Earlier in June, myself and my colleagues, Vicky (also a Luxury Travel Specialist) and Jonathan (Head of Chairman's Club), were whisked off on a whirlwind trip to Dubai and the Maldives with One&Only Resorts, enjoying an unforgettable stay at both One&Only The Palm and One&Only Reethi Rah. I could go on forever about just how much these two gorgeous hotels offer, so instead I've shared the things that really stood out as special below...
No stone left unturned
The first thing I must mention about my One&Only experience is the incredible attention-to-detail across every aspect of both hotels. This started with the accommodation itself, which was spacious, stylish and equipped with so many quirks and special touches, you could just tell that each room had been designed so carefully. For example, Vicky and I were ultra impressed by the light-up dressing table in our bedrooms at One&Only The Palm, complete with all sorts of drawers and plugs in just the right places, while folding up into a desk when it wasn't in use. Meanwhile, over in Reethi Rah, I was wowed by the fact that the bedroom floor featured sensors so that if you got out of bed to use the bathroom and the whole room was dark, gentle lights automatically came on. These things might sound mundane and not the height of excitement, but it's the small touches like these that really make One&Only stand out as the ultimate luxury choice.
If the accommodation was amazing, then the service was out of this world. Everyone that we spoke to or were served by were naturally friendly, warm and smiley. Again, five-star service is all about the little details, like the fact that I was always addressed by my name at One&Only The Palm, even when simply getting a coffee at breakfast. At One&Only Reethi Rah, the stand-out service experience was the fact that the hotel actually got in touch with Elegant Resorts before our trip to find out which were our favourite cocktails. When arriving at the bar on the first evening, we were gobsmacked to find our top tipples ready and waiting for each of us, mine a delicious 'Dark & Stormy'. Now if that's not attention-to-detail, I don't know what is.
Dining delights for everyone
Unsurprisingly, this level of quality extended to the food in both hotels. As a vegetarian, it can sometimes feel like my dish is an afterthought to the main menu and honestly, I can't tell you how many mushroom risottos I've consumed over the years. Don't get me wrong, they are often delicious but rarely very exciting. This was certainly not the case from One&Only though, where all my meals were creative, delicious and even left the meat-eaters envious.
For lunch at One&Only The Palm, we dined at the super cool 101 Dining Lounge, known for its incredible seafood dishes and spectacular views over the "New Dubai" skyline from the swanky overwater seating area. Though the restaurant specialises in seafood, the choice certainly isn't limited to that and I was served an absolutely gorgeous Vietnamese-style 'bimibap', a simple but delicious dish of rice, fresh vegetables and egg. My not eating fish doesn't mean I can't feed back on it though, as my colleague Vicky was raving about her dish of poached black cod with miso.
Over in the Maldives, the scenario was much the same and I enjoyed some of the best vegetarian dishes I've ever had at One&Only Reethi Rah! Tapasake is their contemporary Japanese restaurant, where once again, the amazing food was matched by the amazing views. After a 'Zensai' sharing platter of tasty tapas-style bites, the others went on to (really) enjoy a selection of sushi, while I got stuck into a vegetable Toban Yaki, served in the traditional style on a hot ceramic plate. delicious! All this food - and believe me, there was plenty - was washed down by the most amazing sake I've ever had. our server explained that this was pure rice sake with no additives, and you could genuinely taste the difference.
My delicious lunch at 101, One&Only The Palm
My delicious lunch at The Beach Club of One&Only Reethi Rah
Our Japanese sharing platter at Tapasake, One&Only Reethi Rah
Soaking up the sunshine
Although the resorts offer a range of awesome activities and excursions - from a sand-skiing safari in Dubai to Reethi Rah's once-in-a-lifetime Whale Shark Adventure - there is also no harm in simply relaxing and making the most of the sunshine and your beautiful surroundings. The main swimming pool at One&Only The Palm genuinely blew me away due to its size and serious style. Surrounded by palm trees and gorgeous day beds, it is one of the best resort pool areas I've seen and uber 'Instagrammable'! If that wasn't enough, we were shown to a beautiful Pool Cabana, complete with day beds, a choice of snacks and drinks, indoor and outdoor lounge areas, an LCD screen, en suite bathroom with shower and, wait for it. air conditioning; visiting Dubai in June, this was music to my ears!
Over at One&Only Reethi Rah, we were spoilt with another cabana, this time on one of the 12 white sand beaches which are all truly out of this world. Lying back with a cocktail on the comfortable day bed, the flowing white curtains revealing the unbelievable turquoise colour of the water, I truly felt that I was in paradise. Soon, all that relaxation had made us hungry, so we head to the Beach Club for lunch in the sunshine. From the varied menu, I went for a healthy buddha bowl of sweet potato, brown rice, rocket and halloumi, while Jonathan finally had the wagyu burger that he'd had his eye on since we arrived!
Of course, though wonderful, lying on a cabana isn't the only way to enjoy the island. Measuring 6km in circumference, there is plenty to do and see - including a full-sized football pitch (where tournaments are held for all ages) and a beautifully green lawn club with bowls and a treehouse for the little ones. Though we didn't get chance to try it out his time, the snorkelling and diving is also second to none here, Reethi Rah housing its very own Dive Centre where marine experts are waiting to take you on your next adventure.
The beautiful views from One&Only Reethi Rah
One of the stunning beaches at One&Only Reethi Rah
Chilling out at One&Only Reethi Rah
Sunset cocktails at One&Only Reethi Rah
Fabulous for families
The three of us all have children of our own and (though the peace and quiet was lovely at times) we instantly found ourselves thinking about how our little ones would adore the hotels. It's safe to say that they'd be in absolute heaven at both, the children's activities and clubs some of the best I've seen, offering programmes that go way beyond the 'usual' kids' activities and really embrace the destination - from Arabic lessons and belly dancing in Dubai, to gecko safaris and local leaf art over in the Maldives. Reethi Rah also holds themed weeks during school holidays or times that are busy with children - Easter week, for example, transformed the resort into a world of superheroes. As you can only expect from One&Only, these events are never done by halves.
Another thing I learned while visiting One&Only Reethi Rah is that they have recently launched their incredible Kids Buddy Programme for children aged 6 months to 12 years old, which offers little ones eight hours of supervision a day (for a minimum of five days) by a dedicated and fully qualified 'buddy'. On arrival to the island, families meet their assigned buddy who will prepare a bespoke schedule for the child, featuring a range of activities tailored to their interests. This may be particularly useful if you have a little one under the age of 4 years as they will need to be supervised to use the wonderful KidsOnly club facilities. With a gift on arrival and complimentary access to all the kids' club activities that are usually chargeable, this is fabulous value and something I'd definitely suggest you consider! Just ask your Luxury Travel Specialist for more information when you call.
Simply spectacular spas
As if the hotels hadn't blown my expectations out of the water with the accommodation, service, food, facilities and just about everything else, One&Only are also maestros at offering the perfect spa experience. The Guerlain Spa at One&Only The Palm was so impressive, housed in an ornate building with tall pillars, arches and fountains, pretty much summing up the grandeur of Dubai as a whole. There are also selected skincare and beauty products from Guerlain that have been produced exclusively for this hotel. you should have seen mine and Vicky's faces when we saw the make up counter!
Naturally, the One&Only Spa at Reethi Rah was also spectacular, offering therapies and products from ESPA, with treatment cabanas in the beautiful spa gardens or overlooking the Indian Ocean. Here, we were each lucky enough to enjoy a signature 'Only You' massage. Throughout, the therapist ensured that the whole treatment was exactly how I wanted it, making it genuinely one of the best massages I've ever had - the perfect end to our One&Only adventure.
In short, One&Only The Palm and One&Only Reethi Rah are two stunning luxury resorts that tick every box (and then some), located in two dreamy destinations that are perfect to combine. So what are you waiting for? To begin planning your luxury holiday to Dubai and the Maldives with Elegant Resorts and One&Only, get in touch today.