It's the unexpected that makes a property memorable for business meetings, special events and conference. I was impressed with Raffles Singapore when I had afternoon tea there but I had never stayed at a Raffles Hotel. I checked into Raffles Dubai last Friday night and there have been a number of surprises that have really raised the bar in terms of services and amenities.
Scenario: On my last afternoon at the hotel, after I had delivered the short presentation that was part of the executive team building session for which I had come to Dubai. I returned to my room to freshen up for dinner. As the airline had left one of my bags in Toronto, I had to wear the same outfit that I wore for the presentation. I had purchased a dress to go with the jacket that I brought from Toronto at Wafi Mall that adjoins the hotel. Alas, a metallic button popped off my jacket with only 20 minutes to spare before the buses departed for dinner at Madinat Jumeirah Al Qasr (more about that tomorrow).
I called reception and asked for a sewing kit and assistance from housekeeping to restore the button since I was short on time. A few minutes later, a young Asian man appeared at my door. "I'm your butler." he said. "I have a butler?" I asked in shock. He said "Yes there is a butler for every floor of the hotel." Seconds later, a member of the housekeeping team appeared with the sewing kit. The button was replaced in short order. The butler helped me put on my jacket and I was on time for dinner.
Raffles Dubai is just 10 minutes from the Dubai International airport, a convenience after a long flight. When I arrived, a wedding party was also arriving. While the driver waited in line to drop off my luggage, I headed for reception. Check-in was warm, fast and efficient. I gave the concierge information about my missing luggage and, immediately, they started following up with the airline to find out the status and arrange for delivery to the hotel. The close proximity of the hotel to Wafi Mall was a welcome convenience as all that I had was a pair of jeans, a track suit, my riding clothes, and swimwear.
I was accompanied to my room which had not one but 2 desks, a huge bathroom and a balcony overlooking the city with wicker patio furniture for lounging.
Rooms range in size from 70 square metres of space for the Signature Room to the Royal Suite with 650 square metres. Every room reflects a fusion of Middle Eastern and Asian influences. There is an Ipod docking station, free wireless Internet, and in-room tea and coffee. The RafflesAmrita Spa amenities came in handy since I only had the toiletries from my carry on laptop case.
At Raffles Dubai, meeting facilities are unsurpassed. Swarovski chandeliers glitter in the Ballroom that has a terrace that overlooks Raffles Botanical Garden and delivers spectacular views. The Ballroom accommodates up to 400 people for a seated dinner and 700 for stand-up cocktail parties and receptions. It can be subdivided into 2 smaller meeting venues accommodating 350 guests. There are 3 boardrooms and 6 meeting venues.
A special touch is the large library lounge outside the meeting rooms with sofas and arm chairs for relaxation during breaks. This is where the all day coffee breaks are served. In the afternoon, there are even chocolates. It's the perfect place to curl up with a book at the end of a busy day.
Meeting services were exceptional. With the assistance of the dedicated staff, I was quickly able to replace the 30% of handouts that were in my missing baggage.
Scenario: On my last morning at Raffles Dubai, it was my intention finish packing after breakfast as I was checking out of the hotel to head to the desert to set up for the afternoon desert activity that was part of team building. My client requested an impromptu meeting. There was no way that I could have breakfast, attend a meeting and still leave for the desert on time, Then I remembered the butler. I called reception. Within moments he appeared and, while I attended the meeting, he packed my suitcase. He followed up with the concierge about my missing luggage, and neatly re-packed that suitcase when it arrived 30 minutes before I left the hotel.
It's the special touches and unexpected surprises that set Raffles Dubai apart in the realm of high end, luxury hotels. I highly recommend it.
Photo Credits: Dubai Incentive Travel, Executive Oasis International
Photos of Skyline, Boardroom and Library Lounge, Courtesy of Raffles Dubai