In a poetic vision: The complete celeb-style getaway at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai
Being set on the idea
Of getting to Atlantis...
The English poet WH Auden, in his oft-cited poem, Atlantis, offered a glorious vision of the mythical city of yore — one that was emphatically utopian, and far richer and grander than paradise itself.
The central gateway of the building sits daintily at this vantage point, like an open treasure chest of unspoken pirate loot, half sunken on a beach of burning golden sand along the Arabian Sea, almost benignly waiting to be endlessly plundered and pillaged.
Auden himself was looking to create a picture of the finest minds of his generation — writers, artists, musicians and thinkers who were in his view spiralling into a maelstrom of pleasure seeking.
Noble as the quest is for improbable (family-oriented) pleasure, making the journey to this promised land isn’t as tortuous as it was, back in the day of the poets.
Matter of fact, the idea of getting to a luxury resort such as the Atlantis, The Palm is a lot more accessible than it ever was in history (check their website for season package deals).
Dare say, with all your tabs paid for — you’re likely to begin acting like a poet, or an artist, or a real-life celebrity at the very least, after a few days of out-and-out pampering at this over-indulgent holiday paradise.
You might well imagine one of Auden’s infernal barbaric dances on some savage shore. But at Atlantis, The Palm you can be sure to gain experiences of a kind that very few other international getaways can offer.
Witty scholars, men
Who have proved there cannot be
Such a place as Atlantis...
Even with all of this talk reduced to mere balcony banter, the sprawling view of Dubai from any of the hotel’s balconies is in itself one to give you goosebumps — and that heady, written-in-the-stars feeling like you’ve arrived in the world. Cue the twinkle in your eye, and a smile worth a million bucks.
At any of the Signature suites of the Atlantis, you might even be tempted into a spot of theatrics. Standing out on the foyer, with your arms spread wide open, you’d imagine that this is how many an aspiring movie actor, musician and entertainer must have felt at some point in their whimsical, rock star careers.
There is a definite adrenalin rush to the moment, and even the surge of a Tom Cruise jump into thin air; if you hold your glance, and squint and point towards the city, you’d easily spot the skyrocket facade of the Burj Khalifa, where the Hollywood star famously played Spiderman.
Right next door to the Atlantis, a much grander, larger new Royal Atlantis is also prominent on the horizon — manifestly undergoing massive construction operations, and said to have an expected completion date set before the onset of 2020.
Unless you are capable
Of forgetting completely
About Atlantis, you will
Never finish your journey....
The sights, sounds and indulgences at Atlantis, The Palm are hard to compare to those of any other resort. What counts as the number one experience to speak of, over everything else, is an encounter with the dolphins, and underwater walks and scuba dives where you can get as close as to touch the underbelly of a sting ray, as it glides past you.
Apart from the magnificent mythical theme, the main draw and chief attractions here are in a range of ocean-themed marine and entertainment attractions, housed in 17 hectares of waterscape amusement at the Aquaventure Waterpark; to make the most of some of these rides and water slides, no single vacation can ever be enough.
The 2.3 km river ride, in particular, over tidal waves and pools, along water rapids and white water chargers, is a thrill that will stay with you for a long time to follow.
The highlight of the Atlantis is really a monumental aquarium, which stands as a sort of massive, glass-panelled central column, around which the entire hotel’s structure has been constructed.
The hosts claim that this is one of the world’s largest open-air marine habitats, with over 65,000 marine animals housed in lagoons and displays such as The Lost Chambers Aquarium, a maze of underwater corridors and passageways, all done up in the style of ancient Atlantis.
But even the walks over the subaquatic ruins don’t match up to a session at Dolphin Bay, which also serves as a conservation and education habitat, apart from a Sea Lion Point. One session with the all-too cuddly and winsome dolphins can place a permanent smile on your face for a lifetime!
The immense 4.5-hectare Dolphin Bay offers a great deal of friendly education about the fascinating dolphins, and guests get the rare chance to cosy up to the extremely intelligent (and disciplined) mammals.
The encounter turns unforgettable with a special personal kiss and hug from your dolphin of choice, all the time being overseen by expert handlers, of course.
Among the many aquatic species that you’re bound to come across along the way here are starfish and pencil urchins housed in special touch-tanks, horse shoe crabs or spiders of the sea, and a smorgasbord of sea creatures, small and big, from the delicate Moon Jellyfish and ever-busy lobsters to glittery anchovies — each enclosure can leave you spell-bound for hours on end, and nobody’s there to stop you from dreaming your day away to the ancient days of Atlantis.
You’d also do well to spend some time at the Sea Lion Point, a lagoon designed especially for the most adorable sea lions, where you get to meet them, and even watch them put on a little performance; you also get to take back photo and video memories of your time in the pool.
“This is Atlantis, dearie...”
To be sure, the Atlantis experience is all about playing VIPs and celebrities, or at least getting as close as possible to that high-flying lifestyle — with every promise of privacy kept intact.
To that extent, the top floor of suites here are almost perennially booked out by American hip-hop stars, and the occasional bona fide Bollywood celeb; ceremonies and parties are very common, and many celebs are known to book out entire floors of the hotel, for their extended entourages.
By request, you can also get shown around the premises where popular Indian actors have been hosted for various film shoots.
A quick peek into any of the guest chambers at these royal suites, and you’re looking at any other elegantly placed executive lounge.
Step into any of the master suites though, and you’re speaking of an experience that most of us would have to count as once-in-a-lifetime.
To put things into perspective, you’re looking at extended walk-in closets, in-room saunas, high-def entertainment and intercom, personal butlers and the works in terms of service; you’re also left sniffing out remains of the last celebrity lounge-about.
To add, you get delightfully squeal-worthy, fairy-tale royal beds (and unlimited extra-fluffy cushions) to really curl up for a celebrity snooze. In the Underwater Suite, you even get a live view of the hotel's central aquarium, right at the head of your bedroom.
An Atlantis Imperial Club membership gets you added benefits including luxury round-trip airport transfers (chauffeured Audi A6 or equivalent), private check-in and check-out services, and complete access to the club lounge, which gives you broader expansive vistas of the sea from a gorgeous outdoor terrace.
The by-demand indulgences never cease, and for families, there’s the Atlantis Kids Club (for children aged 3–12 years) and The Zone, a hangout spot for teens (age 13–17 years), apart from private cabanas and loungers, spa treatments at the ShuiQi Spa, and a host of personal concierge services to ensure that you have your feet up at all times, and are accorded every manner of comfort even in tours out in the city.
Needless to overstate as a possibility, you can always sashay down the magnificent main staircase from your quarters for a spot of un-distracted window-shopping in this felicitous oasis of retail joy, given choices from the most popular, high-end luxury boutiques and branded superstores.
Even without actually buying anything, an idle jaunt down the resort’s shopping area is bound to leave you all goggle-eyed at the exotic improbability of choices on offer.
At this point, if you’re the kind to revel in literary digressions, Auden’s verses are likely to flood your mind, sparking off all kinds of revelations for critical thought...
Consider that, while Auden was intent on unravelling a certain capacity in art for moral instruction, the artifice of any well-turned-out, high-priced display would seriously undermine any form of poetic consideration to do with positive, morally acceptable self-indulgence.
Then again, it’s really the all-expenses paid clause to a holiday that would allow such truant reasoning.
Just to peep at Atlantis
In a poetic vision...
For the wellness-inclined patrons, there are also highly relaxing aqua-themed yoga sessions held at the tranquil Ambassador Lagoon, which affords an undivided view of the resort’s central aquarium.
You get to enrol for a session of Hatha Yoga here, even as you’re left imagining yourself as Aquaman, swimming along with the 65,000-odd sea creatures lazily drifting all around you.
Of course, all of this is sure to leave you hungry as an unfed fish in a bowl, and to satisfy all those cravings for fanciful culinary delights, the Atlantis lines up an exquisite culinary journey that spans across a mind-boggling spread of 23 restaurants.
The complimentary breakfast itself offers a staggering selection of more than 90 organic, natural and premium dishes served in a sumptuous buffet.
For your meals, you have a wealth of choices to dig into — Lebanese delicacies with a modern touch at Ayamna (recommend: the Deep-Fried Zaatar Prawns wrapped in Kunafa Dough with a Tahini Sauce); an Omakase Menu (try their much-feted Miso-Marinated Black Cod) for some Japanese fine dining curated by the Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa at the world-renowned Nobu; Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington at Bread Street Kitchen; and the choicest new-age Italian fare at Ronda Locatelli, whipped up by Michelin-starred Chef Giorgio Locatelli.
For a sample of primo fare, you could settle in at Ossiano, the award-winning restaurant known for its intimate romantic settings, which offer more of the aquatic theme in gorgeous views of The Ambassador Lagoon, served up with the tastiest, most succulent Signature Atlantis beef available in Dubai.
For a slightly more wandering, nomadic flavour to your evening, you could swing by for a live jazz night at Seafire, and stunning cuts of Rangers Valley meat that seem to compete with each other for your attention, even before they are placed on a griddle.
And, that’s really all of it — the making of a perfect celeb-style getaway, minus any pesky shutterbugs. In every sense, the Atlantis urges you, in the spirit of Auden, to stagger onward rejoicing...
The writer visited Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai by invitation.