Words by Katrina Kufer
Though travel may be somewhat limited at the moment, we can all dream about those luxurious destinations that seem to know how make us feel like royalty in the most effortless of ways. Dubai is certainly one of those places and, whether you are a resident or visiting for a short time, there are many ways in which you can enjoy a delightfully distinguished day.
When the time comes to travel once more, consider these three ways in which to welcome the warmth in Dubai that may only take a day off your calendar, but will leave you feeling as though it’s been a full weekend escape.
Palazzo Versace Dubai: Brunch at Giardino and afternoon at The Spa
Palazzo Versace is a lesson in a philosophy where more is more. The 16th century Italian palatial destination takes its decadent attitude and applies it in every corner and possible experience to be found here. With a first stop at the beach chic Giardino (garden) restaurant for a Friday brunch, its jungle-like atmosphere and indoor-outdoor dining is split into the smaller salons by leafy separators that flank several open-kitchen stations.
With most dishes made a la minute, diners can explore a taste of the freshest sea offerings, visit Italy, the Middle East, India, Japan, China and more. But if the plethora of flavours and bottomless Roederer champagne flutes aren’t yet enough, there is a generous centre bar filled with decadent chocolate desserts, must-have classics such as the tiramisu, and rich gelatos placed cleverly at eye-level rather than table height.
In a decidedly eclectic, and electric, atmosphere befitting its brand’s trademark, boldly paying homage to classics, with vibrantly hues and Medusa-motifed Versace flatware, Giardino is luxury with a heavy dose of fun – an attitude which is mirrored throughout the property.
Insisting on total indulgence, the afternoon brunch grants diners access to the Neo-Classical Ischia pool just behind a row of towering palms. What the Versace hotel provides in gilded interiors and vibrant atmospheric touches is mirrored in its exterior by ways of succulent, dense foliage across the property. The sounds of birds and unencumbered clear blue sunny skies makes for a laid-back vibe, where a rainbow of greens and fresh flowers meet the eye at every turn.
In similar contrast to the divine cacophony inside is the 1000 square metre wellness centre, which provides the right balance for guests who want their festivities tempered by moments of calm reprieve. With luxurious heated stone recliners, a spa pool, sauna, steam room and Moroccan hammam, the ambiently-lit spa is elegant and surprisingly muted, with mother-of-pearl, Granito Nero Assoluto marble floors and mosaic detailing.
The award-winning spa offers a vast array of luxurious treatments that go beyond the typical hot stone massages, oxygen facials, or pregnancy-conscious options. Decadent treatments include a green caviar and 24-carat gold facial, a Chardonnay grape seed vinotherapy anti-ageing therapy that includes a scrub, wrap and massage with a glass of Champagne or a 90-minute experience with 19 pure essential oils, meditation, reflexology and breathing techniques expressly intended to put you into deep sleep. With a truly indulgent seven-hour package that includes five treatments, chauffeured transport in a Maserati, breakfast, two-course lunch and bubbles, Palazzo Versace manages to bring you onboard with its playful more is more approach.
Bvlgari Yacht Club: Lunch and poolside experience
Little is as elegant, exclusive and intimate as a day spent at the Bvlgari Yacht Club, nestled out on its own private peninsula. Dining at the yacht club, a small but sophisticated maritime venue accessible through full wood interiors reminiscent of a boat, is a culinary escape in itself that whisks you away to the Mediterranean coast thanks to a fresh seafood focused menu. Think yellowtail carpaccio with anchovies, pistachio and Sorrento lemon zest, simple, but masterful, pasta dishes such as spaghettoni norma with Sicilian salted ricotta, or mains such as whole line-caught sea bass salt crusted or acquapazza.
The menu is tightly curated but speaks volumes to a kitchen which commits to high quality Italian ingredients and thoughtfulness that keeps relaxed, outdoor dining at the forefront. The philosophy of opting to do a small selection of plates with expert execution likewise applies to the desserts, which are widely palate-pleasing, from a decadent milk chocolate and hazelnut delice to a light raspberry panna cotta or cooling reconstructed Sorrento lemon sorbet. However, what is concise in food offerings is well compensated for in its wine list; the vast selection is generous and varied, and the knowledgeable sommeliers on hand will gladly facilitate which of their mostly Italian wines will match your gusto.
Though the yacht club is set overlooking the 46-boat harbour at the end of the property, just below is the luxurious poolside with generous cabanas, which can be reserved ahead of time. Complimentary all-day access is granted to those who dine at the restaurant, but despite this surprising accessibility, it is an outlet that ensures it remains secluded and quiet. Focused on service, each white-outfitted cabana is equipped with plush towels, water, sunscreen, reading materials, a breakfast-in-bed tray and a small buzzer with which the staff can be called. With such attentive care in a location lined with palms and surrounded by the sea, its remoteness makes it easy to forget that a bustling city lies just minutes away.
The emphasis on chicness does not mean that the poolside doesn’t indulge in playfulness, it does, but with style. The oversized floating pillows are in muted chocolate hues which mirror the property’s interiors, and it appeals to its younger visitors with its Little Gems Club, which is positioned behind exotic foliage so that guests of all whims have the space to indulge in their activities and ambiences of choice.
In keeping with its refined approach to poolside glamour, its menu showcases many overlapping dishes from the yacht club restaurant, including the Puglian burrata with smoked eggplant, heirloom tomatoes and basil oil, while also offering elegant, but location-appropriate, offerings such as marinated beef carpaccio with truffle mayo, pizzette with burrata and black truffle, or a generous fruit platter. With a Negroni sbagliato on hand, served with giant Italian olives, it becomes essential to while away the day and, as a final touch of pampering and impressively observant service, the yacht club will have your car ready and waiting upon departure. Rarely a request is placed that they have not already preemptively attended to.
One and Only The Palm: Couples massage at Guerlain Spa and sundowners at 101 Dining, Lounge and Bar
The One and Only resort on The Palm is an airy, light filled and contemporary take on the traditional Arabian oasis. Intimate and exclusive, its position at the edge of the peninsula’s palm frond sees the hotel literally whisk visitors to a place of calm refuge, where wild peacocks wander. Rarely is another guest seen as you wander through discreet archways, bright courtyard spaces, cascading fountains and lush greenery in what is easily mistakable as, not only, another location, but another epoch entirely.
Starting with a visit to the serene Moorish sanctuary of the Guerlain spa, which provides indulgent Arabian rituals with exclusive amenities provided by the French Maison, indulge in curated signature treatments available only at this property. The result of a fusion of Guerlain’s research and product innovation and Middle Eastern traditions, one of its, and Dubai’s, best is the couple’s Désert d’Orient experience. Taking place in the sleek, minimal but ultra-luxurious multi-room hammam suite, the treatment begins with a warm bubble bath in two freestanding tubs and tea overlooking the suite’s own private garden, followed by a traditionally oriental body exfoliation, massage and oiling, the scents of which you choose individually, atop heated white marble slabs in a pearlescent mosaic-ed room, before ending in a steam room. Exotic and appealing to all the senses, it is the ultimate way to connect with someone special in style and luxury that feels more akin to a resort holiday rather than a treatment room in a buzzing metropolis.
After unwinding mind and body, with a quick dip into the spa-only pool or rain shower in the garden, take a wooden path out into the turquoise sea and past the secluded white sand beaches to 101 Dining, Lounge and Bar. While a full-service restaurant resembling coral overlooking the Arabian Gulf, this indoor-outdoor venue is best enjoyed from its white couches on a terrace seemingly floating in the sea – the ideal hideaway to have a glass of bubbles and nibble from its deep sea gastronomy menu created by three-Michelin-star chef Yannick Alléno. As the sun sets behind the palm trees and the unfiltered night sky glitters away, 101 brings out live music that keeps the energy beach-chic and vibrant without losing the luxury property’s chic DNA.