We booked a week during Ramadan (May Half Term) for our family, and chose a Junior Arabian Suite which qualifies as a Club room.
Upon arrival by the inclusive hotel car (club level perk) we got the grand welcome feeling as our luggage was taken from the Lincoln 4x4, and we were shown to the reception. When they realised we were in a club room they ushered us to another room downstairs where the club lounge was. We checked in there and, as our room wasn't ready (we arrived on the early BA flight) we were invited to use the facilities AND use a spare room to use for the day, so certainly no inconvenience was had at all. Great service so far!
With all goodwill and intentions to head straight out to the pool, we all fell asleep instantaneously on the twin beds which were just shy of being doubles. So comfy! We woke about an hour and a half later and got on with heading to the pool.
Around 3pm our room was ready so we proceeded to our new home for the week where our luggage was already waiting. We wasn't disappointed, although for the amount of clothes we brought for a family of four, unfortunately there was a lack of storage space. No side drawers to put underwear in, 1x chest of drawers (the girls used this completely) and a 1 1/4 wardrobe rail with limited hangers + a smaller drawer unit. I had one drawer and 1 hanger! I conceded to use the suitcase and do ironing each day, as did our daughters for half their case (No don't worry they didn't use the Iron!).
Other than that, top marks so far.
It was a big room (double the size of most) as it's living room area held the desk, sofa (sofa bed), drinks cabinet, side tables, wardrobe, drawer unit, TV unit and access to the front and bathroom doors. Our double bed was in the separate part which is a typical size of a normal hotel room. Each segment had it's own separate balcony too, although the view wasn't great on our side, we wasn't fussed as we spent most of the day time outside of our room - never understood why people pay extra for the views? The sofa bed was a typical style, where its a spring underlay with a thin 20cm mattress - not very comfy if you're older than 10. We put our 6 yr old on there who loved it, and asked for a single roll-away bed for our 12 year old. That was more of a 'normal' bed and mattress, so much comfier for her.
Not many to be honest. Just two. One which is already mentioned above, the clothing storage and the other is the sun-bed situation around the pool area. Not once in the week of our stay did we manage to get a sun-bed around the pool and that was sadly due to the fact we didn't deem it a holiday if we have to set our alarms for 6am just to put a towel down. This is what people were doing, and then not appearing until 11am. We were slightly astonished for our visit visit to Dubai that this sort of thing goes on. We are well aware it happens elsewhere but it's not what we expected in such a famously lavish/high end country full of 5 star hotels. It's the only let down we spotted, and could be so easily fixed if it was policed better and not allowed to happen.
Back to the Positives
We did however manage to get 4x sun-beds on the private beach area every day with ease. There were plenty, and given the fact we're usually pool types of people (especially the kids), it was actually quite nice to have the extra breeze, so it certainly didn't ruin our holiday. Given the choice, we'd have mixed it up with both the pool and the beach.
The beaches are clean, lovely and well staffed. The staff attended to us all day to check if we wanted food, drinks and sometimes throughout the day there would be a Jumeirah staff member walking along the beaches handing out free ice lollies or melon sticks which was a nice touch.
The hotel itself is huge, as is the complex that you get included in your stay. Given the fact we nearly considered The Atlantis, we're so pleased we chose the Madinat resort which is made up of several private beaches and hotels in the Jumeirah group. The buggies and canal gondola's ferry you around for free to any destination you want, night or day. It was a 'thing' in itself for the kids to go to dinner on a golf cart, gondola or the waterpark during the day. Speaking of which, you get free access to Wild Wadi, unlimited, during your entire stay. Basically like you would get Atlantis Waterpark access if you stayed at the Atlantis. (See other reviews on both water parks).
I'd say you could stay a month here, not leave the entire resort and still not eat/drink in every establishment!
Value for money wise, it's good. (Well, Dubai isn't, but for what it is, then Madinat is).
Whilst we went half-board, we still paid a bit extra on two nights to eat in higher graded restaurants just because we wanted to, and it was a bit of a struggle to book the times we wanted in other restaurants included in the fee. That's merely because we wanted to change it each night instead of settling for the international buffet restaurant. The restaurants included in the half board stay are lovely, but if we stay again we'll certainly think about pre-planning our meal bookings the week before we arrive. I'm afraid that part is a little 'centre parcs' ish. It is what it is, but it's what you get when you're buying half board committing to eating inclusive.
We didn't go mad on lunch or drinks during our stay. A bottle of beer was £13, and a glass of wine £18. Sure, it's a family holiday but we still have a drink or 4 (or 5, 6?!) when on holiday but there was always that niggling part we couldn't get our heads round - 'being ripped off'.
We soon learn't that actually, we wasn't too hungry for a full on lunch during the day, in fact the kids had a few snacky bits like a bowl of chips to share but, we all kept hydrated on water and treat ourselves to a beer or two, and the kids had a milkshake or smoothie now and then.
Even though we were half board, we spent £1150 for the week on extra dining upgrades, snacks and drinks. We could have spent a hell of a lot more but, it was fine - we accepted that for what it was.
We couldn't find reassuring info anywhere before we left for Dubai, especially as it was our first time AND during Ramadan, we wanted to ensure we respect the local rules but relax in our usual shorts/clothes whenever at all possible.
We've got to say, it was pretty much business as usual as far as clothing was concerned and that's even in the Dubai Mall.
Ryan wore; shorts/polo and trainers or boat shoes at night. Shorts and flip flops in the day to and from the beach and around the resort.
Girls wore dresses, shorts, crop tops (eldest) with sandals or flip flops at night, and swimwear during the day.
Everyone should cover up inside the hotel 'top' wise. I.e no topless men, and no walking through the hotel in just your bikini but honestly, who does that anyway!? That's why we found it to be business as usual.
Overall, we'd highly recommend the Al Qasr and the Madinat complex in it's entirety. We would like to go back sometime and try out another hotel, perhaps within the Jumeirah group again before we venture outwards. We felt it has value for money given the vast choices of restaurants, the Wild Wadi waterpark, multiple pool and beaches all included within your price.
(Psss.... Since writing this, we went back again this year but to Ras Al Khaimah. Read about that before you book anything. It may sway your decision!)