Andy Sherwood visits Blue Marlin Ibiza, a club offering a taste of the Spanish isle just 20 minutes from Dubai.
If you’ve driven along the E11 highway from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, you’ve probably hurtled past this venue without even knowing it’s there. But take the 399 junction at Ghantoot and you’ll find a restaurant and club embracing the spirit of venues you’d find on Ibiza – Spain’s legendary clubbing island.
Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE, which opened in February 2012 and has a sister club on the Spanish isle, is just 45 minutes from the heart of the city (20 minutes from New Dubai) and offers a brunch, clubbing and beach experience with DJs being shipped in to perform every week. Situated by the Golden Tulip Hotel, you’re greeted at the club’s very own entrance by a young lady dressed for the beach with a walkie talkie. Blue Marlin offer a membership package for those wanting priority bookings and a pick-up and drop-off service from your home to the resort, but anyone can visit the beach club, though calling ahead to get on the guest list is advisable for mixed groups and booking for brunch is essential.
Once in, a quick walk past the hotel’s pool and down two flights of very steep stairs reveals the intimate entrance to this secluded beach paradise, which is protected and hidden by massive shrubs and palm trees.
The décor is minimalist, with white chairs, sofas and tables hugging the decking floor tightly. There’s a lot of smiling staff at Blue Marlin, all armed with two-way radios and rushing around refilling the unlimited Spanish beverage offered as part of the brunch.
There’s plenty of space here. The venue is split into several sections, including a terrace, a dining area, a bar area and, of course, the beach. The club can also be accessed by yacht and helicopter if you’ve got plenty of dirhams to spare. There are VIP areas, dip pools and a private cabana as well.
While this is predominantly a venue for young clubbers looking to party, families are also welcome. On Time Out’s visit we spotted babies and kids making sand castles in the afternoon. But one word of warning: once the brunch has finished, around 5.30pm, the music gets loud. So loud, in fact, it’ll make your heart vibrate.
Most guests arrive at either 1pm or 3pm for the brunch package and then stay on to party afterwards. The brunch is à la carte, with unlimited refills offered to all diners with excellent sushi on offer, including yellow fin tuna tartare served with avocado. Seafood features a lot on the menu, including whole grilled sea bass.
Blue Marlin is an all encompassing experience. It has its own DJs and fly many in from the real Ibiza as well. Over the next two weekends you can see Subb-an, winner of DJ Magazine’s ‘Best Breakthrough DJ’ in 2011 (performing November 29) and Davide Squillace and Matthias Tanzmann, famous for their sets at DC10 Terrace in Ibiza (they’re performing December 6).
Blue Marlin also streams club tracks live over the internet from its website and you can buy CDs of its music. And they have an iPhone app and a shop selling clothes and jewellery.
After brunch, most guests then relax on the beach. There’s a selection of giant inflatables if you want a float around in the water and there’s a Jet Ski for hire as well. But Time Out instead chose to lounge on the huge cabanas on the sand and listen to the live singer belting out a few club classics.
As sunset approaches, the vibe at Blue Marlin changes quite dramatically. The music flips from chilled out tunes to full-on banging house. The volume quite literally is raised to the aforementioned chest thumping 11 and the evening is all about dancing the night away with a beverage or two.
So who should go to Blue Marlin? It’s certainly a young crowd and is great for a birthday celebration. We saw groups 20-30 strong unwinding there on a Friday and you can order even more food during the evening as well. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but there’s enough to do to keep you happy from 1pm until it closes. It gets pretty packed and there are plenty of beautiful people parading around flashing the cash, but the atmosphere is jovial without being snooty.
When it comes to embracing the Ibiza spirit, Blue Marlin gets it spot on. Certainly the liveliest brunch we’ve come across in the nation’s capital, it’s well worth making the journey if you want a unique experience.
Open Fridays and Saturdays 1pm-late. Golden Tulip Al Jazira, Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, www.bluemarlinibiza-uae.com (056 113 3400).
Beach clubs in Dubai
Meydan Beach Club
This club has recently launched a new Friday event at Azure Bleu called MOI. Expect live entertainment, dancers, a fire show and more.
Dhs200, 2pm-1am (free for ladies 2pm-7pm), The Walk, JBR, Dubai Marina (04 433 3777).
XL Beach Club
This pounding beach club is legendary for hosting some of Dubai’s most lively outdoor parties.
The Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (056 640 6161).