There's a designer vacation to be had at the world's first Armani Hotel, perched in the world's tallest building at the heart of Dubai.
This week Giorgio Armani's vision of high-style hotelery was unveiled to the world, taking in its first guests after a gala grand opening. Every physical detail of the hotel was designed by Armani himself, from the soaring arches in the lobby to the bathroom soaps in each room.
Walking through the hotel feels like living in a fashion show: hotel staff don Armani suits and dresses, walls of satin frame the clean lines and neutral tones of each room, soaring ceilings meet with sweeping views of Dubai's downtown district. A selling point of the "Stay with Armani" experience is the hotel's closely managed air of exclusivity. There are meant to be no walk-ins, only those with room or restaurant reservations can reach the building in its separate wing of the Burj Khalifa. Each of the 160 rooms comes with a "lifestyle consultant," a personal concierge who handles all of a guest's recreation and relaxation needs.
The Armani Hotel's rooms start at $750 per night, plus tax, and climb to $2,500 for a larger suite with walk-in closets, spacious bathrooms, and a broad terrace overlooking Dubai's dancing fountain. By late May, as the summer heat starts to settle in, an Armani Studio goes for $550 per night, and an Armani Signature Suite for $2,200. As reflected in the line of Maseratis and Bentleys parked in front of the lobby, Armani is aiming for a clientele that won't worry about the pricetag.
For the rest of us, the hotel's eight food and beverage outlets offer the Armani experience alongside fine cuisine. Those adding to Dubai's already long roster of high-end restaurants include Armani/Amal, serving traditional Indian food with modern presentation, Armani/Hashi offering sushi and Japanese plates, and Armani/Peck, the local incarnation of the famed Peck Deli in Milan, where rows of olive oil and gourmet food items are on sale and on display. Only in Dubai, the prosciutto is sequestered -- all pork-based coldcuts are in a separate section for non-Muslims.
Armani for Sale: High Design at a Price
There is a strong retail component to the hotel's offerings; Armani/Peck offers to make gourmet take-out, "perfect for your picnic in the desert or cruise on a Gulf yacht." In the hotel lobby, Armani/Fiori offers minimalist flower arrangements, Armani/Dolci boxes up chocolates and jellied sweets, and Armani/Galleria sells haute couture purses and accessories. At the hotel spa, massage treatments and therapies like "sequential thermal bathing" are enhanced by Armani fragranced oils.
Armani/Prive, the nightclub and lounge, seats 300 people by reservation, in a dark subterranean space that glows by the light of fashion shows projected onto a wall. The outpost of an eponymous club in Milan, Armani/Prive plans to bring in celebrity DJs; at Wednesday's opening party Armani himself took to the turntables while models and a global guest list danced until dawn.
The property is the first in a series of Armani Hotels planned as a joint venture between Giorgio Armani and Emaar, a real estate developer partly owned by the Dubai government. The next Armani Hotel is slated to open next year in Milan, on the fashion district's Via Manzoni, and Armani vacation villas are planned for a secluded beach in Egypt's Sidi Abdel Rahman Bay.
At a press conference for the Armani Hotel's launch, the chairman of Emaar dodged the question of whether the global financial crisis would slow the pace of new properties. The opening of the Armani Hotel Dubai was delayed twice, once giving them more time to prepare and then again postponed because of the volcanic ash cloud over Europe (Armani himself was blocked from traveling).