The spanking new Ritz-Carlton at the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) is located just minutes away from the world’s tallest man-made construction, the Burj Khalifa building, towering above the Dubai skyline and consisting of 162 floors above and two below ground. This delightful gem of a hotel with 341 elegantly appointed rooms and suites was opened on the 12th of January (alas 4 days shy of my birthday!), but hey, guess what? It has already gotten used to welcoming frequent visitors, namely those that have a serious business proposal in mind appointed in Dubai. Unlike the Ritz-Carlton at the Dubai Marina which caters for the leisure market, or those who want to be seen as the “Who’s who” of this world, this Ritz-Carlton at the Dubai IFC is more catered for the business community as it is conveniently located next to the major Sheikh Zyed Road, and only around a comfortable 20 minutes by car to Dubai airport.
Entering each of the rooms is a bit of an adventure. There is an air of contemporary design that blends in neatly with a strong Arabic ambience- you’ll be well pleased with a sweet smell of Arabic incense in the air.
Spacious bathroom attracting natural light with an open window looking right through to your bedroom form part of the excellent Feng Shui of the place. I have a feeling that the vast majority of the five star hotels are becoming more and more like boutique hotels- especially when it comes to providing the essentials of life. Loved the Nespresso in the room (attractively coloured Coffee cubes). All the rooms’ are equipped with the latest technology including fully integrated TV and internet system. It’s strongly Arabian yet very many international, traditional yet contemporary; with lush furniture and pampering bedrooms that add a vision to every angle that a guest looks into. Lovely hospitality and cuisine. Lovely detail to attention.
The sophisticated mini-bar includes wines by Cawarra (2008 Shiraz Cabernet) and Simonsig (Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2009). Almost everything at The Ritz-Carlton DIFC has lovely futuristic touches such as the electronic curtains and the trademark remote controlled TV in the bathroom.
The sleeping experience is just simply out of this world- an enormous bed awaits you upon your arrival. It’s so good that one may end up believing that they are somewhere in between Earth and Heaven. Pocket that thought with perhaps the best sleep you’ll have for ages! Fancy snuggling into a 400-thread count Frette linen?
All the rooms are strongly influenced by French art-deco have a clean, fresh and spacious feel with double exposure windows. Warm shimmering fabrics are used to create a fabulous effect that combines both eastern and western tastes. Each one of the rooms has their water temperature checked before a staff guest checks in. As standard with hotels’ in the Middle-East, a charming arrow points in the direction of Mecca so that Muslim guests have no trouble when praying.
At the Club levels (floor 13 and 14), the 38 rooms and the 27 Club suites are generously proportioned (42-61 square metres) and feature access to the 13th floor club lounge that has a continuous food and beverage presentations daily, and dedicated staff to assist at any time of the day. The best part of the experience is to have daily breakfast at the relatively calm Club lounge, which means that you do not have to deal with the hustle and bustle of the main dining area during this important meal of the day. Guests can also check-in and check-out with ease at the Club lounge.
Natural light also fills the marble floored bath and rain shower (love this creation!). Fantastic Feng Shui is exemplified by the use of superb symmetry. Lovely rich colours’ of Gold and Amber that portray the strong ethos of the Arab culture. Don’t be surprised to see Porsches, Ferraris and the abundance of Maserati cars’ stopping by in front of the foyer because Dubai is effectively a huge amusement playground for the wealthy. Then there are your usual Arab guests that come in from neighbouring Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain or Saudi Arabia- and normally they leave Dubai with ten times more the amount of luggage that they initially intended to take away with them!
A unique and breath taking space, The Ritz-Carlton DIFC’s central foyer on the 4th floor, takes the super lounge concept to new heights. It’s a sophisticated yet chicly understated and relaxed venue bathed in a vibrant combination of warm colours of orange, red, yellow, beige and pink- all divided cleverly into the lounge and on-going into the nearby No. 5 Lounge and Bar. The bars and restaurants have outside verandas’ overlooking into the actual Dubai IFC mall- with all the more adds to the uniqueness of this fine accommodation.
The gorgeous backdrop of a waterfall view that guests can take pleasure in is very much tempting not just for business persons who want to while away their evenings after a long day at work but for those who want to hold meetings, hold weddings and conventions.
The “Centre Cut” provides the finest prime beef cuts in the city, and has a certain masculine touch to it complete with a furious red ambience and portraits of a raging bull providing a splendid backdrop. The whole experience should go down well with a lovely glass of fine red wine. For those who prefer some authentic French cuisine may want to dig their taste buds into the “Can Can” eatery that looks rather like a typical French bistro. Now if you adore food, like I do, then wait till you tuck into one of the dishes at the “Blue Rain” restaurant. It offers nothing but sheer authentic Thai cuisine. It’s so good that it will simply blow your mind, and taste buds’, away!
The Ritz-Carlton DIFC is the ultimate when it comes to gastronomical pleasure, lively conversation among busy city professionals who want to relax with, say a fine “2 Up Shiraz”, a classy Malt Whiskey, or one of the scrumptious culinary innovations, after a long day at the office, brightens up the place. This is the perfect place for captains of Industry to network as well as absorb the newly found chic atmosphere of 21st century Dubai. With all the glam, modernity and the glitter, it’s easy to forget that one is actually sitting in the middle of a desert!
The Spa features a temperature controlled swimming pool, a fully manned gymnasium and massage rooms’. The services of the club are extensive in line with the branded Ritz-Carlton treatments’ (refreshing turquoise colours illustrate the vibrant treatments and menus!). All the treatments are masterfully designed to ensure the highest level of relaxation and satisfaction, while a team of professional therapists pamper guests with the best natural products and international brands in the UAE.
Located on the 4th floor of the rather new Ritz-Carlton at the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), the authentic Thai restaurant Blue Rain will leave your taste buds dancing for delight. Dining at the Blue Rain is meant to be an experience for each and every sense. All the staff are native Thai people especially bought in to the restaurant from Thailand. Fortunately the restaurant gets its wines from the hotel’s wine rack that is noted to be the largest in the world. Main courses can be humble and authentic while the dessert can be daringly modern. And because the food is prepared according to the philosophy of how an authentic Thai meal should be created, with only the best produce and ingredients dependant on seasonal availability, the menu changes on a regular basis.
With the lovely backdrop of a waterfall view as well as the restaurant floor containing a “canal” type stream running right through the middle of the restaurant (covered by a wonderful blue glass to give the effect of a “Blue Rain”), the restaurant is itself a work of constant art and not just a culinary adventure.
With a Thai identity on a regional platform, the chef has created an amazing cuisine that is open for local and international ingredients and influences (provided they have the authentic Thai touch to them). This creates a cuisine that is based on natural produce and natural taste with an acceptable level of healthy oil, salt and sugars in the meals’. It’s effectively an exotic culinary creativity in a vibrant, sophisticated atmosphere where you can just relax, enjoy and while away those evenings in good company and wine (perhaps a cigar too). The demand for first class eateries in the Middle-east is considerable. But the Blue Rain does a sensational job in matching up to the high expectations of its guests, whether they are locally based or from far away lands across the seas.
An extensive menu caters for all tastes including fresh fish dishes taken from the local waters around the Arabian Gulf. Must try dishes include tantalising appetisers such as “Popia Sot” and “Mieng Kham Kung”. The “Popia Sot” is a Thai style spring roll accompanied with a lovely meaty cut of chicken and generous portions of asparagus, mint and a dash of tamarind sauce. While the latter dish is made up of prawns wrapped in betel leaf and accompanied with a touch of ginger, chilli and coconut. The whole package is neatly sprinkled with a dash of lime. Dare I say priceless in Dubai?
Splendid main dishes that just cannot leave the Blue Rain without trying include “Gang Kiew Wan Pla Murk”, and “Panang Nua Wagyu”. The former is an extremely scrumptious seafood extravaganza consisting of squid with minced prawn, fish and a munificent plateful of pea eggplant. All of this is flavoured with Thai basil and surrounded with green curry. While the “Panang Nua Wagyu” is for those who prefer the meatier option because of its rich weight of wagyu beef surrounded in a Penang curry. The dish is simply out of this world for those who have a passion for beef and spicy food because it has the charming touch of red chillies and kaffir lime.
For a truly authentic Thai dessert opt for the “Khao Niew Mamuang” because it contains some of the most popular ingredients associated with Thai food and culture including mango, coconut and glutinous rice.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to wash all of this down with a fine glass of “the Ritz-Carlton Martini”. A lovely dash of gin blends in neatly with fresh mint leaves, cucumber and lime juice to give it a simple yet addictive attraction for those who prefer to enjoy the high life.
The authentic Thai touch is provided even when the meal is finished when dinars are presented with the Thai ice-cream dessert containing the Thai greeting words “Khob Khun Krab” (Thai for “Thank You”).
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