By Justin Gibson

Living the Royal Life at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

As a megalith of modern society, Dubai is the shining gem of the United Arab Emirates - and an alluring enigma to much of the western world. Deserts that span millennia, ski slopes contained within shopping malls, man-made islands and skyscrapers that poke at the heavens are just an introductory breath to any conversation on the city. Everyone thinks they know what to expect when visiting Dubai, but the reality is often far grander.

Resorts offer the same surprise: Much has been said about the level of luxury you can expect, but pulling up to the front of what you thought was a royal palace can still cause your jaw to drop. Few resorts encapsulate this experience better than the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.

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Jumeirah Zabeel Saray: A Palace for Your Stay

Situated on the West Crescent of the iconic Palm Jumeirah, you'd be forgiven for confusing the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray with a private, opulent royal palace; after all, much of the resort's inspiration does derive from the Doma Baha palace in Istanbul. Arriving at the grand entrance treats you to the consecutive sights of the majestic water fountain in the shape of the Islamic star (a tourist attraction in its own right) and the world's largest Bohemian crystal chandelier directly above - sporting a mind-boggling 750 lamps and weighing 4.5 tons. This, and the mesmerizing black-and-white marble floor design are but only a taste of the opulence that awaits beyond the lobby. Each of the resort's 405 rooms boasts a fluid blend of both European and Arabic elegance, delivering sophisticated amenities such as traditional Ottoman bed covers, deep sunken marble bathtubs and guaranteed views of the sea. Soaking the experience in, it's hard not to feel regal within this setting.

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The Royal Residences

As with all things Dubai, there is no limit to the level of luxury that can be enjoyed. For travelers seeking even plusher abodes than the aforementioned, consider the Royal Residences. Orbiting their own lagoon pool, these 38 exclusive villas are seemingly hidden away among lush tropical gardens and sport a meticulous attention to detail. Turkish marble, rich dark wood and exterior ceramics sourced from Western Anatolia combine to invoke the spirit of the Ottoman era, while exclusive amenities such as 24-hour butler service see to it that luxury transcends the aesthetic.

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Talise Ottoman Spa

Whether you've spent the day perusing the Gold Souk market or had a splashing good time at Wild Wadi Waterpark(TM), nothing rejuvenates the mind and body quite like a spa session, and few spa sessions in the world can hope to match Jumeirah Zabeel Saray's offering, the Talise Ottoman Spa. A four-time winner of the "World's Leading Spa Resort," the Talise Ottoman's success can be chalked up to several factors: For one, their person-centric model dedicated to bespoke treatments translates to your very own personalized nirvana. But just as importantly, their amenities are sprawling: Turkish hammams, saunas, steam rooms, snow rooms, separate ladies' and gentlemen's spas as well as a couple's retreat are just the tip of the proverbial soothing iceberg.