By Isabel Tapp, Founder of Luxury Communications Council GCC Chapter
The UAE is home to some of the world’s most opulent hotels. From the newly opened Atlantis The Royal to the iconic Burj Al Arab, the country offers unparalleled luxury when it comes to hospitality, always pushing both architectural and hospitality boundaries.
With the tallest tower in the world, stunning deserts, year-round sunshine and glitzy resorts, it’s also a major tourist hotspot. But why is it a hotspot? Why are there so many insane luxury resorts in the Emirates?
With a shelf life on its oil reserves, the country’s leadership made the strategic decision to diversify its income with tourism being highlighted as one of the most important sectors to the growing economy.
The increased focus on tourism has been largely underpinned by the explosive growth of Emirates Airlines. At its inception in 1985, the airline had just two aircrafts. Today, Emirates is an aviation giant with the largest A380 fleet in the skies. Dubai has also become a major international hub, regularly ranking as one of the busiest airports in the world, linking east and west, and creating an obvious and enjoyable stopover in east – west long haul travel.
The airline essentially unlocked the UAE to the rest of the world, allowing Dubai and Abu Dhabi to carve out a reputation as luxury tourism destinations where the sky is the limit for extravagant, mega resorts. Below are some iconic hotels which helped put the country on the map.
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai
One of the most iconic buildings in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab cemented Dubai’s position as a destination for opulence and luxury. Famed for its sail-shaped architecture, it is the world’s first hotel built on a manmade island and, when opened, gained a global reputation as the world’s first 7-star hotel. With interiors gilded with 24-carat gold, more than 24,000 square meters of Statuario marble used throughout the property, the largest Swarovksi crystal ceiling and six in-house florists to maintain floral arrangements, it’s easy to understand why this property made waves when it first opened in 1999.
Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai
As you step into the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, you know you’ve arrived at a truly special resort. Walking through the glowing trees illuminating the marble floor, through to the pristine oceanfront of the Arabian Gulf, the property is pure luxury. The 256-room resort is the go-to venue for wealthy Emiratis as well as visiting business travellers and tourists alike, and loved by locals for its faultless restaurants. From One Micheline Star Portuguese Restaurant Tasca with the most stunning views over the ocean and across the Dubai skyline to Japanese steakhouse Netsu, the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira is home to some of the city’s most exclusive dining experiences.
Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
Located on 1.3km of private beach, the Emirates Palace is the epitome of Arabian hospitality. The luxury five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi is an Arabian Palace with its enchanting gardens, 114 luminous domes, fountains and of course, a plethora of excellent restaurants. The landmark blends Arabian and Andalusian influences with long hallways, high ceilings decorated with inlays of gold and hints of mother-of-pearl and crystals: a true masterpiece.
Atlantis The Royal
The newest kid on the block made huge waves this January when it launched with a star-studded extravaganza. Unveiled with an inaugural performance by none other than Beyoncé – her first live show since 2018 – the ultra-luxury resort hosted thousands of celebrities and special guests for a memorable weekend. Between its striking design, spectacular infinity pool, stunning views and fine dining establishments including Nobu by the Beach, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Jaleo by José Andrés, it’s no wonder the resort is pitted to completely redefine luxury.