Dubai: Pavement cafes, a pedestrianised zone, the beach close by are just a few of the elements that make Jumeirah Beach Residence a haven for those seeking a Mediterranean lifestyle.
At just three years old, the residential area has blossomed, attracting not just residents but tourists and socialites.
By day, JBR's pedestrianised zone, The Walk, attracts many to its hundreds of restaurants and cafes, serving up cuisine from around the world. While some prefer just to take a stroll along the cobbled pavements, others sit, meet friends and family and just watch the world go by.
Situated in front of Dubai Marina, the tall towers of JBR stand atop its outlets, which include numerous home furnishing shops.
As the sun sets, the area becomes transformed into a place to see and be seen. Souped-up sports cars tour the area, showing off their modifications and specialised paint-jobs. Perhaps you'll spot some joggers taking advantage of the cooler temperature, people scooting around on motorised scooters, children playing hula hoop, someone practising on their unicycle or even a boa constrictor being taken for a walk.
During the winter, the central market area comes alive with the Covent Garden Market — selling everything from scarves and jewellery, to modern art.
The large (and free of charge) car park is also home to seasonal activities, including Dubai Shopping Festival entertainment and fun fairs. The complex treats residents to stunning sea views and a host of amenities on their doorsteps.
Matthew Gribble, an Australian recruitment consultant, said he likes the area because of the children's facilities.
"We like the pools and the play areas for little Sonny [his daughter], the convenience of restaurants and access to the beach," he said. The beach is within two minutes' walking distance of the residential towers.
"The Butcher's shop and grill is my favourite restaurant," he said.
The best way to see The Walk is on foot; but if your feet are tired and hot, take a time out at the Feet First reflexology centre, where a 30-minute foot massage is Dh90.
The cosmopolitan lifestyle afforded at JBR attracts expatriates from all corners of the world.
Elsa Pablo, a Filipina housemaid, was found relaxing in the shade with her friends amid children playing in the traffic-free manicured terraces of JBR.
"It's a very nice place, I like it. We have a supermarket and everything is here — that's why I like it so much here in JBR. I love KFC — it's my favourite place to eat and we go there every Friday," she said.
With its proximity to the shore, the pavement cafes are buffeted by warm sea winds, making outside dining comfortable even with the summer heat approaching.
‘At your doorstep'
Simona Coulston, a Czech accountant, was enjoying coffee in the breeze when she spoke to Gulf News. "I like the fact that everything is at your doorstep; all the shops and restaurants, and it's really near to the beach. It's quite a young community as well.
"My favourite places are Bice in the Hilton, Paul is nice for breakfast and Starbucks," she said.
At the shopping plaza level, every shop from supermarkets, pharmacies, entertainment outlets and beauty salons can be found.
There are four hotels along The Walk — the well-established Hilton with its beach-front shisha bar Wavebreakers, The Ritz and two newer hotels, the Sofitel and Movenpick.
If you're after glitz and glamour, head to Frankie's — the exclusive Italian restaurant set up by jockey Frankie Dettori (Al Fattan Towers). Midnight munchers should head to Zaatar W Zeit, which is open until 4am, or for a real taste of traditional British food The Fish and Chip Room that even has Scottish favourite deep-fried Mars bar on its menu.
Sun, sky and sea
A large car park provides great access to the beach and sea. In this area there is also an abundance of pretty shells, which many like to collect as holiday mementoes. Volleyball, football and kite flying are popular sports on this long stretch of sand, while some prefer to top up their tans or enjoy family picnics under the shade of their own umbrellas.
The beach is great for relaxing, but if you're looking for something a little more active, The Hilton offers a wide range of beach activities via Sky & Sea Adventures.
Take to the skies with a parasailing ride, for perfect views of the horizon and Dubai from 200 metres in the air. While it may seem that 10 minutes is short for a bird's eye view of the emirate, when you take flight it will feel like you've been in the air for hours.
Parasailers are taken out to a larger boat by dinghy, where the brave are harnessed to the parachute tethered to the back of the craft. Once the chute is open, a winch slowly releases its line, raising the parachute into the air.
Safety equipment and towels are provided, but it's best to remove sunglasses before flight if you want to keep them! Personal possessions can be left with the organisers. When the ride finishes, parasailers are winched slowly back onto the boat for a comfortable landing. The parachute is gathered in quickly, as at Dh10,000 each, damaging the chute can be costly.
One parasailing ride costs Dh250 per person, and one person flies at a time.
Jumeirah Beach Residence (commonly known as JBR) was built three years ago by Dubai Properties at a cost of Dh6 billion. The development includes 36 residential towers, four hotel towers and four beach clubs. It has been designed for families looking for a beach-resort lifestyle — including retail space and entertainment facilities — with apartments ranging from studios to one, two, three and four bedrooms. The 1.7km waterfront community has been slated as the largest single-phase residential development in the world.
- Beach activities at The Hilton. For those looking for a bit of adventure, beach activities are available at The Hilton. Take to the skies for a parasailing ride, or get your adrenaline pumping on a high-speed donut ride. Courses are also available.
- The Walk. The place to see and be seen, The Walk is JBR's pedestrianised zone, with hundreds of restaurants, shops and pavement cafes. Unusual sights include souped-up sports cars, unicycling and motorised scooters.
- El Chico's Mexican restaurant. With its traditional Mexican fare and entertainment, El Chico's has a homely, intimate atmosphere and is child-friendly. The restaurant is situated near The Hilton.
- The Covent Garden market. Hosted during cooler months, the market sells everything from jewellery, arts and crafts and Dubai souvenirs. It is set up in the main plaza.
- Hut Spot juice cafe. Fresh fruit squeezed and blended to your liking, the cafe offers perfect views of the sea and sunset.