Two and half years ago, back when we were fresh-faced and bushy-tailed (ie. pre-baby), Mr Sunshine and I checked in for a staycation at the Grand Hyatt Doha where a weekend of pure pampering and relaxation (with a few cocktails on the side) awaited us. Two weeks ago, craving a break from the stresses of everyday life, we were back once again; this time to check out what the hotel has to offer as a weekend getaway destination for a family.
I won’t beat around the bush, I was a little apprehensive. In my circle, the Grand Hyatt is often talked about as the place to party in Doha. The balmy beats of Flipflops Beach Club on Friday and Saturday nights, the infamous Liquid Brunch at Dunes, the boozy brunches…over the years it has gained a reputation as the place for the ‘younger generation’ of expats in Doha to hang out. As I entered the building with a toddler tucked under one arm, and a copy of a novel I had wanted to read for over a year under the other, I wasn’t sure we could still label ourselves a part of that demographic.
Yet two days later, emerging zen-like from a massage following a leisurely lunch beside the pool with said toddler, I was ready to revise some of my preconceptions. A staycation at the Grand Hyatt Doha has so much to offer children and families. So much, in fact, that it was difficult for us to squeeze it all in!
So for all you families considering a little break away from home like we did that weekend, to help you to plan your next staycation at the Grand Hyatt Doha, here is a handy guide of all the child-friendly things that you can get up to during your stay.
1. Have brunch at Santa Monica Breakfast Club
By far the hippest place around town for brunch, the Grand Hyatt’s signature brunch is fun and full of character. The food is not as refined or upmarket as some of the other Friday offerings in Doha, but it doesn’t need to be: this brunch is about fabulous live entertainment from a band which pumps out classics by the minute, soft furnishings which provide cosy spaces for reading and playing computer games, and activities for the big kids and kids at heart by way of a foosball table and dart board.
2. Go for a swim in the incredible pools
The five outdoor pools, including two children’s pools at the Grand Hyatt provide an entertaining place to wile away the hours for the youngsters in your tribe. These pools are not your standard boring azure rectangles (yawn!), but are interestingly shaped with spaces that are interconnected by bridges (or a ‘TONNEL!’ as Sophia exclaimed) which are calling out to be explored. You can order drinks and light bites from your lounger from an extensive snack menu, or Rocca is just a hop, step and a jump away if you fancy something more refined.
3. Order room service for breakfast
One of my favourite memories from our stay was sleeping in late, waking up not long before breakfast service was about to end and thinking, ‘Sod it, we’re on holiday, let’s order our food to the room!’. It was a real luxury to be able to sit out on our large terrace, with its view over the sea, The Pearl and the towers of West Bay beyond, with a whole host of breakfast delicacies spread out in front of us. Sophia was in her element!
4. Book yourself into an Al Mirqab Suite
OK, not all of us can afford this luxury, but for those that fancy splurging, it’s worth it. The Al Mirqab Suites at the Grand Hyatt are spacious, homely and well-appointed. We enjoyed snuggling up in the most enormous of beds in our dual-aspect bedroom, reading books in the cosy nooks provided at various places around the apartment and splashing about amongst the bubbles in one of the most spectacular baths I’ve ever had the pleasure of bathing in.
If you book yourself into a suite, you also get the added bonus of Grand Club lounge access, with all of the perks that come with it, such as free drinks during cocktail hour (adults only) and snacks and refreshments throughout the day.
5. Have lunch at Rocca
Rocca has never been top of my list of Italian eateries in Doha, but our experience during our staycation at the Grand Hyatt Doha was top notch. This poolside restaurant has a lively atmosphere and open kitchen, where traditional antipasti and rustic pizza and pasta are rapidly rustled up and under the watch of incredibly warm and attentive staff, who are welcoming to children (and all of the associated noise and mess that comes with them).
6. Wander through the gardens
The grounds of the Grand Hyatt are one of the hotel’s biggest assets, and Sophia loved running along the winding pathways which connect the hotel to the pools and the beach. The gardens are well-maintained, full of flowers and provide a lovely setting for an early evening stroll down to the beach.
7. Have dinner at Isaan
An old-time favourite of mine, Isaan is an authentic Thai restaurant which has one of the most extensive and well-curated menus this side of the Middle East. The tables are nestled amongst large, open-plan kitchens which allow patrons to nosey in on the colourful array of fresh ingredients that are being expertly combined by the restaurant’s skillful chefs to create a masterpiece. All of this aside, I was concerned that there wouldn’t be a thing on the menu which our fussy toddler would like, and I very nearly cancelled our booking.
However, upon arrival, we discovered an abundance of high chairs, paper and crayons and a dedicated children’s menu comprising of Thai classics with less of the typical garnishings, frills and spice. Sophia happily tucked into her Pad Thai, leaving us adults free to work our way through the incredible tasting menu, ‘Taste of Nong Han’ which includes a melange of specialities such as an incredible papaya salad, melt in the mouth tamarind sea bass and my favourite dessert, mango sticky rice.
8. Play on the beach
The Grand Hyatt Doha’s 400 metre long private beach is a very special spot indeed. For the adventurers in your family, there are water sports activities such as banana boat rides and jet skiing, as well as enormous sea inflatables which just have to be climbed. For the littles and the less adventurous (like us these days), the beach is perfect for sunbathing, sandcastles and paddling.
9. Head back to Santa Monica Breakfast Club for brekkie
Arguably one of the best places in Qatar for eggs in the morning, a trip to SMBC is always a good way to start your day. We headed there on our second morning, where we helped ourselves to the plethora of items available from the extensive breakfast buffet, and ordered freshly whipped up Eggs Benny and pancakes. Deeeelicious!
10. Give mum an hour off for a massage
After a weekend which was filled to the brim with activities (alongside a toddler who was too excited to sleep very much), it was about time I had a little time to myself. With its relaxing ambience, calming pools and range of luxurious treatment options, Jaula Spa provided the perfect setting for this alone time. Following my 60-minute massage, my masseuse told me that on a scale of 1-10, my muscles were a 10 for tightness. She gave me some helpful tips for staying supple and stress-free, and pointed out which products would be helpful, before leaving me to sip camomile tea in my reclining chair beside the spa’s tranquility pool.
It was a good place to reflect on a weekend well-spent. Discovering the child-friendly aspects of a staycation at the Grand Hyatt Doha had been real eye-opener. But it was this final mum-friendly treat which was the icing on the cake.
Have you had a staycation at the Grand Hyatt Doha?
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