Thanks to its over-the-top architecture, amenities and attractions, Dubai is often called "the Las Vegas of the Middle East." The comparison would be perfect if not for one glaring difference: Unlike Las Vegas, there is no gambling in Dubai.
And yet, that's not stopping heavy Vegas hitters from planting roots there. In 2021, for instance, MGM Resorts International will open MGM and Bellagio hotels there. Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment is gearing up to open its first Dubai properties this month and next, it announced yesterday.
Located on Bluewaters Island, a private, man-made island overlooking Jumeirah Beach, the properties -- Cove Beach beach club, Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai, The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and Caesars Resort Bluewaters Dubai -- are Caesars Entertainment's first-ever non-gaming properties.
Cove Beach will be the first of the bunch to open. Scheduled to debut on Nov. 9, the private beach club previously was located at Jumeirah Beach Hotel and will have three swimming pools, two restaurants and a private beach. Next to open will be Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai. The latter will have 80 private residences adjacent to the former, which will boast 194 guest rooms. Finally will come Caesars Resort Bluewaters Dubai, which is scheduled to open in December with 301 guest rooms.
Occupying the same site, the properties will share a spa; a fitness center; three bars; and three restaurants, including an experiential restaurant from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, themed around his popular "Hell's Kitchen" TV show. There also will be two outdoor pools and meeting and event space for groups of up to 800, including three meeting rooms and a 9,100-square-foot ballroom.
"Bluewaters Island is a truly unique space where guests will find that our offerings are synonymous with the quality hospitality, dining, spa and entertainment experiences that have helped establish Caesars as one of the most respected and recognizable brands in the hospitality industry," said Bob Morse, president of hospitality at Caesars Entertainment. "These openings set the stage for Caesars to continue to expand the reach of our brands into global gateway cities."
Four More Private-Island Resorts for Incentive Groups
Because they're secluded, sumptuous and serene, private-island destinations like Bluewaters Island are especially popular with incentive groups. Here are four more resorts that are surrounded by water and filled with luxury:
• Thatch Caye Resort (Dangriga, Belize): Located a 25-minute boat ride from the coastal town of Dangriga, Belize, Thatch Caye consists of 15 two-person villas -- including eight overwater bungalows -- that occupy their own private island along the Belize Barrier Reef. Available for group buyouts, the all-inclusive resort also has a natural saltwater swimming pool, an overwater bar, and outdoor yoga and fitness areas, not to mention scores of outdoor activities and family-style outdoor dining every night.
• Amanpulo (Agutaya, Philippines): Aman Resorts' Amanpulo is located on the Philippines' Pamalican Island, about an hour from Manila. Accessible only by private plane, the resort promises to give guests a taste of "the castaway life." Groups won't be roughing it, though. Far from it. Along with 40 freestanding casitas that were inspired by native Filipino dwellings -- some with private plunge pools and all with a motorized buggy that guests can use to explore the island -- there's a spa, five dining venues, 4 miles of white-sand beach and a coral reef that's ideal for diving.
• Lizard Island Resort (Cairns, Australia): Located an hour's flight from Cairns -- considered the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef -- is Lizard Island, the northernmost and most isolated of the many private islands that dot the waters off of Queensland, Australia. The island, which is named for the many prehistoric monitor lizards that call it home, is occupied by Lizard Island Resort which has 24 private beaches and 40 suites and villas, as well as a bar, a restaurant and a day spa. The resort is known for its activities, which include not only diving in the Great Barrier Reef, but also private beach picnics and hikes to Cook's Look -- the island's highest point.
• JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa (Venice, Italy): Venice is beautiful. But also, really, really crowded. That makes the JW Marriott Venice an ideal home base for visiting groups, as the resort occupies its own private island, Isola delle Rose, that was completely renovated in 2015 by Italian architect Matteo Thun. The island, which was established in 1870, has a mild and cool microclimate that supports diverse vegetation, including olive trees, palm trees, willows, lime trees, larches, magnolias, pines, horse chestnuts and Atlas cedars, all of which grow in the island's 30-acre park. As for the resort itself, there are 266 guest rooms, four bars, four restaurants, a cooking academy, a rooftop pool, the largest spa in Venice and approximately 13,000 square feet of meeting space across numerous venues, the most unique of which is a 19th-century church.