Well what a whopper of a week it has been at the 2016 Melbourne Cup Carnival! As the week comes to an end, I reflect back on where I found myself spending time and what marquees proved to be the real show stoppers. Amongst the mayhem of the flamboyant Birdcage, I found bliss and ease in the serenity of the Emirates Marquee. Emirates are no stranger to hosting an array of elite local and international guests in the most sophisticated, glamorous, and extravagant manner, so it comes as no surprise that 2016 was no exception. Exhibiting a flawless concept, Emirates wowed guests, to as usual take the place as the most extravagant, hospitable, and opulent marquee.

However this year was no ordinary year for Emirates. 2016 marked a huge milestone – 20 years of operating within Australia. In light of this anniversary, the principal partner of the Melbourne Cup Carnival took things local when it came to designing their always dazzling and extravagant pavilion.  Transforming their two story trackside birdcage marquee, the airline giant took guests on an unforgettable culture rich journey through our very own country, reflecting local destinations including Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Being the 13th year as principal parter of the Emirates Melbourne Cup, and 19th year of involvement with the Victoria Racing Club, this year taking things local meant putting on a real showstopper for Emirates guests. Think traditional BBQ meat and lobster, indigenous Australian dancing, and performances by Australian icons such as Shannon Noll, all to play homage to Emirates’ Australian culture.

As usual, the marquee took prime position at the front of the Birdcage, which provided racegoers the privilege of enjoying unsurpassed views of the racetrack on a sweeping veranda that extended the entire length of the marquee. The relaxing and sophisticated terrace was adorned with rainforest ferns and palms found in Victoria’s Otway ranges to provide a real homeland feel.

Inside the doors of their classic Australian homestead inspired marquee, the designers took inspirations from local destinations, and transformed the pavilion into a magical wonderland filled with vibrant flora and fauna including eucalyptus mint, waratahs, kangaroo paws and cockatoos – a true nod to our diverse countryside.

In designing the flamboyant marquee, Head Designer of Bazmark Inq, Silvana Azzi Heras, who has worked alongside Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin for the past 18 years, partnered with the airline giant to create a classic Australian homestead for Emirates’ guests. Inspired by Australia’s extraordinary vibrant and unique flora and fauna, guests of the Emirates marquee were greeted by a towering 4m Australian gumtree in the centre of the marquee. This was complimented by 1930’s inspired Australian Art Deco furnishings with a contemporary Australian design.

Once again, the Emirates marquee hosted a fully serviced sit-down restaurant offering guests a unique dining experience, with a tasting plate of five locally produced dishes inspired by the five Emirates destinations. Developed by Wolgan Valley One&Only, Executive Chef Nancy Kinchella, who earned a Michelin star during her time in Londonthe tasting plate included dishes such as Adelaide inspired Citrus cured South Australian kingfish, finger lime pearls and salmon caviar and Melbourne inspired dish featuring Victorian Lamb loin with sheep’s yoghurt and cumin scented jus. 

Locally sourced ingredients also fed their way into the grazing dishes served throughout the days, including Sydney Balmain Bug and crab ravioli, Roasted barramundi fillet from north of Brisbane, and a spectacular Marine Life seafood spread which celebrated our Island’s waters.

There were also a number of locally adored ingredients served in the marquee’s grazing dishes, with milo chocolate making an appearance in the dessert category, and ‘The Splice’ cocktail putting a twist on the iconic Australian ice cream.

Emirates’ famous salon further made a spectacular return this year, once again offering lucky guests hair-styling and makeup-touchups throughout the carnival. ‘The Parlour’ housed two hair stylists from the expert team at Melbourne’s renowned Joey Scandizzo Salon, as well as Lara Srokowski, National Make-up Director for Lancôme, and her team of expert make-up artists hosting two beauty stations – one for skin touch-ups, and a Bright lip station, showcasing lip art and the red lip look.

Always a show stopper, the entertainment in the Emirates marquee this year was on another level. This year’s entertainment paid tribute to Australia’s heritage and indigenous culture with a contemporary dance performance in collaboration with Stan Yarramunua – well-known Aboriginal artist and didgeridoo player who has commissioned work for the likes of Stevie Wonder, Prince, Bono, AC/DC and Snoop Dogg. Not to mention a guest performance by Australia’s loved Shannon Noll on Oaks Day! What a way to welcome guests to the races!

Year after year, Emirates manage to bring the first class hospitality that is offered 35,000ft in the sky across its extensive global network of 154 destinations and 82 countries and territories worldwide – to Flemington’s Birdcage. Offering the most pristine and exquisite offering in the birdcage, the one of a kind marquee was deemed the marquee of choice for the crème de la crème to witness the race that stops the nation. Providing little to no reason to venture outside the vicinity, the Emirates marquee is where I chose to spend a great deal of my racing week at!


W by White Wolfe