Dubai has become a city that is spoilt for choice. And no where is that more evident than trying to pick a hotel for your family. After staying at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, I believe that resort is an excellent choice for families seeking a mix of relaxation, fun, convenience and a decent dose of luxury.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel, although a very deserved 5-star resort, is certainly not the most opulent or over-the-top of the Dubai hotels. However, I find that such extremes of luxury don’t mix well with my kids and our more relaxed approach to holidays. The Jumeirah Beach Hotel is an excellent combination of luxury and glamour with a relaxed enough atmosphere to be comfortable and welcoming for families.
When we arrived there after our red-eye flight, we were immediately taken to the Premium Leisure Center, where a breakfast buffet awaited. Once seated with our coffee and food for the kids, staff members checked us in and completed all the paperwork. While the buffet was not lavish, there was still everything we needed, from made-to-order omelets, a waffle station, to lots of fresh fruit. Because we arrived so early, our room was not ready. However, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel made it easy for us to start our holiday right away. They offer easy access to the luggage you have stored, as well as changing facilities, showers, and lockers. Within no time our family was in swimsuits and headed to the attached water park.
The facilities at Jumeirah Beach offer a lot for all ages. The Wild Wadi Water Park is attached and you get free entrance when you stay at the hotel. There are fun options here for the whole family, from a large wave pool, a childrens’ waterslide section, and a long, leisurely lazy river for the less adventurous. They also have multiple huge waterslides that range from mildly thrilling to so steep and fast that they don’t even let you bring goggles down the ride! (Only my husband did that slide, while I held on to our goggles and phones.) Because the water park is attached, I think teens could easily visit Wild Wadi while the rest of the family relaxed at another part of the resort.
My kids actually preferred the resort Family Pool and Sinbad’s Kids Club water area to the Wild Wadi water park. The Family Pool at Jumeirah Beach is beautiful. It is surrounded by trees and greenery and is a free-form zero-entry pool. There is even a little water slide at the deep end. To help parents relax there are numerous lifeguards and waiters happy to bring food or cocktails to your shaded chaise lounge. Next to the Family Pool is the Kids’ Club with an additional zero entry pool/splash area/water playground. You can visit this area even when your kids are not in the kids club. There is a lifeguard there as well, plus there are giant sails overhead, making the entire pool shaded. Both of these areas were very relaxed… lots of water wings and pool toys. If you needed a break from such kid-friendliness, there are three more pools, including a lovely and relaxing main pool and another pool in the fitness center for lap swimming.
Speaking of fitness, those who are so inclined have access to the very luxurious and expansive Talise Fitness Center while staying at the hotel. There are some seriously cool workout options here, making it an activity in itself. There are also tennis courts, squash courts, personal trainers, and a full schedule of fitness classes covering all the latest trends.
The Jumeirah Beach Hotel sits on almost a kilometer of private sandy beaches. You have your choice of lounging on one of the many chaise loungers under an umbrella, building sandcastles in the incredibly soft sand, jumping waves in the bath temperature Arabian Sea, or partaking in one of the many water sports on offer.
My family found the dining to be a real treat. There are 21 restaurants and bars on the property, of which we sampled only four. However, I was impressed with the many family-friendly. Not only were there kids buffets, but several of the restaurants even have dedicated kids’ areas with soft-play, toys, and movies. For adults, the food is good and plentiful, although nothing met my London-restaurant scene standards of gourmet. But we were very satisfied with the offerings.
The Jumeriah Beach Hotel is ideally placed to take advantage of the many attractions of Dubai. It is next to the Mall of the Emirates with its indoor ski slope and MagicPlanet as well as the Dubai Mall filled with KidZania, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, and Dubai Dino in the Souk Dome. (Oh yeah, both of those malls have some shopping, too). While Dubai has become known for modern glamour and adventures, there are still plenty of cultural and Old Dubai experiences to be had, such as, souks and markets to explore, desert safaris, historical walking tours, and private boat cruises of the canals and the city shoreline. As Jumeirah Beach is not located on The Palm, you have much easier access to all of these non-resort attractions.
As far as accommodation goes, the Jumeriah Beach offers a number of options, from a standard hotel room, to a standalone two-bedroom villa, or a three-bedroom suite inside the hotel. When we stayed as a family (with 2 adults and 2 kids) we had a one-bedroom suite inside the hotel. It was perfect for the four of us. The best part was the private sun terrace. Not only is it spacious, but it is heavenly to sit out there and enjoy our own bit of privacy above the bustle of Dubai. The villas offer private pools and access to additional amenities. All of the suites and some club level rooms offer access to the Premium Leisure Club and the Executive Club which feature lots of free food and drinks throughout the day.
There is a lovely Kids Club at the resort, which my daughter especially enjoyed. Inside is the biggest indoor “sandbox” I’ve ever seen, an art area, a toddler area, a small soft play section, and a covered outdoor playground. Kids aged 5 and above can stay all day. However, children 4 and under can only attend one session (about 3 hours) per day unaccompanied. If they want to go in additional session you need to stay with them or hire a babysitter to stay with them.
I had very few complaints about the hotel and resort. I found that the one-session restriction at the Kids’ Club to be annoying for my four year old daughter who wanted to attend different activity sessions throughout the day and was happy and capable of being left without me. Also, the elevators are annoyingly and frustratingly slow. The décor throughout the hotel and the rooms is a little dated and seemed more 90’s business style than a luxury beach hotel. However, I would go back to this hotel in a heartbeat.
If you do choose this Jumeirah Beach Hotel, you probably want to know why you are picking it over the more famous and much larger, Atlantis the Palm. Having stayed at both, I personally prefer the Jumeirah Beach for several reasons. Primarily, my family leans towards barefoot luxury over all-out glamour. While Jumeirah Beach is definitely not “barefoot”, it is much more relaxed than the ritzier and more glamourous Atlantis. Second, Jumeirah Beach is much closer to the airport and many of the downtown attractions. The extra half hour (or more in traffic) can make a real difference if your stay in Dubai is short or if you plan on visiting attractions in Dubai. Third, the Jumeirah Beach is much smaller. Again this is a personal preference, but I lean towards smaller resorts. There are a couple of aspects in which the Atlantis clearly comes shines. The aquarium is a fun feature to which the Jumeirah Beach doesn’t have a real answer. Second, if nightlife and fine dining are a priority for you, then the Atlantis has more to offer on site. Third, the décor is more up-to-date than the Jumeirah Beach. Finally, I found the Kids Club at Atlantis to be superior in terms of facilities and policies.
You could easily stay at this hotel for a week on a multi-generational trip. This hotel, and Dubai in general, make a great long weekend escape from Europe or a launching off point for other destinations around the Middle East.