The St. Regis Dubai — last chance to check in

The St. Regis Dubai is situated on the banks of the Dubai Water Canal. (Supplied)
Updated 24 July 2018

The St. Regis Dubai — last chance to check in

  • Situated on the banks of the Dubai Water Canal, the hotel boasts 182 guest rooms and 52 suites
  • The driveway leading up to the property’s entrance screams grandeur

DUBAI: If you’ve always fancied staying at Dubai’s very first St. Regis hotel, then now is your last chance. Earlier this month, it was announced that parent company Marriott International would no longer operate the property, along with adjoining hotels W Dubai Habtoor City and The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City, after July 31. Management will be transferred to Al Habtoor Group. It is yet to be confirmed which international brand, if any, will take over the property, or how the hotels will be renamed.

Good job then, that the five-star property has a special GCC summer offer on until the end of the month, offering 20 percent off, and including a buffet breakfast. At the time of publishing, prices start from $168 per night. And it is worth the visit, for two things in particular: the rooms and one of its restaurants.

But first, a little bit more about the St. Regis Dubai overall. Situated on the banks of the Dubai Water Canal, the hotel boasts 182 guest rooms and 52 suites, eight F&B outlets, as well two outdoor swimming pools and spa. Two of the rooms are quite special: the Middle East’s first Bentley-themed suite and the Sir Winston Churchill Suite, which includes its own private pool. The driveway leading up to the property’s entrance screams grandeur, opening to a spectacular lobby featuring two staircases adorned in gold paint finishes.

I am greeted at the entrance and led to one of a few check-in desks dotted around the lobby hour. It’s efficient and before long, I am escorted to my room by a friendly staff member who runs through the hotel’s features.

I stay in a Deluxe Room — the most basic category, although it is by no means basic. With a walk-in wardrobe area, gorgeous bathroom with two sinks on opposite ends and comfortable bedding, you won’t find much reason to leave. As you’re getting settled, you’ll receive a visit from your very own butler, who’s on hand to help with you anything — including unpacking/packing your luggage. If, like me, that’s a little too ‘fancy’ for your liking, other more low-key services include drinks and laundry.

As mentioned, it’s entirely possible you won’t want to venture out of your room during the stay, but if you do want to head out for dinner, then there are several options to choose from. Whilst I liked the lounge area in the courtyard, it lacked atmosphere and didn’t really reflect the brand. My next stop, however, was a winner — at least if you’re a fan of steak. My fillet at J&G Steakhouse was possibly one of the most tender, juicy and flavourful pieces of meat I have ever enjoyed in this region.

Bearing in mind the current GCC summer offer, a stay at the St. Regis is definitely worth the money. It’s great for a romantic getaway, staycation or other special occasion. Plus, the theatrical spectacular “La Perle” is next door, and perfect for a dinner-and-show experience.

Tick tock. Get booking.

Book review: ‘Where the Bird Disappeared’ is a tale as old as time

Updated 22 September 2018

Book review: ‘Where the Bird Disappeared’ is a tale as old as time

CHICAGO: Taking a leaf from the real-life stories of Prophet Zakariyya and his son Yahya, Palestinian poet and writer Ghassan Zaqtan’s “Where the Bird Disappeared” is a beautiful yet haunting novel set in the village of Zakariyya, in modern-day Palestine.
Inspired by Qur’anic stories and political history, the novel talks about the relationship between Zakariyya and his best friend Yahya who not only share their names with the two prophets but bear a distant resemblance to their personalities and fates as well.
Zaqtan’s narrative is lyrical, heartbreaking and profound. Rooted in Palestine — a land that stood the test of time and would go on to become the hub of early and modern civilizations — the story is captivating enough to transport us to the hideaway monastery in Nuba Karam or the vineyards of Beit Jalla, the new homes for several villagers forced into exile.
Recalling the devastation and violence faced by those migrating from their homes and country, Zaqtan’s ability to take his readers through the same mountain paths and into the soul of his characters is a cause for applause. As Zaqtan writes of his central character, Zakariyya, “he felt he was walking inside a book, stumbling inside stories that had circulated in these hills since his birth. Journeys and names repeating themselves in succession without end.” And while the novel succeeds in digging deep into the annals of history, it also makes the reader realize how much impact the land of Palestine has had on the two characters and the various stories generating from the region.
Zaqtan’s tale is gentle enough to etch out images of each village, street or ancient structure that make the story and yet devastating enough that these get lost in the bigger picture. His brilliance lies in how conscious he is about the words used, while never losing sight of the historical context of his narrative or the love of the central characters for their beloved land.
Ghassan Zaqtan is an award-winning Palestinian poet, novelist, and playwright. He first published “Where the Bird Disappeared” in Arabic in 2015. It was then translated into English by Samuel Wilder and published by Seagull Books in 2018.