Spas, bars, restaurants and hotels you have to try in Dubai
Ibn Battuta Gate Where: Jebel Ali, near Ibn Battuta Mall Open since: Late September USP: At 60 metres high, the hotel has an arch larger than Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. What: The 396-room hotel is situated in Jebel Ali – an area predicted to expand at great speed in the coming years (or even months). The talking point so far is the hotel’s vast lobby, known as ‘Al Bahou’ or the Grand Hall, which includes 88 mammoth, eastern-style lanterns. The decor of the entire hotel also features influences from the Near East, Far East, Middle East and Arab Africa, replicating the journeys of the eponymous explorer. The restaurants include Shanghai Chic, a Chinese restaurant; Sicilia, a rustic Italian; Chor Bazaar, a Tandoori Indian (named after a seed market in Mumbai); and Maroc, a Moroccan – the latter is open now. Hotel guests are also welcome to use the private beach at Oceana Beach Club on Palm Jumeirah. Contact:www.moevenpick-hotels.com (04 444 0000).
Those naysayers who claimed ‘Dubai was so over’ not so long ago (naming no names, Kim Cattrall) have become far quieter of late. Perhaps it’s reports that the emirate’s economy is gradually starting to look stronger. Maybe it’s because the average salary has risen 7.5 per cent this year. Could it be due to the fact that the number of hotel guests rose 9 per cent to 4.18 million during the first half of 2010, and that even though the city boasts more rooms than ever, the rates are also beginning to pick up? Or perhaps it’s because ‘New Dubai’ (Media City, Internet City and so on) is predicted to become home to more than 100,000 families within the next 24 months. There’s even frenzied gossip that Tom Cruise’s visit in the coming weeks (to shoot Mission Impossible 4, in case you’ve been living in a mine) will cause a positive ripple effect on Dubai’s finances. Whatever the reasons, we love the results: a plethora of new hotels, eateries, bars and spas, all previewed right here. Time to start adding a few new hangouts to that social diary of yours.
Pullman Hotel Where: Mall of the Emirates Open since: Early October, although the bars and restaurants will officially be finished once it gains its alcohol licence at the end of the month. USP: This large hotel chain (there are 60 Pullmans across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Latin America) specialises in meetings: there are special ‘meeting teams’ who can help you organise your meet, a floor dedicated to business facilities, and nine rooms with private ‘breakout areas’ – for when those get-togethers become out of control. What: It’s the behemoth tower immediately adjacent to Mall of the Emirates, with 481 rooms and four restaurants, including Mediterranean cuisine, 1950s diner eats (think ice cream, cotton candy and pastries), Moroccan teas and shisha, and a bar with mixed drinks and excellent city views. There’s also a fancy rooftop spa if you need to relax after all those high-powered business meetings. Contact:www.pullmanhotels.com (04 702 8000).
DIVAZ Where: Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa Open since: October 13 USP: It’s a boat! What: This new venue wins the award for most appealing opening party invite. ‘Come see our new glass vessel, floating in a private marina’, it read. What we found was a large boat with capacity for up to 200 guests, plus vast glass windows, a space-age interior and atmospheric views from every angle. However, this isn’t a normal club – instead, it’s available for private charter, catering for a wide range of events, from parties to intimate celebrations and business conferences. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (04 814 5108).
Azur Salon and Day Spa Where: International City Open since: October 10 USP: It’s introducing Dubai residents to the concept of social spa visits. What: The main aim of Azure is to encourage us stressed-out Dubaians to rest and relax in the company of our mates. Drawing inspiration from the ‘origins of ancient spas’, its primary focus is on a combination of health and wellness, which will hopefully be enhanced by the company of your chums. Services range from facials and massages to spray tanning, eyelash extensions and, in the near future, a Moroccan bath. And while the salon is ladies-only, the special spa-on-wheels service, where therapists come to your home or office with everything they need (treatment beds, machines, beds, candles, incense, music), is available for men too. Contact: www.facebook.com/azurspa (04 447 5284).
Armani Pavillion Where: Armani Dubai, Burj Khalifa Open since: October 5 USP: It’s entirely al fresco. What: We were a little surprised when we heard that Armani Dubai was to host another opening party. Didn’t we see the hotel’s many restaurants and stylish club back in April? It soon transpired that this time we were celebrating the existence of an outdoor area, located between the hotel and the mesmerising Dubai Fountain. The space has capacity for 350 people, can be hired out for private and corporate events (for many a pretty fil) and is tipped to be the new nightlife hotspot this winter. Contact: www.armanihotels.com (04 888 3888).
Yellow Lounge Where: The Address Dubai Marina Open since: October 14 USP: It’s yellow – and it’s the city’s first French lounge. What: Located next to classy restaurant Rive Gauche, this is the place to catch a ‘cheap’ glass of bubbly as an aperitif – flutes start from Dhs85. What’s more, it serves beverages and hors d’oeuvres to complement ‘the ambience of Rive Gauche’, as well as the menu. It’s also set to host themed nights [aside from its French-ness]. For a full review, see our Music and Nightlife section next week. Contact: www.theaddress.com (04 436 7777).
Red Lounge Where: Raffles Dubai Open since: October 7 USP: It’s red (Dubai appears to be embracing colours this season). And it’s Dubai’s first Chinese lounge. What: Within a week of its launch, Red has already hosted US rapper Jermaine Dupri and two members of Brit indie band the Kaiser Chiefs, so there must be something alluring about it. No doubt the celebs are smitten with the Chinese bar snacks, which include dim sum with foie gras and chicken siew mai. The large terrace and views from its location at the very top of the Raffles hotel pyramid are extremely enticing too, as is its 3am weekend closing time. Contact: www.raffles.com (04 324 8888).
One&Only The Palm Where: Palm Jumeirah Opening: The soft opening was on October 10; the first guests arrive on November 15. USP: This luxury destination apparently boasts a six-star rating. You can also access it by private boat or swift water taxi, lending it a ‘private island’ feel. What: This resort is pure class: it has 450 metres of private beach, an 85sq m swimming pool, 90 rooms and four beach villas. Michelin-star chef Yannick Alléno has offered ‘culinary guidance’ to three restaurants: STAY by Yannick Alléno, Zest, and 101 – the latter is perched above the marina with panoramic views of New Dubai’s striking skyline, and is therefore opening a little later thanks to its ‘more complex, overwater structural finishing’. Zest is the hotel’s main eatery, offering Middle East, Asian and Western food cooked in a special show kitchen. Contact: www.oneandonlyresorts.com.
Oceana Beach Club and Oceana Hotel & Spa Where: The trunk of the Palm Jumeirah Open since: The club has been open since September 12; the hotel and spa is to open in 2011. USP: So far, the rather impressive West 14th Steakhouse. What: A Mövenpick-owned property, this hotel will boast 324 rooms and various promising restaurants, including all-day dining, seafood, Japanese robatayaki, Lebanese, a mezzanine bar and the intriguing-sounding ‘wellness bar and spa cuisine’, although the NYC-style West 14th Steakhouse is the only one up and running at the moment, As well as the thalasso (sea) spa and fitness centre, there is also a marina for sailing and watersports. Contact: www.moevenpick-hotels.com (04 428 1570).
Maktoum International Airport Where: Jebel Ali Opening: It’s been in operation since June 2010, but for cargo only. Customer operations are planned to start in late March 2011. What: This new airport is set to become the world’s largest: it will be more than 10 times the size of the current Dubai International, and have capacity for up to 150 million passengers annually (to put that in perspective, London Heathrow handled 50 million last year). The project will also include various malls and hotels. By 2013 it is forecast to become the largest of its kind in the world, handling more than 12 million tonnes of cargo annually. Once completed, its estimated cost will run to US$82 billion, making it the most expensive single project in the world, ever. Contact: www.dwc.ae.
Jamie’s Italian Where: Festival Marina Opening: November USP: Main man Jamie Oliver’s infectious Essex tones (and cooking skills). What: The cheeky-chappie chef already has 15 restaurants in the UK, so it was only a matter of time before he decided to set up shop in Dubai. His new restaurant will seat 290 hungry souls, as well as boasting al-fresco seating along the Festival Centre Canal Walk. Fresh pasta will be made on-site, and the menu will also feature antipasti and desserts. As for whether the man himself will be on hand to open the restaurant, we’ll have to wait and see. Contact:www.dubaifestivalcity.com.
Mövenpick Deira Where: The clue is in the name – beside the creek in Deira. Opening: Late December 2010. USP: It’s the first five-star venue to open in Deira in a decade. What: Described as a luxury business hotel, Mövenpick Deira will offer a plush location – 216 rooms, to be exact – for those high-end visitors keen to soak up Dubai’s historic area. Restaurants include Jigsaw, an all-day-dining international eatery; Decadence, the lounge lobby tea room and gourmet shop; Wok In Restaurant & Bar for healthy Asian food; and The View, the requisite pool bar, as well as a rooftop pool. Contact: www.moevenpick-hotels.com (04 444 0111).
The Royal Amwaj Resort & Spa Where: On the crescent of the Palm Jumeirah Opening: 2011 USP: Luscious over-water villas. What: The Amwaj is a five-star Asian-themed retreat, with Thai and Balinese architecture and furnishings, set around lagoons and beaches. Dining options include Tantra, a waterfront restaurant serving Asian, Indo-Chinese and seafood. The 293-room hotel will also offer upscale all-inclusive package deals for guests that can’t bear to tear themselves away from all that luxury. Contact: www.moevenpick-hotels.com (04 444 0222).
Deerfields Town Square Where: Abu Dhabi, close to the airport Opening: TBC USP: The Victorian theme. What: Based on ‘old Victorian grandeur’, this community will feature a mall, offices and residences. The mall is spread over a million sq ft, with more than 200 stores, as well as cinemas, restaurants, a themed family park and a unique bird conservatory.
Contact: www.deerfieldstownsquare.com (02 444 3522).
Palazzo Versace Where: Culture Village, by the creek in Deira. Opening: Early 2011 USP: Come on – it’s Versace Palace. Think glamorous Italian style. Everywhere. What: Located on the creek waterfront, Palazzo Versace will have a ‘water salon’ around a lagoon pool, a world-class day spa, restaurants, 213 rooms and suites and 169 condos. As for the air-conditioned sand? We’ll wait to see if that’s still happening… Contact: www.palazzoversace.ae (04 501 6800).
Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah Where: Crescent West, Palm Jumeirah Opening: Early 2011 USP: The rooms, suites and villas are priced competitively with others on the Palm, but they are far larger – 112sq m for a suite, compared with an average 50sq m. What: The Kempinski is a sprawling pink complex, which was actually the first planned hotel on the Palm island, featuring 244 rooms, suites and villas. The elegant beachside setting boasts five acres of landscaped gardens, 500 metres of white sandy private beach and a 1,200sq m free-form outdoor swimming pool. And let’s not forget the obligatory Jacuzzis and pool on the suite balconies, 19 shops in the complex and two restaurants that are as yet unnamed: a beach bar and grill and a Mediterranean. A bridge links the Kempinski to Emerald Palace, the five-star Kempinski-owned hotel next door, which, although originally planned to be completed first, is now set to open in 2012. Contact: www.kempinski.com/en/palmjumeirah (04 444 2000).
At.mosphere Where: The Burj Khalifa Opening: 2011 USP: It will be the highest restaurant in the world, situated on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa. What: Not a great deal is known about this project at the moment, but it’s safe to say that the only food currently consumed at this altitude is served on aeroplanes. This is all set to change whenthe Burj’s At.mosphere restaurant opens some time next year, treating diners with a head for heights to fittingly high-end cuisine. Contact: www.burjkhalifa.ae.
Zabeel Saray Where: Crescent Road (West), Palm Jumeirah Opening: Officially on December 2. USP: The all-day dining room with a ceiling replica of the Sistine Chapel. That, or the fact it houses one of the largest spas in the world. What: This mega project has 405 rooms, 38 suites and 10 restaurants and bars (ranging from Turkish to Vietnamese), as well as the Mehteran Theatre – an event venue with a capacity of up to 750 people. The decor is inspired by ‘the imperial life of the Ottomans,’ and the complex is fashioned around a large lagoon. Contact: www.zabeelsarayhotel.com.
Hard Rock CafÉ Where: Festival City Opening: November USP: The world’s biggest guitar (at 180ft) and a huge music venue. What: The carcass of the old Hard Rock Café by exit 32 of Sheikh Zayed Road serves as a constant reminder of the heady days of yesteryear. Those days, however, are soon to be eclipsed by the new 26,400sq ft Hard Rock opening in Festival City. Expect the ubiquitous global brand to pull out all the stops for its launch next month – Chuck Berry played at the opening of the old venue in 1999, while The Who – yes, The Who – are rumoured to be taking The Magic Bus to Dubai for the 2010 opening. Watch this space. Contact: www.hardrock.com.