The Latest Buzz from Dubai

Dubai - ventdusud/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Photo by Dubai - ventdusud/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The ME Dubai will be housed in The Opus, a post-modern building close to the Burj Khalifa.

The ME Dubai will be housed in The Opus, a post-modern building close to the Burj Khalifa.

 

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There’s always something new and exciting in Dubai, from hotels to a swank new airlift. Here’s the latest…

New Hotels

The Oberoi, Dubai opened in June with three signature restaurants, making it a true haven for foodies. Ananta specializes in North Indian fare, Umai is a Pan-Asian restaurant and Nine7One has international cuisine; all change their menus daily, so gourmands won’t have to worry about culinary boredom.

Even Cooler: Both Umai and Ananta have open kitchens, so guests can watch their dim sum and roti be prepared before their eyes. Be sure to try the tapas brunch at Nine7One, where guests can sample all kinds of small bites from around the world (everything from sushi and fresh oysters to authentic Spanish tapas). Specialties include a lemon soda sphere on caramel “soil” and strawberry pesto cider gazpacho.

For reservations or special requests, contact Fabien Gastinel ([email protected]; 011-971-4-444-1444), executive assistant manager, food & beverage.

The rooms and suites at The Oberoi are no less impressive: We hear the top pick is one of the Presidential Suites on the 24th and 25th floors. These are great picks for those who want to soak in the desert air...and we mean that literally: Each suite has a balcony with a private plunge pool. Good for business travelers, the suites also have a dining room and kitchenette and a private study just off the master bedroom.

Groups and families will want to book either the Deluxe Suites and Luxury Suites or the Deluxe Rooms and Luxury Rooms: The suites have one bedroom and can accommodate three adults and a child, while most of the rooms interconnect.

Whichever room suits their tastes, all guests will get a personal butler who can double as a concierge—beyond packing and unpacking, the butler can help with restaurant reservations, tickets to shows, and managing appointments. All guests will also get floor-to-ceiling windows for views of the Burj Khalifa or the city skyline. (Tip: We hear that rooms ending in -15 have the best views of the Burj Khalifa.)

The spa also sounds super-soothing: There are only seven treatment rooms (including one double), but each one has a private steam shower, bathtub and bathroom. Cool tech touch: The massage beds are hydraulic and can be adjusted to suit each guest’s needs. The most popular treatment is the Oberoi Massage, which uses soft to medium pressure with a combination of rhythmic soothing strokes to release muscular knots and increase circulation. Families can get in on the fun, too: Contact Spa Director Christine Hays ([email protected]; 011-911-1-238- 90-505) to arrange something for the teens, or with any special requests.

Luxury travel advisors can reach out to Head of Sales Dharmendra Sharma (dharmen[email protected]; 011-971-4-436-4043) or, in the Americas, Elizabeth Schafer or Samantha Steckbeck (sales.[email protected]; 011-212-223-8800). General Manager Karim Bizid ([email protected]; 011-971-4-444-1444) can also help out with special requests.

Hilton’s Conrad brand made its Dubai debut recently when the Conrad Dubai opened its doors.

VIPs will definitely want to book one of the two Royal Suites on the 46th floor (views include the urban skyline or the Arabian Peninsula). A good pick for families or large multi-gen trips, the suite has two king bedrooms, a maid’s room and a dining room for 12. Best of all: Guests in the suite get not only a private butler, but a private chef throughout their entire stay. (We say this takes room service to a new level.) Both check-in and check-out can be handled in private, and guests can stay in and relax until 4 p.m. on their departure date. The perks extend outside the suite, too: Guests get complimentary airport transfers…in a Maserati Quattroporte. (One should always arrive in style.)

Whatever room you pick, be sure to ask for the in-room signature Bath Master service, which uses crystal-enhanced water (both for drinking and bathing) to help guests relax, rejuvenate or get energized. The service also includes aromatherapy and a cup of perfumed tea to maintain the mood.

Good to know: The hotel’s spa hasn’t opened yet, but we hear it will be something special. Beyond its 10 treatment rooms (including two for couples), it will have a real Hammam Suite as well as hydro- and relaxation pools. (Keep an eye on LuxuryTravelAdvisor.com for details when the spa opens.)

Foodies will want to explore the hotel’s six restaurants, including one just for Latin American fare (sometimes, tacos in the desert are necessary) and a dedicated wine cellar. (We hear Cave has more than 1,500 bottles and can pair a vintage with a Parisian snack.)

Tip: Before departing, guests will want to download the Conrad Concierge app for their phones. The app will help guests arrange all of the details of their stay in advance, as well as once they’re in town.

Luxury travel advisors should contact Director of Business Development Sanjay Nair ([email protected]; 011-971-4-444-7444).

 

The Palazzo Versace Dubai will have furnishings from Donatella Versace’s collection.

The Palazzo Versace Dubai will have furnishings from Donatella Versace’s collection.

 

Looking Ahead

With a healthy pipeline, lots of high-end hotels are set to open in Dubai over the next few years.

Four Seasons has announced a new hotel at Jumeirah Beach set to open next year. The Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach will be on a beachfront with easy access to the main commercial district on Sheikh Zayed Road. Coolest Touch: Beyond its indoor and outdoor pools, the hotel will also have a private beach club.

On the banks of Dubai Creek, the Palazzo Versace Dubai is scheduled to open in the second half of 2014. We hear the Versace-designed hotel will be decorated with furnishings from Donatella Versace’s Home range.

Farther out, the ME Dubai is set to open in 2016 in the Burj Khalifa District. What makes it special? The hotel will be in the very post-modern Opus Building, one of the coolest new structures in the city. We hear that guests of Meliá Hotels International’s newest ME by Meliá hotel will have access to Michelin-starred restaurants and a concierge called an “Aura Manager.” The top floors of the hotel will have serviced apartments, including four penthouses with private roof terraces.

In 2017, Viceroy Hotel Group will open the Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah at a reported cost of $1 billion. The hotel will be the company’s first in Dubai and its second in the United Arab Emirates alongside sister venue Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi.

And we hear that Jumeirah will start construction on a new Dubai hotel this December, aiming for a December 2015 opening. The project doesn’t even have a name yet, but if it’s anything like its predecessors, it will be something spectacular. Jumeirah already manages several top-notch hotels in Dubai, including the iconic Burj Al Arab, the wave-like Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, the urban Jumeirah Emirates Towers, the palatial Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (and its Royal Residences) and the Madinat Jumeirah (which includes the Al Qasr, the Dar Al Masyaf, Malakiya Villas and the Mina A’Salam). 

Getting There

As of press time, Dubai was set to open an enormous new international airport at the end of October. The Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International Airport looks like it will be a game-changer: When fully operational, it is expected to accommodate seven million travelers a year.The Conrad Dubai is one of the newer luxury hotels in the Emirate, with magnificent Royal Suites.

When completed, the airport is expected to have five runways and will reportedly be the largest airport in the world. We hear that the first airlines to use the facility will be Saudi Arabia’s Nas Air and Hungary’s Wizz Air, followed by Emirates.

Speaking of Emirates, the airline has announced A380 service to and from Los Angeles starting December 2 this year, and anyone who has flown an Emirates A380 will see why this is special: the First Class section of the plane has 14 private suites. Best of all, First Class passengers have access to two onboard Shower Spas.

 

The Conrad Dubai is one of the newer luxury hotels in the Emirate, with magnificent Royal Suites.

 

The airline will also launch flights between Dubai and Boston beginning March 10, 2014. This will be the airline’s eighth route into the United States, ninth into North America and twelfth into the wider Americas. The airplane will be a Boeing 777-200LR and will fly into Boston Logan International Airport daily. 

ADVISOR INSIGHT

Jay Ahmed, co-owner of KMX Global Travel, just got back from a week in Dubai, and shared his insights on both the urban hub and the more peaceful retreats on the Emirate.

“There’s quite a bit going on in Dubai,” Ahmed said. “It’s a cosmopolitan, tolerant city, all mixed in with its roots and culture. There’s a lot there for different lifestyles.”

“I found a great partner: Platinum Heritage Luxury Tours & Safaris. It’s fairly new, and it’s the only true luxury tour operator/desert safari operator in Dubai. It’s not for the mass market. They keep their groups small.”

“Since it was my first time in Dubai, I wanted to include a desert safari, but there were so many names out there. The more I dug in, the more I found that was mass-market. I wanted something unique. I found Platinum Heritage, and their product was more geared toward a unique experience. They use 1950s-era Range Rovers for their tours, or you can upgrade to a platinum package and do a safari in a Mercedes G Wagon.

“They also have access to the Dubai Desert Conservation, and they’re one of the two tour operators who have access to that area. It’s the part of the desert that’s home to the royal family in winter. They also work with the local Bedouin, so you can have breakfast there. The camp was first class, and they brought in an Emirati dancer for entertainment. We went on camel rides and got henna tattoos.”

Luxury travel advisors can contact Platinum Heritage’s Managing Director Adam McEwan ([email protected]; 011-971-55-167-8830) with requests.

“We stayed at the One&Only The Palm. It’s spectacular—a beautiful, boutique luxury hotel. The staff was very friendly without being overbearing. Everything was immaculate and beautiful. We had a standard room and it was anything but standard. Just a fantastic property.”

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