Sometimes even the most experienced traveller just wants to chill out, and, honestly, Fairmont The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, is the place for this. No-one, or rather only 17% of guests, comes here primarily to work. Typically you come on holiday, from UK, followed by Germany and then the Middle East. Brits and regionals are most likely to pay the surcharge to face the beach, which is really worth it, says the gal. Look down at the third of a mile wide sandy beach, cleaned meticulously each morning, and you just feel ready to face yet another day of relaxation, with lots to do if that bores you. You may, indeed, have already booked ahead for a session with Dr Rita Rakus, who apparently not only plumps up your lips but takes away wrinkles, everywhere.
Looking down from room 941, down at the beach, was a revelation. Yesterday we had signs written in the sand saying someone loves someone, with a big NO. Today one of the signs says ‘I love you Fatema and Omar’ with NEW BABY written underneath. All this is very touching. Despite the fact that the 381-room hotel could perhaps do with a bit of renovation spend from its concerned owners, the hotel feels good, everywhere, thanks to a super team. There are 750 of them and they think of everything. Arrive for dinner wearing only a t-shirt and shorts, and the restaurant manager skilfully persuades you that you will actually feel better slipping on the pair of one-size-fits-all full-length Chinese-type trousers that are waiting, just in case.
They offer moonlight yoga on the beach when the moon is right, says Amy De Vera, one of the treasures in the ninth floor Fairmont Gold lounge. The lounge opens at 6.30 a.m. but she came in at five, to make sure everything is right. She rushes up with a big smile – she knew me from the lounge at Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore, where she worked before, but confusingly she has since cut her hair. Sadly I miss that month’s Full Moon Yoga (the next is May 21st, 2016). My visit, the yoga coincided with dinner at Seagrill on 25°, and it was the weekly Lobster Night. Choose how you want it cooked, what you want with it, say fat chips and salad. We sat outside on the Seagrill on 25° terrace, our feet almost in the sand, and since I do not like lobster I went for local red snapper.
All the seafood here is labelled on the menu so you know where your tasty morsels came from. I hear about Seagrill cooking classes, and barbeques on the beach, and baby showers. Looking after little ones is a differentiator, they say. They have brought their kids’ club minding, free for three to 12-year olds, inhouse, to have closer relationships with the parents (all the staff who work with children are certified educators). This place is busy, I think, as I nibble on Italian burrata and a local red snapper which they swear was only caught this morning. This guest could be even busier, in fact. As displayed prominently in my room, head concierge Mark Corpus suggests seven weekend day-long programmes, all excellent, say roomservice breakfast followed by a personal trainer, then a spa massage and manicure and pedicure and, later in the day, a safari trip finishing with desert dinner. As I am leaving this friendly-luxury hotel, on a weekend day, the GM, Mark Sawkins, happened to turn up. He often comes in at weekends, he says, just because he cannot keep away. That is what you call passion. See below.