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Top dollars for all-inclusives
Among the most popular events in the pre-Carnival mix are the all-inclusive fetes, attracting patrons who want to enjoy elite company, a great ambience, gourmet food, premium drinks and the best of the season’s musical entertainment. Although they generally are high-priced events, patrons willingly pay from $750 to as much as $1200 for the experience, and promoters of these all-inclusive affairs are known to stage million-dollar productions.
The most popular on the annual Carnival all-inclusive calendar are Friends To the Max, Escape to La Playa, and the fetes hosted by the UWI, cricket legend Brian Lara, Central Bank and the Blood Bank. Also on this year’s fete roster are the fund-raisers hosted by St Francois Girls College, which took place yesterday, as well as the Old Hilarians All Inclusive (Bishop Anstey), CIC Feting With The Saints, the Republic Bank Cooler Inclusive and Harvard Club All Inclusive Fete.
Next Sunday, the biggest will be hosted at UWI’s St Augustine Campus—the 23rd edition of the university’s popular fund-raiser which this year will be a Middle Eastern-themed event called Yallah. UWI principal Professor Clement Sankat and chairman of UWI fete, marketing whiz Dennis Ramdeen emphasised that it was all for a “noble cause.” Chairman of the UWI Endowment Fund, retired banker Ronald Harford has been spearheading preparations for the lavish event.
Sankat said the event costs about $4 to $5 million to produce and attracts just over 5000 patrons who fork out $950 for that all-inclusive experience. “It is an expensive venture at UWI but we try to give our loyal supporters a truly first class, memorable experience. It is done in a safe and secure environment and is an opportunity for the old alumni to get together,” Sankat said.
Ramdeen pointed out that “every cent goes to the fund,” which was established to help UWI students. “There’s nothing nobler than that cause. On an annual basis we give bursaries to students which would help with housing, transport and purchasing school supplies.”
Ramdeen said one of the secrets of the UWI fete’s success is that it is managed by experienced UWI people and other prominent citizens who volunteer their services, including Peter Clarke, Christine Sahadeo, Lucille Meir, Sheridan Woodruffe, Lisa Wickham and David Lewis.
According to Ramdeen, patrons get value for their money in addition to supporting a worthy cause. Outgoing President George Maxwell Richards is associated with one of the longest running and most successful of the Carnival all-inclusives—Friends to the Max. Chairman of the organising committee for this event, Dr David Picou, is busy finalising plans for this year’s fete which takes place at Pier 1 Chaguaramas on February 3. Tickets cost $1,200.
Picou said since this would be the last time Richards will be attending as President, the organisers were making sure everything was in place for a grand extravanganza. “For our second year at Pier I, it’s going to be much better laid out and we are going to introduce a few surprises. We have to be competitive because a lot of people are throwing fetes and we intend to stay at the top. Our fetes are comparable to fetes at Moka and Brian Lara.”
He listed the major selling points of the event: “Our food and drinks do not run out. Caviar, salmon, champagne and top of the line drinks are in store for the patron and for C2k13 we are introducing an exciting seafood addition.” Picou said to produce a fete of that magnitude costs between $2.3 to $4 million. “It’s quite expensive to stage a fete,” he explained. “The cost of beverages exceeds the cost of the food, mainly because of the champagne.”
Picou said there is keen interest in the event throughout the Caribbean diaspora in North America and Europe. As with the UWI all-inclusive, funds from the event will go to charity. Playa del Este—Escape to the Sanctuary, the annual event spearheaded by businessman Michael Headley, attracts approximately 4,000 all-inclusive fete lovers to scenic Salybia on Trinidad’s east coast.
Co-ordinator of the event Charlene Clarke said it costs about $2.5 million to produce the fete. This year’s admission price is $950, an increase from last year. Clarke explained: “We increased it to add more value for the patrons. We are expanding the premium bar to make it ultimately premium. It will be an exclusive all-inclusive with five levels for partying, each with its own built in bars.”
This year’s entertainment includes Roy Cape, Karma and Ravi B and top guest artistes, along with three rhythm sections, tassa drummers, two DJs and a Latin music area. Clarke is confident that all-inclusives will remain a big part of Carnival. Businesswoman and former Miss Universe Janelle Commissiong-Chow will host her popular event, Just Penny, at the Normandie Hotel, Under The Trees, St Ann’s, on February 9. Tickets costs $750.
“It’s going to be my first partnership with Normandie Under the Trees at the Normandie,” she said. Noting that her fete’s success depends on “a combination of great food, great music and party-loving people,” Commissiong-Chow said the organising committee plans to add value by introducing quality entertainment, an award-winning host chef and fancy decor.
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