Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
What is it? A 405-room Ottoman-inspired resort located on the western crescent of Palm Jumeirah, in Dubai, Zabeel Saray is the newest property in the Jumeirah stable, a company best known for the uber opulent Burj Al Arab.
Is this one opulent, too? Well, it was designed by Turkish architects Kursat Aybak Architectural to reflect the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman influence is apparent as soon as you walk into the lobby, where chandeliers, hand-painted Turkish artworks and lavish murals conjure up an atmosphere of magnificence. Rooms and suites have views of the Arabian Gulf. They range in size from 40 square metres to 310 square metres and are decorated with Ottoman flair, with tasseled cushions, silk drapes, carved furniture and marble bathtubs. For larger families, there are four- and five-bedroom beach villas set among palm trees. The villas come with 24-hour butler service, maid's quarters and private pools.
Is the food good? There are plenty of choices within the resort. Of the 10 restaurants, bars and lounges, the standout is the Turkish restaurant, Lalezar, which serves cuisine prepared by Turkish chefs. The decor and attentive waiters add to the ambience. Other options are: Voi, designed to reflect French colonial Vietnam of the 1920s; Amala, for an Indian feast; Al Nafoorah, which serves authentic Lebanese cuisine; Imperium, a Parisian brasserie-style restaurant decorated with elaborate chandeliers and mirrors; Sultan's Lounge, for traditional Turkish high tea; and The C Club, for cognacs, cigars and chocolate paired by the in-house sommelier.
Is the spa worth writing home about? Absolutely. The Talise Ottoman Spa offers an extensive menu of services and facilities that encourages relaxation as well as socialising. The main draw- card is a spectacular Turkish hammam, which has separate areas for men and women. The majestic Royal Majlis is a grand chandeliered hall with an enormous jacuzzi in the centre surrounded by lounging alcoves. It leads to the hammam, where you lie on a heated marble slab while an attendant gives you a traditional Turkish scrub followed by a foam massage with olive-oil soap. The spa is 8,000 square metres and has 42 treatment rooms, including eight hydrotherapy rooms, two steam rooms and three saunas. It also has four outdoor cabanas, a gym, two indoor saltwater swimming pools and beauty salons.
What about the children? Selim's Kids Club offers supervised activities for children of all ages and is free from noon to 6pm. Activities include beach games, arts and crafts, music, films and sports. Babysitting services are available at an additional charge.
Why go now? Emirates airline has a special offer that allows first-class passengers travelling to Sao Paulo, Brazil, or Geneva, Switzerland (before August 31), Copenhagen, Denmark (September 30), and Hamburg, Germany (October 31), to stay two nights in Jumeirah Zabeel Saray free of charge. The deal includes breakfast and free access to the Wild Wadi Waterpark.
What's the bottom line? Rooms start from 1,000 dirham (HK$2,100), plus 20 per cent fees, and include breakfast, internet access and entrance to the Wild Wadi Waterpark.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray is at The Palm Jumeirah, Crescent Road (West), Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, tel: 971 4 453 0000; www.jumeirah.com.