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Sunday, November 23, 2008

$1 million holiday to beat credit crunch blues

By Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter

The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi: The perfect way to see off those credit crunch blues - the world's first $1 million dollar 'package' holiday.
The $1 million dollar break is advertised on the Emirates Palace website as a 'special offer' Photo: AFP/Getty

As one might expect with the £700,000 price tag, no luxury is spared for the two people arriving at the ultra-luxurious Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi for their "once in a lifetime" holiday.

The week-long break begins with a first-class flight from any destination in the world to the hotel, where the guests will stay in the 680 square metre Palace Suite. After that, luxury is heaped upon luxury for the next seven days.

Once the guests have arrived, they have a 24-hour private butler service, 24-access to a chauffeur-driver Maybach car and their suite is equipped with a 61-inch interactive plasma screen, large private balcony and personal laptops.

They can choose from 12 restaurants, including the Al Majilis Caviar Bar – which has its own resident harpist – whenever they want to eat.

The Palace Suite – their "home" for the week – is equipped with "three regal bedrooms", an elegant dining room and an entrance hall with gold and silver chandeliers. It is one of 92 suites at the 394-room hotel, built on an unspoilt stretch of coastline.

During their break, the guests will spend three separate days travelling on a private jet to different countries in the Middle East to experience exotic treats. The first excursion is to Iran, where guests will get the chance to create their own Persian carpet with the help of a leading local designer. Next comes a day trip to Jordan to visit the Dead Sea and an exclusive local spa.

But perhaps the highlight of the entire holiday is the visit to Bahrain for deep sea pearl diving. The pearls that are found on the day will then be hand designed with jewellery settings, which can be kept at the end of the week.

The hotel is a favourite stop-off for celebrities and politicians. President George W. Bush, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister, are among those to have stayed at the hotel earlier this year, while actors Sir Ben Kingsley, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve have all stayed there in the past two months.

Although the trips are the highlight of the $1 million holiday, the rest of the week is anything but dull: guests will go on a champagne sunset and desert island tour, a deep-sea fishing trip, make their own perfume and will enjoy a round of golf at the magnificent Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Work is probably going to be the last thing on the guests' minds while staying at the hotel – set in 200 acres with landscaped gardens – but visitors can also use the 1,100-seat auditorium and other facilities at the Conference and Banqueting Centre.

It is much more likely, however, that guests will head for the near mile-long hotel beach, one of the two giant swimming pools or the ultra-modern spa, gym and tennis courts.

The $1 million dollar break is advertised on the Emirates Palace website as a "special offer". The website says of the trip: "No expense is spared during the week. The stunning grandeur of one of the most expensive hotels ever built demands ultra-luxury offerings for its guests, including unrivalled facilities and incredible tailor made designer packages. The Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, exceeds all expectations."

But has anyone yet booked the "once in a lifetime holiday" – or is the cost simply too prohibitive? A spokesman for the hotel said: "We can confirm that two people have booked the package [each for two people]. They are both Arabs but we cannot reveal their names."

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