Luxury Hotels

UAE – 1

If over-dedication to duty were added to the growing range of disciplines in the Olympics, Ayman Gharib would get the gold. No hesitation. Girlahead flew into Dubai on a flight scheduled to arrive at 0350. That’s right. Note the hour. Despite being hand-baggage only it was still 0435 arrival at RAFFLES THE PALM DUBAI.  Hopefully we both looked considerably better when the pair met next, for lunch at the hotel’s Piatti On The Beach..

Clever restaurant this. There is indoor seating but 95% of the activity takes place outside, on the beach. Cleve food. Freshest burrata, served a quarter at a time. Equally fresh tuna, raw with seared crust. Read all about menus, here and at other outlets, in the hotel’s just-launched monthly paper, The Raffles Chronicle. It’s really REALLY good, suggesting such unusuals as Champagne breakfast in the spa, or full afternoon tea in the spa. Not sure how one manages putting strawberry jam and clotted cream on a still-warm scone while being pummelled backside, but still.

In the five years since it opened the hotel has evolved continuously from an unattainable palace to a centre of believable style.  The former mega-sized Ducasse restaurant, for instance, is now Raffles Club, for about 100 bedrooms’ lucky occupants (plus a few outisdie individuals and Emirates’ top-50 frequent flyers). Yes, overall it’s now really pretty good, and the butlers are decidedly less stiff – turnover staff-wide is a mere 19%, partly attributable to the fact here at Raffles Emerald Palace they only work five days not the Dubai-usual six.

There’s always something happening here, incidentally. Latest announcement is that Raffles The Palm Dubai’s owner EPG is releasing another batch of top-end residences for sale. The empire is growing.