13 April 2006

The only 7 star hotel in the world

When we meet new people overseas and they learn that we live in Dubai, we get one of 3 reactions.
1. They don’t know where it is, or;
2. They say, "Oh yeah - the US ports deal." or;
They say, “Is that where the amazing hotel shaped like a sail is located?”

The Burj Al Arab hotel is a very distinctive landmark on Jumeirah Beach. You know when you've acclimatised into Dubai life when you stop looking for it from Sheikh Zayed Road!

Built on its man-made island, the 321m building (the Eiffel Tower in Paris is only 300m) is deceptive in appearance as there’s really no other building around it to give it scale. At present, it’s the second tallest building in Dubai aft
er the 355m Emirates’ Office Tower.

The closest building in proximity to the BAA is the 26-storey 104m Jumeirah Beach Hotel (JBH), and this amazing piece of architecture, (we actually think that it’s technically more brilliant than the Burj Al Arab), looks insignificant next to the white towering sail.

The curved front of the Burj is covered in canvas. At night, the hotel is usually lit up by colourful lights shining on the canvas, and which change colour every few minutes. Every hour or so, a little light show takes place. As well as the coloured floodlights, 4 towers outside the front entrance shoot gas-powered flames high into the air, and rows of white lights race up and down the outer frame. The JBH responds with a show of its own.

Inside the Burj Al Arab, the 3-sided structure is hollow, with the sail taking up one side, and the suites built around the 2 other outer edges of the building. Every hour, the central indoor fountain shoots a spurt of water high up into the air. To the sides of the 2 escalators that transport people to and from the main floor of the hotel, there are 2 HUGE saltwater aquariums.

There is an abundance of gold plating, chandeliers and wealth. It’s all very civilised, although we've recently noticed that with the package tours (special 7 night deals giving nights in the JBH, Burj and Bab al Shams hotels), being offered by the hotels’ parent company Jumeirah, there is now a more “Tommy Tourist” class of guest, instead of it being only for wealthy businessmen and people who look as if they were born rich.

The 2 outer elevators located at the back corner quickly rise to the Al Muntaha restaurant and bar on what is officially known as the 27th floor, but in reality is more like the 60th floor.

The décor at the top is amazing – a cross between a 70s disco and the movie “Tron”. The view is spectacular – the Jumeirah Palm and the World are visible on less hazy days, as is the financial district with the distinctive Emirates Towers. Directly below your feet, you can see the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the marina.

Yes, the round huge helipad at the top is where Tiger Woods hit golf balls into the Arabian Gulf, and where Roger Federer and André Agassi played exhibition tennis. All in the name of promotion, and it worked. Just about everyone we talk to overseas has seen TV coverage or still photos of these events, or the Emirates Airlines' ad where the elderly woman is being taken for a helicopter ride from the helipad.

What about the 7 stars? They are self-awarded. Yet another Dubai publicity machine creation, and one star for each of the 7 emirates that make up the UAE!


Dubai Sunshine said...

We once got to stay in a suite at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel for a weekend, and it was incredible. One of the nicest hotel rooms I have ever seen (granted, I have not seen that many hotel rooms, but still, it was amazing).

I personaly find the JBH much nicer than Burj al Arab. It's classier, less stiff, less golden, and more hip. We once had a function at one of the ballrooms at BAA, and I thought it was really ugly.

But still, it's an amazing piece of architecture, and your pictures, as always, are stunning.

nzm said...

Hey DS - so how was JK and the band? Are there any concerts that you don't go to?!

JBH is our favourite too.

When J moved here about 3 years ago, the Iraq war had just started. The hotels were screaming for guests and she was VERY LUCKY to score herself a great deal at the JBH. So she happily lived there on and off (in between her globetrotting) for about 18 months! Can you believe that! It was actually cheaper than setting up an apartment.

Then the management changed, they started to get greedy. JBH had 3 longterm guests like J and they kicked them out by tripling the room rates on them. That's about the time that I moved to Dubai, so we got an apartment.

Our company had a corporate room rate at the JBH, but that's now a thing of the past, as they want about 1700dirhams per night from their corporate customers! And in the meantime, we're seeing 7 night stays at the JBH PLUS airfares being advertised in Germany for about EUR2,000.

If that's how they treat their frequent corporate guests, then I doubt that they have many left!

Shazza said...

JBH is also my favorite! although between my first stay and my last stay you could see that they're also increasingly banking on quantity instead of quality, but it still beats most hotels I've been at. Funny enough I met a British ballet dancer the other day in Berlin who now and then performs in Dubai...at the JBH! She too was totally enthusiatic and said it's the nicest place for her to work because of the atmosphere, and this lady has toured the world. I enjoy the diversty there and the service guys at the beach always made my day with their friendly chats. Unfortunately more and more poeple stay there who think they can play master and slave.... it's a sad sight!!! But I guess you get that everywhere in the world, when tourists think their money makes them more important than others.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
black feline said...

sorry...bf here.love it...the surreal feel to it..even if u are taking bus number 8 or 8a in the evening...u can feel the vibe when u pass it by..i don't travel by this mode often...scary experience over the weekends...

archer14 said...

nzm, do you have any pics of the disco? I'm a huge fan of Tron..

nzm said...

Archer - no, I don't, I've never felt the need to take them when up there.

But I will the next time - just for you!

BTW - it's not a disco - it just looks like it! It's actually a high-price bar and restaurant that are lost in the 70s decor.

archer14 said...

Hey thanks! I hope it'll be like this!

A said...

Wow, that is amazing! I have to say that my first exposure to the hotel was indeed thanks to Tiger Woods' publicity shoot. On a side note, Tiger won the 2006 Dubai Desert Classic that came with a 400k victory payday. He was paid an appearance fee of $3 million. Everything seems to be larger than life in the UAE.

nzm said...

Black Feline - yes, the building has an incredible energy, and it's not just because of its size. You'll have to blog about your bus experience!

Archer - lol. Not quite, but it does have some green panelling, bright primary coloured lights, and a tunnel that looks like it's lined with circuit boards!

AofA - welcome to our blog, I'm an avid fan of yours! We could watch the Desert Classic from our office windows and it was exciting to watch Tiger and Ernie playoff for the victory. I'd turn up for US$3mill too - hell, they could have me play for US$1mill and save themselves some money!

BuJ said...

coool blog :)
always liked the pics here...

anyway thanks for advertising my hotel... yes dear readers.. i am the rich sheikh owner of the burj... the one and only Buj Al Arab :)

sarcastically-speaking of course...

nzm said...

thanks Buj!

I don't think that you were being sarcastic, it's more like wishful thinking!?


archer14 said...

yeah, the pics are well shot...Btw, since you watermark these images, how do you get easy access there? I take it that you work there?
And regarding the first pic, don't you have to be on a boat or something to get that? Or on the wild wadi?

Seabee said...

As you say, the 7 stars are self-awarded - there's no such classification of course. What's interesting is that when others have tried it they've been howled down. Dubai does it and it's believed & accepted.
The world seems ready to believe anything about Dubai...

nzm said...

Archer - no, don't work there. The exterior shots were taken from the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

The interior shots were taken when we visited the BAA.

Seabee - maybe it's an indication that Dubai isn't being taken seriously by the rest of the world. It's really like Las Vegas in that sense. In LV, nothing seems real, so nothing is taken seriously. It could be that Dubai is headed down that road too.

Even down to the fact that off the Golden Mile, LV is a city like any other - with real people and real problems like poverty, unemployment, labour issues, racism etc. Sound familiar?

BuJ said...

BAA = british aviation authority.. they own heathrow etc... one of the biggest companies in the UK.. though their airports their planes have seen more than seven stars :)

anyway i guess it can also refer to my official residence :))

i don't know who has the authority to give hotels their stars but i'm sure it's nothing international.. i bet you the europeans have their own thang.. and the yanks have it differently etc.. but with the burj i can assure you that it's more luxurious than any hotel i've been to or heard about..

true there's a bit of arrogance with 7 stars, but they have backed up the claim well...

Anonymous said...

nice shots nzm, my first to get a look of what the Arab's tower looks like inside. :D