Amwaj Rotana is one of the latest properties in the long line of Rotana hotels that are being developed all over the Middle East and predominantly in Dubai. Situated in the up and coming JBR (Jumeirah Beach Resort), the hotel is just across the road from the beach and the Jumeirah walk, where you'll find a number of restaurants and cafés. The hotel is one of the nicest Rotanas we have seen in Dubai. One of the more contemporary properties of the Rotana catalogue, this hotel is ideal for a wide-ranging clientele, from couples to families with young children. As this part of town is a lot more relaxed than the rest of the city, it is the perfect place for a beach holiday in Dubai.
The hotel is located in the JBR district, one of the newest and hippest places to go in Dubai. The hotel is located on the beach and has its own entrance to the beach from the pool area. The atmosphere in this part of town is a lot more relaxed than the rest of the city. There are a number of restaurants and cafés along the promenade that lines the beach, the Jumeirah promenade. However, this part of town is far from the city centre and from the airport. It takes about 30 minutes to the airport by car (traffic-allowing), and 20 minutes to Downtown Dubai. There are a number of hotels in the JBR area, which is also an up and coming residential area, so there is a mix of local (mainly expat) life and tourists at leisure.
Rotana is one of the largest hotel chains in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa region), with over 70 properties in 26 different cities. In Dubai alone, the portfolio counts 13 hotels to date. The hotel has designated smoking floors, although the policy was being revised when we visited (April 2011). In terms of internet access, there is a business centre where it is free, but otherwise access must be purchased on top of the room rate.
Opened in 2010, the hotel is one of the more modern of the Rotana chain. Situated just across the road from the beach, it is in an ideal location for some of that Dubai holiday atmosphere, which you do not get in the city centre. The advantage of the hotel's location is that there are no buildings obstructing the view of the sea, so most rooms have a sea view, which is rare for most hotels along the coast. The whole hotel is based on the theme of water and 'Amwaj' in Arabic means 'ocean wave'. The theme runs throughout the hotel, and is most present in the large busy hotel lobby. A large operation to run, the staff stay friendly and relaxed, which contributes to the laid-back atmosphere of the hotel. The hotel is framed by a backdrop of the area's myriad skyscrapers, but the holiday atmosphere prevails. The 25 floors in total, but the pool area, which is quite a large area, looks out onto the beach, and from here, the surrounding urban landscape isn't overbearing as it is behind the hotel, which makes for a welcome break from it all. The lobby is usually busy, but the decor makes it a pleasant area nonetheless. In terms of facilities, there is a fairly good size freeform pool at ground level with a kids' pool complete with a roof top to prevent the little ones from getting sunburnt. There are also five food and beverage outlets, some of which have their own outdoor seating. There is also a Bodylines gym, steam, sauna and Jacuzzi. There is no spa but there are a couple of massage rooms - guests should book at least 24 hours in advance. The pool bar serves drinks and snacks throughout most of the day. This area can be a little noisy as the pool area sits just above the main road, where there can be a little traffic at peak times. There is direct access to the beach via an elevator from the pool area; there are also toilets for guest-use only, which is practical when at the beach!
There are 301 rooms over 25 floors. The higher up you are, the better the view. There are seven categories: classic, premium, club, classic suites, club suites and the presidential suite. The rooms are all decorated in the same style - a wash of browns, blues and creams to remind of the hotel's sea theme. Although the rooms are spacious and comfortable, the decor is a little old-fashioned despite the hotel having opened fairly recently. The rooms vary in size and view. Rooms are either 42m² or 87m² for the suites. The best rooms are the club rooms on the last three floors. Guests staying in one of these rooms have access to the club lounge, where separate meals are served for guests not wishing to mingle with the masses downstairs in the canteen-like restaurant. The rooms have all the mod-cons you would expect form a 4 star hotel, including flat-screen televisions, safes, mini-bars, Wi-Fi internet access (at an extra charge) and complimentary tea and coffee-making facilities. All rooms have a balcony, which is practical if you are a smoker. An advantage here for families or groups, is that connecting rooms can be guaranteed upon booking; most hotels try to match you up with your first choice, but cannot guarantee it. The bathrooms are spacious and have Rotana own-brand toiletries, bathrobes and slippers for all room categories.
The hotel has five food and beverage outlets altogether. The three restaurants, Rosso, Horizon and Benihana have outoor seating. The two day bars, the Atrium lobby lounge and the pool bar are open throughout the day for snack and refreshments. Horizon, the all-day restaurant, is open from 6:30am to 10:30pmand serves an international buffet at all three meals. The Rosso serves Mediterrean-inspired cuisine, from tapas to pizza. The restaurant also has its own wine cellar with a range of bottles from all four corners of the globe. The grill restaurant, Benihana, serves seafood, steak and poultry. The restaurant also has its own sushi bar for something a little lighter. This restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. The Sundeck pool bar is open until 10:00pm and serves snacks as well as healthier options like fruit and smoothies. The lobby lounge is open for 24 hours and serves hot drinks and snacks. The dining options here are of a high quality and lively especially in the evenings. For guests travelling with a young family, this is a good hotel to choose for its restaurants as they have kids' menus and are well-equipped in terms of high-chairs. The hotel offers 24 hour room service.
The advantage of staying here is that guests have direct access to the beach, which is just across the road. The pool is located on a platform above the main road. There is an elevator from this area that takes guests right down to the beach. Guests also have access to toilets whilst on the beach. The beach in this area is a popular hangout for all kinds of people; locals and tourists alike. Although there is nothing exotic about it due to the lack of coves and vegetation, it is pleasant. Dubai beach life unravels along this long stretch of sand lined by towers of hotels. The beach is on the whole quite clean and there are a number of cafés and restaurants that line the beach along the Jumeirah beach walk.
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