By Mansi Choksi www.indiatimes.com
A night in the newly-opened Armani Hotel’s ambassador suite, located in the world’s tallest building in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, is like living inside a fashion show. See and clap. The knobless door to the room is thrown open with the power of a magnetic key, like a locker in a clandestine Swiss bank.
As soon as you set foot inside the room where everything, from the soap to flower arrangement bears Giorgio Armani’s signature, a flat-screen television asks guests to ‘Stay with Armani’ . The intention may be good-hearted but it’s almost like asking someone to wear the haute couture paraded on the ramp. For instance, the bathroom , which our ‘lifestyle manager’ (each guest is assigned one to make sure every fancy is cared for) says is tiled in green bamboo marble from Brazil, makes you want to approach it with so much respect that your bowels suddenly feel tied in a knot for fear of dirtying the gleaming stone.
The walls are draped in minimalist handmade fabric and leather from Florence, the floors are covered in Canadian Eramosa, the furnishings bear the Armani Casa signature, the room overlooks Dubai’s famous dancing fountain and the dessert has a foil of 24K gold. Our poker-faced lifestyle manager tells us that the toiletries are inspired by a particular stone that the septuagenarian stumbled upon at a beach in Pantelleria Island (in the strait of Sicily).
Then, he pauses for an appropriate reaction. There is an innocent looking remote control on each zebra-panelled table from where you can monitor the lights, drapes, temperature, television, open and close doors and even get the lifestyle manager to come scurrying up to the room.
Giorgio Armani tells reporters, if his English translator is to believed, that for him, “less is more” and that when he saw what was happening in Dubai, easily the world’s capital of bling, it was just the opposite.
Before Armani joined hands with Dubaibased Mohammed Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar Properties who is developing the Khalifa, there was a lot of talk about whether the fashion giant could make the transition to hospitality. Men and women in Armani tuxedos and dresses float around the lavish hotel, profusely apologising if the elevator takes more than a few seconds or if the white truffle pops down onto the risotto.
It’s too soon to tell whether the designer hotel will be a success, but gauging from reactions at the grand opening, it is probably a fashionista’s wet dream come true. “Each room has been personally designed by Armani himself. Everything he touches is gold,” gushed a giddy guest at the opening, admiring a row of Bentleys and Audis that lined the gate.
Dubai is the first in a series of at least 10 Armani Hotels which will pop up around the world’s holiday destinations, including Milan, Marrakech, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai and London where “Armani will share his dream” . And the pocket burn is in line with the brand’s image. The tariff for a night stay starts at AED 2800 (Rs 34,163) plus tax and climbs up to AED 9000 (Rs 1,09,840) for a larger suite.
The grand opening was accompanied by a fashion show themed on the crescent moon where muted gowns accompanied with accessories embellished with motifs of the moon from Armani’s haute couture Prive collection were displayed. “The collection is very Armani,” explained our lifestyle manager, prompted by a blank expression.
During the opening, where Dubai’s glitterati walked the red carpet and posed before trigger-happy photographers, Giorgio Armani said that travel is an emotional journey and Armani Hotel’s guiding philosophy was to provide a “home away from home” . By that logic, the hotel could do with some trimmings for its Indian clientele. Maybe a simulator that reproduces sounds of the Mumbai traffic and throws out slaps of dusty air.