Palazzo Versace Dubai: Italian charm meets heritage

The Palazzo Versace Dubai brings 16th century Italian design to the emirate's historical neighbourhood and seeks to establish a gastronomic centre with a revolutionary restaurant concept

The imagination of artistic director Donatella Versace comes to life at one of Dubai’s most opulent new hotels. Only the second worldwide to be associated with the luxury fashion house, the Palazzo Versace Dubai depicts a contemporary take on 16th century Italian design, right in the heart of the emirate’s historic district.

Versace’s iconic motifs such as the Medusa head and the Greek Key, merge with high-end marbles and mosaics – including the grand lobby’s 1000sqm marble mosaic floor – and the fashion brand’s famous prints decorated with peacocks, falcons and horses. Many of the designs were created exclusively for the hotel.

While most of the emirate’s 5-star hotels are situated in the newer parts of the city, the Palazzo Versace Dubai overlooks the Creek and is at the centre of the Culture Village project. The opening of the hotel is a reflection of the area’s transformation.

“We are right in the heart of the Culture Village. There are a lot of areas in Dubai that are growing independently. In the next few months this will become a destination in itself,” said Hotel Manager Patrick Robineau.

“The whole area will be a completely different game as a destination. People will realise soon that it is a gold mine as a location. It is still the heart of the heritage of Dubai. In the old days, you had the port and the souk and all these will become more vibrant.”

The 215-room hotel is part of the Dubai Culture Village development, which includes residential, retail and commercial zones. When completed, the project will include luxury hotels and designer boutiques as well as art galleries, rare bookshops and performing arts centres. It would also house cultural institutions, schools, academies for art, music, dance, pottery and other crafts, in addition to a traditional souk, offering Arabian crafts, antiques, spices and herbs.

For Robineau, the hotel’s architecture, reminiscent of a 16th century neoclassicism, gives it a unique standing in the Dubai hospitality market. The large mosaic, made of 1.5 million little pieces, is also an impressive piece of art that represents Italian craftsmanship, he says.

“This is unique to Dubai because it has a lot of buildings that are modern and very opulent, but in terms of the classical buildings and interiors we stand out,” he says.

But Palazzo Versace Dubai is also determined to become a destination for gastronomes, not just locally but internationally. The hotel’s latest attraction is Enigma, the world’s first restaurant to change its cuisine and chefs four times a year.

“We will feature Michelin star restaurant chefs and every three months we completely change the atmosphere of the restaurant,” says Robineau. “We want Dubai to be recognised as the destination for food around the world. Our selecting criteria is to have chefs from the 50 best in the world.”

The first three months will feature three-Michelin starred chef Quique Dacosta, one of the world’s most radical avant-garde chefs. The menu will also remain confidential until guests arrive for their culinary experience, which they can pre-book in advance.

“We are bringing to Dubai a really high-end gastronomic experience and I think Dubai is ready for that,” Robineau says.

On what made Dubai the chosen location for the new property, Robineau explains the emirate’s tourism hub status made it an obvious choice. “Dubai is conveniently located in terms of traffic for tourism and all the main luxury brands are in Dubai. It only made sense if we wanted to expand further beyond Australia to have a location that would be a tourism destination,” he says.

The Dubai hotel is the second globally after the Palazzo Versace Gold Coast in Queensland,
 Australia, with the next property planned for Macau.