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 Dubai hotel party costing £20m flies in face of recession

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DonnaKat
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PostSubject: Dubai hotel party costing £20m flies in face of recession   Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:06 pm

From the Evening Standard (UK)

Dubai hotel party costing £20m flies in face of recession

Shekhar Bhatia in Dubai

PARTYING like there's no tomorrow, the wealthy and glamorous gathered in Dubai for a credit crunch-defying, £20 million celebration of the opening of the world's most expensive hotel.

More than 2,000 guests attended, among them Robert de Niro, Michael Jordan and Charlize Theron, to hear Kylie Minogue perform a medley of her hits for which she received £1.5 million, or £33,333 a minute.

Kylie sang 10 songs as guests ate lobster, salmon, sushi, lamb, chicken and salads.

Her performance was followed by a £7 million fireworks display, said to be so spectacular it was visible from space.

Even Sol Kerzner, the South African businessman behind the £1 billion Atlantis Hotel and resort on the man-made Palm Island appeared faintly embarrassed at the sheer excess - and cost - of last night's party.

"If I had to do it all over again, I might do it recognising the fact that we're living through a bit of a tough economic environment," said Mr Kerzner.

He added: "We don't know how long it's going to take for the economy around the world to take off again. The economy is such that it is going to be challenging right here.

"You just cannot raise any finance. But I am trying to avoid being badly affected.

"One is going to have to be more and more effective in marketing and at the time being it is very, very difficult to predict ahead. There is a visibility of just four to five weeks."

There are fears Dubai may not be able to sustain such naked opulence. The emirate is said to be "groaning" under heavy debt of almost $50billion and banks have restricted lending to building projects. Like other stock markets around the world, shareprices in the Gulf have plunged in recent months.

On Palm Island, it is reported today that property prices have fallen as much as 40 per cent since September with four-bedroom villas now selling for 10 million UAE dirhams (£1.8 million).

None of which seemed to bother the guests at last night's hotel opening.

Other film stars who attended the grand opening included Lindsay Lohan, Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes.

High-street magnate Sir Philip Green, Sir Richard Branson and Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja were also there. British celebrities were well represented too, among them Dame Shirley Bassey, Lily Allen, Agyness Deyn and Jade Jagger. Actor Rhys Ifans spent most of the evening with singer Natalie Imbruglia.

Meanwhile Trinny Woodall, who has recently separated from her husband, revealed she had enjoyed dinner with Gerard Butler, the Scottish film actor and star of the film 300.

Asked if she was dating again following her split last month from Johnny Elichaoff, the 44-year-old TV presenter said of Butler: "He is a very sweet man, but really... oh, it's too soon."
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Leo
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PostSubject: Re: Dubai hotel party costing £20m flies in face of recession   Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:47 pm

Ah HAH!

Wonder if she's a blonde.

I feel like freakin' Rona Barett.

(lol)
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greyeyegoddess
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PostSubject: Re: Dubai hotel party costing £20m flies in face of recession   Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:09 pm

LOL!
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Nay
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PostSubject: Re: Dubai hotel party costing £20m flies in face of recession   Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:14 pm

Naked opulence is a bloody good description. I know these people live in a different world to we plebs but this is still such an obscene scenario to me. I remember being outraged when James Packer spent $12 million on his first wedding and it didn't last five years!

Yes, I can see why some people would want to attend - publicity, best food/wine/entertainment, business smoozing, free mini-holiday etc. But I'm wondering just how much hidden money was spent on attendance fees? What were some of these celebrities paid to toddle along, eat that lobster and shake their booty with Kylie? Maybe the final figure for this nakedly opulent display will not be revealed.

Stepping off short soapbox ............................................................... now.
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PostSubject: Re: Dubai hotel party costing £20m flies in face of recession   Fri Nov 21, 2008 7:02 pm

Nope, she's not a blonde...but she is an older woman. Forty-four, to be exact.
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DonnaKat
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PostSubject: Fireworks in Dubai   Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:39 am

This is pretty much a continuation of the previous story and there really isn't anything about Gerry other than a mention he was there, but I thought this blogger's account of his personal experience at the event was pretty interesting, and gave another perspective (from someone other than a 'celebrity') of the experience.

From KR Connect Blogspot:

Fireworks in Dubai:

I was a guest, with my wife Rowena and daughter Bex, at the opening of Atlantis-The Palm in Dubai on November 20. Saatchi & Saatchi London and Dubai won the Atlantis Palm account earlier in 2008, this was the big moment. For everyone interested in the future of world commerce, Dubai is inescapable, given its strategic location to China, India, Africa and Europe. Dubai has thought ahead in bold and daring ways, and has created infrastructure that is regionally and globally important. For a start, fly Emirates, to 100 countries. And in a world where tourism is trending local for a year or two, the list of truly spectacular architectural (and engineering) wonders narrows tangentially: among them Dubai, where I first visited and did business in the 1970s when it was a port and fishing town. Now Dubai is a global business and tourism hub. Sol Kerzner, creator of Atlantis, has produced several of the world's best experiences in hotels, vacations, and dream-times. The #1 core value of his company is "blow away the customer." And at the opening of his second Atlantis (the original is in The Bahamas), this is what he did. Rowena takes up the story.

There just aren't enough adjectives to describe our experience at the Grand Opening Celebrations of the Atlantis at The Palm in Dubai.

We arrived on Thursday morning feeling very refreshed after a wonderful journey courtesy of Emirates Airlines. Bex and I flew in from Auckland and Kevin flew in from New York. After checking in at the Atlantis — a masterpiece of towering arches and arabesque domes located at the very tip of The Palm Jumeirah — we were handed a very extensive welcome package. Inside was a beautiful gold, brass, and cord bracelet handcrafted by Taj Taj that turned out to be the most important thing we had been given. It was this bracelet that ensured exclusive access to all the events and activities relating to this "once in a lifetime" three days.

The following night we were privileged to be part of the invitees at the US$20 million Grand Opening. After leaving our room drapes closed as instructed (more on this later!), we met up in the Grand Lobby of the Royal Towers. You could feel the buzz and air of excitement — all the guests were very elegantly attired in black tie or national dress. We were escorted down the red carpeted staircases to the Royal Deck whilst sipping our champagne. From there we mixed and mingled amongst the VIPs of the world, including Charlize Theron, Robert De Niro, Gerard Butler, Janet Jackson, Lindsay Lohan, Michael Jordan, The Duchess of York, Mary Kate Olsen, Mischa Barton, Wesley Snipes, Agyness Deyn, Lily Allen — the list was endless. All the celebrities were happily mingling with everyone else, there was no special area. In fact, the whole evening was very inclusive — at one point we watched Michael Jordan having a quiet drink by himself at the bar!

The stage was set amongst the palms and swimming pools and we were accompanied by beautiful Middle Eastern music as we made our way to our tables to experience "The Birth of an Icon", the more formal part of the evening. We were absolutely delighted to be sitting on a table with a very eclectic bunch of guests including Karyn McCarthy from The Leading Hotels of the World in New York. This was particularly interesting for me from my earlier days working in corporate travel, and very interesting for Kevin, being such a traveler and supporter of their wonderful hotel portfolio. At the table were Albert Herrera from Virtuoso in New York, Nigel Page from Emirates Airlines, Helen McCabe-Young from Kerzner International, and Sol Kerzner, who was the the visionary behind this amazing resort. Richard Branson and his family were seated at a neighboring table.

The dinner was a feast of traditional Arabic mezzes and delicious international cuisine created by celebrity chefs from the world renowned restaurants, Nobu Matsuhisa, Giorgio Locatelli, Michel Rostang, and Santi Santamaria (all four restaurants making up part of the dining choices at Atlantis). It was just one delight after another, all while being accompanied by a magical performance by Lebanese singer, Nawal Al Zoghbi.

Imagine this scene — here we were in a restaurant outside in the balmy desert night, situated amidst the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf, gazing upon the most beautiful piece of architectural excellence — on land that five years ago was all water. It was surreal! And this was only the beginning. Quincy Jones appeared on stage to welcome the star guest of the evening and we were treated to an electric performance by Kylie Minogue in her first appearance in the Middle East, accompanied by her band and dance troupe. This got the younger guests up and dancing between the tables and very much in the party mood.

Then the evening really took off!

Bollywood superstar and former Miss World, Priyanka Chopra, appeared as the Goddess of Atlantis and introduced the largest display of fireworks in history. It was created by the Grucci Family — $6 million worth, seven times larger than the Beijing Olympics ceremony.* The whole story of the search for Atlantis was created using the hotel facade as a screen, complete with amazing sound effects — camels and mythical sea creatures flashed across this "screen" accompanied by music and perfectly in sync with the fireworks. On and on it went, dazzling flashes of color after color, flumes and sprays splashing across the starlit night sky. The whole 43kms of the Palm Jumeirah was illuminated (and apparently visible from space) and the whole of the audience stood mesmerized — in awe. It was incredible and almost impossible to describe. You had to be there to see it. The fireworks, including rhythmical sprays from each guest bedroom (hence the closed drapes) tinkled and swayed in time to the beats. The whole display lasted for about 20 minutes and when it finished there was silence — then rapturous applause. The general consensus was that we had witnessed something, the like of which we would never see again.

As the moon rose higher over the Arabian Gulf, the celebration continued with the Royal Afterglow — DJ spinning sensation Samantha Ronson kept the guests dancing till the early hours.

What a night! Sol Kerzner's team certainly know how to put on a party!

Luckily for us it was still not over. Today we spent hours in the Aquaventure, a water adventure playground in the grounds of the Atlantis — thrilling water slides, awe-inspiring river rides, tidal waves and rapids — and guess what — there was hardly anyone there (obviously still recovering from the Royal Afterglow!). Kevin conquered the Leap of Faith, and with Bex, the Surge and the Shark Attack. Bex also spent 60 minutes in a one on one with Lexi the dolphin in the Dolphin Adventure. It was amazing — surrounded by the blue Gulf waters and the backdrop of the Dubai skyline, camels and a Bedouin tent on the beach — it couldn't have been more perfect.

Tonight we are being hosted by Sol Kerzner's team again. This time to "eat, drink and dance the night away". We are to meet in the Poseidon's Court and we will be given our table at either Nobu, Locatelli, Rostang or Seafire — followed by another high energy party in the Sanctuary Nightclub with Sam Ronson on the turntables.

Bex and I think we've died and gone to heaven!

* For those of you interested in the fireworks statistics:

220 pyrotechnicians produced the display. It was one of the most ambitiously designed and technically advanced computer-controlled fireworks performances ever attempted and was managed by 62 computer systems operated by 1,200 satellite controlled modules, which initiated more than 36,000 circuits.

More than 100,000 specially designed pyrotechnic devices were fired in less than 9 minutes.

Fireworks were launched from 716 locations including 50 points along the 17km crescent of Palm Jumeirah, 226 floating pontoons across 46 kms of water outlining the Palm fronds , 40 locations along the 5.5km monorail on the Palm's trunk and over 400 balconies of Atlantis.

Some series of shells burst at an altitude of 245 metres, and were visible from space.

The largest aerial shell rose 300 metres and displayed its flowery burst the size of two soccer fields.

Fireworks illuminated the entire 69,403 square metre facade of the Royal Towers of Atlantis.

Special effects fireworks were designed and manufactured in China, Spain, Italy and Taiwan in addition to the designers' (Grucci) versions made in the US.
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greyeyegoddess
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PostSubject: Re: Dubai hotel party costing £20m flies in face of recession   Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:54 am

only to dream...
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PostSubject: Re: Dubai hotel party costing £20m flies in face of recession   Today at 4:15 pm

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