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Tue 4 Oct 2016 09:07 AM

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Review: The Burj Al Arab's North Deck

Already one of the UAE's most renowned landmarks, the Burj Al Arab has a dramatic new addition - The North Deck.

Review: The Burj Al Arab's North Deck

Already one of the UAE's most renowned landmarks, the Burj Al Arab has a dramatic new addition - The North Deck.

Built on an artificial island with architecture designed to resemble the sail of a dhow ship, the Burj Al Arab has become an emblem for the city. It has represented the Emirate since it opened in late 1999, and since has become a landmark both locally and around the world.

This year sees the biggest addition in the Burj Al Arab's 17-year history. The North Deck is a 10,000-square-metre outdoor space that spreads out - like a fan - from the hotel's base, extending almost 100-metres into the Arabian Gulf.

But is it a meaningful addition to the self-styled 'world's most luxurious hotel'? Or simply a way to compete with the throngs of new five-star properties that have opened since?

The Burj Al Arab is already deceptively large. It is home to 202 duplex suites, the smallest of which measures a whopping 1,829-square feet. The bold colour scheme – expect patterned carpets in bright hues, and more gold leaf than you can shake a diamond-encrusted stick at – might not be to every guest's tastes, but it's certainly lavish, to say the least.

Even the hotel's grand atrium, which slopes like the hull of a giant ship, is awe-inducing - the gawping guests standing mouths agape in the hotel lobby are testament to that.

Each floor of the Burj Al Arab has a desk for your private butler. Indeed, it would be a challenge to walk anywhere in the hotel without running into a member of staff – the property boasts 1,600 of them, meaning there is a staff-to-suite ratio of eight to one.

Perhaps those staff are required, however, to run the vast number of facilities the hotel has to offer. The hotel has its own helipad attached to the roof, six swimming pools (two indoor pools on the 18th floor, including a separate one for women, two outdoor pools and two more on the new terrace), its own Talise spa and ten restaurants.

Suites are a mixture of plush chairs and sofas, marble floors, a golden staircase and thick wooden doors. There's even a mirror over the bed - fun for some, slightly disconcerting for others. Each room has a fully-sized iMac, and you can borrow a gold-plated iPad at the push of your butler button. Bathrooms come fully-loaded with whirlpool baths and Hermes toiletries, the full-sized kind – no travel miniatures here.

The Burj Al Arab is certainly fully-loaded for the luxury traveller, but that's nothing new. What does the North Deck add to the experience? Quite a lot, actually. The terrace is made of steel and weighs about 5,000 tonnes (it was constructed in Finland and then transported in six separate sections to Dubai). The massive platform has room for two curved swimming pools (one salt water, one fresh water), 32 cabanas and a new restaurant, Scape.

Whereas before, guests might be tempted to make use of the Burj Al Arab's sister properties – like the Jumeirah Beach Hotel – for a larger beach/pool experience, that is no longer necessary.

Both pools are perfectly sized, the service exquisite (right down to the complementary coolers complete with chilled water and cold towels) and cabanas more like miniature hotel rooms than poolside shelters (VIP Cabanas come with air-conditioning, minibar service, a flat screen television and their own private dining area out the back).

The Burj Al Arab was never in any danger of losing its lustre among luxury travellers, the stunning façade and extraordinary approach to luxury ensure that. However, the North Deck does go a long way towards reasserting the Burj Al Arab as one of the best hotels in the region, not to mention the rest of the world.