But the recently opened Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm manages to not only bring something different to the city’s inimitable islands address…it leaves a very memorable impression.
Yet the Taj Exotica gives anyone familiar with the UAE’s vast hospitality offering plenty to ponder and savour as a destination of depth and choice.
Its palatial frontage is reached via a short sloped driveway up from the main road that serves the Palm’s evolving East Crescent.
Geographically, Taj Exotica fills the footprint between two other hotels, but offers a very different prospect to its neighbours, in both design and concept.
The resort’s ‘business’ side is on the reverse where room balconies yield clear views of an epic pool, a private beach, spacious courtyard-style gardens and the centre of the Palm with its lavish frond-tip villas and calm dividing waterways.
Check-in happens with welcome drinks, chilled flannels and a seashell garland - part of an auspicious ritual including a traditional Aarti to usher in health, wealth and prosperity.
This happens while seated in a vast, airy lobby that sets the scene for the resort’s primary sun, sea and sand theme, including a central art installation and a stunning Preciosa diamond flow chandelier featuring 11,000-plus crystal pieces.
The Hirsch Bedner Associates-curated interiors provide the resort with a sense of continuity, intimacy and sophisticated playfulness despite its expanse.
Taj Exotica has 258 rooms and 67 suites with balconies - two adorning our elegant suite - overlooking the resort and Palm beyond.
We are led to the third floor sea-facing accommodations by our ‘butler’, Shapna, who details the resort’s extensive restaurants and facilities.
All club rooms and suites are serviced by the butler team and all Exotica Sea View Room and suite categories have Taj Club Lounge access for daily high tea and early evening cocktails.
A door leads to a bedroom that boasts similar beige padded panels and wood wall detailing, while a sumptuous bed faces another widescreen TV and a blue Dubai-themed wall, complimented by turquoise and green fabrics.
There’s a generous walk-in closet flanking a marble bathroom with twin sinks, dedicated walk-in shower and toilet areas, plus bath tub. Commendably, refillable ceramic jars - rather than wasteful plastic miniatures - dispense Molton Brown wash products.
The balcony here also gives views of the resort’s epic swimming pool - at 70 metres it is said to be the longest on the Palm.
While it is a major plus that chilled water is given free to pool guests, it would be good to see less reliance on the plastic bottled variety in this sustainability-aspiring era.
For more substantial refreshments, pool and beach users can feed and refresh outside with international dining options at The Coast and Lime pool bar, which has a swim-up zone.
Families with younger people in their ranks will be glad to discover staffed children’s club, Popsicle, while tennis courts and a golf putting green are also available.
Guests craving some quality pampering should make a beeline for the holistic wellness of the JIVA spa, which occupies a discreet first floor corner beyond the Taj Club Lounge.
Even a persistently itchy nose failed to spoil one of the best massages this tired body has experienced for years - 60 minutes of Indian aromatherapy that translated to bliss with the right kind of pressure.
The seven restaurants and bars within the Taj Exotica enclave deliver distinctive styling and cuisine.
The international buffet and a la carte angle is catered to by Palm Kitchen where breakfast (served until 10.30am in spacious indoor and terrace settings) is regularly accompanied by a violin or flute player.
Salad, cereal, fruit and hot items, including a decent shakshuka and Indian staples, are supported by a live cooking station for eggs, omelettes and dosa. Expect table visits from chefs offering fresh-baked croissants.
This is ably demonstrated via impeccable Hyderabadi sunheri nalli lamb shank, which is garnished with the aforementioned varq. Perfectly cooked, cunningly prepared Chilean sea bass triumphs with perfect texture and a deep flavour profile.
Equally decadent, the smokiness of chicken dish murgh sirka pyaz is bettered on our visit only by a potentially addictive sukha mutton.
Achari haldi fish tikka also pleases the eye as equally as it does the palate as a lead in to larger dishes, including Varq’s evidently very popular biryani.
This is no ordinary Indian restaurant, as you might expect of a premium Indian hotel brand, at a time when that nation’s cuisine is being recognised by Michelin Guide inspectors in Dubai. Watch that space...
By stark contrast, next door neighbour Roaring Rabbit is a gastropub with an eclectic edge.
Its quirky, lavishly-executed Alice In Wonderland theme places it beyond any regular pub brief and provides a sophisticated with humour demeanour suited to family groups through to couples seeking a sense of fun.
The friendly team supply inventive cocktails and Brit gastropub favourites, including refreshing Cornish crab salad, indulgent classic Scotch eggs, and knock-out BBQ wings.
With plentiful TV screens, extensive happy hours and even a gentleman’s night, Roaring Rabbit is also a prime spot for catching sporting action.
With seating inside or out for panoramic views, this is a great place for sundowners while a central bar fulfills an extensive drinks list. The comprehensive food menu strides the Med to the Middle East, as showcased by Raia’s lively Panorama Saturday brunch.
This palm property is the fourth on the Taj Exotica roster, others being located in Goa, Andamans and Maldives.
Ranjit Phillipose is General Manager Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, plus Dubai & Area Director - Middle East, The Indian Hotels Company Limited.
“Each of our hotels are unique by themselves and are in sync with where they are located,” he explains. “The contemporary elegance of Taj Exotica is inspired by the whimsical sea waves, dazzling stars, and vivid sunsets on the world's largest man-made island, the Palm Jumeirah.
Furniture design stands out, delivering a Marina Home-style chic to public areas, F&B outlets and the brilliant Game Room, equipped with air hockey, pool, chess, foosball and video games.
Ranjit continues: “With an ever-growing influx of tourists to the Palm, it is an ideal location for our luxury brand of Taj Exotica Resort & Spa (which) strengthens the Taj brand portfolio in the UAE as it complements the other city hotels catering to business and leisure segments.”
The boss describes Taj - which will be adding a property as part of Dubai’s Deira Waterfront development and a hotel in Makkah, KSA, to its portfolio - as an iconic brand known globally as leaders in offering guests a unique experience.
“Those staying will be fully immersed in ‘Tajness’, including the renowned rituals which complement the stay,” he adds.
With numerous stay options on the Palm, it is reassuring to discover Taj Exotica achieves something different. Attention to detail is extensive and gives this spacious resort a warm personality that marries playful chic and high-end styling, yet is family friendly.
For a new hotel launched without a ‘soft’ opening, Taj Exotica shows no signs of the growing pains you might expect.
Staff are well-drilled, cheerful and keen to help with any questions, not least in their smart new restaurant concepts and tranquil spa.
Choosing should be part of the pleasure...
Room-only prices at Taj Exotica Resort & Spa start from Dh775, excluding taxes and fees. Check-in from 3pm; check-out at noon.
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, East Crescent Road, Palm Jumeirah; https://www.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj/taj-exotica-dubai/