Tag Archives: Disney

The Burj Al Arab (Tower of Arabs) – Video inside

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My friend Koral and I decided we wanted to go to the Burj Al Arab for High Tea.  You know, that big sail-shaped incredible looking building sitting on its very own *island* off the coast of Dubai?  The only 7-star resort in the WORLD??

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Yup, that’s the one.  Now, being a 7-star resort and all, they are not gonna let any ole riff-raff in off the street.  No siree bob.  Shoot, this is a resort that has a fleet of TEN white Rolls Royce Phantoms as their airport transfer cars!  As you approach the causeway to gain access to the resort, you have to have a reservation of some kind, and have your name on the “list” at the guard gate.  Otherwise, you’ll be directed to complete the “drive of shame” – turning around and leaving…… in the direction that’s NOT towards the Burj Al Arab. L  But us?  We had reservations, and our name was on the list, so we were waved on.  Here’s what it looked like as we approached…. And yes, I wish I’d taken our reservation paper off the dash, too, it would have made for *much* nicer photos…..

*sigh*.... isn't it just beautiful??

*sigh*…. isn’t it just beautiful??

This is the short causeway across the water to the island that the Burj Al Arab is situated.  There's also a walkway to the right.

This is the short causeway across the water to the island that the Burj Al Arab is situated. There’s also a walkway to the right.

Looks like Koral was zooming along, doesn't it?

Looks like Koral was zooming along, doesn’t it?

You can see the sides of the man-made island here.

You can see the sides of the man-made island here.

Are ya getting an idea of exactly how BIG this thing is??

Are ya getting an idea of exactly how BIG this thing is??

This is the view from *almost* underneath this structure.

This is the view from *almost* underneath this structure.

Before I forget, the website of the architectural firm and designer (Tom Wills-Wright of WS Atkins)that designed this building has some awesome information on it – take a peek if you’re just geeky enough to be curious about whether it’s built on sand or bedrock, and why it was designed to look like a sail, and why it was placed on an island, instead of built on the beach…..and exactly what that “sail” is constructed from and how it stays so clean.    Now the designer also has a personal site which has got some crazy-cool stuff on it as well… don’t miss it!

Oh, and lookie here…. You know TBG is a helicopter pilot right?  GUESS WHAT was on the helipad running as we drove up?  YUP!  A helicopter!  You can *just* see the tip of one of the rotor blades on the helipad hanging off the side of the structure.  We were convinced it would take off as we approached and since Koral’s hubby is a pilot too, we’d have the MOST meaningful photos ever.  So we sorta hung back and drove slowly, and waited and waited….. and it shut down.  *sigh*  Oh well,  we heard it as it ended up taking off while we were inside the hotel lobby.  Made me smile.

See the edge of the helicopter's rotor blade??

See the edge of the helicopter’s rotor blade??

When we drove up, the number of extraordinarily exotic autos was pretty surprising, you’d expect them to all be parked as soon as they arrive – the entrance area is actually quite small for the Burj Al Arab.  You drive up, the valets open your doors, you get out and they drive off.  There are staff members to direct you to wherever you need to go, and will answer any questions you may have.  It’s quite busy, but didn’t seem frantic.  Oh, and there’s a colorful camel just to the side of the entrance which made me smile.  The walls are of glass, and the outdoor columns are pretty cool looking.

Now, something tells me that these are "fire" columns.

Now, something tells me that these are “fire” columns.

The nation's rulers

The nation’s rulers

these portraits flanked the entrance

these portraits flanked the entrance

Ya think it's just coincidence that this hotel looks like a big ole wave?

Ya think it’s just coincidence that this hotel looks like a big ole wave?

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All shiny steel and glass outside.

All shiny steel and glass outside.

cars waiting for their drivers

cars waiting for their drivers

Much closer view of the cute camel tucked back off to the side of the resort.

Much closer view of the cute camel tucked back off to the side of the resort.

This walkway also hosts golf carts.

This walkway also hosts golf carts.

Lovely fountain in the center of the round-a-bout

Lovely fountain in the center of the round-a-bout

looking back towards the beach from the resort

looking back towards the beach from the resort

a much better photo of the sides and edges of this island.

a much better photo of the sides and edges of this island.

As we entered the lobby through a revolving door, we were greeted by staff members in the most lovely uniforms I’ve ever seen.  Jewel-toned and opulent looking – the costumes truly matched their environment.  They were both warm and welcoming to us, and encouraged us to enjoy their lobby and public areas.  Understand, there truly is VERY LITTLE “public area” in the Burj Al Arab –  the lobby is quite sizeable, and there are beautiful water features with “water snakes” very much like Disney has at Epcot – and there are matching aquariums on either side of the water feature and escalators.  But it’s not huge by any means.  Restaurant entrances are to the left and right, and we were directed to the escalators, across the upper level, and to the elevators for a ride down to the Ground Mezzanine level.   OK….. here are some photos…..

all shiny and bright....

all shiny and bright….

see that red leather sofa?  Wait till you see a bigger photo of the curve it has....

see that red leather sofa? Wait till you see a bigger photo of the curve it has….

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this is the ceiling over the main area of the lobby.  Just stunning.

this is the ceiling over the main area of the lobby. Just stunning.

Rooms start just above the mezzanine level... there's a coffee shop/cafe there.

Rooms start just above the mezzanine level… there’s a coffee shop/cafe there.

OK, so we’re still looking around, and starting to look up…. holy cow!

looking up through the atrium

looking up through the atrium

aren't the colors divine?

aren’t the colors divine?

a little closer

a little closer

wow - that's the very top!

wow – that’s the very top!

 

Now, our reservation was for the Asian Afternoon Tea, AED285 per person.  It is served in the Junsui Asian Restaurant,  one of the 9 restaurants in this resort.  It was actually so very cool that I’m gonna write about it separately.  Also, there’s a ton of food porn photos that will go along with it.  <smile>

We took the escalators up to the next floor, past the aquariums on either side, and looking down on the lobby area, it’s pretty interesting looking seeing the carpet and big curvy sofa from this angle….. oh, and here’s what some of the gorgeous insets on the floor down there looked like…..

Some close-up detail of the flooring just inside the doors.... of *course* it's gold, silly!

Some close-up detail of the flooring just inside the doors…. of *course* it’s gold, silly!

As we stepped off the elevator, the “public areas” were clearly indicated by “no photography” signs towards the open café looking over the lobby from the mezzanine level.  That’s cool – but it was a beautiful looking little café, and I’d like to return to try it.

one of the restaurants

one of the restaurants

Tons more photos of the mezzanine level…..

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The lights at the base of these massive support columns change color!

The lights at the base of these massive support columns change color!

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After the escalator ride, there is a quirky little water feature in the center of the walkway, filled with various pieces of glass that looks like sea-glass. But look at what you’re walking on to get there!  Awesome tile work.

Simply stunning tilework here, isn't it?

Simply stunning tilework here, isn’t it?

my favorite water feature - on the mezzanine level.  It reminds me of the "water snakes" I see in EPCOT at Walt Disney World.

my favorite water feature – on the mezzanine level. It reminds me of the “water snakes” I see in EPCOT at Walt Disney World.

My favorite water feature there.... did you go to the designer's website and read about it?

My favorite water feature there…. did you go to the designer’s website and read about it?

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The colors are exactly like the ones in the atrium!

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and look! There’s the water tubes!

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Between the lights and the water, I was mesmerized

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Just too pretty to stop taking photos, right??

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Tiny little loose pieces of glass

 

The colors and placement exactly mimic the coloring of the atrium area when you look upwards…. Now this thing was designed to shoot water up 50 meters!  I read about it on the designer’s website.  Really cool and entertaining….I think I have a video of it!

Now, if I remember correctly, I saw a TV special about the design and building of this tallest hotel in the world – the atrium inside – the room walls, not the sail part – was originally white, stark white.  And when HH visited, he asked for more color.  Or I could be making that part up, but it seems like I remember it…….

We crossed past the water feature, and passed by some very luxurious-looking shops to where the bank of elevators is located.  All mirrored and shiny, this was beautiful.

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Transition area from the mezzanine to the elevators and shopping.

Transition area from the mezzanine to the elevators and shopping.

Well *certainly* there's a Rodeo Drive here.... sheesh!

Well *certainly* there’s a Rodeo Drive here…. sheesh!

 

At the far end, there was a woman behind a desk in a cordoned-off area.  I asked her what that area was, and she said “private elevators”.

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Snuck a peek out of the window in the "private elevator" area.

Snuck a peek out of the window in the “private elevator” area.

Lovely glass sculpture/laser rendition of the hotel was enclosed in glass….. I tried to capture it in photos, but it was tough.  Pretty interesting looking though.

Side view of the crystal replica

Side view of the crystal replica

Swavroski crystal Burj al Arab.  Mercy!

Swarovski crystal Burj al Arab. Mercy!

Donated by Mr. Swarvoski.  Frankly, I didn't actually KNOW there was a Mr. Swavroski.

Donated by Mr. Swarovski. Frankly, I didn’t actually KNOW there was a Mr. Swarovski.

OK, our elevator’s here, and Koral and I are headed to the Junsui restaurant for our Asian tea!

Just so you know, a one night advance booking for a one-bedroom suite here (least expensive room) will set you back a cool $1951 USD  non-refundable and payable in full at the time of booking.  But included in that price is the following

“• Personalized butler service. • Sumptuous breakfast buffet for two in the privacy of your suite, Junsui or Bab Al Yam Restaurants. • Full range of Hermes luxury amenities for her and him. • One complimentary bottle of red wine or Bateel juice on arrival. • Complimentary in-suite tea and coffee facilities. • Fresh fruits, Arabic desserts and dates. • Complimentary internet access (Wi-Fi). • Unlimited access to Wild Wadi Water Park”

For me?  Not likely that I’ll ever spend a night here, but my experience there was certainly fun, entertaining, and a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Hope you have enjoyed seeing it as I did!

Dubai Miracle Garden

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There’s a huge Universal Studios gateway and façade here that’s not been touched in a long time, as far as I can tell.  Always dark at night.  But recently, a few weeks ago, there were lights on behind it, huge, bigger-than-football-stadium-lights-on-Saturday-night bright, too.  I was thinking “Hmm….. wonder if Universal is actually going to *do* something with that project??

A week or so ago, my friend Koral and I were on the way back from some exploring and noticed what looked like thatched roofs or small huts or a village being built….. we thought “Cool!  Something new to explore!” and promptly forgot about it.  Then TBG and I were driving past the location, and I noticed a small sign along the road with the Disney font used to spell out “Miracle Garden” – whooo hoooo!

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Something to feed my Disney addiction here, right?  Well…. Not exactly……

There was an article in February 20th issue of the Gulf News paper which provided an excellent commentary, but little means to locate the facility.   According to that article it opened on February 14th, and was free to the public to visit until 20 February.  Pictures taken by the paper’s photographer reminded me a LOT of the Paradise Gardens that used to be at Al Ain – I’d been looking forward to visiting them, but found out that they were closed indefinitely, with no info as to why or when they might reopen and no response to emails asking about it.  The gardens looked similar good reason, it appears that the Al Ain design company is also responsible for these gardens!  So, no travel to visit the same quality!

We started off to visit this place, and trying to figure out how to get into it was a challenge.  It was tough to find, down a road  that appeared to be to nowhere, but following signs that had us driving against the arrows…. Past tall empty lonesome-looking buildings under construction…. Following round-a-bouts that have no exits, it was just weird.

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We managed to find the entrance to this place, well, the parking lot, but getting *into* it was a puzzle – there are two very abrupt entrance points – or maybe one’s an entrance and one’s an exit?  Anyhow, the approach to the gate that we entered (apparently it was the back gate) was flanked by these HUGE flower pots and giant lighted white plastic sculpture things….  Interesting.  And I do mean *huge* flowerpots!

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See?  HUGE flowerpots!!

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The little hut on the right it where the man takes your money, and gives you this ticket…..  it is an Etrance Ticket.  I know, it *says* 30AED, but you’ll only be charged 20AED.  *shrug*  I got nothing.

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Inside, you’re greeted by a blazing collection of flowers – well a collection of COLORS…. As far as I could tell, there were only a couple different varieites of flowers that I noticed.  But they were in a variety of colors.  Quite lovely, and Dubai is doing an excellent  job of “greening” the desert by using drip irrigation.  And, as always, paying respect to the country’s leadership……

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Oh!  Something that was cool – the use of plastic water bottles to grow plants in vertical situations – I’ll try to separate out some of the photos here, it was an interesting use, and smart.  Goodness knows there are a brazillion water bottles here!

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Another interesting aspect of this display was the sheer number of men there – in yellow vests.  I’m assuming that they were either grass-guards or flower-picking-guards.  I didn’t notice any gardening efforts on their behalf, and they weren’t offering up information about what we were touring, so that’s all I can come up with.  But honestly, there must have been 50+ in this small area, perhaps more.  They were always backing away from us, or trying to hide behind a display, or twitching if we got too close to, or surely not, ON the grass.

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Yikes! Sorry about my finger being in there!

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There was a small tented snack-area in the back, it appeared that there were cold drinks in some kind of a cooler, and perhaps bags of snacks, like chips and such.  There was a small group of young Asian women visiting, they were having fun taking photos and in general goofing off…. They saw the “frozen yogurt” machine, and pointed and said “two”.  Shortly they were handed 2 cups of soft-serve frozen yogurt.

That first spoonful into their mouths was directly responsible for the smiles leaving their faces simultaneously,  and the “oh my goodness, what did I just put in my mouth??” look appearing to replace the smiles.

They both looked at the person behind the counter and asked “what flavor is this??”  The person behind the counter said “yogurt”.  OK, are you getting what happened here?  It was simply yogurt, frozen.  No sugar, no sweeteners, no flavorings…. Just yogurt.  Frozen.

There are prayer facilities here, as well as bathrooms for ablutions – the Islamic ritual of cleansing before prayers.  Sadly, there was someone in the bathroom wash area facilities performing a pedicure of some sort which I found odd.

Oh, and as we passed under one of the final archways made of empty beverage bottles as holders, a couple was taking turns posing for photos – I offered to take their photo together, and as they left, we were remarking on the recycling effort and using the bottles to grow and maintain the moisture in the plant root areas – the gent said “It is a noble effort”…. And I couldn’ t help but think “Yes.  Yes it is.”