Le Royal Méri­dien

Friday - - Travel -

The per­fect in­gre­di­ents for a bril­liant stay­ca­tion? Great food, a lively at­mos­phere and all the fa­cil­i­ties you could wish for on a fam­ily hol­i­day – but right on your doorstep.

Luck­ily this ho­tel has them all and then some. Just over an hour down the high­way we had es­caped our hec­tic Dubai life­style and were loung­ing by a pool. Not for long though, as we’d been in­vited to the pool pic­nic brunch at PJ O’Reilly’s, which we’d been told was a must-do.

“This is the best ta­ble in the house,” the wait­ress told us, show­ing us to one that was out­side, on the lawn, and right in front of where the res­i­dent band was go­ing to play.

I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be so close and looked to­wards the bouncy cas­tle and kids’ area at the back of the gar­den, but they were full. One num­ber in and I was glad I hadn’t moved – the band was amaz­ing.

To clas­sics such as The Rolling Stones’ Honky TonkWo­man, the lead singer, who re­sem­bled Jack Black from School of Rock, had the packed crowd up on their feet.

I twirled our lit­tle girl around the dance floor, then found my­self do­ing a jive with my hus­band while my 11-year-old son rolled his eyes. Luck­ily there was the bar­be­cue to dis­tract him, and the food and the mu­sic kept ev­ery­one go­ing back for more.

Hours flew by, and as the sun be­gan to set, the band moved in­side along to shouts of “Encore!” among the happy crowd. We would have fol­lowed, but we wanted to re­lax be­fore our next meal – a fine-din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at the Café Palmier.

Up­stairs in our room, which had re­cently been re­fur­bished and boasted ev­ery mod con you could ever want, and a view over­look­ing the Ara­bian Gulf, we warned the chil­dren they were go­ing to get their hands dirty.

Tonight they had to join the chefs and make their own din­ner. My son has al­ways fan­cied him­self as a ju­nior masterchef and hap­pily donned a chef’s hat and whites to make pizza. Our lit­tle girl al­most van­ished stand­ing be­hind the counter, but emerged 20 min­utes later with one of the best margherita piz­zas I’ve ever tasted. Our son’s had ex­tra mozarella – just the way he likes it – and he quickly de­voured it and slipped back into the kitchen to make some more.

Mean­while we’d or­dered lob­ster risoni and An­gus beef fil­let with wild mush­room sauce for my hus­band and de­li­ciously spicy spaghetti all’arrabiata for me. It was shock­ing to see how quickly we emp­tied our plates – we’d spent most of the day laugh­ing, dancing and eat­ing. “Signs of a great hol­i­day,” I thought.

We were meant to go cy­cling around the cor­niche the next morn­ing but I turned off the alarm for a rare lie-in, be­fore check­ing out the spa while the fam­ily hit the pool.

I’d been booked for a Phy­to­ceane fa­cial treat­ment, which uses nat­u­ral ma­rine in­gre­di­ents to mois­turise, plump and de­stress skin.

My ther­a­pist was in­cred­i­ble, and I emerged 90 min­utes later, feel­ing re­freshed and hop­ing I looked years younger.

Next it was my turn to play with the chil­dren while my hus­band went for a Thai mas­sage. He’d been suf­fer­ing from a bad back – caused, he said, by the dancing the day be­fore – but came back smil­ing.

There was just time for what was sup­posed to be a light lunch at whEAT – but ended up be­ing an­other feast thanks to the smor­gas­bord of food on of­fer. I opted for a tomato, rocket and moz­zarella fo­cac­cia, while the rest of the fam­ily bit into huge grass-fed An­gus burg­ers, which the chil­dren said were “Bet­ter than McDon­ald’s” – praise in­deed.

And af­ter soak­ing up the last of the af­ter­noon sun, we reluc­tantly headed back to Dubai. We were only gone for a night but we felt recharged, and ready for the week ahead. It was our first stay at Le Royal Méri­dien, but it def­i­nitely won’t be our last.

whEAT serves up hearty lunchtime fare

Al­though it’s in the heart of the city, the ho­tel is still the per­fect place to re­lax


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