My 2:00am Dubai Airport send-off . February 8th, 2013

Posted: August 9, 2013 in Past Trips
Perfect!  Free WiFi, champagne and located just outside my gate!

Perfect! Free WiFi, champagne and located just outside my gate!

Emirates is an absolute class-act.  However, on the Dubai side, they wouldn’t allow lounge access at the airport.  How dare they comp me business class flights and three nights at The Armani, yet forbid lounge access in Dubai?  Clearly, I found a perfect alternative and the perfect way to spend my last 200 Dirham.  Moët.

This has been one of the most bizarre weeks I’ve had, on several levels.  Not sure If I explained the program I was invited to participate in.  Emirates launched this global effort to bring people like me from all over the world to show them what its all about.  They made arrangements for people to have various activities available to them throughout the week.  And my infectiously radiant Oz friend works for the airline and was responsible for much of the organization of the event, I learned.  We are now New York, Phuket, Las Vegas and Dubai buddies!  Oh so worldly we are.  😉  Her new nickname is Mrs Jetsetter.

During the economic crisis, Dubai crashed big time.  You know, around 2007-2009.  Was told loads of stories about all the expats abandoning their Mercedes at the airport and getting the hell out of dodge, because it was just cheaper to leave.  Please take into consideration my memory and adorable quirk of misquoting facts… I think I have it sort of right though.  Sheikh Khalifa of Abu Dhabi, and President of UAE finally bailed the sheikh of Dubai out, as they are inter-related through one of their several wives.  Gave Dubai a few billion to work with.  So Dubai was free to do with this money as they wished.  Given there actually is not any oil in Dubai, the emirate is pushing hard now to bring in the tourism money.

There were only a handful of travel people at the Armani.  Most were German and Russian.  Then, there was the mini-me, a blondie from New York with the red lipstick.  Sweet thing, just 23 years old and relatively new in a storefront NY agency doing leisure travel like cruises and crap like that.  She is a blast though, and well… we all know me!  We were like a really cute Mutt & Jeff all week!  I did my part to show her the finer skills of networking.  😉

I actually ran into a couple other people I’d met in Cannes in December.  Or Vegas last August.  Bizarre.  But for me, trips like this really are about relationships with hoteliers, airlines and land operators.  Mini-me and I took full advantage of some of the fabulous activities arranged.  It was tough because there were some early starts and remember I have to keep up with the regular biz.  London would wake up around 1:00pm, NY around 4:00pm and then SF/Seattle.  I was up working until nearly 3:00am every night.  But it was well worth it.

The desert safari was really fascinating.  We had the coolest driver (who took extra special care of mini-me!), drove us to the dunes, 4x4ing through the largest sand desert on the planet.  Then we met up with my Jetsetter for a massive desert party filled with camel rides, falcons, palm reading, belly dancing, fire dancers and henna artists.  Oh yeah, and the hookah.  It was over-the-top but fabulous.  Of course sweet Jetsetter invited me to join her hotelier tables, and I brought mini-me along as well.  It was an absolute blast.  It was set up like the desert scene from Sex And The City 2 movie, with ‘chairs’ being pillows on the desert ground covered with massive Persian rugs.  Of course I’m seated with some people I’ve never met before, all hilarious… but next to this smug Brit with whom the banter was quality.  He just happens to be the Armani guy, so I was of course appreciative for my lovely accommodation at his hotel.  Totally spoiled with such amazing industry hospitality!

As some of you may know, I’m going to really focus on growth in 2013.  New look, new logo, new staff and potentially a new name.  The Armani boy, knowing me for just a few short minutes, launched right into massively teasing me about my company name.  His timing was so ironic as my designer had just sent his first draft of new names… and he was hysterical.  He carried that pathetic LMC card around all week long and continued the banter.  Busting it out whenever I got lippy or like when the executives of Emirates would come find me to chat.  Oddly enough, other Emirates employees, hoteliers and Arabian Adventures people were curious how did I know so many people already!  One even asked me to make an introduction, which of course I obliged.  Hilarious!  I know people because Jetsetter introduced me and I speak articulately about the several interesting facets of our businesses.  Just such a bizarre week.  The people I met (or were reintroduced to) will be with me for a long time.  The group’s last night gala was basically my having a fabulous time with all my friends, being dragged into the corporate photos, dancing at Prive, where the Armani boy slyly stocked the tables with Grey Goose.  There were so many randoms.  A few guys trying to get me to join them in feeding the sheikh’s lions later that night, attempts at dancing the tango, and listening to a rather talented duo belt out Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.

Most people flew to their homes yesterday morning, but I chose the 2:00am flight so I would be on the ground in time for clients, and a snowstorm apparently !!! for Friday morning.  I was not aware when I booked that Emirates has better WiFi than Starbucks.  It worked out rather well as it allowed time for dinner with my new smug friend on Thursday night, which is the start of the UAE weekend.

I know many of you think I’m a bit nuts, but I never go looking for freebies, these opportunities fall into my lap.  But I truly believe it’s a reflection of my work ethic and dedication.  All this hotel and airline executive networking has proved to benefit my clients time and time again.  It was an amazing opportunity, filled with unbelievable contacts!

Have started my decent into New York.  Clients still hopefully resting after their weather apocalypse panic yesterday…

Dubai is a bit weird.  Almost indescribable.  I was in an Armani Residence so I couldn’t have booze in my room, yet, last night I had loads of charcuterie and osso bucco for dinner.  Hypocrisy at it’s finest?  Tallest building in the world, biggest mall in the world, highest restaurant in the world, biggest fountain show in the world and of course, the largest sand desert in the world.  Largest sand desert because it’s very clean sand, no stones and dust.  I learned a lot about the middle east and most importantly, that the world really is not so scary.

Wheels to tarmac!  Hello JFK, where is all this supposed snow!!?  Or is just American media hype!?  I know, I know… it’s not like my country to hype up anything in the media.  😉

Dubai 2013_101

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