Hotel check: The Fairmont Dubai

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Background

The Fairmont brand is well known the world over and is associated with elegance and memorable service. Royalty, presidents, and A-List celebrities have graced the hotel chain’s guest list over the years. In fact, Tony Bennett first sang, ‘I left my heart in San Francisco’ at Fairmont San Francisco in 1907 (the first Fairmont hotel to open its doors). The Fairmont Dubai made its debut in 2002 and is an architectural landmark in Dubai’s business district. Modelled after an Arabic wind tunnel, (a simple yet effective design that enabled air to circulate through rural housing creating a basic air-conditioning unit) the hotel can be seen from quite a distance extending into the sky.

What’s it like?

It’s a grand hotel with fancy glass elevators and wonderful restaurants. There is a constant flow of fashionable and traditional guests through the lobby giving it an international flavour. Although the hotel is large, it doesn’t appear to be, and has a personal feel. The people that work in it come from a range of different countries and are exceptionally friendly and efficient and go a long way in making the hotel what it is.

Where is it?

It is in the heart of downtown Dubai and is directly linked to the Dubai International Convention Centre by a dedicated walkway. The hotel is situated on Sheikh Zayed Road and is hard to miss with its tall, landmark pillars. It is well placed with shopping malls, beaches, and downtown souks just a 10 or 15-minute taxi ride away (traffic dependent). The staff at the hotel are extremely efficient in finding you a taxi and making sure that the driver knows where you need to go – they even go so far as to take the taxi’s details in case there is a problem.

How many rooms?

This is a 34-storey property with 394 guestrooms (including 128 suites and penthouses). The hotel also offers Fairmont Gold rooms which cater for the more discerning guest with upgraded facilities, complimentary airport transfers and ‘Gold’ service – these rooms are located on floors 30 and 32.

Room facilities

The rooms are a good size and very comfortable. There is a separate seating area, and from the chaise lounge I hadgreat views over the city with its manycranes and ever-changing skyline. The room design is elegant and contemporary and has ample cupboard space. Other room features include interactive television; high speed Internet service (this enables users to connect their laptop Ethernet port directly to the Internet); in-room safe that can hold a laptop; mini bar, tea and coffee maker; iron and ironing board; international adaptors, and fancy bathrobe and slippers. The bathrooms are well appointed. The hotel was very full during my stay and, unfortunately, I had to settle for a smoking room, so enquire about this prior to your trip to ensure reservations can accommodate your preference.

Restaurants and bars

The restaurants are brilliant and draw many diners from outside the hotel. The best is Spectrum on One which has a unique dining concept featuring eight interactive kitchens specialising in six different cuisines from India, Thailand, Japan, China, Europe and the Middle East. Rumour has it that this is also the place to indulge in a champagne breakfast. Other places to eat include Bridges – a cocktail lounge and café; Café Sushi – complete with a sushi conveyor belt; Cin Cin – a chic wine bar; Pronto – a gourmet café; The Exchange Room – serving up delicious steaks from the grill; The Cigar Bar with specialty cognacs, and the Sol Juice Bar located next to the rooftop pool where a fruit smoothie is the thing to order!

Leisure and fitness

The Willow Stream Spa looked most inviting but I didn’t have a chance to try out any of the facilities. I did, however, manage to lie next to the rooftop pools at different times of the day. One of the pools is open at sunrise and the other, located on the opposite side of the hotel, is open at sunset. Both have great views of the city and both require ice-cold drinks next to your lounger to combat Dubai’s hot and humid climate.

Business facilities

The Executive Conference Centre is on the 33rd floor and has 18 versatile meeting rooms with great views across the city and a 24-hour technology butler (the type of butler that I could do with is my own house). The Business Centre is open 24 hours and offers secretarial, courier, printing and photocopying services as well as computer stations with high speed Internet connection. Fairmont Dubai has also received the prestigious title of ‘Business Hotel of the Year’ at the 2007 Depa Hotel Awards and ‘Dubai’s Leading Meeting Hotel’ at the 2007 World Travel Awards.

Verdict

There are many five-star hotels is Dubai with a lot of tempting offers, and it is difficult to select one, but you can always rely on great service from the Fairmont family and I would be very happy to find myself back there.

Janet Fourie