THE SECRET’S OUT: VANITAS, PALAZZO VERSACE DUBAI
David Tapley checks out the newest brunch from the Secret Parties’ team , ‘The Secret Italian Brunch at Palazzo Versace Dubai’, before checking into the hotel for a weekend of luxurious relaxation.

With countless brunches operating throughout the city, it’s often challenging to pick a brunch that ticks all the boxes but the team at Secret Parties have done just that with the launch of their latest venture, The Secret Italian Brunch at Palazzo Versace Dubai.

The setting is truly exquisite, given that Palazzo Versace Dubai has a reputation for being one of the most luxurious hotels in the region. A fashion hotel where everything from the floor mosaics to the wallpaper and staff uniforms are instilled with the Versace charm and exquisite attention-to-detail. As we move through the impressive lobby replete with decadent light fittings, a grand piano and chairs upholstered in Versace fabrics, we already know we’re in for a treat.

Our brunch venue is Vanitas, the hotel’s upmarket Italian restaurant and a space that exudes a sense of sophistication as soon as we enter. We are met with elegant interiors and a backdrop of the Dubai Creek, alongside impeccably laid tables topped with pressed white table cloths and sparkling glassware. We must confess to being immediately taken with the crockery and cutlery which contain the Versace logo – the head of mythical Greek figure Medusa.

Being a Secret Parties’ brunch, the ambience is crucial. As we dine, we are immersed in a world of live entertainment from an electric violinist and Opera singer Joseph Terterian, who effortlessly serenades guests with classical opera before switching seamlessly to Swedish House Mafia. It’s the kind of entertainment that we enjoy at a brunch and the impressive talents help to add a buzz of excitement to proceedings. Vanita’s has been heralded for its interpretation of traditional Italian food and the Secret Parties’ brunch offers guests a selection of expertly crafted dishes that are executed with finesse and plated to perfection. Brunch consists of a four- course sharing menu with all dishes brought to the table and shared family-style. We begin with a simple cheese plate and a delightful beef carpaccio that offers thin slithers of beef alongside parmesan cheese, rocket and glorious summer black truffle. It’s a dish that is on par with the decadence of our surroundings.

Sharing appetisers consist of mushroom arinci, a crisp golden fritto misto piled high with calamari, prawns and crunchy vegetables and accompanied by a delightful saffron mayonnaise. Yet it’s the simplicity of the insalata di mare that truly captures our attention, as the seafood elements are paired with citrus segments and a lemon dressing, culminating in a dish that is as light as it is fresh.

A pass around of risotto carneroli boasts sautéed red prawns and a perfect al dente texture acts as a precursor to the main courses. From the sea we genuinely appreciate the branzino, a pan-seared sea bass fillet served with papa pomodoro. While from the land, we’re more than a little enamoured with the tagliata di manzo, a dish of roasted beef tenderloin served alongside porcini mushrooms and summer black truffle. Despite these high calibre choices, it’s the pasta that remains the most memorable elements of this particular brunch. Both the cherry tomato and burrata spaghetti alla chitarra and ravioli all’ astice with green pea cream and vanilla are quickly devoured by our party. The atmosphere at Vanitas is electric by the time the dessert course rolls around and we can’t help but indulge in the classic Italian tiramisu and Sicilian cannoli. Enjoyable finales to the culinary excitement of the brunch offering.

The Secret Palazzo Versace Brunch runs every Friday from 1pm to 4pm and costs AED 345 (soft beverages) and AED 445 (house beverages). Suppose you feel like making a weekend of it (as we did). In that case, you can upgrade your brunch to a luxury staycation package for AED 1,700 which includes a one night stay in a Standard Room, two Secret Palazzo Versace house brunch passes, plus access to the hotel facilities during the stay and a premium breakfast the following morning.

We’d suggest this latter option as a means to really treat yourself! After brunch, you can relax at one of Palazzo Versace Dubai’s three swimming pools, including the strictly adults-only East Pool, or retire to your room and take in the spectacular views of the city. Rooms are spacious and elegant, clocking in at a generous 50sqm and are designed with comfort and convenience in mind. Luxuriate on a king bed dressed in linen and upholstery that features exclusive patterns and decor fashioned by Versace, or relax in the deep tub of the marble-clad bathroom and admire the Italian artistry in the mosaics.

The expansive property is reminiscent of a 16th century Italian Palace and has been designed as a Neoclassical masterpiece, featuring subtle traces of Arabian architecture. The hotel is truly symbolic of the Versace lifestyle and when it comes to facilities and recreation, there is so much to explore amongst the manicured gardens. Admittedly we chose to enjoy a leisurely lie-in followed by a lazy breakfast and then some much-needed pool time. For the more adventurous there’s the 1000sqm spa, fitness centre and nine restaurants to select from. No matter how you choose to spend your time, there’s a sense of grandeur and special occasion to a stay at Palazzo Versace Dubai.

The benefits of the luxury staycation brunch upgrade are apparent, we mean, who wouldn’t want to revel that little bit longer and spend a weekend in true Versace style. ✤

GO: Visit www.secret-parties.com and www.palazzoversace.ae for bookings and more information.