The number of really ace fitness clubs is limited to the gal’s fingers and toes – in Dubai, you find them at Jumeirah Emirates Towers (see above) and Jumeirah Beach Club; in Muscat, The Chedi’s facilities are sensational, so are many W Hotels worldwide, and do not forget Four Seasons in Miami or San Francisco, and Ritz-Carlton in Boston. One extra for those staying at the luxury Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel, Dubai, are the sensational views you get going up and down in the hotel’s glass-sided elevators, enroute to the Talise fitness in the office tower connected to the rear of the hotel. This facility, by the way, opens at 5.30 am, which is just about OK for the globally fit, although 24/7 is, of course, miles better.
I ate so well throughout my return to this friendly, well-run hotel. As always, the all-day Mundo shows what a really good buffet should be able to produce, with clear and wide customer walkways, several cook stations and a wide variety of cuisines. At lunch, with my inspirational Dubai-based friend Doris Greif, I really adored the Italian dairy antipasti section, with plenty of just-in, from Italy of course, bocconcini, burrata and mozzarella varieties (including the baby mozzarella affumicata balls), and a selection of olive oils to go with them. I was tempted to go on to sashimi and sushi selections but that would have been too much so chef Shawn Watson simply brought a just-grilled seabass fillet. Simplicity in food is the name of the game for the continuous international traveller.
My favourite dinner venue at Jumeirah Emirates Towers is the hotel-run Rib Room, where my named Laguiole knife had already been brought out of its storage case. The hotel’s big-boss, Mahmoud Sakr, was sadly in Cairo so I had a most entertaining evening with his deputy, Zeki Ozal, who educated me on his time at the amazing Darüssafaka boarding school back in Istanbul. Darüssafaka was founded 1863 for orphans, originally with the aim of providing skilled craftsmen for the Grand Bazaar (the school itself was planned by Ohannes Balyan, chief architect of the Dolmabahçe Palace). Today, funded by private philanthropists, it continues to provide housing, and full schooling, for 954 young girls and boys. Looking back, says Zeki Ozal, it educated him perfectly, and has provided him with an ongoing network of A-list Turkish success stories around the world (he himself had been doing holiday jobs in a sweet shop from the age of six so, after a compulsory spell in pre-Erdogan military, hospitality was a natural career choice, even though he once wanted to be a professional guitarist).
So it was a Rib Room salad, with lots of herbs, followed by a Queensland grain-fed ribye, with a glass of E. Guigal 2012 Côtes du Rhône, and then my knife was cleaned and put back in storage for my next visit to this luxury hotel. In the morning, after opening up that gym, I could have had the copious buffet back in Mundo, or a quick coffee-and-muffin to-go from the lobby kiosk…. in fact it was an excellent opportunity to see the enhanced club lounge, up on the 42nd floor. I therefore soared up from my favourite rear-corner suite, #3301, overlooking Sheikh Mohammed’s horseriding stables and practice ground. The club lounge offers, as any such lounge should, a peaceful oasis away from the hubbub that is always the main breakfast restaurant of such a busy hotel as this. NOW SEE MY VIDEO OF MUNDO