Though I was beyond excited for the Arabian sunshine, the care-free holiday feeling and, of course, spending quality time with my husband and littles ones (aged 2 and 4 years), there are always a million things to think about when travelling with children, particularly whether the hotel is going to have enough to keep my tireless toddlers amused for the entire trip. Luckily, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on the famed Palm Jumeirah exceeded all expectations, proving to be the perfect base for our perfect luxury family holiday.
As well as the rooms and suites in this elegant, Ottoman-inspired hideaway, which are all an ideal choice for your family escape, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray also houses a selection of Royal Residences, one of which we were lucky enough to stay in. To say we were blown away by our accommodation would be an understatement, as we looked around to take in the full extent of just what was ours to enjoy – including sparkling marble floors throughout, a huge kitchen, our own gym (which, I must admit, wasn’t used too often), our very own butler, and private parking… a true home-from-home – though much more luxurious!
The kids were squealing with delight as they ran around the villa to find two plates with their names on piled high with sweets, and cute and clever towel ‘monkeys’ (complete with googly eyes) swinging from the light fittings. It’s safe to say that they were just as spoilt as us here, with ultra-luxurious bed linen even on the cot, and their own bathroom amenities. They were also given a Jumeirah scrapbook to remember their unforgettable first holiday to Dubai, as well as great colouring packs… which we often took down to dinner to keep them occupied.
As you can probably imagine, once the sweets were devoured, the kids were less interested in the stunning residence and more concerned with getting out into the pool area for some fun. As well as the impressive main pool, there is one dedicated to little ones, complete with slides and bridges that offer hours (speaking from experience) of fun. Something that I really noticed was just how attentive the lifeguards around the pool were. They didn’t take their eyes of the children in the water, putting me at complete ease and allowing me to relax with a book, happy in the knowledge that the little ones were safe.
Right next to the pool is the spacious, spectacular and complimentary Sinbad’s Kids’ Club which certainly doesn’t do things by halves. Fabulous facilities for children include a mini water park, playground, climbing wall, interactive gaming, iPad stations and much, much more! My eldest has never been the biggest fan of kids’ clubs but I managed to convince him to stay for a while and try out some of the games. Returning to collect him after an hour (expecting him to come rushing out) he didn’t want to leave, asking if I could come back later! As well as the great facilities, I suspect this had something to do with the amazing staff here. They really interact with every child, asking them questions and getting to know them… even the kids playing on the PlayStation had a member of staff gaming beside them. Though my two were too small to make use of them, the resort also offers full programmes for older children – including kayaking and beach sports – while there is also a great cinema showing family favourites and tennis courts onsite.
Of course, should you prefer the feeling of sand on your toes, the hotel also has a beautiful beach for guests to enjoy, offering access to the super safe, shallow, warm and basically tide-free water around the Palm. You also certainly needn’t worry about packing any beach toys, as buckets, spades, diggers and just about anything else you can think of is provided. Great for keeping the little monkeys hydrated, you can constantly get hold of water on the beach or by the pool, kept cool in an ice bag. Our Royal Residence included a gorgeous and super comfortable beach cabana, with cushions, towels and a button to press whenever we needed any refreshments. The cabana could also be covered, which was great for when the kids needed a break from the midday sun.
If all that isn’t enough, guests at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (and all other Jumeirah properties for that matter) enjoy unlimited complimentary access and transportation to Wild Wadi, one of Dubai’s best waterparks. A comfortable and prompt minibus took us the short distance to the park, where the children loved every second of their time. Much more than just speedy slides, there was loads for kids of their ages to do, the favourite of our family’s being the lazy river. Myself and my husband also had a fantastic day out and he even braved the thrilling ‘Jumeirah Sceirah’, while I preferred to splash around in the family-friendly lagoon. By the time we were dried off, we had more than worked up an appetite for our pizza, finding when we came to pay that Jumeirah guests also get a discount from the eateries here.
Speaking of food, all restaurants at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray that allowed children (which was most of the eight choices here) had kids' menus available. As well as classic children's favourites, there were also choices that were adapted to the cuisine of the restaurant, while still appealing to little ones.
The breakfast buffet was also a real favourite with the kids, where it brought them great joy to serve themselves and devour chocolate pancakes each morning. Luckily, they also got some goodness down them with the fresh fruit smoothies on offer. My top tip would be to try to get a table at the back of the buffet restaurant, where there’s a section designed for little ones with their own seating. Making them feel all grown up – though we could still keep our eyes on them - my two loved eating their pancakes here every morning, and we didn’t mind having a table to ourselves either! The staff here were also incredible, offering to stay with and chat to the kids while we tackled the buffet. Filling four plates and drinks with two little ones in tow is harder than it sounds, but thanks to the great team here, we had it mastered by the end of our stay.
We stayed on a half board basis and also opted to add Club Lounge access to our stay, which I would wholeheartedly recommend. Great for us, children of all ages are permitted into the lounge, where you can enjoy breakfast, afternoon tea between 2 and 4pm and pre-dinner canapés and drinks from 6 until 8pm. I say afternoon tea, but there was much more than just cake (though these were incredible) to choose from, with fish goujons and fries great for keeping the little ones going until dinner. Having said that, I did sample the sushi once or twice myself and it was delicious!
The half board basis can be used in Jumeirah Zabeel Saray’s fabulous restaurants, as well as in most of the 40 restaurants across all the Jumeriah hotels - including the famous Burj Al Arab at an additional supplement. This means that you can stay for two weeks (and then some) without ever eating at the same restaurant. Not that you’d mind, they were all exceptional. It is also worth bearing in mind that with the half board package, dinner can be swapped for a three-course lunch. This is fantastic if you want to get out and about into Dubai in the evening without missing your meal for that day. One evening, for example, we head to the famed Dubai Mall (which has loads for kids to do) and its mesmerising fountains below the Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world! - which is easily reached by taxi.
It’s safe to say that when it came to the end of our stay here, we really didn’t want to leave. As our luxurious transfer car (complete with exactly the right car seats without us asking, I might add) pulled away from this magical resort towards the airport, we looked back to see the amazing team waving us goodbye… just like a send-off from family.
If Jumeirah Zabeel Saray is your choice for your next luxury family holiday, get in touch with us today.