Inside Dubai’s Growing Hotel Scene

IHG has planned to expand the two brands in emerging CBDs.
Image: Kemel Kestall / CC BY-ND 2.0

Burj Suite in the Taj Dubai

It seems like there’s always something new and exciting in Dubai’s hotel scene. Here are some notable recent openings and a peek into the emirate’s accommodations pipeline.

The Taj Dubai opened in March in the heart of the city, overlooking Downtown Dubai and Business Bay districts. Surrounded by a variety of shopping and dining experiences within walking distance, the hotel has 296 rooms and suites, more than half of which afford panoramic views of the iconic Burj Khalifa. Fine-dining choices include the Peruvian-inspired Tesoro restaurant and, for Indian cuisine, the Bombay Brasserie. Then there’s The Eloquent Elephant gastro pub and a poolside lounge. Afternoon Tea is served in Byzantium Lounge. Art aficionados will appreciate the more than 3,000 pieces of paintings, art and art pieces specially commissioned for the hotel.

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The Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach opened in November with an almost boutique-like room count — 237, of which 49 are suites. Tip: Be sure to request one with a view of the Dubai skyline or the sea for your clients. For families, all rooms and suites are inter-leading (or outer-connecting, as it were), making it easy for parents and kids (and grandkids) to stay close. Top accommodations are the Royal Suite and the Presidential Suites in either the North or South wings of the hotel, all of which look out over the beach. The Royal Suite has a full kitchen, baby grand piano, media room and two terraces (which come furnished with loungers and a table for six guests to dine al fresco). The Presidential Suites have separate living and dining rooms, a media room, a dedicated study and a private gym. Butler service is available for all guests upon request.

Dining choices include international fare at Suq, which has three open kitchens, a private dining room and an outdoor terrace with views of the gardens, pools and sea; Mediterranean-style and Asian-influenced seafood dishes at Sea Fu; and Shai Salon, which serves tea, coffee and lighter fare. There is also a lobby bar and a sixth-floor lounge. The resort has a spa with 10 treatment rooms and guests have access to nearly 900 feet of Jumeirah Beach, where they can go boating on the gulf at the onsite watersports club. Dubai’s downtown area (along with the Dubai Mall) is a 10-minute drive from the hotel, making it easy to combine a quiet beach escape with an urban excursion. 

Jumeirah Emirates Towers

Officially unveiled in November, with the last units opening earlier this year, the 54-story, five-star Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road has 474 guestrooms and suites, as well as 180 one- to three-bedroom serviced apartments. Club Room guests enjoy exclusive access to the Sheraton Club Lounge, which has extensive services and panoramic views from the 31st floor. The dining highlight here is Feast, where artisanal and seasonal dishes are creatively presented to guests in this interactive culinary concept, while Dawn & Duck and [email protected] Café serve lighter fare. The hotel also offers spa services, fitness facilities and an outdoor rooftop pool. 

For business travelers, the new Sheraton is just across from the Dubai World Trade Centre and within walking distance of the Dubai Convention Centre, and offers seven meeting spaces, the largest of which measures just over 10,000 square feet.

Late last year, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai unveiled 146 additional guestrooms and suites. The newly renovated wing of the resort also incorporates a new all-day dining restaurant, as well as the revamped Lobby Lounge and Library Bar. To meet the growing demand of travelers with children in tow, the resort’s tropical meandering pools, water activities and the Ritz Kids Club have also been enhanced to offer a true family experience.
Less than one year ago, Jumeirah opened new Royal and Presidential Suites at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai. Top of the list is the Royal Suite, which sprawls out over 3,358 square feet and two stories. Its three bedrooms look out over the Palace stables, and all have private dressing rooms and Jacuzzi tubs. The three 2,421-square-foot Presidential Suites each have two bedrooms. All suites offer guests personalized butler service.

Palazzo Versace Dubai

Looking Ahead

“Opening soon” is the official status of the Palazzo Versace Dubai. Set in the heart of the Culture Village precinct and overlooking the Dubai Creek, it will be surrounded by landscaped gardens and have access to the creek’s pedestrian promenade. The luxury hotel is only a few minutes’ drive from Dubai International.

Jumeirah has revealed a new “lifestyle brand” of hotels, to be called Venu, which are slated to open in the Emirates (and then beyond) over the coming years. Dubai-based developer Meraas Holding reportedly is in discussion with Jumeirah Group to operate the first Venu hotel on Bluewaters Island in Dubai, but no opening date has been announced yet.

Dubai has several notable properties slated to open by 2018. Hard Rock International has announced its first hotel in the Middle East: The Hard Rock Hotel Dubai Marina is set to debut later this year as part of Marina 101, which is named for how many floors it has and will be the second-tallest building in the UAE when it opens. The tower will be divided into three different levels, the first of which is the 281-room Hard Rock Hotel on the first 33 floors of the building. Plans call for a club lounge and a restaurant on the 101st floor, and business travelers can take advantage of meeting and event space, including an outdoor terrace at lobby level and the 101st-floor lounge area. As for accommodations, the top suite will likely be an iconic Rock Star Suite, but the curating artist has not yet been chosen. All rooms will look out over the skyline or the water.

Mandarin Oriental is set to manage a new Dubai hotel in 2017. Mandarin Oriental, Dubai’s 200 rooms and suites will include 12 over-water villas accessible via private bridge. Each villa will have its own infinity-edge pool and a private swim platform, allowing for direct access to the Arabian Gulf.

Also in 2017, a new Atlantis resort is expected to open on the Palm Jumeirah Island. With 800 rooms, suites and 250 luxury hotel apartments, the Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences will be right next to the existing Atlantis The Palm, Dubai hotel and resort. Al Habtoor Group will continue to work on two hotel projects set to open in 2016 and 2017. The Metropolitan Hotel Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road will be a boutique-style hotel with 334 rooms and suites. The second hotel, St. Regis Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club, will have more than 160 bungalows as well as hotel accommodations. It will have a polo club and a riding school and 500 stables.

When it opens in 2018, The Bulgari Hotel at Jumeirah Bay Island will be located on the exclusive Jumeirah Bay Island, off the coast  of Jumeirah Beach Road, sculpted in the shape of a titanic seahorse. The luxury marine’s 1.7 million-square-foot complex will be framed by lush landscaped gardens and it will be defined by 100 rooms and suites, 20 residential villas and a marina. The first hotel in Dubai from Millennial-focused boutique hotel brand Yotel is also set to open in early 2018.

RIU Hotels & Resorts has announced plans to build an all-inclusive beachfront property at Deira Islands. The hotel (opening date TBD) will form part of a large-scale venture designed to transform the district of Deira into a top tourism and entertainment site. 

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