When he landed his 747 at Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport in 2014, Donald J Trump and his daughter Ivanka drove out to the Akoya by Damac development up by Arabian Ranches. “This is going to be the greatest golf community in Asia!” the man who’s now President of the United States said at the time.
He hasn’t been back, but if he had, he’d certainly say the course at the since-renamed community (it’s now called Damac Hills) has delivered on its superlative promise. Gulf News tabloid! was given a showaround last week, so you can judge for yourself. Here are answers to the top questions everybody’s been asking us.
1. Two Trumps are flying in for the big opening party.
The glamorous Ivanka’s too busy with her White House duties to attend, although the billionaire’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr, who look after the family’s business affairs, will be host the inaugural event on Saturday. When we went down to the course, a wooden stage had already been partially constructed in readiness. Insiders say royalty will also attend, but no official confirmation of that fact is available yet.
So if you haven’t yet received your invitation (yes, it was gold-embossed, AFP reports), you’d best prepare your excuses – or get on your moral high horse and stay there for a bit.
2. Dinner for two costs Dh700 per couple.
That’s at Fifth Avenue, the property’s predictably named fine-dining restaurant, F&B operations manager Jan Schmidt told Gulf News tabloid!. Menu cards weren’t yet available, but the good news (depending on your point of view) is that tables are bookable now. You can eat there as of Sunday, in interiors inspired by the Roaring Twenties. There are cheaper options, of course, but this being the Trump International Golf Course, wouldn’t you want to pay full price for the perfect #instafood moment?
3. The food’s Italian, American or Arabic.
The clubhouse at Trump Dubai is home to five resturants, but you’ll only be able to eat at four. Besides Fifth Avenue, there’s The Terrace for American all-day dining (there are stone-baked pizzas), the Ninth Sports Café, the shisha lounge Assana (with regional ‘tapas’, but we assume this means mezzeh), and a poolside café. The clubhouse restaurant is off limits to non-members. Trump Steaks aren’t going to be on the menu, but some of the grape beverages from the President’s Virginia vineyards will be flown over. Executive Chef Fernando Galbiati, formerly of the Cavalli Club Dubai, takes inspiration from the Piedmont region, so expect vitello (cold, thinly sliced veal), and herb-crusted lamb chops.
4. Yes, there’s gold everywhere.
From the moment you walk into the 3,000-square-metre clubhouse down to the facilities, there’s enough gold to suit even the most exacting Dubai resident. Expect gilt and marble everywhere – from the plates to the stairs and the elevators down to the entrance to the changing rooms, where a giant Trump family crest is irritatingly difficult to grab a selfie against. (The gents’ facilities, by the way, are three times larger than the relatively confined ladies’ changing rooms – the club expects a disproportionate amount of male members. Oops!)
5. Golfers are loving the course.
Here’s the thing: whatever you think about Trump, he apparently knows how to create fabulous hotels and golf experiences: the golf links at Balmedie in Scotland are rated excellent by 157 of 237 reviewers on Tripadvisor (nine graded it terrible). tabloid! isn’t the plus-fours type, but Golf magazine says the 500-acre Dubai venue, forged from what was previously desert, has “one helluva course”. Several European Tour pros took a constitutional around the 18 holes during the Dubai Desert Classic, including 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell and the English pro Tyrrell Hatton, reportedly enjoyed both the design and the game at the understated new course.
6. You can see the Burj Khalifa.
A selfie by the Burj Khalifa never gets old, and there’s now one more way of taking it. Structured around a cavernous barranca (a posh golf term for a dry ravine or ditch), the course has been designed by Rio Olympics course architect Gil Hanse, who was inspired by the first hole of the Old Course at St Andrews in Fife. Holes 6 and 7 bring the desert into play, and up on the par-4 Hole 8, past an impressive bunker and a potential blind second shot, is where you can spot the tallest building in the world, from what is itself one of the highest points on property.
7. Membership is a sneeze.
You can now apply on the club website to become a member, for the nominal individual fee of Dh35,000 (just shy of $10,000) per year. The additional joining fee of Dh25,000 has been relaxed to Dh10,000 for a short while, we’ve been told. Inquiries have been strong, we were informed, but there’s no numbers have been forthcoming.
Even if you do shell out, we daresay it’s unlikely you’ll get to meet Donald Trump himself. Green fees for non-members are Dh895 on weekdays and Dh995 on the weekend.
For more, go to www.trumpgolfdubai.com.