By Ben Lerwill | June 2018 | 5 minute read
It might be small but Dubai packs a big punch when it comes to hotel launches, attraction openings, new restaurants and fresh additions to its ever-expanding skyline. Stay up to date on the latest product with this run-down of what’s new in Dubai.
“Now is a great time to plan a visit to Dubai. There’s an influx of hotel openings that’s driving prices down and agents should use this to their advantage. But last-minute deals aren’t the way forward. All of the best flight deals are for early birds so tell clients to book now for a stay later this year.”
NIKKI HAIN, MIDDLE EAST PRODUCT MANAGER, PREMIER HOLIDAYS
Sky high reputation
Man-made structures have defined today’s Dubai. The destination has long been synonymous with high-end hotels, state-of-the-art malls and boundary-pushing architecture, and thanks to a climate that seldom drops below 18C and a restaurant scene that keeps bettering itself, Dubai’s popularity is now a given. Certainly British travellers love the place: the UK represents Dubai’s third-largest overseas source market and saw its numbers climb by 2% last year to 1.265 million.
By design, the emirate is somewhere that’s almost constantly unveiling new properties and attractions. And with 2018 no exception, now is a great time to plan a visit, says Nikki Hain, Middle East Product Manager for Premier Holidays.
“There’s an influx of hotel openings at the moment, which is driving prices down, so this year is a fantastic time to snap up a Dubai bargain,” she says, before adding more advice. “Agents should use this to their advantage, although don’t make the mistake of thinking that a last-minute deal is the way forward. All of the best flight deals are to be had when you book early, so the best tip to give clients is to book now for a stay in Dubai later this year.”
Emirates is launching two new routes to Dubai from the UK this year. A daily service from London Stansted begins on June 8, while a daily service from Edinburgh commences on October 1. The airline already flies to Dubai from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham.
Top tip: Non-stop flights from the UK to Dubai usually take around seven hours, with Dubai time GMT +4. Bear these factors in mind when planning an itinerary.
As ever, Dubai’s hotel scene is busy. Key openings this year include the 350-room W Hotel The Palm, designed to resemble a letter W and set to be unveiled in September; the 528-room Gevora Hotel, which became the tallest hotel in the world when it opened at the start of 2018; the 384-room Rove Dubai Marina, which has been welcoming guests since April and is now the fifth Rove Hotel in the emirate; and two new properties from Rotana, the five-star Al Bandar Rotana and the fully furnished serviced apartments of Al Bandar Arjaan Rotana. Looking ahead, eye-catching properties in the pipeline include the Middle East’s first Dorchester Hotel and the 100% solar-powered, 143-room Hotel Indigo Dubai Sustainable City. And, perhaps most interestingly of all, the QE2 cruise liner has soft-opened as a luxury Dubai hotel at Port Rashid, with a full opening scheduled for October.
Top tip: Dubai Marina, where the new Rove Hotel is located, is packed with good places to eat, shop and unwind.
Heston Blumenthal is to open a restaurant in Dubai next year. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – a concept that already exists in London and Melbourne – will debut at the new Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences in 2019.
Meanwhile, recent openings include Aqua Pod, the world’s first floating sustainable drive-through restaurant, and Hoseki, an exclusive nine-seat Japanese restaurant at Bvlgari Resort.
There have also been numerous reports that Wyndham West Bay Dubai Marina will open a MasterChef-themed restaurant by the end of the year, showcasing the food of the show’s contestants from around the world.
Top tip: Friday brunches are a local institution in Dubai. The best of them involve opulent seafood buffets and free-flowing champagne. Don’t think of it as a quick bite – many diners linger for hours.
Entertainment and activities
Dubai Tourism has launched the Dubai Pass, a pre-paid card that gives cash-free access to 33 events and venues across Dubai. These include At The Top and Ski Dubai. Agents selling the pass are eligible for commission. The Desert Palm Hotel & Resort has a new Samana Spa, while Atlantis the Palm is offering ‘underwater yoga’ sessions in a room surrounded by an aquarium.
Burj Khalifa has a new ‘virtual reality experience’ that simulates the feel of climbing to the very tip of the tower – that’s 160 habitable floors – before descending, parachute-style, back to ground level and The Dubai Fountain.
Jumble is a new Crystal Maze-style attraction, billing itself as the world’s first indoor urban maze and involving various physical and mental challenges.
Dubai Safari, a 119-hectare wildlife project with 250 different species and over 2,500 animals, has opened its doors. It has a drive-through crocodile park and a drive-through hippo and tiger exhibit.
Top tip: “Dubai Parks & Resorts is at the top of most peoples’ wish list and if you’re a fan of animation, the DreamWorks zone is a must-visit. It’s entirely indoors, perfect for when it’s too hot outside.” Melanie Burton, Assistant Product Manager: Middle East & Indian Ocean, Travel 2
Culture and developments
The Frame, a 150-metre-high landmark built in the style of a huge picture frame, opened at the start of the year. It is essentially a viewing deck, but also gives an overview of Dubai’s history.
Architecture fans can also now admire The Opus, a multi-purpose building and the brainchild of late architect Dame Zaha Hadid – it’s due to welcome an ME by Meliá hotel by the year’s end.
Elsewhere, La Mer is a major new beachfront development located between Pearl Jumeirah and Jumeirah Bay.
Top tip: Try visiting The Frame in the hour or so before sunset, to see the city’s electric skyline appear from the dusk.