Jumeirah Al Qasr is, as its name implies, ‘a palace’. You can see the faces of first-time arrivals light up when they are driven up the slight incline to the main entrance of this luxury hotel. You pass 21 lifesize gold-covered cast-iron bucking horses, and being Dubai the gold is probably at least 18 carat. At the door you are ushered in to a blue and white marbled lobby, three floors high. It is opulent, polished and actually, thanks to big flower displays and smiling staff, not as cold as some real palaces might be. One of the first things the gal always does here as, is her habit when travelling, head for her room, and look out at the view. Here, the view is down over extensive gardens with pools and real working canals, and the beach, and out to sea.
I was welcomed by two friends from Jumeirah, communications supremo Vicki Morley and Pinar Kartal Timer, the GM of this 292-room hotel and also Dar Al Masyaf, an adjacent collection of 29 two-floor individual ‘sheikhs’ houses’, all with at least ten bedrooms around central courtyards. When I last saw Pinar she was GM of the historic Pera Palace in Istanbul, which apparently still attracts Agatha Christie aficionados and those travellers who think old-fashioned televisions are rather quaint (and they will put up with the absence of Jumeirah management, in fact of any brand at all, and, equally important, they will tolerate that hotel without Pinar Kartal Timer running it, but Istanbul’s loss is Dubai’s gain).
As always, Jumeirah Al Qasr was busy, with a splendid lot of overseas visitors who seem to come regularly, stay for at least a week, and in many cases enjoy speaking to some of the staff in their own languages. There is lots for kids to do, and I love the children’s section in the buffet breakfast – see the image above. There was also more than a lot for anyone in the travel industry to do while I was there. I coincided, in fact deliberately, with the annual Arabian Travel Market and though the show itself was confusing once you found where you wanted to be you could stay put. I certainly ran into many GMs from around the world there.
Back at Jumeirah Al Qasr I revelled in the terraces that went with suite 701. I loved the really great gym, reached via the enormous and impressive soukh. And dinner in the hotel’s Hide Meatery & Bar was sensational. Chef James Niesen seems to like what he calls a manwich, a sandwich filled with brisket, gooey Cheddar, fried eggs, but fortunately his Meat Locker menu included dry-aged John Stone beef, and his onion rings were truly memorable, particularly with a Coravin glass of Antinori Tignanello. A jolly good evening was had, with another Jumeirah friend, Sven Weidenhaupt, and his wife Michelle, and then, back up in my suite at this luxury hotel, I made a video of the Burj al Arab at night. AND NOW SEE MY SUITE, THE VIEW AT NIGHT, AND BREAKFAST