The great escape: JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

CEO Middle East checked into the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai to find out whether the city’s top business hotel ranks as a great place to stay, as well as being a great place to work.
The great escape: JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai
By Staff writer
Wed 23 Jul 2014 07:37 PM

Since opening a couple of years ago, the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai in the Business Bay district has quickly won a reputation for being the city’s top business hotel. It has not only a good location near Downtown Dubai, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Dubai World Trade Centre but also an enviable set of conference facilities that have made it the go-to destination for big events, awards ceremonies and exhibitions. With a total of 86,000 square feet of meeting space and a ballroom that can fit over 1,500 attendees, the JW Marriott Marquis dwarfs its nearest competitors in terms of size and scope.

But is it really worth actually staying there, when there are so many other options available in the city? The short answer is yes. For such a large hotel – it has 1,600 rooms split across two mammoth towers, making it one of the biggest in Dubai – it feels surprisingly intimate, once you have stepped away from the busy lobby area. The JW Marriott Marquis’ executive suites offer in-room check-in as standard, thereby short-cutting the queues that can build up downstairs. Each suite has a roundtable cut off from the bedroom area that can seat four people comfortably, and is perfect for impromptu client meetings or media interviews. The rest of the suite is much as you would expect from any five-star hotel; a comfortable, king-size bed, a surprisingly large bathroom with marble tub, a walk-in closet and a rainforest shower. The only quirk we found with the room was the fact that the sound for the bedroom television had been routed through the bathroom speaker – no doubt by the previous guest – and proved difficult to correct.

By taking an executive suite, you automatically gain free access to the Executive Lounge, which takes up the entire 37th floor. This area is a gem; it is quiet and manned by helpful staff who can direct you to differently sized meeting rooms, boardrooms, desks with PC access or simply somewhere to sit, have a coffee and look at one of Dubai’s finest views. For breakfast, the Executive Suite is your best bet. The selection there may be smaller than Kitchen 6, the JW Marriott Marquis’ main buffet restaurant, but you’re guaranteed a lot more peace. For the more adventurous, Kitchen 6 has everything – from the usual breakfasts for Western and Arabic palates, to a huge selection of Chinese food, cooking stations filled with pastries, salads, cereals and the like. The selection may be vast, but so are the numbers of people who descend upon Kitchen 6 in the mornings, and it can be difficult to get a seat at busy times.

For other meals, the JW Marriott Marquis has an impressive selection of 13 restaurants and bars. The most recently opened, Nawwara, is a sleek and stylish location, complete with mashrabiya-style décor, which serves upscale Levantine food. Nearby is Izakaya, a more casual but funkier Japanese restaurant, with a live teppanyaki station and a colourful and cheerful set of waiting staff. Prime 68, based on the 68th floor with incredible uninterrupted views of the city, features an extensive steakhouse-style menu, and is designed to mimic America’s 1920s Prohibition Era.

For supper, we plumped for Rang Mahal, a ‘progressive Indian’ restaurant, which is headed up by chef de cuisine Amrish Sood, and run slickly by operations manager Harsh Joshi’s polite, attentive and on-the-ball team. Rang Mahal is a pretty striking destination, framed by a series of colossal carved stone pillars, a red lighting scheme, high ceilings and dark wood floor.  If you have the time, the restaurant’s ‘Navratan’ or ‘Nine Jewels’ tasting menu, is well worth a try. Particular highlights from the menu include the ‘meen moilley’, lightly grilled line-caught sea bass with an outstanding turmeric and coconut curry base, and ‘goshti boti korma’, which consists of braised lamb fillets in a crunchy casing of herbs, served with small helpings of dhal, rice and bread. The latter left a beautifully spicy and creamy aftertaste. The tenderness of Rang Mahal’s soft shell crab, delicately fried in breadcrumbs, combines well with a passion fruit and tomato salad. Leave room for dessert if you can; a strip of kulfi with three different flavours, plus cinnamon ice cream and a light flour chocolate cake made for a fine conclusion to an excellent meal.

And if you find yourself needing a break from the laptop or the relentless cycle of meetings, then the JW Marriott Marquis has a few ways to help you relax as well. The hotel’s pool, located on the top of the podium between the two towers, is both peaceful and sedate. As you would expect, there is a fully stocked gym, with enough pieces of equipment to suggest that you won’t be queuing. And finally, there’s the Saray Spa, which offers 30 different types of luxury massage. The 90-minute Dead Sea Hammam treatment was conducted in a tranquil private hammam room, with the scrub and Dead Sea mud leaving our skin feeling extraordinarily soft, and a relaxing full-body massage with lemongrass oil to top the experience off. It’s the perfect way to either begin or end your day.

While it’s true that the competition for five-star hotels in Dubai is fierce – with new properties seemingly cropping up every month – the JW Marriott Marquis offers the destination, the downtime and the convenience for the seasoned business traveller.

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