Travel

FIRST LOOK: INSIDE THE PALAZZO VERSACE DUBAI

It is the most extraordinary hotel experience, from the decor to the food and service, personifying luxury on every level. The Sandton Times is excited to be one of the first, globally, to take readers inside the exquisite Palazzo Versace Dubai, to get a taste of the Versace life.



6 December 2015: Arriving on Emirates at Dubai International Airport from Mumbai, the cooler temperatures in the United Arab Emirates this time of the year are welcomed – a bit like an autumn day in Sandton. A driver in a black Lexus pulls up and loads the two Travelite suitcases. The next two nights are at the Palazzo Versace Dubai – a Neoclassical masterpiece with subtle traces of Arabian architecture, filled with luxurious details on every level.

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Reminiscent of a 16th century Italian Palace, featuring a striking entrance, high ceilings, landscaped gardens, and a range of well-crafted Italian furnishings, the hotel is truly symbolic of the Versace lifestyle. Set in the heart of the Culture Village, less than 15 minutes away from Dubai International Airport and 8 minutes away from Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai, Palazzo Versace Dubai is conveniently located along the shores of the historic Dubai Creek, walking distance from the Al Jedaf Metro station.

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On arrival, two doormen in gorgeous black Versace designed mandarin collar suits step up to handle the luggage. They also assist in opening the doors to the striking ‘Pietra di Fiume’ design of the iconic Medusa and Greek decorated grand lobby. It’s as palatial and opulent as it can possibly get. Every detail is exquisite, from the ceilings hand-detailed in gold with a coral-like chandelier, to the extraordinary 1000sqm marble mosaic floor with bespoke furniture and textiles decorated with peacocks, falcons and horses.

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Time for a quick tour of the property. A walk through the 5-star hotel’s public spaces reveals several exclusive designs and fabrics from the House of Versace, while the lagoon pools and reflection ponds complement the serenity of the lush gardens that surround the hotel – a true luxury retreat for leisure travelers. The Palazzo Versace Dubai, developed in joint venture with Enshaa Group is probably the most luxurious hotel the Middle East has ever seen. Artistic director Donatella Versace has exclusively designed the interiors and furniture for each of the 215 rooms, bringing the universe of Versace truly to life. Each of the hotel’s 8 restaurants and bars is designed to have an al fresco terrace to reflect the heritage of Palazzos, where the internal court was the informal space to meet, dine and enjoy the weather. The three outdoor pools are decorated with mosaic tiles and surrounded by palm trees and flowers.

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Check-in is complimented with a taste of traditional Arabic coffee served by a gentleman in traditional attire, served with dates – a very common and popular Middle Eastern sweet delicacy, widely available in the region. It’s time to head up to the room, settle in and then head out to explore Dubai.

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One of the most striking features of the hotel, is the glorious violet carpet that runs along the hallways of each floor, setting the tone for the elegant room. Every single piece of furniture and fabric that adorns the room is designed and tailor-made by the House of Versace exclusively for the Palazzo Versace Dubai. It’s too gorgeous for words. Throughout the designs run the iconic motifs of Versace, such as the Medusa head, the Greek Key and the house’s legendary prints.

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The attention to detail is incredible. From water glasses, to gowns, personal accessories, pens, cutlery and crockery – everything is thought through and executed at the highest level, fit for royalty – probably the closest experience of living in an actual palace.

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The classical execution of each room is complimented by some high-tech touch pads that control almost every element from the electronic curtains to a variety of mood lighting, room access and services. In addition to this, the television is part television part computer interface offering access to channels and other services at the guests disposal.

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The bathroom is equally as romantic with an array of amenities from shavers, shaving foam, ear-plugs, hair bands, toothbrush and toothpaste to mouthwash, bath salts and more. Everything has been thought of and the Versace brand is beautifully executed down to the finest details.

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Yes – even the towels, gowns, slippers, fabric laundry bags, water glass coasters and stationary have been given a touch of Versace with the finest execution.

“Versace is a renowned fashion, luxury and lifestyle Company. Since the very beginning we’ve encompassed many product categories – from clothing to accessories, from luxury goods to the home collection – to convey the uniqueness and iconic style of the brand. In 2000, we have pioneered the luxury fashion branded hotels opening the first Palazzo Versace Gold Coast, Australia and today we are proud to bring the ultimate Versace lifestyle in Dubai with the new hotel. The fine and luxurious designs by Versace will be present in every detail of the living environment, and luxury will become a lifestyle”.

– Chief Executive Officer of Versace, Gian Giacomo Ferraris

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No visit to the Palazzo Versace Dubai is complete without a visit to the hotels Italian and Seafood inspired restaurant VANITAS. Best to get dressed up in a three-piece suit and tie, to give the 4-course dinner the right ambiance and appropriate look.

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The magnificent dining area of VANITAS is fit for royalty, with its dramatic red and blue upholstered chairs, wall murals and beautiful detailed ceiling and chandelier.

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Every meal and refreshment is served in Versace Rosenthal formal dinnerware and crystal glasses, which is truly stately, making each bite and sip an absolute joy. From starter to dessert, dinner at VANITAS is culinary theater, with each presentation and course bringing more delight to the eye.

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As an appetizer, the waiter brings a selection of fresh breads served with Olives and a variety of dips including delicious Olive Oil combined with Balsamic Vinegar for dipping. To start, it’s Burrata Pugliese drizzled with Olive Oil and served with Garden Tomatoes and a Pomegranate Dressing. A great dish to share, accompanied by a beautifully grilled Octopus, with a splash of Lemon and Shaved Fennel. Delicious.

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As a second course, and another one to share, is the Spaghetti Mancini with Canadian Lobster, Cherry Tomatoes and a VANITAS Garden Salad – a signature dish. Beautifully cooked with the presentation an artpiece on a plate.

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A traditional Italian Casserole makes up the main course, dished up at the table, on Tuscany Roasted Garlic Bread, showcasing one of VANITAS most well known dishes, bringing together a rustic medley of Seafood. This can only be topped by a final performance best viewed on The Sandton Times Instagram account – Affirmative Al Caffe is a Vanilla Ice Cream dessert, encapsulated in a Chocolate Dome, only to be revealed by a stream of hot Single Origin Coffee Espresso. A must watch!

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VANITAS at the 5-star designer brand hotel on Dubai‘s creek, is one of two restaurants visited, the other being GIARDINO, which mainly serves a most elaborate breakfast. Set with four live kitchen’s, each with their own theme, and a selection of fruits, cold meats, cereals and anything one could think of for breakfast, this spread is to be enjoyed over a few hours, whilst over-looking the palm-trees and one of the hotels three pools. The main pool, in the heart of the hotel, overlooks a future marina for those wanting to park their yacht or speedboat.

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Chef leads a tour of this abundant breakfast presentation and the inevitable question of who washes the exquisite Rosenthal Versace Homeware crockery everyday, comes up. As a side note, a plate in the latest collection can cost around R8’500 at Spilhaus. Chef smiles and says that he has a very careful team that clean each item slowly and by hand. With a breakfast plate in hand featuring some crab meat soup, Arabic, Indian and more traditional breakfast delicacies, it’s time to ask the dedicated waiter to the table, who also happens to be from Cape Town, for a Cappuccino, which once again is served in crockery more delicious than the caffeine infused liquid it holds.

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A new restaurant, which opens in January 2016, is ENIGMA. Poised to take Dubai’s culinary scene by storm, ENIGMA at Palazzo Versace Dubai is an avant-garde new restaurant, where captivating stories will be told by the world’s best chefs. ENIGMA will be the first restaurant to change its dining concept and world-class chefs four times a year, and will take discerning diners and gastronomists on an unexpected multi-sensory journey, with each new chapter ingeniously unfolding before their eyes.

With tickets sold at www.enigmadxb.com for each dining experience, as for a performance, the first of ENIGMA’s culinary masters is one of the world’s most radical avant-garde chefs, Quique Dacosta, whose eponymous restaurant in Spain holds an impressive three Michelin stars and is included in the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants by Restaurant Magazine’s list. With a gastronomic imagination like no other and a desire to live life to the fullest through his food, Quique Dacosta is committed to carefully creating masterpieces by manipulating style and substance in harmony.

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“We want ENIGMA to be an exceptional dining experience people crave and yearn to keep up with, just like other highly desired commodities.”

– Hotel Manager of Palazzo Versace, Patrick Robineau

Quique Dacosta will unveil his untold story through his not-to-be-missed Vanguard culinary performance from January 10 to April 12. As seats are limited, advance booking is highly recommended. Grape-based beverages will be carefully selected and paired with each course by the sommelier on request.

All good things eventually come to an end and it is time to check-out from the Palazzo Versace Dubai. It’s a visit unlike any other and a room can cost anything from R13’000 for a Deluxe Versace Room to R35’500 for a Grand Suite, per night. The Palazzo Versace Dubai will remain a timeless visit. This is the second Palazzo. The first, on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, is the world’s first fashion branded hotel concept and has been open for over a decade. Following the opening of Palazzo Versace Dubai, the next Palazzo will be built in Macau, China.


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1 Comment

  1. Pierre
    January 11, 2016 at 10:09 am — Reply

    Ok fine, you’ve twisted my arm! Looks amazing!

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