x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

A very private birthday party

Today, the Dubai landmark marks 10 years of serving an elite clientele, but it will do so quietly.

DUBAI // Many 10th birthdays involve a chaotic day of presents, banners, loud music and a lot of fuss. Not at the Burj al Arab, widely considered one of the world's most luxurious hotels. Today, the Dubai landmark marks 10 years of serving an elite clientele, but it will do so quietly. Its celebrations are expected to be as private, stylish and exclusive as the service it provides. "We are not doing a big birthday bash; we are not big enough for that," said Heinrich Morio, the hotel's general manager.

"During 2010 we will be celebrating with our more loyal guests and most valued travel companies and agents, recognising them and thanking them through various means for their loyalty." How they will be celebrating remains privileged information as has the list of high-profile and celebrity patrons who have arrived at the hotel since 1999, often via one of its 10 Rolls-Royce Phantoms (thought to be the world's largest fleet) or by landing on the hotel's helipad.

Prices for rooms start at about Dh6,000 (US$1,600) per night, but with that tariff come some perks. Such as 1,600 staff, including 150 executive butlers who pamper guests in the hotel's 202 two-storey suites; a lavish interior embellished with 1,590 square metres of 24-carat gold leaf; and a nine-page pillow menu. The hotel's tailored, in-room service compares to any in the world. As does its opulent decor, which includes three vast aquariums holding more than 60 species of fish and sharks; a 180-metre-tall, gold-flanked atrium and the lobby's grand central fountain.

Khuan Chew was the interior design consultant responsible for the interior architecture and soft furnishings of the entire hotel. Nothing, she believes, has surpassed the hotel since it opened. "It is timeless and larger than life," she said. Ramel Kabbani, an executive for a Dubai company, often enters the hotel for meetings. He once stayed overnight and the experience, he said, was unforgettable.

"The staff make you feel like you can ask for anything in the world and it will be available," he said. "The interior of the room, the aroma, the attention to detail ? everything is luxurious. They promise something and they deliver. You feel like a king. @Email:loatway@thenational.ae