Madinat Jumeirah Dubai
Let me take you to an Arabian palace from times long gone. Actually it was more than just one palace, it was a whole city: the Madinat Jumeirah Resort Dubai. A recreation of an old Arabian town complete with bazaar (the souk), wind catchers and water canals.
If you want to know whether it makes any sense to go to Dubai in Summer, you should read the following review of the Jumeirah Mina A'Salam 5-star resort hotel in the Madinat, as this was our oasis in the heat of July.
After we landed in Dubai International Airport (DXB), having flown in style with Emirates Business Class (see report here), we found a great palace on the shores near the actual palace of the King of Dubai and the famous Burj Al'Arab.
As we walked inside the impressive entrance, the marble, pillars, gold, and sublime lighting transported us directly to 1001 Nights.
Check-in was quick and friendly, while we were given wet towels and a fresh smoothie to relax. This showed yet again the middle-eastern hospitality - don't expect that in Europe...
On the way to our room we caught some glances at the Persian Gulf and the Madinat. Just fantastic!
We found a map that helped us a great deal on our adventures in the Madinat - oh and the free buggy and boat service to take us around ;)
Table of Contents
(numbers on the map in brackets)
- Lunch at the Palmery (28)
- Ambar at Al Naseem (30)
- Brunch at Hanaya (8)
- Pools (9 and 21)
- Wild Wadi Waterpark (on the far right in the map)
- The Souk (in the centre)
The advertisement states that the Mina A'Salam is actually a family resort, while the Al Qasr and the new Al Naseem are designated as luxury resorts and the Dar Al Masyaf as a boutiqe hotel. I haven't noticed any difference though, since all the beaches were empty anyway and children have also been in the Al Qasr pool and the small children's swimming area was directly next to it. I also didn't feel any luxury missing from our experience.
Granted, the Al Masyaf villas have their own butler service included and the Al Qasr seems to offer even nicer rooms and a has a very impressive drive-way to the entrance, but the overall standard of the Madinat resort is real 5-star luxury all the way. There might be more difference in winter, when the hotels are probably more occupied and you will be happy to have your own small pool only shared with one or two other Al Masyaf villas.
The porter guided us through the labyrinth of the palace to our room.
This room was the "cheapest" the sultan had to offer and as you can see, it was really nice and spacious. The rooms have been completely refurbished in 2015 and I do like the old Arabian style. It's warm and cosy and doesn't go over the top like the Burj.
Turndown and housekeeping service was fantastic and always left something for us in the room.
Lunch at the Palmery
Our first sumptuous dining experience was a lunch buffet at the Palmery, a restaurant in the new Al Naseem hotel. Initially I didn't realize that we have to take the buffet option, but the staff told us that there is no a-la-carte dining for this lunch. We actually didn't want to eat that much, but, since we were already there, why not?
Food was great, only too much to choose from. First world problems...
Some glances of the brand new Al Naseem outside of the Palmery. I liked the cool modern style that magically fit into the old Arabian Madinat.
Ambar at Al Naseem
I want to point out the Ambar at Al Naseem. This bar with a cool outdoor seating area serves very fine drinks, comparable to the best I've had. The manager must really now what a good bar needs. Each raw material of a cocktail is of better quality than in standard hotel bars, e.g. the Tonic in Gin and Tonic. The Shisha was great, the snacks were superb and the staff was very nice. I see this as a new go-to-place in Dubai.
Brunch at Hanaya
When in Dubai one should at least try a Friday Brunch once. Which we did in the Mina A'Salam's own Hanaya. The food was amazing and plenty!
One negative point I have to mention though: The live band's music was far too loud through the speakers. When the waitress was explaining all the buffet stations we could barely hear her. So we asked if they could lower the volume. They first replied it was impossible, but after some time they found a way to turn it down a notch. Still a little odd that the manager didn't notice that. Other guests were nearly screaming at each other to hold a normal conversation.
Going to the beach is really one of the main attractions when residing in the Madinat. As a hotel guest you are free to use all the beach facilities on the grounds. Except for the new Summersalt Beach Club next to the Al Naseem, where you have to buy a day pass even as a guest.
We loved the clean beach with soft sand and clear water. And it was empty. We were basically the only ones there. This was of course due to the heat of Summer. I gotta say though, the heat was not as bothersome to us. I rather lie on an empty beach at a dry 111° F (44° C) than at a humid 93° F (34° C) Italian beach where I can't walk around without stepping on people.
As with the beaches you are also eligible to use all the pools in the Madinat and we did try two of them: Mina A'Salam and Al Qasr. The water in both pools seemed to have been cooled down, which was refreshing coming from the sea water temperature of 93° F (34° C).
Considering the air temperature of about 111° F (44° C), the 86° F (29° C) of the pool felt a little cold :D
We liked the Al Qasr pool a little better for it being larger than Mina A'Salam's. Both were not that busy, but slightly more than at the beach.
Wild Wadi Waterpark
We used our free access to the Wild Wadi Waterpark only once. We have been a little bit disappointed. After the fantastic surroundings of the Madinat, this waterpark came across as dirty and cheap. Too many children, changing and shower rooms are a joke. We saw cockroaches. The rides are great though.
To complete the illusion of an old Arabian town, a souk was re-created in the middle of the Madinat. While the hallways were nicely done, we didn't really like the things on offer at the various shops.
After a stroll we had tea and a shisha at Times of Arabia, a rather casual Lebanese restaurant in the Souk.
Abra Boat Ride across the Madinat
Taking a boat in the Madinat is really a fun and relaxing experience and comes with the room.
The captain of our very own abra (traditional Arabian boat) was very nice and gave us a tour through the Madinat's waterways with a stop for shopping and tea at the souk.
Surroundings: Dubai Marina, Mall of the Emirates
We tried to find more casual places for lunch and dinner, but it wasn't that easy. In the Madinat everything seems to be either a large and expensive buffet or formal fine-dining. In the Souk you will find more casual options, but still not cheap. Thus, the Marina or the Mall of the Emirates are a viable option for good food from all around the world.
|Hotel||Jumeirah Mina A'Salam|
The Madinat is really unique and it provides a real five star holiday feeling.
While I love those sumptuous Dubai Buffets(tm), I can't have it every day. It's just too much food! I don't want to eat that much and still feel I missed a lot. I just want to enjoy and not feel stuffed afterwards. It seems this stems from the otherwise fantastic hospitality of this culture: offer the guest everything, even if it is too much and most of it goes to waste.
I want to see it in winter though. Does it still feel exclusive then or does it feel like Rimini beach with every inch occupied by people? Because for that, the price would be too high in winter. My idea of luxury always includes less people than the cheaper options. In summer this was definitely the case here.
Personally, I didn't mind the dry heat that much. What I didn't like though was that all the outdoor seating areas of the restaurants were closed. And there were some very nice terraces there. (In a restaurant in the Dubai marina they solved the problem with movable AC units :D alright alright, not the most energy efficient thing)
I can't comment on the Talise Spa, since we didn't have time for it - I know, sounds odd, but 6 nights is not enough to experience the whole Madinat (and marina). I would recommend to go for about 10 nights. If you can spare the moneys, that is.
So, to answer the initial question, whether it makes sense to come to Dubai in summer: It depends on your feeling for dry heat. I admit that even I wouldn't want to stay three weeks in this heat, but if you like it quiet and empty while indulging in luxury for a few days - go for it. I will do a winter trip to Dubai next year and plan to write a comparison report.
After we have been banished from the palace we had to travel through the desert. But this is a story for another day...