The gal fell in love with Meraas Holding’s six week-old Bulgari Resort and Residences Dubai, and not only because the GM, Pep Lozano, came to do an airport welcome, and in a Maserati. The building, by Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel & Partners is absolutely gorgeous, outside and in. The luxury hotel’s C-shaped exterior is sleek cruise ship meets outsize white Chilewich mats with the arms of the five-floor building wrapped round areas of grey river pebbles in water and bleached-white pebbles, water-free, that echo the colour of the sand below. As well as having 101 main-building bedrooms, to one side there are 20 freestanding villas, 13 of them facing the idyllic private beach.
This is an immediate success, with room rates from $800 up, and weekends especially absolutely sold out: one local family seems to treat a particular villa as their automatic staycation base. And the hotel can only do even better once 165 residences, across the private marina, become occupied. After a really stunning sunset – see above – we looked across, after dark, to the Marina Yacht Club, and its seafood restaurant, but we were eating here, in Il Ristorante Niko Romito, its freestanding entrance just a few yards from the hotel’s main door. Bulgari, apparently, is now going to be working globally with Niko Romito, a one-time financier who took over his family bakery and started an empire that now includes Castel di Sangro, a boutique hotel in Casadonna with a Michelin three-starred restaurant, Reale.
The food here was superb, and the service faultless (98 of the complex’s 477 employees are Italian). As he brought Bulgari olive oil and breads, for instance, the server explained the history of the dough – we could also have had one of the Bulgari wines, say Therra Podernuovo di G. Bulgari Toscana 2013. The antipasti was a work of art, consisting of at least 12 different dishes, each exquisite and served family style – I then went on Italian milk-fed veal, and limoncello. Breakfast, by contrast, is a somewhat uncomplicated affair, in a Café with a big terrace that allows you to watch the super-yachts coming in and out of the marina. I was breakfasting with Marriott’s Man in the Middle East, Guido de Wilde, who agreed that the hotel is doing ‘very well’ (as we all know hoteliers in general do not gush when picking their words).
But I can gush for ever. Take my glorious room, 220, one of the luxury hotel’s Bulgari Suites. The pale wood was satin smooth. A simple Nespresso machine came with hand-painted LSA cups that looked like jewels. I had shoe-trees and Berluti shoe cleaning, and an easy-work safe. Nothing here was complicated – I could easily manage the curtains, the air conditioning. I did not, sadly, manage to read even one of the 140 books that formed the main decoration of the living room. What a brilliant idea to make one wall entirely a display of books, set as shown. And see the video below to get an even better idea how the owners and designers, helped by such a passionate GM, have done so much right, here. Oh yes, that passionate GM even thanked me for being there, but then thanking people is one of the greatest pleasures in his life, he says. NOW SEE MORE OF SUITE 220