“I love it when a plan comes together,” George Peppard famously said in the A-Team – and he would have been proud of the First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle in Dubai.
When the property opened toward the end of last year, the United Arab Emirates’ hospitality market was still shaking off the last vestiges of Covid-19.
Confidence was returning to the sector, sure, but it had not yet fully returned, while a lot of key source markets were about to be hit by the Omicron wave of the pandemic.
Now, just a few short months later, any doubts have been banished and the property is flourishing.
Visiting this month, I found a thriving hotel, running at what seemed to be close to full-occupancy and packed with delighted guests.
February is a cooler month in Dubai, so the pool was the place to be – for once it was possible to spend the whole day relaxing outside without fear of being frazzled.
I was joined by guests from Germany, Austria, Russia and the UK, largely in family groups, but with a few younger couples mixed in freshen things up a little.
This is a great place to spend some time with the kids, especially if you want to base yourself at the hotel for the majority of your stay and run maybe just a couple of day trips while you are in town.
The First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle is located a little way from the Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai, but in some ways the city is coming to the hotel.
Expo 2020 has shifted the centre of gravity of Dubai further along the coast, and the hotel is well positioned to make the most of the show.
Rayna Tours Travel has a desk in the lobby should you wish to explore the area, while there are also shuttle busses to Expo 2020 and Mall of the Emirates.
While there is no beach nearby, services also head to Riva Beach Club on Palm Jumeirah, offering guests some shoreline action.
There are two restaurants at the First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle.
Village Bistro is bustling at breakfast, and can certainly get busy as families jostle for a table, but is much quieter in the evening and serves a menu with a French theme.
I ate here most nights, chatting to the friendly staff in the cool evening breeze.
The location also offers BBQs and fun themed nights to keep guests entertained.
Up among the top floors of the hotel is Sante Ria, which is in a difference class and may be worth a trip to the property in its own right.
This South American-themed eatery is splashed with colour, decorated with hand-painted murals, neon-lit artwork, cosy booths and tarot card drinks mats.
Dishes span the culinary map from Brazil to Peru, while also taking in Colombian and Cuban flavours, inspired by the heritage of the owners.
A talented mariachi duo is also on hand to entertain diners with a violin and guitar set during the evening.
Sante Ria is aimed at a younger market, and is vibrant and exciting, offering views over the surrounding Dubai cityscape – it would be a great place for locals to enjoy, as well as hotel guests.
Once the party is over, it is time to retire – and the rooms at the First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle belie the four-star status of the hotel.
They are large, airy and feature plush king-size beds for the ultimate in comfort.
In-room amenities include free Wi-Fi, a 49-inch smart TV, a minibar, tea and coffee facilities and a safe.
The beautifully designed bathrooms feature a walk-in shower or bathtub and shower.
Special mention, too, to the technology that works - I synced my phone to the in-room TV with the minimum of fuss, while the lights are simple and effective - not always the case in Dubai!
Floor-to-ceiling windows remind guests of the views over the city and flood the rooms with light during the morning, a welcome way to wake up.
For those with a little cash to splash, the Skyline Terrace Double Rooms are situated on the top floor.
Each comes with a large open-air balcony, so guests can drink in the fresh air blowing in from the Arabian Gulf, while strolling the near 30sqm of floorspace.
A must for a luxury break!
The First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle was the first property under the First Collection banner, a new lifestyle brand, from the First Collection.
Over the coming months it will grow to encompass a portfolio of hotels, restaurants and leisure venues owned and operated by the company.
The First Group has long been recognised as one of the leading lights in the United Arab Emirates, thanks to its existing portfolio of 11 properties, which includes Wyndham Dubai Marina, Millennium Place Marina and TRYP by Wyndham Dubai.
Additionally, the First Group has a pipeline of seven upscale and upper-midscale hotels in development in Dubai, with many of these exciting new projects launching under the First Collection banner, along with a selection of existing properties that will be rebranded in the coming months.
“The First Collection brings our assets together under one sophisticated brand, providing a platform for the development of exciting lifestyle experiences that leverage our core strengths while providing investors new opportunities to further capitalise on our long-term growth plans,” commented Rob Burns, chief executive the First Group.
“The First Collection will enable us to accelerate our expansion plans in new and existing markets, while ensuring strong brand recognition across our entire portfolio,” continued Burns.
Over the past several years, the First Group has diversified its operations, branching into key vertical markets, including property asset management and food and beverage – with the latter earning the brand a formidable reputation as one of most ambitious and innovative hospitality operators in Dubai.
The First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle is a four-star hotel situated in the vibrant district of JVC.
Blending style and comfort into 491 guestrooms, the modern sanctuary is the perfect retreat after a busy day exploring the city.
Head over to the official website for more information.