Lapita represents a family-friendly hotel ideally located within the new Dubai Parks and Resorts complex (home to Legoland Dubai, Legoland Water Park, MotionGate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai and the forthcoming Six Flags Dubai) in Jebel Ali. Offering a somewhat unique hotel experience amidst exotic surroundings.
Ever since seeing the initial 3D renders of the resort, Lapita has been on our bucket list and our reason for picking Lapita for a recent summer staycation revolved around two Moana obsessed children. Plus, with our ninth wedding anniversary approaching we hoped to re-create the South Polynesian paradise of our Cook Islands wedding and Lapita seemed like the ideal fit.
Greeted with floral necklaces and the traditional greeting of “Aloha” we enter into a lobby that doesn’t feel particularly Dubai. Wooden fans whirr overhead and ornately carved pillars give way to lush garden views. It feels like another world, one of relaxation and island vibes.
The Rooms: With a number of deluxe rooms, interconnecting family rooms, suites and private villas available, all rooms at Lapita work to encapsulate the spirit of Polynesia. Tribal fabrics, plenty of engraved wood and woven ropes are used to great effect in ensuring the tropical vibes segue successfully between the communal areas and the private living quarters.
We really appreciated the fact that Lapita’s rooms are not housed together in one central building. Instead the resort is broken up into small villages (or lodges) each containing a cluster of rooms. Not only does this present a feeling of exclusivity to guests, but it also brings visitors away from the central longhouse (home to reception, bars and restaurants) and closer to the swimming pools.
During our stay we were housed in the upper level of the Koava lodge and our 37SQM room was an absolute delight. The room itself is tastefully decorated in tribal motifs and wooden features, including an extremely comfortable king-sized bed. The open plan layout transitions easily past a small dressing room and into a marble bathroom that utilizes the space remarkably well. Retaining the Polynesian theme through the use of carved wooden screens. Each room has a small private balcony (nicely shaded) complete with wooden furniture, offering pleasing views across the resorts manicured gardens and out towards the theme parks.
Our deluxe room also featured a chaise longues (ideal for reading) alongside the expected features – minibar, telephone, tea and coffee making facilities, in-room safe and ironing board.
Recreation: With three theme parks and one water park right on your doorstep, Lapita doesn’t scrimp when it comes to the amount of recreational facilities within the resort itself. For pampering, look no further than the Ola Spa with its ice fountains, steam rooms, vitality pools, saunas and eleven treatment rooms.
Lapita is also home to a 24 hour fitness centre with state of the art cardiovascular equipment, free weights and complimentary fitness classes for hotel guests. Outside guests will find a jogging trail and beach volleyball net, ideal for Dubai’s cooler months.
Two swimming pools and the lazy river are likely to be the main draw for families staying at the resort. Landscaped against tropical palms, it’s not quite the idyllic beaches of the South Pacific, but it’s as close as you’re going to get without enduring a long flight.
Each of the lagoon-style pools are temperature-controlled and cater well to the family crowd, with the Mahi Mahi family pool representing the deeper and more spacious of the two choices. While the kid’s pool has the advantage of shallow waters, basketball nets and a splash pad, and sits closer to the lazy river. Whichever pool you choose, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
If relaxing is at the top of the agenda, then grab one of the food shaped inflatables and float along the lazy river as it meanders around the resorts extensive grounds past floral displays.
After a day of relaxing poolside, visitors can walk straight out into Riverland (or take one of the complimentary golf buggies), a French-themed Medieval village complete with waterwheels and stone towers marking the gateway to Legoland Dubai, Legoland Water Park, Motiongate Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai (full reviews here).
Keeping with the family-fuelled vibe, little ones will likely enjoy the fully supervised Luna and Nova kids club. Home to soft play, crafts and video games.
Dining: As a resort hotel Lapita features a number of dining destinations within the main building. All of which promote the family-friendly nature of the property in conjunction with a relatively casual approach to dining. Palama is the lobby lounge and the place for coffee, cake and afternoon tea. Ari offers a full bar service and a lighter menu reflective of its poolside setting. And Lani is ideal for sundowners and Polynesian tapas located on the rooftop.
Kalea all-day-dining may have been a triumphant success when we visited previously for the hotels Daycation Brunch, but disappointed on this occasion. The breakfast during our stay marked one of the most haphazard in recent memory, due to a shortage of staff and a lack of attention left us severely underwhelmed to a point that we’d likely take our breakfast in one of the numerous outlets in the parks should we return in the future.
Our dinner at Hikina however, was much better. A Pan-Asian hot pot and dumpling house which arose due to a clever marketing campaign that switched the restaurant from its previous Cantonese incarnation into a hot pot speciality restaurant in less than 24 hours. The space is simplistic but atmospheric with billows of steam emanating from the open-kitchen. Red Chinese lanterns hang overhead, their golden tassels rocking in the breeze from the small outside terrace.
The restaurant feels like a busy street with guests are invited to grab a wicker basket and tongs and make their selection from the ‘market’ of leafy vegetables, mushrooms, lotus stems, bamboo shoots and a variety of noodles that spill across countertops. Once the selection is made, the ingredients are added to a rich broth alongside a selection of meat, poultry and seafood, and cooked in the hot pot at the centre of the table before being spooned out into ceramic bowls.
While waiting for the hot pot to cook, we suggest you try some of the baos (starting at just AED 12), dumplings (6 for AED 30) and sticks. These Asian-style street snacks are executed well with the chicken bao and king prawn sticks being our recommendations.
Despite the rough and ready approach, it’s the flavours at Hikina which really excel with the depth in the doubled-boiled chicken broth being of particular note. With hot pots hovering at around the 50 AED price point, Hikina also marks what could be one of the cheapest meals you can have in a luxury hotel in Dubai.
Being an Autograph Collection hotel, Lapita is operated by Marriott International and makes for a worthy addition to Dubai’s inflated hospitality sector. Offering a product that dares to be different and is quite unlike anything else in the country.
Lapita’s success lies in its successful grasp of the family-centric market, offering a resort style property that keeps families front and centre while adopting a theming which really encapsulates the theme of the South Pacific. The Polynesian Islands are known for their sandy shores, coral reefs and ocean waters and all of these elements are cleverly incorporated into the thematics of this tiki island paradise.
The prices of the rooms (especially during the summer months) and a selection of reasonably priced restaurants would lead us to go so far as to say that Lapita is ‘cheap’ by Dubai standards and nestled in the heart of Dubai Parks & Resorts, Lapita certainly feels like an island hideaway.
Location: Dubai Parks and Resorts, Sheikh Zayed Road, Jebel Ali, Dubai
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Phone: 04 810 9999
Out & About UAE were guests of Lapita. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.