Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Raleigh Runway Caper

Video shot in March 2008 of the now infamous pool.

"Effortlessly chic, impossibly seductive." -- Conde Nast Traveler

"Full of shit, impossibly snobby." -- The Locals Guide to BS in SB

So last Sunday some friends and I decided to meet at The Raleigh Hotel for a leisurely afternoon of mojitos, sandwiches and good conversation -- an activity we've enjoyed more than once in the past.

At one such gathering, I had spoken with a hospitality manager who told me that The Raleigh wanted to bring class and sophistication back to South Beach. "It's not all about the clubs anymore," he explained. "We want to make the hotel more attractive to locals."

I couldn't agree more. The Raleigh is a historic Collins Avenue property with great class appeal -- sophisticated, yet casual. It's more expensive, to be sure, than hanging out at Flamingo Park with a bottle of Mad Dog, but heck, when you "do" hotel on Collins Avenue, you're paying for the fantasy of genteel grace, even if it means farting Krugerrands out of your ass.

When we arrived at the hotel on Sunday, we had no idea that the property would be closed to the public on Monday for an entire week. Apparently Karl Lagerfeld would be in town to present Chanel's cruise collection. And by cruise, I don't mean the verb, you know -- smack talk such as gay men looking for bathroom sex, papi chulos wagging their tongues at chongas in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Ocean Drive, or hookers pulling tricks by the Setai, no -- by cruise I mean clothes that wealthy women wear on big boats.

Since we knew nothing about this fashion event, we thought that the pool had been cordoned off for maintenance. Mind you, the only unusual feature about the pool on Sunday was some kind of white sheeting wrapped around its shallow edge, which we couldn't see very clearly from our lounge chairs at the far end of the tree-covered patio.

One of my friends had used his telephoto lens to capture the fountain above the pool when a security thug, dressed in black CIA-style, approached him. "Let me see the photos," he demanded. "Don't take photos of the pool," he grunted firmly. "Chanel people."

Chanel people. Holy houndstooth! Did you hear that? Chanel people! The hotel pool was being held hostage by Chanel people!

We had to suck on our sugar cane sticks just to keep from laughing. God forbid we should be undercover paparazzi spying on the precious runway! But what runway? There was no fucking runway! Good grief, I was already hastily scribbling on a napkin -- The Mystery of the Phantom Runway.

Since none of us intended to leak photos to Women's Wear Daily, we continued carrying on in our own little corner of the patio, minding our own business and having a darn good time. We took occasional snapshots of ourselves, sent messages to Twitter and live stream video to Qik, but never aimed any of our electronic devices at the God damn freakin' pool.

What's more, we saw no evidence of the so-called Chanel people. Well, actually -- one plain, unremarkable-looking woman walked by with a Chanel bag, but she could've been a regular hotel guest sporting a knock-off. Other than that, we saw no models, no fashionistas, no celebrities, no hairdressers, no make-up artists, no stagehands, no lights, no props -- NOTHING. We never even caught a whiff of Chanel No. 5, although the scent of clothes dryer did waft in from the laundry room.

karl lagerfeldMen in black: Karl Lagerfield sworn in as director of Homeland Security. The Chanel anti-polyester task force has recently uncovered 12 bails of polyester/cotton/spandex blend smuggled via a container unloaded at the Port of Miami. The illegal cargo has an estimated street value of three mojito pitchers at The Raleigh Hotel. The find will hopefully lead to a bust of a highly dangerous international bad fabric cartel.

We did get a runway show all right. Security thugs, hotel managers, waiters and a man who might've been a Chanel person lorded it over us. As you already know, first it was don't take photos of the pool. Simple enough, right?

But later it was don't take photos in the general direction of the pool.

Eventually, it was don't take photos of yourselves followed by don't take any photos at all.

Finally, after one of my friends asked why we could no longer take photos of ourselves, it was I'm going to confiscate your camera and I'm going to call the cops.


I could see the headline now:


Perhaps it sounds like my friends and I were acting like a bunch of uncooperative assholes, but consider this: we spent a total of $666 at The Raleigh Hotel, valet parking included, over a period of several hours and we graciously refrained from taking photos of the pool. Had we been told the moment we walked into the hotel that ALL PHOTOGRAPHY WAS ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITED, PLEASE PARDON THE INCONVENIENCE, we would've obliged, but the message was never clear, until the words cops and confiscation came up toward the end of the evening.

For real? Can a hotel confiscate your camera and threaten you with police action if you never signed a release?

And all this over a fucking fashion event that wasn't yet even taking place?

Oy vay! Raleigh, darling: why so much tough love? Please, we adore you! Next time you have some high-falutin' I'm-too-sexy-for-mere-mortals show come into town, do me a favor, don't spoil our sweet mojitos with a bunch of sourpuss faces and passive aggressive security measures. I bet Carl Fisher is rolling in his grave right now!

Besides, you never know if those wacky locals who patronize hotel lounges are up to their asses in social media. Heck, one of them could be a forum editor whose opinion is trusted by thousands of readers worldwide!

Oh, yeah. It's all my fault. I was wearing Guerlain!

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Anonymous said...

Don't bite the hand that feeds you!

Anonymous said...

Damn, I wish I had been there.

As soon as that guy would have threatened to confiscate my camera, I would have dared him too, all while machine-gunning his ass with speedy mutli-shot Canon.

That would probably have prompted him to follow through on his second threat on calling the cops, which would have allowed for even more vivid photos once they showed up.

And if the cops would have ordered me to delete the photos, then I would have found myself in another legal battle, because there is no way in hell I would delete a single image.

In the end, we would have all gotten kicked out, but not before they made us pay the bill.

Of course, that type of behavior merits not a single dollar in gratuity. And I don't care if they already add it the bill, like they always do, they wouldn't have received a dime from me.

As a private hotel, they might have the right to ask you not to take photos, but they have no right to intimidate you by threatening to confiscate your camera.

That's pure bullying tactics, which has become the norm in South Beach, if the Mansion security guard beating incident is any indicator.

Check out this link for a detailed explanation on photographers' rights.

Anonymous said...

This is why I limit my socializing to North Dade and Broward. I don't do that beach hotel scene anymore unless it's work-related. That kind of bullying is ridiculous. I've had "security" guys at those places ready to (try to) whip my ass. Then they saw my press pass and backed off. Shouldn't take a photo ID to get 'em to leave you alone in a hotel that's open to the public.

Anonymous said...

Hey Manola, I forgot to mention my blog has moved.

New address:

New name: Burnettiquette.

Old blog is still active, so if you want or don't mind, you could just add the "new me" to your blog roll.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting!!

BohoPoetGirl said...

Nobody called me :(
Oh, and my blog has moved as well
I miss Manola and the other bloggers!