Having not been to Dubai for about five years and knowing how quickly the city changes, I was pretty excited to head back over this April. Hotels and venues never cease to amaze me at how competitive they are with each other locally, let alone on a global scale, and as I was conducting this site visit on behalf of two very different groups, I was able to see three fantastic properties and what the future of Dubai has to offer.
The first stop was the new Caesars Bluewater, on Bluewater Island. It was something of a surprise to me that Caesars would choose to put their brand known for partying, gambling and most recently “The Hangover” in the UAE – but it’s there! The property is right at the end of the Island with the Forum as their convention centre. The entire space is stunning, and it’s nice to have the Forum on a different level accessed from a set of external stairs, so those large groups don’t interfere with the leisure guests and vice versa.
Next up, Shangri-La Dubai. One of the oldest Shangri-La properties within their EMEA collection, but still an absolute gem. The lobby ceiling height is fantastic yet doesn’t feel too vast like a lot of properties in Dubai. The location is perfect for more business focused meetings as there is no sea view, so no way of forgetting that you are not in fact on vacation! The pool-side lends itself perfectly for drinks receptions and smaller number dinners, and the breakout space is located a short walk from the ballrooms, providing a great space for coffee breaks and networking.
Finally, a hotel that I have followed since I first visited in 2009, Atlantis The Palm. I was looking on behalf of a larger group this time, and this property ticks so many boxes! The vast food and beverage options are perfect for an international “dine around town” evening, and the thought of a welcome reception in The Lost Chambers Aquarium got all of my creative gears going! The waterpark is a great addition for an incentive, and the vast array of bedroom categories, housed in their own meeting and events tower, makes this the event planners dream. The phenomenal Stuart Pain conducted an awesome site visit and gave me tonnes of great ideas; the only regrettable one was introducing me to Wavehouse. A bowling alley, arcade games, surf simulator and live music – what could possibly go wrong. The majority of my evenings were spent here – and a buyout would make for an unforgettable evening!
Dubai offers a great opportunity for making memories with the sheer scale of your surroundings and the vast nature of moments to capture, from fountains to aquariums, tallest buildings to beautiful beaches. The activities that I was able to experience - dune bashing in the desert, a helicopter tour, speed boat trips to local market and gastronomy experiences – Dubai has it all, and at the right time of year, a great tan top-up too!