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By royal appointment

Lindsay Madden-Nadeau has a hypno healing experience at Atlantis The Royal, Kerzner’s sister property to the iconic Atlantis The Palm


With the vast array of choices consumers are overwhelmed by in Dubai, starting anything new there isn’t easy. Add the anticipation of an iconic sister property, years of ongoing construction, world-class architects, restaurateurs and esteemed clients, there’s no room to disappoint.

Following in the footsteps of Atlantis The Palm, which launched in 2008, Atlantis The Royal burst onto the scene in January 2023 with a celebrity-filled grand reveal, which included Beyoncé’s first live performance in five years. Both are operated by Kerzner International, which also includes One&Only and the new fitness-focused Siro brands in its portfolio. Nearly 12 months after opening, is this 795-room property still managing to deliver a star-worthy experience?

Grand arrival
Sitting on the exterior crescent overlooking Palm Jumeirah, the location of Atlantis The Royal creates a destination in itself. It feels like you’re getting away without it being a hassle to reach.

Stepping into the spacious lobby on an early Friday morning, it feels grand yet pleasingly intimate. Having worked in luxury hospitality all of my career, I’m impressed at how the arrival runs like a well-oiled machine – the synergy within departments is indicative of back-of-house and operational excellence that makes the process feel weightless.

Design quality
On a tour of the hotel, the design quality is apparent. The use of daylight creates a sense of space which is enhanced by soothing, subtle tones in the decor. Exotic marble flooring with sprinkles of gold line the hallways, artistic fountains dance throughout and the use of the ‘elements’ is distinct and refreshing.

Food and beverage outlets offer something for everyone, with Michelin-star chefs in every corner. This is a true destination for dining.

The guestrooms are an absolute luxury with 360-degree viewpoints of the Dubai skyline being a particular highlight. It’s evident that no matter what time of the day, the use of light in the room will be exceptional. Other memorable touch points include a pillow menu, Technogym in-room workout kits and a gold toothbrush, comb and razor.

Half-hectare spa
Last but not least we made it to the Awaken spa which, according to marketing material, “offers half a hectare of transformative wellness”. As someone who values the essence of design, the large windows and use of daylight provide a feel-good sensation and make everything look ideal.

The facilities are extensive (see p85) and you can tell they’re intentionally built to deliver an intuitive customer journey – a series of lounges flow into the Elements Retreat wet area and meditation garden beyond.

The ambience and lighting in the chromatherapy lounge is utterly relaxing and the variety of hot and cold experiences in a therapeutic circuit in the Elements Retreat is well-thought-through. However, the rainshower experience is underwhelming as the sound is compromised and the overall installation feels poorly planned.

The outdoor wellness space, with a meditation and yoga pavilion, pool and loungers is beautiful but unfortunately, it was too hot to use it. Making the gardens as lush as possible would also enhance the sense of wellbeing.

Next-level commitment
Overall, Awaken’s treatment menu is a thoughtful one. Price points, starting at AED720 (US$196, €186, £162) for most 60-minute treatments, are higher than competitors on The Palm, but the breadth of the facilities and services along with the ‘destination’ perception means you’re getting more value in my opinion.

Locally inspired wellbeing traditions such as the six-room Hammam Sensorium experience use La Sultan de Saba and Amra products. And the mix of family, teen and couples treatments presents a unique multilayered approach to appeal to different generations. On top of this, an outstanding selection of products complement one another and are top of the consumer demand list (see above).

Out of four A-List signature therapies, I experienced Hypno Healing comprising a body and head massage complete with sound immersion and deep breathwork. It was a quiet and comfortable treatment. Being asked to choose oils at the start was unexpected and delightful and the harmonious sound of bow vibrations further set the scene. Melting into my luxurious Lemi bed marked the start of my journey into getting lost and letting go.

All therapists at Awaken are trained in reiki and I love this approach. This is a next-level commitment by the operators to genuinely bring the element of wellness to the table. Indeed, well-trained staff are also evident throughout the hotel.

My visit culminated with lunch at the Mediterranean restaurant Milos where majestic dancing fountains added to the grandiose wow factor. In a first for me, a chef came to my table and – rather than relaying the menu – asked what I wanted. It felt like a customised order and the freshness and flavours were so potent yet simple that I didn’t want my meal to end.

Missed opportunity?
As a local using the facilities, I feel there are better ways the property could attract day spa guests beyond a basic 3-hour spa package. I can’t quite place my finger on it, but from a ‘nurturing’ perspective the approach still feels very corporate somehow rather than authentic and enriching. It has all the right ingredients so it could be doing more to play into the realm of wellness.

It got me thinking, how do modern-day spas curate packages similar to the experiences you get in Bali or India? Is this an opportunity that others are missing too? That said, it wouldn’t stop me from returning.

The target market at Atlantis The Royal is elitist, appealing to influencers and high net-worth individuals who can afford the rack rate, which starts at AED4,149 (US$1,203, €1,126, £978). Russian and British guests were the main visible source markets. Prices are high, but let’s face it, they’re high everywhere in Dubai and as someone who appreciates excellent service, quality and thoughtfully designed spaces, I’d make it a mission to come back.

• Atlantis wellness director Lyndell Nelis tells us how well the spas are performing on p86

"It feels very corporate somehow rather than authentic" – Lindsay Madden-Nadeau

Spa facilities and suppliers

• 17 treatment rooms and suites

• A six-room Hammam Sensorium

• Changing rooms with heat and hydro facilities

• Welcome, relaxation and chromatherapy lounges

• Elements Retreat hydrothermal area featuring halotherapy salt rooms, snow room, vitality pool, charcoal sauna, tepidarium, aromatherapy steamroom and heated ceramic lounger

• Meditation garden

• Fitness centre, movement studio and 25m lap pool with aquatic training

• Product houses include Dr Barbara Sturm, 111Skin, La Sultane de Saba, Amra, Augustinus Bader and Subtle Energies

• Other suppliers include Lemi, Sommerhuber and HydraFacial

• Wet spa design and fit-out by Barr+Wray

The outdoor space was beautiful but it was too hot to be outside, says Madden-Nadeau Credit: photo: Atlantis Dubai
It’s utterly relaxing in the chromatherapy lounge Credit: photo: Atlantis Dubai
The flow of experiences is intuitive and well-thought-through Credit: photo: Atlantis Dubai
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Spa Business
2024 issue 1

View issue contents

Leisure Management - By royal appointment

First person

By royal appointment


Lindsay Madden-Nadeau has a hypno healing experience at Atlantis The Royal, Kerzner’s sister property to the iconic Atlantis The Palm

Its location on the exterior crescent of Palm Jumeirah feels like a destination in itself photo: Atlantis Dubai
The outdoor space was beautiful but it was too hot to be outside, says Madden-Nadeau photo: Atlantis Dubai
It’s utterly relaxing in the chromatherapy lounge photo: Atlantis Dubai
The flow of experiences is intuitive and well-thought-through photo: Atlantis Dubai

With the vast array of choices consumers are overwhelmed by in Dubai, starting anything new there isn’t easy. Add the anticipation of an iconic sister property, years of ongoing construction, world-class architects, restaurateurs and esteemed clients, there’s no room to disappoint.

Following in the footsteps of Atlantis The Palm, which launched in 2008, Atlantis The Royal burst onto the scene in January 2023 with a celebrity-filled grand reveal, which included Beyoncé’s first live performance in five years. Both are operated by Kerzner International, which also includes One&Only and the new fitness-focused Siro brands in its portfolio. Nearly 12 months after opening, is this 795-room property still managing to deliver a star-worthy experience?

Grand arrival
Sitting on the exterior crescent overlooking Palm Jumeirah, the location of Atlantis The Royal creates a destination in itself. It feels like you’re getting away without it being a hassle to reach.

Stepping into the spacious lobby on an early Friday morning, it feels grand yet pleasingly intimate. Having worked in luxury hospitality all of my career, I’m impressed at how the arrival runs like a well-oiled machine – the synergy within departments is indicative of back-of-house and operational excellence that makes the process feel weightless.

Design quality
On a tour of the hotel, the design quality is apparent. The use of daylight creates a sense of space which is enhanced by soothing, subtle tones in the decor. Exotic marble flooring with sprinkles of gold line the hallways, artistic fountains dance throughout and the use of the ‘elements’ is distinct and refreshing.

Food and beverage outlets offer something for everyone, with Michelin-star chefs in every corner. This is a true destination for dining.

The guestrooms are an absolute luxury with 360-degree viewpoints of the Dubai skyline being a particular highlight. It’s evident that no matter what time of the day, the use of light in the room will be exceptional. Other memorable touch points include a pillow menu, Technogym in-room workout kits and a gold toothbrush, comb and razor.

Half-hectare spa
Last but not least we made it to the Awaken spa which, according to marketing material, “offers half a hectare of transformative wellness”. As someone who values the essence of design, the large windows and use of daylight provide a feel-good sensation and make everything look ideal.

The facilities are extensive (see p85) and you can tell they’re intentionally built to deliver an intuitive customer journey – a series of lounges flow into the Elements Retreat wet area and meditation garden beyond.

The ambience and lighting in the chromatherapy lounge is utterly relaxing and the variety of hot and cold experiences in a therapeutic circuit in the Elements Retreat is well-thought-through. However, the rainshower experience is underwhelming as the sound is compromised and the overall installation feels poorly planned.

The outdoor wellness space, with a meditation and yoga pavilion, pool and loungers is beautiful but unfortunately, it was too hot to use it. Making the gardens as lush as possible would also enhance the sense of wellbeing.

Next-level commitment
Overall, Awaken’s treatment menu is a thoughtful one. Price points, starting at AED720 (US$196, €186, £162) for most 60-minute treatments, are higher than competitors on The Palm, but the breadth of the facilities and services along with the ‘destination’ perception means you’re getting more value in my opinion.

Locally inspired wellbeing traditions such as the six-room Hammam Sensorium experience use La Sultan de Saba and Amra products. And the mix of family, teen and couples treatments presents a unique multilayered approach to appeal to different generations. On top of this, an outstanding selection of products complement one another and are top of the consumer demand list (see above).

Out of four A-List signature therapies, I experienced Hypno Healing comprising a body and head massage complete with sound immersion and deep breathwork. It was a quiet and comfortable treatment. Being asked to choose oils at the start was unexpected and delightful and the harmonious sound of bow vibrations further set the scene. Melting into my luxurious Lemi bed marked the start of my journey into getting lost and letting go.

All therapists at Awaken are trained in reiki and I love this approach. This is a next-level commitment by the operators to genuinely bring the element of wellness to the table. Indeed, well-trained staff are also evident throughout the hotel.

My visit culminated with lunch at the Mediterranean restaurant Milos where majestic dancing fountains added to the grandiose wow factor. In a first for me, a chef came to my table and – rather than relaying the menu – asked what I wanted. It felt like a customised order and the freshness and flavours were so potent yet simple that I didn’t want my meal to end.

Missed opportunity?
As a local using the facilities, I feel there are better ways the property could attract day spa guests beyond a basic 3-hour spa package. I can’t quite place my finger on it, but from a ‘nurturing’ perspective the approach still feels very corporate somehow rather than authentic and enriching. It has all the right ingredients so it could be doing more to play into the realm of wellness.

It got me thinking, how do modern-day spas curate packages similar to the experiences you get in Bali or India? Is this an opportunity that others are missing too? That said, it wouldn’t stop me from returning.

The target market at Atlantis The Royal is elitist, appealing to influencers and high net-worth individuals who can afford the rack rate, which starts at AED4,149 (US$1,203, €1,126, £978). Russian and British guests were the main visible source markets. Prices are high, but let’s face it, they’re high everywhere in Dubai and as someone who appreciates excellent service, quality and thoughtfully designed spaces, I’d make it a mission to come back.

• Atlantis wellness director Lyndell Nelis tells us how well the spas are performing on p86

"It feels very corporate somehow rather than authentic" – Lindsay Madden-Nadeau

Spa facilities and suppliers

• 17 treatment rooms and suites

• A six-room Hammam Sensorium

• Changing rooms with heat and hydro facilities

• Welcome, relaxation and chromatherapy lounges

• Elements Retreat hydrothermal area featuring halotherapy salt rooms, snow room, vitality pool, charcoal sauna, tepidarium, aromatherapy steamroom and heated ceramic lounger

• Meditation garden

• Fitness centre, movement studio and 25m lap pool with aquatic training

• Product houses include Dr Barbara Sturm, 111Skin, La Sultane de Saba, Amra, Augustinus Bader and Subtle Energies

• Other suppliers include Lemi, Sommerhuber and HydraFacial

• Wet spa design and fit-out by Barr+Wray


Originally published in Spa Business 2024 issue 1

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