Once upon a time there was endless sand that formed an extensive beach along the beautiful Arabian Gulf. Fast, really fast, forward to 2017 and we have Dubai. Get stuck in a solid traffic jam along Sheikh Zayed Road, with elevated trains sliding overhead and soaring, gleaming, sculptured highrises either side – and you do not see any sand. But at Jumeirah’s newest luxury hotel, Jumeirah Al Naseem, which means sea breeze, you can look down at sand. Oh, says the gal, this 430-room hotel is absolutely gorgeous. All rooms face the sea, and have full-wall windows that slide back to give a feeling of being completely open to the elements. My room looked down at a pool filled with dozens of turtles, of all sizes: there are also adult-only, and family-friendly, swimming pools
See how lovely room 475 is – look at the video, below. Designed by the South African company DSGN, plus Bill Bensley, the colours are cream and soft mushroom, and there is lots of beautiful satin-smooth oak (the fittings were all done by a company called H&H, which coincidentally owns Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach). H&H was also closely involved in this stunning hotel’s restaurants and bar. I loved our lunch at Rockfish, which again seems to open up to fresh air. It is a memorable restaurant, and not only for the barrels on its roof – lunch was a dream, masses of crudo, followed by a big skewer of salmon and scallops. Interestingly, at the hotel’s all-day Palmery restaurant, the design element is inside: go in and 430 copper cooking pots hang overhead, one for each of the hotel’s bedrooms.
Honestly, this is a hotel for outstanding food, which perhaps is not surprising since the GM, Richard Alexander, came up through the F&B route, including three years heading restaurants and bars at Wynn in Las Vegas. I had dinner with Richard and his children at Il Borro, one of two of the hotel’s restaurants that are leased out. Il Borro is a duplicate of the Ferragamo family’s Il Borro in Tuscany, and all the ingredients are specially imported (do try their mozzarella, with Il Borro-label). The staff, half-half Italian and other nationalities, are also all Ferragamo employees, and living in separate housing from the rest of the Jumeirah team members. The other leased-out restaurant will be a Katsuya, designed by Philippe Starck.
A luxury hotel that is only four months old, it has already become a regular meeting spot for younger-generation locals. To be part of the crowd, indeed, you should really pair your black abaya, with its shorter sleeves and length to allow your bracelet and designer shoes to be seen, with a fluffy pink handbag. But there are others here, and in the full-occupancy lobby lounge, a champagne-coloured theatre with masses of white flowers, I ran into two travel agent friends, one from England, one from Turkey, both here for the massive Arabian Travel Market ATM. Expats who live in Dubai say it is actually one big village, but it can also be described as the leading 21st city, complete with a new Opera House, that grew out of the sand. NOW SEE THE VIDEO BELOW