It’s impossible not to be impressed by Atlantis The Palm in Dubai. Leave reality behind and step into this alternative universe of luxury, exquisite service and endless splashtastic fun at their Aquaventure Waterpark. It is definitely the best place to stay in Dubai. Especially for families!
For us, a few days at Atlantis was the most heavenly end to an amazing trip. After a month exploring Europe we loved breaking up the long flights back to Australia with this resort experience. While it was expensive, we definitely got our value out of all the facilities on offer and didn’t leave the property until it was time to check out – Atlantis The Palm Dubai – click to check prices.
Even better, our Imperial Club package meant that we did not spend a single dirham during our entire stay. Food, transfers, kids club and entertainment were all included. Even our souvenirs were covered!
The best place to stay in Dubai
Deluxe Guest Room at Atlantis The Palm
Having an Imperial Club package relates to the extra inclusions you get with your room, not the room itself. Our Deluxe Guest Room was their starting level of accommodation.
Two queen beds accommodating up to two adults and two children with huge bathroom and French balcony – just enough room to stand out there. But the view was pretty spectacular!
This was the only accommodation on the trip that the kids had to share a bed. They are super comfy beds in a lovely spacious room though.
Surprisingly, the kids shared their queen bed very well. Although it definitely helped that they were exhausted after spending hours at the waterpark everyday! And being contained in their sleep sacks makes a difference too. They slept peacefully every night – the 3 hour time difference between London and Dubai gave us no jet lag issues.
Atlantis The Palm resort
The Palm is a man-made island located 30 minutes from the airport by car. Atlantis occupies the furthest tip, far away from other hotels or apartments. The resort consists of 46 hectares of iconic hotel, pools, restaurants, shops, aquarium, beachfront and waterpark.
Just wandering around will keep you entertained for a couple of hours.
They certainly don’t hold back with the decor. Check out the incredible glass sculpture in the lobby.
Shops and restaurants
You’ll find plenty of fancy restaurants like Nobu and expensive shops like Tiffany’s as you explore the ground floor.
Everything seemed very expensive. Gordon Ramsay’s family-friendly pub style Bread Street Kitchen had mains around A$40. A fast food style burger place had reasonable prices, but we felt our Imperial Club package was fantastic value when faced with these alternatives. See below for more information.
Having a ginormous aquarium in the lobby makes for endless entertainment.
There is no doubt that Dubai is hot with daytime temperatures ranging from 23 in January to 41 in August on average. In early October when we were there the weather was sunny, hot and about 39 degrees every day.
That is perfect weather to swim at the pool or play at the waterpark, but it is not pleasant to walk around outside. It was a relief to retreat back into the air-conditioned comfort of the hotel complex.
We particularly enjoyed swimming after dinner, when it was still about 33 degrees at 7pm. It is so relaxing swimming in the dark. The life guards are still on duty, the water temperature is perfect and there’s no worries about sunburn.
They even play movies on the beach – we watched Mulan from the pool.
The Lost Chambers Aquarium
All hotel guests receive unlimited complimentary access to The Lost Chambers Aquarium on the ground floor of the hotel.
This is a small but beautifully designed aquarium with particularly impressive displays of jellyfish, groupers and the Finding Nemo cast.
If you are not staying at the hotel, entry costs AED 100 per adult (about A$35).
The guy cleaning the glass was up for a selfie
Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis in Dubai
All hotel guests receive unlimited complimentary access to Aquaventure Waterpark.
This is where you really get your value by staying at Atlantis. If you are not staying at the hotel, entry costs AED 260 per adult (about A$93) and only slightly less for kids, so you’re looking at about A$345 for a family of four for a single day visit. If you take that into consideration when looking at your hotel room price, then it is pretty good value.
Dubai is the perfect location for a waterpark with its year-round hot, sunny weather. There’s probably only a couple of months at the height of summer when it would possibly be too hot to be outside for long (July and August – 41 degrees) and perhaps a couple of winter months that might be too cool to stay in the water (January and February – 24 degrees).
10 steps to a fantastic day at Aquaventure Waterpark
After spending 3 days here we learnt how to make the most of our time –
- Leave your valuables in your hotel room and take the bare minimum. You can hire a locker at the park, but they are located near the entrance which is not particularly convenient to get to during the day. You must be covered when walking through the hotel. We found a rashie and board shorts was fine for the boys and a slip on dress over bathers worked for girls. You can get towels at the park. Just take water bottles, sunscreen and wear sunglasses and thongs. Maybe a few small snacks or lollies to keep the energy up. You’re not supposed to take food in, but we took a few lollipops and small packets of biscuits for the kids. A waterproof watch would be really useful too.
- Get your wristband at the Resort Activity Booking desk in the lobby, so you can walk straight in when you get to the park entrance.
- Arrive at open (9.45am). It’s amazing how quiet it is for the first hour or so.
- Walk into the middle of the park, grab some towels and nab a couple of sunlounges. There’s not much in the way of signs or maps, so you need to walk around to get to know the place. Leave everything at the lounges. Just take yourselves in your bathers, rashies and thongs. The ground gets too hot to walk on, so don’t leave your thongs at the lounges.
- Head straight for the rides. There are two towers of rides, Neptune and Poseidon, as well as 1.6km of lazy river with rapids and wave sections. Head to the far tower first, Poseidon, then back to Neptune. You need to walk or catch a golf buggy along the beach road at the edge of the park. All the rides at this tower finish at the bottom of the tower, so you can jump off and head straight back up again. You’ll be able to get several rides in before lines start forming. You can thread your thongs onto your wrists while riding.
- Poseidon Tower – Here you will find Poseidon’s Revenge (a super fast drop-floor body slide), Slitherine (an enclosed, fast, twisty body slide), Zoomerango (6 person round inflatable craft with a massive drop and very steep twists and turns) and Aquaconda (6 person round inflatable craft with one big drop and smaller twists and turns). We didn’t try Poseidon’s Revenge, but the others were brilliant. Aquaconda was everyone’s favourite. Not too scary, just great fun.
- Neptune Tower – Shark Attack (very popular tube ride which finishes by going through the shark aquarium), Leap of Faith (free-fall, almost vertical body slide), The Plunge, The Surge, The Stinger and The Falls – all super fun tube rides rides with plenty of drops and twists and turns. Most of these rides feed into the lazy river, so you can’t just get off at the bottom and head back up the tower. Taking the River Rapids turn in the lazy river is the quickest way to get off and head back to up to the rides. Either do double tubes with the kids or ensure they know where to meet up with you at the bottom. Perhaps have one adult go first and one last so you don’t lose anyone. To experience the wave machine, take the Torrent River turn.
- Time for the Lazy River – It’s best to get all of the tower rides done first, because there’s less waiting on the lazy river. Enter near Poseidon Tower and take the River Rapids turn and you will be on there for at least half an hour. It is incredibly long with rapids sections alternating with some gentle floating.
- Splasher’s Kids’ Play Area – It is families only in this huge water play area and kids only on the slides – adults are only allowed to supervise. Endless tipper buckets and slides will keep the kids entertained for ages. It is mostly for kids under 1.2m tall who can’t go on a lot of the Neptune and Poseidon tower slides, but my kids (10 and 8 yrs) loved it too.
- Once it gets to late morning or midday the crowds get big, the lines get long and you’re probably exhausted already. So head to the relatively quiet hotel pool at around 1pm for a relaxing swim or nap on a sunlounge. Or return to the hotel at around 2pm for a late lunch. When you can go for free everyday it’s best to go for a few hours first thing each day. Make sure you dry off and cover up before entering the hotel.
Upgrade to an Imperial Club package
We chose to book an Imperial Club room, which is essentially a standard room with extra benefits.
The Imperial Club benefits are –
- Exclusive check in lounge
- Complimentary breakfast
- Complimentary all day snacks, afternoon tea and evening cocktails, and
- Free daily Kids club access (non-Imperial Club guests get one free session per stay)
- Complimentary airport transfers in a luxurious Audi A6 or equivalent
In practice this meant –
- Being whisked up to the Imperial Club lounge on arrival to sit and relax with a drink and snack while they organised check in. It is a lovely quiet area with stunning views and a kids area with TVs, toys and bean bags. Tea, coffee and soft drinks are available all day.
- An extensive buffet breakfast is served 7-11am in the Imperial Club lounge (with pancakes cooked to order) or you could eat at one of the huge buffets on the ground floor.
- Afternoon tea is served 2.30-4.30pm in the Imperial Club lounge and included a variety of sandwiches and warm scones with jam and cream. Perfect for a late lunch after returning from the waterpark.
- Free alcoholic drinks and canapes are served 5-7pm in the Imperial Club lounge. This did us for a light dinner. There was beer (Heineken), wine, cocktails and mocktails on offer as well as the usual soft options. A hot finger food option like dumplings, samosas or spring rolls, plus salads, crisps, cheeses and desserts.
- We fully intended to use the Kids Club, but kept running out of time.
- Having complimentary private airport transfers saved us about A$100.
- We didn’t even need to purchase souvenirs, because there was a great Atlantis beach bag in our hotel room that we could keep. And when we tipped the housekeeper on our last day he gave us another one in a different design! See the Dubai Tourism site for more tipping information.
Is it worth it?
Yes! We would return in a heartbeat.
While it is very expensive (we paid A$825 per night), it was well worth it to us. You would pay around A$450 for a similar hotel room in Sydney, so with A$345 worth of Aquaventure visit every day and all meals, several evening alcoholic drinks and airport transfers included, we saw it as a fun, relaxing and magical end to our trip. And the kids were in heaven!
It is truly the lap of luxury with such lovely, deferential yet friendly service. I felt like an exotic queen in her castle, like Princess Jasmine.
Hotel website – Atlantis The Palm Dubai
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