A stay at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray gets you Turkish luxury from the Ottoman era dialed into the max.
Words Abhishek Kulkarni
I like the simple life Indians live even when the bank balance of some is nothing short of volcanic eruptions. We’ve all at some point or another seen tough times and appreciate and understand the value of things and experiences. However, many of us are now well exposed to the world of pomp and opulence, we travel to all corners of the world, and have the means to afford the best of times when we want to. You don’t need to be born in money to experience luxury anymore. However, nothing usually prepares you for Dubai and that is actually the best preparation for this land of riches.
There are several flights to get to Dubai these days, but the one you should be booking for the full-Dubai experience is an Emirates flight. It takes you to Terminal 3, reserved only for Emirates flights, and by touchdown, I feel ten times richer already. At the exit, a full-size Lincoln Navigator SUV is waiting to pick me up, because hey, you don’t get out of Dubai airports in Corollas, only flagships of luxury manufacturers. One thing you notice about this Lincoln is that there’s enough space between the front seats to make it a viewing gallery for rear seat passengers. I didn’t want to miss a second of Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, the place I was going to stay over the next few days.
The moment you enter, you realise that Palm Jumeirah is a world away from the regular world. Drive up to almost the end of the west side of the Palm and it takes about 15 minutes to get to the hotel once you enter the premises; yes, it’s that big an island. While you might think of it as an inconvenience, I like the fact that it is secluded, almost in a world of its own. Zabeel Saray was designed to take you back to the opulent imperial palaces of the Ottoman era and that opulence drips like a rain shower through all the details of the hotel. The moment you enter the front porch, for example, it’s like walking into an intricately carved gold mine. A giant dome over the entrance is exactly the over-the-top drama you get in a luxurious Dubai address. There’s ascent in the air to add to the drama, make you feel special as you check-in, and fade out as you begin to make your way to the room. All of Zabeel Saray’s guests I presume must be very well to do, so smartly, the corridors taking you to your room are lined with boutique stores. Despite the imperial palace inspirations, the youthful boutique stores balance out the time gap.
There are plenty of views to be had as Zabeel Saray gives you views of the ocean on both sides, the outer one facing the Persian Gulf and on the inner side, the splendid views of the Palm. Prices at Zabeel Saray start from `35,000 and go up to about `90,000 per night although these prices may vary depending on season and availability. The most affordable room is called Deluxe King – a 495sqft room with a king size bed and a private balcony offering views of the Arabian Gulf. Stretch your budget a bit more and you get the Club King room, which is similar to the deluxe room but gets you complimentary access to the club lounge and free airport transfers. The junior suite is another step up, comes with a separate living room, Ottoman-inspired interiors, a fancy Turkish bath, and high-quality toiletries. If that feels a bit small, the 1012sqft Imperial Suite surely won’t. The imperial suite comes with its own dining room as well and gets you exclusive access to the club lounge.
I was in awe of the luxurious furnishings of the two-bedroom suite though, the best that Zabeel Saray has to offer. It comes with two master bedrooms, a living room, and a dining room, all spread across 1528sqft. I was staying at the Club King room, but it was not just any club room; it was the one with the best views. On one side, I could see the bungalows of the Palm while the other gave me a beautiful view of the infinity pool and beyond that, the spectacular scenes of Skydive Dubai, the famous sky diving Adventure Company.
The Zabeel Saray isn’t as big as many of the famous hotels Dubai is known for, yet big is a relative term when it comes to Dubai. It has 405 rooms, 38 suites, 8 restaurants, and 3 bars. A grand breakfast at the Imperium restaurant is a perfect start to the day, and you will particularly like Voi, the Vietnamese restaurant. Even if you are in the midst of an apocalypse, don’t forget to visit the award-winning Talise Ottoman spa. Turquoise doors open into this palatial part of the hotel and you will see people here who are at the best of their mental and physical health, courtesy of the spa programs on offer. At least the 45-minute Turkish Hammam is a must. Prices range from `20,000 to `50,000 for spa treatments.
The Zabeel Saray shot to prominence with Mission Impossible IV, and celebrities like Nicole Scherzinger swear by it. The pop star stayed at the Grand Imperial Suite during the filming of the ‘judge houses’ bit in X Factor 2012. It’s no surprise that Zabeel Saray is for the elite. Besides the design and the furnishings, the service stands out too, fitting for a five-star hotel that’s aiming to make a mark for itself among the best in the world. I wish I was here for more than a few days, but two nights here were rejuvenating enough too.