ONE&ONLY THE PALM, DUBAI, UAE
BEST FOR: SERIOUS INDULGENCE
NOT FOR: A LOW-KEY ESCAPE
It’s hard to get much better than this sensational resort stretched out over the Persian Gulf on Dubai’s tree-shaped Palm Island archipelago. Outrageously opulent, this is a place which wows from every corner: immaculate rooms, exquisite food and flawless service with pretty much everything you could want. And now, as if that wasn’t enough, this super smart big hitter has added another string to its bow – a fabulous new spa. Furthermore, it’s by French brand, Guerlain, so, not only does it look the business, it delivers too.
Set in a low-rise village of sandstone-coloured buildings, the resort is a chic masterpiece of Moorish meets Andalusian architecture in neutral tones, calming beige and dark wood decor. It’s over-the-top – cappuccino-coloured marble, decorative archways, white fountains, crystal chandeliers and gilded ceilings – but this is Dubai and it works. There are 90 rooms and suites plus four beachfront villas with their own pools. Everything is on a vast scale here: the beds could fit a small army, the rain showers (complete with Acqua di Parma goodies ) are like getting caught in a monsoon, the bath is so deep you can swim in it and there are too many sofas to count.
However, this is not the type of place to hang about in your room all day. Head to the resort’s spanking new spa instead. A tranquil complex of courtyards with cascading fountains, there are nine enormous treatment rooms, each with their own small patio – step out of the door, wrapped in your lavishly-thick robe, look across the water and let your breath be taken away by Dubai’s surreal skyline.
Guerlain have been working their magic since 1828, creating 300 fragrances and opening the first spa in the world in 1939 at 68 avenue des Champs-Elysées. The Palm is proving another success. The treatments tick all the boxes, using the brand’s delicious skincare range which draws inspiration from rare orchids, the healing power of bee products and the whitening action of natural pearl. The menu is one treat after another with facials, massages and body treatments. The ‘Solar Evasion’ is the must-book and the one to pick to ensure you skip back home with a flawless tan. After a smooth exfoliation which leaves your skin cleansed and super soft, drift off as your body is softly massaged with a ballet of movements, using Terracotta “Huile du Voyageur” oil, which contains tiny golden particles of mother-of-pearl and Roucou, a brown vegetal pigment that has been used for centuries to intensify a tan. Finish the bliss in the steam room, allowing your toxins to be eliminated and your muscles soothed.
Outside the spa, it’s just as easy to check out of life. The pool is the main event, the centrepiece carefully placed in between the manicured gardens and strategically planted greenery. There are so many places to flop – go early and bag one of the blue double sunbeds before letting the cosseting staff whisk you up a drink. Make sure you bring your best one-piece – the poolside can be a bit of a catwalk. Little ones and teenagers are not forgotten either with the kids club which offers it all from camel riding to belly dancing and from henna painting to basic Arabic lessons. There are even desert camp-outs.
The food is hard to beat with three restaurants overseen by multi-Michelin star French chef, Yannick Alléno. Zest is the most chilled-out and the closest to the pool – don’t miss the sushi and sashimi plate. For something more posh, choose Stay and feast on ‘Jerusalem artichoke foam with hazelnuts’ and ‘ravioli with prawns, cabbage and black truffles’. The desserts are all Insta-worthy, served by the metre and prepared before your eyes at the sleek black marble pastry bar nestled in a corner of the dining room. Then, there’s 101 – the cool steel restaurant beside the resort’s private marina. Serving tapas and Mediterranean fare (the tomato and mozzarella is excellent), it’s a see-and-be-seen hotspot with a DJ on most evenings. Come and dance the night away with the city lights sparkling behind you.
Contact: tel: + 971 4 440 1010, web: www.oneandonlyresorts.com
Price: Virgin Holidays Wonderlist is offering a four night stay at the One & Only The Palm in a Palm Manor House Premier Room from £1,046 per person. This includes half board, return Economy Virgin Atlantic flights from London Heathrow to Dubai and private car transfers in resort. Tel: 0344 557 9021, web: www.virginholidays.co.uk/wonderlist
Nearest Airport: Dubai
Transfer time: 30 minutes
First-Hand Visit Write-Up By: Harriet Compston