The Atlantis Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai opened last Thursday with a multimillion-dollar star-spangled party, and a spectacular display of lighting and pyrotechnics.
Having spent $1.5 billion, the owners of the Atlantis hotel, which they hope will become the new symbol of excess in a region already replete with towering statements of wealth, splashed out $20 million on its opening.
In the lobby of the Atlantis about 2,000 guests sipped Dom Perignon. Outside, A-list celebrities from Robert De Niro to Lindsay Lohan walked the red carpet.
After the pop singer Kylie Minogue performed on stage the sky lit up with the world’s largest fireworks display, seven times greater than this year’s Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing and extravagant enough to be seen from outer space.
The price tag for the party even embarrassed Sol Kerzner, the chairman and chief executive officer of Kerzner International, who built the resort on the man-made Palm Island in partnership with Nakheel, a state-owned developer.
“If I had to do it all over again, I might do it recognising the fact that we’re living through a bit of a tough economic environment,” Kerzner, a South African billionaire, told media.
Since it opened its doors to paying guests six weeks ago, the hotel has been nearly 80 per cent full, Kerzner said.
Nightly rates range in price from $800 for a basic suite to $35,000 per night for the hotel’s signature suite, which features floor to ceiling views of Dubai.
The 1,539-room hotel has two towers set in 130-acre grounds that feature an aquarium with 65,000 sea creatures.
Dubai’s development has long been criticized by environmental activists, who say the construction of artificial islands hurts coral reefs and even shifts water currents.
They point to growing water and power consumption.
By 2010, Dubai aims to attract a staggering 10 million hotel visitors annually, up from about 7 million in 2007. Atlantis alone will increase the city’s hotel capacity by 3 percent.