Happy 2015 everybody!
The Holiday Season was fantastic. I took some much deserved and needed vacation. Instead of traveling to Italy to visit family, we decided to bring the party to NY and get some R&R. 2014 has been fantastic, but also quite tiring. Now that the batteries are recharged it’s time to plan for the new year. Aside from a brand new Editorial Calendar that will help me structure the blog a bit more efficiently, we decided to bring back one of the most popular posts in 2014, the serial CityProfile. Sometimes a City is so intriguing and rich in history, architecture and fun activities that one post is not enough. Last year we gave the multiple post treatment to Milan: this year we start with one of the most fascinating Cities in the world, Dubai. To better help you learn about the fast expanding pearl of the UAE, I asked a former coworker Meryl Kannoli to give me some tips on his hometown. Meryl is a talented and smart banker who also has a very busy social life. When I visited Dubai in 2013, he proved to be a real resource when it comes to nightlife and fun things to do while visiting Dubai. When he recommended that only one post wouldn’t do, we decided to give Dubai the royal treatment it deserves. So without further ado, let me leave the screen to our expert for some tips on the Dubai, in general and the first area, Marina, in particular.
L25: Meryl, thank you for taking time to talk about your city. We really appreciate it and surely our readers will, too. Let’s start from the basics regarding Dubai. When is the best time to visit Dubai?
MK: Dubai remains hot for major period of the year. And when I say hot it means literally steamy. One could experience moderate temperature between November and March which again is the time when Dubai experiences maximum inflow of tourists. There won’t be continuous showers but the weather will be perfect for outdoor activities. The Dubai shopping festival also happens at this period of the year and it is quite vibrant. There are lots of concerts and international sports event taking place at this time which is termed as the winter season of U.A.E. And those of you who want to get burnt; please feel free to come down between April and October.
L25: I am sure that nobody wants to turn into a puddle of sweat in such a glamorous city. For the first time visitor would you stay Downtown or in the Marina area? And what are your favorite hotels?
MK: Hotels in Dubai are spectacular but finding the right one can be difficult. Dubai is a growing city. It isn’t just growing but growing at a rapid pace. And so are the various industries, including hospitality. One could marvel at the state of the art style hotels found in this region. Like you rightly pointed out, Downtown and Marina are two such areas where one could find breathtaking hotels. In the past, it would have been a question to choose between these two areas but since the opening of the metro system, one could choose from either of them. But if you are looking at the cost aspect, the hotels in Downtown are more expensive than the ones in Marina, as you have easy access to Dubai Mall which is the world’s biggest mall and of course the majestic Burj Khalifa. I love the hotels in Dubai and have stayed in most of them. My favorite hotels in Marina include Burj Al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah, Atlantis The Palm, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, while Downtown I really like The Address Downtown, Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa. Well I could name more but then that would mean taking up all the space in this page. Each one excels the other but, especially in Marina, one should not miss out Burj Al Arab and Atlantis.
L25: Unlike other cities in the UAE Dubai seems to be a very social place. People really love getting together and hanging out. What are your favorite hangouts for drinks, happy hour and aperitivo?
MK: It is indeed a very social place and is quite easy to make new friends. And the easiest way is when one gets out to grab a drink or two. Dubai has got a variety of classy bars and trendy pubs and lounges and one could witness new ones taking birth at a rapid pace. I don’t keep favorites when it comes to pubs and bars here. Like I have mentioned earlier every pub and lounge has its own charm and I keep switching. But yes, I love hanging out in Zuma in the Financial District, Calabar in Downtown and Marina Yacht Club, in Marina, obviously.
L25: I didn’t expect to find so many different cuisines in Dubai especially because transporting the fresh produce and ingredients must not be an easy feat. But people in Dubai love to eat! What are your favorite restaurants?
MK: Well now that’s a tough question Serena. The moment you talk about the restaurants in Dubai, it really feels like the “sky full of stars” that Coldplay sing about. There are so many favorites to be honest. Let me pick out a few outstanding ones. Al Mahara in Burj Al Arab stands out. Since it is an underwater hotel surrounded by the beautiful marine life it gives feeling of being in transparent submarine. It is not just the view but the seafood served there is just amazing and the salmon dishes i have had from there are some of the best I’ve had. And please don’t leave without having the Burj Al Arab chocolate sphere. I’m not a great fan of deserts but this one just managed to hypnotize me. When i think about Chinese food, Zheng He tops the list. It is in Mina Al Salam, Madinat Jumeiarh. Vu’s restaurant in Emirates tower is another show stopper. Gosh, I think I just admitted that I am a foodie! Well it would be total injustice not to write about the other fabulous Restaurants in Dubai, to say nothing about the things to do in the City….
L25: I know, there is so much to do that you feel like you’d need to be in multiple places at the same time. Let’s limit the territory then. Shall we start from a description of what Marina is and how it came to be?
MK: How do I describe it? A city within a city? I just simply love the vibe that area produces. Being one of the world’s largest most meticulously planned waterfront developments, the Dubai Marina isn’t jut about mesmerizing skyscrapers and yachts. When it comes to both fine and casual dining it is one of Dubai’s best.
L25: Oh straight to the point Mr. Kannoli, what are your favorite Restaurants in Dubai Marina and things to do in the area?
MK: I am going to mix the cuisines here, ok? Because there are so many different cuisines in the same area that I would do a disservice to the readers if I limited this to one style only. Buddha Bar is one of my favorites. It was one of the first places that I tried out in Dubai Marina, and it did indeed manage to catch the attention of my taste buds. I love the ambiance in there and the Thai chicken green curry is one of the best you’ll have. When it comes to Arabic food, I love the contemporary cuisine served in Marina at the Address Dubai Marina Hotel. For some relishing Argentinian dishes or in short a South American experience Toro Toro at the Grosvenor House hotel is the place. They serve great steaks out there and they have a variety of Tapas too. It is one of the places I hang out as well, because the drinks are great and the restaurant have a grey vibe. For some yummy fish and chips then Girders at Ocean View hotel is the place. Another lovely steakhouse is Ruth’s Chris Steak House is the Address Dubai Marina. For Sushi and Japanese food lovers I would recommend Benihana at Amwaj Rotana hotel for some amazing teppanyaki or sushi. Another attractive eatout place is the Siddartha Lounge at Grovesnor House Hotel. They serve mouth watering Mediterranean and Asian dishes. And of course for a romantic evening eating mouthwatering seafood, there is nothing better than Pier Chic. The thing about Dubai Marina is that everyday a new restaurant is born. There is plenty of investment in hospitality and also a lot of room to grow international and national brands. So I’m sure more great restaurants, lounges and bars are awaiting us in the near future there.
L25: Meryl thank you so much! Next stop will be Downtown, right?
MK: Indeed! See you soon for post numero 2!