Dubai: The white speedboat skips over blue waves off the Palm, as if matching my glee at the start of my weekend adventure.
"Is the speed okay for you?" the speedboat driver asks from the helm. I smile and nod, marveling at the scenery. I usually see Dubai from a bird's eye view, but this mermaid's perspective is just as perfect: Dubai Marina skyline from a distance, with my beautiful home for the weekend up ahead: Fairmont The Palm.
I can't count the number of times I have been to this resort hotel in the city, but each time I visit, it feels like there is always something new to discover. It's my quick getaway in the city: near enough for a drive, but far enough if I need to disconnect from city living.
Fast forward to a few hours earlier. We're at the Gold Lounge, basically Fairmont The Palm's version of the VVIP access. The privilege came with our Gold View room booking. Check in was quick, with an almost royal treatment for guests. My companion and I were introduced to our personal butler and told that breakfast, afternoon snacks or evening drinks are free at the lounge. Definitely worth the room upgrade.
Our room, one of 381 in the beachfront hotel, offered welcoming views of the beach and the swimming pools. The balcony opened to a panoramic view of the Arabian Gulf. I could also see the Dubai Marina from a distance.
I plop into one of the twin beds, already feeling myself relax as I sink into soft sheets. My partner, however, couldn't wait to check out the five-piece marble bathroom with the soaker tub and walk-in rain shower and had already turned on the tap for a warm bath.
What to do
There's plenty of things to do at this beachfront hotel. It's heaven for a water lover like me, with four temperature controlled pools to choose from, not to mention that expansive beach.
The 30-minute speedboat ride from the hotel and through the Dubai Marina was a wonderful sightseeing experience. On the way, I was able to see the under-construction Dubai Eye and the beautiful Dubai Marina skyline from the waterway.
When we headed back to shore, I checked in the Health Club gym for a 30-minute training session to stretch my muscles. The workout involved 5-minute cycles of brisk walking, squats, lunges and other quick exercises.
The part that I really enjoyed was channeling my inner Mary Kom or Manny Pacquiao with their special boxing equipment that had 12 hit points. The trainer barked numbers and combinations, and I had to hit the corresponding points... Jab to 1 and 2, uppercut to 4, left knee kick to 6, right knee kick to 7...
After that exhausting workout and beach outing, it was time for a relaxing massage for my partner and a rejuvenating Moroccan bath for me at their signature Willow Stream Spa. I loved the Moroccan bath experience here: the therapist was very thorough and the bath felt more like a massage than a scrub. The ceiling also helped lift up the ambiance - it looked like a constellation of stars at night. Very relaxing.
Where to eat
Dining in has never been a problem for me at this hotel. For afternoon tea, I prefer the Mashrabiya Lounge at the lobby. There are more than a dozen specialty teas to choose from and beautifully created mini sandwiches, pastries and scones to enjoy.
I love waking up to breakfast at the all-day dining Flow Kitchen, which serves a big international buffet with a huge selection of starters, main course, desserts and everything in between. You can even ask the chef to make your own special garden salad.
For a less busy morning, I prefer breakfast at the Gold Lounge. The spread is smaller than at Flow Kitchen's, but the ambiance and view are amazing.
Dinner is an adventure at Frevo with Brazilian churascaria-style dining. The highlight of this foodie treat is the 18 cuts of meat ready to be served hot off the grill and onto your plate. I could also help myself to the salad bar before going in for the heavy meat stuff. Delicious is an understatement.
For my seafood cravings, I go to Seagrill on 25° Restaurant & Lounge. I like the mix seafood grill here, which is particularly nice to share. The starters and appetizers alone can fill up the table, with perfect servings of smoked eggplant mousseline, marinated octopus, white anchovies, mussels and shrimp saganaki, among other. The grilled delight consists of monkfish, shrimp, octopus, squid and scallops on skewers.
What we recommend
Book a Gold View room to get a room with a view, plus access to the Gold Lounge. Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Flow Kitchen and don't forget to drop by the well-equipped gym to give boxing a go.
Fairmont The Palm is located on Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. Telephone 04 457 3388 Email email@example.com