Situated on a prime location on Dubai’s most popular beach you’ll find the Amwaj Rotana. Offering 301 modern rooms right in the heart of Jumeriah Beach Residence (JBR) and all the action on The Walk. With a 2km stretch of sand, ample leisure activities, retail options and dining choices, there’s no better location when it comes to a weekend stay in Dubai.
The Amwaj Rotana is a holiday-makers dream and offers not only value for money but the high levels of service that are often associated with the Rotana brand. We’ve stayed in a number of Rotana properties during our four years in the UAE and although the Amwaj may not be as grand as somewhere like the Cove Rotana, it’s pleasing all the same and is ideal as a beachside retreat. At times it feels like a smaller boutique-style hotel, with an unassuming lobby more about creating a first impression of good customer service than of visual spectacle.
The lobby itself is relatively small with a central seating area for guests to mingle and a small coffee shop off to one side. The main focus of the reception area is a striking piece of artwork hanging above the front desk, a cross between a whirlpool and a psychedelic rainbow. The lobby is also home to a small majalis with the option to sample Arabic coffee and dates (a traditional greeting practice here in the UAE). We found the check-in process to be smooth and efficient and must give special mention to Shakirah, who was very accommodating towards us and our various requests.
The small and unassuming nature of the lobby is a little mis-leading, as it gives the impression that the property is unable to compete with some of the more luxurious hotel brands in Dubai. Sure, Rotana is not the Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton (neither is it trying to be) but the Amwaj has one major advantage over it’s competitors. Boasting the largest hotel rooms on The Walk, all with private balconies and views over the Arabian Gulf. A definite draw when it comes to a selecting a hotel in this part of town.
During our two night stay at the Amwaj Rotana we resided in a premium sea view room, offering views over the still under-construction Bluewaters Island, an offshore development that will soon be home to Dubai Eye (the worlds largest ferries wheel). From the balcony you’ll also be able to see the Palm Jumeriah, Atlantis Hotel and if you crane your neck far enough, a glimpse of the seven star Burj Al Arab in the distance.
Back inside the room, guests will find a comfortable bed, fully stocked mini bar, hairdryer, two seater sofa with coffee table, writing desks and a bathroom that includes a tub (a must for us when at the beach). A modern speaker system carries the sound of your music or television into the bathroom, which is well appointed albeit a little on the small side. Rooms are tastefully decorated in neutral tones and comfortably furnished, making for an environment that encourages lazy mornings of doing nothing but lying in bed. It’s also quite unusual (read refreshing) to encounter a property that is not Arabian influenced and though we fully understand that we’re in the Middle East, does that mean every hotel needs to have Arabesque touches?
There were a couple of minor issues similar in nature to things we’ve noted in our reviews of other Rotana properties (here and here). Things like powdered tea and coffee which are not the end the world but give the impression of a lesser product than this hotel deserves. On two separate occasions staff members walked into the room without knocking, once at 11:30pm (we never did find out what they wanted) and a second time at 8:30am the following day. With a brand that has such a customer focus and pride themselves on offering great service, we were a little surprised by these intrusions.
The main draw of the Amwaj Rotana is the beach, which is easily accessible via a bridge that takes you over the traffic heavy ‘Walk’ and close to the sand. The beach at JBR is fantastic for families, with shallow waters and plenty of recreational activities including outdoor gyms, a splash park, water-sports rental, Sky Dive Dubai and Dubai Aqua Park (the world’s largest inflatable aqua-park). The hotel offers complimentary beach kits comprising of an umbrella, mat, towels and chilled water for those looking to spend a day on the sand and this is a wonderful gesture (just don’t forget to return them) considering Rotana don’t operate any of the sun loungers or cabanas situated on the beach itself. For those looking to go further afield, the hotel operates complimentary shuttle buses to the most popular malls in the city.
Back inside the hotel, guests have complimentary access to the state of the art fitness centre (open 24 hours) and a spa with jacuzzi, steam rooms and sauna (spa treatments come at an additional cost). Bodylines Fitness & Wellness Club is also where you’ll find the outdoor pool deck with two temperature-controlled swimming pools, one of which is shallow and fully shaded for young children and contains a variety of water-based toys for them to play with. While the larger pool is fed by fountains, is much deeper and appears more adult focused. Due to the proximity to the beach the pool was surprisingly quiet at the time of our stay, with most families opting to hit the sand instead.
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The pools are open from 7am – 9pm in summer and offer ample sunloungers and large umbrellas, with extra shade provided by the fronds of numerous palm trees dotted along the deck. It’s really family friendly and kids between the ages of 4 and 12 can visit Flippers Kids Club, a supervised area for games and crafts
Food & Beverage:
Amwaj Rotana offers a number of appealing and varied dining options. The Italian inspired Rosso offers a vibrant red colour scheme and a menu of staple Italian fare that includes pizzas, pastas and a delightful tiramisu. Rosso has the advantage of an outdoor terrace that becomes very busy on weekends (especially during Friday brunches).
JB’s is possibly the most pleasing British Pub we’ve visited in the Middle East when it comes to decor. It’s modern and light and has a menu that immediately caught our attention for four reasons. The one meter sausage, the pork platter, ten choices of mac n cheese (yes ten!) and the adult milkshakes made with hard liquor and lashings of ice cream!
We’re always a bit dubious when it comes to all-day-dining and have had some very mediocre experiences with breakfast at other Rotana properties. Thankfully Horizon at the Amwaj was much better than anticipated, offering a smaller selection with a focus on quality. Featuring a pleasing outdoor terrace overlooking The Walk, we found the omelette station, potted yogurts, pastries and fresh fruits to be good. Plus the addition of desserts for breakfast (cinnamon rolls, banana cake and ample donuts) make for a cheeky treat on the weekend.
We didn’t try Benihana, the Japanese restaurant specialising in seafood, sushi and Teppanyaki, nor Atrium the coffee shop in the hotel lobby.
Amwaj Rotana is a good choice for those looking to stay close to the action of JBR and Marina, though the traffic can be an issue, With the noise from the heavily congested Walk traveling up into the rooms (especially on weekends), it’s not bad enough to prevent a good nights sleep but is certainly noticeable. The same goes for the valet, which struggles to cope with the constant influx of visitors, though Rotana have employed a wonderful guest relations officer to keep guests happy while they await the return of their cars. Once again we’re impressed with the overall guest experience, it’s a consistent factor that seems to run through all Rotana properties. With staff members knowing your name, the service feels more personal.
With seamless wireless connectivity throughout the property and conference rooms for hire, the Amwaj (which means ‘wave’ in Arabic) is ideal for both the business and leisure traveller.
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The location is this hotels main draw, tucked away at the far end of the Walk. It’s right in the hub of what is arguably Dubai’s most popular district. With unobstructed views over the Arabian Gulf and the biggest rooms at JBR we would recommend the Amwaj Rotana as a value for money option for those looking to laze by the pool, hit the beach or experience the nightlife of this busy neighborhood. JBR would always be our desired choice when staying in Dubai
We were invited to stay at Amwaj Rotana. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE. Room images used courtesy of Amwaj Rotana.