REVIEW: Rixos The Palm
The thought probably occurs to most people when they’re arcing down the Eastern Crescent on the Palm, past the Waldorf Astoria and the Anantara Resort towards the narrow, tree-lined boulevard at its very tip: shouldn’t we have taken the ferry? You might have been in the car for half an hour but, with Knowledge Village and the skyline of Media City now staring you straight in the face as you double-back towards the shoreline, you wonder whether a half-decent swimmer could race you home.
That, though, is also the appeal of Rixos The Palm, the hotel and resort perched on the furthest edge of the Palm’s outer ring. You’re essentially in the middle of nowhere but the rather appealing backdrop of the Marina and the Palm’s trunk still glitter away over your balcony as night falls – and if you want to leave the car with the valet, Dubai’s RTA now offers a twice-daily ferry to the former for shopping or lunch excursions.
A staycation here, though, is about leaving Dubai behind. This is a place that invites you to simply unpack, eat and then relax in about five different ways.
WHAT TO DO
The degree to which you do anything here might depend on the time of day. After brunch on a Friday, it’s tempting to retreat to your room, draw the curtains and dive into the absolutely massive bed for a doze, but you should expend just a little more energy by changing into your swim gear and heading downstairs to the crescent-shaped pool beneath the palm trees – this might be one of the greenest corners of The Palm. There’s a swim-up bar, loungers on a lawned area and a throb of mainstream dance and classic pop – we’re sure we heard Depeche Mode amongst the EDM – to ensure there’s a pleasing holiday vibe around the place.
After an hour or so here, we decamped to a muslin-screened cabana by the beach for another version of seaside downtime. Our comfortable, sheltered base provided immediate access to the bath-warm sea with its views of the Marina and the impressive villa at the end of the Palm’s Al Fardh frond, while we could also jump out on a pedalo – one of which was armed with a roof made out of a trampoline, while another offered a slide. There’s scuba-diving, too, but the trampoline ought to be enough for anyone.
WHAT TO EAT
As most UAE residents will be arriving on a Friday lunchtime, as we did, the obvious thing to do is dump the bags and head straight for the brunch in the A La Turca restaurant, which kicks off at 1pm. A beast of a spread in typical Dubai style, the main highlights were the meat section – in which diners choose a cut from a mammoth pile of tenderloin, sirloin and chops and take it to the kitchen to be flame-grilled to their exact specifications – and the oyster station, in which rock oysters were shucked to order in front us. The dessert station deserves a mention, too: as Rixos is a Turkish brand, the various coloured cubes of Turkish delight are the real deal.
Later in the day, we took dinner al fresco beside the beach in the I-Chill Lounge, which offered up snack-like platters of wagyu sliders, surprisingly good falafel wraps and garlicky shwarmas – which is a perfect option if you’re too lazy to shower, change and head elsewhere, or if the brunch kills your appetite for a few days. Or both.
There are, though, more formal options here. We had previously eaten at L’Olivo, an above-par Italian restaurant on the ground floor, and can recommend the “Rossini” Black Angus beef tenderloin with pan-seared foie gras, saffron mashed potato and baby spinach, and the “sous vide” whole baby chicken. There’s also Aegean, a Greek restaurant with a pleasant courtyard. After that, there’s more relaxation on offer at the newly opened Nu Air shisha lounge, with small, white gazebos perched over shallow pools of water.
You can also wander down to neighbouring El Chiringuito, the Ibiza-born club and lounge – and this might be an idea on party nights as its music does dominate the peninsula until midnight.
The final piece in the let-it-all-go jigsaw is the rather lovely Anjana Spa. Again, for a Turkish brand, the hammam is going to have to be good, and they get most things spot on here – including the Turkish masseuse, who manipulated bones, muscles and joints on the octagonal marble dais in the centre of the main room. It is always a distinct joy to be bathed as an adult, and the pails of water that cascaded over me after the traditional loofah scrub and a pillow-case style soapy cloth were administered were both soporific and rejuvenating.
This is also more a bathing experience than a spa. There is no music, whale or otherwise, and the treatment also included a hair-wash complete with conditioning. When you’re done, you emerge cocooned in towels into a relaxation room for tea.
This is clearly a hotel that is geared towards kicking back and letting go for days on end, as the package holiday guests from Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, underline. As a result, you might feel the service needs a bit of tightening if you’re only here for 24 hours, but just get in the pool, grab a glass of something cold and forget all about it. The all-inclusive package means they’re doing most of the work for you already.
Rixos The Palm
Where: Eastern Crescent, The Palm
Prices: From AED1,900 for a king room
Contact: +971 4 457 55 55, website