21 NOVEMBER 2008

In the world of luxury travel there are hotels… and then there is the £1 billion Atlantis. This week tycoons and celebrities touched down in Dubai for the hotel's £13.5 million inauguration ceremony, which featured Kylie Minogue.

Celebs such as Sarah, Duchess of York, Richard Branson and Natalie Imbruglia walked the red carpet. Inside many more, including Charlize Theron, Rhys Ifans, Shirley Bassey and Robert De Niro sipped Dom Perignon and tucked into 4,000 oysters, 300 kilos of salmon, 5,000 pieces of sushi and nearly two tonnes of lobster.

After the Australian diva's reported £1.5 million set, the sky exploded with what was billed as the world's largest fireworks display. Described as being seven times greater than the pyrotechnics at the Beijing Olympics.

But the real star of the show was the resort itself, which took two and a half years to construct on Palm Island, an exclusive, fan-shaped residential complex for the rich and famous built out in the Persian Gulf on reclaimed land. Dominating the lobby is a huge aquarium featuring 65,000 sea creatures including sharks, eels and rays.

The hotel's other attractions include an Aquaventure water park, complete with a dolphin centre, and a priceless sculpture made of 3,000 hand-blown pieces of glass. The jewel in the crown is a £14,000-a-night suite with six bedrooms and a staff of six to wait on guests.

Photo: ©
The global downturn seemed a world away as the international jet set arrived in Dubai for the most expensive private party ever, featuring Kylie as the headline actPhoto: © Getty ImagesClick on photos for gallery
Photo: ©
A fireworks display seven times larger than that at the Beijing Olympics lit up the skyline during the £13.5-million extravaganzaPhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Shirley Bassey and Rhys Ifans were among 2,000 guests treated to Dom Perignon and a sumptuous feast prepared by 500 chefsPhoto: © Getty Images