With suites costing up to 11,000 dollars for one night, Italian designer Giorgio Armani on Tuesday opened his first signature hotel in the world’s tallest tower in the Gulf emirate of Dubai.
“Yesterday I saw this hotel come to life and I felt very emotional. It was marvellous to see this come to life,” Armani, wearing a black T-shirt and beige trousers, told reporters at a news conference in the hotel in the Burj Khalifa.
He said his reaction when he was asked to design the hotel was one of surprise.
“Are you really sure you want me?” he said he asked Mohammed Alabbar, the chairman of Dubai’s giant property developer, Emaar.
Prices may seem high, but the hotel itself is slightly more down to earth in the iconic 828-metre (2,717-foot) building that opened in January.
Designed in plain shades of black and brown, it occupies space on the ground floor of Burj Khalifa and on floors one to eight, with the luxury suites on floors 38 and 39.
On levels nine to 16 is the Armani Residence, apartments designed by Giorgio Armani and sold to private buyers.
The hotel has no paintings on the walls in an attempt to “keep it simple and elegant,” employees said on Tuesday.
Hotel staff said a night at the best suite — the Armani Dubai suite, and it was already occupied on Tuesday — costs 40,000 dirhams (10,900 dollars).
However, the same suite can already be found at a discount on the hotel’s website — going for a mere 24,000 dirhams (6,530 dollars).
In addition to fine restaurants, the hotel also has a spa, but this is restricted to 300 “Armani-style” members only.
“They’ll go through your profile and you’ll be accepted according to specific criteria,” one staff member said without specifying what the “specific criteria” were.
In the Armani Prive lounge, the lighting gleams from marble tables and the largest LCD television in the world — showing Armani fashion shows. The lowest rate for a table in the lounge is 3,000 dirhams (816 dollars).
Emaar spent 1.5 billion dollars building the huge tower, named Burj Khalifa at its inauguration after UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan came to Dubai’s aid after it was hit by the global financial crisis.
Deep-pocketed Abu Dhabi extended a lifeline of 10 billion dollars, in addition to an equal amount from the UAE central bank to help Dubai buoy its heavily indebted state firms last year.
Although hit by the crisis, the publicly listed Emaar has fared better than many other Dubai firms, diversifying its activities into hospitality and leisure when property development took a severe blow.
The Armani hotel “will have a positive effect on the financial performance of the company for years to come,” Emaar’s chief Alabbar told reporters on Tuesday.