Imagine if the most luxurious, opulent hotel you’ve ever seen just closed its doors one day and left everything inside as it was. Now imagine entering those same doors twenty, even thirty years later; what kind of time capsule you’d find, how the earth and dust would settle over the interiors and exteriors. It’s all very I Am Legend, right? Well, Austrian photographer Thomas Windisch documented such a series of encounters across 12,000 miles of Europe that includes photos of 100 hotels that have been abandoned and left to the elements.
While his surrealist project captures abandonment, stillness and an overwhelming sense of calm, all we event planners can think about is what kind of killer parties could be thrown in some of these spaces.
Picture towers of champagne, aerial arts ladies on ribbons dangling from cavernous ceilings, flooding the walls of the rooms with vines of jasmine and ivy, revving up the antique grand pianos, and getting those massive old bars flowing with booze.
A fabulous event is all about the mood and energy you bring into the space and these old hotels are so mysterious and grandiose that you can embrace that magnetism and play up the forbidden prohibition feel. In the party planning world, that means tons of booze and a whole lot of dancing, so focus on the bar and the music. You could even bring in a few obscure entertainment acts, maybe a group of cabaret performers or flapper dancers with a big horn-heavy jazz band.
Some of the hotels are so traditional and beautiful that it’d be fun to throw that upside down and have a raucous party, but a really elegant large-scale dinner could work just as well. The thing to strive for when planning a party in any of these kinds of venues is matching the grand scale of the space to the mood of the party. So, if you’re imagining more of a formal dinner, do it big and serve five or six courses with butler service, wine constantly flowing, maybe bring in a partial orchestra for entertainment, rent chandeliers and candelabras and line long banquet tables with abundant flowers and greenery.
Part of the creativity that goes into planning events is determining how to personalize the setting. Whether that means shaking things up in a refined ballroom by bringing in wild décor or an unexpected type of entertainment or just a really abundant menu is truly up to the host. The options are limitless, as long as you have a group of talented, artistic vendors and a venue that’s open to new ideas.
It may be difficult to host an event on the set of one of Windisch's photographs, but you can easily translate the concept into your own event planning. The idea is to cut loose and do something unexpected, muck things up a bit and don’t focus on the party being too perfect, too stylized. After all, a little grit and a little bit of dirt don’t keep any of these spaces from shining.
Photos: Thomas Windisch