Dubai is considered the playground and shopping capital of the Middle East, and, with more hotel rooms than Las Vegas by the end of the year, the visionary city on the Arabian Sea is looking to the skies as its next frontier.
While grand skyscrapers in dizzying dreamlike shapes anchor the desert and beaches, a new private airline is looking to lure travelers, whether business or leisure, to the horizons over and beyond Dubai with a jet experience like no other.
Based in Dubai as a part of , Fly Five is a bookable treat for guests who want to take short joyrides in the skies or make longer international jaunts with a point-to-point plan in mind. The jet can manage any flight within a 12-hour radius.
But this is not just a private jet with comfy seats, lots of legroom, and a smiling flight attendant onboard. Fly Five, also known as 9H-FIVE, can be a personal party jet for those who want to entertain high-flying clients, or it can become exquisite international transport for a small staff to manage a quick business meeting on another continent.
The new hospitality product uses a TwoTwenty Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) developed by Swiss aviation firm Comlux, which ACJ tabs as an “Xtra Large Bizjet.”
Flyers will find 16 spacious seats, a dining set-up for eight, a master bedroom suite with a king-size bed, a kitchen, an onboard shower, high-speed internet, creative lighting, and myriad 55-inch TV screens.
Imagine a jet scene from Succession, but perhaps without the drama, plus a dining room, business lounge, and cinema den.
And it all comes at a royal price: $14,000 an hour.
“We found that private air travel is increasing and private air travel was geared too much to business clients — no one ever thought of Instagram. You don’t see people showing off their lifestyle, wearing Gucci and Chanel, and posing in a private jet. Rather, you see a guy in a briefcase sitting and having a meeting onboard. Most private planes were kitted out mostly for America because it’s such a big country and domestic air travel isn’t always up to the level it should be,” said Aloki Batra, CEO of Five Hospitality.
“So we asked, ‘What about the football star? What about the Hollywood celebrity or the Bitcoin millionaire or the person that decides to spend a few dollars to become an influencer?'”
The jet’s website, comeplayfly.com, allows parties to book this plane, or at least make an inquiry to do so, and a way to call.
The aircraft can be found at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), also known as Dubai World Central, an international airport in Jebel Ali, around 25 miles southwest of the city when it is not in the skies. That airport was constructed to handle the inbound crowds from Dubai Expo 2020 and is now preparing to manage most of the regional traffic – as well as private jet services – for the city. Passengers board from a sprawling luxury facility after being dropped off by chauffeured car or helicopter.
Creating a private flight add-on has been a smart move for FIVE Hotels & Resorts as it can link in with stays at Palm Jumeirah and the FIVE Jumeirah Village properties in Dubai, properties sought out for their sense of “cool.”
Counting on “Cool”
Five Jumeirah won’t disappoint those looking for scene and sun. The glassy bridge-shaped hotel shimmers above the harbor at the base of the palm tree-shaped real estate development that is Palm Island, which culminates at the far tip with Atlantis The Royal Dubai, noted as one of the world’s most expensive hotels.
The 470-room FIVE Palm Jumeirah has five outdoor swimming pools, including a grand cascading centerpiece that runs through the heart of the resort toward views of mega-yachts and sailing vessels in the harbor and the sea beyond. Most of the party occurs at the pool’s ongoing day club, where babes meet brawn as libations and beats flow.
The hotel offers a dozen dining options in whole, half, or no-board booking plans. These include an MSG-free, gourmet Chinese restaurant, Maiden Shanghai, a Japanese rooftop lounge and bar, a cigar lounge, an all-day dining venue, and a nightclub sporting an exclusive pool scene.
FIVE has attempted to corner the market on “cool” in Dubai, if not the Middle East, most recently by signing a partnership with Warner Music to produce its own branded content and have access to top rock stars.
“I always say I compete with hoteliers in the morning, with restauranteurs in the evening and nightclub operators at night. That’s a lot of excitement,” says Aloki. “And when you have over 100 nationalities visiting your property simultaneously, one can integrate everyone. Music is music.”
Partying guests get a boost from the ReFIVE Spa, whether getting ready for an intense night out or recovering from one. The spa offers private chambers for dipping and resting, and the quiet pool by the spa is perfect for those looking for time off while cooling off.
Rooms are spacious and can come with a butler service who is ready and available for any request. Deep soak bathtubs (salts provided), walk-in showers, private commode rooms, a patio, and a stocked mini-bar with a coffeemaker and fridge are part and parcel of most accommodations. Desks are not. Wi-Fi is fast and fine, and most people visiting this property are not coming to write proposals and reports.
Business and Pleasure
The location of FIVE is one of its charms. Find it on a corniche between the Arabian (aka Persian) Gulf waters and a string of corporate hotels (think Hilton, Marriott, Radisson, and Fairmont).
A walk during cooler seasons winds up at Nahkeel Mall, where an eclectic upscale (and indoor) shopping promenade provides some cooling distraction and access to views at the top of the Palm Jumeirah.
One can board a monorail there and take a ten-minute ride through the center of Palm Island, a marvel in itself for reclamation engineering and the location of several luxury hotels.
Taking it Downtown
But Dubai is a city of many facets, and those who are doing business in the city’s downtown financial district may prefer to stay at a hotel closer to the center of things (FIVE Jumeirah is a 25-minute drive from downtown Dubai and not easily accessible by the city’s impressive Metro system).
Sofitel Downtown Dubai, an Accor hotel, would be the choice for a convenient downtown stay. Connected to the Metro system, this place boasts gleaming corridors of mobile pedestrian walkways leading to the world’s largest mall. These walkways are a must-have for six months of the year when the heat is too oppressive to be outside for more than a few minutes.
This place is just a few steps away from banks, soaring futuristic office towers, convention areas, and other top hotels and shopping complexes, making it an ideal location for anyone searching for convenience.
You won’t find a beach or a scene, but you will find quiet and upscale dining in their restaurants that run from traditional French cuisine to Asian specialties to Arabic dishes with a twist. The Sofitel offers a kosher restaurant – a rare find in these parts – for guests in search of this mode of cuisine.
The Sofitel’s 350 rooms (including seven for special accessibility) offer views of Burj al Khalifa – the tallest building on the planet – and impressive architecture all around Dubai.
There are coffee set-ups, full and large bathrooms, automatic touch controls for lights and drapes … and a comfortable desk with plenty of charging outlets and fast Wi-Fi. A rooftop lap pool and lawn area get sun and welcomed shade by Dubai’s nether world of lofty steel and glass.
Dubai is a city of business and where business gets done. All channels make it easy to stay, play, and find your way through this once peaceful pearl-diving backwater, now an improbable metropolis of wishes and wants.
To see the future or luxuriate in the present, one only needs a dose of Dubai … and even a small dose goes the distance.