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Grand Sand UpdateApril 14, 2008 By: Lauren Price Travel Agent
Dubai continues to expand, but it doesn’t look like the city will be bursting at the seams any time soon
To meet the needs of travelers, Dubai International Airport will increase its capacity to over 70 million people by year’s end and to over 210 million by 2010. By 2009, the new Dubai Metro will be up and running. It will be the longest, fully automated rail system in the world and will connect the three man-made Palm Islands (dubbed the eighth wonder of the world) to the mainland.
Palm Jumeirah, one of three man-made islands, will welcome its first visitors in September.
Currently, the new Gateway Bridge and Monorail provide access to the officially opened Palm Jumeirah island, comprised of residences, hotels, marinas, shops and restaurants. The water-themed Atlantis, one of the island’s 25 hotels, will welcome its first guests this September, followed by Mövenpick’s Royal Amwaj. By the end of 2009, hotels from the likes of One&Only, Fairmont, Trump, Kempinski and W will nearly all be ready for sleepovers. After a total refurbishment, the QE2 will be open on Palm Jumeirah as a posh hotel in 2009 as well—and Cirque du Soleil will begin performing in 2010 in a custom-built 1,800-seat theater.
Not surprisingly, there are currently dozens of best-to-book hotels everywhere you look—mainly in and around Sheikh Zayed Road—and scads more are on the way. The Raffles Dubai opened this past October and Emirates Hotels and Resorts’ The Harbour Hotel and Residence in the Dubai Marina is in the midst of a soft opening. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina on Jumeirah Beach is now accepting reservations for arrivals beginning May 1, and the Armani Hotel Dubai , an Armani Hotels & Resorts property, will open in December inside what is now the tallest building in the world—the 150-story Burj Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road.
Tax-free shopping ranges from souks (markets) to Saks Fifth Avenue to huge malls—including one with an indoor ski slope topped with real snow. Add Palm Jumeirah’s Golden Mile to the mix, with some 200 retailers, including the soon-to-open Barneys New York, and you can literally shop till you drop. Direct your bargain hunters to any number of the famous souks. The solid 24-carat baubles at the Gold Souk are pricey, but certainly less expensive than buying in the U.S., and designer scents can cost up to 50 percent less at the Perfume Souk. For saffron lovers, the finest quality can be had at a bargain price at the Spice Souk. (Note that the Souk Madinat Jumeirah—which sells everything from pricey rugs, saris and shawls to souvenirs—attracts lots of shoppers, but our insider found it quite touristy.) Another fun shopping experience is at Heritage Village. Close to the Dubai Creek area, it’s an interesting collection of potters, weavers, small shops and galleries selling very reasonably priced items, and there are live music performances and demonstrations.
Palm Trump International Hotel & Tower, Dubai will be a five-star hotel offering 500 condo hotel units, including one-, two- , and three-bedroom suites.
The best restaurants are in the hotels, the only location where liquor, wines and beers can be served. Our personal favorites include Al Nafoorah in the Emirates Tower (don’t be surprised to see Sheikh Mohammed at the next table) for its spectacular Lebanese cuisine; Spectrum on One at the Fairmont Dubai, particularly for brunch on Friday (considered the first day of Dubai’s weekend); and Nina for fabulous Indian food at One&Only’s Royal Mirage.
We recently checked into the Park Hyatt Dubai Creek inside the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. This hotel is the only property in town with the distinction of having a golf course in its backyard—not just any green but one of the top must-play courses in the world. The Park Hyatt’s guest rooms are generous in size (the smallest are just under 600 square feet), and all have balconies, terraces or patios overlooking the marina (rooms on the fifth floor have the best views of all). All suites include Nespresso coffee machines and iPod docking stations, as well as transportation to and from the airport. Executive, Presidential and Royal Suites have VIP airport expediting. For any other ground transportation needs, contact Chief Concierge Florian Wagner ([email protected]). Incidentally, we had the concierge arrange a day of sightseeing via a luxury sedan with the very knowledgeable English-speaking Abdul as our guide.
The Park Hyatt Dubai is adjacent to the world-famous Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and minutes away from the city center.
One of the most requested rooms is the one-bedroom Park Executive Suite (1,150 to 1,270 square feet), particularly one at garden level, because of its large patio set amid the hotel’s landscaped areas. Also, this is the only accommodation that provides butler service (by request). Living and working areas are sizable, and open-plan bathrooms come with freestanding soaking tubs and huge walk-in rain showers. Another good bet is the one-bedroom Park Terrace Suites (1,130 square feet). These corner suites offer stunning views of the marina and Dubai Creek—and, like the Park Executives, feature separate work and living areas, open-plan bathrooms and lovely terraces that are perfect for cocktails at sunset. Both suite types easily convert to two bedrooms via connectors.
For clients seeking solace and pampering, book a Spa room (592 square feet). Close to the pool and spa, they come with massage tables, beauty-treatment chairs and steam rooms. The crème de la crème of suites is the 2,368-square-foot, two-bedroom Royal Suite on the hotel’s top floor. Graced with plenty of views (including Dubai’s iconic skyline), it features a large living room, a study, a dining room with a table big enough for eight guests, a kitchenette and an enormous terrace. Butler service is also provided. All rooms and suites can be booked over the GDS. For special clients, contact General Manager Stuart Deeson ([email protected]).
The hotel offers a brilliant collection of restaurants—ranging from Levantine-infused (i.e., Jordon, Syria and Lebanon) café dining to fine French fare. There’s also a very beautiful bakery, Pastiche, where the irresistible Levant temptations are as pretty as crown jewels. The boxed beauties are perfect for gift-giving back home.
A suite at the Park Hyatt Dubai has a balcony overlooking the harbor and the city skyline.
At Café Arabesque, diners can easily fill up on any one of five buffets brimming with outstanding selections of hot and cold mezze (appetizers) tidbits (and numerous variations on hummus) and yummy Arabic cheeses. The restaurant’s à la carte entrees come from its wood-burning oven and charcoal grills (the yogurt-marinated chicken kabobs are a standout). We highly recommend the aged prime beef and the split roast duckling at Le Traiteur, which also boasts a 4,200-bottle wine cellar. All the restaurants, including Thai Kitchen, are extremely popular with locals, so book ahead, especially if your clients prefer to dine alfresco.
Amara is the hotel’s spa, and treatments always begin with a rose petal hand and foot ritual. There are eight spa rooms with private terraces, rain showers and music menus (three are for couples with private outdoor rain showers). The most popular treatments include the Arabian Rose Massage and the Anne Semonin Facial. Book a week ahead through E-Concierge (you’ll need the confirmation number) on the property’s website. For special requests, contact Spa Director Jason Sloan ([email protected]).
See more of Dubai in the video below: