Cooper In Cooper’s? Yer Avin A Larf!
Phil Hopkins, Travel & Arts Correspondent
When you walk into Cooper’s Bar in Abu Dhabi’s well-known ‘comedy hotel’ and the manager offers to introduce you to ‘Mr Cooper from Leeds’, it doesn’t take much to conclude that you are about to become part of an elaborate joke!
But when Mr Cooper shakes your hand, says he’s from Rawdon and that his parents are not only long-serving Tory councillors, but that dad is odds on favourite to become the next Lord Mayor of Leeds, you start looking for the hidden cameras!
But Mike Cooper, a former student at Prince Henry’s School in Otley, is the real deal and his mum and dad do live a three-minute walk from my Yeadon home!
As it turned out Cooper’s Bar at the Park Rotana Hotel was his favourite watering hole where he often enjoyed a glass of Asian beer, Tiger.
“I wouldn’t mind a pint of Tetley’s,” he quipped, “but, somehow, I don’t think it will travel well!”
Mike, who is the son of Leeds councillors Graham and Pat Latty, trained as a corrosion engineer and, over the years, has spent much of his career in the Middle East and Asia including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.
“I may be married to a Filipina, but I am still an avid supporter of Leeds United,” added Mike, General Manager in the Middle East for Singapore’s SRS Engineering. “I first began drinking in Cooper’s in 2011, left the area for a while but have now been back at the bar for 12 months!”
And he’s often joined for a tipple by Bar Manager, Alan Grimes. “ I’m officially from Lincolnshire – Scunthorpe is my home town – but then Scunny was part of South Humberside and, since Humberside was once technically East Yorkshire…………get the picture!” Yes, almost an adopted Yorkshireman me thinks. Do they have Happy Hours in Abu Dhabi? Two Tykes for the price of one……surely they must!
Locally the Park Rotana, with its 318 rooms overlooking both the city and Khalifa Park, has a dual reputation for both luxury and tickling the funny bones!
I was still in the bar when in walked Duncan Jones of UAE based Laughter Factory. It was one of their comedy nights at the Park Rotana and it was a sell-out. “Me and Gail Clough have been in Dubai for more than 20 years and put on eight or nine gigs a month across the Gulf ; we’re regulars at the Park Rotana.”
Comedians have included Rod Gilbert, Michael McIntyre and Jason Manford, who filled the huge Grand Ballroom, which is also used to host huge events and parties, with the odd comic thrown in for good measure!
But the ‘theatrical’ theme seemingly has a life of its own in the Park Rotana which is only a £4 taxi drive from that jewel of the UAE, the stunningly beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
“I worked as a DJ and on the Northern clubs before finding myself in hospitality,” added Cooper’s Bar Manager, Alan Grimes, “but on my off day there is nothing more I like to do than visit Teatro’s in the Hotel,” he said.
Teatro is the hotel’s award-winning signature restaurant and bar that blends the best of East and West cuisine with a fusion dining offer that includes Thai, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Italian food.
Supplemented by the stylish Ginger’s all-day dining restaurant the Park Rotana has cleverly carved itself a near-perfect niche in the Abu Dhabi hotels sector where competition can be fierce. It has all the beautiful facilities that a quality hotel should have such as a pool bar, tennis court, health club, gorgeous lobby and even serviced apartments for those who want to stay longer
But, more than that, the Park Rotana, has developed a solid reputation for putting smiles on the faces of its clients. On the one hand the team there operates a slick operation, and surely that’s worth smiling about? But, on the other hand, its comedy nights provide the occasional opportunity for a good old belly laugh. Rotana’s management has learned two valuable lessons from the world of showbiz: “always send them home laughing and cheering for more.”
Think I need a return visit, better give the Laughter Factory a call, my mum used to call me ‘a right bloody comedian!”
Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, P.O. Box 43377,
Abu Dhabi, UAE. Tel +971 (0)2 657 3333
For the main group website: www.rotana.com
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Cooper In Cooper’s? Yer Avin A Larf!, 9th March 2018, 16:14 PM