DUBAI: DANCE OF THE ARABESQUE

From ar­chi­tec­ture to am­bi­ence, seren­ity to sen­su­ous­ness, these two lux­u­ri­ous One&Only es­tab­lish­ments in Dubai chan­nel an­cient splen­dour.

Vacations & Travel - - Contents - BY LULU DEANS

From ar­chi­tec­ture to am­bi­ence, seren­ity to sen­su­ous­ness, Dubai’s two lux­u­ri­ous One&Only es­tab­lish­ments chan­nel an­cient splen­dour.

Wel­com­ing sea­far­ers and traders was all part of the Be­douin tra­di­tion in Dubai long be­fore the City of Mer­chants be­came – cour­tesy of the region’s boun­ti­ful oil dis­cov­er­ies and the port city’s pre­cious metal trad­ing – the City of Gold.

At the One&Only Royal Mi­rage, the wel­com­ing com­mit­tee is a nod to both sources of riches. Front and centre is an im­pos­ing car­a­van of seven no­mads (one for each of the Arab Emi­rates) astride life-sized camels. The gold-painted bronze in­stal­la­tion by South African sculp­tor Danie de Jager de­picts the trav­ellers ar­riv­ing, fi­nally, at an oa­sis.

Once in­side, there is that same sense of re­ward, re­lief, and a jour­ney com­pleted.

The Royal Mi­rage is a lux­ury layer cake – pat­tern upon pat­tern, shape upon shape, texture upon texture. It com­prises three ac­com­mo­da­tion wings: The Palace, the Res­i­dence & Spa, and the Ara­bian Court, all set on a 26-hectare swathe of un­ex­pect­edly lus­cious land, with a long pri­vate beach.

All rooms have views of the Palm Is­land

Bay and of gar­dens, so no squab­bling there. It’s a sleep­over fit for a Sheikh. In­deed, the Res­i­dence & Spa is part of the Lead­ing Ho­tels of the World port­fo­lio.

We are as­signed an ex­ec­u­tive suite in the VIP Gold Club, a sec­tion of the Palace with a lift and pri­vate en­trance. It’s spa­cious and plush, ex­ud­ing warmth and com­fort, its colour pal­ette re­flect­ing the myr­iad sands of the desert, with turbo-turquoise touches. There are fra­grant ar­range­ments of white roses and lilies. A caramel-coloured leather at­taché case has slide-out draw­ers with de­signer baklava, and be­side it is a sil­ver cake stand of dates and dried figs. There are views over man­i­cured lawns to a city that is for­ever a shim­mer­ing work in progress.

While it looks like some­thing that rose from the desert cen­turies ago, The Palace was built in 1999 and its sib­lings sev­eral years later. And, like sib­lings, each has a dis­crete per­son­al­ity. But all are im­pos­ing yet in­ti­mate, cour­tesy of a trade­mark Ara­bian dé­cor that evokes mys­tery, fantasy and a no-holds-barred lux­ury. Curved and scal­loped arch­ways and win­dows, vast floors of mar­ble or tiles, water fea­tures and big fur­ni­ture add to the Arabesque majesty.

Light fit­tings are a sig­na­ture fea­ture of Ara­bian dé­cor. Lights are draped, hung, looped, and fall from ex­otic domes in clus­ters like over­sized Christ­mas baubles or un­furled metal para­sols.

Guests are not just a room number here – and the staff are al­ways one step ahead of their guests, hav­ing cars ready, mak­ing reser­va­tions, sug­gest­ing and or­gan­is­ing ex­cur­sions to the desert and be­yond. Pre­scrip­tion medicine at mid­night? No prob­lem, it’s there within the hour.

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