x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Radisson Blu Fujairah is (almost) my cup of tea

Hotel Insider The idyllic, tastefully decorated and landscaped property is marred by patchy service.

The deluxe bedroom of Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah.
The deluxe bedroom of Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah.

The welcome

The hotel used to be known as Jal Resort & Spa until the Radisson took over in July after a major rebranding exercise. The journey from Abu Dhabi is supposed to take three hours but we took much longer, dutifully following road signs to Fujairah only to find ourselves in Fujairah city and to discover the hotel is on the outskirts of Dibba, at the northernmost tip of the emirate. Once we finally arrived, check-in was super-quick; we only had to wait for a couple of minutes on the plush sofas in the spacious, well-lit lobby before we were shown to our room.

The neighbourhood

Sandwiched between the craggy Hajjar Mountains and the Indian Ocean, the hotel occupies a spectacular spot. There's not much to do in Dibba itself; the quiet town consists mainly of a scattering of scraggly fishing villages, an open road-side market piled high with fresh produce, rows of tiny shops and one hospital. For visitors in search of adventure, the hotel organises day treks in the mountains, boat rides, fishing trips and scuba-diving expeditions, all at extra cost.

The room

The resort has 257 guest rooms, including one- and two-bedroom suites that lie farther along the beach. Our standard double room felt big until an extra bed was brought in for our son. The decor is neutral - cream and brown, with blue-toned Impressionist prints thrown in to liven things up. Wooden windows opened on to a large bath that was partitioned from the rest of the bathroom by doors.

The glass-fronted balcony - furnished with comfy reclining chairs and a tiny table - overlooked two of the resort's five pools and a marvellous stretch of white sand flanking the sparkling sea. We kept the windows open at night, lulled to sleep by the waves softly breaking on the shore.

The service

Patchy. On our way back from the beach the first afternoon, we stopped a housekeeping attendant and asked for tea bags because there weren't any in our room. Instead of simply handing us what we wanted - there were boxes of tea in plain view in the cart - he told us he'd send some later. Round a corner in the hallway, we bumped into another housekeeping attendant who, upon hearing our request, smiled and thrust a handful at us.

Later that evening, I went in search of the kids' club and was told by a member of staff (wearing a T-shirt inscribed with the words "Valet Parker") that it was closed. I had to request to see the duty manager three times before the "Valet Parker" agreed to go and look for him, but only after rolling his eyes at me. The kids' club, as it turned out, was open until 10pm.

The scene

We arrived at about 5.30pm on National Day amid last-minute preparations for a beach party, which went on well into the early hours of the morning. That weekend the resort was full of elderly Russian couples sunning themselves on deck chairs along the beach and young Middle Eastern families who'd made the massive kids' pool their hub; it's perhaps the resort's most popular spot.

The food

We wanted to have lunch on the outdoor terrace at Breeze, the all-day restaurant, but were told in matter-of-fact tones that it was overrun by flies. The buffet was a standard mix of the breads, salads and half-a-dozen hot dishes with names such as "beef in oyster sauce" and "chicken curry" (Dh125 per person, including taxes). A two-course meal at the al fresco restaurant Grand Bleu, which offers everything from fresh salads to sandwiches and steaks, costs around Dh140 for two, including taxes.

Loved

The tranquillity of the place, and walking along the private, shell-strewn beach that seems to stretch for miles. The property is beautifully landscaped with plenty of shrubs and trees, and it was a delight to wake up in the morning to the sound of the sea, rustling date palms and birdsong.

Hated

The irksome response of some of the staff to our small and reasonable requests. And the flies really got to me; one even fell into my drink while we had breakfast on the beach. "At least it died happy," said my son as the glass was whisked away.

The verdict

Perfect if you want to drive down for a weekend of peace and quiet by the sea. Note: keep your eyes peeled for signposts to Dibba and you'll arrive sooner.

The bottom line

Until December 26, double rooms at the Radisson Blu Resort start from Dh600 per night on weekdays and Dh790 on weekends, including breakfast and taxes. Radisson Blu Resort, Dibba, Fujairah, PO Box 12590 (www.radissonblu.com/resort-fujairah; 09 244 9700).