- Detailed Review
- Facts & Amenities
I think it’s fair to say that Dubai is probably the world’s most competitive luxury hotel market. Every major brand is here (Mandarin Oriental coming in 2017) and for the most part, no money has been spared to create hotels of exceptional quality with an array of facilities and services to match. So the Four Seasons had its work cut out for it to find its niche in this crowded marketplace when it opened in November 2014.
To make things easy, let’s start with what this hotel is and what it is not. What it is not is a beach resort. A hotel that just happens to have a beach (and a small one at that) in its back garden does not a resort make. So if you’re planning a long and languid beach vacation, I would suggest you look elsewhere. However, if it’s a luxury break you’re after, this baby’s for you. I classify this Four Seasons as a world-class, leisure hotel. Yet there’s a big difference between that and a beach resort.
The location is a little different from the rest, although it’s a very good spot if you want to be a short ride away from all the action of downtown Dubai with its shopping, restaurants and, of course, the Dubai Mall and DIFC. And further down the road from the hotel, you have the boutiques and cafes of Jumeriah. Personally, I like this address.
One of the other unique attributes of this hotel is something very special indeed: the Restaurant Pavilion, linked to the hotel by a covered walkway. This features exceptional food from two of the city’s best restaurants: Latin American food at Coya and some of the best Turkish food to be found in the Gulf, at NUSR-ET. And we really are talking exceptional food. Not to mention the hotel’s several other restaurants which are also top-notch.
You’ll also find the Middle East outpost of the iconic American nightclub, Provocateur, right on your doorstep. So for those dreaming of a Dubai mini-break in a hotel with exceptional service and an array of gourmet dining options along with chic, sophisticated entertainment, then the Four Seasons at Jumeirah Beach is most definitely the hotel of choice.
A hotel representative provided a warm welcome at the airport and escorted me to the waiting hotel car. The hotel has its own fleet of cars with drivers who are full-time staff members, making the whole experience from start to finish ‘very Four Seasons’. I was traveling in one of several of the hotel’s new Bentley Continentals. These cars, with their rich, red, leather interiors are immensely comfortable and have the advantage of ‘in car’ WiFi which worked perfectly throughout the journey through Dubai’s notoriously heavy traffic. On arrival at the hotel, my luggage and I were escorted directly to my suite where all check-in formalities were handled.
The hotel’s interior is chic and elegant, with a nod in design to destination Arabia. It is, however, just that, a nod and nothing more. To be frank, if you took away the decorative Arabian style arches, this hotel, as stylish and contemporary as it is, could be anywhere in the world.
Four Seasons as a hotel group has few shortcomings and this is one of them: loss of a sense of place. For sure, the hotel is magnificent but its expression of Arabia is so subtle it probably will pass right by your notice.
Rooms and suites
The sea-view suites are generous by any measure at 173m² (1862 ft² ) and consist of an entrance lobby, the bedroom, a dining area that seats four guests, and a separate powder room and shower. The dining area is open plan and leads through to an extensive living area with a large sofa bed, some comfortable armchairs, a desk, and a large entertainment system.
The living area leads out to a balcony with a sea view, sort of. Indeed you will see the sea, but you will also have a vista of construction sites either side of the beach where the hotel is located. Whilst not horrible, this is far from an ocean vista and is not likely to end up on a postcard any time soon. There is a very large, separate bedroom with a king-size bed (perhaps the most comfortable I have ever slept in) and a large, walk-in wardrobe. The bedroom opens into the master bathroom.
In terms of the interior design of my suite, I have to say it was somewhat underwhelming. My suite was perhaps another good example of Four Seasons never wishing to walk the line. It was, for want of a better term, faceless and rather dull. I felt as if I had stepped into a very nice ‘serviced apartment’, anywhere in the world.
So I asked to see some of the other rooms and suites. Thankfully, my faith was restored. Firstly, forget the ‘sea view’ rooms as the view is nothing to get excited about. The same cannot be said for the Skyline View rooms and suites as the highlight of this hotel is, without a doubt, the view of Dubai’s impressive skyline. Furthermore, the Skyline View category has escaped the Four Seasons’ ‘50 Shades of Beige’ interior decor style. They feature chic, muted pastels along with beautiful wall coverings that together provide very elegant and contemporary surroundings.
All the in-room technology was simple and easy to use. In the case of the suites, the location of the controls for the curtains may not be located where you would expect so you may need to hunt around a little to find them. Other than that, everything else, including the entertainment systems, were easy to operate. Internet is complimentary and the WiFi signal is strong throughout the property. Internet speeds did vary a little, but for the most part were fine.
Four Seasons bathrooms everywhere in the world are both attractive and functional and here is no exception, large and well laid out. There is a separate WC and bidet and a full, walk-in shower along with an egg-shaped soaking tub. Fixtures and fittings are to the highest standard and lighting is in all the right places. And for those unable to drag themselves away from the latest music videos or updates on CNN, there is a small TV inbuilt to the large mirror above the vanity.
Toiletries are from Italy’s Etro, something you don’t often see. All are in 50 ml containers and smell heavenly.
Over the years, I have dined in many luxury hotel restaurants and lots have fallen far short of their marketing hype. This was not the case with Sea Fu, where I had perhaps the best dinner in a hotel restaurant that I can remember. Asian-inspired, this seafood restaurant is located on the beach and has inside and outside seating. As it was a warm and humid evening when I dined here, I opted for dining indoors.
The interior is minimalist but very stylish with accents of dark wood and a centre table featuring a magnificent flower arrangement; soothing elegance that doesn’t detract from the star of the show, the food. I started with the steamed dim-sum selection that was beautifully presented and tasted heavenly. I followed this up with what was described on the menu as lobster macaroni. But this was no ordinary comfort food offering. Fresh pasta in a delectable seafood broth, perfectly flavoured with a variety of spices and infused with saffron, presented under a perfectly cooked lobster tail. I was in food heaven for the next twenty minutes until every bite was gone.
Spurred on by this accost to my tastebuds and knowing that stopping myself would have been akin to stopping water cascading over the Niagara Falls, I glided over my strict ‘no dessert’ rule and went straight for the decadent caramelized pineapple with tamarind meringue and peanut sauce, topped with mango sorbet. This show-stopper was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.
To recap, whether it’s breakfast, a late afternoon snack in the lounge, or dinner at one of the choice venues, the food at the Four Seasons here at Jumeriah Beach is exceptionally good.
Spa and wellness
I was rather surprised by the spa experience. The treatment itself was excellent and the allocated room was well-designed and suitably relaxing. However, the decor and spa reception area was, quite frankly, dull and soulless as was the attitude of the spa reception staff. It appeared that the interior design team, not to mention HR, simply lost interest by the time they got to the spa. Not surprisingly, there were more variations of beige. The spa facilities themselves were nothing to get excited about and the space overall felt a little cramped. However, as I said, my time there was well spent and my 60-minute Swedish massage was the thing dreams are made of, so I left feeling very relaxed indeed.
Pool and beach
One thing that Four Seasons excels at is pool service. Friendly, fast and very professional staff attend to arranging sun loungers, towels and making sure guests are well supplied with snacks and drinks. Each guest is spritzed, sunglasses polished, and little treats provided at regular intervals.
However, the beach at Four Seasons is unremarkable. There is sand and sea along with beach loungers and umbrellas, so all the right ingredients are there. The real issue is the size of the beach (think small) and the rather unattractive view of construction either side that encroaches on the ocean vista.
And something else I noticed which I have never seen on Jumeriah Beach before, was that there appeared to be somewhat of a current running across the beach. Perhaps it was the time of the day or simple tidal movements, but I doubt whether this would be safe for small children to be around.
Staff and service
As with any new hotel, it takes time for the service to ‘settle in’ and for staff to become comfortable in their roles to the point that they can let a little of their individual personality shine through. Make no mistake, the service is as slick as one could wish for: pure Four Seasons but just a little underwhelming.
I did, however, notice that some of the reception and spa staff did find it a little difficult to smile and were perhaps just a tad curt. This may be a little churlish of me but like it or not, when it comes to Four Seasons, I hold this brand to a different standard. After all, they wrote the book on hotel service, a wonderful accolade that comes with an expectation of perfection every time.
An interesting mix of guests including Arab nationals, the usual smattering of business travellers and a collection of elderly American couples who were quite clearly enjoying every minute of their time in Dubai.
Check-out was fast, friendly and efficient, with the hotel kindly providing me with transport to my destination just down the road.
How to get here
25 minutes by road from Dubai International Airport
237 rooms & suites