48 Hours in Dubai

Jenny Igoe on 10 December 2018
We have wanted to go to Dubai for a long time, I wanted to see what all the fuss is about. To me it seems like marmite to my customers, I have clients that go every year and I have clients that outright refuse if I suggest it as a destination.

When we booked our flights to Australia the best offer was with Emirates with a free stop in Dubai so here was our chance to check it out for a couple of nights. There was only one place we wanted to stay at - Atlantis. The water park and aquarium are legendary.

We flew overnight and had a transfer to take us to the hotel. It’s definitely a 5-star welcome with a red carpet, and the walk into the lobby is something to make you stop and say wow. With a huge art structure in the middle made from coloured glass, and water features, with music being played in from above, you can feel you’ve arrived somewhere special.

Our room wouldn’t be ready until 3pm and if I were to go again, I think I would arrange to land in the evening, so we could sleep straight away - just a little tip if travelling with small children. However, we now had 7 hours to pass with no room, so we unpacked our swimwear and left everything else in the luggage room.

Once beside the swimming pool, the holiday vibes began. The kids were straight in the water and all tiredness disappeared. I dozed on my sunbed and soaked up all that vitamin D after a winter of woolly jumpers.

For lunch we ate at the Mexican restaurant beside the pool. The cost of eating out in Dubai was one of the things I’d been warned about. We are a family of five. We ate one meal each at this lunch, no starter or dessert. Kids had water and we had two soft drinks. It cost £100. Great as a treat, it sure was tasty. Lucky we were only staying for two days! Of course, you could probably eat off site and save money, but I do think if you’re on a budget save Dubai for a time when you can afford it! Who wants to go searching for cheaper food in the hot midday sun? The deal I had booked meant we had free half board and this is definitely something to look out for! It meant we had breakfast and dinner included in our room rate, which is ideal.

After more swimming and sun our room was ready right on time, so we went to check it out. They had upgraded us to an Ocean View and I was delighted with the bathtub which looked directly out to sea! We had a huge bed plus a sofa bed for the kids, and it was fine for us. If you had older children you may need a larger suite, or interconnecting rooms.

My husband had an afternoon nap but me and the kids were too excited to sleep so we went exploring. We walked around the grounds of Atlantis which is really huge. We smelt the flowers, posed for pictures underneath the fountains and palm trees and then we went to play on the pure white sand beach. Atlantis is on the Palm, so its manmade, but who cares when it’s white sand and turquoise sea, it’s just gorgeous! In Dubai you are never far from construction, and cranes can be seen in the distance, but everything is kind of hazy. Maybe it’s the desert heat but it didn’t disappoint me at all.

We got all dressed up for dinner and ate in Kaleidoscope which is one of the buffet restaurants. My kids love a buffet! This was like a buffet on steroids. There was every type of cuisine from Asian to American, you could have freshly cooked pasta or fresh sushi and seafood. It all tasted amazing and we all had seconds (and thirds). Dessert was heaven for the kids with a chocolate fountain, pick and mix, ice cream, pastries, chocolate cake whatever they could dream up, they could have!

We needed to walk it off, so we wandered off and came to a brilliant playground for the kids to play. Later, we found an open-air beach club with a DJ and the kids had a dance while we coped with our food coma. What an excellent day we had.

Day two was even more of a dream. A breakfast to match the first-class dinner the night before, followed by watching feeding time in the massive aquarium that Atlantis is famous for! What a sight to see a scuba diver feeding the fish, rays and even sharks down in the tank. My son Arthur absolutely loved this!

A highlight of staying at Atlantis is the waterpark. In the past we have stayed away from water parks thinking it would be hard work with our kids being young and small, and not able to go on many rides. But Atlantis is designed that if you are a kid, the kids’ section is so good, and sectioned off, so that they can’t even see the big scary rides that they can’t go on! We spend a good 3-4 hours in the kids’ section, on the slides and lazy river, and had the best family bonding time that I can ever remember! Highly recommend it, and if you’re staying at Atlantis, entry is free and unlimited.

That night we ate at Saffron, the other buffet which is a little more grown up. All kinds of Asian food... Thai, Korean, Japanese, Indian. Still able to get chips for kids if needed. A walk along the promenade at sunset while looking back at the huge pink palace that is Atlantis ended the trip in the most perfect way. The whole 48 hours was glamorous, fun, relaxing, and so instagrammable! I hear that’s a major criteria now for millennials!

Ahhhhh Dubai you were so amazing. If you really are marmite, we were definitely on the love it side. Cannot wait to come back for longer next time.