Britain’s Got Talent’s Amanda Holden heads to the desert – for the ultimate water challenge
- Britain’s Got Talent’s Amanda Holden stayed at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai with her young children
- The TV star chose the resort because it’s family friendly and the travel time from the UK wasn’t too long
- There’s plenty of fun to be had for the kids, including Poseidon’s Revenge at Aquaventure water park
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The question was: would I be able to conquer the challenge of Poseidon’s Revenge? During our stay at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai, we rushed to the resort’s famous water park which features rides ranging from ‘namby-pamby mild’ to ‘hair- on-fire terrifying’ – and Poseidon is definitely at the ‘terrifying’ end of the scale.
According to the promotional blurb I read beforehand, the ‘fun’ begins moments after you enter a capsule. The floor then falls away, sending you plummeting at speeds of more than 30mph – and then the fury of Poseidon propels you upside down.
I’ve suffered some gruelling experiences as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, but surely nothing could compare to this?
Dubai really is the most brilliant family holiday destination. The flight from London is relatively short (about seven hours) – an important consideration when you’re travelling with young children.
And good weather is practically guaranteed. The only complaint you could make is that it is sometimes too hot.
From the moment you arrive, the service is unbelievable: no one can do enough for you. The staff in the hotels and restaurants all love children.
Perhaps it’s my tidiness OCD, but I value the fact that everywhere you go is absolutely spotless. What more can you ask for? It’s also a very safe place – you never hear reports of people having their valuables stolen.
Nobody can pretend that Dubai is a great cultural holiday destination – it’s fair to say you don’t go there for the history and museums. There are lots of things to see and do but this isn’t Rome or Paris.
However, there are other delights in Dubai, particularly its hotels. The last time we were there, we stayed at One&Only The Palm, which strikes me as a sort of hotel version of the Palace of Versailles.
During our stay, I didn’t know whether to go for a swim in one of the ‘temperature-controlled’ pools or get someone to peel me a grape.
Amanda chose the resort because it’s family friendly and the travel time from the UK wasn’t too long. The hotel also offers great spa facilities (pictured)
All joking aside, I’m sure peeled grapes may soon be an option on the snacks menu at the poolside bar.
This time we chose to stay at Atlantis, which has a completely different vibe to One&Only. They’re both extraordinary, but I’d say Atlantis is better for children, although it’s a close-run thing: One&Only also has a very good kids’ club and a great family pool.
Like One&Only, the Atlantis is situated on the iconic archipelago Palm Jumeirah. The main building has two distinctive towers linked by an arch (I’m told that the arch features a mind-blowing suite – something to return to one day!).
The entire resort is vast, covering more than 113 acres and offering a mile of bright white beach. What gets the children excited about Atlantis is the 42-acre Aquaventure amusement park.
There are also the fascinating underground tunnels of The Lost Chambers Aquarium and interactive encounters of Sea Lion Point.
We went to the water parks for two days solid; I found the whole experience hilarious. I was in an all-in-one wetsuit, walking around drenched for two days, and it was the best fun I’ve ever had. I’d like to say we went on every single ride, but I have a confession: Poseidon got the better of us.
What gets the children excited about Atlantis is the 42-acre Aquaventure amusement park. There are also the fascinating underground tunnels of The Lost Chambers Aquarium (pictured) and interactive encounters of Sea Lion Point
Because I didn’t know where the ride ended, I couldn’t even tell her to wait for me at the bottom. So it wasn’t lack of courage – more a lack of planning.
However, I’m glad to report that we did try Shark Attack, where you climb on a one- or two-person tube and journey down into the Tower of Neptune’s mysterious core, before emerging in the middle of a shark-filled lagoon. This isn’t quite as scary as it sounds – the only risk is that you might die laughing from all the fun.
With children, you have to satisfy the two Fs – fun and food. There is always plenty of fun for kids at Atlantis, and – thank goodness – lots of good food. During our stay we went to every restaurant we possibly could.
We were staying on the 12th floor so we were able to use the Imperial Club Lounge, an amazing place where you can have breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or, later on, cocktails. We had breakfast in there most mornings – there was a huge buffet service, which I prefer because you can get everything immediately.
We also used room service a couple of times; staff decorate the children’s plates with funny straws and hats and chat away to them while they’re dishing out whatever you have ordered.
Amanda loved the Imperial Club lounge but her children’s favourite restaurant was Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Kitchen (pictured)
The good thing about the Imperial Club Lounge is that it’s set up so you can walk in and find food at any time of the day. As we all know, children are often in need a snack – fruit, for example – and that was on hand all the time.
The children’s favourite restaurant was Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Kitchen. Not only was the food great but the restaurant has a garden to play in.
While we were there, a dozen kids were running up and down – it reminded me of the kind of holidays I went on when I was a child. While the adults were having dinner and chatting to other couples, all the children made friends with each other, and when you called them they came to eat.
It felt very safe and very relaxed – there was nobody turning their nose up at the noise the children were making. It’s much more relaxing for parents to know that your children can play and that they’re not bothering any of the other guests.
When I was a kid, our family holidays were spent in Cornwall where we’d go camping. I didn’t get on a plane until I was 16.
When I was really small, I remember going to Butlin’s where I think I won the Little Princess competition. In some ways the atmosphere in Butlin’s felt the same as Dubai because it seems so safe and you enjoy that joie de vivre that you get from the very best family holidays.
The great thing about staying at Atlantis is that everything you need is right here – you don’t have to venture outside the resort
Our children didn’t find the heat a problem – they are real sun-worshippers. However, we were typical British parents, kitting them out with sun hats and applying lots of high-factor UV protection.
The other thing that our children really liked was the talent competitions that took place around the pool. I hid at that point. I was thinking: ‘Oh my God, if anyone knew I was here, I’d end up judging it!’
The standard was pretty good, though: lots of good singing and dancing. It was very classy the way staff organised it all.
The great thing about staying at Atlantis is that everything you need is right here – you don’t have to venture outside the resort.
Was I tempted to hit any of Dubai’s famous shopping malls? No, not really – London has all the shops anybody could need.
When you’re in Dubai, the best thing you can do is relax.