I was pleased to write a second guest blog for The Adventure Travel Shop, Downtime in Dubai.
For a quick family adventure during the worst months of winter weather, Dubai is justly popular. Travel time from the UK is significantly lower than that to other winter sun favourites like the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. However, the explosion in luxury family hotel options in the Emirates over the last decade means that booking one which is bespoke to your needs can be challenging.
We chose Atlantis, the Palm, primarily as we had enjoyed such a positive experience at its sister hotel in The Bahamas a few months previously. One unique attribute of the resort is its situation on Palm Island, a manmade, palm-shaped island complex dubbed by its developers as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The car journey through a subterranean tunnel , bringing you out to the hotel complex, is pretty spectacular, even in a town that trades on high impact developments and experiences.
Atlantis is the biggest hotel in Dubai in terms of rooms, and boasts what is widely regarded as the best water park in Dubai, as well as two pools and a private beach. We stayed in a room rather than a suite and there was more than enough space for a family of four.
There is formal dining, including outposts of Nobu and Locanda Locatelli, but the big draw with little ones is the excellent choice of daytime poolside restaurants such as Shark Bites and Dolphin Bay Cafe. The range of dining options is genuinely impressive and alcohol is also served. In the evenings the stunning Nasimi beach club, with white cabanas and a resident DJ, welcomes children in a large designated area. It is the perfect place to watch the city lights begin to illuminate across the water.
If you need to escape all this excitement then the spa has a very wide range of treatments. The gym is free to guests and really excellent: uncrowded, very well-stocked with machines and with absolutely state of the art equipment.
This resort provides a compelling combination of luxurious private resort and close proximity to all of Dubai’s major attractions. Madinat Jumeirah, a charming waterside development of hotel, theatre, shops and restaurants is just across the causeway. Although all expats will tell you that the cost of living is rising in Dubai, taxis are still extremely good value by UK standards. The airport, old Dubai, Dubai Marina and several major shopping malls are all less than 30 minutes’ drive away from Atlantis.
The staggeringly large Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are tourist attractions in themselves, and perfect for air conditioned roaming with children. Dubai Mall, in addition to housing virtually every luxury retail brand you might be able to name, has a huge onsite aquarium, waterfall and a stunning fountain show nightly every half an hour. Best of all, the lower ground floor boasts the entrance to the visitor centre for the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, recently immortalised by Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. We could not stop looking at it: like some much else in twenty first century Dubai, it is breathtaking.