The Birthday

The Brief

The ultimate 40th Birthday surprise.

Our Head of Scott Dunn Private, Jules, flew to Milan to meet up with the PR Director of a well-known fashion house, looking to surprise his wife with a special ‘take’ on her 40th birthday. Armed with a snapshot of his wife’s likes and dislikes, Jules prepared a ‘storyboard,’ mapping out her vision of how to enthral his wife with a truly memorable 40th birthday experience. Knowing the flamboyant personality of her guest, she mapped out the foundations. Four destinations that merged into one was the story line with a different surprise for each decade of his wife’s life, incorporating her love of the mountains and skiing. Her father had been a well-known chef, so her teens were spent in the company of some of his more illustrious European colleagues. She adored history which she majored in at University, specialising in the European powers during the First and Second World Wars and the Jewish Holocaust. The last ten years of her life had led her into the world of antique jewellery and art, which is how she had met her husband. With the colour now in place on the storyboard, the magic ensued.

The Experience

Drawing on her own love of the mountains, gourmet background and passion for history, fine art and jeweller, Jules orchestrated a four-night surprise extravaganza designed to reflect each phase of her guest’s life.

The result was an extraordinary itinerary, incorporating Italy and Austria; a surprise introduction to elements of history that had so fascinated her guest during her educational studies, cleverly interwoven with unique gourmet moments producing a rich tapestry of everything her guest loved best.

Starting in Paris, Jules tapped into her little black book to organise for Beatrice Avanzi, the Curator of the Atelier les Lumières to welcome the guests on board the Belmond Venice-Simplon Express. Over a glass of champagne, Beatrice offered a personal invitation to cocktails with some of the great global Gallery heads who would be attending the upcoming Klimpt exhibition in a few months' time. She briefly discussed the involvement of the Austrians in Nazi Art and how images of the Woman in Gold would be the showcase of the exhibition.

Then, at the Aman Grand Canale, chosen because of its historically significant art collection and architecture, Jules again worked her little black book to secure an exclusive meeting with Atillio Codognato at his Atelier, who regaled the couple with some of the most famous stories of his bespoke pieces and famous clients. A private dinner in a nearby private Palazzo cooked by Chef Gianni Bonaccorsi, the Michelin Star Chef of Il Ridotto would be the highlight of this part of trip - but this surprise was far from over.

The following morning, the couple were collected in the original Lamborghini Miura used in ‘The Italian Job’, a little extra that Jules had organised for the husband and specially shipped to Venice. Winding their way up the mountain roads in the Dolomites in this glorious car, the magnificent scenery the couple reminisced how it reminded them of that famous scene in The Italian Job where the Mafia ambush the Lamborghini.

Their journey brought them to the Rosa Alpina, the scene of the grand finale to Jules’s plan and the fourth chapter in the Forty Year Legacy. Welcomed in person by the charming owner Hugo, there was time to relax before a special dinner in the hotel’s 3 Michelin Star restaurant. The next morning, they were met by Giuseppe, one of the top ski guides in the Dolomites, with Jules having already thoughtfully pre-arranged for their ski clothing and equipment to be delivered in advance to the hotel. The guests were whisked to the local helipad and deposited below the summit of the magnificent Lagazuoi. Guided down the exhilarating ski runs by Giuseppe, the couple marvelled at the truly awe-inspiring scenery and as they finished their final turns, their helicopter swooped in to collect them and take them on to their lunch stop.

Working in conjunction with the hotel owner and ski guide, a plan had been hatched to host an incredible lunch for two on top of the Marmolada Glacier. As the helicopter touched down, they were met by an enchanting scene of white linen, silver, white roses and bottles of champagne chilling in the snow, a truly magical sight to behold. Even more dramatic was seeing Massimo Bottura – arguably the most famous chef in Italy standing in full Chef whites ready to cook the birthday lunch of dreams. Serving the wine was a well renowned professor who entertained them with the daring stories of the Austrian and Italian battles through the tunnels of Lagazuoi during the First World, where they had just skied from. A truly extraordinary birthday surprise.

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