rosen-Esther Dyson computer conference in 1984. The pair would go on to date for three years before parting ways. They reportedly split because Winblad was several years older than Gates and was ready to settle down while he wasn't.
That said, the Outer Banks property features sizeable deck areas, a private walkway to the beach that leads to a private gazebo in the sand, alongside a row of outdoor showers. According to The Sun, a three-night stay at the deluxe beachfront home costs up to $2,700, and it appears to be in high demand considering it's booked throughout the summer.
Bill, 65, and Melinda, 56, announced their divorce Monday in a joint statement. The powerful duo, who tied the knot on New Year's Day in Hawaii in 1994, said they no longer believed they could "grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives."
"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," they said in the statement. "Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives."