“We just hosted a family who never left the hotel on their four-night, five-day stay,” beams the Director of Communications as we tour Caesars Palace, Bluewaters Dubai. I can’t help but wince at the idea of travelling to another country and seeing nothing other than a resort–no matter how stunning. On the way from the airport I had passed The Dubai Frame, The Museum of the Future, and the Burj Khalifa–structures like nowhere else in the world. Not to mention my front shirt pocket held a list of must-try kebab joints and a long shopping register for the Old Souk. I promised myself there was no way that would be me. Little did I know, I had just lied.
As we ambled along the private beach at Bluewaters, I understood why that family had stayed put. It features a lush, kilometre-long sea-facing promenade, and a shoreline stacked with just about every conceivable fun activity. Guests can opt for fishing trips, yacht rentals, and windsurfing lessons, or let loose on jet skis, fly boards, hoverboards, jet packs, and banana boats–a splash any way you slice it. The 500-metre-long beachfront has secluded sections to sunbathe and curl up with a book, and an actual beach club, filled with patrons that seem to be sun-kissed reflections of Adonis and Aphrodite. Even the sand feels superlative, as soft to the touch as tahini when licked by the lapping shore.
The other side of the promenade holds a sprawl of five cerulean swimming pools, each temperature-controlled and placed in three themed sections, replete with offerings that make a venture to each feel like a new adventure. At Neptune, pink lemonade-toned towels line spacious cabanas, and waiters are hailed by a lazy press of the finger on the wireless service caller—ready to promptly deliver sets of tuna maki rolls, along with ice-cold Asahi; or better yet, serve up an exquisite rum cocktail from the vintage Citreon Rum Truck, which also provides poolside shisha. At Venus, the Mediterranean way of life swirls through the afternoon like a balmy breeze. Hammocks sway to the tunes of classic Italian pop while restorative sips of craft cocktails like Vittoria–a reinvented Aperol Spritz–liven up spirits with fresh blueberries and raspberries that tingle with the bubbles of chilled prosecco. And, of course, family fun and attentive life guards are found at the waters of Fortuna, complete with blissful vistas of the Arabian Gulf.
After basking in these refreshing waters, I indulge in a shiatsu massage as healing as a breakthrough therapy session at Qua Spa, my stress masterfully stretched out of my limbs.
GORGE LIKE A GOD
The Roman god of travellers also happens to represent tricksters, perhaps why Mercury pulled a number on me on my maiden voyage to Dubai. I told myself, at the very least, the delicious fare of Dubai–outside Caesars Palace–would not be eclipsed by the elegant property that had so far kept me a content captive of my own free will. But I couldn’t leave the hotel without a proverbial dip of my toes, which led to a deep dive into a wholly satisfying, self-imposed stranding of myself on the island. At Venus Ristorante, under the stewardship of a talented chef from Napoli, I gorged on a margarita pizza, beautifully blistered in a wood-fired oven, along with a refreshing salad topped with creamy stracili: the byproduct of burrata cheese sourced from a 1950-established Italian dairy farm.
At Hell’s Kitchen, I started off with a Caesar salad, because when in Rome, right? It was everything it was supposed to be, refreshing, almost hearty, lightly tossed–not drowned and droopy– in real Caesar salad dressing, with crisp iceberg lettuce and cheeky parmesan crisps. Washed down with an up-to-scratch Pinot Grigio, it was flawless. Next up was Ramsey’s signature Beef Wellington. A creamy, yet airy, perfectly piped mash, topped with gumdrop-sized orbs of al dente carrots and turnips, shared the plate with two generous portions of Beef Wellington–cooked a textbook medium rare–as ordered. The quality of the cook and meat was evinced by the ease with which I sliced through the crisp, baked crust and the thick cuts of steak, almost like the serrated blade was slicing through an heirloom tomato. The swell affair was rounded off by another Ramsey signature, sticky toffee pudding, which I dug my dessert spoon into like I was paddling upstream.
The next night, at three Michelin star Chef Alvin Leung’s Demon Duck, the short-rib wagyu gyoza were perfectly crisp and delicately soft exactly where they needed to be. The signature whole-roasted Peking duck and the aromatic and crispy duck are rewarding choices that promise lavish servings and theatrical plating; however, Leung’s speciality Arabian-style duck lettuce cups are the menu’s hidden hero. Juicy morsels of tender dark poultry, bursting with hits of cumin and chilli, are balanced by the watery crunch of the lettuce cups. Cool things off with the coconut creme brûlée or the chocolate and matcha fondant.
SUCCUMBING TO SERENITY
My decision to ‘play put’ in this palatial plage strayed from my initial expectations of my Dubai foray, but I also experienced a weekend extravaganza of fine food, luxury experiences, adrenaline rushes at my doorstep, and plenty of seaside and poolside peace–several of the reasons folks travel to Dubai in the first place. The location of the island, while well-positioned for city excursions, also provides a postcard view of Dubai. The sparkling yachts in the marina, views of skydiving planes taking-off over the water, and Ain Dubai (the Dubai Eye) framing Bluewaters with its windmill of lights–an observation wheel two times the size of the London Eye, upon which guests can book dinner reservations, among other intriguing activities–were all classic Dubai vistas I drunk in from the rarified vantage of Caesars Palace, a place to cheerfully chuck out your past convictions and enjoy yourself.
Julian Manning can usually be found eating a crisp ghee roast with extra podi. The rare times his hands aren’t busy with food, they are wrapped around a mystery novel or the handlebars of a motorcycle. He is Senior Assistant Editor at National Geographic Traveller India.