Jaipur, Rajasthan, a destination, since forever, synonymous with luxury and art de vivre, is a city unlike any other. At the risk of sounding hackneyed, Jaipur is a land where maharajas still exist, the traditions of ancient Indian princely states are still alive and where everyday, you can experience a slice of the grand old days of both the royal and British colonial eras. For this very reason, I couldn’t see a better place for the iconic luxury chain, St Regis, to host the Maharaja Bhawani Singh St Regis Polo Cup 2015. A befitting choice indeed.
When I told people that I was off to Jaipur to attend a St Regis Polo event, the obvious reaction was “Wow, is St Regis opening up a hotel in Jaipur?” Let me set the record straight, the St Regis chain of hotels, under the umbrella of the Starwood Group of Hotels (W Hotels, Sheraton, Le Meridien among others), has got its sights strongly set on India but have NOT officially declared where its first property is going to be and what it’s going to be like. Rumour mills in the luxury hospitality industry have been working overtime about the possible takeover of Mumbai’s Palladium Hotel (the erstwhile Shangri-La Mumbai) by the St Regis. However, we have NOT got an official confirmation of this. So let’s just treat it as a rumour, and that’s that. And let’s keep our fingers crossed that there’s an announcement from them in the near future.
Anyway, back to the St Regis Polo Cup in Jaipur. What’s the association of the hotel group and the game of polo, you ask? In the past decade, St Regis Hotels & Resorts has chosen to work closely at promoting the sport of kings, by hosting a series of unique, high-end, exclusive events for its guests around the world. St Regis Polo events have taken place across the USA, UK, Thailand, and in Abu Dhabi, more recently. In my opinion, the idea is fabulous: bring together a bunch of bon vivants over sport, style, sunshine, good food, wine, design and, most importantly, to celebrate luxury. In conversation with St Regis’s extremely dapper Global Brand Leader, Paul James, he told me “you have to realise that our founding hotel was the St Regis New York, which opened in 1904. At the time, the founders of the hotel, the Astor family, were regulars at the polo matches held at Manhattan’s Governors Island, which attracted the who’s who of New York City. The association has, as you would expect, continued even today.”
Which brings me back to my first point – Jaipur and Rajasthan, appear naturally fit to be the first Indian city to host St Regis Polo Cup. I was honoured to be part of it.
The highlight of my trip was bumping into and interacting with Nacho Figueras. Some of you might recognise him as the handsome face of Ralph Lauren men’s perfumes, splashed across international hoardings and fashion magazines for years. Most importantly, Nacho proudly bears the title of ‘St Regis Connoisseur’, an expert judge in the matters of taste. This Argentinian-born polo champion has been the face of St Regis’s polo programme over he past few years. He embodies the luxurious spirit of the hotel and the sport and helps bring it to the reach of a large number of VIP guests across the globe.He was present at the St Regis Polo weekend in Jaipur with his wife and children. In fact, we were thrilled to see him as part of the St Regis Polo team, along with his son Hilario. His charisma and gentlemanly demeanor, both on the field and off, makes him a perfect fit for his role as a ‘luxury ambassador’ so to speak.
Amidst endless champagne soirees, royal coteries, vintage cars, great fashion, beautiful horses and sophisticated people, the St Regis Polo Cup in Jaipur turned out to be quite a wonderful weekend. Stay tuned for my next blogpost where I shall be writing about the highlights of the weekend.