I can attest to this, because on a beautiful sunny day last week, I found myself in extremely close proximity to none other than Robert De Niro – YES, THE REAL ROBERT DE NIRO – at the edge of the swimming pool at the launch party of Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay and well, it was a very interesting situation to say the least. Let me set the scene for you. After receiving an invitation to a Sake ceremony at the ‘official’ launch party of the luxury hotel (which opened halfway throughout last season and was well-overdue for some fanfare) from its trio of founders Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper, I obviously RSVP’d yes. I found myself the perfect kimono-esque outfit, accessorised appropriately and blocked the entire afternoon out in my calendar. I am quite a fan of sake (thanks Richie Hawtin) and although I didn’t really know what a Sake ceremony was, I was ready to get involved.
Chef Nobu-San really needs no introduction (and if you don’t know who I am talking about, Google is your friend here), while Teper has produced some of my all-time favourite films (From Dusk Till Dawn and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? among others). And what can you say about the star of Taxi Driver, The Godfather II, Raging Bull, Casino and – I’m not afraid to admit this is one of my other faves –Meet the Parents coming to Ibiza? Except yes, of course. When you personally get invited to an event by Robert De Niro, you say yes. In the days that led up to the party, there was a ‘will he won’t he’ rumour going around the island gossip circuit but our sources at the private jet terminal in Ibiza airport quashed that quite quickly. Plus, we knew the founders had all been together in Marbella the night before so it was a pretty sure bet they’d make it across the Balearic Sea in time for the party. And so when the big day arrived, the who’s who of Ibiza (including me!) all turned out in their finest to try and catch a glimpse of this holy trinity. Side note: We were also a little concerned that the real Mr De Niro would be replaced by a stunt double – his infamous lookalike who lives in Ibiza and regularly gets his photo taken with unsuspecting tourists in Pacha throughout the summer.
As far as launch parties go, it was a delightful one. Champagne, passionfruit cocktails (yum!) and bite-sized pieces of Nobu magic were circulating in abundance; there were many beautiful maxi-dresses to compliment, oversized shades to covet and there was also a very cool live art performance in the lead-up to the ceremony. But… let’s be honest. I was there for Bob. And OK, maybe for a little food (speaking of which – the sesame macarons were quite possibly the greatest things I have ever put in my mouth). After about an hour or so of schmoozing, it became apparent that something was happening out on the water… all of a sudden, everyone with an iPhone was holding it up in the air and the professional photographers inside, and the paparazzi outside, were on high alert. The sparkling, still, clear water of Talamanca bay was really putting on a show that day with its beauty. You couldn’t have created a more picture perfect backdrop for the event if it was a film set. So as a huge superyacht pulled up just outside the bay and a little Zodiac started ferrying its passengers (all in pap-proof caps or hats) ashore, the ripples on the water coming towards the beach had alerted partygoers to the VIP arrivals and in just a few short minutes (and a flurry of activity) Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper were in the building.
Fast forward about 30 minutes and the gang had made it up on stage, alongside the crème de la crème of Nobu Hotels (including owners Ian and Richard Livingstone, Daniel Shamoon and Jennica Arazi), two enormous barrels of sake and the obligatory launch ribbon, just waiting to be cut. Which (FINALLY) leads me to the aforementioned ‘situation’ with Robert De Niro and I. Being the super keen reporter that I am, I had made my way to the front of the stage alongside my friend Miss C – we both resisted the urge to launch ourselves at Bob to give him a hug. He’s been in my life for so long I felt like we were old friends. I like to think of him as a distant uncle. Uncle Bob. By the way Uncle Bob, you’re looking good for 74 years old! While everyone around us was Instagram-live feeding the speeches or watching it through the lens of their camera phones, we decided to put our own phones down to actually REALLY experience the event. Just like the good old days. The thing is… when you’ve got your hands free (having swilled all the champagne and ditched your glass), you really notice a lot more of the things that are going on around you. And so we we were talking, we were laughing, we were feeling a little star struck… and then, it happened.
As we were giggling over something very silly, something so silly that I can’t even remember it now, Bob looked directly at me. Our eyes connected and he didn’t look away, like people normally do when they catch your eye unexpectedly. Ooh. I thought to myself. Robert De Niro noticed me! I guess that’s the thing when you have that level of fame, you can just look at whatever you want and whoever you want for however long you want. AND HE WAS LOOKING AT ME. Now, I’m not flattering myself and suggesting he was checking me out (though my kimono was pretty special). I know Bob’s a happily married man. But there’s no denying – he was staring right at me. [Director’s note: I think he was actually looking at me] A few more minutes passed, and wouldn’t you know it, in between the next lot of speeches, he caught my eye again. I started to feel a little bit awkward. I think I smiled – I mean, what else do you do when you’ve got Taxi Driver staring into your eyes? Did I have food on my face? Had my kimono ungracefully busted open? Was he mistaking me for someone else? Nope, nope and apparently nope. And as my friend and I continued to giggle, Mr De Niro continued to look over at me. I’m not even kidding, I think we locked eyes at least three more times. [Director’s note: You mean at me.]
Bob finally stopped staring at me (ok, us) when it was his turn to take to the microphone, giving a short and sweet speech about how much he loved Ibiza and Spain, saying he thought Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay was: “The most beautiful Nobu in the world.” After that, a giant Ninja-like sword was produced and the three founders dramatically sliced through the ribbon, before taking wooden mallets and smashing open the sake barrels, the contents of which were then ladled into traditional wooden sake vessels (basically little boxes) and passed around to the crowd. At this point, we realised Bob’s attention had clearly been diverted elsewhere, so we turned around to leave and were totally blinded by the glare of the sun setting over the hills behind us. Ummm…. Could it be that we’d misconstrued the series of side glances that had taken place between us and Bob? Could it be that he was in fact, just trying to divert his eyes from the sunset? Surely not. But only one person can answer that question, and no doubt he’ll be reading this blog today so I’m going to put it out there. Are you there Bob? It’s me, Miss W… you know the girl [Director: Ahem, one of the girls] you were staring at during the Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay Launch. Is there something you wanted to say to me? Find me on Instagram – DM me! Photography courtesy of Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay. Because obviously I put my iPhone (with its achingly hip My Little Pony phone cover) away at the time in order to look cool in front of Uncle Bob.