What strikes home as the shuttle boat approaches the $5 billion megaresort being constructed off the coast of Dubai is its sheer audacity.
Nearly two decades in the making, the Heart of Europe forms just one section of The World -- a vast collection of man-made islands roughly in the shape of an atlas -- but when completed it will be the opulent centerpiece.
In the middle of a pandemic, it could yet prove to be a work of genius in its efforts to recreate the continent of Europe for upscale vacationers unwilling to make the trek.
Amid a global travel downturn caused by Covid, it also represents a major leap of faith in Dubai's long-term allure.After a four-kilometer boat ride from the mainland, the World's 300 artificial islands rise up out of the Arabian Gulf like inverted golf bunkers.
Most of these have stood empty since the project began in 2003, with subsequent global financial downturns doing little to encourage developers.
And then the Heart of Europe (HoE) comes into view.
No fewer than 15 luxury hotels, vacation homes and billionaire mansions now stand or are beginning to appear on these aquatic plots. Most are still unfinished, awaiting the final touches needed to meet the first completion deadlines at the end of 2020.
Six themed islands form the Heart of Europe, with travelers able to choose between locations designed to replicate Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Venice, the Cote d'Azure and others.
The concept is that, once they've arrived, guests should be able to convince themselves they've been transported from often sweltering Arabian heat to less arid climes.On Sweden island, the surreality of this concept can literally hit you like a snowball in the face.
Within the island's vast $21.8 million show mansion -- one of 10 "palaces" beneath rooftops resembling upturned Viking ships -- is a basement housing kitchens, a gym, spa and sauna ... and a snow room.
White flakes are delivered on demand against an alpine backdrop from machinery powered by the same Arabian sunshine warming the infinity pool upstairs.
The mansion's epic scale and unbridled yet tasteful opulence is stunning.
Surrounded by un-Scandinavian lush jungle, the boutique hotel-sized six-level homes come with an elevator as well as a private beach.
Exclusive furnishings by high-end car maker Bentley include plush seating for lavish dinner parties at a table the length of a limo, a circular bed with ocean views and a huge marble tub.Further up, a domed party lounge larger than many bars can accommodate 300 guests -- ideal for those post-pandemic celebrations.
They'll be able to toast their neighbors over in Germany -- an impossible gesture in real life geography, yet feasible in the Heart of Europe atlas.
The design of Germany island's 32 futuristic beach or lagoon-facing dwellings are inspired by Bauhaus, but more closely resemble a lunar colony. Only one of these remained unsold at the time of writing, with a $7.89 million price tag.The Portofino resort on Main Europe island, like the celebrity coastal enclave it's named for, has a colorful Italianate facade.
Arrivals here will be checked in by Italian-speaking employees, working to clocks set to the Italian timezone. They'll be able to spend euros here -- surreal again for a resort just minutes by boat, helicopter or seaplane from mainland Dubai.
"Coming here you should forget you are in Dubai and feel you have reached Europe," says Josef Kleindienst, the Austrian chairman of Kleindienst, the real estate group developing the islands.
"You should have the impression you've come to Italy and then you walk and come to Spain and France and to London."
Portofino's colorful demeanor extends to the boutique hotels in the Côte d'Azur area of Main Europe island. These are named after French Riviera playgrounds Monaco, Nice, Cannes and St. Tropez and will be staffed by French speakers.Here developers promise more world firsts, including the largest sustainable swimming pool, fed by solar-power desalinated sea water and nature-friendly filtration.
Main Europe is also the location of Rainy Street, a thoroughfare climate-controlled to 27 C (80 F) to mimic a European summer climate where showers fall on demand and a snow plaza issues icy flurries.
In a country that rarely experiences natural precipitation, these quirky concepts will likely be relished by UAE guests.The Heart of Europe has already proven popular with citizens in the region. Kleindienst says most of its recent real estate investors hail from the UAE.
The project's first phase is slated for completion by close of 2020, with all three phases due to finish by 2023.
By then it will include The Floating Lido -- a Venetian-inspired resort comprising a hotel, the world's first underwater spa and gym and a floating beach.
The completed project will include Switzerland, with 77 mountain chalet-inspired villas.
There will also be a floating police station and a circus featuring hologram animals.
Other hotels will be named for locations such as Spain's Marbella and Ibiza, Germany's Munich, Greece's Ikaria and London.
- The LED Filament Bulb Market Market research report compiled by expert analysts studies the current and the future market trends. Market share, regional study and detailed market dynamics makes it a v
- From our professional to personal routine, many gadgets are always required handy to keep up with all sorts of tasks.
- With growing technology, every business is emerging and moving a step ahead from its traditional form on a positive note. Specifically, mobile apps are helping businesses to grow.