Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cold in the Atmosphere

A few days ago it was my 12th wedding anniversary.  Ironically, we bought each other watches.  They say some couples start looking the same after a while, but I guess we stepped it up a notch and think in the same way sometimes.  No, they are not matching watches.

Wore out from the usual work stuff, we wanted a quiet celebration so decided to have a drink at the Burj Khalifa restaurant, At.mosphere.  Yes, that is not a typing error, there is a period after the At.  While I am sometimes good at word play, I am not sure why the dot is there.

At.mosphere holds the world record for the highest restaurant above ground level.  While this is pretty straight forward, the website says it is on the 122nd floor.  I was certain that the elevator button was 123 - another thing that perplexes me.

We considered going there for dinner with a small group of friends shortly after it opened a year or two ago.  After insisting that we had to dine in a private room (with no view) and have a set menu that they would select for our party of six, we quickly cancelled our reservation.   Going for an anniversary drink this year seemed safe. 

The entrance is through a car park.  Once you are in the lobby, it is very elegant.  There is a receptionist that asks you to have a seat until the hostess can greet you.  The hostess confirms your reservation and then opens an entrance gate to escort you to the elevator.

It seems that there is only one elevator.  The strangest part was that another couple arrived while we were waiting in the lobby.  They were not addressed until we were in the elevator.  This made me uncomfortable.  I have no issues sharing an elevator with people who are obviously going to the same place.  I assume they are trying to create a service experience of exclusivity, but this felt insulting.

While very dark inside, it has a great view of Dubai, obviously.  We had our celebratory drink and would have enjoyed it except for one thing.  It was freezing inside.  I am not exaggerating when I say the temperature was likely close to 15C, or 60F – and the place was empty.  Dubai is known to use too much air conditioning, but this was of epic proportions.  The staff may be from countries that have acclimatized them, but this is a waste of energy.

There is something fundamentally wrong when someone brings you a shawl in a restaurant that is in a controlled climate.   On the way out, the hostess on the ground floor asked how our visit was.  We were honest and requested that she give our feedback about the temperature to someone.  She had a look of horror on her face as she asked, “Did no one give you a shawl?” 

I have never been more thankful to be out in the 38 C (100 F) summer heat of Dubai so that I could thaw and feel my nose again.  If I had not worn shoes to match the occasion, I would have been more than happy to walk home.

I like Dubai and enjoy living here.  I love that every morning I look out my bedroom window and see the reflection of the sun on the Burj Khalifa.  However, that sun does not seem to penetrate the structure.  If you come visit, by all means go to At.mosphere if you like.  The view is great.  Just make sure you bring a winter coat. 

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