Perfect private beach at The Burj
Neighbouring resort's view of the Burj
Neighbouring resort & souk - all connected by waterways
I've just got back from a whirlwind jaunt to Dubai. Was totally last minute resulting from a conversation over dinner with my cousins J and L which went a bit like this:
L: "We're going to stay at the Burj in Dubai...wanna come?"
Me: "Yes. Yes I do."
Trying to describe staying at the Burj Al Arab is like asking people to freely hate you. It's the world's only 7 star hotel. I've since put my photos up on MyFace and my friend A said it looked like I'd made the pictures up. The Boy astutely pointed out that that's exactly what they've designed the city to be; a giant, airbrushed, Elle Deco bubble. There are categorically no mosquitoes, no taxes, no calories, no rain, no waiting, no old people, no ugly people and certainly no fat people (see removal of calorie content), unless, of course, you are Flavio Briatore or Stellios Hajieasyjet, in which case you're welcomed with (very) open arms.
Flower displays in the lobby
Looking down on the lobby
Downstairs lounge in our suite
Upstairs bathroom - Hermes freebies...yessssss.
View from room window
We're talking indoor ski resorts in the desert, giant inhabitable palm islands in the sea and a hardcore, full-on embracing of distilled Capitalism. But, *sigh*, I was totally seduced by it's loucheness and shouty toy-town veneer. A Harvey Nicks inside the mall, you say? I'm sold. I was even checking the price of bread with a view to staying forever. It worries me that I'm so easily won over by shiny things and really good Wagyu steak.
One day's shopping...not mine, unfortunately
The most incredible Kobi wagyu steak at the Skybar restaurant in the hotel
I blame my sometime superficiailty on my Greek side. People like to imagine Mediterranean frolicking amongst sun-dappled olive groves and rustic bread baking whilst wearing ditzy prints. The reality is eyeballing eachother's Birkins over Bellinis in Cipriani and bitching loudly on Vertus by the pool at Mykonos Blu. It's Eurotrash at its worst and, despite the occasional internal battle, it's in my blood. No amount of gadding about on Old Street in a trilby is gonna change that I love a good ponce about. Dubai indulged all my secret poncing fantasies; chauffer-driven to the mall in a white Rolls Royce, offered a choice of 16 different types of pillow, having Persian rugs on the beach so you can wear heels with your bikini without sinking into the sand...it's like they can read minds.
View from Atlantis on the Palm
The lobby in Atlantis
We arrived, pretty shattered, after a night flight but were fast-tracked through passport control at arrivals (blissful) and picked up in a Rolls. Walking into the hotel we were greeted by huge smiles (despite it being 4am), hot scented towels and local sugared dates of which I ate about a million and hence didn't get to sleep til 6. More were in Burj-shaped boxes in the room and were begging to be eaten with mint tea from room service. Our private butler opened the room door for us every time we arrived back in the hotel so we barely needed our key.
Breakfast the next day was silver service, an amazing buffet selection as well as full table/menu service from impeccably mannered waiting staff. I kicked myself that I slept through breakfast most days although, luckily, you could get incredible fruit platters on the beach which did the trick nicely (below)...
I'm not one for snowsports (cold plus exercise? No thanks) but this blew me away
Proof that there's no such thing as 'just some porridge' at The Burj...they must have made this with double cream as it was so incredible, a photographic memento was needed
After breakfast we were taken by golf buggy down to the private beach. The staff even put up your sunbrella, plonk you down, clean your sunglasses and give you a newspaper. Bow, scrape, bow, scrape. It's all a bit unnerving but worryingly easy to accustom to. Then they bring you an ice bucket containing water, evian sprays, lavender cooling sprays and ice lollies. When I could be bothered to drag my spoilt arse to the beachside toilets, they were so amazing I didn't want to leave. A smart tactic by the hotel is to give all the guests complimentary Hermes perfume and products (full size, no less..ho ho) so everyone swanning about smells absolutely incredible constantly. The toilets had all the products in them too, alongside ridiculous Lilly displays and giant white rolled towel pyramids on marble bases. A hotel employee evidently lived in there and her sole responsibility was to replenish said towels so the pyramid was always perfect, and also to run in behind you after you'd vacated your cubicle to fold the toilet roll back into a point. Sheer lunacy or what you pay for?
All in all, it was just bizarre to see a part of the world that the word 'frugal' doesn't exist in. The credit crunch is back-page news, if that. It's as mythical to them as Dubai is to us. So, perhaps a moral to the story? In the spirit of the new year and trying to be less materialistic (despite watching copious OC re-runs and having just bought a By Malene Birger cardigan) I'll say it was a dangerously vacuous hole of everything that's wrong with the world today.
But you'd know I was lying through my teeth.