Dubai witnessed one of the most lavish parties of all times, the spectacular opening of the Atlantis The Palm, in November 2008. Over 2,000 celebrities and Hollywood royalty flew down to witness the inauguration, including Wesley Snipes, Lindsey Lohan and Robert De Niro.
Rumored to have cost approximately USD 40 million, the night included a live performance by pop star Kylie Minogue. Dubai residents gathered all along the shoreline and in high-rise towers across the city to catch a glimpse of the much talked about fireworks that were to follow the night of revelry. With guests at the party tweeting and reporters live-blogging, the city waited in anticipation for the grand finale; but nobody could have been prepared for the show that followed just a little after midnight.
The fireworks organized by the Grucci Family were a meticulously synchronized display in over 40 locations around the Palm, including the water, the Palm's fronds and the hotel itself. The enthralling show cost even more than the fireworks at the Beijing Olympics and left the audience mesmerized.
And so, this is how Atlantis The Palm, a fantasy-themed hotel, instantly became the most talked about hotspot in Dubai, surprisingly even overshadowing the 7-star hotel that had always intrigued tourists visiting the United Arab Emirates.
Driving along the man-made Palm Island, one can’t help but be amazed at the structure of the hotel. An intimidating building standing tall along the Arabian shore, it is the exact replica of its twin structure in the Bahamas. Built at a cost of approximately USD1 billion, it took about 2 years to construct.
Despite its enormous size, the resort is quite easy to navigate and is divided into two main wings, West and East. As you enter the Lobby and marvel at the glorious glass centerpiece by Dale Chihuly, you can either head towards The West Wing to the conference rooms, business centre and hospitality lounge or the East Wing that leads you towards Aquaventure and Dolphin Bay. The restaurants and cafes are dotted all over the property. With 1,539 rooms in total, the Atlantis is a self-contained city in itself. Once inside, you can find everything there; restaurants, retail shops, cafes, a spa, a beach and, of course, the water park.
Aquaventure is the 42-acre water themed park within the property. Regardless of the weather, the scorching summer or the distinctly chilly winter, there will always be a steady stream of guests. There are rides for every age group, from toddlers to adults; everyone will find one to suit their taste.
Thrill seekers can head straight for The Leap of Faith, The Plunge and The Shark Attack. These rides give the ultimate adrenaline high. While going down water coasters and slides, you get to pass through transparent tunnels where sharks and fish are swimming above and underneath you.
For something more relaxed, grab a tube and meander down the lazy river, choosing either the mellow water path or the adventurous rapids that can get quite rough.
The younger children can enjoy the shallow water playground that includes ropes for climbing into play areas and huge buckets tipping over gallons of water on excited children. This space is an ideal spot for splashing around and playing in a safe surrounding.
The Dolphin Bay is an exclusive shallow water lagoon dedicated to interacting with the sea mammals under close supervision of the trained staff. Activities include playing and taking photographs with dolphins, as well as swimming with them in the lagoon!
To admire the sea life, The Lost Chambers is the perfect opportunity to relax, observe and learn about the marine life within the Aquarium. With up to 65,000 different types of fish, you can opt for the guided tours to learn more about the amazing sea life and stories about the legend of the mythical city of Atlantis.
The Diving School within the resort is for seasoned and first-time divers. They can train and certify anyone wanting to swim within the aquarium or out in the Arabian Gulf. The PADI certifications are recognized locally and internationally. Once certified, the divers have the option to swim alongside the exotic marine life collected within the Atlantis or ask the hotel to organize a boat trip to Musandam in Oman.
Depending on the mood, guests can head to either of the two big swimming pools in the property. The Zero Entry Pool close to Nasimi Beach has a family-centered design that is best for a dip in the water with the children. For a more serene and calm atmosphere the Royal Pool with its infinity design is the perfect hideout. The view of the Palm Jumeirah and the skyscrapers from the pool is breathtaking.
There are a total of 19 restaurants and cafes scattered within the property, ensuring every palette is catered for. Nobu, Ronda Locatelli and Rostang at the Atlantis are rated amongst the top-tier restaurants in the world. The Michelin-star chefs have made sure each of their eateries serve the tastiest of foods from the freshest of ingredients, all with exceptionally designed interiors.
For the more casual, family style dining, Kaleidoscope and Saffron serve Asian and International buffets while TBJ serves up burgers in a retro setting. The relaxed outdoor barbeque on the weekends at Nasimi Beach has quite a loyal following.
The Shuiqui Spa is rated amongst the most luxurious facilities in the United Arab Emirates, offering all types of exotic massages by trained therapists to relax the mind and body. Dedicating a day at the spa is the ultimate luxury, and you are guaranteed to leave feeling refreshed and energized.
Even the rooms are designed with the marine life in mind; with color palettes that mimic the beach and the sea, and decals and accessories in the rooms that remind people they're in an exotic location. Whether you're walking in the hallways leading to the rooms, or walking through the lobby, it feels like you're floating through an ocean-like wonderland.
Atlantis The Palm, located on the man-made island, with its pristine beaches, exotic marine life and top class food is the largest aquatic entertainment destination in the Middle East. A symbol of luxury and the epitome of comfort, the resort has a magical aura that will lure you into coming back.
Images Courtesy of Atlantis Hotel Dubai. For more information on Atlantis Hotel Dubai, check out their website.