So long Sol, thanks for all the kisses

//So long Sol, thanks for all the kisses

dolphin.jpgWhat a sensational two days so far in Dubai ! I spent this afternoon swapping salty kisses with Sol. Not footballer Mr Campbell, nor even South African hotel magnate Mr Kerzner, but one of the dolphins at Atlantis, The Palm.
The 1,539-room hotel is a popular choice for Virgin RockStar Service customers en route to cruises departing from Port Rashid – there were dozens on my flight which arrived here on Saturday morning.
Efficiently marshalled by greeters at the airport, we were whisked here by coach and taxi to the furthest extremity of the man-made Palm island, and soon set about the task of getting down to some serious relaxation.
Not always easy in a resort – created by the aforementioned Mr Kerzner – which is so far over the top you’d think it might go pop at any moment. Transplant this or the sister resort from the Bahamas into Las Vegas and even Cesar’s Palace might blush.
It’s a coral-pink fantasy castle set in a 46-acre park, with the sea on both sides, one of the biggest aquariums in the world, a water park with scary slides, a selection of some of the finest restaurants and a seriously up-market shopping arcade – with Tiffany, Porsche Design, Vilebrequin and Graff, it’s like Bond Street meets Rodeo Drive.
There’s a monorail service into town but it’s used more by visitors coming here for the day than by guests heading for the malls of Dubai. Because once you’re in here, there seems to be little reason to leave. What was it The Eagles sang in the last line of Hotel California?
Guests and visitors alike pose for pictures in front of the huge aquarium filled with 11 million litres of water and hundreds of species of fish, including menacing sharks and stingrays. For complete immersion, however, there’s nothing to beat the hotel’s three-storey Neptune and Poseidon suites – whose bedrooms and bathrooms have an entire wall looking directly into the aquarium. They give a whole new meaning to the phrase “sleeping with the fishes.”
My own seventh-floor suite (there are 22 floors in total) is slightly more modest, but it’s still gi-normous and with a balcony looking across the Royal Pool straight down the “trunk” of the Palm.
My first lunch at Atlantis was a pizza Napoli in Rondo Locatelli; last night’s dinner was a fantasy in fish, courtesy of Nobu Matshuhisa. Today, after a breakfast on the terrace overlooking the aquarium, lunch was in the French brasserie Rostang. All three restaurants are masterminded by Michelin-starred chefs. A fourth, Spain’s Santi Santamaria, has a coveted three-stars to his name, and the Ossiano restaurant at Atlantis. Spurning him tonight, (no offence, Santi) I ate melt-in-the-mouth Kobe beef at the Seafire steakhouse.
It’s not all been about the food. I’ve lazed by the pool, been pummelled deeper into relaxation with a Shiseido massage in the ShuiQi Spa, and splashed with dolphin Sol – about whom I have to confess to mixed feelings.
I’m far more comfortable with the thought of dolphins swimming freely in the Moray Firth, for example, and catching wild salmon rather than being fed whiting and squid from a bucket. Having said that, Sol seemed to take as much pleasure from his interaction with a group of 10 excited adults and children as we enjoyed his company.
As my picture shows, he had no qualms about getting intimate with me – and he can look forward to a longer life in captivity than he would enjoy in the wild. I hope he finds the endless petting, stroking, kissing, cuddling, ball-fetching, tail-walking and spectacular leaping are worth it.
Tomorrow I leave Sol and his fellow dolphins behind at Atlantis and board Brilliance of the Seas in Port Rashid. Ahead lies a week of adventure in Fujairah, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, and back here in Dubai.
Stay tuned!

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:11+00:00 30 January 2011|Cruise Destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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