The city of Dubai is poised to become the millionaire playground of the 2010s, with its economy crafted to accommodate businesses and other tourism-specific developments. But Dubai could have all the ritziest clubs and hottest attractions the world over, and still no one would visit if its hotels were not the most decadent, over-the-top establishments imaginable. Luckily, Dubai has risen to the challenge.
If one has enough money to vacation in Dubai, it would only be natural to assume that said person can afford to jet off to the Alps for the weekend when the urge to ski comes up. But just in case this is too much of a trek, Ski Dubai has brought the mountains to the desert in the form of 3 football fields of indoor ski trails. Five different ski runs of varying difficulty provide options for everyone, along with tobogganing hills and a bobsled ride. If you get sick of riding the magic carpet shaped chairlifts, you can always head over to the Snow Park, which contains 32,000 feet of snow just for making snowmen or staging snowball fights. Ski Dubai is not a place to stay and so not quite right for this list, but the idea of skiing down to a window and looking out on blazing hot sand is too surreal to resist.
The Madinat Jumeirah hotel is modeled after an ancient Arabic town, right down to the very last detail. The shopping center looks like the bazaar the title hero runs through in Aladdin, and quaint stone bridges crisscross from building to building over the resort's 2.3 miles of fake rivers that come complete with Arabian water taxis to chauffeur guests from their hotel rooms to whichever of the 45 restaurants and bars they choose. And for anyone concerned about office access all the way out there in the desert, fear not: you can bring your fellow desk warriors with you! The Madinat Conference Hall has a maximum capacity of 1,832 persons and has capabilities that would put those efficiency suites on the highway to shame.
One of several Dubai projects in the running for a record in the Guiness Book, the Burj Dubai aims to become the tallest skyscraper in the world. Its projected height is being kept a secret, but numbers being thrown around range anywhere from 2,297 to 2,684 feet tall "“ reaching more than 700 to 1,000 feet highest than the world's current tallest high-rise building, Taiwan's Taipei 101. The first 37 floors of this behemoth will become the Giorgio Armani Hotel, decorated by its namesake, and 56 of the world's fastest elevators will transport residents and guests to any of the four pools, the 15,000 square foot fitness complex, a cigar club, a library, and the world's highest publicly accessible observation deck. Sadly, if you're only just hearing about this now, you won't be able to become the proud owner of one of the 700 apartment suites being built "“ they sold out within 8 hours of becoming available. However, you could always throw down $15 million for your own private island in the shape of your favorite country"¦
Right off the coast of Dubai, 300 artificial islands are being constructed, clustered together to create the shapes of each of the seven continents. The islands, known as "The World," can only be accessed by boat or helicopter, and they range in price from $15 million to as much as $45. The islands are not only for personal use, however "“ the Ireland island is being transformed into an Irish themed resort, complete with a gym, Irish-style pub, spa, and a replica of the Giant's Causeway. If you do decide to snap up a little piece of Africa or Asia, you'll be rubbing elbows with the likes of Tommy Lee, proud owner of Greece, and Angelina Jolie, alleged proprietor of Ethiopia. As their website states, "The World can really revolve around you."
The Hydropolis is under construction 60 feet below the surface of the Persian Gulf waters off the coast of Dubai, and it holds every imaginable amenity anyone could ever need. Estimates for how much it costs are anywhere between $500 and $600 million dollars, which probably does not include the rumored missile defense system budget. Two clear domes encompass a ballroom and a concert hall, but leaving your suite is not necessary to gaze out on the ocean floor, as all the rooms have clear glass surrounding the bedroom area. Underwater construction is a tall order, but the Hydropolis will not be outdone by other Dubai properties when it comes to amenities; I can't think of any other reason why one would include a cosmetic surgery clinic in plans for an underwater kingdom if the ultimate goal is not to be the most fabulous glitterati getaway in the world.
Burj Al Arab
Perhaps the Burj Al Arab has been overshadowed recently by the enormous projects popping up all over Dubai, but we can't leave out a hotel whose 1,000 foot high helipad can be converted into a tennis court, recently used for a friendly match between Andre Agassi and Roger Federer. Every gold-colored surface in the iconic sail-shaped building is 24 karat, and there are a lot of them. A grand will get you the cheapest room for a night, complete with Hermes toiletries, pillow and bath menus, butler service, 24-hour private dining, a complete office setup, and a huge plasma television. And these are not your average ultra-elite suites "“ every guest room in the hotel extends over two floors, so those who want to party can carry on at the bar area downstairs while the children sleep. But if this doesn't seem quite up to par, there's always the Royal Suite, which goes for $28,000 a night and contains an elevator, a rotating four-poster bed, and a private cinema.
But don't book your plane tickets just yet "“ the gem of Dubai, Dubailand, is still very much under construction, and although it will open in 2010, the resort won't be completely finished until 2018. The $20 billion dollar project will contain Dubai's second indoor ski resort, a water park, an observatory wheel larger than the London Eye, and several theme parks. Two spa resorts, a sport complex with four stadiums, a planetarium, and a Tiger Woods golf resort are under construction, as well as the Falcon City of Wonders, which will include replicas of various landmark structures from around the world, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal. Each of the 31 hotels under construction will have a different theme, like Camelot or Wild West, and the number of hotel rooms will amount to a grand total of 30,000. Dubailand will also contain the Mall of Arabia, on track to become the world's largest mall at 10 million square feet. And by the time construction is completed Dubailand will stretch for 107 square miles, twice the size of all the Disney parks put together. Follow the progress through this photo gallery.
So, have any of you ever been to Dubai? Where'd you stay? What'd you think?
Cassandra Galante is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com.