Definition – Staycation ; a holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad.
For those of you who follow expats around the Middle East, you will have heard the term ‘staycation’ thrown around a lot. Now when you read this blog post I’m sure you will understand why staycations are so common in this part of the world. You see as expats we are fortunate to spend our time in different parts of the world, which means when it comes to taking a break, there is so much to explore right on our doorstep. For this reason when Eid holiday came around (and other plans we made to go back to the UK failed), we decided to book in to a hotel and have a well deserved break.
When choosing a hotel we didn’t have to think for long – ever since we’ve lived in Dubai there has been one hotel that has ALWAYS been my ideal place to go, and has been a mini expat dream to stay in; a hotel that is perfectly located on the West Crescent of the Palm Jumeirah Island and has the most stunning sea views for miles, a hotel that never fails to make us feel at ease when we’ve dined there, a hotel that oozes luxury from the minute you step out of your car…. Of course I’m talking about the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel!
Reservation – When booking a hotel I prefer to book directly with a human and this way I get instant email confirmation with all the important details – so booking Zabeel was no different. I sent an email the day we wanted to check in and was pleasantly surprised when I received a response within an hour. I was sent a detailed email with all the rooms available and the rates, along with what was included in the packages. (As we are UAE residents we qualified for GCC residents discount at an amazing 15% off!). Our booking was confirmed within hours so we rushed to pack our essentials and headed to the hotel.
Check in – I was a little wary turning up to the hotel minutes after we booked our hotel and I was expecting to be told we had to wait for a room or that there was something wrong with our booking. However, as soon as we handed over our ID’s, we were informed our room was ready. All the details that were explained to us by the reservations team were exactly as explained by check in staff. This was one of our smoothest check in’s ever. We were in our room within minutes of arriving. I also noticed the member of staff checking us in was a trainee, however she handled all of our questions well and cleverly informed us of the Jumeirah loyalty programme (which we eagerly signed up for!)
Room – We opted for the Deluxe King room with Arabian Sea view (you can check here for all rooms that are available). Our room was a perfect size and like the rest of the hotel it followed the Ottomon era theme – which we both love! There was a huge hammam style bath tub, a walk in shower with a brilliant rain shower and toilet with a bidet. The view from the bath tub was amazing as you can see right through the bedroom to the view of the Arabian Sea. We had a huge King sized bed with the softest pillows ever – we were informed by staff that we are able to change pillows if we wished – but man those pillows gave us the dreamiest sleep ever!
We requested to have the mini bar removed but they also offer the usual free tea and coffee making facilities and free water bottles – the one thing I loved about this part was that they have takeaway coffee cups so you can prepare a drink to take out with you. The private balcony was a great size, with a table and chairs, where you can soak up the views of the huge hotel pool, leading up to the private hotel beach and the stunning Arabian Sea. We were also fortunate enough to have the view of the Palm Island – so we could see iconic buildings in the background like the Atlantis Hotel.
Facilities – As Zabeel is a resort, you have everything you would want on holiday, under one roof. But let me tell you they have really pushed the boat out for guests with their facilities. Something I’ve always heard great things about is the Talise Ottoman Spa – they offer a whole section of free spa facilities for guests, including a Turkish hammam, adventure showers, snow room and salt water Thalassotherapy pool. There are also facilities and treatments for a cost including private couples’ rooms with private jacuzzi, face and body massages, treatments and much more – click here for more information. We decided to ramp up the romance on this staycation and hubby surprised me with a private couple’s room – thank GOD he did! The way this private room was decorated for us was just dreamy, the jacuzzi was filled with overflowing bubbles, candles were lit up all around the room to set the mood, and once you sit in the jacuzzi, you set your eyes on the most amazing view of the sea and JBR. I can’t recommend booking a private room enough! I also had a Sultan’s Massage which was a full body treatment including a much needed head massage. My masseuse took the time to learn about any areas I didn’t want her to touch prior to my treatment, and without reminding she took extra care on those areas – she made sure I was at ease throughout the massage but allowed me to drift away without being disturbed too much. I’d highly recommend the spa for a quick pick me up, even if you don’t choose to stay at the hotel!
Zabeel Saray offers three pool areas – a children’s pool where there is a shallow pool with splash activities for your little adventurers, a family infinity pool where the whole family can enjoy the views of the hotel and the beach/sea, and lastly an adults only pool. There are plenty of staff around to help you at all times – they will also provide you with float vest jackets for kids who need extra help in the pool. You can order food and drinks pool side, which makes leaving the pool so hard lol! They provide these cute little plastic water bottle holders filled with ice so you can have an ice cold drink of water by the pool.
Now this next part was a real surprise for us – Zabeel Saray has it’s own cinema! There is a cute luxurious cinema room free for all guests to access. They show a range of great films three times a day and no booking is required – you are able to come and go as you please. Popcorn and water is also provided free of charge! How amazing is that?! Oh and being a luxury hotel, the seats are all recliners too – so you really are able to put your feet up and relax!
Restaurants – There are ten restaurants at Zabeel Saray, each serving a variety of cuisines. As part of our package we had breakfast in the Imperium restaurant, which was really nice – the breakfast was the standard Dubai buffet breakfast but the service we experienced was probably the best we have ever had! We also dined in Sultan’s Lounge for dinner – the settings are so grand in all restaurants and as a bonus the Sultan’s lounge spreads to an outside area where you have beautiful pool views. You’ll find people stop here for drinks and shisha (there are sectioned off family areas that are non smoking). Staff are very attentive and I did not meet a single member of serving staff who did not greet us with a smile, or check up on us to make sure everything was okay. Considering how many people were staying at the hotel, it was nice to see staff remembering our faces and greeting us personally.
We tried in room dining and again this was a great experience. It took 35 minutes to receive our food. They include a fun kids menu too! Service was super quick – we called for the dishes and table to be taken away and the host was knocking on the door within minutes.
Extras – As well as having all of the great points I mentioned above – Zabeel Saray is an ideal place for any special occasion. We have had a difficult few months so Ayaan spoke to staff and arranged for us to have our room decorated amazingly by hotel staff. We were also gifted a large bottle of sparking Date juice, macaroons and date/chocolate gift boxes . One thing I noticed during our stay at Zabeel Saray, is that nothing was too big of a task for the staff here. Everyone made our stay so memorable and it was the little extras that made it so special – the decoration in our room and the spa was done to the highest standard compared to other hotels we’ve stayed at. I think the pictures speak volumes! Also they offer private gazebo where you can have dinner on the beach – so as you can see it is an amazing place to celebrate a special occasion or to spoil someone.
We had a situation where a member of housekeeping accidentally took hubby’s swimming shorts with the dirty towels – when we called housekeeping they apologised profusely and then sent his shorts washed and pressed, back to our room within 30 minutes! You can’t fault a place where they are so quick to rectify any mistakes.
Check out – This is another part where I get a little wary as I’ve known hotels to try and charge you for things you haven’t used so as we approached check out time, we requested concierge to pick up our luggage so that we could make our way down. At check out we were asked about our stay and this wasn’t a general question, the lady was genuinely interested to find out how our stay was and then proceeded to return our deposit. We were informed that although we had checked out we were able to continue to use the hotel facilities for that day, which was a great bonus as I didn’t need to be told twice before jumping back into the jacuzzi lol!
Considering we didn’t inform the hotel that we would be documenting our stay at Zabeel, we experienced the hotel for what it really is. I can honestly say this was our best staycation EVER! I am literally sitting here writing this blog with a heavy heart and wish I could go back – Ayaan feels exactly the same lol we keep saying how much we wish we could turn back time!
Also a reminder to fellow GCC expats – you are entitled to discounted room rates when you mention that you have GCC residents ID, so be sure to make use of that if you decide to book a Jumeirah group hotel!
Here are some more snaps from our mini break x