Like most hotels on The Palm, this is a large hotel with a grand entrance. When I arrived the hotel had been open just over a month and the first staff member to approach me didn’t hear or understand when I told him I was checking in, so I had to ask for my bags to be unloaded from the car. Once inside the receptionist was bright, friendly and, above all, available – since the hotel was already busy, I was impressed that there weren’t any queues. I made my way to my room walking past the living “green wall” – a long wall with real tropical vegetation growing from it – to the lift. Since it is quite a long walk, the wall is a good idea.
The hotel is on the east Crescent of The Palm, past Atlantis but not all the way at the end. There wouldn’t be any reason for guests to leave the Tahiti-inspired landscaping, which makes for a pleasantly different atmosphere to most hotels in the area.
The hotel has a total of 124 suites and 361 rooms. I was in a first-floor junior suite, which offers a lounge joined to the bedroom and a large balcony overlooking a small watersports centre built over the water with a good view of the Dubai skyline beyond. Half-close your eyes and you could be in French Polynesia. Everything in the room worked, and it was very quiet and private. I wasn’t so keen on the purple curtains and cushions.
Because it’s a new hotel, staff are a little overly keen to impress. I actually don’t want to meet the chef or the F&B manager but to be left alone to enjoy the facilities. The good thing is that there are enough staff to cater for the number of guests, and they come in handy for escorting you from one side of the building to another. In the library a staff member insisted on pouring me a glass of water when I’d have been happier to to do it myself.
The lobby has a bright and pleasant atmosphere but the pool areas and all-day dining restaurant are filled with families and mainly European (including Russian) holidaymakers, which makes for a less refined vibe.
The seafood restaurant, Moana, was excellent. There’s a full menu of classic seafood dishes, from oysters to whole dover sole, but also fantastically imaginative Asian alternatives, such as lobster nachos (Dh95), Malaysian style red snapper stew (Dh155) and Thai style Alaskan king crab legs (Dh310). In complete contrast, the breakfast buffet in Manava, the all-day dining restaurant, was crowded but unexciting.
I had a one-hour signature massage in the spa with a Nepalese therapist named Goma. With a combination of strength and lavender oil, she made my day.
I didn’t like the polenta vegetable burger in the Maui pool restaurant and the menu there was limited.
This would be a great place to relax for a few days. Because it’s a big place, it takes a day just to work out where everything is.
The bottom line
Double rooms at Sofitel The Palm (www.sofitel.com; 04 455 6677), East Crescent Road, Dubai,
currently cost from Dh1,440 per night half board including taxes.