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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Review: Anantara The Palm, an Eastern delight for staycationers and executives alike

This luxurious resort on the Dubai Palm Island’s crescent is authentically Thai

Anantara The Palm. Courtesy: Anantara The Palm
Anantara The Palm. Courtesy: Anantara The Palm

If you or your company have ever considered holding a conference or event in Thailand but decided it is not worth the flight time from the UAE, then Anantara The Palm could be the answer.

This luxurious resort on the Dubai Palm Island’s crescent is authentically Thai down to the detailing on the roof of every villa spread out across its two lagoons, and the award-winning Mekong Asian fusion restaurant, well worth a visit by itself.

Even Dubai residents who live nearby use this hotel for a staycation. One lady from Jumeirah came for a week this summer and said it was her best holiday ever. Reading the comments on travel websites, return visits are common.

Recently, Copthorne Hotels was holding a team-building event on the beach for its lucky employees and it is popular for small conferences, too.

A few years’ back I interviewed the chiefs of Air Arabia and DP World on stage here for an event organised by the Dubai Financial Market to promote local IPOs. It’s a very special kind of resort and I recall the Thai lunch afterwards on a large, open-air terrace as being particularly good.

The hotel has 293 rooms and villas, and an additional 100-plus apartments available for rent from its adjacent twin residences. Most popular are the water villas on stilts over the Palm’s inner lagoon, and then those with a beach view.

However, most tourists try hard to get the ground-floor, Premier Lagoon View rooms, around Dh2,400 in season. These have direct access to one of the resort’s two lagoons that circle around these buildings, so that you can swim from your room’s terrace. Nice for kids and the young-at-heart.

During my stay the Copthorne Hotel staff were playing some sort of game on the beach in front of the huge colonial-style restaurant. The eaterie features Mediterranean cooking and another very large al fresco dining area, one of the very few actually on the beach in Dubai.

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The Bushman’s restaurant is also Dubai’s only Australian fine-dining restaurant.

Rooms are finished in dark Asian hardwoods with a little Thai woodcarving and quite minimalist in appearance, although not in facilities. The working desk has one multi-plug and one square-pin socket, while the complementary WiFi clocked an impressive 9.8 Mbps.

If you are unable to move from this spot then room service can offer Asian, Australian or Mediterranean fare. Or, for the less adventurous, a Margherita Pizza or Panini Club sandwich cost Dh90, and a Coke Dh21 or small local water Dh18.

For small conferences the Palm Ballroom can seat 110, while there is a choice of nine other meeting rooms for gatherings ranging from an intimate nine guests to 60. That makes the Anantara the Palm a serious business hotel as well as a resort.

Anantara is, of course, a famous name in Thai hospitality so it should not be surprising to learn that its sumptuous spa has 23 treatment rooms, albeit currently outnumbered by the 11 staff. I accidentally took the lift upstairs and found their huge Turkish Hammam.

Shattered executives might find the Dh750 signature massage the perfect relief from business stresses and strain. But if you really want to splash out there is a three-hour Palm Retreat treatment package for a couple at Dh3,000.

Be quick if you go this week as an influx of Russian guests is likely to book out the spa as many of them like to go every day. They don’t come that often. The standard list of visitors comprises UAE and GCC nationals, Germans and British guests.

The gym on the ground floor of the residence building at the other end of the resort is very spacious and well equipped, although it sadly lacks a good view - unlike most parts of the hotel. The very large infinity pool and broad, sandy beach are other fine assets.

I’d also rate its service highly. When I stayed, the hotel was not quite full but with 800 guests the staff were kept very busy. In my experience hotels under this level of strain either dissolve into chaos or the service actually gets better; thankfully it was the latter, although the check-out did take longer than normal.