Variety

Arabian magic

Rasheeda Bhagat | Updated on April 12, 2011 Published on April 07, 2011

The Palm entrance

The Palm

Palm bed

It is the yummiest croissant in the world, made with, what else, French butter. The evening drink at the 101 Marina Restaurant — the chic, over-water bar and lounge emanating an exclusive island ambience as the sun goes down over the Persian Gulf and the breeze whistles through palms swaying on the white sands of the beach — is perfect. And the temperature at the sprawling, idyllic swimming pool is always maintained at 28 degree Celsius.

This should suffice for a great holiday, at least for me. But there are more bonuses at the spanking new resort of One&Only The Palm, in Dubai, which opened its regal doors to guests last November. Such as the pampering in the 100-sq-metre suite with a glorious view of Dubai's skyline and the shimmering waters of the Persian Gulf. Where the rich warm décor of finely woven fabrics, ornamental glasswork, intricately carved wooden patterns and furnishings, and shiny floors with the finest inlaid marble from Italy and Spain, seduced the senses. Where the service was attentive and yet discreet, where a restaurant such as Stay by Yannick Alleno pampered the palate to the hilt. Not the least of this pampering was being served delectable desserts by the metre! More of that in the restaurant's review later.

The architecture and décor recreates the old Arabian magic; the exterior has both Moorish and Spanish (particularly Andalusian) influence. Having visited the Alhambra in Granada, Spain — considered a masterpiece of Islamic architecture — the attempt to replicate the magic of that region is evident with the use of deep earth tones, the brown, arched entrances, rugged finish and the magnificent landscaping embellishing this property.

The impeccably furnished rooms are charmingly arranged in a manor house and six mansions to give guests a feel of privacy and exclusivity. Nine of the suites have private pools, the rooms on the ground floor have direct beach access, the suites have an area of 100-130 sq metres and the Grand Palm Suite is a huge 250 sq metres.

As spring in Dubai turns into summer, the luxury holidaymakers are getting the best of the balmy weather and sunshine, and The Palm, located on the west crescent of the Palm Jumeira (the artificial archipelago reclaimed from the water), is packed to capacity.

Most of the guests are from Europe, and they find specially inviting the king-size beds around the pool area where they can stretch out with a book, a beer, bask in the sun, daydream or simply snooze.

Spectacular, elegant

This latest offering from the One&Only chain — with all 90 rooms, suites and four exclusive villas having a sea view — is as majestic and spectacular as it is elegant and classy. Spelling out its unique features, Michael Payne, General Manager of One&Only The Palm, says: “We are different in size, design and concept. In Dubai's five-star segment, a hotel of only 90 keys and four villas sets us apart. Our location enables us to have our own private marina and offer an exclusive water shuttle transfer service to our sister property Royal Mirage in 6 to 8 minutes.”

The main lobby is done in white and beige, silver and brown enhancing the elegance and class only such muted colours can bring to any décor. After spending a night at the tranquil environs of The Residence and Spa, one of the three properties that form the One&Only Royal Mirage complex, I took the private shuttle and found that along with the boat, the entire jetty is exclusive too!

Whether in the rooms, the well-manicured lawns, the pool area — where luxurious, fully furnished cabanas, complete with a bar, are available for hire — or the numerous sit-outs that have been created in various nooks, corners and turnings of this resort, or at the three restaurants — Zest, the all-day diner, Stay and 101— the service is impeccable. The attempt, points out Payne, is to create “a residential feel. Here we don't check-in or check-out anybody; we welcome people back to the hotel.”

Welcome back!

He's not exaggerating about “welcoming people back”; the One&Only chain prides itself on its repeat guests, and there can't be a bigger compliment for this property than hosting several “return guests” within four months of its existence. “It's the passion, care and extreme hard work of the entire team that has paid off,” he says.

The price tag of a premier room in peak season is AED 3,000-4,000 (one AED is about Rs 12.2), a junior suite AED 6,000-7,000 and executive suites start at AED 8,000. Set amidst ponds, fountains and open courtyards, the Spa here offers various therapies with ESPA products in individual suites with private outdoor gardens. A beauty salon featuring a Pedi-Manicure studio by the globally celebrated podiatrist Bastien Gonzalez and an Alexandre Zouari hair salon are also available to pamper guests.

Couples who can afford the ultimate in traditional Arabian style pampering can book the exclusive couple suite that offers, along with luxury and privacy, a double scrub room and shower, separate treatment beds and baths, and a tranquil relaxation area. The Spa is so popular among both hotel guests and locals that often it's a struggle for Payne's team to accommodate all requests.

For me the unique takeaway from this haven of luxury was pastry served by the metre. One is still paying for this sin through sweaty sessions in the gym, which, unfortunately, are yet to yield the tiniest of results.

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Published on April 07, 2011
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