In the hospitality industry, state-of-the-art style rings hollow if it is not accompanied by state-of-the-art service. So each guest at Armani Hotel Dubai is assigned what is called a “lifestyle manager,” someone who, in effect, acts as a full-time concierge and personal assistant. Before I even arrived in Dubai, my lifestyle manager contacted me by e-mail and telephone to make arrangements for transportation from the airport to the hotel, if I should want it—I did—and to apprise me of the numerous entertainment options in Dubai: from polo to downhill skiing, golf to watersports. She then followed up by having her supervisor, a senior lifestyle manager, greet me at the hotel entrance the moment I arrived from the airport in one of the hotel’s silver Range Rovers, escort me to my suite, explain the mechanized lighting, curtain, and computer systems, and make sure I was taken care of.
Would you like a wake-up call? Breakfast? What time? I hear the airline lost your luggage? If you give me the claim tickets, I will have your bags delivered to you tomorrow. Would you then like to have your clothes unpacked? Pressed?
And so it goes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Your lifestyle manager even has an assistant, who is up to the minute on your schedule, preferences, and needs. Meaning that you are never without support, if you want it. Some 600 employees from around the globe were aggressively recruited and meticulously trained, according to Pierre Lang, the hotel’s executive assistant manager of rooms and residences. And they are all, naturally, dressed in Armani. Young, enthusiastic, and cosmopolitan, and giving it their absolute all.
The last night of the press conference, Armani flies in a catwalkful of gazelle-like models who show off his ethereal spring/summer 2010 Privé collection on a luminous runway installed in the hotel’s concourse-level ballroom. At show’s end, Armani appears on the catwalk wearing a midnight-blue three-button suit with a matching tie and walks toward the photographers, smiling and waving, until he reaches Alabbar. Armani pulls Alabbar up onto the runway, and the two men lead their 500-plus guests out onto the hotel’s expansive terrace to view a water, light, and sound show put on by the Dubai Fountain. After that, it’s off to dinner in the hotel’s restaurants, followed by champagne at Armani/Privé, the bi-level club that has its own entrance on the ground floor of the tower. There is a resident DJ, and it is open to the public from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. It is not only prudent but also required to telephone ahead for a table reservation—although securing one of the seductively illuminated circular onyx-and-lacquer banquettes will set you back $820. The party is calm but festive, celebratory but not crazy. On the one hand, no one seems bored or blasé. On the other hand, no one gets drunk and falls into the fountain. There is plenty to look at, to remember. And the hotel is a refined beauty. The quality of the materials and finishes and, just as important, the construction can stand up to the closest scrutiny.
Armani provides a mix of images, a spectrum of visual and sensory souvenirs. In Dubai we are left with more than a custom-designed his/her perfume set, courtesy of “Mr. Armani.” For example, at the party that night, there is plenty of décolleté and diamonds, of course. At the opposite end of the spectrum, however, there are plenty of Emirati women who chose the “national dress” option given on the invitation. They wear abayas and, on their heads, hijabs. Which does not mean they do not also carry bubble-gum-pink quilted Chanel purses, or crocodile Birkin bags. In other words, the juxtapositions are instructive, pertinent, appropriate. A perfect fit, you might even say.
Doubles from $1,000.