As the plane flew past the Persian Gulf and finally landed in the business hub of the Middle East, I was all geared up and ready to take my first step on Dubai’s soil. Although this is not my first visit to the region, I’ve always been curious about what lies within the United Arab Emirates (UAE), especially since only 10 per cent of the population are UAE nationals and the remainder is made up of expatriates. And for that same reason, this metropolis has often been referred to as a global city. Interestingly, it goes by many names and is known for its many trades, but the one everyone can agree upon is that Dubai is the City of Gold.
I’d decided to schedule my trip in the middle of April when the sun is still merciful and the humidity is low. Of course, apart from visiting the Al Fahidi Historic District and taking selfies with Burj Khalifa, my sole mission for this expedition is to savour all things luxury that Dubai offers. Sadly, due to time constraint, I failed to fulfil my dream of indulging in a quirky brunch with a glass of mimosa in hand at Arboretum and Al Hambra. I did, however, manage to indulge in an Arabian-inspired afternoon tea at Palace Downtown. So not all is lost. Hitherto, the highlight of my 10-day stay in Dubai was having the privilege to discover the ever-iconic world of Versace.
Located on the foreshore of Dubai Creek, Palazzo Versace Dubai (PVD) is everything I would have expected from the world of Versace. As my cab (a Lexus S350, mind you) slowly approached the property, I was able to marvel at its traditional neoclassical Italian palatial architecture which skilfully incorporated Arabic elements from a distance. The bellhops attended to my bags while I stepped into its majestic lobby, which somehow reminded me of the desert. The Medusa head amidst the Cremo Delicato marble flooring greeted my entrance and above it, the impressive three-tonne hand-blown Bohemian glass crafted in the form of a Versace floral pattern-typified chandelier hung elegantly. Overall, it is clear that the interior is designed to ensure that guests and homeowners alike are fully immersed in the Versace lifestyle.
Checking in was as seamless as one would anticipate from a five-star hotel, and I was told that the premium architecture, exclusive location and luxury products offered are all necessary as every spectrum of meticulous detail matters to the discerning audiences. Although I’m not one who appreciates or recognises its Rosenthal cutlery and the Egyptian cotton on the sheets, I can distinguish that the marble countertops used are of the best quality available and the ceilings are hand-detailed in gold. Other iconic motifs spotted are the Greek key and Versace’s legendary prints all adorned on the carefully designed and handcrafted furniture.
Particularly, the walk towards my room was a journey in itself. A series of artworks set in the hallways feature sketches of the fabulous Atelier Versace gowns, a kind of soft prelude to PVD’s natural surroundings and local heritage. Of course, being the second property established in Versace’s exclusive chain, there is no doubt it was built upon its bold statement of showcasing beauty within luxury which I’m sure will be enjoyed by its large following of celebrity clientele. Needless to say, this fashion-inspired designer hotel and residence is truly a lifestyle and an attitude.
To Sleep, To Dream, To Experience
When you’re staying in PVD, it is only befitting that you should pamper yourself in its Signature Suites, or better yet, the Imperial Suites. Located on the ninth floor of the hotel, each Signature Suite measures 300sqm and features an entrance hall, a powder room, a dining room, a living room and a bedroom with ensuite bathroom. Apart from the wooden flooring that matches the Cremo Delicato, Giallo Siena or Verde Laguna marble slabs, every single piece of furniture and fabric (in the whole hotel for that matter), including the wallpapers, is designed and tailor-made solely for the Palazzo Versace Hotel in Dubai.
What about the magnificent Imperial Suites which are set on the two-levelled top floors of the Palazzo? The first Imperial Suite presents a heritage design concept with neoclassical elements and a delicate colour palette. Here, the flooring comes in Verde Laguna marble mosaics alternating with Grey Delicato or Giallo Siena marble as well as wood. For a luxurious touch, the furniture belongs to the iconic Vanitas collection by Versace Home. Alternatively, the second suite offers a more contemporary panache as all the furniture is exclusively selected from the Via Gesù collection by Versace Home.
Notably, each Imperial Suite spans 1,200sqm across two floors. In addition to what the Signature Suite has to offer, the Imperial Suite has an office, a lounge and entertainment room, a cocktail room, two master bedrooms with walk-in closets and ensuite bathrooms, as well as its own gym and sauna. To top it all off, the terrace opens up to an outdoor private pool and garden.
Beauty By The Pool
Besides sun tanning and cocktails sipping, I would like to suggest a few activities that you can do by the poolside at PVD. You can pamper yourself with some classic afternoon tea at Mosaico, which is located on the side of the large infinity “lagoon” pool that overlooks the Dubai Creek. As you might have guessed, the name refers to the masterful piece of 1,000sqm (of approximately 1.5 million pieces) of marble mosaic flooring set in the
lower part of the grand lobby. You may also choose to head to the west lagoon of the pool where Amalfi, a tranquil restro-bar, lies. A delightful al fresco dining venue, this is where you can savour some classic Mediterranean fare – think authentic Italian pizzas and healthy salads – while relaxing by the waterside.
When Too Much Is Never Enough
Due to the extensive selection of food and beverages outlets, I’m going to narrow down to some of my personal favourites. My first meal with PVD was with Italian fine dining restaurant Vanitas and, boy, does it know how to make a first impression. Like in a traditional Italian palace, the interior of Vanitas is exemplify by the handmade decorations on the walls. Known as the “Grottesche Italiane”, the painting is a traditional decoration used in the Renaissance age, after the rooms of the Nerone’s Domus Aurea painted with the fanciful motif that were discovered. On the bottom wall stands a gorgeous century-old landscape piece that was inspired by a painting from Versace’s archive. Décor aside, the food was magnifico as well.
Another highlight would be Enigma. Bringing Turkish cuisine to life with a refreshing European twist, the menu tells the tale of mystery and delight. As a middle eastern cuisine enthusiast, I was slightly disappointed by its contemporary presentation (especially in a fine dining setting, I have come to believe that what looks good doesn’t always taste as good), but once I’ve sampled the food, the familiar flavours of dried mint, yenibahar, cinnamon, nigella seeds and sumac came bursting in my mouth. I guess the saying is true – never judge a book by its cover.
Of course, PVD is also home to music legend Quincy Jones’ first-ever bar, Q’s Bar and Lounge. Dubai’s most desirable venue for live entertainment, the living room-like space features performances from an ever-changing schedule of acts of next-generation stars directed by Quincy himself. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy its wholesome weekend atmosphere as it was coincidentally closed during my visit.
Unknotting Those Merciless Sore
For the record, whenever I have the opportunity to stay in a fine hotel such as PVD, nothing in this world is going to make me step out of the hotel’s perimeter. If I’m not in my room or at the pool, most likely you’ll find me at The Spa. Located on the ground floor west wing, this award-winning wellness centre has seven treatment rooms, one exquisite spa suite complete with its own private Jacuzzi, monsoon rain shower, nail studio and full changing facilities. Both ladies’ and gents’ relaxation thermal suites are complimentary to hotel guests and they are equipped with plunge pools in vibrant turquoise mosaics, luxury Moroccan hammams, steam rooms and saunas. However, the star of this sea world-themed spa is its marble floor of Granito Nero Assoluto which matches the grey degrade mosaics and the white birch wood walls with mother-of-pearl details.
And That’s Not All
During my stay, PVD was hosting the annual Arabian Travel Market in its Gala Ballroom and I can say that this magnificent venue is conceived for grand events. The interior boasts a luxurious carpet reflecting an archival Versace Barocco print in gold and violet that measures 600sqm. There are also three high windows overlooking the Hypogeum garden, while majestic frescos with symbolic animals of the Arabian culture (the peacock and the falcon) adorn the three niches of the ballroom. The staircase leading to the foyer level is made of Cremo Delicato marble and is complemented by a stunning Bohemian crystal chandelier.
And along the way to The Spa, rows of Versace boutiques display the latest collections from Versace Fine Jewellery, Young Versace and Versace Home. This is the hotel made for Versacians who are looking to celebrate their inner Donatella and fully live up to the Versace lifestyle. Across the boutiques is where the Kids’ Club is situated. Glamorously adorable (if it is even possible), the club has separate rooms for napping, bedtime storytelling and a very stylish play area with primary coloured flooring designed by Versace.