Google offers up Burj Al Arab’s Dh80,000-a-night Royal Suite, virtually

Jumeirah has teamed up with creatives at Google to devise a new website that offers a virtual tour of the iconic Dubai hotel. The designers believe the site will set a new benchmark for hotel websites.

Members of the media try out the new Jumeirah Inside app, a virtual platform created by Jumeirah Group and Google that uses 360-degree video and photography to allow users to explore the Burj Al Arab in Dubai to see what the hotel has to offer and make hotel bookings. Photos Sarah Dea / The National
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DUBAI // The Burj Al Arab is known the world over, but few will have seen the inside of its Royal Suite, 27 floors up.

At Dh80,000 a night, that’s understandable, but a new partnership between Google and the Jumeirah Group is offering a virtual tour of the seven-star hotel at the click of a button.

From lobby to helipad – and everywhere in between – guests and web users can take a 360-degree virtual tour around one of the jewels in the crown of Dubai.

And it is not just the views from the top that will amaze those visiting Jumeirah Inside. The opulent decor and attention to detail is enough to add the wow factor missing from most other run-of-the-mill hotel websites.

Clicking on hotspots unlocks facts about the hotel, while photographs and new footage are also available. Ross McAuley, vice president of brand, digital and loyalty at Jumeirah, said the new website was a first for the hospitality sector.

“Guests have been able to view video content of the hotel on YouTube, but not in an interactive way like this,” he said. “People can now take a virtual tour, walk through the lobby and look around. The hotel is an icon of Dubai and the experience can show the viewer every aspect.”

Jumeirah Inside has been developed in a partnership with creative designers at Google. The platform works across desktop, tablet and mobile devices, in five languages, offering a film-focused exploration of the world’s most luxurious hotel.

“We wanted to take people inside the hotel, to jump in the pool and visit the restaurants,” Mr McAuley said.

“We are confident this is the website of the future; it will be interesting to see how the guests react to it.”

Online visitors and guests can share their experience of the website on social media from any room in the hotel, although they are unable to comment on the website itself.

The website is brought to life by the 360-degree video, 3-D sound and playful interactions, but surfers can also complete the practical tasks you would expect of a hotel website, such as booking a room or making special requests ahead of a stay.

If this venture is successful, a similar platform could be rolled out to other hotels in the Jumeirah Group around the world.

Ali Hashmi, industry manager of emerging travel at Google, expected other hotel brands to follow suit and create their own virtual hotel tours to keep up with the top end of the market.

“A lot of different hotels are trying to do different things to attract new guests,” he said.

“This is a comprehensive answer as a 360 immersive experience, it is not a gimmick. Other hotels are likely to follow suit here but we believe this platform with the Burj Al Arab sets the standard.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if within eight months or so this kind of application will be replicated elsewhere. We will test this platform over the next few months and look to develop it further into phase two.”

To take a virtual tour of the hotel, click here.

nwebster@thenational.ae