UNICEF Charity Gala Dinner 2015 - The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa

The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa continues to show itself as more than just a luxury leisure destination. Its uniqueness on the Abu Dhabi high end hotel scene goes deeper than its earthy, minimalist design in which it emphasises the natural. It is a hotel that, amidst others with a bling element, chooses to have a gentler approach in enticing guests. The soft soothing tones of the hotel are so symbolic of the quiet way in which it goes about making a difference, be that through its Green initiatives or encouragement of guests to live a healthier lifestyle. 

On 4 September 2015, it hosted its second UNICEF Charity Gala Dinner as part of a broader Starwood initiative to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate ones, especially in Africa. Done in conjunction with Ladies who Lunch (http://www.ladieswholunchuae.com/), the spectacular event, with by a 300+ sold out guest list, starTed off with a champagne reception in the hotel lobby while guestS were able to peruse some of the items that would be auctioned as part of the fund raising initiative. 

The items for the silent auction were truly diverse: Signed One Direction framed photographs, an Eric Cantona football shirt from his glory days at Manchester United and other items featuring Manny Pacquiao, Roger Federer, to name a few. Of course, there were also items for the open auction including holiday packages to South Africa, Qatar and of course at The Westin itself. 

At these events dinner is almost an afterthought,but the UK inspired menu featuring Smoked Scottish salmon, Roast Irish beef, Yorkshire pudding, Sticky pudding and  a selection of UK cheeses seemed to hit the right spot with guests. Entertainment was provided by the fabulous Sand of Music, Dubai Drums and the vivacious Cuban Duo who had all gasping with their intense dance moves. 

When all is settled, memories of the dishes and even the entertainment will be gone,  but what will linger on will be the efforts of people who make these evenings happen in the name of helping others, and on this occasion, UNICEF, to provide clean drinking water to children and their loved ones in Africa and The Middle East. With 164 000 AED  raised last year, I have no doubt that will be surpassed this year, if the auction was anything to go by.

I am reminded of some of the most famous words on Success, wrongly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but nonetheless, the words ring true:

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. 

The night was about making so many of these words a reality. I know also there are other hotels making a  difference to the world in this way, but this night was about The Westin and its sponsors here in Abu Dhabi.

Brandon Stoltenkamp