Friday, January 27, 2017

Dubai Part 2: A free night at the Waldorf Astoria!!

This is Part 2 of a 4 part series about our travel deals in Dubai in October, 2016. You may want to read  Part 1 and Part 3

(Disclaimer: This first activity was NOT Frugal!!)

During our second day in Dubai, we had high tea at AT.MOSPHERE, a super swanky restaurant on the 122 floor of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. We've seen some pretty tall buildings, but the Burj is simply mind-boggling. To say that the tea was over-the-top (pun intended) would be a huge understatement. I'm not even going to tell you how much it cost. If you decide to go, you can figure it out.  Of course, the views are astonishing.
View from 122 floors up! Those rings are part of the fountain show. 
Our table.
Berries with cream, complete with a real, edible gold leaf. I thought about selling it on ebay, but I ate it instead. 
Part of the tea Menu....some served only here. Creme Caramel Tea, anyone? There's a page of coffee drinks and a whole page of mocktails also. Oh, and guess what? You can order as many drinks as you like! 

 Little Bites, with yummies like lobster, foie gras, and melt-in-your-mouth rare beef. This was followed by miniature "main courses," which are not pictured... 

 ...which was followed by traditional tea cakes and scones with accompanying generous serving of clotted cream, whipped butter and jams. Overall, absolutely amazing. We were completely stuffed. 

After waddling back to our hotel, we took a taxi to our next destination, the Waldorf Astoria Dubai. It is located on the famed Dubai Palm, a man made land mass in the Gulf built in the shape of palm tree. Looking at pictures, one might be tempted to think it's not that big, but we were located on the right side of that outer ring, and it took a good 45 minutes to get there after crossing the main bridge. In other words, you are no longer close to downtown or the metro, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you should be aware of it if you choose to stay at any of the hotels in that area. 

Waldorf is under the Hilton portfolio, and I was able to attain Diamond Status with Hilton through a "status match" promotion Hilton ran last year. They were giving Diamond status to those who had Platinum Elite status with IHG (The Intercontinental Group), which I received by simply signing up for their credit card. (Yes, it's a crazy game, but it's a hobby I enjoy!) This was the first time I had ever stayed anywhere as a Diamond member. Let's just say it was eye-opening. 

When we arrived at the property gate, we had to show the guard our reservation. The front door was maybe 50 feet from the gate, and yet 15 seconds later when we pulled up, the doorman opened our door and a lady in a suit held out her hand and said, "Welcome, Mrs. Cliff, we have been expecting you. Please follow me." We were escorted past the lobby/check-in to a private room where we were handed cool, wet towels to "refresh" and glasses of fresh squeezed kiwi juice. One of the managers told us all about our room, handed us coupons for free drinks, and escorted us personally to our room! He stopped to show us the restaurant where we would get our free breakfast in the morning and told us about the hotel on our way. Once in the room, he pointed out our welcome fruit basket, red velvet cakes and water and told us how everything worked. He handed us his card and told us to call his number directly if we needed anything at all.  

The welcome amenities. 

Honestly, I was feeling SUPER awkward the whole time. I kept thinking, "Wait, I think you have the wrong people. I'm just a little country hick from the back woods in Maine, you must have made a mistake." I also realized that this is what some people expect all the time...and that's a little mind- blowing.

Exquisite lobby.


Comfy bed.

Cushy robes.

Bath with Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries.

Super wide boardwalk that was always empty.

One of several pools.

View from the beach of the Persian Gulf.

We spent the afternoon at the pool and beach, and were so stuffed from our "tea," that we only ate  some of our welcome fruit and cakes for dinner and called it a night. The breakfast buffet was literally the most extensive I have ever seen. Custom made coffee/tea drinks, a huge selection of fresh squeezed juices, a section of local foods and every traditional breakfast food you can imagine. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures. 

Overall, this was by far the nicest hotel stay we had while in Dubai, and quite possibly anywhere for that matter. This night would have cost over $680 USD, so I won't be staying again anytime soon!

This freebie was compliments of my American Express Platinum card (not a referral link). This card has a whopping $450.00 annual fee, but is usually worth it the first year, and was definitely worth it last year when they ran a special 100,000 point sign on bonus for a short time. Right now, they offer 40,000 points if you spend $3000.00 in 3 months. For that you get a free Priority Pass membership, which gives you access to over a thousand airport lounges world wide (which we use frequently!), a $200 a year airline credit (which runs on the calendar year, so you can use it twice in your first year of membership), $100 reimbursement for global entry, free boingo wifi, and numerous other perks. This on top of the value of the points. I used some of my points to book directly through AMEX travel. I can't remember how many points it was, but it was less than using points on my Hilton card (more on that one later, perhaps.) 

My goal in writing is to inspire you to travel...and to teach you how to make the most of your money!

And that's a wrap on day 2. More to come.

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