Skift Take

Ultra-luxury travelers’ accelerating desire for exceptional and exclusive experiences is driving hospitality to reach new heights in a rarefied segment. Atlantis The Royal is setting new standards in its quest to anticipate the needs of a continuously evolving high-end travel market.

This sponsored content was created in collaboration with a Skift partner.

Experience is the new currency in the ultra-luxury hotel sector. For affluent travelers, a hotel is not just about staying in a lavish suite, but the story that unfolds within and beyond its walls. Reporting from Skift reveals that 57 percent of luxury travelers across markets agreed that “creating a travel experience that best fits my expectations is more important than price.” Whether it’s a premium retreat, a rare cultural moment, or an authentic local interaction, travelers are looking to create memories that resonate long after the trip.

Atlantis The Royal has strategically positioned itself at the forefront of this shift since its memorable opening in early 2023, redefining ultra-luxury hospitality through its experiential resort. Located in Dubai, it was created to meet the high standards of a discerning luxury clientele — a fast-growing sector in travel. In this specialized category, guests increasingly want fully immersive stays that can provide a wealth of segment-demand services and anticipate their personalized needs.

Skift Research found that special places to stay are indeed more important than ever to luxury travelers. This priority for unique travel experiences will continue to drive luxury brands to evolve their strategies, innovations, and offerings to capture the ultra-luxury travel segment, now and into the future. Atlantis The Royal aims to meet this demand by delivering highly aspirational, customized experiences through its design, culinary mastery, transformative wellness programs, unique attractions, and elevated service.

“The new age of luxury is a world where ‘yes’ is the only answer, and everything is made possible without hesitation. Special experiences coupled with unique opportunities and going above a standard 5-star hotel experience are what sets a resort apart. Ultra-luxury goes beyond a ‘wow-moment’ or special experience — it’s a completely personalized moment curated especially for each guest,” said Tom Roelens, general manager and senior vice president of operations at Atlantis The Royal. “Succeeding in the delivery of luxury in the future will be all about how you make someone who can afford everything want to return time and again.”

Innovative Architecture and Design Philosophy

The appeal of a hotel often lies in its unique architecture and design. These elements make an impression by creating a distinctive identity, immersive experiences, better functionality, and attention to detail, all of which are highly sought after by luxury travelers. For Atlantis The Royal, the challenge was creating an incomparable and iconic building in a city famous for towers of all varieties.

“Crafted by the world’s leading designers, architects, and artists, the resort’s architecture mediates between the classic form of the nearby Atlantis, The Palm, as well as the progressive architecture of Dubai, offering 795 rooms and surging 43 stories high,” said Roelens. “We tried to conceive of the building as a collection of unique experiences catalyzed by the ‘breaking apart’ of a typical solid building into a loose collection of stacked blocks that create many sky-courts and garden terraces floating in the sky. The inclusion of raised pools in these courts and terraces allows the unique experience of swimming underwater, 30 stories in the air, with a view over the skyline of Dubai. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience, yet also stays reminiscent of the great traditions of the region’s historic architecture.”

Differentiating Through Attractions and Facilities

As luxury hospitality competes for a rarified market share, standout attractions and facilities have become fundamental to capturing guest attention and creating opportunities for properties to deliver outstanding service moments. Atlantis The Royal aspires to challenge and reshape what ultra-luxury travel means through these elements to establish its status as an unmatched luxury destination resort.

“Inspired by a wave of water and the elements, the curved structure and sky gardens offer exceptional views over the Arabian Gulf and Palm Island,” said Roelens. “Our destination is home to over 90 swimming pools in total, including a 25-meter lap pool, a serene and relaxing adult pool, a vibrant family pool, the dynamic infinity pool at Cloud 22, and 44 suite infinity pools. We also offer one of the largest privately-owned beachfronts in Dubai and have 17 restaurants and bars featuring eight celebrity chefs, including Heston Blumenthal and José Andrés.”

Roelens added, “We’re continuing our journey to establish Aquaventure World, which will see our waterpark transition into the number one theme park and first fully-fledged integrated aquatic theme park in the region as we continue to contribute to Dubai’s objective of becoming the number one entertainment destination in the world.”

Crafting Standout Culinary Offerings

With guests now expecting unforgettable dining experiences, luxury properties are increasingly collaborating with renowned chefs and award-winning restaurant brands to draw an international clientele. Atlantis The Royal curates 17 world-class restaurants to build a reputation as an unparalleled culinary destination in Dubai by offering exclusivity, superior service, and myriad options.

“With more celebrity chefs under one roof than anywhere in the world, we’ve achieved 22 nominations across Gault & Millau and Michelin 2023, which are the most nominations in the UAE for a hotel brand,” said Roelens. “In Dubai’s second edition of its Michelin Guide, for example, three Atlantis Dubai restaurants were awarded one Michelin star, including Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Another three of Michelin’s five ‘Special Awards’ were given to Atlantis Dubai restaurants, and five of our restaurants received an honorable mention in the 2023 guide, including Ariana’s Persian Kitchen, Jaleo by José Andrés, La Mar by Gastón Acurio, and Estiatorio Milos.”

Elevated Wellness Experiences

Given the rise of wellness tourism and an increased focus on overall health, fitness, and mindfulness, high-end luxury hospitality requires experiences that defy expectations. Affluent travelers seeking indulgence and self-care opt for specialized services and amenities designed to meet their needs, with hotel spas rapidly evolving and expanding to align with these trends. In anticipating guest desires, Atlantis The Royal has created world-class holistic spa and well-being experiences, including a Hammam Sensorium, hypnotherapy treatments, halotherapy salt caves, and a snow sauna.

Roelens said, “Our AWAKEN Spa is a wellness destination in itself, which includes both indoor and outdoor facilities consisting of 15 therapy and VIP suites, two specialty suites, personal styling studios for men and women, and more. The six-room Hammam Sensorium showcases bathhouse culture in a new light, and the Elements Retreat, our wet spa facility, creates a purposeful experience circuit.”

Preparing for the Future of Luxury Travel

Atlantis The Royal will continue to diversify its offerings and capitalize on its location in the region’s entertainment destination as it plans for the future. Most recently, the resort’s New Year’s Eve Gala Dinners have gained iconic status, featuring global megastars such as Kylie Minogue in 2022 and Robbie Williams in 2021. This year, the renowned artist Sting is set to headline the Dinner.

“We continue to invest and transform the overall Atlantis experience so that guests have something new to discover every time they visit or stay with us. As luxury travelers seek more personalized, immersive, and sustainable experiences, being able to anticipate guests’ needs before they’ve even established these themselves is key for us. Our guest interactions are the silver bullet to delivering a true ultra-luxury experience, and the greatest measure of this is a guest that returns again and again,” Roelens concluded.

Learn more about Atlantis The Royal.

This content was created collaboratively by Atlantis The Royal and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

Please join Atlantis The Royal for a special wellness session at Skift Global Forum East, December 12-14 in Dubai.

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Tags: hospitality, hotels, luxury hotels, SkiftX Showcase: Hospitality, ultra-luxury

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