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Dubai - In the latest in an occasional series on the world’s top hotels and the stars who frequent them, Sarah Turner checks out the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray in Dubai...
Star quality: Tom Cruise, Uma Thurman, singers Nicole Scherzinger and Ne-Yo, comedian Al Murray.
Vital statistics: Smaller than usual for a Dubai hotel – they are normally mini-cities – the Zabeel Saray’s 405 rooms qualify it for boutique status in this outpost of the Middle East, but it is top-heavy with suites. Whereas most hotels content themselves with one royal suite, this hotel manages to pack in 38.
All the royal suites surround an exclusive private lagoon swimming pool and have direct access to the private beach. All have four bedrooms with an option of turning another one into a games room or private gymnasium. Even ordinary rooms are filled with gadgets and are the size of an average London flat. Upgrading to a suite brings access to a club lounge with free drinks and snacks.
Location report: The hotel is on the west side of the Palm, Dubai’s man-made island, and overlooks the marina.
It’s a 20-minute drive to leave the island but taxis are cheap. Ultimately, though, this is a resort hotel designed to encourage you to stay put from morning til night by way of watersports, tennis, spa treatments and delicious dinners. There are ten restaurants and bars – Lalezar has a modern take on Turkish cuisine, the C Club combines cigars, cognac and chocolate, while the Voda Bar celebrates the vodka martini in a Sixties-inspired setting – all curvaceous white chairs and ultraviolet lights.
Key attractions: It’s small (comparatively) but dripping in luxury, and lightly flecked with hints of the Ottoman Empire, with mosaics and Anatolian carpets.
The spa has a traditional Turkish hamman, complete with swimming pools and a floor dedicated to couples only. Denial isn’t part of the menu, especially given that the spa has a private dining room.
Children are well-catered for with activity clubs and all guests get free entrance to the Wild Wadi Water park.
In the news: The Zabeel Saray had an early stab at stardom when the hotel appeared in Mission Impossible IV, while Nicole Scherzinger took up residence for the ‘Judges’ Houses’ round of The X Factor.
She stayed in the Grand Imperial Suite, which boasts a personal butler service and a private terrace. Uma Thurman got similar treatment when she stayed there in August last year.
Good enough for the rest of us?
Spa treatments cost £60 (about R800) for a 30-minute body scrub. The Voda Bar has regular happy hours. There’s also a decadent Friday buffet, when the French-style Imperium charges £46 per person, or £93pp if you want unlimited Mumm champagne.
Getting there: Sovereign (0844 415 1936, sovereign.com) has a four-night trip from £869pp including flights, transfers and half-board accommodation, leaving on May 16, 2013. - Mail On Sunday