Last week I was in Dubai,
a city I last visited some 10 years ago. That was before the Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building, and Dubai Mall, the city’s huge shopping centre, and its dancing fountains were completed. You know how some places bring up certain images, such as Paris for romance and Zurich for banking? Dubai for me has always been associated with opulence and extravagance—and I must say I was not disappointed.
Starting off with the national carrier, Emirates, I must say both the hardware and software make it hard to beat. Business class seats are not equal on every airline. On Emirates’ A380, each seat provides a touchscreen tablet on a console with a mini bar, plus a full-screen TV, framed with burled walnut veneer and gold trim. For those who prefer to party rather than sleep or work during the flight, there is an onboard lounge with snacks and drinks throughout. Emirates was also the first airline to offer complimentary chauffer-driven airport transfers. And at its home base, its business class lounge is not just a suite, but an entire wing where passengers can avail of cuisines from different regions set up at separate stands, plus a champagne bar with nibbles in one corner. Now that’s what I call extravagance.
I was on a trip hosted by Bulgari for the global launch of its Fiorever collection, so of course we were staying at the Bulgari Resort Dubai. Opened just a year ago, it is situated on the manmade Jumeira Bay, with 101 rooms in the resort and six residential buildings plus a marina and yacht club. My room was a large 55 sqm with a view of the marina and blue water beyond. In addition to media from around the world, celebrities such as Lady Kitty Spencer (Princess Diana’s niece) Hikari Mori and Thailand’s Sonya Singha had also been invited. But the spotlight was on actress Ursula Corbero, who was unveiled as the ambassador for the Fiorever collection of diamond jewellery inspired by the four-petal flower, an emblem of the Roman passion for life.
Jean-Christophe Babin, Bulgari CEO, and Corbero presided over the launch held at the resort’s beachside bar, attended by a glamorous crowd. It was good to catch up once again with Lucia Silvestri, Bulgari’s creative director and the woman behind the designs.
No visit to Dubai is complete without...
A dinner in the desert. And Bulgari arranged for us to be taken to one on the outskirts. We crossed the sand formations in a 4WD vehicle and did the obligatory dune bashing en route to the desert camp where a long table had been set up for the dinner. To get us in the party mood, a trio on drums enticed us to join in the bongo playing and singing—which I found lots of fun—prior to dinner. We were told it could get colder after the sun went down, but this didn’t happen, although the strong winds which had ensured the sand got into everything did happily die down.
Another very interesting visit was to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a drive of over an hour and half away. Unlike the original Louvre in Paris, the one here has been designed in such a way that one can easily cover the whole museum in several hours. Divided into 12 “chapters” following the evolution of human civilisation, there were exhibits in each gallery from different parts of the world on display together to show the similarities and connections that existed. The dome is the centrepiece of the museum, a “floating” roof that acts as a shading canopy for visitors to wander between the galleries, exhibitions and other buildings.
I arrived back in Bangkok in the morning.
Being the (ahem) hard-working person that I am, I was in the office in the afternoon. I even went to an event, the launch of Pandora Reflexions at Central World. Thanachira CEO Tanapong Chirapanidchakul, distributor of Pandora, introduced the new collection of mesh bracelets and clip-on charms, a new twist on the traditional charm bracelet. Pandora creative directors Francesco Terzo and A Filippo Ficarelli were present to talk about the inspiration behind this launch.
Also at Central World was the opening of the newly renovated Coach showroom. Designed by Coach creative director Stuart Vevers and Studio Sofield president William Sofield, the concept store boasts a craftsmanship bar for individualisation of products. Hosting the event were Opras and Sopana Lavichant of distributor Pacifica Elements, who welcomed celebrity guests Ann Thongprasom, Srisukha Khemupsorn, Taksaorn Paksukcharern and Voranuch Bhirombhakdi.
Dyson, the pioneering company that has created household appliances using the latest technology, has come up with a new type of hair dryer to style hair using air rather than extreme heat. The launch of the Dyson Airwrap held at Park Hyatt demonstrated how easy it was to curl, wave, smooth and dry hair with this radical new invention.
Unless you have been holed away somewhere, you should know that the Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB), Thailand’s first, opened last week, with exhibitions at various venues around town. After the official launch, Barom Bhicharnchitr hosted a casual get-together for all those involved at Siwalai City Club. In addition to Central Embassy, Central World is another venue for art displays. Joining in the party was Dr Apinan Poshyananda, chief executive and artistic director of the BAB. With international names participating, this is something that should not be missed.
Finally, a stop at the Euro Creations showroom to celebrate Oktoberfest. Kevin Gambir of Euro Creations together with German furniture brand Rolf Benz’s Rupert Heinzl organised the event with lots of German food and beer to showcase the brand’s latest collections. This included the Alma, Mera and Nova sofa sets, 969 dining table and 684 armchair.
(Previously: Naphalai's Diary: October 8-14)