Year-round sea, sun and fun in Dubai – World Meanderings (n°56)
By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Thinking about it, living in a desert can offer many positive aspects. Especially if it is a sand desert and even more if this sand desert is on seashore with year-round sunshine. What a beach! Over the last few decades Emirates’ rulers have gotten better understanding of this potential. On this land where only fishermen, pearl divers and traders lived there are now countless resorts welcoming tourists from the whole world. Let’s join them.
It didn’t take long for mammoth projects to begin springing up like mushrooms in Dubai. Luxury hotels each one more beautiful than the next, golf courses set like green emeralds in the desert, lavish shopping malls, Dubai Marina, lively Jumeirah Beach district, The Palms project… nothing is too good to entertain visitors of all ages.
The Palm Jumeirah, a man-made wonder
The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial island built in the shape of a palm tree from 2001 to 2009. Two more Palm Islands and a third one in the shape of the five continents called “The World” were meant to follow, but due to the 2008 world economic crisis they never did and probably never will. Seen from the sky and even from outer space The Palm looks like a stylized palm tree with sixteen fronds, a 2 km long trunk linking it to the coast and an eleven km long crescent surrounding it. The figures of this daunting construction are amazing: 7 million tonnes of rocks, 94 million tonnes of sand have been dredged from the bottom of the Persian Gulf to build the island base where 2,000 villas, 2,500 apartments and numerous hotels have been built in just a few years.
Of course The Palm is the ideal place to enjoy all kind of water activities. Diving, sailing, jet skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding, parasailing… from leisurely to thrilling experiences, everything is possible in Dubai. If you don’t know what Seabreaching is you can find out in The Palm. This mini submarine in the shape of a shark has a powerful engine that can reach speeds up to 100 km/h and it can jump up to 6 metres out of water! Flyboarding is another exciting thing to do and gives you the feeling to fly on water. It’s a one-person water-propelled hover board that can lift you up to 9 metres in the air while you do your best to keep your balance… Families will enjoy a day at Aquaventure Water Park said to be one of the best water parks in the world. There you can go down the famous “Leap of Faith” a 27-metre long clear tube going through a huge aquarium and be surrounded by living sharks and rays.
Unmatched Thai hospitality at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort
The Anantara The Palm is located on the beautiful sandy beach of the Palm’s crescent. It was designed as a “lakeside” village with Thai style pavilions surrounding three lagoon-like swimming pools. If you book a room on the first floor you will just have to go down a few steps from your private terrace to dive into the warm water. Anantara The Palm is the only hotel in the Emirates to propose over-sea villas built on stilts next to the beach. They offer total privacy and have a glass “window” set in the floor giving a view of the world beneath the sea.
Days start with an enjoyable breakfast mixing local cuisine with food gleaned from around the world. Such a variety is also present when it comes to dining with seven different restaurants, each one with its own atmosphere, decoration and of course typical cuisine. For a romantic dinner ask for a candlelit table on the beach and have the chefs make a very special menu just for the both of you. If you are a bunch of girlfriends on holidays in Dubai don’t miss the “Ladies Only” Champagne party on the beach every Tuesday’s evening.
French art de vivre at Sofitel The Palm Dubai
Sofitel The Palm is a little piece of French Polynesia set on the crescent of the Palm Jumeirah. Fine materials have been used to build and decorate the 5-star hotel. Whether in the lobby, restaurants, spa and rooms, polished wood, marble, lava stone, leather and tattoo-like patterns poetically called “dream catchers” create a typical Polynesian atmosphere while avoiding the clichés of the “exotic” style. The same Polynesian spirit is still there in the tropical gardens that shade the swimming pools and in the tall palm trees lining the long sandy beach.
The rooms are spacious, the “smallest” ones are 44 sqm, nicely decorated in soothing colours and they all are equipped with high quality Bose wave audio systems. The suites are ideal for families and have an attractive decoration. A large round bathtub has the place of honour in the middle of the big bathroom and the vast balcony has deep sofas from where you can enjoy the beautiful sea view.
With 14 restaurants and bars the choices are almost endless and you probably won’t have enough time to try them all during your stay. Polynesian or Hawaiian cuisines, Chinese or Arabian tastes, seafood or meat dishes, fine produce from the whole world are cooked with an indisputable French know-how for your greatest pleasure. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel you can enjoy this wonderful cuisine during the big Friday brunch and party on the beach liven up by the hotel’s DJ.
Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai’s trendy district
Located between the sea and Dubai Marina Jumeirah Beach Residence, just say JBR, is a perfect fusion of all that Dubai has to offer to visitors. Its buzzing central boulevard called “The Walk” is a shopping paradise with dozens of international brands, all kinds of restaurants and street entertainers. The waterfront is lined with luxury hotels and the beautiful beach proposes the most innovating activities such as jet boat trips, jet-ski safari, parasailing, banana-boating, camel rides… At the far end of the beach a runway has been built over the sea allowing parachutists to take off. “Sky Dive” the leading diving company in the Emirates proposes thrilling parachute jumps. Guided by skilled instructors you will jump from an altitude of 4,000 metres and enjoy a breathtaking view over Dubai, its unique skyline, Palm Jumeirah, JBR and the desert. Exciting minutes to be remembered!
Glamourous stay at “Rixos Premium Dubai”
The Rixos Premium opened a few months ago and already is the meeting point for the trendy youth of the city. Its tall glass tower has been built on the seafront and all the rooms offer spectacular views over the Arabian Gulf or Dubai’s skyline through the huge floor-to-ceiling windows. The decoration blends contemporary design, touches of vivid colours and tech-savvy facilities.
All day long a DJ entertains the hotel’s guests having fun at the big infinity swimming pool and you can also party all night long at the hotel’s disco-club. There are of course several restaurants including an Italian ristorante said to serve the best pizza in town, an American steakhouse, a Turkish restaurant with mouth-watering baklavas…
Related articles about the Emirates :
In Abu Dhabi:
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos ©Frederic de Poligny & Annick Dournes