Call it social synergy: Just as the New York jet set saturated itself on store openings, a shiny crop of boutique hotels has sprouted up, offering over-the-top opening-night soirées to lift the tedium. In the thick of the boom is event planner Mark Musters, whose Musters & Co. has produced evenings for Tommy Hilfiger and the Backstreet Boys. An afternoon with the frenetic maestro as he set the stage for the W Union Square's grand opening January 17:
3:45 p.m. Musters, outfitted in Patrick Cox furry clogs and jeans, orchestrates the installation of the "fire wall," a sequence of candles that fills the lobby's floor-to-ceiling windows. "When's the carpet being laid outside?" he barks into his cell. "There're going to be Swarovski crystals sprinkled on it," he explains, "like a broken necklace."
4 p.m. After inspecting the ballroom, Musters heads to Room 304, where three "elevator girls" shimmy into mesh mini-dresses, hard-bodied waiters slip into navy silk pajama bottoms, and go-go dancers in feathered headpieces await their costumes: latex paint.
4:15 p.m. Musters rides the elevator to 1810, the VIP suite. Green roses and white floating candles fill the tub. "It's what we all dream of. Well, not me," he says, hitting the hallway again. "I hate baths, too time-consuming."
4:30 p.m. Back down to 302 -- the war room -- which is cluttered with fog machines, handsaws, and charging walkie-talkies. A topiary takes shape in the bathroom. Next door, a male dancer is having his shorts applied. Musters pokes his head in. "I need to get water for you guys. Does everybody drink water?" He turns to the painter: "He's going to be able to pee, right?"
5 p.m. The D.J.'s arrive, and it's time for Musters's own costume change: Prada shirt and John Bartlett pants. An assistant hands over a pair of black socks he just ran out and bought. "I always forget these things," Musters sighs.
6:30 p.m. The party has officially begun. Musters adjusts his headset and slams a Jack and Coke. The D.J. isn't happy on the scaffolding. The dancers still need water. "I don't care how you get it," he cries. "It has to happen."
7 p.m. Apple martinis are flowing. Nicky Hilton sets off flashbulbs. Musters hits the dance floor alongside Jay-Z, still listening to the crackling in his headset. He smiles: Cindy Crawford has just arrived.