Sponsored: It’s no secret that Secret Parties has boomed over the past few years…

From starting out as an event concept where you’d find out the venue at the last minute, the brand now has locations all over Dubai.

What’s On chatted to Chris Wright and Jay Wynne, the guys behind Secret Parties, who shared their secrets to building one of the biggest party brunch concepts in the city.

What’s On: Secret Parties events have become synonymous with a lively atmosphere and are always packed out. Has it always been this way?

Chris Wright: It took over three years in the making to get the brand to this level. Our strategy when we first launched was to actually organise secret parties, some of our first events were only one-time events. A lot of people like to book a brunch based on word-of-mouth but our plan was to find venues that no one had really been to.

Jay Wynne: Yes, we have always created an amazing atmosphere in our brunches, which we give credit to our DJs, entertainment, amazing team, venue staff and, of course, our lovely and crazy guests. What started out as one event catering for 120 people has now transitioned to 10+ weekly events and throwing parties for 1,500+ people a week.

WO: Some of the locations aren’t where people would expect a party brunch to be. What aspects do you consider before choosing a new venue?

JW: We have always been very selective with the venues we work with and we have been like this since the very start. Since day one I have labelled our brand a ‘luxury events’ company, that’s why our guests have trust that we can deliver the high-end experience.

CW: We love to work with venues that wouldn’t necessarily host a party brand, such as venues that have Michelin-star chefs. We always consider the food first as it’s one of the most important aspects of the brunch. As soon as Akira Back opened Paru in Caesars Palace it was on our radar as it’s probably one of the most five-star Asian fine-dining experiences in Dubai.

WO: How long does it take to come up with the theme or concept for a new brunch?

CW: It can take a year of planning, sometimes even two years, but once we get the go-ahead depending on how creative the concept is, it can take six months. We spend a lot of time working with our in-house entertainment team, choreographing dance routines, building set designs and working on the menu and cocktails to ensure the concept is perfect before we launch.

JW: Some themes we already know and we need to find a specific venue for. For example, El Secreto Brunch in La Carnita – we knew we wanted to launch a crazy Mexican party brunch and where better than a cool, quirky Mexican bar in the heart of Dubai Marina?

WO: So far, you have events in 10 venues. How far would you like to take the brand within the UAE? Would you consider hosting events outside of Dubai?

SP: Yes, we now have Secret Parties at Cafe Belge, Flair No 5, Paru, Mama Zonia, Atmosphere, La Carnita, Vanitas, Praia, Cé La Vi and 1 Oak. It seems like a lot but they are all doing really well and each has a completely different concept so a client could do all of the Secret Parties events in one week and not feel like they have been to the same event.

CW: Before lockdown, I took a trip to the US and secured venues to launch our concepts ­– one of which would have launched in LA this August, but unfortunately due to the pandemic it’s been put on hold. We do have some other destinations around the world in place for expansion but we’ll have to keep that a secret for now…

WO: You also held a ‘Secret Island Party’ on private island Zaya Nurai. Tell us how that happened.

CW: This was probably the most ambitious project we’ve ever done. After watching [the infamous documentary about] Fyre Festival, we were inspired to try and achieve the impossible. Some people said it was ‘the best event they have ever been to’, so you can’t compare it. We can’t wait until travel is allowed again and we can host our next secret island party.

JW: The price tag is higher than a normal Friday brunch but hey, you travel by boat to a private island, party all day and all night, enjoy amazing food and cocktails and have the chance to stay overnight in a luxury private villa on the beach. We think it’s worth it!

WO: How has the pandemic affected your business?

CW: Of course, like any other business we have been affected massively. We spent years mastering our concepts and building the brand. When the pandemic happened it was a big blow. We think the hardest part was seeing an event lose its vibe, it was like starting from scratch. The main focus now is to stay consistent and keep creating new events for people to enjoy in a safe and controlled way.

JW: We’ve had the time to restructure and look at new opportunities to further expand our presence in Dubai and look for lifetime partnerships with venues that we see longevity with. We are very blessed to still be able to operate during these troubled times. Of course, we have implemented all of the social distancing guidelines as best possible to ensure the safety of our staff and guests.

WO: Can you share any sneak peeks of new projects you have lined up?

CW: We have a very special project launching in October. We can’t tell you the venue yet but we can reveal that the theme is ‘London’. The concept is going to take you back home with all of your British favourites, from food to drinks, music and entertainment. All will be revealed very soon but we’ve been working on this for 10 months now and it’s nearly ready to launch.

JW: We are also launching a brand new Rooftop party in October but again, we will keep you waiting on the details for that. We have so much more in the pipeline and we can’t wait to share with you the new themes we will be creating in the near future.