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Perfect for parents

Dubai with a toddler? You must be mad, they said

But Carol Driver found that 'Las Vegas of the Middle East' is perfect for parents and a little one in tow

My toddler is sitting in a 'big girl' chair, with a napkin tucked in under her chin as she munches away on a selection of delicately-prepared sandwiches and cupcakes.

A member of staff diligently returns to check she's OK, whether she would like more milk, more food, more anything, and smiles as he picks up her spoon from the floor for the third time.

We are dining in the executive lounge at the five-star Fairmont The Palm in Dubai, where nothing is too much trouble.

Rewind four weeks and I was wondering whether 'the Las Vegas of the Middle East' could really be a family-friendly destination. When we told friends we were taking our not-yet-two-year-old to the UAE in October – when temperatures reach 36°C even though it's winter – they said we were crazy.

But as we settled into our luxurious hotel room, I was confident we'd made the right decision. Dubai has a reputation for lavish hotels, magnificent shopping malls and plush restaurants.


Nothing is too much trouble at the family-friendly Fairmont hotel


One reason we chose the Fairmont is because it's on the Palm Jumeirah island, boasting incredible views of the Arabian Gulf and the glittering Marina skyline, as well as having its own beachfront. It also has a dedicated kids' club, ten restaurants, four temperature-controlled swimming pools, a spa and a fitness centre – plenty to keep us busy for four days.

We booked a Fairmont Gold package, with private check-in, butler service and access to the executive lounge. They call it a 'hotel within a hotel'.

As well as pastries, cereals and cooked breakfasts to start the day, guests can visit the lounge throughout the day for drinks, and canapes are served with cocktails between 5pm and 7pm. And the staff, as we are finding out, absolutely love children.

Our suite is an exciting 'den' for Amelia to explore. Our room has a huge bed, ottoman, and a bathroom with a rain shower and soaker tub. The décor is a beautiful mix of Arabian design and contemporary styles. The child-proof balcony overlooks the gulf and city.

We spend a lot of time splashing in the family pool, where there are activities for the children at various times. There are large pool-side beds as well as loungers where we set up a base, and we're able to order food and drinks there too.

Avoiding the hottest part of the day, we went to explore the vast beach - soft, sandy and exclusively for Fairmont guests. Amelia takes great delight in splashing in the shallows.

There are plenty of sun-loungers and  staff give out bottles of water and towels. For the energetic, kayaking, paddle-boarding, pedal boats, speed boats and sailing lessons are all available.

At the Falcons Kids' Club, children from 18 months to 16 can enjoy a splash park, climbing wall and arts and crafts (and computer games for the older kids).

That night, after cocktails in the executive lounge, we head to the stunning Little Miss India for dinner. Amelia is in awe at the décor, lots of bright colours as well as lush green plants hanging from the ceiling. The curries are quite spicy for our toddler, and the kitchen  happily prepare her some pasta.

For dessert we head to Delicacy, the in-hotel patisserie, for wonderful hot chocolate and chocolate eclairs.

The next day, my husband takes Amelia to the pool, while I head to the spa for a massage. Guests can buy a day pass to enjoy the steam and relaxation areas (separate for men and women). There's also a thermal suite, an ice fountain, a traditional Hamman and a gym.

Guests are spoilt for choice for dining. At the buffet-style Flow Kitchen, all-inclusive holidaymakers can opt for food from the Mediterranean, Asia and the Middle East.



A delicious dinner with a delightful view - Ba Restaurant has sweeping views of the Dubai skyline


Our favourite was Ba Restaurant and Lounge. We had a window table, with views across to the city's twinkling lights. The menu's a mix of Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean dishes – we leave ourselves in the chef's hands and the dishes do not disappoint.

Our waitress makes Amelia a set of baby chopsticks and she happily digs into everything  – including the melted chocolate pudding. In the lounge area, a DJ plays upbeat music, so, fuelled by sugar, Amelia gets up and dances around the tables.

Other diners smile remarkably indulgently – and it wears her out for bedtime.

Dubai has exceeded expectations, with all a family-friendly resort should offer. Amelia waves goodbye to the staff, who smile and wave her off – she's had a brilliant time, which means we have too. 



First published in the Mail Online - October 2019

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