So, when an invite came across to attend an ‘Italian Lifestyle Journey’ at the St. Regis Abu Dhabi, I was intrigued. Promising ‘a true immersion into style and fine dining’ AND a fashion show, I gave a call to one of my trusted wing women in the capital and plans were confirmed. On the night of the event, we got dolled up and with really no idea what to expect, went forward.
Starting time? 7:30 (on schedule). I guess? Things were definitely ‘started’ when we arrived, but the whole evening lacked definition. Some people spoke. Food was served, but not announced, and at 8:20, there was a short fashion show. While not everything has to have a schedule, I found it strange there was no real master or ceremonies, head PR person or even someone who could be counted as ‘in charge.’
Refreshments? A very strange selection of hors-d’oeuvres to start, including lukewarm chicken bites, lukewarm cheese and deep fried eggs. Yup, because runny egg yolk and fashion definitely go together
and of course I got some on my dress. At the start, we were a bit devastated as no alcohol looked to be on offer. Lo, thirty minutes after we arrived, wine was finally brought out which we nearly had to run down someone to get. There was also a buffet, with (apparently) some of the better Italian chefs in the Emirates (??). With nothing particularly signed, no place to sit and not enough tables to balance a plate, it was a very awkward dining experience.
There was definitely a miss on drinks – this would have been an easy time to showcase prosecco or serve a signature drink (I was thinking a Negroni, which is kind of having a moment right now). It doesn’t always have to be about alcohol, but as Starwood was clearly listed as one of the main sponsors and the event was at their hotel, the whole thing felt very cheap and last minute.
Location? St. Regis, Nation Tower (ballroom) and for the accidental ‘afterparty’ the highly originally named, St. Regis Bar.
Messages? And here is where the Glitterati and I had some fun. We still have NO IDEA what the night was about, what our takeaway was supposed to be, or what the organizers wanted from the attendees. We didn’t have to sign in or up for anything, no business cards were collected, nor were there any materials to take home. There was no branding, no hashtag to use, no clever social media tie in. It was a textbook ‘what not to do in PR’ event. We wondered if it was some weird pet project of some senior Italian official, but I guess we’ll never know for sure.
In the end, we decided it was an event to showcase what the Starwood brand was capable of…in Italy??
Personal reflections? The evening took a decided turn towards the positive near the time we decided to leave. We were approached by two restaurateur types, where the conversation took equal turns into what the hell the evening was about and stylish (and comfortable) men’s shoes. Deciding on a night cap, the Glitterati and myself mentioned we would be at the bar, not really expecting to have anyone join us. Thirty minutes later, we were rejoined by aforementioned restaurant guys, which is how we ended up drinking a lot of prosecco, cosmopolitans and strange saffron drinks. We spoke of celebrity doppelgängers, real life twins, and, of course, relationships. I think my takeaway here is that ‘one for the road’ is probably not good for your liver, but can lead to a fun story.
Swag? An Alitalia branded purse holder and a very nice glass jewel thing (by Pauly) that should make for a nice necklace.
Bottom line: Getting dressed up on a Monday night can lead to some strange adventures. The journey continues on Thursday, where Glitterati and her hubby will enjoy a meal as a guest of the restaurant, Circo.