In a city dotted with a plethora of hotel options, I’ve often been asked how is it that we zero in on a particular property to unwind. Keeping aside the 2 most obvious factors – the price and the proximity to famous landmarks – there are a few others big ticket items that influence our decision when we book city centre hotels. Does the hotel property have good dining options? How about a spa to rejuvenate the body, mind and soul? Is Wi-Fi complimentary? What about pool and fitness centre facilities?
Over the years, I have formed an emotional bond with the Starwood brand and identify a few choice hotel chains as go-to places every time I need to unwind – just like how I would go to my Moms house, knowing very well that my favourite comfort food will be dished out with immense love. Suffice to say, I have accrued quite a few Starpoints (SPG – Starwood Preferred Guest Loyalty Programme), which I wisely use for room upgrades when I travel overseas or on a plethora of in-hotel experiences. But more than that, it is the recognition associated with being an SPG member that puts a smile on my face. And Sheraton Grand Dubai didn’t let me down – I was greeted by a very friendly member of staff and ushered to the 31st floor for a very private and exclusive check-in at their VIP Club Lounge level.
Mohammed with his million dollar smile ensured our check-in experience was fabulous – thirst quenching welcome drinks (especially when you check-in on a hot afternoon), light banter which resulted in spontaneous laughter and a detailed explanation of the hotel facilities â the right way to start our staycation on the perfect note.
Soon after, we were led to our Grand Deluxe Suite which was located on the same floor as the Club Lounge – making it easy for us to seep in and out of our room to enjoy afternoon tea at the lounge or indulge ourselves in happy hour during the course of our stay. Upon entering our personal sanctuary, I was overwhelmed with the sheer size of the room and the warmth it exuded – tastefully decorated with earthy hues and boasting a massive living room with views of Sheikh Zayed Road, along with a huge bedroom with state of the art features – I looked at my better half and with a hint of excitement in our eyes, I knew we were in for a very special time.
Now one of the reasons we decided on Sheraton Grand Dubai as our home for the weekend, was its spectacular Feast Restaurant. After quickly freshening up, we made our way to experience brunch in all its vibrancy. And it didn’t disappoint – the restaurant is massive, and even so – for a brief moment it felt like entire Dubai was trying to get a piece of the action.
In all fairness, this could possibly be the BIGGEST brunch offering we’ve encountered so far. For before me stood interactive stations of all manners and sizes – the meat carving station (made to order beef, lamb, etc), seafood counter (with massive oysters and giant lobsters), Mediterranean salad bars, Indian delicacies, olive stations, a bread station offering choices that would boggle your mind, delectable fine cheese and wine selections, cocktail and martini bars and a massive desserts counter to name a few.
A special mention goes out to the extensive Far Eastern section – offering the best of Japanese cuisine, sushi and sashmi – along with Malaysian delicacies (you’ve got to try the succulent beef rendang – possibly the best I’ve had outside of Malaysia). They even have a live Chinese wok counter where you can mix and match to your hearts desires. Come to think of it, for brunch – Feast turns into a Global Village – offering the world under one roof.
It was funny to overhear other patrons say “Where do we even start?” – well, I commenced my afternoon of sheer gluttony with one of their signature dishes – Lamb 26.
So what is Lamb 26? Apparently, it is one of Feast’s signature dishes – with 3 different cuts of lamb cooked in 3 different styles – all served with 23 garnishes. Picture this, you’re sat at your table and the Chef personally delivers this dish in all its glory – and this dish alone occupies the entire width and breath of the table. What ensues next is straight out of every food connoisseurâs wish list – just like a child in a candy store, I began experimenting with all those flavours – sweet, sour, bitter, salty – different textures – rainbow colours – some flavours you wouldn’t even think would work together with lamb, but they did – all in all, it made for a very enjoyable meal by itself, with smiles all around.
Like they say, the world is your oyster, but you still have to shuck it. We then proceeded to the shellfish counter – this particular station attracted the most patrons as there was a quite a long queue to get your hands on those delightful giant crab legs, or massive oysters. And here is where I crossed paths with the brilliant Chef Samuel who was busy manning this station – full of life, and with an infectious smile on his face – he shucked one oyster after another. Love the fact that Samuel was dancing to a beat of his own whilst serving customers. Right here, is a sign of a man who simply loves his job. He proceeds to tell me that Thursday is a seafood themed night – and that only means one thing – I am heading back to try out those Irish black shell mussels cooked with basil and Asian spicy broth – oh my Lord, am salivating already. Haha!
So onto my favorite part of the meal – take me to the candy shop (and leave me there). In-addition to the extensive display of cakes, mousse, desserts, tarts, frozen berries, gummy bears et all – what really caught my eye were children bustling around Chef Hamzh. He was creating colourful versions of Popsicle candy right before their eyes – and the excitement that these kids displayed was priceless. Hamzh mentioned that these icy treats are very popular with kids – a bit of showmanship, a bit of theatre with a drizzle of magic to captivate their minds, and he helps create sweet memories. I looked at him, smiled and said I’ll take 3. At that there was spontaneous laughter; I wonder why – anything for sweet delicious goodness. If you take my word for it, these sweet treats are the ones you need to look out for – fruity and so refreshing, they made for a delicious end to an amazing brunch service.
Now something amazing happened – without a glimmer of a hint, whilst I was busy brunching at Feast – by better half requested for a flower bouquet to celebrate a certain milestone in my life. Upon entering our suite, I let out a gasp – I was as surprised as him – for our room was brilliantly and meticulously decorated with orange rose petals. The lovely housekeeping team went above and beyond by having my Instagram handle @bubblymiles beautifully arranged in petals in the living room of my suite. Equally touching was a handwritten note from Piyush, Mark and Tristan (the housekeeping trio responsible for these works of art) that just tugged on the emotional strings of my heart. Whilst soaking in the emotions, there was a gentle knock on the door – and lo’behold Piyush stood there with a cake to commemorate my special occasion – exactly, 2 years to this date – I first set foot into Dubai and called it my new home. Piyush mentioned that some of his family members are following me on Instagram, and that they find me inspiring. I on the other hand, find genuine acts of kindness such as these as inspiring – for they surpasses all expectations and force you to forge a bond with a particular place and people.
Time flies, but memories last forever. It’s been 2 years that I have been calling the UAE my home, and what a journey of transformation it has been. Grateful for all the people that I have come across, opportunities that have presented themselves and the memories that have a special place in my heart. Shoutout to all those who have put a smile on my face – you know who you are. Here’s to many more such memories. Many thanks to Sheraton Grand Dubai for surprising me with this chocolate goodness – you sure do know how to spoil your guests.
We all have our favourite spots to catch up on some good reading – be it at the coffee shop, at the beach or whilst riding the metro. I for one prefer to read a book by the swimming pool or simply catch up on my thoughts for the day. After a heavy brunch, this is exactly what I did – I ventured to the roof top swimming pool during the early hours of the evening. Water and me, have some sort of a mystic bond and one can’t keep me away from it for too long. Next thing I know, I am swimming to my hearts desires. Yes, lazy days, splish splash sploosh, rays of sunshine, giggles and smiles – life is indeed better by the pool.
So far so good, like they say. But how do you make a great relaxing staycation even better? Why of course, by indulging yourself for a session of total pampering at the hands of fabulous therapists at Shine Spa. My better half wanted me to enjoy a slice of Zen-like heaven, so booked us for one of the Spa’s featured ‘signature journey for couples’ treatment. After our welcome drinks and sweet pleasantries, we were ushered in to a private enclave, which also featured a Jacuzzi. And what followed next….well, words can’t describe how soothing, rejuvenating and luxurious pampered we felt.
My ever so sweet therapist, proceeded to smooth my muscle knots by applying small kneading strokes (a mix of circular, as well as long back and forth) to affected areas of my back – and I couldn’t help but smile with utter satisfaction. This is a full body treatment – so your face, head, neck, shoulders and legs will be massaged. To elevate the experience, your eyes are covered to further transcend you into a deep trance-like state – total sensory overload. Post massage, you get to enjoy a Jacuzzi session where you just end up giggling with your better half and share notes about what trigger points really put a smile on your face. Highly recommended for couples – makes for a perfect gift, or for that special occasion where these expert Shine spa therapists just bring back the glow onto your face. Suffice, to say we walked out feeling like a couple of glow induced jelly fish – it was that GOOD.
Enveloped by a zen-like peace, we climbed atop our plush bed – with super soft comfy pillows, cozy duvets and an amazing mattress that improves blood circulation – yes, this is what they call the Sheraton’s Signature Sleep experience – an amazing experience – so after counting our blessings, we surrendered ourselves to sweet dreams. We woke up to another day of bliss, and hoped to create priceless happy memories but first coffee.
…..followed by a delightful morning soak with a view, whilst catching up on some reading.
Even though I am blessed with a high metabolism, I make it a point to always frequent the gym – even when I’m on vacation. After all, my body is my temple and I need to keep it in good shape. Thankfully, the fitness centre at Sheraton Grand is very well equipped and had me burning off yesterdayâs brunch calories in no time.
Afternoon, brought us back to the Club Lounge for some high tea – whilst soaking in serene views of the Dubai World Trade Centre and the Sheikh Zayed Road. You know what they say, a cup of tea is an excuse to share great thoughts with great minds. Now not many may know this, but my better half was born in Dubai – and with a twinkle in his eyes, he tells me that during those days this Trade Centre was the only building on SHZ. The cops back then didn’t have fancy Mclaren P1s, but simply rode on horses. Favourite bites were shwarama with Pepsi, and Al Nasr Leisure land used to be the hotspot for all fun activities. It was a simple time, but filled with joy. Maybe I will do a detailed blog post on this later – what do you reckon?
Itâs paradoxical how time just flies when you’re having a good time. We happened to return to Feast, and spotted Hemal â the friendly attendant from yesterdayâs brunch. Now this man literally deserves an award â his genuineness, care and utter professionalism is what turns a good experience into a marvelous one. No sooner had we spotted him, he came rushing towards us with an energetic positive vibe emanating from him. During the course of the evening, we got to know a little bit about his story â he is from the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, has been working in Feast for over 2 years and putting a smile on others faces is what makes him happy. My better half was in the mood for having some Indian food, but rather from selecting from the ala carte menu â he requested the Chef to surprise him.
â¦and loâbehold, surprised he wasâ¦quite pleasantly. The first course was an amazing kebab platter â consisting of chicken kebab, sheesh, lamb kofta and chicken tikka. He was quite the whole time whilst feasting on these tender goodies â a definite sign that he was enjoying his meal.
For main-course, the Chef got a bit adventurous and conjured up a dish for the first time â salmon tandoori served on a bed of raita, garnished with pomegranate for added texture. The dish looked beautiful with the salmon cooked beautifully, and the tandoori flavour just right without over powering the fish. I reckon the Chef needs to put this dish as part of his regular menu â sure shot winner.
Hemal remembered that I absolutely love shell-fish of all kind, with a particular liking to oysters and mussels. So imagine my surprise when the Chef turned up with an Indian version of mussels cooked with basil, curry leaves and peppers. It was fiery, but it was oh so worth it â bang on the money.
We were quite full after a splendid meal service, but just had enough space to squeeze in one of their known desserts â the miniature freak shakes. And oh my word, they put a smile on our faces â we couldnât resist and had 3 each â the strawberry was my favourite.
Closing thoughts – with friendly staff to elevate your experience to a higher level, tasteful modern decor and ambiance, top notch restaurants, zen-like relaxing spa treatments along with a well-equipped fitness centre – you are truly spoilt for choice.Â You know what they say – when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing – and our staycation at Sheraton Grand just proved that right. Many thanks for the lovely memories – can’t wait to plan another trip in the very near future.
Last but not the least, here is a video compilation of the best bits of my staycation – hope you all enjoy 🙂