There is another way to arrive at a luxury hotel, and that is by water – think of many places in the Caribbean and in the Maldives, for instance. So far the gal, in her endless quest to know the best of the world, has not arrived anywhere by submarine. Had she done so, she might have been surrounded by fish like those encountered recently at Atlantis The Palm Dubai. Here, in 130-foot depth of water, 65,000 fish present a 24/7 ballet. Some are loners and swim by themselves, others form shoals, always with their own kind. Even at the underwater spa at Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives I have never been so close to so many fish.
There are 1,539 rooms in Atlantis The Palm. The biggest might be the 9,300 sq ft Bridge Suite, which straddles the two 22-floor towers of the hotel, but the two most extraordinary are the two Lost Chambers Suites, the Neptune and the Poseidon. In both, the bottom of the three floors are, well, subterranean. Keep the curtains open in the bedroom and the adjacent bathroom and you have no idea what time of day it is. You are transfixed by the never-repeated procession of sharks and ugly grey Neptune fish and gorgeous little bright violet fish with buttercup yellow blobs. With 65,000 fish in all, how often do they do stocktaking?.
You can even continue your fish watching at dinner. Ossiana restaurant also looks out into the fish tank, and what fun it is – in fact it does not stop us ordering fish, fresh from the ocean. Around us are several romantic young couples. From time to time we all see swimming past one of the scuba divers cleaning the tank, or taking guests for a dive among the fish. The ideal romantic proposal, I am told, is for a diver to swim past with a big sign that says ‘will you marry me?’. This never fails, apparently.
Afterwards, we are heading for a one-night David Guetta DJ appearance, at an enormous stage on a part of the mile-long beach that makes up this 120-acre resort. By the time he appears at 11pm there are, thanks to warm-up DJs and sponsors Moët and Toyota and the marketing power of Atlantis and Kerzner’s social media pulls, 13,400 enthusiastic already jiving and chemically reacting to the music. He does his DJ thing until 3am, after which 300 resort staff clear up. At 6am, I am going through the hotel’s main lobby, looking up at a 30-ft Dale Chihuly glass ‘flame’ tower and I look up at the lobby dome, with its lovely upper-level friezes.
There are views, everywhere. Back up in the three-floor Poseidon Suite, I look out. But whereas my bedroom is downstairs, looking into the fish, upstairs in the salon I look out at the top of the fish tank. I can see some divers just going in, to give them some of the 800 lbs of fish that the 65,000 ‘residents’ devour every day. Next time I will do a dive, going down to see what is going on in the water. But next time I will also enjoy the spa, and part of the outside Aquaventure that sprawls over 50 acres in all. And there are climbing walls, a theatre in the kids’ club, and tennis for everyone, and a teenage club that forbids any adults.
I know how much is going on around, as well as in, this amazing luxury hotel after flying over the Palm in a helicopter. But that is another story.