Fit for a Sheikh
An opulent Italian experience imbued with a glamorous Arabian vibe, Palazzo Versace Dubai fits right in with the city’s best-of-the-best portfolio of attractions
Palazzo Versace Dubai fits right in with Dubai’s portfolio of top-class attractions
rriving a few hours before sunrise does not take anything away from the awe-inducing experience of walking into Palazzo Versace Dubai. Designed like an Italian palace but with Middle Eastern architectural elements, the entrance opens into a massive lobby with Roman columns supporting ceilings hand-detailed in real gold. A grand chandelier forming a floral Versace pattern appears to be moving with the breeze (I later find out it is made of three tonnes of hand-blown glass from the Czech Republic). Slabs of exquisite white and grey Cremo Delicato Italian marble decorate the upper lobby, surrounding a large Medusa mosaic, Versace’s logo. The floor of the lower lobby, a beautiful red-and-gold mosaic in the design of an iconic Versace scarf, contains 1.5 million individually-coloured tiles and took Italian company Fantini several years to complete. The palazzo is a place where Donatella and her fashionable crew fit right in.
The 5.5-hectare waterfront property is in Dubai’s Cultural Village, a rapidly developing area that is home to highly sought-after luxury residential estates such as the low-rise Iris Asmar and the 80-storey D1 Tower. The Dubai Museum, traditional souks, and art and craft galleries are a 15-minute drive away, and further development is afoot close by, including The Tower, which aims to surpass Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower as the world’s tallest building when it is completed in 2020.
While there are plenty of attractions nearby, there are many compelling reasons to spend your entire trip exploring Palazzo Versace. Three large lagoon pools flank the hotel, complemented with butler-serviced cabanas and cushioned daybeds. Depending on which pool you choose, you can enjoy a swim-up bar, a sandy beach area, a shisha lounge—offering a selection of Moroccan, Turkish and Lebanese mezze—or an alfresco restaurant called Amalfi, which focuses on classic Mediterranean fare and pizzas.
Breakfast at Giardino, with its terrazzo floor and walls inspired by Versace’s jungle motif wallpaper (and Jennifer Lopez’s infamous green Grammy Awards dress), is as colourful as its interiors, with large sections of the buffet dedicated to Indian and Mediterranean bites as well as traditional Western fare.
For dinner, head over to Enigma, where, over the course of the year, famous chefs from around the world are invited to design special menus. On this visit, chef Yunus Emre Aydin brings Turkish cuisine to life, with dishes such as ahtapot— octopus cooked underground at 78 degrees Celsius for eight hours—and seven spices lamb neck with fondant potatoes.
After night falls, those looking for entertainment can visit Q’s, a live jazz lounge named after Quincy Jones, or the smoke-free bar La Vita, which serves boutique wines by the glass and craft beers—a popular attraction in generally dry Dubai.
The Ultimate, the top treatment of the hotel’s full-service spa, lasts for seven—yes, seven—hours and 30 minutes, which includes a chauffeur-driven Maserati pick-up and dropoff, a signature hammam, massage, facial, mani and pedi plus plenty of bubbly. There is even a very swanky Versace Kids’ Club where the little ones can play on Versace-printed mats and do some arts and crafts without disturbing other guests.
Donatella and her team spared no expense on the interiors, designing 12,000 pieces of furniture exclusively for the hotel
Donatella and her team spared no expense on the interiors, designing 12,000 pieces of furniture in the common areas, rooms and suites exclusively for the hotel. The hallways are fitted with plush handmade carpets made of New Zealand wool, traditionally used in palaces, and on the walls hang fashion illustrations of models wearing the brand’s most iconic outfits.
Each of the 215 rooms and suites features a private balcony or terrace and furnishings straight out of a Versace Home catalogue— sofas and throw pillows covered in animaland floral-printed silk, ornate headboards, and silk sheets in combinations of earth tones and pastels. The one-bedroom suites have their own living rooms, guest bathrooms, dining areas and fully-equipped studies complete with iPads and media docking stations. The bathrooms are just as spectacular, with more Cremo Delicato marble on the floors and mosaics on the walls, full-sized bathtubs, rainforest shower stalls and spacious walkin closets with full-length mirrors, dressing tables and LED-lit vanities.
Looking for rock-star amenities? The two 1,200-square-metre Imperial Suites on the top two floors have magnificent marble staircases leading from their two bedrooms to private terraces with a pool and garden. Elegantly appointed, the rooms are furnished with pieces from Versace Home’s exclusive Via Gesù collection. Suite guests have access to the executive lounge, limo transfers to and from the airport, a 24-hour butler service, afternoon tea and a two-hour happy hour. And with a staff-tosuite ratio of 3:1, Palazzo Versace is clearly not for those who don’t like being fussed over.