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United Arab Emirates: Exceptional, Opulent, and Underrated

The UAE has certainly grown on us this year. We’ve traveled to the UAE several times in the last few years, but this time the region seemed to resonate with us much more than in the past. It’s by far an underrated destination for American travelers, which is quite unfortunate. It seems a new five-star property is opening each month—far too many to keep up with. On our last trip, we checked out a few newcomers, all of which are quite nice and offer a unique take in their own right.

With no expense spared, the new Four Seasons Abu Dhabi is everything you would expect from this opulent land. Staying here embodies what one would expect from a proper vacation, encompassing food, culture, art and an incredible hotel to rest your head at night. The property, which opened in May of 2016, is a testament to the celebration of the Arabic culture and the future of the Emirates as a whole.

The property has exceptional and efficient service, incredible contemporary local art placed throughout the hotel, and several dining outlets on the property. You are in the heart of Al Maryah Island and walking distance to many restaurants, as well as the upscale Galleria Mall. The opening of the Louvre in March is yet another reason to start taking this destination seriously.

After being under construction for nearly a decade, The Palazzo Versace finally opened its doors this past year and immediately wowed guests with its level of detail. While the property is incredibly adorned with the lavish styling of Versace, its location lacks the prime real estate of its nearby competitors, and by design; its locale promises to be a bustling area in the years to come. The true highlight is the Friday brunch at Giardino, which all the locals attend. It is hands-down the most amazing brunch we have ever experienced anywhere in the world.

The Four Seasons Dubai International Financial Centre was designed by New York-based Tihany Designs, internationally renowned in the realm of hospitality. And it shows—this property simply impresses, with a beautifully discreet presence in the heart of Dubai featuring 106 rooms and four on-site restaurants. Most notable among them are Michael Mina’s Firebird Diner, which serves a gourmet interpretation of traditional American fare, and the Churchill Club, a cigar bar and lounge considered one of the most prestigious humidors in Dubai.

The property’s décor is decidedly masculine, yet at the same time feels warm and inviting, a far cry from business-oriented competitors. Four Seasons DIFC rates very high on our list of places to stay while in Dubai, and we feel it can serve equally well as a leisure property. Many restaurants and upscale outlets, including Cipriani, are just a short walk away.

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