Dubai used to be predominantly associated with a flashy, glowing and glitzy image – especially in the early 2000, very much driven by certain consumer targets oozing opulence. Striking and shining colour contrasts, crystals and golden aesthetics used to be predominantly inherently part of hotels and restaurants.
At the time it opened 20 years ago the extravagant Burj Al Arab Hotel became not only an architectural symbol of Dubai, a true icon but also it redefined luxury as being ranked as seven stars. Many of those assuming that Dubai has in a way ‘moved on’ or changed this aesthetic of opulence, were proven wrong by Kempinski which sensibly opened The Emerald Palace on The Palm, a majestic palatial building inspired by iconic European palaces and castles associated to Royalty.
Moreover, Kempinski has taken the concept further, beyond the architecture and interior design, with no less than 6 distinct luxury dining venues, all outsourced of the most diverse cuisine types, including a restaurant by world renowned French Chef Alain Ducasse. The hotel also boasts one of the largest luxury Spas in Dubai, with a spectacular indoor heated pool. Most probably to ensure the best results in Dubai’s competitive market, the entire Spa has also been outsourced to a specialised operator, while it would exclusively use French luxury natural Spa brand Cinq Mondes. Nevertheless, outsourcing also comes with the huge risk of losing control to ensure consistency at all levels, especially from a service point of view.
It took Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group more than 8 years to identify THE ideal investor / developer as well as THE best location so that the property can equally cater to both leisure and corporate guest (also ‘bleisure’), as well as attract locals and expatriates. And the newly opened property Mandarin Oriental Jumeira shows the Asian based group has not taken anything for granted and has paid very careful attention to the gaps in the market, while maintaining intact its DNA.
Although, apparently, Dubai’s luxury sector has seemingly become oversupplied in the past 5 years, with a series of new ‘five star – luxury’ openings, it also became obvious that the genuine luxury players have pretty much remained the same, no major newcomer having opened in Dubai since Bulgari Resort in 2017. There are still properties of major international luxury hotel chains with a weak positioning due to lack of extensive renovations and far too many hotels have so easily assumed a ‘luxury positioning’.
Mandarin Oriental have sensibly developed a property which enjoys an ideal location in the heart of Dubai, yet still boasting a beach positioning (natural sand) with an interior design aesthetic which is at the same time understated especially in the dining venues, Spa and outdoors but with an eye-catching wow-factor lobby which exudes sophistication and glamour. The ‘sleek’ lines of design and the finest quality of materials and finishes for which Mandarin Oriental Hotels are famous for, are predominant in every single corner of the new urban resort.
The roof-top Tasca Restaurant headed by Portuguese Michelin starred Chef José Avillez has its own pool and a comfortable and casual interior design resembling an authentic Mediterranean tavern. Netsu is a Japanese steakhouse from acclaimed chef Ross Shonhan. In keeping with Mandarin Oriental’s successful approach to dining which emphasises the ultimate quality food, the best service standards, at affordable prices.
But the biggest achievement of Mandarin Oriental Jumeira is how fast it succeeded in reaching very high standards of service throughout all departments, as well as a level of consistency which already seems to be perfectly in control. Most of the staff I encountered have shown an incredible pride to work for Mandarin Oriental. It is actually being an MO Fan both a member of the MO family (staff) and guests.
Mandarin Oriental Jumeira is CPP-LUXURY.COM’s Dubai luxury hotel of the Year 2019 !
Caesar’s Palace Dubai, the non gaming property of the Las Vegas based Caesars Group in a joint venture with one of Dubai’s premier developers (Meraas), opened a large leisure resort made up of two distinct buildings, each with a different positioning, one targeting families and the other one being the luxurious one – yet both on the manmade artificial island of Bluewaters Dubai.
The rooms and suites are among the finest in Dubai with impeccable furnishings and state-of-the-art technology. Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant is well conceived but lacking the desirability or the WOW factor to attract non-guests. The minimalist Asian style Spa is impeccably executed, yet extremely understated and basic compared to the rest of the resort which is all about catching attention, whether through giant sculptures of roof digital VR above the reception area.
There is also an outsourced lounge / club by The Cove Dubai which is slightly oddly positioned between the two buildings is the only buzzy and ‘happening’ section / venue of the entire resort. The compromises to admit children in both buildings, including The Cove pool & beach, the Palace beach and pools is a major peril for guests seeking to relax. Without the casino component and a major calibre entertainment act such as a singer (i.e. Celine or Mariah Carey) or a show such as Cirque du Soleil, the future doesn’t look very bright, at least not in the short term.
Oliver Petcu in Dubai
Separate comprehensive review articles for each hotel to follow. Watch out this space.
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