x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Kinks aside, a good atmosphere at Palm resort

Rosemary Behan checks into the new Anantara The Palm, Dubai.

Lagoon villas at Anantara Dubai The Palm Resorts and Spa. Courtesy Anantara
Lagoon villas at Anantara Dubai The Palm Resorts and Spa. Courtesy Anantara

The welcome

After a slightly bleak drive almost to the end of the East Crescent of The Palm, a cluster of Thai temple style roofs at least means you arrive with a sense of intrigue. My bags are unloaded and my car happily disappeared, leaving me to be welcomed into by a rather over-elaborately and heavily made-up female staff member who says “Saswadekaa” with a less than convinced look on her face. I’m given a cold towel and chilled longan drink while I check in. My bags and I are then taken to my room in a three-wheeled, custom-made electric tuk-tuk.

The neighbourhood

The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah is right next door and the Sofitel The Palm and Atlantis are fairly close neighbours, but you still feel pleasantly marooned at the resort, which has a 400-metre-long beach and good views of the skyline. It’s eight kilometres to Dubai Marina and 11.5km to Mall of the Emirates.

The room

My “lagoon view room” feels more like a suite or the ground floor of a villa. It has a rear terrace with swimming access to an artificial lagoon. There is a nice lounging area built into the corner of the bedroom and a large bathroom (though my room has no bath).

The bed is large and comfortable and, with the back doors open and birds singing, a weekend stay here felt like a mini-holiday until the air conditioner started rattling. When I turned it off I was woken by the loud conversations of patrolling security guards at various intervals.

The service

The hotel was still fairly new when I visited and staff seemed exhausted from the pre-launch phase. There was a queue for an outside table at breakfast and most of the time I found I had to personally commandeer staff to get served.

The scene

I’m told wealthy Gulf Arabs and Russians tend to favour the resort for its enormous overwater villas, the first in the Middle East, and its beach villas, which offer both space and privacy. Around the resort I saw mostly European and Russian holidaymakers. The water is clear for swimming, making it a place for groups to congregate.

The food

The hotel’s signature restaurant, Mekong, is its best asset. Serving Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese food, the interior is sophisticated and the outdoor areas feature tables around rickshaw seats. The Ho Chi Minh Rojak, a cold salad of cucumber, tofu, bean sprouts, Asian pear, peanuts and bread in a caramelised fish sauce dressing (Dh45), was great a starter, while the Thai duck curry with pineapple, lychee, cherry tomato and red curry sauce (Dh85) was outstanding. The bok choi with mushrooms (Dh50) was tasty but heavy.

At the Beach House, the Piedmontese pizza with mushrooms, mozzarella and a slightly spicy tomato sauce (Dh70) had a great crispy base and was eaten in less than five minutes.

The vegetable curry (Dh60) at Crescendo, the all-day dining restaurant, was fresh and zingy; in the same restaurant, the organic breakfast station serving mango sticky rice was also a highlight.

Loved

The spa had not opened when I visited but staff treatments were available in-room. I had a Thai massage with Suphamat from Koh Samui who expertly conducted her treatment on a table on the patio at sunset – a great way to start the weekend. The watersports centre on the beach offers stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and a small catamaran (at extra cost), which is a good way to start the day.

Hated

The night-time disturbances. In the room, tempting bar snacks are laid out near the minibar, but come with hefty charges.

The verdict

A good place for a relaxing getaway; I would return to eat at Mekong.

The bottom line

Double rooms at Anantara Dubai The Palm cost from Dh1,275 per night including breakfast (dubai-palm.anantara.com; 04 567 8888).

weekend@thenational.ae

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