Karim Bizid is such an enthusiast he is, well, bursting for breath when it comes to sharing his passion for luxury hotels. He must have been showing off this pride, in one of Dubai’s most respected luxury hotels, when legendary hotelier M.P.S. (Biki) Oberoi had one of his famous revelations. Come and work for ME, said the Indian to the Tunisian. I am opening up a hotel here. After an initial introduction to Oberoi hotels back in India, Karim Bizid said yes. The gal went to see the result.
Well we all know what Oberoi is renowned for, sleek design and stunningly well-trained staff, and great food and drinks. This is now all found in The Oberoi Dubai, in the Business Bay area of town. You also have the elements of fun that I associate with other Oberois, like the Dinky Menon naked bronzes in the presidential suites of the Delhi downtown and Mumbai hotels. I coincided with the Oberoi travel buyer party at Arabian Travel Market ATM. Chef Dirk Haltenhof showed some of the molecular treats that his team were offering guests, and somehow he managed to blow steam out. Do not ask me how he did it.
My room here, 2401, assumed I would have time to kill. The office has masses of good paperbacks, say J.M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K, and T.J. Stiles’ The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Goodness gracious, there was only just time to plunge into my pool, on my 24th floor inside-outside balcony. I blessed the fact that the ‘office kit’ came with a decent pair of scissors, which should be mandatory for all luxury hotels, and I loved that office kit being presented in a red-stitched, black leather box, which matched containers for other things in the office, and bedroom and dining room and bathroom. Did I say ‘room’? Sorry, I meant suite, all 2,400 sq ft of it.
I had an amazing view. This is the Business Bay area of town, along Sheikh Zayed Road where so many other great hotels are situated. I can certainly see water (hence Bay) and well, the whole of Dubai is Business. Even since my last visit, exactly a year ago, the pace of business has quickened. Knowing that Dubai will be hosting a World Expo in 2020 has galvanized everyone, led by that endurance rider HH Sheikh Mohammed, into a gallop. 2020 is the goal, with 25 million expo visitors expected in the space of six months. By then, too, the aim is to double the current annual tourist rate to 20 million, and of course the airport, and Dubai’s now super ground transport, will cope.
This place operates 24/7. This hotel does too. The spa never sleeps, as I found out as I had my feet pampered before my six o’clock facial. Yes, you read that right. I did not exactly start the day that way (I had, of course, already been in the excellent Technogym) but at six that morning the charming Indian therapist was all ready to give me a new face, or attempt to do some good to the existing one. While I slept my way through the proceedings I dreamed I would have time for the daily yoga session at six, p.m. No way, sadly. I would be gone. I thought back to our rolling dinner last night, which started with a metre-long platter of sashimi and sushi in the Pan-Asian restaurant, Umai, and continued to an Indian thali platter in Ananta.
Apparently the above-mentioned legendary hotelier telephones at least once a day to check all is well. Enthused by my new face, I made my way to breakfast, in nine7one, indoors, or outdoors, on sunflower yellow cushions by a decorative pool inset with flowering frangipane trees. A woman in a royal blue sari gently swished me to my seat, a man in the Oberoi server gear of neck-collar white shirt and long white apron brought coffee, and everything else I wanted. I wished it was not too early to try a glass of the sparkling sake I had spied in Umai (Junmai by Gekkeikan) but meetings awaited, and the WiFi-enabled BMW-7 series swished me away, from this gorgeous luxury hotel.