Dubai is the Monaco of the Middle East and the new Four Seasons is the Formula 1 car manoeuvring to out-race the other hotels that seemingly spring up weekly in this desert metropolis. To be honest, it's an unfair contest: with 60 per cent of staff brought from other hotels it was already operating like a well-oiled auto when I visited the week after its soft opening.
But this isn't a bland chain hotel: each of the 98 Four Seasons properties is enhanced to fit its location – in this case, contemporary Arabic chic with an emphasis on refined elegance rather than extravagance. Instead of a gaudy chandelier in the lobby there is a simple arched window overlooking the manicured gardens and sparkling sea.
The hotel curves around two palm-fringed pools; one for children and the other for adults. Pool attendants hand out hourly refreshers– from cool towels to fresh juices – but if you'd like to be left in peace, a do-not-disturb button beside each of the 400 sunloungers can be pressed. Cabanas can be rented at AED 2,900 (£500) per day, complete with minibar and butler. Nearby is a private natural beach.
Inside the main building is a well-equipped gym and the lavish Pearl Spa with a colonnaded indoor pool. The Kids for All Seasons club has a ball pit, outdoor park and cookery classes. Two floodlit tennis courts sit out the back if you can stand to play in the heat.
The fine-dining Sea Fu bar and restaurant specialises in seafood with an Asian twist, while Suq has a marketplace theme, with various stations for home-made bread, smoothies, ice cream, pizzas and coffee. From January it'll be offering that Dubai institution: brunch, with tables spilling out on to a patio overlooking the pool. Up the central staircase, the Shai Salon serves tea, coffee, Arabic sweets and French pastries, while a harpist and flautist play every afternoon.
The moody Hendricks Bar is reminiscent of an old London gentlemen's' club with padded leather walls, cigars on sale, and a gin trolley. But the best watering hole is Mercury, a rooftop bar with a staggering view of the Dubai skyline on one side and the sea on the other – the only hotel that flaunts both. Guests can recline on the Arabian-style cushions while enjoying a quirky cocktail: the bourbon-based Cinema Set topped with toffee popcorn or the Mai Tai served in a baby bottle.
The Four Seasons is south-west of lively Bur Dubai (Old Dubai), with the artificial World Islands peeking out just across the Gulf. It is 20 minutes from downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa – the world's tallest building – and 30 minutes from the airport. Like much of Dubai, the surrounding area is in a constant state of development and while there are a few shops and cafés nearby, it doesn't lend itself to exploration on foot. The locals who turn up in their customised Lamborghinis or vintage Bentleys certainly wouldn't dream of walking.
The 237 rooms are divided into "Sea View" and "Skyline", with Premier and Deluxe options for both. There are 49 suites in seven categories, including the Presidential and Royal suites on the fifth floor – still being finished when I stayed.
At 70sq m, even the standard rooms are the largest in town and all come with fast and free Wi-Fi, eclectic minibar, 55-inch television, electric curtains, Playstation and Xbox on request and iPod dock. The bathroom has a free-standing tub, rain shower and a frosted-glass panel on the vast mirror, which after some examination turned out to be a television.
In 2015, iPads are also being added to allow guests to order room service, view their bill, request items such as adapters, and receive daily recommendations from the concierge – you're in Dubai now, Dorothy.
Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah Beach
United Arab Emirates (00 971 4 270 7777; fourseasons.com/dubaijb).
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