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ATLANTIS THE ROYAL DUBAÏ, KERZNER INTERNATIONAL'S GRANDIOSE PROJECT, OFFICIALLY OPENED (United Arab Emirates)

After years of preparation, the highly regarded opening of Atlantis The Royal will take place this Friday, 10 February. The Journal des Palaces met with its leaders to find out more about this opening.

ATLANTIS THE ROYAL DUBAÏ, KERZNER INTERNATIONAL'S GRANDIOSE PROJECT, OFFICIALLY OPENED (United Arab Emirates)

After years of preparation, the highly regarded opening of Atlantis The Royal will take place this Friday, 10 February. The Journal des Palaces met with its leaders to find out more about this opening.

Category: Middle East - United Arab Emirates - Industry economy - Hotel opening - Interviews
Interview made by Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine on 2023-02-06


After years of preparation, the highly regarded opening of Atlantis The Royal will take place this Friday, 10 February. End of 2019, the Journal des Palaces met with Timothy M. Kelly, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Atlantis The Palm & Atlantis The Royal, to learn more about the much awaited opening of Atlantis The Royal, the new jewel of Kerzner International. An opening that has been postponed to the beginning of 2023.

We followed the evolution of this extraordinary project at the last ILTM show, by pursuing the discussion with Tom J. Roelens, Senior Vice President, Operations and General Manager, Atlantis Resorts and Residences Dubai, Atlantis The Palm, Atlantis The Royal Resort and Residences, Aquaventure Waterpark.

Atlantis The Royal, a spectacular project

The figures for this project are vertiginous: 43 floors, 231 distinctive luxury residences, 795 rooms including 102 suites, designed by Sybille de Margerie.

On the top floor, six signature penthouses, nestled in the resort's towers, have parking and a lift with direct access, and feature bespoke Hermès amenities. 95% of the rooms and suites can be connected, even on an entire floor, to facilitate the stay of delegations or families travelling with their staff.

The Bridge Suite, the DNA of the group, is naturally integrated into the bridge linking the two towers, on the 21st and 22nd floors. The design of this beautifully wooded bridge is the work of David Mexico Design Group.
The group has chosen to house the world's largest Nobu restaurant, which blends Peruvian and Japanese cuisine in the world's most prestigious destinations. It will also feature the spectacular "Club 22", reserved for VIPs, which will offer cabanas to contemplate the horizon until the sunset. A kind of "beach" in the air.

Atlantis The Royal is distinguished by its architectural structure, with a slightly curved building composed of sets of fully glazed cubes, each different from the other, designed by KPF Architects. Such a structure offers terraces that extend up to 200 square meters and give guests "the illusion of floating on water from their beds", says Timothy M. Kelly.

"The spectacular aspect is also achieved through the use of rare materials or unusual elements, such as the high onyx corridor that leads to the spa, the aquarium containing 2,000 jellyfish that acts as a partition, the fountains like those found at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, alternating with flames, the underwater restaurant, and the monumental 1,000-square-metre marble-covered ballroom that can seat 660 people," he adds.

While dining and entertainment are at the heart of the experience, the group has also focused on its wellness centre, which boasts 3,000 square meters of space. In addition to the treatment rooms, a salt cave, a snow cave and a sauna complete the experience. The objective is greater than just allowing customers to relax. Here, the focus is on "prevention as well as cure", confirms Timothy M. Kelly.

Journal des Palaces: Is Atlantis The Royal open yet?

Tom J. Roelens : Yes, we are live. We have rooms for sale on February 10th, and so we have launched all the booking opportunities and on all channels, and we're preparing for a grand reveal the weekend of the 20th of January (editor’s note: the interview was conducted last December, Beyoncé performed at the inauguration).

A unique offer in Dubaï

What would be for you the major strengths and the major assets?

Tom J. Roelens : It's a combination between very unique aspects of the building. When you look at the Sky Pool Villas, we're effectively taking the concept of a resort villa, but we're bringing it in a horizontal format.
These terraces are a 150 square meters large. And you have these pools that are kind of on the edge of the building and yet provide full privacy.

It’s a one-of-a-kind building, one-of-a-kind architecture. We're really always looking for very unique offerings, so one of the things we're doing with the amenity program, for example in the guest rooms, is we are offering a world exclusive with “Graff” amenities from the Graff Jewellery. We worked with the Graff family, we've taken the fragrance from the gardens of the Graff’s estate in South Africa and created a new line of amenity programs for the shampoos, the lotions and so forth and that will be the world's first, so it won't be available anywhere else. Only at our resort.

But it also launches into offerings in the dining environment, whereby 60 to 70% of our wine list and spirits list and support is not available anywhere else in the Middle East. There are a lot of elements like that that will reveal itself.

But ultimately for us, it's not just the offerings, it's about the service and I think that's really where we're going to be focusing on. Having had the time with the team that's been onboard, some as long as you know, a year, year and a half and so forth, to really focus on the delivery of service.

What does Atlantis The Royal offer in terms of food and beverage?

Timothy M. Kelly: We are the first to offer the restaurants of so many famous chefs on one site!

"Dinner” by Heston Blumenthal, the very first to open, is the third outpost of the star chef's concept.
"La Mar" will offer guests the opportunity to sample the Peruvian cuisine of top chef Gastón Acurio.
Recognized as one of the best seafood restaurants in the world, 'L'Estiatorio Milos' by chef Costas Spiliadis, has been announced as the latest restaurant to join Atlantis The Royal.

Gordon Ramsay (at the Palm), Nobu Matsuhisa, José Andrés and Ariana Bundy, will also confirm Atlantis The Royal as the region's premier culinary destination.
We also managed to get Mich Turner and her Little Venice Cake Company to come. This is the first time she has opened a bakery outside the UK. She will be making cakes on demand.

Finally, it will be possible to order all the dishes from the menus of all our restaurants in your room, a first in the history of room service.

Tom J. Roelens : I come from the restaurant world, so I feel that the restaurants and the offerings we have will be really the engine. We feel that the offerings we will bring will really drive an enormous amount of energy in the building.

We have just opened En Fuego, which is our new South American restaurant, and we are also building the brand new Nobu restaurant that we're moving into the Royal Bridge Suite. It will be the largest Nobu in the world, with 450 seats, overlooking the golf on that side and the palm on this side.

Then we have just signed and announced last week an arrangement with Björn Frantzén, a 3-star Michelin of Stockholm, with whom we're going to have two restaurants on Atlantis The Palm as well. So, we continue to innovate.

We're very excited about the various kind of players in the culinary industry who have arrived. We now have two Michelin style restaurants, Hakkasan and Ossiano. Also, Ossiano was Gault et Millau’s best restaurant of the year.

We continue to reach for a phenomenal delivery of quality of the dining experiences, of the experiences in the water park and so forth.

Can you say some words about the technology in the rooms?

Tom J. Roelens : Absolutely ! We have what I would call a smart room. It's a combination of ensuring the right level of energy is being used; we're LEAD certified, but the key for us has been the focus on the comfort of the guests and not making it too overcomplicated. But we're certainly introducing elements such as using your mobile to enter.
We certainly focused on all of those elements to ensure that it's a very comfortable yet relevant and up-to-date experience in the guest rooms.

International and domestic markets

What would be the main markets?

Tom J. Roelens : At the moment, we're on sale, and so we are following every day. At the moment it's not, but UK is our number one, and traditionally for Dubai, I think. But we see a fair amount of bookings out of France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the US as well. We're part of the Virtuoso network. That has allowed us to be presented in the mainland.
So, we see interest out of Southern America too, so even Middle America, Mexico, Argentina, and so forth. Australia's just starting because they weren’t allowed to go anywhere. Japan a little, Asia will come. Also, UAE, Saudi; there is a fair amount of interest, and so there's certainly a very broad kind of pace that shows interest.

What about staycation?

Tom J. Roelens : I think one thing that has happened during the pandemic is that people have rediscovered Atlantis with all the improvements that we have done. We’ve invested a fair bit also in all the facilities of Atlantis The Palm. And all the improvements we have done at Aquaventure so the local residents, whether they are Emirati or not, in many ways have rediscovered Atlantis, whether it's been for all the dining options, or whether it's for Aquaventure or whether it's for the entertainment that we're doing, I believe.

This New Year's Eve, for example, we're bringing in Kylie Minogue, and so we see a high level of interest from people that come to dine with us and come for entertainment, come for some of the performances as we do at White Beach and so forth.

Service excellence at the heart of the project

How to sustain such a high level of service in such large hotels?

Tom J. Roelens : Well, we have 795 keys, 102 suites and for us, the focus really is about personalized and individualized service, right? And you can if you have the right people in the right places. Our focus is every guest will be escorted to the guest room.
We've been fortunate that we've been able to be in a position, to have been hiring for three years, you know, in a time that no one was hiring. We were able to select the best of the best. I mean, these are people who are all come in from the top of their game in the luxury industry and all have been challenged to not deliver what everybody else is doing. It's all about one having the right staffing levels, but also having the opportunity to people whereby service comes from the heart.
We have hired the A-Team from over 190 countries.
For example, Milos is our Greek restaurant. Well, the vast majority of the team in Milos is Greek and understands that culture and what the taste really should be like.

Timothy M. Kelly : We focus 200% on our clients' needs and anticipate them. We offer them tailor-made solutions and the opportunity to have unique experiences that they will never see elsewhere.

I am thinking of the nursery and medical centre that we have created to contribute to the development and protection of the marine life that surrounds us. We like to share with our guests highlights, such as the births and releases of marine animals cared for by our teams. There is nothing like an emotional experience to crystallize the memory of a stay!

The dedication of our staff is once again a valuable asset.

A level of service and excellence officially unveiled on Friday to guests eager to experience all the delights of this extraordinary resort.
 

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About the author

As a journalist and luxury hotel expert inspired by the men and women who embody it, Vanessa aspires to enhance and sublimate the beauty and elegance of palaces through her writing. "In a palace, simplicity serves the quest for excellence" she admires.

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