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November 21, 2017

Portugal: Bea World: Portuguese Event Wins Public Event Category

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The Presidential" event took place in a 19th century train in the Douro region in which the best wines of the region were served, accompanied by delicacies served by "chefs". It has just won an award in Bea World, the sector's worldwide "Oscars", which took place in Portugal this year.

"The Presidential" ranked first in the Best Public Event category and was one of the most talked about events this year at the Bea World Awards, that had in the event that celebrated the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam's 10 million visitors its main winner.

Going through the Douro rail lines is something hard to forget. There are kilometres of absolutely natural beauty. Imagine now making the trip aboard an 1870s train, originally intended for kings and presidents, while sampling some of the region's finest wines and delicacies prepared by world-class chefs.

This was Gonçalo Castel-Branco's vision, curator and mentor of the experience. It all started with a visit to the National Railway Museum and the instant admiration for the presidential train. "At the time I commented with the museum's director 'it's a shame this one doesn't run' and she replied 'but it does, technically'. I asked her 48h to come up with an idea worthy of that magnificent piece," Castel-Branco tells Event Point. "That evening at dinner, while describing the train and my willingness to do something with it, my 10-year-old daughter asked 'why not turning it into a restaurant?.'" And so the project began.

Challenges were many, since the train is a highly valued historical piece. It was necessary to gather of five public companies' consent, and deal with all the authorisations. The fact that the train had no electricity was another major challenge, as well as the preparation of all kitchen and service logistics in an ongoing vehicle. And finally there was the sales challenge, "Portugal has an extremely limited luxury tourism market, and a non-existent rail tourism market." Given all this, Gonçalo Castel-Branco does not hesitate: "It was one of the most complex and interesting projects I've ever done." It was not difficult to find partners and suppliers, the curator says, as "working with the heart always makes it easy to motivate others, and besides, the possibility of a trip aboard such an old train is a challenge hard not to embrace." Since the initial thought everything had to be premium, even the smell and the ambient sound was thought out to detail. The smell was created by Castelbel, and the sound was Casa da Música's responsibility. Altogether, it took four months of development and preparation for the project to start, as well as 30 people in production.

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