Looking down the barrel of the third week of the kids being off school, the house cluttered with tacky Christmas paraphernalia and the cutesy lights and decorations that one week ago looked magical are now flickering for the want of new batteries. The singing Santa on the hall table is just about holding out in the hope of euthanasia . Without the pre-January sales, the panto or a trip to granny’s to pass days, one has to get creative. Thus inspired an overnight stay at the Atlantis, The Palm Jumeriah in Dubai.
I had a broad knowledge of the hotel insofar as I knew it was in Dubai and I knew it was reported and reputed to be fairly nice and I knew there was some kind of water activity there for kids. Pulling up outside the most glamorous and opulent entrance I’ll possibly ever see, the outdoor chandelier casting a little too much light on my ten year old 4 x 4, our family of five exited the car with all the grace and elegance of a herd of bullocks, as we gaped, oohed and aahed at the surroundings. Inside nothing could have prepared me for the experience that is Atlantis. It wasn’t a hotel, it was a village!
Boasting nineteen restaurants and enough entertainment to mute a herd of teenagers and occupy the busiest of toddlers, the Atlantis held nothing back by way of facilities. In the likely event that the movie club, wall climbing, music and games rooms, private beach club got old, they could avail of the activities at the Atlantis Dive Centre where the qualified instructors are available all day at the ready. It was Dolphin Bay that proved most impressive for me, where you can, view the dolphins, swim with the dolphins, get photos taken with the dolphins, scuba dive with the dolphins, organize a private event with the dolphins, even have dinner with the dolphins and watch them using a knife and fork and hold their wine glasses correctly, ok, that last one is an exaggeration but you can feed them beluga or blue cheese or whatever it is dolphins like to eat in the “Behind the scenes” tour of Dolphin Bay at Atlantis.
All this before we got to the Aqua venture waterpark which already had a lot to live up to. Slow to embrace the usual enthusiasm that accompanies the sheer drops and sudden turns of the coloured plastic water slides, I was impressed by the tasteful surroundings of this water park. It would seem that Atlantis can even make a waterpark look classy, now that’s a real fete. Opting out of the shark safari, shark snorkel , cownose ray feeding and any thrill ride, I was pointed in the direction of the most elaborate and relaxing lazy river by a polite attendant who obviously recognized that I was built for comfort and not for speed. After my leisurely seven minutes sans kids enjoying the gentle ripples of the lazy river, it was time to move to the aquarium.
Not partial to fishtanks and instantly recalling a fish tank of old that seemed to gather scum quicker that I could replace the floating fish before the kids noticed that Moby was dead, I quietly dreaded the tour. Seventeen Mobys later at three Euros fifty a pop, I was fished out. However for the sake of the kids and in the interest of portraying a united parental front, I headed to the Lost Chambers, a rather eloquent name for a fish tank, I thought.
Again I was bowled over by the replica of mysterious ruins of Atlantis, lost for thousands of years deep beneath the sea. Surrounded by 65,000 marine animals and exploring the underwater mazes and tunnels of this lost civilization while encountering sharks, eels, seahorses, and piranha, I had to admit this was the rolls Royce of fishtanks. While the 20 supposedly remarkable marine life exhibits was lost on me the touch tank and interactive Aquatheatre show, left me speechless, incidentally this was the highlight of the trip for my husband.
Dinner that night in the Kaleidoscope buffet restaurant, was, guess what, yes, amazing. Italian, Thai, Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, American, Lebanese, Arabic, French and Irish of course all dined together in this fabulous hotel in what can only be described as a tiny capsule of perfection in an imperfect world. A treat apart from the ordinary Christmas trip to Panto followed by Pizza Hut. “Oh no it isn’t”, I hear you say, “Oh yes it is”.