I came, I saw, and I completely, wholeheartedly concurred, that the world’s tallest hotel and one of its newest is absolutely staggeringly stunning, spectacular, shimmering!
Travel with with Dusty Miller
The JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai features twin-towers (ok, well not identical twin, but very similar twins) reaching a jaw-dropping 72 storeys into the frazzling United Arab Emirates sky.
From my luxury King room on just the 62nd floor I looked DOWN on what were a wee while ago some of Dubai’s tallest buildings.
The room was air-conditioned to a steady and comfortable 20,3C
I never discovered what the total staff complement was but was impressed — and proud— to learn that no fewer than six Zimbabwean hospitality professionals worked there in disparate capacities on different shifts.
I suppose that paled into insignificance when the five-star hotel’s director of cuisine, the enormously built Thomas Rebler, an Austrian, told me over a magnificent Italian pasta dinner in the hotel’s Italian-themed restaurant, named Positano, that he had 300 executive chefs, chefs, sous-chefs and cooks working under him!
That called for a second half-litre of draught Italian Peroni beer for me and a glass of what I assumed was a crisp dry white wine from the Danube Valley around Melk, for die meisterchef!
But his 300 under-strappers work three different shifts and that’s in nine differently ethnic-themed restaurants, numerous receptions rooms for demanding private functions, five bars and lounges.
To say nothing of preparing lavish meals at all times of the day for room service in the already open 804 suites and rooms in Tower A. Another additional 804 rooms will be available to the public when Tower B opens in 2014.
You certainly don’t realise you are staying temporarily in an on-going work in progress when checking into the luxury hotel with, perhaps, guest relations officer Amisha Jiran, who comes from Strathaven, Harare.
Ultra-efficient Amisha studied for her chosen career at the Swiss Hotel and Catering Management School. Here in Harare she worked with (rather than under!)
Professor Mike Farrell at his American Hotel and Catering College set-up, at the Senior Citizen’s Club near the American Embassy, and swish Amanzi Lodge, owned by the Mama family.
She has also worked in top hotels in the USA and Greece.
Coincidentally I was checked out by the extremely amiable and knowledgeable about the Persian Gulf Weddington Jeche (34) who comes from Wedza. He’s a front office cashier who originally worked and trained with the Cresta Group here and moved to Dubai from South Africa.
A third Zimbabwean was on leave back at home and I was unable to “bump into” a fourth: Miles Bruce, the son of Zimbabwean hotelier Bill Bruce and travel agent Rosie Bruce, who I was told worked in the bar and restaurants in the top three floors of the hotel.
I heard he was a Marriott Voyager intern, who will win his spurs in the industry working in several of their properties worldwide. At least two more Zimbos were on the payroll.
I spent a considerable amount of quality relaxing time in the top floor pub there, enjoying 360 degree views of what must be one of the most spectacular cities in the world. Especially at night when the lights shine in every direction and vehicles 355 metres below on the broad motorways look the size of ants.
Of course 355 metres is 1 164 feet and when the Marquis opened for business last November 11, followed by a spectacular grand opening on February 27 this year, it topped the record for the previous world’s highest dedicated hotel.
That was the Rose Towers (also in Dubai), but a mere 1 093 feet tall! Everyone quoted the superbly built masterpiece as costing a whopping 1,8 billion United Arab Emirate Dirhams to construct.
I now understand that the British and American billion are the same, so, either way, that converts to almost US$500 million.This was my 12th visit to or through Dubai and the rate of exchange has always been the same: 3,6 UAE dirhams to the US$.
There seems to be no black market. Cab drivers refuse to accept the Greenback. If buying in one of the mind-boggling Aladdin’s cave malls, the tellers will accept most convertible currencies.
If using a credit or debit card, they will ask in which currency you want the transaction to be conducted, thus reducing bank charges.
The Emirates Group owns the magnificent building and Marriott have the management contract. It is just one of around 450 hotels and several hundred apartment hotels in Dubai; rooms are from US$350 a night, splendidly comfortable bed and magnificent buffet breakfast.
The conference room (or convention centre as they are called in the Gulf) can easily accommodate 1 000 delegates.
A wedding between two well-to-do Arab families can often see 1 000 guests being seated and entertained.
It was damned hot when I was in Dubai on this latest visit: topping out at 46C and 49% humidity, so I spent quite a lot of time in the welcoming and refreshing 30 metre long swimming pool on the seventh floor.
The usual giggling presence of a dozen or so willowy air hostesses in skimpy bikinis was a definite added attraction, as was much needed shade, under palm trees or sun umbrellas, plus the close proximity of a bar serving icily chilled tall drinks, more often than not of a moderately intoxicating nature, making the 7th floor a frequent destination for the high-speed lift from my eyrie-like 62nd floor air-conditioned luxury.
My previous visits have always, coincidentally, been in the depths of the northern hemisphere winter when the Gulf is comparatively cool. That’s a good time of the year to take one of the Jewels of the Emirates cruises, usually a week long, which start and end in the harbour at Dubai.
(Dusty Miller flew to and from London Heathrow from Harare, via Dubai, on Emirates at his own expense, but the airline upgraded him to Business Class and put him up at the JW Marriott Marquis.)