With so many large hotel chains in the UAE focused on luxury stays for adults, it’s hard to know which hotels offer the best facilities and value for money when you are holidaying with the whole family. Sofitel the Palm might not be the first one on everyone’s lips when looking for a cost-effective yet luxurious break for this exclusive part of Dubai has always been relatively steep in terms of pricing but having put the expansive property through its paces on a recent weekend break, we think it could well be a hidden gem on the east crescent of the iconic Palm Jumeirah and were pleasantly surprised at the value for money it offered.
Firstly, for those not familiar with the Palm itself other than the fact it is a very large man-made island off the shore of Dubai, it is easy to misunderstand the sheer size of it and whilst the Sofitel sits midway around the outer crescent and isn’t quite as far as some of its neighbouring 5-star hotels, it does still feel like quite the taxi ride from some of the main tourist attractions. This is fine if you’re looking for some rest and relaxation from your break, but if you’re planning on sightseeing around the clock, the location might feel a little out-of-the-way.
That being said, both the journey to and pulling up to the hotel is somewhat of a treat, mostly because in true Dubai style both the Palm and the hotel itself are absolutely enormous and aesthetically rather beautiful. The stone clad walls and obligatory fountain make for quite the welcome and is only further reinforced when venturing inside to the vast lobby. Thank fully, there is a team of dedicated staff helping to attend to the swarm of guests huddled around at check-in time. The great thing about the Sofitel is that it’s décor is very different to other hotels in the region which makes for a refreshing change, after all there are only so many gold adorned walls you can see in a lifetime. Spoken like a true Dubai expat. The theme at the Sofitel is that of bringing the outside inside with feature walls of live, green vegetation contrasting against rich, dark mahogany, it’s like you’ve managed to stumble across your own desert island on an actual desert island and makes for endless photo opportunities.
We opted for a Junior Beach Suite which was very spacious, perhaps one of the biggest suites we’ve had the pleasure of staying in out of the whole of Dubai. However, I’d suggest a higher floor to make the most of those fabulous sea views as our ground floor room seemed quite dark and although came with a rather large terrace complete with funky L-shaped sofa, was permanently shaded behind a mass of shrubbery. The great thing about the comfortable suite was that it was very well laid out, with an excellent flow from living space to bedroom, with the beautifully appointed bathroom undoubtedly the highlight. Being a bath rather than a shower person, I couldn’t have been more delighted with the amazing circular bathtub that took centre stage in the centre of the room, further complimented by modern, transparent basins and back-lit mirrors, hats off to whoever designed these beautiful rooms. Fashionistas will be pleased to note that there are luxury Hermes toiletries in abundance, noting that even the smallest touches can make a difference to a room. Following on from the décor of the hotel, the suite featured exposed brick walls dashed with colour; vivacious purple and splashes of green gave a powerful boldness to the suite, making it a truly pleasant place to be in. There are an abundance of mod-cons, the usual you would expect from a hotel of this standard and if you require anything in addition, the helpful staff are more than happy to provide. These more luxurious (and expensive) suites are great for couples and small families alike and are housed in smaller areas away from the hustle and bustle of the main section of the hotel, which offers a welcome respite amongst the tranquility of the hotel grounds, especially for extended stays. Golf buggies are always available via a quick telephone call to recepetion to transport guests to the main hotel, spa and facilities.
As mentioned, although the suite was sea facing, because it was on the ground floor the view of the water was obscured, however, step outside and it’s a pleasant surprise to find the beach and all it has to offer a mere few steps from the room, the benefits of such can’t be overlooked when the mercury is pushing 40 degrees.
Catering to the high number of guests at the hotel, the Sofitel boasts an enormous stretch of white sand beach facing both the Dubai Marina skyline and Atlantis Hotel, giving you arguably one of the best beach views in the emirates. There are plenty of well-furnished sun loungers and cabanas on the beach and around the pool, which although both are very, very busy, you’ll never be stuck for a space and most importantly, when staying with little ones, shade is a plenty.
The main hotel infinity pool also offers these unparalleled views, shaded under palm trees and with glistening turquoise water, the ultimate tropical paradise. Whilst adults kick back and soak up the view, the children can explore the 6 different swimming pools, many of which have water slides tucked behind the rocks making for endless hours of watery fun. There’s also a wide range of sporting activities which will satisfy even the most energetic of youngsters along with the young at heart. For lazier holidaymakers there is a clever electronic bell installed by the beach loungers meaning a refreshing mocktail or light mid-afternoon snack is literally only a ‘push of a button’ away.
If it’s a break from the kids and a good pampering session that you’re after, the ‘So Spa’ has got that covered. The extensive French Polynesian spa encompasses a sauna, steam room, several different temperature pools and 28 different treatment rooms so even in a large resort like this you won’t be waiting long for an appointment. The relaxation areas, complete with duvets, tea & coffee facilities and an abundance of magazines makes for a great way to while away the hours on an overly hot afternoon. More often than not there are special offers available at the Spa, including 2-for-1 treatments, meaning a couples massage is a special treat that won’t break the bank as part of your stay, giving you the full Sofitel experience. The beautiful treatment rooms are located in the grounds of the hotel and you could easily imagine you’re in an Indian Ocean paradise as you weave your way through the thatched roofs to a backdrop of music and the odd ripple in the spa’s own pool.
For a hotel boasting some 350 rooms you would expect a wide range of eateries and Sofitel The Palm doesn’t disappoint. Chose from 14 different outlets including the renowned Porterhouse, a fantastic take on the classic steakhouse. It’s moody lighting, excellent menu and outdoor terrace (when the weather allows) makes for a fantastic restaurant perfect for all occasions. The seafood at Moana is also worth a mention as is Bottega, the casual Italian deli. The only slight disappointment was the breakfast, which although vast in its offerings, is more than a little chaotic at prime 9am time. To make the most of the delicious spread we suggest either getting up that hour earlier or ordering from the extensive room service menu. It is a holiday after all and is there anything better than freshly squeezed orange juice and fluffy pancakes in bed?
The Sofitel the Palm is the very definition of an all-encompassing modern resort. Lots of great room options, a big array of places to eat and lots to do for the whole family and all at a price you will struggle to match anywhere in the UAE thanks to its regular well thought out packages. For further information and reservation please visit the website.