The Southwest was calling in December 2013, where the Mediterranean-style Montelucia Resort & Spa was home base for three days. Modern Moroccan was the inspiration for branding and gifting featuring hot colors of the sun, cool patterns, and lantern lit desert nights. The Capella, marked by 16th century wooden doors, served as the welcome area and registration, and later was also the venue for the gifting lounge, where Vera Wang, Eleni’s Cookies, Plum Pretty Sugar, Kendra Scott, Tieks by Gavrieli and minted surprised attendees with their top products.
The sessions opened with Martha Stewart Weddings’ Senior Editorial Director Darcy Miller, a longtime Engage! favorite, who showcased the creativity behind their pages. Floral designer Eddie Zaratsian shared the story behind his collaboration with Restoration Hardware, and destination planner Michelle Rago wowed with strategies on upselling to clients. Talks from designer extraordinaire Matthew Robbins and Paige Chenault, founder of the nonprofit The Birthday Party Project, got everyone inspired.
Other highlights included Abby Larson talking with photographer Jose Villa in his Engage! debut, and an outdoor lunch overlooking Camelback Mountain under an array of colorful Raj Tents in the event palette of sunset hues. Simon T. Bailey inspired everyone with an early morning breakfast session on the lawn. The breakout sessions included a designers’ roundtable on the nuts & bolts of business operations and unique takes from a diverse set of top planners, destination specialist Alison Hotchkiss, business focused Marley Majcher and London-based Mark Niemierko.
Todd Fiscus and his team from Todd Events created the fabulous “Birds of a Feather” themed gala adorned with thousands of fresh hydrangea and roses, incorporating stunning illuminated personal lantern escort cards from Gifts for the Good Life, a slo-mo video booth by Elysium and whimsical topiaries in the garden. West Coast Music once again delighted the high-energy crowd with a 30-piece orchestra during dinner that transitioned to a lively 90’s cover band as the night went on.