With its back to the soaring skyscrapers as it overlooks the marina, Dubai’s 5-star Westin Hotel sits on its own 500m of private sandy beach almost at the bottom of the giant Palm development that stretches into the horizon from Jumeirah Beach and the clear, warm waters of the Arabian Gulf.
It’s a peaceful haven far from the 14-lane Sheik Zayed motorway with its 120kph speed limit. I am sitting on my balcony overlooking 3 pools and the 1km long beach that is so tame it’s like a peacock green pond with a floating water polo court just waiting for some energetic group to leap into.
To my left, past sister property Le Meridien which has re-opened after a huge 5-month refurbishment, the world skydive championships are taking place. I’m watching parachutists pepper the sky with dots of red or yellow and listening to the commentator’s enthusiasm as they come zooming into land in front of the spectators.
The Westin is hosting me for 5 glorious nights, so let me show and tell you some of the best things I’ve discovered.
Breakfast! I am not really a big fan of breakfast, never feeling hungry until later in the morning and usually disappointed with toast, cereal and eggs. But after discovering the buffet breakfast here I am setting my alarm half an hour earlier than I need to because I have discovered Lebanese markook bread baked on a dome-like oven called a saj. The dough is kneaded and stretched then placed on the hot dome to sizzle as toppings are added. It only takes about a minute, sprinkled with cheese, spicy paste, maybe meat and folded in half. I then run around to the bowls of hummus, babaganoush and feta and dollop liberally on the side, and I’m in heaven.
BlueOrange restaurant is open to non hotel guests, so I’d seriously recommend starting your day here. It also has a Gingerbread room filled with desserts. I could have licked the walls!
Gym: I confess to being intimidated by hotel gyms, but as this one was beside the spa, I poked my head in to see what a Westin Workout might involve and thought I’d give it a go. I was wide awake by 6am the next day so took myself down and used the treadmill overlooking the pools and ocean. Ten minutes later I was self-righteous enough to go and have another big breakfast.
Spa: What a cracker of an idea! Get off a 13-hour flight and book yourself a spa treatment for that afternoon. Don’t mind if I do. My one hour treatment nearly sent me off to the land of nod, so I add this note to let you know that the Heavenly Spa by Westin has beautiful treatment rooms for an afternoon of bliss.
Amenities: When I was a kid I would sometimes come home from school and mum would have put a new pair of socks or some other gift on the bed. I still glance at my bed in hope because sometimes when I come back from a day out in a new city, there is a little parcel or nibble platter and my heart leaps. Well look at what my heart leapt for here – that’s right, this bathroom bag with Bulgari amenities! How happy am I?
Heavenly bed: Several years ago I stayed at a Westin hotel in the US and when I returned home I bought the Heavenly bed. Truly. It is famous for its sumptuous pillow top mattress so this note is to let you know that you’ll sleep like the dead here. (I was going to say you’ll sleep like a baby, but that would imply waking every couple of hours and screaming.)