If you haven't yet made your plans for Valentine’s Day, but have 100 grand to spare and no qualms about decadent luxury, you may have missed an opportunity. The Four Seasons Hotel in Baku, capital of the hydrocarbon-rich, freedom-poor country of Azerbaijan, is laying a claim to the world's priciest and swankiest Valentine’s Day offer.
The roughly $128,000 (100,000 manats) deal includes a limousine pickup anywhere in the world, first-class flight to Baku, the regional center for affluence and corruption, and two nights of pampering in a presidential suite. It comes with a personal butler and roses and candles galore. Topping it off is a milk bath and a pair of Cartier watches with "his and her" names engraved.
Much like many things of significant value in Azerbaijan, the main investor in the Four Seasons Hotel is a company, Pasha Holding, with ownership- ties to President Ilham Aliyev's family; namely, his daughters, Leyla and Arzu.
People who have questioned the entitlement of the Family, as they are called, to the nation's sources of wealth tend to end up in prison, like prominent investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova and many a journalist and activist before her.* The ongoing arrest-campaign has drawn widespread condemnation, but little action from the international community.
But such thoughts, no doubt, will not be allowed to cloud the romantic time planned in Baku. Did we mention that the package also includes a private champagne-and-caviar dinner in a state-run landmark, the Maiden Tower?
Perhaps the ways by which that was arranged could be pondered while indulging in the deal’s 90-minute, 24 Carat Gold Massage. But you’d have to ask somebody else. The Four Seasons says “The Greatest Valentine’s Day Ever” already has been booked.
*Khadija Ismayilova formerly worked as a reporter for EurasiaNet.org.