Just when you think you know Dubai …
At first glance, the client brief appeared to be like every other incentive brief …. seeking unique, new, luxury, inspirational and the obligatory WOW factor. Fairly straightforward and unfazed. Then the realisation. The audience is the highest level of travel and event buyers who know Dubai …. or at least think they do. They have cruised the creek in dhows, shimmered down sand dunes and belly danced to the wee hours around the Bedouin camps. So we shot off to the metropolis-by-the-sea to embark on a journey to research and unearth all things new in Dubai.
Strangely, whilst my event teams have joyfully delivered numerous annual events to this UAE epicentre, for no apparent reason, in the case of Dubai, I’ve been slack! My last trip there was nearly 18 years ago! When planning an event, the only hotels of any note were the relatively new iconic Burj al Arab and the wave inspired Jumeriah Beach Hotel. There was no major skyline, limited but fantastic restaurants to choose from and only one major shopping mall. I recall a visit to the Ritz Carlton Dubai, another ‘new’ hotel which was on a sparse end of Jumeriah Beach with little around it.
My memories. Hot! Stunning white Rolls-Royces to a gala dinner at the Burj. A fun but rather lacklustre Bedouin dinner in the desert. A delegate injury breaking a leg sand skiing. Amazing cuisine. But mostly remember hot!
Despite a highly successful incentive programme, at the time, I failed to fall under the Dubai spell. So for all these years, I have pitched, proposed, won and planned events to Dubai but somehow escaped operating the programmes. I’ve listened to friends investing, colleagues relocating, stories of abandoned cars to financial woes and supplier presentations on new developments. But still failed to make a return visit. Until now.
Brief in hand, we set off to design a spectacular programme for inVOYAGE, a highly individual buyer/supplier event focused on luxury MICE brands networking with high level planners.
As we finalise the details of a spectacular programme, I am permitted to share some of the exciting findings. Some of these have made the trade news but we managed to get first-hand insights into the latest destination developments with the possibility of designing a programme of ‘firsts’. A huge thanks to the incredible local venues, DMCs, hotels and travel resources who welcomed us and helped with my re-introduction to a city I failed to recognise!
I now get Dubai and fully understand its power and draw as one of the leading MICE destinations and am excited to be able to plan a new perspective on this perennial favourite.
NEW HIGHLIGHTS …. AND DISCOVERIES
NIKKI BEACH HOTEL DUBAI & NIKKI BEACH DUBAI
Loved it! New uber cool, luxury hotel to shortly open next door to its recently opened beach club. A collection of 117 rooms and suites, as well as 15 ultra-deluxe villas. All accommodations will feature spectacular views over the Arabian Gulf and of the awe-inspiring Dubai skyline. Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai is located on the waterfront of Pearl Jumeira, just 14Km from Dubai International Airport and 7Km from Downtown Dubai.
PALAZZO VERSACE DUBAI
Where we stayed and host to inVOYAGE 2016 in October. A classic, stylish new hotel with glamorous Versace touches throughout. Set in the heart of the developing Culture Village area, less than 15 minutes away from Dubai International Airport and 8 minutes away from Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai. Palazzo Versace Dubai is located along the shores of the historic Dubai Creek. 215 Rooms & Suites. A stunner.
BURJ AL ARAB – NORTH DECK
Managed a sneak peak! We had a breathtaking birds eye view down from the top floor to see the amazing construction of the most epic of pool decks. The North Deck, which is due to open to guests within a few months, has been developed using state-of-the-art marine technology. The luxury deck will fan 100 metres out into the Arabian Gulf and accommodate 32 cabanas, 400 sun loungers, one fresh water pool and one salt water pool, one restaurant and a bar. Plus some stunning event possibilities!
DUBAI PARKS & RESORTS
We discovered the latest insights to a huge project! Dubai Parks and Resorts will become the regions largest integrated theme park resort comprising three separate theme parks and one water park. motiongate™ Dubai, a Hollywood movie inspired theme park; Bollywood Parks™ Dubai, a first-of-its-kind entertainment destination that will showcase the authentic Bollywood movie experience; and LEGOLAND® Dubai together with the LEGOLAND® Water Park. All will offer unique MICE event experiences for the fun factor in event programmes. Amazing!
WOW! Located at what’s billed as ‘the most prestigious square kilometre in the world’ Google Play Store in Downtown Dubai, Dubai Opera is the radiant centre of culture and arts in Dubai and the shining pearl of The Opera District. Dubai Opera boasts a number of spaces and venues, including a stunning rooftop restaurant and sky garden with views of The Dubai Fountain and the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.
THE ST REGIS DUBAI
Located on the arterial Sheikh Zayed Road, the hotel’s interiors are influenced by the city’s beaux-arts architecture of the original St. Regis in New York. Part of Al Habtoor City, Dubai’s first-ever integrated urban resort, the hotel sits alongside two other hotels being developed W and Westin Dubai, three high-rise residential towers, as well as a Las Vegas-style theatre that will collectively be located on the banks of the soon-to-be-completed Dubai Water Canal.