The first Accor resort in the Middle East to fly the Raffles flag is ultra-luxurious on 24 hectares by the sea on the iconic Palm Island
WHERE IS IT? Approximately 30 minutes from Dubai International Airport, 15 minutes from Sheikh Zayed Road offices and Dubai Mall, and 10 minutes from the new Ain Dubai (the tallest and tallest Ferris wheel in the world), this resort sits on the far outskirts of Palm Island. This means that once on Palm Island itself, it is one of the more remote destinations. This means that there is less traffic, but the journey takes a little longer.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE? Designed to resemble an Indian palace, this resort can only be described as the epitome of Dubai. The beige building’s porte-cochere is where guests greet the friendly bellboys who lead them into an exquisite lobby with incredible chandeliers, gilded seats, and awe-inspiring artwork and photographs. You wouldn’t go wrong thinking this is a palace in Europe without the view of the beach visible from the tea room windows. Seated reception is standard, but only after a concierge greets guests with dates and Arabic coffee. Public spaces are meticulous and a sight to behold from the wraparound staircase leading to one of the beautifully adorned ceiling restaurants above. Once outside, a more complex vibe prevails, but stepping into the grand lobby in a bathing suit would be a misstep of major proportions.
ROOM EQUIPMENT The oversized bedrooms are decorated in baby blue tones with majestic accents of gold, mahogany, and beige. Floor-to-ceiling windows with sliding glass doors give way to furnished balconies. There is no bad view although the upper floors have the best angles to the sea, the distant skyline of Dubai including Burj Dubai and Burj Al-Arab, and other landmarks on and around Palm Island. The beds are ideal for ultra-long haul trips where jet lag is most common. Bedside outlets accommodate a variety of outlet types, and bottled water is pouring in daily to keep you hydrated in this climate. A make-up area in the room continues the lavish theme. I liked the way the desk had chairs on either side transforming it into a dining table. Chic wardrobes under the flat-screen cable TV contain a coffeemaker, minibar, and hot water kettle. Next to the armchair and ottoman is a low table with a plate of tropical fruits and a tray of Arabic sweets.
The walk-in closet includes a large mirror, bathrobes, slippers, a beach bag and flip-flops to enjoy the beach or the pool. A separate WC also has a bidet while the bathroom itself has two sinks filled with Asprey Purple Water toiletries, a rainfall shower, and a deep soaking tub. Guests booking a premium category room have access to a club level lounge with complimentary breakfast, all-day refreshments, and evening cocktails.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Dining here is a highlight and attracts many locals and visitors to other hotels. Le Jardin serves three meals a day from a decadent buffet that has everything your heart could desire, including made-to-order pasta. The Arabic breakfast section alone is worth a visit. In the evening, a pianist performs at the grand piano in the tea room next to the fine pastry shop selling sweets. Matagi is the resort’s popular Japanese outlet offering freshly made sushi, crispy crab tacos, and Wagyu beef carpaccio, among others. The resort offers a half-board package that includes breakfast and lunch or dinner at Le Jardin or Matagi, a popular option for many.
By the pool, refreshments are available from the bar staff. Like the famous Raffles Singapore, this sister property has its own Dubai-themed version of the famous Singapore Sling cocktail. The jazz lounge offers an alternative to those who want to toast with a colorful cocktail.
LEISURE FACILITIES An outdoor infinity pool opens directly onto the beach and has underwater massage beds and shallow areas for children. Splashing fountains and a swim-up bar add to the appeal. A separate children’s pool and playground are popular with families. Pool butlers help guests find a seat, spread towels on the plush lounge chairs by the pool or on the beach, and bring a bucket of chilled bottled water.
A separate indoor pool is more relaxing and ideal for swimming away from the scorching sun. In the gym, a personal trainer can give advice on using modern training equipment, and a changing room with showers is useful for those with night flights who need to leave at noon. The spa offers massages and beauty treatments using Cinq Mondes beauty products.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Wireless internet works well throughout the hotel, including on the beach and by the pool. The meeting rooms are as opulent as the public spaces. They are equipped with the latest audiovisual equipment and a divisible space which makes the complex ideal for groups of all sizes. Weddings, receptions and international conferences are common.
VERDICT The Raffles brand, part of Accor, is known around the world for its attention to detail and exquisite service. As it turns out, this stunning new Raffles property also adds a tropical resort feel to the mix.
STRENGTHS OF THE PROPERTY Opulent interiors, oversized rooms, and an oceanfront pool with skyline views
HOW MANY ROOMS? 389 rooms, suites and villas
CONTACT Raffles The Palm Dubai, West Crescent – Palm Jumeirah 213208 Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tel. + 971-4-248-8888, raffles.com/thepalm-dubai
Photo credit: Raffles The Palm Dubai