By Marriam Mossalli

Rewind twenty-five years. Driving down the one main street in any Gulf city and you find yourself in another era entirely. Twenty-five years ago, there was no McDonald’s. We didn’t have Zara or Mango to buy our clothes. Hypermarkets were diverged between your local butcher, vegetable stalls, and kind friends who would bring back baking soda and other sought-after ingredients from their trips abroad.

And in less than 30 years, all that has changed. Now we are spoiled. The Gulf has developed faster than any other region in the world. It’s a modern renaissance, or rather, a second rebirth, if you’ve been following the whole “1001 Muslim Inventions” phenomenon. But whatever you call it, it’s happened and has left inconvenience and inaccessibility to be blown away with the warm, Gulf winds.

Dubai, a man-made environment that sprouted out of the barren, desert sands of the UAE, exemplifies this quick and unprecedented Arabian transformation more than any other Gulf city. It is an exponentially bigger retelling of the history of Las Vegas — only without the slot machines and an infamous mobster named Bugsy Seigel.

Fast-forward to today

We are spoiled with choice. It seems the rate of sky rises and hotels popping up is competing with the rate of Emirati babies popping out. It’s all you see. Now hotels must compete for the best flower arrangements, best rates, and throw in more complementary incentives just to beat out their neighbor. But something has been lost in this overindulgence in the hospitality industry — true hospitality.

Nothing exemplifies the marriage of both modernity and hospitality more than the Armani Hotel Dubai — the first Armani Hotel designed and developed by legendary designer, Giorgio Armani and located in the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

Based on the philosophy that travel is as much an emotional journey as a physical one, Stay with Armani is the manifestation of this credence. Offering an experience that promises to be “a home, away-from-home,” the Armani Hotel approach goes beyond visual aesthetics, offering a new level of service with its many features and welcoming ambiance.

Starting at the moment a reservation is made, each hotel guest is assigned a Lifestyle Manager, who is basically a personal concierge to help Armani guests with whatever needs they may have up to and even beyond check out! From restaurant recommendations and reservations to business and transportation arrangements, the hotel staff takes care of the tedious so you can enjoy the exciting.

“A sterling value addition to the Burj Khalifa, this magnificent hotel is a translation of Mr. Armani’s vision of timeless elegance and design aesthetics,” stated Oliver Key, General Manager of Armani Hotel, “Mr. Armani’s contribution to the world of fashion is legendary and has unparalleled global acceptance. Now, with the opening of Armani Hotel Dubai, he has marked his imprint in the world of hospitality.”

The hotel is quintessentially Armani. Every detail in the hotel bears the Armani signature; beginning with automated rooms filled with bespoke furnishings, like the Eramosa stone floors and zebrawood panels, to the personally designed hotel amenities.

The hotels’ chic color palette, clean lines and unique textures blend together seamlessly with the tower’s innovative architecture and natural light to create an atmosphere of calm serenity where guests can retreat into a world of minimalist elegance.

On the concourse level, the hotel boasts Armani/Galleria, a haute couture boutique offering fashion accessories previously available by invitation only, and the first and only place in Dubai, where the Armani Prive collection is showcased. Got a sweet tooth? The Armani/Dolci, a luxurious confectionary has an exclusive collection that can satisfy even your savory cravings, while the Armani/Fiori provides you with the perfect gift: fresh flower arrangements and exclusively designed vases by Giorgio Armani.

While the rooms offer unprecedented views of the city, it’s the hotel’s location that cannot be beat. As if the three exclusive retail outlets located within the mall weren’t enough; less than a minute walk away is the world’s largest mall, Dubai Mall, cementing the hotel’s status as the ultimate haven for sophisticated fashionistas.

But you don’t have to be a lover of all things fashion, or even a fan of Armani, to love this hotel.  Only thing required is a taste for the finer things in life. Armani Dubai Hotel features eight restaurants offering a wide choice of world cuisines, ranging from Japanese and Indian to Mediterranean and of course, authentic fine-dining Italian.

The Armani Spa — the world’s first in-hotel — is the nothing less than designer pampering! Using signature Armani products — including his rare and highly sought-after nail polish line — the treatments are uniquely different. The spa embodies the Armani lifestyle and design philosophies where each unique space provides the context for personalized individual treatments, personal fitness, sequential thermal bathing, as well as private and social relaxation.

And if you fall in love with the hotel, you can always move in permanently — seriously! Located on levels 9 to 16 of the Burj Khalifa are the Armani Residences, 144 luxurious private suites, which like the hotel have been personally designed by Giorgio Armani. And nothing is more fashionable than having Armani as your own private interior decorator! The residences are the perfect compliment for jetsetters, who want to live in chic, understated elegance.

In terms of the Middle East, we’ve definitely come a long way since the opening of the first Starbucks.