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Like everything else done to excess in Dubai, a hotel themed around the ancient myth of the lost ruins of Atlantis complete with flown-in dolphins from the South Pacific, a massive water park, and a top floor that houses a £13,000-a-night suite complete with gold-leaf 18-seat dining table is set to open today.
The sprawling 113-acre Atlantis Palm Hotel with 1,373 rooms and 166 suites is hoping to defy the credit crisis and play a part in sustaining Dubai’s tourist industry after regional oil profits have run dry.
Modeled on a sister site in the Bahamas, the £800million resort on the Palm Island is ocean-themed family entertainment with an enormous open-air tank with 65,000 fish, stingrays and other sea creatures. The resort uses a staggering 15 million gallons of water.
A featured dolphinarium with over 20 bottlenose dolphins flown in from the Solomon Islands was developed despite controversy from environmental groups and some residents of the islands that protested the decision to sell the dolphins, and the 30-hour plane flight to transport them to Dubai.
The hotel also boasts a massive water park called Aquaventure with a 3,280 foot (700 meter) long beach and a river ride of over 1.25 miles (2 kilometers).
But developers seem undaunted by criticism from environmental activists, who claim the construction of artificial islands damages coral reefs and even shifts water currents, pointing at growing water and power consumption.
The resort shares the island with rows of high-end houses and construction sites, but other international names are set to move in, including Donald Trump for the storied QE2 ocean liner which will become a hotel in the center of the palm and a tourist attraction docked alongside the island tree’s ‘trunk.’
According to the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu firm, the Middle East had the highest hotel occupancy rates in the world during the first half of the year, with Dubai leading the area at 85.3%.
Dubai had the highest room rates in the region, but Deloitte noted that revenue growth is slowing.