Shine bright like Dubai.
If you have enjoyed my previous post about the Top 10 things to do in Dubai, then I reckon you might want to pick your jaw back up from the desk by the time you finish reading this post. From the tallest hotel in the world, to the world’s only 7 star hotel, Dubai sure knows how to put on a show.
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai
At 355 metres high, the five star JW Marriott Marquis twin towers are standing tall right in the centre of Dubai. With 72 floors and 1,608 rooms in total, it is currently holding the title of the world’s tallest hotel. The rate starts from 600AED (AU$176) per night, it was a privilege to be invited and stayed as a guest at the JW Marriott Marquis throughout our media trip.
The hotel is still considered spanking new with one tower opened February last year, and the other tower only opened recently, you can rest assured that all rooms are clean, spacious and equipped with the latest technology and amenities from the central touchscreen control system to rainforest overhead shower for that extra luxury touch.
There are a total of 14 bars, lounges and restaurants within the hotel for the most discerning of travellers. The Lounge on the lobby level is a nice space for the casual meetings, relax with newspapers or have a quiet drink to wind down. I just love the colourful wall by using recycled alcohol bottles.
Breakfast buffet is served at Kitchen 6, almost entire floor is set up with food stations from Western, Continental, Chinese, Japanese, Indian to Emirati breakfasts. Not to mention the juice, deli and pastry stations. For AED140 (AU$41), you seriously can eat to your heart’s content every morning.
Nawwara – Mediterranean Restaurant
The latest addition to the restaurant collections in the hotel is Nawwara, a Mediterranean restaurant that specialises in Levantine cuisine with matching exotic cocktails. The opulent ambience with Arabesque decor in this restaurant is simply stunning. We were hosted to a great lunch with guest chef Greg Malouf with a special menu designed by Greg Malouf himself and also Nawwara chef de cuisine Youssef Issa.
We were totally spoiled with an impressive spread that showcases Greek and Levantine cuisine. Our table was constantly graced with soft pita bread to mop up all the dips including velvety smooth hommous, baba ghanoush and muhammara red pepper and walnut dip.
The food just came coming; we were feasted with a hearty meal of duck and stuffed zucchini tagine served with buttered almond couscous with golden raisins and a salad of artichokes with shankleesh yoghurt cheese; but it was chef Greg Malouf’s Moorish Pie that stole the show. The round pie itself was filled with ricotta and spinach, encased with buttery, flaky pastry served on black slate with the Hamsa hand stencil using icing sugar was simply incredible that made us all gasp with excitement. But the elaborate presentation didn’t stop there, we were sweetened with the cutest camel wafers ever and also fresh booze, extremely stretchy Lebanese mastic ice cream.
The lunch at Nawwara was a great start to our trip, and they had also arranged a progressive dinner on our final night in Dubai for us to check out several other restaurants at the hotel. And if you think Narrawa looked amazing during day time, then wait till you see it comes to life in the evening!
The elegant dining room has turned into a moody romantic oasis where the central piece of silver orbs in different sizes were glowing like stars and moons, one can imagine dining under the moonlit Arabian night in this restaurant.
The progressive dinner began on the terrace at Nawarra restaurant where we got to sample the bar menu and the exotic cocktails with Arabesque twist. I absolutely adored the ‘middle east pizza’ of bresaola on ‘Toshka’ bread and also the Morrocan bread ‘Bullets’ stuffed with chicken were the bombs!
We moved on their Japanese restaurant, Izakaya for a light entree tasting. I felt like being transported to Harajuku area in Japan, it was bright, cutesy and colourful inside, they even came with a Wasabi Girl, an infectiously bubbly girl in green wig who was always ready to grate you some fresh wasabi and read your fortunes. If you have read the previous post, then you’d have seen how amazing the fish market is here in Dubai; the sashimi here at Izakaya was indeed fresh and tasty.
Wasabi Girl happily led us to the next restaurant for our mains. Rang Mahal, is one of the most raved about contemporary Indian restaurant in Dubai, established by Indian born British chef Atul Kochhar, the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star for Indian cuisine.
The restaurant is deceitfully looking like a nightclub, the entrance led to a long, dark corridors with hidden alcoves behind curtains suddenly opened up to a grand dining hall with gigantic carved wooden pillars soaring from ground to ceiling. It was as majestic as Taj Mahal. It was excruciatingly dark inside with the seductive red mood lighting was any photographers’ worst nightmares.
They definitely don’t compromise on the heat level from chillies; the dishes we tried were pleasantly seasoned with a punchy heat but not being too spicy or hot. Their signature dish of line-caught sea bass was grilled to perfection with a nice charred crispy skin and soft white flesh underneath; served with Atul’s famous turmeric and coconut curry broth with mustard tempered potatoes.
The final stop was at Prime 68 for desserts. Sweets and cakes were sprawled along the table, and we capped the night off with a tall glass of Irish coffee. We simply couldn’t eat another thing but still managed to have a few nibbles of the cakes, as we slowly drifting away into food coma.
Batee Date Factory Tour
In the past, dates were considered a main source of nutrition for Emiratis and it is still an important staple in their diet today. We visited the Bateel Date Factory to learn more about these fruit, to check out the facility and also got to sample some of the 28 varieties they process through their plant.
Remember that episode on Amazing Race where they had to arrange the dates from the cheapest to the most expensive? That’s right, it was filmed right here at Bateel Dates Factory. The most common dates we all familiar is the medjool, but little did you know there are actually more than 600 different types of dates around the world. The dates come in all different sizes, shapes, textures, sweetness, and the most expensive dates are the Ajwa, at $250AED (AU$73) per kilogram. Dates are high in dietary fibre, full of mineral and magnesium, and have more antioxidants than any other fruit. So eat up!
The dates here at Bateel are certified organic, all harvested from their own plantations in Al Ghat in Saudi Arabia every August. They are very proud of their dates free from pesticide as they have a dates cleaning machine which apparently is one of its own kind in the world and is quite a secret so no one can steal the technology.
Apart from selling the fresh and conserved dates, they also turned the dates into all sorts of different products including biscuits and chocolates. Their famous horseshoe shortbread cookies are filled with date paste, then dipped in white chocolate and crushed pistachios.
The facility here is quite hands-on, many of the tasks are actually man labour. Staffs were rolling clumps of pitted date flesh back into the shape of a date, then all go into spinner that looks like a cement mixer where the dates will be sprayed with chocolate coating. The chocolate coated dates were then ready for enrobing; the tiny little dates marched into the machine and then came out with a brand new glossy coat of chocolate. Now the dates are ready to be packed, sealed and wrapped.
Camelicious Camel Farm Tour
We also got up close and personal with camels at the Camelicious Camel Farm that specialises in camel milk. Camelicious is one of the largest camel milk supplier in the world, they started selling camel milk in 2006 but mainly in UAE. They only recently sent the first batch of milk to UK in January, and soon will also be available in Malaysia.
Depends on how you see it, apparently camel milk is better than cow’s milk as it only has half of the fat and low in lactose. It is not scientific proven but they have heard stories that some people with lactose intolerance had no trouble drinking camel milk and feeling fine.
They have 3,600-4,000 camels here at the farm and looking to expand to 10,000 within the next two years but no more as they want to have the quality control over their product. These beautiful creatures were well looked after, protected, pampered and even spoiled if do say so myself, if I do say so myself.
And camel milk chocolate got to be good for you right? Nassma is a sub-company to the camel milk farm which produces fine chocolate by using camel milk powder. It is a unique product but they already exported to Japan, and soon you will be able to find their products at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, then to European market including Paris, Venice, Prague and also Germany.
Beach Canteen – Dubai Food Festival
For food lovers, February and March are the perfect months you want to visit Dubai, not only the weather was at around mild 20s degree Celsius everyday, but it was also the time when Dubai Food Festival in full swing. We checked out the Beach Canteen, a pop-up of food stalls right by the beach, set up in massive shipping containers.
There were a small selection of food stalls to choose from, but we settled on some tasty barbecued seafood.
The Big Grill – Dubai Food Festival
The Big Grill event was a lot more happening where many of the ex-pats came out for an all-you-can-eat outdoor buffet and music concert with some big names like Diana King, No Mercy and UB40! For AED350 (AU$102.50) per ticket, patrons were able to devour all kinds of meat, from skewers, shawarma to even DIY grill your own chicken on a mini BBQ.
The 7-star hotel – Burj Al Arab
Can a hotel to have 7-star rating?
Apparently you can and there is only one in the world. It needs no introduction, hello and welcome to Burj Al Arab. With the design of a ship’s sail, the hotel is built on a man-made island with restricted access to only those who stay at the hotel or have a reservation at one of the restaurants. Room rates starting from AED4941 (AU$1447.00) per night, it is not a hotel for everyone. However, it is definitely worth a visit and marvel at the architecture inside, and the more affordable way to gain access to the hotel is by making a reservation for the high tea (AED360pp (AU$105.45)) or have a drink at the Skyview bar (minimum spend AED320pp (AU$93.73)).
But let me take you on a cyber private tour!
British architect Tom Wright from WKK Architects not only designed an impressive hotel, but it is also an innovative and functional hotel that is adaptable to the harsh climates in Dubai. You know the “sail” of the hotel, is indeed made of strong fabric material that shields the hotel from sandstorm but also keeping the hotel at a cooler temperature during summer.
There are 60 floors, 18 lifts and 202 double-storey hotel rooms and all of them are suites. And everywhere you look, there are gold. We were led on an exclusive tours of the two most luxurious suites in the hotel, started from the Presidential Suite.
So what do you get for AED60,000 (AU$17,600) per night in the Presidential Suite?
The suite is 667 square metres with the colour scheme of purple and gold throughout the floors, it has an exclusive pre-function area, two separate lounges, two bedrooms, two bar areas, a private dining area and also “his” and “hers” dressing rooms with full-size Jacuzzi and complimentary Hermes toiletries. Not only that, the suite comes with personal butler at your service, 24 hours. And for the tech geek, you’ll love to play with the 24 carat gold iPad!
But why settle at Presidential Suite when you can have the Royal Suite, right?
There was a symphony of oohs and ahhs among us as soon as we walked through the front door, our jaws dropped to find the Royal Suite is totally blinged up in gold from floor to ceiling. It costs AED84,000 (AU$24,600) to spend a night in this suite that is so over the top, only Kim Kardashian will feel at home here.
And then, who fancy a golden shower?
You can never have too much gold….
Canopy bed with mirrored ceiling in the Royal Suite. If you think that’s extravagant, think again.
One of the beds even rotates! It will rotate from facing the window to the entertainment unit at the push of a button. You simply have to see it to believe it. All I could think of is Austin Powers.
We simply couldn’t come to Burj Al Arab without visiting the renowned restaurant, Al Mahara. We were ushered into a tiny elevator and descended into the abyss; then found ourselves at the golden lair like in a James Bond film set. The tunnel led us into the aquatic dining hall.
Commonly known as the “underwater restaurant” by many, it is actually a huge seawater aquarium that holds close to 1 million litres of water behind the 18cm thick glass.
Our media group were invited to dine in the more cosy private room for this special occasion.
The lunch at Al Mahara was a taste of what the restaurant has to offer and showcased some of their signature dishes. The Alaskan king crab and foie gras raviolo was simply divine, if only we could have a bigger serve.
And there you have it, tempted to book a ticket and eat your way around Dubai yet?
Burj Al Arab
Jumeira 3, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 (04) 301 7777
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai
Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Hotel Tel: +971 (04) 414 0000
Restaurants Tel: +971 (04) 414 3000
Izakaya – Level 5
Open Monday to Saturday 6pm-midnight
Kitchen 6 – Level 1
Open daily 6am-3pm
Nawwara – Level 5
Open daily 7pm-2am
Positano – Level 2
Open daily 6pm-midnight
Prime 68 – Level 68
Open daily 6pm-midnight
Rang Mahal – Level 4
Open daily 6pm-1am