An earful of coconut

Event recces can be fun, but they usually follow the same sort of pattern. You visit hotels, conference centres, restaurants, bars and golf courses to see if they’re suitable for your client’s event, ask a few questions then decide whether it’s worth taking any further or not. All nice and straight forward.

But never take recces for granted, as I learned on a recce to Benidorm. We were looking for a venue for a glamorous gala dinner for travel industry people who have seen and done everything, so it had to be really special. We were invited to dinner at a new luxury property located half way up a hillside, which we assumed was a Hotel. It turned out to be a luxury wellness spa, where people pay a lot of money to revitalise their bodies and spirits through an ultra healthy macrobiotic diet, exercise and relaxation in sumptuous surroundings.

At first we thought we were on to a winner. The all white property was stunningly designed with amazing views. When we arrived, we were greeted with champagne and rose petals. We all thought, great! and started giving each other the thumbs up, but alas too soon. After that fleeting first impression, everything went a bit strange!

Once all the dinner guests were assembled, we found we were surrounded by 30 impossibly good looking young men and women. I mean, if you think the Dellar Davies team has been blessed by the Gorgeous Fairy, then you can’t imagine how high the standard of workmanship this lot’s Fairy had achieved! And what did the Spa do with all this wondrousness? They blindfolded everyone so no-one could gaze adoringly upon each other and proceeded to pile guests into a lift – not an experience for the faint hearted!.

At this point I was abandoned by my pusillanimous colleagues who decided to opt out of the fun and games – not that we knew what we were letting ourselves in for, which was probably their main reason! I was led away to who knows where and taken into a room where I and the other non-wimpy guests were told that we were in for a night which would excite our six senses. Still blindfolded, we were ‘shown’ to our seats.

The Spa’s event team proceeded to feed us without telling us what we were about to eat. Unfortunately all the food was so ultra-healthy that none of it actually tasted of anything, which was a bitter disappointment for the taste senses! Happily the nutritionist must have been looking in the other direction when the Somelier turned up and we were plied with lots of different wines. It was either a deliberate part of the whole experience, or no-one was quite sure whether red or white complements bland cuisine best, but everyone was fed both – and not necessarily in any order!

In commenting to the person next to me about confused taste buds, I quickly discovered that if you started talking, someone would rush over, tell you off and massage you. Never known for my quiet manner, I soon found my shoulders wonderfully relaxed…

After dinner, things got even stranger. At one point someone put coconut shells over my ears. I’m not sure what effect this was supposed to produce, but I didn’t hear the sea. Another time we all tried out blind ballroom dancing – I doubt if Len Goodman would have been impressed with the results, but the experience was certainly different! Later on, I was lifted up in my chair and carried around the room – I suspect it was supposed to be a lesson in trust, but I was too busy laughing to ask.

At the end of the night we were all led outside and finally told we could remove our blindfolds. And what a sight met our blinking eyes! We found ourselves at the top of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean and the view was simply breathtaking. Even if I hadn’t have been blindfolded for three hours, it would still have been incredible.

It transpired my colleagues had seen the whole thing through a gap in the restaurant door leading into the ‘senses’ function room. Although they had declined food in the restaurant after the first mouthful, made do with chairs that stayed firmly grounded and the only aural experience they had was to listen to themselves complaining about spending an evening in Spain starved of Tapas, they did say they preferred it that way. But I’m not so sure I’d have wanted to miss out on such a bizarre experience!

At the beginning of the evening the beautiful people assured us that “this will be the best night of your life”. Well, I can’t honestly say it was the “best night” I’ve ever had, but it will certainly rate highly as one of the weirdest and most memorable…the things we do for our clients!

PS After a long and intense discussion lasting approximately one second, we decided that this would not be an appropriate event for our client’s Gala Dinner.