Business Traveller has taken a look around the world’s first Armani hotel, which opened last week in Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, situated in Dubai’s Downtown district.
The 160-room Armani Hotel Dubai takes up floors one to eight and 38-39 of the 163-storey building and as one might expect is highly luxurious, with all elements of the decor overseen by fashion designer Giorgio Armani.
The first thing you notice, other than the high security on the drive up to the building, is the huge metallic arch structure that forms the centerpiece of the triple-height lobby. Inspired by Arabian palaces, the arch is a theme replicated throughout the building and is Armani’s way of introducing a local touch to his minimalist Italian style.
The second thing you notice is that there is no front desk or concierge, other than two small desks discreetly tucked away on either side of the lobby. Instead, personal “lifestyle managers” are assigned to guests, who contact them before arrival to deal with any requests, meet them at the airport if desired, check them in in their rooms, and see to any needs throughout the stay. The third thing you notice is the impossibly good-looking staff.
The colour palette of the hotel is muted metallics, greys and browns, with fabric-covered walls and sleek corridors – there are very few door handles anywhere, and room doors automatically open by touching your key card to a panel.
Rooms start from about 50 sqm and are “all about discovery”, according to Candice DCruz, senior manager of marketing communications for Armani Hotels and Resorts and Burj Khalifa. Spaces are concealed behind sliding curved walls, and workdesks fold out from wooden cabinets. All furniture has been custom designed for the hotel, and floor-to-ceiling windows look out at Downtown, Dubai Fountain and Sheikh Zayed Road. “We’ve made it relaxed and that’s important for the business traveller after a long flight,” DCruz said.
The rooms are very high-tech with all functions controlled via one remote control, from the blinds to the lights to the TV – you can even summon your lifestyle manager or open the door to guests, who will appear in the corner of the 42-inch flatscreen TV so you can identify them. Free wifi, Bose docks stocked with iPods, and Nespresso machines come as standard, and the Armani-branded bathroom amenities are exclusive to the hotel. Most rooms have walk-in wardrobes.
Unusually for a property with only 160 rooms, it has eight food and drink outlets, signalling the property’s wish to attract people visiting Burj Khalifa and Downtown. These include Amal, a fine-dining Indian restaurant, and the Armani lounge, where you can watch the fountain dance to music on the half-hour in the evenings – the songs are piped into the lounge via speakers. There are also Italian, Mediterranean and Japanese eateries, a deli, lobby café and nightclub.
The spa has eight treatment rooms, and there is an outdoor pool, a good-sized gym, a ballroom holding 450 people, and six meeting rooms.
A midweek stay in June starts from Dr 2,000 (£373) online, and DCruz believes its “two USPs – being the first Armani hotel in the world’s highest tower” will help it succeed amidst the emirate’s economic problems. Occupancy stood at about 50 per cent so far, she reported. General manager Oliver Key added: “We’ve got the location – people want the proximity to Dubai Mall and the fountain as well as the tower. Business-wise, only time will tell, but the signs are good.”
The property was developed by Emaar Properties, which owns the rest of Burj Khalifa and the Address portfolio of hotels. The next Armani property to open will be in Milan next year, and there are plans to take the brand to London, New York, Tokyo and Shanghai.
Report by Michelle Mannion