Luxury scales stratospheric heights in the El Dorado of Asia. Here’s a round-up of everything that’s top-shelf.
All that plastic weighing down your wallet. Oh, don’t you just want to burn some of it, max out the spending, the experience, the pleasure … in short, sink into the sort of extreme luxury only money can buy. We’re not talking free hugs, sunsets and a shared sandwich (nice though they are). We’re talking gold shoes, caviar facials and helicopter pick-ups from the airport. Few places in the world do luxury like Dubai. Here’s a short tour of what you can do with the spare millions.
Gold, gold, gold … That’s the unofficial theme color of Dubai. It’s everywhere, and in everything, from cars to cupcakes. Last year, the city announced the proposed sale of a Lamborghini Aventador made from a solid 500kg block of yellow gold and encrusted with gemstones. Anyone wishing to buy wheels like this should jingle around $7.5 million (Dirham 27.5 million) in small change in their pocket. A buyer hasn’t been announced yet, so you might be able to take this baby home.
If you like to be fashionably coordinated with your supercar, pick up a pair of Alberto Moretti’s 24 carat gold shoes (Dirham 19,500) from Level Shoe District, the luxury footwear universe inside Dubai Mall. There is one design each for the lady and the gentleman—a pair of high-heeled pumps and a pair of loafers in Alberto Moretti’s signature dandy style.
Want a bite now? Bloomsbury’s, a gourmet cafe in Dubai Mall, had a commemorative gold cupcake (Dirham 3,700 approx.) named ‘The Golden Phoenix’ when we last dropped by. Every ingredient used, goes without saying, is premium, and everything on the plate is wrapped in edible gold sheets.
To get kitted out with some accessories to match your car, shoes and cupcakes, a brief whirl around the Paris Gallery will do. This luxury accessories store, present in several major malls, has what looks like acres of watch displays, miles of perfume shelves, yards and yards of gorgeous handbags and wallets. The store’s personal shopper service ensures that your limousine doesn’t have to wait too long to whisk you off to a gold or caviar facial appointment. Drop a bottle of Roberto Cavalli’s Gold for Her EDP (Dirham 390) into your bag. You’ll want it later; we’re coming to that.
We hope you had a pleasant arrival at the hotel on your last trip to Dubai? Did your Rolls Royce have to stop at one or two traffic signals? Well, this time, just take the helicopter. The airport pickup service offered by Burj Al Arab gives you a panoramic view of Dubai before the copter touches down at the hotel’s helipad on level 28. The Royal Two Bedroom Suite (Dirham 29,200) at Burj Al Arab has its personal elevator (no need to inhale someone else’s perfume), own cinema room, 24-hour butler service, private bars, two full-size Jacuzzis, and a 24 carat gold iPad for the guest during the stay. In case you’re a fussy sleeper, the suite has 17 types of pillows.
A power nap later, it’s time to let the fun begin. Before bidding for the gold Lamborghini, you’ll want to get a feel of being in the driving seat of a supercar, right? Dubai Autodrome (from Dirham 590) has a choice of beauties: Ferrari F430; Ferrari 458 Italia; Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560; Lamborghini Aventador (Yes! That one!) and several others.
Racing fingers flexed, take to the air again in a charter hot air balloon (from Dirham 11,450 for a group of eight). The balloon takes you soaring above the desert, a breath-taking spectacle that gives the lie to the notion that money can’t buy happiness.
You need spa time before putting on your gold shoes and spritzing on Gold for Her before the night-out at Cavalli Club. So, we recommend the bespoke facial by Margie Lombard at the Talise Ottoman Spa in Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, a resort on Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. The Dirham 25,000 facial includes a 24-carat gold chain mask that regenerates and firms skin. The facial is followed by a gold hamam (Turkish bath) and a gourmet caviar lunch. If you’d rather put caviar on your face, the spas at Shangri-La Dubai and Fairmont Dubai have it for Dirham 800 approximately.
Fairmont Dubai is right next door to Cavalli Club, a world of absolutely OTT glam created by designer Roberto Cavalli. If you came in head-to-toe gold, guests wouldn’t even blink—and, indeed, your golden shine would have to compete with the glitter of megatons of Swarovski crystals suspended from the club’s ceiling. Dance the night away, but don’t leave a shiny slipper behind. You don’t need Prince Charming. Dubai is enough.
Experiencing Enchanting Dubai
- Flying. Emirates first class is the comfiest way of getting to the El Dorado of Asia. The first class private suites, available on all Emirates A380 and Airbus A340-500 aircraft, and most Boeing 777 aircraft have a sliding door for privacy, a personal mini-bar, vanity table, mirror and wardrobe. The seat converts into a flat bed with a mattress.
- Visa. For Indians, the Dubai Visa Processing Centre handles visa procedures for all types of travel. Visa fee is about $80.
- Currency. l Emirati Dirham (AED) = 0.27 USD
- Where to stay. The most iconic experience is at the Burj Al Arab where you can arrive by helicopter (one-way airport helicopter transfer Dirham 10,000 for one passenger and Dirham 1,500 for every additional passenger, maximum of 4 passengers; flight time 15 mins). The recent entrant The Oberoi Dubai has a magnificent Presidential Suite with a view of Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, from its private plunge pool. For a very relaxed, family-oriented luxury vacation, check into Fairmont The Palm on Palm Jumeirah.
- What to see and do. Get a top personal shopper. Luxury shopping is more fun and fruitful with a knowledgeable insider. So, ring for Derek Khan, who is a Dubai-based lifestyle consultant and personal shopper to the city’s wealthiest residents.
- Charter a yacht. Dubai loves water, loves to live near it. While there are several yacht charter companies, Xclusive Yachts has a particularly nice fleet, its boats going from 48 ft to a massive 125 ft.
- What to buy. If there’s still a little gap in your suitcase that you need to fill, the one standout item to buy is the $3.8 million purse. This heart-stopping, heart-shaped item from the House of Mouawad is romantically named the ‘1001 Nights Diamond Purse’. Made from 18 carat gold and embedded with 4,517 diamonds weighing almost 382 carats. You can’t just pick it up, though. The purse takes 8,800 hours to make. Place an order and plan your next Dubai trip.