What It’s Like To Stay At Atlantis the Royal, Dubai’s Most Ultraluxury Hotel
Beyoncé broke the internet here. And you just might fall into a water feature. But don’t you dare just stay in your room.
(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- From the moment you step through the front entrance, Atlantis the Royal puts on a show. Water pours down inside glass walls, while fire periodically flashes up. The pressure to post to Instagram is immediate, because you’ve arrived at the self-titled “most ultraluxury” resort in the world.
This isn’t the world, though. It’s Dubai, where “ultraluxury” has a specific meaning and nouveau riche aesthetics are giddily embraced. Wealth like this was made to flaunt, not accrue silently in savings accounts. Ultraluxury is over-the-top, clad with gold and marble.
That’s what the $1.2 billion Atlantis the Royal, the latest property from Dubai-based hotelier Kerzner International Ltd., delivered with a “Grand Reveal” show in January starring Beyoncé. And it’s what guests have experienced since its 795 rooms opened in mid-February.
The journey of opulence begins in the hotel lobby, where the unifying theme of water (Atlantis, remember?) is hammered home with a towering aquatic sculpture and pool cutouts in the floor into which guests occasionally tumble. Check-in occurs at unmarked golden counters, which require constant buffing with microfiber towels to remove dreadful indicators of human presence such as fingerprints.
Company officials initially garnered headlines by saying the top-level suite, the Royal Mansion, would cost $100,000 a night. Now a spokeswoman is demure about the price, saying it’s available upon request. And in February, Louis Vuitton booked the room for a private shopping event, so I couldn’t visit. Instead, I was shown the Panoramic Penthouse, which took my breath away—starting at 135,260 dirhams ($36,825), plus 22% in taxes, it had better. Shampoos and other amenities in rooms come from Hermès, Frette and Graff. On one side of the hotel, guests have an unobstructed view of the blue-green Persian Gulf. The other side looks out over the fronds of the man-made Palm Jumeirah archipelago and the mansions of billionaires and royalty.
I stayed in a Seascape King, one of the basic rooms, but I use the term lightly. The studio starts at about 4,135 dirhams a night in high season. It’s large enough for a king-size bed, lounger and desk, and spacious closets. The furniture is comfortable, and amenities in the grand bathrooms include golden toothbrushes, combs, a back scrubber, flip-flops and a beach bag, all of which can be taken home without charge.
For a resort promising that “something incredible happens at every moment of your stay,” the basic rooms lack a wow factor. They’re beautiful, sure, and the views are phenomenal. I was excited to see a high-tech Toto brand bidet toilet with a heated seat, though that made me wish the bathroom floors were heated, too. (Clearly, I’m getting spoiled.)
But this isn’t a hotel where guests hide away in their rooms. Instead, they put on their trendiest beachwear, take selfies in front of the Bellagio-style fountains, go shopping in the Valentino boutique or book a cabana at one of several outdoor lounges. At Nobu by the Beach, for an extra 10,000 dirhams, you and nine friends have access to a living room, a private changing area and shower, and a small private pool. The rate includes two bottles of Champagne and some nibbles.
First, however, you might want to get a Botox top-up, ozone dialysis or stem cell therapy at the on-site Aeon Clinic for “regenerative wellness.” Or head up to the true showstopper: the Cloud 22 lounge, an open-air space on the 22nd floor with thumping club music and a strong wind. An infinity pool with a double ledge is all that separates you from the resort below. Here, too, you can book cabanas for an extra fee and get your own plunge pool, which the resort doesn’t count as one of 90 total pools on the property, including 44 in private suites.
The stunning Awaken spa has gender-segregated relaxation rooms, but six hammams, or Turkish baths, have yet to open. The meditation with dolphins program is also pending.
The room rate includes access to Aquaventure, the water park next door billed as the world’s largest. My 3-year-old daughter had a blast in the toddler splash areas, and if we had more time I would have braved the slides with 360-degree loops and dark tunnels. With day passes starting at 315 dirhams for adults, this certainly adds to the value you get for your room.
At the hotel, each of the seven celebrity chef-helmed restaurants has a unique vibe and design, but the level of service is celestial across the board. When we ate lunch at Jaleo by José Andrés (get the rossejat, a paella-style pasta), four different people asked if we wanted a highchair for our daughter. At the breakfast buffet, out of nowhere she got a hankering for tofu, and the kitchen happily provided a plateful. Meanwhile, I hadn’t finished my latte before my cup was taken away and replaced with a new one—twice.
This is where Atlantis the Royal earns its name and its ultraluxury reputation. Every few feet as you walk the grounds, a security guard, concierge, lifeguard or cleaner places their right hand on their heart, bows forward and says hello. All properties run by Kerzner have adopted this apparent Covid-era gesture, but it certainly made me feel like a queen.
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