Meet the Dubai mall hotel: A marriage made in retail heaven
“I never think that people die. They just go to department stores,” quipped Andy Warhol.
Had he stayed around a little longer, he might have added, “… in Dubai.”
The emirate is not only one of the world’s great shopping locations, it’s also at the pointy end of a powerful consumer trend: the rise of the “shopping hotel.”
The growth of combined shopping malls and deluxe hotels either inside or adjoining them will be one of the Middle East’s top consumer developments in 2014 and beyond, predicts the market intelligence firm Euromonitor.
Many cashed-up travelers come to Dubai primarily to shop. Stay at the mall and they save time and taxi rides. And they don't have to lug all those glossy shopping bags back to their hotel.
The arrangement is just as sweet for hoteliers and retailers.
Both seek the same high-end traveling clientele -- why not share them?
Mall-hotel combos already exist in Dubai from the utilitarian to the seriously luxurious.
However, even more lavish couplings are on the drawing board -- including the world’s tallest hotel-shopping extravaganza.
The Address, Dubai Mall
The Address jealously guards its position adjoining Dubai Mall, the world’s largest, where it opened in 2009.
Since then, no other hotel has been granted development permission so close to this retail sanctum.
The superlatives continue within the 1,200-shop, 50 football field-sized space, including the world’s largest gold souk.
Wandering about the multi-story complex, you run into sheiks with prayer beads in one hand and cell phone and chunky gold Rolex in the other.
Their wives have enough shopping bags lining their arms to fill the backstage clothing rack at a Paris haute couture show.
For the owners of The Address and Dubai Mall, it’s the perfect symbiosis -- even if the guests get lost for a while, they’ll only end up doing more shopping.
The Address, Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, PO box 31166; +971 4 438 8888; doubles from $462
Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates
When the Pullman at the Mall of the Emirates closed earlier this year, the hotel simply changed its skin and became a Sheraton.
The 481-room hotel flags its sleep-and-shop options on its website right next to the sweeping city views and hi-tech suites.
The mall offers more than 560 fashion, electronics and other luxury retail brands, as well as diversions including Ski Dubai (yes, an indoor ski resort in this desert city) and Vox Cinemas.
There are few human needs that can’t be satisfied in either hotel or mall and there’s little reason to leave either -- many guests probably don’t.
Along with 46-inch LCD high-definition TVs, the hotel touts its proprietary Sweet Sleeper beds.
With a pressure point-easing design, they’re supposedly good for curing jet lag -- so you’re ready to hit the tills at your best.
If you really like the bed, you can buy one (starting from $995) and have it shipped home.
Of course you can -- this is Dubai.
Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates, 1 Mall of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Road, al Barsha; +971 4 377 2000; doubles from $230
Pullman Dubai Deira City Center
The Pullman Dubai Deira City Center is conveniently located about 15 minutes from the airport and about two minutes, via an underground passage, from the City Center mall.
Truly fly-in, fly-out shopping, it sketches the shape of much to come in Dubai.
The suites are rather sober affairs with views of spaghetti junctions and golf courses.
The mall, once Dubai's largest, now has a rather shopworn feel, but its 370 stores -- including a Carrefour superstore and Gap and H&M outlets -- are enough to satisfy most of the 20 million shoppers each year who don’t have a portion of the world’s oil reserves to fuel their spending.
Pullman Dubai Deira City Center, Deira, Dubai; +971 4 294 1222, doubles from $217
BurJuman Arjaan by Rotana
Adjoining the BurJuman Arjaan by Rotana hotel, the Burjuman Mall aims for a boutique feel.
The hotel is the place to stay if you find Dubai Mall too overwhelming but still want branches of Saks Fifth Avenue, Chanel, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Valentino a stroll away.
With separate living area, kitchenette, laundry and balcony, the brightly decorated suites provide for many of a traveler's needs.
The small but well-chosen selection of outlets in the mall’s food court include Japanese, Indian and Italian options.
If you want to work off the excess afterwards, robotic-looking machines in the hotel gym look as if they’ll do the exercise for you.
Another part of the complex, the Burjurman metro station lets mall junkies whizz off to yet more Dubai shopping experiences.
BurJuman Arjaan by Rotana, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Trade Center, Dubaija, Dubai; +971 4 352 4444; suites from $190
More malls, more hotels
Scheduled for completion at the end of 2014, Dream Dubai in the Marina District will be the second tallest building in the emirate and the tallest hotel in the world.
Adjoining the Marina Mall, the 432-meter, 101-floor waterside tower will be a mix of hotel rooms and service apartments, plus a pool, gym and squash courts -- and a nightclub where the penthouse would go if you could actually see anything from up there.
What, no mall?
Until now the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai’s palm-shaped artificial archipelago beloved of top-flight sports and film stars, has been mall-bereft.
But not for long.
The Nakheel Mall and Hotel Complex is planned for completion by the end of 2016.
Occupying the central trunk of the palm tree, the development will include a 50-story, 5-star, so far unnamed hotel.
Finally, in true Ben Hur fashion, Dubai is trying for a new mall record.
Set in sprawling Downtown Dubai grounds, the Mall of the World will attempt to steal the leviathan-mall title from the Dubai Mall.
"The current [mall] facilities available in Dubai need to be scaled up in line with the future ambitions for the city," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, emir of Dubai, said rather improbably of the plan.
To cope with the projected 80 million shoppers visiting each year, 100 hotels are planned for the development.
This article was amended on December 3, 2013 to correct the minimum price of the BurJuman Arjaan's suites.