By now you know that I'm a lover of all things elegant and chic. For me, life's a fairy tale, the world is my kingdom, and every now and then I like to breeze through this enchanted paradise of a planet in my spell-binding Princess avatar. I believe that escaping reality to live a fantasy is mandatory every now and then. Talk about fantasies and I don't remember the last time I came across a hotel as spectacular as Atlantis, The Palm. Atlantis is a majestic 5 star Dubai hotel situated on the Palm, a beautiful man-made island that has captured the world’s imagination with its magnificent scale and ingenuity. Dine at award-winning restaurants conceptualized and curated by celebrity chefs, shop at the luxury boutiques housed within the Atlantis, or visit the must-experience aquarium and water park, if you want to experience it all you'll definitely be coming back here again and again- this is one of Dubai’s most exceptional luxury resorts that never ceases to amaze.
But hey, let's back up a bit here. Since we're talking about luxuries let me tell you about my airline partner for this trip. I flew in and out in style with flydubai's Business Class. If you're looking for something that's low budget yet luxuriously comfortable, flydubai is your answer. flydubai is the number one low-cost carrier in the Middle East and has now expanded into Central Europe too. I have been on a few trips with flydubai before because I just love the timings of their flights from Mumbai to Dubai and back, I get to land early morning and return late at night, so basically I get the entire day at my destination instead of up in the air or at the airports. And I have to admit that I really loved my experience with them, a brand new fleet, great in-flight entertainment, polite and attentive cabin crew and interesting destinations all for an affordable price. For Business Class flyers, the complete entertainment package and meals are included in the fare. Travelers can enjoy comfortable and spacious seating, and the best part- I was allowed 40 kg checked baggage and 14 kg hand baggage!! Needless to say this was my favourite part, since I like travelling with a different set of shoes and a bag to go with them for almost each day's look of my trip. The airline is owned by the Government of Dubai. Oh and one more thing, how many times do you fret over a trip because the visa process gives you a headache? Well flydubai covers your visa too! I got everything under the same roof and there was nothing more comforting than that.
Kerzner International’s Atlantis resort on The Palm, Jumeirah island in Dubai is nothing less than ultimately jaw-droppingly impressive. As you walk into the Grand Lobby, the sight that greets you is a fiery, bright, colorful 10m tall glass sculpture by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, created using 3,000 pieces of hand blown glass that were individually placed into the arrangement and shipped out as a whole piece to Dubai. I found it immensely mesmerizing paired with the murals painted on the walls and arches around it. Decor-wise, the place is vibrant and swings around the theme of everything the oceans are all about. Let me take you through my trip from the beginning.
I arrived at the hotel, checked in effortlessly at the Royal Majlis at The Grand Lobby, which is a separate and exclusive check-in area for anyone who books a suite at the hotel and not just a standard room. Welcomed with Bateel dates and Kahwa, I was already high on the palatial vibe of the hotel. Then I headed to the famed brunch at the world-famous Saffron restaurant. Winner of Best Brunch in Dubai and a consistent contender for the most popular brunch of the week, this Friday institution offers over 220 different dishes, and counters of all kinds of upmarket liquor brands serving shots and cocktails spread out as far as you can see. Palatial, indeed. With a resident DJ and dancers and live entertainment acts to supplement your brunch, I'd say you'd be intoxicated with life, if not the alcohol! Beautiful, happy faces from all over the world, delectable food, fun music, I couldn't have asked for more.
The Lost Chambers Aquarium is where I went next. With over 65,000 marine animals to explore in the underground tunnels and passageways of The Lost Chambers, there's no better way to lose yourself to a deep sense of awe and tranquility than to wander around in the aquarium, touch tanks filled with starfish and pencil urchins, horse shoe crabs, the spiders of the sea, the delicate Moon Jellyfish, busy lobsters, glittery anchovies, or just sit and watch the intriguing sharks and glorious sting rays amongst a bustling sea of fish. I was absolutely smitten. You'd think this experience would leave you spell bound for life, right?
What if I told you that they have two underwater suites, where the walls aren't walls but the displays of the aquarium? Imagine experiencing the ultimate wonder of the intimate and romantic atmosphere of their Poseidon and Neptune Underwater Suites, where your bed, your coffee table, bath tub, lounging area, and even your dressing table is right in front of the enchanting aquarium and these mesmerizing fish are gliding past the glass wall of your room! I wouldn't even know how to look away and do anything else in the room except gawk and gape and ogle and gaze at this hypnotizing view! Would you?!
We all know that Atlantis Hotel houses some of the best Restaurants of Dubai with flawless interiors and menus by curated by Celebrity Chefs from all over the world. My dinner was at Dubai’s best Lebanese Restaurant, Ayamna. As I walked down that extravagant staircase I had no doubt it was going to be an evening of elegance and delectable food. Translated as ‘our memorable days’, this Lebanese eatery evokes an essence of times gone by. I requested Chef de Cuisine Ali Elbourji for signature dishes and recommendations, and everything I tried was impeccably delightful. Dining aside, Lebanese entertainers delight you with live music and charming belly dance performances.
My breakfast was in the Imperial Club Lounge. Well yes, I had access to the Imperial Club which unlocks an array of exclusive benefits at the Atlantis for me. You can enjoy check-in and check-out at their dedicated private lounge, or choose to have your breakfast in the exclusive Imperial Club Lounge, Saffron or Kaleidoscope, or relax in the Imperial Club Lounge for a splendid afternoon tea, or relish evening drinks and canapés here, enjoy personal Concierge service, collect your Aquaventure Waterpark wristbands from the Resort Activity Booking Points instead of waiting in queues outside, get access to the exclusive Imperial Club Beach, avail discounts at the ShuiQi Spa, get access to the Fitness Centre, and so much more.
And then it was time to head to the Aquaventure Waterpark. Voted number 1 waterpark in Dubai and the Middle East and third best in the world by Trip Advisor 2016, Aquaventure Waterpark is set among lush greenery. An adrenaline pumping experience with record breaking rides and slides, you can get up close and personal with sharks and rays or kick back and relax on the pristine private beach. Well I'm certainly not the relaxing on the beach kind of girl when there's a thrilling set of rides to be experienced out there! I love the Leap of Faith and Shark Attack the most! I've come back to this waterpark thrice already, and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat!
The focus of attention at the park is the vaguely Mayan-temple-esque Ziggurat, a stepped pyramid structure which serves as the starting point for a number of adrenaline boosting rides, the highlight being the Leap of Faith -a slide that starts with a 27.5m near-vertical drop and catapults riders into a transparent tunnel through a shark-filled lagoon. Stand close enough and you hear an excited shrill scream every minute, followed by an excited laughter at the other end. And then were many more fun tube slides and body slides like Slitherine, Zoomerango, Aquaconda- which is the world's largest waterslide, Poseidon's Revenge, Lazy River, and many more. The adrenaline junkie that I am, I came back here twice in this trip itself!
But if you thought the waterpark is all that there was to experience, you need to know they have exclusive activities like Shark Safari Experience, Feeding Sting Rays, Water-Sports-Activities, Sea-Lion-Photo-Fun, Royal-Swim with the dolphins, Dolphin Encounter, Dolphin Adventure, Dolphin Scuba Dive, Sea Lion Discovery, Dolphin Photo Fun and so much more, you'll have to come back to Aquaventure everyday for weeks to experience it all, no exaggeration. I went for the Shark Safari Experience. You don't need to be a scuba diver to experience this Marine Animal Adventure. Put on one of their special helmets and safely explore the Shark Lagoon in Aquaventure Waterpark. This exciting underwater adventure allows non-certified visitors to become marine explorers and even walk underwater with the many Black Tip Reef Sharks, rare Marble Rays and exotic and colourful fish that call the Atlantis Shark Lagoon home. I wanted time to stand still in this surreal moment, I wanted to be one with the water and these fishes, just like a mermaid out of a Disney fairytale perhaps! And I felt it, I felt the serenity, I could hear my own breathing and the glorious fish swishing around me, I could feel the sand underneath my feet, my body gliding through the velvety water. I didn’t want to go back, obviously, it felt like a dream I didn’t want to wake up from. Such a surreal experience.
And even though my mind was still reminiscing in the experiences I'd had just before, my tummy was insanely grateful for dinner at Giorgio Locatelli’s Italian Restaurant, Ronda Locatelli. At Ronda Locatelli, Michelin Star chef Giorgio Locatelli creates a rustic, warm and inviting restaurant serving authentic, classic Italian cuisine. To ensure a truly authentic experience, Chef de Cuisine Salvo Sardo sources 95% of his ingredients from Italy. The food was absolutely sublime. The genuine flavours, taste and wholesomeness of a meal prepared with the freshest of ingredients, are incomparable. And what’s even better is the feeling that you get when you know you are eating fresh, responsibly sourced food.
Wait, have I told you guys about my suite yet? This world famous luxury resort has a special suite designed for it's Facebook fans, “The Atlantis Fan Suite” that has a host of special Facebook features, connectivity, and themed decor. There are hotel suites and then there are luxury hotel suites that make you feel like a VIP. And then there is The Atlantis Fan Suite, the first-of-its-kind fan room in the world, which offers a host of fan-only cool stuff to experience at Atlantis, The Palm, Additionally, if one logs into Facebook inside the suite, then they get access to more features like a private butler named Alfred which is exclusively available via Facebook Messenger and the ability to “poke” the hotel’s staff for requests and room service. There is also a special chair for going live on Facebook.
Next morning, I enjoyed a self pampering session in my luxe bathroom and thoroughly enjoyed the ShuiQi Spa bath and skincare range. I loved being in this lavish bathroom which, by the way, has the coolest mirror ever- a huge digital mirror that lets you check your facebook feed or play videos on youtube! And then I headed out for a full continental and English breakfast buffet at the Kaleidoscope restaurant. There’s a wide variety of choices of bread, pasta, oriental noodles, cereals, Chinese, Indian, Arabic and other Asian dishes, fresh fruits, and beverages on the Kaleidoscope’s buffet spread, including tea and coffee served directly on the table.
It was then time to laze around by the pool. Located at the front of the Royal Towers, the Royal Pool provides the best views of the Dubai cityscape as well as a first class view of The Palm. There are eleven different swimming pools at Atlantis, just so you know. I then had a relaxed lunch at The Edge, which is a poolside restaurant where you can relax and cool off with great food and a picture-perfect atmosphere. The most spectacular part of lunch was The Edge's signature fruity cocktail, Pina Colada which was packed with mixed seasonal fruit juices and I drank it straight out of a pineapple! It was absolutely adorable.
I spent the rest of my day back at Aquaventure, just couldn't get enough, and then at the beautiful ShuiQi Spa. There isn’t anything quite as relaxing and reviving as a day that ends at the spa. All I did was to use the sauna, steam and jacuzzi, this spa is truly a stunning place to unwind. Set over two floors, with beautiful tile work, high ceilings and water features, all added to give you a enthralling sense of luxury and serenity all at once. Set in hues of turquoise and gold, this beautiful spa is a must experience zone before you end your stay at this epicurean, hedonistic dream of a resort. Needless to say, my transfer to Dubai Airport was via an Atlantis, The Palm limousine transfer, hence, elite. And I'm glad that it was as I wasn't yet prepared to get over the exhilarating experience I was still possessed by.
At the airport I got to experience flydubai's newly opened business class lounge, conveniently located in the recently upgraded and expanded Terminal 2 at Dubai International Airport. The lounge has 2 levels, and offers comfortable seating in a contemporary environment. You can relax in the main buffet area on the lower floor which has bistro style tables and seating. You can also unwind at the Bar or in one of the two seating areas on the upper level. LCD TVs and flight information monitors, along with free Wi-Fi access and a 24 hour cold menu or a wide range of hot food available for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with tea and coffee, fresh fruit, cheese and a selection of desserts.
The dedicated “Business Boarding Gate” area, located at the beginning of the terminal is another perk you get to enjoy if you're flying business class with flydubai. Even the on fight food menu offered a rich selection of meals. I tried different meals on both my flights and surprisingly enjoyed them too, especially the fresh, warm croissants that were served along with a long list of drinks and a selection of some pleasurable desserts. The service is absolutely impeccable right from the check in counter all the way until I reached my destination. The in-flight service is personalized and the flight attendants are always wearing a pleasant smile and a contagious happy vibe. flyDubai made sure my journey was a memorable one, from which I arrived home so relaxed that I was able to retain my happy state of (holiday) mind and stay in my dreamy bliss for a long time to follow.
Every time I'm back from a trip I'm spell bound for a few days to follow. But this one shall have me engaged for weeks. I could go to sleep right now and wake up to the captivating views of The Palm from my suite's grand balcony, or be lost in thought and find my mind wandering in the majestic alleys of the Atlantis looking around the opulent salmon colored hall covered in intricate plaster work in the form of waves, ripples, sea shells and what not. Or I can find myself smiling with sheer joy as I remember the fun laughter and high pitched shrieks of excitement booming through the water park, or close my eyes to see the pristine blue waters surrounding me and the alluring fish swimming around me- Ah! The sorcery, the magic of this fantasy I lived will keep me dazzled for days, but then again, who wants the enchantment to fade away? Life's so full of life in fairy tales anyways.