The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story about a tree that adorns the lobby of the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Designed by WATG (the hotel not the tree), the property won top honors at a ceremony in London last month, winning nine individual World Travel Awards - more than any other property in the world.
It's not the artificial tree itself that's making news; nor is it the fact that it's in a Muslim country. It's how it's decorated.
Bedecked and bedazzled with US$11 million worth of diamonds, emeralds and rubies, the attention-grabbing spectacle is vying for entry into the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most expensively dressed tree. Not taken into account on calculating the cost is the 24/7 security, which includes four security guards closely monitoring the area along with security cameras.
A year ago, I announced that bling has blung. I did not anticipate that our appetite for lavishness and luxury would re-surface so quickly. And perhaps it hasn't.
Within a few days of boasting about the cost of the tree, much of the public reaction was negative, and an article in Canada's Edmonton Sun has the hotel now crediting – or blaming – Style Gallery, which owns all the jewelry adorning the tree's branches. "The hotel is just a venue for exhibiting the tree," the hotel said in a statement issued to WAM, the state-run media, adding regret for "attempts to overload the tradition."
Clearly, the tree generated publicity for the property. But at what price?
What's your opinion?
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