Attending a Gala dinner at the PropertyGuru Vietnam Property Awards 2022 at the Saigon Gem Centre

Amid great fanfare and in the company of around five hundred luminaries of the property development industry, the trophies for the sixty-two categories in the Property Guru Vietnam Awards 2022 were presented to their deserved winners at the Grand Castor Hall of the Gem Centre, Saigon. A magical atmosphere was created by darkened walls lit up by an artificial clear night sky with a myriad of stars worthy of a Van Gogh painting and a tangerine-orange strobe light show on the ceiling.

Much of success of a soiree comes down to the choice of venue. There are plenty of places with large ballrooms among the city’s five-star hotels but the Gem Centre being specialist in events probably has the edge. It was not the first time I have been here and that personal service you get from the staff immediately strikes you as you get through the entrance door, escorting you to the lift and making sure you go to the right floor. Excellence is reflected in everything from the at- table service through to the smiles as you leave.

Well before the proceedings got underway, there was ample time for networking and making new friends at a cocktail reception. Actually, there were no cocktails but Champagne and delicious Argentinian wine–both red and white–were served with staff not shy when it came to replenishing dry glasses. For those who turn a shade of purple after a mere drop of alcohol, there were of course soft drinks. There was music too; not just piped-in background music but a quite extraordinary live quartet consisting of violin, bass saxophone, guitar and percussion which featured a kitchen cutting board. They played their own amazing arrangements of pop standards of the last century ranging from ‘Plaisirs d’Amour to ‘Stand by Me’. Their name is Sonmach, and you can find them on YouTube.

A bell rang and we all filed into the ballroom and took our places at our assigned tables. The awards soon started. In twelve years of reporting events for this magazine, I have to say every single one of them has involved interpreters or even listening in on headphones to simultaneous translations. Here English was the sole medium of communication. Even the menu was printed in English only. I doff my hat to everyone involved for their English competency. And just as in education, prize giving is an important way to maintain overall standards and to emphasise desired values in an industry. Regarding the latter, there were trophies for green development, wellness housing, eco-friendly housing, and sustainable development.

Just to make the reader drool a word about the five-course dinner. The two starters were scallop in its shell and snowy crab soup. The main courses were stewed beef with pate de foie gras and grilled chicken with spaghetti. For those who had yet to put up the white flag the dessert was chocolate passion fruit cream cake!

After the show was over and we had all licked clean our dishes, there was a further session in the hall for cocktails and networking. However, I had no time to attend being obliged like Cinderella to be back home at an appointed hour under pain of being turned into a pumpkin, at least metaphorically speaking.

All in all, it was a first class evening all round. Firstly, it was, of course, a celebration of excellence in all aspects of property development. The venue was the right choice with tip top service, the food worthy of a Michelin star, the embellishment of the hall amazing and the music superb. I can only hope I behaved well enough to be invited back next year.