Montrealers are good at taking advantage of summer. As soon as the first glimmer of sunshine peeks through the sky after a long winter, a shared sense of excitement fills the air, and the loaded schedule of summer events in the city commences. And the kickoff event may be the most exciting of all: Formula One Grand Prix Weekend brings some welcome glamor to the city, complete with beautiful cars, beautiful people and colossal bottles of champagne. Is it any wonder we look forward to this?
It’s 7:30pm at new Griffintown it-spot, Le Richmond. The rustic brick building is lined with a crimson red carpet and classic velvet rope. The photographer is testing, the valet parking team patiently awaiting the many F1-weekend worthy cars about to roll through, and it seems the buzz has reached the trendy sun-drenched rooftops of the coolest new neighborhood in the city. Onlookers are gazing down at the action with curiosity, only to find confirmation that yes, this is the party to be at tonight in Montreal – as a magical white horse casually strolls out from an unlikely urban stable. Atop the horse is an angel in the flesh; she has glimmering red locks, feathered wings and a white flowing gown. Add to this the uber-stylish setting and hazy evening sun and you might just have to pinch yourself.
And we aren’t even inside yet.
Walking into Le Richmond, you’re greeted by a tower of champagne flutes accompanied by endless supply of frosty Dom Pérignon. Stroll forward and you’ll find a massive ice sculpture decorated with succulent seafood, including juicy shrimp, lobster and Dungeness crab. Beside this is the terrace, a chic lounge area and bar illuminated by colorful LED screens flashing abstract geometric art, rhythmically aligned with the music. Look over to your right and the seafood theme continues with hundreds of oysters perfectly paired with bottles of crisp white wine.
Fashionably late must be a thing of the past. The clock strikes 8pm and right away, guests are piling in. Le Richmond’s Head Chef Terence Sheppard, formerly of Montreal culinary mainstay Cavalli, does a once-over of his seafood displays and tells me how crucial the timing is when creating a display of this nature. “You have to be really careful” he says, “The ice sculpture was built in the restaurant today, and we put all of the seafood on it right at the last possible minute to ensure it was perfectly chilled by showtime.” He and his kitchen make up a dozen-man team tonight, “We’ve been working all night and day to prepare. I have the best hands on deck so I know it will be smooth sailing.” And smooth sailing it is indeed. Trays upon trays of creative canapés circulate the room all night, including once-in-a-lifetime eel mousse and crowd-pleasing caviar with creme fraiche, offered to guests by smiling, friendly (read: beautiful) servers.
NHL legend Kirk Muller walks in the room and affirms the tone that remains for the rest of the evening, remarking, “What a unique venue, this is going to be a great evening!” Drinks are flowing, music is bumping, old friends are mingling with new, and the star of the show—the bottomless Dom P, of course—is temporarily eclipsed by a surprise acrobatic show. Perched on the back of a metal horse suspended in the middle of Le Richmond’s ceiling is a woman, swaying across the room. Guests gaze up in awe as she defies the limits of both human flexibility and gravity. How she got up there, or got down for that matter, will be one of the many mysteries of the night.
Just when you thought your stomach was satisfied, the sweet smell of cocoa fills the air as a chocolate fountain takes over from the seafood ice palace. It’s paired with decadent cheeses designed to satisfy even the most serious cheese snobs.
And just like that, the good times are rolling. Luxury Retreats and partners Dom Pérignon and Wheels Up set out to create the party of the weekend, and it evidently surpasses expectations. Light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal puts it perfectly, “Good friends, good food, great party.” He isn’t the only Montreal athlete joining us–Canadiens fan-favorites PK Subban and Lars Eller made a night of it too, as well as a crew of Montreal Impact players, including Heath Pearce who describes the party as, “a lively atmosphere with fantastic drinks.”
Needless to say, as the adage goes, “time flies when you’re having fun”; and partygoers were still spilling out into the Griffintown streets as the sun was rising. The glamour of the evening was available to take home, too—bags filled with Chloe, Balenciaga or Marc Jacobs perfume, a generous heap of Kerastase luxe hair care products, Thirsty Buddah coconut water and Luxury Retreats and Wheels Up swag, including a $250 dollar Luxury Retreats vacation voucher.
When you party in the fast lane, time tends to go by pretty quickly anyway—so let’s just jump the gun: we’ll see you in 359 days, Montreal.
See the full event gallery here