When someone offers you the chance to go to the only 7-star hotel in the world, and enjoy a night out on the 27th floor overlooking the entire city of Dubai for 275 AED only, as a cover charge, you are definitely going to say yes! Well, at least I know I will, and actually did. So, the occasion was a farewell gathering to say Goodbye to two of our friends who are going back to Australia!
The preparations: Call, book, get dressed, panic, extra shave, and clean the car! Because you assume they have a zero tolerance policy on dirty cars! The vallet parking guy might actually throw you out! Or at least that's what I thought. For more than three years I passed by that landmark amazed by the genius of Tom-Wills Wright, the guy who came up with the design concept. It's beautiful, it's huge, and it represents the culture in a very interesting way! A sail, which refers to the inhabitants’ main source of living in the pre-Oil era! (Fishing, and the pearl industry). I've always wondered though, why is it not a 5-star hotel? Or a 6-star hotel? One would assume, there must be a good reason for them to totally skip the 6th star!
Well, the building itself, fits whatever criteria they have for 7-star hotels! The road that leads to the hotel, built on a claimed land, gives it uniqueness & exclusivity. The fountain at the entrance is decently beautiful. But as you walk in!! You start to notice that they spent all that money to build one of the most expensive buildings in the world, but they failed to hire a decent interior designer!! Or probably did hire a decent one, but confused him with the so many themes they probably had in mind. Once you step in, you think, United Colors of Benetton!! Only it doesn't look good. Shiny, shimmering, splendid, in an extra tacky way! But you still forgive them courtesy of the 2-storey high beautiful aquarium that you pass by on your way up the escalator.
Forget about the lobby. Now to the SKYVIEW BAR! I bit it's going to be awesome. Well, when you first get in, you feel humbled by the kindness and sweetness of the receptionist and the waiters. You go inside... decent enough place, but you still fail to see what the fuss is all about. Comes the menu, and right there and then it hits you! When you open the first page and you see that the first drink is called 27,321 which is also the price of the drink, you realize that it's all a show off!! A whopping 27,321 AED (i.e. 7,438 USD) for a drink! I’d rather die of thirst! What can it possibly be made of?! Holy water? Life serum? Or is it that we are on Mars now, and H2O has become more expensive than diamonds! I just think it doesn't make sense. It's pure stupidity. If you skip that part, I think it was a nice place, nice view, nice crowd, but still couldn't find out why it's different from 44 in Grosvenor's house (which, by the way, is for the Buddhabar rejects!) or any other nice place in Dubai. But wait, I think I know why! These are the new rules. Build something, call it the best/highest/biggest/tallest/most twisted/ or fit whichever superlative you can think of, give it your own bizarre rating, make a cocktail of Pepsi, Mirinda, Sprite, Orange juice, and sparkling water, give it a freaky name, and an astronomic price tag! Then believe it yourself. Consumers will come... Cause that is what we do! This is how it works.
All in all, it is a special place. A very unique, carefully crafted, and well represented hotel. But it is also highly overrated, and elegantly tacky!!!
But when you see it on CNN every time they want to talk about the newly emerging markets in near & far Asia, you think: GOD!! Whoever built this is a genius! It simply became an icon and a universal landmark for Dubai & the Middle East. I personally won't complain about that, since it replaced the camels & dunes we were always associated with!
Ah! One more thing, I just realized there are two 7-star hotels!! Any idea where the other one is? How about a guess? ... I personally would go for Abu Dhabi!