Dubai, with its shiny bright shopping malls and five-star hotels, has perfected luxury travel, but behind all the glitz and glamour there’s lush greenery and plenty of relaxation to be found…
Words MARK KEBBLE
Peacocks! Stumbling out of Dubai International Airport at 3am, this wasn’t exactly what we were expecting to hear when we hailed a taxi to take us to JA Palm Tree Court.
You see, many tourists who flock into Dubai often stay at one of the five-star hotels surrounding Palm Jumeirah, which we had to look on with wonder as we zipped past them en-route to our hotel. The dazzling lights start to dim as you near Jebel Ali, and when we turned off the Sheikh Zayed Road – essentially the gateway to everything in Dubai – we only saw greenery around us. After another five minutes or so, the JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort appears on the horizon. Checked in, we were briefly raised from our slumber with a chauffeured caddy ride to our suites.
With business on the schedule the next day, it meant we only had around three hours sleep before alarms raised us all. Considering the mood I was in, it would take something special to put a smile on my face – which was when I opened my blinds to the scene beyond my suite. Perched there on my balcony was the most stunning looking peacock, which gave me an inquisitive glance before hopping on its way. Suddenly the taxi driver’s exclamations made sense.
JA Palm Tree Court – the beachfront hotel that forms part of the Golf Resort – is a lush oasis. Walking to breakfast, we passed streams, ponds and waterfalls (and more peacocks), as well as the four swimming pools dotted around the hotel. Breakfast was served in La Fontana and service was excellent, as was the food, and the fact we all had only had 180 minutes sleep was soon forgotten about.
JA Palm Tree Court is a lush oasis. Walking to breakfast, we passed streams, ponds and waterfalls (and more peacocks). But approaching Dubai Marina was like something out of Blade Runner…
Heading out in our luxury taxi – note to any would-be businesspeople, make sure you select your taxi with care as some drivers have as much of an idea of where they are going as a newbie to Dubai – approaching the Marina area was like something out of Blade Runner. Highrise buildings vie for attention against each other, all undone by the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building and a real beacon in the Dubai sky.
For lovers of shopping, Dubai Mall is like something out of your wildest dreams. Every brand and label going is on show, and I was tired just looking over the shop inventory. I needed a massage, which was kindly provided back at JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort, which is a short five-minute stroll from the JA Palm Tree Court. As the name suggests, this is where you can practice your swing too and, given the non-stop sun, is the best way I can think of conducting business.
Back in my suite and I had a chance to really take in my surroundings. Incredibly spacious, the terrace overlooking the lush gardens with a sea view was the perfect setting to watch the sun go down, before heading out to enjoy the food. Throughout our stay, the cooking we sampled was exemplary, with arguably the White Orchid restaurant and its Pan-Asian cuisine taking top honours.
Our second full day was a showcase for how perfect JA Palm Tree Court is for families and it’s no surprise to learn they have won a host of awards for this. We had a peek at the horse stables, but a bad experience of being bucked off as a child dispelled any idea of me giving it a go. I was happier with the opportunity to enjoy some of the water sports, with a whole range on offer here, as well as find my inner Andy Murray by hitting the court in the JA Tennis Academy.
After all this activity, we were set for a night on Palm Jumeirah to see what Dubai’s nightlife is all about. Attending an event at the One&Only Royal Mirage was quite something given the stunning views from the roof terrace bar, but back on the ground we enjoyed the atmosphere found at a couple of the beachside bars we ventured into. Wherever we ended up, we encountered five-star service, and using the nationally identifiable word that is ‘peacock’ got us home safely too.
Dubai is like no other country I have visited, and not because of its man-made nature. After the initial surprise at how far Jebel Ali was out, we actually agreed that we were onto a winner, with the feeling that we were uncovering a different side to Dubai, peacocks and all.
Prices start from 1,376 dirhams on a single occupancy basis; jaresortshotels.com