Oh! So Pink & So Versace
Photograph: Preeti Verma Lal
Pink. Actually hot pink. Almost the colour of bougainvillea. That is the brightest key card I have ever slid through a hotel door room. Even the bath towel cards are green, fluorescent green. Like the green vest that makes you visible in the dark. But then these doors do not open to dishevelled Joe Shmoes, these green towel cards are not for the plain Janes. You cannot walk in in singlets, you cannot flop around with thongs on your feet. Perhaps it would help if you knew your Bergere Bleue from your Duddleswell and your Nebbiolo from your Pinot Blanc. You see, you cannot afford to be slipshod in Palazzo Versace, Australia’s most luxurious hotel where there is Italian marble under your feet and pure gold leaf over your head on the ceiling. Remember the name, it is Versace. Yes, the Versace.
Look at my irony. That day I was in a marl singlet. As the car drove onto the tiled porch and the liveried bell boy pulled my bag out of the boot, I noticed the warning etched in brass and standing on a high pedestal. Ah! The singlet. Thankfully, if not for the handy tee I would have probably gazed at the countless marble columns, peeked at the unusual sette designed like a sea-shell and then bunked in just any other hotel. The singlet would have killed my day. Fortunately, it did not and I could walk up the second largest pebble mosaic in the world that was created by five master Italian tillers who handpicked pebbles from five different Italian regions to create this aesthetic ensemble.
Step into Palazzo Versace in Gold Coast and you would first notice the orchids perched on the circular settees in pink and blue interspersed with signature Versace motifs. On the floor is the Medusa head, the Versace logo in millions of square tiles arranged sedulously; from the ceiling hangs the 750 kg chandelier that once adorned the Milan State Library. Across the spotless glass you can see the blue of the pool shimmering in the morning sun, a jacuzzi frothing incessantly and hundreds of palm trees standing elegantly in their black and green. I walked gingerly towards the elevator, everything looks so dainty and pretty at Versace that I thought even the rustle of my skirt would break a frame or the sand off my boot would blemish the marble. You need to be a little careful in a $ 300 million dollar hotel that has 205 rooms and 72 condominiums sitting by a private marina.
As I walk through the heavily-carpeted corridors, I look at the walls – there are waif-like models in Versace clothing staring out of the golden frames, there are beefy men in barely anything gleaming under lamps and scones cast in bronze. The inlay on the ceiling is in tandem with the weave of the carpet and the Medusa head in steel and grey is painted on the elevator door. You notice style everywhere, in the specially designed black uniforms of the staff, the pink shirt of the waitresses and the aprons of the housekeepers. They are so immaculately turned out that I felt frumpy in my leggings and tee.
I sure found more occasion to feel dowdy. As I slid that bougainvillea pink key card into the door, it opened into an opulence befitting a queen, if not a fairy tale. A marble tub sits by an exquisite shower and glass doors open into separate toilets and bath. The chairs are gold and white and the bed lined with satiny cushions and burly bolsters, all looking Oh! so Versace. I curled into the fluffy bed to catch a wink, I could not. Perhaps too much luxury had chased my sleep away. But insomnia was the last of my worries; I had the pillow menu to lean on to. Yes, a pillow menu. Palazzo Versace actually offers five different types of pillows to pick from. Now where else could you have heard of a pillow menu!
If the marbles cost $ 11.5 million dollars and the 65-metre long lagoon can hold 1.2 million litres of water, is it any surprise that the cutlery and china is exquisite to the last drop of clay. When I sat for breakfast in Il Barocco with Carol Woods, the marketing manager, food redefined itself. The cheese was eclectic, the eggs poached to perfection, the salad arranged meticulously and the tea brewed flawlessly. It all gets better at Vanitas, the signature restaurant that looks onto the lagoon, and Le Jardin where the well-heeled and the monied moor their boats in the marina and hop off for champagne high tea.
A day in Palazzo Versace had me so pampered that I forgot that there is something called a mundane world that I had to return to. If I could stay longer I would have gotten all malice rubbed off in the Salus Per Aquum spa in a caviar facial or a lomi lomi. If I had a little more in the bank, I would have probably stayed forever in the luxury condominium that could have me begging for $ 6 million to own. But poor me, for now, I can only hold on to the pink diaphanous bag with the Versace fragrance. And the pageantry of a lavish day!
in The Economic Times, 2008