Contorting myself in an attempt to apply lotion to my back prompts a special sun oil butler to offer immediate help. And after my quick dip in the sea, the towels on the lounger have all been refreshed and my sunglasses have been buffed to a pristine polish. This level of super-attentive service is just one of the reasons Jumeirah hotels are considered THE places to stay in Dubai. Nothing is too luxurious and everything is extravagant.
The 40-hectare Madinat Jumeirah resort comprises three hotels and is owned by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
And boy, are the hotels lavish.Al Qasr is in traditional Arabian style, with ornate arches, carved wooden furniture, mosaics and a dazzling amount of gold.
Palatial rooms have stunning views of the Gulf. Diligent housekeeping meant my room was spruced up each time I left – I counted seven times in one day.
The pool is craftily designed to make you feel you have your own pocket of privacy, so kids can be playful without disturbing those floating peacefully.And if a day snoozing by the pool doesn’t release enough stress, a treatment at the Talise Spa definitely will.
There’s a traditional souk within the resort, and more than 95 boutiques.
Hotels are linked by a meandering 3km waterway – home to turtles – and guests can glide to the 50 restaurants on water taxis.We passed Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf, where Bodyguard actor Richard Madden has stayed.
Across the water is Al Naseem, the newest and hippest addition to the Jumeirah collection. Rooms have a soothing, breezy style with sliding doors to dressing areas and open bathrooms. Most have views directly on to the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel, the jewel in Jumeirah’s crown.
Super-stylish and tranquil reception areas have chiffon drapes, sprawling couches and the soft pulse of house music.
There are two pools – one adults-only and one for the family. At afternoon tea in the Al Mandhar lounge, cakes were like pieces of art, almost too beautiful to eat.
My favourite restaurants were Summersalt, with its delectable fusions of Japanese and Argentinian food, and Rockfish for great cocktails.
Days can be spent on private beaches just metres away or escaping the heat in the malls – 10 minutes by taxi.
To sample the history of Dubai, try the Al Marmoom Evening Bedouin Experience. It starts with a 4×4 drive across the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve followed by a 45-minute camel safari, headscarf and all. Very Lawrence of Arabia… sort of.
First stop is a falcon show, then it’s off to a torchlit Bedouin camp to watch henna painting, bread baking and brewing of Arabian coffee.
You’ll see the open fires where your four-course Emirati meal is made, but try not to look your lift in the eye as you taste camel meat. Sample ouzi, a spiced lamb that symbolises hospitality and is simmered for six hours in a pit. And I defy you to limit the luqaimats – mini doughnuts drizzled in date oil – to one.
Under clear skies, an astronomer shared myths attached to the stars used for Bedouin navigation.
The evening ended with cultural performances including Yola, involving sticks and rifles. It’s puzzling at first, but after a few minutes you’ll be joining in with their moves.
The resort is a 25-minute drive to the airport, and that’s when I encountered my first major problem of the holiday… I seriously, and huffily, did not want to leave.
Best At Travel offers five nights’ half-board in Dubai at Jumeirah Al Naseem plus two nights B&B at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah costs from £2,299 pp, including transfers and Emirates flights from Heathrow. bestattravel.co.uk, 020 3993 9773.
Al Marmoom Bedouin Evening Experience £106 per person (platinum-heritage.com) Tourist info: visitdubai.com, jumeirah.com
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