Hotel insider: Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai
There are plenty of valet staff on hand when I arrive and they seem assured. Check-in is inside the attractive lobby, and I’m escorted to my sea-facing second-floor room. Luckily, it isn’t facing the construction site between the hotel and the Burj Al Arab. My bags arrive promptly, but minus a pillow I’ve brought; when I tell a staff member, he apologises and brings it within five minutes.
The 292-room hotel is one of two in the 40-hectare Madinat Jumeirah (the other is the more opulent Al Qasr). It’s a self-contained high-end resort, with access to Souk Madinat, but visitors aren’t allowed on the exclusive, beautiful, 2-kilometre-long beach or the resort’s grounds without a hotel or restaurant reservation. In all, there are 40 restaurants to eat at, so there’s no need to leave this rather unreal zone of canals and Arabian-style villas. Guests can get around on foot, by buggy or on one of a fleet of electronic abras – a surprisingly soothing experience. You can walk along the sand all the way to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, going under the bridge to the Burj Al Arab.
I’m facing the pool and beach. My room is “ocean deluxe”; 50 square metres and with a good-sized desk and pleasant balcony. The rooms were refurbished last year and it feels fresh. The bed is set in front of a Moorish-style set of arches, behind which is the dressing area and bathroom. The decor is mostly cream and purple. The room feels private, but despite double glazing, I can hear loud music coming from the bar at night, and glowing light-control panels are a disturbance.
Staff seem mostly well-trained and alert. There’s the feeling of being just one of many guests in a large resort, though this is probably unavoidable.
When I stay, I’m surrounded by middle-class Europeans (British, French, German and Eastern Europeans) on beach holidays and a few Emiratis and expats on shorter stays. On Friday, the hotel is crowded with brunch guests.
The buffet breakfast in Al Muna, the hotel’s main restaurant, is good. I like the fresh juices, breads and hot items, but the best thing is the peaceful terrace beside the water (a man-made lagoon; the beach is in front of this). Also atmospheric is the beach restaurant Shimmers, which does delicious seafood; a highlight is the whole barbecued sea bream with salsa and mashed potatoes (Dh145). The iconic Pierchic restaurant, reopened after refurbishment last year, is the place for a special occasion or long lunch. I try the fish of the day (halibut) ceviche (Dh110), which was in a moreish dressing of jalapeño, tomato and lime, and the roasted yellowtail in truffle sauce. For the huge size and price (Dh260), two could share.
The beach, especially first thing in the morning when it’s calm, with outstandingly clear water.
The bedroom light-control panels; and the foam pillows were of the orthopaedic variety.
If you like beaches, there are few better places for a staycation.
The bottom line
Until the end of August, Jumeirah is offering a staycation promotion across all its Madinat Jumeirah properties for UAE residents. It offers 20 per cent off for a minimum stay of two nights, including breakfast, one lunch or dinner per person, per day, in a choice of restaurants, access to Wild Wadi, the kids’ club and fitness facilities. From Dh2,100 per night, including taxes (www.jumeirah.com/mjstaycation).
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Updated: April 16, 2015 04:00 AM