On the road again, I tried two hotels, so you don’t have to go to the trouble or expense…
We had been to Dubai many times and had noticed a hotel off the coast (about fifty to 100 meters). Supposedly, this hotel has become the “symbol of Dubai”, much like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Bay Bridge, or the Statue of Liberty. There was not much, if any competition, because the city rose out of the desert in only a few decades.
Also, this hotel is the self-proclaimed “most luxurious hotel in the world” or the “only 7 star hotel”, but I wanted to be the judge. After staring at this building from the beach of other hotels, the temptation to discover if the claims are correct was great. In the past, the price of an entry ticket was outrageous; recently, the cost has come down, perhaps due to increase competition in the luxury category. More on the cost of a room later.
October is a good month to visit Dubai. One can escape unpleasant German weather and have relief from the change to winter time. Every day is sunny and warm, with no cloud daring to sully the experience of a vacation in the Emirates. If anyone asks why we visit Dubai so often, the reply is simple: It’s the weather, stupid.
Hotels are innumerable (basically, because who wants to count?), so choosing one is always a chore. With a hotel, basically, all you need is a bed or, maybe, a bed and a shower. Then, you can argue about the bed (size, mattress quality, pillows, sheet thread count, etc.) and the shower (size, walk-in or tub, water pressure, marble or tile, soap or designer brand gel, etc.).
Hotel room sizes vary. Unlike airplanes, where most economy seats are fairly similar, business class varies only slightly in terms of space, and first class (with the exception of US carriers) is generous to unnecessary (Ethihad), hotels rooms can vary in size radically in every class. A tiny room in luxury hotel in a European city can cost double the amount for a room twice the size in an Asian luxury hotel. (Of course, London is an exception: even the good hotels cost too much, offer small rooms, and have poor plumbing.) In Dubai, superlatives are easily over-worked and become cliche. Each luxury chain attempts to out-do the other. Hotel restaurants are under intense pressure to compete, because they also serve non-staying guests. Statistics claim that people eat out an average of 12 times per week!
The Burj al Arab is a truly exceptional hotel. First of all the architecture, design, and furnishings are outstanding and unique. The island location reminds of a medieval fortress, surrounded by a moat. At the land end of the bridge, all cars are stopped and the identity of the occupants checked. If your name is on the list, the car is permitted to proceed to the security barrier, not unlike approaching a US consulate in Afghanistan: a heavy metal barrier descends into the ground to permit passage. The car drives over the bridge, slowed by speed bumps (irritating and ridiculous for such a short stretch used only by limousines.) Because space is limited, the area in front of the entrance is small and suffers in comparison to other hotels, especially sister hotels next door at Madinat.
If one takes the cost per square meter, a room (there are only one or two bedroom suites), could be the best value-for-money of any luxury hotel. Each suite spreads over two floors, with a marble stairway leading to the bedroom, bath, and changing room. There is a bathroom on each floor, enough furniture to furnish a small house, eight (8) telephones, an iMac, a printer, and so on. Each suite has 24-hour butler service, which sounds extravagant but quickly becomes rather helpful. The amenities outshine any other luxury hotel, if for only the size. Instead of the tiny plastic bottle of generic shampoo and gel, there are large bottles of man and woman shampoo, gel, (and conditioner) from Hermes.
At the sink are also Hermes perfume and cream for her and Hermes after shave, deodorant, and hand cream form him. And, of course, full size bottles, like those on sale in duty free. These are, of course, unnecessary, but help to explain the cost of the room.
The bed is fine and a “pillow menu” is offered; I even found one I liked. I could go one listing the amenities, which surely add to the cost, but a blog has only so much space.
One could argue that so much space and luxury are unnecessary, but they all go to explain the cost. Service is included, so one is not constantly pressured into handing out cash (as in some countries I could mention!). Either you take this size or none. There is no economy class in the Burj al Arab. And, like first class in an airplane, all you’re really paying for is space.
All furnishing are plush, although one could argue about the colors. They fit to an Arab hotel, but might be out of place in London or New York, where black, white, and grey are considered “cool”.
Views are spectacular, service at the top of the scale, and food excellent (if slightly expensive). One is paying for the ambience, service, and quality, so I do not complain. It was worth the try, and we might return. When one considers what one receives, the cost is not unreasonable compared to that of a double room in a luxury hotel in a many city or resort. We stayed only three nights, because we wanted to try a second hotel… Views are spectacular, service at the top of the scale, and food excellent (if slightly expensive). One is paying for the ambience, service, and quality, so I do not complain. It was worth the try, and we might return. When one considers what one receives, the cost is not unreasonable compared to that of a double room in a luxury hotel in a many city or resort. We stayed only three nights, because we wanted to try a second hotel…
Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain -- and most fools do.
Especially the Fool on the Hill…
Two words have lost their meaning, especially when placed together: reality and star.
This came to mind, when I noticed a headline announcing the presence in Dubai of one of those dizzy broads with k name. Should anyone care?
Little in this world is more absurd than “reality television” and the people that call themselves “stars”. Who are these people?
Unfortunately, this is a sad commentary on human life and on the people that watch such trash. Their lives must be truly poor.
Most absurd headline of the day (…or ever!) as seen in the Daily Mail:
Charles and Camilla become most senior royal members
to visit Colombia as they tackle drugs trade and violence on women
As if anyone anywhere is interested in his or her opinion. Everyone (except the English) are aware that these people are worthless. I do not know why anyone in a position of authority even wastes time meeting them. The British government must spend money to help them feel significant.
I started to think some more about the John Gray piece, posted the other day. He proves that evil is a fact of humanity and that no amount of liberal wishful thinking will make it go away.
I thought of additional proof, beyond the carnage in the Middle East. The prevalence of evil in human life must explain the spread of greed in the United States. A country that touts being Christian and providing equal opportunity is growing increasingly oppressive and unfair. The rich—for many, evil people—continue to thrive, while those at the bottom—a browning number—must make do with less and less. Don’t believe someone so simple-minded as yours truly, then read the following:
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.