This very week, what many say is the world’s most luxurious hotel, Burj Al Arab, Dubai, officially opens its Scape Bar. This is outdoors, on the luxury property’s new Terrace deck, fixed to the rear of the iconic 28-floor, sail-like construction: the entire terrace, all 110, 220 square metres of it, was made in eight pieces by ADMARES in Finland, and shipped to Dubai to be assembled here, says the gal. It is now permanently fixed, on 90 steel poles, and it therefore gives the Burj a sand beach, two full-sized pools (one freshwater, one seawater), 32 air-conditioned cabanas with Bang & Olufsen, fully-stocked minibars and private terraces facing out to sea – plus Scape restaurant, which serves Californian food, and the Bar.
One of the pools has a glass-sided catwalk bridge, ideal for fashion shows. This is an event space of the most superior style. On Friday 28 October, Super Cars takes place here, on the deck: Dubai car enthusiasts bring along their Lamborghinis, Maseratis and the like to show them off – you can drive right to the deck, around the side of the main Burj building. Next month from the 17 to 19 November, it is the turn of the world’s owners of priceless classics: they fly the precious cars in, for a two-day extravagance that is a Concours d’Elégance aiming to rival the annual event at Pebble Beach in California.
The rest of the time, the Terrace is reserved for guests of the 202-suite hotel, and local members who pay 125,000 dirham a year for double membership, kids come free. One local likes the idea so much he has paid extra to have a cabana rented by the month (well, they do also have lovely bathrooms, with Sodashi toiletries). I just hope they have time to explore and try the Burj’s sensational indoor restaurants. I have already raved about the redone Bab Al Yam, with its wood-burning oven. Today I am shown the new-look Al Mahara, which now has a big-window bar instead of the somewhat-claustrophobic submarine simulator, and cloth-free table tops and food by English chef Nathan Outlaw – it was full at lunch today, though mostly with young Asian couples who seemed more preoccupied by taking and posting photos than looking at the thousands of fish in the aquarium, or by the food.
But where we lunched was such an experience that even the world’s top luxury hotel excelled itself. About 200 would be at the regular Friday brunch today, said German Manager Melanie Klatt, but it was all so spacious, and small amounts of at least 200 dishes were constantly replenished. I was with international-Spaniard Sandra Farrero, who regaled me with memories, of working at Harrods, of flying to Havana with Mohamed Fayed to meet Fidel Castro, and more, and we toasted a mutual friend’s health in Dom Pérignon 2006 and then, like sparrows, composed our plates, starting with seafood and going on to melt-in-mouth Japanese Wagyu ribeye, carved tableside by a tall young Kenyan. Honestly, I thought, this taste rivals anything in David Jones! And then the white car, a Rolls-Royce Phantom naturally, was ready to drive me on.
Mary Gostelow travels over 300 days a year, doing one-night stands in top hotels around the world. Read her daily travelogue, www.girlahead.com.