Just a short walk along a bridge from The Beach on JBR, Bluewaters by Meraas is now open, and just in time for the cooler months (although not much is actually open there yet - more on that below).
At first glance, the island development - the construction of which has been visible from Dubai Marina's beaches for years - feels like a combination of The Beach, CityWalk and La Mer. But then you find yourself at the base of the Ain Dubai, looking up at the wheel that has come to dominate the city’s skyline and you realise you're somewhere entirely different.
As you walk up to it, the second-ever branch of Caesars Palace is at your left, while to the right lie a dozen licensed restaurants looking over the sweeping expanse of the Arabian Gulf, with the beach in the distance. Not only does Bluewaters play host to Caesars Palace, Caesars Resort and Caesars Residences, but it will also roll out more than 100 stores and eateries in the coming months. Ain Dubai, meanwhile, is slated to open at the end of 2019.
A short buggy ride along the pedestrian bridge gets us to the Wharf, where the 22nd branch of Australian chain The Coffee Club opened its doors a week ago. While this is the only operational eatery we spotted on Bluewaters this morning, the weekend will see a host of other first-timers open shop, including Ketch-Up, which serves hand-made gourmet burgers; and Gordon Ramsay’s much anticipated Hell’s Kitchen, located within Caesars Palace, which is opening on November 15.
Caesars will also house Zhen Wei, Roman Lounge, Laurel Bar, Neptune pool bar, Havana Social Club and The Rotunda. The latter takes the form of an enormous white dome, which can seat 500 for the live entertainment shows that Caesars will bring to its Bluewaters branch from time to time.
Other food offerings include fusion Indian restaurant Basanti & Co; Mitts & Trays; Sah El Nom; Un Dimanche A Paris; the Brazilian-Lebanese Tete (which means grandmum in Arabic); Typical Dutch Pancake; and The London Project.
The chefs at The London Project tell us: “Fresh and responsibly caught seafood plays an important role on our menu. Must-try dishes include ika mata, a Pacific-style preparation of ceviche seasoned with coconut milk and fresh vegetables; and of course, fish and chips, served with hand-cut chips, a pea puree, sauce gribiche and malt vinegar. We are also serving premium cuts, including a chocolate-fed Wagyu, while the rest of the menu is plant-based.”
Also open as of last weekend is the Cove (which was formerly in Jumeirah Beach Hotel): the beach club affiliated with Caesars Palace offers pool and beach access, complete with sun loungers and three Jacuzzi cabanas. While hotel guests enter free, the Cove has a redeemable cover charge of Dh150 (weekdays) and Dh250 (weekends) for visitors, and a ladies' day deal on Wednesday for Dh100 a pop, all-inclusive.
On the retail front, some of the signboards we spotted include Typo, SuperDry, Ciel de Perfume, iSea and Beyond the Beach, which sells beach accessories and swimwear from Seafolly, Maaji, Tommy Bahama, Veikini, Zoggs and Havaianas.
The opening also means more island living is coming to Dubai: it also houses 10 residential towers, with show apartments ready for viewing and handovers expected to begin from early next year.
The new bridge to Bluewaters is now accessible from Sheikh Zayed Road, which will get you straight to the underground parking lot, but the walk along the pedestrian bridge from The Beach has the best views of the azure waters, coupled with a sense of leaving the city behind, even though it's only a 15 minute stroll.