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Thu 26 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

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Five-star rooms in dazzling Dubai

Dubai is a city where, if you can dream it, it's probably already happening.

First Class surveys the plethora of luxury rooms in Dubai - a city where, if you can dream it, it's probably already happening.

Gold dusted cappuccino, anyone?

If the Taj Mahal represents India, Big Ben symbolises London and the Opera House denotes Sydney, then the Burj Al Arab most emphatically says Dubai.

This sail-shaped hotel, built on a man-made island out at sea, has the highest atrium in the world at 180 metres, a butler dedicated to each of the 27 floors of the hotel, and a fleet of Rolls-Royces for its affluent guests.

At night, it offers an unforgettable sight with a dazzling choreographed display of light against colour sculptures of water and fire.

If you fancy some gold dust on your cappuccino (and who wouldn't?), then the Burj Al Arab is clearly your cup of coffee.

Simply place your order at Sahn Eddar, and this casual restaurant at the base of the atrium will be happy to accommodate your request.

You don't have to be a huge fan of flowers to stay at the Burj Al Arab, but it helps! Prior to a guest's arrival, the floral team - one head florist, 14 florists and three assistant florists - will arrange the guest's favorite flowers in their rooms.

Open 24 hours, seven days a week, if there's a request in the middle of the night for a specific flower arrangement the team at the flower shop will oblige and a gorgeous bouquet of fragrant roses will be at your bedside.

There are those who scoff and suggest the Burj Al Arab epitomises the gaudy excesses of Dubai, but the hotel's motto seems to be, "If you've got it, flaunt it". And this iconic hotel has certainly got it all!

At Al Mahara, the award-winning seafood restaurant, diners can order branded Burj Al Arab caviar and sumptuous cuisine, while a helicopter service allows guests to arrive and depart discreetly.

And should you need to feel as relaxed as you do pampered, the world-renowned and luxurious Assawan Spa boasts extravagant and exclusive treatments, including La Prairie Pure Gold Radiance Facial, Aromatherapy Associates Qahwa Treatment, ESPA Intensive and Restorative Facials.

Sofitel's contemporary palace

For those who clamour for a respite from Dubai's glitz and glass, The Palace - The Old Town, managed by Sofitel, indulges its passion for classical themes and Arabian tradition. Cue vaulted ceilings and oriental sculptures, shaded courtyards and terraces.

The lakeside, 242-room hotel is the centrepiece of 26-hectare The Old Town Island at Downtown Burj Dubai.

Instead of jumping on the bandwagon and building a 21st century masterpiece, Sofitel's owners opted to construct a palace portraying the ambience from the mythical ‘1001 Nights'. The entire project is designed to impart and Arabesque feel and allude to rhythms of an Arabian souk.

The ancient is juxtaposed against the modern as the property has unobstructed views of Burj Dubai, the world's tallest man-made structure.

A labyrinth of alleys and walkways take visitors to the adjacent Souq Al Bahar's shops and restaurants, and beyond to the Dubai Mall, the biggest shopping centre in the world, a new gold souk and an Olympic-size ice rink.

Any property modelled on an Arabian palace needs special attention to its food and Sofitel does not disappoint. Thiptara offers seafood with a distinctive Thai flavour; The Asado is an Argentinean restaurant where the meat is cooked "asador criollo" on an open grill, while Ewaan specialises in Mediterranean cuisine.

The 10,000 sq ft of LeSpa has an extensive menu of treatments that include hammams, jacuzzis, and massages under a Vichy shower, monsoon showers, four spa rooms, a gym, a relaxation area, a beauty salon and a hairdresser.

Meydan under starters orders

When you host the world's richest horse race - the US$6 million Dubai World Cup - it's only appropriate that it is matched with a world-class racing facility.

Welcome to Meydan City, Dubai's new home of horse racing targeted to launch in 2010 with the Dubai World Cup.

The new racecourse - a stone's throw from the current Nad Al Sheba track - will be complemented by a grandstand hotel and resort, over 10 restaurants and the relocation of Godolphin Gallery, home to the trophies captured by the Godolphin racing stable in its global campaign to race the finest thoroughbreds in the world.

A 4km canal will run from Dubai Creek to Meydan, allowing racegoers to leave the Hummer at home and take a boat to the races.

Meydan, an Arabic word meaning a place where people congregate and race, will salute local heritage by its falcon-shaped design.

Singapore-based Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts chose the Meydan development to create the first all-pool villa resort in the heart of Dubai. The golf and equestrian resort will comprise of about 60 pool villas surrounded by Banyan Tree's signature F&B facilities and a Banyan Tree Spa.

Banyan Tree Meydan will be adjacent to the Meydan Golf Course, and within a chip shot of the Meydan Racecourse.

Banyan Tree will also develop The Meydan, the world's first five-star racecourse grandstand hotel where guests will be able to relax on their hotel balcony while watching the best thoroughbred horses in the world racing for US$10 million - the prize money for the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in 2010. Plato would have loved this Atlantis

Ever since Plato first described it over 2,000 years ago, Atlantis has been the source of much speculation.

For centuries, adventurers have sought out the ruins of Plato's utopian civilisation of fabulous wealth and natural beauty. It has been placed variously near Cuba, near the Azores and in the middle of the Atlantic.

Plato's Atlantis may never be discovered but the opening of the US$1.5 billion Atlantis, The Palm later this year will give modern day explorers a sense of what excited the Greek philosopher.

Even Plato might have been hard-pressed to imagine the scale of opulence and lavish style of the 21st century Atlantis.

The first resort to open its doors on Palm Jumeirah, the 1,539-room integrated entertainment showpiece is the creation of Kerzner International Holdings, a developer of dream resorts, backed in a joint venture by Dubai Government owned, Istithmar.

It's difficult to know where to start in describing the abundant attractions awaiting visitors to Atlantis, but the restaurants would be a good bet to begin with.

Diners will surely agonise in choosing between Nobu, the creation of master chef and sushi mogul, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and partner Robert DeNiro; or two star Michelin chef Giorgio Locatelli's Italian extravaganza, Ronda Locatelli.

Still wavering on where to go for dinner? There are more choices with two star Michelin chef Michel Rostang's French Brasserie, and three star Michelin chef Santi Santamaria, who will open his first venture outside of Europe with Ossiano, a gourmet seafood restaurant.

The 17-hectare outdoor entertainment precinct at Atlantis is predictably water-themed and includes Aquaventure amusement park, fresh and salt-water pools and lagoons, an open-air marine habitat containing 65,000 marine species and long, sandy beaches.

The Lost Chambers are bound to captivate visitors with underground tunnels that provide an illusion of being beneath the sea whilst looking directly into the heart of the lost city of Atlantis.

Kempinski's Alpine retreat

In a city of spectacular, head-spinning attractions, perhaps the most bizarre offering is the sight of alpine skiers sashaying down icy slopes, just metres from a mall where shoppers are squeezing into Armani jeans or admiring Louis Vuitton bags.

Never mind that it could 40 degrees in the shade outdoors, at Ski Dubai the piste never thaws and the fun never stops.

Among the best places to enjoy a little après-ski activity are the new Ski Chalets at Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates. Spend a few minutes watching the skiers schussing down the slopes, and you could be forgiven for thinking that you had landed in Davos rather than Dubai.

The 15 luxury chalets are designed over multiple levels in one, two and three bedroom formats to recreate the ambience of Europe's famous ski resorts. There's even a fireplace to huddle around while you sip your gluhwein.

For those who prefer to spa rather than ski, the wellness spa includes an Ayurvedic Centre; beauty treatment rooms, private spa rooms attached to the spa suites, fitness centre, and infinity swimming pool with a sun deck.

Reinvigorated by snow and spa, visitors can skate around to more than 450 retail shops and entertainment facilities, a few steps away in the Mall of the Emirates.

Bawadi: Fantasyland in Dubailand

Dubai may rightfully lay claim to being the home of many of the world's grandest hotels, but the developers of the Bawadi strip are saying, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Located in Dubailand, Bawadi is the largest hospitality and leisure development in the region, a staggering project that will add over 31 luxury hotels and nearly 59,000 rooms to Dubai.At 10km, Bawadi will be the longest development strip of hotels in the world. It will include one of the world's largest hotels - Asia Asia Hotel & Resort with 6,500 rooms due to open in 2010.

The hotel projects will be developed in phases to match demand. Initially, five luxury hotels will open by 2010 with a further six to open by 2011. Seven hotels are scheduled to be completed by 2012, seven in 2013 and the final fifth phase will see six further hotels due to open in 2014.

Along with Asia, other hotels already scheduled for Bawadi include:

• The Ottoman Palace Hotel and Resort replicating the Ottoman era.

• Al Maghreb Resort and Spa (US$ 218m) will recreate the magic of Morrocco.

• America Hotels and Resorts (US$ 504m), where attractions will include New York's famous Broadway acts, and a shopping boulevard modelled on New York's 5th Avenue.

• Holly Bolly Hotel and Resort (US$ 354m), a Hollywood meets Bollywood experience hosting international film competitions, a large cinema complex, a celebrity museum that includes Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities and showbiz memorabilia retail outlets.

• Palaces Hotel and Resort (US$ 327m) inspired by palaces like the Chateaux de Versailles, Buckingham Palace and the Taj Mahal.

Armani to make his mark at Burj Dubai

When Giorgio Armani puts his mind to something, you can be certain that the end result will be supremely stylish.

Expect nothing different with the Armani Hotel to be built and managed by EMAAR Hotel & Resorts as part of the towering Burj Dubai development.

The first Armani brand hotel is expected to be opened by the first quarter of 2009 and will include 175 guest rooms and suites, five restaurants and a spa covering more than 40,000sqm.

Alongside the hotel, the Burj Dubai will include 144 Armani-designed residential apartments, fully furnished with a unique line of products from the Armani Casa home furnishings collection.

Armani residents will be able to take advantage of the lifestyle amenities within Burj Dubai including fitness facilities, four swimming pools, spa and cigar club. Located on levels 9 to 16 of Burj Dubai, the residences will have their own private elevator access.

After signing for the Dubai hotel deal, Armani said, "Today, more than ever before, fashion has expanded to encompass our way of life, not just how we dress, but where we live, which restaurants we eat at, which car we drive, where we go on holiday and which hotels we stay in."

Palazzo Versace's designs on Dubai:

When it opens its doors in 2009, the US$800 million Palazzo Versace Dubai will include all of the trademarks of Versace style and glamour.

Think of Italian marble, gold hand detail on the ceilings, Gianni Versace fashion portraits on the walls and Versace cutlery and crockery in the restaurants.

Only the second Versace-branded hotel to open anywhere in the world - the original creates a hugely stylish statement on Australia's Gold Coast - Palazzo Versace Dubai is a landmark project of the new Culture Village master development on the Dubai Creek.

The development will include 215 suites, restaurants, a spa and 204 luxury villas fully furnished with designer line of products from the Versace Home Collection.

Raffles serves up a treat

Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles achieved fame both as the founder of Singapore and as a fierce opponent of the slave trade. Today, his name is enshrined by one of Asia's leading hotel groups, which launched the Raffles brand in the Middle East last November.

Raffles Hotels & Resorts was formed in 1989 to restore and manage the world-famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The 248-room Raffles Dubai stands out from the crowd with a striking pyramidal design inspired by ancient Egyptian architecture. It is almost as tall as the original pyramids, soaring 100 metres, with a glass capstone perched at the pinnacle forming the top three levels of the hotel.

Columns intricately carved with Egyptian hieroglyphs decorate the hotel's impressive lobby, continuing the ancient Egyptian theme that inspired the hotel's pyramidal structure.

Features of the hotel include a one-hectare tropical Raffles Botanical Garden displaying over 129,000 plants, selected to depict the four elements of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water.

The four themed gardens converge on a large glass dome known as the Eye of Horus, leading to Wafi mall. According to Egyptian legend, Horus was god of the sky and the Eye of Horus was often associated with health, vitality and protection.

In fact, the symbolic guardianship of the Eye of Horus is extended to every hotel resident as the hotel's carpets are woven with the Eye of Horus, guiding every resident as they enter or leave their room.

Already winning awards is Raffles Dubai's contemporary Chinese restaurant The Noble House. Vivid red and glossy black interiors emphasise the drama of the chefs at work in the kitchen. Adding a theatrical touch to proceedings, a traditional Tea Master greets diners by performing an impressive ritual.

Noble House menu highlights include the Raffles Caviar Dim Sum, Wasabi Mayonnaise Prawn, Yuan Yang Duck and the Sautéed Australian Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper Sauce.

Introducing the Dubai Sling

Raffles Singapore originally invented the renowned Singapore Sling. Now Raffles Dubai has invented their signature drink - the Dubai Sling.

The massive doors to Raffles Ballroom bear intricate Arabesque designs, carved out of ebony and mahogany. These majestic doors took a family of artisans - a father and son from Cairo - a year to craft.

Staff in the Raffles Azur restaurant wear an equestrian uniform, complete with jodhpurs, riding boots, and short vest. The horse riding activity is based around the idea that it involves wind, one of the four elements close to Raffles Dubai.

Make mine a double

If you're in the mood to indulge in the world's most expensive cocktail, then head for the Sky View bar at the Burj Al Arab.

The cocktail named 27321 is an adaptation of "Old Fashioned" cocktail, invented in the 1880s.

The name is formulated from the hotel's statistics: the bar is located on the 27th floor and the hotel is 321 metres high, and it is also the cost of the drink in dirhams.

Only 10 of these drinks will be available and will be featured in 2009 Guinness Book of records, coinciding with 10th anniversary of Burj Al Arab.

The drink comprises of 60ml of 55-year-old Macallan; two bar spoons of bitters, specially-made for Burj Al Arab; one large sugar cube with passion fruit infusion; Macallan water ice cubes from Scotland, and the stirrer made from the oak cask where the Macallan was matured.

The exclusive drink is served in an 18 carat gold crystal glass tumbler, engraved with the Burj Al Arab logo, which the guest can retain as a souvenir, along with a certificate, to authenticate their purchase.

TrumpTowerto have private beach

Palm Trump International Hotel and Tower, located on the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah, was initially designed to be shaped like a flowering golden tulip. But the design was changed to feature a split-linked tower with an open core design. Guests staying at the 48-storey mixed-use condo-hotel and residence will have exclusive access to a private beach and yacht club.

Both Trump siblings, Donald Trump Junior and Ivanka Trump, have made several visits to Dubai to keep an eye on the progress of the development.

Madinat Jumeirah "Best in world"

Madinat Jumeirah, the Arabian Resort, received the prestigious title of "World's Leading Family Luxury Resort" at the 2007 World Travel Awards.

The Madinat Jumeirah development embraces two grand boutique hotels and clusters of traditional Arabic summer houses built around the souk, the traditional centre of Arabic life at the heart of the resort.

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