Since it opened in December 1999, Burj Al Arab became not only an architectural landmark and a symbol for Dubai, but also a statement for the future of global luxury hospitality.
Without having conducted any major renovations since opening, I discovered an impeccably maintained luxury property abundant in the finest materials and finishes, with a very warm even cozy homey feel, in a way opposite to its early days when it would be predominantly perceived as intimidating especially because of being ranked 7 stars, the only in the world – ranking which till today does not exist and time has proven that even for the most discerning guests it is consistently high service standards, a flawlessly maintained product and exceptional dining which command a high ranking.
With Dubai’s staggering development and continuous transformation, other architectural landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa tower and tens of luxury hotels by major international luxury brands opened lavish properties in the city, from predominantly corporate hotels in business areas in and around downtown, to urban resorts on manmade islands such as The Palm or Blue Waters. Yet, still the Burj Al Arab has been succeeded in maintaining its iconic status for Dubai but also THE flagship property of Jumeirah Group, part of Dubai Holding.
While Jumeirah Group has had a few bumpy stages in its development and expansion, it seems that the Burj Al Arab would ‘silently’ be a top priority for the group, in such a way that it boasts the highest service standards and a superbly maintained product.
Basics such as soundproofing both indoor and outdoor, which exude an incredible serenity to just step back and watch the bustling skyline and shore of the city, but also ensure the ultimate relaxation and comfort, not to mention a very good night sleep. Other basics include an incredibly silent AC which switches from 20 to 25 degrees in a matter of seconds. Beds are so comfortable that mornings are tough especially when you open the automatic shades that reveal all of Dubai at your steps.
The Spa-like bathrooms feature a large whirlpool, an oversized glass enclosed shower (needless to mention the perfect water pressure) and large size amenities from Hermes from the Maison’s latest perfume line ‘Terre d’Hermes” of the finest quality – not like those major fashion brands which license their hotel amenities to one of the two large volumes producers, in most cases boasting mediocre packaging chemical / preservatives rife products so that their shelf life is up to 3 or even 4 years.
Technology has not been overlooked, from an App that allows instant communication with hotel staff, to high-speed wi-fi internet and a large Apple based SmartTv. Most suites also have a fully equipped business desk with a Mac desktop as well as printer. Curtains, shades, TV, DND and lighting moods can be controlled from one simple sleek remote control.
No matter what category or floor, views are magnetic and each time of the day makes you pause and reflect – the hotel uses a beautiful motto ‘Welcome, don’t look back’. The outdoor deck which was added a few years ago offers a stunning infinity pool, sunbathing areas and exclusive cabanas, but also a more casual restaurant for guests spending the day at leisure. As Burj Al Arab is part of Jumeirah, guests have access to all other dining facilities of the nearby Jumeirah hotels but also the entertainment water park.
Above all, since my arrival service has surpassed not only my own expectation but also standards of many similar top luxury properties around the world. It is not just consistency but it is care feeling that makes service genuine and one can feel the passion and the dedication of the staff. Whether working or staying at the Burj Al Arab is equally a privilege – but also a unique sense of pride.
Regarding the much fervent debate that the hotel’s interior design is too ‘bling’, ‘opulent’ or ‘bad taste’, well in the past 2 years the luxury fashion industry as well as the watches and jewellery sectors have been increasingly referencing ‘statement’ strong colours, sharp contrasts, crystals and gold. Even what would be considered ‘understated’ has drastically changed and a ‘mix & match’ has become a must.
The newly appointed three Michelin starred Chefs are expected to bring a wealth of novelties to the dining venues of the hotel. For the renovation which is tentatively planned for 2021, management should carefully consider where they would go for a major aesthetic transformation or maintain some of the existing elements. The public spaces, especially the lobby will probably require a complete overhaul as well as the restaurants and bars.
Visionary veteran hotelier Jose Silva who took over as CEO of Jumeirah Group less than two years ago has embarked on a revolutionary journey to transform Jumeirah Hotels into what Emirates for the airline industry. His unique approach has attracted exceptionally talented and experienced professionals and together with the ownership they seem to share a very clear path for the future, including launching a new ultra-luxury brand under the Jumeirah Group. Brand communications and social media have also been completely overhauled with lost of novelties in store.
Oliver Petcu in Dubai
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