When in Dubai, check out the lost city of Atlantis

September 28th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Sep 28 (IANS) Is a 30-metre water slide through shark-filled waters your idea of a relaxing holiday? Or would you rather take a look at the ruins of the legendary island city of Atlantis by strolling through an underwater maze of tunnels?Or perhaps you are the jet-setting type and would instead prefer a jetlag recovery massage.

A new entertainment resort in Dubai offers all these and more.

Atlantis, The Palm, the flagship resort of Palm Jumeirah, one of the three palm-shaped artificial islands off the coast of Dubai, opened its doors to guests and day visitors last week.

Dubbed the first integrated entertainment resort in this metropolis on the Gulf coast, it is offering a whole range of entertainment and leisure activities themed around marine life apart from regular hotel facilities.

“Guests who visit Atlantis will not be going to stay in their room; they are going for a multi-dimensional experience that is completely unique to the region,” Alan Leibman, the president and managing director of the resort, said in an interview published ahead of its opening.

A creation of South African hotel magnate Sol Kerzner and Kerzner International, it is the second such resort in the world after the Atlantis Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas.

The focal point of Atlantis, The Palm, is the Ambassador Lagoon, an open-air marine habitat, claimed to be the first such in the Middle East.

The habitat, created with 11 million litres of salt water, is home to thousands of marine creatures representing several hundred species.

Then of course there is the replica of the ruins of Atlantis, which Plato mentioned in his dialogues ‘Timaeus’ and ‘Critias’.

The boulevards and ruins of the legendary lost city have been recreated on the seabed in the Ambassador Lagoon and visitors can view these from an underwater maze of tunnels called ‘The Lost Chambers’.

Another facility, Dolphin Bay, offers visitors the chance to meet and interact with dolphins.

One of the major highlights of the resort is Aquaventure, a water playground spread over 17 hectares.

Created with 18 million litres of water, Aquaventure comprises water slides from a 30-metre high Mesopotamian-styled Ziggurat temple, a 700-metre private beach and thrilling rides through cascades, tidal waves and rapids along a 2.3-km artificially created river called The Rapids.

“Ultimately, there was also a desire to create an action river that offers guests a different experience from other water parks and lazy rivers,” Peter Doyle, senior vice-president for marine and water park at the resort, was quoted as saying.

“The result is a 2.3-km river adventure using 15 million litres of fresh water to propel inner-tube riders through high-intensity rapids, wave surges and waterfalls,” he said.

As for the ziggurat, it features “seven heart-pumping water slides, two of which catapult riders through shark-filled lagoons”.

For children, there is the Splashers, a water playground which allows young visitors to participate in a variety of water games and challenge each other to cross rope bridges interconnecting the 10 water slides.

If you are hungry and tired after all these activities, you can head straight to The Avenues, a marketplace featuring top global brands and 17 restaurants, bars and lounges.

This includes four restaurants run by Michelin-starred chefs - well-known Japanese chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, London’s Giorgio Locatelli, Frenchman Michel Rostang and avant-garde Spanish chef Santi Santamaria.

If you are planning to stay over at the resort, well … be prepared to shell out a pretty penny.

The 1,539 guest rooms and suites in the Royal Towers featuring private balconies and views over the Arabian Gulf or The Palm Jumeirah come at a price.

Rates start from 2,900 dirhams ($789) a night for a guest room at the Royal Towers and go up to 92,000 dirhams ($25,056) if you want to stay in one of three-bedroom Bridge Suites.

As a hotel guest, you can also make use of the Spa & Fitness Centre, a two-storey affair covering 1,900 square metres.

Therapies on offer across the 27 treatment rooms at the centre range from desert hot stone therapy to sports massage to jetlag massage.

Though the resort has opened its doors, the people behind it are organising a grand opening ceremony in November which will feature, among others, a Kylie Minogue concert and fireworks display by the Grucci Family, who did the pyrotechnics in the Beijing Olympics.

So, next time you visit Dubai, you know you have yet one more indulgence option.

You just have to take a drive through a six-lane underwater vehicle tunnel to reach the resort.

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