It has been a long-time coming, but the first W Hotel in the UAE has opened its doors.
One of the most recognisable brands in the hospitality world, this fun and unique brand is set to change the landscape of Dubai. And you could say it already has, literally, with the bold neon light show glowing like a beacon right by the side of the new Sheikh Zayed Road flyover by Business Bay.
For the uninitiated, W Hotels are the rebellious little brother of the hotel scene, barely 20 years old as a brand, but already as powerful a player as old-school elites such as Hilton, Marriott and Four Seasons. With an eye towards a younger crowd, its properties break the mould with eye-catching style and unique dining and nightlife partnerships.
You need only look at the names of the suites at the newly opened Dubai branch – a second Middle East outpost after Doha – to see what sort of attitude the hotel has towards the traditional. Where more illustrious brands might have Presidential and Royal, the W has Sensational and Extreme Wow. Both are exactly that, with the latter split over two levels and featuring a dancefloor, catwalk, separate party room and plenty more to boot.
All rooms – there are 356 total, all with keyless entry systems – follow the same theme of bold, futuristic and anything but square (even the beds are round in some). There’s a smooth flow linking the wardrobes, bath and bedrooms, rather than compartmentalised styles we’re used to, and the décor is all funky shapes and stick lighting.
What is truly outstanding about the W, though, is checking in, done as it is on the 30th floor in the W Lounge. With sprawling views out over where the Dubai Water Canal will soon weave its way towards the Arabian Gulf, you might well be distracted before you even reach the desks. And if the view doesn't do it, the atmosphere that trickles down from a restaurant and bar above will almost certainly grab your attention.
When it comes to the hotel’s outlets, all we know so far is that the signature Asian restaurant Namu will be ready by the end of July, closely followed by a number of other international and original offerings.
Later this year, Wet Deck, the pool area and future party hotspot, will open, as will a state-of-the-art fitness centre known simply as FIT.
W Dubai will also host fashion shows, concerts and more in the Great Room.
And what about the rest of the development that has sprung up by the new Sheikh Zayed Road flyover?
While the clue is very much in the name of Dubai's Sports, Media, Motor and Studio cities, little is given away about exactly what Al Habtoor City is or will be.
Built on the site of the old – and iconic to those who have lived in Dubai a little longer than most – Metropolitan Hotel, opposite Business Bay, and overlooking the Dubai Water Canal, it’s a giant entertainment, retail, restaurant and hotel project set to rival the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah when fully operational in early 2017.
At the very heart of it, three five-star hotels – the already open St. Regis Dubai, the W Dubai and the soon-to-come Westin, all offering something a bit different in the emirate’s fit-to-burst hospitality industry.
At the centre of the project is The Atrium, a dining and state-of-the-art theatre destination that will house seven international and original outlets as well as the resident La Perle by Dragone, a water-based, Vegas-style theatrical show.
Furthermore, a promenade with small marina will act as the first significant part of the Creek expansion and will be home to some 40 different dining spots and shops. It’s likely to welcome street festival-style pop-ups, concerts and more when fully up and running. Oh, and there will be a professional-standard tennis academy, plus three plush residential towers on site, too.