Art Deco Weekend suits them 'to a tea'

By Roger Moroney

1 comment
Merrill J Fernando (centre) and his sons Dilhan (left) and Malik will again be heading to Napier and another great Art Deco experience, after enjoying last year's festival so much.
Merrill J Fernando (centre) and his sons Dilhan (left) and Malik will again be heading to Napier and another great Art Deco experience, after enjoying last year's festival so much.

For Merrill J Fernando, the founder of Dilmah Tea, the advice he likely got last year about taking in the Tremains Art Deco Weekend could well have been "do try it".

Which he and sons Dilhan and Malik duly did.

What they saw and experienced confirmed one thing for all of them.

They would be back.

And this time they would be bringing their families as well, Art Deco Trust events manager Jonathan Smith said.

During last year's festival, Malik Fernando said he and his brother, and father, had been overwhelmed at how much was going on.

"I have been to many festivals all over the world and I have to say that this is the most amazing one I have been to."

Mr Smith said the trust was delighted to welcome the Dilmah team back and had created two unique ticket-only events around them.

The father and two sons will host the Dilmah High Tea Affair which will feature Global High Tea Challenge maestros Laurent Lourdeac and Camile Furminieux.

They will create high-tea specialties which will be served alongside other tasty delicacies, with celebrity chef Simon Gault acting as Master of Ceremonies.

"We also have a new event in the Dilmah Highwire Mixology Extravaganza," Mr Smith said.

It will involve special tea-based cocktails alongside cocktails whipped up by some of the finest mixologists in the country, along with canapes and all within the Art Deco confines of the former Daily Telegraph building.

"I would advise people to book sooner rather than later if they wish to go along," Mr Smith said, adding that overall, ticket sales were about 14 per cent up on where they were at this time last year - and last year's event was seen as the biggest yet to be staged.

This year's festival will see 30 new events.

"It is trending very well and we have sold out quite a few events already."

There had been a noticeable increase in inquiries and bookings from Australia this year which Mr Smith said underlined it as a new and emerging market.

He said with the event running over five days it would see people staying longer, which was good for the regional economy.

There had been a surge in requests over the past two days for copies of the programme.

"It quietened down around Christmas but it has fired up again now and my advice is if you want to go to something then book now - don't leave it too long."

While some of the vintage railcar rides had sold out, tickets for a couple of services were still available. Mr Smith said planning was well in place and his events management approach was to plan for it taking place a week earlier than the actual kick-off day.

"That way you know everything is in place - and I'll be looking at all the finer details - checking every single event."

It will be his first Tremains Art Deco Weekend as events manager so were there any butterflies in the old stomach?

"Oh yes, there are a few nerves and of course you get a bit anxious about things but I use that as a strength - we have a very good team of people here and some great systems in place."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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