The high-octane Formula One machine is at the same time a thrilling spectacle of speed and a decadent weekender. Such is its cachet that when the Grand Prix circus comes to town, everyone turns out. Politicians rub shoulders with celebrities, business executives and royalty; tourists mingle with local residents. Alongside thrilling speed and tactical dexterity on the track, the sport has come to be associated with luxury trackside lounges, private yachts and indulgent nightlife.
As a hospitality event, Formula One represents a strong, crowd-pleasing opportunity, providing simultaneous chance for spectator enjoyment, high-level networking and first-rate hospitality. What’s more, Abu Dhabi has become synonymous with luxury living and five-star facilities while conveniently positioned at the mid-point of many major markets.
London-based company Halcyon Events organises bespoke Formula One packages that are a step above other high-end peers. Theirs is the VIP Formula One experience, but with a personal concierge. That means exclusive access to “hard to access” events and parties, keen attention to detail and reflexive responses to any on-the-ground request.
A large leading bank selected the company to arrange one of its client hospitality events at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which is held in the nation’s capital, on the man-made island of Yas amid the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Although initial contact was made in April to discuss the prospect of a November Formula One event, the booking was only confirmed three months in advance. With a relatively short time to arrange the function, accessing the best accommodation close to the event was the biggest challenge. Fifty important delegates had to be flown in, transferred, accommodated and entertained at a five-star level for the duration of the weekend.
Halcyon choreographed the arrival of delegates from eight countries and organised transfers to the trackside hotel at Yas Island by private helicopter and chauffeur driven cars.
The Yas Viceroy hotel straddles the Formula One track in Abu Dhabi. Echoing the form of a fishing net being cast, the 574-room hotel is right up close to the action. It boasts six food and beverage outlets and a wide range of incentive activites. Short of driving one of the cars, it would be hard to be closer to the purpose-built track.
Each year Halcyon Events hires out the entire function suite with its wrap-around balcony boasting prime panoramic views of the race track, merging several of the rooms into one spacious event area decked in creamy linens and floral arrangements. Slide open the French doors and the roar of the mechanical beasts comes screeching into the room. Close them, and guests can simply hear the clink of champagne flutes being filled and the hum of air-conditioning.
Halcyon works closely with hotel management to ensure guests are provided with a free-flow bar and world-class food throughout the day. With delegates from broad-ranging cultures, the team works closely with hotel services to deliver cuisine that is sensitive to a range of cultures and tastes.
Due to the popularity of the race, many hotels and venues around the racetrack are booked out a year in advance. But Halcyon’s director Chris Buncombe says the company is used to accommodating last-minute bookings: “Whilst last minute bookings can be challenging, we’re used to it in our premium line of business and take as many steps to pre-empt and plan for demand as reasonably possible. In this instance, the suite had been arranged some three months in advance and, as a result, we had already block-booked hotel rooms to accommodate the appropriate number of delegates.
“The beauty of a small company such as ours is that we can offer uniquely individual, tailor-made trips. Because we only work with a small number of clients, we can personally host all our guests at every race. Our long-standing connections and relationships forged over 20 years of close involvement in the sport – including racing ourselves – allow us to deliver experiences of a lifetime.”
At the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the group turned out to be fanatical motor racing fans and wanted to meet their choice of driver and team. The Halcyon team was able to arrange a personal meeting with the driver and his race team and a tour of the garage and pit lane.
Away from the track, the delegates had divergent interests, but attentive service from the Halcyon staff meant that each attendee could enjoy a range of incentive activities, from a driving experience in a luxury sports car to dinner at the most exclusive restaurants, entrance to the sought-after Amber Lounge party and invitations to cocktail receptions on one of the large private yachts moored in the Yas marina.
Event: Private function at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Client: A leading bank
Venue: Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel
Organiser: Halcyon Events
Tel: +44 207 118 8680