Check In: One&Only The Palm

12 Jun 2012

Ahlan!’s guide to the region’s hotels – this week we’re on The Palm

Right on the Western tip of The Palm, past Zabeel Saray, and various other luxury sea-facing developments under construction, sits One&Only The Palm. As the last stop on the road there’s no ‘passing trade’ and it has an exclusive sense of remoteness. Perhaps this is why seemingly few residents have ventured out here yet. As the crow flies it’s actually closer to the mainland than Atlantis, but with just one connecting road to The Palm’s arc, you have to literally go around the houses (and hotels) to get here. It’s a Dhs35/20-minute cab ride from Dubai Marina, which it faces; the older, more established One&Only Royal Mirage sits opposite on the mainland. You can book a boat transfer from Royal Mirage when making reservations at its twin across the water if you want to arrive in the style of James Bond – and let’s face it, who doesn’t?
Celebrities love this place – and we’re not talking about the sort who pose with dolphins. This is Dubai’s destination of choice for serious A-listers, but the staff have been sworn to secrecy about the famous guests and won’t take bribes (we tried!). If you want to know who’s stopping over at any given time, you’ll just have to venture there for yourself. Read on to discover what’s on offer.

The Pools and Spa
The hotel’s pools are spectacular with one proudly positioned in front of the property’s stunning façade. The other, next to the gym, is a lap pool for serious swimmers – sans kids.
The poolside cabanas are totally off the hook – more like little homes, they boast indoor and outdoor areas, showers, mini-bar and even a TV! This summer’s One&Only pool pass deal for four would make for a top day out with the girls: spend Dhs2,800 on a cabana for the day and you each get a one-hour spa treatment for free. Try the Restore Swedish massage if you want to experience ESPA’s world-famous aromatherapy oil, or book one of the classics (Thai, Shiatsu, or deep tissue). A one-hour massage at the deluxe Private Spa costs Dhs490 – spagain!
Other treatments include ESPA facials and divine body scrubs (their salted oils are so good!), plus extended rituals like the intriguing One&Only Tiger Shell Treatment, in which warm lava shells are used to unknot muscles and Argan oil is used to boost the complexion. There’s also the Mani:Pedi:Cure Studio founded by foot guru Bastien Gonzalez. His 60-minute, Dhs450-pedicure is said to be the best in Dubai. His technique is dry – no foot soaks – and uses specially developed lotions, potions and chemical-free colours.

The Rooms
This is a boutique resort with just four beachfront villas, and 64 rooms and 26 suites within the main three-storey ‘manor house’ and the surrounding two-storey ‘mansion houses’ divided into four suites apiece. Décor throughout is elegant, blending Moorish and Andalusian architecture with bold contemporary statement pieces and silver accents – no gold leaf here. All accommodation has either a private balcony or an outdoor terrace leading onto the beach or main pool, and the swankiest suites have their own private pools. Inside, the highlight is the free-standing tub, perfect for a long soak – and with complimentary bath salts among the toiletries it would be rude not to.

Check out Ahlan!'s guided tour of a One&Only suite

The Restaurants and Bars
Zest: This place does breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we’re mostly besotted with the buffet brekkie – there’s a real emphasis on healthy options with freshly prepped power juices and a salad and veg bar; there are also decadent options such as delish smoked salmon, sour cream and capers, boiled eggs stuffed with creamy herb dressing and fish roe, plus freshly prepared, light and fluffy omelettes with spinach and salmon. Then there are the pastries. Oh my. Nothing beats a bit of French bread and butter followed by an almond butter croissant washed down with a rich and creamy latte… but you could just stick to the healthy options.
101: Top tip – book ahead. We didn’t and we couldn’t get a table for lunch at this popular Italian-influenced eatery on the hotel’s own private pier, but we tracked down a menu instead. We would have ordered marinated anchovies ‘Cantabria’ with seaweed butter and grilled farmhouse bread (Dhs80) to start and followed it with seafood ravioli made with prawns, mussels, calamari and lemon sauce (Dhs145). Yum! Oh well, there’s always next time…
Stay by Yannick Alléno: A hero of French cuisine, Yannick grew from a young boy in his parents’ humble pastry shop to build an empire of restaurants decorated with Michelin stars. His rather glam dining room at One&Only is as ornate as Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire’s and it boasts a ‘pastry library’ – a set of shelves filled with cakes baked as only the French know how. After a dinner of, say, duck foie gras with melon jelly, almond blancmange and toasted brioche (Dhs130) plus lobster fricassée with macaroni, bisque and black truffle (Dhs330), try saving room for a ‘half metre of pastry’, which equates to four small but perfectly formed sweet creations of your choosing.

Check Out
Room rates: Starting from Dhs1,970 for a double room per night
Standard pool pass: Dhs350 to 500
Signature spa treatment: One&Only Tiger Shell Treatment (two hours), Dhs895; massage (one hour), Dhs490
Buffet breakfast at Zest: Dhs150
Info: One&Only The Palm, 04 440 1010,