Throughout time the symbol of the lion has been associated with success, with nobility, writes Scott Armstrong.
Thus anyone taking on such an image should be prepared for a legacy of expectation to live up to, not everyone can after all can be King of the Jungle.
I wondered then, when checking into the Ritz-Carlton Dubai, whether the famous chain had adopted the lion (and a crown no less) as its brand image not just for a pretty picture, but to always have a reminder of who it is, and what it’s responsibility is to succeed, to standalone, to be the leader of the pack.
For in the urban jungle that is Dubai, Ritz-Carlton is a property whose roar is heard and felt, while others are happy to find their level in the emirate’s luxury pecking order, this brand works to maintain its top-flight position.
And in a world of generic luxury, homogenised bling, where hotels cry out for attention, here in Dubai the Ritz-Carlton’s softest touch commands the greatest respect.
The experience of pulling up to this property is everything it should be, turning off Dubai’s vibrant The Walk one drives up a plush landscaped path into a hidden oasis of tranquility.
As you approach its entrance the uniformed staff are there, deferential, efficient and welcoming, opening your door their manner creates that sense of your importance to the hotel. It’s not fawning, and you are not being arrogant for falling under the spell, they simply make you feel special from the moment you arrive.
For that’s what sets Ritz-Carlton apart from many, that desire to make your stay special, memorable, their staff always resemble that trusted light-touch service that period dramas such as Downton Abbey seek to emulate.
Walking into the lobby also strikes that tone of understated refinement, this is not a place that screams diamonds and glitter, rather soft tones, soothing colours, plush fabrics, the very definition of quality.
Even the most seasoned traveler experiences those ‘checking in’ pangs, will the room be ok, is the service here going to suffice, will they find my booking? But thankfully the Ritz-Carlton team quickly dispel all doubts with their calm, smiling efficiency.
A mirror of the excellent service experience at their DIFC property, here again the welcome is warm, personal, not a ‘hello mam sir’ in sight.
Rooms continue that easy living with space, light, private balconies and massive bathrooms. The executive suites offer 108 sq m of relaxation, with an entrance lobby, a lounge and dining area, that balcony and then a separate plush bedroom, with walk-in wardrobes.
The bathroom is designed to be the room’s personal spa with a deep, over-sized marble bath and a separate rain shower, perfect for chilling out after a hard day’s sunbathing.
Opening the doors of the suite (which came with access to the excellent club lounge) you stare out across the palm-laden swimming pools and out to the beach and the sea.
Hidden from the outside world the Ritz-Carlton’s pool complex is a real jewel of a find. In total six azure pools are secreted among landscaped gardens interlinked by wooden walkways. Swim-up bars, cabanas, loungers mix easily with food and beverage options such as the Palm Grill or the Gulf Pavilion.
Beyond these lie the hotel’s private, a 350m stretch of pristine sands running into the Arabian Gulf, again serviced by friendly staff ready to keep you topped up on refreshments as and when needed.
Dining options abound, for the evening the intimate Blue Jade serves up Asian fusion fare that real stands apart.
However Friday brunch in Caravan is the real treat, this lively afternoon sees a convivial, well-dressed crowd come together to enjoy fine food in fine company. The vast array of international flavours on offer suggest that skinny jeans should be avoided (not a bad thing) as you’ll be unable to resist sampling as many as possible.
For those wanting to walk off such a mighty feast the property’s location next to The Walk is ideal for an afternoon promenade. Here shops and little cafes nestle along this pedestrianised zone, offering a change of scenery should one be necessary.
Unlike a number of plush properties in Dubai, this Ritz-Carlton makes sure your little ones are catered for too, with a dedicated pool and play area, and activities available through its Ritz Kids services.
Happily they have a similar play zone for adults too, known as a spa, and a great one at that offering a host of treatments, should you need that last little push into utter relaxation.
This is a Ritz-Carlton that manages to almost be all things to all men (and women, and children). It is a sophisticated retreat for executives, an ideal spot for couples and yet accessible and welcoming to families.
All in all it adds up to an offering that is worthy of the lion’s legacy.