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African Alchemy

In combining the unmatched quality of a five star dining experience with a unique lifestyle boutique and a touch of tented african splendour, two remarkable women Natasha Sideris, CEO and founder of Tashas Group, Collective Africa founder Nicky Greig have forged a powerful luxury brand.

By Jacquie Chemaly

Think of Flamingo Room as a captivating African sunset, with its warm, earthy hues of peach and pink, and the magnificent baobab branches with blossoms gracefully arching overhead. Collective Africa emerges as the iridescent, colourful bird, perched elegantly on one of those branches, embracing the joy of the moment with you.” In this evocative description of her collaboration with Natasha Sideris, CEO and founder of Tashas Group, Collective Africa founder Nicky Greig expresses the magical touch these two partners have used to create a luxury lifestyle brand that is spreading its wings throughout the Middle East.

But first, let’s go back a few steps. Many of our readers will be familiar with tashas – the elegantly casual restaurant with which Natasha changed all of our lives when it came to finding the perfect eggs Benedict, Caesar salad or Turkish delight cocktail – and so much more. With branches in most of South Africa’s capitals, tashas has become the go-to gathering place for a dead-cert quality dining experience. An opportunity to open in Nelson Mandela Square called for something a little different, and the Flamingo Room concept was born. With all the hallmarks of tashas quality, the menu and service was top class, but it was the soft pink and gleaming brass art decor that really took the experience to a new level.

Meanwhile, around the corner, Nicky and Richard Greig had opened Collective, an exquisite gallery of luxury African art and lifestyle objets that was a natural extension of the Charles Greig Jewellers legacy. Friends for many years, the Sideris/Greig team decided this was a partnership waiting to happen. They took Flamingo Room and Collective to Jumeirah Al Naseem in Dubai, where for seven years the restaurant and boutique have traded in tandem – to massive acclaim amongst the local Emirati population as well as expats and tourists. “With this experience under our belt, we were able to make a calculated decision that it would be received well in other cities, such as Riyadh and Abu Dhabi,” says Natasha.

“The locations that we were offered at Bujairi Terrace in Diriyah Gate in Riyadh, as well as Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, were very large.

The “African Lounge” concept was created – a unique space inspired by the luxurious tented safari camps in Africa, and a focused menu featuring small plates and incredible sweets.” And so the Flamingo Collection was born. Under one roof there are three luxury concepts: Flamingo Room, Collective Africa and African Lounge, all offering guests a magical journey of discovery. In Abu Dhabi, they have also added Perlage – an elegant and edgy champagne bar in partnership with Maison Perrier-Jouët. Nicky says the Middle East market has embraced this new luxury African concept because the team has been fastidious in terms of the quality of the food, products and space they offer.

— Flamingo Room —

“Our approach has been meticulous and in the most refined manner possible. For decades, African products have struggled with a misleading image. In the luxury sector, most brands hail from America or Europe. However, the world is awakening to the allure of African influences in their homes and wardrobes. To possess handcrafted items infused with love, pride and passion is a true luxury. Customers in the Middle East understand this concept and have wholeheartedly embraced Collective Africa,” says Nicky.

Collective Africa does not aim to compete with the global luxury brands available in the Middle East. “Rather, we reconnect you with your roots, the earth, and the magnificence and energy of the handmade in an extraordinary and distinct manner,” Nicky adds.

— Collective Africa —

Well known as a perfectionist, Natasha says it is their unrelenting attention to detail that has resulted in the success of the concept. “I think what people love about our brands is our overarching attention to detail in everything that we do. From the spaces we create to the food we serve and the service we offer – each element has equal importance to us and it feels like it creates a magical alchemy that our guests really appreciate,” Natasha says.

“With the Flamingo Collection, I feel we have created the epitome of African luxury. The three concepts (Flamingo Room, African Lounge and Collective Africa) display the rich tapestry and soul that celebrates Africa in all its glamour, showcasing its amazing flora and fauna and truly capturing an opulent decadence,” she adds.

— African Lounge —

Flamingo Room is the epitome of African style, offering a distinctive and elevated dining experience from lunch through to cocktail hour and beyond. African Lounge draws inspiration from the continent’s tented safari camps and offers elegant small plates infused with exotic and rich spices, exquisite pastries and sophisticated cocktails. At Collective Africa, guests can browse an exclusive range of curated designer clothing, home and tableware, and objet d’art. With Saudia Arabia and Abu Dhabi now successfully launched, Natasha and Nicky plan to grow the Flamingo Collection to 10 establishments over the next five years.

Jacquie Chemaly

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