Have you ever dreamed of visiting the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, one of the world’s most famous hotels, or wondered what goes on behind its doors? An all-suite hotel where every ‘room’ spans two floors. Well, now you can see for yourself – from the comfort of your own home.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a red carpet event, held up at the hotel’s helipad, and the launch of the Jumeirah Group‘s latest amazing initiative with Google – Jumeirah Inside – which allows you virtual access inside the Burj Al Arab like never before.
It was not so long ago that Google came along and people said “Who needs another search engine?!” Of course, the rest is history but what’s important is that Google – like Jumeirah – has always challenged the norms. So, when the two brands collaborate together on something, you know you are in for something exciting.
We are talking here not about a technologically-led platform, but a user-led one – an immersive experience where you get to choose where you want to explore in the hotel.
Jumeirah was one of Google’s first clients when they came to the Middle East. Together, just three years ago, they launched Jumeirah Video and, incredibly, this partnership resulted in Jumeirah becoming the most viewed hotel channel on YouTube.
This was just the start of things to come. With this success behind them, the logical step was to ask the question ‘What’s next?’. How could could the hotel continue to be at the forefront online, as well as offline, and hence Jumeirah Inside was born – a project that has been 18 months in the making and one that mirrors Jumeirah’s promise of ‘Stay Different’.
Curious to know what goes on within the iconic sail-like edifice that is the Burj Al Arab? With Jumeirah Inside you can now see the hotel in a way you never could before. But before you do, see this video to get a taste for what’s available.
This isn’t just another virtual reality tour like you’ve seen before. It’s much more than that. Sure, you can see all the suite categories and see that every ‘room’ is on two floors, discover that the smallest ‘room’ category is still an impressive 179 sq m or identify which ‘room’ type has floor to ceiling windows (the Panoramic Suite). But it’s more than that.
Enter the bathroom and you can ask your virtual butler to run a bath. Alternatively, you can ask your butler to turn your table into a chess board or head to the bar and ask Steve, the mixologist, to fix a drink for you. (We met Steve, by the way, and utterly charming he was, too, as were all the staff.)
The hotel is brought to life through playful interactions, exclusive hotspots and 3D sound, and video is used extensively throughout. Head to the spa sphere where you’ll first be greeted by a short video of a family showing Mum slipping away for some time at the spa whilst Dad heads off to entertain the kids.
Once in the spa, you can guide Mum from the poolside and actually enter the pool. It is accompanied by binary sound design to give you a 3D cinematic experience as you listen to the water lapping around you.
The attention to detail is incredible – when you leave this area of the site, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the lady you guided into the water is no longer at the poolside but is instead admiring the view from the edge of the infinity pool. Meanwhile you can watch another video showing the fun that Dad and the kids are having at the waterpark.
With this new, fully immersive online solution, you may even find places you might not experience as a guest – the helipad, for example, complete with stunt gallery, or the Royal Suite. It was from within the Royal Suite that I was lucky enough to be one of the very first after JumeirahInside’s launch to try out this immersive experience.
With Jumeirah Inside, you can also read the golden guest book in the Royal Suite, with messages from a variety of celebrities and royals, from Manchester United to Nelson Mandela. And you can even view Tom Wright′s first drawing of the Burj al Arab concept.
With this latest imitative, it not just in the Burj Al Arab that you can explore, but the technology is available across all 23 hotels in the Jumeirah Group, each accompanied by different music depending on the cultural significance, and the project will continue to evolve over the coming months.
They are truly pushing the boundaries of what guests can expect, combining four important trends into a cutting edge online experience, namely an industry trend of content and storytelling; a 360-degree immersive technological trend; a closer alignment for guests between the digital and physical experience; and the growing importance of brands, pushing themselves to the forefront of digital.
It allows you to enjoy insights into the Burj Al Arab and other hotels like never before, and in a way that can only be surpassed by visiting in person. Optimised for mobile and tablet users, the site will offer the opportunity to make hotel reservations at any point, and this fully immersive experience is available in English, Arabic, German, Russian and Mandarin.
But, if you’ve already experienced the hotel in virtual reality, will it be the case that you’re left feeling you’ve already seen it all and won’t be inclined to visit? Whilst it’s an interesting theory, I don’t think it’s true at all. Regardless of the levels of detail that you can enjoy with Jumeirah Inside, it’ll never substitute being there in person, experiencing the highest levels of service first hand. Instead, it will simply whet your appetite for more.