Splashy publicity stunts at swanky hotel resorts once took place, almost exclusively, on the Las Vegas Strip. It was in Sin City, after all, where Evel Knievel broke most of his bones. Today, however, one hotel stands at the summit of the stunt scene.
The Burj Al Arab is the most luxury hotel in the world today and arguably the most recognisable. That distinctive sail silhouette first stood atop Dubai’s shoreline in December of 1999; fortuitous because the emirate has been a foremost global metropolis in the 21st century.
The iconic luxury property was a significant architectural and structural design achievement. At 321 m (1,053 ft), the Burj Al Arab stands as the fourth-tallest hotel in the world and the only one to occupy an artificial island. From Jumeirah Beach the Tom Wright, WKK Architects project strikes a majestic pose. Indeed, the hotel has come to stand as a symbol for not just Dubai but the United Arab Emirates as a whole.
This fact is driven home every time the Burj Al Arab’s helipad hosts a major event, as it did most recently when former F1 driver David Coulthard executed a series of donuts to celebrate Red Bull Racing’s fourth consecutive championship. With that, take a look at some of the spectacles that have gone down atop Dubai’s linchpin hotel.
Roger Federer versus Andre Agassi
With a trophy case of Grand Slam titles between them, two household names from the game of tennis took to the Burj Al Arab helipad in 2005 for a friendly practice session. With cameras on hand, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi rode the elevator up to the top, braved vertigo, winds and the thin air and hit balls back and forth on a makeshift court. The subsequent video of the two star athletes went viral.
From tennis to golf, the helipad of the Burj Al Arab has also undergone a major refurb to accommodate two of the most prominent names in the game. Tiger Woods was the first to tee off the hotel and hit balls into the waters of the Gulf. Then, more recently, boy wonder Rory McIlroy hit some balls from a temporary bunker.
Vanquish Turns 100
With His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed Al Maktoum on hand, Aston Martin chose the Burj Al Arab helipad as the place to publicly celebrate a century for flagship luxury automobile the Vanquish. To commemorate the milestone, a model of the venerable vehicle was taken up from the shore by helicopter to the top of the hotel in dramatic fashion.
X-Fighter Takes a Spin
One of Red Bull’s marquee extreme sports reps, Spain’s Dany Torres, performs remarkable motocross freestyle stunts. But in a twist, the daredevil recently took a few turns on his bike on top of the Burj Al Arab’s helipad. Thank goodness for that safety net.
DC, otherwise known as David Coulthard, probably owns the most memorable Burj Al Arab stunt now that Red Bull Racing has won four remarkable championships in a row. How do you celebrate a triumph of such magnitude (and one with almost no precedent in the history of the sport)? Not only to recognise the constructors’ championship either but, notably, the singular talents of young driver Sebastian Vettel, who himself holds four consecutive titles, all with Red Bull.
Well, if you are as ambitious and grand a thinker as Red Bull’s billionaire CEO Dietrich Mateschitz, you ask your team to airlift a Formula One vehicle to the top of Burj Al Arab’s helipad. Then you enlist veteran driver Coulthard to get behind the wheel, crank it up and 360 the car silly. It all seems a little over the top - and it is. But the footage of the stunt is pretty spectacular and caps four incredible years for a Formula One team that has done just about as well as any team over the same timespan in the history of the sport.