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IT’S THE PEOPLE, STUPID. You can have the most beautiful theatre in the world but if the performers do not at least meet minimum expected standards the entire experience is not up to par. It’s the same with hotels. Every single performer – because that is what hotel employees are, be they called associates, colleagues, staff, whatever – has to meet those standards and ideally exceed them.

It is little extras that help raise the reaction to performances. The waiter, a few years ago, on Oberoi’s Zahra Nile cruise ship who, on the second morning, presented Girlahead with an exact fruit plate replica of what she had, the day before, taken from the buffet. The butler, a few days ago, who, realising she liked the Peruvian black corn health drink, brought several more cans, enough for each morning of her too-short stay.

The Atlantis Royal Dubai butler, above, is Wilfred, from Kuala Lumpur. Because any good hotel operates 24 hours a day and people staying therein also might operate at any old hour, in expectation Wilfred sleeps-in when he is needed. (Lucky Wilfred – hope he has the same superb Hypnos mattress, so sleep-enhancing that if only the Rimowa wheelie were big enough the mattress in suite 32620 might be purchased to take home….).

Atlantis Royal is one year old, in Beyoncé time, this very day. On Saturday 21st January 2023 Beyoncé famously sang for an hour, allegedly earning another million, US style, for every three minutes her mouth was open. Thanks to the pandemic and various other factors the opening of this 795-room property – part of a complex that also has 231 owned residences, was like trying to get conditioner out of bathroom receptacles, stop-start dribble-dribble. The performance by Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter provided a suitable ‘opening moment’. And considering only a year has passed since then, the team here is amazing. Anyone, anywhere, is able to direct in what is a pretty complicated layout. They look good, tip-top grooming and deportment. In public areas they acknowledge hotel guests with a quick right hand over the heart salute. As the hotel’s ops leader Marie-Elise Lallemand, known affectionately as MEL, says, it takes time for a team to work perfectly. After five nights – a record stay for her – Girlahead says the team here is already winning the time race. It’s superb – and wonderful Wilfred is still smiling.