For the weary traveller, a luxurious stopover in the Gulf city is the way to go
The 24-hour plus trip to Europe from Australia can be a trial, especially in economy class with kids. Even with the most patient of airline staff and the most obedient children, time can feel like it has frozen.
A Dubai stopover solves everything. It is a city built to cater for everyone’s needs, especially families. There are hundreds of attractions, including an amazing aquarium, kidszania and mega-trampoline park. It makes perfect sense to break up the trip for 24 or 48 hours in one of world’s most dynamic, rich — financially and culturally — and fun cities in the world, and costs much less than an upgrade to business (which doesn’t make the trip shorter).
WHERE TO STAY
Palace Downtown Dubai
Step into a world of Arabesque palatial surrounds, regal yet relaxed ambience and delectable food offerings, and be welcomed by a warm reception and concierge team. Palace Downtown Dubai is perfectly positioned opposite the tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa, with a gorgeous outlook towards the lake, the world’s biggest fountain, and shopper’s paradise, Dubai Mall, the world’s biggest shopping mall. Even amongst huge landmarks, the Palace Downtown stands majestically, greeting guests from all over the world with a genuine warmth and kindness that is characteristic of Middle Eastern hospitality.
The 63-storey building has 242 rooms and suites, including the 500sqm Imperial suite. The rooms are tastefully furnished, with intricately carved timber lounges, silk scatter cushions and damask drapes that are decadent yet demure. Fluffy towels, a super deep bath tub, perfect shower water pressure and every complimentary toiletry you could think of make for a great bathroom. Add to this crisp cotton sheets and a bed that overlooks the joyous water fountain display, and you would be forgiven for never using the state of the art interactive LED TV, smart sound system and tablet.
A glorious rectangular pool sits between the hotel and the Burj lake. Designed to lead towards the fountain display and flanked either side by luxurious deck chairs and cabanas, the walk from the hotel to the lake lets you soak in Dubai in all its wonder. The Burj towers above, guests experiment with apple tobacco in shisha pipes, and the smell of roasted pistachios from nearby kitchens taunts you into thinking about an early dinner. The pool itself is deep blue with perfect tiny tiles, shimmering below a warm Persian sun. Lush palms offer shade, as do nearby daybeds. By night, fairy lights wrapped around the palm trees are switched on to create a magical setting made for romance and laughter.
Dine at the internationally renowned Argentinian restaurant Asado, which has a wall full of accolades from all over the world. In the middle of the restaurant, patrons can watch Chef de Cuisine Josefinna Vallve work her magic on cuts ranging from salmon to the finest wagyu in the world.
Other dining options include the Oriental cuisine at Ewaan, which is an all day dining restaurant offering live cooking demonstrations and a famous Friday brunch. Thai restaurant Thiptara (which means magic at the water) showcases delicious Bangkok-style seafood while you soak up the Burj lake. Each afternoon the lobby lounge, Al Bayt, is transformed for an afternoon of pure indulgence as a high tea is immaculately installed into the unique setting. Don’t forget to try the freshly made scones (the cornerstone of any high tea) with rich potted cream, raspberry coulis or fresh sumptuous jam — these cannot be overlooked amongst the more seductive looking platters.
Room start from $350 AUD per night.
The Ritz Carlton Dubai
The instant you arrive at The Ritz Carlton Dubai, there are smiles, warmth and an esteemed level of service often amiss even at the ritziest hotels.
The 294 rooms and suites are beautifully appointed to maximize the stunning panoramic views over the Arabian Gulf’s crystal waters. There are private balconies, Arabic inspired luxurious furnishings with Western flair, the highest level of comfort for bedding, and bathrooms fit for royalty. Every detail has been considered in the design and execution, from the rooms and the foyer to the grounds — this is a purely divine stay in one of the finest hotels in the world.
If you have not had the good fortune of staying in one of the many Ritz Carlton hotels strategically placed around the planet — soon coming to Australia, so look out Melbourne, Perth and Sydney — then you may not realise that at the Ritz-Carlton, guest experience is paramount. That means the guest comes first, always — and that’s not just part of a mantra.
The executive rooms and high level suites have access to ‘The Club Lounge’, which, as the name describes, is an exclusive club for guests to unwind, do business, eat and drink (read: indulge), and be taken care of. There are five meal offerings throughout the day — breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner canapés and hors d’oeuvres — and unlimited drinks that include sumptuous Arabic coffee, tea, beers, spirits, cocktails, fine wine, champagne and more. If you can afford it, upgrade to the executive levels.
The surrounding grassed areas, five swimming pools, cabanas, day beds, deck chairs, sun-lounges, swim-out cocktail bar, and kids water-slide with a ready supply of lifeguards means that the outdoor environment is a great way to relax and let holiday smiles take over. For those that can tear themselves away poolside there is, of course, a private beach. Soft Arabian desert sand is exceedingly pleasant compared with our coarse Aussie grains, and a stroll along the beach is an absolute must. The water is calm and serene and well-worth the effort, even if no-one else wants to join you!
One of the highlights for family travellers is Ritz Kids, a program dedicated to adventure, fun, exploration and learning for young travellers aged four to 12 years old. The program runs every day, from 9am until 6pm, and is free for kids staying at the hotel. What a plus! Parents and kids alike can enjoy doing the things they love most. The program includes activities such as shell collecting and painting, kids yoga, recycled arts, game playing and more.
Experience the spa, artfully blending traditional fragrances and age old formulas such as camel milk, rose water and Dead Sea salt. With both Eastern and Western techniques, the spa offers luxurious treatments such as the Arabia Felix, which an all over body exfoliation with full body massage. Yes please!
Choose from several restaurants ranging from regional Asian cuisine at Blue Jade to traditional Arabic cuisine at Caravan or authentic Italian at Splendido, as well as everything in between.
Prices start from $350 per night.
Check fares and book directly through emirates.com to get the best rate and flexibility.