Dubai really took me by surprise. I was not expecting to see all my favorite restaurant chains from Southern California (after going without them all year in Germany) nor was I expecting to encounter such an interesting blend of Eastern and Western culture. What I was expecting, as I have come to expect from the Park Hyatt chain, is great service and a comfortable room at my hotel. Not surprisingly, I received exactly that. Located conveniently in Dubai Creek just a short hop from Deira City Centre, the Park Hyatt Dubai provides a tranquil, resort-like oasis in this ever-expanding and fast-evolving emirate. Great service and spacious rooms once again made me glad I chose the Park Hyatt.
The ride from Dubai International Airport to the hotel took about ten minutes, even with moderate traffic. I was traveling with a colleague from work and a bellman offered us assistance with our bags as we exited the car. The lobby had an impressive outdoor façade with a blue tile domed roof and two protruding spears that resembled tent stakes.
Inside was an octagonal lobby with a plush Persian carpet in the middle and semi-circular check-in desks on the far sides. Check-in was a breeze and I was warmly welcomed to the hotel. The doorman who helped us out of our car escorted us to our room and engaged in small talk about what business we were in and then about tourism in Dubai during the long walk to the room. The hotel is quite spread out and it took nearly seven minutes and quite a bit of walking to get to our room (granted, most rooms are closer).
Although we were in a standard room, it was quite spacious and had a wonderful view of the marina and city skyline from the balcony. The room featured two plush beds, a desk, sitting area, and a large flat-screen TV. A plate of plump, ripe green grapes along with two bottles of water was sitting adjacent to the TV and made for a nice afternoon snack.
Of particular note was the large bathroom—rain shower, separate toilet room, and a beautiful stone bathtub that I never had a chance to use during the stay. The bathroom opened on either side into the room and to the entry hallway.
As you may recall, my three-day stay in Dubai was quite action-filled and I did not have a lot of time to spend at the hotel. The hotel has a number of restaurants, all of which look great, but the only one I indulged in was Café Arabique for breakfast. Their buffet spread was quite sumptuous and featured a variety of western breakfast choices along with more local options like delicious fresh pita with hummus and fresh vegetables that paired perfectly with some of the other fresh-baked pastries and breads offered.
I did take a peek into French-inspired Traiteur, the hotel’s main signature restaurant. I actually had reservations to have dinner there my second night at the hotel, but my late start to Muscat forced me to cancel. The menu, however, looked sumptuous and included such choices as a set menu for 375AED (about $100) that included a foie gras starter, a fish dish, a chicken dish, and a dessert. The restaurant also features a Friday brunch, a staple in Dubai. When I did take a peek in during dinner hours, there seemed to be more locals than tourists there, which tends to be a good sign.
Other eateries include the Thai Kitchen, which not surprisingly offers Thai food, and Pistache, a small bakery near the lobby that offers Arabic sweets (and boy did I love the Baklava) as well as breads, muffins, croissants, and fresh fruit. Pictured below is the Terrace Lounge, which offers an extensive tapas menu and a raw seafood bar. The property also has four bars, including an outdoor Shisha lounge—smoking is banned indoors in Dubai. Afternoon tea is available in the Lobby Lounge.
Speaking of beverages, the hotel offers all guests complimentary morning beverages delivered to your room each day. I enjoyed piping black tea and my friend enjoyed coffee each morning.
The spa and fitness center are located near the pool and the spa looked very enticing—private terraces for each guest with shade, a comfortable chair, and the sound of bubbling water. The fitness center was well-equipped and I had it to myself when I used it, despite the high occupancy at the hotel. The pool is beautiful, clean, and was also not crowded during my stay.
I introduced myself to the hotel marketing folks on my last day at the hotel (and no, I did not receive anything for free other than a cup of tea...) and they offered me a peek into the Presidential Suite. Quite a suite!
One particular member of the lobby staff, who I will refrain from naming but deserves great recognition, went out of her way to help me during our stay. I was looking to make a same-day trip to Iran and had been told the night before to come back to the airport the following morning to check for space. I did not fancy the idea of returning to the airport just to check on availability, yet KishAir did not have any telephone numbers listed and certainly no website that allowed me to check same-day inventory (remember, my paper tickets would be written by hand…). The staff member went to work scouring the internet for a telephone number and eventually called Dubai Airport and was transferred to the Kish Air office. She confirmed the flight was sold out but told us she could get us seats the following day and gave the Kish Air agent specific instructions to hold two tickets for us and that we would stop by the airport later in the day to complete the ticketing. This was not an easy task and involved about 20 minutes of holding and being transferred, but she got the job done and did so in a way that thoroughly impressed me. She also knew my name before I went up to her and repeatedly called me by last name—a professional touch that really distinguishes those who go the extra mile.
A word on the price of a room—I went during low-season and the rate was only 975AED a night ($260) which I considered a very fair price. Sure, there are cheaper hotels in Dubai, but this was plush, comfortable, and I earned Hyatt points for my stay.
My only gripe about the hotel was that it was not easy to leave the hotel grounds with anything other than a car or taxi. Forget about taking public transportation to the hotel—it really is a resort property and although you are close to the heart of the city, you are quite secluded. There was not always a taxi waiting when I was ready to go, particularly on the last morning when, even after calling, it took 20 minutes for a taxi to arrive at the hotel. Order a taxi in advance when you are ready to go out. One time we made the walk to Deira City Centre, but in 110ºF heat, it just was too much.
So let’s review: great restaurants, comfortable room, and great staff—the Park Hyatt in Dubai has a lot going for it. There are far too many hotels in Dubai that I have not tried yet for me to say this is the best hotel in Dubai, but I visited many of the best ones and this one was certainly the most secluded and quiet. Unlike the Atlantis or Burj Al Arab, there were no tourists walking around and taking photographs of this property (other than me...). In Dubai, that is appreciated.