Soprano lends voice to tout luxury villas

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 July, 2009, 12:00am

It was hard to tell what was more impressive: the exotic European villas the Banyan Tree group secured for its membership programme, or the singer helping to promote the villas. To give the new extravagantly large and luxurious European pads in London, Tuscany and Provence added appeal - as if that were necessary - local operatic vocalist Joyce Wong was invited to put everyone in the mood last Thursday at IFC's The Box.

For a little Italian drama, the soprano belted out a flawless rendition of Giacomo Puccini's Nessun Dorma. Then it was some French romance with La Vie en rose, and finally a taste of London by way of My Fair Lady's I Could Have Danced All Night. 'Mostly I sing opera, but I do some show tunes like with the Hong Kong Singers,' Wong told us after her one-off promotional gig.

In essence, the Banyan Tree Private Collection is the rich man's version of buying a time-share, only with more and better destinations and a pricier premium. According to managing director Marina Kleiman (pictured, on right, with Wong), its clientele don't mind forking out big bucks. 'Our guests are loyal and they try one Banyan Tree after another,' she said.

'These new sites are managed by Banyan Tree but are family operated venues. I just tried out our Villa Grasse [near Nice, France] and the housekeeper was a tall, beautiful blond woman. Then I met the other staff, and each one was more beautiful than the next. I felt like I was in a James Bond movie.'

We were ready to sign up, until we noticed the joining fee was US$120,000. If your licence to spend has been revoked too, maybe you'll settle for a quantum of affordable solace by checking out Joyce Wong in the Fringe Club show Genesis to Broadway on June 17 and 18.