The building was designed by architect, John Elliott RIBA, who was Senior Vice President at Wimberly, Allison, Tong and Goo, (WATG) an international firm specialising in Luxury Hotels. It opened in November 2005 but certain restaurants and spas did not open until 2006. The hotel was built by and is owned by the Abu Dhabi government, and is currently managed by the Kempinski Group.
The costs to build the hotel were 3.9 billion GBP or 11.02 billion AED or about 6 billion USD. The Emirates Palace occupies 850,000m² of floor space. Underground parking allows housing for 2,500 vehicles. There are two swimming pools and spas. The hotel has its own marina and helipad. The Emirates Palace is the second most expensive hotel ever built, only surpassed by Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Emirates Palace is located on 1.3 km of private beach and surrounded by 85 hectares of gardens, with 114 domes that are 80 meters high. It is a 30 minute drive from Abu Dhabi airport and 1.5 hours drive from Dubai airport.
Many of the suites offered are furnished in gold and marble. The main central area houses an expansive marble floor, balconies and a large patterned dome above, picked out in gold. The topmost floor has six Rulers' Suites which are reserved solely for Emirati royalty and dignitaries. The hotel also contains a large conference centre. In December 2010, it boasted the world's most expensive Christmas tree, valued at over 11 million dollars.
The hotel has 302 rooms and 92 suites.
Set in over 100 hectares of landscaped gardens, Emirates Palace offers 1.3 km of exclusive beach, two swimming pools, one designed for adventure and one for relaxation, tennis courts, cricket, a rugby pitch and soccer facilities, fitness suites and a spa, besides water sports.
Christina Aguilera performed at the venue during her Back To Basics Tour on October 24, 2008. The show had an audience of 15,000 people, attracting great attention from the media to the hotel. Christina Aguilera still held a press conference at the scene.
Dome above the lobby area