What’s On takes a Thai vacation, without leaving Dubai…

With our passports safely stashed at home, we enjoy a midweek escape that takes us from Palm Jumeirah to the beaches of Koh Phangan.

We’ve been invited to stay at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, a 293-key hotel that celebrates its Thai heritage with tropical gardens, lagoon-style pools and Dubai’s only overwater bungalows.

anantara palm

The room

After a seamless check-in, we jump into a golf buggy for a drive through the resort – and instantly feel as though we’ve left the UAE. We’re staying in Villa 75, an overwater bungalow at the very end of the boardwalk. It’s a soothing space of rich timbers, burnt-orange textiles, the gentle whir of a ceiling fan, and a peek-a-boo panel of glass in the floor, which offers a snapshot into the lagoon.

And while our three-year-old is captivated by the fish below, for us it’s all about the wraparound views from above.

Whether you’re kicking back in the king-sized bed, soaking in the ginormous bathtub, or relaxing on a daybed on the deck, Palm Jumeirah’s charms are on full display. Paddle boarders and kayakers silently glide past, palatial villas fan out across the fronds, and the skyscrapers of Dubai Marina provide a glittering nighttime backdrop.

The resort

One of Anantara’s defining features is its swimming pools. The main pool is a temperature-controlled wonder, complete with a jacuzzi hut, bubbling spa beds, covered children’s pool, and swim-up bar (which is closed for the time being).

Directly in front of this is the 400-metre beach. There’s a handful of guests relaxing on the socially distant sun loungers – but the sea has just reached that tipping point where it feels warmer in the water than out…

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Beyond the main pool are another two lagoon pools, complete with sandy shores and palm trees. The hotel rooms around the lagoons have direct access to the pools, with steps leading down into the waters. For families, these look like the pick of the bunch.

The restaurants

Not all of Anantara’s restaurants are open at the moment, but there’s plenty to satisfy in the current selection. At Revo Cafe, we enjoy a dinner of grilled sea bass and braised lamb shanks, and lunchtime salads, sandwiches and burgers, all generous, good-quality serves.

For now, the buffet breakfast at Crescendo has been converted into an a la carte experience, with fruits and pastries brought straight to your table, and an extensive menu of hot dishes to choose from, including waffles, shakshuka and cooked-to-order omelettes.

The standout meal during our stay is dinner at pan-Asian eatery Mekong. We share housemade hargao dumplings, crunchy prawn toasts and a refreshing som tam salad for starters, followed by a spicy stir-fry and luscious red curry duck for mains. Even the children’s meal is a work of art, with a bento box brimming with chicken, rice, vegetables and chopped fruit.

The safety measures

It’s clear the resort is taking the safety of its guests and staff very seriously. Our temperatures are checked at the gate, face masks must be worn in the common areas, and there are clear social distancing signs at every turn. Restaurant menus are offered via QR code, and tables and sun loungers are spaced well apart.

Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, Palm Jumeirah. Standard rooms from Dhs575 for members. anantara.com/en/palm-dubai