Is she really back in Miami (yes, she was at Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne only a couple of weeks ago)? No she is not. The gal is trying out the Miami rooftop at 02, the top – twelfth – floor entertainment zone of the almost-bling Ritz-Carlton Moscow. How this hotel location has kept up to date.
It started life as a drinking tavern, in the 18th century it was known as the Tverskaya and then in the mid 20th century it was the infamous Intourist Hotel, fortunately long since pulled down and rebuilt, to open as this fine 332-room hotel (every room has luxurious parquet flooring).
Anyway, Miami-in-Moscow launches officially this coming Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, and it lasts all summer long. Step out on to 02’s terrace, the size of two tennis courts, and you are already partly there. A giant wall photo greets you.
Turn hard back to your right, from Miami, and there is a full-size beach house, 12 feet high, blue and white. A party of exquisitely-dressed locals is already seated at the one table within (this is much bigger a venue than the table-for-two at our last meal).
Turn only slightly to your right from Miami, however, and there is a beach-like drinks hut. The mixologist is making mojitos with Dom Perignon (well, don’t we all?). Cut the sugar please, put in more mint and it is mojito-good. An alternative would be the signature Grand 02 cocktail, Grand Marnier, Cordon Rouge liqueur, Southern Comfort and raspberry.
Drinks in hand, arrivals progress around the rooftop, to admire the view and the other participants. The view. Spectacular. Look down as the sun sets on the walls of the Kremlin. To the left is the State History Museum and Red Square, with the Lenin Mausoleum behind-right, and St Basil’s in the distance.
The gold domes of the various churches gleam bright, although those on the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, to your far right, are old-gold and dull. Every few minutes the light changes. It reminds one of watching the Taj Mahal go from pinks to greys to pale blues.
The other participants. Interesting rather than spectacular. There are pairs of couples, probably mid-20s, women in evening dress, men in polo shirts covering just hints of beer bellies. They are lounging in sofas either side of a modern-style shisha water pipe, and snacking on sushi.
Daniel Silva’s The Rembrandt Affair, published 2010, mentions on page 150 ‘having champagne and sushi at the 02 Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton Moscow’. There is a table of men, no jackets, ten of them having an evening business meeting. I remember going to a party in New Zealand once where men talked one side, women the other.
Anyway, here there are groups of women, two up to five, all dressed in latest, expensive, style, all without exception wearing the sky-high heels, stiletto or wedge, that are Moscow Uniform (apparently in Rome fashionistas often wear flats because of the cobblestones, here highest-high are de rigueur, even for pushing baby buggies or running across Red Square).
The groups of men, in particular, will be admiring the other Miami-themed artifacts up on the roof – they have somehow got an Audi R-8 up there, by crane and lots of luck. Yes, Moscow is full of entertainment. One big future happening is its 34th International Film Festival (June 21-30, 2012), which this year includes a retrospective of a Hong Kong director Yonfan.
So, here in bliss at 02, we too try sushi, or rather a Big Plate. Russia style, you are told exactly what you are going to get, weight-wise. The plate, which gives 410-gram of edibles, includes 45-gram sashimi (hamachi, salmon, tuna); 110-gram California rolls, 122-gram unagi (eel) maki, 125-gram avocado maki; the rice topped sushi come with 30-grams of salmon, 31-grams of calamari, perch, shrimp, tuna and yellowhead, and 36-grams of eel.
The seafood is flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market twice a week and it tastes fresh-fresh. The extensive menu includes gunkan seaweed-cup servings, and, for those who do not want Japanese, everything from pasta to US prime beef. If you must, you can choose Beluga, at a mere rb20,000 for 50 grams, or, even better, Imperskaya Sevruga at rb 470 per single gram (go best, with Golden Sevruga, only rb 860 per gram).
Some weeks, says the rooftop manager, Dutchman Pieter Teune, a week will go by without selling any Golden and then, rush rush, everyone wants it, as if the storybook ship has come home.
The Dom Pérignon, now unspoiled by rum and mint, has gone down splendidly. The sun has gone down, majestically. We leave 02 and go down, in the elevator. While waiting, yet again I smile at one of Gao Xiao Wu’s pair of Standard Times, white-resin sculptures of anthropomorphic figures leaning forward.
Down at the ground floor, the lobby, with its marble-look columns topped by gold-look capitals, is buzzing with local businessmen, a lot of whom one suspects are Kazakhs. This luxury hotel is owned by the Chairman of the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association of Kazakhstan, Bulat Utemuratov, a close friend of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Utemuratov’s company Ritz-Carlton Hotel Vienna.bought a year ago from another Kazakh company, Capital Partners. Utemuratov obviously so liked the hotel world, and not surprisingly this particular Ritz-Carlton, managed by super-suave Sandeep Walia, that he quickly forked out for another one, which will open later this year as