Once Dubai’s premium business hotel, with its Dhow-shaped conference centre that can welcome 1,500 people, the 20-year old Jumeirah Beach Hotel was looking in need of the comprehensive five-month refurbishment project that took place last summer.
Now it faces a fight to win back customers in a tough market, while at the same time coping with the ongoing transformation of its site with works underway on Jumeriah’s adjacent 2,400-hotel-room Marsa Al Arab project, slated to open in late 2020.
Sadly this will also involve the demolition of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s impressive gym and Talise spa and its tennis courts. The gym will be relocated in the back of the hotel, replacing the now closed Mahiki nightclub.
Still, presently executives have the chance to work out in one of the city’s finest gyms with 11 running, four stepping and seven bicycle machines with superb Burj Al Arab views.
It will be interesting to see how the internal refurbishment is received by former clients. What was a somewhat brash and brightly coloured hotel is now a modernist vision of shades of grey across all 599 sea-facing bedrooms and suites, 10 restaurants, and the round Pearl lounge next to the reception,100-metre high atrium and lifts.
My Dh2,500, one-bedroom suite with splendid views down to the Manhattan skyscape of Dubai and super large terrace, was actually quite compact inside but with some great new features as well as the completely new interior.
Top marks for the 44.7 Mbps Internet connection, the fastest I have ever checked in a Dubai hotel; the new LG 50-inch OLED TVs are high-end; and the heavenly king-sized Hypnos bed as supplied to all the British monarch’s palaces.
However, the 60cm desk in the bedroom was a tad small, albeit with two multi-plugs, and two more multi-plug sets within the suite. The new bathroom lacked a bidet though its rainfall power shower came with Asprey toiletries.
Club rooms or suites have access to the Club Executive Lounge on the 24th floor, an ideal place to work quietly or make important calls, and for adults only.
The JBH, as it is affectionately known, boasted 18 restaurants when it opened in 1998 and acquired something of a gastronomic reputation. The renovation project weeded out the less successful but kept the excellent Argentinian steakhouse La Parrilla on the top floor of the hotel.
It remains an fine venue to entertain important business guests, although the tango dancers have gone. The view of the Burj Al Arab at night is unparalleled and the steak really is from Argentina.
Since the hotel was launched as Jumeirah’s flagship the group has opened a succession of properties along a private beachfront that is now 2.5 kilometres long with five hotels - soon to be seven - and more than 80 restaurants and food outlets, all available to guests of the JBH, with electric buggies to transport you if you don’t fancy a walk.
The wave-shaped JBH has a trio of reinvented beach restaurants with extensive terraces, also providing outstanding views of the Burj Al Arab, and excellent food. I was told the hotel saw the refurbishment as a chance to reduce the quantity and increase the quality of its restaurants.
Where Jumeirah has always scored above Dubai hotels is staff retention. My waiter at breakfast had been there 14 years. Unlike most hotels, the JBH operates its own staff restaurant and this encourages loyalty, something reflected in the high standard of staff service.
Its high-tech conference centre is unchanged. Hedge Funds World was one of many business events I have attended there.
The Safinah ballroom can seat 900 or accommodate a reception for 1,500; the first floor has three boardrooms for up to 16 and there are eight more meeting rooms, plus the Meyana auditorium for 400 guests.
The writer was a guest of the hotel