Ahead of baby number 2’s arrival this summer, we were keen to have a last holiday as a family of three (read about babymoon #1 here)! Being over 6 months pregnant, the key requirements were:
- Not too long a flight
- Somewhere with good weather in March
- No risk of Zika virus
After a bit of deliberation, we settled on Dubai. We’d already visited a couple of years ago and thought this would easily meet all 4 of our main criteria!
Flights… with a toddler!
We flew with Emirates and as per our previous experiences, highly rated them. They gave Sienna a couple of toys and an activity pack which kept her amused for a good 20 minutes (!) and we got a Polaroid photo to capture our journey which is such a lovely touch.
Part of the reason for this trip was to have one final holiday before Sienna turned two (two days after we arrived back home) and to avoid hefty child prices. However, the flip side of this was having two plane seats between the three of us. This resulted in a fair amount of passing her between us and negotiating meal time was pretty tricky!
It was more of a struggle keeping her entertained for 7-8 hours given that she’s now so much older than the previous long haul flight we’d done. However, she did sleep for 2 hours each way and it was handy being located by the bassinets. In these seats there’s much more leg room which makes for a handy make shift play area. She even made a pal!
Top tip: complete online check in as soon as possible to get the pick of seating. We found the bassinet ones very handy but they perhaps wouldn’t be everyone’s ideal as they are also located by the toilets. This can be a bit distracting for little ones with people constantly coming and going!
We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, which had numerous excellent reviews online. The hotel is located on the Palm which was perfect for us for our relaxing break.
We were on the half board package meaning breakfast was included and we then had a choice of either lunch or dinner. Drinks, including water, are at extra cost. If you’re a big drinker or wanting to indulge in a fair few holiday cocktails factor this into your costs; a pint of beer or small glass of wine is £10 plus which is “normal” for Dubai.
If we had wanted to dine at one of the a la carte resturants rather than the buffet we would have had a credit of AED 175 per person to spend on food.
This is the main restaurant and is a buffet set up.
Breakfast had so much choice that it was difficult to know where to start! There were no end of healthier options, including cereals, porridge, juices and fruit through to full English breakfast and an extensive pastry selection. There was also a pork station set to one side, which isn’t commonplace in Dubai being a Muslim country, and a gluten free section.
Don’t let a buffet dinner set up put you off!! The quality and selection of the food was absolutely brilliant. Each night was themed, from Tex Mex (best tacos I’ve ever had), to Brasserie and Asian night. One evening there was a spectacular display of sushi which I’m told was delicious (given I’m pregnant I stayed away from sampling).
There were multiple live cooking stations, a huge salad and cheese cart that varied everyday and the dessert selection was to die for! Sienna also quickly discovered where the ice cream was served so that tended to be a daily holiday treat for her!
In the end, we decided to eat here every night as the food was so good and the vibe relaxed so it was a good fit with a toddler!
Seeing as we didn’t get into our room until gone 10pm, such were our flight times, we got room service on the first evening using that day’s dinner credit.
Sienna went off to sleep relatively easily after a long day of travelling and so we were able to enjoy the food in peace, albeit a lot later than we are used to! Food arrived within 30 minutes of ordering and was fresh and delicious! I ordered a chicken kebab and Ani the mixed grill.
Social by Heinz Beck
This fine dining restaurant, headed up by a 3-star Michelin Chef, gets great reviews but only allows children over six years so was not one we got to experience this time round!
There were two large pools; an adult only and a main pool, plus a small shaded baby pool. We spent all our time at the main pool as it was such a lovely environment with well spaced out, comfortable sun loungers and large umbrellas.
The pool had a couple of different platform levels to it so was ideal for children to play in the shallows with their toys. Sienna would have done this happily for hours!!
Surprisingly we didn’t spend much time on the beach as the sand was quite coarse and it was a little windy (the palm trees around the pool gave good wind protection 😊). We also noticed A LOT of jelly fish so not ideal, particularly with a little one. However, we did make sure we had a few sandcastle building sessions of course.
Movie under the stars
Twice a week the hotel runs two film showings on the beach; a family friendly film at 7pm and another movie at 9pm. We managed to pop along one night with Sienna in tow fast asleep (for Fast and Furious 8 FYI) and it was a novelty to settle down on a sunbed under the stars facing the palm.
On site there’s also a spa, a karaoke nightclub, Mirage and Peacock Alley to indulge in an afternoon tea as well as a couple of bars.
Family friendly features
All children get two hours of free kids club access per day, although under 3s have to be supervised by a parent or guardian. We visited for an hour or so on two occasions and the facilities were exceptional. There was an extensive range of toys and games for all ages, a reading corner, craft station and a PlayStation den for the older ones.
A handy perk to have if you want to have an hour or two of quiet time!
High chairs were plentiful and staff were always very accommodating and helpful in bringing them over to us.
There were so many food choices on offer that I knew keeping Sienna well fed wouldn’t be too much trouble, although she is quite an adventurous eater anyway. One night she was a little fussy and we were asked whether we wanted the chef to cook her some fresh pasta or chicken (I think we could have asked for practically anything) so this isn’t something that should be a concern.
Each evening the staff also kindly warmed up some milk for her which was highly appreciated. She then tended to drop off to sleep in her pram whilst we had a wander around the hotel’s grounds.
Everyone was so friendly and made a big fuss of her when we arrived at breakfast or dinner which was lovely.
For an hour each afternoon there’s a bouncy castle that the kids club put on. This was Sienna’s first experience of one and although she was a bit on the young side she thoroughly enjoyed it!
Each day we would come back to the room to find a cute piece of animal towel art. Sienna seemed to particularly like the crocodile!
The attention to detail of the staff was also so sweet. One night we came back to find that one of her cuddly toys had also made a friend that day. A simple touch but the thought and personalisation made us smile
One evening post dinner, we were also treated to our own elaborate display of towels which was a welcomed surprise!!
We’d decided that this holiday would be a very chilled one, mainly centred around the hotel, taking it easy! That’s exactly what we did so there’s not too much to report outside of the confines of the hotel resort but here are a few pointers!
Walk along the beach
The neighbouring hotel to us was the Anantara, one I’d researched a lot and considered booking before we’d decided to go with the Waldorf.
We enjoyed the short walk between the hotels and along a little stretch of the Anantara’s beach. Impressions were that it seemed busier and livelier compared to where we were staying but that’s not to say that’s representative of the hotel as a whole.
Day trip to Abu Dhabi
I did consider taking a trip to Abu Dhabi, as I’d been very keen to see the Blue mosque. I emailed the hotel’s concierge in advance of our trip to enquire about the logistics of doing so, who were very helpful in their response. There were a variety of tour packages we could have booked onto or hired a private driver for 800 AED, inclusive of 2 hour’s waiting time. In the end we decided against venturing out this far as it would have been a minimum round trip of three hours which we thought was just a little too much for us. Hopefully we’ll be able to do a visit to Abu Dhabi in its own right one day!
We spent a morning visiting Dubai’s Jumeirah Mosque which runs informative tours as part of their ‘Open Doors. Open Minds’ policy. It was definitely worth doing so I would highly recommend. I’ll cover off what we did in a future blog post!
Following our tour of the mosque, we stumbled across this very funky pocket of Dubai, called La Mer. There’s a lovely stretch of beach where deckchairs or cabanas can be hired, playgrounds, a mini water park and plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy a break from the sun. Every so often you’ll also spot some cool artwork around the place.
In my opinion, the hotel could do more to be environmentally conscious or publicise more strongly what they are doing in this regard if they are!
I appreciate this is a 5* luxury hotel but in this era of environmental awareness, I think they have a responsibility, particularly as a chain to be mindful of their environmental footprint.
Things that stood out to me were the small travel sized toiletries that were replaced generously on a daily basis, the vast quantity of plastic water bottles consumed and the usual unnecessary change of towels and bed sheets.
They did have the typical card you can place on your pillow to signal bed sheets don’t require changing (who needs this doing everyday?!) which we did make use of. However, with the daily morning cleaning and a turn down service it’s a scary thought to how many towels we got through during our stay (plus beach towels). This is of course common place throughout hotels but I thought it worth mentioning.
I probably wouldn’t stay here again simply because there are so many hotels in Dubai to choose from and I do like to generally try new ones. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Waldorf to those wanting a relaxing and luxurious stay, away from hustle and bustle. It’s such a lovely oasis and still within easy reach of Dubai’s attractions.
Want more Babymoon inspiration?
Check out my Bruges blog which is where we went ahead of baby number 1’s arrival. Also included are some handy tips to think about when planning a babymoon!