Dubai. A place of luxury, newness and making the impossible possible. A desert oasis in the Middle East. Dubai has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time now. It wasn’t at the top of my list, but it was on the list and last week, I got to check it off!
Traveling with Cadillac, I visited Dubai for the first time, to celebrate the brand’s partnership with Public School NYC and the global reveal of the Cadillac XT5. Finding parallels between fashion and automotive design, Cadillac partnered with Public School NYC, bringing the designers overseas to present the fashion label’s first international runway show and pre-fall collection. A perfect complement to celebrate the debut of Cadillac’s XT5 crossover SUV.
Editors, bloggers, GM employees and auto dealers from around the world met in Dubai for the event. It was a spectacular 4 days and 5 nights, highlighted by the night of the fashion show, XT5 reveal and after party.
Leaving from Toronto, the Canadian group flew in the luxurious comforts of Emirates Airlines business class. And WOW, was it ever an experience! Another item to check off of my travel bucket list. Emirates Airlines is everything you expect it to be and more. I’ve heard so many great things about the airline and after having experienced it firsthand, I can only agree – it’s the best. As soon as you board the plane, you feel a sense of peace. The plane was immaculate, there was plenty of space and the air was fresh, with just the slightest hint of a spa-like scent. Each seat in business class had a personal minibar and tablet to control entertainment, connect to the internet and control the TV (which had to be about a 20″ screen – huge!). The service was on point, of course and the food was delicious, not to mention always available too, by way of the bar lounge at the back of the plane – yes, there was a bar on the plane! At bedtime, you can recline your seat into full flat, bed mode and the flight attendants bring you a mattress, pillows, blanket and eye mask, along with a toiletry kit for when you wake.
Here I am, smiling in my seat before takeoff (and I was still smiling 13.5 hours later when we landed!):
When you need to stretch your limbs, this is the bar lounge at the back of the second level of the plane. There was food and drinks available at all times during the flight and it was a great spot to hangout and chat.
Dinner on board Emirates was a 3-course meal. Following the appetizers, I chose the butter chicken as my main. It was so flavorful and cooked to perfection that I almost forgot I was eating on a plane.
It was soon time to land in Dubai and after what felt like just an hour flight, we were ready to hit the ground running. We checked into our home for the trip, the Madinat Jumeirah Al Qasr, situated right on Jumeirah Beach. Upon entering, the lobby was exquisite, boasting giant crystal chandeliers and intricate tile work on the floors and walls. While almost all areas of the resort property had a view of the iconic Burj Al Arab. I wouldn’t have expected anything less in Dubai!
Inside the rooms, the decor took on a traditional Middle Eastern flare, with gold tones, rich, dark wood accents and Persian rugs. Inviting, luxurious and exotic.
Thanks to jet lag and time zone change, I woke up right at the crack of dawn on the first morning. On the plus side, I was able to catch the sunrise over the resort. The view from my room faced the ocean and looked over one of the many waterways that connected all of the buildings and areas of the Madinat Jumeirah property. Riding the boats around was a pretty cool way to navigate the resort! That is, if we weren’t walking or taking the golf carts.
Speaking of the golf carts, here I am with Mark from Lush Luxury Magazine and Matthew from Sharp Magazine, on the back of one of the golf carts:
During the later half of the morning and early afternoon, we went to check out the famous Burj Al Arab. Fun fact: you can only cross the bridge over to the tower if you’re a guest at the hotel or specially invited. Fortunately, we were invited for a tour of the hotel and also had reservations for lunch at its aquarium, seafood restaurant, Al Mahara.
After lunch, we returned to our hotel to get a ride to the Dubai Mall. We took a Cadillac Escalade of course and while we waited for our driver, I captured a few shots of our hotel’s detailed architecture. Beautiful, right?
We began Day 2 with a press conference and brunch with Public School NYC designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, and Cadillac Executive Director of Design, Andrew Smith. It was great to have some time to chat with them one on one too and hear them speak first hand on the parallels between fashion and automotive design. Afterwards, we did a quick walking tour of Old Dubai, with a boat ride up the Dubai Creek.
That afternoon, I got to sneak in a few hours at the beach of our hotel and a few of our group got a couple games of beach volleyball in too! Those hours at the beach felt so surreal, complete with a sunset that reflected off of the Burj Al Arab.
In the evening, it was time to get ready for the main event, the Public School NYC fashion show and XT5 reveal. The show space was all outdoors, taking advantage of the warm night air, in Dubai’s new design district, d3.
Public School NYC presented their pre-fall 2016 men’s and women’s collection on the runway that night. Silhouettes and layering alluded to traditional Arab wear, making the Dubai debut all the more fitting. At the conclusion of the runway show, the set ascended to reveal the new Cadillac XT5. Excited to check out the new vehicle, everyone got up from their seats and flooded the stage to get a closer look. The after party began immediately just behind the backdrop. Vashtie DJ’d and we all had so much fun dancing into the wee hours of the morning.
On our final day in Dubai, we set sail on a 90 ft. yacht, for a cruise around the Palm Island. It was a gorgeous day out on the water. We had lunch on the boat and anchored for a swim.
For our last dinner, we were in for a treat at Em Sherif in downtown Dubai. Sitting down for an authentic, traditional Middle Eastern dinner, there was no shortage of flavors or plates! The variety of dishes was endless and each item that was delivered to the table was better than the last. Certainly a meal to remember and I hope I can find a restaurant similar back home in Toronto. If you know of one, please share!
To cap it all off, we walked out of Em Sherif just in time to catch the Dubai Fountain’s last show of the night. It’s really quite spectacular in real life, illuminated by 6,600 lights and 25 colored projectors. The Dubai Fountain is the world’s largest choreographed fountain system, stretching 275 m long and shoots water up to 500 ft in the air. Costing $218 million USD to build, it is absolutely worth seeing. Here’s a video I took of the fountain that night!
A huge thanks to everyone who helped me capture these moments throughout the trip! And a big thank you to the Cadillac team for planning such an amazing and unforgettable experience!