An Interview with Sonia Irvine, Founder of Amber Lounge

By Paul Joseph

While some people remain in the shadow of their high-achieving siblings, Sonia Irvine has carved out her own incredibly successful business that fuses those most natural of bedfellows: Formula One and extravagant, luxurious living.

We caught up with Sonia, founder of Amber Lounge, to learn more about her initial vision for the company, her on-going role in its success, and much more.

Superyachts: Can you take us back to the origins of Amber Lounge and where the initial vision for the company came from?
Sonia Irvine: I began my F1 Physiotherapy career when my brother, Eddie Irvine, joined Ferrari. The role grew to encompass being a Physio to the entire Ferrari Team – they were fun times. That wasn’t enough for me and I started to look after all my brother’s business interests in and out of F1. The idea of Amber Lounge came into my mind when I realised there was a lack of a truly VIP party linked to F1. In 2002, I assembled a passionate team of people and we launched Amber Lounge in 2003 at the Monaco Grand Prix and we’ve never looked back! The event is now in four destinations around the world and has become a global brand. I couldn’t be prouder.

What can you tell us about the logistics of moving the concept across the globe throughout the year? From the outside, it seems like a logistical headache!
The concept of Amber Lounge is global but we always adapt to the needs and aesthetics and culture of each country. Wherever Amber Lounge is, we bring the quintessential Monte Carlo glamour with us! With four events a year, it’s a lot of work, but most of the time I remain loyal to the same suppliers so they know exactly what they’re expected to deliver and they know we don’t compromise on details. The secret is also to work months – or should I say at least a year – in advance on each event and work on them all year long without letting one down when working on another. I have to say, I am lucky to be surrounded with a great team, so that helps a lot!

What are the specifics of your own role? How hands on are you?
My main concern is to make my clients happy so I always involve myself in things that are related to them first. Several times a week, I meet with various members of my team and go through their goals for the week. I know everything that is going on in each of the departments, I am available anytime one of my team members would need me, but I also let them evolve on their own. I trust them and they know that Amber Lounge is a great opportunity to grow and learn. I would say that I am straight forward, I know what I want, but I also know how to let things go.

What about Amber Lounge Fashion? And Hospitality?
I can say that we are celebrating the 10th year anniversary of Amber Lounge Fashion this year! Time flies! This year, two talented British designers will be on board of our show: Apsley Tailors will be dressing the drivers with fabulous tailor-made suits and Osman will be showcasing stunning dresses on our F1 ladies and international models. All in support of The Amber Foundation. Our auction will also have wonderful lots like this Yanush Gioielli unique jewellery piece that I dream of every day since I’ve seen it! Songstress Jasmine Thompson will be opening the show; she has a mesmerizing voice! I have to admit that this year more than ever, I cannot wait to see them all on stage.

On the hospitality side, we make sure our guests are having fun on our yachts. They meet with F1 drivers and celebrities, they mingle all day while watching the race and drinking champagne and usually at night, the join Amber Lounge with a private tender! Classy, no?

How would you describe an average night at Amber Lounge?
Amber Lounge is an incredible adrenaline-fueled live entertainment event. From Friday to Sunday in Monaco guests get a 5-star service, the top premium beverages, incredible DJ’s who have traveled the world with their sets and a star-studded VIP crowd. This is something that is constant in Amber Lounge, but I have definitely amplified it this year. On Saturday, we’ll be launching a brand new concept called “EXTRAVAGANZA” where over 20 acts will perform on stage throughout the evening: Burlesque & Hip Hop Dancers/Sax/Drummer/Singer and International DJ’s.

To those who haven’t yet experienced Amber Lounge, what would you say to convince them to come along?
There is so much to say. Between the Fashion Show, the dining and the party, there is so much to see and remember forever! Amber Lounge is a one-of-a-kind experience that one has to live at least once in its life. You are more than welcome at this year’s Amber Lounge events, not only in Monaco but also in Singapore, Mexico City and Abu Dhabi. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media @amberloungeltd and if you want more info, email [email protected] Our team will take good care of you.

By Paul Joseph