As our newest service to support PTS members, we now share our travel experiences and offer impartial reviews to help assist your knowledge further. For this post, we will be sharing our experiences and tips for arranging a holiday to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Please be aware that August in Dubai is not for everyone, and you have to be prepared for the heat! It is very hot, normally averaging over 45 degrees, so you have to be prepared to deal with this. However, there are some fabulous deals available during the UK summer holidays, and if you are a fan of the sunshine and heat, there are a huge amount of plus points to a summer family holiday in Dubai.
Booking The Holiday, Flights and Transfers
Lucy, our fantastic PTS team member, recently booked a family trip to visit Rixos The Palm Dubai through Travel 2. The Travel 2 booking platform is really simple to use and offered easily the best rate – not only for this hotel – but for most hotels in Dubai. As the Scottish school holidays were finishing, we managed to book flights from Glasgow from £365 per person. This was half the price of the Manchester flights with Emirates, so if you are looking to book for late August, it is well worth considering whether you could fly from Scotland.
We booked our private transfer through Holiday Taxis, who arranged a fantastic deal of £46 return. We would like to say a huge thank you to Keeley and the reservations team. Taxis are cheap in Dubai, but it was nice to be met at the airport. After stepping out into the intense Dubai heat, it was fantastic to have a lovely air-conditioned GMC to keep us cool during our trip! The journey time from the airport to Rixos The Palm Dubai is around thirty to forty-five minutes when factoring in traffic. The drive into the city was easy and the streets are immaculate and well kept. There is a huge amount of development taking place in Dubai, and with this comes a lot of building work, but this still doesn’t take away from how well looked after everywhere is.
Rixos The Palm Dubai
The Palm is enormous and was far larger than we were expecting. The surrounding area is both beautiful and very grand as you approach it. It is clear when driving through that most of the hotels are huge, and as you pass them, it is easy to see how much Dubai has changed over the years and how popular it has now become with tourists wanting the ultimate luxury break.
The Rixos is located at the very end of the right-hand side of The Palm. To give an idea of just how massive an area of land it covers, once we had reached the Palm, it still took around twenty minutes to arrive at the hotel. The drive was lovely and we passed many beautiful hotels on the route. We were also treated to a lovely view of the sea and the Burj al Arab on the left as we drove in. As we approached the hotel, I was really disappointed with the look of the hotel entrance. It appeared very concrete with little in the way of niceties or decoration, and for a brief moment, I thought I had made the wrong choice in booking the Rixos. However, I am happy to report that the hotel entrance simply doesn’t do justice to what a wonderful hotel it really is!
Upon arrival, we were greeted by their staff, who took our bags and whisked us inside away from the heat. As you enter the foyer you will immediately notice how beautiful the hotel smells and how impressively large and luxurious it feels. Check-in was very smooth, and though we had arrived early and our room was not ready, they allowed us to start our all-inclusive straight away, advising that we could enjoy a spot of breakfast and that we were welcome to make use of the spa facilities to change in until our room was ready. Normal check-in time is 3pm, so if you have clients arriving on an overnight flight, it is worth advising them that early check-in is not guaranteed without paying for the night before. We ended up gaining access to our room at the slightly earlier time of 1pm, and we were very pleased to have been upgraded to a premium seafront room.
The room itself really was perfect. It was absolutely huge and reminded me of a Thai style room, as it made use of a lot of dark wood furniture and decoration. The room itself included a lovely corner sofa and lounge area. The bathroom was beautiful, featuring a free-standing bath, with screens that could be opened up to the room, allowing you to enjoy a soak in the bath whilst looking out to sea. Other nice touches in the room included a generous array of USB plugs, lights inside the wardrobe, a free to use safe, and electronic lighting.
The air conditioning was lovely and offered several different settings, so you could adjust it to your liking. If you are staying on an all-inclusive basis, the minibar is stocked daily with a range of soft drinks and beer. The room also included a huge TV, though this was not a smart TV as we had initially expected. This was a little bit disappointing as after a very long, hot day outside, you often find yourself wanting to relax in the air conditioning, and being able to watch Netflix or a movie would have been a great option. Ordinarily this wouldn’t bother me, but because the weather is so very hot and as you couldn’t sit outside at night time, it would have been a great addition to the room. In all fairness, this is a very minor thing and something they could easily adopt in the future.
We found the hotel to be very well kept, and the staff were amazing and more than willing to do anything for you. None of the staff expect tips, but I felt the service was above and beyond, and thus I was more than willing to provide tips on account of their excellent customer service.
Restaurants and Dining
The buffet restaurant offered an excellent range of foods and was thus a really good choice for any meal time. There was a wide array of foods, including fresh fruit, salads, vegetables, fresh meat, fish and desserts, just to name a few. You honestly couldn’t fault the choice. In addition, the staff were very accommodating and you were also able to order extras if desired. This meant that if they didn’t have fries or kids meals, for instance, you could order something separately. This makes the buffet restaurant a fantastic choice for kids – especially if you have any fussy eaters!
If you are staying all-inclusive, this will cover almost all of the offerings in the a la carte restaurants. For the avoidance of doubt, some items in the a la carte did require an additional fee, but the all-inclusive option provided an amazing array of foodstuffs and you will never feel like you are missing out by not spending extra.
The Toro Loco Steak house was comfortably our favourite restaurant. The food was out of this world and the live entertainment was even better. The manager, Ismail, was absolutely fantastic and put on a show as he brought out certain speciality foods. It is worth noting that the Toro Loco gets booked up very fast and you will almost certainly need to make a reservation before you have even arrived in Dubai. Having enjoyed ourselves so much the first time, we tried to book a table for another night during our stay, but found that none were available. However, if it is the atmosphere you are looking for, you are always more than welcome to pop in during the evenings and have a drink at the bar.
At lunchtime, we usually found ourselves eating at Aqua. This was more of a beach restaurant and allowed you to order from the menu, as opposed to some of the more buffet styled alternatives. The menu was very extensive, offering wraps, burgers, pasta and the most amazing chicken Caesar salad. In the evenings, Aqua becomes a fish restaurant, though we never tried this as we preferred the menu selection offered during the daytime.
The Italian restaurant, L’Olivio, was also an excellent option. They serve fantastic food and the staff are very friendly and provide excellent customer service. L’Olivio also offers some amazing views of the Burj and Dubai City, which is a definite plus point to eating there. For a lighter lunch – or perhaps a lighter breakfast – you may wish to visit Patisserie Istanbul. Located next to reception, Patisserie Istanbul is a coffee shop which serves coffees, teas, soft drinks, pastries and Turkish sweets. It is open twenty four hours per day and offers a nice little cafe experience. For those inclined, there is also a shisha lounge situated just outside the reception area, though please be aware that this isn’t included in the all-inclusive price.
Most drinks are included in the all-inclusive price. A good tip to remember is that as long as you see the UAI symbol, you can be certain that it is included. The drink selection was great and offered all of the main brands that you would expect. I was, however, a little disappointed with the standard of cocktails, and they could be very hit and miss depending upon who made them.
Activities and Entertainment
The Rixos is the perfect place for some rest and relaxation. The grounds are immaculate with hammocks, cabanas, and seating areas dotted all around the resort. Some cabanas are reserved for suites, but you can book certain ones if they are available. The lifeguards were always on duty at both the pools and at the beach, so I felt that my daughter was safe at all times. There are three pools available at the hotel, though one is closed during summer as it becomes the beach club. The beach itself is incredibly beautiful, offering white sand and incredibly clear blue water. The water was beautiful and felt like stepping into a hot bath, so rest assured that you won’t have the issue of slowly coaxing yourself into a cold sea! If swimming in the pools is more your thing, the Rixos provide pool towels at entrance to each pool area, so you won’t have to keep drying off your beach towel between each swim.
Our saving grace during our stay was the beautiful main swimming pool, which was kept at the perfect temperature and contained a fabulous swim-up bar. The sunbeds were very comfy and the poolside staff were always eager to help bring you drinks, popcorn and fresh fruit – all of which was free of charge. If you are on an all-inclusive package, you can also take advantage of the non-motorised water sports between 10am and 12pm every morning. My family and I loved the kayaking and paddleboarding.
The Rixos also offers an amazing kids club called Rixy Kids. This is designed for ages four and up, though any younger children can attend if accompanied by a parent. The kids club is fully air-conditioned and includes a movie theatre and various activities, as well as a nightly disco. They also offer a lovely park and a pool with slides, which is perfect for little ones to play and get out of the heat. The range of activities available at the kids club includes magic shows, cooking classes, handicrafts, treasure hunting, beach and pool games, talent shows and more. It really was a fantastic option for keeping your children entertained.
For holidaymakers with a little extra money, there are now suites available at Rixos, ranging from junior suites to five bedroom private pool suites. These suites also provide access to a separate restaurant called Turquiose during breakfast, and they include an evening buffet, which was also fabulous.
We had a great week at Rixos The Palm hotel and I would definitely advise that it is a suitable option for families. There were couples staying at the resort, but if you are looking for some rest and relaxation at an adults only hotel, this isn’t the place for you. There are lots of children and the facilities are fantastic for them!
If you are intending to be out in Dubai City every day, this also might not be the best option, as it will take about twenty five minutes just to get out of the palm every day. However, the Rixos is a great solution for a hotel based stay with a few day trips thrown in. If you plan on venturing out regularly, there are a lot of more suitable hotels which are located much nearer to the city. I would also advise that this isn’t suitable for a stopover as it is simply too far out. However, if you don’t mind being away from the City Centre, this is a fantastic spot for a really wonderful holiday. I would highly recommend the Rixos for both families, and for anyone looking to just take some time out and relax.
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