Tried & Tested

Emirates lounges, Dubai

17 Jul 2009 by Tom Otley

Emirates now operates all of its flights from the new Terminal 3 at Dubai International. Opened last year, there has been a phased transfer of services over to the new terminal. This was done smoothly, and with minimum disruption to passengers (for an interview with the Managing Director of the airport explaining how this was achieved, click here to be taken to our sister publication, Air and Business Travel News).

For transferring passengers with time between flights, after disembarking from your flight you pass through a security barrier, and then make your way up to the lounges which are on level 4 of the airport.

Hotels

There are two hotels in this area, a four star hotel above business class, and a five star hotel above the first class lounge (so, both on levels  5 and 6). These are different hotels from the Dubai International Airport Hotel in Terminal 1, though confusingly, because they are linked and part of the same complex (and run by the same operator), they are called by one name: The Airport Hotel, at Terminal 3. Click here for the only details currently available.

I had a quick walk around the five star hotel on levels 5 and 6. To get to reception you take the lift up to 5, walk right along a corridor until you reach a bar area, then take the lift up to 6 where reception is. I was told the two hotels (the four and the five star one together here in T3) have a total of 253 rooms (the hotel in T1 has 88 rooms). There are several different room types, click here to see the different types and room tariff.

I had a look at an Executive Room Single which was huge, smartly designed, with a massage chair, large bath and shower and was extremely well sound proofed.

Lounges

When you get up to the lounge level and enter either the business or first class lounge, your first impression is likely to be how large they are. The J class lounge gets busy, mainly because all gold card holders in the Skywards programme have admission here as well as business class ticket holders, while the first lounge is just that and that only – those passengers holding first class tickets. That said, both lounges are a clear step up from the over-crowding of the old terminal. This review is based on two trips through the lounges in July, both times in the early hours of the morning on transit flights to and from Asia, one way in business, one way in first. (General note: The only smoking rooms in T3 are in these lounges (one in each). If you are flying economy, you have to go through to T1.)

Business Class Lounge

The Business Class Lounge is a huge space, capable of accommodating 1700 passengers at any time (this is what I was told, though estimates differ, even among the staff). The lounges are open to the concourse below, so the length of one side has a balcony looking down onto the concourse (pictured), while on the other side you look down onto the shopping area. It means that it can be noisy, and even in the spa you can hear the electronic warning noises of carts from the level below.

The lounge has four separate areas including a dedicated Kids’ Play area (screened against the noise), with a-42-inch plasma TV screen and a few other things (I didn’t have my children with me and felt a little self-conscious about going in). Close to this area there is a food and beverage station with the children in mind, including a popcorn machine and ice cream.  For larger children – and business travellers – there is a 360 degree X-Box Car Racing Simulator as well as a PENTApod X-box machine (five normal x-box players in one stand).

There’s also a neat interactive table (a Microsoft Surface computer) which has a rippling pattern on it like a pond, but when you touch it it turns into a revolving globe and allows you to explore. There is also a photo album which you can add to if you plug in your camera, and a paint application, allowing you to select a postcard, colour it in (for children this bit) and then type in an email address for it to be sent to.

There are two business centres, each with many terminals with free internet access, and a conference room.  The business centre has PCs with broadband internet and complimentary WiFi access, not only in the Business Centre but throughout the entire lounge.  Recharging facilities for laptops and mobile phones are also provided. There is an impressive selection of international newspapers and magazines, five TV viewing areas as well as shower facilities. For food and drink there is a gourmet selection of hot and cold delicacies from around the world.  In addition, there are fresh drinks on offer at juice bars, and a complete menu of soft drinks, beers, wines, spirits and hot beverages available.   The interior design of the seating areas is themed around the concepts of Fire, Water, Air and Earth – with waterfalls and wood furnishings ad decoration being particularly noticeable. In addition there is a pay spa – the Timeless Spa, prices listed at the bottom of this piece.

First Class Lounge

The first class lounge is only slightly smaller than the business class lounge and so accordingly feels much more spacious, and, depending on the time of the day, almost empty (the busiest time is between 0500-0800). There are three main seating areas, each inspired by a different theme – Arabian, Mughal and Asian – along with water features and plants.

Lounge facilities include two TV areas and a wide selection of international newspapers and magazines available. For children, there is a dedicated Kids’ Play area. The Business Centre has 10 Internet-enabled computers and printers, and recharging facilities for laptops and mobile phones.  Complimentary WiFi access is provided, not only in the Business Centre but throughout the entire lounge.  Additionally, there are two conference rooms.

Separate from the spa there are also several showers available. I used one and it freshened me up more than any amount of fruit juices during a three-hour plus layover. The buffet in the First Class Lounge dining area features an extensive selection of international gourmet dishes, both hot and cold.  There is à la carte dining as well as juice bars, a Wine Cellar (shop) where guests can taste and buy expensive fine wines and a Timeless Spa.

Prices for the Timeless Spa

There is one Timeless Spa each at the Business Lounge and First Class Lounge, as well as at the Hotel Floor (above the lounges). The spas are open 24/7, and each of the spas in the lounges has 10 stations including a hair salon at both. The 15-minute treatments are complimentary to First Class passengers.

For Business Class passengers, the spa offers 25-minute treatments for a charge (economy passengers can have treatments at the Timeless Spa at the Hotel Floor, also for a charge).

Menus

First Class

  • De-stress back massage – a deep, pressure point massage, designed to induce calm and relaxation; 15 mins
  • Reflex Therapy – This gentle 2,000-year-old acupressure technique stimulates and refreshes tired legs and feet; 15 mins
  • Refresh Manicure – A miniature buffing, filing and shaping that restores fingers to immaculate condition; 15 mins
  • Professional Blow Dry – A sleek, style enhancing blow dry by one of the salon assistants, using specially formulated hair products for a glossy finish; 20-30 mins

Business Class:

  • De-stress back massage – a deep, pressure point massage, designed to induce calm and relaxation; 25mins, 125AED (£21)
  • Reflex Therapy – This gentle 2,000-year-old acupressure technique stimulates and refreshes tired legs and feet; 25mins, 120AED (£20)
  • Refresh Manicure – A miniature buffing, filing and shaping that restores fingers to immaculate condition; 25mins, 70AED (£12)
  • Professional Blow Dry – A sleek, style enhancing blow dry by one of our salon assistants, using specially formulated hair products for a glossy finish; 20-30 mins, 110AED (£18)
  • Regenerative Hand Therapy – Your hands are in for a treat with a gentle exfoliating and moisturising treatment with Sodashi Products, a soothing massage, leaving them feeling incredibly soft and silky; 25 mins, 180AED (£30)
  • Soothing Foot Treatment – Using Sodashi products, your legs and feet receive an invigorating salt scrub and a stimulating massage to improve circulation, leaving them revitalised and tingling; 25 mins, 180AED (£30)
  • Thai Body Stretch – Stimulating positive energy flow, soothing the nervous system and purifying the body, this oil-free stretching treatments increases flexibility and restores balance and harmony to the body and mind; 25 mins, 125AED (£21)
  • Indian Head Massage – An energising, oil-free massage that releases tension in the shoulders, neck, face and head by stimulating vital pressure points; 25mins, 125AED (£21)
  • Refresh Pedicure – A reviving pedicure that leaves your feet cleansed and exfoliated and your nails shaped and buffed; 25 mins, 90AED (£15)
  • Hair Shaping (with blow-dry) – Redefine a hairstyle with a trim, finishing off with hair products for shiny, tidy tresses; 30-40 mins, 210AED (£35)
  • Barber Shave – This hot shave uses hot towels and a classic shave method for a clean, smooth, fresh finish or simple beard shaping; 20 minutes, 90AED (£15)

Tom Otley

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