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Tue 21 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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I beg to differ

Why Atlantis, The Palm is not my cup of tea.

The hype surrounding the opening of Atlantis, The Palm, has been overwhelming.

It was one of the most hotly-anticipated openings in the history of Dubai, made even more dramatic when a blaze ripped through the lobby just days before the mega resort opened its doors.

Would it open on time? The resort's brainchild Sol Kerzner made damn sure it did.

Then came the queues to get in as visitors and locals alike could not wait to feast their eyes on this spectacle, which they had been led to believe was the best thing since sliced bread.

The crowds were so big that some were turned away and told to come back another day, while those who were fortunate enough to be checking in made the press as reportedly, the hotel's reservations system hit a glitch.

I'm a sucker for hype and so last week I took a trip to Atlantis to find out what all the fuss was about.

I admit, I was a little excited, as surely this facility would herald a new era for Dubai's burgeoning hotel and hospitality industry given the host of features and facilities it hosted?

On arrival, my first impressions were ‘yuk' - it really is quite a putrid colour pink - and why the nasty green-coloured balcony railings? It really did look like a 1908s throwback.

I reserved judgement until I stepped inside, but unfortunately, there was no improvement.

There is no easy way to say this, but it's tacky. I could have been in Las Vegas, circa 1985, sporting a snow-washed jean jacket and an obscenely bouffant perm.

This was the stuff family holidays to US 20 years ago were made of.

I enjoyed reminiscing - and how we were wowed by this gaudy spectacle, which at the time, was cutting edge - but surely the hotel industry (and its team of interior designers) have moved on since then?

I expected contemporary marine-inspired architecture and décor, not outdated murals and marble flooring in far from muted tones.

I hate to say it, but I agree with UK tabloid The Sun when it referred to Atlantis as ‘The 8th Chunder of the World'.

However, the aquarium was impressive, even if it did contain the cooped up whale shark Atlantis stole from the shores of Jumeirah.

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CT 11 years ago

Ouch! But some honesty from someone who knows what they are talking about is good! Perhaps all this pre-opening PR is not such a beneficial exercise!

Anne Elizabeth 11 years ago

From the very start Atlantis is being bombarded with bad publicity. Atlantis Palm jumeirah shouldn't open in rush...coz public knew that Atlantis is really not yet ready to the market. Please train your staff first and know the meaning what customer service is all about and make sure that all your frontliners are all equip with proper training before exposing them. Im one of your guest that so excited to be a part of your soft opening but my excitement turned into dissapointment.

leo fewtrell 11 years ago

I also found the central sculpture in Atlantis pretty non descript if you could apply that term to something resembling a tower of giant nail clippings varnished in different coloured nail laquer. Certainly original but not too attractive. Not too sure about all the fuss about the whale, after all, as the saying goes, there's plenty more fish in the sea...

Johnny M 11 years ago

There are not 'plenty more fish in the sea'. Do some basic research and you will find the depletion of fish stocks (in the Gulf as well as other parts of the world) coupled with the unmitigated abuse of some species has led to a dangerous imbalance in ocean eco-systems. I have recently seen a film that very graphically and simply showed how the pointless and quite frankly, sadistic practise of line-fishing for sharks to provide fins for Asian soup is. The film demonstrated one aspect of how arrogant man is to its natural environment and how he has no concern for the impact his actions will have on the future health of the planet. Sammy the whale shark is but a small example of a much bigger problem and responsibility has to start somewhere.

Louie Tedesco 11 years ago

One of humanity's dreams is to uncover the legend of Atlantis, the civilization lost into the sea which is alleged to have had a high culture, humanity and even technical skills now lost forever. If the Atlantis Hotel claims to represent the Legend of Lost Atlantis, I'm quite pleased the original sank into the sea. We were one of the lucky few allowed access to Atlantis on 30 September in our taxi. The hotel lobby was packed and reminiscent of a train station full of refugees sitting on their humble belongings. The multitude of soft-opening problems have been discussed and bear no repeating. We were there to visits friends from Europe who had booked Atlantis Hotel for a two weeks stay. In fairness, they found the hotel quite spectacular, including the "Finding Nemo-ish" style of cartoons painted on the ceiling near the conference centre (rather than the children's play area?). I suppose they had a different view of the Atlantis legend. Yes, we saw poor "Sammy" too, it was cruel from the first day of captivity and more so after months of swimming in circles. The poor fish must be batty by now... Restaurant bookings were mandatory, our friends had almost starved on their arrival day as they thought registered guests could just wander in for a meal. They had to take a taxi to Emirates Mall food court as no Atlantis Hotel restaurant allowed them entry without a reservation. I suppose they could have just used the house phone to book a table? But no one told them that. And so we were "in the know" and had reserved a table for seven people. Upon arriving at the restaurant, half of our party was already there yet we were given another table until we happened to see them sitting across the room. Waving "yoo-hoo" we were eventually united at one table. It went downhill from there, despite the restaurant being almost empty of customers. My main course was served while I was still eating my appetizer - yes, the staff were rearranging dishes on the table in a 5-Star hotel restaurant to try and fit my main course plate. I asked they return my main course to the kitchen and please bring it when I'm finished, which they did. But they forgot to take along my potato side dish which was strangely enough located at the far end of our table rather than at my end. And so with the appetizer finished, my main course was served again - with the side dish now almost cold. The staff was obviously very well-trained as they offered to bring me a new side dish, meaning I'd either have to eat my main course first while waiting or have it returned to kitchen yet again. These errors in proper 5-Star service prevailed at our table and I won't bore with further details. For two people, food and drinks, we paid a slightly over Dhs 1000. We've had much better food, vastly better service at much lower cost. Atlantis, your legend has now died in my heart. We won’t be going back, nor will the hotel miss our custom as the Atlantis dream continues to linger in many people whose money can be taken.

Jon 11 years ago

I was going to wait for the crowds to die down and then visit. But, given everything I have read about this place, I just don't think I'm going to bother! Service sounds a disaster and is totally overpriced. To charge top premium prices, you have to offer something different service wise. Seems you get better service at the Ibn Battuta food court.... Any comments on the waterpark?

john 11 years ago

What they are doing with wild animals is sick. I will never go there

Trojan 11 years ago

I really don't get it, why are people so excited about this place? Afterall, it is just a hotel! What good is a hotel resort if you don't have the weather, cool ocean water, and soft and grainy sand beach to go with it? Unfortunately tourism around here means sitting in hotel lobbies, people watching, gossiping, and sipping an over-prices cup of coffee. What about nature, history, and architecture?

Bony George 11 years ago

Why should Gemma and 'The Sun' cry over the color pink?? Atlantis deserves better respect.

lona 11 years ago

Your report falls short of details. Like if you admired the aqaurium,where are the comments ? You sound more like being " paid to be negative. I'm looking so forward to see it, but you did'nt leave me with any good advices !