The Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai has got to be one of the most spectacular buildings on the planet. When it opened in 1999, it was the tallest hotel in the world. "Burj" is arabic for tower. Set out on the water via a causeway, it resembles an arab dhow, rising nearly 1,000 ft in the air, yet it's 202 rooms span only 29 stories. James Bennet wrote for the New York Times (2.15.04) that entering the lobby leads one to believe that the interior decorator and the designer never met. I concur. The exterior is cool and elegant, while the lobby is filled with color and ever so busy. All the suites are duplex, with winding marble staircases rising out of the living area to bed and bath above. Each arriving guest is checked in at their own floor, no waits in the lobby.
This area of Dubai, 30 mins from downtown is filled with world class resort hotels. One of the best, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel is adjacent (see photo).
As if this all wasn't overwhelming enough, as I was walking around the hotel perimeter I spotted a "Roger Federer look-alike" speaking German with friends in a lounge chair watching the oncoming sunset. I thought "naw, it just couldn't be." Minutes later, I saw his wife Mirka and baby in tow with mother-in-law, approaching and figured it was just too bizarre to be true (foreground photo of hotel captures his duaghter and mother-in-law).