Who would ever guess that this is Dubai? Some who have been here for conferences – say the massive Arabian Travel Market ATM this week – only see the inside of conference halls or the stupendous luxury hotels that line both sides of the miles-long main artery, Sheikh Zayed Road. Others head for the beaches and stay put, getting more and more tomato coloured as the hours progress. But THIS, says the gal, is the view from her room at One&Only Royal Mirage’s Residence.
The entire area of One&Only Royal Mirage, namely The Residence and two other hotels, has 65 acres of gorgeous gardens, with so many mature trees that you cannot see the other hotels. The 48 rooms of The Residence are in Arabic style villas. To get to room 20, I went into this villa, and then up 20 curving steps, cream marble treads, deep turquoise tiled risers, to my room. In there, my personal sanctum, I had space, particularly since I looked out, from my terrace, over the gardens. Originally 200 rooms were planned for The Residence. That is not luxury, someone said, so they stopped at 48.
I met a High Powered Businessman, no idea who, who has been here 21 times. After rushing round the world doing deals he flops out here, his second home. After a week of lying by the pool, and doing whatever, he is ready once again to face the real world. Here you have sanctuary, a retreat, peace, and nature. You also have the opportunity to keep extremely fit. There is a kilometre of resort beach, lovely white sand (take a private boat from here, the five-minute journey across to sibling One&Only The Palm, and have Yannick Alléno food there).
Working out in the gym here at The Residence is a memory, too, Go into another villa, and down 16 steps, with big Arabic chandeliers hanging in the stairwell. The gym does not open until seven but, guess what, they opened it for me an hour early. You could say this is Dubai. True. You could also say this is One&Only. True – especially since the company’s CEO, Mark DeCocinis, is a fitness fanatic. He it was who, when GM of the Portman Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai, started organizing and doing vertical marathons, up that 45-floor hotel.
Residents of The Residence can dine-and-sign in any of the restaurants in the other two hotels here at Royal Mirage, but others cannot eat here. The Residence has no formal restaurant, but it has The Dining Room, like a big private house. There are menus but they will cook whatever, and serve it on beautiful apple green-edged Philippe Deshoulières porcelain. As you can see, the breakfast buffet is bijou personified, tiny quantities of everything you can think of, superb quality, and great coffee. Croissants come in apple green wire baskets.
I first knew Olivier Louis, big boss of the entire One&Only Royal Mirage, when he was in charge of Le Méridien Piccadilly in London. Of course a Frenchman eats a different breakfast from a strapping English lass. Today he merely had an espresso – he claimed to have had a croissant at home – while I had the full works. Well, you need to make the most of what a luxury hotel has to offer, and this one, by its very name, says make yourself at home.