‘Atlantis 2’ joins Dubai’s new wave of elite hotels

CNN  — 

Atlantis, The Palm hotel has been a byword for opulence since it opened in 2008.

Situated on the man-made island of Palm Jumeirah, the hotel has earned a reputation as a magnet for celebrities, drawn by attractions such as one of the Emirate’s most spectacular- and expensive - suites.

But a sequel project could surpass the original.

The finishing touches are being added to The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences ahead of its scheduled opening in late 2020.

The $1.4bn megaproject, also developed by the Kerzner group, will sit alongside The Palm sharing 63 hectares of prime seafront.

A distinctive design, comprised of two towers connected by a “spa-bridge,” has already won awards. The promise to guests, from private infinity pools to celebrity chefs, is a “new generation of distinctive luxury.”

The original Atlantis, The Palm resort opens with a firework display in 2008.

Striking look

The complex has been in development since 2014 and is nearing completion.

“The external structure is complete,” Timothy Kelly, managing director of both Atlantis hotels, told CNN. “We are now progressing with the interior and finishings.”

Lead architects KPF describe the striking look as “a series of discrete human-scaled blocks arranged for optimal views, stacked to span over dramatic voids.”

The meticulous nature of the design ensures that no two sections of the building are the same, says Kelly.

The Royal Atlantis is divided into two towers, with one devoted to a resort and the other to residences. They are connected by a bridge filled with pools, lounges, and cabanas.

The $1.4bn megaproject has been in development since 2014.

Height of luxury

The resort half contains 795 rooms and suites spread across 43 floors, as well as private clubs, restaurants, and bars.

On the residence side, where property prices begin at around $2 million, there are 231 apartments ranging from two to five bedrooms. Many of the residences feature terraced gardens and infinity pools. Residents will have access to a private beach.

The complex will also accommodate a spa containing a “traditional hammam,” (public bath) fitness resources, and treatment rooms.

A choice of 17 restaurants on site will include offerings from Michelin-starred chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Jose Andres.

Kelly is also proud of the distinctive water features at the Royal Atlantis that play on its oceanic theme.

“In the lobby you are greeted by a 10-meter-tall sculptured feature that floats on water and is designed to emulate the first rains of Dubai each season,” says Kelly. “The lobby will (also) be home to three stunning aquariums, one of which will be the largest jellyfish tank in the world.”

Many of the 231 apartments include their own pool.

Crowded marketplace

The Royal Atlantis is entering a crowded marketplace with luxury hotel developments accelerating ahead of Dubai hosting Expo 2020, which is projected to attract 25 million visitors.

“We’re seeing ambitious development goals from hotel properties in Dubai with the aim of opening in time for Expo 2020,” says Claudia de Brito, editor of Hotelier Middle East magazine.

“More than 2,500 hotel keys (rooms) entered the Dubai market in the first half of this year…half of those keys were in luxury developments.”

A spate of new luxury hotels are pushing the envelope for ever-greater indulgence, such as the FIVE Jumeirah Village Dubai resort, dotted with private pools and jacuzzies.

The newly-opened Jebel Ali Lake View Resort features a championship-standard golf course and Amazon Alexa-activated voice assistants in every room.

Kelly acknowledges that competition is fierce but believes that there is scope for growth among key visitor markets, a perspective that is supported by hospitality industry analysts.

“Dubai’s predominant source markets such as India, Saudi Arabia, Europe, China, and Russia all have healthy increases in the number of millionaires…and luxury seeking travelers,” says Rupprecht Queitsch, CEO of the International Hospitality Consulting Group.

“As luxury takes on new shapes, such new hospitality offerings can be (oriented) to these quickly growing markets.”