Throwing a dinner party? Wow guests with these expert hospitality tips

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The pre-dinner portion of the evening includes beverages and light snacks. (Photos supplied)
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Food styling and presentation makes all the difference.
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Your table, if styled well, will prove to be a talking point among guests.
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Rose gelato, a dessert that your guests will appreciate.
Updated 06 January 2018

Throwing a dinner party? Wow guests with these expert hospitality tips

DHAHRAN: Saudi Arabia has a thriving and long-established culture of hospitality, but Jeddah-based stylist and entrepreneur Nouf Masoud is working hard to bring industry-standard hospitality into homes across the country.
Having worked in the catering industry for four years, Masoud was looking to upgrade her skills by undertaking hospitality courses in the region. Her search proved futile, but highlighted a need in the market. Now she owns her own catering company, Debyazah, and also imparts her skills and experience through hospitality workshops to a clientele that ranges from homemakers to event management companies.
“Hospitality starts from the heart and extends to the dinner table,” Masoud told Arab News.
Social activities and large gatherings are an important part of Middle Eastern culture and Masoud hopes to teach people how to deliver them with élan.
When hosting family and friends in a formal setting, Masoud explained, there are three parts to the evening: Pre-dinner, dinner and post-dinner.
“Although the pre-dinner culture is slightly different the world over, here it usually consists of beverages and light or heavy snacks, depending on the time before dinner.”
Dinner consists of salads, appetizers and the main course, while the post-dinner segment is dessert and beverages, set up as a station or as a pass-around service.
In an interview with Arab News, Masoud shared her top tips to ensure that you host an evening that your guests will always remember.
Hospitality should start from the heart: “It is important to host with passion, as this attitude really reflects on the quality of the evening,” Masoud said. Put in a little bit of extra effort to welcome, appreciate and honor your guests. If you are hosting a small, intimate dinner, break the ice — get everyone involved in the conversation.
Pre-planning is the key to everything: From creating invitations, shopping for the evening, cooking for your guests and setting up the table, pre-planning goes a long way to ensure that you are stress-free on the day of the event. Imagine being halfway through cooking your main course before you realize that you are out of an important ingredient — the key is to avoid such potential disasters.
Consult your guest list: When planning for the event, consult your guest list. Take into consideration the personal, cultural and religious preferences of your guests. For example, if you are putting together a sushi night menu, do plan something for guests who are averse or allergic to seafood.
Host like a pro, enjoy like a guest: Planning and preparing in advance will help you enjoy the evening as member of the party and not the host. No one wants to be at a party where the host is constantly running to and from the kitchen or prepping for different segments of the evening.
Go the extra mile: Through her workshops, Masoud tries to instill an appreciation for this type of lifestyle. She encourages hosts to go the extra mile in entertaining guests. If an individual prefers post-dinner tea instead of the usual coffee, go the extra mile and prepare a cup of tea for your guest — a little act of hospitality goes a long way.

A wellness interlude

The relaxation room at the Pearl Spa. (All images supplied)
Updated 20 September 2018

A wellness interlude

  • The Pearl Spa offers holistic wellness experiences
  • It is themed around the region's pearling heritage

DUBAI: Few things can give you that instant holiday feeling as much as a spa treat. Of course, it helps if it’s within the tranquil beachside setting of the luxe-Arabesque Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach. Walking into its sun-drenched lobby bedecked with fresh floral arrangements puts you into relax mode, with the dial being cranked up higher as soon as you enter Pearl Spa.

Themed around the region’s pearling heritage, the spa doesn’t just nod to the gem in its name but also references it in the opulent yet understated design with mother-of-pearl inlays and pearly finishes throughout.

And if the spa’s decor is impressive, the couples’ suite will wow even the most jaded. A proper hotel-suite sized affair, it has a generous living area with sofas, an outdoor courtyard with a bubbling fountain providing the perfect backdrop, and separate treatment rooms and bathrooms. Once holed up in here, anyone could be forgiven for not trying out the rest of the wet facilities, which include a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and a sensory shower.

However, a spa is only as good as its therapists, and in this case they are among the best in town. The signature massage, a 90-minute therapy, combines a variety of strokes and pressures, together with regionally inspired oud, rose and frankincense oil to make for a truly indulgent experience.

The treatment protocol is merely prescriptive, however, as the therapists really take it upon themselves to fix whatever is required — knots were teased out, muscle aches I didn’t know existed eased away, and tensions soothed as the masseuse kneaded, pummeled and stretched, hopping on to the table to maximize the impact of the massage.

I waddled out in an utterly relaxed state, making a mental note that this is one of the best massages anyone can have in Dubai, bar none (and I have tried most).

At the end, herbal teas are served in the private lounge as you are left to ease yourself back into the real world at your own relaxed pace. The quintessentially Four Seasons touch of thoughtfulness punctuates the whole experience, whether it’s in the beauty gear provided in the ladies’ dressing room, or the nuts and dried fruit snacks accompanying the post-treatment snack.

When you combine a superlative treatment such as this with a spa lunch, then it can turn a dusty urban afternoon into a complete retreat like little else can.

Offering a holistic wellness experience, their new spa menu features light and nutritious yet delicious gourmet dishes: Marinated tuna carpaccio with seaweed and cucumber yuzu dressing and sunflower seeds; avocado and Boston lettuce salad with shaved Parmesan and poached apple and perfectly cooked Loch-Fynn salmon with sautéed kale and asparagus; and fresh, mousse-like low-fat mango yoghurt with acai sorbet and granola crumbs. The pre-treatment lunch is usually served in the Pearl Courtyard, but during the hotter months can be taken indoors at the lobby side Shai salon.