The Burj Al Arab, considered one of the world's best hotels, is located on its own island about 1,000 feet offshore from Dubai.
Built in the shape of a ship's sail, this monument to modern design and deep pockets holds 202 suites on 28 double-height floors. The hotel's taller than the Eiffel Tower and nearly as sky-scraping as the Empire State Building. Expect over-the-top luxury here.
At his Dubai hotel the fountains in the lobby change flow pattern and colors every few minutes, the top-floor indoor spa (with treatment rooms segregated by gender) has a pool that looks out over the ocean, and one of the restaurants is built around an indoor aquarium.
Its partner, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel (check rates now), curves around a generous slice of white-sand beach and boasts high-end yet family-friendly hotel accommodations.
The Madinat Jumeirah, a grouping of hotels and small villas built to resemble a Disneyesque Arabian village, spans some two miles, with the buildings interconnected by waterways. Water taxis or golf carts taxi guests to the many restaurants, bars, an outdoor water park and indoor souk.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel closer to town and the souks, upscale outposts of the large chains - the InterContinental, Hilton Dubai Creek, Sheraton, Hyatt - are on the creek in Deira, about twenty minutes from the beach by shuttle.
In the desert beyond the city, the Al Maha (Arabic for the Arabian oryx desert antelope) Hotel Resort & Spa is set in the middle of rolling sand dunes that are part of a nature conservatory. To experience the magic of this part of the world, book a room well in advance; the property has only 40 individual lodges.
Quarters at this hotel were built to resemble super-luxe Bedouin tents and are equipped with antiques and private pools. The bent is on ecology, so there's falconry, camel treks, horse riding, four-wheel drive safaris, and desert walks led by conservationists. For zoning out, there's a lovely spa with a small gym.
Dining in Dubai
Spectrum on One restaurant at the Fairmont Dubai has a menu that trumps what most self-styled gourmets have consumed. Here diners can choose from Arabic, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and European dishes cooked by chefs from all over the world.
For a staggering view, there's the Al Muntaha restaurant located on the 27th floor of Burj Al Arab with views of the palm islands. Non-resident guests can dine in restaurants with prior reservations made via e-mail; visit the hotel's Web site for details.
At the Madinat Jumeirah, the Koubba Bar is a rooftop lounge that overlooks the grounds of the hotel with a view of Burj Al Arab. Here well-appointed lounge lizards recline on comfortable couches and sip martinis infused with combinations of local herbs.
Construction in Dubai
Now that Dubai has become The Place to Be Seen, celebrities and wealthy travelers including soccer star David Beckham and his wife Victoria are buying up island properties that haven't even been built.
Among the highlights of the future islands being constructed offshore: three Palm Islands, shaped like the trees. One of which, Palm Diera, will be about the size of Manhattan.
The World, a group of 300 man-made islands, will cover more than 593 million square feet and will be visible to the naked eye from space. For information on the Palm projects, Trump International Hotel & Tower, and the World, visit Nakheel.
Travel to Dubai
Emirates is currently the only airline flying nonstop from the United States to Dubai. Flights depart from New York City's JFK International Airport and take approximately 14 hours.
When to Visit Dubai
November through April is best, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s. The rest of the year, temperatures rarely drop below 100 degrees during the day. During summer months, the weather is uncomfortably hot and humid.
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