Oasis of luxury: why Dubai is paradise for the jet set

From a seaplane tour to a stay at one of the city’s oldest hotels and visits to some of the best restaurants,  Christabel Milbanke samples an array of luxury offerings in the buzzing metropolis

Whether in Dubai for business or pleasure there are many new ways of exploring the burgeoning culture of this global city and entertaining clients within the cosmopolitan metropolis.

A soaring bird’s-eye view is possible courtesy of Seawings, who offer stunning seaplane air tours. Marvel at the composition of this futuristic coastline and observe the many new skyscrapers mid-construction as well as those which have been visibly abandoned, often through change of investments. With with amazing aerial views over the man-made archipelagos, including the Palm Jumeirah and The World Islands, a seaplane tour is the only way to truly understand the unreal beauty of this ever changing city, and can also make a powerful impression on colleagues and clients.

A stay at the Ritz-Carlton Dubai, one of the city’s oldest hotels in its 20th year, offers all the classic comforts that the luxury hotel chain is known for, giving you the best of business and pleasure. Ideally located in the center of the Dubai Marina district, the hotel’s unassuming front swiftly opens up into a vast beachfront oasis of idyllic gardens surrounding six different swimming pools – which serve as much needed sanctuaries from the incredible heat. Whether your vibe is social drinking at the pool bar or head-in-a-book in a more secluded jacuzzi, there is more than enough outdoor space and privacy to accommodate everyone including those who wish to take out their stress in one of the hotel’s tennis courts.

In fact the list of the Ritz-Carlton’s facilities seems never ending with their flexible function halls which can accommodate the biggest corporate events in addition to the most extravagant weddings. The vast, yet privacy oriented spa, has mixed and single-sex rooms for resting and even sleeping in after a deeply relaxing treatment and the luxurious 24-hour gym provides the perfect combative for international business-induced jetlag.

For those special moments: a twilight dip in the sea or stroll along the Ritz Carlton’s private beach makes for an unforgettably surreal yet romantic experience as the water dances in a colourful rippling pattern reflecting the neon lights of the looming Blade Runner-esque skyscrapers that surround the elegantly lit palm-tree populated hotel.

The Blue Jade restaurant at the Ritz Carlton is by far the brightest star of the eight restaurants on site, serving up exquisite pan-asian cuisine that is considered to be – by those in the know – the city’s best. With delicious dim-sum and unlimited sushi on Sundays for AED 165, this refined setting is the perfect place to spend an evening before heading out to a show.

La Perle by Dragone, a show recently launched at Al Habtoor City, takes colourful Cirque Du Soleil-style acrobatics to the next level with cascading waterfalls and a submersive stage. This unique masterpiece ushers in a new-era of entertainment, with a bizarre storyline drawing inspiration from Dubai’s pearling roots that both mesmerises and confounds in a cosmic melange of interplanetary consequences.

Finally, to get away from the hubbub of the city, stay at the inimitable Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa. Nestled within the desert dunes, Bab Al Shams is the Middle East’s leading desert resort and just a 45 minute drive from Dubai and its airport. The calming concrete structure, simply decorated with Moroccan lamps and rugs, is a welcome change from complexities of the city and oasis-like pools and jacuzzis merge seamlessly into the desert landscape – lending to the impression you are pleasantly adrift in a dehydration-induced reverie. Activities include archery, falconry, camel riding and desert drives which are easily followed by an afternoon in the award-winning spa.

Whether you are staying here or not’ famous Al Hadheerah restaurant is a must. Again, in comforting isolation just 45 minutes from the city, Al Hadheerah offers a truly authentic dining experience with traditional dishes such as lamb cooked for 7 hours in banana skin. Let your palate be utterly exposed to the unknown as you enter a souk bazaar area with 14 ‘live-cooking’ stations of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine to choose from – and the advantage of being able to ask the chef for exactly what you want and watch him make it. Live entertainment includes a 2 piece sitar band, belly dancing and historical reenactments of ancient desert battles featuring horses and camels while you dine al fresco under the warm Arabian sky.

Christabel Milbanke is a freelance writer