The opening night featured a headline performance by megastar and pop icon Beyonce, marking her first performance in four years. It was attended by Dubai’s elite, Hollywood celebrities, and prominent figures from around the world.
To say that Dubai is exclusive in its glamour and magnificence is an understatement, as one doesn›t just experience that, one becomes that. As though the ultimate Midas touch, true to the twinkling lights and sights of Dubai, as is the city and the traveler turn golden. It’s palpable the moment you touch down in Dubai, and make your way down towards Palm Jumeirah, the city’s iconic palm-shaped man-made island, it is hard not to miss billboards announcing the most ultra-luxury experiential resort in the city…Atlantis The Royal.
Its grand reveal earlier this year in January was an extravagantly dazzling and star-studded affair. The opening night was no less headlined by megastar and pop icon Beyonce, her first performance in four years, and attended by Dubai’s aristocracy, Hollywood glitterati, and the world’s beau monde.
As we drive past the sun-dappled palm-lined promenade, we cross the grand and pink-colored “Atlantis The Palm”, with its tall arches and structure which is something right out of the Arabian Nights. The resort continues to be one of the enduring landmarks of Dubai, 15 years since it opened its majestic doors in 2008.
However, in comparison to its older sister property, the Atlantis The Royal appears light-toned and snugly modern. The hotel’s crisscrossing towers make a striking silhouette against the city’s skyline. At first glance, the block of suites stacked together reminds one of the board game “Jenga”, but is a wave curving in toward the sea, and has been designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, known for its innovative and iconic architectural designs.
Though glamorously understated given the ostentatious vibe of the city, there is plenty of marble, gold, and silver as you enter the dramatic lobby with water and fire blazing through its floor-to-ceiling windows.
A dramatic 11.5 structure “Droplets” representing the first drop of rain in a desert holds center stage in the expansive hallway with a wall-sized fish tank flanking the lobby with a colourful burst of exotic flowers. The opulence which is understated as much as it is evident sets the tone of one’s stay on the premises.
The gleaming $1.6 billion property houses 795 rooms, suites, and penthouses, each with a balcony offering a stunning view of the glistening Persian Gulf as well as the city’s outline. I checked into the Seascape room, the basic of the 17 room types on offer, which costs a handsome 45,000 Rs a night. The lavishness of what the Royal stands for is visible as soon as you enter the suite. Plush beds, dark wood sliding doors, aromatic mists, gold plated vanity kits, and beach kits as well as toiletries by luxury brands Hermes and Graff. These can be taken home by the guests without a charge.
The pressure to post on Instagram is instantaneous as one is given a grand tour of the panoramic Sky Villas and panoramic penthouses with their private swimming pool and jacuzzi, which comes at a princely Ra 2,00,000 a night. The magnificent Royal Mansion, which holds the esteemed position of being the world’s most expensive suite, can be yours for Rs 82 lakh a night. Its ultra-luxe quarters include four swanky bedrooms, a private pool, and an entertainment room as well as personal butler service.
Bling is indeed in Dubai, a city that is synonymous with excess. Its vibrant nightlife, the incessant retail therapy on offer, and being smorgasbord of cuisines have long attracted tourists, especially Indians.
“Gone are the days when Indian travelers used to visit a country, go sightseeing and indulge in Indian cuisine on their holiday. Today, modern Indian tourists are more experimental in exploring newer and more luxurious immersive experiences and Atlantis has honed its hospitality to meet these evolving expectations. Atlantis The Royal offers luxury at its fingertips, with a diverse range of immersive experiences, including awe-inspiring accommodations like sky pool villas and suites boasting their private infinity pools in the clouds, It›s a destination in itself where guests can come to enjoy and need not venture out for anything else”, says Neil Shah, Account Director, International Leisure Sales, Atlantis, Dubai.
Taking its experiential status rather seriously, you are swept on a voyage of gastronomical delights, the biggest drawcard being its dining options. The resort houses 17 restaurants and bars fronted by celebrity chefs such as Nobu Matsuhisa, José Andrés Heston, and Heston Blumenthal under one roof. Getting yourself a table is like winning the lottery, so best to book way in advance.
Breakfast like a King comes to life at Gastronomy. Which is styled as a buzzing marketplace with food stations serving farm-to-table cuisine from all over the world. From dipping fresh fruit and marshmallows into the chocolate fountains, and pancakes to pillowy soft Chinese buns or bao with a variety of fillings. With the variety on offer, one can be forgiven for gourmandising.
Make it to the poolside to burn the breakfast calories at either of the two chic hangouts. Cloud 22 bar with its infinity pool gives a grandiose bird’s-eye view of the Palm. If heights are not your thing then head to the ground level and chill at Nobu by the Beach, which offers a relaxed twist on the brand’s Japanese-Peruvian fare. Between taking dips in the pool, get served some haute cuisine on your sun lounger. Michelin-star Nobu Matsuhisa’s trademark black cod butter lettuce or Wagyu Sandos, chicken sliders, or creamy avocado finger sandwiches make the perfect bite-size fare.
The other restaurant that got our approval was Estiatorio Milos which brings a slice of Greece to your plates from crab cake, paper-thin zucchini, and eggplant fritters served with Greek Saganaki cheese and taztziki, zucchini stuffed with feta made for a perfect light meal.
The aromatic flavours of Persia come alive at Araian’a Persian Kitchen. The refreshing beverages infused with saffron and rose, the Taranchini, saffron yogurt rice stuffed with chicken served with blueberry sauce, and the succulent chicken and cheese kebabs come rich in flavors. However, the Bastani Sonati, the restaurant’s signature wild orchid ice cream, and the baklava are irresistible.
Ling Ling, the Royal’s most coveted dining spot, is a big draw for its contemporary Asian menu which is a “fusion of Japanese, Thai, Korean and Vietnamese cuisines. Pretty colored cocktails, small plates which include an array of bright-colored dumplings, soft boas and sushi, and tender satays can fill you up, well before you even make it to the main course. But keep some space for the dessert, especially the molten chocolate hazelnut cake and the coconut ice cream are not to be missed.
In the mood for a Spanish Symphony, then say Ola and head to Chef Jose Andres’s Jaleo. Its stylish red interiors set the tone for the perfect night out. Taking sips of the tangy sangrias, we suggest opting for one of the tasting menus. Plates of Conos( salmon tartare served with goat cheese) the Tortilla de patatas ( Spanish Omelette) Corquetas de pollo( Chicken fritters) and the scrumptious Paella of chicken. Polish off your meal with the deliciously mouth-watering Flan de Mama Marisa, which is a Spanish Custard with Catalan Cream or a Chocolate pie with salted hazelnuts.
A meal at any of these spots per person can cost you a little over Rs. 5000
From home-grown brands to world-renowned haute-couture labels like Valentino, Graff, and Tanagra, vie for attention and your pockets. As the sun sets the dancing fountains come alive in a burst of choreographed water and light spectacle as you soak in the ambiance, one cannot help but feel grand, at the hospitality it offers.
It is the place to abandon yourself, to exult in the lavishness of it all, to see and be seen. As one steps out into the mundanity of daily life, the Atlantis The Royal is the ostentatious dream you get to experience once in a lifetime or lifetimes if your pockets serve you well.
Puja Talwar is a lifestyle and entertainment journalist.