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Dubai shares a glittering skyline with Singapore, and a chorus of engine revs from Lamborghini and Ferrari super cars, hence as the airport shuttle pulled into the understated entrance of the One and Only Royal Mirage Dubai, we weren’t quite expecting the long-ish drive up the palm tree lined road which led to a small bridge which opening into a stunning courtyard recalling the heritage of the United Arab Emirates.
Historically, camels in the UAE were an immense source of social and economic value, providing not only transport but also food and milk. Hence, Danie de Jager’s Camel Group sculptures rendering the septuplet of creatures in gold symbolise Dubai’s Bedouin tradition of precious metal trading and the plaque “Water at last” – plays upon the One & Only Dubai’s namesake – Royal Mirage.
“Water at last.” – A plaque signifying Danie de Jager ‘s “Camel Group” sculpture at the Royal Mirage
The gold-painted bronze installation of seven nomads (one for each of the Arab Emirates) depicts the travellers arriving, finally, at an oasis, which 30 minutes adjacent to the city and situated in a space reclaimed from the Arabian Desert.
That said, the impeccable One & Only luxury resort is pleasantly isolated from the rest of the city even if Dubai’s towering skyscrapers are still visible from the poolside next to the private stretch of Jumeirah Beach It’s a sprawling address, comprising three wings at various tiers of luxury accomodation: The Palace, the Residence & Spa, and the Arabian Court.
The production and trade of fragrances like frankincense and myrrh in the UAE started a long time ago and it was as important then as oil today. entering the lobby, scents of burning incense immediately signal your arrival in a luxury stay steeped in tradition and heritage. Fit for a Sheikh or Sultan, curved and scalloped archways and matching window frames, ornate marble or tiled flooring, mix of running and still water features and plush furniture add to Arabesque majesty.
The Palace’s 452 rooms and suites emphasise Arabic design, spread throughout the wings including the Arabian Court, and the Residence & Spa (incidentally within the Leading Hotels of the World portfolio) sections, each room with either Palm Island Bay or garden-view balconies with the ground floor rooms opening up directly to the poolside (incidentally, there are four pools, you’re definitely not going to find yourself complaining about the inability to get a suntan) and beach area.
9 restaurants/bars across three wings, Olive at The Palace, is the primary eatery where breakfast buffet serves up a storm of intercontinental and East Asian delights. The gastronomy is matched in experience by way of best-in-class spa – the world renowned Health & Beauty Institute included a Traditional Hamman Experience – the first in modern Dubai, gym facilities equipped with both static stations, weight machines and free weights; if these amenities weren’t enough, guests are welcome to use the sister property’s facilities on the Palm Jumeirah (that artificial layout of artificial sand spits designed to look like a palm tree) via a free shuttle boat.
Aside from upbeat music by the beach as dusk falls, the vibe at the One & Only Royal Mirage is mostly serene, catering to business and romantic types. The Palace was built in 1999 (and refurbished a few times since) and its sibling Court and Resident wings several years later, each has a different scent and sensibility yet each intimate theme is evocative of trademark Arabian décor and mystique.