Over a cup of morning coffee Fay-Linn Yeoh, director, Brand Management of St Regis & The Luxury Collection, talks to Lookeast to explain the St Regis Polo Heritage and how the sport is a global St Regis marketing partner.
By Laurence Civil.
The St. Regis story begins in New York’s Gilded Age, where an elite group of supremely wealthy families rose to form the country’s first aristocracy, the Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Rockefeller families. The leaders of this new social class were the Astors, with matriarch Caroline Astor at the helm of high society. “The” Mrs. Astor created the first true expression of New York society by hand-selecting those with whom she associated – known as the “400.”
Her son Colonel John Jacob Astor IV, began developing a new style of luxury, focused on tangible advancements in the comforts afforded the wealthy. He modelled the original St Regis New York on his family home the Beaux Art , Astor Court on the banks of the Hudson River in Rhinebeck NY one of the last buildings designed by American architect Stanford White. His vision was for a hotel where gentlemen and their families could feel as comfortable as they would as guests in a private home. Lady Astor helped cultivate a sense of luxury and refinement in all aspects of the hotel’s operation. Fresh flowers were brought in daily, an English-style butler and afternoon tea services were implemented and exclusive social gatherings such as a midnight supper creating an enthralling sense of grandeur.
“Polo on Manhattan’s Governors Island, then an army camp was the highlight of the New York social calendar,” she says, “when the day’s play was over and divets stomped, Lady Astor hosted the midnight supper a St Regis ritual. After an absence of almost 70 years the game returned to New York and St Regis reconnected with the game with the Veuve Clicquot Manhatten Polo on 31st May 2008. A setting like none other on earth with the famous New York skyline overlooking the polo field.”
While Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras and his gorgeous wife Delfina Blaquier were staying at The Lanesborough, a St Regis Hotel, Hyde Park Corner, London they hosted the ritual midnight supper for a group of close friends in celebration of his new, official association with the St. Regis brand. It was also the kick off to the brand’s 2010 calendar of polo activities: The 3rd Annual St. Regis International Cup at Cowdray Park Polo Club on May 22nd, the Audmers Piguet International Polo in Singapore where Nacho hosted a Midnight Supper and black tie event on June 3rd, 4th and 5th. Then later in June, Nacho captained his Black Watch team for the third year running in the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on New York’s historic Governors Island.”
The St Regis Polo Calendar 2012 started in March with The Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup aims to raise support for the improved healthcare and education of the children of Lesotho, and will have HRH Prince Harry, playing for the Sentebale team, against St. Regis Connoisseur Nacho Figueras, who will captain the St. Regis team. “Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale is close to my heart, and I am delighted to be captaining the St. Regis team in this year’s match,” says St. Regis Connoisseur Nacho Figueras. “As an ambassador for Sentebale and St. Regis, I am looking forward to playing polo against Prince Harry in Brazil to help raise funds or this very worthy cause.”
In May play moved across the Atlantic to Cowdray Park, Sussex England for the St Regis International Polo Cup.
VIP guests watched the match from the St. Regis hospitality marquee where they were served the St. Regis signature cocktail, the Bloody Mary, first concocted at the original St. Regis Hotel in New York over 75 years ago. The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel, the next door neighbour to Buckingham Palace, treated guests to their award‐winning St. Regis afternoon tea, which included tea sandwiches, English tartlets, and scones with homemade apricot jam
In September it was onto the Tang Polo Club in Beijing China for the Royal Salute Gold Cup 2012 China Open Polo Tournament. In the final Royal Salute China defeated King Power Thailand eight goals to seven.
The first pink polo of the season was played at Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club in Abu Dhabi. The second a week later was the Queen’s Cup St Regis Pink Polo at the Thai Polo Club in Pattaya. Before and during play it had rained the going underfoot was muddy underfoot. The ever attentive St Regis Butlers were on hand to polish VIP guests’ shoe on the return journey Bangkok. I sense that Lady Astor would have approved, no mud on the drawing room carpet.
“Polo is an innate part of the St. Regis legacy,” Fay-Linn, “and it is exciting to see how this social tradition manifests around the world among a new generation of affluent travellers.”