Posts Tagged ‘Dubai’
The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, and I go back a long way. My first memory is driving past it when it was still being built, 15 and a half years ago – it was literally in the middle of nowhere and the hoardings around it named it the Royal Abjar.
But it opened, soon after, as The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, and has since played a big part in my memories of Dubai, from media dinners and parties to press conferences and weekend stays. DH and I were even members of the beach club for many years, back in the pre-parenting era when we could laze in the pool all day, drink beers at lunch and sleep in the sun all afternoon.
So I was overjoyed to be invited to an event last night to launch the opening of the hotel’s elegant new wing. Obviously, I love the R-C but, if you pinned me down and played non-stop Celine Dion to me, I would admit that what it lacked was a nice chill-out bar. Perhaps, in those days, it wasn’t part of the spec for a luxury hotel – not the clientele it wanted to attract, even – but Dubai’s moved on a long way in the last 15 years.
And so has the Ritz-Carlton. My favourite part of the new “Shorooq” wing, which includes 148 new rooms, new gardens, new pools, a new spa concept and new restaurants, was absolutely without doubt, the La Baie Lounge, a gorgeous outdoor lounge bar and restaurant that blurs the boundaries of wood and water.
Dotted with double day beds and decorated in a palette of sand, cream and accents of the turquoise of the Arabian Gulf (I made that up – it’s not in the press kit), it’s a welcome departure from the Ritz-Carlton’s slightly stuffy traditional style – and a welcome one at that.
But, even more welcome was the chance, for once, to put on one of my gorgeous frocks, dust off a pair of trophy shoes and schmooze with those left of my old media workmates. Drinking wine in the R-C gardens last night was like 2002 all over again…. only this time, instead of staggering out inebriated at 2am, my ex-colleagues and I were showing each other snaps of our kids and competing for taxis by 11. Middle age, eh? It gets us all.
I usually provide my gardeners with bottles of cold water while they blow the dust off my fake lawn but some months ago it dawned on me that they may actually like something a little more interesting so I started taking them out a can of soft drink and a bag of crisps each. On a cold day, I was even moved to provide a flask of hot tea or coffee and some biscuits.
I think it went down well, but DH was not so impressed.
“You’re creating a rod for your own back,” he declared on seeing the 20-pack of chips marked “Gardeners” in the larder. I’m guessing he was piqued that he doesn’t get Tango and crisps at home, only Delia’s mushroom risotto with porcini and Parmesan.
And yes, he may have a point. But, to be honest, it makes me happy to bring the two of them a little joy in their long working day.
Anyway, since the campaign of chips and soft drinks began, I’ve noticed two developments: 1) The gardeners have been coming more often (three times a week, though I’m sure I’m paying only for once a week) and 2) the team for our small, low-maintenance garden has been upped from two to three men.
Yesterday, as I bustled out of the front door with three cans of Lilt and three bags of Bugles in my arms, DH shook his head.
“Watch out,” he said. “Before you know it, you’ll be offering dim sum and a selection of dips.”
So, just as I was expecting a parcel to arrive in my New York “Shop & Ship” account, I receive this email (in real life, it had the FedEx logo on it).
|Tracking ID: 9278-66752833|
|Date: Monday, 25 February 2013, 10:22 AM|
Your parcel has arrived at March 4.Courier was unable to deliver the parcel to you at 4 March 06:33 PM.
To receive your parcel, please, print this receipt and go to the nearest office.
Of course I don’t think twice about it. I write back asking if they can deliver it during office hours. The email pings back. Oh well, maybe it’s one of those automated emails you can’t reply to, I think.
So I go onto the FedEx website and I fill out a “contact us” form. When I get to Tracking ID, it says that the number, which I’ve copied and pasted from the above message, is not valid.
I must have done it wrong, I think. So I click on the “print receipt” button to get the real details.
And my world falls apart.
As the window opens, I realise, in that heart-stopping moment, that I’ve fallen victim to email hackers. Me! I’m the one who’s always telling off my mum for falling for these email scams.
I quickly change my email password, log out and shut everything down. I log back in and then receive 100 quick-fire “email error” messages from my anti-virus software. I look up the meaning of this on the internet and find that I can suppress the messages but that it won’t solve the root of the problem. It’s evidence, apparently, that my email account has been “spoofed”. In itself, it’s harmless, if irritating. But has anything more sinister happened as well?
I have banking to do online; I want to buy DD tickets for Joseph. I can’t do anything without being sure my computer is secure; that there’s no Malware lurking. So I run a complete system scan. It recommends I use “Norton Erase” to do a deep-clean of the system, even though it might inadvertently erase things I do need (antibiotics for the computer, if you like).
But I decide to run the Norton Erase. It finds a malicious file lurking deep in my system and we erase it together with a “huzzah!” The email error messages stop. I think I’m fine.
But lesson learned. Be wary friends, be wary. (And yes I got the Joseph tickets.)
This may sound odd, but the last time I went to an ‘80s night was, well, in the ‘80s. To me, the ‘80s was a painful decade; a time of fluorescent green fingerless gloves, of leg-warmers worn over drainpipe jeans, of ra-ra skirts and electric-blue batwing jumpers.
And of matching electric-blue eyeshadow. Ouch.
No wonder it’s a decade I’d rather forget.
But DH, he’s a bit of an ‘80s boy. Play him two bars of that ‘80s synthesiser music and he’ll yelp “Oh GOD!” and start dancing like… well, like an ‘80s boy (I put it down to the fact that he’s a tiny bit older than me).
Anyway, as soon as our friends invited us to the ‘80s concert at Dubai Festival City last week, I knew I didn’t stand a chance. My ‘80s-boy husband was desperate to go, so go we did.
The line-up consisted of Carol Decker from T’Pau (pretty good), Heaven 17 (utterly rubbish), Martin Fry from ABC (not bad) and Howard Jones (I was a Nik Kershaw fan – you had to be one or the other – but Howard Jones was actually brilliant on Friday and I knew more of his songs than I thought).
But the highlight of the night for me – as for most of the women there I’m guessing – was that Stock Aitken & Waterman product, Rick Astley. And, as soon as he came on, it was clear he was singing to me: “Get down, housewives!” he shouted rather patronisingly at the crowd given that he must be older than us – but with that comment he said what I’d been thinking all night: That, for the first time ever, I was at a concert not with a load of trendier-than-though 20-somethings, but with a bunch of fellow Desperate Housewives in their 40s.
Not only had we all grown up in the decade that fashion forgot, but we’d all learned to dance at the same time, as witnessed by the those step sequences I saw on Friday that I haven’t seen for nearly 30 years. Bring it on!!
Anyway, Rick Astley – who’s metamorphosed from ‘80s pop icon to entertainer of Desperate Housewives – totally got us with his cheesy lines. In “Together Forever” he sang, “Together – since 1987!!” (and we all took a moment to think: Jesus Christ, was it that long ago?). “Dubai!!” he shouted. “You’re so lucky! Look where you live!!” (Yes baby – and we don’t pay tax!!). And finally, “Come on housewives! Gimme a wiggle to remember on the plane home!”
Anyway it turned out he had a third hit that none of us remembered till it started: “Hold Me in Your Arms”. And there I was at the concert, lost in the teenage-angst of slow-dancing alone at the school disco, wondering if I’d ever get a husband, when DH came over. “Just asked the barman if he remembers any of this,” he said. “And the barman’s like: I was born in 1991.”
Yeah, umm, me too, babe. Me too. O_O