Gulf Dream: Viva Dubai
Visitors to Dubai frequently compare the emirate to Las Vegas because, although Dubai forbids gambling, it offers travelers a dizzying array of opulent hotels and resorts, including the following three.
Burj Al Arab
This sail-shaped structure, set on a man-made island at the end of a 1,000-foot causeway, contains 202 duplex suites, all of which exceed 1,800 square feet and include 42-inch plasma TVs, Jacuzzi tubs, and butlers on demand. The spa located on the 18th floor provides spectacular views along with relaxing treatments. And Al Mahara, one of eight restaurants on the property, puts patrons in the mood for seafood with a three-minute simulated submarine ride from the hotel lobby to the establishment.
Grand Hyatt Dubai
Located downtown, away from the beach, the hotel does not want for water or lush, blooming scenery. Guests enjoy an impressively large temperature-controlled outdoor pool, an indoor pool that is lit by candles at night, and 37 acres of gardens, lagoons, and waterfalls. The 674-room structure, which opened in March 2003, also offers a spa, a fitness center, tennis courts, nightclubs, and 14 restaurants, bars, and cafés. The Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club is only 5 minutes away as well.
Royal Mirage Dubai
Perhaps the only hotel in Dubai that embraces the local culture is this low-rise complex resembling an Arabian fortress (above). It is spread over 65 acres that include lush gardens, pools, palm-dotted islands, and a private, half-mile-long beach. Guests can also avail themselves of the hammam, a Middle Eastern version of the steam bath. The hotel includes seven restaurants, and each of its 246 rooms faces the sea.