A hotel close to home with an ideal atmosphere for guests with children.
Hotel Insider: Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai
The hotel is fully booked and there is a queue of cars and taxis waiting by the revolving doors. The valet fights his way over to us and we are ceremoniously unpacked. The buggy for my one-year-old is helpfully wheeled into reception and we are directed towards the first free check-in desk before being taken up to the premium leisure lounge on the first floor to complete formalities. My three-year-old explores the play area while my husband and I enjoy a glass of fresh watermelon juice. From there we go up to our junior ocean suite on the 19th floor. Unfortunately, our bag still fails to arrive two hours later. I'm admitted to the back office to identify my luggage and it's brought upstairs with profuse apologies.
The Jumeirah Beach Hotel (JBH) first opened in 1997 and has a great location looking out on to the landmark Burj Al Arab, beside the Hotel Madinat and Wild Wadi Waterpark (entrance is complimentary for hotel guests). Few guests will probably leave the confines of the resort but the souq Madinat with its restaurants and shops, Mall of the Emirates and Al Quoz, just on the other side of Sheikh Zayed Road, are all worth exploring.
JBH is a behemoth of a family resort with 598 rooms and suites and more than 20 bars and restaurants. Right now, in high season, it feels like a thronging city whose denizens are clad in swimwear 24/7, and our junior ocean suite is truly a place of refuge. It's one of 170 rooms that has been recently refurbished and, if you are travelling with the kids, the results are knockout.
There is a large shaded and, most importantly, safe balcony with astonishing views south along the coast, while the picture windows facing west have views of Burj Al Arab and the marina; I saw the sunrise from the shower. The bathroom isn't trendy but is well equipped for children, with a good-sized non-slip tub and shower with a tray. Complimentary toiletries include sunscreen and lipbalm.
There is a huge, king-size bed (Jumeirah hotel beds are the most comfortable I ever sleep in), room for a cot and a roll-out bed, two flat screen televisions - one of which proves perfect for watching the Disney Channel in bed - not to mention welcome soft toys and miniature bath robes for tiddlies.
Efficient, welcoming and friendly in spite of the demanding masses.
An international whirl of Europeans, expats and locals, mainly wielding children. This is not a hotel for couples seeking romance.
At Beachcombers, an open-plan restaurant on the sand that serves up a good selection of Asian and international fare, children are catered to with their own buffet selection on plastic plates to preserve parental nerves. It's not memorable food but we all eat well for Dh250 per head, including soft drinks (children eat for Dh125; under fours eat free). That evening, I try La Parilla, the hotel's feted Argentine restaurant on the 25th floor. Again, the views are part of the attraction. I have a tender Argentine steak (Dh250) with side orders of mash with truffle oil and vegetables (Dh35 each). It's satisfying and beautifully presented but pricey; the service is excellent.
JBH understands the needs of children and their harassed parents all too well: you can leave kids to enjoy supervised arts and crafts, soft play and swimming at Sinbad's Kids Club; there's an army of lifeguards, and children's pools have safe, non-slip surfaces and sloping entry; a lovely beach; a well-stocked pharmacy; and even a parrot called Rocky for petting. Better still, the club executive pool that is open to guests in club rooms is quieter than the rest of the resort, and has the best kids' pool with a slide, see-saw and water jets. There are also complimentary life jackets.
The weather was cool and the kids' pools felt slightly chilly.
The ongoing refurbishments should give JBH a new lease of life.
The bottom line
A double room at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel (www.jumeirah.com; 800 5863 4724) costs from Dh2,040 per night, including taxes. A junior ocean suite costs from Dh3,240 per night, including taxes and entry to the premium leisure lounge.