Inside The W Santiago's Grand Opening Party
For the opening of the W Santiago Chile we were fortunate to have Jonathan Franklin and photographer Morten Andersen, the guys behind Addict Village attend the party and report back to us on what they saw. We know, we know, what a tough assignment. Enjoy.
W chose Santiago as its first ever South American location roughly five years ago. Finally on Tuesday, The W Hotel Santiago held its official opening party, a trademark WOW experience that included a rooftop pool adorned with three female synchronized swimmers in body gripping silver suits, live bands on various stages and the constant buzz from the estimated 1,200 guests.
Beginning at 8pm, paparazzi stalked the entrance as a virtual "Who’s Who" of Southern Cone businessmen, artists, models (lots), and a few Trustafarians gathered for a summit of a globalized tribe, a roving band of creatives. It felt like an art festival as painters, jewelry designers and Google nerds mixed with surfers and journalists.
W Hotels often brag about their "cool" but we have to admit, even the public spaces off the parking garage where the hotel's opening party was held, are cool. Three floors underground in "Great Room 2", hundreds of hotel guests listened to a rocking Argentine band. As the guests wandered amidst candlelit tables, they were tempted by Roman Empire-sized offering of cheese and wine. The wheels of cheese were the size of basketballs.
Fountains of chocolates and trays of oysters competed for attention. A migrating flock of waiters and hostesses swooped in to remove empty glasses, fill empty plates as they deliver a W trademark: friendly, worldy staff.
Where else does the elevator guy answer the question ‘where you from?’ with, “Born in Chile, raised in Belgium but lived in Singapore for a long time.”
"We have a new music director, our head of fashion is great….we even considered hiring a cultural anthropologist," said Carlo Becil, VP Global Brand Management W Hotels Worlwide. "We are looking at Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, there are so many options in South America," said Becil who now oversees 35 properties worldwide (up from 27 in 2007).
Listening to Becil’s speak about design and fashion, he sounded more like the director of a hip theatre troupe trying to coordinate a complex performance art piece. That’s deliberate, said Gigi Ganatra Duff, W’s senior director of Global PR. "In many ways we teach our staff to be actors, to see the hotel as a stage." If the opening night was any indication, this is a show that fits right into the dynamic spirit of modern South America.
Meanwhile, at the far end of this cavernous subterranean space (which can allegedly hold 1,500 people) an open bar offered everything from Santa Teresa 1796, a classic Venezuelan rum, to cases of MOET. These are not the normal champagne bottles but huge bottles, like those used in old World War II movies to smash on the hull of a newly christened aircraft carrier.
As a pair of models danced on the coffee table, I heard the screech of cracking wood. The bartender was prying open yet another wooden crate filled with MOET.