My toddler is sitting in a ‘big girl’ chair, with a napkin tucked in under her chin as she munches away on a selection of delicately prepared sandwiches and cupcakes.
A member of staff diligently returns to check she’s OK, whether she would like more milk, more food, more anything, and smiles as he picks up her spoon from the floor for the third time.
We are dining in the executive lounge at the five-star Fairmont The Palm in Dubai, where nothing is too much trouble.
MailOnline’s Carol Driver ventured to Dubai for a family holiday. She checked into the five-star Fairmont The Palm, above
The Fairmont The Palm is located on the astonishing man-made Palm Jumeirah island, pictured
Rewind four weeks and I was umming and ahhing about whether ‘the Las Vegas of the Middle East’ could really be a family friendly destination. And when we told friends we were taking our not-yet-two-year-old to the UAE in October – when temperatures reach 36 degrees Celsius even though it’s winter – they said we were crazy.
But one uneventful (in a good way with a toddler) nearly seven-hour flight later, as we settled into our luxurious hotel room, I was confident we’d made the right decision. Dubai’s tourism scene is renowned for its incredibly lavish lifestyle, with its magnificent shopping malls, grand accommodation and plush restaurants.
One of the reasons we had chosen the Fairmont is because it’s situated on the Palm Jumeirah island, so it boasts incredible views of the Arabian Gulf and the glittering Marina skyline, as well as having its own beachfront. It also has a dedicated kids’ club, ten restaurants, four temperature-controlled swimming pools, a spa and a fitness centre – plenty to keep us busy over the next four nights.
We’re staying in executive accommodation as part of a Fairmont Gold (known as a ‘hotel within a hotel’) package, which means we have a private check-in, butler services and access to the executive lounge.
Carol says the hotel décor is a ‘beautiful mix of Arabian design and contemporary styles’. Above, one of the deluxe rooms
Carol says she chose the Fairmont because it has ‘incredible views of the Arabian Gulf and the glittering Marina skyline, as well as having its own beachfront’
As well as pastries, cereals and cooked breakfasts to start the day, guests can also visit here throughout the day for drinks, and canapes are served with cocktails between 5pm and 7pm. And the staff, as we are finding out, absolutely love children – our little girl is made a fuss of wherever we go.
Our room is the equivalent of an exciting den to explore for her too. We’re staying in a Fairmont Gold View room, which has a huge king-size bed, an ottoman, a desk and a chair ‘business’ area, and a bathroom with a walk-in rain shower and a soaker tub. The décor is a beautiful mix of Arabian design and contemporary styles. There’s also a kid-proof balcony with impressive views overlooking the gulf and the grand city.
We spend our days splashing around in the family pool, where there are activities for the children at various times. There are large pool-side beds as well as loungers where we set up a base, and we’re able to order food and drinks there too.
Then, after a quick retreat to the room for a nap (all of us) perfectly timed to miss the hottest part of the day, it’s back down to explore the beach. Although there’s expansion work going on when we visit, and part of the area is restricted, it doesn’t really hinder our time there.
The soft, sandy beach, which is only for Fairmont guests, stretches for what seems like miles, with the city’s skyscrapers towering to the left. The azure waters are welcoming and our toddler takes great delight in splashing in the shallow end.
The interiors of the buffet-style Flow Kitchen, where all-inclusive holidaymakers can opt for an amazing array of food from around the world
During her stay at Fairmont The Palm, Carol ventured to the on-site spa for a massage. Guests can buy a day pass to enjoy the steam and relaxation areas (separate for men and women). There’s also a thermal suite and an ice fountain
The hotel has a dedicated kids’ club, so parents can enjoy a bit of relaxation (stock image)
There are plenty of sun-loungers, and Fairmont staff happily give out bottles of waters and towels. And for the more active beach-goer, kayaking, paddle-boarding, pedal boats, speed boats and sailing lessons are all available. We don’t do any of the above, but simply take it in turns to run after our little girl, when the other tries to catch five minutes soaking up the sun.
Fairmont also boasts the Falcons Kids’ Club, where children from 18 months to 16 can enjoy a splash park, climbing wall, arts and crafts as well as books and jigsaws. There are Xboxes, Wiis and PlayStations for older kids too.
That night, after cocktails in the executive lounge, we head to the stunning Little Miss India for dinner. Our little one is in awe at the décor, which features lots of bright colours as well as lush green plants hanging from the ceiling. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful. And when our dishes arrive and the curries – which are probably among the top curries I’ve ever tasted – are too spicy for our toddler, they happily prepare her some pasta.
We enjoy a very grown up meal at what seems to be a sensible time (Dubai is two hours in front of the UK) and wash everything down with a few glasses of wine, before heading to Delicacy – the in-hotel patisserie. Here, we order hot chocolates and chocolate eclairs, made with the finest choux pastry – the perfect ending before the three of us all cosy up on our huge bed and all manage to sleep through the night.
The next day, my husband takes Amelia to the pool, while I head to the on-site spa for a (well-deserved) massage. Guests can buy a day pass to enjoy the steam and relaxation areas (separate for men and women), there’s also a thermal suite, an ice fountain, a traditional Hamman and a gym.
I relax and enjoy a full body massage and a facial, which is nearly two entire hours of stress-free bliss. I emerge feeling like a new woman, and join my family at the beach for an afternoon of splashing around.
Of the hotel’s ten restaurants, Carol said her favourite eatery was Ba Restaurant And Lounge, pictured. The menu is a mix of Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean dishes
Guests at the Fairmont are spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurant choices, Carol says. Above, a chef attends to the one of the dishes on offer at the Ba Restaurant And Lounge
Dubai is a spectacular city – but it can reach almost unbearable temperatures. Even in October, when Carol visited
Stays at Fairmont The Palm start from AED 713 (£240) excluding taxes and service, per room per night, based on two sharing on a room only basis.
To book call + 971 4 457 3388 or visit www.fairmont.com.
Rating key: one star – poor; two stars – ok; three stars – good; four stars – very good; five stars – exceptional.
That evening, we’re all ravenous. Guests at the Fairmont are spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurant choices. We also try the buffet-style Flow Kitchen, where all-inclusive holidaymakers can opt for food from the Mediterranean, Asia and the Middle East. It’s perfect for fussy eaters too, as there’s so much choice on the menu – everything from noodles and pasta, to pizza and curries.
But our favourite eatery has to be Ba Restaurant And Lounge. We’re given a window table, with views across to the twinkling lights of the city, and the staff are brilliantly attentive. The menu is a mix of Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean dishes – from steamed buns and tacos, Ramen noodles and sushi. We leave ourselves in the chef’s hands and the dishes do not disappoint.
Our waitress makes our little girl a set of baby chopsticks, and she happily digs into everything on the table – including the melted chocolate pudding. In the lounge area in the front of the restaurant, a DJ plays upbeat music, so, fuelled by sugar, our toddler gets up and starts dancing around the tables, running and playing.
We’re conscious not to ruin anyone else’s meal, but all we receive are smiles from other diners, and comments from the staff about how adorable she is. And it wears her out for bedtime, so we’re happy too.
Our time in Dubai comes to an end. It’s exceeded my expectations, and ticks all the boxes in terms of what a family-friendly resort should offer – and more.
As we leave, our little girl waves goodbye and calls out after the staff, who smile and wave her off – she’s had a brilliant time, which, means that we as parents have too.