It would be hard not to fall in love with Meraas Holding’s two-month-old Bulgari Resort and Residences, Dubai. On a white sand man-made promontory off Jumeirah Beach, the building – by Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel & Partners – is absolutely gorgeous, outside and in. The C-shaped exterior is sleek cruise ship meets outsize white Chilewich mats with the arms of the five-floor building wrapped round areas of grey river pebbles in water and bleach white pebbles, water free, that echo the colour of the sand below. As well as having 101 main building bedrooms, to one side there are 20 freestanding villas, 13 of them facing the idyllic private beach.
This is an immediate success, with room rates from US$800 and up, and weekends especially sold out: one local family seems to treat a particular villa as their automatic staycation base. And the hotel can only do even better once 165 residences, across the private marina, become occupied. After a really stunning sunset I looked across to the Marina Yacht Club and its seafood restaurant. I was thrilled, however, to be dining here at the hotel – and I was lucky enough to be with the GM, Pep Lozano, a charmer from Barcelona.
Il Ristorante Niko Romito has a freestanding entrance just a few yards from the hotel’s main door. Bulgari, apparently, is now going to be working globally with Niko Romito, a one-time financier who took over his family bakery and started an empire that now includes Castel di Sangro, a boutique hotel in Casadonna with a Michelin three-starred restaurant, Reale.
The food here was superb, and the service faultless (98 of the complex’s 477 employees are Italian). As he brought Bulgari olive oil and breads, for instance, the server explained the history of the dough – we could also have had one of the Bulgari wines, say Therra Poder Nuovo di G. Bulgari Toscana 2013. The antipasti was a work of art, consisting of at least 12 different dishes, each exquisite and served family style – I then went on Italian milk-fed veal, and limoncello. Breakfast, by contrast, is a somewhat uncomplicated affair, in a Café with a big terrace that allows you to watch the super-yachts coming in and out of the marina.
But I can gush for ever. Take my glorious room, 220, one of the luxury hotel’s Bulgari Suites. The pale wood was satin smooth. A simple Nespresso machine came with hand-painted LSA cups that looked like jewels. I had shoe trees and Berluti shoe cleaning, and an easy-work safe. Nothing here was complicated – I could easily manage the curtains and the air conditioning. I did not, sadly, manage to read even one of the 140 books that formed the main decoration of the living room. What a brilliant idea to make one wall entirely a display of books, not standing military style, in neat vertical alignment, but some set diagonally, some horizontally, as forming an artistic pattern. Honestly, the owners and designers, helped by such a passionate GM, have done so much right. Oh yes, that passionate GM even thanked me for being there, but then thanking people is one of the greatest pleasures in his life, he says.
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