Luxury Hotels

Versatility at a luxury Dubai hotel

Sashimi followed by …

There is always a smile when a luxury hotel finds ways of upgrading its offerings yet again. Up and up forever is the marching song, and it certainly works, says the gal, at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach. When the hotel opened on December 1st 2014 it already had the stunning Mercury rooftop bar, indoor or out and oh so many trendy locals flocked there, and ladies loved martinis-and-manicures on Mondays. Now there seems to be more emphasis on all age groups. Recently-arrived Italian GM Leonardo Baiocchi, for instance, has replaced a knick-knack shop on the lower ground floor by an absolutely stunning boutique for little ones – look at the boss, above, showing off one of the creations.

.. tiny calamari

And he is building up food awareness, both inside the hotel and out. If local magnates moor their designer yachts near the property, a waiter zooms out on a jetski to take any ‘room service’ orders. If they are sensible those privileged sailors would choose exactly what I had that hot weekend lunch, outside on the beach-set terrace. I started with salmon sashimi, wen on to crispy calamari. Of course we started talking about food, and I heard about the restaurant village in the carpark in front of the hotel, and after our espressos we went to have a look. There are about seven restaurants there, with more to come, and all are ultimately owned by the Sahenk family, who own Dogus.  The family is also into a myriad of other interests.  They are, for instance, now part-owers of Hilton Athens.

Beef ready’n waiting

At the carpark-set restaurant village it was actually the Turkish beef emporium that fascinated me the most. Called Nusr-ET, after the theatrical butcher-chef Nusret Gökce, it is a modern taken on Vlado’s in Melbourne. There, Vlado, metaphorically larger than the tiny shop he owned, would similarly cut one piece of meat after another, give you a single bite of cooked neck, and then some cubes of wagyu and so on. As the photo shows, it is pretty much the same here only the sizes of the cuts are, well, enormous. Nusret Gökce is also known as Salt Baa and his almost-slapstick method of cutting and swirling meat has become an internet sensation.

Leo Baiocchi – after lunch

This January 7th, indeed, one video, Ottoman Steak, was viewed 10 million times on Instagram and Nusret Gökce was interviewed by NBC News. ‘The shape of the meat and the taste of it starting from the top down is a part of me. All of my feelings are coming from inside of the meat down to putting salt on to it.’ Did anyone say that Four Seasons is not keeping up with the times? Thinking of Le Sirenuse at Four Seasons at the Surf Club, FL, a couple of weeks ago and now this raw meat theatre here in Dubai, I make a wry smile.

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Luxury Hotels

Dubai’s newest luxury hotel

Look down from room 475

Once upon a time there was endless sand that formed an extensive beach along the beautiful Arabian Gulf. Fast, really fast, forward to 2017 and we have Dubai. Get stuck in a solid traffic jam along Sheikh Zayed Road, with elevated trains sliding overhead and soaring, gleaming, sculptured highrises either side – and you do not see any sand. But at Jumeirah’s newest luxury hotel, Jumeirah Al Naseem, which means sea breeze, you can look down at sand. Oh, says the gal, this 430-room hotel is absolutely gorgeous. All rooms face the sea, and have full-wall windows that slide back to give a feeling of being completely open to the elements. My room looked down at a pool filled with dozens of turtles, of all sizes: there are also adult-only, and family-friendly, swimming pools

The barrel-topped exterior of Rockfish

See how lovely room 475 is – look at the video, below. Designed by the South African company DSGN, plus Bill Bensley, the colours are cream and soft mushroom, and there is lots of beautiful satin-smooth oak (the fittings were all done by a company called H&H, which coincidentally owns Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach). H&H was also closely involved in this stunning hotel’s restaurants and bar. I loved our lunch at Rockfish, which again seems to open up to fresh air. It is a memorable restaurant, and not only for the barrels on its roof – lunch was a dream, masses of crudo, followed by a big skewer of salmon and scallops. Interestingly, at the hotel’s all-day Palmery restaurant, the design element is inside: go in and 430 copper cooking pots hang overhead, one for each of the hotel’s bedrooms.

Richard Alexander

Honestly, this is a hotel for outstanding food, which perhaps is not surprising since the GM, Richard Alexander, came up through the F&B route, including three years heading restaurants and bars at Wynn in Las Vegas. I had dinner with Richard and his children at Il Borro, one of two of the hotel’s restaurants that are leased out. Il Borro is a duplicate of the Ferragamo family’s Il Borro in Tuscany, and all the ingredients are specially imported (do try their mozzarella, with Il Borro-label). The staff, half-half Italian and other nationalities, are also all Ferragamo employees, and living in separate housing from the rest of the Jumeirah team members. The other leased-out restaurant will be a Katsuya, designed by Philippe Starck.

Three little girls from school, in the hotel lobby lounge

A luxury hotel that is only four months old, it has already become a regular meeting spot for younger-generation locals. To be part of the crowd, indeed, you should really pair your black abaya, with its shorter sleeves and length to allow your bracelet and designer shoes to be seen, with a fluffy pink handbag. But there are others here, and in the full-occupancy lobby lounge, a champagne-coloured theatre with masses of white flowers, I ran into two travel agent friends, one from England, one from Turkey, both here for the massive Arabian Travel Market ATM. Expats who live in Dubai say it is actually one big village, but it can also be described as the leading 21st city, complete with a new Opera House, that grew out of the sand. NOW SEE THE VIDEO BELOW

 

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Luxury Hotels

Gostelow Report Live – ILTM Arabia

ILTM Arabia 2917

 

SPECIAL REPORT                                                                           Dubai, April 25, 2017

Today, Gostelow Report Live – at the request of Reed Travel Exhibitions, organiser of ILTM – gives inside stories on the personalities and happenings here at the launch ILTM Arabia, led personally by ILTM Portfolio Director Alison Gilmore. As at other such essential ILTMs in Cannes, Shanghai and elsewhere, this daily newssheet is eagerly awaited by hosted buyers, media and other exhibitors. ILTM puts it out on social media, and it is posted for eternity on www.iltm.com and other influential sites.  Here below you find insider news on the forward-thinking luxury exhibitors who answered the invitation to share information.

Dubai-based One&Only, part of Kerzner International, is led by President/COO Philippe Zuber. He has a chorus of GMs here, including local boss, Olivier Louis, MD One&Only Dubai – he is accompanied, in alphabetical order, by Jerome Colson, One&Only Seef, Bahrain; Charles De Foucault, One&Only Le Saint Géran, Mauritius; Richard Lyon, One&Only Cape Town; Jean Luc Naret, One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives; Vincent Smarrella, One&Only The Palm Dubai, and James Wyndham, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains • When it comes to children, One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai, has superb, free KidsOnly programmes, ages four to 11, with belly dancing, camel riding, sand sculpting (look for child-friendly menus in the Beach Bar & Grill and Eauzone). The 172-key One&Only Seef, Bahrain, which opens shortly, with a 7,000 sq ft Royal Penthouse, gives kids a parent-free zone, and evenings under a Bahraini wigwam, basic Arabic lessons included. One&Only Le Saint Géran, Mauritius, re-opens this December – try the 6.300 sq ft private-pool villa: there are two youngsters’ programmes, under-12, and under-18, including fishing, pizza-making, and tennis. One&Only Cape Town’s newly-enhanced KidsOnly suggests bike racing, golf, mini soccer and a jungle gym with swings, plus an interactive Africa-themed theatrical. One&Only Reethi Rah’s special teens’ suggestions include many sports and, as befits a resort run by the former global Michelin boss, making cookies, pizzas and sushi. At One&Only The Palm, Dubai, kayak, tennis and water-ski instruction is on the menu.  Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley offers Aussie action: adventure hikes, archery, bush survival and horseback riding (and learn about bugs, insects and orienteering). Other future One&Only openings include Portonovi, Puerto Vallarta (two) and Sanya.

Kerzner’s Atlantis brand is led by COO Serge Zaalof, an inspirational perfectionist. Yesterday, returning from breakfast at the 1,539-room Atlantis Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, he broke off explaining how the day’s 700 check-ins could look at real-time videos cleverly set behind front desks to help a departing guest find a lost scarf. Today, Zaalof flies to Honolulu to check on the forthcoming Atlantis Ko Olina; Atlantis Resort Sanya Haitang Bay opens this October, and Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences, Dubai, is scheduled for 2019 • From mega-resorts to Rome bijou: Villanocetta is a private-mansion villa, owned by Patrizia Bonanni, here with GM Alessandro Gallo.  It’s in the green-park Valle dei Casali area, handy for St Peter’s and the Vatican. The villa (interiors, Stefania Pessina) has six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a salon with working fireplace, pool table, fitness area and wine cellar. The enormous private park has a heated pool, tall trees, silence, privacy, relaxation and birdsong. Bespoke staff include cooks, concierges and nannies.

If tomorrow’s luxury is, as some say, isolation, think Kudadoo Private Island, Maldives – opening this December, 15 over-water villas (like its year-older sibling, Hurawalhi, five minutes’ speedboat away, no kids under 15). Designed by Yuji Yamazaki/YYA New York, and both run by Patrick de Staercke, the pair, owned-managed by Crown & Champa Resorts, are 40 minutes’ flight from Male, in Lhavivani Atoll.  Hurawalhi has 60 overwater and 30 land-based villas, the largest in each category measuring 1,350 sq ft: half of each have private pools. Expect tropical chic, eco-awareness, incredible over-water spas, incredible deep-sea fishing, diving and snorkelling, and exquisite culinary, including an under-water restaurant. Both are ideal for weddings, honeymoons, romantic getaways – privacy • Also, meet Maldives’ Michal Smejc , new GM of Velaa Private Island, owned by his brother Jiri Smejc. 45 minutes’ seaplane from Male airport, there’s a nearby mosque, halal on demand, and ladies-only service includes female butlers-golf coaches-servers-fishing teachers. 43 keys include the 14,250 sq ft Private Residence, four bedrooms with private gym, jacuzzi and spa, and outside pool.

Personalities abound at luxury-level travel. Amanresorts’ Owner/CEO Vladislav Doronin has brought on board COO Roland Fasel, formerly running The Dorchester, London.  In Japan, visit the unique highrise city retreat of Aman Tokyo, GM Marc Handl, son of hotel legend, Richard Handl – it has 84 rooms, including the 1,600 sq ft Aman Suite. Designer Kerry Hill also did the oh-so-relaxed 24-villa onsen-retreat Amanemu, in Shima-shi, three hours’ from Tokyo by shinkansen.  Amanemu GM Hisayo Shimizu (once an ANA flight attendant): villa ten is nearest the main restaurant block • Formula One enthusiasts will warm to Mika Häkkinen, the ‘Flying Finn’  who was World Champion in 1998, at the age of 30, and again in 1999. In 2009 he founded Luxury Action with fellow Finn, Janne Honkanen.  Based in Finnish Lapland, with a Stockholm subsidiary, Luxury Action creates off-the-beaten-track Arctic adventures, Lapland, Finland and all the Nordic region, including Greenland and the North Pole. All are highly bespoke, your detailed wishes plus local food, local interaction and nature, connecting with destination, community and environment. Janne Honkanen, who is really hands-on in the company, says new luxury travel buzzwords include exclusivity, privacy, silence and space, blended with such exhilarating activities as ice-driving, reindeer herding and snowcross.

Christopher and Stella Bettany own ten year-old Azura Retreats, which currently consists of three luxury hotels on islands off Mozambique plus a safari lodge in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve.  Their goal continues to bring luxury accommodation and experiences to remote authentic locations. Properties help local communities while preserving their pristine environments.  Proximity to GCC means Azura Retreats are ideal for weekend breaks, for honeymooners, for families seeking experiential travel, and, at Selous Game Reserve, game-viewing photographic safaris • In Istanbul, shopaholics will delight at Ahmet Zorlu’s Zorlu Center, integral with his Raffles Istanbul hotel (GM Christian Hirt), five minutes from the Bosphorus. Open daily, 10-10, the mall’s Bvlgari, Dior, Tiffany and Louis Vuitton complement local favourites Beymen and Sevan Bıçakçı, The hotel has personal shoppers and image consultants, plus 185 all-balconies rooms starting at 620 sq ft (this includes 49 suites – the 4,478 sq ft, two-bedroom Raffles Suite has breathtaking Bosphorus views from its 860 sq ft private terrace). 66 one- and two-bedroom Raffles Istanbul Residences, with full hotel services, are ideal for long-stays. Think helicopter airport transfers, city-view tours – and yacht tours, and chef’s tables, and 24/7 hotel-wide butlers • More retail, at Montage Beverly Hills, five minutes’ walk from Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive. The hotel’s in-house fashion stylist is Joseph Katz, of CBS, CNN and NBC, and OK! Magazine fame: he offers a Dream Closet, items brought to you, or personally curated half-, whole- or multi-day retail excursions. Todd Orlich is GM of the hotel, which has, for supreme personalized service, a ratio of over three staff per guest. 80% of the 201 rooms, which include 55 suites, have private terraces; the 4,695 sq ft Residence has private elevator, four bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, gourmet kitchen, 10-seat dining for 10, media room, wine cellar, piano, two furnished terraces overlooking Hollywood Hills and Hollywood sign. Arabic menus (or head out, to Momed, Open Sesame and Sunnin Café): kids love Montage’s signature Paintbox programme. Adults love the £10 Bar, named for the UK banknote that showed a bottle of Macallan Single Malt. This bar, which is only accessed by an exclusive key, has been deemed by Virtuoso to be best drinking venue in the world.

Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills opens June 1st, 2017, MD Luc Delafosse, a would-be French soldier whose amazing hotel career includes Burj Al Arab here in Dubai as well as Le Crillon, Paris. The stunning 12-floor hotel, at the junction of Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica, has a rooftop pool. The 170 rooms, starting size 630 sq ft and including a total of 51 suites, all have terraces: the 3,215 sq ft Presidential Suite has 1,459 sq ft of terrace. Pierre-Yves Rochon’s interiors are Parisian-style Art Deco, food includes Jean-Georges Vongerichten Beverly Hills, the spa is La Prairie and toiletries are Diptyque.  Book via Virtuoso, and you get return airport transfers for all suites (one-way, for rooms): an invitation-only members club allows access to some of the gorgeous facilities • Virgin Limited Edition’s third villa opened on Mallorca’s Son Bunyola estate this very month. The new-build three-floor Son Balagueret villa, designed by Jenny Papaionnou, has three bedrooms – one in a historic turret dating back to the 13th century.  You have a chef, concierge service, and daily housekeeping and servicing of your private heated swimming pool. The villa has a secluded courtyard and, from upper rooms, there are panoramic views over the estate, which includes two sibling villas, both a year-old, Sa Punta de S’Aquila and Sa Terra Totja.  Lee Bowes manages the villas • The Residence by Cenizaro has hotels in Indonesia (Bintan Island), Mauritius, Maldives, Tunis and Zanzibar. At the Christian Denisot-designed, 155-room The Residence Tunis, GM David Sierra, there’s a 900 sq ft suite that can connect to an adjacent room – this resort has golf. The butler-service Residence Mauritius, run by GM Jean-François Chong, has 135 rooms, including 28 suites that are each 1,120 sq ft.  The Residence Maldives, which also has butler service, is all-villas, a total of 94, including one that is 2,900 sq ft, with a 25-foot private pool – hotel GM is M. Sunderam.  The 66-villa Residence Zanzibar’s top category offers a 2,400 sq ft two-bedroom ocean front villa (GM here is Anja Bosken).  All hotels have spas, and plenty of connecting rooms for families – all offer the intimate understated personal service, luxury and privacy that are ideal for Middle Eastern guests. The Residence by Cenizaro is owned by Singapore-listed Bonvest Holdings Ltd, founded in 1982 by its current Chairman and CEO, Henry Ngo.

Small Luxury Hotels (SLH, for short) has a new spring in its step.  Now owned by the same visionaries who are doing such exciting things at the Marbella Club and the adjacent Puente Romano – where part of that resort is being turned into a Nobu – SLH is masterminded by its lively CEO, Filip Boyen. SLH’s portfolio is ideal for Middle East markets, which are a key region in its growth strategy as it taps into increasing evolution away from ‘bigger is better’ to more intimate and personalised hotels: four SLH properties are here in Dubai. Milan’s 39-room Magna Pars Suites, GM Barbara Royner, is ideal for fashionistas heading for Golden Triangle shopping. The 208-room The Quin (for ‘quintessential’), privately owned, and managed by Highgate Hospitality under GM Vincent Vienne, is a New York City favourite (choose the 3,400 sq ft, three-bedroom Penthouse, and there are many connecting rooms, ideal for family groups) • SLH is also supporting two members on the French Riviera, Hotel Belles-Rives and Hotel Juana. The Art Deco Hotel Belles-Rives, opened in 1929 by its ongoing owners, Marianne Estène-Chauvin and family, was called Villa St Louis when it was previously the home of Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Today the truly-waterfront hotel, with outstanding views, has 43 bedrooms, including five suites – biggest is the 2,700 sq ft Deluxe Panoramic Sea View. This is the place for Michelin-starred food at La Passagère, a piano bar, a beach club with private beach, and more (perfect days could include water-skiing, lunching on the beach terrace and strolling to explore quaint boutiques, ancient ramparts and the Picasso museum • In 2006 Marianne Estène-Chauvin bought the nearby Hotel Juana, a 1930s-vintage hotel a few steps from the beach in the heart of Juan-les-Pins. Hotel Juana has 40 bedrooms, of which 14 are connecting, and four are suites.  Here, the cuisine is affordable-Mediterranean, and pastries, desserts and cakes are renowned.  Stephane Vuillaume is GM of both hotels.

Next ILTM is ILTM Asia, June 5-8, 2017, Shanghai. See you there. www.iltm.com
@ILTM_events #iltmarabia.

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