It’s Saturday evening in St. Petersburg. Tonight the Virtuoso group was invited by Sir Rocco Forte to a cocktail reception and dinner at his Hotel Astoria. Sir Rocco Forte is the man behind a collection of ten (soon to be 12) luxury hotels, including Brown’s Hotel in London and the Balmoral in Edinburgh. He is a very famous hotelier – following in his father’s footsteps. His father passed away just a week ago, and we all assumed he would not personally be with us. To our surprise and delight, we were mistaken. He welcomed us all and threw a very lavish party. He apparently feels, as so many do, that Virtuoso Travel Agents are worth wooing…as they send a great many affluent travelers to his hotels.
Of course, the evening will not soon be forgotten by any of us. We were greeted by music and entertained at cocktails by the most beautiful young Russian dancers. Each dinner table had its own kilo of the highest quality caviar (which cost close to $1,000, we estimated). It was served with fresh blinis, sour cream as the solo condiment, and plenty of vodka.
After dinner there was dancing to a top band…with a very clever touch. What we found out later is that they had provided a group of young Russian men (ok, maybe “boys”) who were trained to escort women onto the dance floor – then bring gentlemen from the side to dance with the ladies and then repeat the action again and again. Within about 15 minutes they had pretty much galvanized everyone onto the dance floor – and the party really started rocking. It reminded me of what I have often thought is needed at events – and especially at resorts. Connectors. It worked flawlessly tonight.