We check into the first hotel to open at Dubai Parks and Resorts.
Hotel Insider: Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts
After negotiating the sporadically signposted roads surrounding Dubai Parks and Resorts, my family and I finally find ourselves at the new Lapita’s entrance. There are plenty of valets and bell hops to help with luggage, all offering a friendly “aloha” greeting, the first clue to the Polynesian theme here. Check-in is swift, but no explanation is given for the confusing room numbering – my room is 9219, but after getting into the lifts, it transpires that there’s no ninth floor. A trip back to the reception later, we’re on the way to the second floor.
The Lapita – named after a prehistoric Pacific Ocean culture – is the solitary resort at Dubai Parks and Resorts, which also features Legoland, Motiongate, Bollywood Parks and the Riverland shopping and F&B village.
My deluxe twin room is full of bold patterns and cheerful colours, in a nod to the South Sea Islands, with bamboo, wicker and a faux-leaf ceiling fan mixed with dark-wood luxury-hotel plushness, echoed in many of the hotel’s common areas. One clever innovation is that the wardrobe is accessible from the main room and on the other side in the bathroom. The view across the resort demands you sit with a drink on the cute little balcony – but you’re not exactly encouraged to have your fill of tea or coffee. There’s only one regular-size cup and one espresso cup provided, while the charge of Dh20 to bring “real” milk to the room for tea, as opposed to providing a UHT alternative, seems slightly stingy. There’s a long dressing table/desk, plenty of storage space and a small table and chairs. The bathroom is well-sized, divided into two, with the bath/shower and toilet in one half and the basin/vanity mirror in the other.
Well-intentioned, but a relative lack of guests (the hotel is fairly underpopulated when I stay) hasn’t let some staff polish their skills. The waiters at the poolside restaurant Ari seemed fairly clueless about the dinner menu; but at Asian outlet Hikina, they’re drilled to an almost military precision.
The 504-room Lapita is a family-resort anomaly as an Autograph Collection property – the Marriott brand usually specialises in boutique city hotels. Other guests range from Emiratis to holidaying European and North American families. The Polynesian vibe isn’t quite convincing, but for the most part, you feel like you have been transported out of the Emirates.
Hikina is the pick of the restaurants, putting fine-dining sheen onto Cantonese and other Far Eastern staples. The honey-flavoured char sui chicken (Dh45) and egg tart Hong Kong-style (Dh45) are favourites. Dinner at Ari is more casual, with a focus on grills, curries and lighter bites – the Tahitian seafood curry (Dh145) here is packed with tangy flavour. The international buffet breakfast at Kalea is a wide spread with tropical flourishes – from Polynesian chicken to lychee juice – plus nods to the hotel’s location with the addition of date smoothies.
The view from the balcony and Hikina’s food.
The (sometimes) sloppy service.
A relaxing escape from city stresses, without having to journey too far.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Lapita (www.marriott.co.uk; 04 810 9999) are from Dh555 per night, including taxes, Wi-Fi and breakfast.