A Hotel Pool Day with the family – How Much Does It Really Cost?

I’ve gotten somewhat addicted to a certain exclusive membership. You know, that membership that gives you unlimited access to most hotel pools and beaches in the UAE. If you know me personally, chances are I’ve tried to get you to join it as well. If you don’t know me, you’ve probably seen this same person answering every person’s query about it on facebook groups, whatsapp groups, coffee groups. Yep, that’s me!

So after two years of using it on and off, you realise one thing – it’s not cheap to spend a day in the hotel, is it? And then that lightbulb moment hits you – of course that’s how they make money. You, along with the hundreds and thousand members who has been sucked in to sign up for this exclusive membership – you’re spending a lot more money than you usually do, aren’t you? 😉

A day at a 5-star resort in Dubai with the family – how much does it really cost?

Let’s start with how much you’ve paid. Around 19 aed a day. Cheap, right?

So you’ve already packed the swim bags which includes swimming costumes for Child 1, Child 2 and Child 3. Floats. Goggles. Pool toys. That bloody expensive Coega swim shoes. Spare clothes. Beach toys. Scooters. Your own stuff.

Surely you’re not going to just spend an hour or two at the resort, right? Well – if you’re new to the membership, you’re likely to spend a whole day there or at least – half a day.

So at some point or another, somebody has to eat.

In most of the poolside restaurants in the palm that’s on said membership – so let’s go west to east – W, Kempinski, Atlantis, Sofitel, Waldorf, Anantara, and Rixos – pizza/pasta would be around 80-100 AED, burgers and fries around 100-120 AED. Most of the time it’s in the Entertainer which helps, otherwise you use the membership discount. A bottle of beer is around 40 AED, a pint 50-60 AED. Even fresh juice in Plaj costs 38 aed. So a lunch with the family with kids, would typically be at minimum 100 AED (using a 241, drinking your own water, no alcohol, kids eating from your food) – to around 250 AED.

When they call it a lifestyle membership – that’s essentially what it is. Your entire lifestyle changes. You’ve already paid so much to join, you want to use it. So you end up going to only said resorts/hotels in the weekend or whenever you can to ‘make the most of the membership‘. So your lunch and dinner spots, are always there. You spend money – there. Your friends who are not members want to meet up – you tell them to meet there for lunch. Got friends who want to meet for drinks? “Meet us there around 5pm, we’ll be there for the day with the kids.”

What’s my point?

Be careful when you sign up. Because once you do, you’re going to be hooked.

And if you're not careful, you're going to spend a lot more money than you usually do. 

And then you look at the pool and beach day passes which is partly or fully redeemable in F&B and you’re thinking – bloody hell – why didn’t I just pay for a day pass? Haha – I am sure that thought has crossed your mind before.

Am I complaining? Far from it. I absolutely love the membership. I rave about it, it’s made our lives so much richer and fun.

We just have to be more careful with all the expense when we spend a day at the resorts to actually make the membership worthwhile.

So what do we do? Here’s a few tips 😉

  1. Always bring your own water bottle. You know how much hotels charge for a bottle of water in a restaurant. The good thing is, a lot of hotels provide complimentary water now – that’s Waldorf, Fairmont, Zabeel Saray in the Palm, also Sofitel the Obelisk and Palazzo Versace. If they don’t, you can always refill your water bottle in the gym or kid’s club. The only place where I’ve been asked to empty my bottle was White Beach.
  2. Do a bit of homework when it come to where to eat and what discounts to use:
    • Most of the resorts have restaurants in the Entertainer – so that’s 241 for you.
    • Wait for happy hour for drinks, or you can be cheeky and clear your bill after you’ve eaten with the Entertainer and use your membership discount for drinks.
    • In some restaurants, kids eat for free.
  3. If you’re a SAHM and you’re sitting on the fence if husband should join – sit down for a sec to work out the numbers. How often is he going to go? If it’s just once a week – find out what the day pass is at the resort. A lot of resorts still do day pass fully redeemable in F&B – click here. So if you’re going to spend 250AED for F&B in Zabeel Saray as a family on a Friday, you can check in with your membership and bring the kids in, husband pays 250AED and that goes to food. Same with Anantara, it’s 270AED fully redeemable. Sofitel is 150AED with 100 fully redeemable. If you’re not going to spend that much on food, and he wants to use the gym as well etc, maybe it’s worth him signing up then.
  4. If you want to be even more careful with the spending, just eat before you go and do a short trip. We do that sometimes for the places that are close to us.
  5. If you have picky kids (aren’t they all) – maybe it’s worth doing a brunch there? Find out which spots have family-friendly brunches. Sheraton JBR, Riva Beach, Sofitel the Palm, Habtoor Grand, and Bab al Shams does. Give it a few more weeks and I’m sure a lot of the other hotels will launch their own family-friendly brunches.
  6. Find out which hotels give out free popsicles or drinks for the kids to save you from paying 20AED for a scoop of ice-cream or even more for juice.
    • Zabeel Saray gives out popsicles – you don’t have to wait for it, pop over to Plaj and ask them for it.
    • Rixy Kid’s Club used to have an entire fridge full of juices, flavoured milk, and mini yoghurts for the kids and me. They removed it post-Covid but hopefully it’ll be back soon.
    • Please share other tips with me!
  7. This one is a given. Load up with your kid’s favourite snacks.

More tips ? Well, that’s what I love looking out for 😉 Just pop back here every now and then and see where we’ve been eating, what deals we’ve been using when we’re having a pool and beach day 😉 And for now – enjoy the membership. Absolutely no idea what I’m talking about? It’s called Privilee 🙂 Damn you guys. Got me hooked.

For the current day pass rates for Hotels in and around Dubai Marina, have a look at the Pool & Beach Day Pass Listing

Note : Obviously not a sponsored post. I’m (unfortunately) still paying for my Privilee membership. Just signed up to their Black Friday2020 deal – again.

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Dubai resident. Stays most of the time in the marina as she can't be bothered going anywhere else after work and in the weekends. Originally from the land of the orang utans, spent the latter half of her life in the land down under. Always on the look out for deals, loves organising get-togethers, and occasionally steals some time for a sip of wine or four at ladies nights.

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