When Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai opened its doors in March this year, it did so with great fanfare. And understandably so. As one of only four Taj Exotica properties in the world - the most exclusive brand sitting under Taj’s multi-brand umbrella - there was much anticipation.
Taj’s parent company, The Indian Hotels Company Limited has two other properties in Dubai, one in Business Bay and the other in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, each offering something a little different. Taj Dubai is a city-centric bolt-hole perfectly located for both business and leisure, close to DIFC, Burj Khalifa and the spoils of The Dubai Mall, whereas Taj Jumeirah Lakes Towers offers a more residential feel, close to the more relaxed and tourist-friendly end of town. With a gap in the market for a property that caters to holidaymakers seeking the riches of resort life yet with all the conveniences of a city, the dream of Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai was born.
But it’s not easy to bring exotic resort vibes to a city as frenetic and vertiginous as Dubai, so for this, location is everything and Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai won the lottery. Perched on the golden sands of Palm Jumeirah’s East Crescent, it pulls off a feat few can, by offering privacy and serenity courtesy of its remoteness, yet with all the accessibility one could ask from a city stay, with just a 15-minute drive back to the mainland.
The prestigious positioning affords the hotel ample space to spread out over, with 48,000 square metres all its own, and gifts visitors privileged views over Dubai witnessed from nowhere else. Inside, the stunning interiors fall to the creative eye of Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), who drew inspiration from the hotel’s surrounds - the sea, the vivid sunsets... Eschewing the basics of form and function when it comes to a lobby, HBA brought style and substance to the table too.
The vast and inviting open space is home to a striking Signature Design Diamond Flow Chandelier by Czech Republic-based design firm, Preciosa, which features over 11,000 crystal pieces and took over 3,000 hours of craftsmanship to create. The impact is undeniable and sets the tone for the rest of the property that is drenched in art and other rich visual references.
The wood panelling and aquamarine carpets of the lobby flow through each space and into the rooms and suites, of which there are 325 in total. The hotel’s 258 rooms are spread over five floors, each the epitome of contemporary chic - both elegant and inviting with their taupe and azure ocean accents across carpets, furnishings and textured walls. The 67 suites range from the 90sqm Luxury Suite Sea View to the 500sqm Presidential Suite, which sleeps 10 guests.
However, it’s the Grand Luxury Suite Sea View with Open Jacuzzi and the Exotica Suite Sea View with Open Jacuzzi that steal the crown for experiential luxury. They both have their own private terrace with Jacuzzi, creating the perfect setting for slow afternoons stolen under the Arabian sun.
Inside, the spaces open up to a living room, dining area, bathroom with fragrant Hermès amenities, and a large sofa bed enabling families to languish in luxury together. The art of relaxation is truly refined in these spaces, where endless horizon views demand to be admired and subtle luxury invites idleness of the best kind.
The Taj Club Lounge helps Suite guests capitalise on comfort and convenience too. Serving High Tea and evening cocktails every day, it also offers butler service to those wanting more intimate and intuitive attention from Taj’s hospitality heroes.
But wherever you bed down, one can’t sit still for too long in this hotel, as its many corridors and corners all beg to be explored. And so, from suite dreams to sweet experiences of a different kind, namely at one of the hotel’s seven restaurants and bars. Exclusive dining experiences lie at the heart of every Taj hotel, and here, with the Exotica stamp supercharging every aspect, guests are invited to surrender themselves to something special.
Starting off at Varq, Indian fine-dining brings rich colours, spices and flavours to the table in a setting that is both spacious and cosy at once. Borrowing its name from a finely-crafted gold or silver leaf that is used to decorate dishes - a worthy symbol of royalty - the restaurant’s contemporary charm transcends through to the mise en place.
Dishes of Varqui crab, slow-cooked lamb and lotus stem and fig dumpling are dressed with micro-herbs, artistic drizzles of sauce and intricate plating, each an exercise in precision. The adjoining terrace allows for al fresco aperitifs as the sun goes down, while the private dining room is the perfect setting for more intimate occasions, and the show kitchen welcomes a more interactive chef experience for those who like their dinner with a light side order of entertainment.
In contrast to the calmness of Varq, next door is the Roaring Rabbit, a modern gastropub with eclectic interiors and rabbit references everywhere you look: from the tables designed as oversized books, a hat chandelier complete with pocket watch, and rabbit motifs on the columns, which are dressed in button-down waistcoats.
The lively red colour palette and super-friendly service and ambience combine to make Roaring Rabbit a playful option for family-friendly meals, with an easy menu serving burgers, BBQ wings and crispy calamari. But once the sun goes down, it transforms into one of Dubai’s most sought-after bars, where guests come to savour their favourite craft, draft and quirky cocktail.
Up on the sixth floor sits Raia Rooftop Bar & Lounge, the hotel’s coolest outlet. Marrying the best of east and west, its design honours both a Moroccan and Andalusian aesthetic with an Arabesque ambience and menu, and drinks that will take guests from Mumbai to Marrakech. Fortunate enough to be flanked by balconies on either side, guests can sit on a terrace - including several private terraces for just two - and soak up sea-to-city views whilst sipping saffron-infused cocktails or peppermint tea and rose water mocktails, inspired by the Spice Route.
Another characteristic of Taj’s luxury properties is its award-winning spa, JIVA. Inspired by traditional healing methods, the ethos of each treatment is drawn from the rich and ancient Indian wellness heritage. Holistic treatments blend age-old healing techniques with the finest ingredients, meaningful rituals and ceremonies that give both a sense of place and peace. Its nine rooms are dedicated to Ayurveda, Indian therapies, yoga, and meditation, while gold-infused oils offer a more indulgent luxury, and herb-dyed linen and lead-free pottery combine to create an eco-friendly sensibility.
Beyond the spa, other activities include soaking up the sun on the beach or by Palm Jumeirah’s longest swimming pool, playing tennis or billiards in The Game Room, or unwinding with some golf at the hotel’s putting green.
But grown-ups don’t get all the fun, as the property puts children’s edutainment top priority. Not only is there a Popsicle Kids Club which takes children from three and above, there’s also a shallow children’s pool with lifeguard, a playground and a shaded breakout area with archery, cornhole, hula hoops, board games, and oversized Connect 4.
With all this in the refined confines of one resort, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai really does capture what it means to create both freedom and exclusivity for its guests. The freedom to access a rich roster of activities and experiences without the need to venture elsewhere, and a sense of exclusivity courtesy of its high-luxury distinction. A true oasis in the city.
WHAT: Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai
WHERE: Dubai, United Arab Emirates