One of the ingredients of any successful party is incorporating the client’s personality into the event. In this case, it was a little easier for me, since the birthday boy and his wife are dear friends of mine. She approached me to help plan a surprise destination celebration for her husband. It was to take place over a French holiday since most of the guests were coming from Paris. We looked at several options but settled on Dubai, as it is just a six-hour flight from France, and only has an hour time difference. We felt it was something completely different and would transport the guests into another world.
An important aspect of destination event planning is our savoir faire in negotiating the logistics of hotels and transportation, as well as taking care of the small details that make the guest experience special. Throughout this trip, guests were treated like royalty by their host, including the very best accommodations at Al Qasr and the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. We pre-reserved all flights with Emirates airlines, who offer wonderful Arabic service and hospitality. They allowed us to personalize the experience with a special welcome amenity for the guests, as well as our signature ‘Rendezvous a Dubai’ on each of their seats.
When they arrived at their hotel, guests received an itinerary and welcome basket. This included a pashmina for chilly desert nights, personalized stationery with each of their initials, custom tennis and golf balls with our ‘Rendezvous a Dubai’ branding, a notebook, a telephone charger (of course!) and a personalized hat. Appy Couple is a great website and app for events, and we used it to keep guests informed.
First, guests had the opportunity to play tennis with our special guest, French champion Henri Lecompte. With his larger than life personality and amazing knowledge (he is also a Eurosport commentator), this was a fantastic experience!
Afterwards, we set up three long tables on a private terrace at Al Qasr, so guests did not have far to go after a long day. They were decorated with real grass, with golf holes and tennis balls. Each guest had a trophy with their name on it at their place setting. Our floral decor was tennis balls made of roses and a huge ‘happy birthday’ sign made out of tennis balls, keeping the mood light. We also had a tennis and golf-themed cake. Another fun detail was the cheerleaders wearing custom-made outfits with the birthday boy’s name on them. All the guests welcomed him with pom poms, cheering him on!
Guests were able to play night golf under the lights – a real Dubai experience! Since it is so hot, many people only play in the evening. They could also visit the newly inaugurated Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. On the last night, we chartered a 60-meter yacht so they could dance under the stars.
But the main event was of course the birthday dinner. It took place in the desert, about forty minutes from Dubai. Guests were taken from the hotel in 4x4s and enjoyed adventure rides through the dunes. At the end, a long line of camels was waiting for them to hop on for a desert adventure!
Stay tuned to find out what happened next!
Event professionals: Event Planner: Alejandra Poupel Events, Accommodation: Al Qasr, Desert venue: Al Maha Desert Reserve, Cake: House of Cakes, Yacht charter: First Yacht, Entertainment: Scarlette Entertainment, Photography and Video: Goldfish Photography & Video, Hats: Bits and Pieces