The One&Only Time A Royal Mirage Is A Real Oasis

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a mirage this way. “Something (such as a pool of water in the middle of a desert) that is seen and appears to be real but that is not actually there; something that you hope for or want but that is not possible or real.”  With apologies to the famous lexicographer, quite obviously Mr. Webster has never vacationed in Dubai.  (Being dead for some 170 years, Noah, is hardly an excuse.)  It may be the One&Only example of this phenomenon but I am about to tell you about a mirage that really is an oasis.

One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai

One&Only Royal Mirage lobbyOne of the first things you need to understand about this sprawling 65 acre resort is that it is very much three experiences in one setting.  The three very distinct environments are named The Palace, Arabian Court and Residence & Spa.  The overview page on their website does a masterful job of describing the unique characteristics of each section.

There are few hotel lobbies that literally stop you in your tracks when you enter.  This, however, is Lobby of the One&Only Royal Miragecertainly one of them.  I am thinking seriously of reworking the entry way to my tract home with a similar skylight.

Speaking of my own humble domicile, I may have to get my attorneys involved with the architects of this property who shamelessly stole the landscape plans to my own back yard even down to the bullseye fountain in the foreground.  Surely they realized the first reaction people were going to have is “Wow, just like Terry’s yard”?Royal MIrage viewTo say the accommodations are stunning doesn’t even begin to do them justice.  I was shown this room just before the guest arrivedRoyal Mirage accommodations.  Let’s be honest.  How would you like to arrive from a long journey to this?

I would love to tell you whether this is a picture of a Prestige room in the Residence, a Prince suite in the Arabian Court or a Superior Gold in the Palace but to be perfectly honest, after seeing so many spectacular rooms in all three sections and with hunger pains beginning to nip, my little gray cells had started taking an early Qaylulah, the Arabic version of a siesta.

Perhaps detecting the famished look in my eyes, my delightful guide Vanessa Thodda, Senior Sales Manager at the resort, suggested we pause for a brief repast.  A twist of the arm being wholly superfluous at this point, Vanessa (who reminds me of Cheryl Lobo, one of our top agents), Susan Joehri from Desert Adventures (more about this great company in the next post) and I found our way to the Eauzone in the Arabian Court section shown below.  The sumptuous fare and elegant surroundings were only surpassed by the convivial company.

Eauzone Restaurant at One&Only Royal MirageThe formula for a world-class property is not that complicated even if it is not easily duplicated.  You take a stunning setting, add elegant accommodations, include delicious cuisine served in a variety of stellar venues, throw in a world-renowned spa and add a pinch of gracious service and warm hospitality. Voilà!  You have the oasis in the desert you have always dreamed about.  And, despite its name, it is no mirage!

Check back in soon to learn why Dubai is must see destination.  After that final Dubai post, we will board Emirates for the next leg of our journey.  Next stop, Rome.  Actually, Ladispoli but more about that later.

One&Only X 2 = Double Delight

We can’t all be Issac Newton I suppose (although, I must say, I do love his fig bars) but here Fmaous mathematician Isaac Newtonis an equation so rudimentary that even I can grasp it.  If a single One&Only Resort is  magnificent, then ipso facto two One&Only Resorts are twice as delightful, right?  Unless, that is, you insist on dragging out that confusing expression “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” in which case you have me totally lost.

Setting mathematics quickly aside for something I do understand, let’s talk a little travel.  As I trust you have noticed, I have been writing lately about my latest junket, the first stop of which was Dubai.  While I was there, it was my privilege to visit not one but two amazing gems of the Middle East.

ONE&ONLY THE PALM, DUBAI

To give you a feel for the opulence, the picture below is me standing in my bathroom in the Presidential Suite drawing my bath.  Just kidding!  This is actually the lobby but you do have to admit it is quite breathtaking.  (In point of fact, the sumptuous bathrooms do feature oversized freestanding bathtubs as you will learn below.)  If you need a sense of perspective, I am six feet six inches tall and exquisitely sculpted not unlike the iron lattice-work in the background.

The lobby of the One&Only The Palm, DubaiEvery square inch of this property oozes stylish luxury.  This is especially true of the public areas such as the dining rooms and bars.  The resort features a marina (of course) and one of my favorite spots is the 101 Dining Lounge and Bar pictured below with a panoramic view of the marina and the Dubai skyline.  When they told me the dress code was “smart casual”, I was a little concerned about flunking the entrance exam but they graciously let me in with a provisional pass.

101 Dining Lounge and BarThe other two elegant dining venues are called Stay and Zest.  Said together they sound to me a little like a command you might issue to an over-exuberant puppy, “Stay, Zest!  Down Stay at the One&Only Palm, Dubaiboy!”.   Setting aside the bizarre way my mind works, these are two extraordinary restaurants.  To cite their website, “Different seating arrangements including a sharing table area as well as a unique Pastry Library concept are key to the restaurant’s DNA.”   That works out extremely well for me since it appears consuming pastries in obscene quantities is deeply imbedded in my personal DNA.  Zest is the primary dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I particularly like the outdoor seating by the pool in the midst of beautiful Moorish style gardens.

This amazing resort offers you your choice of accommodations in three locales: the Manor House, Palm Beach Mansions and Beach Front Villas with various categories within each.  I started this post with one of my lame little jokes about the lobby.  Just to prove that I was indulging in only a slight exaggeration, here are pictures of The Grand Palm Suite with its sumptuous bathroom in the Mansion section.

Typical Manor room Bathroom in One&Only The Palm, Dubai

Be sure and spend some quality time in the world-famous One&Only Private Spa featuring every amenity you can imagine and several you probably couldn’t!  I will return shortly for the second part of this post that will describe the One&Only Royal Mirage.

Before I go, however, I would like to invite you to visit this site where I have posted over 300 pictures from my Golden Circle 2013 travels.   There will not be a test at the end so don’t feel obliged to look at all of them.  The first link in this paragraph will take you to the picture album and the second link to all the posts in this category in case you would like to catch up with my most devoted (some might say, demented) followers who slavishly read every word I write.

Let The Journey Begin: Dubai Or Dust!

I have been in the travel business for well over 25 years.  I will refrain from interjecting the tiresome old saw about being in kindergarten when I began.  One glance at my weathered countenance would quickly dispel such illusions anyway.  Unfortunately, the creases in my face are beginning to bear a striking resemblance to a West Texas river bed after a ten-year drought.

One of the things that got me into the travel business originally, besides a fiscal naiveté befitting a first year business major, is my seemingly unquenchable thirst for adventure.  Another less flattering way of saying the same thing is that I have the attention span of a fruit fly.

Unlike my more mature counterparts, I spend very little time reflecting on the past.  My brother, for example, is the family historian.  I am the family futurist.  Most of my psychic energy is expended contemplating my next foray into the sometimes testing but never tedious world around me.

The Club at DFW

The Club at DFW: The only civilized way to start your journey!

This morning*, I set off of on another of my episodic jaunts.  If you happen to have read one of my previous posts, I gave you a few hints as to my upcoming itinerary.  You need simply to read this post, and the next several to follow, for the denouement.

Every successful journey is immeasurably aided by a good beginning.  This one, I must say, is going quite swimmingly so far. It started with being collected at my domicile by a black car arranged for by my dear friends at RideCentric.  After buzzing by my favorite Starbucks for my obligatory tall, skinny, French vanilla latte, we were off to the airport.

Upon checking in at Emirates (the glistening flying chariot that, even as I pen these words, is spiriting me to Dubai), I headed to The Club at DFW (complimentary for those of us blessed to find ourselves in business class).  The breakfast tacos were quite tasty, I must say.

I have been for quite some time very eager to sample the highly vaunted Emirates flying experience.  Oh, I have been on an Emirates plane before, it just never actually got airborne.  Faithful readers will recall I have even been to a couple of Emirates events.  Today, however, is my first occasion to actually fly on Emirates.

As I write these words I am somewhere over Chibougamau (and no, I did not make that up), so I still have numerous hours to go.  For those of you who hang on my every syllable . . . let‘s not delve into embarrassing percentages . . . here are my preliminary observations.  The service on Emirates is every bit as good as advertised.

Flight attendent on EmiratesIf you own an airline (and don’t we all), you better know how to hire the right people.  There is a magical line between effortless grace and obsequious fawning.  My attendant, Jason, must have a Masters degree in that subtle yet critical distinction.  He manages to be helpful without being harassing.  Restaurant servers take note!

The food, so far at least, has been quite delectable.  I say “so far” since I have a lite-bite and a hearty breakfast still to go.  (Hey, it’s a fourteen hour flight and I have to keep Meal service on Emirates my strength up if you expect me to keep cranking out these literary masterpieces.  You don’t think John Steinbeck actually lived off grapes, do you?)  I particularly enjoyed the salad trio of prawn, salmon and lobster.

The flight to this point has been as smooth as a leisurely punt down the Thames.  I write these words with no small measure of reluctance out of fear I may be tempting fate to send along some white-knuckle turbulence just to keep me humble.  Let’s pray not!

The entertainment center called ICE (for information, communication and entertainment), Emirates in-flight entertainment centeris quite elaborate.  So elaborate in fact, I have yet to muster the energy to decipher it.  I haven’t gotten past the screen that shows one’s excruciatingly slow progress toward one’s destination.

Fortunately, munching on Godiva chocolates, sipping port and rambling endlessly on to you, my adoring readers, seems to provide an adequate diversion so far.

Speaking of rambling, I am bumping up against my self-imposed word limit for any given post.  I would tell you my limit but invariably you would start counting words!  Not to worry!  I will be back with more mind-numbing, sleep-inducing, gray cell-suffocating blog posts before you can say “Just take me out and shoot me!”   Dubai or Dust!

* Owing to undependable access to wi-fi during my travels, these posts are being published several days after the events described.  If you remember literature class, it is written in the historical present!  One last note, all the posts related to this trip can be found under the category Golden Circle 2013 on the homepage right rail.

Go Ahead Emirates: Make My Day

One definition of a good job is one in which every day is a little different from the one before.  I guess that is one reason I like the travel industry so much.  Not only is every day distinctive but every six months or so,  just for grins, we all get together and reinvent the entire industry.  Some of us find that a tad stressful but I suppose at least It keeps the little gray cells from atrophying.

DAY ONE

Earlier this year I experienced not one but two of those unique sorts of days thanks to one of the world’s most successful and fastest growing airlines:  Emirates.  Back in Dallas Cowboys Stadium Big ScreenJanuary Emirates staged a huge event for nine hundred or so Dallas / Fort Worth luminaries (and a few dimmer bulbs like me) at the iconic Dallas Cowboys Stadium of all places.  Perhaps you will recognize the big screen that hovers above the field like a suspended Walmart parking lot.   The event was hosted, appropriately enough, by Daryl “Moose” Johnson, the former Cowboys fullback.

I must say, Emirates knows how to do things right.  To give you an idea of the decor check Emirates Launch Event in DFWout this little item.  For those who may be wondering, this is not the hallway leading to my office although I think we can all agree, if there were any justice in this world, it would be.  In case you are also wondering about perspective, it is considerably taller than me, not the loftiest of standards, I will grant you.

DAY TWO

My second little “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” came  two months later in March when I was invited by Emirates to drive out to DFW Airport for a nice breakfast presentation and then to tour one of their 777s  which by then were shuttling people daily back and forth between DFW Airport and Dubai.  After the tour, we reconvened for a sumptuous lunch.  I told you they know how to do things right!

OK, steel yourself for a study in contrasts.  Close your eyes and conjure up the last time you flew Emirates First Class on the 777domestic coach in a middle seat wedged between a Japanese Sumo wrestler and a contestant on their way to an audition for “The Biggest Loser”  I know, shudder!!!

Now take a peek at what greets you when you arrive in first class on an Emirates flight to Dubai.   You know, now that I think about it, I never did find the little mini-bar or the make-up mirror on my last Spirit Airlines flight to Detroit.  Whether you are fortunate enough to fly first class on the 777 or the A380, you get you own freakin’ suite!   Now that’s just plain decadent.

First Class on the Emirates a380

This may come as a surprise but in addition to booking business and vacation travelers, we also have a missionary / humanitarian contract with Emirates for those traveling for more altruistic motives.  You can connect to 125 destinations in 74 countries through Dubai.  If you are flying from DFW or SEA, be sure and ask about the brand new firm upgrade offer from Economy Class to Business Class.  So if your purpose for travel is business, pleasure or even service to humanity, Emirates and Travel Leaders would be more than pleased to “make your day” too!