"" Writer's Wanderings: Dubai's Elegant Tea

Friday, April 08, 2011

Dubai's Elegant Tea

The Burg al Arab, the world’s tallest hotel, offers an elegant tea for an exorbitant price in the Sky—restaurant at the top. Having dinner, tea, or staying at the hotel is the only way to get into it. There is a guard at the gate who checks your reservation before you are allowed through. In a sense, the price we paid for the tea also included a chance to explore the hotel which was quite unusual.

It looked much more Middle Eastern in its themed design even though it was still quite modern. Colors and shapes and designs all gave that Bedouin feel. Somehow though I don’t believe the Bedouins would have had quite such fancy elevators in their tents. Everything was trimmed in gold and next to the large waterfall that fills the lobby of the hotel and extends several floors up, it is the first thing you notice.

Escalators are on both sides of the waterfall as well as aquariums. You have to travel up and down a couple of times just to take it all in. The waterfall has fountain waters that jump back and forth like those at Disney. And of course the aquariums are full of exotic fish.

Looking up as you ascend, you notice bright cerulean blue curved panels that resemble waves. When you arrive at the top of the escalator, you turn and look into the large “sail” that makes the building so distinctive from the outside.

We arrived a bit early for the tea and were encouraged to explore the hotel a bit and return to the restaurant area. There is a glass elevator that is express to the restaurant that offers a wonderful view of the ocean and beach area—the only view from the top unless you have reservations at the restaurant or a room.

When we returned to the tea, we were seated by a window then moved because someone else had reserved it. The waiter felt badly and returned to move us a little later to a window that looked directly down the beach. It was truly a better view than looking out on the ocean where there was little to see but water. If you have opportunity to do the tea, arrive a bit early, stay in the restaurant’s lobby and request the window that looks out on the beach toward the city.

The tea was very nice. Our first course was a small sampling of a hot carvery—a piece of lamb stuffed with something that may have been dates. Very tasty. A variety of sandwiches and sweets were served on a tiered tray that resembled the building’s sail shape. China was themed to resemble the design and color of the interior of the building and our tea came in individual china pots that offered plenty of beverage.

Of course the last course was what we like best—scones with cream and jam. We leisurely sipped and nibbled and took in the view and the activity of boats going and coming in the marina below us. It was a nice once-in-a-lifetime experience.

After our tea, we went out to the front entrance to get a taxi. No one had explained to us that the regular taxis were allowed to drop off there but not pick up. The limousine service holds the exclusive contract for this hotel and several other expensive hotels in the city. We had a very nice ride to the Dubai Mall in a beautiful Lexus that dropped us off exactly where we needed to be to see the dancing waters fountain at the mall. Later we got more cash from the ATM to get us back to our hotel.

We watched the fountains dance to Middle Eastern music. They were much larger than the ones in front of the Bellagio in Las Vegas but similar in their display and lighting. [See my Wordless Wednesday post 4/6—I’m posting from a ship and can’t take time to add links.]

Returning to the Grand Hyatt, we spent the evening quietly watching a little TV and relaxing. Still a little jet lagged, it was good to rest a bit. The next day we would board the Queen Mary 2 for our cruise through the Suez Canal and on to New York.

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