Sophisticated luxury in Dubai
"Cucumber for your eyes?" asks a tall, dark gentleman.
He's standing at my toes, dressed in a stylish tan shirt and matching loose trousers. In his hands is a tray of ice with slices of cucumber resting on top.
Still, I'm confused. It must be the accent, I think. I'm hopeless with accents.
"Cucumber for your eyes?" he repeats.
Curious, I say yes and with small silver tongs the man hands me two thin circles of cucumber and strolls away. I giggle, placing them over my tired, puffy eyes.
I'm lying beside the stunning blue-tiled pool at Dubai's five-star One&Only The Palm.
It's a world-class luxury resort and the cucumber is just one detail on a long list that makes this place stand out in the hotel industry.
"Cold towel?" asks another voice.
I lift the vegetable spheres from my eyelids. Another dark gentleman is standing at my feet, this time with a tray of rolled face washers. I eagerly take one for refreshment in Dubai's desert heat.
I take in the scene before me. Couples sprawl on large poolside day beds, the water centimetres from their feet.
Others relax on reclining lounge chairs, hoping for tans under the intense sun.
A few of us hide in the shade, content with the slight breeze that weaves past, making the fuchsia impatiens dance in their garden beds.
There are a handful of toddlers and babies about, which is a surprise given the elegance and exclusivity of the resort. I consider escaping to the adults-only pool but the children aren't noisy for long - just the occasional cry, yell and laugh before they disappear.
When they do, the resort soundtrack returns to the chirping of birds in the palms, the rustle of the wind through the fronds and the lapping of swimmers in the pool.
Yet another man quietly approaches holding a jug of cold water and a cup of ice. And again, the face washers return just as I wish them back.
Later, I see an employee cleaning sun bathers' sunglasses. It's all very attentive and completely unobtrusive.
The sky is a light blue, a soft backdrop to the creams, terracottas and whites of this beach resort.
One&Only The Palm is elegant, sophisticated and beautiful. She's the super model of five-star resorts; a match for the likes of Elle MacPherson, Claudia Schiffer and Christy Turlington.
She is like a woman who doesn't realise how attractive she is; an understated glamour without pretension.
As a result, the guests she attracts are also unpretentious. Wealthy, yes, but you won't see any prancing around here.
One&Only's wardrobe is in a simple palette of silver, soft gold, beige and white. She has strong angular features but they're never harsh. A subtle pattern decorates the furnishings, from the plush carpet to the cocktail coasters and the elevator's mirrored doors.
She is the epitome of stylish Arabesque architecture. There are high arches throughout, latticework railings and wall panels, high-backed faux cane chairs, cream patio umbrellas and frangipani trees flush with white flowers beneath the towering palms.
To stay here, you'll pay, on average, from 2248 Emirati dirhams ($727.5) per room per night. Therefore, most guests who visit are celebrating a special occasion - an anniversary, honeymoon or birthday.
After a restful morning beside the main pool, I follow in their footsteps and celebrate my stay at the day spa.
I follow a path of marble tiles, past terracotta flower pots and lace iron lanterns.
Inside the spa, I am treated to a tea cup of fresh juice before an hour massage. My therapist, Zaniang, is pleasantly firm and skilled.
Afterwards, she leaves me to the sauna for final relaxation.
The longer I stay at the resort, the more I understand why many guests never leave the grounds. The place is so peaceful that you want to enjoy every nook and cranny.
Forget the city skyscrapers on the mainland, The Palm is where it's at.
If you're not spending your days poolside, you can while them away on the 450-metre private beach or down at the marina lounge sipping a sweet Nikki Beach cocktail. Or perhaps dining on raspberry macaroons and cinnamon tarts on the terrace, or better, sampling the Dessert Library in Stay restaurant by Michelin-star French chef Yannick Alleno.
Whichever way you choose to pass your time, I assure you, you won't want to leave, and when you do, you'll be wondering how you can transport some of One&Only's Arab elegance to your home.
IF YOU GO
GETTING THERE: Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates and is the hub city for Emirates (emirates.com). It's an easy stopover for travellers on their way to and from Europe and the airport offers a seamless experience.
One&Only The Palm is on Palm Island, about 30-40 minutes' drive from Dubai International Airport.
STAYING THERE: One&Only The Palm has 65 rooms, 25 suites and four two-bedroom beach villas with pools. There is also a day spa, hair salon, gym, tennis court, a main pool and adult's only pool, three restaurants and a private marina.
It's best to book far in advance, as the resort frequently runs at high capacity.
PLAYING THERE: New Zealanders visiting the UAE for less than 30 days receive a free visa upon arrival.
MORE INFORMATION: booking.com.
*The writer travelled as a guest of One&Only Resorts and booking.com