Dubai: One Night at the Burj al Arab
If you find yourself heading to the Maldives, there’s something you should know. This tip probably sounds ridiculous, but hear me out: Have something AWESOME to look forward to when you leave there, because you’re going to need it. After achieving ultimate nirvana in the otherworldly paradise that is the Maldives, it might just be impossible to drag yourself away. That is, unless you’re headed to the iconic Burj al Arab: the sailboat-shaped, 7-star, most luxurious hotel in the world for one unforgettable night...
I have been beyond fascinated with “The Burj" (Tower of the Arabs) since it was built twenty years ago - little Miss Wanderlust emerged early! The so-recognizable sailboat-shaped facade, the luxurious linens, the gold gilded details, and the jumping fountain at the base of the nearly 600’ (180m) tall atrium was just too cool. As soon as I first heard of it, I made it my lifelong goal to spend a night there. Yeah - I was a little “extra”, even back then.
For years, the Burj had a 2-night minimum stay. And with rooms starting at around US $1,500 per night (yikes!), it was something I was a VERY long way away from ever accomplishing. But I don’t give up. Jeff (my travel bestie from my Maldives post) and I had talked many times about staying at the Burj together (actually, it was mostly me talking and him nodding and smiling) but I knew he was totally onboard. It was only natural to make our Maldives - NYC return flight into a 24-hour stopover and stay at the newly-one-night-minimum hotel. After saving money for longer than I’d ever like to admit, I was finally able to swing the investment. And yes, I just called a room at the Burj “an investment" - it was an investment into my happiness bank, okay? :)
Let’s just put it this way. The hotel, the staff, and the service at the Burj al Arab was wilder than my greatest dreams. And not just because of how fancy the joint was. It was the way they handled a situation that made them earn those 7 stars. But more about that in a sec.
Jeff and I landed at Dubai airport and were met by a woman holding a sign with my name on it at the gate. She whisked us through security and customs with zero abandon and straight to our sparkling car where our driver was waiting for us with pink and red roses! We get into a huge fancy BMW for the 25-minute drive to the hotel. The driver was communicating with the hotel that we were getting close and as we pulled into the hotel's drive, the tallest, most handsome man with longest eyelashes I'd ever seen met us at the entrance, collected our bags with ease, and walked us straight in. At this moment, I could have died and I would have died a happy girl. I truly felt like a princess, walking into this grand hotel (and with my best friend too!).
There were a good amount of tourists taking photos in the lobby, but as a New Yorker, it wasn’t anything I didn’t see every day in Manhattan. And get this: there’s no proper front desk. When we arrived, we were whisked straight up to our room by a hostess.
Extra - Extra
Because staying at the Burj wasn’t extra enough, we also decided to go add sprinkles to the cake by going skydiving over The Palm with Skydive Dubai. I love to jump out of airplanes (sorry Dad) and had been about 8 times previously. As fanastic as my past jumps have been (like one over Queenstown, New Zealand) I knew this was the one that would take the cake.
The View from the Top... and A Big Oops
Even though we had a 3:30pm reservation, Skydive Dubai is one busy place! We signed all the paperwork, finished our safety training, and jumped with the last airplane that went up that day. As I hadn't been diving in a few years due to a foot injury, I was so excited that I couldn't get out of that plane fast enough! Just as I suspected, the jump was simply RAD. The warm weather was perfectly clear, my Australian tandem master was awesome, and the view of The Palm, the Burj al Arab, the Burj Khalifa, and the rest of the incredible Dubai skyline from 10k feet up was something straight out of a Sean Connery movie. As Skydive Dubai was getting ready to close for the evening, they gave us each our photo memory card that came with each jump with our photos and a video too. We headed back to the Burj to eat some dinner and obsess over the room, plus I had a pedicure appointment in the spa!
After I returned from the spa with my soft white CND Shellac pedi, it wasn’t until 10 pm that I went to watch my video on the Mac desktop in our room (I know) and instead saw that they gave me someone else's photos! I will say, the guy was pretty cute, but I needed my photos. It was the best jump of my life! The store opened at 10am so I set a reminder for 9:55am (as if I could forget!).
I had previously told Jeff that I was going to pull an all-nighter so I could absorb every single second being there and every square inch of our suite, but as soon as I laid down on the king bed, I knew I wasn’t going anywhere for awhile. I LOVE to sleep, and the bed at the Burj was legit the coziest, pillowy-est, most delicious bed I have ever laid on. And did I mention the full-size Hermes his-and-hers fragrances and bath products that were all over the bathrooms and nightstand?
Our Amazing Race
I set the alarm to wake us around 7 am. We were scheduled to leave for the airport at noon and I had to get in touch with Skydive Dubai above all else. An on-time departure was looking risky as we still had SO MUCH to do at the Burj: take a bath in the 8-person jetted tub! Have breakfast on the brand new Terrace! Take selfies everywhere! Go to Wild Wadi Waterpark!
At the hotel, there is a concierge that sits on every single floor. Remember: there’s no proper front desk. As soon as 10 am hit, I called Skydive Dubai from our room to no avail. I ran (yes, full-on ran) my bare, newly pedicured feet to our concierge desk to breathlessly explain what happened with my photos. I also explained that we would really like to go to Wild Wadi plus have breakfast on the new terrace and could they please just keep trying to call Skydive Dubai for me while we ran around? Instagram is waiting!
They said sure, they would absolutely keep trying to call for me. Jeff and I darted around the hotel like two kids on the Amazing Race, only without the dusty backpacks. Crunched for time but not wanting to waste our free admission at the waterpark, (normally $85 EACH, plus we got a pass to skip the lines!) we hailed a Burj golf cart to the park, flew down one exhilerating waterslide, and ran out and back to the hotel. They must have thought we were crazy! New Yorkers - always on the go!
The Wow Factor
So you know how I said the Burj really went above and beyond for us? Well, when Jeff and I returned from our brunch/Wild Wadi/golf cart/selfie excursion, we found out that our driver went to Skydive Dubai to pick up my photos personally and was on his way back to us with them. The hotel even gave him their own flash drive to put my photos on so it was with 100% certainty that it worked. And- he actually had Skydive Dubai open the photos in front of him to be sure they were of me. True story.
I never doubted for a moment that this would be incredible, but everything was above and beyond. And then beyond that! I’ll definitely be back again, next time for a two-night trip! Who’s coming with me?