My middle-aged media mates
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.