Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah Dubai is the very first resort of its kind in the glitzy UAE city, opening up the popular hotel brand to families in search of sun, sea, sand and a whole lot of food and fun, as Harriet Mallinson found out for herself.
I do a double take when I return to my suite and spot what appears to be a miniature coral reef made of white chocolate sitting on the table.
My eyes must be deceiving me; too many Aperols at the pool swim-up bar perhaps? But no, as I peer closely I come to face to face with a Wonka-meets-Attenborough microcosm of marine life studded with tiny chocolate fish. Hang on is that Nemo? I’m awestruck by this hotel surprise delivery, never mind the oohs and aahs from the kids as they descend on this choccy concoction after a day of fun in the sun!
Indeed children are put at the forefront from the off at the new Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah Dubai resort (the brand’s first in the United Arab Emirates) on the city’s iconic visible-from-space island. This elaborate confectionary is just the tip of the choc-iceberg.
Kids enjoy their own dedicated holiday journey at Marriott Dubai
No huffing behind a parent’s leg and waiting for aeons as mum and dad check in here. At Dubai’s first-ever Marriott resort children get their very own reception with steps so they can see over the top of the desk and everything!
Presented with a kid’s pack and acquainted with Owen the Owl (the Marriott mascot, keep up) children are whisked away, brandishing their own boarding pass for ‘Owen Air’ to Naples… or rather the resort’s gelateria just down the hall.
All the ice cream is made in-house – right in front of you no less – and in a glut of wonderful flavours from traditional to more exotic (please brave the gorgonzola, it’s truly divine) plus myriad fancy toppings for those in search of a serious sugar high.
Stomachs sated, kids will be given a stamp – one of many they can collect throughout their stay to record activities and clinch rewards ranging from Play-Doh to pizza. Our kind of border control.
Marriott Dubai kids’ club is packed with fun possibilities
There’s certainly lots to keep youngsters occupied without ever leaving Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah Dubai.
The beachfront kids’ club – available to children aged four to 12 – is free of charge to guests and home to heaps of toys from a LEGO wall and toy kitchen to dolls and puzzles. For more structured fun, there’s also a daily program packed with exciting activities such as making dreamcatchers, tackling maths challenges and painting.
There’s a fabulous shaded play area outside by the dedicated children’s pool, which is fringed with loungers so parents can get some well-deserved rest. And if mums and dads want their own fun, the kids’ club is open from 9am until 10pm – a rare late opening hour for Dubai hotels that guarantees a child-free date night should you want it!
Beachfront pool time will bring holiday joy to guests of all ages
For older offspring there’s an enormous 75m main pool so whether you’re after lengths or lolling you and the teens will be kept happy (and the aforementioned swim-up bar helps).
Reluctant to stray from your lounger? App-ordered poolside food and drink service means you’re fed and watered to a high standard with ease from neighbouring MYAMI Pool Bar & Lounge – nosh comes in adorable lunch boxes that would make an Instagram meal prepper proud.
Another excellent touch is the towel station that not only provides complimentary citrus-infused water but also SPF, after sun and tanning oil – perfect if you forget your own supplies (the resort’s shop is well stocked too).
Moments away is the beach should you want to get stuck into some sand time in Marriott’s private zone. There are sun loungers and cabanas plus lovely sea views of the Palm, posh yachts and, of course, Dubai’s gleaming skyscrapers. Good luck getting your sandcastle to remotely resemble those towering structures!
Dining is delicious for both parents’ night and family feasting
If it’s vistas from on high you’re after you can a) opt to stay in a penthouse (they’re delightful if you’ve got the big bucks) or b) head up to the newly opened bar and restaurant Above Eleven. The semi-open-air joint offers a delightful mélange of Peruvian and Japanese fare amid bountiful foliage and twinkling lights all overlooking the harbour – ideal for that date night.
For dining en famille among the Marriott resort’s 10 restaurants, bars and lounges, there’s Italian trattoria Cucina where the pasta is made in-house and a herb garden is flourishing, as well as Señor Pico which serves up Californian and Mexican cuisine by the beach, and Levantera.
The latter, offering an interactive Mediterranean and international buffet, boasts a designated section for kids but is dead impressive no matter how old you are.
At breakfast I gawp in admiration at the vast pancake stand (which transforms into chocolate fountains at lunch) and the protein shake section (complete with an excited-looking dad awaiting his beverage – and yes, there is a gym in the resort) not to mention the endless array of pastries, breads and spreads. Who knew there were so many types of honey?
Incidentally, if you are raising hearty eaters, Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah Dubai currently has a Kids Go All Inclusive Package in place until the end of 2023 with which families can bag all meals, ice cream, unlimited poolside drinks and more. Ideal if you’re keen to budget costs upfront for your mini travellers.
Accommodation at Marriott Dubai suits all family groups
Talking of minis, back in the rooms kids have more treasures to find. They’re welcomed by their own bathrobe, an Owen the Owl plush toy and a set of diminutive toiletries (the travel toothbrush is particularly snazzy *pockets for self*).
Accommodation at the resort caters well for multigenerational groups, with family rooms available as well as interconnecting quarters to maximise comfort. What’s more, they’re spacious and benefit from floor-to-ceiling windows and at least one balcony.
Expect natural bedding, a pillow menu, a bathtub, a coffee machine, an entertainment system and an in-room dining menu. I’m a big fan of the adjustable mood lighting too – just what one wants for confronting fear of the dark (them) and popping to the loo twice in the night (me).
What to do with children in Dubai
When day dawns youngsters are spoiled for choice in Dubai and even away from the luxury of the five-star resort there are adventures aplenty to be had.
If Marriott’s noodles only scratch the surface of your wet ‘n’ wild needs, know LEGOLAND® Waterpark Dubai is designed specifically for children aged two to 12 and offers a host of toddler-friendly splash experiences, slides and interactive LEGO experiences.
Want more? Dubai is nothing if not a place of superlatives so, unsurprisingly, you can find the world’s largest waterpark here: Aquaventure at Atlantis, The Palm has over 105 record-breaking slides, attractions and experiences.
Elsewhere there’s enormous indoor trampoline park Bounce or Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ, with everything from indoor football and high ropes to a skate park and themed climbing walls for kids of all ages.
Thrill-seeking teens will love Wire World Adventure Parks, located at Kite Beach and home to multiple play areas including The Swinging Tarzan 40-metre zip line and adrenaline-fueled Bungee Ejection.
For competitive fun without even leaving the hotel there are ball sports back at Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah Dubai as well. Anyone for a game of table tennis?
If that all sounds a bit hot and sweaty, your comfortable room will prove an air-conditioned sanctuary when the temperatures outside rocket – and you’ll still get the splendid views. Ahhh, time for a lie-down.
Perhaps I should nibble on chocolate Nemo first though, just in case he gets cold.
How to plan a family holiday in Dubai
How to get there
Almost all major cities in Asia fly direct to Dubai including Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila
Where to stay
Book direct for best rate guarantee at Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah Dubai