It does seem more than ever that flowers are needed to make a hotel into a luxury product, as long as they are done right. At The Lowell in New York, the Manager of the gorgeous Majorelle restaurant, Charles Masson, personally does the flowers. At The Corinthia in London, you walk in through the hotel’s working flower shop as you head for breakfast, lunch or whatever. At The Pulitzer in Amsterdam flowers just outside the main door are all for sale, sensibly held in paper bags with handles. Ritz-Carlton Montreal’s florist has moved his shop right into the hotel. And then, says the gal, of course there are always Four Seasons hotels, so many of which display floral creations that carry some kind of Jeff Leatham gene.
But Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach has flowers with completely independent DNA – they are done by the Middle East’s top floral supplier, Alissar Flowers, out of Amman, and they remind me a bit of similarly gorgeous displays at Four Seasons Hotel Amman. I suspect the overall design of the arrangements here may have something to do with the artistic flair of GM Leonardo Baiocchi, just elevated to be RVP of the brand throughout the UAE and some places beyond. He it was who had the idea of turning a rather mundane souvenir shop into a stylish boutique that is so successful it is going to be expanded. It was his idea, too, to add two more walls of flower displays. Now this stylish Italian – brought up in Kenya, where his father was Alitalia manager – wants to tweak his lobby Shai Salon restaurant’s adjacent terrace.
With Leo Baiocchi and Bob Suri, his oh-so-English resort manager, in fact the son of an Indian air force lifer, I lunched out on the terrace, under Palio-type awnings. This is the ideal place for great big, and big spend, Indian weddings, said the pair, pointing out that this is the only Dubai hotel where the ballroom opens directly to the outside (it also has just under 900 metres of beautiful beach, which helps attract families). In addition it is right next to Restaurant Village, which has added a Scalli since my last visit. Today, however, we ate simply. Chicken breast with penne turned out to be just that, a chicken breast next to a mound of pasta. You could be eating-and-drinking all day and every day here. Post-prandial coffee comes with little cookies. Afternoon tea, in the elegant Shai Salon, designed by BAMO, runs through to 11 p.m. There are special events. Last Tuesday, for Valentine’s Day, the rooftop Mercury Lounge offered a sharing menu with bubbles, rosé of course, and, unusually, as well as normal-hours weekend brunches down at ground level, Mercury Lounge, up on the sixth floor, hosts a weekly Thursday Night Brunch up there, offering a three-course Mediterranean brunch between eight and 11, p.m. of course, but remember this is Dubai. And if you still want height, you can book Mercury’s tower, at seventh floor level, for private dining up to ten people, any time.