Dubai is one of my all time fave places to visit. I first discovered this cosmopolitan city in 2014 on assignment for the TV show I host, Postcards, on Channel 9. I was blown away by the hospitality, attractions, amazing hotels, shopping, dining, middle eastern culture and the sheer magnitude of what had been physically built and at a sizeable scale, in such a short amount of time.
There is so much to do in Dubai and I can categorically say that whatever the restaurant, shopping mall, attraction or hotel, I can guarantee it will be the biggest, best and most impressive version of itself in the world. Why? Because Dubai makes sure that if they are going to put the effort in to build it, it will be. This city does not play second fiddle to anyone and they certainly don’t rest on their laurels. They keep building, creating and inspiring and it’s hard not to marvel at their achievements and their visionary plans for what’s to come.
After my first trip to Dubai with work, I have taken my ever expanding family back 4 times, such is my love for the place, with my most recent trip being our first there as a family of 6. Since recently visiting, I’ve had so many people ask me for my itinerary as they loved what they saw on my Instagram, so I thought I’d share it here in a two part blog post with the first dedicated to the Palazzo Versace- our accommodation for the first part of our trip.
Palazzo Versace: One word- SPECTACULAR. Oozing the famous Italian house’s glamour and extravagance in every way, we were treated to three luxurious nights here. Staying in one of the Residences, a three bedroom apartment complete with huge Miele kitchen and laundry and adorned with exclusive Versace prints, crockery, parquet floored bedrooms and floor to ceiling marble tiles, it was extravagance in every way. From the private pool, to the luxe furnishings, the delicious daily treats and the utter peacefulness of the place- we were in heaven.
Compared to many other hotel properties in Dubai which can be very busy with a lot of hustle and bustle, Palazzo Versace was very calming and felt like a lovely sanctuary to come home to after a day of exploring. The staff knew us by name, cared about our daily activities and shared a personal connection with all of us. This hotel is one where you come for peace, quiet, pure indulgence and relaxation away from the noisy crowds and hectic going ons of the vibrant city.
Restaurants & Bars: Talk about being spoilt for choice, Palazzo Versace Dubai features 8 venues all of which are inspired by Versace’s signature works.
The main restaurant we visited for breakfast daily and one of our dinners was Giardino. It is more of a buffet style and features just about any cuisine you could ever dream of. Tom loved the chocolate fountain at breakfast and I have no shame in admitting I ate waffles and crepes every single morning we dined there. The staff are gorgeous (Hi Gerald!) and I love how the chefs pop out and serve your food for you. So personable.
Vanitas is the Italian restaurant we dined in and it is pretty fancy with the most breathtaking interiors; vibrant red and peacock blue with a beautifully decorated, vaulted looking ceiling.
If lunch, dinner, high tea or a great coffee is what you’re after then Mosaico in the lobby lounge is the place to settle in. Paying tribute to Gianni Versace’s ornate personal works, this venue is opulent and the perfect place to take in the beautiful surrounds of the hotel with gorgeous views of the pool beyond.
Enigma restaurant features a ‘Tastes of Persia’ menu and is the perfect pre-show dinner venue before literally popping next door to Q’s Bar and Lounge, Dubai’s best live music venue and Grammy Award winning artist Quincy Jones’ own bar. Wow!
Add La Vita Bar and the outdoor alfresco dining venues Amalfi and Gazebo to the mix and Palazzo Versace has you well and truly covered whatever you are craving.
In terms of family activities to be enjoyed at the hotel, the 2 pools are relaxing with excellent service plus there is a kids club which features all of your kids’ favourite toys and activities.
If pure relaxation is what you’re after then you can’t go past their award winning day spa- The SPA. I was treated to a deep tissue massage and it was honestly one of the best I’ve ever had and just what I needed after a day full of adventure and carrying children around- oh my neck! The interior of The SPA is so exquisite featuring marble floors, grey mosaics and a turquoise Morroccan hammam sanctuary. I never wanted my treatment to end!
Thank you Palazzo Versace for a decadent and relaxing stay- it was truly memorable.
If you would like to book a stay for yourself at Palazzo Versace, book here: www.palazzoversace.ae
Dubai Opera: Off we went to the Dubai Opera for their Jingle Bell Favourites show. It was so much fun and the audience interaction (singing and dancing) during The Twelve Days of Christmas song was a hoot. We were assigned the characters of ‘three French hens’ and the pure joy and laughter that abounded was GOLD.
Dinner at Asado, Palace Downtown: With views of the Burj Khalifa and front row seats to its night time music and water show, Asado was the perfect choice for our first dinner in Dubai (despite the kids’ jet lag). Serving Argentinian fare, we feasted on possibly the most delicious steaks ever- big call I know!
For more: www.dubaiopera.com
Oli Oli: Our visit to Oli Oli got the wow factor from my kids and they were blown away with the activities here. An interactive children’s play museum created by parents for kids, Oli Oli features 8 galleries and 40 hands on exhibits which fosters play and an understanding of science and the world around us. The AIR gallery was super fun building aeroplanes and understanding air pressure, plus using air to shoot hoops was a highlight, especially for my twins.
The water gallery exhibits rain (a real highlight for the locals as it only rains a handful of times each year), vortexes, taps, cannon balls and more. Pop your rain coat on and splash around, having a ball, while learning about physics and engineering.
My personal favourite gallery was the Future Park- a dark, digital interactive gallery, alight with imagery created by kids in underwater and road/park scenes. Touching the scenes would make the graphics move and the vivid imagery was captivating. The light ball orchestra was my fave part of this gallery; huge balls which change colour and sound as you rolled them resulting in a colourful smorgasbord of light and sound. Check out the post on my instagram from December 15 to see and listen.
We spent a lot of time in the Cars and Ramps gallery building cars and testing them out on huge ramps. Likewise the twins loved playing in the toddler area which abuts the Forts and Dens room, picking flowers and delivering them in trolleys- bless.
I highly recommend Oli Oli for a visit with your kids. They will love it and you will too! See here for more details: www.olioli.ae
Desert Safari Private experience with Arabian Adventures: When we reflect on all of the amazing experiences we had in Dubai, the Sunset Dune Dinner Safari was probably the most incredible thing we did. We were picked up by Arabian Adventures from our hotel and driven about an hour out of town to an isolated desert area. Here we watched a falcon bird show before being driven through the golden dunes on a thrilling 4wd adventure. The kids (Oscar and Billie only, the twins were too young) LOVED it and it felt like we were on a big rollercoaster. After about 15 minutes of bumping along the dunes of the Arabian desert we were dropped off for a camel ride through the sandy hills to our final destination- a bedouin style tent which would be the scene of our delicious private, three course bbq dinner. There was something very magical about dining in the middle of the desert in a traditional setting, eating local food and having been delivered there on camels! We really felt like we were getting a very authentic Emirati experience and it was such a great learning opportunity for the kids as well. And can we talk about the desert sunset pics? Magnificent!
If you’d like to book one for yourself, click here:
Legoland, Miniland and Legoland Waterpark: Ok so we’ve all seen or been to the Gold Coast theme parks right? Well the theme parks in Dubai have to be seen to be believed. Starting at Legoland we wandered through a Mini lego Dubai before flying on a lego aeroplane. We then took our kids to driving school where they drove little lego cars around a race track (HILARIOUS!) before taking them to the Sea Port which included lego boat rides and 4 different climb on parks. We then went inside a lego submarine and discovered an underwater world of sharks and fish (real ones- of course!) before trying our hand at all of the waterslides and wave pool at Legoland waterpark. Yep- it was a full on day and I’m not usually a waterslide person but even I got involved on the huge family tubes, shooting down the slides with my kids. Oh what fun!
Motiongate: Is next door to Legoland and is a Hollywood inspired theme park which showcases rides and activities under the brands from Dreamworks, Lionsgate and Columbia Pictures studios. Think Smurfs, Shrek, Ghostbusters, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar and The Hunger Games franchises.
From scary rollercoasters, shows, water rides, motion simulators and more kid friendly rides, Motiongate is well worth a visit and I would probably allow a day each for both here and Legoland, such is the enormity of the place.
Head here for more info:
Check out from Palazzo Versace- we felt sad to be leaving the incredible staff who treated us like family but excited for the next part of our Dubai adventure. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week.
* My family was hosted by Tourism Dubai for this trip. Thank you for having us. We loved every second.