What blows you away in luxury hotels, gal? It is not only the biggest-and-best and overall dimensions, but sometimes it is the small things. Take the rolling drinks cabinet at Quest, atop the 63-floor tower that houses Jumeirah Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.
What looks like a Japanese robot, kinda square like so many of the town cars I saw in Tokyo two weeks ago, is in fact a wine supply on wheels. Open the top and you see a Champagne cooler, with bottles of vintage Dom Pérignon and non-vintage Veuve Clicquot. Beneath the cooler is a glass-fronted fridge holding bottles of white wine.
Ask for whatever, and your wine is elegantly poured into tall Riedel glasses with customised black bases. It is an amazing restaurant, by the way. The menu includes dishes like Wok-fried turnip and rice gnocchi, and the bread roll tray offers laksa (seafood broth) rolls, and tuna-flake rolls; butter rounds are complemented by Ch d’Estoublan olive oil poured into silver dishes.
Sheikh Suroor bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, owner of Jumeirah Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi (and also Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi and lots of other hotels) has spent a lot of money on finesse in this 397-room hotel. Two of his most luxurious investments are in crystal and marble.
He has kept crystal manufacturer Lasvit, in the Czech Republic, going… I first came across this name at Shangri-La Tokyo, and now it seems to have done quite a lot here in the UAE. Take the calculations of what it has done here at Etihad Towers.
In the big ballroom there are 40 chandelier bursts with 13,500 trimmings (total 540,000 hand-fixed trimmings). In the main lobby six balls hang from the two-floor high ceiling – each has 33,368 trimmings, which means a total of 200,208 trimmings, each hand-fixed.
At night these balls change from one day-glo colour to another, in synchrony. If one gets out of time, a quick call back to Prague allows that ball to be re-programmed, direct to its IPS. Yes, wired balls, modern technology…
Sheikh Suroor’s project director Sami al Kuwaiter is a marble specialist. He knows which slabs to choose, what to put where. Sometimes adjoining slabs are set as if like facing pages of a book so that the fissures are mirror images. Sometimes they are set side by side so that the fissures flow… as you walk, lobby level, to the elevators the corridors are entirely walled in petrified wood.
The six elevator cabins are like jewel boxes, lined with blue and aqua Angel Jasper or Ocean Blue granite marble. The bathroom of 5908, the Sky Suite that seems to wrap-round the whole tower, has walls and floor of a soft watery stone-beige marble.
Suite 5908 is a masterpiece of colour – one thinks the hotel’s great GM, Doris Greif, has had a hand in details. Taupe, the colour of Lux* Belle Mare on Mauritius (and Gstaad Palace), forms much of the woodwork, and the leather bedhead and suede liners in drawers – and customized baskets for room service menus and other paperwork (and there is even a taupe-covered hard back book, weighing at least ten pounds, titled The Cartier Collection,). The main designer, by the way, is DBI, from Australia’s Gold Coast.
Doris Greif is making sure the right brands are coming into the integral mall. Think retail of the calibre of Bulgari, Burberry, Cartier and Hermès, Versace and Vertu – and Tom Ford For Women. The gym has the latest Technogym equipment, with a power plate and Flexibility machines, and TechnoShape body sculpting (wear a vacuum belt while working out).
There is also Hypnoxi S120, a box you sit in for 30-40 minutes’ intermittent vacuum therapy (Robbie Williams, apparently, swears by it). All this can service not only the hotel but, in four other towers, what will be offices and 892 residential apartments.
What else impresses? The hotel supports saving the sea turtles, who live in the Arabian Gulf outside. A little fabric turtle, a rimani (Arabic for sea turtle) sits on your bed to tell its tale.
And finally, the club lounge here deserves to win every club lounge award going. It is open through 24 hours and, as eager young butlers are keen to tell you, it occupies the entire 45th floor. At night, cocktail hour includes more Veuve Clicquot.
At breakfast, the 25-foot main display has everything you can think of, including several milks in old-fashioned urns. A separate table has every conceivable kind of sweet pastry and, fortunately, healthy-healthy seed-studded breads. That, with French yoghurt and butter, local just-squeezed juice and Naples-quality coffee, and a copy of pink perfection, today’s Financial Times, impresses.