Luxury Hotels

The luxury Atlantis The Palm hotel has a unique bridge suite

Look along the suite's corridor

Look along the suite’s corridor

Atlantis Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, is one of those iconic hotels that luxury travellers recognise the world over. The 1,539-room pink giant consists of two 22-floor towers joined by a central bridge. And, guess what, that connector is a lodging space, naturally called The Bridge Suite. It is 9,400 sq ft in total, with the most amazing views from its big balconies – see the video below for a spectacular panorama of its palm-trunk connection with the distant mainland of Dubai. Inside, says the gal, this Wilson Associates design is honestly so gorgeous that you forget about having so much space that you could easily lose your family or other travelling companions, and you might just even lose yourself.

Lana pours a welcome drink

Lana pours a welcome drink

Reach the suite via a private elevator (no key needed as there is a guard standing 24/7 in the vestibule down at ground level). The suite has deliciously soft, champagne-coloured marble floors with spectacular rugs, some as big as many people’s entire Manhattan apartment back home. Columns rise to high ceilings. What makes it all so attractive is the homeliness. You have books, a full-size billiard table, green baize of course, and a corner bar, with welcome bubbles, Dom Pérignon of course. The butler is carefully chosen, someone who is just right for you – in my case the highly empathetic Lana Gorohova, from Kazan.

I look up at the dining room ceiling...

I look up at the dining room ceiling…

Yes, it could be thought a bit ostentatious. The La Rie toiletries include black soap, studded with 24-carat gold – but it really lathers, and psychologically makes you feel extra clean. With three full bedrooms, where would I sleep? Like a cat I patrolled around, finally choosing the bedroom that I thought was the lightest of the three. I unpacked in a tiny corner to make sure I did not leave anything behind. Again, for simplicity, instead of working in the big office, I chose, as my creative space, the sofa-for-ten in the main salon, and of course Lana provided two extension cords that together were just long enough to reach from the (UK type, as used throughout UAE) socket across the room, behind a standing television that was so enormous it would have dominated anywhere but here.

.. as I begin breakfast

.. as I begin breakfast

Next door was the dining room, where 16 people seated in turquoise leather chairs could look up at a glorious ceiling, with turquoise in it, of course. I breakfasted in solitary state, at one end of the table, thinking back to a Fiat ad where an Italian aristocratic couple dined, one each end of a table like this, and a car went from one to the other carrying food. Lana brought me exactly what I wanted, even bringing a hand-written description of my requested ‘healthy brown toast’ which resulted in five different breads, my favourite the classic rye with nuts. The china, by the way, is Dankotuwa Arabella Gold, with real 24-carat gold in its leaf pattern. Ah ha, you say, but what about the REST of this luxury hotel? Read on…

 

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Food & Wine

Simply Sunday salutes young cooks

Marc Lannoy with winners of Junior Master Chef Rome

Marc Lannoy with winners of Junior Master Chef Rome

Luxury hotels often extol the virtues of inviting Global Celebrity Chefs to come and grace their kitchens – not surprisingly, some of these visitors have such a following, as a result of social media and television, that they are treated like rock stars (the gal has a feeling that sometimes the fans have never tasted the celebrities’ food and the whole reaction is a bit aspirational). I do love Park Hyatt’s ongoing global celebrations, The Masters of Food and Wine.  It started at Park Hyatt Mendoza (it was Carl Emberson, then GM of the hotel, who initiated the whole idea, which has now gone global).

And I also love the thought of Junior Master Chef, a creative event masterminded by Marc Lannoy, first when he ran Starwood’s Madrid properties and now in Rome, where he is complex GM in charge of the St Regis Grand, a hotel known for serious function-eating (see the header photo). He also runs the Westin Excelsior Rome, which was chosen for the Junior Master Chef competition. Competitors, 24 in all, were aged eight to 12 and they had to create a dish fro a surprise box.  Judges then chose six finalists, who had to create another dish from items that were chosen for them from a local market.  The winner was Maria Chiara Calise, aged ten; runner-up Filippo Carfagni and third prize winner Lavinia Luchini are both 11. Here they are, in the photo to the left, with Andrea Picchione, Junior Master Chef Italy 2015, and with Mario Palacios, Junior Master Chef Spain in 2013.

Girlahead salutes this luxury hotel for encouraging chefs of the future.  And do see the video below, IT IS TOTALLY BRILLIANT.

 

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Luxury Hotels

Dubai’s best luxury hotel for business, says the latest poll

Chefs bring out just-made camel milk chocolates

Chefs bring out just-made camel milk chocolates

It is not often that a single dish can blow the luxury traveller’s mind, but this happened at The Oberoi Dubai. First, take the setting, namely the inner courtyard of a hotel that is very commercially oriented, in the burgeoning Business Bay part of town. (For those who have not been in Dubai recently, the Emirate has reverted to the millennia-old Middle East habit of naming shopping and other districts according to their trade: ‘the gold soukh’, ‘the carpet soukh’ and so on. But now it is areas of the expanding city, say ‘Media City’ and thus ‘Business Bay’). The gal, who as regular followers know, never, or almost never, eats dessert, was tempted by the passion with which a young chef described the camel’s milk icecream. See the video below, the photo above, and the photo to the left with chocolates, and a display card they had thoughtfully made.

Heirloom tomatoes from Al Ain, and fabulous burrata

Caprese

What more can one say? Camel’s milk, by the way, is high in linoleic acid, and lower in total fat than cow milk, and it has more iron and vitamin C, apparently. It is also local, here in Dubai, so for those who want to eat-UAE, this is for you, as are the ingredients for caprese. Al Ain, an oasis that is part of Abu Dhabi, has always been lush, in agricultural terms, and the salad products from there are delicious.   There is also the highly regarded Italian Dairy Products (IDP) factory in Sharjah’s Hamriyah Free Zone. Owned by a Milan couple, Leo and Silvia Condemi, with a production team and GM from Italy, IDP uses milk from cows in Al Ain: its range includes Burrata, Mozzarella, Ricotta and Scamorza. Karim Bizid, the ultra-enthusiastic GM of this luxury hotel, would make the world’s best Tunisian concierge if he had stayed in the country of his birth.

Karim Bizid

Karim Bizid

As it is, Mr B is forever optimistic. Before the 252-room hotel opened in 2013 he promised three things to his big-boss, P.R.S. (Biki) Oberoi, who had long been a guest at his previous hotel, Jumeirah Emirates Towers here in Dubai. He would open the hotel on time (he did), he would get the face of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed, VP and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai, to that opening (he did) and he would achieve AED1,200 ($326) average rate. He is working on it, he promises, with his trademark smile – which broadened widely last Sunday, April 24th, 2016, when Marco Pierre White, doing duty as VIP at the 350-strong gala dinner at Palazzo Versace in Dubai, handed Karim Bizid the award for Best Business Hotel in Dubai, as voted by the readers of Business Traveller Middle East.  Being a good business hotel is not only about providing meeting space and so it, it is complete customer service.  One London-based businessman, who checked out of Oberoi Dubai only this Thursday, April 28th, wrote to me:  ‘The staff at The Oberoi were just brilliant, we asked them for a recommendation for dinner last night and they sent us to a wonderful Arabian place where the food was out of this world. We then saw the fountain display and went to the top of the Burj Khalifa using the advance book tickets that the Oberoi staff kindly helped us to book …breathtaking’.  And, to be honest, even business tycoons love icecream – SEE THE VIDEO BELOW

 

 

 

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