Sometimes being in the right place at the right time has its rewards. I was traveling through the Middle East earlier this year working on a few personal assignments, when a chance meeting with the head of marketing for Desert Palm led to a two day food and lifestyle shoot. I don't have many opportunities to shoot hotels and resorts so when this assignment came up, I welcomed the chance to work with with such a well known property. Desert Palm is the only truly boutique hotel in all of Dubai, a luxury urban oasis set amidst a 160-acre polo estate. With it being only a 20 minute drive from downtown Dubai, it's a perfect spot for a weekend romantic getaway or a brief respite from the glitz and glamour that Dubai is known for.
On day one of the shoot, I worked with a talented model from Korea shooting some "just got out of bed" style images showcasing how breakfast in bed is one of the many things you can enjoy during your stay. I mean who doesn't love waking up, making a quick call to start your day off right, and having breakfast served to you in the comfort of your own room?
With many commercial lifestyle shoots we usually work off of a checklist making sure we capture all of the "must have" images. Whatever time is left is when we can get creative and live it up a little. And while some of these images may not be used in the resorts marketing campaign, it allowed us to be imaginative and free spirited.
One of the many nice little touches of Desert Palm, are jars of M&Ms in every room, perfect for those late night sugar cravings. After opening up a few jars to fuel our chocolate appetites, I thought that the M&Ms looked like colourful confetti leading us to some spontaneous moments.
Ever have a full blown pillow fight with your siblings or friends when you were growing up? Remember how much fun it was? It's not often you get the full blessing of a hotel to rip open feather pillows and have your talents engage in a full on pillow fight. Not holding back one bit, our "couple" went for it as we watched the feathers fly creating a monumental mess. Days later I was still finding feathers in my camera bag! Once housekeeping arrived, the look on their faces said it all!
Day two saw me shooting Brasserie-style classics for Epicure, a casual pool side spot and at RARE, a fine dining restaurant where diners can get a view of the open kitchen and Oakwood fired grill or enjoy the view of the retreat's polo field and glittering Dubai skyline.
RARE's kitchen, helmed by executive chef Stefan Beutler and sous chef Joanna Portella, create a unique and mouthwatering menu of South American and Mediterranean dishes like 450 Day Aged Wagyu Beef Australian Grain Fed ‘Rangers Valley Farm’ – Sirloin and Dry Rubbed Ribeye Bone-In Short Cut. Taking pride in full view of the guests is the state of the art oak wood fire grill that is sure to satisfy every meat connoisseur's craving!
While I enjoy a good slab of meat every now and then one of my favourites that stood out was from the 'Seared, grilled and braised' section, the Confit Duck Leg Ravioli with a side of tomato, Haricot Blanc Sauce and Black Truffle Shavings. It was so good I could eat this every day!
Anyone who has visited Dubai during the summer months, knows just how brutally hot summer can get, where average temperatures regularly hit 45 degrees. Unfortunately this limited our outdoor time as I didn't get to see any polo action on the championship fields or at the properties attached riding school. But I do look forward to heading back in the Fall when things cool off, the polo season gets into full swing and the lush grounds come back to life again.
For more information, visit www.desertpalm.ae