Showcasing the cool Atlantis Hotel in Dubai – the latest word in Gulf excess – a sprawling £800million resort boasting a £13,000-a-night suite and dolphins flown in from the South Pacific, all housed on a palm tree-shaped island. This stunning luxury hotel opens today and here are some pictures in all its glory.
The 113-acre resort on an artificial island off the Persian Gulf coast is among the city-state’s biggest bets that tourism can help sustain its economy once regional oil profits stop flowing.Much of the focus at Atlantis, modelled on a sister resort in the Bahamas, is on ocean-themed family entertainment.
The resort contains a giant open-air tank with 65,000 fish, stingrays and other sea creatures and a dolphinarium with more than two dozen bottlenose dolphins flown in, amid controversy, from the Solomon Islands. But the hotel’s top floor aims squarely at the ultra-wealthy. A three-bedroom, three-bathroom suite complete with gold-leaf 18-seat dining table is on offer for £13,000 a night.
Dubai’s development has long been criticized by environmental activists, who say the construction of artificial islands hurts coral reefs and even shifts water currents. They point to growing water and power consumption.
An 1,800-seat theatre nearby will house a permanent Cirque du Soleil show beginning in summer 2011. ‘Palm Jumeirah in and of itself will become one of Dubai’s major tourist attractions,’ said Joe Cita, chief executive of Nakheel’s hotel division.
Boosting the number of attractions on the island will not only entice more visitors, he said, but also persuade them to spend more time and money in the city. By 2010, Dubai aims to attract a staggering 10 million hotel visitors annually, up from about 7 million in 2007. Atlantis alone will increase the city’s hotel capacity by 3 percent.