In a canary-yellow corset dress and matching feathered wings, Beyoncé floated onto the outdoor stage at Atlantis The Royal in Dubai Saturday night and belted out Etta James’ “At Last” to a crowd of 1,500 VIPs, celebrities and influencers. The stirring rendition marked a fitting start for the highly anticipated hotel, whose debut took eight years of planning, and for the singer, who, yes, at last, performed her first live show since 2018.
While Atlantis The Royal doesn’t open officially until February 10, the exclusive “Grand Reveal Weekend” was its soft opening. Queen Beyoncé served as the headliner with a 60-minute ballad-heavy set that included “Halo,” “Ave Maria,” “Beautiful Liar” and “Crazy in Love.” She brought her daughter Blue Ivy onto the stage for “Brown Skin Girl” (mom lovingly beamed at her eldest), and she incorporated Middle Eastern elements with mesmerizing, creative routines from America’s Got Talent winners Mayyas, a female Lebanese dance group, and rousing local music by the Firdaus Orchestra, an all-women ensemble who wore red-sequined gowns and starburst headpieces.
For the finale, Beyoncé was lifted 16 feet into the air and surrounded by fire and cascading water as she sang “Drunk in Love,” which was followed by elaborate fireworks that set this strip of Palm Jumeirah island ablaze. Later, DJ supergroup Swedish House Mafia took the stage for an afterparty with music, dancing and bottomless illuminated Moet magnums.
Here’s a look at the knockout new hotel that attracted Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kendall Jenner, Rebel Wilson, Chloe x Halle, Letitia Wright, Winston Dukes, Bar Refaeli, Ellen Pompeo, Nia Long, Trey Songz and others this past weekend for the concert, an Adidas x Ivy Park pop-up, culinary events and much more.
The no-phones-allowed 60-minute private Beyoncé performance was even more spectacular against the backdrop of Atlantis’ new show-stopping stacked-blocks building from architects Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (the New York firm also designed Rosewood Bangkok and NYC’s Edge observation deck). Like neighboring sister property Atlantis, The Palm, with its pink façade and keyhole cutout, The Royal showcases a memorable design. The 1,640-foot-long, 584-foot-tall structure’s six towers connect via a nearly 300-foot sky bridge.
Inside, the design is luxurious, sophisticated and contemporary. Gleaming white marble with silver and gold veining sweeps through the public spaces. In the lobby, the marble provides a canvas for “Droplets,” a 38-foot-tall, 5.5-ton sculpture of oversized stainless-steel raindrops splashing into a fountain to represent the start of desert rain. The theme ripples throughout the space with walls of water and fire at the entrance, teardrop-shaped glass art dangling above and three wall-spanning aquariums using rotating artistic backdrops on LED screens. You’ll also spy splashes of smaller silver drops on the foyer walls in the accommodations.
The 795 rooms and suites (44 of which boast their own infinity pools) come with floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto spacious balconies overlooking either the Arabian Sea and the Dubai skyline or the endless horizon of the island’s bay. The accommodations feature subtle water references in the blues of the carpets and the wave-like abstract art above the beds. Awash with white marble, rooms and suites also have opulent details, including amenities from Graff and Hermès, Frette bathrobes, standalone egg-shaped tubs and gold-plated toothbrushes and shavers, all fitting for a royal.
The Restaurants and Bars
Atlantis The Royal features a strong roster of 17 restaurants and bars. During the Grand Reveal Weekend, iconic chefs turned out to unveil their new ventures: José Andrés served mouthwatering Spanish morsels at Jaleo; Nobu Matsuhisa debuted his happening poolside Nobu by the Beach; Costas Spiliadis introduced seafood-heavy Greek cuisine at Estiatorio Milos; Iranian-American Ariana Bundy crafted flavorful, comforting modern Persian fare at Ariana’s Kitchen; and Gastón Acurio welcomed an outpost of his Asian-Peruvian La Mar. While its namesake chef was not in attendance, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal will also be among the hotel’s epicurean attractions.
Cloud 22 isn’t attached to a celebrity chef, but it’s a must-visit destination. The 22nd-floor outdoor entertainment area offers a bar, DJ booth and a striking adults-only infinity sky pool with views of the Burj Khalifa and the cityscape. Reserve a cabana or sprawl out on a cushy in-pool lounger under an oversized flower sculpture whose bud provides shade. Also head to the pink-illuminated hallway of Tao Group Hospitality’s Ling Ling to take in a vibrant nightlife scene, 180-degree panoramas of Dubai and luscious pan-Asian dishes like lobster dumplings.
Other Noteworthy Hits
In addition to the adults-only pools at Nobu and Cloud 22, The Royal Pool caters to families with air-conditioned cabanas. While most of the weekend revelers made a beeline for the pools, the more-than-mile-long beach is worth a visit for its sugar-like sand, tranquil vibe and cocktails and bites from the rope-swing-dotted Seascapes Beach Bar.
If you need rejuvenation, AWAKEN Wellness offers 54,304 square feet of spa facilities, including a gym, steam and sauna rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, a six-room hammam and a meditation garden alongside holistic treatments. And Aeon Clinic performs regenerative services.
As if all of that weren’t enough to keep you busy, Atlantis The Royal guests receive perks from its sister property, including access to Aquaventure Waterpark’s 50 rides, The Lost Chambers Aquarium, Dolphin Bay and Sea Lion Point.