Bentley UAE opens its glitzy new digs
The new Dubai showroom is the luxury car brand's largest in the world, with 160,000 LED lights on its facade.Robert Chilton August 4, 2016
Bentley’s largest flagship showroom in the world opened with a glitzy VIP reception in Dubai last night. Guest of honour Sultan Al Habtoor, president of Al Habtoor Motors, pushed the button to illuminate the six-storey showroom, lighting up the building's exterior in the colours of the UAE flag.
The AED 100 million, 75,000 square metre space on Sheikh Zayed Road has a patisserie, a roof garden and a boutique selling everything from baby sleepsuits to sweaters and cufflinks bearing the Bentley logo. A fountain outside spells words with jets of water, enabling the luxury brand to welcome customers with their names and number plates.
Front and centre in the impressive showroom is Bentley’s new Bentayga SUV standing, appropriately enough, in a space tagged the ‘hero area.’ A booth at the back of the store has swatches of leather and blocks of car body in a rainbow of colours to help customers choose the look for their vehicle. A VIP majlis – complete with leather walls and a Bentley backgammon game – is where the big deals go down.
But it’s the Mulliner room upstairs where Bentley really shows off its attention to detail. Stroll past the gleaming AED 1.7m Mulsanne Speed in Moroccan Blue and you enter a world of endless customisation.
Your name, family crest, or company logo – or anything else for that matter – can be stitched, engraved or embossed on pretty much any part of the car. You can choose an armrest with a button that, when pushed, slides a panel down to reveal a fridge. How about a Bentley baby seat? Sure thing. Your name engraved on the Flying B? No problem. Seatbelts in whatever colour you want? You got it.
More than 140 paint colours are on display – EDGAR was quite taken with Cumbrian Green, while Dark Cashmere came a close second. Bentley’s regional director Steve Reynolds described the Mulliner room as the place where “dreams come to life” and says the Mulliner family’s experience of carriage making and leather work in England dates back to 1559.
The boutique has some extraordinary items for the Bentley fan. A teddy bear (AED 240), a scarf (AED 632), and a Tibaldi pen for a shade under AED 20,000 can now go on your Christmas list, all of which carry the Bentley wings. If you’ve been a very good boy ask Father Christmas for the limited edition 18 carat gold sunglasses – AED 48,960.
We nearly forgot to mention the cars. There are seven – including the Bentayga – on the ground floor, with a further nine on the first floor, both new and pre-owned. The one-of-a-kind Sheikh Zayed car in two-tone orange and white paint is a highlight. The 2016 GTC V8S has a rare orange carbon fibre veneer on the dashboard and a price tag of AED 1.1m.
EDGAR asked Bentley’s UAE boss Steve Reynolds about the more unusual customisation requests they receive. “Along with Doha, the Dubai customer probably gives us the most interesting commissions,” he says. “Customers here are really keen to own a one-of-a-kind car and working on those projects is definitely a lot of fun.”
When a tricky request lands on his desk Reynolds gets on the phone with Bentley HQ in Crewe, England to see if it can be done. He recalls one particular customer, a keen fly fisherman, who wanted compartments installed in the boot of his Bentley to carry his equipment. Bentley promptly got to work and delivered the car in time for the chap’s next fishing trip.
For the personal touch, customers can travel to the England factory to sew the last stitch in the steering wheel of their car. Reynolds applauds the skills of the staff at Bentley’s workshop and says it takes one woman 40 hours to complete the cross stitching in a Mulsanne.
Has there ever been a request for a bespoke Bentley that has not been possible to execute? “Not yet,” he laughs. Now there’s a challenge.