Traveling

{Dubai 2014} 24 hours at Atlantis The Palm

I haven’t learned the art of fully appreciating 5-star (and in this case, up to 7 stars!) hotels. It probably comes with the fact that we don’t live in these types of places quite often when we travel. We very rarely spend vacation days inside hotels after all, so we don’t tend to book lavish hotels that are jam-packed with things to do inside.

Regular quarters for sleeping is all we always aim for since most of our days are spent touring outdoors anyway. But since here in Dubai they actually specialise in Hotel Experiences (yes with capital letters; just like with Mall Experiences), we were convinced that we had to try out one of the most popular ones the emirate had to offer: Atlantis The Palm Dubai.

DUBAI

What comes into your mind when you hear the word Atlantis? Submerged ruins? King Triton and Sebastian the Crab? Well you can see more on this version of Atlantis after the jump!

When I first heard that our tour package included a one night stay here, my brothers and I immediately jumped online to check out the place. I mentioned before that I’m fairly clueless about Dubai so we went in with no expectations, taking the virtual tour of the hotel. Immediately the reaction was: ‘WOW’. This was the first time I ever saw a hotel with an actual aquarium inside the bathroom. Wonder if it feels weird to bathe with fish watching you haha! Of course that is one of their premium (super expensive for sure!) rooms but that’s what the virtual tour is for isn’t it? 😉

But the really interesting part was the idea to build this hotel and name it Atlantis. Apparently, divers had found ruins some years ago indicating that there was some form of never before seen civilization in this area of the Arabian gulf. Whether or not the ruins were from underwater structures (as in ruins of the mythical kingdom of Atlantis) or perhaps just sunken buildings washed from land, the fact is that none of them were Arabic in nature, which raises quite a bit of speculation. It makes the whole concept of this hotel a lot more fitting though, doesn’t it?

I remember when we were driving around the city and I caught a glimpse of the hotel way way in the distance, a blank piece of desert land stretching before it, and it looked to me like a mirage in the desert. Though it does look quite modern, many details such as the arc in the very center still gives it a very Middle Eastern vibe. We rode the rail to the hotel in the evening and the hotel that time had been the only massive thing lit up against the darkness, making it seem more like some sort of desert apparition. (You can see it in the travel video I have below.)

The Atlantis details start right as you enter the main doors: fish carved delicately on bronze doors, seashell-shaped lamps on the walls, paintings of mythical marine life… I adored the underwater myth-themed murals the most as we went into the large circular lobby.

At the center of the lobby is this masterpiece of a sculpture, made out of twisted colourful balloons. I didn’t get what it was at first, but it looks a lot better in the morning compared to the evening. I’m not sure if they were going for bubbles floating from the bottom of the sea up to the surface. I don’t know why it makes me think of Ariel from ‘The Little Mermaid’ as well. Like at any moment she would pop out from the top and start singing ‘A Whole New World’. Is that weird? Okay.

Once you check in, you are given a little Atlantis cardholder you can hang around your neck (and take home as a souvenir!) so that you don’t lose your room keycards. I think this is a neat idea, especially since it’s really easy to lose track of them in such a huge place like this. The hotel has 1500 rooms housed in their two towers, the East and West Towers, connected by their Royal Bridge Suite. It goes up 23 floors and I think you can pretty much tell from the outside just how massive this hotel is.


THE ROOM

The room we booked is their Deluxe Guest Room, which is the simplest offering they have over here. As simple as a place like this can muster anyway. The room is lovely and spacious, complete with an area for sitting and a desk for working. The subtle oceanic details are mostly found on the mirrors, both outside and in the bathroom, as well as the lights. I do love the curtains too.

For the Deluxe bedrooms, the balcony faces the streets of Dubai. But they have another version called the Ocean Deluxe Guest Rooms that face the Arabian Gulf. I think it’s a good choice for honeymooners. The Arabian Gulf is pretty stunning, if I do say so myself.

This place has my most favourite bathroom mirror ever. I need one like that in my future home haha!

This is the bathtub area, where you can open up that door to watch TV while having a bubble bath I guess? I never understood the point of having “see-through” bathrooms. 😛

Now the most important detail about the room is the bed, where I slept like a baby. The nights before I would jolt awake at 2.30AM Dubai time because that’s around the regular time I wake up back home in Manila, and I’d have a hard time going back to sleep. (Thank you 4 hour time difference!) The case was different here because even after I jolted awake I fell right back to sleep under the cool comfy sheets.

Sleep, which I’d had little of since getting here, was granted to me by this bed.


THE LOST CHAMBER

After getting our things settled it was time to go exploring around the vicinity before turning in for the night. You know the coolest thing I thought Atlantis had to offer in terms of making guests feel like they are indeed in that underwater castle world? The ginormous aquarium which extended all throughout the hotel. You would literally walk down the marbled hallways and fish would be swimming right beside you. The concept of the aquarium is of course highlighted by ruins and debris to give off that truly Atlantis vibe.

This is the same aquarium they use for The Lost Chamber, which is an attraction that plays to the Atlantis concept even more. To me it’s kind of like an alien’s nest thriving in a cave near the ocean, if that makes any sense. They literally have this creepy spider-like pod that emits smoke right at the very center of The Lost Chamber.

Another really awesome thing about having this giant aquarium is that you can actually go diving inside! Diving has a reservation process so it’s important to call the front desk ahead of time if you really want to arrange for a chance to swim with the rays and sharks this aquarium has an abundance of. The dive is of course supervised by a professional. It looks like a lot of fun!

For the less adventurous people who just want to watch the fish, there are cushions all around The Lost Chamber where people can just plop down and lounge around, taking in the colours of the sea. It’s a very calming process.


KALEIDOSCOPE

The next day we went to breakfast before jumping in to enjoy the water amenities of the hotel. There are SOOO MANY restaurants to choose from here but some of my friends were advising me to try Kaleidoscope, so I told the family about it and that’s where we decided to go.

First thing I noticed was the adorable gingerbread house-themed decorations they set up for the holidays. The restaurant is, like everything else in this hotel, quite big and spacious. But you know what’s even better? The food tasted sooo good in this International Buffet.

I’ve been eating roti + curry as part of my breakfast everyday since getting here so it didn’t seem like I should break my streak. It was good, but not my favourite version among the hotels we stayed in.

My uncle loves to eat cheese with bread for breakfast, and with these two stations filled to the brim, it’s enough to make anybody’s heart soar. I always say that how you take your breakfast can affect the rest of your day rather drastically. So while you’re on holiday, eat your favourite foods to your heart’s content right!?

My cousin Eriko on the other hand likes to eat doughnuts, so lookie where I found him. The doughnut and pastries station. Of course!

Contrary to what you might think, we didn’t stuff ourselves silly for breakfast because there was still a lot to be done before check-out time, which was drawing closer. Obviously this place is a resort full of water activities, and you shouldn’t go swimming with a full stomach, so we had to take a little rest to let the food digest before we could take a dip at the pool as soon as possible!


SWIMMING & AQUAVENTURE

For the record, this infinity pool is one of the most cleverly located ones in a hotel resort that I have seen, because it has the hotel as backdrop on one side, and then the beach on the other. Wherever you look the view is stellar.

The whole place is so picturesque it drives me crazy.

We tried to run out to the beach for a dip as well but the sun was too hot! So I took pictures instead and ran back to the pool. The beach area is one of the best places to see the whole of the hotel’s structure by the way! (See the last photograph below.)

The original-sized version of the photo below is my iPhone wallpaper. I adore the cityscape of Dubai and I though it looked really good contrasting against that sandy surface.

After a while, we had to rush over to Aquaventure Waterpark at the far end of the resort property. We rode a shuttle (a caddy?) to make the trip quicker. From afar I could already hear the thrilled screams, and thankfully I didn’t get that sudden chlorine hit I sometimes hate about waterparks. Just a lot of electric excitement in the air!

This Aquaventure is modelled after the one in the Bahamas, so the structures are very South American in nature. The towers are called Ziggurats, which are these old stone temples that look like terraced pyramids. I think it fits the whole Atlantis concept perfectly. I snapped a couple of pictures before jumping into the water so apologies if there are no umm… “action shots”.

If you ever ask me what my biggest regret about my Dubai trip is, it’s that I didn’t get to fully explore Aquaventure. We stayed too long at the Tower of Neptune part of the waterpark that we didn’t get to see the Tower of Poseidon, which actually houses the much cooler slides in my opinion, especially the body slide Poseidon’s Revenge. A slide that looks terrifyingly exciting. Search it on YouTube and you will immediately see what I mean.

I did however thankfully still get to ride one of the main attractions, which I would say is the baby version of Poseidon’s Revenge located at the Tower of Neptune. Actually I think we rode every slide on the Tower of Neptune but the Leap of Faith is the one that really stuck to my mind. And even better, someone from our tour group took a picture of me going down the slide! (Thank you!)

Dude. It was epic. I felt jittery at first standing in line, contemplating whether I was going or not. I’m not a scaredy cat when it comes to roller coasters but I guess you feel more secure when you know you’re buckled into something. This was different. This was a body slide. But then again, I didn’t want to regret not trying this out. I mean, who knows when the next time I’ll get a chance to will be?! So I closed my eyes as I let myself slide down…

I was honestly terrified during the first three seconds because I literally could no longer feel the slide on my back. As I went down the only thing in my mind was: ‘SO THIS IS WHY IT’S CALLED THE FREAKING LEAP OF FAITH!’ It feels like a real vertical leap down! Having never experienced a body slide like this, I screamed my head off!& But once I reached the bottom the exhilaration was overwhelming. I had to go again!

I definitely DO NOT recommend this for people who are afraid of heights, because you have to slide down something like 9 storeys. That is the height equivalent of this slide, and I know that sounds scary at the moment but the ride is super quick and before you know it it’s over. When you reach the bottom you have to paddle back up to the surface right through this tube with sharks swimming in their aquariums on either side of you. It was such an amazing experience!

Man remembering this makes me regret not going to Poseidon’s Revenge even more! In that slide, you stay in wait inside a glass tube when suddenly the floor gets pulled from under your feet! The slide there I think isn’t straight down like this one but there are more twists and turns which I like! If I ever get to go to Aquaventure again, like say in the Bahamas (girl can dream!), I will definitely make it a mission to go on that slide. That’s a promise!

For what it’s worth, if I were to rate my whole Atlantis the Palm experience, I would give it an 8.75, pretty dang close to a 9, only because I didn’t get to explore the other locations thanks to the shortage of time. Let’s give a little room for it to go up to a 10 yes? Would I recommend staying here? A definite yes! I think two days and two nights is enough to fully enjoy all that the resort has to offer!

The vlog about my Atlantis The Palm experience begins at the 6:26 mark on the video below! 🙂

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Here’s my travel video that pretty much sums up all the highlights of my Dubai trip. Check it out to know what to expect in my Dubai Travel Blog series!

Other posts in this series:

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