The best lifestyle hotels are more than a place to rest your head at night and have a mediocre breakfast in the morning. When you travel to destinations for some rest and fun, a place that has great food, luxurious rooms and entertainment is necessary. Visiting a hotspot like Dubai almost requires all of those things, especially when you are traveling long distances. I spent three days and almost four nights at the FIVE Palm Jumeirah Hotel (12-14 hours of travel and nine hours of time difference made the concept of time difficult to grasp) and saw how a luxury lifestyle hotel should be run for young people who want to have a good time.
For those who haven’t been to Dubai (I hadn’t before the trip), the hotel at the base of the Jumeirah palm. The Palms are the artificial of land masses shaped like a palm that extend into the ocean with curved branches of land reaching out to the sides. The FIVE Hotel & Resorts location still puts you on a private beach, but not too far from the city, which is quite large and sprawling, despite the countless giant buildings. You get a view on the hotel's oceanside, which looks down on the pool, the beach, the sea and the marina off in the distance.
The images of supercars and people flaunting wealth lived up to expectations. Lamborghinis are more common at these hotels than Toyota Camrys. People want to be seen and show off the wealth they have accumulated. They head to Dubai this time of year because of the impeccable weather, low COVID rates and high vaccination rates and zero income taxes (for those who live there). FIVE is the playground for these folks with its private beach, multiple pools and almost ten restaurants that serve expensive, but damn good food.
Since this is a music website, we will focus a bit on the music at the hotel, which they say is a key pierce to the puzzle. Music is on in various venues from noon to about 4am, either down by the pools, on the beach or up in a rooftop venue like The Penthouse, which was conveniently right around the corner from my room and I could say hi to some folks drinking there from my balcony.
Getting there on Wednesday night, December 8, I was able to settle in a bit before the madness began on Thursday. The pool was popping by 2pm with people at certain cabanas spending thousands on bottles of booze and going HAM to a mix of house and hip-hop. December is an ideal time to go with the temperatures hanging around 75 and the pool water remains warm from the baking sun year-round.
Skyline Thursdays at The Penthouse
The Dubai weekend is currently Friday and Saturday, so you can expect Thursday nights to be a big one, like your Friday night in other countries. The government is shifting the weekend to Saturday & Sunday at the start of the year, so expect many private businesses to follow. "For a business who has a lot of customers from the city itself, it is better for us," says Aloki Batra, CEO of FIVE Hotels, in an interview with Magnetic.
This is where Skyline Thursdays shines with big names across house music in a venue that turns from a restaurant with excellent Japanese dishes into a club. In the past they have had people like Eli & Fur, Pete Tong, Themba, Mark Knight and Nora En Pure all DJ.
Joel Corry was there on Thursday, doing interviews before and then coming in for a set around 1am. The venue is still under some restrictions for COVID, so the dancefloor isn’t totally open, but it didn’t stop the crowd from getting after it with drinks, dancing and food, including Jamaican cricketer Chris Gayle. This past Thursday, FIVE hosted Dutch-Turkish DJ and producer Burak Yeter was back for another gig in 2021.
The following day, one of their biggest events, Bohemia, takes you to the beach on Friday afternoon where one can still enjoy the show from afar, but there are cabanas, tables and chairs one can buy to get closer to the action. It isn’t just a DJ spinning behind the decks -- there also are dancers in various outfits that emerge with drummers and people holding flares to build on the color of the day as the sun begins the set. The resident DJ and venue booker Sam Starks understood the assignment with a smattering of tribal house before Jax Jones took over the controls. The UK DJ and producer carried the vibe with tunes that varied from UK piano house to some deep, dark and heavy stuff, fitting for the sun slipping away over the horizon. Kurd Maverick is billed for this upcoming Friday on Christmas Eve for some holiday beach fun.
The booking policy is dictated by a small team at FIVE that brings in names they think will do well for their audience, depending on availability and also includes friends of the brand to come three or four times a year, according to FIVE CEO Aloki Batra. “Artists close to us I have given a mandate to book three or four times a year. That is important to me because they have been important to the growth of the brand. Now that we have reached a certain level, it is always good to remember our friends,” Batra says to me. “We keep focusing on what they like or what we would like to introduce them to.”
The music policy spans house to hip-hop and more commercial nights for the larger millennial crowd, which makes up 80% of their customers. Charlie Sloth hosts a Saturday night hip-hop event at The Penthouse. FIVE also hosted a smallish festival on the beach in 2019 with Craig David, Lost Frequencies, Disciples and others, which couldn't be replicated the past two years, but they look forward to doing again quite soon. The bottom line for the events at FIVE is that they want people to have fun and only a stooge would find it difficult to that there.
There is an expansion to Zurich planned for June 2022, in addition to another hotel in Dubai, which is still under construction. To help push music at the hotel, which has different events each day, sometimes more than one, they have launched a music label FIVE Music, which I will go more into tomorrow.