When the Burj Al Arab opened in December 1999 – after five years of construction - it was labelled the “most luxurious hotel in the world”. Two decades later, it arguably still lives up to this accolade.
Located on a manmade island - a quarter of a kilometre from Jumeirah Beach – the Burj Al Arab dominates the surrounding landscape. The third tallest sole-use hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab features just 202 suites – each with a private butler, the Talise Spa, fitness centre, an indoor infinity swimming pool, a private beach, nine restaurants & bars, a helipad, and access to all the other facilities provided by the other nearby Jumeriah resorts.
Dubai has become one of the most visited luxury travel destinations in the world and boasts over five hundred hotels & resorts. Back in 1993, there were just one hundred and sixty-three. With almost year-round fine weather, stunning sand-rich beaches, duty-free shopping, and easy access by air from anywhere in the world, Dubai has become a mecca for affluent travellers who expect the best, and “luxury” is in plentiful supply.
The Burj is the jewel in Dubai’s hospitality crown. It is one of the most photographed hotels in the world and its iconic look – that of a ship’s sail – is Dubai’s “passport photograph”.
The reclaimed island on which the Burj Al Arab sits is connected to the mainland by a bridge. It is guarded at all times to ensure that only guests have free access to the hotel.
The Burj Al Arab is close to the fantastic Wild Wadi Waterpark and just a 20-minute drive from the Burj Khalifa, at 828 metres (2716.5 feet) in height, the tallest building in the world. To the north of the hotel – by boat – you would arrive at The World Islands – reclaimed private islands built to the shape of countries and to the west, by car or boat - the Palm Jumeriah – more amazing manmade islands which are home to luxury hotels and private residences.
The hotel is 45 kilometres (28 miles) from Dubai International Airport. The Burj Burj Al Arab boasts a fleet of white chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantoms to pick up & drop guests at the airport but for those wishing to arrive in real style, guests can make use of the hotel’s helipad which sits 210 metres (689 feet) from the ground on a purpose-built platform (by arrangement, of course).
The Burj Al Arab – which translates as Tower of the Arabs – stands at 321 metres (1053 feet) - making it the tallest all-suite hotel in the world.The hotel itself has 56 floors (with three below ground level). Every suite is a duplex – with the bedroom and living areas on separate floors. Guests can choose the number of bedrooms they need, the views, whether to have a dining room with a table that seats eight, a private kitchen or even a games room with full-sized snooker table – all options are available, every whim is catered to.
The “entry level” one-bedroom deluxe suite has two levels; downstairs is the dining area & living room, and a grand spiral staircase leads up to a bedroom, dressing room and bathroom. Each suite offers a butler service to ensure that the guest experience is faultless. Also, there are 17 types of pillow on offer – from memory foam to down and from hard to soft, Hermès products in the bathrooms, a full size jacuzzi bath, separate showers, and wonderful vistas of either the city or the Arabian Gulf.
The Royal Suite is renowned for being one of the most decadent hotel suites in the world. From a rotating canopy bed, to a gold & marble staircase, this suite has it all. Mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice, Rolls-Royce transfers to the airport and a private butler on hand to tend to your every whim, the Royal suite caters for the most affluent of guests.
One-bedroom suite sizes start at an enormous 169 sq. metres (1820 sq. feet) up to an eye-watering 780 sq. metres (8400 sq. feet) for the Royal Suite.
Whether you arrive by helicopter, Rolls-Royce or in a rented Lamborghini, the greeting at the front doors are warm and genuine. You are whisked immediately to your suite for check-in and then the well-rehearsed butler service takes over.
The helipad is – of course – mainly used by helicopters shuttling guests to and from the airport but it has also hosted a tennis rubber between Andre Agassi and Roger Federer (2005), been a tee position for Tiger Woods (2004) and even a mini-racetrack for F1 star David Coulthard (2013). In rare instances, guests are allowed onto the helipad to take photographs of the world below - but this is strictly by request.
The Talise Spa is situated on the 18th floor of the hotel - 150 metres (492 feet) above the Arabian Gulf. On offer, is every treatment imaginable – using La Prairie and Carol Joy products for many of the treatments. The caviar eye massage is a popular option. The spa also offers an infinity pool – from where - on a clear day – you can see forever. The Talise Fitness Center is filled with numerous pieces of gym equipment from running and cycling machines to free weights.
The Terrace at the Burj Al Arab is one of the most amazing feats of engineering ever carried out for a hotel. This 10,000 sq. metre (100,000 sq. feet) outdoor leisure facility was built in Finland and shipped the 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) to Dubai. The Terrace – which stretches 100 metres (330 feet) into the Gulf boasts 2 swimming pools – complete with 10 million individual mosaic tiles, a saltwater infinity pool, four Jacuzzis, 32 air-conditioned cabanas, a swim-up bar, restaurants, and a beach that was filled with 1,000 tonnes of sand imported from Saudi Arabia – which is heavier than the local sand and therefore not prone to be blown away! The Terrace is a unique experience.
There are a few luxury boutiques within the hotel that offer brands such as Graff and Chopard.
Located at the end of the bridge to the mainland are five more Jumeirah properties which offer more than 50 restaurants and even more shopping facilities. As a guest of the Burj, you have access to all these resorts and indeed to the Wild Wadi Waterpark. This facility offers children (and brave adults) the chance to experience some of the scariest water rides in the world including the Jumeirah Sceirah. This is the tallest and fastest free-fall water slide outside the Americas - rising to 33 metres (108 feet) with riders reaching speeds up to 80 km/h (50 mph)! It is not for the faint-hearted!
There is a Kid’s Club on offer at the hotel, but guests are also allowed to use the clubs in the nearby sister properties. The hotel is wheelchair accessible and one suite is available for guests with disabilities. Pets are not allowed at the Burj and service dogs by special permission.
From the moment you arrive at the Burj Al Arab, your every sense is piqued. The distinctive scent of Ajmal Oudh Mubakhar - a woody agarwood incense with added attar fragrances – attacks your nostrils. Then the escalators to the 1st level take you past an amazing waterfall sho, which at night is spectacular. The clash & babble of water being projected into the air and landing exactly into another hole and then being blown out again is mesmerising and not at all overpowering.
The exterior of the hotel itself was built to look like the billowing spinnaker sail of a J-Class yacht. From the inside it is a feast of colour, glass, and lights.
There are 16 inhouse florists – so – as you can imagine, floral arrangements are prevalent in all parts of the hotel.
It would be fair to say that some of the furnishings – including in the suites - are extremely vibrant, in colour and density. Around 1,790 square metres of 24-carat gold leaf was used throughout, embellishing the hotel’s opulent interiors.
The Burj Al Arab is a modern Arabian palace, built originally for the Royal family of Dubai, now open to “commoners”. Where the hotel can wow, it does. The Swarovski crystal ceiling in the Junsui restaurant is an example. There are a total of 21,000 crystals in this instillation – the largest in the world.
It is not just the bathrooms that are swathed in marble. In fact, the Burj has used 30 differing types of Statuario marble – more than 24,000 square metres - throughout the hotel.
The two main hotel restaurants – as you can imagine – offer the finest of fine dining – each of its chefs has held three Michelin stars in previous restaurants they ran.
Al Muntaha is located on the 27th floor - 200 metres (660 feet) above the ground. Enjoying spectacular views over the Arabian Gulf and the city of Dubai, Chef Francky Semblat prepares French haute cuisine. He spent much of his career working with Joel Robuchon.
Al Mahara is located on the 1st floor. The French born, of Korean ancestry, chef Kim Joinié is renowned for preparing exquisite seafood dishes and here on Dubai’s premier stage, he does not disappoint. He also trained with the legendary chef Joel Robuchon. Al Mahara is one of the most exciting dining experiences that is on offer anywhere in the world. You “travel” by submarine to the restaurant, and you enjoy your sumptuous meal surrounded by a 1 billion litre aquarium!
SAL is a casual dining restaurant - overlooking the Arabian Gulf and swimming pools. SAL is an ideal location for a long, lazy lunch.
Sahn Eddah is located on the 1st floor and is where breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea are enjoyed.
Also on the 1st floor is Al Iwan which offers Arabesque dining – including mezze.
On the ground floor is Bab Al Yam – an open kitchen that offers the finest Middle Eastern cuisine.
Junsui is the hotel’s pan-Asian restaurant – located on the ground floor, mezzanine level. You will be forgiven if you spend your meal looking up at the ceiling throughout! It is simply spectacular.
Finally, the 27th floor offers Gold on 27 - a champagne bar that is swathed in … gold … and the Skyview Bar & Restaurant that offers tapas & cocktails with a view.
The whole of the Jumeirah family of hotels & resorts work to a common goal. As many properties as possible use local food producers – ensuring quality, freshness while providing financial support for the community. Energy and water conservation, waste reduction and the reusing & recycling of waste are also important tenets for the group.
In 2004, The Burj Al Arab and its nearby sister property Madinat Jumeirah launched the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project – which treats injured and sick turtles before releasing them back into the wild. Over 1,600 turtles have been successfully released back into the Arabian Gulf.
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