What is luxury? As a noun it is the state of great comfort and extravagant living, say some. But the gal is set to show that a ‘luxury’ hotel, or a luxury resort, does not always have to be about extravagance. Sometimes an element of sheer over-the-top implies luxury. See this lush curtain fabric and the amazing cord and its tie, at Emirates Palace Kempinski, Abu Dhabi. You simply want to touch it, to feel if it is real.
Taken as a whole, this place does exemplify ‘luxury’ magnificently. Look at it from outside. It is a kilometer long, which means it has to have mirror-images gyms and spas at the ends of both wings. There are 394 bedrooms, including 16 Royal Suites, but look at the facts and figures. There are 114 exterior domes, and, inside, 7,200 doors – who counted them? – and 114 elevators.
On the total-200 acres of land there is one cricket pitch, a mile of white sandy beach, a marina – and two camels. These live on the sand fairly near to the main building, and their minders were just getting up from their bed rolls on rugs in the open-sided rush-topped camel ‘hotel’ when I ran past, as the sun came up. This is the only time of the day to run, here, as it is appallingly hot by about eight.
Who stays in a hotel like this? Government delegations galore, and all their minders – and tourists, lots of Germans and Russians and people from the UK. I hope they make them pay on arrival as the interior is so confusing it could be quite easy to get lost, never to be seen again. The tourists, however, find their way to one of the many outdoor pool complexes and spend their days there, many turning different shades of tomato hue.
Once back inside, that is where the fun, and the exercise, begin. To get from my room, 2517, I can take one of those elevators, or 104 carpeted steps of a wide curving staircase down to base level, to the gardens and the gym. To get to the lobby, I quickly discovered the simplest way was down one flight of that staircase and head, left and right and through the absolutely gorgeous long marbled walkway to the Grand Atrium, centre of the whole building (this open space is 150 feet across, nearly 200 feet high).
If luxury is space, you have it here. If luxury is a gold bath filled with sweet-smelling petals in the two Anantara spas here at this luxury hotel, you can tick off two more requirements. Add to that, of course, Thai therapists who know what they are talking about. And the fact that mine got me out by my requested hour. Luxury is also time, and every five minutes saved adds to that state of great comfort.