What’s bright pink, sits on sand and spans more than 64 professional soccer fields? Ok, in actual fact, that’s the size of the entire property, but with more than 1,500 hotel rooms, Atlantis The Palm is one big, bold and beautiful hotel.
Perched at the very top of Dubai’s exclusive man-made island, Atlantis has been the crowning glory of the palm tree-shaped island since 2008. Ten years on, it continues to draw the crowds as a destination in its own right. Here are ten reasons why:
1. One stop shop
More than 1,000 hotel rooms, 23 different restaurants, a waterpark, onsite aquarium, spa, gym, private beach, beach club, kids club, shops, ice cream parlours – there really is very little reason to leave Atlantis once you walk through its palatial doors. That makes it extremely appealing to those who are just stopping over in the UAE on their way to Europe.
2. Location location
Located on the outer crescent of The Palm, the Atlantis Hotel has the rare luxury of being set back from the major construction sites on the Palm fronds and the coastline. Its sister property, the Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, is being built next door, but on the other side of the water park well away from the hotel grounds. Even better, rooms facing out to sea have uninterrupted views of the aquamarine Persian Gulf so you leave behind Dubai’s concrete facades.
Yes, The Atlantis Hotel has its very own waterpark. Aquaventure Waterpark sprawls out over 17 hectares, many of which are given over to a Lazy River where you’ll float down calm canals and wild rapids, pooling into manmade beaches and quiet swimming spots. Dozens of rides are fed by more than 18 million litres of water, including The Leap of Faith, which plunges passengers down a vertical drop and then through a tunnel in the shark tank. When the heat sets in, this is the spot to be – especially when you can rent a private cabana and send the kids off to the rides. Access to Aquaventure is complementary for hotel guests, which is great value considering tickets start at $80.
4. Water World
The designers didn’t hold back when it comes to the underwater theme. Towering seashells adorn the walls like friendly gargoyles. There are seahorse door handles, giant fish decorating the lobby, more seashells on the chandeliers and ceilings. And that’s before you’ve really stepped inside the hotel’s Lost Chambers aquarium. Learn about the fabled ‘Atlantis’ mysteries while marvelling at crystal clear tanks of jellyfish, sting rays, sharks, fish, there’s even an albino crocodile in residence. For something extra special, book into Yoga in the aquarium. Spend an hour moving through light exercises surrounded by towering aquarium walls before the aquarium opens. Then there’s the Ambassador Lagoon, a mammoth 11 million litre aquarium sprawling along one wing of the hotel. Guests can jump in the tank for a variety of different experiences – including Aqua Treks, where you won’t get your hair wet but you’ll get very up close and personal with the marine life.
5. Wine and dine
Sometimes it’s about quality not quantity, but at Atlantis it’s about both. There’s almost too many top notch eateries to choose from. The secret is big name international chefs – Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen and Bar transports hip London to the desert with an extensive gin collection and an excellent pie and pinot noir night. Italian heavyweight Giorgia Locatelli’s Ronda Locatelli is a family friendly option with an enormous wood fire oven and fresh Burrata cheese flown all the way from Italy. Then there’s Nobu, where you can try the internationally acclaimed Japanese fusion restaurant’s famous dishes like black cod and baby tuna tacos.
6. Suite life
Dubai and decadence go hand in hand, so when it comes to suites, Atlantis doesn’t mess around. A whopping $27,000 USD and the hotel’s Royal Bridge Suite could be yours. For the night. Spanning the main arch of the hotel, this sprawling 924 square metre, three bedroom suite has its own private elevator and entrance, a dining room set for 20, bar, billiards table and enormous lounge room – it’s home away from home for royalty, presidents, movie stars and the Kardashians. On a much smaller scale, but truly special, the Underwater Suite’s bedroom and bathroom look straight onto the Ambassador Lagoon aquarium so you can soak and watch the fish swim by. The guest rooms for the rest of us are spacious and tastefully decorated, with a few subtle Moorish touches. The hotel is one year into a three year refurbishment costing around US $100 million – expect to see a more modern look that still sticks to the aquatic theme.
7. Blow out buffets
Not all hotel buffets are created equal. Saffron, the Asian-themed buffet on site, has more than 200 different dishes on offer at any one time. At breakfast we’re talking multiple omelette stations, curries, dim sum, a pastry wall, one of the biggest chocolate fountains you’ll ever see, a lolly bar (yes, at breakfast), sushi, Middle Eastern dips, salads and breads, alongside cronuts, croissants, muffins and cereals. You’ll need at least 10 minutes to peruse all your options. The resort’s other buffet Kaleidoscope is on a smaller scale, but no less decadent, with a bagel station, a pizza oven (za’taar pizza for breakfast definitely works), a muffin wall installation and its very own chocolate fountain. During Ramadan you’ll find traditional sweets like baklava and ‘date trees’.
8. Free activities
A lot of hotels charge a resort fee for access to facilities and activities like gym classes. At Atlantis, you get access to a host of activities for free, including gym classes like stretch and core workouts. The ShuiQi Spa’s relaxation areas are also available to guests – Jacuzzi, steam rooms, saunas and relaxation lounge. For guests staying in Imperial Club Suites, access to the Imperial Lounges are included in the stay, which includes breakfast buffets, afternoon tea, and a full bar and buffet from 5-7pm each evening. The lounges are usually packed with families and couples alike in the evening, tucking into giant bowls of Pringles, platters of cheese, traditional Lebanese pastries and miniature baklava pieces.
9. Fine dining with a difference
Degustation dinners are usually elaborate affairs, but a meal at Ossiano Seafood Restaurant is something else. Tucked into the lower floor of Atlantis, Ossiano looks straight out onto the Ambassador Lagoon aquarium, replacing walls with 10 metre high floor to ceiling glass. Start your evening at the bar with a Pearl Diver – a pink cocktail served with an accompanying clam shell contain a chocolate lychee ‘pearl’ for you to eat while you sip your drink. The drama continues on your plates, with delicate dishes like Floating Island Rainbow Trout and poached blue lobster. It’s an obvious favourite for special occasions, with some guests going one step further and booking a scuba diver to swim by during dinner with a message (waterproof of course) for their special someone.
10. Bliss out
With a whopping 27 treatment rooms, it makes sense that the ShuiQi Spa offers more than just your usual spa treatments. Alongside remedial and relaxation massages, facials and scalp treatments, the spa has its own ZeroBody Experience room where guests rest on a bed that fills with water, similar to a water bed, experiencing colour therapy and meditation that helps eliminate stress and ease tension. It’s a surreal experience, floating without getting wet, but the soothing meditation certainly washes away worries.
Whether you want to fly and flop, work off the jetlag with an adrenalin boost, hit the pool, wine and dine or just head to the spa, Atlantis Dubai takes the term hotel to a new level. •
More information: atlantisthepalm.com